April 2021 Newsletter

Monthly Recap & Happenings Around the World

Note from the Author

Hey there all you environmental enthusiasts! I hope you're having a wonderful April and you're finding time to appreciate the nature around you!

This past month has been a particularly large amount of effort on a project that Prismatic Planet may be working on for local arboretums. We're developing a way to make it easier to interact with living collections in outdoor museums which has been proving to be a fun, but highly involved project. Hopefully over the coming months we'll have more to share with that, but I wanted to mention here that we're branching out into building technology to help environmental education. Neat!

All of the writing for this month has been pretty fun as well. This month's Human Nature, in particular, was an interesting intersection between humanity and the environment: messaging. I did a bit of an in-depth analysis of the 2021 Earth Day theme and how well it conveys its message, and I think I might come back to that every year. I usually have to stretch a philosophical muscle for those posts, but this was more of a critical thinking exercise which was a nice change of pace!

There's still plenty more to cover when it comes to our awesome home, so I hope you'll continue to check out our posts. I hope you had a wonderful Earth Day this April and that you'll keep thinking about our home's health even beyond the day we set aside to advocate for it :)

~ Jon

~ And, as always, don’t forget to keep wondering ~

New from Prismatic Planet!


Smoke from the plateau

Clouds span the blue horizon

Still pool's reflection

Mountain sheathed in cloud

Overcast the brush of sky's

Crisp yet dreary mood

Arch tall as the trees

Gateway to this world, just viewed

From new perspective

Ring the light-soaked bells

Silently wisps, with each clang

Lifts the scent of spring

Educational Topics

Weathering the Phosphorus Cycle

We're back once more to cover one of the Earth's biogeochemical cycles!  We've seen how water, oxygen, and carbon all move through our planet, and even covered one of the oft-overlooked cycles with nitrogen.  This time we'll be covering another lesser known element when it comes to life on Earth, and that's phosphorus.  Don't let not hearing much about this element fool you, though, as it's vital to both plants and animals and plays a few important roles in how life took shape on our planet.  Thankfully, while this cycle is a slow mover, it does what it needs to at its own pace and that serves us well!

Let's dive in!

Keep Reading!

Human Nature

Earth Day Theme - Restore Our Earth

Earth Day 2021 was celebrated across the world this past Thursday, bringing people from all backgrounds together in an effort to further humanity's efforts of caring and advocating for our home.  After doing research on the origins of Earth Day and other days like it last year, I learned that every Earth Day has a theme.  These can be all sorts of things ranging from "Green Cities" rallying behind greenifying urban areas to "Protect Our Species" raising awareness for the rising level of extinctions that are happening around the globe.  These themes help convey a unifying message spanning our actions around caring for the planet and can help people get behind a cause.

This unifying nature of the theme is a particularly human thing.  Since the founding of Earth Day, it's been pretty clear that the goal of the day is to raise awareness on environmental issues and encourage others to care about our home.  Yet every year we have a new theme focusing on some aspect of this broad goal.  There is something inherently attractive to people being able to rally behind specific causes, which is why this kind of messaging is potent for us humans.  Finding the right words to encourage participation in something is uniquely human.

Given the Earth Day theme is a way to rally people behind environmental causes, I want to take a look at them to see if they succeed in conveying their underlying goal.  With that on the table, this year's theme is "Restore Our Earth."

Let's dive in!

Keep Reading!

April Eco News

Restorative Seaweed Aquaculture

As we reviewed this month, nitrogen and phosphorus runoff are a big problem for downstream aquatic ecosystems. Researchers have been investigating the possibility to introducing seaweed aquaculture to impacted areas to take up the nutrient overload causing eutrophication. Turns out seaweed might be able to combat algal blooms!

Stalagmites: The Geologic Metronome

Caverns are full of rocky spikes that appear to rise out of the ground, but these formations, called stalagmites, are actually formed by sediments falling from caverns ceilings. Researchers have found that, under stable conditions, the rate at which stalagmites grow over time is consistent and can serve as a "metronome" for geologic time!

Lessons from Indigenous Ancient Forest Gardens

We continue to learn that humanity doesn't have to be a massive burden on nature when we reach out to indigenous peoples. Research around ancient forest management in the Canadian Pacific northwest shows that the ways tribes would care for the land increased biodiversity and ecological functional output of the space. Just more proof that indigenous peoples need to have seats at the table when discussing how best to interact with the environment.

Decades of Earth At-A-Glance

This month, Google has released a new tool called Earth Timelapse which lets people see a timelapse of satellite photos of the Earth's surface from 1984 to present day. It paints quite the illustration of the rapid changes that humanity has on the Earth, calling attention to climate factors like urbanization, deforestation, and arctic ice melt.

Plants, Pollinators, and Provenance (Oh My!)

A study published on plant provenance, or the origin of a plant, goes into some depth on how this factor impacts pollinators. While plants may be able to grow in a range of conditions, this doesn't guarantee the plant or pollinator's success in propagating. For instance, a flower may bloom later in slightly cooler locations which doesn't effectively overlap with a pollinator's active season. This research reminds us that we all exist in larger ecosystems with many factors contributing to our success or failure.

Thank you for checking out the Prismatic Planet newsletter! For more environmental thoughts and stories, be sure to check out the Prismatic Planet website.

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~ And, as always, don’t forget to keep wondering ~