Blog for 2009-06-13

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We began our Saturday morning with an interesting “Americanized” breakfast. We enjoyed the pioneer menu of French fries, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, and most notably, fish sandwiches. The sandwiches elicited a variety of comments and acceptance rates. On a personal note, they weren’t bad. We proceeded to a late start using R to analyze community ecology. For several hours, we toyed with data sets and made sense of various numbers; we started by analyzing our data from plot measurements. Some of us found some intriguing results including large negative growth rates. Needless to say, we aren’t MIT.

Later, we continued by reviewing various statistical test commands with the program R. This lasted several hours until the afternoon. We evaluated which situations to use these in and what types of results they gave. While I would love to give a detailed explanation of all the commands, instead I will mention the brief high several of us seemed to have when turning are R graphs hot pink. It was pretty cool. In the late afternoon we reviewed the necessary steps for our taxon projects. There appeared to be mixed emotions in the room as we found out we would need to obtain data for 20-50 species. For some, this will likely be harder than others. Disclaimer: I have ferns.

We finished the evening with delicious popcorn and an interesting propaganda film about Dorjee Sun, a young entrepreneur. Hugh Jackman narrates the film which highlights the rising business of carbon trading and offsets in the East Asian forests including Dorjee’s own attempts to turn it into a lucrative business. The film was heavily laden with the contradictory nature of saving the environment (i.e. Dorjee must fly around the world to try and raise capital for his startup). I bet he paid for offsets.

With this said, the movie failed to establish a clear plot and legitimate ending result. The plot most notably jumped between Dorjee’s business plans and an orangutan rescuer with no direct relation. The movie closed (stop reading if you haven’t seen it) showing a deal between Dorjee and Meryll Lynch. The ending was incredibly ironic and perhaps indicative of one of the movie’s central themes – hot air. The movie, however, was valuable in certain ways. It sparked a brief but knowledgeable conversation about carbon trading and most importantly, how to save the rainforests. I hope we all can learn to find a way to help with this issue.