DNR weekend reading: Neolithic peoples were first lumberjacks? And Washington prisoners help save endangered species

wheat harvest eastern Washington state
Wheat harvest is in full swing on DNR-managed state trust lands in Eastern Washington, including this field near Colfax. Photo: Dale Warriner/DNR.

Here are a few articles about climate, the environment and other sciences selected for your weekend reading from DNR.

Science Daily: Neolithic Man: The First Lumberjack?
Research appears to demonstrate a direct connection between the development of an agricultural society and the development of woodworking tools. New archaeological evidence suggests that as the Neolithic age progressed, sophisticated carpentry and timber harvesting developed alongside agriculture.

Science Daily: 50-year decline found in some Los Angeles vehicle-related pollutants
In California’s Los Angeles Basin, levels of some vehicle-related air pollutants have decreased by about 98 percent since the 1960s, even as area residents now burn three times as much gasoline and diesel fuel. Between 2002 and 2010 alone, the concentration of air pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) dropped by half, according to a new study by NOAA scientists and colleagues.

Nature: Prisoners pitch in to save endangered butterfly
The Sustainability in Prisons Project works with prisons throughout Washington, and treats the inmates as collaborators rather than labourers. They apply for the positions and get training, education and a small wage. Together, they have helped to conserve endangered butterflies, frogs, flowering plants and moss.

Nature: Demand for water outstrips supply. Groundwater use is unsustainable in many of the world’s major agricultural zones.
In most of the world’s major agricultural regions — including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan— demand for groundwater exceeds those reservoirs’ capacity for renewal, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion, published this week in Nature

Green (New York Times): The Secrets of Hissing Trees
It’s been known since the 1970’s that a relatively rare bacterial infection in trees causing the damaging rot known as wet wood can cause trees to emit methane, a greenhouse gas with 20 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. But scientists from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies writing in this week’s Geophysical Review Letters believe that trees in upland forests infected with an almost ubiquitous fungus may also be a significant source of the potent greenhouse gas.

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