31 British Columbia
British Columbia is the third largest Canadian provinces, both in area and population. It is nearly 1.5 times as large as Texas, and extends 800 miles(1,280km) north from the United States border. It includes Canada’s entire west coast and the islands just off the coast.
Most of British Columbia is mountainous, with long rugged ranges running north and south. Even the coastal islands are the remains of a mountain range that existed thousands of years ago. During the last Ice Age, this range was scoured by glaciers until most of it was beneath the sea. Its peaks now show as islands scattered along the coast.
The southwestern coastal region has a humid mild marine climate. Sea winds that blow inland from the west are warmed by a current of warm water that flows through the Pacific Ocean. As a result, winter temperatures average above freezing and summers are mild. These warm western winds also carry moisture from the ocean.
Inland from the coast, the winds from the Pacific meet the mountain barriers of the coastal ranges and the Rocky Mountains. As they rise to cross the mountains, the winds are cooled, and their moisture begins to fall as rain. On some of the western slopes almost 200 inches (500cm) of rain fall each year.
More than half of British Columbia is heavily forested. On mountain slopes that receive plentiful rainfall, huge Douglas firs rise in towering columns. These forest giants often grow to be as much as 300 feet(90m) tall, with diameters up to 10 feet(3m). More lumber is produced from these trees than from any other kind of tree in North America. Hemlock, red cedar, and balsam fir are among the other trees found in British Columbia.
Botany, the study of plants, occupies a peculiar position in the history of human knowledge. For many thousands of years it was the one field of awareness about which humans had anything more than the vaguest of insights. It is impossible to know today just what our Stone Age ancestors knew about plants, but form what we can observe of pre-industrial societies that still exist a detailed learning of plants and their properties must be extremely ancient. This is logical. Plants are the basis of the food pyramid for all living things even for other plants. They have always been enormously important to the welfare of people not only for food, but also for clothing, weapons, tools, dyes, medicines, shelter, and a great many other purposes. Tribes living today in the jungles of the Amazon recognize literally hundreds of plants and know many properties of each. To them, botany, as such, has no name and is probably not even recognized as a special branch of “ knowledge” at all.
Unfortunately, the more industrialized we become the farther away we move from direct contact with plants, and the less distinct our knowledge of botany grows. Yet everyone comes unconsciously on an amazing amount of botanical knowledge, and few people will fail to recognize a rose, an apple, or an orchid. When our Neolithic ancestors, living in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago, discovered that certain grasses could be harvested and their seeds planted for richer yields the next season the first great step in a new association of plants and humans was taken. Grains were discovered and from them flowed the marvel of agriculture: cultivated crops. From then on, humans would increasingly take their living from the controlled production of a few plants, rather than getting a little here and a little there from many varieties that grew wild- and the accumulated knowledge of tens of thousands of years of experience and intimacy with plants in the wild would begin to fade away.
33 Plankton浮游生物. / 'plжηktэn; `plжηktэn/
Scattered through the seas of the world are billions of tons of small plants and animals called plankton. Most of these plants and animals are too small for the human eye to see. They drift about lazily with the currents, providing a basic food for many larger animals.
Plankton has been described as the equivalent of the grasses that grow on the dry land continents, and the comparison is an appropriate one. In potential food value, however, plankton far outweighs that of the land grasses. One scientist has estimated that while grasses of the world produce about 49 billion tons of valuable carbohydrates each year, the sea’s plankton generates more than twice as much.
Despite its enormous food potential, little effect was made until recently to farm plankton as we farm grasses on land. Now marine scientists have at last begun to study this possibility, especially as the sea’s resources loom even more important as a means of feeding an expanding world population.
No one yet has seriously suggested that “ plankton-burgers” may soon become popular around the world. As a possible farmed supplementary food source, however, plankton is gaining considerable interest among marine scientists.
One type of plankton that seems to have great harvest possibilities is a tiny shrimp-like creature called krill. Growing to two or three inches long, krill provides the major food for the great blue whale, the largest animal to ever inhabit the Earth. Realizing that this whale may grow to 100 feet and weigh 150 tons at maturity, it is not surprising that each one devours more than one ton of krill daily.
34 Raising Oysters
In the oysters were raised in much the same way as dirt farmers raised tomatoes- by transplanting them. First, farmers selected the oyster bed, cleared the bottom of old shells and other debris, then scattered clean shells about. Next, they ”planted” fertilized oyster eggs, which within two or three weeks hatched into larvae. The larvae drifted until they attached themselves to the clean shells on the bottom. There they remained and in time grew into baby oysters called seed or spat. The spat grew larger by drawing in seawater from which they derived microscopic particles of food. Before long, farmers gathered the baby oysters, transplanted them once more into another body of water to fatten them up.
Until recently the supply of wild oysters and those crudely farmed were more than enough to satisfy people’s needs. But today the delectable seafood is no longer available in abundance. The problem has become so serious that some oyster beds have vanished entirely.
Fortunately, as far back as the early 1900’s marine biologists realized that if new measures were not taken, oysters would become extinct or at best a luxury food. So they set up well-equipped hatcheries and went to work. But they did not have the proper equipment or the skill to handle the eggs. They did not know when, what, and how to feed the larvae. And they knew little about the predators that attack and eat baby oysters by the millions. They failed, but they doggedly kept at it. Finally, in the 1940’s a significant breakthrough was made.
The marine biologists discovered that by raising the temperature of the water, they could induce oysters to spawn not only in the summer but also in the fall, winter, and spring. Later they developed a technique for feeding the larvae and rearing them to spat. Going still further, they succeeded in breeding new strains that were resistant to diseases, grew faster and larger, and flourished in water of different salinities and temperatures. In addition, the cultivated oysters tasted better!
An important new industry, oil refining, grew after the Civil war. Crude oil, or petroleum – a dark, thick ooze from the earth – had been known for hundreds of years, but little use had ever been made of it. In the 1850’s Samuel M. Kier, a manufacturer in western Pennsylvania, began collecting the oil from local seepages and refining it into kerosene. Refining, like smelting, is a process of removing impurities from a raw material.
Kerosene was used to light lamps. It was a cheap substitute for whale oil, which was becoming harder to get. Soon there was a large demand for kerosene. People began to search for new supplies of petroleum.
The first oil well was drilled by E.L. Drake, a retired railroad conductor. In 1859 he began drilling in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The whole venture seemed so impractical and foolish that onlookers called it “ Drake’s Folly”. But when he had drilled down about 70 feet(21 meters), Drake struck oil. His well began to yield 20 barrels of crude oil a day.
News of Drake’s success brought oil prospectors to the scene. By the early 1860’s these wildcatters were drilling for “ black gold” all over western Pennsylvania. The boom rivaled the California gold rush of 1848 in its excitement and Wild West atmosphere. And it brought far more wealth to the prospectors than any gold rush.
Crude oil could be refined into many products. For some years kerosene continued to be the principal one. It was sold in grocery stores and door-to-door. In the 1880’s refiners learned how to make other petroleum products such as waxes and lubricating oils. Petroleum was not then used to make gasoline or heating oil.