Thursday, January 21, 2016

Too Tranquilo

Too Tranquilo in Guatemala

Chocolate-black sand
on this stretch of Pacific Beach
off the vast volcanic slope
that is southern Guatemala.
Spotted a bright white egret in the mangroves so far.
A lone tern wandering up and down the coast
flying just overhead while I bobbed in the swells.
And a long and curious line of pelicans,
like a wandering, dotted pencil drawing.
They gathered in one spot in the sky,
and then flew overhead single file
same distance apart one from the other, quietly organized.

Basura is on the sand and in the brush
and burning on the step-away streets.
Industrial smell of smoldering plastic.
Up in smoke may be better than in the tern's belly.
Two massive dark objects on the horizon.
Boxy, obvious right angles of man,
three distinct smoke stacks.
clear, even from my distance.
Staking a terrible claim to rake the ocean,
processing the catch on board into frozen ingots of lost wilds.

Shrimp is everywhere on the local menu,
because nearly all of the mangroves in the area
have been turned into shrimp farms.
Manatees and cranes and juvenile fish
become homeless overnight.
I can't eat the shrimp knowing this.
My silent boycott about as significant as a grain of sand.
The sole tourist boat
must charge $200 U.S. a head,
to buy gas to get out far enough,
to see big marine life.
Not sure if that's a product of anything or if it's always been that way.
But I imagine there was a time when you
could sit on the beach and see
whales and bottlenose dolphin, and maybe even a manta.

Vaunted turtle sanctuary in the ramshackle town,
just past Johnny's Saloon,
has empty pools with dry black sand in the bottom.
But also flat sand beds protected and marked off
as if growing tomatoes but nothing has sprouted yet,
not the tiny paws
or the small snout of a newborn sea turtle.
Life is brave the turtle says,
life is delicate and brief, but resilient,
to a point.
The turtles hatch and are corralled into mesh cylinders,
later they are set off into the ocean,
like seeds in a brisk wind.
Stuff whatever money I have in my pocket
into their donation box.
Someone is trying.
Lizards, birds, insects, marine life, mangroves?
All quiet. Too tranquilo. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our Natural Selection Moment

The current renewable energy revolution lead by solar power emerges less as a technological revolution and more as human evolution.  Call it our next species, where we finally shake the mantle of our caveman selves.

It is the natural selection moment that may save us. Our fifteen minutes of genetic fame.  Not elongated toes to support walking upright or more expansive skulls this time.  This time it's cerebral.

We have the power to reason that we must change something fundamental in order to save ourselves.  It is no less real than using tools for the first time so that we can improve our diet and grow our survival.

The crux is plain as day -- early man burned things to create heat and light, and we’re still doing that.  It has been an amazing 400,000 year run, from the warm glow of coals in a chilly cavern on an ancient winter's night to coal-fired plants running a fantastic metropolis.  Outstanding, really, but it's still burning things.  Time to move on.

As most evolutions, it is required and necessary for a species to undertake or the species goes away.

This fits exactly in with moving – evolving – away from fossil fuel systems and toward renewable energy systems, especially solar, while the ravages of climate change begin to fray the edges of humanity and modern civilization.

We've all heard the dire predictions.  It does not bode well for us this enormous challenge called climate change.  But if we continue to adopt more and more solar power, we will be reining in climate change and thereby preserving our own species.

We will be embracing the next evolution.  We will have evolved as a necessity of survival.  It’s not a revolution as much as it’s an evolution, to a better species, a smarter species.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Help Horseshoe Crabs

Happy to be chosen as a guest blogger at The Safina Center, happier still that more people will get the word about horseshoe crabs and hopefully sign the save the horseshoe crab petition.

As it is, someone with a license in New York can take up to 500 crabs per day. That’s the kind of limit that represents no limit, says Carl Safina in The View from Lazy Point.

“There is something in man that hates natural abundance, and something that clings to excess,” wrote Dr. Safina.

In the Northeast, horseshoe crabs are declining and current catch levels are unsustainable.  Give them a chance.

Check out the post: Help Horseshoe Crabs Live Another Million Years 

Monday, July 27, 2015

God's Green Earth

Q: Is climate change a global challenge to humanity?

A: Is the Pope Catholic?

Yes, he is and apparently there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.  Many of them look to him for guidance.

The Pope says it's humanity's responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth.  It's a moral obligation.

That's why I'm ecstatic.  Even though it was a month ago, I'm still buzzing.  There's so much bad news out there around the health of ecosystems, it's sometimes hard to believe the good news.

The pontiff didn't mince words, either.  "The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," Francis said.  He called for a "revolution" and he called out fossil fuels.

Can I get a Hallelujah?  How about an Amen?

The great news is that the Pope is not the only revered religious leader who says we should take care of God's green Earth.  In January 2013, the head of the Christian Orthodox church went as far as to call pollution a sin.  The Dalai Lama himself has asked for an ethical approach to environmental protection.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Doubt Meets a Mean Upper Cut

I just found my latest heroine in Naomi Oreskes.  She is not a female boxer in the traditional sense.

Trained as a geologist and obviously smart as a whip, she has become the staunch challenger to the scientific community's career naysayers and deniers.  But she does it on their terms, with research and solid data, and that's probably what makes them so incensed.

Dr. Fred Singer and the staff scientists of the George C Marshall Institute are some of the most vocal.  They call her many things including a lightening rod.  Her response is: "But remember, the whole purpose of a lightning rod is to keep people safe.”

Her book Merchants of Doubt is a must read.  She calls out the very small part of the scientific community that has strategically sowed doubt about some of the biggest issues.  We're talking not only climate change but also the health impacts of tobacco and the effects of acid rain. 

With her climate change work, she shows that about 97 percent of working climate scientists accept that global warming is happening, that humans are largely responsible, and that the situation poses long-term risks.  She places the small minority of deniers on the wrong side of science and history. 

The plot twist that gets me is that while the tobacco companies and the fossil fuel companies are motivated by greed, the merchants of doubt are in it for a different reason.  Oreskes says they oppose these major findings and the necessary sea changes that follow for "a deep ideological reason: contempt for government regulation," according to the New York Times.

In the world of communicating the science of climate change and fighting the deniers, that's an eye opener.  Knowing the motivation, the end game, of your enemy is half the battle to overcoming them.  Course it always helps to have a Naomi in your corner. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Celebrate World Oceans Day

Today is a great day to celebrate the majesty and the life-giving power of the ocean.

One way to celebrate is to remember that climate change hits the ocean, too.  It doesn't sound like much of a celebration but people save what they love, and the ocean needs saving.

So support clean energy to stem two game-changing ocean ills caused by climate change -- warming seas and ocean acidification.

Another way to celebrate is to get in the water or on the water or even near the water if you're lucky enough.  But you knew that.  Happy World Oceans Day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Constant Spill

I knew it was too good to be true.  For awhile there, it really seemed that the Obama administration was serious about protecting the Arctic from offshore drilling.

Even most recently optimism flickered as Secretary of State Kerry spoke in support of clean energy at the Arctic Council.

"My friends, clean energy is the solution to climate change.  If we got the whole world to embrace clean energy choices rapidly, we can meet our two-degree target.  But the window’s closing.  The extraordinary thing is all of the technologies we need – whether it’s wind or solar or hydro or whatever, they’re all there," said Kerry.

But it is not to be.  The Obama administration just agreed to allow Shell to drill in the Arctic.

An oil spill directly into the Arctic would be horrible and that's reason enough to object to this decision.  But it's bigger than that.

Every single minute of every single day we are spilling carbon and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.  It's the constant spill.

The main objection to drilling in the Arctic should be that it's just more of the same -- drill, burn, repeat.  It's what got us here in the first pace.

And now we know better.  But we're still doing it.

Based on the rules of evolution, technically, we should be selected out.  Maybe that's what climate change is.  We cannot adapt ourselves to a clean energy future so climate change will take care of it.  Even a mouse can learn to protect itself -- if it touches this thing, it gets shocked.  So what does it do?  The mouse stops touching it.

If we burn this thing, we ruin nature.  Let's keep burning it anyway.

The move to renewable and clean power is too slow, and that's exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants.  They fought (and are still fighting) the science and reality of climate change, but they've got so many other ways to hold onto their status quo.

Transition is one of those terms they've fed us.  Obama even used it in his recent announcement that we can expect more of the same, even drilling in the Arctic.  That we need to transition to clean fuels.  It sounds so nice and calm.  It really just means more time for the fossil fuel industry to make a killing while they're killing the planet.

I thought we had a moment of real inspiration, a chance for one of the biggest hogs on the planet, the U.S., to be a leader in clean energy.

"Rather than being a leader, however, the U.S. is simply following in the footsteps of Russia and Norway – two countries that have already begun or are making progress towards Arctic offshore drilling.  The decision in favor of Shell’s plans also puts Alaska on the pathway of dependency on oil extraction for many more years to come instead of turning it into a leader in more cutting-edge industries like clean energy," according to Cryopolitics.

Pale leadership, missed opportunities and the constant spill continues while the fat cats pop the champagne.