Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sun Hugger



The greatest thing about solar power systems is that they make sense in the grand scheme of things.

The sun brings life to this planet.  Nearly every living thing exists because the sun provides energy that creates food -- like plants and phytoplantkon -- which in turn is eaten by all sorts of critters which are in turn are eaten by all sorts of other critters.

Only in caves and two miles under the ocean, where the sun does not penetrate, does life succeed without sunlight.  But those are rare instances.

Taking solar energy from the sun in the form of excited electrons in glass and silica to energize human lives has an elegance to it.  I'd go as far as to say it nudges us closer to the natural world.

It sure beats the heck out of burning something we dug up and over-stuffing the atmosphere with dirty gasses.

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.

Amen!


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.