Thursday, February 16, 2017

No Surrender Despite the Times

Dear Editor,

What a disappointing article “What Would You Do?” by Tatiana Schlossberg in the New York Times

The takeaway adds to people's sense of helplessness and encourages inaction -- that climate change is so big and "complicated" that even if you choose the most earth-friendly answers, "the climate will keep changing no matter what" and that “there is no way to stop climate change.”

You read that and you may as well wave the newspaper over your head like a white flag of surrender.

I say no surrender despite the times. There is hope. There are many things everyone can and should do to stop climate change.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bonaire Swim

In Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles 

Today I entered the easy shore break on the leeward side of a windswept island in the southern Caribbean sea.  Mask and snorkel is all I needed.

I saw a smallish Hawksbill sea turtle swimming just below.  It swam ever so slowly through the clear water.  It was as if time underwater really moves as different as it feels.

Followed it for quite awhile.  An unusual treat for undersea wildlife, often just a fleeting glimpse.  I admired the colorful shell made of greens and red-browns in an Aztec-like pattern.

As the turtle passed over the undersea cliff edge, his shell and whole body was vibrant against the black-blue of the drop off into the darker depths.

But the flounder, the simple flat fish, I saw on my way back to the beach really stole my imagination.  So delighted to watch it flutter like paper in the wind, a beige white fabric on the beige sand.

When it stopped moving and bits of sand settled back around it, I could barely discern the creature from the Earth.  For a moment, it was one with its surroundings, easily something we've all tried to be at least once in our terrestrial lives.

At the end of a day buzzing with beauty, I've figured it out -- the tremendous draw here of Bonaire.

Everyday, the bright warm sun, the turquoise water, fantastic sights in the meditative, soundless underwater world -- it's like living on the edge of a wonderful dream that you can easily step into and out of.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to be Heard

 Remember this line? 

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 

This is a good read.  It's a very practical and nonpartisan "how to" guide written by former staff of members of congress.  It will tell you how to make sure your member of congress knows where you stand on issues/votes, Republican or Democrat.

If you don't have time to read it, the summary is:

Calling the offices of your two Senators and congressperson is the most effective way to be heard -- aside from visiting their offices and telling them in person.  And yes, you can actually call them, you'll probably get a staffer but he/she will take your message/statement.

Try to call them when there is some way they can take action or are about to take action -- "I want you to vote yes on xxx"

Members of Congress are not really interested in your opinion of the policies or your logic for why you feel this way -- they just want to know where you stand.

And believe it or not, they care what you think -- Republican or Democrat -- because you are one of their constituents.  You're a voter.  And members of congress are always, consistently, to the "point of obsession", focused on re election.

The telephone numbers of your members of congress are easily found online. 

The Indivisible Guide is here:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sing for the Unsung Hero

The world needs more people like Joe Browder.  He was instrumental in saving acres of the Everglades.  Here he is taking a stroll in his cathedral.  Rest in peace.

A quote from his experience:

“Look at it this way, Louise,” she recalled Mr. Browder telling her. “Would you rather have some influence over deciding where the airport will be located, or would you rather decide where to plant the trees and grass around the parking lots?”

He loved nature no doubt.  Read his obit here.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Exxon Tries to Move the Spotlight

Classic corporate move -- Exxon is investigating the investigators.

State officials in Texas -- where else -- are investigating District Attorneys in other states who are trying to determine if Exxon Mobil knew more about climate change's causes and harms than it has said it knew.

They've got a political lap dog, a Republican from Texas named Lamar, a veritable gauntlet of lawyers, and a chorus of communications professionals without conscious.  Greed runs wide and deep and long.

If they can say that the people investigating them are under investigation, they've won another small victory in the obfuscation of climate change and their culpability.

This is because Exxon Mobil is one of the dirtiest companies the world has ever seen, and they will use every angle or strategy to continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of human health and the health of the planet.

Once again, Greenpeace says it like it is:

Annie Leonard, its executive director, said “America’s least respected politicians have now courageously stepped up to defend one of America’s most hated corporations from scrutiny.”

The 13 signers of the Smith letter (investigating the DAs), she noted, “have been paid millions in campaign contributions from coal, oil and gas companies, so this letter is more proof that the system works — for corporations.”

Here's an article about it from the New York Times:

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.