Eventorum – Fiddling With Nature

About the Image:   The clean, white snow melts more slowly than dirty (darker) dust-covered snow because it reflects more radiation from the sun rather than absorbing it.  This Image was excerpted from NPR, and was courtesy of the Center For Snow and Avalanche Studies.

Happy Earth Day!

A day for celebration and reflection on our impact on the planet.

Eventorum:

Through humanity’s alteration of the landscape in the Southwest, we’re disrupting Nature and fiddling with the water supply of 40 million people:  “The Rocky Mountains Have A Dust Problem“.

Eventorum explained.

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Eventorum – Trending Words

You can tell what’s on people’s minds (and is trending in the news), by the words people are looking up:  Merriam-Webster’s Latest Trends (Word lookups driven by news events, celebrities, sports, and more).

Here’s the top 5 list (screen grab) from 14 April 2018:

2018_04_14 MW Trending top 5 words-only

Eventorum explained.

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Provocations #8 – Plastic Patches

Image: An estimate of the mass concentration of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (from theoceancleanup.com)

I was originally going to post this as an “eventorum“, but the post, while still short, grew a little too long for that.

I had read somewhere that the mass of plastic in the World’s oceans now exceeds that of plankton.  I have not checked that fact.  But I have confirmed that there are valid, scientifically sound estimates that predict the mass of plastic in the oceans will exceed that of all living things by mid-century.  I cannot fathom why people are not alarmed about this.  Many surfers seem to get it: “Great Pacific Garbage Patch is Now Three Times the Size of France“.  This appeared March 27th 2018 on the magicseaweed.com.

It’s time to ban plastic. It’s just that simple.  Obviously this is not a simple thing to do from a socio-economic perspective.

A public service announcement:  I will continue to return to this theme until we have achieved this goal of abolishing plastic.  Sadly, I expect I will be repeating this until I die.

Case in point: as I was researching the topic online, note the first item that resulted from a search for “remote sensing great pacific garbage patch” is thus:

GPGP Screen Grab see 1st link small.jpeg

This is beyond ironic.  It is tragicomic.

We Can Clean up the Oceans

If there is hope to be found, it is from the likes of Boyan Slat, the youthful and pragmatic founder and CEO of theoceancleanup.com.  They are making an attempt to do something about the problem of plastics in our oceans.  Check them out to learn more and support them if you feel so moved.

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

 

Eventorum – Getting Ahead of Ourselves

Technology is changing so rapidly that we only learn of its full impacts (good and bad) long after it’s a fait accompli*.  This may be one of those stories… “We now have the first clear evidence cell phone radiation can cause cancer in rats” [appeared March 30th 2018 on Quartz].

* Nota bene [16 August 2021]: please note that this is the correct spelling of “fait” in this usage.  I have received many kind and helpful emails suggesting that it is a misspelling, it is not. Thanks to all who made the effort.

Eventorum explained.

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Provocations #7 – Momentary Monarchs

About the Image (above): A female monarch butterfly (from Wikimedia Commons).

In the waning days of last summer (2017)  I saw a monarch butterfly.  It was the first I had seen in a great many years where I live near the Rocky Mountains.  In Provocations #7, I ask are monarchs with us for just a relative moment longer?  Are they headed the way of the great northern white rhinoceroses?

I seem to recall seeing many more of these remarkable beings twenty years ago when our children were young.  Back then, our daughter even found a monarch chrysalis, and she “raised it” in a jar.  When the butterfly emerged, she made sure the wings could fully unfold and harden, and then she released it.  A profound and moving experience for her, for the whole family actually, and an instructive connection to the cycle of life as well.

Today, I have had so few sitings!  Virtually none.  So I did a little digging.  Scientific studies show a clear and disturbing decline in monarch butterfly numbers (see figure).  An 80% decline in the last decade alone.  Experts have concluded that there may only be a couple more decades left for these beautiful animals, before they become extinct. 

 

monarch-graph_800

The decline observed “in the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population as surveyed by the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico.”   The black dots represent an adjustment to reflect a reanalysis of the data (from
https://www.umesc.usgs.gov/management/dss/monarch.html)

 

The reasons for this decline point to humankind as the culprit.  At the top of the list are modern agricultural practices, which have witnessed the widespread adoption of herbicides that are used with genetically modified corn and soybeans in the United States.  These destroy the principle summer habitat of the monarchs. Habitat loss (deforestation) in the wintering grounds in Mexico is another likely cause.  One can only imagine how many end as roadkill, adorning the grills of myriad vehicles in the U.S.  While verging into speculation, one might reasonably ask what climate change has in store for these animals.

So many challenges for such a delicate and exquisite creature.  The world will be a much smaller and sadder place without monarchs in it.

What can you do?

There are things you can do to help.  As always, the most effective tool you have is your pocket book and the personal choices you make.  Drive less.  Consume less. Demand labeling for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and do not buy foods or goods that contain GMOs.  You can also grow some milkweed in your yard or garden (find seeds for your region here). 

Parting Words

I once again go back to Wendell Berry, the fount of so much wisdom.  The closing words in his March 2015 essay Farmland Without Farmers in The Atlantic were:

“We have an ancient and long-enduring cultural imperative of neighborly love and work. This becomes ever more important as hardly imaginable suffering is imposed upon all creatures by industrial tools and industrial weapons. If we are to continue, in our only world, with any hope of thriving in it, we will have to expect neighborly behavior of sciences, of industries, and of governments, just as we expect it of our citizens in their neighborhoods.”

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved