Eventorum – Warning Sirens…

Thinking on the anomalous weather across North America this past December, capped by a tragic, drought-fueled, out of season wildfire in CO…

Nature is sounding the alarm; her civil defense sirens are blaring.

Humanities’ response is to design better hearing protection.

Photo of the Marshall Fire, Boulder County, CO on December 30th, 2021: by J.S.

Copyright ©️ 2022 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Eventorum – Adaptation

Got heat? Global warming, it’s what’s for dinner.

The only viable form of mitigation to “climate change” at this point, is adaptation and resiliency. And a good place to begin is through cooperation and collaboration. The alternatives, competition and violence –the normal “go to” human response– are disastrous for everyone.

Another manifestation of mitigation, would be to reduce the human population. It would make all of the challenges we face today, and will face in the future, more manageable.

Copyright ©️ 2020 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Eventorum – Why go Back?

Humanity’s grip on the planet eases… In The Guardian Article “‘It’s positively alpine!’: Disbelief in big cities as air pollution falls’, a series of then and now pictures are presented, contrasting major urban areas before and during the COVID-19 driven lockdowns. I think the article’s title sums it nicely. The only question is, why would we want to go back to the “before?” If humanity is as clever as claims to be, we will find a way to embrace the new and sustain ourselves.

Image: New Delihi’s India Gate war memorial on 17 October 2019 and on 8 April 2020. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Copyright ©️ 2020 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Provocations #18 – A Little Less Pressure

Silver linings…

I was doodling one day recently, and came up with this image. I can usually feel the pressure of humanity, sense it’s painful impact on the planet. In these days of “Stay at Home” orders, a forced pause in our normal frenetic routines, there is just a little less pressure on the planet. And it is nice. It reveals itself on the trails, which are full of people experiencing nature and health, parents are out in their yards playing with their children, there is less noise, less pollution, less traffic. It is more pleasant. If only we could institutionalize this and return to a new normal; albeit one without runs on toilet paper and libraries and coffee shops open for business.

Copyright ©️ 2020 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Provocations # 15 – Food Webs, Old and New

Image: Lake Shinji, Japan Wikimedia Commons

We Shouldn’t Be Surprised

On Saturday, November 2, 2019 NPR’s Program, The Salt, aired this story: Controversial Pesticides Are Suspected Of Starving Fish.

The story describes how the once thriving fisheries on Japan’s beautiful Lake Shinji, began to decline about a decade ago. New research suggests that runoff of the neonicotinoid pesticides (the same ones implicated in the decline of pollinators such as bees), which are used on nearby rice paddies, may be responsible for declining fish populations. The research suggests that the pesticides are killing off the food sources at the bottom of the food chain, such as insects and crustaceans, and the fish that prey on them are starving.

Startling on Two Levels

This is startling to me on at least two levels. The first is that humans keep making the same mistakes over and over (see: Provocations #2 – Whither Wisdom), and we cannot claim ignorance.  I recall being taught in elementary school (a very long time ago) about food chains and food webs.  That we have not learned anything in the intervening decades is stupefying and troubling.  It is of course self evident that pesticides applied on farmland will find their way through the landscape, through runoff and other processes, and affect other ecosystems adversely.  

Secondly, it seems to me that more and more environmental reporting is find its way onto food programs (like The Salt).  This is heartening because there is such a strong link between what we grow, how we produce it, and the health of the planet (to say nothing of human health).  There is an old, outdated and non-politically correct statement ‘that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ Perhaps our stomachs are a good way to our to our heads as well.

Flashback to Provocations #14

In Provocations # 14 – Managing Ourselves, I wrote: “What we need to manage is ourselves. We should manage humans and work with Nature.” But I just stumbled across this, much more eloquent statement from Rachel Carson, who put it this way in her June 1962 commencement address at Scripps College in California:

Yours is a grave and sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity. You go out into a world where mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery — not of nature, but of itself.”

Rachel Carson, June, 1962

Copyright ©️ 2019 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

Eventorum – When Will We Learn?

Image:  Some people in Brazil earn their living by collecting and sorting garbage and selling them for recycling.  Credit: Marcello Casal Jr., Agência Brasil; CC BY 2.5 br, via Wikimedia Commons.

As I’ve written before, we do not understand the scale of our actions (e.g. Provocations #4 – A Matter of Scale) and we have a problem with plastic (e.g. Provocations #8 – Plastic Patches).  How do I know?  We have not started to ban plastics yet in any meaningful way.

Even recycling has its pitfalls as evidenced in this article: “China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem. The world’s biggest waste importer is no longer buying.  So where’s all that trash going to go?”  by Eric Roston in Bloomberg, June 20, 2018.

Eventorum explained.

Copyright ©️ 2018 T. Schneider All Rights Reserved

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

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

 

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