enough is enough

 

After the tragedy at Parkland Florida, a group of teens started a movement that is re-energizing our country. March For Our Lives was one of the biggest protest marches in American history with over two million marching in 850 protests, in all fifty states.

 

Enough is Enough! Twenty years of school shootings, and it’s the teens who are turning this around. The adults have been paralyzed by ineffective government beholden to unethical lobbyists. But the teens are not afraid to call out the BS of the NRA and the politicians bought by them.

 

This is the momentum that will stop the grip of the violent insanity that is terrorizing us.

 

This can be the moment for the environmental movement to also shout Enough is Enough! It’s time to vote-out the politicians who are bought by uncontrolled greed of corporate special interests that attack our environment, public lands, wildlife, and indeed our own health—Big Oil, Monsanto, Big Ag, Safari Club—and save the habitat and wildlife that we still have left.

 

The very web of life that our own survival depends upon is unraveling.

 

Our teens have inspired the world.

 

Enough is enough!

March 27, 2018

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inner compass

I woke at daybreak to the familiar song of the American cardinal, singing in his territory. I haven’t heard a cardinal sing since late last summer. His avian inner compass is telling him it’s nesting season again and to claim a territory.

 

That same inner compass is signaling migratory birds around the globe to begin spring migration. Arctic terns will leave their Antarctic winter home to make the 12,000 mile flight to the Arctic Refuge in Alaska, the same route they’ve likely taken for millions of years.

 

In the world of evolution things move slowly—migration paths have persisted for hundred of thousands, millions of years, and not much has changed until now. Now almost everything is changing, and rapidly.

 

Migration stopovers, erratic storms, timing mismatches when birds do arrive on their nesting sites—and are they too late? Did they miss the insect hatching they need to refuel, nest, and feed nestlings?

 

What about habitat? Does their nesting site even still exist? If drilling in the Arctic Refuge coastal plain takes place, birds will migrate there from around the entire globe for the abundant food, quiet, and safety of this pristine wilderness, only to find it desecrated by drilling and noise. A border wall built through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge will destroy the last remaining remnant of this critical respite habitat for millions of birds migrating between South and North America twice a year.

 

We feel helpless. What can we do? Begin by reading E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth, Our Planet’s Fight For Life. It gives hope that there is still time, but we must unite globally and immediately to save at least half of Earth’s remaining wilderness.

March 1, 2018

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lessons

We study history with the underlying principle that mistakes made should be learned from, and not repeated.

This is logical. We want to believe that the Civil War, Hiroshima, and Love Canal offered humanity a lesson, and that these mistakes won’t be repeated—that we can evolve to a higher level of knowledge, diplomacy, consciousness, and understanding. We believe in the future and better times ahead. We have evolved to need hope.

Living through eighty-seven days of oil spilling during the 2010 Gulf Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was excruciating. We were trapped by inertia each day knowing shorebirds and sea turtles were dying as the ocean ecosystem and shores were being deluged with oil. From this pain should come insight to rise to a higher level of stewardship in our decision-making.

When government becomes misdirected, falling prey to greed and power at the expense of humanity and the Earth, we experience de-evolution. The first year of the Trump administration has proven this.

The recent announcement to open offshore drilling in virtually all American coastal waters is irresponsible and irrational. We know the risks to our coastal communities, wildlife, fishing, and tourism, as we’ve experienced them firsthand. We know climate change is threatening life on our planet. Even the risk to humans is being brushed-aside—eleven oil workers died in Deepwater Horizon, and now common-sense safety regulations to protect workers are being rescinded.

Loss of people’s lives and wildlife ecosystems is irreversible. We don’t have the luxury of making the same mistakes twice, let alone three, four, or more times.

Just how captivating is greed and power?

January 17, 2018

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a year like no other

A year of loss. A year that tested strength. Sometimes, feelings of despair.

A year of dismantling environmental protections of national monuments, of attacking the biodiverse coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. After pouring our hearts and souls into advocacy for decades, we’re seeing just how fast a malignancy can attempt to destroy.

 

Yet, in opposition to tyranny, we have seen the arising of greater strength. Millions are protesting the greedy attacks on our national monuments. Historic elections in states like Alabama and Virginia are now a reality. The Women’s March grew to the largest protest march in American history. Americans are rediscovering their democracy, finding their voices—calling, marching, attending townhalls—and reaffirming our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, of peaceful assembly, and right to petition the government.

This is a living history lesson. The lesson is that our democracy is, as it always has been, a great privilege. It’s never been a guarantee. The patriots had to fight for it, and that fight continues.

We can’t be distracted or too comfortable. This takes determination and commitment, each and every day.

This is history in the making.

December 27, 2017

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homeostasis

It’s late September, and record-breaking temperatures in Michigan are expected to continue for about one week. In fact, it’s been hotter at the start of the Fall Equinox than it’s been all summer.

Puerto Rico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis at this very moment—water and food shortages, electricity is out on much of the island, and there are thousands of stranded, desperate people at San Juan Airport. People are on the verge of dying of dehydration if something doesn’t happen, fast. Suddenly, when the basics of life—fresh water to stay hydrated, food, access to medical care—are gone, homeostasis becomes a life and death reality.

Just as the human body is a marvelous machine dependent upon interconnected systems to keep us healthy and alive, the environment is a complex world of coexisting, interdependent ecosystems that have evolved over millions of years.

In my tiny raised-bed garden the second round of red lettuce, normally resilient and easy to grow in early fall, nearly succumbed in just a day or so from the unexpected heat. What will happen on family farms, when temperatures and seasons are no longer predictable, and erratic heatwaves hit unexpectedly? How will our migratory birds survive, if the food sources and entire habitats they depend on (destroyed by the hurricanes) no longer exist?

We’ve seen three hurricanes over the past month—Harvey, Irma, Maria—that have hit Category 4 and 5 levels, causing damage as not seen before over just a few weeks. What happens when these weather occurrences become the norm, rather than a rare outlier?

The whole planet—humans, wildlife, vegetation, all life— is now being tested by climate change, as we fight to maintain homeostasis.

September 27, 2017

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instinct and resilience

We’re in the midst of fall migration, and I’ve been thinking of migratory birds more than usual. With the risks they already face, now hurricanes Harvey and Irma have hit back-to-back in geographic zones that migrants travel through and overwinter on.

 

And at this moment, Hurricane Maria is hitting the Caribbean.

These aren’t typical hurricanes. These are climate change hurricanes.

 

A few hundred endangered Great Lakes piping plovers, a highly fragile population just barely holding on, and the stronger, yet still small population of Kirtland’s warbler that overwinters on just a couple of island habitats in the Bahamas, are now migrating in these hurricane zones.

 

Well, birds have instincts and are resilient, they say, and wildlife has evolved over millenia to survive hurricanes. Perhaps there is some truth to this. But hurricanes Harvey and Irma are powered by the intensity of climate change, and they are no longer isolated events—they are extraordinary events that are occurring simultaneously with dramatic habitat loss and chemical contamination across the planet. When endangered species are already holding on by a delicate thread, a hurricane could be the nail in the coffin.

 

Global climate change is no longer theory but reality and is happening alongside extensive habitat loss on nesting and overwintering grounds and on migratory stopovers, resulting in declines of food and protective vegetation.

 

Watching and waiting for hopeful news on survival of the piping plovers, Kirtland’s warblers and all wildlife that have been struggling against environmental odds for so long.

September 19, 2017

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our place in nature

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the pressure and stress of life? An introvert by nature, I often suffer from stress and particularly from the over-stimulation of the demands of our digital culture.

 

The more time you spend connected with nature and wildlife, the calmer and healthier you’ll feel. Here are some of my personal revelations on how nature comforts:

 

We gain confidence, physical strength, and stamina when hiking, especially when doing a hike on new terrain we’ve never done before. Whether we do day hikes or overnight backpacking treks, we set a personal challenge for ourselves and make progress at our own pace. It’s not about competition but is a personal goal and achievement.

 

Rumination is the feeling of rehearsing a conflicting thought or situation over and over in your mind and being stuck in this repetitive cycle. Birds singing, the sense of wildlife all around you, and feeling ‘grounded’ to the earth on a hiking trail helps to release the mind from repetitive thoughts and offers relief from rumination, anxiety, and depression.

 

We feel ‘at home’ in nature—nature provides a sanctuary. If you find yourself questioning where your comfortable fit is in society and culture where you can relax, be yourself, and not be criticized or judged—nature is that place.

 

Living in a fast-paced, instant-gratification culture disconnects us from nature’s rhthyms, peace, and contentment. The more we reconnect with the natural world and our web of life, the greater benefits we feel in reducing the negative effects of excessive stress, adrenaline, and cortisol on our bodies and minds.

August 28, 2017

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in natural surroundings

Animals can be more relaxed in their natural environment. We may see this on protected public lands where hunting and trapping is illegal.

In their natural surroundings (free of fear of humans) we may observe animals as they forage for food, nap in trees, and sometimes tote offspring along. Humans are no longer ‘natural predators’ (with some exceptions, such as native Inuit). So, aside from the natural predator-prey relationships in the food chain, animals are able to live-out their lives without the unnatural (stressful and often destructive) intervention of man.

We, too, live in unnatural surroundings from our biological beginnings of living with forests, native vegetation, birdsong, Nature’s cycles of the moon and constellations.  Instead we must navigate through rush-hour commutes by stressful freeways, traffic sounds and sirens, living with too much asphalt and concrete and too little green space. We’ve lost the contentment of connecting to earth and soil, growing our own food, and sitting under a pitch-black night sky unimpeded by city lights and noise. This unnatural environment has created a level of persistent stress that can make us more vulnerable to fear.

We must search for a new paradigm that reconnects us to nature for both our health and the health of the planet.

Nature relieves stress and fear, and living without fear is liberating.

June 11, 2017

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out of control

Even the most devoted optimist cannot deny reality.

Monarch population down 90%, honeybee colony collapse disorder, climate change rearranging our seasons and coasts, mass die-off of coral reefs, the world on-track to losing two-thirds of its total wildlife population, and political attacks on the EPA and Endangered Species Act.

Political response is slow to improve policy yet often staggeringly quick when assuming power to dismantle. The natural human response is to seek some sense of control, but where, and how? There are days when I feel powerless, when the countless phone calls, email’s, and personal letters seem to get the same results—a shallow form letter response, denial of credible scientific evidence. It can be disheartening.

 

A personal sense of control comes through positive action. So, I’m brainstorming on every possible action I can take, now. I’m growing more organic vegetables this summer. Planting more native wildflowers for the pollinators and birds. Focusing on community organizing and action—for example, exploring the possibility of a neighborhood organic garden, both for sharing food and nurturing friendship and support. And I’m starting to attend local commissioner meetings. 

Look for creative ways to regain optimism, strength, balance, control. A sense of control begins close to home.

May 17, 2017

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spring visitors

Each spring they come, I hear them. Their calls are distinct from the familiar backyard birds who make their home here. I’m honored they’ve found me, here on this small one-third acre, that was once part of an apple orchard and is now a subdivision. Long ago, in its native state, this was likely a Midwest woods teeming with biodiversity.

I’m honored that these long-distance travellers have chosen my yard as a stop-over, a respite, on their spring journey. I wonder, how do they find this tiny oasis of native landscape?

Fourteen years ago this was an empty lot, and not a bird song was to be heard. I began planting—arrowwood and nannyberry viburnums, ninebark and choke-cherry, red-twig and silky dogwoods, white spruce and white pine, river birch, red maples and American redbuds. Each year more wildlife returned. The birds, mammals, and wind helped plant some native’s, too—wild blackberry, raspberry, crabapples, a magnificent multi-trunk silver maple.

 

Migrating birds traveling thousands of miles over short periods of time must find food and rest along the way. They have evolved as partners with the native plants that provide them with energy to sustain migration and begin nesting. It’s all about reproduction and survival of the species.

 

It is a testimonial to the powerful role native plants have in wildlife’s survival. Each spring the migrants give me the greatest compliment by stopping over, even if just for a few days.

May 7, 2017

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it is time

The meadow across from my home has been an oasis for suburban nature, habitat that was spared when the subdivision was built. I know the animals that live there, the rabbits, squirrels, downy woodpeckers, black cap chickadees, who hop, scurry, and fly back and forth through the neighborhood for food and cover.

This week, Earth Day 2017 the bulldozer came. My neighbor who owns this land sold out to a developer. Trees came down (imagine the sound of a bulldozer hitting a tree), huge holes were dug, and wildlife scurried just to survive, losing their nests, holes, cache’s of food, and the habitat that had sustained them.

So many years for the woods to grow, and it’s all destroyed in a matter of hours.

Humans crave control, but it’s a false illusion. With every tree we take down and the more habitat we justify consuming for our own desires, we lose strands in the web of life. The web that is so quickly unraveling is the same web that sustains humans as all other living creatures. We have reached the point of ‘diminishing marginal returns,’ at least in the United States and wealthier countries. Bigger houses, cars, boats, backyard trampolines, recreational vehicles, and elaborate vacations have not and will not fulfill our deeper psychological needs.

It is time to declare that wildlife has an inherent right to live on Earth without human interference or senseless abuse. It is time for our own sake, as well as for the animals and environment. It is time.

April 28, 2017

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ON THIS PAGE:

enough is enough

3.27.2018

inner compass

3.1.2018

lessons

1-17-2018

a year like no other

12-27-2017

homeostasis

9-27-2017

instinct and resilience

9-19-2017

our place in nature

8-28-2017

in natural surroundings

6-11-2017

out of control

5-17-2017

spring visitors

5-7-2017

it is time

4-28-2017

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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