THE LAST STRAW of ONE Lifetime

I pledge: to never again use a new plastic straw.

I made that commitment—regrettably and only after decades of knowing about the Great Garbage Patch in the Sargasso Sea, and since, about the other floating islands the size of Texas that consist of all the plastic waste that washes down our local creeks and rivers.

This article contains ample support for why each of us needs to think about the cradle-to-grave lifespan of everything we buy—and mindlessly use once and toss. Think about where that toss sends the plastic sizzles, cup lids, twist-ties, “free” pens from the bank, styrofoam Happy Meal containers, coffee cups….

So on our recent trip, I had multiple opportunities to JUST SAY NO. We did stop one place that used paper straws. Paper or plastic: take TWO. I saved a straw found in the glove box and will reuse it for thoes rare times when driving and drinking—a fountain drink from Subway.

You can purchase re-usable straws, too. I’m thinking if I need that one more bit of STUFF.

Take It to the Limit One More Time

Planet Earth has always operated within limits–almost like an organism. But too there have been “accidents” that overwhelmed natural processes and created eons of disorder.

Runaway climate shifts of the past carried the land or sea beyond a state where life-as-usual could go on. Volcanoes erupted, continents smashed together, or a stray meteorite created a “nuclear winter” that set the state of living things back a few hundred million years.

But for the most part, long stable periods on Earth have been adequate to allow species to diverge and disperse, biomes like coral reefs and prairie and tundra to develop and forests to reach climax stability–what we would call OLD GROWTH forests today. It is almost non-existent in our times.

And for the first time in Earth’s history, we are thinking about the fact that our one species can perturb conditions in the air, soil and water sufficient to push natural resilience to and past the breaking point. And so there is growing talk about Planetary Boundaries.

Of note in the diagram, the light green is AGRICULTURE’s part in pushing the limits. Note for how many of these 9 boundaries land-care (the literal meaning of agri-culture) is a contributor.

We must change the way we wage war on the landscape, and begin to think intentionally about how we relate to and contribute to the well-being or dis-ease of the land. Margaret Meade said it well:

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.

And yet in our arrogance and ignorance we act as if we can push the limits–beyond the breaking point; beyond tolerance; beyond carrying capacity. Somehow our engineers and technological wizards will find a way, just in the nick of time, to cheat the odds so that we do not become yet another once-great civilization on the dust heap of environmental failures that have gone before us.

I will be looking a this soon–on February 11 at 2pm at the Floyd library. Topic will be “Living in Our Forests: From Ice Age to Anthropocene. Barbara Pleasant and Jane Cundiff will also have boots-on-the-ground information to share, along with this thirty-thousand-foot view of things.

This bit of it just bubbled up as I was looking back at my notes. Morning pages, you know.

More on Planetary Boundaries at Wikipedia.

On Walking the Talk in 2018

And so, like many of you, I struggle to find balance, courage, and focus for the coming year. And I see work (a few items listed below) that is worthy of my time—a commodity in somewhat short and uncertain supply approaching three score and ten this year.

Like you, I vacillate between the urge to scream and flail and rant and the urge to assume fetal position and be passively overtaken by the tsunami of unreason, injustice, indifference and arrogant triumphalism that confronts us with each days news. But doing nothing is a ticket to becoming a victim of our own slack-jawed, inert acquiescence to actions and tweets and attitudes and values that we abhor.

That said, what can one person do—in particular, what can I do—in 2018 that might make a difference and give voice to what I believe to be the good, the honorable, the just and the true walk with what keystrokes, minutes and synapses I have remaining?

1. I can find balance between time reading about and understanding the issues (my main focus is biological and ethical) and making time to gather those resources together in a new way that might change hearts and minds. I will strive to create a deeper and more accurate understanding of the issues and their consequences in the next decade. One generation plants the trees, another enjoys their shade. If there are no trees being planted…or if they are being turned to pellets for the monster Drax in Europe..(another story returning to Fragments soon)
2. I will support the SustainFloyd Personal Climate Pledge in whatever direction it goes in the coming year. I encourage you to read online or download the packet of information—including the printable pledge—that begins to turn our individual life choices regarding energy, food, and consumption-in-general away from the precipice of environmental overshoot. (more on this soon)
3. I will give shoe leather support actively to the campaigns of Tim Kaine and Anthony Flaccavento in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
4. Through writing I can hold up the contrasts between the policies and missions and values of Mr. Griffin versus Mr. Flaccavento for voters to gain an understanding of the consequences of the two plans and divergent philosophical foundations for the future. Again, my focus will be chiefly on what these two leaders would do to ensure a healthy future for our soil, water, forests, wildlife and agricultural systems; and to follow the money and the moral choices behind those divers money trails.
5. And (this should really be #1 but it wont happen if I give full service to #1-4) I can regain the discipline and devote the many hours to do the writing towards my personal projects, and then with a new book in my hands (and readers hands of course) speak to a wide diversity of audiences, with media including my photography, on the matters in the book that I believe matter most.

What does your can-do list look like? Have you written it down and pinned it to your refrigerator yet? Why not do that today.

On Not Killing Our Environmental Puppies

Yesterday, your neighbor’s yellow lab gave birth to a litter of puppies.

Today, the owner has made up his mind to do one of the following: to turn them outdoors to fend for themselves in the heat and take their chances with the traffic; to poison them outright; or to simply ignore their whining there in the next room until they die from starvation.

The dogs are his. They live, however briefly or unwell, on his private property. But if we heard about irresponsible treatment of creatures in this way, we’d think it fitting that the local sheriff visit your neighbor to explain to him the consequences of reprehensible treatment to animals. Animal cruelty is a behavior universally abhorred — against certain cherished and cuddly animals, at least.

And yet some very vocal people of our times are convinced that a godless, liberal, socialist one-world-government conspiracy is ramming down our throats the notion that other animals than pets have “rights” that limit how they ought to be treated.

Read More at medium.com…

BlueWater Dream of the Great Below

I awoke with a start. I had fallen asleep slumped against my favorite leaning poplar a ten-minute walk from the house. I was most certainly not exactly there now. I had nodded off on a warm summer afternoon, but now I was immersed in a cool but pleasant darkness, and more floating than lying against anything at all.

The half-familiar smell of being in a cave — or the dank, moist, earthy and energizing smell of a rainstorm — was intense; it came from every side of me, though I truly could not have told you — or cared at that moment — which way was up. My eyes waited for a glimmer. Maybe I’d slept into darkness under a passing shower. I was just groggy. Right?

I wasn’t afraid, exactly, but I confess some discomfort in not knowing: if I was dead; or in a coma maybe; or had I been transported across a divide into a place so utterly unfamiliar that I might never regain my bearings? Maybe I had gone mad.

I tried to stand, and somehow in the pitch-darkness had the sense that I became vertical, but I recall the odd sense of nothing under my feet — no pressure against my soles, no feeling of gravity whatsoever on my joints. Where ever I was, I was buoyant, weightless, a feather floating in… in what, I could not tell.

Read more of this at medium.com

Forest Is…

forest ridge in morning sun
Click the image to enlarge and read some details about the photograph and the photographer

Forest: a bunch of trees. A product. A profit source for shareholders. A place where something useful might be built.

Forest: a living community of interconnected lifeforms, above and below ground, that breathes oxygen, captures and stores CO2, communicates across distance and shares nutrients within a community of tethered trees and shrubs; an evolving habitat and nutrient-rich shelter for birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians; a generator of topsoil and sponge for holding and slowly giving back water or holding it in place until it can percolate into the soil and rock groundwater below.

Our generation is in the midst of deciding which of these definitions will turn the engines of our economy with relationship to wooded places, public and private.

Civilizations past have disappeared after abusing their forests. Our generation is on the verge of making the same mistake in a matter of a few decades and around the globe. This could be The Big Oops.

FOREST and CIVILIZATIONS

Why Did the Mayan Civilization Collapse? A New Study Points to Deforestation and Climate Change | Science | Smithsonian

Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back – The New York Times

The Rise and Fall of Civilizations  | UCSD.edu
“Just as has been documented for many past civilizations, the inevitable consequences of our current lifestyles will be societal collapse accompanied by tremendous human suffering. The difference between past civilizations and ours is only quantitative: this time, resource depletion is occurring on a global scale.”

Forests Precede Us, Deserts Follow | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

When forests aren’t really forests: the high cost of Chile’s tree plantations

Deforestation and Its Effect on the Planet   | NatGeo

New Deforestation Hot Spots in the World’s Largest Tropical Forests – Medium

False Forests | Mother Jones

Let There (NOT) Be Light

Yo, Fragments regulars or those much  more numerous who, according to my site statistics,  came here round-about from the oddest search results you can imagine (those details for another time)…

I will be, at least for while, posting primarily on medium.com that perhaps has more potential readership and greater credibility as a fact source than the fuzzy world of blogs.

Today’s post has not gotten much love there, so my thought that DARKNESS  and a pertinent map would be an interesting topic for my sky-watching neighbors has not borne out. I continue to have my finger somewhere other than on the pulse of American readership.

But one or two southwest Virginians may appreciate anew your bearing in the world of dark (or light) places in these parts. From this post, be sure and go to meteoEarth for their dynamic maps.

And if you make it to Medium.com, please sign up to follow and if you really are feeling generous, “recommend” (medium’s version of FB “like”) a post or two from time to time.

Go to http://medium.com/@fred1st

The “featured image” up top of night time lights over SW VA from meteoEarth here is not very clear, the image uploaded to medium.com is better and meteoEarth is far clearer still.

That is all.