Music, Mountains and Big Trees

Back in December, I was offered the opportunity to contribute a “500-700 word article on Southwest Virginia’s outdoors or nature” by the Crooked Road folks. It now appears (on page 23) in the program guide for next week’s Mountains of Music regional celebration.

The topic I chose (because Jane Cundiff and I had been talking about Big Trees in Floyd County) was SWVA’s known and as-yet-unrecorded Big Trees–and the Stadium Woods issue on the Va Tech campus.

You can read my article; see a larger version of the wonderful image of Stadium Woods that Tech allowed us to use for the essay; and view a 6 minute video by Chris Risch (who filmed the To The Last Drop video on Floyd’s water back in 2014.)

And then take a look at the MOMH program guide and decide where you’ll go next week to hear some of the best live-performance music our part of the country has to offer. (See you on June 13 at the Floyd Country Store for the Stanleys and company.)

Global Syn-WHAT?

The phrase “global syndemic” immediately drew my sustained attention when it first appeared as a result of an initiative and study produced by the science journal Lancet in January of this year.

tldr: Scroll down to the 3 minute video explanation.

Most folks know PANdemic as an outbreak of illness that brings about large-scale loss of health, impacting whole continents or multiple continents.

A SYNdemic is a cluster of related pandemics–a synergistic epidemic. The bad news is that together, their impact is greater than one pandemic alone. The good news is that, if we do the right thing for long enough and effectively enough, we reduce the risk of all the clustered pandemics–not at once, but over generations.

The Global Syndemic described by Lancet focuses on the inter-related and serious health threats of malnutrition(s)–undernutrition and obesity, along with the impending physical and mental and environmental health impacts of climate change.

I have been encouraged by this broad-brush, wholistic understanding of the ecology of human failure with regard to the future of our species. It seeks to lay the axe to the root of the problems rather than merely addressing the symptoms in the near term.

On the other hand, it would be easy to just go limp and do nothing. Or rage against the machine (insert your despised government, political party or politician) and keep pressing the accelerator of Business as Usual until we run out of runway.

This video does a pretty good job of introducing the concept of global syndemic, so that when you hear about it again, you’ll have some background.

The so-what for Floyd County going forward is that we can think ahead about addressing the Food System locally and its impact on human, soil and forest health, and in so doing, mitigate the combined effect of the looming syndemic.

The wetter wets, drier drys, colder colds and hotter hots of the uncertain climate future, of course, will be a wild card in this effort.

Spring at Full Tilt

An obliging Trout Lily, showing flower interior and speckled fish-shaped leaves

Don’t know about you, but for us, spring happened on Saturday (20 April.) By Sunday, the foliage of almost all trees was at least barely emerged, if not half-way, the sun setting spring colors ablaze.

It is a different orange, pink and red than fall leaf-change. The plant tissues are so early formed that light passes through the leaf tissue more than it is reflected off. I think I actually prefer springs delicate to fall’s bold palette.

And there are SO MANY different greens! A mixed hillside that includes some dark green white pines for contrast sets spring foliage off to best effect.

Sustainable Prosperity

There are many who don’t hear the music; and many of the more powerful who hear it, and don’t want to get to the end of the dance. It is a new rhythm and meter called the Next Economy. And it is stepping on a lot of toes.

No wonder that it seems discordant and unfamiliar to the Growth Forever economy folk. It seems strange—dangerous even—to ears that cannot hear the words when it is suggested that so much must change so quickly. We can’t go forward much farther with BAU. Business has been as usual for a half century, or a century, depending on how you measure it.

And we have waltzed so near the edge of the precipice it makes one giddy, should they dare to look down. Most BAU folk don’t look down.

And those audacious enough to do so look to the other side of the chasm, across a long bit of stumbling and occasionally purposeful staggering to the music, with their eye on the world that has changed partners. Some argue you can’t get there from here, just accept that and live out your lives, best you can.

But others see it clearly, and they are becoming vocal about the reasons their future will no longer tolerate their father’s economics, built on the backs of our carbon energy slaves; powered by a disempowered workforce whose poverty is only now becoming so clear to them–a dis-ease given increase at the same rate at which the living planet and its non-human creatures have become impoverished and its habitats despoiled.

The New Economy folks don’t fully know the how, but they see the end-goal what, more or less clearly. And the bar has never been set any higher for our species. In the end, regardless of the pejorative labels attached to the awkward, difficult and disruptive dance ahead of us, the new waltz will come, if somehow we can strike up the band. Now.

And my children’s generation or the next or the one after that may see a sustainable, just, and equitable prosperity and true well-being that goes far beyond the “happiness” whose pursuit has, at best, failed to satisfy and turned citizens into mere customers and consumers.

Read more on this topic from Resilience.com…

Dance Me to the End of Love ~ An Economics for Tomorrow

For Whom the Bell Tolls:

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists sets world clock at two minutes from Midnight.

See larger image in Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock

The Climate Crisis is only one of the forces moving humanity closer to collapse. But it is the Poster Child for the consequences of choices made for all of us by the few, especially now that the many are coming to realize the true costs of ecocidal business as usual.

2018 Doomsday Clock Statement – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

This is a sobering summary, but not without hope—though nearly so. It seems it is going to take more than the slow emergencies (which, like war, have minutes of sheer terror) mentioned in this report to move us to the trenches of the front lines in sufficient numbers, and in time to avert a future no one wants for their children or the planet.

The clock, of course, is only a symbolic attempt to depict humanity’s wise or unwise and dangerous use of our most powerful creations: nuclear weapons; carbon-based energy; and the technologies that power communications, biology and commerce.

Will there ever be an equivalent motivator to action like the attack on Pearl Harbor? What cataclysm will it take to rouse us from our sleep, and will it be possible, that late in the night, to turn back time?