Archive for the ‘Environmental degradation’ Category

It is March and already it is crystal clear that something is very much out-of-order.  Last week brought hundreds of tornadoes racing through the heart of the United States, leaving devastation in their wake and entire towns whipped from the face of the mid-west.  All the while I see Sandhill cranes winging their way up the Mississippi and Blue birds already in the orchard – all of them early in their migration north – early by almost a month.

But why should that matter to us? Why worry about such things, when there are daily matters to be concerned about?  Paul Gilding tells us why we should pay attention to the changes at hand.

And James Hansen explains how our elected officials have kept a lid on climate truth.  Jim has tried to get our ear about the truth of climate change for over 30 years, however, without much success.  But now, that his predictions are knocking down our doors we may finally stop and listen.

So, the next time you hear a politician talk about the need to open up oil reserves, about strip mining, and about the need for a Tar Sands pipeline, think about how this puts all of us into harm’s way.

Don’t be mislead by slick commercials about the “save” extraction of oil and  gas and learn about the true cost of fossil fuels made from fraking, from tar sands and shale.

Garth Lenz: The true cost of oil | Video

Think about yourself, your kids and grand kids.  And better yet, think about calling your elected officials and demand that they do what is right for us and our planet.  Solutions are already here, what is missing is not the technical know how, but rather the political will to put them into action.

Hold your elected officials accountable and force them to change course now, while we still have a change to make a difference.

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During 2011 I often found myself calling the Whitehouse comment line to urge our President not to give in to right-wing demands, but all to often I was sorely disappointed.  I call instead of sending written messages because my voice most clearly tells the message taker how serious the matter is for me.

So mark my surprise and delight when the new year began with President Obama’s decision to install his nominee to head the new consumer protection agency with a recess appointment, and in doing so thwarting the right-wing attempt to kill the new agency before it even got off the ground.   This bold action was followed by his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada which would carry the most environmentally harmful crude ever to be extracted, through the center of our land to be refined in Texas.  I am aware that President Obama’s rejection is not the final resolution of the matter and that this pipeline will raise its ugly head again in years to come.

And now there is the matter of SOPA and PIPA and once again the need to fight against big money interests.  This time it is not the environment that is at stake, but the freedom of the internet which has evolved into the people’s’ tool to fight injustice worldwide.  Let me share a video which clearly outlines what is at stake now and in the future.  As with the Keystone XL the fight will not cease as long as big money interests seek to enrich themselves to the detriment of everyone else.

And let me not forget to mention our Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling which gave corporations approval to spend millions of dollars to buy elections.  Here to the people are fighting back in an attempt to overturn that ruling by lobbying for a constitutional amendment which would accomplish that.

So there you have it!!!  The new year is shaping up to be filled with battles all around.

For me it is lucky that multiple sclerosis has eased its grip.  As I continue to recover ever so slowly from this devastating illness, there will be no lack of important things to do.  And just like having done my share in collecting a million signatures for the recall of Governor Walker in Wisconsin, I can say that together WE CAN succeed in the effort to make 2012 a better year.

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After weeks of cold, wet and unrelenting storms — Spring arrived yesterday in the form of a calm day in the mid 60s. 

I prepared a hummingbird feeder to hang in front of the kitchen window to make sure that any traveling hummingbird would find a libation upon arriving at Sontheim.  And sure enough, by mid-day a ruby-throated male appeared as if by magic.  He must be one of our returning hummers because he knew exactly were to find the feeder. 

My heart leapt with joy as I watched a  tiny green bird zoom around the corner of the house and instantly settle on the feeder’s perch  were he drank deeply.  Even though I missed his evening feedings, he appeared like clockwork this morning and has been visiting ever since.

Now the watch is on for the rest of the boys to arrive and eventually the girls, who should not be far behind.  More feeders are waiting to be filled with sugar-water and the Shepard hooks are ready to receive them.

Sadly this year has brought no Orioles and only a few flocks of Pelicans were passing overhead.  In years past the Orioles would arrive in force while great flocks of Pelicans sailed Northwest along the Mississippi river.  But not this year, not this Spring that follows the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  But that is another story to be told, another issue to be considered as we all participate in the destruction of our planet earth.

Yesterday, while millions of people watched, another kind of Spring unfolded in England.   There was joy in the streets of London as onlookers watched a royal pair make their way to and from Westminster Abby.  They watched in fascination as two young people took their vows to become husband and wife.  But more importantly, they saw their fairytale turn real.  And even ardent anti-royalists voiced their opinion that Prince William and his Kate would be acceptable to take the English throne rather than the One who is next in line.

Even though royalty leaves me cold, I watched with interest and found that the lavish affair was conducted with restraint.  And even more, the young couple conducted themselves with grace and dignity. 

As I expected, there are many who regret the money spent and others who criticize the list of invitees.  On the other hand, I was not surprised to witness the yearning for the renewal of their ancient institution that was evident in the crowds.  And with a little bit of luck the English will see their beloved monarchy modernize over time.

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    The hummingbirds which I consider “ours” return to Sontheim year after year as long as they don’t perish during their wintertime journey South.  A few weeks ago the last of our flying jewels embarked on their difficult journey and now  they are gone for the year;  yet the hummingbird feeders are still busy with new arrivals from the North.
    Our Hummingbird population this year started with approximately ten returning females and eight males.  Given such a small number of returning birds from prior years of nearly a hundred,  the majority must have perished along the way.  This reality brought home the true impact of the continuing environmental devastation that is happening across our planet, and needless to say, it made us exceedingly sad. 
    In spite of the sad beginning, I noticed right away that all the returning birds were young and healthy and none of them had returned to Sontheim for their final Summer.   In prior years there would always be one or two time worn Hummers, usually females, who would park themselves at the feeder in front of the kitchen window.   That is usually a sign of their declining health and I would  keep an eye on them until I saw that it was their time to cross the bridge. 
    These amazing little jewels would alow me to gently scoop them into the palm of my hand as their bodies gave out.  There they would die peacefully and I always felt the comfort they received from my presence at the moment of their passing.
    The breeding season of 2010 was incredibly successful with two clutches of live babies in short succession arriving at the feeders.  Our Hummingbird girls produced about forty babies and thus brought Sontheim’s Hummer population back to nearly half its normal size.  We watched as the fledglings explored their wings and learned to become expert flyers.  They followed the adults to the feeders and learned to drink the sweet sugar-water as deeply as their elders.
    For several weeks now I have observed migrating Hummers find our feeders and stop to regain their flight weight.  This usually takes a week or more and quite often these newcomers have to learn to use our feeders.   Some of these birds can’t seem to find the feeding ports which are not distinguished by a different color and so I ended up putting one of our old-fashioned feeders out.  This one has the feeding ports clearly marked by yellow plastic flowers with a red center and it always meets with success.
    The ongoing influx of migrating Hummingbirds from the North indicates that the breeding season across North America was a success.  It will be interesting to see how long the migration continues this year.  Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment:

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