Posts Tagged ‘climate’

There are only about 1,600 black bears in the Great Smokies. They are interacting more and more with people, coming down off the mountains because their habitat is shrinking. I’ve seen a couple of bears lumbering through the forest in Central VA, but here in the Music City my only wildlife encounter has been with feral cats. I’ve heard about coyotes and possums, but they don’t scare me.

In Eagles Nest Township, MN with 4 beautiful, clean lakes, some people can lay down on the ground and allow bear cubs to crawl all over them! There’s a bear whisperer there who teaches neighbors how to feed the wild black bears peanuts from their hands! He is a biologist on a mission to let people know that bears are harmless, they are more afraid of us than we are of them!

But in the same little MN town, others are convinced of a different reality. They perceive black bears to be a threat; they look at their teeth and claws and imagine being torn to shreds. Even though they appear timid, they have tremendous strength and have killed at least 70 people since statistics were kept in the early 1900s.

I’m probably in this camp, if I were to see a bear on a trail I’d start backing up very slowly… NPR has an incredible podcast about this pair of conflicting paradigms: https://www.npr.org/2017/06/08/531904266/reality-part-one.

They are investigating why people see things differently and appropriately enough it’s called, “Reality.” After Great Grandma Ada witnessed a mama bear with two cubs playing in her swimming pool, she stopped going down to the pool alone. I’m just glad she didn’t decide to feed them peanuts from her hand, as she’s been known to encourage a stray fox or two with treats. In fact, I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have some candy in her pocket for her grandchildren.

Listening to this podcast about how we shape our own reality, and after this weekend’s #MarchforourLives I thought to myself, what’s the point of worrying about something like bears? I mean, there’s some Chinese space station that’s about to crash into earth, maybe I should be losing sleep over that?

Psychologists tell us that depression and anxiety are endemic in our modern world, and that in order to worry less we should make a list of the 10 things that worry us. Writing them down demystifies our dread and helps us decipher when we’re just worrying for the sake of worry – you know that dream where you have to take a test and realize you never went to class? Sometimes we imagine things are way worse than they actually are, or we may need medication to keep the demons at bay.

My mentor, the humor writer Erma Bombeck called that toxic, useless type “rocking chair worry:” “It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

And the funny thing is, the more you write these 10 things down, make a Top Ten List every 6 months, you realize over time which worries are utterly useless because they resolved themselves, or the outcome was better than the problem, and you can get a handle on those things you may actually want to DO something about. You may even start to worry less.

Why do some people see the list of countries that are expelling Russian “diplomats” and feel fine, while I see the long list of countries who have signed the Paris Climate Agreement – that does NOT include the USA – and feel dread? We are the ONLY country is the whole world who doesn’t believe in climate science! Syria and Nicaragua were the last 2 countries to pledge their allegiance; here is what Stephen Hawking had to say about Mr T’s mean and inept decision:

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” he told the BBC. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.” He added that Trump’s decision would cause “avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children”.

So maybe I should be worrying about the bears, and gorillas, and the newly endangered, my favorite of all wild things the graceful giraffe: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/giraffes-silently-slip-endangered-species-list-180961372/  I had NO idea the giraffe’s tail is used as a status symbol in parts of Africa. It’s time to schedule a safari so I can see my long, tall blondes in the wild, not just at a zoo.


Read Full Post »

UnknownMy fearless editor of Tangerine Tango asked a question on her Facebook page. Lisa Winkler said,

“The cicadas are gone. What world will they find in 17 years?”

Now I wouldn’t blame you for missing that speech President Obama made at Georgetown University on climate change. After all, there was testimony in the Trayvon Martin case to analyze. His poor teenage girlfriend got the third degree from a jokester defense attorney because she was the last one to speak with him on his way home with Skittles in his pocket and an Arizona Iced Tea in his hand.

And then we had to pull apart the Paula Deen redemption interview with Matt Lauer. He sat back, pompously asking her if she was a racist, digging deep into her Southern gentility. I am glad she has finally hired a PR closer, Judy Smith; the DC crisis manager who is supposedly the inspiration for Scandal’s Olivia Pope. In truth, it’s a show I don’t watch, could somebody bring back The West Wing?

And of course we had some mighty interesting SCOTUS decisions to follow, as the Court seemingly stepped back to the future.

But back to the cicada question…17 years from now will a certain barrier island off the Jersey Shore still be here? Our President decided finally to do something concrete last week about climate change, to bypass an intransigent Congress, and try to save that Blue Marble we call earth! It was an image of Earth -– beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon,”the President said.

Obama talked about carbon emissions but he really focused on water; on rising sea levels and flooding, on depleting our aquifers. Here’s what he said, in a nutshell:

“And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers. And we’ll also open our climate data and NASA climate imagery to the public, to make sure that cities and states assess risk under different climate scenarios, so that we don’t waste money building structures that don’t withstand the next storm.”


In local news relating to water. two UVA sorority girls were surrounded and attacked by men in plain clothes, with guns drawn, in our upscale shopping center after leaving Harris Teeter with cases of La Croix bottled water and ice cream. Yes, the Alcoholic Beverage Control agents thought they were underage purchasers of beer, while their blue cartons only contained water…still one girl had to spend an afternoon and an evening in jail and they were charged with a felony. Go figure. Maybe before trying to save this blue marble, we should try to find the marbles we’ve lost?


Read Full Post »

We’re not hibernating exactly. It’s just that a weird warm front – the thing we used to call a January thaw – is approaching from the South. Temperatures are supposed to climb into the mid-70s today and continue through the weekend. There is zero visibility here on the mountain, it’s as if we’ve been enveloped by a huge marshmallow, or wrapped up in cotton. Birds won’t fly in these conditions.

Every now and then I’ve thought I might want to write a science fiction story. More Atwood and less Bradbury, who once said , “Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.” Of course the best stuff is just ever so slightly removed from reality, one step beyond the norm so that we can easily imagine this dystopia. Hunger Games was just a reality show gone horribly wrong in the future.

I would create a world that is the direct result of Climate Change; one in which the sun delivers 3rd degree burns to our skin in just 3 minutes of direct sun exposure, so that we all become night creatures. If some of us had to go outside during daylight hours, we’d be dressed like an astronaut. Think how we would have to adapt to becoming nocturnal. It would be like the boy in the bubble, only it would be a universal Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome and planet earth would have to figure out a way to survive.

Warm January days and the news of another asteroid nearly missing us, these will always kick me into fantasy mode, but this story on BBC put me over the edge:” US Shoots Down Death Star Superlaser Petition.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20997144 Did you know that The White House must respond to any and all petitions that contain more than 25,000 signatures? I guess whoever made that rule didn’t fantasize about the internet? “In a playful response, a senior US government official said the Obama administration ‘does not support blowing up planets.’ The official also said the cost – about $850 quadrillion – was too high.”

Bob just came in from the hot tub. He will often tell me he’s spotted 4 or 5 floating satellites in the early morning or early evening sky; “Space junk” we call it. Without Northeast light pollution, sky gazing in VA can be amazing. Obviously not today. Would you be surprised to hear that NASA tracks about 100,000 objects, some as large as dead satellites in the sky. This “orbital debris” is threatening to make our atmosphere a junkyard. After almost every mission, the space shuttle had to have windows repaired or replaced from collisions with orbital debris.http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/what-is-orbital-debris-58.html

Space Junk

Space Junk

I told Bob that Bean was chasing a red fox and that he needn’t worry about the Death Star. He said, “OH, good she didn’t catch it did she?”

Read Full Post »

My heart goes out to my Jersey Shore. Not the one that Snooki made famous. I’m talking about the peninsula between two rivers, the bay bridges that flew our flag after 9/11, the Stone Pony where my son’s band held court, the small businesses, the boardwalks and dunes, the beach clubs, the people. It’s the people, the friends I’ve made who knew me when, who are suffering now and I feel their loss.

In NJ we had to try and keep our kids inside on Mischief Night, the night before Halloween. It was not an easy task, if they wanted to teepee somebody’s tree or throw eggs on another’s car, chances are they managed to succeed. Sandy made mischief of that beautiful coastline with impunity. While watching CNN in Nashville on Nana duty this morning, I see that the Nashville Red Cross is sending volunteers to Tinton Falls, NJ – the same building where thousands stood in line on September 11th. I’ve talked and texted my way through. A tree missed a car by inches, the tide crept one house away. No one has power, no one. I’m thankful the Rocker and Ms Cait evacuated Asbury Park to my MIL’s house; I’m afraid of what they will find when they return today.

But as cabanas floated out to sea, and long generations of fishermen lost their boats, their homes and their livelihood, I was happy to hear that Gov Chris Christie called our President’s response to the storm “outstanding.” http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/10/30/christie-not-interested-in-photo-op/
“The president was great last night. He said he would get it done. At 2 a.m., I got a call from FEMA to answer a couple of final questions and then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the president great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done — as far as I’m concerned — a great job for New Jersey.”

That’s what Christie said on Mischief Night, yesterday. It’s mad to think of politics during a crisis like this. Sandy’s death toll is now up to 50, and with live wires down and gas lines disrupted, many residents are being urged to stay away a few more days. Sometimes, I feel as if we’re living in a nightmare of gigantic Climate Change proportions. And it doesn’t help that I’m reading “Cloud Atlas,” by David Mitchell http://www.reviewsofbooks.com/cloud_atlas/review/. It’s such a dystopian horror show, encompassing so many time periods, that every so often you think it actually could happen. That’s the trick of sci-fi, cut very close to the truth.

We are genetically altering our food, we can clone mammals, it’s just a few more steps to a Corpocracy – hey, with Citizens United, we’re already there. Today people are searching for an open gas station so they can run generators, if they have them. Tomorrow we may just need Soap so our fabricants can fall asleep. “Certainly the vacant disneyarium was a haunting frame for those lost rainy landscapes.”

So bring it on Halloween, just try and scare me now you sleep-deprived new parents!


Read Full Post »

The weather gods are predicting a one in a hundred year storm. When we moved back to NJ and bought a Mid-Century Modern Jetson-style ranch in Rumson, the realtor told us we’d have a flood once in a hundred years. We then had the December 11th No Name Storm almost 20 years ago, exactly one month after we moved in. The full moon was aligned with the rising tide.

Our old kitchen appliances went sailing down the street in brackish river water from our garage, and since we were out of state at a conference, our children had to be rescued…along with the babysitter. The babysitter who left the Corgis to fend for themselves in the laundry room. They never named the storm because it caught everyone by surprise.

I am hoping and praying that all my friends and family, and everyone who is living on the east coast in the track of this super storm named Sandy, will be safe. If you are thinking of evacuating, then please pack up your essentials and consider heading west. Now. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: