A Life On Our Planet

David Attenborough’s just published book (see my sidebar) bears witness to the loss of wild places within his own lifetime that threatens much of life on this planet. He makes the case for the loss of plant and animal diversity, even as so many of us remain oblivious, or think that it’s really not that bad, or something that we can worry about sometime in the distant future.

Traveling the globe with his video crew, he recounts and shows how places he once visited have changed within his own lifetime, how coral reefs have died. He concludes with what we can do to regenerate wild places before it’s too late.

A companion Netflix documentary provides all the dramatic video, narrated by and starring, Sir David.

You can also find more detailed statistics about climate change and its implications for humanity here.

Full Moon Tide

A number of us were out on the Presumpscot watershed this morning to photograph the high water level as part of Portland’s the environmental impact studies. Today’s height was 11.8 feet, compared with 2008’s maximum November height of 11.5 feet–3.6 inches higher in just 12 years. And sea levels are accelerating as the polar ice and snows recede, thus reflecting less of the sun’s heat. As you can see in two of the photos, there are no beach areas left at high tide. I’ll continue taking photos at these spots location during the highest tides of each month.


Drumlins, Not Gremlins

The drumlins of western and central New York comprise the largest field of their kind in the world. Drumlins are deposits left by the glaciers; these, unlike most, are sculpted by the harsh winter winds and precipitation off Lake Ontario. These shots were taken on the south shore of Lake Ontario at Chimney Bluffs State Park. They’re pretty spectacular when bathed in red light towards sunset.

The deep-water Great Lakes only freeze around the edges, due to their rough winter waters. Erie is the only lake that freezes over, though the freeze hasn’t been near complete in recent years, because of climate change.

Storms cause larger swells on deeper lakes. Near hurricane force winds sank the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior when its bow and stern were caught atop separate swells (possibly as high as thirty-five feet), causing the ship to break in half and immediately sink.

These aren’t your typical lakes; they’re our North Coast.

Sunday Cycle Ride Loop From Biddeford, ME

Click here to view the ride.

Well, it’s been just beautiful these past several days in Maine. I’ve ridden about 85 miles. I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last before I have to put the bike way and bring out the snowshoes. This ride took us past Walker’s Point, home of the late GHW Bush. Sorry, I didn’t take the photo.

People were still swimming here in November. If that’s not proof positive of global warming I don’t know what is! Perhaps palm trees here in the near future (hey,they grow on England’s southwest coast).

“Can We Cool the Planet?” Right Now, on Nova

The average temperature of our atmosphere is now 1oC warmer than it was in 1880. Scientists are now concerned that we are approaching what they hypothesize to be a tipping point where the atmosphere becomes 1.5oC warmer than it was in 1880. At our current rate of fossil fuel use, this would likely start before the end of the 21st century.

As I reported on my page, Climate Change, Health, and Micro-industrialization, if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, the world would continue to warm, though at a slower rate. That’s because there’s so much CO2 in the atmosphere (over 400 PPM) that the greenhouse effect will continue to warm things up. Furthermore, annual wildfires of greater intensity, and the loss of reflective ice and snow in the Polar Regions also contribute to temperature rise. Our only option, in addition to stopping the burning of fossil fuels, is to remove it from the atmosphere, something we cannot yet do on a large scale. Nova presented all the initiatives and their associated problems for doing this, aired on October 28, 2020.

That we are clearly going to burn fossil fuels for some time, and that carbon capture currently cannot be done on a large scale suggests that our biosphere is going to get dangerously hotter. The global situation is such that we are facing a slow-motion version of getting hit by a giant asteroid or a nuclear war. All life will be affected to varying degrees. Unfortunately, we are not very good at addressing things that seem to be “far into the future.” I guess if I had the choice, I would go for the asteroid. We could really rally a plan for that.

Citizen Science on the Presumpscot

While on a recent hike one person suggested I consider volunteering to take photos in the Presumpscot River Watershed which flows into Casco Bay. Although this area is scientifically monitored for water quality, the Friends of Casco Bay are also interested in knowing about problematic areas that people might come upon. Key areas of interest are: erosion, sea-level rise seen at high tide, wildlife (dead or alive), algae blooms, trash, eel grass, and pollution. Volunteers document what they see with photographs which they can upload to their accounts on Water Reporter (similar to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird citizen science program). Once the data are analyzed, plans for addressing the problems are discussed with the appropriate authorities to come up with viable solutions.

As you can see, trash was the easiest category for me to document today. My plan is to revisit the same areas (I’ll add a couple more) so I can document these over time. The next full moon high tides will occur on November 14-18 so I’ll be photographing some shore areas during that period. If you recall my recent Falmouth Town Landing post, photos on Water Reporter show portions of that parking lot under water at high tide.

Just to mention, aside from minor adjustments such as exposure, I don’t process these photographs in order to preserve the look of the actual scene. Photographing times are determined by times of high and low tides, instead of best light. Today’s shoot took place during the hour prior to low tide. I set my camera to geo tag images, including elevation and camera direction.

Fall Past Prime

Fall in the woods

Everyone loves the fall colors. But things turn at different rates, as is the case with most things. I was in our urban woods last week to photograph the end-cycle, so to speak. I used fill-in flash with all the photographs in this shoot, then I added a little post-processing so some photos would take on a bit of a fine art look. Don’t think of things as dead, think of them as preparing the way for the next generation.

You can see more of these photos at my gallery.

The Mt. Cutler Hike and Climb

Topographical Map via Google Earth

After nearly a year in Maine I finally made it into the mountains. Slowed by the pandemic, I joined the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club (MOAC) last week. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve done any rugged hiking. This was a short trip, only 4.9 miles but it took us about 31/2 hours, including several stops. We started at the green marker on the map, above, and hiked the trails counter clock, looping back to the trailhead. See that diagonal dark stretch? It’s steep and you need all fours to cross portions of it going up (you can learn about contour lines here); sometimes we had to walk along a ledge with a 10 to 15 foot drop. Walking poles came in really handy. Well, it was a bit more than I was planning for on my first hike, but I made it!

We had some steady rain the day before, but today the weather was beautiful and the scenes grand. As you might know, Maine has come off one of its hottest summers and most of the state has been in moderate to extreme drought. Unfortunately (for all of us), there are lots of changes in store for both flora and fauna here in Maine and elsewhere as the sixth extinction continues.

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors. It’s not only good for keeping me physically fit, but mentally fit as well. It’s even more important now that we’re in the middle of this pandemic.

Let me know what being outdoors does for you.