I was just listening to Living on Earth on NPR. Steve Curwood was hosting Michael Pell of Reuters. Pell and Joshua Schneyer just published a report showing that many communities around the U.S. have lead levels in their water supplies as high or higher than Flint Michigan. According to several scientific studies, lead is harmful to developing brains by hindering learning ability and causing behavioral problems, the latter related to less ability to control impulses. Until recently, lead exposure was seen as most related to living in old, run-down housing that poses the greatest risks to the poor. Though this is still true, lead contaminated water is now understood to pose a second risk that threatens all socio-demographic communities.
This is another example of how over the past 150 years we have managed to not only warm our planet, but we have also contaminated our water supplies upon which all life depends. If this isn’t bad enough, our leaders are slow to react to these fundamental threats, indeed, many will not even acknowledge that they exist.
The report lists communities around the country that identified as having lead contamination.
We are truly entering Orwell’s age of doublespeak ( i.e., language used to deceive, usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth). One such example is the Trump Administration’s deletion of the term climate change from government websites (and funding agencies are suggesting that applicants do the same in their federal grant proposals), so it is up to the rest of us to keep this term in the public’s eye. Yes, the vast majority of us believe that climate change is occurring as we witness extreme weather events and fires in the west.
My friends and I recently took our “heavy glass” to photograph at the Seneca Park Zoo. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for getting sharp pictures, even though the mid-day sun creates harsh contrast. The last time I was here was many years ago with our young nieces. How the time goes by.
Today’s zoos meet higher standards to keep their accreditation than in the past. The animals’ physical and emotional needs are better met.
Zoos often provide safe haven for injured and nearly extinct animals. Zoos are especially great for kids, particularly since fewer of them see animals in their natural habitats.
Still, I wonder when seeing the animals’ expressions, if they are happy being fenced in. Separated from their natural habitats, they are not free to roam, associate, and mate as evolution has shaped them. According to Wikipedia:
The welfare of zoo animals varies widely. Many zoos work to improve their animal enclosures and make it fit the animals’ needs, although constraints such as size and expense make it difficult to create ideal captive environments for many species.
A study examining data collected over four decades found that polar bears, lions, tigers and cheetahs show evidence of stress in captivity. Zoos can be internment camps for animals, but also a place of refuge. A zoo can be considered an internment camp due to the insufficient enclosures that the animals have to live in. When an elephant is placed in a pen that is flat, has no tree, no other elephants and only a few plastic toys to play with; it can lead to boredom and foot problems (Lemonic, McDowel, and Bjerklie 50).[full citation needed] Also, animals can have a shorter life span when they are in these types of enclosures. Causes can be human diseases, materials in the cages, and possible escape attempts (Bendow 382).[full citation needed] When zoos take time to think about the animal’s welfare, zoos can become a place of refuge. There are animals that are injured in the wild and are unable to survive on their own, but in the zoos they can live out the rest of their lives healthy and happy (McGaffin).[full citation needed] In recent years, some zoos have chosen to stop showing their larger animals because they are simply unable to provide an adequate enclosure for them (Lemonic, McDowell, and Bjerklie 50).
You can see more of my photos from the day’s shoot at my online gallery.
Until now, the focus of my blog has been to show images of birds, animals, and landscapes to encourage people to think more deeply about the consequences of climate change and preserving our natural environment. I have backed up all my environmental statements with scientific evidence from credible private and governmental sources. I have kept direct political statements out of my posts. However, I must make an exception as political events could limit the free flow of scientific information on my blog.
An article in today’s New York Times cites the “disappearance” of scientific data from some U.S. Government websites as a result of the Trump Administration’s wish to sweep climate change and other topics with which it sees as contrary to its agenda “under the rug.” This is akin to the Catholic Church’s suppression of science in the days of Copernicus and Galileo. So, not only is democracy increasingly eroded here in the U.S. and elsewhere, but now the most objective way we have for understanding how the earth, and indeed the universe, works is also at risk. The implication is that we are to believe in myth, mysticism, and magic, as well as government propaganda.
I will be reviewing the U.S. Government hyper-links in my earlier posts and pages. In those cases where I find a link to be inactive I’ll post, [Link deactivated by the Trump Adminstration].
I went out yesterday with my hiking club. I gave up carrying a camera on these hikes because we move along at a pretty steady clip. By the time I got my hands clear of my hiking pole straps, removed my gloves, and took my time to compose, everyone was long gone. However, one of my
photographer friends showed me some pictures he took while hiking with another group. They were very good. I asked how he manages this and he said you have to be quick. Don’t worry too much about composing. Shoot what grabs you and with any luck you might get some good shots. In fact, while thought and composition are necessary most of the time to get good shots, “shooting from the hip” was one of the topics covered in a workshop that I participated in last summer. So, here are my results, along with my interpretation.
In an earlier post I explained why parks, woods, and wilderness are so
important as refuges for reflection. They offer a place away from the “noise” of our lives (assuming we turned the mobile phone off). Thus, they help us focus and think more deeply. This is what ran through my mind as I shot the photos.
Winter is so often seen as a metaphor for dormancy, emptiness, and the end of life. It is cold, generally overcast, lacks color, and shows no obvious growth. It is much like we experience with the loss of our loved ones, getting fired, or looking for love. The difference between winter as a
season and winter as a metaphor is that the warmth and rebirth of spring rather predictably follows the former, while “spring” rather unpredictably follows the latter. During such times we tend to question the purpose and direction of our lives. It is a problem we have to solve on our own, no one can do it for us. Perhaps a weird statement coming from a sociologist.