Lead in Our Water Supplies

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.

“Climate change” added to my blog’s subtitle

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.

 

“It’s All Happening At the Zoo . . . .”

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.

Elephant’s Eye

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.[41][42]

A study examining data collected over four decades found that polar bears, lions, tigers and cheetahs show evidence of stress in captivity.[43] 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.

Myth, Mysticism, and Magic

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].

Winter–A Metaphor

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

Emptiness/Dormancy
Emptiness/Dormancy

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

Steps to Somewhere
Steps to Somewhere

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

Which Direction?
Which Direction?

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.

Earth analysis from data collected by the deep space probe, Xertox

The Xertox deep space probe from the planet Outlandia entered a polar Earth orbit and collected data from every surface area for a period of twelve months. These data included photos of the planet’s surface, along with atmospheric, oceanic, and continental compositions and temperatures (collected by deployed robotic labs).

Analysis (based on data received by Outlandia, 200 years later) reveals that the planet’s atmosphere contains high levels of greenhouse gases contributing to an average surface temperature of 65.4° F. The oceans appeared to have risen significantly over the past 150 years before major evaporation.  The planet has no glaciers, with very little ice during the winter at the southern pole. The northern pole has almost no ice during winter.

There is no life on the planet beyond the bacterial, algae, and fungi groups. Given soil analyses and the planet-wide remains of buildings and large structures, it appears the planet had a wide array of higher life forms, including intelligent. Further analysis shows a sudden release of methane from warming oceans over a hundred-year period, likely due to the extensive burning of fossil fuels. This is demonstrated by the unique fossil fuel signature contained the planet’s CO2 molecules.

Conclusion: Since this advanced civilization would have had decades warning of rising temperatures and their implications, we conclude this species rapidly developed technologically, well ahead of the time necessary to evolve beyond the stage of focusing only on meeting its immediate needs. Famine, disease, mass migrations, and conflict would have drastically reduced the populations of most species. Eventually,    temperatures too high to support most life forms completed the extinction process.

This is a fictionalized account of a deep space probe mission conducted from the planet Outlandia located 200 years away in our Milky Way Galaxy. They launched Xertox in Earth’s year 1950 after spectrographic analysis indicated Earth was located in what we call, the Goldilocks zone (not too hot, not too cold . . .). Unfortunately, by the time it got here in 2150, we were toast.

Does our fate sound far-fetched? Maybe it is not. According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the average global surface temperature has increased about 1.53° F since 1880. Scientists warn of a threshold effect if the average surface temperature rises another 1° C (for a total of 3.6° F above the average 1880 temperature). Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and the current (sixth) extinction of species all attest to the implications of these rising temperatures related to burning fossil fuels.

Perhaps it is time for us to evolve a lot faster.

Forthcoming Book Announcement

Fielding_Nunavik Cover
Map: Courtesy of Nunavik Tourism

Expedition to Nunavik: A Photo Essay is a collection of photographs with a brief history of Northern Quebec (see my two posts about the trip from August 2015). It is about our relationship to the environment.

I was looking for an interesting place to photograph early in 2015, possibly Antarctica, New Zealand, or Iceland. Then, an advertisement in Outdoor Photographer Magazine placed by Nunavik Tourism of Northern Fielding_Nunavik.jpg Page 48Quebec caught my eye.

Although we were going to photograph musk oxen and landscapes, this expedition would lead me to learn more about the history and culture of Nunavik’s Inuit. Like so many native Peoples around the world, the Inuit face constant tension between maintaining their culture and traditional way of life, and integrating with the Western world.

Fielding_Nunavik.jpg Page 24I’m waiting for a decision on a proposal I submitted to a Canadian publisher. Should the press be interested, the book would likely be published in 2017. If the press decides not to publish, I will independently publish later this year. I should know which direction publication will take within the next few weeks.

 

In follow-up to the Peaks Island Community Discussion

My thanks to all who attended; you were a wonderful audience. It was a packed house!

My thanks also to Priscilla Webster, Kathryn Moxhay, and the Friends of the Peaks Island Branch Library who made this possible;

Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld of CFW Photography here in Portland who wrote a wonderful Foreword;

and my friends whom I’ve known forever, Debbie Jordan and Dave Stankowicz here on Peaks.

The following photos, courtesy of A.D. Stankowicz:

Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library

 

 

 

 

 

Global population Growth
Global Population Growth

 

 

Interactive Discussion
Interactive Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

Great Audience
Great Audience
Post-talk
Post-talk

 

 

 

 

 

With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster

 

 

 

 

 

Back at Black Dog Cottage
Back at Black Dog Cottage

Here are the references I referred to in my opening remarks:

The End of Plenty

Rachel Carson

Living Planet Report

National Academy of Sciences

The Sixth Extinction

Barnes & Noble Climate Change Titles (I have no financial or business relationships with Barnes & Noble)

Barnes & Noble Environmental Pollution Titles National Geographic: Global Warming

Perhaps the most eloquent speaker for helping us understand our universe was the Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 TV series, Cosmos. A decade later he showed us a humbling photo of Earth (the Blue Dot), taken from Voyager I, and made the point that Earth is the only home we’ll ever have so we better take care of it.

Carl Sagan’s Blue Dot The Blue Dot from 4 billion miles

In the 1980s Sagan encouraged a promising 17 year-old boy from New York to pursue astronomy. He invited Neil deGrasse Tyson to Ithaca to see what was going on at the forefront of astronomy. Today, Dr. Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He hosts Nova Science Now (and others), and resurrected Cosmos in 2014, aired on Fox, and now available on Netflix. Like Sagan, he too emphasizes that we need to globally act to protect our environment, since we now now that the additional CO2  in the atmosphere started to climb since the beginning of the industrial revolution (this CO2 has a fossil fuel signature–meaning, we did it).

New Look

I decided with the new year a new look is warranted for my blog. WordPress calls it “2014” so, technically, I’m still a year behind. I’m at a bit of a lull right now as I await review comments on my bird photobook, “Birds of Declining Populations,” and “A Personal Odyssey Along Maine’s Coast.”  I’m also getting ready for another photo shoot; more about this in a later post.

I registered for the CANAM Photo Expo. All of the camera clubs in western New York and Ontario, Canada will be entering photographs from their members.  I’ve entered 13 photographs that will be split between the print and digital salons. Competition will be stiff–I hope to at least get a couple of photographs scored in the top 20%.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen any of my recent photographs you can click on this link. You can navigate to the rest of the site from there, if you wish.