Trump As the “Destroyer of Worlds”

On reflection of the first detonation of an atomic bomb at New Mexico in 1945, the then head of the Los Alamos Lab, J. Robert Oppenheimer, remarked that this event brought a passage from Hindu scripture to mind, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." Today, In an interview regarding North Korea, Trump remarked that if North Korea continues missile launches it will see fire and fury from the United States. Such rhetoric can only escalate a volatile situation putting people across national borders at risk.

As if this doesn't pose enough risk to humanity there is his failure to address climate change, in fact, promoting policies that will speed it up. A draft Federal climate change report made available by the Internet Archive and reported by the New York Times is awaiting approval by the Administration. The report presents detailed data showing that the average U.S. temperature has risen rapidly since 1980 and recent decades have been the warmest in the past 1500 years.

The most vulnerable and first to die as a result of climate change will be the poor in undeveloped nations. Eventually, all will suffer as global populations plummet.

This is not an issue of liberal versus conservative, it is an issue of the survival or non-survival of our children and subsequent generations.

Great Lakes Flooding

After a spring of unusually heavy rain throughout the Northeast, many lakes and streams have risen to flood level. This is particularly

Durand-Eastman Beach; Sept. 16, 2015

problematic along the southern shore of Lake Ontario when there is a strong North or Northeast wind. Although I could not get to the exact same position, due to flooding, the photos show Durand-Eastman Beach is essentially gone for most of this season. This flooding event is politically controversial because it pits U.S. Ontario and Canadian Montreal residents, and conservationists against each other. As reported in Rochester’s City Newspaper, Lake Ontario’s level was 33.1 inches above its long-term average on May 17, according to the IJC. However, in Montreal Harbor the water was 55.5 inches above average, causing evacuations of several neighborhoods. Although wider opening of the Moses-Saunders Dam’s  floodgates would have lowered Lake Ontario a little faster, greater flooding would have resulted in the Montreal area.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental scientists say that

Durand-Eastman Beach; May 27, 2017

heavy rain is the major contributor to flooding. However, U.S. Lake Ontario residents do not accept the scientific data. Instead, they claim flooding is the result of Plan 2014. Scientists project a $20 million loss under this plan, compared with $18 million under the previous Plan 1958DD. Therefore, if Plan 1958DD was still in effect, it would only reduce shoreline damages by 5%.

The primary reason for implementing Plan 2014 was to restore the lake shore habitat. The wetlands developed over centuries, through constant shifts in the lake’s water levels. However, in the late 1950s, U.S. and Canadian public power utilities built a large hydroelectric dam (the Moses-Saunders Dam) between Lake Ontario’s eastern outlet and the St. Lawrence River to minimize fluctuations in water level. The result is that Lake Ontario cattails have taken over vital coastal wetlands, leaving important species such as muskrat and northern pike without critical habitat.

The Nature Conservancy predicts that healthier wetlands will improve fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities, along with greater economic returns. Healthier, diverse wetlands, especially healthy ones that are not overcrowded, filter nutrient pollutants – animal waste and all fertilizers – out of the water. Those pollutants encourage algae and bacteria growth in the waters near the Lake Ontario shore. Research indicates that healthier, more diverse wetlands could help reduce pollution, something that cattails are less effective at.

Even though property losses have dropped since the introduction of the dam, the IJC has to balance the need for environmental conservation with the needs of lake and river shore landowners. Unfortunately, landowners in each environmental area feel their property should be fully protected—an impossible task. When I discussed this with people I know, one said the shipping interests are the ones the governments are trying to protect, another said, you can’t believe what the government tells you. Although it is generally true that laws and regulations typically favor the moneyed interests, in this case the primary concern for governments is to balance the environment, commercial, and landowners’ needs based on what the current environmental science tells us about the shores of the Great Lakes. Ignoring this risks our grandchildren’s generation.

As I write this, the Trump Administration has not included monies for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Although it has been reported that his budget proposal is “dead on arrival”, it remains to be seen whether this initiative will continued to be funded at an adequate level.

A Veery at Oatka

This is one of the Spotted Thrushes that a friend of mine and I found at Oatka Creek Park the other day. Although categorized by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a species of least concern since there are about 11 million Veery in North America, its

Veery, decreasing population <30% over 10 years

population has decreased something less than 30% over the past 10 years. According to Bird Life Data Zone, “The population is suspected to be in decline owing to increased predation by the Brown-headed Cowbird together with ongoing habitat destruction and degradation in its wintering range.”

Photogenic Lianas

180 degrees

Lianas are those woody vines so common to our wooded areas. As kids we used to look for them so

Looped

we could swing through the woods, much like Tarzan. Unfortunately, every once in a while a vine would either break or tear loose from its tree and down we would go. One of us ended up in a swampy mess. Such was life for boys in the rural fifties. I always felt so good coming home after time in the woods, alone, or with friends.

Nowadays I don’t swing on lianas, but I have found that some have interesting

Tangled

shapes, making them good photographic subjects. I took these photographs on Ilford Pan F 50 film. The sky was overcast, providing soft light. Since most of the exposures were  1/30 second or longer, I used a tripod.

Motif #1

I shot this circa, 1973 on Tri-X film. Motif # 1 is one of the most often painted and photographed scenes in New England. This is the

Motif # 1

original building destroyed in the blizzard of ’78 (the blizzard shut greater Boston down for a week). Although this scene harks back to a simpler time, it really wasn’t. Within a year there would be the oil shock, and along with other social and economic factors, would herald the de-industrialization of the West. The result was an increase in economic inequality that continues to this day.