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.
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).
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.
Let me know what being outdoors does for you.
Yesterday, I drove to Wharton Point to photograph the Maquoit Bay area. Did you know that Maine’s coastline is 3500 miles long? It was mid-morning and I managed this shot with a slow exposure.
I went to the duck pond this morning to photograph insects but I couldn’t find any. However, I did find dozens of young adult (teen?) frogs. Like most young species they let me get pretty close. Hmm, I wonder if these guys know anything about the missing insects (they are carnivores, after all). You can see some of them at my online Gallery.
Last Thanksgiving I went to a vegan dinner fundraiser for this farm. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour it and take photographs. Fortunately, it was cloudy most of the time, eliminating those harsh shadows and high contrast scenes so detrimental to most photography.
Animals are like people in that some are more shy while others are more social. Consequently, I saw the extroverts on this tour.
Factory farms, like slavery, are inhumane. But not raising animals on factory farms goes well beyond animal cruelty. Raising farm animals takes up more land, water, and feed resources than is returned in process meat. Furthermore, factory farming produces large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, the latter of which produces twenty to eighty-six times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide (why does the greenhouse effect of methane vary?). As I have reported in a recent post, factory farming has a greater impact on climate change than all forms of fossil fuel transportation combined.
You can find more of the animals I photographed at my online gallery.
To learn more about Graze in Peace, go to http://grazeinpeace.com
The waves beat against the unyielding rocks. Yet, given enough time, the water wins.
Maine’s coastal rocks are the result of plate tectonics and glaciation. They formed from layers of underground silt subjected to heat and pressure. When the North Atlantic plate rammed the North American plate these rocks were pushed to the surface. Glaciers then added their finishing touches.
I’ve been going out to walk more as the weather begins to improve. Like so many people around the world who are staying mostly at home these days I’ve been going a little stir crazy. Today, as the temperature approached 50º F I
was feeling a bit lethargic–should I go out on the bike? Absolutely, so I suited up and rode to the Old Port (downtown Portland) section. You can see the route I took with the screenshot taken from my Ride with GPS account. The sky was blue, the wind slight. Traffic was light along Washington Avenue. However, once I approached the park areas toward the Back Cove, it was like a Sunday afternoon. Navigating my way on the cycle/pedestrian path was challenging so as not to hit anyone.
Aside from couples or families with kids, it looked like everyone was keeping
their six foot distances. This was my first foray into the city with all the emergency protocols in place. My first stop was the state pier and the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal; its service to the islands now cut back.
From there I rode down
Commercial Street and up to the Market/Exchange Street intersection. This is normally a highly congested area with traffic and pedestrians. As you can see, there wasn’t much going on (and holy cow, the Holy Donut Shop was closed!); I pretty much had the streets to myself. From there I rode
up to the next block to Post Office Park on Middle Street. It was pretty empty there, too.
With that I turned around and headed back to the cycle path and, stopping at the Cutter Street Parking lot. There, while eating my power bar, two of Plante’s ferries were offloading and loading construction trucks, from Peaks Island. The entire area was crowded with people, like me, just happy to get out of the house.
After that, a couple of swigs of water and I was off. By the time I got home, I was breathing deeply and my lethargy gone!
Are you getting out? If so, what are you doing?
On Monday, the United Nations Climate Action Summit gets underway in Madrid, Spain. A just released U.N. report found that we are not making very good progress towards keeping global temperature rise below 1.5⁰ C by 2050.
This is because global warming is not a linear process, but rather an exponential one; the planet is warming at faster rates over time. We are reaching what some social scientists have called a “tipping point.”
This can also be applied to the natural sciences. For example, wild fires put particulate in the air which eventually settle on glaciers. Now, in addition to warmer temperatures causing ice melt, there is a second factor, particulate, which absorbs additional heat. Another example is that warmer air not only melts the tundra’s
permafrost, but as it does, methane, a much stronger greenhouse gas, is released, further warming the planet.
The basic cause of climate change is too many people producing too much GDP with fossil fuels. The only very unfortunate solution is to stop using fossil fuels and transition to renewable energies. Since these cannot provide as much energy as fossil fuels in the foreseeable future, post-industrial societies would have to transition to micro-industrial production. This would entail giving up many of our amenities and creature comforts that we have become so used to over the past 100 years. But you and I are not going to do it. Buying a Prius just won’t cut it. The only way this can be done is by inter-governmental cooperation among the G20 countries. What we can do is pressure our political leaders.
Watch any of the business news and what do you see? All the emphasis is on growth; very little attention is paid to environmental issues unless it’s regarding regulations. As I walk down along Commercial Street in Portland, Maine, the renaissance of the last 15 years continues. High-rise buildings proliferate, some of which have condominiums ranging from about $500k to $2.5m. Though a small city, Portland has diversity, it has restaurants that can compete with those in Boston and New York, it has investment houses, and it has an outstanding art museum. All this takes energy to construct and maintain. Sad to say, this is not sustainable, not here, certainly not in London, New York, or Beijing.
With this post I digress a bit from discussing environmental issues. I have been in the process of moving to Portland, Maine after 27 years in Rochester. It has been a very tough decision that has evolved during the past six years. I not only have great ambivalence about leaving my house with so many memories, I also have to leave the many friends I developed during my years in Rochester. I do hope they will visit me and invite me back to visit them. After all, I still have friends in New England who I have maintained friendships with over the past 27 years.
With this move I return to my New England home, though I have never lived in Maine. My late wife and I have been coming here to visit friends since 1980 and we wanted someday to live here. Although Maine is predominantly a rural state, I live in Cumberland County, of which Portland is part. It is the most urban, progressive part of Maine. Things are stressful as I am awaiting the sale of my Rochester house and entering a contract on a Portland house. All this going on while living in a winter rental on Peaks Island!
You might recall that I spent about ten weeks photographing coastal Maine in 2014 that resulted in a Photobook, Exploring Maine’s Coast: Belfast to Wells. Like Alaska, Maine still has bush pilots flying hunters and fisherman to its interior, not to mention Mount Katadin which is the beginning or end of the Appalachian Trail. Once I am settled I will begin going out with the camera to capture the Maine environment, opening a new chapter in my life.