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Understanding climate:

“It’s either the whole or it’s nothing…”

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/gavin_schmidt_the_emergent_patterns_of_climate_change?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=image__2014-05-01

 

Gavin Schmidt said this at the Ted conferences in early May. I feel it is the easiest way to sum up  what is in front of us:

 

It’s either the whole or it’s nothing…

 

Either we embrace that our Earth must be cared for as a whole rather than a whole lot of separate island nations, or we humans all sink together into a kind of desperate living only Hollywood can adequately portray. And with a lot of pain and suffering for so much we love along the way, animal, plant and human alike, in this miraculous, Eden-like habitat we call home.

 

This wholeness can be really positive if embraced as a reason to care now — for each other, for the animal and plant life that is the miracle of our world, for the shreds of wilderness left intact that we protect, and for the areas of Nature now rehabilitating with or without our notice — with as much determination as we can find within ourselves.

 

Yes, let’s respond to the whole as a whole; we have the technology, and the heart and art to do so.

 

Is there any among you who can put a webcam of melting ice and stranded polar bear and cubs on the Megatron in Times Square where we city dwellers can stand, rapt with concern, and root for their survival? That might occupy attention to our wholeness. How about another webcam 24/7 on the screen at the airports, documenting not just the latest extreme weather event we watch in awe anyway, opening our hearts and wallets for those people displaced, but also one which provides a glimpse of mammals seeking water during the newest drought or fire, wherever it may be? Live, as it happens…

 

Too tough to watch, I hear many protesting. Yes, but it is real-time reality TV that simply underscores our connection to each other, our care piqued as we are a species that does have a good heart when seeing pain, and we do respond to help.

 

If we can see and experience the whole, with our eyes and hearts engaged, we can create a culture of care for the whole.

 

Really, we can.

 

 

 

 

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We don’t know what our own habitat is…

Sir David Attenborough

BBC 16 Dec 2013

 

This off-the-cuff observation, in the midst of a simple radio conversation on BBC today, startled me.

Is it possible that we, in walking through the moments of our lives, do not recognize or ‘know’ our own habitat? This ecosphere of life-giving oxygen, those mountains, that river of water, this bit of nourishment from some plot of dirt?  

Is it possible we suffer from habitat illiteracy – can you read the sky and the wind for on-coming weather, recognize a source of usable water, or observe the movement of wildlife to note puzzling changes?

Being a 3rd generation native of this area of the Rockies, where the prairie meets mountains, and raised by a woman born in the late 1800s whose survival and well-being depended on reading the land and weather, I too taught my children to read the beautiful, huge blue sky here. We pay attention to see, to smell, to feel when snow is in the air and whether it’s a northern ice (and thus cold) scent or a heavy damp one (and thus a deep, heavy snow requiring extra food in the pantry) on the way. I soothed my children with knowledge of when a cloud portended hail rather than tornado weather and which way it was blowing in order that they feel safe at Home in our world and empowered to be a part of it. We see how the prairie Blue Jays have come to inhabit our backyard rather than the foothills variety and that summer’s doves now stay too long (and thus get caught by heavier snows than they are meant for) — puzzling changes in territory and timing we can only presume come from changes in climate and habitat needs.

Reading the weather, the sky, our habitat are essential tools. For we need them to feel at home here on Earth and with earth’s vital resources that support our very life.

We are not unique; so many I know bring their own weather/habitat knowledge with them when they make a new home in a new territory as well. And thus learning and natural evolution take place; yes, it really can be 10-below for a week here and yes, power can go out.

But Sir David speaks of a more profound change:

We don’t know what our own habitat is  . . .

Have a majority of us, like the comic Jetsons of the 1960s, become used to punching a button and food is shoved into our mouths? (Let’s not forget that poor family had to wear helmets for life-giving oxygen; let us hope that is not our future here on Earth.)

Sir David went on to mention the moors and forests of the U.K., every inch of which, of course, are transformed by man’s hand over centuries save, he noted whimsically, a few tops of peaks in Scotland.

Here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world many of us are lucky enough to see wilderness, where we can see an ‘original’ habitat of man, whether temperate rainforest in British Columbia or parts of the Amazon and here in the Rockies —except that in many cases, the wilderness managed to be preserved is the edge of our habitat, a remnant of land from which man could not carve out a 4-season living, like at the tops of our Eagle’s Nest Wilderness of 13,000 and 14,000 feet, and thus left it to remain wilderness.

We do not know what our own habitat is…

Sir David did mention that we might look upon glass and steel, buildings and tarmack, as our habitat — and if so, he said, that is very distressing. Indeed we are told that a majority of the world’s population now lives in cities. And of course, that is a mixed blessing: with more urban living, more land is able to return to wild, as noted in a previous post (Re*Wilding);  yet with more people, especially our children, living in a city-bound alienation from our Earth, we become dangerous and sad. We suffer both a habitat illiteracy, and a sense of alienation from our natural cradle that gives us water, air, food, life.

The remedy? Take a moment outside. Reconnect to your habitat: notice the sky and read the wind; gaze at your water source and feel grateful it’s even there; consider what the wildlife (surely there is some near you even if a humble pigeon or squirrel) had for their breakfast. And then look to the horizon . . . and think about home. The Earth. Your habitat.

What is your habitat, really? It’s still there, beyond the glass and steel.

And your life-force, maybe even your soul within you, knows you, me, we all need it more than we might want to admit.

 

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A talk from the heart by Boyd Varty, who has learned in his life that we are connected andmade better by our connection with each other — ubuntu — but that is also true of our connection with our Earth, our habitat, and the other animals with whom we share this beautiful planet.

A long, long time ago, I too walked a river near Londolozi in South Africa, and too saw the shadows and faced my deepest fears. I too learned of what it meant to be reliant on others to open the world, touch my heart, carry my spirit to safety, and to experience the humility of our deepest connections of heart, of spirit, of life and how these interconnections are made stronger by extending to the living creatures around us… but these are stories for another time. For now, listen with open heart to Boyd Varty and allow yourself to be immersed in his heart and story. It’s not just about meeting and knowing a great person, it is also about learning to know that together in spirit we are stronger.

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Re*Wilding II

Re* Wild; Re*Solve; Re*Generate.

This is what Nature can do.

It will do it over us (and our dead bodies, as the saying unfortunately goes) as with earth-events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and other events not in human control.

It will do it despite us, as any one noticing dandelions growing between sidewalks and in parking lots in any urban human-created landscape. It may not be what we want, but Nature will start somewhere.

It will do it especially with human help, in the form of protections, elimination of poisons and pollutions, over-use and over-demand, and with human help in the form of leaving Nature alone in areas set aside to re*wild, re*generate, and re*solve problems we created in our management of it.

This was the report of the Rewilding Europe initiative.

The European Brown bear is returning; you can go and watch them (what a delight that would be!) on the Finnish/Russian border or in areas of the Carpathians.

A wolf carcass was found in the Netherlands — meaning usually there are others seeking new territories — in the Noord Oost Polder region. It was the first time in 150 years a wolf — anything, living or dead — had been identified in the Netherlands and scientists investigating noted it seemed it had been living in the area for quite some time, before being hit by a car or truck.*

Red Deer populations are increasing; beaver are making a huge comeback with hunting protections. White-tailed eagles and European bison are back from the brink of extinction, as are several bird species.

And the operating force here is, essentially, leaving Nature alone, and offering protection for the habitat and numbers who were left. It is estimated that by 2020, 4 out of 5 European citizens will live in urban areas, leaving areas where Nature can re*wild and re*generate habitat. Even “wilderness’ is on the map again. If…

Ah yes, If.  The famous two words of the Lorax are always near:

IF . . .

If the areas being left and emptied of humans — most marginal farmlands and no-go zones along old Eastern Bloc borders — are not turned into huge forest plantations for the biofuel market and, in other areas, if forests aren’t allowed to overtake natural ‘bush’ areas where wildlife can thrive. And this is best done letting Nature do what Nature does best, with large grazers like elk, deer, wild horse and aurochs allowed to roam, keeping open areas and forested areas dynamic: The way Nature works.

What an opportunity.

Re*Wilding Europe envisions a Europe with “open, broadleaved forests where bison, deer, wild horses and aurochs exist alongside wolves, lynx and bears and where most of the original plants and animals of lowland Europe thrive. Extensive grass steppes and shallow lakes where the ground trembles under the hooves of thousands of horses and aurochs, with a myriad of cranes, waders and other wetland species breeding or resting during migration. Mountain cliffs alive with ibex and chamois…” and eventually the return of “mystical old-growth forests” and “spectacular landscapes with abundant wildlife, which attracts visitors from all sectors of society and from all corners of the world.” It will begin this vision with five wild projects in Western Iberia, Eastern Carpathians, Danube Delta, Southern Carpathians, and Velebit, with more to come  soon.

Sounds like heaven. Or perhaps Eden. Certainly it sounds like the tapestry in which humans first emerged in Europe to live in balance, and some would say harmony, with the Nature of which we are apart and in which we have our lives, livelihoods, and spiritual being. Oh, those words again: balance, harmony, spirit.

As with the best ‘wilderness’ these aren’t areas where humans are kept out but rather Nature where humans are simply reminded to not destroy that which supports us, as our well-being is part of the well-being of our habitat; Nature thrives and humans thrive in one seamless weave.

But to begin, as we know, it takes all of us: To protect from rapacious use; to allow re*generation where possible; or to help with re*introductions and re*solve to re*claim habitat for the native species where not.

It’s an exciting idea, this re*wilding. If you’d like to help, get in touch with Rewilding Europe. As with any effort it will take all of our voices and our re*solve to say this is a world we want. Go and visit; help fund the idea of wildlife and wilds having value with your feet and your tourism currency; become a donor or contribute to the European Wildlife Bank. And don’t stop there; there are similar opportunities near you, in your local habitat as well.

The thing is, it will take our hearts first, as we commit to a balance in living with Nature rather than ‘against’ it as we develop a new Culture of Care. Then it will take our breath away, when we witness the beauty of Nature re*wilded. We will know we have helped re*generate Home.

*Roadkill and wolves; it’s never just the one wolf. Somewhere there is a pack without its designated hunter coming home with food for the young. See my article about the Return of the Wolf in the Rocky Mountain West from the 1990s at my portfolio website. It is when we can see such ‘roadkill’ as part of a system of life, family, and let our hearts be moved by the realization something, somewhere, is waiting for the return of that particular animal to the den, that we will truly assist the process of re*generation of our Wild Home on Earth.

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