‘They’ say the first step is always the hardest.

“Whatever we believe about how we got to be the extraordinary creatures we are today is far less important than bringing our intellect to bear on how we get together around the world and get out this mess we’ve made. That’s the key thing now. Nevermind how we got to be who we are.” – Jane Goodall

When quotations like this appear on Facebook or in news stories and articles, they get a huge number of LIKES and positive comments. I want to ask, “So, after you clicked LIKE or wrote ‘so true,’ what did you do next?”

Likewise, when people encounter charities and various crowdfunding initiatives that are collecting money for programs that will make a better world, I’m curious what people did after donating their $25 or $50. The same thought comes to mind about what people do after signing petitions that are trying to raise the public’s (or an elected official’s) awareness about a problem.

Many people appear to believe that talking about an issue is the same thing as actively working to “fix” whatever needs to be fixed. Being concerned about something, while commendable, isn’t the same thing as putting your money where your mouth is or putting your brains and brawn where your money is.

Needless to say, some people who donate $50 to one group and sign a petition in support of another group really think they’ve done their bit.

I don’t have a list of the things people ought to be doing, but joining nuts and bolts volunteer groups is one place to begin. Once you join, you’ll see an old truism governs how much gets done: 20% of the members usually do 80% of the work.

In churches, the concept of the tithe usually refers to money. Yet, we can also apply it to time, as in, giving 10% of one’s time toward fixing the mess we’re in. Even though some government officials, corporations, and lobbying groups are giving 100% of their time to make the mess worse, if enough people chipped in enough time to thwart those who are destroying nature and freedom and equality and peace, then we might have a chance of actually fixing something rather than talking about fixing something.

One way or the other, we need to take that first step toward action.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” “Lena,” “Sarabande,” “Mountain Song,” “At Sea,” and “The Sun Singer.”

 

Do you actively worry about the state of the world?

There are weeks, aren’t there, when all the news is bad, when new studies come out that tell us texting, climate change, and lack of personal eye contact with each other will be the ruination of everything. Maps are published that show how rising seas will eat away at coastlines, then states, then countries.

My grandparents thought radio and then TV and then Elvis were signs of a degraded populace. Every generation seems to point at some habit or phase of the next generation that spells doom. As we get older, we find out that not only our parents’ generation but our parents themselves were wilder when they were kids than they would acknowledge when we were growing up and pushing various envelopes.

The soothsayers seem to rejoice in proclaiming “The end is near.”

With gobal warming, I begin to wonder if the end is near. A lot of people are denying that it’s happening–in spite of the evidence. And that includes the current administration, one that is also rolling back clean air and water protections and other environmental rules. I remember when Jay Leno, on the old Tonight Show, used to interview people on the street about historical and other facts that my generation saw as baseline knowledge. More often than not, people didn’t even know the name of our President, where California is, and other basic facts.

Is our texting generation creating anew this aura of general stupidity about how the world works, where states and countries are, and whether or not rising seas constitute a real problem? I hate texting–so, I have a bias. But sidewalks filled with people who are looking at their cellphones is disturbing. What the hell can y’all possibly be talking about that’s more important than where you are and the people around you?

Do things like this worry you?

I’m beginning to wonder if I should start a new blog called “The end is near.”

Malcolm

We’re saying goodbye to the natural world

I think many poets, myself included, are struggling with how to keep writing in the face of the environmental degradation that is looming over us and our children, the beauties and seasons that will be lost, the diversity of flowers and trees and butterflies and fish. These are in danger of vanishing before the words for them do. Poetry is extremely hardy—it was around before the alphabet and will outlast many kinds of human technology. I am robustly optimistic about poetry, but that is maybe the only thing I am optimistic about.

I think a lot about Richard Wilbur’s “Advice to a Prophet”: “Whether there shall be lofty or long-standing / When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.” So much of our language is rooted in the old seasons, and in a miraculous natural world. It is terrifying to think that the language will outlast some of these. On the other hand, I suppose there will be new metaphors, and the poets of the future will find a way forward. – A. E. Stallings

Should writers be political? I think the answer is “yes,” though in many countries being political results in a death sentence or life imprisonment. Each of us does this in our own way. We don’t write in a vacuum. It’s hard to ignore the slings and arrows of fads, bad government, and horrible business decisions. However, many of our potential readers say they’re tired of logging on to Facebook and other services, much less the news sites, and seeing a continuous flow of bad news.

I’ve been an environmentalist for a long time, so Stalling’s words resonate with me. My response in my fiction has usually been to celebrate the natural world. Perhaps this is not enough. It appears that more people want to celebrate suburbia than the world as it was created. So, how do writers approach that point of view?

Many writers have focused on climate change. Yet readers seem to think such works are “over the top” and that climate change either isn’t happening, isn’t caused by humankind, or that the worst scenarios won’t play out for hundreds of years. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t say how soon the Earth’s environment will collapse. But we’ve been warned, I think. The least writers can do is celebrate the environment and have their fictional characters worry about global chaos.

The best we can do, perhaps, is allowing our characters the opportunity of expressing the kinds of fears we have. This way, we’re not beating our readers over the head with politics and activism. We’re telling stories in which folks have the same worries many of us have. I doubt that most people read stories that sound like a list of the political arguments of the day.  So, unless we have a seriously hardy theme, we need to be careful about how political we are.

Our readers want stories, not political tracts. Yet, we can inject our opinions if we are careful about how we do it.

Malcolm

EPA to Implement Cistern Plan to Solve Rising Seas Problems

Washington, D.C., July 25, 2019, Star-Gazer News Service–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon begin placing rows of used crude oil storage tanks, each capable of holding 16 million gallons of liquid, in the open spaces at solar farms, wind farms, abandoned military bases, and Alien holding cells at Area 51. These tanks will be linked to a vast pumping station and pipeline network that will extract seawater from the oceans to counteract rising sea levels.

At this morning’s press conference, EPA Deputy Manager of Oceans, Leilani Moana reported that while the agency has not reversed its position about the unreality of climate change and related rising sea levels, it recognizes that small, short term climate anomalies are causing a public panic about the future of states like Hawai’i and Florida.

“Since the EPA feels your pain,” Moana said, “our top scientists and engineers  have devised a system of pumping stations, pipelines, and aqueducts to remove water from coastal areas and store it inland until it can be safely released.”

Some of the pumping stations would be tied into desalinization plants that would reduce the pressure on river systems for potable freshwater during times of drought.

According to a NASA white paper, launching water into the sun on Saturn V rockets would be cost-prohibitive even though some experts said such a program would cool the sun slightly, allowing Arctic glaciers to reform to help stabilize sea levels.

“The world’s excess heat is primarily caused by heated arguments about climate change that are turning the entire issue into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Moana said. She added that groups claiming that the weight of the water in the cisterns would push the U.S. deeper into the ocean are unfounded.

Scientists told reporters this morning that the water held in the cisterns would always remain available to be pumped back into the oceans should weather anomalies ever decrease sea levels to the point where cruise ships were scraping bottom trying to get in and out of popular tourist destination ports.

“The Earth’s water supply is a closed system,” said EPA Chief Oceanographer Porter “Po” Seidon. “The water we have is all the water we have. All we’re doing is improving upon the Creator’s design to better manage that water in times of weird high temperatures or weird low temperatures.”

“We think we’ll have the system up and running before we lose southern Florida,” Moana said.

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

 

 

FEDS Announce Fix to Rising Seas Problem

Washington, D. C., April 27, 2019, Star-Gazer News Service – The U. S. Secretary of Ocean Waters and Rain (OWAR) announced here today that he has directed NASA and NOAA to partner in a “bold new program” to fix the problem of rising sea levels.

“While scientific theories approved by the federal government have yet to prove beyond a reasonable doubt why sea levels around the world are rising,” said OWAR chief Greg Gumo, “we know how to fix the problem whether it’s being caused by spurious global warming theories or the documented impact of more humans and animals peeing in the ocean.”

Gumo said that the idea dawned on him a few days ago when he was looking for extra space in the garage for his patent medicine collection. Departmental wordsmiths translated his musings into a new whitepaper called “All the Space We Need is Right Over our Heads.”

Regulations call for NOAA to transport 55-gallon drums of water–taken only from areas where the ocean is the highest–to Cape Canaveral where NASA will re-purpose Saturn V rockets and blast the extra seawater into deep space. The salt would be filtered out and sold to sea salt companies for use at fine restaurants.

According to OWAR scientists, most of the Earth’s excess sea water will be sent to to Mars, the moon, and other dry celestial objects that can benefit from the introduction of life-giving water.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) suggests that the ALL THE SPACE WE NEED (ATSWN) program will be funded by a new toilet flush tax.

GAO spokesmen Jake Yourin said, “It hasn’t escaped our notice that sea level rise is a function of increasing populations, in short, the rise of the household and industrial wastewater. In the near future, those who pee will be those who pay.”

Number crunchers from several think tanks speculate that people can save money by drinking fewer liquids and flushing less. Meanwhile, drones and satellite imagery will ensure that people don’t start pissing in the woods

Gumo told reporters he expects both houses of Congress to fast-track and approve the enabling legislation since “nobody wants water getting into the basements of coastal hotels and condos even though those structures put pee in the ocean faster than some no-tell motel in Iowa.”

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter.

 

 

 

Environment: ship of fools or delusional idiots

Hurricane Michael is aimed at the place where I grew up. Almost everyone from Florida has seen storms before, but the odd thing is, each time a new storm arrives I see lists of things people should do to get ready and be safe. People should know these things already as surely as they know to look both ways before crossing the street and not taking a bath with a plugged-in toaster.

If my family lived in Tallahassee now, we probably wouldn’t leave. However, we would leave if we lived in Carrabelle, St. Marks, and other coastal communities in the storm’s path. Every year, there are hurricane deniers who say they’re ready to ride out the storm as though they are bigger than the storm. We saw what happened to those people when hurricane Florence struck: they needed to be rescued and that put first-responders’ lives at risk.

I have no idea whether the timing, routes, and ferocity of Florence and Matthew have anything to do with global warming. But, inasmuch as those storms are arriving at the same time as we’re hearing another set of global warming warnings, they remind me of the fact that many people have denied the importance of the environment for years and they seem to be treating warnings about rising seas, droughts, fires, and other effects the same way they treat hurricane warnings.

Years ago, we began hearing the term “spaceship earth.” We were told that in spite of Earth’s apparent resilience to poisons, plastics, rainforest clearing, fracking, and other forms of pollution and environmental damage, that our planet was–in many ways–a spaceship traveling through space with limited resources and a failing infrastructure. Multiple environmental groups have been complaining about the damage ever since I was in grade school, and probably before that.

I was naïve in the 1960s when I joined the Sierra Club because I actually thought people were smart enough to take those warnings seriously. Now I think that spaceship earth is either a ship of fools or is carrying passengers who are delusional idiots. Apparently, restricting one’s actions to help the environment is so inconvenient that allowing Earth to fail is worth it. Most people think it will happen years after they’re gone. So they don’t worry about it. That foolish idiocy keeps them from seeing it’s happening now.

For those who love dystopian fiction, watch the news. We are living it. There’s no need to make it up. And to ramp up our feelings of danger, the current Presidential administration has appointed kamikaze pilots to every single post that can impact spaceship earth for better or worse. So far, they are choosing “worse.” We can shake our fists at the storm and say we’re going to ride it out.

Good luck with that.

Malcolm

 

 

 

A Frank Conversation With Mother Nature About the Rain

Me: Baby Cakes, I want to talk about the rain. There’s been so much of it.

Mother Nature: Frank, what the hell are you saying? Malcolm is the only man on the planet allowed to call me “Baby Cakes.”

Me: My name isn’t “Frank.” I’m speaking frankly.

MN: I thought only Frank could speak frankly just as I’m the only one who can speak mother naturedly.

Me: English is a strange language.

More rain today

MN: Look, Toots–I hope it’s okay to call you “Toots” for old time’s sake–global warming is tangling up the planet’s cycles of heat and cold, rain and sun, and Coke vs. Pepsi.

Me: The rain, though, is keeping me from mowing the yard. Soon, the grass will be so high I’ll tear up the mower trying to cut it.

MN: Your writer friend Smoky wants you to get sheep to handle the grass cutting duties.

Me: Sheep, quite frankly, are just too sheepish.

MN: That sounds like something a guy named Frank would say.

Me: The thing is, sheep are more expensive than a lawn mower.

MN: That’s probably true. Nonetheless, I’m working hard to get the planet under control, and that’s not easy to do when–too put it frankly–so many people don’t mind p_ssing in their own pools and s_itting where they eat.

Me: Well said, Baby Cakes.

MN: What time do you get off work?

Me: I’m married. We can no longer meet behind the barn like we did when I was in college.

MN: Barns have changed since then, what with the hay being made a mess with pesticides and GMO tinkering. Maybe you can do something about that. Next time you update your blog, say something about the clowns who think climate change doesn’t exist, that fast food is really food, and that mayo should be slathered all over a hamburger.

Me: If I say something about climate change, will you give me a sunny afternoon and evening so I can mow the yard?

MN: Toots, I’m working on it. If only you weren’t married: we could make beautiful weather together.

Me: Aw, shucks, Baby Cakes, you’re making me cry.

MN: Me, too, and my tears are what you call rain.

Me: Oops.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s new short story is now live in Kindle, Kobo and iTunes.

 

Climate Change: Impacts on Coastal Resources

from the EPA:

Impacts on Coastal Resources

Climate change is damaging the Northwest coastline. Projections indicate an increase of 1 to 4 feet of global sea level rise by the end of the century, which may have implications for the 140,000 acres of the region that lie within 3.3 feet of high tide.[2] Sea level rise and storm surge pose a risk to people, infrastructure, and ecosystems, especially in low lying areas, which include Puget Sound. Warming waters and ocean acidification threaten economically important marine species and coastal ecosystems.[2]Map of Seattle showing areas projected to fall below sea level during high tide by end of the century. The high (50 inches) and medium (13 inches) estimates are within current projections. The highest level (88 inches) includes the effect of storm surge.Many areas of Seattle are projected to fall below sea level during high tide by the end of the century. Shaded blue areas depict three levels of sea level rise, assuming no adaptation. The high (50 inches) and medium (13 inches) estimates are within the range of current projections, while the highest level (88 inches) includes the effect of storm surge. Source: USGCRP 2014[6]

Flooding, seawater inundation, and erosion are expected to threaten coastal infrastructure, including properties, highways, railways, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater outfalls, and ferry terminals. Coastal wetlands, tidal flats, and beaches are likely to erode or be lost as a result of seawater inundation, which heightens the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure to coastal storms.

Some coastal habitats may disappear if organisms are unable to migrate inland because of topography or human infrastructure. This is expected to affect shorebirds and small forage fish, among other species. Warmer waters in regional estuaries, including Puget Sound, may contribute to an increase in harmful algal blooms, which could result in beach closures and declines in recreational shellfish harvests. Ocean acidification is also expected to negatively impact important economic species, including oysters and Pacific salmon.

For more information on climate change impacts on coastal resources, please visit the Coastal Resources page.

At present, this information can be found on the EPA site here. In the future, the work of our scientists is purportedly going to be reviewed by politicians before it can be released.

–Malcolm

Poll: Most Americans See Population Growth as Threat to Wildlife, Climate

from the Center for Biological Diversity:

biologicalMIAMI— A new poll finds a majority of Americans believe the world’s growing human population is driving wildlife species toward extinction and is making climate change worse. Respondents also said addressing the human population — which topped 7 billion in 2011 — is an important environmental issue and that society has a “moral obligation” to address wildlife extinctions related to population growth.

The national poll of 657 registered voters was commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity. It was conducted by Public Policy Polling on Feb. 22, 23 and 24. The poll has a margin of error of +-3.85 percent.

floridapanther“It’s now more clear than ever that Americans are concerned about the toll that human population growth is having on wildlife and our planet,” said Jerry Karnas, population campaign director at the Center. “Population is clearly a driving factor in so many of our environmental issues today, whether it’s sprawling development crowding out Florida panthers and sea turtles, loss of wild habitat for San Joaquin kit foxes in California or the climate crisis pushing polar bears ice seals toward extinction. It’s heartening to see that most Americans understand these connections and don’t want to see them ignored.”

“Although it’s an issue that doesn’t get talked about that much, this poll shows population is an emerging environmental issue that Americans recognize, especially when it comes to protecting wildlife from extinction,” said Jim Williams, of Public Policy Polling.

Among the poll’s results released today:

  • 64 percent said that, with the human population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, wildlife will be adversely affected.
  • 61 percent said they are already concerned about the rate that wildlife are disappearing.
  • 60 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that human population growth is driving animal species to extinction.
  • 60 percent said our society has a “moral responsibility” to address wildlife extinctions in the face of a growing population.
  • 59 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that addressing the effects of human population growth is “an important environmental issue.”
  • 57 percent believe human population growth is “significantly impacting the disappearance of wildlife.”
  • 57 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that population growth is making climate change worse.
  • 54 percent said stabilizing population growth will help protect the environment.

kitfoxThe Center for Biological Diversity launched its human population campaign in 2009 to highlight the connection between the world’s rapidly growing population and the effect it has on endangered species, wildlife habitat, the climate and overall environmental health. As part of the campaign, the Center has given away nearly 500,000 Endangered Species Condoms intended as a way to get people talking about this critical issue.

The Center advocates for a number of ways to address population, including universal access and adequate funding for family planning services, empowerment of women, sustainable development, a reduction in the consumption of natural resources and personal decisions that lessen the impacts on wildlife and the environment.

“If we’re going to address some of the biggest environmental problems we face, population has to be part of the conversation,” Karnas said. “These poll numbers show Americans are ready to start talking about population and dealing with impacts.”

To download a copy of the poll go to http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/population_poll.

Background

Government scientists have highlighted population as key environmental issue in recent months.

coloradoIn a decision to protect 66 coral species under the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service said population and consumption of natural sources was “the common root or driver” of ocean acidification and other threats corals face.

The Department of the Interior recently released a report on the future of the Colorado River, concluding that, in 50 years, the river that supplies water to 40 million people may be unable to meet the demands of a burgeoning human population.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a report with another grim prediction: that 36 million acres of the nation’s forests will be lost to houses, strip malls and roads by 2050. That’s an area 16 times larger than Yellowstone National Park.

You May Also Like: Mare Cromwell’s Messages from Mother, a guest post on Smoky Talks

Malcolm

Climate Change Research Lecture at Glacier

News from NPS Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – The public is invited to a unique Brown Bag Lecture on Friday, July 9, 2010, from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Community Building in West Glacier as high school citizen scientists share their stories of their research trip to Glacier.

Twenty-two students from 10 different San Diego high schools are spending a week collecting climate change data at Glacier National Park. For the past year, students enrolled in the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) in San Diego, Calif. have devoted their time after school and on weekends to studying climate change research, climate legislation, clean energy, alternative energy sources and green jobs.

The 22 students participating in this research-based, service learning project come from 10 inner city high schools in San Diego. All of the students are participants of the Commission of Science that Matters, a year-long, after school program held at EIS. While in Glacier, the students will conduct mountain goat and pika Citizen Science surveys, learn about climate change effects within Glacier National Park and assist with repeat photography of the park’s melting glaciers. The EIS students camp the entire week and minimize their carbon foot print by either hiking or using public transportation throughout their stay.

The students’ journey to Glacier began through conversations with the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA), the community assistance arm of the NPS that supports community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects and became a reality as a result of numerous partnerships and dedicated individuals. This innovative and unique citizen science project is made possible through a collaborative partnership with the Elementary Institute of Science, National Park Service, Groundwork San Diego, Southern California Research Learning Center, Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, California Wolf Center and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund.

The Elementary Institute of Science is a premiere science enrichment center in San Diego that has offered science and technology learning opportunities to students for over 40 years.

These lunchtime Brown Bag lectures are made available by Glacier National Park’s Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center.

E-BOOK SALE TODAY: Each purchase benefits Glacier's 2010 Centennial Committee