Archive for the ‘Government’ Category
Filed Under (ART, Activism, Environment, Global Climate Change, Government, NJ WILD, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Preservation, Weeds, Wildflowers, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 02-06-2012
Long ago, –when Ilene Dube urged me to begin this nature blog for the Packet Publications–, I, who had never seen a blog at that time, discovered in the naming that I had to define “wild.
One of the key definers, so long as I’ve known of him, starting with Desert Solitaire, is Edward Abbey.
Whenever I read nature books, I write favorite lines in empty pages in the front and the back. Lines which buttress me in my sometimes daunting challenge of preserving land in our New Jersey at D&R Greenway Land Trust five days a week. Lines which form my life paradigm, actually — recognized by Ilene, who was so right that I must communicate in this 21st Century format.
One of my favorite “Abbeyisms” I just added to e-mail signatures, as AOL somehow deleted the carefully crafted sign-off that had always been there.
Basically, Ed Abbey said it all. I don’t need to write about nature for you. All we have to do is to contemplate Ed’s clarion call: “LONG LIVE THE WEEDS AND THE WILDERNESS!” (The Journey Home.)
Ed challenges all authority in ringing tones, such as, “Are we going to ration the wilderness experience?”
D&R Greenway’s Art Curator, Diana Moore, answered Ed’s challenge in her speech at our art opening reception for “Crossing Cultures” - “The message of this exhibition is that D&R Greenway saves land for all.” (Come see this edgey array, so praised by Jan Purcell in the Times of Trenton on Friday: business hours of business days, through July 27.)
Ed saw the earth as a being before the astronauts sent back their image of our jeweled sphere of blue: “The earth is not a mechanism but an organism.”
Protesting roads in national parks, he trumpeted, “You’ve got to be willing to walk!”
(NJ WILD readers - you have read these concepts in these posts ever since we began. These positions wouldn’t be so powerful in me, without Edward Abbey.)
Ed dedicated The Journey Home to his staunch father, “who taught me to hate injustice, to defy the powerful and to speak for the voiceless.”
Ed educates me not only as a naturalist and courageous voyageur, but politically: “All government is bad, including good government.”
His rage at the despoilation of nature pours forth in what used to be called “deathless prose.” Only, in today’s techno-era, –which Ed would deplore–, prose isn’t deathless any more. Ed decries “the degradation of our national heritage”, as I rail against despoilations of New Jersey. Caustically, he blurts, “They even oppose wilderness in the National Parks.”
Ed sums it all up, although s writing of the Southwest. NJ WILD reader, just substitute our beleaguered New Jersey: “THE IDEA OF WILDERNESS NEEDS NO DEFENSE. IT ONLY NEEDS MORE DEFENDERS.”
BE ONE! Support your local land trusts, and walk preserved trails weekly, to remember why preservation and stewardship are the key issues of our day.
(Yes, I know - there’s catastrophic climate change. It is slowed by the presence of nature, trees, broad rivers and absorbent, fruitful wetlands…)
Take your stand against what Ed calls “…a fanatical greed, an arrogant stupidity, … robbing us of the past and tranforming the future into nightmares…”
During World War II, my playmates and I would chant raw insults set in childish rhymes at Hitler, at Mussolini, full throttle from jungle gym and merry-go-round. We feared and hated those two, with all our tiny bodies – raising feeble voices like fists into the bland Michigan air.
But our deepest horror, fury, and yes, vengeance, centered upon ‘the Japs.’ We had never been allowed to use nicknames for people of other lands, in Southfield, Michigan. But when it came to the winged villains who had bombed our ships and killed our men in Pearl Harbor, it was no holds barred.
Those scenes flashed to life as I waked to today, eve of the dire anniversary of World Trade Center destructions.
Far more than lives were lost and families aggrieved on that brilliant September morning.
With 9/11 as justification, our nation - even to its tiniest towns - has become severely militarized; even travel an exercise in suspicions and intrusions. The basic alteration in the role of police is signified by their (new) brutal swagger and bullying stance. I contrast those menacing strides of our soldiers, finally (!) shouldering their way down drowned New Orleans streets, with the sturdy lively stance of hardy American farmlads. You’ve seen the newsreels. ‘Our boys’, (’doughboys’ in World War i) often laughingly liberating shattered European towns, handing out chocolate and ‘le chewing‘, with the arm not ‘toting a gun’. Those soldiers were there to get the job done and get back to the farm, not to throw America’s weight around.
I bet nobody refers to today’s soldiers as ‘boys’, let alone ‘ours’.
Our hypermilitarization in the guise of security is one of many grisly symptoms of our losses of our basic rights as American citizens. How the world views us has been irreparably altered. In our own land ‘of the free’, questioning has been termed ‘unpatriotic’. Our Stars and Stripes has been turned into a swastika, for some reason whirring over highway bridges now, as if to whip everyone into war mode. People of other lands are negated because they resemble 9/11 terrorists. The Constitution is increasingly violated — all justified by vengeance. Journalism is dying in many ways, so less and less attention is being called to these losses, which go beyond death.
Even as a five-year-old, I wanted vengeance wreaked upon the Japs. As the book and musical, South Pacific, teaches us, “You’ve got to be taught to hate.” WE ARE BEING WELL AND TRULY TAUGHT.
My hatred of Japanese was stunningly impacted, however, by my first experience of Pearl Harbor (1990’s) A childhood friend then taught at Chaminade University. She’d asked me to visit to read my Hawaii poems to her class. I did not realize that her university was on ‘Pearl’, that my first steps there would lead toward that podium.
Nor did I know, [though some of my works were anti-war, especially anti-the-target-bombing of the sacred island of Kahoolawe], that all those bright, eager, yes innocent, boys and girls, were soldiers.
After the Kahoolawe poem, one of the heftiest, yet gentlest [O, have they taught him to swagger? ] had been moved by my expressed longing to wrap with gauze the red flesh of that wounded mountain. He raised his hand to tell me, “We don’t bomb her any more. Every weekend now, I lead a group to remove materiel from Kahoolawe. When we’ve removed the last remnants of the bombing runs, we will hold a ceremony of reconsecration.”
That day, my heart (that had so protested our role in Vietnam) healed with regard to our military -
Pearl Harbor Miracle #1.
The following morning, my childhood friend and I were among the first to enter Pearl Harbor’s memorial to the fallen. We filed individually into a darkened theatre. The black & white film of Pearl’s 1941 bombing would not work. I wondered at the divine plan.
We stumbled out of darkness into blinding Hawaiian sunlight. As our eyes adjusted, we realized that, among our fellow pilgrims, nearly half were Japanese. Food for thought for the little girl who’d joined in Japan-bashing on the Lathrup, Michigan playground, who’d cringed at every film image of slant-eyed bombers zeroing in on America and/or Americans, on land and water.
Each Japanese on the walkway to the Arizona wore a lei.
Bernadette and I followed four of them, in silence. They walked away from the tour guide, to the outermost railing of the submerged ship. Currents were gentle, as though caressing those whose bones remained below. Without a word, in synchrony, the four Japanese removed their leis, letting them fall softly upon the water. The four stood bent over the waters a long time. Bernadette and I moved on, finding other such clusters everywhere we went.
The former conquerors had come all that way to perform rituals of memorial and forgiveness.
The way the soldiers were healing Kahoolawe.
My heart opened to that country and its people, and has remained that way.
Pearl Harbor Miracle #2
HOWEVER, our country, in the wake of the seemingly limitless tragedy of the destruction of the World Trade Center, has chosen the path of vengeance.
All the good will expressed by friends and YES, former ENEMIES, –walking to our Embassies everywhere, including Japan, Germany, Italy and Russia, bearing flowers — all of that new fellowship which held hope for the world, seems to have been deliberately shattered. In the first days after 9/11, the world woke up to the good we had done for others in World Wars I and II. We used to be the shining heroes. No longer.
We have become the word’s bullies. Our imposed post-9/11 paradigm is toughness and swagger, bombs down the chimneys, lands in general and civilians in particular, mercilessly strafed. How are we different from those who strafed the Towers?
Our lustre is beyond tarnished.
Can Americans ever carry the equivalent of leis to the countries we are mutilating in our blind and angry revenge?
What if if the message of 9/11 was meant to be, from this moment on, fellowship, forgiveness, enlightened healing of conditions that had led to such bitterness?
If we could ask the victims, –whose souls generated such a wind! at the first-year anniversary, around the wound of Ground Zero–, wouldn’t they instead, counsel love?
See new information re “Living Our Future” from Jim Waltman of Stony Brook Millstone Watershed below…
Floodwaters, Brenda Jones
If the Weather Channel promulgates that calumny one more time, I may do what a most respected male friend admitted today - yell at the television.
HURRICANE IRENE AND OTHERS ARE NOT TO BE BLAMED UPON SO-CALLED MOTHER NATURE. RATHER, UPON EMISSIONS, CO2, BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, AND OTHER EUPHEMISMS FOR HUMAN GREED.
On CNN, of all places, just before Irene’s debut in our neighborhood, I heard a geologist (don’t ask me why they chose that field to discuss the ways of water and wind) answer, simply, almost abruptly, “Well, of course, hurricanes are intensified because of the increasing temperature of the waters due to climate change.”
This is not NEWS to NJ WILD readers. You’ve ‘heard’ me over and over again linking melting glaciers to increased seawater quantities and depths; decreased sea temperatures and therefore altered currents; increased water vapor; increased intensities of weather, and the worst of this at the poles. All of this fuels wild weather.
OK, it’s a royal pain cleaning up after Irene. All I can say is, get used to it. And start investing in sustainability and green technology, (which could also help heal the economy), while you’re at it.
I kept a semi-journal, first by lamplight, then by lanternlight. I did not go out in the storm with my trusty camera. When I can bring myself to relive those lengthening hours, I may share them with NJ WILD.
Memories are, frankly, turgid.
Waters the color of cafe au lait surged across our Canal Road, scouring the woods as they roared halfway up our steep driveway. Power was out for nearly 24 hours; no television for days; no internet until nearly the week anniversary of Irene.
Some memories are deeply tragic. I mourn the loss of that devoted EMT young man, on Rosedale Road’s bridge right below D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. My heart and prayers are with his family every time I drive that road, and whenever I see his smiling face in any of our newspapers or on-line services.
These recurrent, exacerbated and exacerbating storms are no light matter.
Do not fall for the ploys of any media, least of all the Weather Channel, so eager to lay blame for storm damage at the feet of “Mother Nature.” Heed not the similar ploys of politicians.
Let’s be very clear about the increasingly severe results of ceaseless emissions, of using the verb “believe” in connection with catastrophic climate change, with science itself.
FROM MY FRIEND JIM WALTMAN OF THE STONY BROOK MILLSTONE WATERSHED ASSOCIATION - HE’S BEEN PREACHING ALONG THESE LINES FAR LONGER, AND MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN I. HEED JIM:
[bolds mine... cfe]
|As we enter what promises to be another wet week, those of us at the Watershed Association feel an even greater than usual urgency. While Irene was a true “outlier,” an enormous storm that would have caused massive flooding and damage no matter what we did to prevent it, climate scientists are telling us that our region is most likely going to continue to get wetter and wetter (except of course during periods of prolonged drought, which are also likely to become more severe). This means unless we change our mindset, behaviors and policies, we may be living our future.
However, hope is not lost. Together we can make a difference:
First, we need to stop making the problem worse. Ill-conceived developments near streams and within wetlands, not only damage our supply of clean water and destroy important wildlife habitat, they also dramatically increase the risk of flood damage to homes and businesses.
Since 1949, the Watershed Association has sought to reverse that tide. In Cranbury, we are working closely with the Township Committee, Planning Board and Environmental Commission to secure a new ordinance to prohibit new development and the clearing of native vegetation near streams. We are working with Hopewell Township to secure a new ordinance to protect our forests, which help absorb and slowly release rain and snow, and hold soil in place with deep root systems that stabilize streambanks and reduce erosion.
We also need to recommit ourselves to preserving open space along stream corridors and steep slopes as a means of both reducing floodwaters and keeping people out of harms way from future Irenes.
Second, we need to start fixing the mistakes of the past. Developments built before any significant regulation to contain stormwater can be retrofitted to retain runoff and allow it to percolate into our water supply. We are working in Princeton to investigate what can be done in this vein to reduce the flooding of Harry’s Brook.
We also need to recognize that it makes sense to move or remove some structures that were built near water bodies and have been repeatedly damaged by flooding. The state’s “Blue Acres” program, a cousin of the more familiar Green Acres program, provides funding to purchase-from willing sellers-”properties (including structures) that have been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage.”
With bold action, we can prevent unmitigated development from contaminating and depleting our surface and ground water, and creating additional flood hazards. We thank you for your support in our work to implement those bold actions.
We wish those still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Irene a quick and full recovery.
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
Your water. Your environment. Your voice.
P.S. - Many of you have asked how the Watershed Reserve fared in the storm. We feel fortunate that we were relatively unscathed here. With 930-acres we lost our share of trees and the educational dock at Wargo Pond needs some mending, but our Nature Center and buildings were unharmed and our trails mostly passable. Thank you to all who expressed concern and please visit us again soon!
Filed Under (Activism, Brenda Jones, Delaware River, Government, NJ, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 01-07-2011
Fog Along Delaware, Brenda Jones
This just in - good news and bad news, from Michael Redmond just now, Packet Lifestyle and Time Off Editor, who knows how I AM about NJ nature!
Rejoice in the wisdom of our state, NJ WILD readers. However, write Governor Christie to insist he sign this crucial legislation.
Do whatever you can on any and all fronts to preserve her wild spaces, including RIVERS!
See how our government protects these polluters of our sacred spaces!
bolds mine, as usual
“I’m just wild about natural destruction” cfe
American Bald Eagle Successful Dive for Fish, Brenda Jones
And No One Mentions Effects of Fracking Chemicals Upon Fish in Delaware, etc…
June 29, 2011
NEW JERSEY STATE LEGISLATURE FIRST IN U.S. TO PASS BILL BANNING DANGEROUS GAS DRILLING TECHNIQUE
Trenton, NJ - On Wednesday, in an unprecedented and pioneering move, New Jersey’s state legislature became the first to pass a bill to enforce a statewide ban on a controversial gas drilling technique known as fracking. The legislature was unanimously in favor of the bill, which passed the state Senate 32-1 and the Assembly 56-11.
“Today, New Jersey sent a strong message to surrounding states and to the nation that a ban on fracking is necessary to protect public health and preserve our natural resources,” said Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen).
“Any benefits of gas production simply do not justify the many potential dangers associated with fracking such as pollution of our lakes, streams and drinking water supplies and the release of airborne pollutants. We should not wait until our natural resources are threatened or destroyed to act. The time to ban fracking in New Jersey is now.”
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and toxic chemicals deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. Opponents of fracking cite the high potential for water and air pollution as a leading reason to ban the practice. Over 1,000 cases of water contamination have been reported near fracking sites.
Baldpate Mountain View, Brenda Jones
(at least Baldpate itself is Preserved!)
Public opposition to fracking has escalated in recent months, with concerned residents and environmental and consumer advocacy groups campaigning against the practice in New Jersey and the surrounding states. Gas companies have been ramping up plans to drill in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation which extends up the East Coast. Fracking operations in Pennsylvania alone are expected to create 19 million gallons of wastewater.
“Fracking is a man-made disruption to the environment, many times on large-scale proportions,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen). “We’ve already seen a number of eco-casualties from this practice in surrounding states. It would be irresponsible to leave the door open for this practice to be pursued in New Jersey.”
“The New Jersey Legislature is taking the pro-active step of preventing contamination of our drinking water and environment, the only sure way to protect our residents from fracking pollution. This is a great day for the state’s present and future generations”, said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
According to Food & Water, at least 61 localities across the U.S. have passed measures against fracking. On June 16, the Trenton City Council passed a resolution calling for a statewide ban, and earlier this year, Highland Park, NJ became the first town in the country to call for a state and national ban on fracking.
“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s signature is all that is necessary now for this critical and timely statewide ban to go into effect,” said Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “If he approves it, New Jersey will be the first state to stand up against the devastating environmental and public health impacts of fracking, which have wreaked havoc on other states across the U.S.”
In the Midwest, where fracking is increasingly common, residents have reported complications ranging from headaches and blackouts, noxious odors in the air and sudden blindness and hair loss among their livestock – concerns which led those living in Dish, Texas, a town located near 11 natural gas compression stations, to hire a private environmental consultant to sample the air. The consultant found that it contained high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens, including benzene.
A 2011 Cornell University study found that the process of fracking also releases methane, which according to the EPA, is 21 times more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Similarly, a study released by researchers at Duke University in April found methane levels in shallow drinking water wells near active gas drilling sites at a level 17 times higher than those near inactive ones.
“This bill is a great victory for clean water in New Jersey and we believe it will be a national model,” said Jeff Tittel Director NJ Sierra Club. “We hope this bill sends a message to the governor to oppose fracking in the Delaware Basin and protect New Jersey waters.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. House and Energy Commerce Committee determined that 14 oil companies had injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and other substances into U.S. wells between 2005 and 2009. This included 10.2 million gallons of fluids containing known or suspected carcinogens.
The companies, however, are not required to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid, which they claim should be protected as a “trade secret”. They are also exempt from seven major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act.
Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange who tested fracking fluids found that 25 percent can cause cancer; 37 percent can disrupt the endocrine system; and 40 to 50 percent can affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.
Earlier this month Food & Water Watch released a report entitled The Case for a Ban on Fracking. The report reveals that the natural gas industry’s use of water-intensive, toxic, unregulated practices for natural gas extraction are compromising public health and polluting water resources across the country.
The Case for a Ban on Fracking is available here: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/the-case-for-a-ban-on-gas-fracking
A map of municipalities that have taken action against fracking is available here:
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Government, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Nature, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, habitat, protection, water quality) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 24-06-2011
“So the idea from afar that only a few hundred birds really got badly oiled turns out to have been a false sense of security.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director, John Fitzpatrick
Black Skimmer Skimming - in Clean Water — Smithsonian
NJ WILD readers know how I fret over the fate of every wild creature, from the slain beavers of Princeton’s Pettoranello Gardens/Mountain Lakes ‘Preserve’, to all the winged beings harmed, starved, oiled, killed by the oils of the ceaseless volcano from the so-called Deepwater Horizon last year.
So many waterbirds and shorebirds were breeding, nesting, and/or feeding young, as that foul spewing continued and expanded, well, exPLOded in the normally fecund and to me always sacred waters of our Gulf.
Great Blue Heron Flies over Clean Lake Carnegie - Brenda Jones
You also know that my deepest alarm is that no experts from elsewhere showed up to solve and resolve. Not only did BP not know (or care) what to do. Our American government was powerless, able only to urge tourists to come by and tromp the oiled beaches for the sake of motel and restaurant owners. No one anywhere knew or knows how to resolve an oil disaster.
Any more than anyone anywhere knows what to do about quaked and flooded Fukushima nuclear plant in shattered northern Japan.
Remember the lies? Remember 500 barrels a day in the Gulf? Remember that I told you, watch and see how those numbers tiptoe upwards in the days, weeks and months ahead?
Remember whatever the Japanese were admitting? At best, at the beginning, the reactors were called compromised. The term melt was not part of their vocabulary in the early days. Somewhere there must be a school officials attend, teaching how to lie calmly to all who have the right to know. Teaching how to show up days or weeks later with band-aids for ruptures of the highest magnitude to the fabric of our world.
Last night, on CNN, I heard that there have been “melt-downs or melt-throughs” in three of the four reactors of Fukushima.
And where is that radiation going? Into our skies… Into our ocean — for there is really only ONE ocean. Into our fish and water mammals such as dolphins and whales. Turtles. Plankton. As the Gulf’s oil spewing destroyed everything from the most microscopic to behemoths of the deep.
No one knows. No one tells.
Roseate Spoonbill near Clean Water - from Internet
Here is the Cornell Ornithology Lab on the Gulf disaster, one year later. Even THEY are heedless enough to call those millions of barrels or gallons - what difference to the migrating and breeding birds? — a ’spill’…
Nonetheless, I’m glad there’s a Cornell Lab of Ornithology to address these issues and go to the trouble to have articles written and published on the peril of creatures in our time, especially birds.
However, as a subscriber to their Living Bird Magazine, I have watched this disaster played down in those glossy pages. We have no way of knowing the death toll of birds, let alone plankton and other nearly invisible but essential sea organisms. The red knots who feed on horseshoe crabs in New Jersey are down 5000 this year, when I believe there were only about 15,000 known individuals tallied last year. Did red knots migrate over the Gulf at a critical time, perishing either directly or from consuming poisoned foods?
Gradually, in this article below, realization of the deep inner costs, the hidden, the invisible, the untallyable seems to be seeping in, at least in the world of ornithologists.
Not, however, in the world of oil and business - our new golden calf. The altar upon whose slab we are all Abraham, raising the sword over our sons, Isaac…
Viewpoint: The Oil Spill, One Year Later
One year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick discusses what we learned, and what we can take away from it.
Q: What is your reaction when you look back at footage of birds videotaped along the Gulf Coast by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s team during the oil spill?
(put quotes around that noun “spill”, everyone… cfe)
A: It hit me that this event took place at the mouth of one of the world’s mightiest rivers. What that river produces, down through the Mississippi Delta and out into the Gulf, is literally one of the world’s richest living systems.
That northern gulf is a paradise of creatures from the microscopic up to the size of a pelican and a Great Blue Heron. And we have to remember that the birds are only the thin outer edge that’s visible to us. Those images remind me of the myriad organisms and whole systems living underneath those birds. They are why the birds are there in the first place. All those organisms and systems were also affected by the oil.
Q: Now, one year later, what’s the understanding of how the birds were affected by the oil?
A: We feared a genuine catastrophe, and had the winds, tides, and storms conspired against those colonies of birds, it’s possible that we could have seen truly catastrophic mortality. We didn’t see that. Thousands of birds really did get heavily oiled, but for the most part the bird colonies actually did end up surviving and even producing young.
But what also emerged is that the oil did have really widespread impact at levels that are outside the human perception when we look at them from 500 yards away. It actually wasn’t until our crew returned from the field and looked very closely at the high-definition images that we realized that at the breeding colonies we filmed, almost all the young birds and a huge proportion of the adults had oil on them, even if small amounts. And we noted that a lot of the oil droplets were around their mouths, and even inside their beaks, so they obviously were ingesting it. The health effects of this cannot be measured.
So the idea from afar that only a few hundred birds really got badly oiled turns out to have been a false sense of security.
Tens of thousands of birds, perhaps more, were affected by this oil. The amount of energy they ended up having to expend preening that oil, and the reactions they had to having feathers that weren’t working right, mean that they were devoting an enormous amount of their summer to this nuisance. It must have affected their energy levels, and ultimately their ability to migrate and potentially their ability to even stay alive. So we actually can’t know for sure what the total mortality was from that event, measured over the whole year.
The question is how many additional problems can these populations endure and still persist through time? We take away habitat, we take away opportunities for breeding, we take away their food, and then we add oil spills. Just how much of this can these habitats and organisms take before the system itself collapses?
Q: The images shown on national news were mostly of heavily oiled birds. If the vast majority of birds weren’t affected to this degree, does that distort the impact that the oil had?
A: Our team also filmed heavily oiled birds, including very close-up images of several heavily oiled pelicans, suffering and struggling, and with huge dignity trying desperately to live. As scientists we try to think mainly about populations, not so much about individuals.
But quite frankly, looking right into the eye of a bird suffering from our mistake as much as those pelicans obviously were, makes all of us realize what we ought to owe these birds as individuals.
Q: What about that larger scale of populations and species? How is the world doing?
A: One thing we humans have to acknowledge at this point: There is no place on earth right now that is not affected by the presence of humans and the ecological impacts we have had on this planet. It does not stop there. We have to come to grips with the fact that we’ve imposed perturbations so big that our impact is now widely regarded as the sixth major extinction in the history of the planet. Before humans evolved, there were five major points when life on earth was challenged by extrinsic events, by chemical changes, or by impacts from asteroids and comets. Five different times, huge proportions of the species on earth suddenly disappeared.
The sixth major extinction is underway right now, and unlike the previous five, this one is caused by one of the species that lives on earth, namely us. Hundreds and hundreds of species are known to be gone because of our impact. The actual number is no doubt tens of thousands, because we didn’t even know them before they went extinct. We are causing significant ecological instability on this planet, and the question we must face is, how far is this going to go?
Are we going to come to grips with this at all? Could we actually begin to slow down our impact, and finally halt the impact? Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can—now—to achieve a position of balance in which we humans are living stably side-by-side with those natural systems and species that are left? There is no doubt that the world will be a more joyful place if we can do this.
Q: How do we do that?
A: Well, first we need to have every culture of the world recognize that this goal represents both a responsibility and an opportunity for us.
We need to embrace as a species the idea that we’re going to try to live side-by-side with the systems and the species that are left.
Secondly, as we move toward that vision, we need to be able to measure how we’re doing. And the amazing thing about birds is that they give us this opportunity.
The more we study birds, especially birds that are declining, the more we realize that they’re declining because of some specific things that we’re doing to the landscape. Amazingly enough, we can fix those things and, lo and behold, the birds come back! There are now dozens of great examples. The Kirtland’s Warbler, a bird that was reduced to a couple hundred birds in northern Michigan, is now numbering in the thousands because we discovered what was going wrong. (It lives in a habitat that needs to burn regularly, and it lives in a habitat in which cowbirds were overrunning it because of widespread agricultural practices.)
So we’ve recognized that we humans do have the capacity to jump in and start managing systems in a way that mimics what the natural system was doing. Once we do this, the birds rebound spectacularly. We do have options to actually improve landscapes, not just make them worse.
Q: But if you’re talking about extinctions of thousands of species, will you be able to find out in time what’s going wrong for all of them?
A: The great thing about birds is that they give us a chance to measure how we’re doing in keeping natural systems whole, and we can actually extend this idea to the entire planet.
Birds are so observable and easy to count, and everybody loves watching them, that we’re beginning to realize we can measure in real-time how we’re doing by asking people to report what they see to citizen-science projects on the Internet. Because birds are such sensitive indicators of the health of the environment, we have the opportunity, through watching birds, to measure our effects, to adjust our choices, to decrease the amount of damage we’re doing, and to watch the planet recover, system by system, as we learn the tricks.
So just getting people to watch, and count, and record natural things out their back window, and the idea that we can multiply this by millions across the world, means that we actually are moving toward a system in which we can measure, monitor, and adjust. We can in fact have a brand new relationship with the planet in which we’re using birds to adjust our behavior and make the place healthier.
This idea—that just by observing nature you can end up taking part in the reparations of the damage we’ve produced—is an enormously empowering and exciting opportunity for humankind and its relationship with the planet.
Q: Were citizen-science participants involved in monitoring birds after the oil spill?
A: Yes—and the key is that they were monitoring birds before the oil spill too. Every day people from around the world report their bird sightings to eBird.org, and this creates a real-time, continuously running record of the health of bird populations.
Gulf Coast birders had already been counting birds in their region, and by continuing to monitor birds during and after the spill, they’re helping provide a record to government agencies and BP to assess the damage.
Without the initial baseline data, we would not have been able to say what the effects of the spill were. Baseline data on wildlife is rare, and in this case, birds are giving us some of the best environmental indicators available.
Q: How does this tie in to your work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology?
A: If there’s one basic thing that the Lab stands for it’s the idea that we have an opportunity to make a difference in how the world is going to be in a hundred, five hundred, a thousand years. The differences that we can make are brought about by the fact that as humans, we are fundamentally curious. We watch. We observe. That’s fundamentally what science is. We’re curious about how nature works, we’re curious about how it’s doing. And the more we look, the more we watch, the more we understand. The Lab is built around the idea that to fix systems, to rescue species, to bring back ecosystems, we need to understand how they work. And if we’re going to bring back things that are disappearing, we need to understand what went wrong.
We can actually figure out what’s going wrong, figure out what the human impact is, change the impact, and watch the system rebound. The Lab’s role in global conservation and biodiversity is to engage in science, to engage in close scrutiny about how nature works, but also to do that using hundreds of thousands of other people to help us.
And of course, birds are fun to watch at the same time. This means that we can even take in personal rewards on a daily basis as we contribute information to the broader good, which in turn creates entire continent-scale solutions.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Government, NJ WILD, Nature, Oceans, Politicians, Preservation, protection, water quality, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 12-06-2011
NJ WILD readers know that my sympathies are with all animals of the wild, by no means limited to New Jersey. You are accustomed to my urging you to pay attention to and support your local land trusts/preservationists, such as D&R Greenway (where I work), Kingston Greenways, Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (restoring legendary Princeton Nurseries habitat and buildings in Kingston), Friends of Princeton Open Space and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed.
Defenders of Wildlife, on the national level, so often speaks what I would urge. Here they focus on the subject about which you’ve so often read in these virtual pages: my horror that the world continues to term that volcano of oil in our sacred ocean, ‘a spill’, and its effects upon the turtles.
Sea turtle deaths, see below, are more than three times the annual average!
Our government, basically, has sat on its hands, allowing BP “business as usual”, while turtles perish and fishermen and shrimpers lose their multi-generational livelihoods, and the sea withers.
Now this, from Defenders of Wildlife. What will you do about it?
“All that it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing…”
Double Trouble for Sea Turtles
Last year’s devastating Deepwater Horizon disaster was a serious blow for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. But the catastrophe for the sea turtles hasn’t ended yet.
Already this year, more than 340 dead sea turtles have washed ashore on the Gulf Coast — more than three times the annual average — and the death toll is likely to be much higher. Signs point to shrimp fishing as a likely cause for the spike in deaths — perhaps combined with the lingering effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Yet the government has not taken action to save these animals struggling to survive. Defenders and our conservation partners have launched a lifesaving lawsuit to protect sea turtles, but federal officials need to hear from you.
Take action now: Urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to enforce lifesaving protections for threatened and endangered sea turtles in the Gulf.
Filed Under (Activism, Brenda Jones, D&R Canal & Towpath, Government, KAYAKING, NJ State Parks, NJ WILD, New Jersey, Politicians, Tasha O'Neill, protection, trails, water quality) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 30-05-2011
REASON to REJOICE - D&R CANAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE
NJ WILD readers know my passion for the D&R Canal and Towpath. For decades, as a poet, I referred to those sacred trails as “nurse, haven and muse.”
Eagle over Sculler on Lake Carnegie - D&R Canal Park - Brenda Jones
It’s never made any sense to me that we might do away with the D&R Canal Commission! That water is our drinking water. That historic landscape is beyond price. The Commission costs taxpayers nothing, which people more politically astute than I can and do explain easily. My friend and colleague at D&R Greenway, Jim Amon, is a person of the highest integrity and honor. He served as Director of the D&R Canal Commission for thirty years before coming to us as Director of Land Stewardship. It is to Jim’s vigilance, persistence, high aesthetic sense, and political savvy that we owe much of the beauty of that State Park. Even the handsome ‘new’ bridge over Route 1 at Lawrenceville, designed to echo canal bridges and wrought iron signs of yesterday, wouldn’t have happened without Jim. In all its years, the D&R Canal Commission has only missed decision deadlines ten times! Tell us what other government agency can match this record, these accomplishments.
Alexander Road Bridge, D&R Canal and Towpath, Full Summer cfe
But Governor Christie said the Commission had to go. The Commission was going to be folded into NJ DEP, that same sterling bureaucracy that just brought us the inexplicable shooting of the beavers of Mountain Lakes so-called Preserve… “And Governor Christie is an honorable man….” (please feel full irony straight from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in the above quote, one of my favorite speeches in all theatre…)
Approaching Storm, Griggstown, D&R Canal and Towpath, Martha Weintraub
Many of us protested the evisceration of the D&R Canal Commission in various ways, –in person and through letters and in the hot links I am always urging NJ WILD readers to use. Thank heaven especially for Jeff Tittel, head of NJ Sierra Club, for leading the charge. Here is the result of courage and persistence.
Great Blue Heron with Fish, Lake Carnegie, D&R Canal State Park, Brenda Jones
Never cease to be vigilant in terms of saving New Jersey beauty and history.
D&R Canal State Park, Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
On Thursday, the Senate Environment Committee unanimously released SR117 (Smith/Bateman), a resolution supporting the continued existence of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) and calling on the governor to authorize the commission to hire a new executive director and full-time staff.
The Assembly Environment Committee passed a similar resolution on Monday. The commission helps operate the Canal Park, which is a state and national historic district visited by 1 million people a year, and oversees land decisions that impact the state park and the water supply for 1.5 million people.
Not Only Drinking Water - Kayaker, Tasha O’Neill
“In order for the D&R Canal Commission to be an independent, professional board, the Legislature needs to support it. The DRCC brings a planning and regional perspective to development applications along the Canal that DEP does not have when it comes to land use planning,” said Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra Club. “The Governor is trying to take over the DRCC and merge it with the DEP. We believe that what the administration wants to do is wrong and we applaud the Legislature for moving this resolution forward.”
The DRCC has been under attack since December when DEP Commissioner Martin recommended the board be abolished under Governor Christie’s Executive Order 15.
The Sierra Club challenged the statutory authority of the governor to eliminate the DRCC and that of the DEP to dictate who the DRCC hires. On Thursday the DRCC held a special meeting where the governor’s representative on the board outlined the administration’s plan to maintain the commission but move staff into the DEP to share resources, despite DEP staffing being at historical lows. The representative also presents two resumes from within the DEP to fulfill the executive director position, which will be vacant on June 1, leaving the DRCC with no staff to review or process permit applications.
In response, The DRCC passed a resolution stating it will decide who it will hire for their Executive Director position. The resolution also asked the Attorney General’s office to appoint legal representation to the Commission if the DEP and Department of Treasury did not place the new staff members on the payroll.
Having an independent regulatory land use program and board is critical not only for water quality but also for properly dealing with land use issues that affect the canal and the 400-square mile watershed. Diminishing staff at the DEP is ill-equipped to handle the additional workload eliminating the commission would result in and would not review localized and cumulative impacts to the park as thoroughly as the commission.
The commission has established their own standards and review procedures for projects to consider natural, historic, and recreational resources of the park, and the DEP only considers regulated program areas in issuing permits.
Less than 10 percent of projects considered by the DRCC would require DEP Land Use approval and the State Historic Preservation Office only has authority over projects in the Park that receive state or federal funding and cannot protect the scenic and recreational qualities of the Park.
Re-Creation: Come Sit a Spell, North from Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
The commission also holds and monitors conservation easements for stream corridors prohibiting any future development, a land preservation technique that involves no expense to the state.
The 70-mile canal spans 22 municipalities in Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties. Fifteen of these municipalities and Mercer County have adopted resolutions opposing the elimination of the DRCC.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Destruction, Disaster, Government, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 23-05-2011
In Memoriam - Beavers of Mountain Lakes Preserve Shot on Friday, May 13
my source Princeton Packet, May 20
What could’ve happened - from my NYC roommate from 1960’s, now living in Washington, D.C.:
That’s a real shame. Washington had a beaver problem a few years back - one of them moved into the Tidal Basin and started cutting down young cherry trees! The Park Service live trapped the critter and released it out in the country, far away.
From a blog called Martinez Beavers: A couple months ago I was avidly reading “In Beaver World” by Enos Mills who was called the “John Muir of the Rockies”.
Beaver works are of economical and educational value besides adding a charm to the wilds. The beaver is a persistent practicer of conservation and should not perish from the hills and mountains of our land. Altogether, the beaver has so many interesting ways, is so useful, skillful, practical, and picturesque that his life and his deeds deserve a larger place in literature and in our hearts.
Brenda Jones’ Images of Beavers of Mapleton Aqueduct
– where and how we met –
Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, indeed, for two beavers of Princeton. On that day, our Animal Control Officer, Mark Johnson, seems to have unilaterally decided that these wild creatures were a nuisance. He took it upon himself to order a strolling woman, Kathleen Hutchins — who had been making beaver pilgrimages each (non-rainy) evening–, to leave the Mountain Lakes Preserve at 7:30 p.m., because he was “going to get rid of them.”
Beaver Swims North of Mapleton Aqueduct - Brenda Jones
Asked why not relocating, the officer’s answer was that he was going to kill them. Relocating would’ve been natural. We go on beaver walks in the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh, right down the road. Botanist Mary Leck and Ornithologist Charlie Leck, who lead these walks, prefer the winter ones, “because you can see the beavers’ breath…” “Not relocating because I am going to kill them” is no answer, a travesty of the highest magnitude.
The officer’s so-called reasons: “The beavers were raising the water and eating the vegetation.”
Beaver Breakfast — Brenda Jones — Mapleton Aqueduct Family
NJ WILD readers know my fascination for and gratitude to beavers, since they brought Brenda and Cliff Jones to me, north of the Millstone Aqueduct, on land preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. The three of us were on pilgrimage to this then new phenomenon. They knew where and when to find these nocturnal beings whose gleaming sculptures had begun to add interest to the canal’s vegetation in recent weeks. Beavers, the essence of wildness, had honored us, as have the American bald eagles, by choosing to live and raise their young in our midst.
Close-up of Millstone Aqueduct Beaver — Brenda Jones
Everyone knows, raising water levels, building dams, building lodges, eating vegetation - those heinous offenses for which the Meadow Lakes “Preserve” beavers had to pay with their lives – this is what beavers do. They are part of the cosmic circle of life. Water-raising is needed so that other forms of life may come into being and thrive. In winters, especially harsh ones, beavers keep waters open so that waterfowl may drink, may swim, may access foods to survive that season’s challenges.
Bufflehead, one of many Winter Ducks who benefit from beaver-open water - Brenda Jones
Who is this “Animal Control Officer” to decide that beavers are not to fulfill their centuries-old purpose on this planet?
It’s WE who are in Beaver Territory! Their rights to these lands and waters pre-date the Lenni Lenape, 10,000-years-ago such light voyagers upon these lands.
Beaver Swimming Away Brenda Jones
Nevermore to Be Seen at Mountain Lakes Preserve…
Letters of protest are being written.
Investigations are underway.
The “Control Officer” is on purported vacation this week.
Protests and investigations will not bring back wild lives.
Beaver Yearling as Narcissus - Brenda Jones
From the Packet article of Friday, May 20, “A permit is needed for the trapping of beaver. It is illegal to shoot beavers, which are a protected species in New Jersey.”
Beavertail Warning, Brenda Jones
later story in Times of Trenton - bolds mine, of course… $100 - $200 fine….
“TROUBLESOME’ — THE NERVE OF US! “When will we ever learn, when will we everrrrr learn?….” cfe
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — The killing of a pair of troublesome beavers last week by a local animal control officer has sparked an uproar among animal lovers, some of whom think the aquatic tree-munching animals should simply have been relocated.
“It is just terrible to kill them that way,” said resident Kathleen Hutchins. “ It is outrageous that they had to be shot, and people in the neighborhood are really upset about it. People used to walk over with their children to see them. I’d go out at dusk to see them and they were just fabulous.”
Township administrator Bob Bruschi said the beavers were considered a nuisance because they were contributing to flooding at the Pettoranello Gardens section of Community Park North, which is home to a pond and a number of streams. [in other words, ideal beaver habitat cfe]
There was a problem with flooding in the park, Bruschi said, and workers attempted to take down dams the beavers built that made the water level in the pond rise, “but the beavers were very persistent.”
An spokesman for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife said the Princeton animal control department, which is run jointly by Princeton Borough and Township, failed to obtain the required permit prior to euthanizing the beavers, but said that the beavers probably would have had to be killed.
Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the department, said beavers may be trapped either in conibear traps, which kill them, or in live traps. If live traps are used, the animals must be euthanized and may not be relocated, he said.
Bruschi said Princeton animal control officer Mark Johnson said he had checked with state officials beforehand to find out what the process would be to remove the beavers. Bruschi acknowledged that the animal control officer did not receive an actual permit to trap, remove or kill the beavers, but said Johnson thought he had gotten verbal approvals from the state to kill the beavers.
Residents like Hutchins challenged the state policy that requires the beavers to be killed, questioning why they can’t be moved.
“We move black bears,” she said. “Why can’t beavers be trapped and moved? There are a million places they could take them where they would not cause a nuisance, like Lake Carnegie.”
More information is still being gathered about the incident, Bruschi said, adding that it is being handled as a personnel matter.
Township Mayor Chad Goerner, a frequent walker at Pettoranello Gardens, expressed shock and disappointment about the killings and called for an investigation into the way in which the matter was handled.
“I live close to the park and I would walk there just to try to catch a glimpse of the beavers,” Goerner said. “Then I learned from neighbors that they had been shot while people were present in the park. I understand that perhaps they needed to be removed, but I have concerns about the way the situation was handled, both in terms of the humane treatment of the animals and the safety factor, which is a major concern.”
The shooting occurred late at night, when the nocturnal creatures are most active and most accessible. Hutchins said no shooting should occur in a public park, no matter what time or whether the park is closed.
Hajna said fines for illegally trapping a beaver range from $100 to $200 and it is considered a municipal offense.
Local police are looking into the case, he said, but the Division of Fish and Wildlife is not actively investigating at this time. The department will review the report prepared by local police when it is completed, he said.
Goerner said the borough and township should develop a plan for handling similar problems in the future to guarantee the safety of residents.
Filed Under (Adventure, Environment, Farmland, Fishing, Food, Forests, Government, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, KAYAKING, NJ, NJ State Parks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 10-04-2011
Spring Tiptoes Through the Pines
Lake Oswego Invites, Pine Barrens, New Jersey, April 2011 (cfe)
Desperate for spring, yesterday, I took a friend –who’d never been in the Pinelands– to this pristine region of our beleaguered, overpopulated state.
Both of us were absolutely enchanted all the day long.
On empty roads, which I term “My Secret Roads”, into Pinelands, I have been taught and taught, “The Journey is the Destination.” My friend experienced this reality. You can, too!
True Pine Barrens Welcome, (cfe)
How to undertake this miraculous Journey: Route 563 South from Chatsworth (Heart of the Pines). First stop into Buzby’s General Store, at the corner of 563 and 532, just south of the firehouse. Go into Buzby’s for Pine Barrens books and products - local, sustainable, traditional and real.
Marilyn Schmidt at Buzby’s with her Easter Tree, by Sharon Olson
Especially buy its splendid, thorough and revelatory Pine Barrens Map, while they last. It was designed by the lady at the desk, my friend Marilyn Schmidt. This powerhouse of a woman saved Buzby’s from oblivion and worse, doing whatever it took to have it named to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. She also wrote and published many of the books on Pine Barrens history, lingo, graveyards and foods.
Blueberry Bread, Cranberry Bread, Cornbread Mixes from Buzby’s (cfe)
To Find Lake Oswego: South of Chatsworth, on the left, be on lookout for small thin sign, reading “Oswego”, VERY high in a tree. (Locals hammered the lake’s name to a tree so it would grow up up and away. Pineys are famous for wanting to keep their beautiful region for themselves.)
Turn left and wander along that long not winding lane, between bogs. This time of year, they are flooded lest vital vines be frozen during still chilly nights. You’ll pass a state institute of research on the Pines’ most famous crops, cranberries and blueberries. Bogs are also flooded, to assist with wet harvest.
Cranberry Harvest, Alongside 563, near Chatsworth, Autumn, 2010 (cfe)
Yesterday, I fretted, with state finances in such disarray, will berry research still be funded next time I drive to Oswego?
The first time I took the Oswego road, a minuscule forest fire was running right along both edges. between road and sand, not yet into woods.
Fire is the friend of the Pine Barrens - clearing out pine duff and too many oaks, allowing fire-resistant pitch pines to burgeon anew (newly fertilized by ash), serotinous cones only burst by heat, seeds scattered by firewinds. Without pine duff and oak seedlings, and only without them, the Pines can thrive.
“Sure, a Little Bit of Heaven Fell…” (cfe)
On my forest fire drive, it was deep winter. Flames danced like tiny red snakes, temptation dancers – Firebird, Sheherezade. To continue to watch such a dance, would I give the dancers anything, even John the Baptist’s head?
Beyond whirling tongues of orange and copper and scarlet and gold, snow and ice ruled. Beneath white glaze were waiting Pine Barrens rarities, –carnivorous plants, spring-raucous Pine Barrens tree frogs, spotted turtles, rare corn snakes and special rattlesnakes, curly grass fern, elusive swamp pink…
Firelings writhed merrily along. Pavement ended. Auslanders are not supposed to drive on sugar sand roads. But I was drawn on and on, over the tiny bridge, to that scintillation of lake –absolutely irresistible:
“In Just Spring”, Even Though April, (cfe)
I am forever magnetized by Lake Oswego. Partly because, there, I still feel Indians to whom it used to be sacred.
Sacred Pine Barrens Peat Water of Lake Oswego on Fourth of July (cfe)
Partly because blueberries grow on all sides there, on host shrubs taller than I. The fruit of each bush holds a different flavor, texture, size and juiciness. No wonder New Jersey makes blueberry wine. Sampling those berries in June is like walking through a wine tasting. Except that these ‘grapes’ are blue and high and warm in sun.
Alongside that little bridge that I first met in fire and ice, spring will bring white bells that turn into blueberries.
A little later, air beside the bridge will be perfumed by the white cascades of sweet pepper bush. Everywhere is water, and somewheres kayakers. And sometimes happy swimmers and dabblers. Always appreciators.
Hikers Discuss Lake Oswego Trails (cfe)
This magic enclave is more than 50 and less than 75 miles from where I used to live at Canal Pointe. This magic awaits in all seasons.
Is Bright Moss Spring? (cfe)
However, yesterday, I would say that we found beauty yes but spring, no.
Small State Forest Sign, Not Identifying Lake- Will Sign Be There Next Time? (cfe)
Lake Oswego is a State Park, although the large state sign at entry has been removed. [Not sure whether this is Piney Keep-Out attitude, or State parsimony.
Such absences are ever ominous to a preservationist, but not troubling to the hikers and fishermen of yesterday. Fishermen and -woman grinned from ear to ear, even though they were reluctantly turning their backs on the lake. “What are you catching here?”, I asked, having just finished Richard Louv’s “Fly Fishing for Sharks”, therefore feeling every inch a virtual fisherman. “Pickerel,” they said, glowing. Ah, ha! I’d always wanted to hear of pickerel, this near to the sea.
I remembered that nomadic New Jersey Indians once moved from their hunting (inland) lives to their gathering lives at the Shore, after gathering at our (Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh), creating the sand trails that became the 20th Century’s 195 over to Brielle and the sea. I remembered that they knew to move to the ocean when the leaves of pickerel weed (which grows and provides sanctuary for fish in (fake) Lake Carnegie, not only thrust to full height, but opened to full light.
I really wanted to meet a pickerel. But they had no catch - all catch and release, as is the way of fishing in American waters now.
This pine-ringed lake could be the finest Old Pawn jewelry, venerable turquoise set in the richly carved bezel of stately green-black pines.
At Lake Oswego, in all seasons, all is the silence and peace I seek.
Visitors know and respect its soothing, inspiring aura, even when spring won’t arrive.
Our Earliest Flower - the Swamp Maple — Oswego’s Only April 9 Bloom (cfe)
Filed Under (Climate Change, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Global Climate Change, Government, NJ WILD, Oceans, Poetry, Politicians, World War II, books, war and peace) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 13-03-2011
A scientist, Chernobyl-experienced, may not be lying: Any time you have a nuclear facility that size that is not meeting requirements for cooling, you have a real emergency on your hands.”
Ron Chesser, Center of Environmental Radiation Studies
For days now, arresting lines from a poem by James Haba ring in my head - I paraphrase:
An official is speaking on the radio
He is lying
An earthquake of nearly impossible magnitude,
followed by tsunami destruction beyond human comprehension,
fill our world,
dominating even the great floods of New Jersey rivers and streams in this spring of discontent.
My heart aches along with the people of Japan, people of the globe, shattered by these multiple disasters.
On television, officials play down the seriousness of explosions and escaped vapors. They want us to see it as mere steam. They want us to deem it harmless. They tightrope around the word ‘meltdown.’
The true tragedy is that — as in Katrina, as with BP’s oil disaster off our shores, nobody knows what to do.
We are being given the nuclear equivalent, in translated phrases, and by the Japanese Ambassador to the United states, of BP’s “500 gallons a day” admission. You remember –I asked NJ WILD readers from first hours, if you believed it. (You know the outpouring ultimately climbed into millions.)
We are assured that only a handful of people ‘reveal levels of radiation’, as 100,000s of thousands are evacuated. [And what happens when your home has been suffused with radioactivity - what hope ever of return?]
One official blithely announced that any radiation would simply float out to sea. Wonderful. First we oil our amniotic seas. Then we radioactivate them, and air currents above.
In pictures of damaged American harbors, we have been given vivid proof of the very short distance between the shores of Japan, the coasts of Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington. Not only wave energy makes that journey.
In turbulent times, especially in times where deception is the norm, I turn to the past, as NJ WILD knows.
Lately, I’ve been leaning on Eleanor Roosevelt, that consummate truth-teller. We know that even her husband did not always welcome Eleanor’s integrity.
I came across a new paperback of her legendary My Day columns. She wrote them even on her lap in uncomfortable planes flying to visit American troops in the Pacific. My Day appeared in hundreds of newspapers in the days of healthy journalism.
Eleanor ceased turning in her columns for a mere four days around President Roosevelt’s death. In Depression, War, and now on the morning after peace, Eleanor told the truth to America.
The VERY FIRST My Day WORDS I read this morning, [Sunday, the 13th of March, while a tsunami of images of submerged houses and flattened cars and overturned boats and mud-inundated fields and severed highways and empty roadways and far too few official anybodies rescuing anyone, surge through my head,] were:
The new atomic discovery has changed the whole aspect of the world in which we live. It has been primarily thought of in the light of its destructive power. Now we have to think of it in terms of how it may serve mankind in the days of peace.
This great discovery was not found by men of any one race or any one religion and its development and control should be under international auspices. All the world has a right to share in the beneficence which may grow from its proper development.
If we allow ourselves to think that any nations or any group of commercial interests should profit by something so great, we will eventually be the sufferers.
It is a challenge to us. For, unless we develop spiritual greatness commensurate with this new gift, we may bring economic war into the world and chaos instead of peace.
The greatest opportunity the world has ever had lies before us. God grant we have enough understanding to live in the future as “one world” and “one people”.
These are excerpts from an undated column, with a New York dateline, at the time when “word was flashed that peace had come to the world again.”
Eleanor reveals a great heaviness: “I had no desire to go out and celebrate. The weight of suffering which has engulfed the world during so many years could not be so quickly wiped out.”
Always in touch with the larger picture, Eleanor leapt quickly to concerns over the nuclear wand which scientific wizardry had brought into the world.
Her words of long ago prove profoundly prophetic. We are a world united. However, not by peace. Unfortunately we have become ONE in the unparalleled pursuit of technology. Events of recent days have united us in horror and grief. And impotence.
Officials, not only in battered Japan, insist on “no harm to human life” from white clouds issuing from severely compromised nuclear reactors.
Where are the experts on our own Three Mile Island, on Russia’s Chernobyl? Who is drawing parallels and lessons?
Among the few who address the perils of catastrophic climate change, are many who insist that the only solution is increased construction of nuclear power plants. Many of our existing ones are built dirctly upon faults. We are being urged to build more when we don’t know how to resolve disaster in those already in use.
What radio announcement on the New Jersey Turnpike triggered Jim Haba’s poem, we do not know. The universality of his response reverberates into this new century:
An official is speaking on the radio
He is lying…
Eleanor’s prophecy: We will eventually be the sufferers.
It is now Sunday Evening: from AOL
KORIYAMA, Japan - Japanese officials warned of a possible second explosion Sunday at a nuclear plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami as they raced to stave off multiple reactor meltdowns, but they provided few details about whether they were making progress. More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area, and up to 160 may have been exposed to radiation.
Four nuclear plants in northeastern Japan have reported damage, but the danger appeared to be greatest at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where one explosion occurred Saturday and a second was feared. Operators have lost the ability to cool three reactors at Dai-ichi and three more at another nearby complex using usual procedures, after the quake knocked out power and the tsunami swamped backup generators.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Sunday that a hydrogen explosion could occur at Dai-ichi’s Unit 3, the latest reactor to face a possible meltdown. That would follow a hydrogen blast Saturday in the plant’s Unit 1.
“At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion,” Edano said. “If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health.”
FROM MY SCIENCE DAILY E-ALERTS:
Ron Chesser, director for the Center of Environmental Radiation Studies at Texas Tech University, was the first American scientist allowed inside the exclusion zone in 1992 following the Chernobyl disaster. He can discuss issues that Fukushima workers may be facing in light of the cooling system troubles.
Chesser said that though reports have stated the reactors were shut down safely, the reactors still must be cooled constantly to avoid a meltdown of the core.
All four reactors have been shut down at Fukushima Daini.
“The fact they’re having trouble cooling the reactors is going to trigger an emergency,” Chesser said. “There are certain trigger points for declaring an emergency at nuclear reactors. Reduction in cooling capacity would be one of those. Release of radiation would be another. Reactors are not like your car that you can turn off and walk away. They’re going to continue generating a great amount of heat until the core is disassembled. Without cooling water, then you stand a real chance of a meltdown of core that could result in a large release of radiation, potentially.”
However, Chesser, who has toured a smaller Japanese nuclear power plant in Chiba, said Japanese designers put many precautionary measures and contingency plans in place to ensure reactor safety in the event of an earthquake.
“I was very much impressed with the amount of attention to safety, especially regarding potential of earthquakes,” he said. “I was a little bit surprised when I saw they had a looming crisis at the Fukushima power plant just because of all the great attention the Japanese pay to earthquake safety.”
Also, the Fukushima reactors appear to have containment vessels over them unlike Chernobyl, he said.
Though there is cause for concern, Chesser said he thought workers at the plant must have some cooling capacity available, since the evacuation radius from the plant was only 1.9 miles and affected 3,000 people. [most recent t.v. reports reveal 200,000 now - late Sunday night]
“I think that sounds like that’s a low-level alert,” he said. “It didn’t sound like there were that many people being evacuated. At Chernobyl, when it went, they eventually were evacuating people 18 miles away from the reactor. It doesn’t sound like there’s an imminent issue, but it is serious. Any time you have a nuclear facility that size that is not meeting requirements for cooling, you have a real emergency on your hands.”
According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) website, the Fukushima Daiichi plant has six functioning nuclear reactors with two more that are scheduled to come online in the next two years. Recent reports from the company have said reactor Nos. 1, 2 and 3, were shut down because of the quake, but 4, 5 and 6 were down because of regular inspections.
At Fukushima Daini, all four reactors have been shut down, according to the website.
According to the 2008 World Factbook, Japan ranks third in the world for electricity production. A recent story on the United Nations University’s website states that 30 percent of Japan’s energy is produced from nuclear power.
“My great hope is that they are going to be able to rectify this quickly enough that they can maintain cooling capacity,” Chesser said. “I think that a reactor meltdown could be a major disaster, especially in a highly populated country such as Japan. It would be a real setback when we are battling to find alternatives to fossil fuels considering the potential that nuclear energy has.”
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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Texas Tech. The original article was written by John Davis.