SoCS: Ecocide

It’s the first Stream of Consciousness Saturday and continuing on with Just Jot it January.

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “eco.” Find a word that starts with “eco” or has “eco” in it, and base your post on that word. Have fun!

I chose the word ‘ecocide’. It means the destruction of the natural environment (by human agency). With all the news about global warming- or climate change- lately, of course I’ve been thinking of it.

It’s always been in the back of my mind ever since I first became aware of it when I was just a little kid. Maybe 3rd-4th grade? Back then, the official scientific consensus was that we’d all be frozen into icebergs by now. They’ve changed their minds to the ‘global warming’ scenario now.

There has always been some debate between the optimists- who think human ingenuity will be able to solve all the problems brought upon ourselves by our insistence on breeding to the point of total destruction of the planet, and pessimists (like me) who think we will not.

It’s 40+ years later and I am still listening to the same basic arguments. The only difference is: now it’s global warming instead of global cooling. Or climate change to cover all the bases.

And, just to say it now… I am not a ‘climate change denier’. Of course the climate changes . It always has, it always will. I’m even willing to say that mankind most probably has had something to do with it. My problem with the ongoing debates at the moment has to do with the proposed solutions to the problems.

Of course, the ecocide has only progressed over those 40+ years. More pollution, more clear cutting, more soil erosion, more pollution in the air helping cause climate change, more ocean acidification, more habitat destruction for farms and houses, loss of biodiversity, and on and on and on.

Our leaders want to convince all of us to give up our high standard of living (which we get through the use of things like oil, chemicals, etc.), and bring about a ‘carbon neutral’ economy. Or even to reduce our use of energy so that we can ‘save the planet’.

I’m not totally sure what to say about that. I think there’s a much better solution than what ‘our leaders’ have come up with.

Of course I don’t want to see the destruction of planet Earth (even if I would love to see us out there exploring space and making ourselves a backup plan). I would love to see each and every person on this planet have the ability to live a good life!

Not one mired in poverty. Not one where they have to struggle every single day just to scrape up the bare necessities to exist, but a good life. One where they can work at what they enjoy, where they have plenty to eat and drink, one where they have time to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

I also want to see a planet where every other living thing has the ability to live without the threat of humanity’s greed destroying the habitat needed for survival. I want to see a planet with plenty of free space for nature. Room for all the plants, animals and humans to enjoy the natural world.

Not just for the fact that it’s healthy and good for people to be out in nature, not just for the possibility of all the things we’ve not yet discovered in the natural world that will help us live better, not just for the fact that the Earth is a cohesive, interconnected organism and we have no idea what we’re screwing up beyond repair with our human activities, but also because it’s morally, spiritually and even economically wrong to destroy so much of the world around us.

Why? Because we are so greedy.

I am NOT using that word in the way most people would. I see nothing wrong with people trying to live the best lives they possibly can. My issue is with the fact that so many people choose to have so many children (or don’t even consider not having them). Birth control? WTF? It’s like their only purpose in life is to breed. 🙁

I’m scolded for being a ‘selfish American’. One who was lucky enough to be born in the USA and so afforded a higher standard of living than most people around the world. I’m very lucky I don’t have to work my ass off for $1-2/day like so many do. But, where you’re born is mostly a matter of luck. I know I personally had nothing to do with where I was born!

What I ask people who ‘dis’ me for my ‘selfishness’ is: “and how many children do you have?” (or plan to have)?

Consider. Even if you only have one child, that child may chose to have only one, or they may have dozens. And each of those children may chose to have one, or dozens more. You have absolutely NO control over anyone but yourself in this matter.

And so, by my choosing to never have any children, I have already done more than my share in ‘saving the world’. I will spend the rest of my life being ‘selfish’ and enjoying the things I’ve earned the right to enjoy.

Don’t tell me not to use my air conditioner, or my car, or anything else! No, you don’t have a right to say diddly-squat about it until YOU stop having kids!

My solution to the problem of ‘climate change’ (and all the other problems) is to simply stop having so many kids!

Not forcibly, like China, but voluntarily. Spend some of the resources going on about global warming on convincing women around the world on the benefits of only having 1-2 children. Start promoting THAT as a way to save the planet instead of trying to convince everyone to give up on their hopes to live a decent life!

The optimists insist we can put up everyone on Earth in Alaska! That may be true, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where 7 billion + people are living in Alaska! I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where we continue to commit ecocide simply so that we can fill it up with more and more people.

I can’t even understand WHY so many people think that’s the way to go. It saddens me, that we have so much beauty in this world and we are throwing it away. Why? Because we need to fill up the world with another few billion people? Why?

So Many Stories

I have so many great stories to share from this safari. Tons of great photos too. Too bad the internet is so horrible here and I can’t get anything posted. I can’t even open my mail on yahoo.

I’ve spent the last week on safari in Tanzania with Great Escape Publishing. There were about 20 of us altogether- 16 ‘students’ and 4 teachers- in 4 jeeps (or land rovers).

We started and ended our safari from the African Tulip in Arusha. We had a lucky week. The weather was great, hardly any rain. We saw all of the big 5- even a rhino at the very end (but it was so far away I could hardly see it).

We saw lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, hippos, buffalos, gazelles, giraffes, zebras and more. What was really fantastic was seeing so many of the babies. I’ve got some fantastic photos! Not as many as I’d like, but enough that I’m still thrilled. 🙂

Even tho I bought a new lens especially for this trip, it wasn’t really what I needed and so I missed out on a lot of really great shots I could have gotten if I had spent the money for the proper equipment.

I bought a 70-300mm lens with an adapter for my Sony camera. The adapter was manual tho, so it was really hard to get it to focus. Almost all of my shots were blurry when I used that lens. I finally gave up and went back to using my old 70-210 lens where the auto focus worked.

The other problem I had was that my camera does not have an eyepiece to look through. I had to use the screen on the back of the camera and since it was so bright out, I couldn’t really see anything to focus on and just had to guess half the time.

I’m glad I got to make the trip, but it’s a shame I was so concerned about money that I skimped on the camera gear. If I ever get a chance to come back over here, I’ll try to get a better lens. It makes so much of a difference.

Warthog River

We loaded up our (4) jeeps right after breakfast where we were introduced and got a short run down of the plan for the week. By 1000, we left behind the African Tulip and were on our way to our first safari, at Tarangire National Park.

It was about a 2 hour drive. On arrival, we had a picnic lunch (and bathroom break) while we waited for the paperwork (entrance permits, fees, etc) to be completed.

We had sandwiches, salads, yogurt, popcorn and fruit while we watched a nearby herd of elephants slowly foraging their way through the area. I also spotted a nursing warthog under some trees. A troop of mongooses paraded through our picnic too. It was a good omen for the rest of the day.

Which was to prove prescient. We found more elephants, 2 groups of lions- one females- one young males. We saw lots of wildebeest, warthogs (with babies), some giraffes, gazelles, water bucks, dik-diks, zebras, and even a leopard!

What a great start to our safari!

We finished up before sunset and were off to our next lodge- Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge. By the time we got there, it was already getting dark. All of us were tired and ready for dinner and bed.

The lodge was very spread out. They sent guides with spears to escort us to and from our rooms. I wondered what they’d do if a lion rushed us (but not enough to really see it happen). 😉

There were all sorts of wild animals around (it was still a wildlife conservation area, even tho outside the national park). I heard wildebeest grunting through the night outside my cabin. We saw zebras right up close as we were eating dinner. So cool!

The ‘tents’ were very nice. Large and comfortable. Mine had 2 beds (with mosquito netting), a large shower, separate toilet, and sink in the middle. Screened windows all around for a fantastic view (with curtains you could close for privacy). There was no AC, but 2 fans and a nice breeze kept it a nice cool temperature. I could only find one plug near the sink to charge all my electronics but it was enough once I figured out how to do it.

In the morning  we were able to appreciate the beauty of the landscape. The lake was about a quarter mile away. I could just make out the large flocks of flamingos out there. There were herds of zebras and wildebeests grazing. An occasional ostrich passed by. So peaceful and beautiful. 🙂

I wish we’d gotten in earlier the night before so we could have a little time to see the sunset and explore the grounds. But then we would have had to cut our time in the park short. 🙁

Daily Walk

I just got back from my daily walk. Interesting to see so many bats flying around this evening. I wonder if it was just because of the time I happened to be out today, or if there were more than usual.

I’ve had friends staying with me until recently and when they were here I was walking much later than usual. Lots of days not until close to midnight. That’s not normal for me. Usually, I try to go before noon, before it gets super hot and humid. Or after 5, when it starts cooling down again. I think the night time walks are probably what caused my vitamin D level to get so low.

I haven’t seen the bats until tonight. Except the ones they found in my telephone box when they came to fix my internet. After the 4th-5th time I called them to come out, someone FINALLY climbed up on the telephone pole to check it out. They cleaned them out of there, and the internet actually worked pretty good for a few days, but I think the must be back. My internet is still crap!

So I wonder if it’s just the time they come out, twilight? Or do they come out all night and I just don’t notice them when it’s darker? Or do they come out more in certain seasons? Anybody know?

I like to see them since they eat lots of mosquitos (and other bugs). So far, I haven’t noticed all that many mosquitos yet. With all the rain we’ve had around here, I was expecting a lot more of them by now!

We’ve still got almost 3 weeks to go until the Great Texas Mosquito Festival. Maybe they’ll wait to show up til then. 😉

Wouldn’t kill me if they skipped this year altogether. 🙂

Guess What I Saw

On my daily walk?

I’ve been having a real hard time getting motivated to do much of anything lately. About all I have been able to do is to stick with my daily walks.

I started to walk every day when I was living in Austin. I was going to school at UT (chemical engineering) and I started on the Nutrisystem program. I figured since I had a fairly regular schedule for once, I could try it out and see if it would work for me. It did. I did pretty good sticking to their packaged food and actually managed to lose 40 lbs over the 8 months I was able to follow their rules.

As long as I was on a regular schedule and living on the beach full time, it did work. I started walking every day. It was a nice break from my stressful studies, and it got me outside to pay attention to what was going on in the neighborhood.

That was back around 1998. I gained back all the weight I lost (about 40 lbs) in my first hitch back offshore, but I’ve kept up the daily walks. I still enjoy them for the same reasons I did back then.

I see all kinds of interesting things around the neighborhood. Not just who’s moving in or out, what the kids are up to, who’s into gardening or pets, but the natural world. Yes, even in the middle of town I still see nature all around.

There’s a ditch down my street. It has different wildflowers all the time. I see frogs, toads, tadpoles, and raccoon tracks. Sometimes I see the actual critters: raccoons, possums, squirrels and armadillos. 🙂 There’s another ditch further up the block, a big turtle lives there, but it hides a lot. I see lots of different birds (I’m not a birder so can only identify a few). This is what I saw today.

I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but this is the best I could do. I think it’s a yellow-crowned night heron. It has a few babies in that nest, but I’m not sure how many (2+ for sure). I called the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory since I’d just read an article about how they had a program where they were into banding local birds. They pretty much confirmed my ID over the phone tho they didn’t seem interested in coming out to band the birds. They apparently just do that at their facility. It sounds like it might be interesting to go check it out one day.

I also saw (and heard) this guy. He was way up high and so hard to see exactly what kind of bird he was, except he was for sure some kind of woodpecker with a red head. I think it might be a red-bellied woodpecker.

I like to try and keep up with what’s going on around me. I prefer keeping up with this kind of stuff, instead of what’s on TV. Seems that kind of news is unavoidable, no matter how much I try. 🙁

Happy World Sea Turtle Day!

Today is World Sea Turtle Day. Somehow I didn’t know anything about that until I got an email early this morning from Earthwatch (thanks).

Maybe if I had known, we could have had a real party here. 😉

I was lucky enough to get a chance to see the Houston Zoo release a bunch of sea turtles on the beach at Galveston a couple of weeks ago. That was so cool to see. It was nice to see that so many people took the time and effort to take care of those turtles and nurse them back to health.

It was also great to see so many regular people turn out to see them released. It was frustrating as hell, trying to get a decent photo, but encouraging that so many people cared enough to make a special effort to be there in person (even with such crappy weather).

We’ve been lucky so far this year in Texas. Updated stats say we’ve found 173 Kemp’s Ridley nests (plus 2 Loggerhead’s). We’ve even found 4 right here locally (3 at Surfside and 1 at Quintana)!

volunteers on the Sea Turtle Patrol at Galveston beach

Remember: If you see a sea turtle, tracks or hatchlings on the beach immediately call 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-877-8535).

Source: Happy World Sea Turtle Day! [VIDEO]

See Sea Turtles on Thursday!

I just got this email from the Houston Zoo (I’m a member). They’ve been helping to save sea turtles with other organizations around the world. This Thursday (May 26th), they’re turning some loose on the beach in Galveston. 🙂

If you’re anywhere around the area, it would be a real treat to come out and watch. Here’s the announcement I got…

Watch Sea Turtles Return to Wild 

Thanks to a rewarding partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nine injured sea turtles have been rehabilitated and are ready to be returned to the wild. The release will take place Thursday, May 26 promptly at 2:00 p.m. at Stewart Beach Park, 201 Seawall Blvd. The public is invited to come out and witness this exciting release.
I’m going to put it on my calendar and take another drive up to Galveston. That is, IF the weather is better than the last time I was up there! 😉
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I went to see the turtles when I was in Nicaragua too, but it was too dark to see much. I hope the weather holds and I can really see them this time.