Nel's New Day

April 22, 2020

You Can Save the Earth

Today in the midst of the worst pandemic for more than a century, Earth Day spent its 50th anniversary. For over three years, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), elected by a minority of the U.S. voters, has assaulted the environment to favor his friends. In the same way that prominent Republicans say that people should die in order to keep them rich, DDT pollutes and poisons the world. In his most recent efforts, the ones after he stopped the enforcement of most environmental regulations “indefinitely,” he now permits life-threatening chemicals on products used for cooking and argues that any control of mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants isn’t “appropriate and necessary.”

On April 22, 1970, twenty million people marched and rallied to clean up the country. Fifty years later, the destruction of habitats has displaced wildlife that brought viral outbreaks. Past ones such as AIDS, Ebola, and SARS have moderate control; with no leadership in the United States, the current one, COVID-19, has swept across the nation, infected millions and killing an unknown number because only a little over one percent of the people in the U.S. have been tested.

On Earth Day 2020, the entire leadership of the United States, including 75 percent of environmental managers working for the fossil fuel industries, promotes fossil fuel production at the loss of all alternative energies and roll back auto emissions standards. For example, Head of the BLM William Perry Pendley believes that the Endangered Species Act is “rural genocide” meant to drive residents off the land. For decades, the United States has seen the escalation of the militia movement that wants county sheriffs to arrest federal employees who enforce environmental rules and the purge of environmental Republican in Congress.

The one bonus of the current pandemic is the lessening of pollution which kills about 4.2 million people throughout the planet from stroke, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. In just New York, carbon monoxide from cars during the past couple of month has been reduced by nearly 50 percent compared from the same months last year. The massive decline of pollution and greenhouse gases in China for just two months probably saved the lives of 4,000 young children and 73,000 elderly adults in just China.

Seimologists from Belgium to New Zealand can better track tremors with people staying home. They determine the lessening of noise pollution means people can avoid stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, sleep disruption, etc. The lack of noise pollution from cruise ships makes marine animals healthier and increases their reproduction by decreasing stress-hormone levels.

Other sea creatures may be making a comeback. For almost a decade, the sea stars, vital to preserving the kelp forests by eating sea urchins, have been wasting along the West Coast, possibly from a virus. One theory about the disappearance of sea stars is the large number of people on the beaches. Nature may have gotten to the tipping point of survival with the human invasion.

The frantic search for a solution to COVID-19 may lead to saving the environment. As researchers push to find information about pathogens and their human hosts may discover answers to the disappearing coral reefs, possibly from highly contagious bacterial diseases. The 50 percent of pathogenic bacteria and coral diseases in sea grass found in Indonesian waters could be from human sewage. Researchers are replicating the sea grass in Puget Sound for human defenses in medicines and diet. They already determined that mangrove sea squirts have antimicrobial agents and anticancer drugs. Algae and the blue blood from abalone can stop herpes and flu viruses.

The shrinking of the ozone layer over Antarctica shows that people can make a difference in climate change if they try. By 2000, the 1987 Montreal Protocol to stop ozone-depleting substances (ODS) reversed the jet stream direction to head back to the north. The change in the jet stream had pushed rain away from the coastal areas of Australia, causing drought and ensuing wildfires. The decreasing rainfall may change with the shift in jet streams and ocean currents.

After 50 years of honoring the environment on Earth Day, the majority of people say they take at least seven of 15 actions to help the environment during the past year, beginning with 85 percent who voluntarily recycle. Over half reduced use of energy, tried to use less water, used reusable shopping bags, avoided products harming the environment or bought products better for the environment, and replaced  incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent or luminescent ones.

Last month, people shared a poem that went viral across the internet. They claimed that it was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara and reprinted for the 1918 flu pandemic. The author is actually a retired Wisconsin teacher and palliative care chaplain, Catherine O’Meara, who wrote it in March 2020 because of the current pandemic.  

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

“And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

In 2017, Jane Hirschfield wrote this poem for Earth Day. Its prescience is even more important in 2020 when the anti-science leadership of the United States avoids finding solutions for the current health disaster.

“On the fifth day/the scientists who studied the rivers/were forbidden to speak/or to study the rivers.

“The scientists who studied the air/were told not to speak of the air,/and the ones who worked for the farmers/were silenced,/and the ones who worked for the bees.

“Someone, from deep in the Badlands,/began posting facts.

“The facts were told not to speak/and were taken away.

“The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

“Now it was only the rivers/that spoke of the rivers,/and only the wind that spoke of its bees,/while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees/continued to move toward their fruit.

“The silence spoke loudly of silence,/and the rivers kept speaking,/of rivers, of boulders and air.

“In gravity, earless and tongueless,/the untested rivers kept speaking.

“Bus drivers, shelf stockers,/code writers, machinists, accountants,/lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

“They spoke, the fifth day,/of silence.

Poet Lynn Ungar wrote her response to the current sheltering at home. The first few lines: 

“What if you thought of it/as the Jews consider the Sabbath—/the most sacred of times?

“Cease from travel.

“Cease from buying and selling.

“Give up, just for now,/on trying to make the world/different than it is.”

The United States is now facing an economic disaster over twice as bad as the one caused by George W. Bush in 2009—and it’s combined with a health disaster. During the Great Recession over a decade ago, people modified their buying habits—mending instead of trashing, cooking instead of always eating out, buying second-hand instead of from elite stores—trying to conserve because they had no money. President Obama pulled the United States people out of this disaster, but they went back to their wasteful ways. If only people will keep patterns of saving after COVID-19 is really under control instead returning to destroying the planet through their extravagant lifestyles.

[Thanks to Ann Hubard and Sue Hardesty for photos of an environment we need to preserve.]

On April 22, the U.S. has 849,092 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 47,681 deaths, as well as countless others who weren’t tested. That’s a 12-percent increase in deaths during the past two days.

April 21, 2019

Earth Day 2019

Tomorrow is the 49th anniversary for a global event in 193 countries. Although hundreds of millions work to save the planet every day, April 22 is set aside as a day of action. As the Earth Day website explains:

“People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.”

Last year’s theme was to End Plastic Pollution. One goal was to reduce the annual use of 500 million plastic straws in just the United States. In July 2018, Seattle became the biggest city in the U.S. to ban plastic straws, and Starbucks plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020. McDonald will ban plastic straws at UK and Ireland restaurants, and the 1,000 U.S. locations of  the food service company Bon Appétit Management will follow suit. Thanks to a Girls Scout, Alaska Airlines was the first airline to phase out plastic straws and stirrers. Shelby O’Neil created Jr Ocean Guardians for her 2017 Girl Scout USA Gold Award Project to share her passion in saving oceans and marine life for the future. Other airlines–American, Delta, and United–are following Alaska’s lead.

Getting rid of straws may have seemed a minor task because they comprise only 0.025 percent of the eight million tons of plastic going into the ocean each year. But it’s a simple beginning. From there, governments are decreasing the use of single-use plastic bags for shopping by adding fees for them or replacing them with paper bags. The town where I live passed an ordinance to do this a few days ago. Kroger is just one major company doing away with plastic bags for its shoppers. Using reusable shopping bags can drastically cut down on the one trillion plastic bags used world-wide every year.

Another reduction in plastic is to reuse water bottles instead of single-use ones. One person using a refillable water bottle can save an average of 170 bottles each year. And the single-use bottles have poisonous chemicals that aren’t present in glass or stainless steel reusable bottles.

Other ways to avoid plastic use is to pack food in glass containers, avoid snack foods with excess packaging, and skip plastic flatware. Hopefully, restaurants where you eat will use cardboard for takeout food instead of plastic. Buying products in cardboard containers will cut down on single-use plastics.

A particularly vicious form of plastic comes into microbeads used in most cosmetic items. UK has joined other countries in banning the product that is killing marine life who mistake the tiny particles for food. Ethique Beauty became plastic free in 2012, preventing three million bottles, jars, and tubes being sold and aiming for ten million by 2025. The United States has banned microbeads only in rinse-off cosmetics.

Founded in Bandon (OR), the Washed Ashore project creates sculptures from plastic materials washed up on beaches. It has a traveling art exhibit to create an awareness about the world’s growing plastic pollution problems.

Another 30 ways to recycle stuff.

Last year’s Earth Day theme to reduce plastic proliferation set progress into motion, and activists will begin work on this year’s theme, “Protect Our Species” which are rapidly disappearing from climate change, deforestation, poaching, pollution, pesticides/herbicides, and consumption.

One species that people might want to protect is that of humans. Because of the huge corporation Monsanto, people are getting cancer from its pesticides that contain glysophates. Products from popular foods for children–breakfast cereal, snack bars, and from popular companies such as Quaker, Kellogg, and General Mills–to “adult beverages” of wine and beer contain the cancer-causing chemical. To sell its genetically-modified seeds for plants that won’t be damaged by glysophates, Monsanto engineered varieties of corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugar beet, alfalfa, and more crops. Over 90% of all soybeans and over 70% of all corn grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, and the majority of these plants are tolerant to glyphosates. Originally people assumed that these crops were safe for human, but studies–not those paid for by Monsanto–show them to be endocrine disruptors causing birth defects, reproductive impairment, and DNA damage.

Another way to save the planet is to saving marine animals which might slow climate change because they store carbon in their bodies; their carbon-rich waste products sink into the ocean to fertilize and protect marine plants. Sea stars are just one of the marine species rapidly dying off. [Photo by Sue Hardesty]

On its 50th anniversary in 2020, the Earth Day network is organizing a “Great Global Clean Up,” which it hopes to be the largest environmental volunteer event in history. The goal is to remove billions of pieces of rubbish from streets, beaches, rivers,and parks, and is being launched across US cities in 2019. With its SOLVE project, Oregon is already ahead of the project. Founded 50 years ago in 1969 by Gov. Tom McCall, the goal of reducing and cleaning up litter and vandalism throughout the state expanded in 1984 to the first statewide citizen Beach Cleanup in the nation, an event that has spread to all 50 states and 100 other countries. The Oregon beach cleanup now takes place twice a year.

To celebrate Earth Day–every day, every year–hold yourself accountable and vow to save the planet for the future. [Photos: The Moon – Sue Hardesty; The Ocean – Ann Hubard]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 7, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Sea Stars Gradually Disappear

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:55 PM
Tags: , , ,

When I was young, these creatures were called starfish. The name was changed in the United States during the past five decades to sea stars because they are echinoderms, not fish, and closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars. No matter what the name, they are disappearing because of environmental problems. This Sea Grant video shows how scientists at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are developing a blood panel for ochre sea stars to help treat them before they die off from Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

Below, Sue Hardesty’s Facebook entry about the gradual extinction:

I want to talk about my favorite sea thingy, that wondrous little creature, the sea star, that’s nearly impossible to kill. Until now. September 18, 2016, I posted on my Facebook. “Spent yesterday morning walking the tide pools on my favorite beach, looking for my favorite ocean friends, the sea stars. There should have been hundreds. I found three. All sick. They all had bubbling and swelling in their centers and the curling limbs, eventually turning into a smearing mess. This is the fourth year. How much longer before they are all gone?” So, I went looking.

The tragic fact is that we are presently witnessing the largest wildlife die-off in recorded history—and we don’t know why. It is suspected they are another victim of global warming, but the research is still sketchy. Even though this little sea creature has no fins, or brain, or teeth, or even bones, and circulates sea water through their systems instead of blood, they are still tough little guys of wondrous colors and shapes, and, remarkably, they have eyes at the end of each arm, can produce millions of eggs at one time, replace lost arms, and change gender from male to female at will. They can even create glue with their feet. Did I mention how beautiful they are, dressed up in all kinds of colors and shaped with many arms? The loss of the sea star is a true disaster because, unlike the 80 or so extinct mammal species whose demise we are already responsible for, this little guy is one of our major keystone species.

When a major keystone species becomes extinct, its habitat and the living creatures in it are seriously affected and often simply disappear. What makes the sea star a keystone species is that it eats sea urchins which have the bad habit of “clear-cutting” kelp beds destroying cover as well as oxygen and food for many other species, including prawns and fish. Sea stars also eat mussels which, if left unintended, clean the water so well no food is left for the small fishes. Other examples of keystone species presently in danger are bees whose pollination is critical for plant survival, and, in turn, provide food and shelter for bugs who are eaten by birds. Then there is the predator such as bears, lions, tigers, wolves, cougars, and good ol’ man who keep the population of various species in check.

A new report from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, November 26, 2018, has cited a disease called the “sea star wasting syndrome” as the killer of millions of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska. Like the perfect storm, this disease could be a combination of elevated sea water temperatures with an imbalance of microbiome, or just as likely several microbe pathogens.” The report also discussed the 2014/2015 “unusual boom” in juvenile sea stars of several species which gave so many of us hope. “Unfortunately, the abundance was short-lived,” wrote Schultz. “The juveniles disappeared over a period of weeks to months, and no evidence of their abundance has so far been reflected in adult populations…it’s not uncommon at all to observe a sea star healthy one day and in pieces and near death the next morning,” said UVM co-author Melanie Lloyd. “If this disease was happening in humans, it would be the making of a Stephen King novel.”

 

Sources:

https://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107130255.htm

https://www.opb.org/news/article/despite-glimmers-of-hope-starfish-are-still-wasting-away/

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180320141317.htm

 

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: