Archive for October 2014
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
This Blog, plus one more will mark a full year of writing for the SUP Radio Show, don’t know where the time has gone! Many thanks to Leslie Kolovich for the opportunity! As this milestone looms, I thought I would explore the things that “Shape our World”, call it an exercise in where we are at, and where we are going!
In Part 1 this week, let’s explore choices. Let’s start by defining choice: the act of choosing: the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities: the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities: the opportunity or power to make a decision: a range of things that can be chosen.
We make choices every day, thousands of times every day. Before I started writing this blog I made several choices, and in the end, due to the complexity of the subject, chose to tackle “Shaping the World” over the course of two blogs. That ought to be enough to tackle a challenge this big!
Ignore the alarm clock or not? Boxers or Briefs? Bacon and eggs for breakfast, or granola? Third cup of coffee to start the day, or not? Coffee with the bacon and eggs, or the granola? Coffee or tea? Bacon crisp or not? Alright let’s choose bacon and eggs. Toast with the bacon and eggs? Peanut butter, or jam? Twelve Grain bread, Rye, Brown, white or sour dough? Butter or just plain? If not coffee or tea, maybe juice? Are bacon and eggs really the best choice for a healthy body? Never mind, I’ll have the granola. And maybe a muffin, no, no, too much fat. Milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or yogurt with that granola? The day has barely started, and already the choices are off the charts.
Our choices all have consequences, sometimes leading to a vicious circle. To heck with it, I’ll choose the bacon and eggs, three cups of coffee, toast, peanut butter, and since comfort food is big, let’s toss in hashbrowns and a muffin for good measure. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to see where a steady breakfast like this is going to lead. When a person makes unhealthy, or negative choices, it doesn’t take long for the effect of those choices to be felt. When a person makes healthy, or positive choices, the effect is also felt. This begs the question, what motivates people to make choices.
Negative choices have a variety of sources, including peer pressure which may lead us to a smoking career. Trauma which often leads to substance abuse. Substance abuse which leaves a fairly significant wake of degradation and destruction. Circumstance has profound influence on our choices. Social status is a big one. Sex, sometimes the physical kind, and most definitely the male/female kind sends us off in variety of different directions. Geographic location determines choice, a child in a third world country is not able to choose like a child in the west. Finances, money, moola, we all want it, fewer and fewer have much of it, which largely determines whether it has a negative, or a positive effect.
Positive choices bring a different set of consequences. People who make positive choices are in a different space than people who make negative choices. Health, personal and global, are often motivation for positive choice. Reward of some kind has been used for millennia to motivate positively. Most of us will go the extra mile if it means getting a compliment. Or a raise! Recognition, in its many forms, is arguably one of the strongest drivers of positive choices.
If positive choices bring positive results, why would a person make negative choices? Who decides what is positive and negative?
We all know it is better for us to walk than drive, and yet the majority of us choose to drive. Driving brings a host of negative consequences, lack of exercise, Planet degradation, expense, potential in the form of personal harm from an accident, etc. Walking brings a host of positive consequences, fresh air and exercise, slowing down a pace that borders on hysterical, the potential for conversation, spending time with the dog, etc. Driving also brings some positives to the table, mainly freedom and the ability to cover ground! By the same token walking can bring negatives, hmmm, let me think a moment.
This is where choices get tricky. Compromise. We are not very adept at compromise. What if we were to use our cars for longer distances, and walked the shorter distances? Hmmm, seems we have created living situations that require us to travel long distances, could be tricky. What if we were to drive part way and then walk part way? Granted that would take a bit longer. Hmmm, seems we have created a World where every second of the day is filled with something, and we have no time. We are definitely in a hurry to get somewhere, most of us just don’t know where!
It would appear we have created a World that is somewhat dysfunctional. It’s really hard to function in a dysfunctional operating system, which is why stress levels are off the charts in today’s World. Question is, if we want to leave a dysfunctional way of life, where do we start? What choices do we need to make to create the change that will lead to a better and different World we actually want to live in? How do we go about “Shaping the World”?…
To be continued next week!…
The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
If we want to preserve our waters, and the wild and special places that we love, then we have to preserve the land. Because they are so visible to us we often focus on the tiny patches of land in our yards and neighborhoods. And we should make those spaces beautiful and healthy, but they are too small to drive conservation.
What really has to happen is to place large areas of land—thousands of acres at a time–into conservation as national and state parks and forests, as well as private nature preserves. These protected lands are very popular with Americans, who flock to these special places to hike, camp, hunt, fish, and generally enjoy the wildness that tugs at us from deep within our psyche. Humans have spent much more of our history living close to nature, and so we continue to have an innate affinity for it.
However, we also tend to have a hard time living in harmony with the natural world that’s immediately around us. The lights on our porch, the plants in our yards, our dogs and cats, the backyard bird feeder, and even the noise generated from our neighborhoods all disturbs the natural cycles and ways of the natural areas around us.
Where I live in northwest Florida our natural ecosystems depend on fire to recycle nutrients, encourage plants to flower, and to keep the more open landscape favored by animals like gopher tortoises and red-cockaded woodpeckers. These fires happened naturally for thousands of years as lightning bolts ignited the flammable plants, and low-intensity fires burned for weeks at a time over hundreds of thousands of acres.
Today, as homes plop down in the middle of these fire-dependent landscapes, the natural fires are extinguished–starving the land of the very force it needs to remain healthy. So when we look around we see land free of development that we believe is preserved. But without fire, the land and its diversity of plant and animal life die a slow death as it becomes a tangle of thick shrubs that is anything but natural.
Humans are also not very good at restoring what we’ve damaged, or deliberately creating new ecosystems–which actually is not surprising. After all, nature has been creating ecosystems for millions of years, while we’ve only been trying it for a few decades.
For all of these reasons, the benefits of preserving large land areas are incredible. Natural systems need space to ebb and flow, to burn and flood, to wander and explore. They cannot do this easily within and next to our backyards. When we preserve large land areas we can take a step back and allow nature to thrive at its highest level, which includes soaking-up rainfall and delivering purified water into our rivers and streams.
Nearly every U.S. state has a program that buys and preserves wildlands, allowing each of us an opportunity to support these programs and thus help ensure a sustainable future for both people and nature. Florida once had perhaps the nation’s best program, but it has been nearly eliminated by the State legislature over the past several years.
In this year’s election, Florida voters will be asked to support Amendment 1, which would establish a land preservation program in the State constitution. This would guarantee the program for 20 years and in a manner in which the whims of the legislators would have no impact. With as much as 7 million acres of Florida’s wilds forecast to be lost by 2060, my fellow residents have a golden opportunity to help preserve our future.
We must continue to love, respect, protect, and enhance our yards and our neighborhood parks. But we also must see the big picture, and work to save the large and beautiful lands that we love and that love us back with clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and space for human solace and recreation. Our very survival depends on it.
Standing Up for the Planet with Leslie Kolovich and Christian Wagley
Listen to the podcast now:
Today Christian Wagley joins me in the studio to discuss one of the very important Amendments on the Florida ballet November 4th. Floridians care about our lands, state parks, and water. Protecting them has been of great importance, in fact Florida had one of the best land and water conservation plans in the country until the last several years. We must stand up to bring back the protection for our land and water here in Florida. Florida Water and Land Conservation, Amendment #1 is a coalition of the conservation and civic organizations, businesses and concerned citizens who together succeeded in gathering nearly 1 million signatures from Florida voters and placing Amendment 1: the Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 2014 ballot. This amendment will ensure all of the cherished rivers, lakes, springs and our coastal waters are protected for generations to come. For more information on Amendment 1 visit the website at Voteyeson1fl.org Please share this information with as many as you can. Every Vote Counts!
Christian is here in South Walton as a guest speaker for the South Walton Community Council as part of their Public Forum Series this Thursday October 23, 2014 at 7pm at the Coastal Branch Library on Highway 331. He is presenting a pictorial journey called, “The Beaches Are Moving“. Christian is a wonderful speaker with so much knowledge on Florida environment, you won’t want to miss this!
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
This past weekend Sharon and I went to the Adams River Salmon Run near Scotch Creek in B.C. Canada. This is a Sockeye run, and this year’s Run is a bellweather Run for Salmon Stocks!
Salmon Runs have become a spectator sport in B. C. When we arrived we were corralled into a parking lot, along with several thousand other people that were there at the same time we were. I found out afterwards that organizers were expecting in the neighborhood of 60,000 people to visit the Adams River Salmon Run this year. 60,000 people!
After collecting $5 for parking, we were directed to our parking spot for the day. This was no small operation, rather more like a well-oiled machine! On the way in to our parking spot we couldn’t help but notice all the tents, food trailers, washrooms and people everywhere!
It took us a couple of hours driving time to get there from Kelowna, and both Sharon and I were hungry when we got there. We wandered the several food trailers and the very last one, run by local First Nations, was offering up Bannock and Salmon. Naturally I had to try it, and I have to say that was possibly the best Salmon Burger I have ever had!
With a belly full of Salmon, we headed thru the gates and down the path to the first fish viewing area along with several hundred of our closest friends. Holy People Batman! The pictures show a lot of people in a small space, however they don’t really capture the total amount of people that were there. It was like Vancouver at rush hour, not exactly what a person might expect from a “Nature Excursion”. There were Guides talking about Salmon, and Park Rangers at various places along the path working unsuccessfully to keep the masses away from sensitive Riparian banks. There were cameras, tourists, naturalists, parents, kids, young, old, dogs, all drawn to this place, at this time by the stars of the show, Sockeye Salmon!
The returning Salmon this year were from the 2010 run, a record year for Adams River with approximately 10 million fish returning from the 2006 Run. I talked to one family who travelled from very far for the 2010 Salmon Run, and were back again this year to see how the 2010 Salmon fared. Salmon return every four years to the place they were born to give birth and then die. Their journey is truly a marvel. In the case of Adams River, the returning fish make their way from the Pacific Ocean to the Adams River. Once they enter the river they stop eating and travel for as long as it takes to swim the 110 miles up to Shuswap Lake, where they will deposit the next generation of fish in egg form. The females return to the very place they were born, dig a hole in the gravel bottom, and lay their eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Once fertilized, the males dig a hole just up river so that the fry can be covered. The female will stay with the fry for about 2 weeks to ensure they are not disturbed, then both the female and male will die approximately 2 weeks after that.
Salmon are a keynote species. Wildlife like Bear, Eagle and Wolf will feed on the smorgasbord that is presented to them with so many fish in one place at one time. Part of the carcasses will end up deeper in the forest after feeding, and will provide fertilizer to countless species of plants and trees. Without Salmon, the entire ecosystem out here in B.C. would be at risk.
Salmon populations appear to be declining, and there is reason for concern. Overfishing, fish farms, and loss of habitat, especially breeding grounds are cause for concern. When Sharon and I were at Adams River this year, the fish count stood at 3 and a half million, with a week or two left for additional fish to find their way home. Speculation about returning Salmon from 2010’s record Run are a big part of the reason so many people attended this year’s event. Salmon will lay approximately 4,000 eggs, and of these it is estimated that an average of 40 will survive to struggle for life, and only 2 will make it from their place of birth, to the Lake for a year while they grow and mature, to the Ocean where they live until their return after a four year life cycle. Under ideal conditions, salmon stocks are challenged in the survival department. When you factor in the human effect on Salmon, one can see it will not take too much to tip the scales in a direction that is not favorable for them.
I found myself leaving Adams River with a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand I was thrilled that there were so many people interested in seeing the Salmon Run, it’s encouraging to see interest in the Natural World. On the other hand I was shocked by some of the activity I saw there. There was little concern demonstrated by many for what can only be called a sensitive ecosystem. Riparian terrain (river banks) are sensitive to trampling due to the nature of the root systems of the many plants and trees that reside there. We witnessed several people breaking new trail to the river, some even ignoring clearly posted signs and fencing requesting people to stay off the banks. We witnessed children throwing rocks in the river where the Salmon they came to watch were attempting to lay eggs, with parents watching on. We picked up garbage along the trail, a sure sign of people presence. We also witnessed positives, like children asking questions and getting answers that actually disengaged them for a time from their electronic devices. We witnessed a sense of awe in many people about the incredible journey those Salmon have taken. I can only imagine how many pictures were taken, and where they might end up.
Oddly enough the thing that struck me most about our trip to Adams River was not the Salmon, as incredible as they are.
The thing that impacted me the most was the people. The mixed emotions left me feeling both positive and negative. Seeing the lengths that people went to just to get to Adams River was not dissimilar to the journey the Salmon took, as I mentioned earlier there were people there that flew from over both ponds to get there. There was genuine curiosity, which I always count as a positive. I was also left with a sense of sadness and emptiness that so many people appeared to know so little about Nature, and their Natural surroundings. It got me to thinking, “How will Nature survive our presence if we cannot connect to it”? “How can we educate a population who have become so citified that the importance of Nature to our very survival has been lost”?
Maybe Adams River is a step in the right direction!…