The Reality of Climate Change

Problems have solutions; dilemmas have consequences!  The reality of climate change can’t be avoided but the consequences for humans and other life forms can be made worse by our decisions.  There is a difference between solving problems and living with consequences.  Solving problems means we can try to fix what is wrong.  Living with consequences means we must face the reality of our situation.  The reality of climate change is already impacting the hydrologic cycle—increased precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, and river flow— but we can make our situation worse.

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Cigarette Butt pollution

There are many substances that get deposited on streets and little of this pollution is removed from stormwater before being dumped into rivers.  Street Department personnel spread salt and sand on icy roads in winter.  People throw trash and cigarette butts out their car window or it blows out of the bed of trucks.  Vehicles leak oil and other lubricants, tires shed hydrocarbons, and exhaust pipes emit gases and fluids.  There are many substances that unintentionally and intentionally get washed down the drains and into storm sewers that feed downstream drinking water.  All of these substances accumulate on roads along with natural debris such as sticks, leaves, and dirt.

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Four Earthly Ways of Being

I was at dinner with four women a few weeks ago to discuss  protecting a nearby place of significance – what we would call a wahi pana.  It is a ravishingly beautiful spot: a hanging valley overlooking the ocean, with groves of ancient native trees, flowers, ferns, orange trees, ginger, and bamboo.  Most of the time there is a stream running through it, which, in this semi-arid district with its porous volcanic soils, is a wonder in itself.  Naturally, this spot so blessed by nature was inhabited and beloved by the kanaka maoli  – the native Hawaiians – for long centuries, until contact with the West decimated their population and nearly destroyed their culture.  More recently, in the last few decades, it has been a religious retreat site.  The Tibetan Buddhist philanthropists who currently own the land have other priorities on the mainland U.S. and so were talking of putting the property on the market.  It was feared that the land could fall into the hands of owners who would treat it in the usual American way and plop down a trophy house so as to command  the most sweeping view of the coastline.  This would be a gut-wrenching desecration of the tangible and  intangible qualities of the little valley. Continue reading “Four Earthly Ways of Being”

Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day and next year marks its 50th anniversary.  It seems a good time to pause and think about what we have accomplished and where we go from here.  How has Earth Day changed since it’s conception and have we reached any of its original goals?

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Food for a small planet

What do people eat across the world?  An excellent photographic answer to this question was provided by Californian photographer Peter Menzel who visited 24 countries for the book “Hungry Planet” .   The thing I found most interesting from his photographs was the difference in the percentage of whole food vs. processed food that make up diets across the world.  Americans eat mostly processed food and very little whole food. Continue reading “Food for a small planet”

When the water runs out

We were the ‘Land of the Free’ for the longest time,” state Rep. Regina Cobb (R) said recently at an Arizona Republican forum. “We wanted to be able to put wells where we wanted to. We didn’t want monitoring. We didn’t want metering. We didn’t want government coming in and telling us what to do. Until,” she told an audience where some wore “Make America Great Again” hats, “we saw the number of wells that were being put into the ground.” Continue reading “When the water runs out”

On Love and Barley

I’ve had little time to think and write of late, as many small crises converge – from a sick elder dog to local political struggles to broken equipment to minor family exigencies, but there are always moments of grace amidst the scurrying and chaos, and one of the moments was seeing this photo in the bathroom of my veterinarian’s office.  I immediately titled this photo in my head: The Richest Woman in the World.  She is a dignified elder of native Hawaiian heritage.  She is poor in material things – her house is old and ramshackle, there are no window panes and the foundation is buckling. This kind of house was and still is common in the area where I grew up – South Kona and Ka’u – although nowadays most such houses are either fixed up or abandoned and slowly falling down.   But she is rich in a boundless peace and a connection to the world around her, she is rich in that native heritage and community which is so deeply place-based and family-centered, and she is rich in the companionship of  her skinny but contented cats who sit at her feet amid the dust of her yard.   It reminded me of Basho’s haiku:

Girl cat, so/thin on love/and barley.

One way or another most of us are prisoners

It’s a struggle for the new chick to peck its way out of the egg. We postmoderns still seeking truth have the same basic problem to solve, but the eggshell is less visible. Make no mistake though we are each inside the thing, struggling to get out, and find out what is on the other side. And then of course we each have to figure out what do next. The good news is that there are a lot of us.

image: Kornerstone Farms

Guest Post: Living Like It Matters

SILVER LININGS IN THE VERY DARK CLOUD OF CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

Elizabeth West

We actually do not have all the time in the world, so I am going to be bold.  What you do after you finish reading this is your business and ultimately, that is exactly as it should be. We may all be facets of a larger Oneness, tiny sparks of the Divine dwelling in human form, but for the moment—allowing the potential truth of a larger connection–we are very clearly individuals, each with our own experience and outlook. We have our own ways of coping and to some extent, each of us charts a unique course through this life. We are often granted some choice about how we live and how we die, though most of us vastly prefer to focus on the former.  

Even there, we tend to let life happen, getting pulled from one urgency to another amusement without full consciousness of how we spend the time. “Where did the time go?” is a plaintive query, often-expressed. “Time flies!” When you are having fun, when you are busy, when you aren’t fully present.  Life happens to us  more often than most of us would like to admit.  But still, we can always meet it–our life—where we find it today and choose differently how we experience the flow of time, how we interact with the circumstances we have been given and crafted for ourselves.  Such is the beauty of being alive. Continue reading “Guest Post: Living Like It Matters”