a warm and welcome place to share words and thoughts

Now that we have come to accept the reality that is climate change, what are we going to do about it? The general concensus from climate scientists is that we need to urgently start cutting our carbon emissions, that adding any more “fuel to the fire” that is global warming will end up creating a world that is near catastrophic – as if it doesn’t feel like that right now. And it is agreed upon that the most effective way of cutting those carbon emissions is changing our energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

Yes, in light of our ways of life that are very dependent on these fossil fuel ways, it will require massive changes in the way we live. It almost seems like a Herculean task, reconfiguring so many ways of life, that we might ask, can it even be done?

I’d have to say yes, this absolutely can be done, even though it may seem like an uphill climb. As humans we are blessed with the gift of intelligence that has allowed us to live and prosper and advance since the days of the first human life on Earth.

Just think about all the advances made by people in the 20th century. Things like automobiles, telephones, electricity available for everyone, modern day appliances, computers – the list goes on and on! But I can say with confidence that some of those changes that we now take for granted as conveniences of everyday life were not met with great enthusiasm, despite making our lives so much better in so many ways. I recall reading a book about the early days of the automobile, and the idea of cars taking the place of horse and buggy seemed far fetched and not so well received! But wiser heads prevailed and these days the thought of a world with horse drawn transportation only sounds quite terrible and inefficient.

So here we are at a crossroads of change, and this time it is not so much a change for the betterment of our daily lives but rather a change to keep our planet habitable for humans. The truth is that the Earth itself will make it through even if we keep on, business as usual, the fossil fuel ways. And the writing really is on the wall, if we don’t start to make the change from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, this world just might see the sixth extinction and that extinction will be the human species.

If you’re like most people, you check the daily weather and maybe even days beyond, to determine a personal level of comfort. You probably think about what to wear, what activities might be best, how to navigate your life so it feels the very best.

But the weather which is a day to day aspect, and the climate which is a long term aspect of weather, are ways of being on this planet that are not just about seeing to our personal comforts. The weather and climate affect the water sources we use, the food we eat, the places that we choose to live.

As climate change becomes more and more devastating we are seeing how what once was a concern only for our individual selves now must shift to a concern for the global community.

In regard to our precious water supply, there are many who are finding a lack of water due to droughts that are carrying on year after year. There are also those whose supply of what was once clean, safe water are finding that sea level rise is contaminating their water sources, making them unusable. And as far as sea level rise, this devastating effect of climate change is forcing many to look ahead to the sad possibility of finding new places to live.

And of course the weather is so important to agriculture, to the ability to grow food and provide what is absolutely essential for the human body to function. We often take for granted how important the weather and climate are for those farming the land and providing our food. It’s far too easy to make our way to the grocery store and all that we need is right there. But with the changes ensuing that are climate change, it becomes apparent that we need to be aware of how to make changes in agriculture that will assure our food sources are always there for us.

Recently a new bill has been introduced, the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes provisions for working on climate change and how to both adapt and mitigate. This important act of legislation is what we so desperately need to turn things around and get things back in balance. The longer we sit on the fence and do nothing, the worse it gets – and sadly far too many are living out the worst of it in tragic ways.

So the best way to help in all of this is to write or call your state senators, and ask for their support of this newest bill that is on the table. And it’s so easy!! Just go to the website senate.gov and click on where it says “senators” and then in the drop down box click on the “contact” tab. Then find your state and the officials to contact will come up, along with the contact information. We need to take action with our voices being heard, and as important as individual actions are well we really need the support and policies in place that come from our governments. Let’s step up and work together to make our world a much healthier and happier place.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, Oregon

I recently read an article from highlysensitiverefuge.com that talked about the trap that many highly sensitive individuals may fall into, comparative suffering. This is when we compare our trials and tribulations with those of others. Sometimes it may lead to judgments, such as oh I’ve got it so much worse than you. But for the sensitive soul it may lead to guilt, feeling that the suffering one is going through is not valid or worthy of our attention. And yes, I’ve found myself in that guilt strewn place at times, not validating my own pain.

But lately I can’t help but feel that anything adverse I may be going through is so minimal compared to what others are experiencing due to climate change. Day after day I see the images of the wildfires burning much of Europe to ash, or hoards of people at the beaches in Britain as temperatures rise to extremes that have never been felt before. Our world is being destroyed right before our eyes. So how can I not compare any suffering I have to what so many are going through in such difficult ways?

And I wonder, when are we going to really start doing something about this? I do see changes that have come about, companies making strides to reduce their carbon output, individuals speaking out and imploring us to make the changes needed to avoid catastrophe. There is reason for hope.

But we truly need more, we need our leaders in government to put legislation in place that demands the fulfillment of promises and actions to get our carbon emissions done to zero. And as individuals we take the time to find those leaders who will do this and we vote them into office. So do your part and vote!!

As I get older, I see the writing on the wall for the remainder of my lifetime, learning to adapt to what is our world now of much warmer and so uncertain weather wise. Even with the lessening of carbon emissions, the carbon in the atmosphere at present time will take years to burn off, a gradual process. But let’s not forget those to follow, our kids and grandkids and beyond, that we work to leave them a much better place to live.

pretty trees in Portland along the Willamette River

I do not care for guns. When I was married, we had a handgun in our home, supposedly for “protection”. But I always felt it could end up hurting or killing one of us inadvertently.

But with that said, I do respect what a gun is for many people, used in ways that are not intent on shooting people. I live in a place where many people enjoy responsible gun use, be it hunting or something like skeet shooting. The gun itself is not an evil object.

So it seems to me, in this sad time of mass shootings all over the place, it is the one who is wielding the weapon that really becomes the issue.

Yes, we most certainly need to rewrite our gun control laws, a big step in all of this. But even more so, we need to have more focus on mental health issues that need to be addressed before they escalate into what we’re seeing play out lately. Subtle cries for help need to be recognized and addressed, not ignored or pushed under the rug.

This is so evident in regard to the latest shooting that took place on the 4th of July in Highland Park. The shooter had given many clues to needing help with issues that plagued him. And sadly, we come to discover that he had a previous plan for another killing spree, but this time with knives, not guns. And in light of that, it’s really not about the weapon, is it.

California wildfire/ credit CCO Public Domain

Rainy view of Seattle/ credit MyNorthwest.com

There’s no question about it any longer, climate change is upon us, rearing its big ugly head. And it seems that the west coast of the United States is experiencing the effects from one end of the spectrum to the other.

As summer kicks in, extreme drought persists, and the wildfires that now seem to be year round rather than seasonal have come with a vengeance. And California seems to be taking the brunt of this.

But moving north from California up the west coast, a different weather pattern is playing out. Record amounts of rainfall have been recorded in the Pacific Northwest, from Oregon to British Columbia. And it only looks to intensify, as a recent report of an atmopheric river of moisture is settling in over already rain soaked regions.

This is what climate change is now, patterns of extremes, in frequency and intensity. Yes, the Earth in its life thus far has had many eras of what we could call climate change. But they have occurred over very long periods of time, rather than the short span of our present day climate change, only since the mid 1800’s and the Industrial Revolution.

So once again we need to decide, will we let these extreme weather events become our new normal? We have the ideas, innovations and solutions to stop what seems to be a runaway train. Let’s all do our part in the ways we live and even better, let’s make our voices and concerns heard as we elect officials who will address an extremely important issue. Let’s focus and work on taking care of our beautiful home and all the inhabitants now and those to follow.

Forest Park, Portland, Oregon

It is hard to ignore the horrific conflict taking place in the Ukraine, and news in regard to what’s happening there certainly deserves front page status. But in the midst of all the atrocities that have sadly transpired, that we need to be made aware of, a recent report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) tells us that we had better start addressing the issue of climate change before it’s too late.

Yes, there is still time to take actions that will get us to zero carbon and help the Earth recover, making this planet still livable for humans. The message from the IPCC is not one of hopelessness but rather of the urgency needed while we can still make a difference.

But today I read a bit of a sobering article from USA Today, listing five “tipping points” in regard to climate change that could herald a point of no return if not addressed.

  1. Amazon rainforest: Because of extensive deforestation, this area of the world could very likely become a savanna environment. The loss of the rainforest would be devastating for so many reasons, upsetting ecological balances in a number of ways.
  2. Coral reefs: These ocean dwellers are extremely sensitive to warming, which causes them to bleach and die. Coral reefs are important for both the health and well being of the oceans, as well as protection of the coasts for human life.
  3. Ice sheets: The ice sheets in the Antarctic and Greenland have been melting at unprecendented rates, which if left unchecked could result in sea level rise that would be catastrophic for those living in coastal regions.
  4. Atlantic Ocean circulation: The system that is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation keeps our Earthly climates in a state of comfortable balance. An imbalance in the AMOC would result in drastic weather patterns and climate changes.
  5. Boreal forests: The boreal forests of the Northern Hemisphere have been rapidly disappearing due to increased droughts, leading to more forest fires, as well as an increase in bark beetles due to warming. These forests are a huge carbon sink for the Earth that if gone, would result in massive amounts of CO2 being released that otherwise would be sequestered in the trees

As always, there are many ways for us as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and make a difference. But the big changes need to come from our governments as well as businesses that are connected to climate change in many facets. We can shout out to our elected officials as well as supporting businesses that are going in a more Earth friendly direction. Remember, it is not too late to change for the better, to reverse climate change and live in a place that is healthy and happy for all who call this our home.

Forest Park, Portland, Oregon

“and let it begin with me”, the opening lines of a song I recall singing in school as a child. At that time the hippie peace and love movement was active, an energy I am now seeing resurrected.

As I write this, a terrible conflict has arisen in our world, Russia attacking the country of Ukraine, for reasons that seem quite unfounded. But truly, is there ever any valid reason for violence, war or armed conflict to solve our issues and dilemmas? The answer to that question must always be a resounding no! Our hearts and souls are inherently peace and love; we’ve just become embittered and hard from centuries of wallowing far too much in fear.

But I am hopeful that humankind is chipping away at that fear, to reveal our true natures of being kindness and compassion, peace and love. This present day conflict has brought forth a focus on humanitarian issues, not so much a patriotism that encourages more fighting but rather a call for a peaceful resolution. I see much more concern for those so horribly affected, so many having to leave their homes or deal with deaths that should not be. It is not a cry for more military action but a cry for peace.

So let there be peace on Earth, and it can begin with all of us keeping those energies of peace and love in our hearts and out into the world.

Credit: Mann & Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, 2nd Edition
© 2015 Pearson Education, Inc.

There’s no denying it any longer, we are in the midst of human induced climate change. Sadly there are many who are experiencing the terrible adverse effects of this change in our air, water and land. There may still be some who dispute the human driven aspect of these changes, but the proof is out there, pretty undeniable at this point.

So what to do? We certainly need to do something but not just anything either. As we work to mitigate this issue the ideas of geoengineering our way out of this mess come to light. These are solutions that might be giant mirrors in space, cloud seeding, iron seeding our oceans, or even growing trees in desert landscapes.

But the problem with these solutions is that once more we are messing with the natural balance of Earth and nature. And isn’t that what got us into this predicament in the first place? Our constant use of fossil fuels has rendered nature out of balance, to the place that a “business as usual” way of life would result in possibly no life for many species, humans included.

On the surface these well thought out geoengineering plans look like a way out of the climate change mess. But even with good ideas and intentions, maybe down the road not so good.

Take the growing of trees in the desert for example. We know that trees are a wonderful way to capture and hold carbon, natural carbon sinks that would clear so much CO2 out of the atmosphere. Problem is, adding trees to a desert landscape changes the color of that landscape. The darkness of many trees absorbing more sunlight would result in more heat absorbed. So even though the trees capture more carbon, there is the side effect of perhaps more heat on the land from the trees rather than the desert landscape reflecting more of that heat. We would be interfering with the very color of our Earth that is designed in a way to be balanced and healthy.

We need ideas, solutions and actions to take in response to climate change, while we still have a fighting chance – and we do! But I fear that too many of the geoengineering schemes are like putting a bandaid over the wound, without doing the healing that will result in really making a difference.

Words of hope

Today we honor one of the great peacemakers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He showed us that great change can come about in peaceful yet effective, meaningful ways. And yes, his work to bring about justice and respect for all still continues.

And I wanted to share the beautiful poetic words of hope from a gifted poet, Langston Hughes. In his own way he kept hope alive for the world that he dreamt of, a world of equality and respect for all. Let these words sink in and take away the fear that keeps us apart. It is time for all of us to create a world of love and respect for all.

Disasters at our doorsteps

It is the start of a new year, 2022, and we often look back at the year that has passed. I’d say 2021 was a year of “changes and challenges”. It also seemed to be the year that climate change reared its ugly head in a big way, apparent to the majority that global warming is here and we as humans are the main cause. And sadly, so many around the globe felt the repercussions of a warming planet, in the many disasters that played out. I live in a place on Earth where I see and feel the climate change crisis, but not in abject or disaster-like ways. It makes me thankful that so far, so good, but let’s not forget all those who have lost so much. Here’s a bit of a recap so we keep those dear ones in our thoughts and prayers as they rebuild their homes, lives and all they have lost.

Hurricane Ida devasation

Hurricane Ida hit with a force only second to Hurricane Katrina. Then it made its way across the country, causing epic rain and flooding to the East coast. Many lives were lost in the path of this massive storm.

West coast wildfires

The West coast of the U.S. saw extreme drought conditions, heat waves of unprecedented proportions, and wildfires that sparked and spread out of control. It took many months of tireless time and energy to fight these fires, and many are still grappling with the aftermath.

the aftermath of floods in Germany

Western Germany and Eastern Belgium experienced extreme rains in July that caused massive flooding. Many experts say that these deadly floods were exacerbated by climate change.

a 6 state path of destruction

In December a supercell of storms that spawned tornadoes reached across 6 states in the southern U.S., during a time of year that normally would not see this type of weather event. Close to 100 lives were lost along with countless damage and devastation.

winter wildfires in Colorado

And to end the year of many aberrant weather events and disasters, winter wildfires with extreme winds broke out in Colorado, forcing many to flee their homes in shock. Thankfullly no lives were lost and in a strange twist of fate, snowfall that followed helped to put out the flames.

This is a short and incomplete list of all that happened in a year of weather related events, some incredibly damaging and devastating. But let’s not give up hope, we can still shift the course of climate change. As intelligent and innovative beings, we have the skills and know-how to put actions into place that will reverse the destructive course we’re on. And for those of us untouched in such horrendous ways, let’s all count our many blessings.

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