Monday, May 31, 2010

The BP Oil Spill

I haven't been blogging about the BP oil spill in the Gulf because, quite frankly, I can't seem to summon the words—my sorrow and my anger just get in the way each time I begin. Here, surrounded by the beauty of our own wetland, I have such a difficult time grasping the fact that so many people on this planet are simply unable to respond with awe and wonder when confronted with the splendid magnificence of the natural world. Indeed, they are so unmoved by it and care so little about it that they are willing to put the environment in harm's way to serve their own ends. Amassing money and wealth is a mirage, a foolish and fleeting illusion—you can't take it with you! So why not leave something behind for your children to truly enjoy—like a living, breathing, healthy planet that will be able to sustain them?

Vast acres of shoreline, inland waterways, marshes and wetlands will be irreparably damaged for decades to come. Entire populations of migratory as well as resident birds, marine animals, reptiles, amphibians and insects—many of which were already on the endangered species list—will be devastated. The death toll is rising every day. We won't see the full extent of the effects on living organisms, including humans, for a long time to come. The entire web of life in the Gulf bioregion is going to be compromised like never before. And BP seems no closer to a solution. I won't even begin to air my feelings about BP and their disingenuous PR patter here on this blog. As far as I am concerned, they are criminally negligent.

So no images of oiled birds here. At least not today. Such photos abound on the Internet. I'm not going to embed links to the countless articles and reports circulating. Yet please read and follow reports from CNN, PBS and other sources as well, such as Natural News. Learn the truth. Learn as much as you can about this heinous and disgusting event, which could have been avoided if BP had been a responsible corporate citizen in the first place with both preventive and emergency measures in place. Today, I simply needed to break my silence.

As we face these truly dark days ahead, however, let us all be more wary of corporations who apply a thin coat of green wash to their company policies then continue on business as usual, of environmental agencies and governments who are willing and complicit partners in the rape of the world by allowing themselves to be bought by big money, of the sad reality that collusion and greed are destroying this planet.

Politicians love to trot out the words "economic" and "employment" to mollify the populace, to have us believe that jobs and the economy must trump all other concerns.

Nothing is further from the truth: if we do not have a healthy, clean environment first and foremost—air, water and soil—then we will have nothing. We will not need jobs and we will not need dollar bills if we cannot eat, cannot breath and cannot find potable water to drink. It will not matter at some point if you are rich or poor. There is no insurance policy in the world that is going to get us out of this mess unless we humans change the course of events with our anger, our outrage and our sorrow. It is down to us.

The term sea change means "a marked transformation." We need a massive and global transformation in attitude about the environment. We ARE the environment. Brown pelican, sea turtle, dragonfly, human—we are all part of the web of life on this planet.

Unfortunately, for much of the marine life in the Gulf and the humans who hug its shores, depending on the waters for their livelihoods, it is already too late.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Trees Planting Day at White's Wetland

Approximately 1200 - 1300 trees were planted today at White's Wetland! Kentucky Coffee Tree, Shagbark Hickory, Bur Oak, Tulip, Tamarack, White Pine, to name just a few of the species. It was a perfect day for tree planting - blue skies, fresh breezes and sunshine. Pictures, video and details to follow. Thank you, KCCA!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Trees Are Almost Here...

No, Birnam Wood is not on the march, MacBeth! But 1500 native species trees will be arriving at White's Wetland very, very soon. Indeed, a mini-forest will be springing up! Stay posted for pics and vids of this first-ever WW event. Over the years we have planted a lot of trees, but never this many at one time.

Needless to say, we're very excited to be doing our small part to help replenish the Carolinian woods in the Kettle Creek watershed. We look forward to the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority's arrival next week with great anticipation.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo of yours truly and her favourite maple tree taken many years ago when both tree and reader were, well, shall we say, a little bit younger! This is a lovely summer memory I'll always cherish.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Lives of Trees: An Old Friend Falls as New Ones Arrive

Trees, like people, have a natural life cycle and a finite life span. Trees grow up, grow old, and eventually die. The life span of a tree is influenced or determined by a variety of natural events, not the least of which is the variety itself. Some tree species simply live longer than others. Other factors that affect the life span of a tree include the availability of water, sun, the presence or absence of wind, fires, insects, as well as specific diseases.

It is said that sugar maples can live up to 400 years. While we do not have an exact figure on this tree, we estimate that this particular maple is most likely well over 150 years old. It was probably here when the land was cleared for the first house. It was a mature tree as far back as my father can remember, and I grew up loving this lofty beauty. Its sheltering foliage has shaded me from the hot southwestern Ontario sun many a summer. I have often read beneath its lush green canopy, or sat with a dog at my side and my back against its sturdy trunk. At one time, many years ago, that area was fenced. Happily for me and my horse, there was a gate directly beneath the two old maples, and kids and horses just love gates: I liked to perch on the top rung and my horse liked to hang his head over it. We spent some good times together in the shade of that tree. Winter, spring, summer and fall—it has been there all the days of my life, so I shall miss it terribly if it has to come down.

I think this will soon be inevitable, however. It is not looking healthy at the crown. The foliage is small compared to that of its equally elderly neighbour, another big old maple tree just a few feet away. While only one of the largest limbs has sheared off, the interior texture of that limb was soft and spongy. I am no expert, but I think this once sturdy sentinel is probably at the end of its life cycle. Will it last the summer? Even as we welcome 1500 new trees this month, it seems we will soon be saying goodbye to a dear old friend.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Comes to the Wetland

One of the female snapping turtles has returned to the pond. Red-winged blackbirds are suddenly in abundance, their distinctive, shrill call piercing the calm spring air. The barn swallows are back too, swooping giddily over the water in search of insects. There are shoals of minnows in the creek. The geese and the mallards have been contentedly spending entire days here together. Not even Monty (our rambunctious Alsatian) seems to faze them. Across, in the wetlands proper, the trees are full and green, and it is a welcome sight. Around the house, the apple trees are bursting into blossom. So too are the lilacs and the magnolia. It's May in southwestern Ontario.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Oil Spill is Massive ...

Satellite pictures from NASA are showing us the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This is an environmental disaster of monumental proportions, and one that further threatens an already threatened coastline.

The coastal areas of Louisiana, like delicate lacework, are a web of marshes, deltas and wetlands that are home to migratory birds, fish and other wildlife. What is happening in the Gulf right now is deplorable. Louisiana was already losing critical coastal habitat - and now this. It is truly heartbreaking.

Visit America's Wetland Foundation for information, press releases, statements, and ways to volunteer or help.

To learn more about "dead zones" you can visit Microbial Life. Unfortunately, there is a dead zone in Lake Erie too.

The pond "springs" to life ...

Have you ever heard frogs burst spontaneously into song to welcome a spring rain? I have, just this morning. Dark clouds had moved in early and all was quiet. The rain soon followed, like a hail of swift silver arrows. In a matter of seconds though, another sound was distinctly audible. What a thrill to realize that the rising voices were those of frogs. Full chorus now, their joyous song rose up from the pond as if they had all been awakened at the same time from their winter slumber by the warm spring showers. In unison, they sung their grateful appreciation to the universe.

This is Nature's choir. This is the gospel of Gaia.

To hear frogs responding to the rain is an experience everyone should have. It is a privilege we may lose. We live in a magical world—nature's magic kingdom—and we need to experience these moments and allow ourselves to be touched by how other species live in it. It is their world too, and they have their own joys and sorrows.

Humans love Spring. And so do frogs.

To learn more about disappearing frog populations, please visit Save The Frogs and check out their frogblog.