2020, A MAKE-BREAK YEAR OF A MAKE-BREAK DECADE – REBLOG – WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE

8 Environment and Development Stories

to Watch in the New Make-or-Break Decade

by  – 

The world was not kind to the environment over the past decade, the warmest in recorded history. Superstorm Sandy caused more than $70 billion of damages in the United States. Cities like Cape Town, South Africa nearly ran out of water. Record floods killed 1,300 people in India and Pakistan. Fires burned more than 22 million acres (9 million hectares) in California, Amazonia and most recently, Australia, destroying forests, homes and human lives.

Climate activism movements can now be found around the world. Photo by Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

New global targets — including the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, both adopted in 2015 — were notable bright spots. But it’s unclear if the world will be able to deliver on these ambitions in the coming years.

Key moments and decisions to be made in 2020 will be critical for putting the world on a more sustainable trajectory. “The overwhelming story for the year won’t be if 2020 will be a turning point,” WRI President and CEO Dr. Andrew Steer. “Instead, it is whether 2020 will be a turning point for the better or for the worse.”

Steer offered insights at WRI’s annual Stories to Watch event in Washington, D.C. about the issues and actors in 2020 that could make or break the coming decade. Here’s what to watch this year:

3 Issues to Watch

Three sustainability challenges will be especially important in 2020: the ocean, biodiversity and climate change. These issues are significant on their own and in how they intersect — curbing climate change improves the ocean and wildlife; ocean-based actions are essential for reining in emissions, etc. “All are interrelated, and all three together matter a lot,” Steer said.

1. Setting a New Course for the Ocean

The ocean is already polluted, overheated and overfished. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, climate impacts on the ocean will cost the world $428 billion by 2050. Better managing the seas is important not only for food security, livelihoods, and economies but for mitigating climate change. Research from the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy found that ocean-based actions could deliver 20% of the emissions reductions needed by 2050.

Key moments in 2020 will tell us if leaders will continue with business as usual, or whether they’ll adopt a new narrative — one focused on safeguarding the world’s “blue economy” to fight climate change and protect livelihoods. Watch what they do at the second UN ocean conference in Portugal in June if the World Trade Organization agrees to cut harmful fishing subsidies at its June meeting in Kazakhstan if the world moves forward with protecting more marine areas, and whether countries include ocean-based action in their new national climate plans (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs).

2. New Biodiversity Targets

Ten years ago, countries established the Aichi Targets, 20 global biodiversity goals to be achieved by 2020, such as cutting natural habitat loss in half. It’s now 2020 and we’ve largely failed to achieve our goals. Natural habitat loss doubled over the past 10 years. Roughly 1 million species are threatened with extinction.

Countries will gather at the UN biodiversity conference in Kunming, China in October, a once-in-a-decade event, to establish the next round of targets. Watch to see if the goals are credible, achievable and will hold countries accountable for their commitments. A global commitment to conserve 30% of the world’s land and sea would be ideal. As a host of the event and a mega-consumer, China has a key role to play. Will it set ambitious natural resource targets that inspire action from others?

3. Galvanizing Global Climate Action at COP26

It’s clear that climate trends are going in the wrong direction. Scientists say that emissions will need to halve by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avert the worst climate impacts. Instead, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels reached an all-time high in 2019.

COP26, the UN climate conference in Glasgow this year, can be a key moment to spur momentum. In the run-up, watch to see if countries make long-term commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and short-term commitments to enhance their NDCs this year. Current NDCs put the world on a path to warm 3-4 degrees C (5.4-7.2 degrees F) by 2050 when we need to reduce emissions enough to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C  (3.6 degrees F).

5 Actors Essential for Collective Action

“The problems we face cannot be solved by any individual actors or individual countries,” Steer said. “They require collective action.”

Working together, five actors can make progress on key sustainability challenges:

1. Governments

While 108 countries committed to strengthen their national climate plans before COP26, they represent only 15.1% of global emissions. We need major emitters to similarly step up — most importantly, China, the United States, the EU, and India, which collectively produce 50% of emissions.

China can be bolder by peaking its emissions before 2030 and greening its Belt and Road Initiative. India has set ambitious renewable energy targets but can surpass expectations by reducing coal use and scaling up electric vehicles. The EU’s Green Deal is promising, but it will need to gain traction and encourage others to follow. U.S. states, cities, and businesses are reducing emissions despite environmental rollbacks from the Trump administration, but federal action is imperative. The outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November will be significant, both for national climate action and for whether the country stays in the Paris Agreement.

2. Financial Markets

The financial risks of climate change were glaring over the past decade, with climate disasters costing $650 billion in the last three years. Despite some encouraging signs, like increased sustainable investments and some financial institutions avoiding fossil fuels, markets still aren’t fully aligned with a low-carbon economy.

Key decisions to watch this year include whether financial regulators push for more environmentally sustainable investments and if development banks align their portfolios with Paris Agreement goals. Finance ministers can and should help strengthen NDCs through carbon prices and other green fiscal policies. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney could be influential as the new UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

3. Business

As in the financial markets, the business sector has made progress on sustainability, but not nearly enough. Consumers are demanding more sustainable products, and yet consumerism is still draining natural resources 1.75 faster than the planet can replenish them. More and more companies are committing to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, and yet 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of forest — an area of land the size of Denmark — are destroyed for commodities every year.

A key tipping point would be if 1,000 companies committed to set science-based emissions-reduction targets by COP26. So far, 750 have pledged to reduce their emissions enough to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). Watch for similar science-based commitments for biodiversity, land, water use and other sustainability challenges. Also, watch to see if trade associations shift their approach to align with climate goals.

4. Technology

Scaling up proven technologies can help reduce emissions faster and on a grander scale. For example, expanding the fleet of electric vehicles and the supply of renewable energy can accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels. Chinese cities have already boosted their electric vehicle fleets. Watch for 1,100 new e-buses in Chile and Bogota, the beginning of a 100,000-EV fleet from Amazon, and new electric trucks from Ford. At the same time, battery storage for renewables is expected to grow by 3 gigawatts in the United States.

Exciting developments are also expected from emerging technologies. Plans for the world’s largest direct air capture plant — designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — are underway. Carbon removal is essential for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050; this plant can help better establish the technology necessary to do so. Electric aircraft are being tested. And the first zero-emission gas power plant is moving toward deployment.

Technological development is especially important and easier than you might think for hard-to-abate sectors like fossil fuels, steel, and cement. Research shows that decarbonizing these sectors will only cost 0.5% of global GDP by 2050. Watch to see if industries invest in the innovation needed to lower their impact.

5. People

There’s been an explosion of climate activism in recent years, including Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future, and more than 7 million people marching in 185 countries over just one week in September 2019. “We’re now seeing people power like we haven’t seen since the 1970s,” said Steer.

Many of these activists aren’t just demanding climate action; they’re fighting for justice. Climate change is inherently an issue of inequality: The world’s richest 10% produce half of all greenhouse gas emissions, while the poorest feel the impacts most acutely. And climate policies can cut both ways: When designed right, they can lift people out of poverty and foster equality. When designed poorly, they unduly burden communities, especially marginalized groups. We’ve seen the result of such unintended consequences in recent years with protests in France and Chile, which were in part a response to fuel and transportation fare hikes.

Fifteen countries including the UK declared “climate emergencies,” in large part due to citizen uprisings. We’ll need to see if this activism leads to concrete political change.  Watch to see if countries address the concept of a “just transition” in their national climate plans and at COP26.

2020: A Critical Year

The sustainability challenges to be grappled with this decade are major, far-reaching and interrelated. No individual actor will be able to solve them. Collective action — with all five actors working together, supporting each other, and inspiring greater ambition — is essential for making any sort of progress.

“The 2020s are the make-or-break decade,” said Steer. “We say this every decade, but this time it really is true.”

We’ll be watching to see how these stories transpire throughout the coming year. In 2030, let’s hope we can look back on 2020 as the turning point for sustainability, not the year we locked in dangerous levels of warming.

 

The original version of this has many clickable links that did not copy to this reblog. Please visit https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/01/8-environment-and-development-stories-watch-new-make-or-break-decade/ for more information as well as things you can do.

OUR WORLD BALANCED ON THE HEAD OF A PIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was a working reporter for more than 40 years, so you have to figure I have an interest in the news. I never watched all the news. I didn’t think every shooting or fatal car accident was news. Just because something happens doesn’t make it newsworthy. Even if it’s tragic. News directors believe in bad news. Good news rarely makes the cut.

I was never a news junkie. I wasn’t — and still am not — addicted to the news, but I like to know what’s happening. Not just about things which directly affect me, but how goes my town,  city, state, nation, and world. From wondering who was going to fix our local potholes to which war we are currently fighting even though I never understand why we are having another (or the same?) war.

Film at eleven!

As far as elections go? I like to get a good, long look at candidates. If you don’t watch candidates during their campaigns, how can you know who to vote for? Having enough time to get that look at candidates is probably the only advantage of our ridiculously long election process. One of the many things you can learn is if that person has a moral center, something to which I think we’ve previously paid far too little attention.

There may be more …

Right now, as I’m watching television, it appears Iran has shot a dozen ballistic missiles at an American base in Iraq. So all of this could be a moot point. For all I know, we may be in the middle of nuclear war tomorrow or by the end of the week. I asked Garry if we should call all our friends (there aren’t that many) and say goodbye.

Maybe I don’t need a new boiler after all. Well, that’s a relief. There’s always a silver lining. You just need to look for it.

Missiles from Iran to U.S. installation in Iraq

When people said: “Oh, I don’t watch the news,” Garry took it personally. After all, he was on the news almost every day. Meanwhile, he read three papers a day as well as working fulltime for a network news affiliate. To be fair, half of that reading was sports, but we all need hobbies. He knew the candidates personally because he worked with them. He knew their records. He was really good at predicting elections. He had better than average resources and by definition, so did I.

Australian fire – clouds and embers

I never read three papers a day. I spot read one and never missed the comics or anything about archaeology. I watched and recorded Garry’s daily piece. Nonetheless, I knew what was going on. I voted almost every year. I missed a few. I never missed a presidential or senatorial election, but sometimes I’d let the local elections slide because I didn’t know anything about the candidates. When you don’t know who the candidates are, voting is like scratching a lottery ticket. It has the same resonance. I can’t throw my vote to the most appealing face on the ballot.

These days, I feel like our world is balanced on the head of a pin.

REUTERS/Noah Berger – Fires in California last summer

It’s a big, blue ball and a very tiny pin. There is no room to make a mistake. A bit of imbalance and that big blue ball will crash. Given one thing and another, it may crash regardless, but until I know it has, I’ll do the best I can to make a difference. In the course of our lives, we don’t get much opportunity to influence anything outside ourselves and maybe our family. The magnitude of the world in which we live has dwarfed our efforts.

Montecito Mudslide – 2018

This little blog is what I can do. If there’s any purpose to blogging daily, it’s because maybe I can help someone. Change someone’s mind. Show them a choice they didn’t know was available. Whenever I’m tired of the whole thing, I remember that there’s a chance I can help. Maybe I’m not just spinning my wheels.

I think everyone has a minimal obligation to have a fundamental understanding of the world in which they live. I find it appalling in a time when all our lives are on the line, that so many people still hide their heads in the sand or willingly believe lies because they feel better than the truth. Then they complain when things go wrong.

It was generations of head hiders who got us here.

THE BURNING SEASON – Marilyn Armstrong

Martha Kennedy wrote a piece today that I wanted to comment on. But after a while, I realized it wasn’t a comment. It was a blog. A long blog at that.

Although I have not recently fallen on my head, I feel as if the universe is falling on it. It is as if I’ve am bludgeoned daily. Even when I’m trying NOT to think about it. The fires in Australia, like the fires in Montana and California and other places, terrify me. I live in a heavily wooded area. A quick flick of a casual cigarette could turn us into the next fire zone and it isn’t hard to imagine all of New England burning to the ground. From here on up through Maine, areas outside cities are 60% or more trees. Not manicured, not attended. Just growing. Around here, it’s oak. Further north, it’s pine.

Australian fires as seen from space

Probably the reason it hasn’t happened (yet) is we’ve also had more than twice the usual rainfall for the past few years. Even more last year. August was the hottest month in weather records that go back 200 years.

So while on one level, I can ignore politics, I can’t ignore climate. It has changed a lot and keeps changing. The time we thought we had seems to be gone. My dogs — in January — still need tick and flea collars because it isn’t cold enough for the insects to die. They are still breeding.

It’s going to be one humdinger of a summer for bugs. Maybe this will make the Woodpeckers happy, but it’s going to make life really miserable for other creatures. The lakes aren’t freezing and we’ve only had one 5-inch snow in early December. Now, it’s January. It’s much too warm for snow. Cold this evening, but temperatures in the 60s are expected by mid-week.

LAKE TABOURIE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Residents look on as flames burn through the bush on January 04, 2020 in Lake Tabourie, Australia. A state of emergency has been declared across NSW with dangerous fire conditions forecast for Saturday, as more than 140 bushfires continue to burn. There have been eight confirmed deaths in NSW since Monday 30 December. 1365 homes have been lost, while 3.6 million hectares have been burnt this fire season. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Birds that were common last year have not come back this year. No more Monarch butterflies, either. No butterflies. Lots of spiders. Huge wolf spiders that normally don’t come out of their lairs in the woods have shown up on my back door. Ticks and fleas abound. Today we came back from the doctor and there was a green, lively grasshopper on the front door.

This is not even close to normal. One of our best friends is the senior meteorologist in this region … and even he can’t make sensible predictions. The winds are wrong, the waters are too warm. Cape Cod is full of sharks because the seals have come down into these warmer waters. It used to be that sighting a big shark would close the beaches but now, they just warn you to watch out for sharks.

Fleeing kangaroos. Most of Australia’s unique wildlife is being destroyed

Sea birds are dying, garden birds are failing to nest and the bears — lacking their normal habitats — are wandering south. So far, they haven’t taken down our deck, but they certainly could. I suppose that would be the end of feeding the birds.

I haven’t seen most of our hawks, either. I think we still have a bobcat back in the woods because we have no chipmunks — just that one — or any rabbits. I don’t know if we still have Fishers. I’m pretty sure we have raccoons.

Officials say the worst is yet to come

If a continent burns, we are all in danger, whether we know it or not. They don’t talk much about climate change on the news and I don’t really understand why not. Maybe it’s too controversial?

How controversial can it be when there’s a continent on fire? The U.S. has done a fair amount of burning too. Not to mention flooding from monstrous rains and winds that seem to spring out of nowhere. We have continental sized stormed that start in California and sweep across the entire continent … and then move up into Canada and out to sea.

Smoke and embers

We should be scared. We should be terrified. No place is safe. We have to get these evil assholes out of the House, Senate, and governorships. We have to believe against all prior experience that whoever replaces them will REALLY do a better job. We don’t have any guarantee that even if we sweep this entire group away, the next group will take this climate emergency to its heart and do its best to make it stop.

We can hope, but I think we need a bit more than prayers and hopes. We need to close down the big polluters and figure out what in god’s name to do with all our garbage. hazardous waste, and good old plastic.

The smoke from 1500 miles (2000 km) away turns the skies in New Zealand orange.

There is a very good chance that most of the unique wildlife in Australia will not survive these fires. I personally doubt that any of the large mammals on any continent are going to survive for long. Maybe in special sanctuaries, but not in the wild. I don’t blame poor countries for trying to do what we have done so they can live a better life, but is it a better life? Freshwater and electricity are good … but burning down the forests and killing anything bigger than a chipmunk is just redoing the bad stuff we’ve already done. Is that our goal? Should that be anyone’s goal in these times?

I understand why people are tired of watching, reading, and hearing the news. They are weary with boorish, stupid, ignorant leaders and want them to shut up and go away. I think Trump will lose this election. It won’t be because of the evil he has done but because he has exhausted Americans. His “base” is not a majority. It wasn’t a majority in 2016 and it is less so now, no matter how big his “rallies” are.

My fear is that the essentially conservative people of this country will elect someone who promises to make things the way they used to be. That won’t happen. We are not going backward. Forward will be a long, hard road. If we and other countries continue to put into power people who lack the guts to do what needs doing to keep our planet livable, our grandchildren won’t have a world that’s livable. It’s going to cost a lot of money, piss off a bunch of corporations, and make a lot of rich executives take a smaller profit.

Few politicians have the balls to take on the Big Money people, but that’s what needs to be done. Who can do it? Who WILL do it?\

And I would say this falls nicely under Fandango’s daily word: Scary! If you aren’t scared, WHY aren’t you scared?

OPTIMISM SEEMS A BIT MISPLACED AT THE MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

I started reading an article about what’s going on in Tasmania and Australia. The apocalyptic heat. The fires. The dying animals. The dying giant kelp. Dead koalas falling from the trees. I got about halfway through the article and couldn’t read anymore.

I am trying to keep my hopes up but it’s hard going. We are having a non-winter. A few days of cold, a bit of snow, then the temperature zips up to shirtsleeve levels again. And still, the idiot in the White House keeps making it worse. Then there’s the moron in Brazil burning down the rain forest because things aren’t bad enough.

That was the most depressing newspaper article I’ve ever read. If you have any doubt that climate change is real, check it out for yourself. Following is just a piece of it. If you are subscribed to the Washington Post, you can use the link under the title to read the whole thing. Otherwise, these are sections. Maybe as much as you can handle.


2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT
On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s worse.

BRUNY ISLAND, Tasmania — Even before the ocean caught fever and reached temperatures no one had ever seen, Australia’s ancient giant kelp was cooked.

Australia is a poster child for climate change. Wildfires are currently raging on the outskirts of its most iconic city and drought is choking a significant portion of the country.

Nearly 100 fires are burning in New South Wales, nearly half of them out of control. Residents of the state, where Sydney sits, wear breathing masks to tolerate the heavy smoke, which has drifted more than 500 miles south to the outskirts of Melbourne.

This is happening even though average atmospheric temperatures in Australia have yet to increase by 2 degrees Celsius.

The ocean is another story.

A stretch of the Tasman Sea right along Tasmania’s eastern coast has already warmed by just a fraction below 2 degrees Celsius, according to ocean temperature data from the Hadley Center, the U.K. government research agency on climate change.

The bats, called flying foxes, cannot survive temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. Another 10,000 black flying foxes, a different species, also died. Bodies plopped into meadows, backyard gardens and swimming pools.

A month later, more than 100 ringtail possums fell dead in Victoria when temperatures topped 35 degrees Celsius for four consecutive days.

The warming waters off Tasmania are not just killing the giant kelp, but transforming life for marine animals.

Warm-water species are swimming south to places where they could not have survived a few years ago. Kingfish, sea urchins, zooplankton and even microbes from the warmer north near the mainland now occupy waters closer to the South Pole.

“There’s about 60 or 70 species of fish that now have established populations in Tasmania that used not to be here,” said Craig Johnson, who leads the ecology and biodiversity center at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. “You might see them occasionally as sort of vagrants, but they certainly did not have established populations.”

But the region’s indigenous cold-water species have no place to go. Animals such as the prehistoric-looking red handfish are accustomed to the frigid water closer to the shore. They cannot live in the deep-water abyss between the bottom tip of Tasmania and Antarctica.

“It’s a geographic climate trap,” Johnson said. Marine animals unique to Australia — the wallabies and koalas of the deep — could easily vanish. “So there’s going to be a whole bunch of species here that we expect will just go extinct.

“You know, it’s not a happy story.”

“It’s getting hotter and that heat, it’s affecting not only the giant kelp, but the color of the abalone is changing,” Dillon said.

“We just take too much out of the Earth and we don’t put it back,” Dillon said. “Australia is one of the worst if you know about coal. How much coal do we need to dig up? And we’re too stupid to see what this is causing . . . because we make money out of it.”

And now, Australia is caught in a record-breaking heatwave. 

The apocalypse

The heartbreaking video went viral late in November: A koala bear slowly walked through wildfire.

The marsupial, euthanized days later because its burns didn’t heal, was just one victim of the many wildfires that started burning in the Australian spring and are still going at the start of summer.

At least nine people have died and 700 homes have been destroyed. One woman in New South Wales took a few of her house’s charred remains to Australia’s Parliament in early December with a message for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home,” Melinda Plesman wrote in bold red letters.

Morrison is an ardent supporter of coal excavation in a country that produced 44 million tons in 2017. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal, mostly to Asia, and the fourth-largest producer.

A few weeks before the koala — nicknamed Lewis — was euthanized, the newly re-elected prime minister took his advocacy for coal to a new level. He pledged to outlaw environmental demonstrations, calling the protests a “new breed of radical activism” that is “apocalyptic in tone.”

One month later, a Sydney Morning Herald headline described conditions in Australia’s most iconic city as “apocalyptic,” as residents choked in a smoky haze from bush fires. A coalition of doctors and climate researchers declared it a public health emergency.

The bush fires have arrived amid record heat and particularly dry conditions that experts say are being made more common thanks to climate change.

Fire!

The country experienced a five-day heatwave in the state of Victoria that shattered records. The Friday before Christmas was the hottest December day on record, measuring 47.9 degrees Celsius at the Horsham weather station.

Rescuers searching for human survivors in the scorched remains of forests have discovered koalas, a creature found only in Australia, burned to death in eucalyptus trees where they sought shelter. At the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where Lewis was put down, it was called “a national tragedy.”

The tragedy playing out underwater is much worse, but invisible to most.


There is quite a bit more and these are clips, not the entire piece. If for some reason you are still convinced that this is some kind of overblown rhetoric by a crazy bunch of scientists, take a look at maps and see if you are living in an area that has already met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius limit. This area already has. New Jersey has.

So I’m going to try and not think about this right now. I’m going to try to believe that we can fix this. Somehow, some way. Because the time we thought we had isn’t really there. This is terrifying information and it affects ALL of us. You can make yourself a billionaire, but when the world is on fire, your money won’t make the flames disappear.

COUNT THE BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The windows through which I shoot bird pictures had gotten dusty. Owen went out to clean them for me. All the birds around the deck and on the feeders flew up and into the trees. Owen said it sounded like something from “The Birds.” I wasn’t outside, but I was watching from the window in the kitchen. I watched this flock take off — maybe 100 birds  — many of them doves, took off.

Chipping Sparrow

When they settled down, I realized there were birds on pretty much every branch in the woods. I couldn’t tell you which birds were which — my eyes aren’t that good — but you could see their outlines against the fading sky.

A little downy woodpecker. He’s still a baby!

We have a lot of birds of every kind you might expect in this part of the world. We may be facing serious climactic change, but so far, at least we still have birds. So far, so good.

Birds in our bushes … er, feeders

The weather has been very up and down. Two days of extremely cold weather, followed by a few days in the mid-60s. That’s 17 or 18 C for those who aren’t good converters. I finally gave in and put the tick and flea collars back on all three of them. The bugs aren’t dying like they used to. The moment it warms up, the ticks and fleas appear like magic. It’s going to be a very buggy year.

Sharing

I didn’t take any picture or at least, any new ones. I still have a lot of pictures I’ve taken over the past week or two. And there was a lot of cooking getting done. And baking. There’s at least one more big meal coming out of that lamb — my joyful lamb curry.

Downy Woodpecker

I’m taking the rest of the season, such as it is, off. I’ve been looking for a good time to take a few days off and this seems a better time than most. So I’ll be back after the year turns. Let’s hope this one is better than the last few.

THE “OLD PERSON” WEATHER REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

These days, watching television and seeing even the finest meteorologist give a forecast that is everything other than summer would be a lot funnier if it didn’t mean that climate change is hitting this area — New England —  harder than it is hitting other places in the world.

Nobody ever said it would hit every place equally at the same time, although somehow that’s how I imagined it.

This idea came to me as I commented to Garry that my sinuses were throbbing, my lower back felt a little better than it had earlier, but both hips were pulsing in pain. also, I have a massive headache and both eyes feel like someone poured sand into them. Translated into meteorologist-ese, it means:

Chipping Sparrow

Humidity is rising, barometric pressure is dropping, probably fast. Temperature is falling quicker than my head can handle and the air, for the moment, is very dry (eyes), probably because I ticked up the heat by a couple of degrees.

I suddenly foresaw a new kind of weather report. Traditional and “old person” weather.

First, the modern, up-to-date scientific meteorologist gives his report. Maps, stats, wind directions, where it’s coming from, going to. When we’ll get sleet, freezing rain, blinding snow, less blinding snow, total amounts from Connecticut through Maine. How much of whatever falls will fall on us?

How long will it last?

Next snow?

By the time he’s done, he has forecast every possible form of winter weather and all anyone knows it that is will be cold, wet, and ugly. I better make a new doctor’s appointment in the morning. No matter how good a driver Garry is, he isn’t the only one on the road. There are an awful lot of people who don’t “get” that simply slowing down would prevent a lot of weather-related accidents. Four-wheel-drive doesn’t help on ice or sleet.

The weather report’s not over yet. Winter weather reports take up at least half our news broadcast, just as — when one of our teams is winning — sports takes up at least half the report. Especially baseball and football.

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Part two of the report has no stats, numbers, or maps. There’s an old person, male or female —  both? — in comfy chairs, rambling on a bit. Local color. “Remember that 24 inches we got on April 1st in the 1990s? That was some storm … and it all melted in three days. Lots of flooding,” she says.

“My right shoulder is bad,” he says. “Suppose that means cold with snow.”

“My spine hurts bottom to top. Rain first. Likely sleet, then snow. The boiler is in overdrive, so temps are dropping. Bad day tomorrow. Coming from the west. so it’s packing a lot of water. Unless we get lucky, we’ll have a nor’easter along the coast. Good thing we don’t live on the coast anymore, eh?”

“We’ll get twice as much snow as they get along the coast, but at least we won’t flood.” says the old guy.

“Not yet,” she points out. “When it melts, it’ll be dicey.”

“Figure six inches at least, depending on how much sleet and freezing rain we get before the snow. With the falling temps? Gonna be black ice under the snow. Time to cancel that appointment with the doctor.”

Everybody over fifty will relate. Anyone who plays sports will get it. What’s more, we will be accurate — at least locally. Can’t do national forecasts, but we can tell you how it’s gonna be right here in the lower Massachusetts section of the Blackstone Valley.

A heating pad really helps.

BUILT ON THE ROCK ~ OCTOBER 28, 2019 ~ MELANIE B CEE

Garry is forever telling me that I do make a difference even though I usually can’t see how. But this is actual evidence that I have made a difference to at least one person and hopefully, a few others. The diagnosis that we are killing the world we need to live in is incontrovertible. It’s not a rumor, it’s not fake anything. It’s real and it is happening now. 

A year ago, I had dozens of birds. This year, I have half the species of last year. We have southern Eastern Equine Mosquitoes killing people and mindless spraying of poison over our woods. Which quite probably explains why the birds are gone. We’ve lost 30 million birds over the past 10 years and stand to lose at least that many in the next few.

There is a mass extinction in progress — and we are as much on the bloc as the now-defunct Black Rhinoceros. If this scares you, terrifies you, haunts you? Find out more. Tell others. Do everything you can to help save the world we know and love.


CONTROVERSIALBADGE

This post will contain two subjects that tend to get people riled.   The first is religion and the second is climate change or whatever trendy name they’ve slapped on that today.

If either really irritates you to the point of stroking out, please feel free to read no further.  It’s okay.


I follow an “LDS” (formerly the Mormons) blog entitled “By Common Consent.” I like it because the hosts allow a variety of opinions and invite some interesting people to write about their experiences.  Not all of them could be counted among the ‘faithful’ and some apparently have had negative experiences with the Church. All that is required of the reader of that blog is to be respectful. Regardless of the content of the piece that’s shared.   They don’t accept writers who are really far out there, extremists and any kind of hate or bigotry writing (speech). It pays to remember that the blog is LDS based though.  Because most of the content is about the LDS Church and beliefs and rites.  

The content today was about the testimony. Now I admit that I naively believed that only Mormons bore their testimonies.  That it might be an odd concept to the person who isn’t a member. I’ve since revised my thinking to include the fact that everyone (religiously-inclined anyhow) has a testimony and that each religion deals with that idea in its own way.   A testimony, in case you don’t know, is (my interpretation, which probably is flawed) the relationship, based in faith, that a person has with God and to a lesser degree, their preferred religion.   

In the LDS Church, one gets up (or has the opportunity to do so) once a month in “Fast and Testimony” Meeting and share their testimony.   To me personally, it’s an opportunity to talk about how one’s life is blessed by having God in their life or influencing their actions and decisions. A chance to humbly thank God for all the bounty He may have provided to the individual. It’s not about who got married, or had a kid, or went to Bura-Bura on vacation.  It’s not for bragging or being entitled or any other close-minded crap that such people tend to think is interesting.

Too often though it is about the latter and not the former. God isn’t thanked at all if He’s thought of. That kind of testimony is one reason **Koff-koff excuse koff-koff ** that I’m not very active in the church currently.   I find the sometimes smug attitude sickening and distracting from why I personally go to church – to improve my relationship with God.

God reminds man though, that we’re not to judge others. We have enough things of our own to worry about (i.e. our own business) without thinking snide things about other people. I sometimes find that hard to do.  

Today the woman writing the BCC post asked the rhetorical question: “So tell me – do you think voicing criticism has the potential to damage testimony, and if so, do we have a responsibility toward each other to take care with how we share it?”   

I have a huge problem with idiots. I think that’s well documented.  And my viewpoint about the question had nothing to do with the author being an idiot. The idiot part comes in from the idea of having politically correct (touchy-feely) censorship of one’s most intimate inner thoughts. Which are what the testimony IS (in my opinion).   

But I get why she asked the question too. There are people in the LDS Church who view testimony meeting as a chance to air every slight and grievance they ever had, real or imagined. To be acid-tongued and sharp with those in alleged authority with whom they take exception. To belittle others. To me?  That’s not a testimony, that’s bile – regurgitated. So sit down and shut up and don’t blast a spiritual event with garbage.

I asked a question today on SYW about where the line is drawn between honest debate and hate speech (verbal bullying).   I’m interested to see what people say about that too.   Where do we stop being overly sensitive and start with real disagreement with someone’s harsh words?   Is that censorship too?

As a good blogging buddy used to write:  “No answers here…”


The second part of this post is about a personal terror.   The very idea scares the crap out of me and keeps me awake nights.  Wakes me up in a cold sweat. I’ve heard a huge variety of opinion on climate change and what that is going to mean to the world I once knew (because she’s a’changin’ and she ain’t gonna be the same).   

The video clip I shared is about 5 minutes and the fellow speaking is a sensible person (IMHO) who has a realistic manner and speech.   What he said in this video clip scared me silly.   He wasn’t even trying to frighten.  He was stating facts, backed up by scientists and really incredibly smart people (well, presumably).   I don’t know who Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even is, never heard of her before today. Another benefit (I suspect) of living a largely mushroom life.  I don’t CARE who she is just to be clear. Don’t let the title of the video mislead you. But be prepared for a shock.

Judy Dykstra-Brown is the one who brought the blog and video clip to my attention.  I’m not sure whether to be grateful or horrified that what I’ve thought for a lot of years now is coming true. And that right soon. Dang.

One of the points made in the video has been supported (unwittingly) by Marilyn of Serendipity and her blogs over the summer about the mosquito problems in her area.  

The things talked about in that video are real. As Beau says “It’s not fake science and it’s not fake news.  It simply IS.”   

How these two subjects overlap in one sense is that the LDS Church has cautioned its members for YEARS (longer than I’ve been alive) to start saving at least seven years’ worth of food, and obviously water.  Mormons have been ridiculed and poked fun at for being “dooms-dayers” and weird because they allegedly stockpile that way. Well, who is laughing NOW?  

This ought to cover my posts on Pet Peeve Monday – even though it’s not a pet peeve, it’s quickly becoming part of my social phobia/anxiety disorder.

Also, this post might fit into the 31 Days of October Challenge.   If the material shared isn’t a horror story, I don’t know what might be.   

Can we stop the world long enough for me to get off?   I think I’ve had enough of this particular Tunnel of Terror ride. 


https://bycommonconsent.com/2019/10/28/testimony-and-its-opposite/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2019/10/28/beau-of-the-fifth-column-and-climate-change/

https://beckiesmentalmess.blog/2019/10/28/the-monday-peeve-7/

https://lavent69.blog/2019/09/30/the-31-days-of-october-challenge/

THE ZOO ON THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

They announced on the news that another 2 or 3-degree rise in temperature will cost us about 3 million birds over the next year, especially sea birds like seagulls as well as eagles and hawks.

Growing chipmunk

I don’t want to think about it. I knew from the number of birds I’m NOT seeing this year that the weather is already killing them. They are here, but in greatly reduced numbers and many birds are missing.

Chipping Sparrow

Downy or Hairy? Could be either!

We have quite a little zoo going on out there. We have the usual birds. We have a couple of nervous squirrels (they will calm down and refuse to budge) and now, every day our little (but growing fast) chipmunk.

Carolina Wren

Titmouse in the Autumn leaves

Mostly, I’m seeing Rose and White-breasted Nuthatches and several kinds of woodpeckers. Also a few wrens, titmice, and Goldfinch. None of the little red finches have come back. No doves. I saw one Blue Jay. No Robins.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

We have lost 30 million birds over the past decade and stand to lose another 30 million during the next five if we don’t get the temperature down.

I feed them, but it’s not nearly enough. Please, if you have any room, put up feeders. The birds are not doing well and backyard feeders make a huge difference in the birds’ ability to survive, especially in colder climates!

BUT WHAT KIND OF BIRD IS THAT? – Marilyn Armstrong

We were up early yesterday (doctor) and early again today (dentist). This gave me the opportunity to get some pictures of the morning birds. I had been noticing unfamiliar birds this year. Birds I saw a lot of last year I haven’t seen at all this year … but there are birds this year I don’t recognize. They may be juveniles of birds I only know as mature birds, but I spent a lot of time going through the bird book and the only birds that look like what I’m seeing are rather rare birds.

With birds, the general rule is that if you see something rare, you’ve probably got the wrong bird. But whatever it is, it is some kind of sparrow.

It isn’t the Chipping Sparrow because they are quite a bit smaller than these. The only things these look like part of a group called “Grass Sparrows.” All of these birds look a lot alike. Some shade of golden brown with speckled or streaked wings. Some have a striped or speckled breast while others are solids. But all the juveniles look very much the same.

The only one of these sparrows considered “common” is the Savannah Sparrow. But there aren’t many of them in this part of the country. They do live here, but it isn’t one of their major regions. Mostly, they seem to be concentrated in the southern states.

Grasshopper Sparrow and a Hairy Woodpecker?

One more of the sparrows and a Woodpecker.

Climate change brings changes to all of our wildlife, so it’s possible that warmer weather in the north has brought more of them into our area. The bird looks rather more like a Grasshopper Sparrow. While these do live in this region, they are uncommon — possibly even scarce.

Take a look at the picture and let me know if you recognize it. Also, there’s another solid brown-orange bird that doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before. It might be a Tennessee Warbler which can be common in this area. You’d think from its name they’d be from the south, but I sometimes am baffled by whoever named the birds. Or maybe birds just move around more than we think.

A very fat Chipping Sparrow? Rather an odd color …

Something new or just a juvenile of something more familiar?

I know that between the older bird book I had from the 1980s  and the new one I got last year, there’s a huge change in the location of many birds. There are also a lot fewer birds than there used to be. As we ruin our living environment, we’re killing off birds, fish, and many small mammals that were once very common.

Good look at tail feathers of the brown sparrow.

The only things we aren’t short of are bugs — plenty of THEM — mice and rats. Even rabbits who used to sun themselves on our lawns and the chipmunks who used to chitter at us as we went into our house have vanished. The robins, following their death by Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller never came back either.

What a sad world it would be without the birds to sing us awake with their cheery morning calls!

“NO” IS SOMETIMES THE PERFECT ANSWER! – Marilyn Armstrong

Remember how, many years ago in a galaxy far, far away — you know,  during the Reagan administration — our government decided the best anti-drug program was “JUST SAY NO!” Make every person 100% responsible for whatever happens to him or her. As history tells us, this anti-drug campaign was so successful, we no longer have drug problems in this country.

So I thought we might use this same highly successful approach to other major social issues.

NO!

Like health care. As we move from an era of medical insurance to “Good luck, buddy,”  we need new coping strategies. How about “Say no to sickness!”

If you feel like crap, just say NO. Cancer or heart disease got you down? Smile! A bright smile and a positive attitude coupled with a firm take-no-prisoners attitude to germs and chronic ailments will wipe away your tears.

Let a smile be your umbrella when your arthritis is throbbing. If you can’t breathe because you don’t have an inhaler? Say NO to wheezing. Everything will be right as rain.

Gun violence is another good example of a problem that wouldn’t exist if we each had a better attitude. Alternatively, if you are a devotee of second amendment rights, try getting a bigger weapon. When bullets start to fly, just say NO! Like magic, bullets will bounce right off you.

Would I lie to you?

There is no problem too complicated that magical thinking will not make it disappear. We can fix everything with firm resolve, a positive attitude, and denial.

Speaking of climate change (we weren’t but now we are), there’s no such thing. Nothing is going on. No need to seek higher ground. Well, what about water pollution? Nonsense! Funny-colored smelly water is merely chock full of extra nutrients. Yummy!

JUST SAY NO is the ultimate, cost-effective way to deal with pretty much everything. A few television advertisements and some billboards along the highway? Bob’s your uncle, the problem vanishes.

Maybe you can add some pamphlets. If these don’t quite do the job, you’ll probably die. In which case, it becomes someone else’s problem. We all know — at least those of us who have read Douglas Adams — that someone else’s problem, is invisible. If we can’t see it, it’s not there. (Phew. I was worried for a minute.)

It’s entirely up to you. Just say no. And keep saying it.

LONG, RAMBLING POLITICAL & ECOLOGICAL POST – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango —Anyone (Technically) Can Win

These last 2-1/2 years with El Trumpo Magnifico as our Fearless Leader has made politics a lot less fun than they used to be. I’ve always been a bit of a political junkie. I love watching elections, reading about who won which debate. I even love the long debates with silly rules and far too many people. Following elections, I am constantly charmed by how quickly every candidate will break each promise made on the campaign trail.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have pulled away from the pack in most national and early-state polls over the last month.

It should not be surprising that those three candidates have risen to the top of the field of more than 20: Biden, Sanders, and Warren are the three contenders who came to the race with a national political brand, and they have used their campaigns to hone their messages with a clarity that none of their competitors have. — Los Angeles Times

This time, it’s not nearly as much fun. There so much at stake. Literally, our life and death in this world — culturally, politically, and ecologically — is dizzily spinning on the edge of nothingness. If we get it wrong this time, I’m not sure there will be time to turn back.

I don’t mean only picking a candidate who can pulverize hizzoner at the polls, but a candidate who isn’t going to abandon every promise as soon as he or she is in office based on who has the swing vote or the big money. Or both.

It’s going to come down to Bernie, Biden, or Warren. It’s obviously going to be a three-candidate race. Even though I find the ideas from other candidates interesting, they should seriously be considering running for another office. How about SENATOR?

BERNARD SANDERS

I think Bernie, great ideas notwithstanding, looks like his heart is going to explode. If I was his mate, I’d be dragging him to a hospital for a serious physical. Garry thinks his head is going to blow up. I think he’s about ready for a massive heart attack.

I don’t think he can run this country, at least not long enough to accomplish much. Maybe if he picked the right (young and healthy) running mate? But we don’t vote for vice president. Overall, I think Bernie’s time came and went. He has grown old fighting the good fight, but he needs to let others take over. As a retiree, I can assure him that once he gets over his passion to fix the world, he’ll enjoy it. He can do what Garry does: sit in front of the television and yell at the guys now doing the job he used to do.

JOE BIDEN

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., aka “Joe Biden,” certainly has the credentials. One of the reasons everyone picks on him is how long he has served and how many decisions he has had to make. Some of them may not have worked out the way he thought they would, but he has done surprisingly well for a long time.

Photo via Newscom

He has a record to attack, which is something most of the nominees don’t have. For good or ill, he has come through some pretty rough patches in life and he’s managed to come out of it a decent, thoughtful, intelligent human being. While he isn’t my personal pick for President, I would not be unhappy if he did become president. He’s a lot smarter than people think he is. He’s forgotten more about our political system than most of the erstwhile candidates ever learned.

He can do it well, especially if he picks a high-quality cabinet composed of capable people who he then allows to do the job for which they were hired. He has a lot of dedicated years as a man who cares. I don’t think he owes a lot to the big corporate groups. I hope not, anyway. This is information which is hard to unearth.


FACTOID TO REMEMBER: Yesterday, I got a call from what I assumed was our local cop shop looking for donations. At the end of the call after I explained we were too poor to be giving anything to anybody, he said he was part of a PAC and donations are NOT tax-deductible.

Watch out. They suddenly talk very fast when they get to this
part of the shpiel.


ELIZABETH WARREN

Finally, we get to my pick: Elizabeth Ann Warren. She has been our senator for some years now. I like her.

She’s a thinker and a planner. The reason she has answers for everything is that she has thought about the questions and found some answers.

Is everything on her agenda going to go exactly as planned? Of course not. No one’s “plans” are going to go exactly as stated. Because once you get into office, there are all these other people you need to work with to get the job done. No one gets it done alone — not counting our current moron-in-chief. He’s not getting anything done either, but he’s giving everyone high blood pressure while not getting it done.

I believe that within the realities of Washington D.C., Elizabeth Warren will get as much done as anybody could. It won’t be easy. It won’t be a quick fix. She will do the best she can with the people in Congress, the Senate, and lord help us, the Supreme Court. She’s got wonderful credentials including the ability to teach. I think that’s one of the reasons she makes such a good impression as a nominee. She explains information in a way that everybody can understand. She doesn’t make it simplistic or stupid. She doesn’t act like we are stupid. She simply cuts out the technobabble and uses words that anyone who isn’t stupid will understand.

Is she going to reach “Trump’s Base?” No one will reach them. They are not reachable. Personally, I thought Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” was a pretty good description of those morons. But Fandango had a point. She should have just called them assholes. Fewer syllables are better — and wouldn’t it be great to see all those people walking around in T-shirts that say “I’M A REPUBLICAN ASSHOLE!” It would go well with their MAGA hats.


Make no mistake. This is not going to be an easy fight.

China and Russia are still working their butts off trying to skew our elections and I’m pretty sure our current administration is giving them all the help they need. Everyone — and I do mean EVERYONE — has to get out and vote. We need to show the world and prove to ourselves we care about this world and our place in it.

The problems we face are national, but also universal. Many of them we caused ourselves. We have never properly dealt with immigration and never taken our environment seriously. The information about what’s happening to our climate is not new. I was working on it when I lived in Israel and working at The University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. Even in a little country like Israel, we couldn’t convince the kibbutzniks and other farmers to stop using nitrogen-based fertilizer.

It’s not that nitrogen per se is bad, but in an arid zone (Israel’s climate is very similar to Arizona), without heavy rain to “wash” the soil, nitrogen collects and seeps into the aquifer and ultimately poisons it.

Israel poisoned its aquifer while I lived there. It wasn’t a powerful aquifer. Most aquifers are fragile and you have to be careful what goes into it if you want to drink it — or even use it for watering crops.

I am told, though I have not seen them, that Israel is finally, building big desalinization plants, something David Ben Gurion had on his list of top 10 most important “issues to be dealt with” in Israel in 1948. It only took 50+ years to get to it.

Here, in Massachusetts, all our water come from an aquifer. The Blackstone watershed is a major player in our water supply. We’ve got a pretty healthy aquifer, but it’s one aquifer. When someone says (I have heard this too many times to count): “I can do what I like with my water because the well is on MY land,” he or she doesn’t get it.


The aquifer belongs to everyone. If you use too much water or weed killer or chemical fertilizer, you endanger the water we all need. Your water is my water. My neighbor’s water is your water and his neighbor’s water belongs to you, me and everyone else. 


We live and die together on this planet. Whether or not we personally hate each other, we still absolutely positively MUST cooperate in keeping our water drinkable, our air breathable, and our land free of poison.

Aquifer in action

Did you catch Trump explaining that we had to get rid of low-usage light bulbs because they make him look orange? Really. He said that. They don’t make me look orange, but he says they make everyone look orange. He really is a jackass.

INSTIGATE A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR WEATHER-RELATED HOME DAMAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Instigate

I don’t have much time today — heart doctor followup in a few hours.

This has been an exceptionally busy week with doctor appointments for either Garry or me for every day, not counting Labor Day. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with our house.

Damaged gutters from falling branches

As we drove to the doctor yesterday, I was looking at all the houses as we passed and realized that every vinyl-sided house appeared — on one or more walls — like ours. Even houses that began the year in near-perfect condition were obviously rain-damaged. Even cedar shakes are soaked through, dark and wet looking — which means the walls behind them are wet too.

The whole house looks kind of like this. The green mold is dampness and rain

We are not going to be alone trying to get our so-called insurance companies to pay for the damage. There has been a calamitous amount of storm damage this year. Are ALL the insurance companies going to claim it’s “just” normal wear and tear? Even homes that were normally perfectly maintained look beaten.

This looks exactly like our house. Same color vinyl and everything

From as far away as Alberta (Canada) to Arizona (where it doesn’t rain!), to parts of southern California, reports are coming in that this has been the rainiest period anyone can remember — and most of the people saying that are not kids. They are our age, a little more or less.

Foundations break apart from the never-ending rain

I got a letter from the insurance company promising to send an adjuster one day soon. Except the adjuster came and went last Friday. Good to know MAPFRE is right up to date! If they don’t even know they already sent an adjuster, I can be pretty sure they haven’t even looked at our claim, much less done anything with it.

When the trunks of the trees and the earth are wet enough, trees fall

The good news? The adjuster said that the damage is confined to just that wall and is NOT spreading to the rest of the house — and that he was able to measure for actual water which means damage is very recent.

For all of you who haven’t yet taken a good look at your houses, maybe this is a good time to do it. Instigate a family investigation of every part of your house, from the roof to foundation. Look closely at everything.

The weather isn’t going to improve and I wonder if any place is going to be safe after a while. When you get down to it, our houses are only permanent for as long as they want to be. If the weather keeps getting crazier, no one’s house is going to be secure unless it’s on top of a hill and built from natural stone. Even castles have rooves, siding, and foundations that can be water-damaged. Many already have been.

Then, there are plagues of insects that appear. We have never had a plague (two, actually) of lethal virus-bearing mosquitoes until this year. We’ve had a few bad ones that came up on vegetable trucks or cars, but not like this summer. They too are part of the changing climate.

When the trees get sufficiently soaked through trunk and root, they collapse. It’s all mud with nothing to hold them firmly in the ground. Crops won’t grow in mud, either.

Hard not to notice something bad is going on underneath, but insurance can’t see it

And now, as they track Dorian up the coast, so far they are predicting it will mangle parts of the Carolinas. With a little bit of luck, most of the worst of it will miss our area — except (naturally) a lot of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. What a shock! We haven’t seen (sarcasm font start here) much of that.

Climate change.

Is it legal to yearn that Mara Lago will blowdown or sink during a category 5 hurricane? Can we at least hope that he who has brought so much trouble on us will reap the whirlwind? Surely something wet with howling wind is bound to hit him.

I get a little thrill merely thinking about it.

SHARING MY VERY DAMP WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-3-19

From Melanie: Wow. September. Where did the summer go?  I’m not at all sure…anyway.  This week finds us with some more questions, but this week they’re all ‘deep’ ones requiring a little thought. Enjoy!”

I know where MY summer went and I hope I can forget it ASAP.

Spring was long, nasty, cold, and full of hard-driving rainstorms with lots of wind. We didn’t get a real winter. No real snow at all, so we got our first blizzard (the only blizzard, actually) around my birthday in early March.

Finally, it started to warm up, but mostly, it rained. And rained. The wind howled and sometimes it was raining so hard and for so long the house sounded like a loud faucet was running somewhere. Now that Garry can hear, he was amazed at how loud rain can be. It reminded me why I didn’t spend the extra money on a steel roof … and why I wish I had — at the same time.

Raiin on the window

A steel roof is forever, or at least as close to forever as any roof can get. It’s also noisy. Rain, sleet, hale … it’s like a million little beasties racing madly around your roof. Not to mention that they cost at least four times what a standard asphalt roof costs. But they never leak and they don’t grow lichens or other greenery, either. Win some, lose some. You take your best guess and hope it works out.

As soon as it warmed up, we grew a million daylilies and that was great, but we’d get one day of sun or at least gray skies followed by three days of howling winds and torrential rain. It was mud city. You couldn’t even mow your lawn because it was sodden.

That was followed — finally — in August, with lovely, cool dry weather. And Eastern Equine Encephalitis mosquitoes and all the nice autumn fairs got canceled because the killer mosquitoes were out.

Aw, c’mon! Really?

This was approximately when I realized something was wrong on the south-west side of the house. All that rain, you know? The climate change that hasn’t arrived seems to indeed have arrived. At least here it has.

Now, we need to strip off the vinyl, remove the mush that’s underneath it, and replace the wall, or at least most of the lower level with a new wall. Get rid of the rotting door and replace it with a window (we never use the door anyway) and get a carpenter to repair the wooden doors to the shop.

Rainy morning squirrel shaking rain off his coat

I’m wishing we’d had time to powerwash the house because it’s green with mold. Did you know vinyl can grow green mold? It’s not lethal or poisonous. It actually looks like green pollen that got stuck. It just isn’t attractive.

It made me realize for all the years we’ve been paying insurance on our houses — since 1965 — they have yet to actually pay for any damage to any house in any state. Talk about being taken over by corporations. You know all those advertisements about how insurance companies are protecting you? They aren’t.

It’s a lie. The only thing they are protecting is the value of the property owned by the mortgage company. I can’t even calculate how many years we’ve paid home insurance and it never crossed my mind that they don’t cover anything except a tree falling on the house (unless they decide you should have taken down the tree in which case it’s your fault anyway), and fire. They might cover home invasion, but I’m not sure.

I’m still thinking about the post I will write about this, how we are forced — absolutely required — to pay for home insurance or we can’t get a mortgage. Why don’t we read all the little tiny print on the policy? Because we have to have insurance, so no matter what it says, we will sign it.

It’s just like accepting the terms of your operating system for your PC or Mac. Sign or don’t use your computer. There is no option to argue about the terms, so you sign. Nobody reads them.

The most common lie everyone everywhere tells is that they read and understand the terms of that contract. NO ONE reads it and if we did understand it, what difference would it make? We can’t NOT sign it.

And now, on to the questions.

QUESTIONS:

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

Breathing.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

Brooding on how we used to sometimes have sunshine and playing bridge on the computer.

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

How I lived long enough to see the world change into this bizarre, hate-filled mess.

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment?  Details?

About a year ago, my granddaughter dyed my hair to get the yellow out of it. It wasn’t utter embarrassment. It actually looked pretty good.

We have a lot of iron in our well water and it turns everything pink or yellow — Including my white hair. I bought some more of the same dye. I hope I don’t make a total mess of the project.

A.B. NORMAL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Abnormal

What is normal? It there such a thing? Does anyone lead a “normal life”?

This has been a week when it feels like I should not have gotten out of bed. Or, for that matter, gained consciousness. Every time a hint of consciousness appeared, I should have taken something that would put me back in a chemical coma.

Between the news about Bonnie and discovering one wall of my house is about to fall off (and there is no money with which to fix it) and the critical invasion of lethal Eastern Equine Encephalitis Mosquitoes — it has not been a good week. It hasn’t even been a bad week. It has been an atrocious, abnormal, messed up, disgusting, horror of a week.

Wolf spiders vary greatly in size. The smallest may measure only 3 millimeters in body length, while most lycosids are larger, reaching up to 30 millimeters. Many species live in burrows in the ground, and most are nocturnal. Most lycosids are brown, gray, black, pale orange, or cream. They often have stripes or speckles. The head region of the cephalothorax usually narrows. The legs, particularly the first two pairs, are often spiny to help the spiders hold their prey. And this is exactly what it looked like.

A coma seems my best possible choice. Or a long leap off a very tall bridge. My primary problem with long leaps off tall bridges is that I might not die. I might just get broken into many pieces and have to live with that, which probably would make things worse — although I figure at that point the powers-that-be might consider that we need to have a place to live. Or, who knows? Maybe they will just drop me by the side of the road and drive away.

Who needs all these “old people” cluttering up our world?

It’s all about climate change. The climate change we don’t have has been battering this house with endlessly pouring rain and raging wind storms. Apparently on at least one side of the house (the short side) has had the vinyl siding so ripped apart that not only is the wood beneath it soaked, but the actual vinyl is soaked. The door which the vinyl surrounds is black with mold from the endless wetness and for reasons that I cannot fathom, hordes of yellow jackets seem to be trying to make a nest on our deck.

There is nothing ON our deck. We removed everything when we repainted it. The only remaining things there are broken pieces of branches from the trees and one of the most enormous wolf spiders I’ve ever seen.

Mind you, I knew they lived in the woods, but this one wanted to climb in through our screen and I finally pulled out the really poisonous spider stuff and sprayed him to death. The first couple of time he sat on the screen and leered at me, I just knocked him off to (I assume) the deck below. The fourth time, I decided it was war.

I killed him. Through the screen. With spider poison spray. So his carcass — his rather enormous carcass — is stuck between the boards on the deck and between the huge dead spider and the hundreds of yellow jackets, I’m staying home.

And still trying to figure out how we can repair the house — it really looks like we should completely redo the vinyl siding and the gutters which have been battered by falling tree limbs so they don’t do anything useful.

But we have no more money. Any money we had has gone to fixing the well, replacing doors, replacing half the front of the house and putting in a new window. The deck is falling off the house.

I’ve been running through my possible ways “out” of this life, not because I expect to see heaven, but because this life just isn’t working out for me. People say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but these don’t seem particularly temporary. The house really needs work and we can’t do it. I’ve been trying every way I know and just winding up in enough debt to wonder if either Garry OR I will live to see the end of it.

He’s trying to find some work. I just want to leave all the details to anyone who wants them and slide into oblivion. NOT because I think oblivion would be nicer, but because I’m not going to try to live on the street. As a simple start, I’d last about three minutes and they wouldn’t be nice minutes and the other because frankly, I’ve had enough.

Every time I think I’ve found some solution that MIGHT work, I discover that there’s oh so much more that needs to be done.

I’ve looked for solutions, but there don’t seem to be any solutions. It may look like a solution but it’s really just another trap. A tar pit. Maybe we should go back to the caves, but I’m pretty sure it would be full of big spiders too.

FEAR AND LOATHING BY THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Since we came to the Valley, trips to the river to take pictures has been part of our life, often the high point of our lives. Now, with the hidden lurking diseases brought by southern mosquitoes that are part of our ongoing climate change, everyone is just staying inside.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s ironic. We’ve had horrible weather all through the spring and much of the summer. It has been much too hot and muggy to go anywhere … or it has been storming with falling trees and broken branches and periodic outages of cable and power.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Now, finally, the weather is lovely. Warm, bright, and comfortable. It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel like you don’t have weather. It just feels good. Or it would if we were afraid that one of our local poisonous mosquitoes might bite and infect us with Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus.

Blackstone River at the end of August

We didn’t have these diseases a decade ago but as the temperature has risen a little higher each year — this year being a record-breaker — the mosquitoes have moved up the coastline from the deep south to New England. We’ve had small batches of them before, but they never moved in the way they have this year. Usually, the winter is cold enough to kill off the larvae. Come spring, there are few living mosquitoes and they have to breed all over again.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But not this year. Winter wasn’t cold enough for long enough to kill off the larvae. And the summer, usually hot and dry, has been sodden and wet creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

They are supposed to spray for mosquitoes tonight, depending on the weather. The Commonwealth will spray at least a couple of more nights.

That won’t really kill the mosquitoes completely. Only a long, killing frost will accomplish that. Will we have one? Or will it be, as it was last year, a stormy fall with almost no color? We never got the snap of cold that brings on color. The wind and rain blew the dying leaves off the trees before they had a chance to brighten.

It was a pathetic version of autumn. Winter was too warm with no snow until the middle of March. Just a couple of weeks followed by a long, sodden, chilly spring. An ugly spring.

All of this was insufficient to winterize our region. The river didn’t freeze. I’m sure there were hoards of depressed young hockey players who never got to hit a puck into a net.

So actually going out today made us both feel endangered. It was the kind of hidden danger I hate because you can really see the mosquitoes and being by the river is close to their favorite haunts. Garry was clearly nervous and while we shot some pictures, we didn’t shoot many and left early.

Climate change is going to eventually harm everyone, everywhere. It’s no myth and there’s no argument among scientists about its reality. The argument is among politicians and business people worried about how it will affect the short term economy. They aren’t thinking by ignoring it, they are setting us up for a permanently unlivable world.

They don’t care.

SHARE MY WORLD ASSUMING WORD PRESS DOESN’T CRUMBLE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 8-20-19

QUESTIONS:   

What would be your solution to the overpopulation of the earth?  Earth has finite resources and humanity seems to be breeding themselves to extinction.   Some countries have tried restricting the number of children a couple or a person can have, with little success.  So what other viable options are there for reducing the number of people? 

Let me start out by pointing out that I don’t have answers. I mostly have fears.

Although overpopulation is a major part of our problems of surviving on Earth — especially in places like China and India where over-population has been an issue for centuries — the even bigger problem is over-building and mindless destruction of our natural environment. Water and earth pollution, as well as the poisons we use to “protect” our vegetables and other plants.

The fundamental combination of ingredients we use to increase nutrients in the soil — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — although they are essential to healthy plant growth, fertilizer needs to be used in moderation based on the rain for the region. More rain means the soil gets “washed.” In arid regions, such”fertilizers” are poison.

Weed poisons — Monsanto seems to make a lot of them — not only poison our water, but also kill the birds. A few years ago, we had robins nesting on our porch and all over the woods until one neighbor decided to use Monsanto weed poison.

The robins fell over dead in their nests. Baby robins were never born.

Dry lake at Manchaug

It was horrible and really depressing. Although a few robins have returned, they are relatively rare now instead of (as they used to be) the most common summertime bird.

Dried out Mumford River in Uxbridge

Nitrogen, a major part of fertilizer, is only viable in areas that get plenty of rain. Without the rain, the nitrogen builds up in the soil, sinks down and poisons the aquifer. It happened in Israel while I lived there. I worked at the part of the university which monitored the condition of the country’s air and water. Israel is a dry country with a climate much like Arizona. Our people went from one Kibbutz to the next Kibbutz warning all of them that continuing to use nitrogen-based fertilizer would poison the aquifer by 1985.

We were wrong.

It poisoned the aquifer in 1982. Now, there is no aquifer in the country. All the water comes in tankers from Turkey or from the Sea of Galilee (called “The Galil – pronounced “Ga-leel”). In an arid climate, rainy and dry years are normal events. One always prayers for normal rain, but droughts are part of the climate pattern and can last for years.

This is why part of the annual prayer cycle includes the autumnal prayers for rain. On a good year, there will be rain clouds by late October or early November. On a bad year, you may see very little rain at all and not until December. Considering that spring starts in January, that doesn’t leave much time for rain.

Empty dam at Manchaug

A few years ago, The Galil was more than 13 meters lower than normal and I don’t know how it’s doing now. I understand they have added desalinization plants that are helping, but the population of the country has more than doubled (tripled?) since I left in 1987.

FYI, a meter is one yard plus 3 inches, so 13 meters is just under 120 feet below normal. Boats that sank during the time of Jesus were showing up because the water was so low.

We don’t merely overpopulate the world. We misuse it. The combination is lethal, at least for mammals, of which we are one. Between our enthusiasm for killing anything we think looks good stuffed and hanging on a wall and the natural destruction that farming and housing cause … the rate of destruction of large mammals is insane and with our current idiotic president, getting worse day-by-day.

There really isn’t a lot of time left to fix the climate to make this world livable for the next generations. We aren’t waiting for climate change. It has arrived. And when you live in cities like New York and Boston which actually lie below sea level, a rise in sea levels won’t take long to swamp our shorelines. East and west coast cities are in imminent danger and the flooding in the midwest is catastrophic.

Whatever we SHOULD be doing to fix our climate? We aren’t doing it.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong – Behind the dam is a mountain of poisonous soil from the factories and mills that used the Blackstone to dump their pollution over the years. They can’t take down the dams because it would release the poisoned soil.

The poisons in the soil, air, and water.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

I think life is ridiculous, our government is idiotic, and an awful lot of our population is incredibly stupid. There’s no way I could pick out one part of that as the MOST ridiculous.

What are the unwritten rules of where you work? If you don’t work (retired or unemployed) what are the unwritten rules you live your life by?

Dogs eat first.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

Pineapple is delicious on ham and I love fresh pineapple. It doesn’t belong on pizza. But other countries put even worse stuff on pizza like peas and corn. El yucko.

Toilet paper, over or under?

Over. Even the patent for the toilet paper roll shows it over, not under. The only reason for putting it underneath is that you have kittens who think unrolling the entire roll is tons of fun.

What’s the best type of cheese?

Remains of the feast

Cheese!

I’m torn between blue/Roquefort, strong cheddar, hard parmesan, and romano. But really, I just like cheese! Almost all cheese except whatever that yellow mushy stuff they call “American” cheese is. Whatever you call it, it ain’t cheese.