Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Whales, warm water & bummer elections

Humpbacks of the deep

Our kinship with Earth must be maintained; otherwise, we will find ourselves trapped in the center of our own paved-over souls with no way out.”
Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World
Monday, up on Hawk Hill to help with the hawk count, the first animals I saw were in the water rather than the air.  Two whales where meandering in the shipping channel, foraging and spouting air outside of the Golden Gate. It was another beautiful day in the Marin Headlands, and we'd see many birds, but everyone paused a moment to look at the cetaceans in our midst. There may be nothing so wondrous as seeing a whale. All that mass exists out there in the deep, all the time, despite our everyday concerns, and when you catch a glimpse of what the ocean contains, the mystery of all this existence just skyrockets.

The next day, a friend posted an article "Unusual Warm Conditions off California Bringing Odd Species," detailing how the non El-Nino caused warmer ocean temperatures are erasing the usual boundary ranges of pelagic creatures. Range-straying Guadalupe fur seals, sunfish and sea turtles have been showing up in 'normally' too-cold regions around the Farallon and parts of Alaska.
A Humpback near the San Francisco Bay isn't unusual (California's remember Humphrey The Whale who came into the Bay, twice), but the article also mentions that water temperatures may also be affecting the krill on which the whales feed, so they too are dispersing. Likewise, the water temperatures are a result of a lack of the usual winds that cool the water's surface. This was happening in Hawaii when we were there last month, where the water was great for swimming but devastating for the coral... and as a result the whole ecosystem.

These matters trouble me. I wonder what I can do. I speak up when and how I can. I vote and feel like I made a cause for change toward good. And then I read the election results.

 Billions of dollars were spent by green groups hoping to make climate change a front burner election concern and it fell woefully short:
"... as the most expensive midterm election in American history wraps up, it’s clear that environmentalists will fall far short of that goal. A Pew Research Center poll from September found that the environment came in a distant eighth among a list of 11 campaign issues that matter most to voters." — Slate

I've been more aware than ever in recent years that if you lack a connection to nature, it's hard to value it. I was especially fortunate that my formative years were spent surrounded by the natural world and I'm fortunate to be able to find ways to maintain that connection. I know not everyone has access to the sight of a huge otherworldly mammal cavorting in the sea and the appreciation and value such an experience foments. But there are so many blatant examples that climate change isn't 'just' threatening 'other' species. There is no way to ignore that stalling winds, major droughts, and aberrant floods threaten our lives and livelihood as well.

I wonder what it's going to take for folks to wake up? And what do we do now that a majority of our leaders are delusional?

"this vast, gaping polarization of American politics is toxic, especially where it comes to the crucial issue of global warming. Here, a Senate GOP majority can have an extremely destructive effect. It will put a cohort of science-deniers into positions of authority over the very science they want to trample. This is extremely worrisome to me, and it should be to you as well," wrote reporter Phil Plait before the election. 

Now here we are. 

Global Warming Resources from Bill McKibbon 

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