The Life Slant - Page 5

Christmas Wish ’21

The “Alfred Burt Carols” are a marvelous collection of fifteen Christmas songs.  They were written by Alfred S. Burt from 1942 and 1954 and annually distributed to friends as Christmas Cards.  After learning about them in high school choir, my buddy Dave and I decided we would follow suit.  We each wrote a little ditty, hand-copied ten or twelve copies, and mailed them out, vowing to continue to do so every year hence.  I’ve lost touch with Dave, but I know I haven’t done it again since.

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Vale Silver Superfish

O pinnacle of piscine evolution,
Pointed snout, plump middle, crescent caudal,
The ultimate predator, bluefin tuna.
Counter-shaded, dark topside, light below,
Blue, green, silver befitting only the regal.

Olympians inhaling ramjet oxygen-loaded seawater,
Travelling a distance equal to length each second.
Sampson-like heart 10X other’s size.
Gracefully cruising 46 knots, top-end 55 knots!
Night schooling, slower, musing, bunched.

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Smart, Screaming, Carnivorous Bees, Kith and Kin

MEXICO CITY – Our comrades, the bees, are intriguing wee creatures and vital to a healthy natural world.

Nobel laureate Karl von Frisch (1886-1982) was the first to discover that the elaborate language of honeybees revolves around complex dances. In addition to deciphering their communications, von Frisch was also able to train honeybees to arrive at feeding stations in three, four and five separate periods within 24 hours. The fact that bees possess a memory for time is astonishing.

The waggle dance is one of the most extraordinary forms of communication in the animal kingdom. The dance conveys precise information about food, water and tree resin location, including its direction and distance from the hive as far as 13 kilometres (8mi). See my book, The Incomparable Honeybee for a detailed explanation of the waggle dance and the angle of the sun. Credit: Yemin Deng

Years later, my colleagues from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama showed that social bees have a bigger brain area for both learning and memory compared to solitary bees. And like people, bees show the effects of aging. For example, honeybees’ memories fade and their ability to learn decreases. One way we both can slow down aging is by getting restorative sleep.

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Terrified Asian honeybees, just like us, other primates, birds and meerkats, shriek when faced with a life-threatening situation. When giant Asian hornets attack the hive, honeybees release a “rallying call for collective defence”. It eerily sounds like bloodcurdling human screams. When these colossal merciless hornets storm the colony, they feast on larvae, decapitate adult bees and feed severed body parts to their young.

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Australia Greenlights Two More Giant Fracking Mines, Armageddon

ALICE SPRINGS – Are you fed-up with the worst, least qualified and most unscrupulous citizens, the world’s leaders, lying about reducing emissions and failing to address the climate emergency? 

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison just greenlit two humongous fracking mines in the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA). Morrison blatantly disregarded the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) warning that there can be NO more new coal, oil and gas extractions if we are to limit temperature increases to below the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees. 

Morrison’s most recent planetary destructive fracking decision followed on the heels of U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to auction off oil and gas leases across 32.4  million hectares (80M ac) of the Gulf of Mexico. Old boys business as usual.

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A Football Field of Native Forests Annihilated Every Second

MELBOURNE – Native forests need wildlife to thrive. We “wise apes” need native forests to save us from the man-made climate crisis. If we lose those forests, we die.

Destruction of Native Forests
Our beloved oxygen-makers, carbon storehouses, intercontinental rain-makers, cloud-makers, climate stabilisers, medicine chests, wildlife-rich glorious native forests are unique to planet Earth. Credit: Fancis Eatherington

At the recent twenty-sixth climate talks in Glasgow, the world’s leaders refused pleas by environmental groups and forest biologists to protect earth’s best climate stabilisers, its native forests. Instead, the world’s negotiators delayed an agreement greenlighting another decade of forest plunder.

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Gen Zs Deplasticising Oceans

Almost 400 million metric tons, or, the equivalent weight of the human population, of subsidised petroleum-based plastics are manufactured annually. Thirteen million metric tons of those plastics are entering the oceans and poisoning everything.

About 12 per cent of the world’s petroleum {12 million barrels daily (mbd)} is poured into plastics. By mid-century, unless corrective action is taken, that figure is predicted to grow to be almost 18 mbd.

The shale gas industry has been trying to build demand for fossil fuels from its fracked oil and gas wells by promoting the construction of a new petrochemical corridor in America’s Rust Belt and expanding the corridor on the Gulf Coast. Credit: Desmog.com

Meanwhile, petrochemicals are expected to account for more than one-third of global oil demand growth by 2030 and approximately half of demand growth by 2050, according to the world’s energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA). At the current pace of consumption, plastic could surpass coal’s emissions by 2030.

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The Great Forest, A Wonderful Book

The Great Forest is a stunning book that is loaded with intriguing information and many beautiful images.

Ecologist David Lindenmayer along with photographers Chris Taylor, Sarah Rees and Steven Kuiter have presented the finest tabletop forest book that I have ever read.

These skilled Aussie forest defenders help us understand the mesmerising wet forests of Victoria’s ancient Central Highlands, and that the Indigenous Peoples are the rightful caretakers of these lands. This exquisite book showcases the majestic oxygen-making mountain ash, the world’s tallest flowering trees and many of its unique animals.

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COP26: Heal the Natural World, Protect All Old-Growth Forests

GLASGOW – Old-growth forests are the planet’s largest and most carbon-rich biodiverse assemblages. Protecting these earthly temples is central to the survival of all life.

As the twenty-sixth United Nations climate talks get underway, the only issue that matters to Mother Earth and the two million known species is, how to slow down the infernal man-made climate heat, climate droughts, climate fires, climate floods and strengthening climate hurricanes and climate cyclones?

The answer is really quite simple. Reduce combustion emissions immediately. Dovetail all industries to produce a zero-combustion global economy by 2035. And end all fossil fuel subsidies, $5.9 trillion annually, without any further delay.

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Heal The Oceans, Protect All Fish

LONDON – Each year, fisheries are annihilating as many as one hundred trillion creatures. Additionally, fisheries’ bottom-trawlers are destroying the ocean floor, accelerating the man-driven Sixth Mass Extinction and unlocking the largest planetary carbon storehouse to cook everything alive.

This terrible hatred of marine life must come to an end otherwise all life is doomed. Thankfully, there is a salubrious alternative.

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American Bumblebee, Dead Buzz

CHICAGO – Since 2000, the American bumblebee population has crashed and burned by 89 percent. These handsome, big, black and yellow bees are abandoning Earth en masse. Scandalous.

Once upon a time, their range encompassed southern Canada, much of continental United States and northern Mexico. Today, American bumblebees have died out in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming.

In New York State their population has plummeted by 99 percent.  In nineteen other states across the Southwest and Midwest populations of American bumblebees have plunged by more than 50 percent.

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Oslo Murders 575 Planet-Saving Whales

OSLO – Over the previous four months, subsidised Norwegian whalers slowly and methodically tortured and eventually killed 575 minke whales.

A fleet of fourteen vessels equipped with rocket launching harpoons tipped with penthrite grenades and state of the art satellite technology mercilessly hunted our brethren and sistren, the filter feeding whales. Perhaps as many as three-quarters (~430) of the defenceless whales were pregnant.

Whaling in Norway
Norway is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil. They are looters and polluters of the North Sea. Hiss. Credit: Scanasia

Norway’s government is as crooked and cruel as the day is long. This well-to-do miniscule nation of less than six million citizens makes its living from killing, poisoning and cooking the Earth alive.

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Giant Sequoias Homage

O cinnamon mighty fire-resistant trunked-ones,
Your tree kingdom royal highnesses,
Gargantuan beings beyond perception of immense!
Rare Cali’ Sierran glorious mountaineers,
Deep rich soils, disease and pest free.
Heavenly.

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Surely, It’s Personal For All Of Us

LONDON – A recent British study, which included ten thousand Gen Zs (under 26s) from ten countries, revealed they are anxious and that governments have betrayed them.

Moreover, they are “incredibly worried” about the climate catastrophe. Fifty-six hundred of the ten thousand respondents concluded that humanity is doomed.

One 16-year-old wrote: “For us [young people] the destruction of the planet is personal.”

It’s personal for all of us, surely?

Turning despair into action is the antidote for the Gen Zs and the gray heads, too.

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Ban Neonicotinoids Immediately

SAN FRANCISCO — The latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review of three widely used neonicotinoid insecticides shows that the majority of endangered plants and animals are in harm’s way from these deadly nerve poisons.

In the midst of the accelerating man-driven Sixth Mass Extinction, the animal and plant kingdoms cannot contend with the ever-increasing onslaughts of horrible poisons.

In addition to plants and animals, the soils are in danger too. Soils are vital not just because they give us our food, they store a whopping 1500 billion metric tons of carbon. Poisons that destroy life within soils lessen the chances of the Gen Zs (under 26s) reaching 2040.

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Superb Palm Oil Exposé, Planet Palm

SAN FRANCISCO – Mother Earth defender and author, Jocelyn Zuckerman, has penned an excellent detailed account in Planet Palm of the insidious and ubiquitous palm oil trade. Victress.

Zuckerman journeyed to four continents and witnessed firsthand this planetary destructive, crafty industry. It’s a riveting read.

If ever there was one farmed crop that begged the United Nations (UN) to enact a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, palm oil is it.

Refuse Palm Oil
Support companies that do not use palm oil as an ingredient in their hand-soaps

A West African tropical palm, Elaeis guineensis, produces bunches of fruits the size of plums, which yields copious pulp and kernel oils that are loaded with saturated fats. 

Today, those oils are the backbone of processed everything, from personal care products to deep fried foods and pastries to instant noodles. Humans also burn a shit ton of it, one-third of all biofuels annually are palm oil. They emit four times more planet-cooking gases per unit than diesel fuel.

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Manmade Noise Uproots Sea Grasses, Hastens Climate Catastrophe

WASHINGTON (DC) – About 72 species of sea grasses are nature’s protective chainmail that filter land runoff, boost water quality, recharge aquifers and provide habitat for thousands of species. Yet they, too, are being assaulted and plundered by man.

Climate and Sea Grass
The world’s sea grasses are highlighted in green. Credit: United Nations Environment Programme

Sea grasses in mesmerising meadows occupy the coasts of every continent except Antarctica. Although their total ocean area is about 0.1%, sea grasses hold an astonishing 11% of the ocean’s carbon (sometimes referred to as ‘blue carbon’).

Climate and Sea Grass
Each year, sea grass meadows drawdown 83 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent emissions of 18 million automobiles). Credit: Christoffer Bostrom

Some of my colleagues affectionately call the sea grasses ‘the lungs of the sea’. And for a good reason, one square metre of a sea grass meadow releases 10 litres of oxygen each day of the year. Bonanza!

Each year, Mediterranean sea grass meadows are helping to protect the deep North Atlantic ocean and all life therein by sieving 900 million pieces of pernicious petroleum-based plastics.

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Almighty GDP Supersedes Climate Code Red, Not For Long

SAN FRANCISCO – This week the United Nations (UN) climate body, the IPCC, issued its sternest warning a ‘climate code red.’ Yet every IPCC decarbonising scenario has GDPs (Gross Domestic Product) rising not falling. The jarring reality is that it’s not possible for civilisation to grow enough food with increasing, intensifying and longer lasting ferocious heatwaves.

Combustion heat from fossil fuels and wood pellets has supercharged the oceans by adding the equivalent heat of detonating 10 Hiroshima atomic bombs every second of the year. The oceans drive the climate, which is becoming terrifyingly unstable.

Climate Change and GDP

Climate fires are raging all over the globe. Siberia is one giant firestorm with untold losses of our brethren and sistren, the animals. Over 40 million acres are charred across Russia’s Northern Asia. For the first time in recorded history the North Pole is blanketed with thick choking climate smoke.

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Intrepid Ecologist, Suzanne Simard, Discovering Big Old Trees

SAN FRANCISCO – Professor Suzanne Simard is a remarkable woman – a passionate, courageous forest ecologist who has upended Canada’s, male dominated, planet-killing forestry sector.

Simard’s new book, Finding the Mother Tree, is an epic read loaded with curiositygrit, discovery, grief and triumph.

Fearless, intelligent, caring women are healing our planet. Simard is indeed amongst them.

Professor Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard with an ancient western redcedar Mother Tree.
Credit: Diana Markosian

Old-growth rainforests are superlative carbon storehouses and incomparable intercontinental climate-makers, secondly only to the oceans. We cannot inhabit this planet without old-growth inhaling carbon and exhaling oxygen.

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