After a the long dry summer, we had a 3-4 inches of rain in one day last week. The brown Bay Area hills are already showing some green as a result. My back patio has its own explosion of new life. The pile of niger seeds and discarded sunflower seeds below the finch feeder has grown what from a distance looks like some long black animal fur. In fact, the first time the cat saw it, he was taken aback and very hesitant as he went over to examine the strange fur on the other side of the patio. Upon closer view, one sees some impressive spore growth. Each day it gets taller and thicker. Flies buzz around and get stuck amongst the sticky thick. I rescued one with a tiny twig, but one of his legs was injured from being stuck to the mass.
This visit to Lost Lake in Whistler, B.C. last week was part of a late afternoon walk during a week long meditation retreat. There was only an hour allocated for the walk, and most of the time was spent getting to and from the lake. Thus, the amount of time to enjoy the lake was literally about ten to fifteen minutes. Here you can see the mountain stream enters the lake. It is a really pretty scene.
Just off to the right of the stream was this sign cautioning the human population to be alert of the fish spawning in the wetland area surrounding the lake.
A little farther to the right of the sign, there was this swarm of tadpoles. I was thrilled to see them, as I had never seen them in the wild before. They were located right next to a public beach area, but there were ropes on the beach preventing humans from entering near the tadpoles.
Within just a few minutes this snake swam into the area searching for a bite to eat. It had just swallowed a tadpole before I captured this photo. I only saw it eat one tadpole, so maybe it can't digest multiples at one time.
The snake wasn't the only one searching for a meal. The ducks came too. It is rare to get to see such a quick view of an ecosystem in action. Since I only had a brief time to spend at the lake, I was quite appreciative that during this short visit I was able to have such a meaningful experience.
A few minutes later, the snake and the ducks had moved on into the wetlands area leaving the tadpoles to rest for a while. A sense of serenity set in, and I proceeded to return back to my lodge.
Free Range studios has recently launched a new flash movie aimed at explaining humans relationship to the web of life. In a DaVinci Code theme, forensic zoologist Robert Penguin and the dashing agent Sophie Minnow race to expose the greatest lie ever told. Watch the The BioDaVersity Code to find out about the secret priory of species, biodiversity and the web of life.
Taking action begins with each and every one of us. A detailed list of actions is included on the site.
The house I am renting is uniquely positioned about one block from the downtown main street of town, and about a block from the train tracks. I was attracted to the downtown location because it is the only part of this area that has old historic homes, which have so much more character than the new homes in the suburbs. From discussions with the neighbors, it sounds the house I am in is about 100 years old. It is definitely the oldest home I have lived in before.
I was surprised at the shaking and rattling of the house, even when cars drive by. It is especially noticeable when I am laying in bed at night and the freight trains come rolling through town. I can literally feel the force of the energy field as it expands out from the railroad track, not unlike the waves that you feel during an earthquake, or what you would see when dropping a rock in water. It was somewhat comforting to hear from a friend of mine at work, who lives in a ten year old house three blocks from the tracks that she can also feel the waves of energy coming from the trains when in her bed.
While thinking about writing about the waves of energy from the downtown train tracks, I remembered this curvy railroad photo from a trip to Montana a few years ago that I liked so much. The man made train tracks contouring around the natural landscape of grasses, among the dark crevasses of the mountain and even rolling clouds in the sky make it an interesting shot.
Try noticing the curves and waves in your environment and see what you can learn from the experience.
This is a photo of my neighbors tree last weekend, which was the first tree to bloom of the season. Several other trees in town have started to bloom this week. Yes, that is right, the seasons are a changin! No houses covered in snow drifts here. Instead, I had the luxury of eating lunch outside on the patio in the sunshine this afternoon. A few new birds are starting to visit the bird feeder that I didn't see a few weeks ago when it was colder. I heard the song of the plain titmouse birds for the first time today, so I will now be recognize them when I hear it again. When I left the office around 5:00 the temperature was a perfect 71 degrees. What a happy day to be in CA.
Exploring the sciences of cosmology, biology and genetics help us to better understand the deep human connection to nature.Cosmologist Brian Swimme explains how being human is an extension of the original energy that emerged from the eruption of light that occurred 13.7 billion years ago in our universe.As the universe expanded and cooled the actual components of our bodies emerged.These components exist throughout the planet in various species and forms ranging from water to rocks.Biologist Lynn Margulis discovered that all complex life developed from an original symbiosis of four different bacteria.Three of these bacteria were incorporated into the first nucleated cells, and the fourth was the one that gave them mobility.These nucleated cells eventually fused into more complex forms including plants, fungi and animals.Biologist Edward O. Wilson has described how all higher eukaryotic organisms, which are organisms containing one or more cell with visibly evident nuclei and organelles, from flowering plants to insects to humanity are thought to have descended from a single ancestral population that lived about 1.8 billion years ago.A genetic comparison between humans and other primates highlights the similarities.The typical human protein has accumulated just one unique change since chimps and humans diverged from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago. Jane Goddall and Mark Beckoff explain that we share 98.7% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas and 96.4% with orangutans in their book "The Ten Trusts."Geneticist David Suzuki speaks about how humans literally are our environment.The air that we breathe; the water that we drink; the sun that generates energy in plants that we eat; and the soil that grows these plants; all exist as elements within our physical bodies.Johan Galtung reminds us of how the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, micro-organisms and plants all come together for the successful operation of photo-synthesis, which in turn is the basis for the food chains on which we all depend.The components of nature all exist within us.Elisabet Sahtouris explains how humans see through their eyes that plants, animals and even rocks are separate, but if we look into a magnifying glass all of nature exists in an energetic molecular dance of chemical reactions and recombinations. We are connected to all aspects of nature, and its preservation is critical to our very survival.
What does is an example of a government making the environment a priority at the highest levels look like? Let's review some recent constitutional examples to answer this question.
Bhutan's first constitution resulted in two draft documents produced in 2005 and is scheduled to take affect in 2008. The document pronounces that it is every person's responsibility to pay attention to the environment. Article 5.1 states that, "Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom's natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity, and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption of environmentalfriendly practices and policies."
In addition, the government also has responsibilities to conserve and protect the environment. Article 5.2 further states that The Royal Government shall,
Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard biodiversity
Prevent pollution and ecological degradation
Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development
Ensure a healthy and ecologically safe environment
Article 33 of the new Iraq constitution, is much more limited. It states that, "every individual has a right to live in a correct environmental atmosphere and the state guarantees protection and preservation of the environment and biological diversity." It is a very general statement.
The current wording of the European Union constitution now includes recognition that all animals are sentient beings. Article III-121 states the following: "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the requirements of animal welfare, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."
What is the difference? The Iraq constitution does not state that each and every human is responsible for the protection of the environment. It leaves the responsibility solely in the hands of the government. On the other hand, in Bhutan, care for the environment is a part of the culture and a person's everyday life. It stems from the Buddhist concept of sunyata that holds that no subject or object has a unique existence. The interconnectedness of all dimensions of life is recognized. In contrast, the EU recognizes animal welfare, but it currently lacks jurisdiction, and is only one form of environmental protection.
What is the best way forward, not only for single nation states, but for the benefit of the earth's ecosystem as a whole? How do we develop a global society that has respect for all living systems?