Monthly Archives: December 2011

Fav fotos I took 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Pepe loves nothing better than rolling in the grass.  2. Ricky loves lounging among the native plants of the front yard.  3. A perfect day unites bike and beach.  4. The biggest bird I ‘er seen…Harpy Eagle at Zoo Miami.  5. Work it.  6. A sign of the times. Crandon Gardens is one of the most beautiful parks in South Florida, yet it appears almost abandoned. Several empty cages remind visitors (the few) that this property was the original site of Miami’s zoo.  7. The peacocks and cranes roam freely around Crandon Gardens.  8. I’m in the passenger’s seat next to Caitlin, who generously offered to drive me back to New Orleans after our seminar in southern Louisiana. A group of journalists and educators studied the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill, sponsored by the Metcalf Institute. The area looks fine from a surface view, but the spill’s effects will be lingering for years and even decades to come.  9 & 10. At farmers markets.  11. Frost home on Star Island, Miami Beach.  12. Butterfly World, Key West (that’s me).  13. Visiting parks for my monthly column Park Patrol, I always find something out of the ordinary. This park in North Miami Beach looked like roadkill.  14. Rain over pond in North Miami Beach.  15. Early one morning during our vacation in Fort Myers Beach, I went looking for dolphins, but I was even more fascinated to find starfish that had buried themselves in the sand. As the sun rose, they migrated back into the inlet. 16. Inlet between Lover’s Key & Fort Myers Beach. 17. Even the raccoons in Miami are going blond. Found this guy near a beach on Virginia Key. / 18. Design District, Miami. / 19. Front of home, North Miami Beach. / 20. Pelican at sunset over Biscayne Bay.

Book Review: The God Species, by Mark Lynas, 2011

*** 3 stars *** A great overview of where we are environmentally, but weak on solutions.

This National Geographic book was a gift, as I doubt I would pay the $25 for the hardcover, but it is worth a look-see. The title refers to the power we have to affect the planet for good and for ill. This book offers quite a bit of hope by positing that we still have time to think and act globally to fix the mess we’ve created, mostly unwittingly. But now that the problems are known, we need to put our wits to work.

God species

If I eat this book, do I save a tree?

The nine chapters of The God Species follow the nine physical boundaries that humanity must not cross. These boundaries were developed in 2009 by a panel of elite scientists, and the good news is that they say we have only crossed three of the nine boundaries so far. Of course climate change is one of the three and remains the wild card that could upset the whole game, or in other words, the human species.

The other two boundaries crossed are biodiversity loss, or the extinction rate, and levels of nitrogen, as in fertilizer. I agree with his proposal for expanding urban populations in order to preserve large stretches of undeveloped land—and aquatic preserves—for the millions of other species on earth. Rivers suffer greatly from nitrogen run-off, but the solution here was not so clear. I learned that very few plants can remove nitrogen, so preventing excess fertilizer would seem the place to begin.

The author tries to be “controversial” by being pro-growth for both the economy and the population, because he believes humans at any population level can find the technical means to balance the environment. That’s where he lost me. Although I do agree with his ideas of spreading wealth via development, I don’t see how humans could multiply their numbers and their use of resources indefinitely. Are you promoting boundaries or infinity?

I do appreciate the attempt to show that hope exists for more people to arise out of poverty without inevitably destroying the planet. Humans have always impacted their environs, but today we recognize that the impact is global and potentially irreversible. We have entered the Anthropocene, the age of man, where changes are happening more rapidly than ever before. That’s the scary part—we can see our foot on the accelerator, pushing down, down, down, but we also seem unwilling to give up our addiction to speed. For a visual example, check out http://trillionthtonne.org.

Jane Goodall is cute as a chimp

It was fun to meet Dame Jane Goodall last month, and she inspired this article. In her late seventies,

Goodall in Miami

Jane Goodall addresses a meeting in Miami in November of the ABC Continuity Forum.

she travels the globe 300+ days a year to spread her message of hope. The hope part does not come from the chimpanzees she studied; it comes from today’s children who are learning how to save the planet and who actually want to do it. God knows today’s politicians are not going to save us.

Goodall is a slight creature of barely 100 pounds, to my eyes, but her presence is strong. Looking down at her mangled thumb, I almost asked her what happened, but I bit my tongue — just as the chimpanzee bit her thumb years ago.

Little Mama

Little Mama (Wikipedia)

During her speech she did not say much about apes; she focused on how humans are swarming and trampling the earth. She did mention that the world’s oldest known chimp, Little Mama, lives in Lion Country Safari in Palm Beach County. Hang in there, Mama.