Climate Change Hits $60 Trillion. Bring on The News.

Go back home, fall.  It’s still just July.  What’s that you say?  You’re not a change of the seasons, you’re climate change and there’s no stopping you now?  Oh, in that case, I’m going back to Facebook.

I’ve never been a big fan of a/c.  We have one unit in our living room window, despite the recent heatwave.  We don’t run it all day.  I turn it on a few minutes before my partner gets home.  If I’m spending more time in the living room than where I usually am in my office (with a fan and windows open), I’ll turn it on for awhile.  So there’s no real schedule of its use.  We do experiment with how well the unit works in conjunction with the ceiling fan, and have mixed reviews.  It was some time yesterday that I wondered if I had turned the thing or left it on too long, or whether having all the windows in the house open was making it suddenly feel cold.  And if it was the latter, why that would be after weeks of having all the windows in the house open.  It seemed odd that the cold air could be coming from outside but indeed it was.  By the time I went to sleep last night, it felt downright like fall.  Waking up this morning, the birds are quieter than they were yesterday.  Fewer of them almost it seems.  The sky is gray.  The street does not having the usual bustly feel of summer.  And something just seems wrong.  I almost expect to see leaves falling to the ground (and not like the leaves on my hosta plants that wilted and singed yellow and brown at the edges from all the unbearable heat we’ve had lately).

Last night before going to bed, I checked online.  I looked around Facebook (there’s a page about m neighborhood that’s become somewhat addictive, and I like to watch the number of comments ring up after a comment I or someone else has made about something that only neighbors can be annoyed about — overcharging at a particular grocery store, the removal of waste cans on major corners because the sanitation department says they’re causing too much mess — or just the history of a building or person who’s been a fixture on these streets).  I didn’t do the full stroll and check in to LinkedIn and Twitter.

It seems anymore we don’t have to go looking for the news.  If we’re engaging in the usual social media rounds that most of our ethernet neighbors are, then the news comes to us.  I think there is the sometimes-false sense that we therefore know what’s going on.  Actual, true-life media outlets I’m sure are suffering from this hubris we have.  But in a way they seem to be chasing their tails too, sniffing out scoops online, and allowing the democratization of the news unfold without too much protestation.  If enough people are interested in it online, it must be news.  I’ve been seeing on morning television shows with increasing frequency (so now it’s just “regular” news) videos that have gone viral – a wild animal jumping into someone’s car because it was being chased by a cheetah or some other beast, Beyonce’s hair getting caught in a fan, a puppeteer who can make his puppets dance better than they do on Dancing With the Stars, you get the drift.

So what happens to the little articles that got lost in the swirl because maybe they’re a little boring, or because they’re not written simply enough for the regular reader to get their significance, or because it’s not a beast or Beyonce or a dancing puppet.  What if it’s just the Arctic taking its final swan song?  Before I went to bed, I happened upon a blog post or news article – dangerously, I can barely tell them apart these days – noting July 22, 2013 as the day to put down in the history books for when the North Pole became a lake.  I noticed it was the only article I saw like this, and even looking back now I can’t find the same article/post.  I wasn’t surprised.  If a poll were taken, I’d bet more people on FB preferred puppies and kitties and stars getting their hair stuck to the uncomfortable and downright painful truth of climate change.  I woke this morning thinking about it, wondering in my unscientific way if the air is carrying the last of the polar cap.  I wondered, too, about how that article was just a blip amid more enticing videos of stars’ hair getting stuck in fans and wildebeasts jumping in and out of Jeeps.

But then I woke up this morning and in searching for the blip on the screen last night, I found countless articles, most marked “22 minutes ago,” or “2 hours ago.”  Lots of them, too!  Turns out the arctic melting is gonna cost somebodies some big money.  Bring on the media.  This is not longer just enviro-blogger worthy.  Now it’s real news.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-24/arctic-ice-melt-cost-seen-equal-to-year-of-world-economic-output.html

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/24/world/climate-arctic-methane/index.html

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/arctic-melt-gases-may-cost-world-60-trillion-1-3015046

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/methane-meltdown-the-arctic-timebomb-that-could-cost-us-60trn-8730408.html

Security v. Freedom. the Case of the Millenium

This may well be one of the most pressing conflicts of our generation.  How do we let loose the reins enough to ensure freedom, yet pull them in enough to protect the citizenry from threats to our health and safety?

Our fellow reveler Ralph posted a thought-provoking comment recently, noting a post on another website.  The host of that site (which could be described by some as a preppers site) was sharing an email received from a reader who had purchased seeds from e-Bay and was visited by a federal agent who seized their seeds, stating it was because of the risk of disease.  Here is what Ralph said about it.  I think his contemplation well reflects the mixed feelings many of us have about the tension between the need for privacy/freedom and the desire for protection and safety/security.

from Reveler Ralph…

I just read a story at:
http://www.preparednesspro.com/usda-agents-drive-4-hours-confiscate-10-seeds-purchased-ebay/
that I received an email about. Having just read the title and brief description from the email I thought I was going to read yet another story about our rights being taken away. After reading the story I am not so sure my initial thoughts were correct. Ignoring the feelings (mine included) about possible govt invasion into our lives, I was reminded of a question on one of the shows I listen to asking why certain plants and seeds were regulated and not allowed to be sent to certain states. Outwardly it seemed, even to me, that some of the regulations were put in place to prevent competition with commercial producers. Some plants were simply invasive and would cause all kinds of damage if let loose in the wrong places.

In spite of searching for the actual explanation I haven’t been able to locate it among the hundreds of shows on the site, so until I can locate it here’s what I can remember. Basically it boiled down to plant diseases and virus infected plants. While it seems that prohibiting certain grape seeds into California or orange seeds into Florida are giving large producers a monopoly on their markets, the real reason is that bringing a plant disease into these areas by infected plants or seeds could destroy commercial crops possibly ruining commercial producers and cause economic problems. Reading seed catalogs you can see notes that a particular seed resists some disease or virus. Seeds, somewhat like people may be immune to certain illnesses, but if a ‘foreign’ illness is brought in it will often spread ‘like wildfire’.

As for the corn in the story, corn can be pollinated by other corn miles away, so a contaminated field can spread disease far and wide. We have already seen this with GMO corn. While no fan of needless regulation, it is possible the seeds in question should not have been allowed to grow. That being the case, I would have to ask why e-Bay was selling them.

Here’s the link to the USDA site which I am going to look through when I have more time:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/plant_imports/smalllots_seed.shtml

 

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Thanks, Ralph, for this thought-provoking comment.  I am curious to know what readers are thinking about recent news about the National Security Administration’s data collection efforts and former CIA employee, Edward Snowden’s leaking the U.S. government’s mass surveillance practices.  I’m also wondering what others are thinking about the Illinois Deparment of Agriculture’s seizure of honeybees resistant to Monsanto’s RoundUp which were subsequently reportedly destroyed, the passing of the bill now known as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” and a slow but sure shift in farming legislation to acknowledge food and farming going on in the east coast.  There’s lots going on these days.  I’m wondering how everyone else is processing it all.

So, you know the deal.  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!

Dead Flies on Flowers

So I’ve been noticing, upon up-close inspection of several plants, that some have a bevy of flies. At first I was impressed that they stayed so still when I was looking at them so up close, then I wondered if they were doing something gross like mating since they seemed so totally oblivious to me. Then the horrible truth that they were dead dawned on me. It’s strange that I work so hard on slaughtering any beady eyed flyer who frequents my home space but upon spying one dead on a flower stem seized from me a gasp of compassion. It was sad, disturbing, intriguing.

It happened the first time several days, maybe a week ago. I’d noticed my rose bush in the ground out front wasn’t doing so great. So I went out there to give it some extra care: a little compost littering, removing some yellowed leaves, and the like. That’s when I saw a fly very near where a flower once was. The fly was very still. The fly, I realized, was dead.

A few days later, I was out back paying some attention to a potted lavender plant when I saw several of them, then some more. Again, at first I thought they were live flies, just hanging out enjoying some sun. Then I realized they were dead. All of them, dead as door nails (why is it door nails would be deader than any other nail, I wonder). And after a wave of nausea and the creeps, it just made me very sad. They were clinging toward the top of the stem, just as the rose-loving flower had been. Then I also found them on the rosemary. It was a garden invasion of dead flies. Day of the dead … flies. Zombies of the insect world.

I didn’t know whether to try to remove them or just let them be. Then I wondered if they were doing the plants any harm. So then I did what any other earth loving naturalist would do – I left the great outdoors for the glowing screen of my smartphone and looked it up online. This is what I found out.

Seedcorn maggot flies or delia platura may sometimes be found dead on twigs or stems of flowers, typically toward the top of the stem, close to the flower. Their larvae may damage vegetables but typically don’t have a negative effect on flowers, trees, or vines. According to the research (and now that I’m not there I cannot personally confirm this), if you look closely you likely will see a pink stripe around the flies’ abdomens. The pink stripe is why the fly died. It’s the spores of entomophthera fungus. Once infected, the fly’s coordination is affected. They land on a leaf, vine, twig, or plant and die. It seems they are unable to fly away but it wasn’t clear to me if they sense the end is near. Maybe not, since they get all coordination-confused. This usually happens in the spring but can appear throughout the summer since the flies can breed five generations in one year.

What confuses me is why I’ve never noticed this before. Anyone else seeing this? Anything else strange and kinda gross and not totally wonderful happening in the garden? As for the dead flies, they don’t easily flick off. Should they stay or should they go? Go ahead…gimme the dirt.

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