Columbine

April 19, 2019

BW photograph of three United States flags-two are laying in a flower bed, one is falling into a bush.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Earlier this month, I posted a blog about the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.  It is also important to remember that April 20, 2019 is the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.  NPR’s 1A aired this collaboration, and it is worth a listen-both in terms of it serving as a reflection on that day as well as an update as to what has, and has not, changed in American culture with regard to gun violence since.  (Dave Cullen’s Columbine is also highly recommended.)

One needs only to look at what New Zealand did in the aftermath of its recent mass shooting-and the time frame under which this took place.  Of course, such a response is exactly for what the gun lobby in the U.S. is afraid and is central to its argument against regulation.

Twenty years…and counting.

Take care.

Photographer’s Note:  The photo above was made in California, not Colorado.

 

Advertisements

Transition

April 17, 2019

BW photograph of a burger restaurant transitioning to the Veggie Grill.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The results are clear:  transitioning from a meat/dairy-based diet is not only good for the individual, but for the planet as a whole.  Methane is a major issue-and there are many cows out there.

BW photograph of the upcoming Veggie Grill from across the street.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Please do read the articles linked above as they contain much useful information about the interaction between human behaviour and methane levels.  It is important to note that, as the second article points out, methane is also a by-product of decaying vegetation; however, by far the majority of methane released into the atmo is due to human activity-not natural biological processes.  While methane can be stored in the earth’s permafrost, a problematic feedback loop has been created:  human activity (a meat/dairy-based diet in this case) has increased the amount of methane (and other greenhouse gases) released, resulting in the rise of global temperatures.  As the planet warms, the permafrost melts, which then releases more of the stored methane.  That, in turn, exacerbates climate change.

Just as there is a clear and present need to transition to renewable energy resources, so, too, is there a need to transition to less-impactful eating habits.  Carnivores, though, do like eating meat. (Truth in disclosure:  I have been a vegetarian for decades now-the original decision was based on the manner by which the industrial beef/poultry/pork conglomerates raised and produced their products.  For me, the info about the impact on climate change came later and just reinforced the decision.  Still, the smell of bacon remains a trigger…)  Given that we do live in a bio-genetic age, this is one solution to the dilemma for one who likes the taste of beef but is concerned about the environmental impact.  This article reports on a variety of responses to that product.

There is a much older, less biotech solution as well:  eating insects.

The idea of eating lab-created meat or insects may well trigger other reactions.  Indeed, socialization and social learning theory form the basis for what is culturally acceptable to consume.  Given widespread availability (this will be an issue for those living in food deserts) and enough time, such alternatives may well become norms.  For example, when visiting a grocery store, check and see how many soy-based “meat” products there are…these have been mainstream for quite a while.

Take care.

BW photograph of a tree overlooking a cemetery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  The above photograph is not from Rwanda, as I have not been there.  It is, however, a marker of the 800,000-1,000,000 people killed there during those 100 days.

Please do listen to this report regarding the manner by which Rwanda has coped with this truly human tragedy.  I would also highly recommend reading Mr. Gourevich’s book and the articles he has written in the intervening years.  The title of the linked book is especially poignant.  There are, of course, many other available resources.

Given the rise in hate speech and nationalistic politics that have gripped much of the world, which are based in the demonization of “the other”, there is much to be learned from the Rwanda experience before, during, and after the genocide.  However, we truly seem to be incapable of learning those lessons.  This is, I think, reflected by the fact that when teaching the Rwandan genocide, by far the majority of students had no real knowledge of what happened there in 1994.  It is extremely difficult to extract any learning points from that which you do not know happened.

The United States refused to directly intervene and obfuscated the U.N. efforts there despite having finally ratified the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. For more about that history, it is useful to read this.

Know. Remember. Learn.

Take care.

Open

April 5, 2019

BW photograph looking upward at the top of a rock formation with trees reaching into the sky.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above photograph is open to much anthropomorphizing.  Are the larger trees menacing the smaller ones in the middle?  Or, are the looking on watchful that the smaller do not slip off the edge?  Given the noir-like effect that BW brings, one could conclude it is more the former than the latter.  Perhaps they are just silhouetted trees against the early morning sky.  Such imagery can stimulate the imagination.

In any case, the main access road to the mountain trails on which I like to walk was finally opened recently-it was closed for the winter months.  That is one sure sign of spring, even though it was a 27 degree morning when I visited.

BW photograph of Chimney Rock in the early morning.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The rising sun, though, soon cut the chill and brought the glimmer of warmer days to come.

BW photograph of several downed trees with their roots exposed.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There was ample evidence that this was a cold, wet, windy, winter.  This particular set of trees appear to have been victim of the domino effect-one started to fall and brought those nearest down as well.  The sound that must have made.  Given the size of these trees, and others like them that were felled, the reminders of this winter just past will remain for quite some time.

Such crashing about is not an imaginary menace.

Take care.

Peace

April 1, 2019

BW photograph of a lost glove atop a post posed in a peace sign.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In a perfect example of symbolic interactionism theory, the glove pictured above can have multiple meanings.  For example, this could signify the number “two”.  It may also mean “V” for “Victory”-there are photographs of Sir Winston Churchill walking among the bombed-out ruins of London during the Blitz with his fingers configured in such a manner.  This was meant to instill hope and confidence in the British cause during a most desperate time early in WWII.

This same gesture came to be known as the “Peace” symbol during the 1960s, and was used extensively by protesters while the war in Vietnam raged.  (As an important aside, Congress is the branch of government to officially issue declarations of war.  The post-WWII conflicts in which the U.S. has engaged have not been officially declared wars.  The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) is a different entity.  “War” itself is another example of symbolic interactionism-that term also has different interpretations.)  President Nixon also quite often flashed the sign when boarding Air Force One or Marine One-his meaning was most likely closer to Prime Minister Churchill’s rather than that of the counter-culture movement.

As with any gesture, and consistent with the aforementioned theory, the meaning is based on the context in which it is being used.  One’s culture also plays a significant role in this as well.  Miscommunication can occur, for example, if one meant “peace” and another interpreted it as “two”.  One could only guess at the meaning intended by the person or persons who affixed this glove to the post and posed the fingers in this manner.  They were not around to ask.

I am choosing to ascribe the meaning of peace.  I am doing so because upon seeing the glove I remembered the January/February 2019 issue of Smithsonian magazine, which was entitled “America At War”.  The sub-title was “After 17 years, our longest armed conflict overseas now spans 80 countries”.  The statistics presented therein with regard to the total amount of time since America’s founding that we have been fighting somewhere and the breath of countries in which the U.S. is currently engaged in military action or has a military presence around the world are staggering.

Which may also be why whomever posed the glove may have meant “Victory”.

As I think about my interpretation, John Lennon’s “Imagine” is playing in the back of my mind.  This goes for all conflicts, not just those involving the U.S.   It is interesting to think that if Mr. Lennon’s vision were enacted, would there be a need for this type of “Victory” interpretation?  (This is a continuation of the “What if…” questions posed in the previous post.)

Armed conflict is another area in which variations of the “What if…” question could apply.  Indeed, Mr. Lennon’s song is a most elegant, lyrical, version of that game.  I am, however, not that naive, nor am I that hopeful, despite what Steven Pinker says.

Take care.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography.  All rights reserved.

 

Relationship

March 28, 2019

BW photograph of the sunrise on the solstice.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“Air Force Needs Almost $5 Billion To Recover Bases from Hurricane, Flood Damage”

“40 Years After A Partial Nuclear Meltdown, A New Push To Keep Three Mile Island Open” 

There is a direct relationship between these two reports.  The economic consequences of climate change-charged storms continue to rise.  Sea-level rise is a clear and present danger to coastal populations and infrastructure. (It is not just the Air Force needing to adapt to the effects of climate change-the Navy has issues, too.)  Expanding the use of renewable energy and non-fossil fuel options is seen as one of the main means by which to adapt to a volatile environment.  As such, attention has re-focused on nuclear energy-hence the report about keeping Three Mile Island in operation.

Interestingly, I was on my way back to college when the accident at Three Mile Island occurred.  I distinctly remember looking across and wondering why the highway lanes heading in the opposite direction were so unusually crowded-I was remarkably unaware of the problem.  As per the NPR report above, about 80,000 people evacuated in the days following the incident-some of whom did not return.  The fear of contamination drove people away from the immediate area.   It was also a point of alarm regarding the dangers of this form of energy production.

As per the report, Three Mile Island had its partial meltdown on March 28, 1979.  A few years later (April 26, 1986), the Chernobyl reactor exploded.  Later still (March 11, 2011), the Fukushima reactor had a meltdown following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.  Those two links present information about the damage to the reactors as well as the current status of those geographic areas.  These incidents further exacerbated pre-existing concerns over the reliance on nuclear energy as a primary source of power-a history of which is presented by the Clean Energy Wire.  Countries around the world abandoned nuclear energy as a viable resource.

Climate change has necessitated a new look at the cost/benefit ratio provided by nuclear resources.  Would that be the case if more had been done with wind and solar energy in the years past instead of continuing drill and refine and burn?

BW photograph looking west down Thames Street before sunrise.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What if we in the developed world had placed greater emphasis on reducing our power consumptions and throw-away lifestyles?

BW photograph of a plastic water bottle laying amid some plants along a hiking trail.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What if we had done both?

Of course, it is less than useful to have a one way view looking back because doing so does not change the present.  However, examining the past does explain how we came to be where we are, so there is value in analyzing previous mistakes so as to avoid them in the present and future.  While we must also be open to exploring alternatives, critical thinking with an eye toward the future in the evaluation of the possibilities is critical.  There are alternatives-nuclear energy is one, geoengineering approaches are being explored by others.

We are in a position where extraordinary amounts of money are required for mitigation and adaptation to the current problems related to climate change-these costs are going to increase.  As such, long-term solutions do need to be found.  They, too, will require investment.  We have lived our way into an incredibly complex problem, which will require multiple solutions.  We must evaluate these options with due diligence and choose wisely, which puts me in agreement with the conclusions drawn in the Vox article linked above.  Some mistakes are, after all, more consequential than others.

Take care.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography.  All rights reserved.

Preview

March 23, 2019

BW photograph of Morgan Run still rushing after a flood even though it was clear that the water had receeded.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

NOAA recently released a report, and its title says all that needs to be said-“Spring Outlook:  Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May”.  Please be sure to give that link a read as the majority of states and “…more than 200 million people…” are at risk.

This aligns with the information contained in The Climate Report:  The National Climate Assessment-Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, which was published late last year.  That report is also worth a read-particularly for the  breakdown of what geographic areas can expect going forward.

BW photograph of a fallen tree after a flood.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of debris that accumulated after a recent flood.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of debris that accumulated after a recent flood.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

According to The Climate Report, “The recent dominant trend in precipitation throughout the Northeast has been towards increases in rainfall intensity, with increases in intensity exceeding those in other areas of the contiguous United States.” (2018, p. 117)  There are nuances to this, so please do read the report.  Such appeared to be the case when a hard rain fell this past Thursday night-after having rained all day.  As a result, Morgan Run flooded yet again.

BW photograph of tree roots exposed after more flooding.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of tree roots exposed after more flooding.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of tree roots exposed after more flooding.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The erosion is exacerbated due to the continual washing away of remaining topsoil.

BW photograph of a dead fish after being washed ashore during a flood.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Farmers in the Mid-West, who have been struggling with the impact crop tariffs have had on sales, have now watched as historic flooding has destroyed infrastructure and equipment, swamped fields, and swept away livestock.  Over the past few weeks, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has been re-stocking waterways with fish.  Indeed, during the week of March 3, “900 rainbow trout” were released into Morgan Run, as per their email to that effect.  Above is a photograph of one of the four that appear to have been washed onto fishing platform and perished.   As with all aquatic life deprived of oxygen, this fish’s death would have been unpleasant, and that registers on its face.   The livestock that perished in the flooding had the opposite problem, but it would have been no less excruciating.  There really is no comparison here:  most likely no one’s livelihood is dependent on the fish in Morgan Run.  However, families in Iowa, Nebraska, and elsewhere have a long road ahead to recoup their losses.

BW photograph of a short piece of log and other rocky debris after a recent flood.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

If what happened last week in the U.S., not to mention globally with the flooding in Africa and Asia, is indeed a preview, then the next couple of months will be quite stressful.

Take care.