January 1, 2014

Early morning 2014 New Year's Day with sunlight on trees.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Happy New Year as 2014 has arrived.

2014 discarded New Year's horn.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What kind of year will this be?

Ice shapes.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The planet has continued to warm and folks are struggling to adapt; an example are farmers in Malawi as reported here.  Closer to home, NPR also reported today that in 2013 there were two hurricanes in the Atlantic-the least since 1982-and neither threatened the U.S.  There were 900 tornadoes-the least since 1987.  Within those 900, however, were the Moore, OK EF5 that killed 54 people and the largest tornado ever, at 2.6 miles wide, that hit El Reno, OK.  On the other side of the globe, Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines with its record size and wind speeds.  These and other climate-related issues did gain traction in the political world, as summarized here.  (Next year, 2015, will most likely be more crucial as plans developed at the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change talks will reach deadline.  2020 is the targeted year for agreements to take effect, which is, of course, 6 New Years away.)

The Central African Republic descended into madness and South Sudan may be poised to move out of theirs.  Syria continues and the Palestinians and Israelis recently traded rockets again. (No matter the year there never seems to be a shortage of weapons nor the desire and will to use them.)

The stock market had a record year and 15% of Americans continued to live below the poverty level.  Residents of SeaTac, Washington voted to more than double the federal minimum wage by passing legislation increasing the rate to $15.00/hr.

The climate, war, and economic conditions will no doubt continue to be dominant stories in this new year and these three items are inextricably linked.  Conflict Theory tells us that there will be a continual struggle for the control over scarce resources and those resources can be boiled down to wealth, power, and prestige.  As the planet warms, seas will rise, droughts will increase, and storms will become stronger-all of these stress local and global resources.  As resources dwindle, power struggles will escalate as those with the means will seek to consolidate and expand their holdings and those in need will find ways in which to gain a foothold.

Trash in water photographed on New Year's Day 2014.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

No one who knows me would ever confuse me with being an optimist.  In fact, my world view tends toward the gloomy, which I would argue is more realistic.  So, pragmatic, yes.  Hopeful?  To a degree.  I absolutely believe that we as a global, interconnected, people need to find the ways in which to create a sustainable life for all.  However, I also absolutely believe that one must first be aware of, and have a degree of understanding about, the forces at work that shape global issues before deciding whether one cares or not about specific issues.

Therein lies my hope:  that in 2014 all of us become more knowledgeable about the world and its problems and our individual role in shaping and resolving them.

Take care.