Open Up

May 17, 2020

BW photograph of an evening sky with silhouetted trees in the foreground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

States, or at least portions of states have begun to re-open.  Some of these are in compliance with, or in defiance of, governor’s orders.  For those readers in the U.S., it is worthwhile to check your state government’s home page for further information about the specifics as to what is allowable and what is not.  Having restrictions, though, does not mean folks will follow them.  In some cases, the plans have allowed for increased transmissions…meat-packing plants are an example.

BW photograph of a single shopping cart parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Arguments have been made that governors know best when it comes to managing COVID-19 at the local level as opposed to following a federally-mandated plan.  Not that there has been a clear and viable federal plan.

BW photograph of two shopping carts parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Time will certainly tell as globally there is evidence of cases increasing as restrictions are relaxed.  I used New Orleans in the link above as an example as this also addresses one of the other unknowns about COVID-19.  Speculation (hope?) has posited that as the summer months arrive, the heat and humidity increase will cause COVID-19 transmission to decease.  The problem is that Louisiana is already warm: it is 82 degrees in New Orleans as this is being typed-87 degrees is the high for Tuesday.  The air there will certainly become more soupy as the humidity levels increase in summer, though.

There is a longer-term point to this as well-temps and humidity levels will again drop come fall/winter.  Will there be a need for another round of stay-at-home orders?  Given that it will take yet awhile to have a vaccine for COVID-19, this could certainly be an issue.  We will also have the usual round of visitation by variations of the flu to complicate things.

It is useful to remember that taking care of oneself by wearing a mask and social-distancing means we are also taking care of others.

Be safe and well.

Melting

May 2, 2020

BW photograph of water currents in front of a rock.

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

Lost amid the coverage of COVID-19 is this most important report (well, not lost as the link attests).  This is not to say that COVID-19 is undeserving of the attention.  It is, though, another example of how chronic conditions continue outside of public awareness when more acute issues arise.

We really do seem to have a short attention span.  Once SARS dissipated, interest was lost.  Then, along came MERS.  Now, we have COVID-19, which highlighted the lack of preparation for such a pandemic. Meanwhile, the ice sheets have continued to melt and seas have continued to rise.

At some point, it is hoped that we collectively learn that it is in humanity’s best interest to be more forward thinking:  to fully engage in the research and development needed to address emerging pathogens rather than by cutting funding and eliminating programs once the crisis has passed.  To fully commit to funding the R&D to provide the needed adaptation/mitigation options as dictated by environmental conditions.  Climate change has long lacked that necessary attention.

Climate change, especially given the political administrations in place in much of the world and their interest in rolling-back environmental protection efforts, remains inexorable in its effect.

Take care and be safe.

Earth Day 2020

April 22, 2020

BW photograph of a discarded full Sunny D bottle of juice.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is Earth Day-the 50th anniversary.  NPR had this report on the day’s meaning and current activities in the age of COVID-19.

BW photograph of a sycamore tree's roots.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This video is quite poignant and well worth a watch, especially on this day.  Please also be sure to read photographer Joe McNally’s description that accompanies the video.

Be safe and well.

April 1

April 1, 2020

BW photography of a patch of fungi.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

April 1 is traditionally April Fool’s Day in the U.S.-a time when folks typically play tricks on one another.   Given the impact of COVID-19 and substantial “stay at home” orders in place throughout the country, it is difficult to imagine being in a playful mood.  A microbe has exerted control.

BW photograph of lichen attached to a rock.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Interestingly, liquor stores and gun dealers have been determined to be “essential” businesses in some states.  Access to liquor and firearms in a time of quarantine.  What could go wrong there?

As Jimmy Buffett sings “…I shot six holes in my freezer.  I think I got cabin fever…”

Be well.

Chaos

February 29, 2020

BW photograph of downed trees and tree debris.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P, Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Take your pick:

COVID-19 has led to thousands of deaths and a free-fall in the U.S. stock market;

Russia extends its involvement with the upcoming U.S. 2020 election;

Australia has had punishing floods and hail on top of extraordinary wildfires;

Syria escalates its conflict with Turkey;

India reacts violently to state-sponsored discrimination over a citizenship law; and

the overall continued political turmoil in the U.S. (there are too many links to do this one justice).

What is especially disconcerting about the above, and the myriad of humanity’s other issues, is the political will behind nationalism and the efforts exerted to remain in power.  This opposes the seeking out of genuine cooperation, both nationally and globally, to find lasting solutions.  The more that factions retreat into tribalistic groups that demonize the other, the more that cooperation becomes a wistful dream.  When something immediate, like COVID-19 (although this is a new strain, the issues surrounding its appearance and the manner that characterized the initial response are not), or something much, much more chronic, like climate change, arises, there is plenty of global expertise to assess, evaluate, and implement strategies to avoid or mitigate the damage.  Adaptation may also be required.  However, this means being open and above-board and having a willingness to work with others.  It means having effective leadership-contradicting the CDC and WHO is not that…

No one who knows me would ever use the term “optimist” as a descriptor.  I would argue that I am more of a realist who does focus on problem areas-perhaps overly so, but I am genuinely concerned by the current state of affairs.  I very much advocate for the awareness of current events, and their historical antecedents (it is so very important to have a sound grounding in history-that provides the context for a proper perspective on today’s issues), so as to be an informed citizen-especially in an election year.

By “informed”, I mean very carefully vetting information.  Critically analyze its source and content.  Social media algorithms are specifically written to drive content for which one has a demonstrated historical preference-this is part of what creates confirmation bias.  For example, one cannot properly vet (or fact check) one anti-climate change article by going to another anti-climate change article.  This post-modern age, characterized by data manipulation, does require a greater degree of due diligence.

Take care.

Haunting

November 26, 2019

 

BW photograph of the greenhouses and main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

There is a haunting quality that accompanies abandoned buildings.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

Part of that comes from the physical aging of the structures.  Wood dries out, bakes in the sun, and turns grey.

BW photograph of the greenhouses, which are part of an abandoned nursery.

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

Translucent materials become fogged and weathered.  Doors flap and creak in the wind.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

Mostly though, that feeling comes from the loss of purpose and energy provided by a living presence.  In this case, one can easily imagine the rows of flowers or herbs or vegetables that once could have been grown and sold here.  The interaction of customers and the vendor(s) as goods were exchanged for payment.  The pleasure derived from fresh produce.

The flip side of that, though, is the struggle to make a small business work in an era of industrial farming, long-distance trucking, and chain stores.  (This is, of course, speculation as I do not know the reason for the ending of this establishment.)  Owners tire, become physically or financially unable to continue, or develop other interests, other needs.

Imagining what once was is part of the draw to creating images of that left behind.

Take care.

 

The Blob

September 29, 2019

BW photograph of dappled sunlight on a brick wall.

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

No, this does not refer to the classic 1950s sci-fi movie nor the more recent John Carpenter re-make. Instead, this is a reference to a mass of hot water that has again formed in the Pacific Ocean.  As per that linked report, should the prevailing weather conditions continue, this much warmer water has the potential for impacts up-and-down the aquatic food chain as various species are unable to survive the temperature increase.  There is also a risk for the return of toxic algae blooms.  Both of these create issues for the fishing industry.

BW photograph of dead autumn leaves laying atop a rock.

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

NPR also did this story regarding the recent U.N. report, which contains information about these hotter pockets of water as well as a broader range of water-related problems, which include the melting of glaciers and ice sheets-here is the U.N. report.  This report details the degree of dependence and risk faced by the populations living in various geographic locations around the world as the planet warms.  To underline this point, please give this report about the Mont Blanc glacier.

It is so easy to get lost in the latest news of the day, especially given the political systems in place worldwide, and the subsequent issues they create.  This roller-coaster ride can be quite fatiguing when followed closely.  Meanwhile, the inexorable degradation of the planet continues.  As the Amazon rain forest burns, more CO2 is released, and those trees are no longer available for CO2 absorption.  As permafrost melts, greenhouse gases are released.   As environmental protections are eliminated, more damage is done.  The seas are rising.  They are also getting hotter.

It is evermore important for individuals to make concerted efforts to reduce carbon footprints.  At the same time, it is evermore necessary for pressures to be brought to bear on politicians for the larger systemic changes.

All of this flies in the face of nationalism.  In a speech to the U.N., President Trump openly advocated a rejection of globalism.  He has pulled the U.S. from the Paris Accords (not to mention other global agreements). Climate change is the prototypical problem requiring global cooperation and action as rising seas do not respect borders.  Droughts do not respect borders.  Larger and more powerful hurricanes and typhoons do not respect borders.

If you have not already heard Greta Thunberg’s speech to the U.N., it is worth a listen.

Take care.