Downpours

July 8, 2019

BW photograph of turbulence caused by floodwaters flowing over rocks.

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

Today has been the opposite of the weather described in the previous post.  There have been several downpours, and one local station reported that 3+ inches of rain fell in the Washington, D.C. area leading to localized flooding.  Flash flood warnings were issued and motorists were advised to not drive through standing water.

BW photograph of turbulence caused by floodwaters flowing over rocks and around trees.

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

These photographs were made during a brief respite from the rain and show Morgan Run, which once again had far exceeded its banks.  Under normal conditions, the water does move along, but not anything remotely like this.  Both the volume and the force of this water evidenced the rationale behind not driving through such flows.  (As an aside, the road takes an overpass to cross Morgan Run, so that would not be an issue here.)  The turbulence in the lead photos was caused by the floodwaters colliding with the very large rocks that are usually highly visible and protrude from the water enough to be quite walkable.

BW photograph of a lone tree partially submerged by floodwaters.

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

BW photograph of three trees partially submerged by floodwaters.

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

The trees that line the bank have had their roots prominently exposed by previous floods-they have been documented in other posts.  As of this morning, all of those trees were still standing.  I plan to go back early tomorrow morning to check as it was again pouring while these photos were being edited and this post was being written.

This kind of weather event, extremely heavy, but relatively brief, downpours are in keeping with the predictions for this area as a result of climate change.  As such, it is expected that this will not be the last of flood photos from Morgan Run and other waterways this summer.

Take care.

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Protection

May 16, 2019

BW photograph of a plane flying into a cloud bank.

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

I fly.  Not too much.  But enough.

BW photograph a plane flying into a cloud bank.

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

Therefore, the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and the subsequent grounding of that fleet caught my attention.  (I had had a flight scheduled that most likely would have been on one of those planes for just after they had been grounded-otherwise, I would have faced the decision of whether or not to make that trip.)  Later, there were additional reports about quality control problems at Boeing.  That these issues appear to be related to the efforts to remain competitive with other manufacturers’ aircraft exacerbated the concern.  Yes, statistically I am more likely to be injured or killed on my daily commute than when flying.  However, when planes go down, often resulting in scores of deaths, one takes notice.  Given that it now appears Boeing knew about the issues with the 737 Max 8 in advance of the first crash, one begins to seriously wonder about the company’s priorities with regard to safety, communication with constituents, and quality control.   That the FAA has allowed Boeing to largely regulate itself does not inspire confidence.  More on this point in just a bit.

BW photograph of the cloud bank into which a plane just flew.

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

On a related note, HBO is currently showing Chernobyl, which is about the nuclear reactor explosion that occurred in 1986.  I am currently reading Midnight in Chernobyl and have started to watch the series.  What is striking, if not surprising, is how similar the issues with that disaster are to the ones that led to the current problems at Boeing-obfuscation, secrecy, and regulatory concerns are examples.  At Chernobyl, those working in the facility, their families and neighbors in Pripyat, the emergency personnel called to the scene, and anyone/anything downwind of the reactor, paid that price.  The book is definitely worth a read.

While the scale of these disasters are not equal, Chernobyl presented a genuine global risk, the pain of loss felt is a common denominator.

So, this begs the political question:  to what degree are governments responsible to protect their citizenry from problematic business practices?  The relationship between Boeing and the FAA is one example.  That the U.S. was one of the last countries to ground the 737 Max 8s adds to the mix.  For another example, think about the issues presented by Facebook with privacy in general and the 2016 election in particular.  On a different note, what if the governmental practices are the problem?  That is certainly a large part of the issue with Chernobyl.  In the U.S., the current administration systematically gutted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.   There is enough in the Mueller Report and the Attorney General’s summary to be concerned about as well.

With regard to corporate malfeasance, it often takes individuals within the company to step forward and become what are known as whistleblowers.  There are laws to protect such individuals as otherwise problematic, if not outright illegal, behaviour may not come to light.  The Obama administration had a complex relationship with that practice.

If the above is not enough, there is also the content of this interview.  Please listen for the use of the term “whistleblower” toward the end.  Here is a link to the NPR book review of that which is discussed in the interview.

One conclusion to draw from all of this?  Caveat Emptor.

Take care.

 

Biodiversity

May 11, 2019

BW photograph of a feather upon the ground.

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

Weekend Edition host Scott Simon provided an eloquent commentary about the threat to biodiversity.  Please do give this a read and/or listen.

BW photograph of a bush, a pine tree trunk, and rocks.

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

There really is nothing more for me to add.

Take care.

Photographer’s note:  the feather above is not from a Seychelles Magpie Robin.

BW photograph of the Monocacy River on a foggy morning.

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

“Unprecedented threat” is how the recent U.N. report characterizes the human relationship to another one million species with whom we share the planet.

BW photograph of food trash laying at the base of a trash can.

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

Humans are but one of eight million species that populate Earth-and we are the one creating the clear and present danger to that one million.

1A’s host Joshua Johnson draws a critical parallel to genocide-after all, estimates for those killed during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, as one example, range from 500,000 to over one million.  There are of course, other genocides in human history.

NPR aired this report, and here is a link to the U.N. IPBES media release.

In keeping with the current administration’s focus on climate change denial, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted the perceived economic advantages of polar ice melting.  As the panelists for the 1A discussion point out, this example of (extremely) selective attention ignores the larger global consequences resultant from the loss of polar ice.

Importantly, the U.N. report does point out that we, the humans of Earth, can still intervene in this destruction.  Individual states, cities, and corporations in the U.S. are making efforts to bring us into compliance with the Paris Accords.  This, though, also needs to be part of a nuanced review-the parameters of which are discussed by the 1A panel.  Please do listen to the full discussion.

Take care.

Appreciating da Vinci

May 2, 2019

BW photograph of a decaying log alight on a large rock after a flood.

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

Earlier this morning, I had gone for brief walk as it was a bit of a damp, foggy start to what was to become an 80+ degree day.  The above log caught my attention due to its having been deposited on a large, flat rock after a flood event.  The fungi and overall condition evidenced that this log is on its way to decay.  As such, there were textures and patterns to be explored.

While listening to the radio, I found out that today is the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.  The May, 2019 issue of National Geographic, which arrived yesterday, contains the cover story addressing the breadth and depth of da Vinci’s contributions to life and culture.  NPR’s 1A aired this interview with biographer Dr. Walter Isaacson later in the morning.  I was especially taken with Dr. Isaacson’s statement about being “observant” of the world in which we live.  His final comment about viewing the Mona Lisa is quite fitting and amplifies that point.

BW photograph of tree whorls on a decarying log.

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

The attention to detail that da Vinci brought to all of his works is emphasized throughout the article and interview-an example of which is when Dr. Isaacson describes the whorls of da Vinci’s hair as seen throughout his drawings and paintings.  It is eerily, cosmically, coincidental that I had made the above photograph this morning before listening to the interview.  The spirals in the wood are what had garnered my attention-they are to the upper right of the log in the first photograph.  I had no idea that da Vinci was so captivated by such patterns.  I think he would have approved this taking of notice.

As an aside, I use Moleskine notebooks to document my thoughts when out-and-about as they slide easily into the pockets of a couple of my photo bags or the various vests worn.  As the writer of this blog, it is extremely useful to jot down ideas before they disappear into the ether.  I bring this up because until listening to the interview with Dr. Isaacson, it had been quite awhile since thinking about paper as a form of technology.  There is a distinct, organic, pleasure that comes from combining paper and pen-the physical feel and the curl of the pages; the scratchiness of the pen depositing the ink while the stream of consciousness flows.  This is much more enjoyable than hammering away at a keyboard and staring at a monitor.  If the experience with da Vinci’s journals is any indication, those notebooks will most certainly outlast any hard drive…

Take care.

Wind

April 28, 2019

BW photograph of the wind blowing water back up a decorative falls.

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

How windy was it?  Strong enough when gusting to blow the water back up and off of a decorative falls.

BW photograph of a flowering tree with a pedestrian bridge in the background.

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

How nice of a day was it otherwise? Quite nice.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Mozambique was ravaged by another cyclone.

As an elemental force, wind is a key sustainable resource and, as such, is an integral part of future development in an era of climate change.  That wind can also be such a massively destructive force-one that is exacerbated by the very problem for at which it is a solution, is a cruel irony.

Take care.

Earth Day 2019

April 22, 2019

BW photograph of the moon setting in the background with a rock formation in the foreground.

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

Today is Earth Day, and (locally) it was a wonderful day to be in the mountains.

BW photograph of three pine trees growing along the top of a rock formation.

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

The weather discussed in the previous post paved the way for a 51 degree, sunny with a bit of a chilly breeze, morning.  Arguably, a perfect set of weather conditions for a long walk-ones that I certainly prefer.

BW photograph of a discarded plastic jug laying amid some twigs and leaves.

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

I would be remiss, though, to not also draw attention to the trash deposited along the way.  It took only about 20 minutes to gather two garbage bags of discarded bags, bottles, cans, and cups, not to mention the odd auto part, that lay along the road used to access the trails.  At the risk of being overly dramatic, what can one expect from a species that wantonly killed 290 civilians through multiple bombings, some outside of churches, in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday?  The connection between these seemingly disparate issues?  Both demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect-one for the environment, one for each other.   In addition, both of these concerns are exacerbated by the truly human sense of entitlement.

One must recognize that as we literally, and figuratively, trash this planet and further the development and expansion of uninhabitable, or at least economically unfeasible, areas, conflicts among peoples will increase over the friction as to who gets access to what resources-the basis of conflict theory.  This complication blankets the pre-existing prejudice/discrimination/dehumanization processes rampant across the globe.  Last Sunday, The New York Times published this article, which illustrates the point.   This is exacerbated by nationalistic governments and viewpoints hardening positions that both create the attraction for, and the steps initiated against, such movement.

Heavy stuff for such a beautiful day.  However, Earth Day is also a perfect time to call attention to this environment/human feedback loop.  It is quite difficult to think of any societal problem that climate change will not worsen.

Earth Day is a reminder and a call to action.

Take care of the planet.  Take care of each other.