Earth Day 2018

April 22, 2018

BW photograph of a strongly lit house.

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

Today is Earth Day.  Coincidentally, it is also a nice, spring day.  The preceding sentence was included as we have run the weather gamut over the past few weeks.  On the day when the above photograph was made, the temperature eventually reached 87 degrees.  That seemed to be a bit too much heat coming too soon, especially after days when the temperatures maxed-out in the 40s and 50s.

BW photograph looking up the Hog Rock Trail on a foggy morn.

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

The following day presented entirely different conditions, as displayed above and below:

BW photograph of trees enveloped in fog.

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

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a heavy rain-four rocks provide some framing for the water.

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

The much cooler temperatures brought on the fog and an eventual torrent of rain and wind.  Morgan Run once again overran its banks.

A couple of weekends ago was spent in Ithaca, New York…

BW photograph of trees laying beside the Buttermilk Falls Rim Trail after a snowfall.

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

where the morning temps were about 22 degrees-that adequately preserved the snow that had fallen the day before.

BW photograph of a crushed Nestle water bottle in a parking lot.

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

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is to call an end to plastic pollution-more can be read about that here, and doing so is an important initiative.  Indeed, a drive through the mountains of Pennsylvania yesterday showed many out collecting trash along the roadways.  At the same time, Earth Day is also an auspicious day in which to be reminded of the need to keep a focus on the larger issue of climate change, which is actually the reason for the weather-related photographs in this post.  Indeed, last year set a record for weather-related losses as per this report from NOAA.  Yes, reducing one’s individual impact on the environ is a benefit and is to be encouraged.  Taking the time to collect the detritus left by others is certainly helpful.  However, the intersection of politics, pollution, and climate change can not be ignored and are addressed in this article about the E.P.A. under Scott Pruitt.

One day is not enough.

Take care.

 

Advertisements

Flattened: A Metaphor

March 29, 2018

 

BW photograph of a crushed Nestle water bottle in a parking lot.

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

Bw photograph of a crushed Coca Cola can laying beside a road.

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

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle beside a road.

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

This is what happens when a larger, much more powerful, robust force meets a smaller, much more malleable, and relatively fragile object.

In the Anthropocene Era, there are many examples of the human/other species interaction that results in a hard time for the other species.

In a 2015 National Geographic interview, Elizabeth Kolbert discusses those outcomes.  She also acknowledges the adaptability of the human species while at the same time making the argument that it is best to not push these limits further.  Reading on, is it not interesting that the question about human survivability in a changing environment arises?  That is a key point and question.

BW photograph of a damaged guardrail after a crash.

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

From playing football for many years, one lesson I learned was that there was/is always someone bigger, faster, and more powerful than you.  Play long enough and it is only a matter of time until you encounter such a situation.

BW photograph of a broken headlight and bottle amid leaves beside a road.

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

Yes, there are techniques that can be employed to counter those disadvantages, but there is a clear limit at which technique does not matter-you are going to get tossed about.  The human lifestyle has altered the natural environment in such a way that many species have not the time to make adjustments-hence the Sixth Extinction.  Ironically, and appropriately, John McPhee’s The Control of Nature discusses several attempts that humans have made with wrangling Mother Nature to conform with the human will.  That does not always turn out so well for humans.

Cormac McCarthy has written about a different form of adaptation.

Take care.

Pretty

February 16, 2018

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight.

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

After having made two trips in New Orleans in post-Katrina 2008, I had decided that making pretty photographs was a waste of my time.  There are two very subjective aspects in that sentence:  the first, “pretty”, is open to interpretation.  My initial photographic interest was the natural world-grand scenics and the intimate microcosm of mountains, flowers, and critters.  Having been to the Lower 9th Ward and other areas that were still wrecked three years after the storm had made an impression-“pretty” images were of much less interest.  The second, “…waste of my time.” is not saying “a waste of time period“; it was fine for others to make such photographs.   I wanted to make socially relevant photographs to illustrate a number of concerns that I felt were important-they could be largely grouped under the heading of the human impact on the natural world.  Hence my emphasis on trash, for example.

A decade later, I have found myself to be increasing frustrated and disillusioned, and, yes, angry, at the state of the world; particularly U.S. politics and the role it plays in local, national, and global events.  We have had yet another mass shooting in a school.  That makes something like 30 such events since the start of 2018, let alone what came before.  Previous posts have detailed my concerns over the political response to climate change.  Trash continues to proliferate.  And so on.  While Steven Pinker does have a point, as does this article, the examples cited here dull the shine of such information, especially when they have a direct impact on a given individual.

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight with clouds in the background.

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

All of which leads me back to “pretty”.  That is still very much a subjective term.  The photographs included here fit that definition for me.  I very much like B&W photographs that have a full range of tones from deep blacks to bright whites.   It is also helpful to remember the emotions experienced at the time the shutter was pressed.  Watching the clouds move across the sky and the manner by which the light changed in response to that movement induced a sense of calm and wonder.  For a few moments, the info in the paragraph above became irrelevant.

That does not mean those issues can be ignored or obfuscated.  Doing so is, after all, what allows them to worsen.  I will most certainly continue to make photographs to illustrate that which is of concern to me.  At the same time,  I am returning to my roots (which seems to be an appropriate phrase for the intent here, literally and figuratively) as it is quite useful to one’s well-being to find some beauty and peace when possible.

Take care.

Deadfall

February 4, 2018

BW photograph of the beginning of the Cat Rock Trail in winter

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

The 2017 fire season in California was the worst in recorded history.

BW photograph of looking downstream of Big Hunting Creek in winter

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

The other night, the President delivered his first State of the Union speech and gave a shout out to “…beautiful, clean coal…”, but did not mention climate change.  That is not at all surprising given his position on this issue.

BW photograph of horizontal trees covered in snow

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

The photographs herein are not from California, but were made in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland.  The debris depicted, which is sometimes referred to as “deadfall”, literally becomes fuel for fire.  Extreme heat and drought stress trees.  When they then shed branches or themselves fall, the resulting detritus becomes drier still and forms the tinder awaiting a spark.  Out west, that often comes from lightning;  however, humans, being either careless or deliberate with fire, can initiate the blaze as well.

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

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

(It is because of the risk of uncontrolled forest fires that the U.S. Forest Service often use prescribed burns.  There have been occasions when these preventative measures have themselves gotten out of hand.)

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

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

Forest fires remove a main source of greenhouse gas reduction, the trees themselves, and add the carbon stored in the trees back into the atmosphere.  Furthermore, the particulate matter from the combustion rises into the air and is eventually deposited on polar ice sheets.  This dark snow, then, absorbs heat and increases the loss of ice.  This cycle continues as long as forests burn.

BW photograph of fallen leaves frozen to the ground in winter

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

The sustained emphasis on the production and consumption of fossil fuels quite simply exacerbates the problems described here.

Take care.

Hurricane Season

September 27, 2017

BW photograph of a bike rack flooded by Hurricane Jose at Bethany Beach.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is a photo essay showing the standing water that remained a couple of days after having been left by Hurricane Jose as it passed by Bethany Beach.  Jose remained off the coast, and so this part of the world was spared the massive damage generated by the 2017 Hurricane Season (thus far).  Such is not the case for other parts of the mainland U.S. and several of the islands in the Caribbean.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a flooded storm drain in Bethany Beach.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

NPR’s 1A broadcast a program dedicated to the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.  This discussion addressed the breadth and depth of the humanitarian, political, economic, and social issues generated by this disaster.  Several important historical points that have contributed to the current crisis are included.  Mr. Johnson’s opening lines encapsulate what follows.

Take care.

UPDATE:  This link addresses The Jones Act mentioned in the above discussion, and this link provides more details regarding the extreme hardships being experienced in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Fall 2017

September 20, 2017

BW photograph of fall debris.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The official start of Fall 2017 is right around the corner.

BW photograph of a foggy river.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As last week closed, the days generally started with decidedly cooler temperatures.

This week, though, has seen a return to more summeresque conditions-higher temperatures and humidity.  The week also brought a continuation of natural disasters:  Hurricane Jose has created some disruption for the Mid-Atlantic, and Hurricane Maria has torn up several countries on her march westward.  Time will tell if she is destined for the U.S.

Violent weather patterns are not the only issue as we make this transition:  Mexico had a 7.1 earthquake.

Hurricane season officially ends on November 30.  There is no “season” for earthquakes-they are the result of geology.  Such quakes are not unique to Mexico-in 2015, Nepal experienced a 7.8 quake.  The U.S. is still waiting for “The Really Big One”.

Just as human lifestyles have contributed to climate change and the subsequent increase in massive storms, not to mention our propensity to drain wetlands and build close to shorelines, which makes the infrastructure more susceptible to flooding and storm surges; human activity also plays a role in some earthquakes and the subsequent damage done.  Part of this is due to the location and the manner in which buildings are constructed-the latter point is especially true for less developed countries-but here in the U.S., many are related to our energy production needs/methods-please read this and this.

Condolences to all who continue to suffer through these catastrophic events.

Take care.

 

Torrents

September 1, 2017

BW photograph of dark and light clouds with a tree in the foreground.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Harvey has set a U.S. record for the amount of rain dropped by a single storm in the history of recording such things.

Attention here is focused on Texas and Louisiana, and the other states impacted as Harvey moves north and east-what remains will most likely arrive in this area Saturday. On the other side of the world, South Asia has been hammered with torrential monsoons.  Last month, Sierra Leone experienced this.  The death tolls for both Harvey and the monsoon in India continue to rise.

The property damage caused by Harvey has yet to be determined-that should provide an interesting comparison to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

While some politicians have said this is not a time to discuss climate change, as that would be “playing politics”, at what point will the severity of climate change get the full attention of those with the power to make large-scale systemic changes?  Four years is an awful long time to wait, and there are no guarantees then.

An awful lot of losses can accrue over that span.

There is another issue to address as well-the human factor.  The above incidents are referred to as “natural disasters”.  However, that grossly overlooks the human factor.  The failure of New Orleans’ levee and seawall system has been widely documented.  (As an aside, New Orleans had flooding earlier this year due to many pump failures.).  NPR published this report regarding Houston.  Part of what contributed to the flooding in Mumbai was clogged storm drains due to the amount of trash generated-poverty and poor infrastructure add to the problems.

One thing is certain, though:  these “100 year storms” are occurring with greater and greater frequency.  When there are weaknesses in the social structure, they will increase the risk to the population.

The clouds in the above photograph?  They produced not a drop of water.

Take care.