Contrasts

January 12, 2020

BW photograph of debris on a walkway after a flooding.

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

A couple of days ago, it was well below freezing, and we had several inches of snow.  Yesterday, and into last night, it warmed up considerably, into the 60s, and a powerful wind and rain storm blew through the area.  As is the norm with such short, heavy rains, there was evidence of localized flooding.

BW photograph of muddy leaves plastered against a bulkhead after a flooding.

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

BW photograph of debris around a tree trunk after a flooding.

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

The wind gusted in such a manner as to rattle windows.  The forecast had called for a potentially damaging thunderstorm to occur around 3:00 a.m.  Whether responding to that or to my cat’s incessant need for attention, I awakened shortly after that time, and there did not appear to have been a thunderstorm.  Clearly, though, it had rained, and quite hard.

This stands in stark contrast to Australia.  They are in the middle of a truly horrendous fire season resulting from climate change and drought that is genuinely catastrophic for the land, the wildlife, the citizens, and the global community.  Those fires are pumping tons of particulate matter and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as well, thus completing the feedback loop.  This puts a very sharp point on the viewpoints and policies of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Indeed, whether one is discussing Morrison, Trump, or Bolsonaro, the common threads are policies defiantly at odds with a need to quell a raging planet.

How much this plays into the upcoming 2020 election in the U.S. remains to be seen.

Take care.

2020

December 23, 2019

BW photograph of a pair of prints in the snow.

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

2019 is sliding away…and 2020 is around the corner.

BW photograph of a Santa hat laying in some leaves on a sidewalk.

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

In many respects, 2019 was a difficult year-certainly for the topics most often presented herein.  I really do vacillate on the tone for this blog, and, most of the time, that ends up with info related to that with which I am most concerned: climate change, the proliferation of trash, the the social forces that continue to drive those issues.  As such, that means this is not often a bundle of grins to read.  I really do not see that changing in 2020 as I have never been a “glass half full” person…I call it being realistic.  (Others might say pessimistic.)  2020 is shaping up to be a very important year environmentally and politically, both separately and in the manner with which they intersect.  We will see how it goes.  Given that the new year brings with it the custom of making resolutions related to changes in behaviour, perhaps there will be more activity leading to a healthier planet and political system.

As an aside, for those who may prefer a more optimistic outlook, or at least a dose of optimism, there is this.  Please do read the “About Us” link once there.  I am also decidedly not being snarky about, or dismissive of, the need for cheerful info.  The media sources we choose, and the therefore the content we engage, are a very significant agent of socialization-a shaper of how we think and feel-the importance of which can not be overstated.  Sites such as that linked above can provide a useful counter-balance to the mayhem very much present in the world.

With that in mind, there is a photographic project for the new year that will create a bit of a different focus in both tone and subject matter for this blog.  There have been some hints at this in previous posts, but given what is written in the two paragraphs above, it is time to pursue it in a more consistent manner.  That is not to say climate change and politics will disappear from the blog, just that my intention is to level this out a bit.  We will certainly see how that goes.  As Bette Davis once said “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

It is hoped that those of you who have been following the blog will continue along.  I am much appreciative of your checking in and hope that the photographs and content of this site has been of use.

Here’s to the new year!

Take care.

Harmony III

December 20, 2019

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

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

Another of the points is that humans do fail to play nicely with others.  In addition to the examples from the previous posts, overfishing (here and here) is a major threat to the fundamental existence of some species.  Such action makes this all the more of an issue.  (Photographer’s Note:  the above appeared to have been washed onto a fishing platform by floodwaters.)

BW photograph of a church and cemetary enveloped in fog.

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

Humans also do not play well with other humans-this is a defining example.

Webster’s (1995) defines “harmony’ as a “pleasing arrangement of parts”.  Such an arrangement does not exist when there is a disproportionate distribution of power, and some species wield so much more power than others.   Some humans, especially those in high offices around the world (the U.S. and Brazil, for example), use that power to extract the most short-term monetary gain from natural resources to the exclusion of the long-term consequences of a warming the planet:  uncontrollable fires, the melting of the icecaps, and sea level rise to name a few.  Polar bears, for example, stand not much of chance given the current circumstances.

However, put an unarmed human on the ice to equal the playing field (as it were), and the equation changes, doesn’t it?

Take care.

Harmony II

December 13, 2019

BW photograph of a hillside of snowy trees after a light dusting.

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

With regard to the previous post, it is not that I am anti-human.  After all, I am one.

BW photograph of a plastic bottle amid twigs and sticks storm debris.

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

However, we have mostly been poor stewards of this world and have not acted with enough prioritization for its protection.  This is an acute problem given an administration that continues to roll back environmental legislation while also mocking those attempting to intervene.

Take care.

 

The Other

December 2, 2019

BW photograph of a section of an old barn wall with withered vines.

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

We tend to either romanticize or demonize “the Other”.  This post will address the latter perspective.

The Other, or Otherness, is a social construct.  For those viewed as being “like us”, there is a strong sense of affiliation, a sense of belonging, as sense of “we”.  For those “not like us”, there is a strong sense of exclusion, a sense of alienation, a sense of “they”.  Note how this concept applies to gender, race, ethnicity, politics, economics, etc. etc. etc.  There is often not much middle ground in this era of social and political polarization, which makes the Other a powerful concept indeed.  This type of belief (and it is important to remember that a belief is that which we hold to be true, even if there is no objective evidence to support it) creates a divide that can be quite difficult to bridge, especially when one group perceives the Other as a threat.

This past Sunday morning, the poet Richard Blanco read and discussed his work during the broadcast of  On Being.   Listen carefully as he describes the Zulu greeting.  At the end of the interview, he concludes with a strong, stirring, message about how all are “we”.

Take care.

 

Leakage

November 17, 2019

BW photograph of a tire laying in a stream.

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

This report aired on NPR as I was driving to work the other morning.  This is from a bit earlier in the month.  The connection?  Toxins being released into the environment, which, in turn, pose present dangers to biological organisms.   The first report states that funds are not available to adequately police wild areas, therefore toxic chemicals used in the illegal drug trade make their way into the food chain.   In the second, it is the proposed relaxation of environmental protection standards governing disposal of waste from coal-fired power plants that is the issue.  The risk is that of toxins contaminating water sources.

BW photograph of a can in a plastic bag laying next to a leaf.

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

I sometimes reach the point where stories about the goal of maximizing profits, whether within or without legal and/or regulatory bounds, resulting in environmental damage become more than I want to hear, and I feel the urge to turn off the radio.  That, then, begs the question:  If one does not listen to such reports, then how does one know the breadth and depth of an issue?  If one does not keep up-to-date on regulatory roll-backs or the illegal use of toxins, how does one know the extent of the damage?  What would happen if folks stopped paying attention to the environment?  If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?  Of course it does.  As long as there is violation of regulatory standards, which includes the failure to adequately fund such efforts or the blatant rolling back/reversal of said standards, the damage continues, thereby creating the persistent need to pay attention.  The frustration and dismay that periodically builds is simply the evidence that more work needs to be done.  That work begins with a critical awareness of the issues.

Keep paying attention.

Take care.

The War of the Worlds

October 17, 2019

BW photograph of a water tower-long, wide composition.

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

These are images from Frederick, Maryland.  Each time I go there and look toward this water tower, I think of H.G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds.  The cover image in that link should provide the rationale for this association.

BW photograph of a water tower with the tower left of center overlooking some houses.

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

This work was published in book form in 1898 and later adapted as a live radio broadcast by Orson Wells.  That broadcast, which coincided with Halloween, was reported to have been thought by some as a narrative of a real invasion-the story of this broadcast is quite a tale.  There have been a few movie adaptations over the years.

Spoiler alert: if you have not read the book nor heard/viewed any of the adaptations, please stop here.

BW photograph of a water tower right of center overlooking some houses.

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

If you are familiar with the end of the story, then you know that the martians are ultimately defeated by the air on earth.  While our technology and war machines were no match for their technology and tripods, the entities themselves simply could not safely breathe our air.  They perished.

Importantly, in reality, such is the case for many humans here in the 21st century.  This is a link regarding the most air polluted cities in the U.S.  This one broadens the scope to the planet.  Statistics regarding the number of premature deaths due to air pollution are also included in the latter link.  (As an important aside, BBC’s Witness History program aired an episode of how Mexico City addressed its car pollution problem.)

BW photograph of a set of old wooden stairs leading to a boarded-over entrance.

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

Given the toxicity of the air, human-generated pollution presents a clear and present danger to the well-being of peoples around the world, especially as efforts are made to roll-back previous legislation regarding pollutants.

BW photograph of fallen leaves laying in a puddle in a gutter.

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

Indeed, uninhabitable conditions, be they environmental (polluted air and water, drought, desertification, rising seas, etc.), economic (lack of employment, exploitation), or social (war, persecution, genocide, other forms of violence) are some of the main drivers of human migration.  As the planet continues to warm and such conditions intensify, so will the conflicts over the remaining habitable areas.  This is one reason for the renewed interest in extra-planetary travel.

It would seem reasonable that there is some form of intelligent life out there in the ‘verse.  One could say that it is a bit egocentric/ethnocentric to think we are the only intelligent life in existence.  (One could also say that given the current state of affairs in so many places, our intelligence could be questioned…)  Therefore, SETI had a history and there is a rationale for the current iteration.  Time will tell.  My fantasy, though, is that any other extraterrestrial life capable of being consciously aware of us would also be intelligent enough to avoid our attempts to make contact.  The manner by which we treat each other and our planet is enough to give intelligent beings pause.

Take care.