Not Spring

January 17, 2019

BW photograph of trees after a snow storm.

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

I have written before about the migratory habits of robins, and that info is also readily available online.  This article is from 2013, but the comments about the warming of winters and availability of food drawing robins northward is quite applicable in 2019.

Yesterday, a local holly tree was quite literally inundated by robins in search of food-the berries were the attraction.  (Photographer’s Note:  the above are not holly trees, and I have no photographs of the robins.  The above photograph, though, was made yesterday and does document the conditions that follow.)  The ground here is still covered in snow, and frozen as an aside.  To make this worse for the robins, we are due for 1-3 more inches of snow tonight into tomorrow, and then a “wintry mix” of snow, sleet, and freezing rain for the weekend.  To cap that, nighttime temperatures are to be in the low single digits as the weekend itself ends.  In other words, this is not spring.  While this article is a bit dated, it does explain the fundamental impact of climate change (and other environmental issues) on bird migration and is therefore worth a read.

Robins in particular, and birds in general, are not the only species at risk.  This article by Bill McKibben discusses, in no uncertain terms, the current and future complications for humans as the planet warms.

Given that this post ended up covering food, climate change, and species adaptation, this piece from the BBC about the flexitarian diet is apt-there is more about the connect between diet and climate change here.  Truth in disclosure, I am vegetarian and have been for decades-a decision made long before I became aware of the interaction between diet and climate change.  My concern then was about the use of hormones and antibiotics and the general conditions produced by industrialized agriculture, which, by the way, has spread to aquaculture.  From where food comes and the method by which it is transported are yet other issues for consideration.

My goal here is not to preach.  My desire is to present scientific information for serious consideration as there is much still under our human control.  What we choose to eat can be one of those factors.  I say “can” for a reason:  those living in food deserts often have a very limited choice of what is available and affordable-that is another issue.

It is also painful to see robins at this time of year.

Take care.


Time Passing

January 4, 2019

BW photograph of the Sands Motel and its marquee.

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

The Sands Motel was in business from 1948 until 2018-that is quite a run.  It is now being demolished and is to be rebuilt and updated.

As per the info from that second link, it must not have aged gracefully.  Indeed, a brief review of feedback indicates that it was in need of renewal.  So it would seem to be of almost anything of that vintage, especially one subject to a fair amount of wear and tear from weather and occupation-the marque seems indicative of that.  Still, it makes one wonder how many people stayed at the Sands over that 70 year history.

BW photograph of a door at the being demolished Sands Motel.

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

From where did they come?  How long did they stay?  What did they do while here?

BW photograph of the lower level of the being demolished Sands Motel.

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

What must have happened in these rooms over the years?  Were the visitors happy or sad to leave?

BW photograph showing the bucket of the crane this is being used to demolish the Sands Motel.

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

While the physical structure is soon to be no longer there, those that did spend time at the Sands Motel will have their memories of the experience.  That is unless they, too, have deteriorated…age will do that.

Take care.

More Rain

December 28, 2018

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

The mountains in the Pacific Northwest have had quite a bit of snowfall recently.  Meanwhile, here in the Mid-Atlantic, it has been another deluge of rain.  It started raining last evening…

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

and continued well into the day before a period of relative dryness appeared.

BW photograph of another flood of Morgan Run.

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

During that brief spell, a trip to check Morgan Run made sense.  The water level appeared to have exceeded its banks for the umpteenth (an imprecise term) time this year.

BW photograph of exposed roots from the recent flooding of Morgan Run.

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

BW photograph of a view from the road of a flooded Morgan Run.

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

It was clear that these photographs were made after the high water mark for this particular event had been reached.  However, it had begun to rain again as I was leaving.

In the spirit of gratitude, it was nice that the temperature was in the 50s, so this was not snow.  Even though this is the end of December, I am still not ready for that kind of snowfall.

On the other hand, this is the opposite of both the amount of rain and snow experienced in other parts of the country.  Indeed, it is imperative that one understand the complexity of the cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social aspects of weather (in the short-term) and climate change (in the much longer term).  With respect to the latter, one must also remember that as the planet warms overall, different geographic areas will experience differing effects:  some will indeed warm and dry out-others will become cooler and wetter.

And in related news, as per this report, the same socio-economic factors listed above come into play with the issue of “mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants…” the regulations on which are now under review by the EPA.  This is in keeping with efforts to revise the regulations on CO2 emissions, which are also summarized in the report.  It appears clear that longer-term thinking is not at work here.

Take care.


December 19, 2018

BW photograph of a boot print frozen in mud.

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

This past weekend in Katowice, Poland, representatives reached an agreement on the rules to actually implement the Paris Climate Accord, as per this article in The New York Times and this report from NPR.

The climate agreement is important, especially since CO2 emissions rose again in 2018.  As per that report, some of this is accounted for by changes in the economies of China and India.  However, the U.S. continues to play a significant role-the love affair with SUVs, for example, is mentioned.  It must also be understood that under the current administration, the U.S. remains a chief proponent for the continued use of fossil fuels, which create said emissions.  As an aside, that second linked article highlights the distinction and significance of word choice as a central point in the history of the U.N. climate negotiations.

Coincidentally, residents have also been allowed to return to Paradise, CA following the destruction brought about by the Camp Fire.  That fire was the largest (so far) in California’s history.  Here is the connection:  climate change leads to drought, which in turn leads to the drying out of trees and ground covers and thus increases the likelihood of such wildfires.  Subsequently, the carbon released into the atmosphere by these conflagrations is yet another driver of climate change due to its contribution to the melting of Arctic ice sheets, as reported hereDr. Jason Box studies this interaction.

BW photograph of a fallen oak leaf covered with frost.

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

Meanwhile, it was again in the 20s at sunrise and, given the recent rain, made for a quite frosty morning.  As the day progressed, the sun warmed the temperature into the 40s.  The forecast for the end of the week has temperatures in the 60s with a great deal more rain.  This represents quite a fluctuation-these days the weather seems to match the stock market for such volatility.

Take care.

No Thanks

November 27, 2018

BW photograph of a lone maple leaf on a large rock with Morgan Run in the background.

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

With Thanksgiving now behind us, attention returns to that for which thanks do not apply:  climate change.

The fourth National Climate Assessment report was recently released (here and here).  Despite what the president and other government officials (not to mention the general public) state and may want to believe, it is quite clear that humans have created the climate-induced mess in which we are now find ourselves.  That this report was released on Black Friday is another issue.

Bill McKibben wrote “Life on a Shrinking Planet”, which appears in the November 26, 2018 issue of The New Yorker.  That article leads off with a reference to his piece entitled “The End of Nature“, which was published in The New Yorker thirty years ago.  The more recent article presents a look at the history of choices made and not made by the fossil fuel industry, politicians, political organizations, and those who have supported, knowingly or unknowingly, a culture based on the extraction and use of materials that have led to the over-heating of Earth.  Toward the end of the article, Mr. McKibben describes a poignant visit to the Kennedy Space Center.  He also includes some quotes from John Muir, which have particular relevance to the issue at hand.  One quote stands out:  “I have better thoughts of those alligators now that I’ve seen them at home.”

The reason for the attractiveness of that quote?  It gets to the point of our relationship with nature.  Perhaps, just perhaps, if people spent more time outdoors experiencing the natural world, there would be a greater appreciation for it, and therefore a greater desire to protect it-a greater imperative to elect politicians and enact policies conducive to the long-term viability of the planet.  Indeed, please read the opening paragraph of this article from Scientific American.  What could be done outdoors with some of that time?  And yes, I do very much realize that this blog appears on a screen, and I do spend many hours processing the photos and creating this content on a computer.  However, these photos would not exist without having spent the time walking about.  Outside.

BW photograph of debris piled up after a flood at Morgan Run.

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

BW photograph of leaves plasterd against a tree trunk after a flood.

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

Of course, nature is not always benign, which is the way it ought to be.  Were nature to be so tame and predictable, then it would not be worthy of attention and respect.  Lately, though, she has been on a rampage.  That takes us right back to the issue of climate change.  Desertification, droughts, flooding, storms, and wildfires have all been exacerbated by the increase of the greenhouse effect. The melting of arctic ice and subsequent rise in sea levels is already displacing some communities-that, too, will increase.  As viable land becomes more scarce along coastlines and inland areas that are literally drying out, not only will that inflate its value and desirability, but the conflict between social groups competing for that resource will also intensify.

Thirty years are a long time.   Bob Seger in “Like a Rock” muses:  “Twenty years now…where’d they go?  Twenty years…I don’t know.  Sometimes I sit and I wonder where they’ve gone.”  As for the climate, shortsightedness and greed coupled with an (un)healthy dose of denial and obfuscation and ignorance have led us to where we are.

BW photograph of a sycamore tree's roots exposed due to flooding.

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

What will the geographic and subsequent social world look like in twenty or thirty years from now?  Globally, we may have some time left, but none that can be continually wasted.  Locally, for those flooded and burned out or blown away, time ran out.

Take care.


November 10, 2018

BW photograph of tree limbs blowing in the wind on an overcast day.

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

The weather app on my phone indicated it was 41 degrees and clear at 3:30 a.m.  Given that I was already awake, it seemed like time for a walk.  (Photographer’s Note:  The photo above is from a day different from that described in this post.  It was just as windy, though.)

After about ten minutes, it began to rain.  After twenty minutes more, it stopped.  I had either walked out from under a particular cloud or clouds, or the air currents had moved the cloud(s) along, or the cloud(s) had dissipated, or a combination of those three options had occurred.  In any case, the sky was full of stars and puffy clouds.  As the sun began to rise, conditions soon turned into something more like Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day-the wind kicked up and moved a great many leaves about.  It was a bit unpleasant walking into a headwind, but that time was relatively short-lived.

Speaking of which, the last three years are but a blip in geological time.  However, the impact on our culture and the natural environment (locally, nationally, and globally) due to the politics of this era have far-reaching consequences.  Perhaps this, too, will be transitory-time will tell what will happen here with a split government.  The problem is that for far too many, time has stopped.

Take care.


November 9, 2018

BW photograph of a charred log lying among rocks.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Twelve shot dead in a bar and nearby the Woolsey Fire burns.  Senseless gun violence and the impact of climate change.

Also, this Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the ending of WWI.  On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, hostilities ceased.  The adjective “senseless” was used above.  Please read through this article for another application of that term.  Although, as the article makes clear, not all would agree with the assessment leading to the use of that adjective.

Such is the case when it comes to addressing both mass shootings and climate change.  The gun lobby has more than enough political power to prevent any meaningful interventions-the fossil fuel industries occupy a similar position.  Innocents continue to be killed and communities continue to burn.  Thousand Oaks, CA and the surrounding area are experiencing both simultaneously.

Take care.

P.S. This article addresses wildfires in the Plains states.  The differentiation and interaction of weather and climate change is described-as is the role climate change played in the fires as expressed in the interviews conducted by Mr. Frazier.  The creation of a sense of powerlessness, whether through lack of knowledge or teleological argument, is another dynamic at work in the persistence of these issues.  Failure to proactively address root causes mandates continued reactive responses.