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Politics and its Discontents: I May Have The Answer

Strange cacophonous sounds coming from the skies may seem like the prelude to a science-fiction film, but the phenomenon is actually happening throughout the world. At times sounding like trumpet blasts, at others like construction equipment, the noises have been heard for about a decade. Have a listen:

While no one has found an . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: I May Have The Answer

Politics and its Discontents: Lament For A Vanishing World

Those who read this blog with any regularity probably know that nature is something near and dear to my heart. I defy people to watch well-made nature documentaries, walk among the creatures we share the world with, or even visit a well-run zoo (I highly recommend the one in San Diego!) and not be struck . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Lament For A Vanishing World

PostArctica: Still Life With Pasta #16

At the river today…

Politics and its Discontents: The World We Ignore

I suppose it is the curse of consciousness that leads humans to see themselves as distinct from, and superior to, nature. It is a hubris that the natural world is paying a heavy price for, as we insist on placing our wants and needs above those of other forms of life. New research is showing . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The World We Ignore

Politics and its Discontents: This Bonobo Should Humble All Of Us

Yesterday’s post dealt with our troubling capacity for human supremacism, a capacity that is destroying our world. This seems a fitting followup:You can read about this bonobo here.Recommend this Post . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: This Bonobo Should Humble All Of Us

Politics and its Discontents: This Bonobo Should Humble All Of Us

Yesterday’s post dealt with our troubling capacity for human supremacism, a capacity that is destroying our world. This seems a fitting followup:You can read about this bonobo here.Recommend this Post . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: This Bonobo Should Humble All Of Us

Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Where I live, the summer has been, with just the occasional respite, unbearably hot. It has certainly interfered with one of my seasonal pleasures, sitting on the deck and reading the newspaper while watching various species of birds visit both my feeders and my bird bath. In those quiet moments, the wall that we humans far too frequently erect to separate us from nature seems to barely exist. The air, the sunlight, the perennials at the side and back of the yard are but a few of the things that I, the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits, butterflies and bees share. The illusion of Eden, however ephemeral, percolates into consciousness. All, for a few moments, is tranquil and holy.

But of course, the above is a very idealized version of reality; nature, in its more intrusive forms, elicits an entirely different response. For example, several years ago we awoke to find a bat in our bedroom. Let’s just say that its presence was a source of deep consternation culminating in its capture and ultimately, its death, as it had to be tested for rabies.

While few would blame me for the actions I took, the incident does underscore another truth. We enjoy nature, we want to recognize ourselves as simply part of a vast and powerful reality, but we want it only on our terms. In a recent column, Rick Salutin reminded us of that truth:

When I got home from the cottage Monday, there were signs of struggle in the kitchen, like scratched, torn packaging on rice cakes. Mice? But why didn’t the cat disperse them as he always does? Rats? Later I heard scuffling and went back in: a squirrel!

It’s shocking how menacing they look in there, versus through the backyard window. Panicked and dangerous — the squirrel that is, but me too.

There’s such a sharp separation involved: them out there, us inside. Panic looms if it breaks down.

Salutin goes on to talk about other aspects of nature that we are increasingly contending with: the forest fires, the coastal flooding, etc., all a response to the separation that we have allowed to evolve and culminate in the early stages of climate change. That reality, he says, stands in sharp contrast to the romanticized nature that urbanites maunder on about (‘I love Nature.’). (See opening paragraph.)

And, in the way that only Rick Salutin can, he offers us this insight:

There’s a reason why indigenous peoples everywhere have led on dealing intelligently with climate change: not because they’re wiser or nobler but because they haven’t experienced a rupture with the non-human world to the same degree as most of us. They remain aware of the ways we’re part of the natural realm, and how dangerous and menacing it can be if, like any relationship, that one is left unattended or gets misshapen by a power imbalance. If you live oblivious to something you’re intimately part of, the odds don’t favour you, ultimately.

He might just as well have added that, with the power we wield, it doesn’t favour nature either.

Indeed, Derrick Jensen, in a piece well-worth reading, has a name for what we do to the planet: human supremacism.

Here is human supremacism. Right now in Africa, humans are placing cyanide wastes from gold mines on salt licks and in ponds. This cyanide poisons all who come there, from elephants to lions to hyenas to the vultures who eat the dead. The humans do this in part to dump the mine wastes, but mainly so they can sell the ivory from the murdered elephants.

Right now a human is wrapping endangered ploughshares tortoises in cellophane and cramming them into roller bags to try to smuggle them out of Madagascar and into Asia for the pet trade. There are fewer than 400 of these tortoises left in the wild.

Right now in China, humans keep bears in tiny cages, iron vests around the bears’ abdomens to facilitate the extraction of bile from the bears’ gall bladders. The bears are painfully “milked” daily. The vests also serve to keep the bears from killing themselves by punching themselves in the chest.

And those are only a few dramatic examples of our ruptured relationship with the larger world. Every time we use our cars when we could have walked, every vehicle we buy that is bigger and more powerful than we need, every minute we spend idling our cars so we can stay cool or warm, every drop of water we waste when we let the tap run while brushing our teeth, all and so many more of our heedless daily decisions and actions reveal us for the human supremacists we are.

Our arrogance, our assumption of a natural superiority over nature, our insistence that we are separate from nature, continues apace. It is destroying our world and, of course, us along with it. All because of a perceived right to do what we will with the world around us.

A benighted and shameful view, but one that, despite all the indicators, sadly shows absolutely no signs of abatement.

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Where I live, the summer has been, with just the occasional respite, unbearably hot. It has certainly interfered with one of my seasonal pleasures, sitting on the deck and reading the newspaper while watching various species of birds visit both my feed… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Things Are Good: 30 Minutes in Your Local Park is Perfect

Urban parks are great and now some Aussie researchers have found another reason to create more of them: it’s really good for your health. We’ve known for years that spending time in nature is good for people but his research augments that knowledge with a timeframe. It takes only 30 minutes of being in an […]

The post 30 Minutes in Your Local Park is Perfect appeared first on Things Are Good.

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: 30 Minutes in Your Local Park is Perfect

PostArctica: Walk # 4 – Miron

I always wish the hotels were like they are in movies and TV shows, where if you’re in Paris, right outside your window is the Eiffel Tower. In Egypt, the […] . . . → Read More: PostArctica: Walk # 4 – Miron

Things Are Good: Why Walking In The Woods Is Good For You

Exercise is good for you and nature is good for you too, so it’s only logical that combining both of them is really good for you. Over at CSGlobe they have an article that explore many of the ways that our lives can be improved by a simple walk in the woods. They outline the […]

The post Why Walking In The Woods Is Good For You appeared first on Things Are Good.

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Why Walking In The Woods Is Good For You

Things Are Good: What’s That? Use Your Phone to Identify Plants

Pl@ntNet is an app that can identify plants using the camera on your mobile. Presently, it’s limited primarily to Western Europe (since it was in France),Indian Ocean, and parts of South America. The technology behind it can be used to extend it elsewhere and let’s hope it gets more global support. “What makes the project […]

The post What’s That? Use Your Phone to Identify Plants appeared first on Things Are Good.

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: What’s That? Use Your Phone to Identify Plants

Politics and its Discontents: The Price We Pay

*WARNING: This is one of those blog posts that is more philosophical than it is political. However, in another sense, it pertains to a worldview that, if more people were open to it, could perhaps help change how we relate to each other and our plane… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Price We Pay

PostArctica: Verdun Waterfront (East Side)

Took a stroll along the waterfront a few weeks ago.

The beach is going to be built behind the Auditorium so I though that would be a good starting point.

As you can see there is not much room immediately down from the Auditorium.

The view looking east.

At the bottom of . . . → Read More: PostArctica: Verdun Waterfront (East Side)

Things Are Good: Look at Nature and be More Productive

Go ahead and let your gaze look out that window while you work. If you get caught, tell your boss that you’re just getting ready to be more productive!

The challenge: Can looking at nature—even just a scenic screen saver—really improve your focus? How much can 40 seconds of staring at grass actually help? Ms. . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Look at Nature and be More Productive

Things Are Good: The Science Behind How Nature Changes Your Brain

Talking a walk amongst plants is good for you in many ways, but why? This questions recently bothered some neuroscientists and they set out to answer it. It turns out that exposure to nature changes the way blood flows in our brain in a way that makes us feel better.

Then the scientists randomly assigned . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: The Science Behind How Nature Changes Your Brain

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Conor Enjoyed Nature With An Osprey Day In His "Back Yard" The North Riverfront Trail, Fredericton

Conor embraced his right to enjoy nature a couple of times today (so far) with fun walking and running in his “back yard” Fredericton’s North Riverfront Trail. He also took time to throw some rocks into the St. John River along the way and check out the neighbors, the Osprey family, as they prepared their . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Conor Enjoyed Nature With An Osprey Day In His "Back Yard" The North Riverfront Trail, Fredericton

350 or bust: Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

It’s all about love, after all.

Things Are Good: A Good City is an Environmentally Friendly One

The urban environment can benefit from more, well, environment. More research is coming out that proves something that many urbanites already know: where there is green there is more peace. Cities with good access to nature and have more trees spread throughout the urban space are better places to live.

Urban neighbourhoods with more green . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: A Good City is an Environmentally Friendly One

350 or bust: Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

350 or bust: The Anatomy Of The Earth Brought To Life

What a wonderful world! On TED Talk Tuesday, we get a glimpse of the amazing world that cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg brings to life. He describes his greatest satisfaction as creating works that have a positive effect on the future of Earth: “I hope my films inspire and open people’s hearts … If I can move . . . → Read More: 350 or bust: The Anatomy Of The Earth Brought To Life

Things Are Good: Doctors Prescribing Nature

Doctor Robert Zarr prescribes walking in parks to his patients. Regular readers already know that the exposure to nature is beneficial in multiple ways for our physical and mental health. Doctors have also taken note of this and realize that prescribing walks and exposure to nature can reduce obesity rates while also being proactive in . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Doctors Prescribing Nature

Politics and its Discontents: Why Do They Do It?

For the sheer joy of it, I suspect:

To know and respect nature is to know and respect ourselves. All is connected. Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Birdbrain?

Watch this video to the end, and you will realize the question is not intended as an insult:

Recommend this Post

Scott's DiaTribes: Help Save The Monarch Butterfly: Plant Some Milkweed

A slightly different post today on the weekend. I’ve always loved Monarch Butterflies. When I was a kid, we picked milkweed with monarch caterpillars on them, put them into an old fish tank aquarium, kept supplying them with fresh milkweed and then made sure we hung sticks or metal rods across the top so . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Help Save The Monarch Butterfly: Plant Some Milkweed