My Humble Reply to Miss Greta Thunberg: Who is Responsible for Climate Stewardship?

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September 25, 2019

Quick Answer: Everyone.  Literally, everyone on this planet.  If we’re to scold anyone when it comes to how we humans have conducted ourselves in relationship to our Earth, then we’d have to do it toward ourselves and every household, nomadic tent city, unique compound, homeless camp or any other type of setup that we homo sapiens respectively keep our residence.  Please make no mistake in understanding the state of our world’s climate; this planet will be able to continue with or without us.  Truly, it’s a matter of what we’re comfortable with and able to accept based on our lifestyles as we know it here in the 21st century.

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Long Answer: The following is my succinct personal story in recent days of trying to love the Earth, fight for a new mindset on a bipartisan basis, and coming to raw terms of reality especially when it comes to environmental politics.

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It’s been nearly a week since I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the second time this month.  The first time was to attend the Bush-Cheney administration reunion held for those who served in various agencies and roles back during those years—it was surreal to be in the company with those whom, along with myself (I was a political appointee in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s office), had given of our time and talents to serve an administration during what already has been documented as a historically poignant time in our country’s history.  We were able to share an audience with former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as they reflected on those years and shared encouraging antidotes for the present time.  I personally took a time-out after serving the administration to give birth to our first child, followed by a few more pregnancies that sum totaled in three wonderful children while also helping elderly in the home we’ve had the blessing to live in south Florida for the past decade.

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My second D.C. visit came by way of invitation to attend the Environmental Defense Fund’s Fly-In last week and to take the opportunity to visit with offices of Florida’s congressional delegation to share my heartfelt inclinations about the importance of pursuing legislative goals of environmental solutions for our state as well as nationwide.  Ironically, as I traversed Capitol Hill on foot last Thursday with a few of my like-minded colleagues, our U.S. Congress was also receiving the most recent public comments from Miss Greta Thunberg of Sweden.  While I carried copies of my children’s illustrations and short comments about our stewardship of the Earth to my state’s various congressional offices, Miss Thunberg was testifying that our nation was doing little to nothing to help assuage the seemingly accelerating effects of our contribution to our planet’s climatic cycle. In the past couple days, Miss Thunberg also addressed the United Nations in New York City by repeatedly saying “how dare you” in regards to the idea that this global governing body entity looks to the youth for hope and yet fails in action.

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Rewind to earlier this year: I took the time out to track our household’s trash habits for a couple of weeks.  This included taking note of the packaging that we deal with when purchasing goods and how we dispose of those items as well as pre-existing goods in the home.  The results of this personal audit almost sent me into a full-fledged depression swing similar to the post-partum blues I had experienced in varying degrees with each of my children born.  It was embarrassing to recognize just how much waste we deal with in this home and although we try to diligently sort our trash into as much recycling as we can—then we’re faced with the dirty secret in most of our nation’s municipalities that much of our recycling isn’t actually recycled, rendering this conscientious ritual of sorting our garbage in the house a moot matter.

My personal trash inventory and revelation, along with a shared vision with friends, gave me the inspiration to seek more avenues to help effect change in my city and county in the interest of cleaning up our act when it came to household habits and waste processing.  It also highlighted to me that it is a harsh reality to face our personal habits when it comes to how we travel, purchase and process goods, dispose of our trash, and use our resources like water and energy sources.  It is this message I believe that needs to be conveyed to the world’s microphone so to speak.  Although as a mother and educator I wholeheartedly support the notion of a 16-year-old having global attention when it comes to helping influence change in funding, legislation, and other environmental mandates needed to assist a “clean-up” of our habits, I dislike our collective avoidance of the real problem we face in terms of our interaction with our planet’s climatic cycles: ourselves.

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There is so much more to write on this subject today, probably redundant in nature given how much has already been written and shared in digital spaces such as the Twitter social media platform.  If there is anything I desire to share and encourage in this discussion regarding our climate stewardship going forward, it would be that the most effective course of action would be to cease finger-pointing to entities such as governing bodies and business corporations.  If we have any hope of dramatically changing our habits, we must take personal responsibility and ask ourselves if we’re willing to re-think how we transport ourselves, purchase and utilize goods, sort our garbage, and overall make those hourly decisions to make a difference in our human footprint on Earth.

R.V.S.Bean

“We are given substance, nurtured, and sustained by family. Kinship goes beyond family and is the connection we feel to the world at large and everything in it.  Given the concept of family, it isn’t difficult to understand the idea of kinship with other forms of life—everything was of the Earth. We all came from it one way or another and returned to it when life was over. These were the unalterable realities that connected us to everything around us.”–Joseph M. Marshall III, The Lakota Way

Some favorite sources:

www.edf.org

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saint-greta-spreads-the-climate-gospel-11568989306

www.marinelife.org

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/how-greta-thunbergs-rise-could-backfire-on-environmentalists.html

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Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 8 in a Series

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Diamond in the Rough Unexpected

Note: This is a blog short in a continuing series “Seashell Philosophy by She” of philosophical reflections during visits to the seashore…

Beautiful day.  The waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Juno Beach were full of season-changing strength yesterday as the sun warmed our skin comfortably in the cool breeze.

My children and I arrived at the ocean with leftovers from our Easter holiday the day before.  After a busy day we came to the beach with my personal intention of laying on the blanket and doing close to nothing while the kids played in the sand and ate to their heart’s content out of the cooler I’d packed.

One of my offspring suggested that we walk the stretch of shore down to the Juno Beach pier and back to the Loggerhead portion where we had camped.  What I thought might be a shell-picking expedition resulted in in nearly 10 pounds of trash that I picked up as we walked with a grocery plastic bag.

Thankfully by walking with children I was exposed to the enduring and forgiving quality of their imaginative skills despite the sad reality of the litter circumstances–I was simmering with anger inside as I encountered bottles, cans, cigarette butts and even toothbrushes amongst other items of refuse along an otherwise glittering blue dance of water and shimmering sand that gripped our feet and legs with longing for relaxation.

Admittedly, I was so consumed by my judgement and disdain for the nameless straw people in my mind that had the audacity to trash our beach that I only was partially listening to and subsequently nodding affirmatively at my son’s declarations over the various shells or shark teeth he was “finding” as we walked along.  Never mind that he was merely picking up sparse pieces of shell or rock shards that resembled whatever his thoughts could name.

Halfway down the shoreline to the pier we stopped to sit at a perch of sand where the tide had eroded a small cliff that rose in height from the water’s edge to my waist–most fun for little kids to run up and down as long as there’s no roped-off area preserving a sea turtle’s nesting site.  Absently-minded I announced to my son that you never know what treasure you can find when you stop for a moment to sift through the place you’re in as we put our hands into the steep rise to feel through any tiny shells or rocks.

Again, he kept chirping to me that he was finding shark teeth as I continued to nod and murmur “uh-huh” as I watched my other child dancing through the small dunes and plants therein behind us.  Then I felt a nudge on my left arm and looked down at my persistent little one as he showed me the finds moment-by-moment, one of them catching my eye as I instinctually grabbed it out of his hand and looked at it closely–a shiny, dark grey shark tooth smaller than a dime. Incredible!

I couldn’t believe it, he’d actually found a real shark tooth in a massive pile of sand with no outward signs of hope for such a find.  There were no shell beds like the kind that show up after the high tides leaving high possibilities of fun discoveries.  This was literally just the kind of sand formation that evidently on this day only had high yields of human garbage nestled along its grooves and flats.

The truly sobering hit though came when my son asked me why I hadn’t believed that he would actually find a shark tooth–also alluding that why had I not considered that his prior declarations were true as well.  Ah, parent finds herself caught in her own act of lying by omission of responding in gentle truth–but I was so excited over this amazing shark tooth he had pulled out of nothingness that I decided to focus on telling him that although his other finds certainly resembled shark teeth, this one truly was the real deal.

How many times do we dismiss the possibilities of finding precious items among the mundane and written-off places?  Sometimes the most life-changing or affecting moments transpire when we’re on the common path or going through the motions of mindless daily activity.  More often than not we also fail to recognize the person beside us for who and what they are because we’re too busy listening to our own thoughts on the matter.

In my tiny slice of the universe yesterday I learned a humbling lesson–where I thought there was no way we’d find a shark tooth even with my maternal advice coming out of my mouth about treasure finds, I didn’t actually believe it.  I was proved wrong and learned a few additional lessons that I’m happy to include in my Seashell Philosophy by She collection as I continue to add other blog shorts.

Enjoy the treasure hunt of life!

R.V.S.B.

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Once, Twice, Three Times a Turtle: A Local Reflection

Bees, Trees and Turtles

Along with rain forest deforestation and honeybee colony-collapse disorder talk in recent decades, the plight of the sea turtles has come onto our radar as a serious environmental concern.  Deforestation affects many other species of plants and animals—not to mention the oxygen supply and possible overall weather patterns.  The honeybee issue is atrocious in its severity although much of the general human population hasn’t realized it yet but may if our food supply is abruptly altered one of these days.   Meanwhile I live in south Florida where it so happens that a few endangered species of sea turtles come to nest annually including the Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtle.  As a child growing up on the east coast here in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to come across a nest of turtle eggs and there were no public pushes to “save them”—little did I know that one day I’d be a grown-up where turtle talk would be critical to our survival in addition to those of other plants animals such as the bees and trees.

Turtle Walk: Not What First Comes to Mind

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is located in Juno Beach, Florida and their website is www.marinelife.org .  It turns out they have something called a “Turtle Walk” where attendees arrive on a scheduled evening and learn more about the details of the sea turtles’ habits and the kind of research and direct assistance to the sea turtles that the LMC provides through generous donation of volunteer time and public donations.  At the same time, there are “spotters” in communication with staff indoors as to whether there is a turtle sighting—they inform if is there a female turtle approaching the shore in order to lay her eggs in the dark.   If a turtle comes ashore that matches the species allowed by state permit for LMC to view with a tour then the visitors are chaperoned down to the shore in the nighttime with the assistance of red flashlights that will not hamper or scare the turtle.  The general purpose of this Turtle Walk is to educate visitors through education and viewing in real-time the tedious work of a sea turtle to try against many odds to secure the next generation’s survival.

Last Tuesday: No Turtle Show

I had the opportunity to participate in a Turtle Walk event last Tuesday at the LMC in Juno Beach.  Unfortunately our group didn’t have the chance to view a turtle laying in real-time, however, the information I was able to learn in a couple of hours from some of the staff that evening was really enlightening.  Among my favorites: learning that the water evacuating from the pipe from rehabilitation turtle tanks has been treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution that affirms my intuition that has allowed my children and I to enjoy the water play by the shore from it, the fact that leatherback turtles are our best friends because they eat their weight in jellyfish(!) and that LMC’s presence in our area has helped to make significant changes that benefit humans as well as turtles with keeping the nearby beaches cleaner and calmer with less ambient light.  Also, “hot chicks, cool dudes” was the phrase coined to describe the fact in the 1980s biologists realized that sea turtles undergo temperature-dependent sex determination–i.e. the temperature of the sand encloses the egg nests on the shore will sway whether an egg hatches a male or female sea turtle.

Mean Green Clean

If you have had the opportunity to read some of my earlier blog posts you will already understand my anger about our shorelines being treated as an open sand landfill or ashtray—seriously, what possesses us humans to think it’s okay to discard our trash on purpose in a place we all share with each other and the other animal and plants?  On July 5th the LMC organized a beach cleanup and invited the public to come out and utilize tools to pick up any and all trash that could be found after a major holiday.  I brought one of my young children along and when faced with a tantrum I gently sang to him as to why we needed to clean up—for the turtles, for the trees, for the bees and for you and me.  It was both impressive and sad to see how much the public had left in the sands only inches and feet away from wooden markers indicating a sea turtle nest.  Although it is great to have public beach cleanups organized, I feel it’s incumbent upon anyone who steps on a beach to refrain from littering and to pick up any rubbish they see and properly discard.

Local Paper Highlights

Within the same week of attending a LMC Turtle Walk night and participating in a public beach clean up our local paper The Palm Beach Post had a fun Accent front page story entitled “On the trail of turtles” written by Barbara Marshall and photographs by Greg Lovett: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/lifestyles/on-the-trail-of-turtles/nYc6g/  It was a fun piece that highlighted a snippet of what volunteers, biologists and physicians do at the LMC to help ensure that the leatherback turtles who nest on our shores are able to continue their calling as part of our ecological balance in the ocean–did you know they may actually be natives of the Asian oceans? Also, they eat jellyfish, I repeat: THEY EAT JELLYFISH.  There is more to be written on the need to assist the sea turtles, of course, but it is good to see that the information continues to come out no matter how big or small.

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It is understandable that we can get so overwhelmed by any news that affects the survival of animal species, plants and the frightful fluctuations of our climate on this Earth—so that we actually are moved to not move, we become paralyzed and apathetic.  My hope is that we can at the very least become more aware of our immediate environment where we respectively live and do our best to assist outstanding issues with wildlife other concerns.  We cannot disassociate ourselves from the fact that we depend on each other and other building blocks in our physical world to survive and thrive as we strive to become a better human race overall.

R.V.S.Bean

Some newsworthy links:

recent article on honeybee CCD: http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/

recent article on rainforest destruction: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22706402

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"