Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

Two days ago we were on a lonely beach near the New River, a bit north of Cape Blanco, the wind whipping the sand. Ann saw something in the far distance. She pointed. It took me a while to make out the thin undulating line far in the distance. Then we heard the unmistakable cries and honks of the migrating geese, approaching nearer and nearer, soon overhead in steady flight, headed to their breeding grounds in the mist shrouded Aleutian Islands.  Flustered, I nearly dropped my camera in the sand. I had no high powered lenses, and am not a wildlife photographer. I just looked into the sun and shot. I previewed the LED screen, and the image naturally was terrible. Well, it was just as well, because I now could concentrate on this wilderness journey heading north to lands I will never see, but can imagine. Suddenly, we see more incoming, waving wild banners, Vs folding into long wavy horizontal lines, regrouping, separating, lead birds rotating, a few stragglers. The honks became a wild cacophony. I keep thinking, unimaginatively,  “call of the wild”. But it is wild, as wild as the Amazon. Geese flying north as they always have, following instincts and urgings we know nothing of, this surge of life heads to it’s native grounds. Ann and I don’t run out of excitement, even after the passing of twelve or fifteen flocks, maybe 1500 birds. At some point in all this I was a bit more prepared with my camera. No close ups —no lens for that. But the waving, flying banners? That’s what I hoped to capture—just to hint at this life force in motion.

These Aleutian geese mostly winter on the Northern California and Oregon coasts. A few years ago this sub-species was threatened, headed sadly to the “going, going gone” category. Federal endangered species legislation saved the day. Today, 60,000 to 100,000 of these geese fly north about this time. They face the winds, they make me glad to be alive. Thank heavens for Earth Day! Out of its power came the Endangered Species Act, the most effective conservation tool we have, and sadly one that those short-sighted, stunted politicians who would steal from the creation want to eviscerate. Let’s hope for better times ahead.  SRE


All photos © SR Euston


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Today Earth Day is 40 years old. Why don’t I feel like celebrating?

On that first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, I was four days shy of my nineteenth birthday. I’d been working in the antiwar movement trenches at my college for months. In just a few weeks, campuses across the nation would shut down in a collective wave of anger and despair.

But Earth Day was different. It was upbeat and hopeful. We were collectively sick of air and water pollution, rivers on fire, toxic dump leaks, overpopulation. It was our future they had been toying with. Now we were coming of age, and ready to take the lead. Yes we felt we really could save our planet.

And for forty years, many of us have been trying.

Road to Nowhere 1 © SR Euston

At best, the results are mixed. Our streams may be cleaner (still, hardly uniformly fishable/swimmable, the original goal) and our air may be clearer (well, at least in some places.) But species are dropping like flies, the ice caps are melting, our oceans are dying.

And now, we face what is society’s biggest challenge, global warming. Instead of showing the courage to deal with it, we find ourselves mired in a he said/she said argument of false dichotomies, giving equal weight to the research of climate scientists and the rantings of crackpots.

Many despairing environmentalists are suggesting we can find comfort in the nimble adaptability our species has exhibited in past climate catastrophes. Of course that was pre-civilization but what the heck.

Road to Nowhere 2 © SR Euston

For most Americans, as long as they can go down to the Kroger store to gather food, as long as they can cloth themselves in sunproof clothing they buy online, as long as hotshot techies talk about saving the world by launching sulfur particles into the atmosphere to condense CO2 or a gazillion aluminum foil shields to deflect the sun’s rays back into space, we’ll be just fine avoiding the issue thank you very much.

Sure sounds like the “I’ve still got checks, I must have money” routine to me.

No wonder I’m depressed.

Through a Glass Darkly © SR Euston

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