Tag Archives: biodiversity


I saw this morning, via the magic of facebook, that, a year ago today, I posted a quote.  So today, and here, I would like to reprise that post in honor of Ray Anderson, whom I think we would all call “a fine man.” … Continue reading

Universal Sacredness of Life – Support the UDAR

Poster by Andy Beattie

Poster by Andy Beattie

Support the UDAR.  However you can. By voting. By considering.  By editing.  By signing the declaration.  By joining a local animal rights organization.  And a few international ones.  And maybe, if you’re lucky, it can be both for you.

But support it we must, in order to not die ourselves.

When even one species leaves the planet, the planet is changed, and so are we.  The Martha I am is, perhaps imperceptibly, changed by even one extinction. And so, because imperceptible with one, we think it will be so with two.  And three.  And three hundred.

At which extinction will the change be perceptible to the densest among us?  It already and certainly is among the most perceptive. I do not count myself among them.  I am aware only of the conceptual likelihood that this is so.

At which extinction do we acknowledge that we do not value the sacredness of life.  Where life will be a commodity to trade in for us all?  When my flesh is only so much protein on the market?

Now – you see, I don’t believe that that day will come. I believe that right now, we are waking up to the sacredness of life.  And that all life, if one’s own is to be truly and presently lived, is regarded with awe.  And respect.  And love.

Support the universal dignity of life; live in the awe of life; support the UDAR.


Poster by Andy Beattie

Poster by Andy Beattie

(For access to wonderful information about animal rights, thank you, Andy Beattie.)

My backyard, and yours

A good Saturday in Harlan

A good Saturday in Harlan

If we all truly lived from the spirit of NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard), we would be in trouble with no hope of recovery.   But today your back yard is a little cleaner, or will soon be a little cleaner, as a result of the efforts of 80 or so citizens of Harlan County, Kentucky.  These folks, who gathered together at the behest and under the watchful eye of Croley Forester, divided into teams, and competed to see who could remove the most trash from the headwaters of the Cumberland River, specifically the three forks of the Cumberland:  Martin’s Fork, Poor Fork and Clover Fork.

How is that your back yard?  For a moment, consider that every last thing that starts out in a river (or is thrown out of a car window, which then washes into a storm sewer and out into a drainage ditch, then a creek, and then a river) ends up in the ocean.  Oh, maybe that was too absolute.  Some of it might get caught

up in a water treatment plant, and so the solids would be appropriately disposed of in a landfill.  But the largest proportion of it is not caught anywhere.  And if it’s made of plastic, for instance, it’s either out there in the ocean blue or on its way, and once it’s there, it’s never going away.

A great wad of plastic

A great wad of plastic

Maybe you don’t think of the ocean as your back yard.  Maybe you don’t like the water.  Or even the beach.  And a cruise is out of the question.  And fish?  Pee-YOO!  And maybe I’m even a member of the I Don’t Like the Ocean Club.  But that’s not the point.  I think the point is, it is your ocean, and mine, whether we like it or not.  It’s the only one we have.  And whatever lives there has a right to a healthy home, just like you do.

So yesterday these 80 souls removed several tons of junk from the headwaters of the Cumberland.  We won’t have an official count till tomorrow when the trash will be picked up by Harlan County Santitation, and sent to the landfill.  But here are a few photos just to give you an inkling.  Several tons of junk, including tires, cars, refrigerators (think freon), catalytic

Tires are sources of polyaromatic hydrocarbons.  Yum.  Not.

Tires are sources of polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Yum. Not.

converters (think heavy metals), VCRs and TVs (more metals), a plastic sliding board, washing machines, and the dreaded and ubiquitous plastic, will not find their final resting place in the ocean or in the gullet of some dying ocean creature because these people made it so.

So, to my fellow Harlan Countians, I can’t express how proud I am to count myself as one of you.  I can’t say how thrilled to my core I am that a native son has come home.  And to the rest of you’uns, I just want to let you know, Harlan County’s got your back. yard.

The Poor Fork of the Cumberland River

The Poor Fork of the Cumberland River

Mountaintop removal mining and losing Appalachian diversity

This news story may be old news to many of you, but I thought it might be worthwhile to share a couple of links just in case you are not a voracious reader of blogs and newsfeeds.  I am just beginning to learn what that even means.

Photo by Vivian Stockman, October 19, 2003

Photo by Vivian Stockman, October 19, 2003, found at http://www.ohvec.org/galleries/mountaintop_removal/007/

Robert Kennedy, Jr., testimony before Congressional Committee.  On December 12, 2008, Robert Kennedy, Jr., testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on the destructive and illegal practice of mountaintop removal mining and valley fill.  A video and transcript of his testimony is located at http://www.ilovemountains.org/news/455 and also at http://anniekatec.blogspot.com/2008/12/rfk-on-last-minute-bush-environmental.html

One interesting factoid from Kennedy’s testimony that I don’t recall learning as a geologist is that after North America’s last major ice age, North America was reseeded from the seed stock in the Southern Appalachians.  You see, North America, with the exception of our fine Appalachian mountains was either under ice or had largely become a tundric wasteland (I hope I didn’t offend any tundra fans).  After the ice receded, there was nothing but grassland and lowland forests, and the Appalachians basically created the flora, and thus the fauna, that persists today.  Because our mountains are some of the oldest and survived this recent ice age, they are among the most biologically diverse.


Photo by Peacock at http://appalachiantreks.blogspot.com

This makes the irresponsible onslaught of the mining companies and the complicity of the outgoing administration and the Army Corps of Engineers all the more egregious.

See also Forests in Peril: Tracking Deciduous Trees from Ice-Age Refuges into the Greenhouse World by University of Tennessee professor, Hazel R. Delacourt, Department of Ecology and  Evolutionary Biology for a scholastic summary of biodiversity of the Appalachian and the impacts that we all will face when this ecological gem is lost.