We are caretakers of land and water

While we are considering “whole health” we must also consider the health of the environment.  Two items came to my attention recently that highlight urgent concerns.  One, the loss of ice in the arctic region and the second, the loss of fertile soil.  I have known about both for decades.  So what particularly impressed me at this date?  Keep reading.

I. A map sent by the Ocean Conservancy from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows a dramatic decrease in ice cap coverage.

http://nsidc.org/icelights/2012/08/30/how-low-is-low/#more-867 is the source of the following:

In the case of sea ice, a graph of sea ice extent shows that during spring, sea ice extent was in the two standard deviation range for sea ice from 1979 to 2000, as shown by the gray shaded area of the graph. But once the melt season began, extent quickly dropped out of this statistically normal zone and plummeted to set a new record low. But was this just an extreme year probably not to be repeated soon, like Phelps’ (Olympic swimming ) medals? A graph of the last six years shows that the minimum sea ice extent for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 were all far below the two standard deviations, suggesting that what was once normal may no longer be normal.

Then read the article by Robin McKee,  “Climate change is not just about science – it’s about the future we want to create,” found at

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/22/-sp-climate-change-special-report shows the dramatic rise in the ocean level

See the “graphic consequences of climate change” including drought in Africa and West Asia while increased hurricane activity damages the U. S. coast and the steps being advocated for action at the 2015 Paris meeting.

Read here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/26/global-warming-has-doubled-risk-harsh-winters-eurasia-research-finds

for an understanding of what seems like paradoxical effects of global warming.

I like the Nature Conservancy suggestions for personal action to help improve the health of local and ocean waters,  such as 1. plant trees, 2. don’t use the toilet as a trash can or garbage disposal 3 sweep walks and drives instead of hosing them with water to minimize the amount of chemicals that go into wastewater, 4 retrieve all fishing lines and gear even if broken, 5 use less fertilizer along with several other suggestions depending on where you live.

II. The second  alarm was a request for funds to plow land for food production in an African country.  For many years, Wes Jackson of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has spoken of the annual loss by wind and water of fertile soil through plowing.  The Institute is working to develop perennial food crops.  A Salina machinery company, Great Plains Manufacturing, provides vertical tillage machines to avoid the damage done by plowing.

In Kenya, soil conservation activities are documented at

http://arochakenya.wildlifedirect.org/tag/conservation-agriculture/

where “They have carefully followed the simple method of a) no ploughing, b) use plenty of mulch and c) rotate your crops and as a result their maize (corn) in the last short rains was huge and dense as you can see in the photos.”

My grandfather took me, a grade school girl, across the road to the corn field one day and standing in the midst of the field with corn higher than either of our heads, he stooped to the ground, selected a small clod of dirt, squeezed it and let the good earth fall to the ground.  He asked me, told me, “Take care of the earth.”  Why?, I asked. “All life depends on it.”

Let us love the land and be good stewards of the earth and oceans.

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