This week’s news that Switzerland’s Bertrand Piccard flew a solar powered plane around the world without a drop of fuel sends our hopes soaring. We could not receive a stronger signal that help is on the way for alternatives that meet our energy needs.
Solar is but one of the new technologies in need of our attention and support if we want to make the shift to 21st Century technology. As far back as 2013, The World Energy Council recommended that utilities markets move toward decentralization. This would give customers more control over their power usage in their homes or businesses.
In January this year, HydroQuebec (HQ) announced that the Northern Pass Project (NPP) would cost $2.8 billion but HQ would only pay $607 million. New England would pay the rest. That does not sound like energy savings for NH or control over power usage. And there is no guarantee that a power failure further north would not generate a massive outage to the south. NPP is a grand example of stifling 20th century technology.
Long-term contracts for large scale hydropower from Quebec will not bring cheap or lower consumer electric rates, as HQ has already demonstrated with their Newfoundland Churchill Falls 40 year contract.
What might NH develop if so many citizens did not have to throw so much time and energy into stopping the NPP from destroying NH land and diversity, pitting families against each other, and threatening our future water supply by degrading our water-sequestering forests? People come from the world over to savor our lush forests, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife. All are threatened by this and the many other NH projects Eversource plans to pursue.
Solar and other yet-to-be-developed energy sources clearly demonstrate the power of decentralized energy to avoid large up-front capital investments and encourage pay-as- you-grow systems.
Time to embrace 21st Century technology, reclaim our right to safeguard our forests, diversify our energy technologies, say NO to centralized utilities, and enjoy the health and well being that comes with care-full actions.
We feel challenged by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, strong winds and usually reach out to those around us to pool our resources and support each other. Great kindnesses are reported. We reach to save the world and all therein.
The spin side of this is that when we are not threatened by such events, we tend to indulge ourselves with less concern about saving the world. Healthwise, the Earth is in crisis. Take your pick: threatened water, not only in limited supply, but by contaminants; weakened soils; lack of sustaining work for many people; weak infrastructures, such as old dams and bridges in need of repair or removal; increasing senior population in need of health care; dwindling sea foods from contaminated oceans; increased transport of viruses and insects no longer contained locally due to travel ease; questions about our chemtrail footprint and more, threaten our health.
In the last century, Tielhard de Chardin wrote about the Divine Milieu and Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave us A Testament to Freedom. Both document how crucial to our health is our ability to be kind to people everywhere, not only in the US. Today, writer Rebecca Solnit, in A Paradise Built in Hell, documents the “Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster.” Solnit researched five US catastrophes: hurricanes, earthquakes, and 9-11. She found that most people are altruistic in such situations.
Yet we need to continually remind ourselves to figure out how we can best share and care for each other and the Earth. Lists rating the top ten healthiest/happiest countries in the world vary depending on the bias and due diligence of each researcher but some countries crop up on everybody’s list. US is on nobody’s top ten list. Okinawa in Japan gets top billing for health. Several people on Okinawa live 110 yrs. with a big plus for quality of life.
We could learn from common habits found in top ten picks. They have strong, inclusive social networks and feelings of social responsibility that permeate the culture. This includes acceptance of a higher tax base that funds health care and education. Fewer people work long hours; they enjoy gender equality, have low crime rates, less corruption, and more jobs. Top tens also tend to have transparent governments, safe water quality and more public trust.
Top tens value plenty of exercise. They walk, use public transport or bikes, daily practice Tai chi or some form of movement that keeps everything moveable tuned up. Okinawans favor plant based diet as their foundation, eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, and seaweed; small amounts of protein (fish/meat/eggs/nuts/seeds), fat, and alcohol.
Health and happiness depend less on how much we have and more on how much we share and care for each other all over the world every day. Time to reorient selfies with others.
Interspecies Communication – what a mouthful! Leadership for Sustainability- another mouthful! Yet, we will be hearing more about both, and they represent seeds of hope for an exciting healthier future for all of us Earthlings.
We treasure awesome moments when we connect with an animal, bird, or plant or when we sit in absolute stillness. Since 1900, many Eastern forms of meditation: Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Zazen, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Vipassana, Metta, and more have helped us here in the US to still our hyperactive minds.
Perhaps we need to look to Interspecies Communications (IC) for leaders who can help us communicate positively with each other and the rest of life on Earth. Science warns us that if we want to enjoy good health, we need to maintain safe water and food supplies, save our remaining forests, stop polluting the oceans, figure out how to speak to each other with respect and maintain the diversity needed to survive and thrive.
An IC Google search brings up several researchers with compelling stories of their work interviewing animals. Universities are developing Masters programs in IC and Leadership for Sustainability.
This week I read “The Last Wild”, a junior children’s book by Piers Torday. Written as fiction, The Last Wild is about finding a cure for the strange fatal disease called Red Eye in an overdeveloped corporate world of Facto. The book reads like a cross between Orwell’s “1984” and Anna Breytenbach’s work relaying messages from animals in her native S. Africa.
Jon Young’s, “What The Robin Knows: How birds reveal the secrets of the natural world” is even more encouraging! Young studies birds and deciphers the signals a robin, one of the most expressive birds, uses to send out warnings that are different for a hawk or a cat and more. Other birds and animals understand robin language. Each animal and bird species has a language other species understand.
We do respond to many of the sounds birds make to warn us of storms or when a nest is being raided. We have been expanding our ability to speak other people languages. Bacteria and viruses are certainly teaching us that we are not the grandest tigers in the jungle. What might we learn from other species that will help us all to move toward healthy lives?
What if we never built a road or building without first tuning in to what would be most beneficial to all species? It is no longer far-fetched to think Interspecies Communication is possible on a much larger scale than ever. We have an urgent call. Time to tune in.
“Listening Is an Act of Love” proclaims the title of David Isay’s book about his founding of StoryCorps, popular radio and Youtube broadcasts. His book contains 49 of the 45,000 interviews taken since 2003 when StoryCorps was launched in an NYC Grand Central Station booth.
The theory is, “if we listen, we’ll find wisdom, wonder and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us.” The question is, are we listening? How much does our health depend on our ability to listen to the people around us?
The beauty of Isay’s book lies in the diversity of people interviewed: people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. Isay’s book is a nugget that can help us figure out how to get along with the rest of our world family with a respect that keeps us all healthy.
Especially at this point in history when many of us actively look for answers for ourselves, our families and the future of our state and planet, we need wisdom that gives us healthy perspectives on possibilities for the future.
Studs Terkel called StoryCorps “celebrating the lives of the uncelebrated!” Each story represents an act of love and respect. People talk about happiest moments, favorite moments, their regrets, something they have never told but want to tell now, the kindest person in their life, their hurdles, and more.
The stories are not all pretty; many are poignant, some are hilarious, yet they all demonstrate the strength of human ingenuity, resilience, and respect for others as they are shared.
Given our world conflicts, climate change, political campaigning, food, water, and energy concerns, we would all do well to strengthen our listening skills. The wide array of protests in the US alone attests to human needs to be heard, understood, and respected.
One clear sign of positive listening in NH was the NHSEC ( Site Evaluation Committee) May 19 decision to extend the Northern Pass final decision date for 21 months (September, 2017) so that the SEC has ample time to consider the exhaustive data to date (which includes many of our stories).
Our NH stories are as unique and important as the corporate stories bombarding us. Our health depends on our ability to continually come together as we share those stories.
For six years, the Northern Pass Project has badgered the North Country, causing rifts among families who sold family property to the NP. The latest wrinkle in Colebrook should alert people that NP will stop at nothing to scam NH. Eversource/Hydro Quebec appears confident that they have the SEC in their back pocket. HQ has demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to make a profit by ravaging Quebec.
Many of us were initially thrilled to hear that The Balsams was to be reclaimed. We were unprepared to see The Balsams as bait to accept the NP profit for destruction of our forest, waving the jobs flag for emphasis. Now, we are told that The Balsams depends on the NP Project. If that is the case, The Balsams project appears to be on shaky ground. Maybe The Balsams will go belly up with or without the pass if it needs a 2 billion dollar boost even to get started. With the ill feeling created by Les Otten’s bullying tack, many people may not choose to patronize The NP Balsams if it is ever completed.
For six years, large crowds have gathered at public hearings to oppose the NP Project. The NP project threatens our forests, wildlife, our health, safety, family and community well being, the independence NH is known for.
The wave of the future is not to cover the earth with a cobweb of power lines. A new town is being created in Florida, see babcockranchflorida.com. The town will run on solar in partnership with Florida Power and Light. Forms of renewable energy need to be explored in NH, not jeopardized by a foreign power company.
If the Northern Pass Project had spent their money burying the lines instead of bribing property owners and officials, the project would likely have been a done deal by now. NP’s resistance to burial and admission that they have plans for many more projects in NH should alert us to the further threat of many more power lines intersecting the state and tied into ISO New England’s master plan for NH. Eversource has many more projects in mind beyond the 192 miles currently planned for the Northern Pass.
Grant Township, Indiana County, PA has a similar problem with PA General Electric (PGE). PGE has filed for permission to frack wastewater injection wells. On May 3, 2016, Grant Township passed “a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action that prohibits any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or any other criminal action against those participating in non-violent direct action.” (celdf.org/2016/05/press release)
Our health depends on our ability to care for our forests and wildlife diversity, the safety of our wells, our homes, schools, and communities. We and other states need to explore sources of clean, renewable energy. NP is NOT clean energy! Hopefully we will not have to resort to civil disobedience to simply stay healthy.
Weird weather patterns are not new to NH. Ice has been slow to leave the trails this spring and several hikers have fractured ankles, wrists, legs, and more when negotiating open ice falls or when sidetracked from sneaky patches of ice covered with a little snow.
Right now, Mt. Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley and the Kinsman Ridge Trail up Cannon Mt. in Franconia Notch continue to greet hikers with trails covered by frozen waterfalls that are a challenge even to hikers wearing crampons.
NH Fish and Game has a Hike Safe program, complete with a $25. annual insurance card should you ever need a rescue. Meantime, revenue from this fund assures that should you or others need a rescue, qualified people will respond. Without the card, you may be billed for rescue services. Just google “Hike Safe” and you will not only bring up the insurance website, you will find more information about how to prepare for your hike.
Here are a few cautionary measures to assure safe hikes this spring: Know the trail, including brook crossings and springs that feed the brooks. Carry and use the White Mountain Guide Map or local trail map that locates your hike. Save new explorations for later when free of ice. Stay with your group and count noses at every trail junction.
Know your body, ie, sore knees, heart problems, breathing problems, and pace yourself. If your dog hikes with you, be sure that your dog has the stamina and social skills needed for your hike. Be mindful of wet lichen on the rocks, and dry or wet leaves, which may be concealing ice, all potential fall stimulators.
Prepare for weather changes with extra layers, hats, mitts, and rain gear. Be ready with first aid kit and a stuff sack for emergencies. Be willing to turn back if necessary for safety, even if you took a day off from work for your hike. Carry more water than you expect to need, an extra sandwich and snacks.
Should you ever need a rescue, remember that cell phones often only work at higher elevations. By calling 911, Fish and Game officials will be contacted. The nearest rescue group will then be called if needed, usually local Fire Departments who then alert their on-call members. A crew of 12 or more people may respond, depending on the situation.
Your best protection is careful preparation. A list of pack contents to check off makes it easy to have what you need as you prepare for each hike. Here’s to the wonders of spring blooms, grand vistas, and the sheer freedom to enjoy walking our beautiful land with confidence.
The Northern Pass project is looking more and more like a chapter in Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen. Eversource president, Bill Quinlan plays a convincing Very Wicked Hobgoblin, complete with his Magic Glass Mirror that makes everything beautiful look hideous. At the March 14 hearing, Quinlan let it slip that Eversource has many more projects planned for New Hampshire. For anyone wondering what Eversource/Hydro Quebec plans to do with all the property HQ has bought up in the North Country, here’s a peek.
Seen through the glass mirror, our hills, farms, schools, neighborhoods, towns and cities will be covered with a network of high voltage towers. The Northern Pass Project is just the beginning of a much bigger plan to create a humongous carbon footprint in NH, one NP has no intent to fully offset because offsetting would cut into their tremendous profits. Every 35 foot piling they blast and fill with cement will emit a ton of carbon dioxide for every ton of cement NP pours in. In Quebec, HQ got away with not offsetting responsibly by calling their reservoirs a “land use change” while destroying river systems. Token payments are not a fair exchange for the fishing and tourism industries, indigenous culture, or wildlife now extinct. HQ energy is Predatory Energy.
NH electrical workers welcome the project and seem unaware of the health effects and loss of livelihood, home equity, wildlife, and tourism that Eversource has planned for all of us UNLESS we come together and support options for Clean Energy.
Most of us do not know what it is like to be ordered to move far from our home, land, work; to have our livelihood destroyed; to lose our community. We love our rivers, mountains, lakes and little towns.
Vermont finds Solar energy a clean option. The city of Rutland now runs on solar. Rutland put the solar grid on top of the city’s old dump, (not in a forest), and now has the most solarized city in New England via the Strafford Hill Solar Farm. The partnership is between Rutland, Green Mountain Power and Grow Solar with wins for everyone involved.
Right here in Grafton County, the Bristol Library now runs on solar. Other significant NH solar arrays include Manchester Airport Parking Garage, Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Factory, Peterborough Wastewater Treatment Plant, Exeter Regional High School and more. See https://solarpowerrocks.com./new-hampshire/.
By comparison, the NP has already strained the health and security of NH residents with property threats and hearings that run 5-6 hours long in strategically inconvenient places. Eversource reps claim false benefits and do not answer questions honestly. Hydro Quebec could easily run their line down through the approved NY/VT underground line, bypass NH altogether and eliminate a NH carbon footprint. Let us make that happen!
Despite our singularly icy winter, deer ticks seem to be more abundant than ever. They seem to thrive on the periods of warm rain that alternated with snowfall this winter, and are ahead of schedule glomming onto hapless hikers before wildflowers are even up.
Given the high incidence of bone breaks caused by falls on ice covered by an innocent looking dusting of snow, it may be well to wait until the ice is out of the woods to venture in. Just this week the trail up Starr King Mt. was a virtual river of ice a foot thick in some places and an effective bushwhack around it was impossible. Two hikers ended up with bone breaks. On the same day, a hiker slipped going to the lookout on Welch Mt. and had to be rescued with a broken ankle.
To know what we’re dealing with and how to prevent bites, it helps to understand the life cycle of the Deer tick and what it needs to survive. The tick gets its name because the preferred host is a deer. Adult ticks feed on the deer’s blood, mate and, once the female eggs are fertilized, both the male and female die and drop to the ground where the eggs hatch to larva. The larva seeks a new host, a mouse or whoever is handy. The larvae molt to nymphs and continue to feed on mouse blood and other small mammals. Ticks are usually found on grasses, waiting for other victims, like us and deer, to pass.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picaridin, and Permethrin for insect repellants. All are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past, readers responded that 7% or 30% DEET had not served as a protection from tick bites for them. Products with 99% DEET, commonly used by hunting and fishing people seemed to have more success. However, Permethrin is the insecticide that people are finding effective against tick bites. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the flowers of a species of the Chrysanthemum plant. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide whose chemical structure is based on natural pyrethrum. As an insecticide, it is currently sold as a 0.5% Permethrin Pump Spray.
When used as directed, Permethrin appears to have no harmful effect on the environment. It is NOT used on the skin. It is sprayed ONLY on your clothes (shirt, pants, socks, everything but your underwear) and one treatment will last up to six launderings or six weeks before clothing has to be treated again. You need to wash the sprayed clothes between wearings or check the product label for specific instructions.
Other readers have found Permethrin Tick Tubes to be effective, especially if you live in a wooded/grassy area, have pets, and need protection right in your own yard. Tick Tubes are designed for the little critters. The tubes are biodegradable cardboard tubes filled with permethrin-treated cotton balls. Mice gather the cotton for their nests. Deer ticks intending to feed on the mice are then killed when the mice return to their nests.
However, the mice and other mammals are not harmed. Put these tubes around your yard and the mice will love you for it. Caution needs to be taken that children do not take them apart out of curiosity and handle the cotton.
If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check your local camping or hunting supply store. Otherwise, both products are available on line.
IMPORTANT CAUTIONS: DEET comes in varying strengths and preparations, in roll-ons, sprays and liquid. If applied to the skin (which hikers and gardeners often do,) it needs to be thoroughly washed off with soap and water when home safely. DEET is potentially toxic. Body checking, especially the head and hairline, remains a must. Our heads have a rich supply of blood just under the surface. Check and re-check each other after time spent in tick-infested areas, especially if near grasses; get out of your clothes, do a complete body check, and shower well. Wash clothes to avoid spreading ticks to your home. Check pets routinely. Walk on the center of trails and save bushwhacking for winter. And don’t sit on a nice soft clump of grass to eat your lunch!
Permethrin is ONLY applied to clothing, NEVER to the skin. It is highly toxic to humans but safe when applied to clothing and not when clothing is being worn. For safety, clothing is sprayed according to specific directions on the bottle and left to dry for 2 hrs. before wearing. One reader has a separate bag he stores Permethrin sprayed clothes in between wearings.
A Deer Tick may only be the size of a sesame seed but if it has been sucking your blood, it will swell up much larger. If you are bitten and the tick has been on you for more than 24 hrs, or if you develop a fever, chills, headache, muscle & joint pain, fatigue, rash or any other symptom that seems odd for you, bring yourself and the tick to your health provider.
Time to spread the word and send in suggestions for what works for you. Thanks!
Ruminating on our environmentally induced health problems this week, I was relieved to see several signs that the times are a changing.
Despite the threats to our health posed by Australia’s coal mines, Canada’s Tar Sands, and Russia’s Gas Fields, environmentalist, Bill McKibben (Boston Globe 3/5) notes that positive change is happening as well. He sees protesters as the planet’s antibodies finally kicking in. Right here in NH, protesters have stayed the course against the Northern Pass Project for 5 ½ years and continue their protest of this project that threatens our land, our wildlife diversity, and ultimately, our health.
Film director, Michael Moore, believes that we can do more for good in the world. Annette Insdorf interviewed him about his new film. Instead of documenting US problems, Where to Invade Next documents places around the world we could learn from, countries who have turned these same problems around. In Norway, prisons are for rehabilitation, not revenge. There is no death penalty and no life in prison. The warden meets with each prisoner on arrival and says, “Someday you may be my neighbor and I want you to be a good neighbor.” And Norway leads the world in successful rehabilitation.
Germany has taken in 400,000 refugees and is prepared to take in 400,000 more because, as Angela Merkel says, “that’s who we are”. Germany refused to participate in the Iraq holocaust. They know the futility of war first hand.
The list continues through health care, education, etc. but the take home for me was the reality that we can learn from other countries when we stop pretending that we are the superior people of the world.
Philosophers have routinely called us to think “we” instead of “me”. Martin Buber, in his book, “I and Thou,” spelled out the difference between relating to other people as an “it” and as a “thou.” Environmental Activist, Joanna Macy, sees us in the midst of “The Great Turning” from an Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Civilization. Mohandas Gandhi encouraged protesters, “When people lead, the leaders will follow.”
We are no longer simply part of the United States. We are part of the World. Our health depends on World health. How can each of us claim citizenship in a Life Sustaining Civilization?
Anthropologist, Brian Fagan paints a sobering world picture for us in his book, The Attacking Ocean. We in NH are far enough inland and upland that unless we have past experiences of living near the ocean and can go back and experience the then and now, it is difficult to accept the reality of rising sea levels and loss of habitable land.
Fagan takes us through the natural events he considers our greatest threat: earthquakes, tsunamis, and tropical storms “which spread water horizontally over low-lying coastal landscapes and river deltas, some of the most densely inhabited environments on earth.”
Our challenge internationally is to figure out how we can cooperate to absorb the migrations that have already begun. In the US, inland migration has begun. How do we plan to share our space, food and water? Earth is prepared to nourish us if we are willing to cooperate and look at the big picture.
We already know that GMO monoculture plowed crops are destroying the life of the earth’s soil, despite the slick rhetoric advertised. The reality is that the fantastic network of soil mycorrhizal fungi which absorb and redistribute carbon and other nutrients through roots, and help to set in motion the release of oxygen we need, is being destroyed by plowing, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Courtney White traveled all over the world to observe innovative farmers and he takes us along through his book, Grass, Soil, Hope: A journey through Carbon Country. The good news is that permaculture farming, developed by two Australians: Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s, is spreading all over the world. Also called no-till farming, permaculture farming avoids the use of plows, pesticides and herbicides. Instead, Prehistoric and Native American practices of no till (permaculture) farming not only enriches our soil, it stores abundant carbon as well.
Permculture farming assures erosion control by not disturbing the network of soil microbes, beneficial bacteria, fungi, nematodes (tiny worms). Mulching, cover cropping, and companion planting of diverse crops encourage a strong network. By not plowing up this network, these practices are reclaiming and protecting the soil, producing greater harvests of robust, healthy foods, free of harmful chemicals.
When Hurricane Irene hit Dorn Cox’s permaculture farm in Lee, NH, he noted “lots of rain but no damage”. Farmers who plowed had no underground network to protect their crops from hurricane energy.
White, a New Mexico farmer himself, takes us to visit ranchers out west who fence off their grassland into paddocks. By rotating herds through the paddocks, they avoid overgrazing and assure good pasture. Some of them grazed sheep and cattle together; the cattle kept sheep predators at bay. Herds, by eating, walking and defecating, also stimulated native grasses to grow, proliferate and outcompete the weeds. To top it off, the quality of grass fed meat gradually increased income and ability to increase herd size.
At a tenuous time when it seems as though every aspect of survival is up in the air, we could literally ground ourselves by reconnecting with Earth’s network as the snow recedes around our homes. How might we encourage the underground internet to flourish?