The Dinosaur Told Me…

The dinosaur told me “be careful”
The dinosaur told me “beware”
The dinosaur told me “it’s happened before,
And the universe just doesn’t care”

The dinosaur told me “Extinction
Is the safest, conservative bet”
The dinosaur told me “don’t think you’re immune
Just because it has not happened yet.”

The dinosaur gave me a warning
She told me to share it with you
It won’t be an asteroid this time around—
We’ll be killed by the things that we do

The dinosaur pointed to history
And biology books on the shelves
The dinosaur told me what’s different this time
Is, we’re doing it all by ourselves

The dinosaur told me “be careful”
The dinosaur told me “it’s true”
The dinosaur said, “it’s a fight to the death,
And the enemy this time… is you.”

(click to embiggen, a bit.)

Today was a good day for dinosaurs. (Note–I am a big fan of Dana Hunter’s “Unidentified Flying Dinosaur” series.) Today, while watching an American Kestrel, I was completely blown away when the tiny kestrel, skittish in the presence of my camera, nearly flew right into the talons of a huge Osprey (I was reminded of fighter planes escorting bombers–the relative size of these two is astonishing). I saw five different species of ducks–mergansers, mallards, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks, and the first gorgeous wood ducks of the season (got good pics of all, too! Yes, I am obsessive, why do you ask?). And a beautiful prairie warbler, quite the tease, very keenly aware of where my camera was pointed, and pointedly staying one step ahead (well, mostly… I got a couple of nice shots of him as well).

And all of them are dinosaurs. Isn’t that just astonishing?

The dino in the pic above is one of my all time favorites, a black-crowned night heron. The first one I ever saw, I saw in Greece, at Lake Kerkini. This one, I saw… well, lemme ‘splain.

I was getting my oil changed (well, the oil in my car), at an auto-service chain that will go unnamed for now, attached to a big-box store that will also go unnamed for now, that had apparently built on cheap land that had once been swamp. Or wetlands, if you want to be a tree-hugger. While my car was up on hydraulic lifts, I walked the perimeter of the parking lot; this shot was taken from the parking lot of a big-box store.

Isn’t it wonderful, what a zoom lens and cropping can do?

What you don’t see (mostly) is the horrendous treatment of the heron’s home. Discarded automobile tires–at least 8 that I saw. Bottles and cans too numerous to count–mostly soda, but quite a bit more, including antifreeze and oil bottles. Insulated coffee mugs. Wheels from shopping carts. Hundreds of newspaper flyers–no idea what was in the ink they used. An entire single-serving coffee machine, in pieces. Plastic bags by the score. Insulated foam containers. Not to mention, the runoff from the parking lot itself ran directly into the wetlands area, not into a storm sewer–all the crap that leaks from cars on a regular basis was flowing right into that pond. I’m certain I’m leaving out as much as I’m including.

The red deally next to the heron? Near as I can tell, a plastic bread rack.

I’ll be writing to the owner of the big box store, and asking for responsible action. Failing that, I have plenty of pictures, and the addresses of the local papers.

We’ve used dinosaurs before, to warn us. The canary in a coal mine is a dinosaur warning system; we’ve seen the stomachs of starving albatrosses distended with plastics. Dinosaurs know extinction. Will we listen?

Disaster Preparation 101

There’s a chance we’ll be demolished by an asteroid from space
There’s a chance a wayward comet comes our way
There’s a certain probability the dangers that we face
Mean tomorrow is our last surviving day

There’s the promise of a super-quake that shakes us to the core
Or the ultimate volcano of them all
There are dozens of diseases we are not preparing for
Even one would be a horror to befall

We are petrified of portents; we are terrified of signs
We are worried that predictions come to pass
Whether ancient Mayan calendars, or when the moon aligns
We’re convinced the cosmos wants to kick our ass

With the slightest provocation, we will panic in the street
Cos we’re utterly convinced that we are right
Spend our savings in convincing any strangers that we meet
That the world is going to end… and, yes, tonight.

But it isn’t really crazy—no, I’m skeptical, you know,
There’s some really stupid stuff I don’t believe
Like this global warming bullshit, while I’m shoveling the snow
And the vaccination doctors who deceive

Or a change in ocean chemistry, from acids in the air
That could stunt our biggest food chain at its source
There are scientists aplenty who will tell me I should care
But they’re shilling for the government, of course

So I’ll prep for Armageddon, or for zombies on the loose,
Or a multitude of aliens from Mars
But this climate propaganda is a thinly veiled excuse
For the government to take away our cars!

There are far, far greater dangers we are certain we might face
That would bring the population to its knees
So we fret about an asteroid destroying us from space
While we’re killing off our future, by degrees

I hope it’s just an availability heuristic thing, and a handful of unrepresentative stories in the media, but wow. People prepped bunkers for the Mayan apocalypse. Harold Camping convinced people the world was going to end…like, six times. On the strength of a splinter group’s interpretation of an ancient text, or a psychic’s premonition, or the ranting of a radio host who profits when you buy gold, guns, or dehydrated food, people are moved to prepare for the worst. But when the scientific consensus points to a far more likely (but long term and slower) disaster?


An Earth Day Verse

By chance of birth
We’re here on Earth,
More lucky than we know
With such a brain
As can explain
The way these things must go

That life began
Not with a man
Named Adam, and his Eve
But molecules
In tidal pools
That replicate and cleave

To replicate
It is their fate
And thus to reproduce
The Earth revolves
And life evolves
And all this, we deduce

Recycled star
Is what we are
With everything we see
This view of things
Amazement brings
At least, it does to me

Some future day
I know we may
Be swallowed by the sun
For what it’s worth
Protect the Earth–
We’ve only got the one.

(First posted on Earth Day 2008)

Exodus II?

The Kiribati islands
While they never have been dry lands
Have been sinking, as the ocean levels rise;
As each island’s head goes under
People leave, and it’s no wonder—
Now they’re planning for their future, which is wise

With the ocean levels rising
It is not at all surprising
That they’re looking to protect their sons and daughters
Onto Fiji they could squeeze
As a band of refugees
As the world denies the rising of the waters.

Continues… [Read more…]

Kill! Kill! Kill!

On an overcast day off of west-coast Australia
A man, from his boat, took a dive
But he’d chosen a spot that’s a diner for sharks
So he never would surface alive.

The order has come now, to search and destroy
Permission to kill them on sight
It’s sharks being sharks, in their home habitat
So it’s time we should kill the great white.

When humans meet sharks in the blue of the ocean
And blood will be shed in the dark
One is the planet’s most dangerous killer;
The other of these is a shark.
[Read more…]

In Case Of Bear Attack…

The headlines, it is true, will claim
That vicious killers were to blame
Which now are merely “wild game”
And good for shooting
And that it’s true that wolves, or sharks,
Or grizzly bears in wooded parks
Have taken humans as their marks
I’m not refuting
But I’m the one who’s out of place
Invading in their wild space—
And should they choose to eat my face
I hold them blameless
But most of us, I’m guessing, still
Would want revenge—a justice kill—
And so I’ve put it in my will
(I’m really shameless):

“Should I be taken unawares
Feed the bears.”

Context, after the jump: [Read more…]

One Person Per Car

Look at them driving—one person per car—
Some driving forever; some not very far
They want to be somewhere that’s not where they are
So off they go driving, one person per car.

Some drive for a living; some drive just for fun
Some drive to the gym, then get out and go run
Then a bottle of juice and an energy bar
And away they go driving, one person per car

It’s not that they’re lazy, or selfish, or mean
Or under the thumb of some wastefulness gene
It’s not that they’re stupid; they’re not unaware
And it’s certainly not that they just don’t care
They’re the same as I am, and the same as you are
But off they go driving, one person per car

The drivers are heard to complain as they pass,
Of the costs of insurance, the high price of gas,
The taxes, inspections, repairs and the lot,
And there’s practically never a good parking spot
And the traffic! Imagine the time they have lost
As they sit, breathing everyone else’s exhaust
Till the roofs of their mouths taste of asphalt and tar
And they sit there—just sit there—one person per car

The car manufacturers sound a bit troubled;
They wish that their mileage could somehow be doubled
Without major changes—or any at all,
Cos the public won’t buy if the car is too small
It has to have room for a trip to the shore
With a couple of riders, perhaps three or four
And they need to have room for the blankets and gear
For the trips they might take, maybe one time a year
But of course they spend most of their hours, by far
Just sitting in traffic, one person per car

If the energy used as they try to explain
How they can’t take the subway; they can’t take the train
How they can’t join a carpool or hop on a bike
But drive to wherever, whenever they like
If the energy used as they make their excuses
Were tapped, for the energy bullshit produces…
Distill it, refine it, and fill up a jar
And off they’d go driving, one person per car

slight rant after the jump:
[Read more…]