Monday, May 21, 2018

Aussies co-authoring garbage

My old friend Professor Robin Jeffrey and his friend, anthropologist Dr. Assa Doron, have written a new book called Waste of a Nation published by Harvard University Press.

The book is about garbage and India, or India and garbage, whichever you prefer, but does not send the same message as do articles or books about pollution that have been published elsewhere in the world.

In this new book, their take on the subject of garbage is as different from mine as is India from British Columbia where Robin and I grew up, and is also as different from anywhere in Canada as is Australia where he and Doron both live.
Robin Jeffrey, left; Assa Doron, right: Book Talk (photo from Wikipedia)
In reading about this book, I have found that North Americans and others in this world deal with garbage in a far different way than do the people of India.

Map via Wikipedia
I was surprised, as I think you will be, that the big problem isn't pollution of the waters surrounding India to the west, south, and east, but rather the way in which waste has been handled for centuries compared with the impact of new technology on the people who once took care of their country's garbage.

Large-scale waste management as we now know it...with Sweden being today's model and other countries thus inspired...might become a serious problem in India rather than a solution.

The management of waste in India was handled by its specialists for centuries with no interference from scientists and their ilk. Of course, waste itself is a problem everywhere, as we all know, but solving today's pollution problem with technology might not be the end game for India.

I haven't read Waste of a Nation because it hasn't yet arrived by mail from Australia, but I have been apprised of its content by one of its authors — not only apprised but also surprised, because I have always been used to the view that so much of the world has on the subject.

We sit in our houses or apartments or condos, and we travel in our cars or trucks or camper vans or motorhomes, spewing waste gases into the atmosphere and dropping bottles, cans, papers, wrappers, and other detritus into bins or, heaven forbid, onto the roadside, some of which will be picked up by vast garbage trucks every day or week, depending on the location, and the rest of which will be left to moulder by the wayside or be eaten by animals who cannot digest it properly. Yet so many people in 'civilized' countries see ourselves as superior beings, or at least see our systems, as superior.

We've probably all been raised to believe that in waste as in everything, our way is the right way, and have only recently started to realize we could be wrong. (For recently, think 21st Century.)

It never occurs to North Americans, for instance, that a much, much older civilization might have been dealing with waste in its own way for centuries.

I look forward to reading this book by Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey in order to learn more about those ancient practices, and how they compare with waste management in 'our world'!



Friday, May 18, 2018

Random sky shots north and south

Attack of the frigate bird, Galapagos Islands. (No one was hurt in the making of this blog post.)

South (above) 
...and North (below)

Dick riding an Icelandic, of course, Iceland!

I didn't ride a horse, but I hugged (yes, hugged!) many of them.
Icelandic horses love cuddling.

And then south again...

Dick and our sister-in-law Maria in Cancun, Mexico.

My brother Clint Davies, right, 
his wife Maria, lower left
my husband Richard Schear,
bottom right

 Dick many photo ops, so little time!



Monday, May 14, 2018

Canada yesterday, today and tomorrow?

The endangered white Kermode Bear, Wikipedia photo
Great Bear Rainforest, 
British Columbia, Canada

Haida houses and totems, Skidegate, British Columbia
(pronounced approximately 'skid-uh-git' —emphasis on 'skid')
1878 photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Above: Haida Gwaii, formerly 'Queen Charlotte Islands'

I'm back!

Here I am: that annoying (some might even say fear-mongering) Canadian: an anti-pollution British Columbian now living in southeastern Alberta.

So...we think death by garbage can't happen to just about every country in the world? And we think it can't kill the planet while it's at it? We are very wrong.

First, something to think about: our very own Fiona, who hosts Our World Tuesday, lives in Sweden, a country fighting every day against death by garbage...

and winning! 

Yes, Sweden is winning the garbage war!

We now know the fight is not yet lost, people, but for many of us the end might just be in sight.

For another point of view, I'll soon let you know what my friend Robin, and his co-author Assa Doron, have to say about garbage in their latest book: Waste of a Nation.

Meanwhile, here is Canada's new future in a few randomly-chosen but semi-organized links for your information and consideration.

British Columbia government and the contamination issue:

(Not new news. October 2015.)


Thursday, May 10, 2018

The crooked Skywatcher

It takes a special kind of Skywatcher to shoot consistently crooked sky photos, and I am that special Skywatcher! Notice, please, that they don't all lean at the same angle, although most do have a left-leaning tendency. (This is not a political comment, however, but do feel welcome to take it as such if you choose.)


Posting my leaning treasures
as part of Lady Fi's fabulous meme

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

"When worlds collide"

Kay Davies photo, 2016

There is a fringe where your world and mine meet, merge, meld for a month or more. Differences disappear and the common ground seems solid.

We walk on this illusory rock confidently, comfortably, tempted to take this temporary thing as truth.

The rock is a lie.

Kay Davies photo
It consists of one thin layer of your reality and one thin layer of mine, overlapping only in a dream.

What is it in the human mind that recognizes mirages yet yearns to accept them as real? That, upon waking, refuses to recognize the death of a dream?

We're masochists all, we humans, walking wide-eyed into pain, daring it to hurt us and recoiling in surprise when it strikes.

Optimists eternally hoping, fools who know no fear.

Into the lion's den we walk, softly crooning, "Kitty, kitty, kitty."

Hand held out to stroke the head of a rabid dog; bare feet in the scorpion's lair; bare heart held in a heartless lover's hand.

By Kay Davies,  January, 1979

Posting for Fiona's marvellous meme:


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tyrannousaurid redux, many links

Blue sky over the "Hoodoos" ...  the hills of Alberta's signature badlands
I posted about the subject of dinosaurs some years ago after we had taken our Golden Retriever, Lindy, to help my husband explore Dinosaur Provincial Park near the town of Patricia, Alberta. 

On the world stage, Canada is often considered a small country because of our relatively sparse human population despite our large land mass. However, Canada has been the site of some very big things!

Many fossils have been found of 
who once roamed this countryside! 

Although not as famous as its cousin 'Rex,' Alberta's gargantuan lizard, Albertosaurus, is a genus of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in western North America during the late Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago.

The type speciesAlbertosaurus Sarcophagus, was restricted in range to the modern-day Canadian province of Alberta, which gives the genus its named.
Scientists, however, disagree on the content of the genus, with some of them recognizing Gorgosaurus libratus as a second species.

As a tyrannosaurid, Albertosaurus was a bipedal predator with tiny, two-fingered hands and a massive head with dozens of large, sharp teeth.
It was probably at the top of the food chain in its local ecosystem. Although relatively large for a theropod, Albertosaurus was much smaller than its more famous relative Tyrannosaurus, probably weighing less than 2 metric tons.

I've been posting so much lately about the dangers of pollution on our planet that I can't help wondering...what if we suffer the same kind of fate as the dinosaur? Would we be humanity extinctus?

Drumheller, Alberta,
Dinosaur Museum
Since the first discovery in 1884, fossils of more than 30 individuals have been recovered, providing scientists with a more detailed knowledge of Albertosaurus anatomy than anything available for other tyrannosaurids.

The discovery of 26 individuals at one site provides evidence of pack behaviour and allows students of ontogeny and population biology opportunities which are impossible with lesser-known dinosaurs. 


Monday, April 30, 2018

Cockles & mussels, alive? alive? Oh.

'Mussels on drugs' found near Victoria sewage outfalls

Study finds concentrations of pharmaceuticals and
personal care products in 
molluscs exposed to wastewater

(CBC News Feb. 15, 2018)

"Drug tests on sea life near the sewage outflow pipes around Victoria (British Columbia's capital) are giving new meaning to the old expression "happy as a clam"!

"Monitoring by the Capital Regional District has found high concentrations of antidepressants, as well as other pharmaceuticals and personal care products in shellfish near the sewage outfalls around Victoria.

"Chris Lowe, who supervises environmental monitoring programs for the CRD has, said  the region has been collecting wastewater samples since 2003 to monitor pharmaceuticals. Testing expanded to sediment and mussel tissue samples as the ability to detect and analyze those compounds improved in recent years."

Victoria, British, Columbia. Too pretty for a raw sewage problem, but it's there.

"Everything from antimicrobials, pain medication, synthetic birth control, antidepressants... pretty much any pharmaceuticals that humans take" will be seen in sewage unless it's a very short-lived compound.

"Lowe said completion of the region's wastewater treatment facility, expected near the end of 2020, will keep most drugs and other harmful compounds out of the ocean. "It will substantially reduce the compounds and some may be gone completely.

"The treatment process will also remove compounds of concern for ocean life such as orcas, which are higher up the food chain."

Orca (aka "killer whale") leaping.
Orcas use breaching (jumping) to communicate when the noise of the ocean would mask acoustic signals.
Orcas are very family-oriented and travel in groups known as "pods."

Orcas, it says...orcas!  Higher up the food chain than clams?

Well, I must agree with Mr. Lowe on that! BC's beautiful Killer Whales (aka orcas) are certainly than more evolved than clams, and likely to be more intelligent.

When I grow up, I want to be a sewage biologist—I'm likely more intelligent than clams, too.

Okay, this is the 21st Century, sewage-folk. Why didn't you know all these facts before? Why wait until shellfish are full of poison? Must it take such a long time to fix the problem?

I despair for my country, perhaps especially for British Columbia, the province of my birth. Someone, somewhere in BC's capital city, must have known that Victoria's raw sewage has been going into the Pacific Ocean since 1843, and realized before the 21st century that it was probably a bad idea.

Why, then, is it going to take 17 years, from the year 2003 until the predicted year 2020 to fix the sewage problem? Surely there are sewer workers willing to work a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift as I did?
I used to work for a company employing so many people in one department that 24 hours were divided into three shifts, with production around the clock.

No, I've never built a sewage system for a major city, but I whitewashed an outhouse once, and I do have an opinion on the subject of waste. My solution is: "Move faster, folks, get a move on, before the Pacific Ocean dies and takes Victoria with it!"

As readers of my blog have already been informed, I want to express my opinion on all of my pet peeves before I kick the proverbial bucket. I'm getting oldish, am in mediocre health, and could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Why, I've already waited for Spring, so I'm doing it now.

Posting for Fiona's memorable meme
Our World Tuesday