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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sorry for the long hiatus between posts. Things have been very busy on this end. It’s all good, but it didn’t allow me any time to write here.

If you’ve been keeping up on the devastating wild fires torching the western part of our country, you know of the terrible heat and drought they’ve been enduring which made them inevitable. The fire near Yosemite is only 30% contained and is edging close to San Francisco’s water supply in the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. The fire probably won’t reach it, since the reservoir is in an area with few trees and many rocks, but the danger is in the runoff into the reservoir after the fire is out and the winter rains and snows begin. You see, with the vegetation burned away in the area around the reservoir, sediment and pollution are free to run into the water because there’s nothing to hold it back. Plants not only hold soil in place, they also absorb toxins and store them in the soil, away from us (this is why wetlands are so important: they filter and process our drinking water ).

If all of that vegetation is burned away, the aquatic life in the reservoir and the people who drink the water may be seriously injured. Certainly the quality of the water will be affected.

(In an laughable aside, the International Bottled Water Association released a catty statement saying that San Francisco shouldn’t have passed such an iron-clad bottled water ban in 2007.)

(Shakes head) Anyway, back to the point. You see, it’s not just the heat and the drought brought by climate change. The whole water cycle is affected by climate change. It always comes back to water.

Here in the northeast, the weather’s been nearly opposite that of the west. We had a brutal ten days of heat and humidity in July but otherwise, it’s been cool and rainy. It rains a little almost every day. The humidity is extremely high at night; it soars to nearly 100%. I doubt you could start a fire out there if you had to . . .

Actually, it’s not that simple.

The rains we’ve been getting are either cloud bursts or sprinkles. A whole lot at once or just a little. Although it seems like a lot of rain when its pelting down six inches at a time, it’s really not. It rains so hard that the ground can’t absorb the water and it runs off. This does little good for our aquifers and reservoirs. When Chris and I go hiking in the hundreds of square miles of forest around here, we cross many, many dried stream beds. Too many.

I often find myself wondering when the droughts are going to really tighten their grip in this part of the country.

In many, many places around the world, this nightmare scenario has already unfolded with devastating effect. The stories are easy to find. Pick a continent or country and google it with the word; “drought”.

Is anyone doing anything about it? Is anyone, whether an organization or individual, trying to alleviate the suffering this disruption of the water cycle is causing? Thankfully, there many and as a way to point out positive action in the face of horrendous problems, I’m going to start focusing on these organizations and people.

This time around: Julian Lennon. While, I don’t know him personally, I do know of the work he is doing to improve the state of water for people world-wide. In his view, far too many die each year from a lack of access to clean water and sanitation and he has devoted himself to changing that. His foundation; The White Feather Foundation’s ( stated mission is to raise money “to help people who are dying from lack of clean water and sanitation. This natural resource that is essential to life, is in appallingly short supply. Nearly 5000 people, mainly children, die each day from preventable water-born diseases. Almost 1.2 billion people lack clean water, and this is increasing.”

Their website goes on to say that they already have projects amounting to €700,000 and growing.

They are working with a variety of organizations and NGOs toward their goal of reducing and eliminating water stress in such places as Malawi, Haiti, Somaliland, Chad, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kenya.

Now, before your mind wanders to thoughts such as; “well, that’s over there, not here”, bear in mind that it will be here if the world continues to cave to fossil fuel interests. Look at what’s already happening here. It’s no coincidence that we have these fires, these droughts and that our aquifers are collapsing.

Bear in mind that the Ogallala aquifer here in the US–the largest in the world–which provides vital water for agriculture in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and other areas is being used up so fast that it will be gone by 2050. Kaput. Toast.

That means drought and famine. Here. In the US. The fantasy that we are immune to the world’s problems is over folks.

One of the ways Julian and White Feather raise money to try to stop this relentless problem is through regular auctions on the White Feather Foundation website ( The current auction is for a autographed shirt and cap belonging to Jenson Alexander Lyons Button, the famed British Formula One driver, currently driving for Brawn GP. (click to take a look)

The previous auction was for a signed copy of Julian’s collection of Beatles memorabilia. I bid on this several times, but didn’t win. Sigh . . .

Now, before you balk at the idea of bidding on fossil fueled racing memorabilia in the age of climate change, know that I did a little digging in this area.

The racing community has come a long way in their push to reduce their carbon footprint. Since 2009, racing teams across the board have reduced their carbon emission from the cars by 24%, reduced their emissions from electricity consumption by 14%, and achieved a 14% reduction in emissions linked to purchases of parts and raw materials (they are probably doing more than the majority of US companies).

And, there is a lot of work being done in the area of wholly electric cars for the sport. If that doesn’t make any sense to you test drive a Tesla. My son has one. It’s faster than any car (or motorcycle) I’ve ever seen. More on that in another post.

Hopefully, by now you’re asking yourself; “What can I do to help? How can I help those other countries and how can I pay it forward to prevent what’s going on in those countries from become the reality here?”

The answer is simple: do what you can. If you have a few bucks, bid on the auction or make a donation to White Feather. Whatever you can do. The important thing is that you do something. If everyone does something, we can beat this.

Don’t forget that Julian and White Feather are a lot like you. No, really. Think about it: they put their pants on the same way, they have the same aches and pains, the same hopes and fears for their families and friends. And more importantly, they are doing something with the tools they have at their disposal. Their tools may be different than yours or mine, but we each have the tools to do something.

Use them.

God speed.