New Year’s Revolutions

Okay. I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I like to do what I call, New Years Revolutions. I have a little list of things I would like to accomplish this year:

1) Be more of an advocate for the environment. I grew up free-diving the reefs of the Caribbean. I remember an over-abundance of life. While scuba-diving in Mauritius, there was an impressive quantity of fish, but the coral and the reef itself was suffering. So much of it was dead or dying. I feel like I do not do enough for this beautiful home that we live on. So I vow to do more this year.

2) Along the same lines, my last meal containing an animal was 1/8/14. I am going to become a vegetarian. I also want to be more aware of my food footprint in general. The more I read and the more I see the conditions of this Earth, the more I realize I need to curb my carbon footprint. Meat is one of the largest carbon bombs. I cannot be an advocate for the environment and climate change and continue to eat meat.

3) Do more of the things that I enjoy. I love rock-climbing, but certain things have kept me from it. I need to do more of it, no matter what. And this goes for other things as well. I let certain things take over my life or get in the way of things I want to do or enjoy. I will not let that happen this year.

4) I want to read more books. While I was on vacation I read 4 books. I read when I am at home I don’t read as much. This kind of goes along with #3. I love to read, but at home, TV and other things distract me from it. Books are such a great source to get information from. They can transport you to different lands. I want to go on more journeys and to educate myself more.

5) I want to watch less television. I am not sure how much I watch compare to others. I like to watch the news and some shows. But I want to watch less. In an effort to watch less, I have already disconnected my cable and am cable-free.

6) I am going to abide by the 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking: Don’t gossip. Avoid judgment. Ditch the negativity. Quit complaining. Stop making excuses. Don’t exaggerate. Ditch the dogma. And follow the 4 Rules of Good Speaking: Be honest. Be authentic. Have integrity. Operate from a place of love.

7) I want to list things I am THANKFUL for every day. And let people whom I am thankful for know that I am thankful for them. I am reminded of one of my favorite poems: “I tell [God] I have begun to learn what/ Heaven is about. She wants to hear./ It is, I say, being thankful for eternity.” When I express gratitude, I feel so much better. And I know that spreads. Gratitude is something that is not expressed enough in this day and age.

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Endurance

ImageThis is perhaps my favorite Antarctic picture. It was taken by Frank Hurley during Shackleton’s Endurance expedition 1914-1916. Whenever I am down, I look at this photo. It is the last time this beautiful ship, the Endurance, was in full sail. It was completely encased in ice and had been this way for many months. Shackleton was low on fuel and supplies. To put this ship at full throttle with those sails open was Shackleton’s Hail-Mary to get her free. She never left the ice again and not too long after this photo was taken, the Endurance was crushed and swallowed by ice.

There’s so much that this image means to me. First off, the name of the ship – Endurance. She endured more than any other ship and put in a valiant effort to resist the ice. Shackleton himself showed immense endurance himself. When this photo was taken, his last hope to free his home that served his men and him so well, he still had hope. He had hope to get her free and get either to his destination on the continent of Antarctica or to one of the whaling stations. After this photo was taken, when he realized that the Endurance would not come free, was probably Shackleton’s darkest moment.

Instead of giving in and surrendering to the ice, at his darkest moment, Shackleton decided to endure. He had to make some of the most difficult decisions anyone ever had to make. He went on to lead 28 men to safety. They camped for many months on the sea ice, they sailed without modern navigation to the nearest land mass. Once there Shackleton knew they couldn’t stay there forever and took off with 6 men to make an epic journey to South Georgia where there were several whaling stations. When he made landfall he realized he was on the wrong end of the island and hiked across never-navigated lands (which were not navigated again til a couple years ago) with no equipment. They put nails into the soles of their shoes to make crampons. They reached their destination and were able to rescue all of 28 men.

So whenever life to me feels impossible, and it seems like I cannot go on, I look at this photograph. It shows both hope and despair. It shows people who wouldn’t give up, even in the face of the impossible

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

             Not even a month ago people all around the world were celebrating Japan’s end of whaling in the Southern Ocean. My last article warned that folks were celebrating far too soon and that Japan will waste no time to try to resume their whaling efforts. Honestly I thought they’d wait a bit longer than 3 weeks, but over a meal of whale, they tried to renew their efforts for whaling in Antarctic waters in 2015.
              The Minister of Agriculture said that this refurbished plan would be more sustainable – with less whales (250 as opposed to 950) being slaughtered, with actual scientific samples being taken. Never mind that these samples could be taken without killing the whales. But other than that, there was not much detail in their announcement.
              This goes to show that it is important not to monitor Antarctic fishing – but to not allow it altogether. Antarctica used to be the last pristine environment on Earth. The Southern Ocean, until recently, had remained the same temperature for thousands of years. This allowed animals to not change, live for decades where in other environments they live for a few years, and create an environment not found anywhere else on Earth.
              Now, thanks to increased fishing and climate change, the Southern Ocean has become a place that we most need to protect. Humans are burning the candle at both ends. We are killing apex predators – the Antarctic Toothfish (more commonly known as Chilean Sea Bass) so now that there’s hardly any of them being found. We are also over-fishing the base of the Antarctic food chain – krill. Literally everything in Antarctica depends on krill – fish, penguins, seals, whales – and even humans since if krill are left in the ocean they act as a carbon sink.
              On December 1st, 1959, world leaders did mainland Antarctica a big favor by signing the Antarctic Treaty which protected the land from exploitation. Only scientific activities can be carried out on Antarctica. No one can own the continent. They failed to extend the treaty to the ocean.
             For the last few years countries have met to try to create a marine sanctuary around Antarctica. These efforts have been repeatedly blocked by China, Russia and the Ukraine. They’ve tried decreasing the size of the marine sanctuary to conciliate the countries, but they still resist. The fishing and reaping of the Southern Ocean still continues.
              The exploitation of the Southern Ocean will continue as folks will never realize the importance of this ecosystem to the rest of the world. The Southern Ocean essentially mixes the rest of the currents of the world as it gyrates around the Antarctic continent. It is often “the forgotten ocean” being down there where few visit and experience.
              This Earth Day we need to create an awareness for the Southern Ocean and all that it does for us. We need to build a movement to demand that it be turned into the world’s largest marine sanctuary. If not, the vicious cycle of abusing it for our needs will continue.

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Ban Plastic Water Bottles from Your Life

News came out of California that San Francisco is going to attempt to move forward to ban plastic water bottles. Leave it to California to be the first to implement such a daring yet crucial initiative. It takes 54 million barrels of oil to make one year’s consumption of plastic water bottles. Contrary to popular belief, plastic water bottles are NOT recycled – seventy-five percent of plastic water bottles end up on beaches, rivers, and landfills.

ImageIn addition to environmental impact of plastic water bottles, take note that plastic water bottles are detrimental to your health. The plastic used in these bottles is loaded with chemicals including BPA and PCBs.  The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says: “Animals that ate food containing large amounts of PCBs over short periods of time had mild liver damage and some died. Animals that ate smaller amounts of PCBs in food over several weeks or months developed various kinds of health effects, including anemia; acne-like skin conditions; and liver, stomach, and thyroid gland injuries.” BPA can cause a variety of human health problems, including a risk of cancers, reduced fertility, birth defects and diabetes. How does that water taste now?

Many folks drink bottled water because they think that bottled water is superior to tap water or that it comes from some mystical source. Not true. Hate to break it to you, but bottled water is tap water with a fancy schmancy name. It is not any better than the water coming out of your tap. It’s an all-around rip off.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, we subsisted without bottled water. In fact, not too long ago, Cosmo Kramer on the popular TV show, Seinfeld, considered bottled water as one of his “get rich quick” schemes, and Jerry Seinfeld thought he was crazy – no one would pay for water! Not too long ago, I used to use bottled water. As with everything, when you first try to do without something as vital as bottled water, it seems impossible, but I assure you, it can be done.

First and foremost – you need to find a water bottle that you like. I tried a few different ones before I found Liberty Bottle from Liberty Bottleworks. This company has many pluses going for it. I prefer this bottle for many reasons, not just because of this company’s many altruistic endeavors. Many of the other bottles I tried were made of plastic (evil! evil!), were difficult to get open quickly, made water taste funny, were cheaply made, or were difficult to get clean. Liberty Bottle solved all these problems.  It is a very robust water bottle, made of metal with a lining (no funny tastes!), easy to open and close (it doesn’t screw), and easy to clean. When I had to use an old metal water bottle for a bit while I waited for my 2nd Liberty Bottle to come in, I yearned for my Liberty Bottle. I didn’t realize how genius the design the bottle was until I had to do without.

If Liberty Bottle’s design isn’t enough to entice you to make the move to ditch the plastic, then maybe simply supporting them will. Liberty Bottle is the ONLY metal bottle on the market made in the USA. It is also the ONLY bottle to be made from recycled materials. Concerned about what to do when you’re done with your Liberty Bottle? It is also 100% recyclable. But I assure you, I have put my Liberty Bottle through the test (horseback riding, rock climbing, spelunking, cliff diving – it still looks good as new). It hasn’t chipped, flaked, dented, or shown any sorts of age in the time that I’ve had it. The bottles also come in fun colors – but even better, they also come in a bunch of beautiful art designed by starving artists.

I never used to be a big water drinker. Once upon a time I used to be a big soda drinker! I used to drink several cans a day. What helped me make the transition to water is making water more exciting than soda. Having a snazzy water bottle that is fun to drink out of, that makes me feel good about supporting green and US jobs helped. Having water that tasted AMAZING helped even more. This was accomplished by getting a ZeroWater dispenser. Between this and my LibertyBottle, which friends have joked is surgically attached to my body, I now drink more than the suggested 8 glasses of water a day. And I feel great!

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