Category Archives: Climate Change

Reflections on the Future of a Trumpet Vine

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Early in the month of June it felt as if our trumpet vine exploded into bloom. I could not recall it coming into bloom so fully in summers past. The hummingbirds were attuned to the burgeoning arrival of the long, coral-orange flowers and appeared en mass the next day, so in sync were they. It was magical.

I make a point to sit each day and spend time in the presence of the trumpet vine, waiting for hummingbirds to grace me with their presence. Hummingbirds are called “time-stoppers” and that is exactly how I experience them. When one shows up, all else fades away, and my full attention is on this extraordinary bird, so small and exquisite, wings in constant motion, her emerald green back shining in the sun as she dips in and out of the flowers, drinking the nectar hidden within.

Each hummingbird is a gift to me, quieting my mind and reminding me of the beauty and wonder of the living Earth. In the late spring I anticipate their arrival. In the summer, I bask in their presence. They are one of my favorite things about summer, their magic lasting all the way through August. They are a source of joy, and in the current state of the world in which we find ourselves, joy is a much-needed holy medicine for the heart and soul. I’ll take any hit I can get.

Yet, as I write of the trumpet vine and the winged ones it brings, I sense something is different this summer. There is a quiet thought that pulls at me, as I wonder if the trumpet vine will last till August. There is a quiet worry that climate change is changing the seasonal lifespan of our trumpet vine. A quiet worry that it bloomed too much too soon, and the hummingbirds may leave before August arrives.

The hummingbirds have always marked the beginning and end of summer for me. When the trumpet vine is down to a few flowers, I begin to mourn the end of my time with these extraordinary birds and the end of my favorite season. It is a ritual born from the living Earth. The thought of them leaving before summer’s end throws me off balance and brings the reality of climate change directly into my backyard; the thought darts in and out like the hummingbirds.

Yes, I know. Be here now, present to the gifts before me. Drinking it in while I can. Keeping the climate change floodgate at bay, at least when I’m with the trumpet vine. Still, I am left to wonder what will happen this summer to the vine and the hummingbirds and the hits of joy that carry me through to season’s end. Left to wonder about the extent of the devastating effects of climate change, how it will all unfold, what it will mean to our way of life, to my daughter and grandchildren’s lives, to the world as we know it.

I see another hummingbird. Time stops. The sacred reveals itself. I drink in the joy like nectar and go back to letting the summer unfold, one hummingbird at a time.

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What Does Lisa R Bardack Have to Say?

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-01-06-amIt’s funny. I didn’t even think to look and see if my blog was getting hits because Hillary Clinton’s doctor shares my name. Turns out over 300 people have looked at my “About Lisa Bardack” page in the past few days. I would imagine upon reading my mini bio, they realize that I am not currently hot in the news. I wish I was.

I wish I was a magician able to conjure evocative words that successfully reached multitudes of people beyond the green choir to get them to truly understand that we must get away from using fossil fuel energy to fuel our world ASAP. That every choice we make in switching to renewable energy and becoming more energy efficient is a choice that makes a viable future more of a possibility. Because it is just that, a possibility, not a given.

As people ponder whether Hillary Clinton getting pneumonia disqualifies her from becoming president (which, as an aside, I find ridiculous), I wish that the headlines of all mainstream media would report on the insanity going on in the Dakotas where Energy Transfer Partners is trying to force a pipeline through Native American lands. A pipeline carrying nasty toxic crude oil that when spilled — and it does spill again and again, though you never see it reported in mainstream media — destroys water, ecosystems, wildlife and human health. We do not need any more pipeline infrastructure. Not running under the Missouri River, not anywhere.

Rather than focusing on Hillary Clinton’s health, we need to be focusing on the health of humanity in the face of dirty energy and climate change. The extraction process alone of crude oil and natural gas is poisoning people all over this country and world. My prior posts talk about how fracking is wreaking havoc on the health of those who live near well sites. Children suffering from nosebleeds, dizziness, rashes that cover their body, headaches, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses and more. The effects of greenhouse gasses saturating our atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels are turning our weather and the basic functioning of Earth’s systems upside down. I’d call that newsworthy.

In trying to get a perspective on what is at stake, there’s a powerful quote by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, speaking of her experience in space. She says “At first you are awed by the splendor, by the beauty of the planet and then you look down and you realize that this one planet is the only thing we have. Every time the sun comes up and goes down… and for us that’s sixteen times a day… you see a thin, thin, thin layer just above the surface, maybe 10 or 12 kilometres thick. That is the atmosphere of the Earth. That is it. Below that is life. Above it is nothing.”

Earth is where we live; it sustains us. We are in a place now in human history where we must without question align how we live our lives, how we function, with the functioning of the planetary systems on which our lives depend. The atmosphere cannot continue to be subjected to greenhouse gasses. For too long now, we have treated the Earth as something to use for the sake of human progress, detaching our selves from its aliveness, its intelligence, its sacredness in order to make the destruction easier. In our thirst to fuel our society with fossil fuels, we have reached our limit.

I am not a doctor, but I do know that there is no Planet B, and the clock is ticking. Embracing and committing to a clean energy future now is a commitment to our children and future generations. There is no alternative to a viable future. If I were Dr. Lisa R Bardack, perhaps I could get more traction out of such a prescription.

 

 

 

Fracking is Back on Maryland’s Table and State Government Means Business

Claire at fracking rally

It was a relief when the fracking moratorium passed in Maryland last legislative session. It gave those of us fighting to stop fracking a chance to take a breath. Turns out it’s not much of a break. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is following state government orders to finalize regulations for fracking in Maryland by October 1, 2016. Once approved, these regulations will become law when the moratorium lifts in October 2017, and we’ve got a governor that is eager to get going on fracking. The only way to stop fracking from coming to Maryland will be to pass a new law this legislative session banning it. No easy task and one that must be accomplished.

I testified at the MDE public comment meeting last night on the proposed regulations and am posting my testimony addressed to MDE, hoping to generate interest in this profoundly serious issue. Once Maryland is opened to fracking, it will be near impossible to turn back.

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Facts. Facts are interesting, because there’s a personal filter involved in perceiving and accepting facts. People pick and choose which facts to believe are facts. Even when facts are scientifically validated, people choose whether or not to believe these facts are scientifically valid. Tonight citizens will present proven facts that support the unmistakable reality that fracking will put our citizens, our state, and our climate in serious jeopardy. Since the Maryland moratorium on fracking, more scientific studies have confirmed that fracking contaminates water and air. Which facts will our state government choose to believe and act on?

As a mother, grandmother, and environmental educator, I have spent years in Maryland presenting facts about slickwater high-volume hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Facts validated by scientific studies. Facts born from undeniable experiences of people on the front lines of fracking. People whose water has been contaminated, who have lost the value of their homes because no one wants to buy a house that no longer has safe water; because no one wants to buy a house where it is questionable to breathe the air. Farmers whose livestock has been poisoned by fracking runoff or given birth to profound, shocking deformities. Mothers, fathers, seniors, children who have experienced rashes that cover their body, ringing in their ears, nosebleeds, debilitating headaches, loss of smell, loss of taste, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, neuropathy and cancer. All because they have been exposed to toxic chemicals from fracking in their water and air. Yet public officials making decisions about fracking still, despite mounting evidence, consider their stories anecdotal.

Here are more facts to choose from:

Fracking takes massive quantities of fresh water permanently out of our finite fresh water supply, contaminating it forever.

Fracking fluid contains highly toxic chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, developmental toxicants; chemicals that harm the brain and nervous system.

Approximately 30% of fracking fluid injected into wells comes back up as wastewater. Most of the wastewater is blasted back into the earth for disposal, which is causing earthquakes. The remaining wastewater rests in the shale in casings that, as stated in the gas industry’s own documents, will ultimately deteriorate, making highly likely the contamination of pristine aquifers.

The wastewater also carries with it added toxins that have been quietly resting in the shale for 370 million years. These include arsenic, lead, uranium and radium 226. We are talking about radioactive waste.

Dangerous levels of methane leak from the fracking process, from well sites, storage tanks and countless pipelines. We have just passed the hottest year on record on this planet. We know that methane is horrific in its contribution to global warming.

Opening up Maryland to fracking is opening up Pandora’s Box. All the safety regulations in the world cannot protect the water and the air that will always be in jeopardy in the production and distribution of fracked gas. It is inevitable that underground cement casings will leak. That contractors will illegally dump wastewater into streams. That blow outs will happen at well sites. That trucks carrying lethal fracking fluid and wastewater will get into accidents on roads not meant for such extreme industrial traffic. These are facts. Does it happen every time? Of course, not. Does it happen? Absolutely!

Knowing that Western Maryland will be the first place to be fracked in our state, who will our government listen to? Will they listen to concerned citizens and the tourism industry that relies on clean water and air and untouched beauty to bring people to this treasured part of our state? Or will our government choose to gamble? Because that is what it is. Gambling. Gambling with lives, finite fresh water and pristine land. Fracking is safe until it isn’t. And once water is contaminated, there is little anyone can do.

Don’t gamble. With all due respect I have to say you will live to regret it. You will come to a place in your heart where you will realize you chose the wrong facts to back your decisions. The facts are already out there that fracking cannot be done safely. Please take the road that honors our children and future generations. Support green ways to fuel our state and boost our economy. It is the only road to take into the future. It is the only road that gives us a chance to have a future. Please ban fracking in Maryland.

How to Take Long Showers and Still Save the World From Drought

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.37.26 PMNASA research says California only has a one year supply left of water in its reservoirs. With mega droughts looming as climate change intensifies, this requires all of us to tune in and be part of the solution. This is an excellent article by Adam J. Rose with spot-on suggestions on how we can help save water for California and us all. Best to kiss those burgers goodbye…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-j-rose/how-to-take-long-showers_b_6875644.html