I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Respite from the rain

Bellingham Bay yesterday

Melanie and I lucked out once again during our Saturday walk. We decided to head to Squalicum Harbor and make our usual five-mile walk through the area. It was simply a superb day, with mild temperatures and lots of sunshine. It felt like weather more reminiscent of late fall, rather than mid-winter. And it won't last all that long, since the rain is supposed to return tonight and be light but persistent on Monday.

The weather is so much worse in California, and I was actually hoping that we would receive part of that atmospheric river, to mitigate the effects in Northern California, but no, it's looking bad throughout much of the state. What an incredible amount of rain they have received: 
Mother Nature delivered 12.9 inches of rain to Oakland between Dec. 26 and Jan. 10, setting a new record for any 16-day period, according to the National Weather Service. San Francisco International Airport (11.59 inches) and Stockton (8.10 inches) also set new 16-day rainfall records. (NBC Bay Area, 11 Jan 23)

People have asked whether all this rain will end the decades-long drought the state has experienced, but everything I read says it will not. Although they have received massive amounts of rainfall in recent weeks, and has given some places more rain than ever before, it will mostly run off into the ocean, since it has no place left to go. It's not clear what will happen after these torrential rivers of water stop. One thing everyone recognizes is that extremes like this are becoming more common all across the globe. Most experts attribute it to climate change.

I myself think that one unremarked-upon situation has exacerbated the crisis: overpopulation. So many people are crowding out the natural habitats of most other species. In my own lifetime, we have added more than five billion people to the planet, growing from 2.3 billion to 8 billion. That has a massive effect on everything, and is the driving cause of climate change. How can anyone doubt it? 

During the mid-1300s, the Black Plague killed 75-200 million people in Europe, which was around half the population. This all happened within four years. It must have been a really horrific time to be alive and to cope with the disease. In comparison, we have had a pretty mild pandemic with Covid, with 6.7 million worldwide deaths estimated as of today. I guess pandemics are one of Nature's ways to cope with the planet being overrun. 

The natural lifespan of humans also helps control overpopulation, since we have such a limited time to spend here, a century being a long time, but in any case most people live long enough to experience the vicissitudes of aging as the years pass. I feel fortunate to have lived to eighty, and know that it's just a matter of time before I begin to lose my health and mobility. When I think of the massive numbers of fellow humans who are on the planet here with me, it makes me wonder whether it's really a good idea to think of extending our life spans. We need to make room for the young and vigorous, it seems to me at least.

Life is a gift, and a happy, safe and secure life is a gift given only to a small number of us. When I see the suffering in the world through the news, I always take a moment to be grateful for all my good fortune. Just to have a roof over my head and food to eat is not within reach of the vast majority of us, and it makes me very sad to realize it doesn't have to be this way. If we really cared about others, we could help so many more than we do. The Federal Reserve data indicates that as of the end of 2021, the top 1% of households in the United States have 32.3% of the country's wealth, while the bottom 50% have 2.6%. 

I really didn't mean to go off on this tangent this morning, but it's what is on my mind today as I wake to another beautiful Pacific Northwest morning, with my friend John taking me to Fairhaven as usual for our Sunday breakfast. It really does make a difference in one's life to think about the positive aspects of everyday existence, rather than looking at the world's woes and lamenting our inability to change much for the better.

I keep forgetting that there is only one place I can make a meaningful difference: right here in my own head, in my own surroundings. Instead of thinking about all that is wrong in the world, I can think about everything that is right, all around me. Why, just realizing that I am sitting in a warm bed, typing away on my laptop, ready to reach out to the entire electronic universe with these words, how can I not believe that the world is in a beautiful and perfect place? My dear partner sleeps next to me, and we will continue to laugh and cry together as we make our way into the days ahead. I wouldn't change much, if I look at what I can actually alter and have control over. 

Whew! I think I have finished this post, which started with the disasters in California and ends with this paragraph, realizing that the only thing I can actually change is my attitude. I hope that next Sunday we will be together again, looking at the world together, with love and hope for better days ahead. Until then, I wish you all good things, dear friends. Be well.


gigi-hawaii said...

Yes, Life is a gift. Don't take it for granted.

Marty said...

Thank you for my morning contemplation.
And the reminder to look around and be grateful.

Anvilcloud said...

You and I are so lucky to be alive when and where we are.

Rita said...

Yes, we are truly blessed. Sending out positive energy to this world is important. Adding to the fear and worry energy doesn't help change things. :)

ApacheDug said...

Good morning DJan. This is indeed ironic, a couple nights ago I was watching an old episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' from 1972, where Mary is doing her first on-air editorial and says "Between the years of 1932 and 1972, the world's population has nearly doubled" (and Ted jokes it should help their ratings). She ignores him and says "Experts predict if we continue at this rate, Earth's population will reach 7 billion by the year 2000." (Ted jokes again that he's going to go into the diaper business and Mary tells him to shut up--on the air.) I would hate to see another plague coming, but I honestly believe covid was just a hint of what's to come. And on that happy note, I wish you & your own Pacific Northwest family a good week ahead.

Elephant's Child said...

I agree with all your musings - and am very grateful for what I have. I will continue to do what I can to help those (people and animals) with less.

John's Island said...

“In my own lifetime, we have added more than five billion people to the planet, growing from 2.3 billion to 8 billion. That has a massive effect on everything, and is the driving cause of climate change. How can anyone doubt it?” I have to applaud for you putting into words so succinctly what I’ve been thinking for a long time. To answer your question, however, those who “doubt it" are frequently those who are “conservative” and have used “motivated reasoning” to deny climate change because to do so would work against what benefits them. So, for example, someone who earns a living in the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to face the fact that burning fossil fuel pollutes the atmosphere. Now, done with the rant, thanks for another fine Eye on the Edge and reminder to be grateful for what we have. Amen. Have a good week ahead!

Rian said...

"It really does make a difference in one's life to think about the positive aspects of everyday existence, rather than looking at the world's woes and lamenting our inability to change much for the better." I believe this also. We have to work with what is around us. And of course I'm not saying that we shouldn't help those far away... but personally, except for giving money (which one can never know if it actually gets there)and praying, there's not a lot we can do. IMO we need to bloom where we're planted (so to speak). Help those around us in any way we can. If everyone did this, I think the simple act of kindness could do a great deal. And yes, the population on the planet is and will continue to be a problem, but it's not a problem that I (or you) can solve.

Linda Reeder said...

I struggle too with the woes of the world, and even those right around us. Then I ask myself what can I do about it. Not much. So kindness has become my cause. At least I can be kind and compassionate to the people I encounter.
Thanks for another Sunday morning contemplation.

Gigi said...

I enjoy your Sunday posts so very much, DJan. They always make me think and remind me to be grateful. And remind me to spread kindness and love as I go about my days. Have a great week. xo

Patricia said...

Hello.. I’m a new follower and thought I’d introduce myself. Pat

Red said...

Good questions. Obviously world population affects climate change. So now we have to deal with the realities and fight climate change a little more vigorously. When I was a little kid, almost 80 years ago, Canada's population was about 9 million. Now it's about 40 million.

Galen Pearl said...

Indeed, any change, as you said, starts with our own minds -- what we do and think and say. And as you observed, nature finds a way to restore balance when we don't take care of it ourselves.

Marie Smith said...

I feel for Californians. We are on our fourth day of a combined misery of rain, freezing rain and snow, all manageable though. Rain like they are having is unmanageable. We continue to do what we can for others too. Being part of teaching our grandchildren to do the same is important to us as well.

Have a peaceful week, Jan.

Jim and Barb's Adventures said...

Barb and I are grateful for every day we have together, going on 37 years now. I love your approach to life and agree with many of your sentiments.

William Kendall said...

Very well said.

Glenda Beall said...

I notice that more and more I see acts of kindness and even on TV shows they report kindness and good things happening. Not the 24 hour news shows, however. So I don't watch them. But CBS Morning shows have a regular edition of showing kindness in many ways. I love it. We have far more good people in this country than bad, I believe. But in the big cities I think is where the bad acts seem to happen. Also, I heard that 80 percent of the USA population is east of the center of the country and the only heavily populated are in the west is California. The middle of the country would be good places to settle and to live. Like you, Jan, I am grateful for the love, the kindness and goodness in my life.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We all need a bit of good news and sunshine in our lives. Back in November I found a news reporter by the name of Nate Eaton with the East Idaho News...he gave anonymous gifts to people before Christmas...heart warming and made me realize there are really good generous people in this world.
Here is a link to one of the stories...there are many morehttps://www.eastidahonews.com/2022/12/a-final-secret-santa-surprise-for-a-young-single-father-with-daughter-who-has-a-brain-tumor/