Loss of Habitat & Life On Earth — A Heavy Weight On Our Shoulders

What’s going on in the world’s environment?

Overall, I believe many things happening to the environment are our doing. When we do good things for life on the planet, good things happen. When we do bad things, there are consequences, consequences of our own doing.

Only we are to blame for taking more than we need (greed). We think since we were given charge over all living beings and the planet, we decide who/what lives or dies and how to treat the Earth (pride). We can destroy animals’ habitats as we like and not face the repercussions. 

We do this in a myriad of ways: wars, over farming, over fishing, poaching, mowing down of rain forests, polluting the air, water, and soil with toxic chemicals like Round Up’s glyphosate and other deadly poisons like neonicotinoids that have been causing massive deaths of honey bees.

Then there are oil spills and tossing plastics in our oceans, rivers, waterways as if these are our personal trashcans. And it ticks me off because one of my pet peeves is LITTERING. Why anyone would think a body of water is a dumping ground for his or her own trash is beyond me. It’s careless, lazy, and cruel.

On October 29, the World Wildlife Fund released their newest data on the loss of animals. Between 1970 and 2014, we’ve lost 60% of our wildlife. These include “mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians” (Davis and Walsh).

What is the cause of this tragic loss? Us. Not the Earth doing its thing. Us.

In the article from the WWF, it states, “The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.” 

Perhaps this isn’t news to you. You’ve known about what’s happening with animals all over the globe. And you are one of many people who are trying to do what you can to support the lives of God’s creatures. Kudos. We do try to do our part.

I knew of recent animals that had gone extinct, like the black rhino (heartbreaking) in 2011, and the announcement that bumblebees are now on the endangered species list.  But I had no idea 60% of wildlife had been wiped out in the last 40 years. Devastating. 

WWF’s executive director of science and conservation, Mike Barrett, said in a Guardian article, ““We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

That’s a pretty devastating message. 

Recently, I saw a beautiful ad that Iceland banned as being too political. Below is the video via you tube. It’s not too political. It’s TRUTH. 

The truth is shown in that little minute and a half ad. The truth that there are only 7500 orangutans left in this world, losing on average a thousand a year. This ad needs to be out there for people to see.

Check your food products. If they have PALM OIL listed, consider not purchasing it. The orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed for palm oil. These poor animals have lost their food and homes. It’s killing them off. So please read the ingredients on the foods you get to make sure you’re not supporting their extinction. 

Two more pieces of data from the Living Planet Report for 2018 that was echoed in the ad above: “Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89% loss compared to 1970” and “Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970.”

What have we done to help keep God’s creatures alive and well? The WWF said that the creation of the US Endangered Species put in place in 1973, has helped 99% of the listed endangered species to be saved from extinction.

What else can we do to help? Wildlife and biodiversity issues have to stay as one of our top concerns.

Little things my family does is we don’t use straws at home or at restaurants because of the plastic problem in our oceans and other waterways. We try and buy recyclable and biodegradable items. We don’t use harmful pesticides on our yard. We don’t litter anywhere.

My family donates to certain organizations, but we don’t specify which ones because in our Orthodox Christian faith, we aren’t supposed to announce what we give for the good of others, but do so privately. 

All of God’s creation matter on this Earth. He assigned us to take care of this planet, and we need to step up and do that. He’s counting on us. 

“Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.” – Starets Zosima from the novel, The Brothers Karamazov

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Works Cited

Carrington, Damian. “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds.” The Guardian. 29 October 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds

Davis, Elizabeth and Katie Walsh. “WWF Report Reveals Staggering Extent of Human Impact on Planet.” World Wildlife Fund. 29 October 2018. https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-report-reveals-staggering-extent-of-human-impact-on-planet

Tarlach, Gemma. ” Pesticides, Not Mites, Cause Honeybee Colony Collapse.” Discover Magazine. 9 May 2014. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/05/09/pesticides-not-mites-cause-honeybee-colony-collapse/#.W-87aS3Mx0s

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall Fell: A Personal Childhood Experience of Visiting East and West Berlin and the Wall

fall of berlin wall 1989

(An edited repost)

For the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989), I am posting a short piece I wrote three years ago in my creative writing class that is a true story about my experiences at age 10 or 11, to the best of my recollection, in West and East Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie.

allied checkpoint charlie

Our tour bus rumbled to a stop at Checkpoint Charlie. It was a bitter cold day, and the gray sky promised an outpouring of heavy snow.

Just beyond the checkpoint and its red and white striped arm stood a white guard tower occupied by East German soldiers with machine guns. Behind us, the museum on one side of the road and the pizza parlor on the other emitted liveliness and the typical aura of a well-visited venue for tourists — the West Side of Berlin.

As my family sat waiting in our seats on the bus, a man in a military uniform climbed into the vehicle with a scowl on his face. “Passports! Passports!” he shouted.

The man’s crimson face and bulky, rigid figure frightened me.

 I was sitting next to my mother, closest to the window. My dad and sister sat in front of us. Mom clutched our passports, waiting for the man to get to our row. I slid down the seat, hoping to disappear. He then stood over my mother. She quickly showed him our documentation. He continued down the narrow aisle, his boots punching the floor.

Finally, he left, and the bus chugged through into East Berlin.

As dreary as the pewter sky were the drab brown buildings on either side of us. Few people walked the sidewalks. Our bus passed one person sitting on a lone bench, bundled up in a coat that seemed to mesh into his surroundings.

This childhood experience of East Berlin made a lasting impression on me that I can still see clearly to this day, over thirty years later.

berlin wall piece at RR Pres. Library
(A piece of the Berlin Wall at the Ronald
Reagan Presidential Library)

Words – “Appeared,” “Seemed,” and “Looked” – How to Apply/Not Apply Them in Fiction Writing

words have power

I’m still plowing through the book by Janice Hardy called Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It), and this is my second blog post on the subject of show, don’t tell. My previous post on this consisted of information on a few red flag tell words.

This post is centered on three words: Appeared, Seemed, and Looked. And knowing how to use them properly.

We writers use appeared in a few ways.  If you’re using it to describe something or someone showing up or materializing in front of the character, this is fine and is not one of the descriptions being analyzed by Hardy.  It’s when you are using it in the same manner as you would for Seemed that is under the microscope.  Appeared “is a judgment word that suggests the assumption could be incorrect” (Hardy).

Here’s an example Hardy uses:

  • Bob appeared strong, with broad shoulders and biceps the size of canned hams (Hardy).

So, what is point-of-view character saying here? Using the word appeared implies the point-of-view character is making an assumption. But a man with “broad shoulders and biceps the size of canned hams” does describe one who is strong. This means it’s unlikely to be an assumption. Therefore, we writers wouldn’t want to use appeared in that instance (Hardy).

Here’s another example of appeared. See what you think of this one:

  • He appeared to be the charter pilot, with a jaunty cap and leather bomber jacket (Hardy).

This tells the reader the point-of-view character isn’t sure if the person is truly a charter pilot but is assuming so because of his clothing. But a person who is not a pilot could dress in a bomber jacket and jaunty cap. The point-of-view character thinks the person might be a pilot (Hardy). Therefore, in this case, because of the uncertainty, the use of appeared works.

This works nearly the same with the word Seemed. Here’s an example from the book:

  • Bob seemed happy, laughing and joking with all the kids (Hardy).

What makes the point-of-view character say “seemed”? If Bob is “laughing and joking,” then why would the point-of-view character question if Bob is happy? It’s not accurate and misleads the reader. It also makes you question the point-of-view character’s reasoning for saying this (Hardy).

Here’s another sentence Hardy uses as a comparison:

  • Bob seemed happy, but his smile never waved.

Here the point-of-view character questions Bob’s happiness because he/she notices his smile “never waved,” which implies it’s not a real smile, but a feigned one. Therefore, using “seemed” in that sentence works (Hardy).

Lastly, let’s study the word Looked. There are two ways in which to use this word. One is to describe how a character appears. The second way is what the character does (Hardy).

Here’s the first example:

  • Jane looked scared hiding behind the car, hands gripping the shotgun (Hardy).

So, in this sentence, the description by the point-of-view character could be either making an assumption, or how he/she sees Jane. Hardy asks, “Does this sentence mean the woman hiding behind the car looks scared when she’s really not, or is there a scared woman?” (Hardy) It’s not clear.

Here’s another sentence Hardy uses as a comparison:

  • Jane cowered behind the car, hands gripping the shotgun (Hardy).

This sentence clarifies the confusion. Using the word “cowered,” it shows Jane is scared. No need to assume Jane may be scared by using “looked” (Hardy).

Here’s the last example:

  • He looked like the kind of guy who would sell out his own mother for a cold beer (Hardy).

It is clear the point-of-view character is stating his/her opinion. This is evident in the point-of-view character’s voice. It shows opinion rather than detached description (Hardy).

What Hardy has helped me to understand as a revert writer in the past four years is that word usage is crucial in producing our works of fiction. And these clearly-understood examples have helped me so much.

Some of my readers who are experienced writers probably recognized and were able to find the problems easily, but for newer writers, I’m hoping this is helpful to you.

 

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Works cited
Hardy, Janice. Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It). Fiction University Press, 2016.