NEWS FLASH! The North Pole temperature is 30° Fahrenheit today – as warm as Chicago yesterday and warmer than much of the US Midwest! And remember there’s no sunlight there now as we’re only days past Winter Solstice – it’s polar night. Yet the thermometer is 50 degrees above normal! (Source: Joel Hruska, Extreme Tech)
Illinois: Chester, aerial view of Mississippi River flooded over roads in 1993
Missouri: Ste Genevieve, North End, during Mississippi River flood of 1993
Missouri: Perry County, Chester bridge blocked for flooding
Flood of 1993 in Chester, IL. Photos by Alison M. Jones
NEWS FLASH! Rivers in the US Midwest are flooding at record levels due to a winter cyclone that dropped atmospheric pressure so suddenly that it qualified as a “bomb cyclone.” It also “dropped” 15 inches of snow in the Texas Panhandle and 6 to 12 inches of rain from Illinois to northeast Texas, causing rivers and their tributaries to spill over their banks on Monday. This began a disaster that will surely mount into billions of dollars of damages, based on the Flood of ‘93’s $15 billion tab.
The predicted crest height in Chester IL for tomorrow will be higher than that of 1993. In 2 weeks the Lower Mississippi will reach its highest levels. (Source: Angela Fritz, Washington Post)
What’s strangest? All the records being broken this week occurred during spring floods, full of snow-pack runoff – this is a winter flood occurring before much snow has even fallen. (Jim Salter, US News & World Report)
These headlines are not Science Fiction.
It is not The End of the World.
It is the end of 2015.
As we ring in 2016, let’s address and mitigate threats to our watersheds.
WE ALL live in a watershed. WE ALL must work to avoid:
diseases from dirty water – or lack of water (No Water – No Life)
famine migrations (No Water – No Food)
water poverty (No Water – No Peace)
We can ensure the STABILITY of our communities, our ecosystems and our economies.
The U.S. poet Maya Angelou said, “Can’t do” is the same as “Don’t care.” But we each care that we have water; that our communities prosper; and that peace is maintained. We must care. There is no Planet B. So, “Let’s Care Together.”
We have the empathy, brainpower and technology to protect our natural resources. We just need to add to that toolkit a willingness to work together. Then we can stabilize our communities and economies. We can avoid more water-related disasters that lead to despair, chaos and the creation of breeding grounds for terrorism.
NWNL has spent 9 years documenting these threats. As we enter our 10th year, we are prepared to spend 10 more years raising awareness and sharing solutions.
A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: Let’s act to avoid famine, floods, disease and water wars! Lets work together for ensuring water for all!
We wish you the Magic of water, the Rhythm of rivers and the Joy of friends and family on our riverbanks!
“THE RIVER SPEAKS” – Poem by Gene Lindberg
Down from the mountains of eternal snow
The streams come tumbling, joining as they flow
To send a river winding toward the sea.
I listen, and the river speaks to me.
It tells of meadows on a thirsty plain;
Of gardens blooming where there is no rain;
Of mighty cities built upon its banks;
Of living things that owe the river thanks.
The waters speak to me, and hurry on,
Eager to come and eager to be gone.
Almost it seems as if the river knew,
How many things there are for it to do.
Sometimes it pauses,
to lay up a store of liquid wealth in lake and reservoir,
Then leaps a dam and hastens on again,
Turning a wheel to light the homes of men.
The river speaks, and deserts cease to be;
Wide fields grow green, and ships go down to the sea,
I hear the water singing as it goes:
“Let life go on, because the river flows.”
A STRONG PUSH… In Paris this month 195 countries tackled climate change together, due to increased public awareness. TO KEEP MOVING… Climate change is still in question, NOT out of the question! AND PAYING ATTENTION. Climate change is invisible, but its causes and effects are visible.
Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Maasai women walking on plains
Canada: Alberta, Athabasca Glacier
USA: New Jersey, Raritan River Basin spring floods
Photography has been a critical tool in communicating the dire need for the cooperation and progress that began at Paris COP21.
Let’s all continue this conversation and purposefully work to create a world that sustains itself with recycling and renewable energy sources.
“This problem isn’t for another generation. It has serious implications for how we live right now.” -Anonymous
One reason people resist change is that they focus on what they have to give up, rather than on what they have to gain. -Anonymous
Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.
-Alice Walker, American author
The Pine Barrens around Helmetta are a small, unique ecosystem within the Raritan River Basin, along the edge of its Manalapan River tributary. They are part of the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Many who think they know the Raritan River Basin are amazed to learn of this outlier with its acid cedar bogs filled with spaghnum moss and muck, porous soil and pitch pine forest. But Joe Sapia has lived here his whole life. His knowledge and appreciation of this special “neck of the woods” is found in each one of his series of almost 50 photo essays. NWNL thanks Joe for giving us a tour of his “backyard” and sharing this lovely photo essay.
A WALK ON THE EDGE OF THE WOODS
The Pine Barrens around Helmetta,
November-December, 2015; No. 46 by Joseph Sapia
As I hiked through Jamesburg Park, Jimmy Talnagi stood outside his cabin, lighted punk in hand.
Strange, I thought, I just had an online discussion with fellow, local baby-boomers about punks, or cat-tails. As children, we would light the cigar-like flower, ostensibly to keep mosquitoes away, but more likely to be one of the kids. Jimmy was not part of the recent discussion, but here he was, as if waiting for me, with the smoking punk. And, this being November, was not part of the season for mosquitoes.
I had three punks left from the warmer weather, what am I going to do? Jimmy said. They just start shredding, like a big puff ball.
True, the fluffy vegetation of this punk was coming apart, sticking to my sweatshirt. So, either light them for the heck of it or let them disintegrate.
Jimmy and the punk were one of various unexpected discoveries on today’s walk – a walk on the edge of the woods. The walk was meant to combine two things: one, a hike into nature, and, two, a pragmatic commute to the other side of the woods to Krygier’s Nursery, whose owner, Jimmy Krygier, was giving me a ride to pick up my Jeep, which was getting some mechanical work done about 8 miles away near Englishtown. Because I was tired and busy with house projects, I did not really have the will or the time to get into the woods. So, I compromised, turning down Jimmy picking me up at home, but sort of walking the woods – that is, walking on the edge of the woods – to Jimmy’s house.
So, around 2 p.m. on this overcast day of 55 to 60 degrees that was calm to having a light breeze, I set off toward Cranberry Bog. The idea was to walk the Pipeline to the ConRail railroad tracks, then to the bog, past Shekiro’s Pond into Jamesburg Park and out the woods at Jimmy’s, roughly a walk of two miles.
Walking the edge of the woods is not as good as walking deeply into the woods, but I made my first discovery hardly off the beaten track. On the natural gas Pipeline, I came across plentiful and huge acorns. This year is a “mast year,” somewhat of a mystery when oaks really kick out acorns. An oak in my yard was covered with acorns; Here, they were huge.
Continuing on, I turned toward Helmetta, briefly walking the ConRail freight tracks, before turning toward the Bog. Almost immediately I came across a microcosm of the Pine Barrens: white, beach sand-like soil mixed with oak, pitch pine and Virginia pine. If someone doubts this area is part of the Pine Barrens, have that person look at this scene.
As I continued, I came across blazing red tree leaves, the changing colors of vegetation during the transition from hot to cold weather. What a beautiful scene, but nearby there was evidence a local neighborhood is dumping its vegetative waste in the area. At the Bog, too, I was greeted by another sad scene: invasive phragmites. Not only overtaking the bog as a whole, but overtaking a nice stand of valuable punks.
As I moved on, the phragmites invasion continued. I counted five plants growing in Shekiro’s Pond. Five now, but how many in a short time? On the bright side, literally across the unpaved road from the pond, I found nice tands of winterberry. Not only beautiful, but food for birds and decorative material for my Christmas decorations.
Five shoots of very invasive phragmites, with the tassel at top, begins an invasion at Shekiro’s Pond. I dipped back into civilization at the former worker houses of the George W. Helme Snuff Mill, then worked my way out again into the woods passing Jimmy’s cabin and a few other homes. Finally, I was back in the woods, but out all too soon, my walk done.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of doing fun things, such as playing in the woods. So, one has to take advantage of snippets here and there.
As for the lighted punk, Jimmy insisted I take it as I continued hiking. But it was dry and leaves heavily littered the woods.
I don’t want to set the woods on fire, I said.
This went back and forth, with me finally agreeing. I took the punk, bit into its stem, and held it like a cockeyed version of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his cigarette.
I tromped on, looking like a swamps-around-Helmetta aristocrat.
~ ~ ~ Joe Sapia, 59-years-old, grew up in and lives in the Pine Barrens around Helmetta, where his family has resided for more than 100 years. He can be reached at Snufftin@aol.com or at P.O. Box 275, Helmetta, 08828.
The last few months have been charged with galvanizing grassroots energy. We’ve seen ‘Kayak-tivists’ halt Shell’s Arctic icebreaker, and campaigns such as Keep it in the Ground and DIVEST. People are increasingly gathering and marching in hundreds of cities around the world and calling for clean energy solutions.
In NYC this past weekend, global activism cried out:
“Hey Obama! We don’t want no Climate Drama!” Whatdo we want? CLIMATE JUSTICE!!! When do we want it? NOW!!!”
We each have the power to make a difference. We are one Earth. There is no “Planet B!” Decisions are now being formed at the Paris Climate Summit. Let’s support today’s spirit of hope and determination.