Ancient turtles,

basking on a verdant log,

stretch up to the sun.

©2017, Ontheland

The backstory:  Turtles are on my mind—I recently received an email notifying me that all but one species of Ontario turtles are facing possible extinction.  Snapping turtles are particularly at risk as hunting them is still permitted, their wetland habitats have diminished and they are often killed on roadways.  I read recently that turtles are among the oldest of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago. This seems to make them even more precious.


 Common Snapping Turtle by Dakota L. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The first photo is in the public domain and made available by Pixabay.com.

Staying on track

The train is slowly pulling

away from the station,

an agreement of nations

signed and ratified,

a journey of transformation

to be delivered

after decades of labor.

Carbon cut strategies on board,

sun and wind power

sing as we pick up speed.

Steady-minded scientists

keep watch,

measuring with courageous eyes—

atmospheric levels,


ice melt, ocean levels—

they see dangers ahead,

bear bad news and

shoulder the weight of

ridicule from those who would

call it all a hoax—

If only it was—

The time for gentle whispers

is over,

We are all needed to drive this train,

to repel hijackers,

those who would impede progress

as we glide

on a solar-powered track,


‘Yes we can…before it’s too late.’

©2017 Ontheland

My poem is inspired by Bill McKibben’s  January 18 article: “It’s time to stand up for the climate and for civilization” published in Wired.  I found it to be a concise  and inspiring read about humanity’s challenges in the face of climate change and a new United States government that threatens to impede constructive efforts.   Here is one of my favorite passages:

The Paris accord was a triumph.., not because it solved the problem (it didn’t, not even close) but because it existed at all. Somehow 195 nations—rich and poor, those with oil beneath their sand and those that have to import it—managed to agree that we should limit the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius this century and set up an intricate architecture to at least begin the process. That too is an aspect of what we call civilization.

None of this should be taken for granted. The building blocks of our common home—science and diplomacy and also civility—are hard-won, and history would indicate that they can fade fast. In fact, we now seem likely to start tossing them away based on nothing but the politically useful whim that climate change is a hoax.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and founder of global grassroots climate campaign 350.org.


Be a Helper and Rise

If you are like me you may be struggling under the weight of the United States Election results. These words from Merril D. Smith offer humour, hope, and determination to continue being the world we believe in.

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings


By KUHT [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

So the election has taken place, and the orange creature has been elected. HRC and President Obama reminded us of the rule of law in their gracious speeches. They reminded us to go high when DT has run a campaign based on lies and hatred, a campaign that has consistently gone low. They have been gracious in defeat, even though DT threatened not to accept the election results, if the vote had gone the other way. We’ve had eight years of class, intelligence, and caring, and it will take time to accept that many of my fellow Americans have chosen the opposite. It does not help when I see a ranting post by a Trump supporter (filled with factual and grammatical errors) saying everyone who voted for HRC should be put in jail. It only makes me think that I was correct in my…

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In my dream

last leaves curled brown

and spoke

 400 parts per million… 

 hot sparks fly

from an unstoppable train

lifting dust spirals

 clogging brake lines.

somber suited heads 

sign treaties

ponder mercury advances

equatorial forests drying

salt waters rising…

tomorrow is now.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently announced that for 2015 the average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was  400 ppm (parts per million), a new high and well beyond 350 ppm, the safe level recommended by James Hansen and other scientists.

My poem is a quadrille in response to WMO’s news and dVerse Quadrille #19.

©2016 ontheland.wordpress.com

We protect World Peace by supporting Climate Action


Climate action and peace.jpg

We attribute ancient hatreds, religious intolerance or simply greed to many of the current conflicts. However, from desertification to eroding shores, climate change has intensified resource scarcity, poverty and hunger. Vast new waves of migration may have a political ignition, but the fuel is climate change, from Africa to Asia. Somehow, even Syria’s conflict can be attributed to the spark of longer-term drought. No continent has been secure, including the more developed ones.

Muhamed Sacirbey

Often war and terror are seen as greater global threats than climate change.  This view does not recognize that environmental stress fuels violent conflict. How?  Global warming creates stressors such as drought, famine, insect infestations, destruction of food supplies and destruction of shelter (think floods, fire, hurricanes).  Such disasters lead to mass migrations.  As Muhamed Sacirbey notes in the above quote, hunger and dislocation are sparks that ignite conflict.

Hunger—conflict—depletion of arable land—conflict—water shortages—conflict—failed crops—conflict—homes destroyed by natural disasters—migration—friction between migrants and natives—conflict—military zones—persecution—migration—conflict.  Food, water, arable land, and places to live are essentials that people fight  for in times of scarcity.

A United Nations Global Trends Report released in June 2016 states that worldwide forced displacement has reached an all-time high: in 2015, one in every 113 humans (65.3 million people) were displaced from their homes due to violence and persecution.

Addressing climate change by reducing carbon emissions promotes World Peace.

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Thank you for reading my Sunday quote post, number 2 in a series of three for a Three Day Quote Challenge. I would like to thank Louise Farrell of Fantasy Raconteur for inviting me.  I love this challenge as it gives me a nudge to do a kind of post that I enjoy.

As  part of the challenge tradition I invite three other bloggers to join in if it strikes their fancy.  Before I list the nominees for this week, I would like to talk about using quotes in posts.  When I first started blogging I was mystified by references to quote challenges until I discovered what it was all about from reading blog posts,  particularly those linked to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge, hosted by Colleen Chesebro and Ronovan Hester.  There are many approaches to using quotes in posts, for example:

  • posting a quote and letting it speak for itself
  • posting a quote and expanding on its meaning or significance, sometimes with information about the author
  • posting a quote to supplement photography (some people come up with amazing combinations)
  • an introductory, tone-setting quote
  • a closing quote
  • using a quote as inspiration for poetry or prose
  • using a quote to enrich the body of a post
  • using your own words as a quote!

If you have a secret desire to try a 3-quote challenge, let me know and I will  nominate you next week. For today I have chosen three nominees who I ask to not feel in any way obliged to follow through—not all bloggers enjoy this type of challenge.  My nominees today are:

Eli Woodbine 

Magarisa of  Becoming Unstuck

Yazek of Successia

The ‘Rules’ or suggested guidelines are:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you.
  2. Post 1-3 quotes each day for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Nominate 3 bloggers each day to participate in the 3-day Quote Challenge.
  4. Have fun.

Expanding ethics to preserve all life

Thomas Berry ethics.jpg

Source: Azquote

Here is a similar message in a paper Thomas Berry delivered to the Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values on April 9, 1996:

The natural world surrounding us is simply the context in which human affairs take place. Our relations with this more encompassing community are completely different from our relations to the human world. In the presence of the human, the natural world has no rights. We have a moral sense of suicide, homicide, and genocide, but no moral sense of biocide or geocide, the killing of the life systems themselves and even the killing of the Earth.

It may not be that our ethical systems are lacking–I was brought up in the Christian tradition and can remember a hymn honoring ‘all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.’  Most spiritual traditions respect the natural word.  The problem is a lack of application—in laws, everyday lives, industry, and commerce.  Pressures of survival, materialism, consumerism and greed have been major forces propelling us to where we are today .

Thomas Berry, a Christian theologian whose life spanned the last century into this one (1914-2009) pointed out a major discrepancy in our sense of morality.  There is a general consensus that killing humans is wrong, but there has not been general agreement that humans shouldn’t destroy animal communities or pollute the air, soil, and waterways.  He refers to the missing crimes as “Biocide” (destruction of life) and “Geocide” (destruction of the earth).

One could argue that we haven’t been that successful in protecting human life either.  Even though direct killing is sanctioned, there are major loopholes for tolerating harm:  lives are shortened significantly in a society that tolerates high levels of poverty, homelessness, toxins in the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat.

Putting aside the “we don’t practice what we preach anyway” argument—the observation that as a society we don’t truly love our neighbours, much less the environment—I do agree with Thomas Berry’s implication that the melting of ice caps, dying off of whole species of animals, flooding of coastal communities, famine due to drought etc, are direct results of our industrial consumer lifestyle.  It may take a major revamp of society’s ethics in order to correct our errors and move forward.

Thomas Berry concluded his talk with these hopeful words:

 Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the earth process. Humanity has not participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet.


This is day one in a Three Day Quote Challenge that I will be posting on three consecutive Sundays. I would like to thank Louise Farrell of Fantasy Raconteur for inviting me to participate back in early June when life was extremely busy. It still is, but I’ve taken the time to accumulate a connected series of quotes that I would like to post.  I like this quote challenge as it gives me a nudge to put together a type of post that I enjoy. As  part of the tradition I invite three other bloggers to join in if it strikes their fancy:

Jenny Spencer of SpoonGood

Dorna  Hainds of Madasahatter572

Brianne Turczynski of  Miss Sissinghurst

The ‘Rules’ or suggested guidelines are:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you.
  2. Post 1-3 quotes each day for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Nominate 3 bloggers each day to participate in the 3-day Quote Challenge.

Waters rising

It’s easy to be numbed by the growing list of things that will happen if we allow global warming to continue, but unfortunately some predictions are already happening.  One warning has been that ocean levels will rise, submerge islands, and flood coastal communities.  Depending on where you live and what news sources reach your attention, you may be aware that coastal flooding is already a serious concern in United States coastal cities.  Tidal flooding is not reserved to major storms, ‘sunny-day flooding’ is becoming a common phenomena, especially in the South.  If you have time for a video, the one I’ve posted above offers an overview.

Scientists have linked rising sea levels to human induced global warming for quite some time:  melting polar ice increases ocean volume as does warm water expansion.  Coastal communities feel ocean encroachment the most during high tide and heavy rainfall.  Now warnings are no longer predictions, the pressing questions are how fast are oceans rising, how high, and how can we slow the process?

While global sea level rose roughly eight inches from 1880 to 2009, much higher rates have occurred along parts of the East Coast, including New York City (more than 17 inches since 1856), Baltimore (13 inches since 1902), and Boston (nearly 10 inches since 1921).  Union of Concerned Scientists

I was inspired to write about this by a recent article in the New York Times, which I highly recommend.  The images that stuck with me were houses being raised up on stilts, flooded roads, measuring sticks in roadways to show drivers the depth of flood waters, well water poisoned with salt, storm sewers overflowing in downtown markets, and so on.    The other major take away for me was the sense that even when faced with actual events of disastrous dimensions, Congress is reluctant to create a national plan for combating and coping with sea level rise—even when confronted with advice that naval bases are threatened.  The stigma that continues to linger with issues linked to climate change is astounding.

… local leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.

Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”  Justin Gillis, New York Times

And to conclude, my haiku comment:

Salt water flooding,

Now coast-land, in time, sea floor,

Ocean invasion.

©2016, all rights reserved by ontheland.wordpress.com

My haiku uses ‘coast-land’ for beach and ‘time’ for Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge #113.