Concern For Nature: Part I

“The clouds appeared and went away, and in a while they did not try anymore.”
~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Lupin, Santa Cruz County, CA

Today is Monday, April 22, 2013, "Earth Day." I am deeply concerned for my pristine home, Santa Cruz County, California; for our air, water, and soil. Society sits poised on the brink of loosing relationship with nature, not only from our actions, but equally, our inaction.

I grew up spending time in the woods and waterways of California, then Florida, and back again in California. Because of my upbringing I pay attention to the natural environment; the earth, the trees, the animals, and the skies. I introduced my daughter to the woods, mountains, waterways, climbing trees, animal tracks and local flora and fauna I knew as a child. I wanted her to learn the art of communion, to listen to what each member of her community has to say, not just the human ones.

Over the past 10 years I have observed a sharp decline in the health of our local environment, including a decline in wildlife. Fewer nests can be found in trees. There are fewer birds in these nests and even fewer bees, butterflies, bugs, spiders, slugs and newts. Streams have less water and fewer fish, if any. Forests, once densely packed with trees are loosing certain species at an alarming rate. Oaks are dying and a variety of pines, in particular the Knobcone Pines, are following suit. Even the redwoods look peaked.

Death of the Knob Cone Pine

I have more recently noted change in our skies. When I moved back to California from Florida I never stopped longing for thunderstorms and the billowy cumulus clouds that usher them in. As much as I value coastal fog and our more than fair share of sunny days, I never fell for West Coast rain clouds. But then our weather changed. Winter skies over Santa Cruz County began to resemble those over Lake County, Florida. The East Coast thunderstorms I longed for surprisingly appeared in the skies of Santa Cruz. My initial response was one of nostalgia. I liked it.These billowy clouds took me home to Mom and Dad’s and fond childhood memories.

But that was two to three years ago. I no longer see the change in cloud formations and altered weather patterns in a positive light. An eye to the sky has brought about another observation, a noted change in local air traffic. There are days when few planes are seen in the sky, with air traffic looking much as it did a decade ago. On other days; however, the sky is riddled with planes crossing Santa Cruz County. Not only is the number of flights out of character, flight paths and contrails are as well.

Aircraft work together to make a grid, leaving long, lingering contrails, a by-product of dispersant sprayed from nozzles.

Aircraft spraying chemical dispersant, March 2013

The accumulation of the expanding dispersant develops into new cloud formations. Research has revealed why the skies over Santa Cruz County are not those observed just a few years ago. These are not natural clouds being brought in from expected weather patterns.

These are “contrail clouds,” built from aircraft “soot” as part of an international experiment that has co-opted numerous partnering agencies and investors, according to this document found on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website.

It seems this aggressive activity is taking place with little thought for the long-term impact it may have on public health and the natural world. The FAA is not shy in stating their goal is to insure future air traffic growth and profit. An assault on nature in the name of progress is not new. But it is arrogant to think that the activity taking place in the atmosphere will not impact all life forms who depend on this atmosphere for every living breath.

As Rachel Carson so aptly states in Silent Spring, “ A change at one point, in one molecule even, may reverberate throughout the entire system to initiate changes in seemingly unrelated organs and tissues, says a recent summary of the present status of medical research. When one is concerned with the mysterious and wonderful functioning of the human body, cause and effect are seldom simple and easily demonstrated relationships. They may be widely separated both in space and time."

What is in the “soot” of the FAA’s experimental flights? We have not been informed. Perhaps the silence is to stay off public descent. Less immediately toxic materials could prove more catastrophic than immediately potent ones that would result in public outcry that could terminate the danger. The soot’s toxicity may be having an accumulative, delayed, detrimental impact on the Eco-systems of both nature and the human body.

Can we afford to wait for the answer to be expressed in the growing bodies of our children?

I turn once again to Rachel Carson for perspective. “Responsible public health officials have pointed out that the biological effects of chemicals are cumulative over long periods of time, and that the hazard to the individual may depend on the sum of the exposures received throughout his lifetime. For these very reasons the danger is easily ignored. It is human nature to shrug off what may seem to us a vague threat of future disaster. “Men are naturally most impressed by diseases which have obvious manifestations,” says a wise physician, Dr. René Dubos, “yet some of their worst enemies creep on them unobtrusively.

Multiple aircraft spray dispersant over Santa Cruz County, January 19, 2013

Not only may chemicals used by the FAA pose a threat to our health and our environment, they may also be changing the grand artisan, Mother Nature’s palette. According to this FAA Document, “contrail clouds” compete with natural clouds for moisture and could, in time replace natural clouds.

Based on observation and weather records from this year, might the weather we experienced represent just that, a winter of man made clouds?

It is not enough to merely appreciate and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. We must actively protect and safeguard remaining natural environments (including our skies) from the ever-pressing, destructive forces, willing to sacrifice any and all living things for profit and conquest. Rachel Carson provides a suggestion as to why the current chemical onslaught, like the chemical onslaught with pesticides in the 60’s, which brought about such death and destruction, may be catching us by surprise. And though she is speaking about insecticides the parallel is clear.

"In each of these situations, one turns away to ponder the question: Who has made the decision that sets in motion these chains of poisonings, this ever-widening wave of death that spreads out, like ripples when a pebble is dropped into a still pond? Who has placed in one pan of the scales the leaves that might have been eaten by the beetles and in the other the pitiful heaps of many-hued feathers the lifeless remains of the birds that fell before the unselective bludgeon of insecticidal poisons? Who has decided who has the right to decide – for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insets, even though it be also a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight?

The decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power; he has made it during a moment of inattention by millions to whom beauty and the ordered world of nature still have a meaning that is deep and imperative."

The time of “inattention”is over.

Hyalophora euryalus Moth
Hyalophora euryalus Moth

It is our duty to safeguard each species we have the privilege of knowing today, as the rightful inheritance of the generations to come. Anything less, is selfish and ultimately self-destructive.

Concern for Nature: Part II will include outlined observations, research, and details about the FAA experiment taking place locally and internationally. In addition it will examine some of the environmental and health risks this phenomena may pose.

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