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The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail
Sobering reading. And when you are done, check out my latest article at Medium: https://medium.com/@frankparker/climate-change-migration-and-inequality-are-not-problems-they-are-symptoms-bbe2d50eb7d5
The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption is a work of investigative journalism by Dahr Jamail, conducted during the period April 2016 to July 2017 on the front lines of human-caused climate disruption. Having lived in Alaska for ten years (1996-2006), Jamail had witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming on the glaciers there.
Jamail’s original aim was to alert readers about “the urgency of our planetary crisis through firsthand accounts of what is happening to the glaciers, forest, wildlife, coral reefs, and oceans, alongside data provided by leading scientists who study them.” His reporting took him to climate disruption hot spots in Alaska, California, Florida, and Montana in the United States; Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; and the Amazon Forest in Manaus, Brazil. His grief at what was happening to nature made him realize that “only…
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My first summer in this garden I purchased and planted a dozen roses, some climbers against the fence and the rest bush roses which I planted in a bed at the front of the house. Most did very well. A couple died after the first 2 or 3 years.
This one was not doing well, seemed much smaller than the rest, so last summer I dug it up and placed it in a container next to the front door. It perked up and produced a couple of good flowers in late summer. Then in November I noticed another bud had formed. That bud has now begun to open, in the middle of February!
It’s a symbol of the earliness of the season. There are daffodils everywhere, some of mine began opening 4 weeks ago. Here are a few more pictures I took around the garden yesterday.
And one I took on January 6th.
I suppose it is a truism that the most of these one can have is nine. I just reached my seventh. Seems like a good time to look back at the others and see what I was doing.
My first, 11 in 1952, saw me just commenced at boarding school. About six weeks into my first term in this new and strange environment I can’t honestly recall what I was feeling. I do know that I was not particularly happy in that first year. Looking back at the whole of the six years I spent there I do think the experience was good for me. Over the last few years, thanks to the magic of the internet I have been able to make contact with some of the men who were fellow pupils there. In the last couple of days we have been discussing the effect on us of the religious education we received there and it seems that the majority are, like me, either atheist or agnostic, certainly sceptical about religions.
My second double digit birthday, 22 in 1963, happened six weeks after my marriage and 3 months after completing my apprenticeship. Definitely a happy time, excited at the life ahead of us as a couple and the interesting work I was already doing in a small design drawing office.
My third, 33 in 1974, I was in South Africa, embarking on what would become a very happy and fruitful period. There will be more about this in forthcoming installment in my Monday Memories sequence.
By double digit birthday number four, 44 in 1985, I was a County Councillor in North East Lincolnshire, then part of Humberside. One of 4 Liberals holding the balance of power, I was struggling to keep up with the enormous work load and my full time job. A year later I accepted a generous severance package which allowed me more time for political activities and, or so I fondly imagined, writing.
On my fifth double digit birthday, 55/1996, you would have found me working as a Project Planner at a steel works in Scunthorpe. Knowing the job would not last beyond the following summer, I attended a recruitment fair staged in Leeds around that time by British Aerospace. Later I would be invited to attend a selection day, and at the end of June 1997 I joined that company, still in the role of Project Planner.
Eleven years ago, my 66th birthday on November 2nd 2007, I was beginning my second year resident in Ireland, retired, painting, writing and looking for opportunities for volunteering. The following year I began work as a volunteer with the local community development company, a move which subsequently led to both of us becoming volunteers with a local support group for cancer patients and their relatives, which we still are.
If I make it to an eighth double digit birthday I shall have out-lived my mother by a week – she died the day after the 7/7 bombings, five days before her 88th birthday. As for 99, that’s too far in the future to contemplate!
The first review of Dark Visions is in – and my tale gets a mention. Thank you Kaye Lynne.
October is the month for scary things, and a horror anthology filled with spine chilling short stories from over thirty authors is the perfect read for the season. The release of Dan Alatorre’s compilation of Dark Visions anthology is October 15th, and you won’t want to miss it. In addition to a wonderfully original and entertaining prologue, and his own story, “The Corner Shop”, Dan has lined up a slew of writing talent to include in this tomb of short horror tales.
Not only does this anthology have a very cool cover, (Check it out above), but it also has some very well crafted short fiction, some that will stay with you in times to come. These shorts cover a wide spectrum of horrors; nightmares, voodoo, vampires, apparitions and spirits, and even demons. The stories found here prey upon your inner fears, making brief little ditties from the stuff of…
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This story comes from my local newspaper. I like it because it illustrates how small acts of kindness add up to a great deal.
The link is to the relevant page of the newspaper and you will need Adobe to read it. The journalist responsible for the story is Lynda Kiernan.
She tells us about a grand mother who is an enthusiastic knitter. As well as fulfilling orders for knitwear for friends and relations she knits baby clothes which she delivers to the local maternity hospital. But her charity does not end there: she also fills shoe boxes with gifts to be distributed to children around the world. At the time of the article she already had 225 ready and wrapped for Christmas this year.
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It might have been different if I’d not been on a first aid course a few days before. Then I might not have thought ‘stroke‘ when my right foot and my right hand both started acting strangely. I had a good look in the mirror and my face looked okay. My speech wasn’t slurred.
That was Saturday night. Our wedding anniversary was coming up on Tuesday and we’d booked a short break away. I’m a volunteer on the Strides for Life programme the Irish Cancer Society devised for recovering patients. That means a 30 or 40 minute walk on Monday morning. I did find it surprisingly difficult keeping up with the patients but my foot seemed to be behaving itself. Driving to our holiday destination 150 km. away was a different story. My right foot kept drifting off to the right. And then I had to sign the register and fill in my name, date of birth, address, phone number and vehicle registration. I struggled to form the letters.
Tuesday I decided to phone our local doctors’ surgery to get an appointment for Friday morning. By Tuesday night, with storm Ali making any idea of sight-seeing hopeless, we decided to cut our holiday short. Back home Wednesday afternoon I rang the surgery to see if my appointment could be brought forward. At 3pm I was explaining my symptoms to the doctor. He spent 20 minutes trying out various tests, after which he decided that a CT scan might provide some answers.
“The best way to get it done straight away is to go to A&E. Go there first thing in the morning, before they get too busy, and give them this letter.”
I’m seen quite quickly and, after triage, I’m taken to a cubicle and hooked up to a heart monitor. Two different doctors carry out the same battery of tests before I’m taken to radiology for a chest x-ray and the CT scan. Another doctor comes and repeats the same tests. He tells me the CT had not showed anything significant. The consultant will be round soon to discuss my case with me. By lunch time I’m told he wants to do an MRI. This has to be booked in another hospital. It is too late to organise today.
The best way to get ahead of the long waiting list is for him to admit me so that I am an in-patient. I might get an appointment for Friday but it could be after the weekend.
That’s how I ended up in hospital in a five-bed ward with 4 very sick people, feeling a complete fraud. I’m given a meal in the afternoon and a snack in the evening. Because I’m a new admission and have not pre-ordered a meal I’m given a fry up: two sausages, a rasher, black and white pudding, toast and butter. I tell one of the nurses that I smell a conspiracy: the medical profession is always telling us such fare is bad for us and yet here they are feeding it to me!
There is a nurse allocated to our small ward full time. All 4 of the other patients are seriously ill. One in particular, Michael, needs constant supervision and one or other of the nurses is sat by his bed most of the day and night.
Friday morning I get seen on the consultant’s round. We discuss my symptoms and do the tests again. He spots my arthritic fingers and calls for more blood tests. He says he will put me on aspirin to thin my blood plus something to counter its effect on my innards. And, as an extra precaution, statins for my cholesterol.
One of his team returns shortly afterwards to take the bloods. I have a cannula in my right arm where they took bloods yesterday and which has been left in for the MRI team to inject dye. She can’t use that – something to do with the blood being contaminated with whatever is injected via the cannula. “But nothing has been injected yet,” I protest. To no avail; I have to offer up my left arm.
Then a physiotherapist arrives to do another assessment. In the afternoon I am told my appointment with the MRI team is at 10:30 Monday morning. So I’m here for the weekend, occupying a bed in our supposedly overstretched hospital system, getting 4 meals a day and constant attention, when I could be at home. All in order to by-pass an appointments system that means, as the consultant put it to me Friday morning: “If we send you home you would wait so long it might be too late.”
The MRI, when it happens is an interesting experience in itself. Certainly not for the faint-hearted or claustrophobics. Superficially like the CT in general appearance, it is larger and, whereas the CT takes just a couple of minutes, I’m in the MRI enclosure for at least 15. Throughout that time you are subjected to a strange sequence of loud noises. Tapping on a tin drum followed by loud buzzing like someone revving a high powered motor bike – 5 or 6 taps followed by the same number of revs. That sequence is repeated several times then you get the pneumatic drill for what seems like several minutes. A series of clicks and clunks is followed by a repetition of the above, not necessarily in the same order. What it all means, in terms of what the machine is actually doing, I have no idea.
All this takes place after I have been taken by taxi from my local hospital to one about 30 km away. Back to my bed some 2 1/2 hours after I left – just in time for lunch, in fact – I only have to wait a couple of hours before the consultant brings the verdict. I did, indeed, have a mini-stroke caused by a tiny clot forming in one of the capillaries in my brain. He says I will now be on aspirin for life, to keep my blood thin, with the pink pill to protect my stomach from the effects of the aspirin. I have my heart monitored over night and have to provide a blood sample before I eat anything tomorrow then I can go home.
I guess I owe our local cancer support centre, who organised the first aid course because I’m volunteering on that walking programme for their clients, and the man who delivered it, a debt of gratitude. I could quite easily have ignored those minor symptoms – indeed, I very nearly did and at times through this last weekend felt I was wasting valuable resources that could have been put to better use.
The moral of the story? Never ignore your body when it is trying to tell you something and, of course, learn the signals it sends and what they mean.