How many hours have we spent at the beach? I’m not sure we could count even if we tried. The beach and all of its wonders are part of you at some deep cellular level. The sound of the waves. The cold Pacific water. The sand between your toes and in your ear. How exactly does sand get in your ear??
The US Government wants to destroy the California coast that you know and love. This breaks my heart in so many ways. Why, in 2017, are we extracting more fossil fuels from the earth? Why would we permanently destroy habitats and ecosystems on which our life on this planet depends? The greed and short-sightedness that drives this is breathtaking.
Thank goodness that people around the country are speaking up and telling our federal government that this isn’t okay. On behalf of you, the future generation, this is not okay.
The US Government is asking for comments about their recommendation to drill for oil near our beaches. Before July 26, 2017. That’s now.
Kids, this is a great opportunity for people to show they care about this stuff.
I am hopeful that the US Government won’t start drilling for oil near the beaches we love. Or any beach for that matter. I have to have hope that we’ll put our planet first, not an outdated and wrong-headed notion of what this country is/was. I have this hope for you, for the future generations.
All this talk of beaches has got me thinking that we’re due for some sand between our toes. It’s summer and time to go to the beach.
For the 8 and 11 years that you’ve been alive (respectively), you have talked a lot about what you want to be and do when you’re an adult. One of you wants to be a professional baseball player. You talk about how you’re going to throw side arm when you’re a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. The other kid wants to be a general manager of sports team, or maybe a baseball talent scout, or maybe something else you’re just not sure.
Together we talk about how you’re going to take care of dad and me when we’re old, and how you’re going to give me dark chocolate when I’m in the hospital even if my doctor says not to.
How can I be your parent and not have hope for the future? You talk about your dreams. You describe how you want to change the world, feed the hungry, or at least pitch a perfect game. How can I not have faith that everything is going to be okay for you? I want so badly for everything to be okay for you.
There’s an avalanche of news about how our planet earth is in a serious crisis. This article in New York Magazine. This in the Washington Post. There are hundreds more examples, but I won’t list them all here. One, there are so many of them and I will run out of space. Two, and most importantly, I find them all so depressing and the last thing I want to do is depress you.
I hate being depressed about global warming. I don’t want to feel helpless and hopeless. I want to know that the adults alive today doing their best to ensure that you have a planet to live on. That your children have a planet to live on.
Being a parent is a constant, exhausting, and inspiring act of hope. I have to do my best to take care of the earth, because everyday you inspire me to.
Keep dreaming, kids. I’m dreaming with you.
I love you,
PS: This made me laugh and as David Brower said, “Have fun saving the world, or you are just going to depress yourself.”
Technology can be the enemy of nature. We can stare at screen instead of sunsets, and look forever online to find connection and purpose when all we really need to do is take a walk amongst some trees. Technology and “progress” has demolished landscapes and affected our planet and humanity in countless horrible ways. See Deepwater Horizon, the orchards of Silicon Valley in 1956 (then known as Valley of Hearts Delight), and average screen time of American teenagers as just a few examples.
The powers of technology can also be used for the good of nature, and for human beings. I like what Tiffany Shlain says in this podcast about how technology is really just an extension of us. It doesn’t dominate us. We can control it and use it for all the good we want to create. This view of technology puts us in the power position, and that is a much more productive perspective.
I’ve been thinking about all of this because yesterday we joined some new friends as they conducted their monthly monitoring of 1.5 miles of the California coast. Every four weeks Jan and Diane walk a bit of the San Mateo County coastline and write down what they see. They count birds and write it all down with code names like WeGu (Western Gull), TuVu (Turkey Vulture), and BrCo (Brandt’s Cormorant). They take pictures from the same spot every visit to show what’s changed and what hasn’t. They note how many seals they see and describe what those seals are doing (usually either swimming or laying on the rocks). When back home, Jan and Diane enter all the data into a centralized database in the cloud for scientists at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to analyze and compare to all the other 1.5 mile stretches along the California coast.
Jan and Diane are not alone. They are two of thousands (millions?) of citizen scientists who are collecting data for scientific study. Whether they’re collecting the data with an app or a pencil and paper, that data is turning into Big Data and influencing policy, land management decisions, scientific study, and more. That’s what got me thinking about technology as a tool for good. A cool app can entice people to go outside, and centralized databases can leverage the data for a bigger purpose. For example…
There’s iNaturalist. It’s an amazingly powerful collector of data on animals around the country. Sign up and learn more about what plants and animals you’re seeing in your world. Follow Alison Young on Twitter or Instagram to see how fun this can be.
Litterati is helping to clean up our planet one piece of trash at a time. I saw a lot more trash when I started with Litterati, and then started cleaning it up too. Data from Litterati is being used for advocacy and policy decisions, so that cigarette butt you document is making a real difference.
I love the Kings Tides because it means super dooper low tides that are perfect for exploring super dooper big beaches. But the high tides that come with Kings Tides are perfect for showing what sea level looks like. Enter the California Kings Tides project. They’re crowd sourcing pictures of the high tides so that we can plan for the rising seas.
And there’s this. Could it be that people are going outside more because of Pokemon Go, and what kinds of good things are happening when they’re there?
These are just examples. Of course there are more apps, databases, and technologies that are helping our planet be healthy. And there are thousands — no, I think millions — of people just like Jan and Diane who are taking the time to observe, monitor, and track what’s happening out there. All those WeBu observations and all those bags of trash add up. And that is powerful.