Today, I heard of two news items that have really disturbed me.
The first was about the introduction of Christmas gift registries, along the lines of a wedding, or baby shower registry. An online list where you can list all the things that you want other people t o buy for you at Christmas.
It took me a long time to adjust to a wedding registry, but I have come to understand that in these days of couples living together before marriage, that a registry will at least mean that you aren’t going to end up with duplicates or triplicates, or in the one colour that makes you homicidal.
However, I don’t think I will ever accept such a process for Christmas gift giving, as it seems to go against the whole concept of Christmas. It seems to me, that such a concept means that we have learnt nothing from the recent economic downturn and the greed that lead us into our own downfall; not to mention all the chatter about distressing, and decluttering our lives of things and debt.
The second area of concern was a small item on CNN this morning which was almost celebrating the fact that America has shelved the introduction of government regulations to introduce low energy light bulbs. I suspect it was lack of government funds to carry through the policy that was at the bottom of action, but there were also a number of people who were celebrating the triumph of their constitution and their God given right to burn whatever bulb they wish too. One senator proudly declared he had 200 light bulbs stock piled at home. A politician who really has his constituents at heart; obviously not.
Well, can I say, hey guys, you aren’t the only ones on this earth? I have a God given right to a healthy planet. There are more than you in this sandpit, kid.
I have been using low energy bulbs wherever and whenever I can, because I recognise that my actions not only have a local impact, but a global impact as well. Plus it lowers my power bill costs! I don’t think my individual rights are superior to any other individual in this world, or any future individual, I believe in equity.
So, if I adopt a self-centered attitude, and they continue their selfish ways, what is going to happen to our planet? Nothing nice, that is sure.
As I said, both these new items I found disturbing, for it appears that despite all the media, the education and the personal experience of economic downturn and climate change, we really haven’t learnt a thing. A sobering thought to take into Christmas and the season of goodwill and peace on earth.
Do you ever feel as though you are the rabbit in the hat, and no one is going to come and pull you out of that small, dark prison? Ever.
I guess I am just feeling a little fragile. There have been so many natural disasters, conflicts and so much tragedy this year, that I suspect we are all feeling some form of post traumatic stress syndrome.
Due to the extremes of weather that we have experienced in recent times, we are no longer under the illusion that we can retreat to our homes and remain safe. Our homes are no longer a haven from disaster and tragedy. As we watch footage of Japanese tsunami victims being washed away in their homes, or hear the horrific retelling of tales of Australian families being swept from their homes, their neighbours able to do nothing except listen to their screams, or keep a vigil as desperate rescue teams dig for earthquake victims in New Zealand, let alone witness the horrors of the middle east conflicts, it is indeed difficult to maintain a happy heart, or an optimistic outlook for our future.
Every time another event is played out on my television screen I feel the burden grow heavier on my shoulders. Sadness seems to visit too frequently these days.
The evidence is in that we humans do impact in a very negative way on natural climate processes. In Australia, we have one group of politicians who know that something needs to be done urgently, but squabble so much, and lack confidence to do the things that need to be done.
Another group are in hysterical congress that there will be no issue, even though the science is piled in front of them. I forget some of the details of Noah from the bible, but weren’t there a group of sceptics who ridiculed Noah, continuing with their partying ways, only to cry for help as the waters rose and they drowned? The parallel is obvious.
I summon optimism. I cling to hope. I must have faith that we will rally and take the hard decisions. Remember our place in nature, and that we are indeed our brother’s keeper.
Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, from ‘Woodnotes’
I was pondering some of the important things in life. Like what makes a person prefer tea over coffee? Why do we respond to some colours, and not others? What makes us think the person, is THE PERSON? And the one that preoccupied me the longest – if I could come back in another life as something other than human, animate or inanimate, what would it be?
My mind of course first fled to the obvious, such as some domesticated cat or dog, but then I thought that life is not always nine lives for a cat, and dogs continually have smelly breath and eat atrocious articles that necessitate fast trips to the vet and emergency surgeries. Not quite my style. No, it didn’t take me long to decide on my choice. If given another round, I would request to come back as a coral polyp.
A coral polyp?
Think about it.
Coral polyps are major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs, and everyone loves coral reefs. They are so pretty, just like me! Coral develops in tropical and subtropical waters. I for one could live in the Great Barrier Reef quite happily.
I could be a brain coral and grow to 1.8 meters (5.9 ft) in width. I could have position by being a staghorn coral, growing fast and large and be an important reef-builder, or a star coral; another important reef-builder. Maybe, I will be a pillar coral forming a pillar which can grow to 3 meters (9.8 ft) in height. I have always wanted to be a couple of inches taller.
Maybe, I will be a soft coral such as black coral, bamboo coral, organ pipe coral, sea fans or a sea pen. Then I could be flexible, undulating back and forth in the current, with a lacy appearance. Doesn’t that just sound like a Flamingo Dancer coral? Oh yes, it does!
While a coral head appears to be a single organism, it is actually a group of many individuals, so I would have my family with me too! Over many generations we would form the large calcareous structures of corals and ultimately coral reefs. Cool, right? The family that sticks together, makes the reef! I can participate in budding to expand colony size, thus maintaining a connection to the community! Who wouldn’t want to buddy up with me! That was not a question, notice the exclamation mark?
If however, all that togetherness becomes too much for me, and we all know how being nice exhausts me, I can select bailout which occurs when a single polyp abandons the colony and settles on a different substrate to create a new colony. Who has never dreamed of just leaving it all behind, when it all gets too much?
Spoilt for polyp choice, if I feel the imperative to maintain some connection , I can go for fragmentation, which involves individuals breaking from the colony. Usually this happens during storms , but “other situations as required” is no doubt built into the work description, which I will opt for if need be . The separated individuals can start new colonies, and so I will just got off and do my own thing. Reign as I should.
When a polyp is physically stressed, its tentacles contract so that virtually no part is exposed above the skeletal platform. This protects the organism from predators and the elements. A strong self defence mechanism is essential for a happy existence, in whatever form, and now that I think about it, the more I wish I had this ability right now!
Coral reefs have perhaps the greatest concentration of symbiosis within one single habitat on the planet. The human race is yet to achieve anything remotely similar to symbiosis as a species. Universal peace and harmony? Elusive as ever.
Not to mention the fact, but I will, that reefs are extremely diverse marine ecosystems hosting over 4,000 species of fish, massive numbers of cnidarians, molluscs, crustaceans, and many other animals, so I can sit back there, and we all know how much I like sitting, and watch the passing parade.
Do polyps blog? I am sure I would, and so no doubt the activities of my neighbours and the reef visitors would provide me with material to blog! Talk about win, win!
The polyps in fact are interconnect by a complex and well developed system of gastrovascular canals allowing significant sharing of nutrients and symbiotes. No one goes hungry, we all get a fair share! Works for me!
Typically a polyp harbours one species of algae. Via photosynthesis, these provide energy for the coral, and aid in calcification. The algae benefit from a safe environment, and consume the carbon dioxide and nitrogenous waste produced by the polyp. Due to the strain the algae can put on the polyp, stress on the coral often drives the coral to eject the algae. Ejection increases the polyp’s chances of surviving short-term stress—they can regain algae at a later time.
Once again, this is a little like you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, but if your demands get out of hand, I can just say, “hit the seaway” and show you the portal.. Who wouldn’t like to be able to treat guests who out stay their welcome in the same way? I am on a winner here!
Polyps feed on a variety of small organisms, from microscopic plankton to small fish. I like a little variety in my diet as do polyps, and we all know how good omega 3 is for the brain, so if I was a brain coral polyp think what I might achieve – reef domination at least!
Corals can be both gonochoristic (unisexual) and hermaphroditic, each of which can reproduce sexually and asexually. Reproduction also allows coral to settle new areas. A polyp for all camps, that is me! What is there is complain about? I mean, if I can’t find the ployp for me, and let us admit that the chances of getting out and meeting other polyps is fairly limited, I can look after my own needs. Men have been doing just that for years!
Apparently, I can be a broadcaster, and participate in mass spawning, or a brooder releasing only sperm, which is negatively buoyant, and can harbor unfertilized eggs for weeks, lowering the need for mass synchronous spawning events. Indeed a polyp for all occasions!
When the middle age spread forms, as it always do, no need to worry or seek stomach banding, no, I can just select longitudinal division which will begin when I, the polyp, broaden and then divide my coelenteron. I am yet to discover what my “coelenterons” is, but there is time, as I expect to be in this life until I am 102. My mouth also divides and new tentacles form – Mr FD would love that, wouldn’t he? .The two “new” polyps, old me and new me, then generate missing body parts and exoskeleton. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
The only downer is that corals are highly sensitive to environmental changes. Scientists have predicted that over 50% of the world’s coral reefs may be destroyed by 2030. Murder! Seaweed and algae can be my enemy! Overuse of artificial chemicals in agriculture can feed seaweed and algae, and cause me great stress. Coral die if surrounding water temperature changes by more than a degree or two beyond their normal range, or if water salinity drops. I may not fair so well, if climate change runs rampant. I need time to adjust, evolve, people! I need love!
Human activities including runoff, mooring, fishing, diving, mining and construction damage reefs, I could have a short second life, people! Please think of me, and my chance of a second coming, next time you flush a cleaner down your toilet. What the environment needs now, is friends, lots of friends. And a Flamingo Dancer coral!
Do it for the Flamingo Dancer! I would be such a magnificent coral polyp…
Condolences and prayers to the people of America suffering as a result of the recent destructive tornadoes.
This year, it seems the not a continent has escaped some type of natural disaster. Whether you believe in climate change or not, it does cause one to pause and wonder.
Certainly natural disasters happen all the time, but it does appear that they are happening more frequently and with greater intensity than in recent times. Whether that is reality, or a perception created from intense media coverage, will no doubt be borne out by scientific research as time goes by.
In the meantime, even if you are a non believer in climate change, does it hurt to be kind to our earth, by taking a little extra effort in your daily life? Recycling helps society, not just the planet; turning off lights and other energy devices can save you money; walking instead of driving may help you live a healthier old age and growing your own vegetables, or herbs not only reduces your footprint, but is so rewarding that I swear it is more beneficial than a day at an expensive spa!
It is a little like saying a few prayers just in case there really is a God – what have you got to lose? Keep your own patch clean and we all benefit – what have you got to lose?
Quite a bit if climate change is accelerated by humankind”s activities…
Having experienced a close encounter with the flooding in Queensland earlier this year, I can honestly say, that had I ever had any doubt about the power of nature, I would have none now!When a disaster is on your doorstep, when your family and friends are killed, or suffer as a result, then it is too late to regret all the steps that you could have taken, that maybe, just maybe, might have made a difference, however small.
Take that action now, for all our sakes – think about our homes, think about our earth and do something positive. Just as every journey starts with the first step, so does our support of our earth. Start today.
Small changes make big differences.
I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of climate change deniers
Of droughts and flooding rains,
Of bleaching coral reefs
In oceans that are warming –
making cyclones rage through towns
and huge fires go a-storming.
I love her coal industry lobbyists,
I love her rightwing jocks –
either choosing wilful ignorance
or lying through their socks.
I love her weak politicians,
heads firmly in the sand –
‘the greatest moral challenge’
has pretty much been canned.
I weep for what will happen,
And wonder where it ends
Watching scenes of great destruction,
untold damage, death of friends.
I love her far horizons
with their burnt or ripped-up trees,
her vulnerability and our terror –
the wide-brown land for me.