The worst thing about Massachusetts is the lack of alligators in the lakes. Every time I see a lake or even a Sufficiently Large Pond I think “there should be an alligator here” because in Texas you can look at a lake and expect with reasonable certainty that there is an alligator fucking around somewhere in there. But in Massachusetts you look at a lake and have to remember that probably there is Not an alligator and that’s just tragic.
Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) that something has had a little nibble on. This fungus is often found in open woods and pastures. It is edible and is apparently excellent. At the time I wasn’t aware it was edible so left it be.
Swamps get a bad rap. People think of ‘swamps’ as the most ugly, mucky, gross place to be (heck, Shrek lives in one), but the word ‘swamp’ merely means a forested wetland. What are two of the most popular destinations for nature walks? Forests and wetlands, baby! Swamps are gorgeous and super vital to the ecosystem!
This beautiful destination is the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia:
Ever heard of the “Great Dismal Swamp” in Virginia? Do you imagine the most depressing, gross, scary place you’ve ever seen? It might look a bit haunting, but look how gorgeous the Great Dismal Swamp can be:
Oh yeah, did I mention that swamps are unbelievably rich in wildlife and rare plant species? For example, the Great Dismal Swamp has over 200 species of birds, over 70 species of reptiles and amphibians, and booming mammal populations (you’re very likely to see black bears and otters, for example). That doesn’t sound so dismal to me.
Speaking of wildlife, the Pantanal swamps in Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia are home to some rare and gorgeous animals like jaguars, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, caiman, giant otters, maned wolves, and more.
It’s easy to understand why swamps might get a bad reputation. They’re hard to travel on foot (many swamps now have boardwalk trails and canoe tours), and the stagnant water can smell bad and give a home to many bugs, which spread diseases. Cool animals like crocodiles and jaguars are bad news if you’re lost in the swamp and come face to face with one. But swamps are super important to the planet and are often way more beautiful than what you may be picturing!
One cool thing swamps do is absorb excess water like sponges so the surrounding areas don’t get badly flooded. In addition to the many animals that live in swamps, swamp plants often have medicinal value or other practical purposes. And despite their reputation for being dirty, swamps actually purify water because their thick plant growth and soil absorb impurities in the water!
one of my favourite ever lion studies was looking at masculinized females in botswana, and one of the study lionesses was called SaF05
SaF05 had a mostly complete light mane, mated with both males and females, roared and scent-marked in a fashion associated with males, however acted socially as a female when it came to hunting and patrolling
There is a very specific sort of trauma which comes from being a small child, being told about widespread ecological destruction. Trauma which does not come from that initial fact - but rather the adult response to that child’s inevitable question of “What can we do about it!”
Even in grade school I recognized the inherent absurdity of being told about the massive destruction of rainforests - particularly the amazon - but then being told that if we want to help we can “Recycle Cans” or whatever.
And I think that to a certain extent that trauma has a somewhat malevolent yet subtle intention. When you make small children think that the world is dying because they ate a chocolate bar in plastic wrap - you foster a sense of preexisting damnation which cannot be meaningfully fought.
Alternatively when you make children think that adults have no plan or interest whatsoever to tackle the problem, you foster a worldview in which the children have an actively antagonist relationship to older generations. Given the power dynamics between children and adults however, this is just as likely to produce crushing despair as it might prompt furious rebellion.
Both paths ultimately lead toward learned helplessness and general misanthropy, ensuring that resistance to ecological destruction is minimal. Stifling the emotional ecological connection of every person who was once a child filled with the wonder of a tall tree, a grassy meadow, or the first squirrel they ever saw.
Capitalism sustains itself through mass-trauma, and this is only one small piece to the larger situation. However it is a piece I find personally meaningful to discuss given my focus on environmentalism.
i need people to understand that “save the bees” means saving the native pollinators that are actually in danger right now.
domestic honey bees are doing just fine, and in fact are out-competing native pollinators because they have human intervention giving them the leg up. meanwhile local pollinators are disappearing and with them a lot of the plants they co-evolved with will likely disappear too, along with every species that relies on those plants including us.
save your local wild bees, do that by planting native flowers, cutting out pesticides, and letting the dandelion/clover and other “weeds” grow. honey bees don’t need your help.
Israel itself has destroyed much of the native flora, and replaced it with ecologically inappropriate pine plantations. It also continues to uproot, year-by-year, ecologically appropriate olive trees. Palestine, like other regions of the Third World, has a dazzling heritage of sustainable peasant or smallholder agriculture, from the remaining terraces of Battir, to terraces in the Naqab to cisterns in the hills of the West Bank. That, too, is being lost, and because such forms of technology are bound to the practices and lives and social systems of the people who have built and maintain them, the loss of these technologies can only be reserved through great struggle, even when Palestine is liberated. Furthermore, Israel is the world’s major per capita exporter of weapons, which themselves have been used as part of US aligned or implanted regimes’ wars on poor people and their environmental struggles, as in India and Brazil. Such weapons also produce massive toxins in production and use.
A People’s Green New Deal: An interview with Max Ajl