Finding Love and Nature Again

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” Māori Proverb

As we turn our backs on nature, we lose our natural source of happiness. The last couple of months, I have spent little time walking in nature. Lots of reason. Therefore it was wonderful to return and to walk into the heart of nature again.

I slowed  down on to nature’s pace and began to notice the drifting clouds, the leaves glittering in the sun, and the sun dancing in the shallows of the river. I breathed more slowly as a admired the cygnets gracefully floating on the pond.

I breathed more slowly as a admired the cygnets gracefully floating on the pond.

Today, as I finally have fixed the photos on this blog that disappeared when I updated the blog, I promised to return as soon as possible to the woods. And no, not all

And no, not all phots have been inserted back again, I decided to  fix the blog posts so that there are no empty spaces where there used to be a photo.

Sorry and sad but also Happy!

By Cinder1280 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48541340

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Creative thinking for the living planet – ecospin doctors

Think of the word Forest bathing. What do you imagine? What images flash through your mind? What feelings vibrate in your body?

Then think of the word Environment and explore the images and feelings.

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The words we use to express our ideas, emotions and thoughts are not neutral. Our language is not innocent rather it may alter how our reality is interpreted. And this in turn may change the way we act and react. Advertisers and spin doctors use words to manipulate us and to change our behaviour.

In an article by George MonbiotForget ‘the environment’: we need new words to convey life’s wonders” it is suggested that if we want people to engage with the living world, we should stop using certain words. The language is crucial to how we perceive the natural world and George wants help to find better ways of describing nature.

Consider this quote from the writer Robert Macfarlane.

“If Moses had promised the Israelites a land flowing with mammary secretions and insect vomit, would they have followed him into Canaan? Though this means milk and honey, I doubt it would have inspired them.”

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So let us assume that we want to change how people perceive the natural world and also that we are prepared to live with the consequences and actions that may follow for a change. Let us play saving the natural world spin doctors.

What creative tools can we use to find new words and ways of describing the living world? How can we help people who care about the ??? to be more creative?

Let us begin with some examples of words and descriptions that estrange people from the living world.

  • Sites of special scientific interest, no-take zones and reference areas are words used to describe places on land and at sea in which nature is protected.
  • The term animal reserve is cold.
  • The word extinction does not suggest our role in the extermination.
  • Professionals often describe animals and plants as resources or stocks, this way of referring to them suggest that they are here to serve us.

Describing animals and plants as resources and stock may lead to the idea that we can use them and also that when resource or stock disappear we can stock up with another animal or plant. We can also breed and manipulate them in whatever manner we like. Not all of us may agree with this way of treating and looking on animals and plants, nevertheless the choice of words lure us into this way of thinking.

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An approach to change the words that is suggested by George in his article is to use our awe of nature in our descriptions. Such as calling protected areas “places of natural wonder” to show that they are not only beautiful places but also that we need to work towards protecting and saving these areas.

Instead of the word environment we could use “living planet” or “natural world”.

However, names like places of natural wonder, living planet or natural world are in our opinion still distant, objective descriptions. The words have a bleak image and not enthusiastic action calling resonances that signal the moods you may have experienced while looking at the photos in this blog post.

Let us take an example from the world of cooking. Like it or not, word choice plays a huge role in the way we perceive food.

Stanford University California decided to investigate just how food affects our tastes. The study took place in a large university cafeteria and every day one new vegetable dish was labelled in one of four ways – basic (“green beans”); healthy restrictive (“healthy choice beans with no sugar”); healthy positive (“smart choice high-fiber beans”) , or indulgent (“sweet sizzling green beans)”.

The labels changed on a daily basis, yet, there were no changes with how the vegetables were prepared or served. Research assistants recorded the number of diners who chose the vegetable and weighed the mass taken from the bowl. In short, the study found that more people choose the beans when they were described as sweet sizzling green beans.

The new indications for environment and other related words should also be value/loaded. Compare the term extinction with exocide, as suggested by the lawyer Polly Higgins.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EuxYzQ65H4?ecver=2]

So, we should generate some new words and test them as is usually done in marketing research. Forest bathing is one of them. Perhaps meadow dancehall or the mountain place of love. But we are sure, you have better suggestions, let us know.

Need some inspiration, below is a poster with words to describe nature from culture around the world. A rich tapestry to inspire you to care and to experience these words for yourself.
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MJJSales.com

“The earth has music

for those who listen”

William Shakespeare

Happy Thinking!

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Also posted on Thinkbility

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Exquisite Feathers

Bird feathers are evolutionary wonders.

“As the saying goes in architecture, ‘form follows function,’ but when it comes to feathers I would say if form follows function, then beauty follows form.”

The book Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage by Robert Clark  is brimming with exquisite photos and facts to tempt the curious mind to embark on a journey filled with beauty and ideas about how the thousand of varieties of feathers have developed throughout history. Feathers have been designed for warmt, camouflage and sexual competivesss. This book is a perfect marriage between art and scienc; detailed cl0se-ups of feathers is paired with text about the utility as well as the evolution of the feather on the photo..

Robert is taking us on a journey filled with elegance as well as the past and interesting uses of feathers.

“The ways in which feathers have evolved and manifested themselves over time is riveting to me; over millions of years the scales of a dinosaur deviated and began to grow upward in spines that covered the body of birds. Through many generations, these spines spread, evolving specific purposes for the regions on the body on which they grew; eventually these spinal structures were imbued with extravagant colors and features,” writes Robert.

The aim is to make the feathers “look as if you could pick them up” and I could not agree more. So pick up the book and enjoy!

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The colour of scarlet macaw’s feather helps it live and blend in various different habitats. This is a secondary wing covert feather.

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Bird of Paradise.

 

Golden Headed Quetzal (Pharomachus auriceps)
Golden-Headed Quetzal (Pharomachus auriceps)
FEATHER TYPE : contour feather from the flank   LATIN NAME: Ithaginis cruentus   ENGLISH NAME: Blood Pheasant   REGION: Asia   OTHER NOTES: The green colour stems from a rare pigment called Turacoverdin   Further Information contact : Dr. Peter Mullen Kirchplatz 6 42489 Wuelfrath email: petermullen@gmx.de cell: +491726411691
The green colour stems from a rare pigment called Turacoverdin. Blood Phesant.

FEATHER TYPE : Wing   LATIN NAME: Lamprotornis superbus   ENGLISH NAME: Superb Starling   REGION: Africa Further Information contact : Dr. Peter Mullen Kirchplatz 6 42489 Wuelfrath email: petermullen@gmx.de cell: +491726411691

Superb Starling

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It’s Not Eureka! But That’s Beautiful!

Isaac Asimov, the science fiction novelists, reportedly once said that *The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the once that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” but “That’s funny!”

The theme in this blogpost is “That’s beautiful!” Beauty can be a great inspiration and a powerful motivator.  In the last years several articles have been written about teh improantce of teaching chidlren to care for nature. That is great. But we also need to find ways to motivate adults and politicians to care about nature.

Bugs and beetles may be small but they are a great tools to practice observing nature. Here are some stunning colourful examples that may inspire you to look at insects.

Let’s start with a beetle that is found in at least my backgarden. Always welcome and much loved.

 

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Image: by yokohamayomama. The Most Beautiful Bug I’ve Ever Found.

The Frog-legged Leaf Beetle (Sagra buqueti) looks like iridescent  sparkling wrapping paper. This colourful beetle is found in jungles in Souteast Asia.

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How far would you go to save this?

Fill your eyes with all the stunning colours and natural splendour.

Take deep breathe and smell the white sand and crystalline water.

Then think about how far you would go to save this.

A visit to the  Great Barrier Reef is a life-changing experience. One of the natural wonders of the world.

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Photo By Ciambue – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciamabue/6106191035/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40691429

Sadly, new aerial surveys have found that back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australias’s Great Barrier Reef. This is the second year in a row that the reef has been hit by severe bleaching. This year, the bleaching has spread further south. The underlying cause for the bleaching is global warming.

A proposal to pump cold water on the Great Barrier Reef to help stave off the bleaching has been described as an band-aid solution. Admittedly to use $9m to pump water does not address the underlying problems linked to rising water temperatures. Yet, few of us would say that using a plaster is a waste of time and money to dress a wound.

What do you think? How far should go we go? What kind of solutions are required to save the reef?

Go here for more blog posts about coral reefs.

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coral colors from myLapse on Vimeo.

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Giving Wildlife a Voice – Animal Law

What does it feel like to have no voice?

How can we improve Animal Laws?

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Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is never easy. When the other mind belongs to an animal, it requires more than compassion for the animal to help. Imagination and different ways to trick your mind to breaking old thinking patterns is the first step

The GAL Project supports the introduction of laws that will put an end to practices that are responsible for animals suffering. Ethical values are important for the Swiss lawyer Antoine Goetschel. He represents abused animals in the court.  The clients are mostly dogs but he also represents farm animals who may have been exploited for food, clothes or other products. An animal lawyer may also represent wildlife.

Farm animals may be kept in extremely cramped conditions, which are responsible for an enormous amount of suffering. There are several issues related to animal farming, industrial livestock production and factory farming of animals.

Many countries have banned and condemned certain cruel practices such as force-feeding to produce foie gras or egg farmer griding alive baby chicks. But in many countries, they are still legal. Today, there are not many lawyers that focus on animal law. Often in life, the things that do not pay that much are the most interesting and exciting to work with. Hopefully, there will be more animal lawyers in the future because there is so much important work to be carried out in regarding, for example, sports animals and using animals for entertainment and using animals for experiments.

The protection of wild animals is often covered by environmental laws. The focus on these types of laws is usually on species conservation with the aim to protect species. The laws are rarely written to protect individual species from suffering. Anticruelty laws protect pets and farm animals but not wild animals. If a wild animal is captured, then they are covered by laws but in many cases not while they are living in the wild.

In the Uk, The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects wildlife. What laws protect wildlife where you are living?

There are several things that wild animals should be protected from.

Here are a few examples to start your thinking:

  • habitat pollution
  • trapping
  • shark fining

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P.S. Looking for great photos?

Check out Ann-Margrethe Iseklint’s stunning photos.

 

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What does the “Whoop” sound really mean?

Honeybees make a “whoop” sound. Is this a sound a tells other bees to stop looking for food in a certain area?

Or it is simply a sound of surprise?

Bee-apisHoney By Maciej A. Czyzewski – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8786717

By using accelerometers to record vibrations inside hives for a year, researchers from Nottingham Trent University managed to isolate the sound. You can hear it in the sound cloud below.

Lots of interesting ideas to why the honeybees make the “whoop” sound has been put forward. Yet, it seems that these whoops happen rather frequently. The bees made these whooping sound more frequently than would be expected if they were trying to tell other bees not to look for nectar or other types of food in a certain area. The whoops sounds happen mostly night. When the bees bumped into each other they were startled. So perhaps the whoop sound is a sound of being surprised when you bump into a bee in the middle of the night.

The insight could help us to monitor how healthy a bee hive is. A stressed colony would most likely not react to small stimulus such as the bumping into another bee in the middle of the night. Considering the many challenges that bees around the world are currently facing it is indeed important to find out ways to monitor their health.

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