Pointless, Incessant Barking

Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MAP-CO2) Buoy for ocea...
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This NewYorker cartoon sits on my desk:

Two dogs (I’m sure they are labs) sit facing each other in conversation.

One says: “I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking.”


I’m in another cycle of perceived pointlessness. And that’s even in the fall, when my zing usually ramps up a few notches, summer’s lethargy having finally been zapped by the first frost–or this morning, a pretty hard freeze.

There are far too many serious topics to think, then possibly write about; and they, each one, demand more than a casual blog post. But then, even the ones that come after many hours of reading and reflecting are only so much barking. They may even find their way to newsprint. Woof on paper.

I think, in hindsight, that I should have spent the money and gone to Miami this year for the Society of Environmental Journalists conference that concludes today. Even if I’m only a vestigial appendage of that organization, it helps to be among those professionals whose bark has some potential bite.

This year, a featured speaker was NOAA chief, Jane Lubchenko, who warns of “osteoporosis of the seas”: the far-reaching impact of ocean acidification. I’ve written some while ago on the cost of losing the role of phytoplankton.

NOAA Chief: The Climate Crisis the Media is Missing

There are things we can do to prevent nitrogen runoff and such. But the chief culprit, says Lubchenko, is the high load of atmospheric CO2 that finds its way into the surface waters of ALL the world’s oceans. The cost is immeasurably high. Watch this excellent four-minute video from NOAA.

Ocean Acidification’s impact on shelled phytoplankton and zooplankton

And even the same morning I read afresh about rising carbon dioxide’s threat to marine ecosystems comes a study (independent and even funded in part by the climate change denial folks) that confirms global warming, with numbers that fall very close to prior studies blamed as “climategate” collusion among science cronies.

So, another fork in the road: Incessant pointless barking heard only by the trees on Goose Creek. Or go on filling up my own blog, where the only noise might be the comforting clickety-click of the keyboard?

It’s a tough choice. I will need more coffee.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Still here in northcentral Pennsylvania checking in with fragments every couple of days. My recently-retired husband is thinking we should plan a road trip to FloydFest next summer! (He programs a summer festival here – The Dam Show.)

  2. This post describes how I felt when I gave up blogging the Smokies. At first I was naive to think that if only more people were better informed about issues impacting the Park that it would make a difference. At some point I realized that information, or “raising awareness”, was not what people wanted, and if even if made more aware, habits of body, mind, politics, and purse are little changed.
    Something bigger than words on a monitor or in print, information, reason, and human intelligence is needed to make the necessary changes to preserve the environment whether it be oceans or forests. I’m afraid that the something bigger is going to be Mother Nature herself, and it’s going to get very ugly for millions if not billions of human beings, but trust me, Mother Nature will win in the end. She only has a few billion years to correct whatever mistakes she made by allowing humans to foul their nest. Sorry if this is pessimistic. We only can do what little we can as individuals, and if our tools are only a keyboard then it’s better than nothing at all I suppose.

  3. Yep, Fletch, I think Malthus and global homeostasis will do their work in the place of a more acceptable fate in which mankind might have had some proactive part, displaying our purported sapience. Individually, we can be pretty smart. Collectively, we’re a mental step above a cactus.

  4. Get that coffee Fred !!

    Get out there and send us some more Photos!!

    It’s that time of year where beauty abounds.

    Tell Ann and Tsuga Hello !!


  5. Fred, perhaps make that a step below cactus. . .

    My friend, carry on blogging, barking and writing, barracking and declaiming and shouting in the marketplace. Paint environmental truths on urban walls with a large brush, rent a glider and fly banners across the sky and our sad depleted ozone layer.

    We have to carry on doing these things – if we do not, the alternatives are too awful to contemplate. Heck, the older I get, the more radical I find myself becoming, and that is fine by me. Radical, after all, just means rooted, and if we don’t speak for Mother Earth, who will?

  6. I’ve been on the road for two months, not checking in to your blog, but I am back home and back reading.
    I have been very impressed with the impact outdoor photographers have had on public policy, legislation, etc. ever since photography began. I encourage you to turn to your camera when using print media strikes you as futile. (You know I have always felt your greatest gift is your photographer’s eye.) My husband shares his nature photographs with as wide an audience as he can, and I know some of our contacts have chosen their vacations based on them. It helps turn folks from choosing Las Vegas, fancy resorts, etc., and keeps them loving our natural world. Hopefully, that creates more tolerance for tree huggers among our right wing peers. I’m sure your photos have an impact on their viewers, too.