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Dolphins raise sound questions

Richard Black | 14:10 UK time, Wednesday, 8 April 2009

For Captain Nemo, the coral ocean depths made a "quiet grave", one that all submariners should desire; but if Jules Verne's inventive genius were to pilot his Nautilus through the world's oceans today, he might find it a much noisier place.

Report after report in recent years has identified rising noise levels in the seas as a potential threat to marine life, particularly mammals that rely on sound for communication and hunting - which principally means whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The sources of sound range from the diffuse chunterings of ships' propellers to the sharp sonic shocks of seismic explorers - and military sonar, which has been directly implicated in mass strandings of beaked whales, an enigmatic group of species that seem especially vulnerable to the intense blasts of submarine-hunting soundwaves.

It adds up to a complex picture, and one for which there are few definitive answers, notwithstanding a long-running sequence of legal cases between the US Navy and conservation groups that has seen the latest science unveiled in court.

So it was with some interest this week that I opened the electronic pages of the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters to read what claims to be the first empirical proof of the physiological impacts of naval sonar on dolphins.

Dolphin_in_experiment_penIt comes from the University of Hawaii. Working with a single captive trained bottlenose dolphin, Aran Mooney (who's subsequently moved to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and his team "presented" - as they say in acoustics jargon - blocks of sonar pings, and measured their effect on the animal's hearing threshold - the quietest sounds it could detect.

When the sound level of the sonar was racked up enough (to a sound energy level of 214dB, for the technically minded), it produced a temporary hearing loss - akin, Dr Mooney told me, to the sort of thing you or I might have after standing next to the bass bins at a Metallica gig. It disappeared after 20 minutes or so.

Translating these sound levels into the real world and looking at the equipment that anti-submarine ships actually use, the team calculated that a dolphin would have to spend about two minutes within 40 metres of the sonar source in order to suffer this hearing loss.

Aran Mooney's view is that this means military sonar is going to crop up rarely as a significant problem, and that should be manageable - simply avoiding its use when cetaceans are close should, in the vast majority of cases, avoid harming them.

So far, so good. But lying behind this research is, I would suggest, a much wider and more important issue; how little we really know about the impacts of marine sounds, and how difficult it is going to be to get the answers we really need.

For a starter, the species of most interest, the beaked whales, live very different lives from the ebullient and assertive bottlenose dolphin.

Whale_liver_with_embolismSecondly, the prevailing theory holds that naval sonar wreaks its damage not through harming the animals' hearing, but because they change their dive pattern in response to the sound.

That might be because it resembles the calls of killer whales; whatever the reason, the result is that the whales contract a fatal condition similar to "the bends" that affect human divers.

And if myriad other quieter sounds are harming cetaceans, they must be acting by disturbing or disrupting the animals' behaviour - they are simply not loud enough to cause even temporary deafness.

I called up Mark Simmonds, director of science at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, to see what he made of it; and the answer was, not much.

"Finding that if you expose animals to loud noises you're likely to deafen them is hardly telling us something we didn't already know," he said.

But the wider point, he said, was that focusing on the narrow direct effects of sonar might deflect attention from the behavioural issues, which are the really important ones.

So let's think big thoughts for a moment and ask what kind of research you would really like to do on this question if your resources and ingenuity were boundless.

Firstly, I think, you would understand more of the raw, natural behaviour of the species of interest in the wild.

But so little is known about beaked whales - even how many there are and where they live - that this is actually a huge, vast undertaking, despite the recent successes of researchers working in the Canary Islands who have managed to tag a couple of species with instruments that can follow their dives and monitor the sounds around them.

Assuming that you could do this, you would then observe how the animals respond to a range of sounds - including the calls of killer whales and military sonar - in the wild.

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A poor substitute in theory might be to take a beaked whale into captivity and do the kind of "laboratory" experiment that Aran Mooney did with his dolphin - but for a huge variety of reasons, including the ethics of doing this with rare species and the practical issue that beaked whales feed on squid up to 2km underwater, it's unlikely ever to happen.

Another issue is that the beaked whale deaths directly linked to military exercises make up a tiny proportion of all cetacean strandings.

Within the last few months, pilot whales, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins have all stranded on southern Australian beaches; whether the root cause is related to sound is still a mystery, and so is how we might research it.

Expanding to the full field of sound impacts, you might like to investigate fully the baseline behaviour of all cetaceans and then how it changes in response to seismic exploration on the sea bed.

Then - we're getting to the really tricky stuff now - you would compare how some of the baleen whales such as the giant blue behave in noisy and noiseless oceans, to see precisely how their long-range communication is hampered by the cavitation of thousand of propellers above their heads.

To be frank, most of it these ideas are at present a pipedream, and likely to remain so.

The core recommendation of conservation groups, then, is to reduce all ocean noise. Propellers can be designed to be quieter, use of military sonar and mineral exploration airguns can be kept to a bare minimum and eliminated entirely in areas of ecological importance.

But there is still a thirst for more direct research.

The danger is that when logistics curtail the science we would really like to do, we end up doing what we can, whatever its degree of relevance, and perhaps extrapolating further than we should from the findings.

According to one recent study, the level of noise in Pacific waters is doubling every decade. Another tells us that acidification of the oceans will mean sounds travelling further - potentially, again, disrupting the long distance communications of whales.

There is clearly an ocean of relevant research waiting to be done. Whether any of it involves playing loud sounds to dolphins inside pens, I am less sure.


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  • 1. At 5:22pm on 08 Apr 2009, Asterionella wrote:

    And "as usual" we worry about the dolpins and whales, while the problem of loud noises is probably responsible of the stranding also of giant squids
    what happens to all other creatures?
    And also if their are no lethal events, the communication of the animals is impacted by sound: the mating calls of whales cannot be heard as far as once. As there are less whales ... it lowers even more their chance to meet and mate. And researchers in Triest have shown that fishes also are impacted in their communication

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  • 2. At 04:00am on 09 Apr 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black writes: "The core recommendation of conservation groups, then, is to reduce all ocean noise."

    almost certainly will not happen, we're all too busy exploiting the seas. perhaps legislation might lead to the use of quieter propellers for commercial vessels, but naval sonars? the military has no time for us "green types" ;-(

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  • 3. At 04:00am on 09 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To Asterionella #1:

    I have read both of your links. I must confess, rather sheepisly, to my ignorance of the issue at hand.

    I also have read the link on ocean acidification and 'sound' posted by Richard Black. Very interesting - I did not know that relationship at all.

    So the life sciences are alive and well, and I must mention another link I found by accessing Richard's url.

    Here it is:

    The above link contains a beautiful diaorama of ocean pH over time, and a very nice article to go with it. Between Richard's link, which I post here, and the one above,

    ...between the two are - ocean warming, ocean acidification, fossil fuel - with attribution to - us.

    I'm going to print these two off for my files tomorrow.

    Sorry I don't have anything else to add. Thank you for the information.

    - Manysummits -

    PS: Maybe I do have something! The recent book "Sea Sick - The Global Ocean in Crisis", by Alanna Mitchell (2009), is a fascinating read, and mostly to do with the life sciences. I couldn't help but note the large number of women scientists visited in the book. There seems, by comparison, a dearth in climate science, but this might be a figment of my imagination.

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  • 4. At 06:05am on 09 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    This is very close to my heart and is a great dilemma for me having searched for answers for as long as I can remember.
    I have swum and played with dolphin off the coast of New Zealand and they communicate and remember me. I sail down the California coast at night and observe them in the phosphorescence glow as they play in the wake and engage with us. Add a few whales blowing and singing and you have a magical scene. I believe they are very intelligent and experience our world in dimensions that we cannot fathom
    Personally I find that there are few folks who have experience of this and it's not hard to win them over and engage in concerned conversation. IMO this is something I can do that helps to raise awareness and as that awareness starts to permeate into decision making there may be some influence on outcomes.
    This is a great article Richard and we need to seek to engage the readership. Keep them coming!!
    That's me for starters.

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  • 5. At 07:10am on 09 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Richard writes:

    The danger is that when logistics curtail the science we would really like to do, we end up doing what we can, whatever its degree of relevance, and perhaps extrapolating further than we should from the findings.

    To my mind this is a big and unfortunately common problem.

    In presenting the results of research, it is essential that the caveats and framing assumptions are presented and discussed as well as the direct results obtained from the research itself.

    Where research is feeding in to policy making, it is both acceptable and necessary to take decisions on the basis of incomplete information. But such decisions need to be done with full awareness of the limitations of the underpinning knowledge-base and in a manner that is fully transparent about the uncertainties and how these are addressed in the decision making process.

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  • 6. At 10:10am on 09 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Thanks to Richard and the contributors above for an interesting and thought provoking topic. I've experienced the sounds of boat's engines when I've been snorkelling but the potential effects on sea life hadn't occurred to me.

    It's made be think a lot, but I'm afraid I haven't found much positive to add. Even research itself, something very much in my nature, often strikes me as distasteful when it comes to the biological arena.

    Instead I looked for parallels on dry land to see what has already been done there. Obviously the way living things use sound outside the water is different, so that was no good. What occurred to me eventually was the effect of artificial lighting on nocturnal species. After a few attempts I found that googling "artificial lighting nocturnal" produced a number of hits. For example...

    There are many descriptions of the problems, for animal, insects, birds and plant, caused by our bright lighting. Some comments along the lines of -lack of information, -little research etc, and one case where floodlights were changed to strobes so that migrating birds wouldn't crash into a building. There were also similar stories of representations to authorities, and ways to minimise our effect.

    So; the same story there I'm afraid.

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  • 7. At 11:58am on 09 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    I thought I'd take a break from my usual topics and note this question from Astrionella #1:

    "what happens to all other creatures?"

    This reminds me of Coleridge, in "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner":

    "He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small"

    Astrionella and the poet - keeping us centered!

    To simon-swede #5: It is my understanding that you work with government on the role of science in same?

    I was wondering, as I search for a meaningful way to contribute to this blog, if an implication of my ignorance on this particular subject might not be useful.

    And that is individual curiosity. I'll take it as a given that the best science follows an individual following their passion. How then does a business oriented economy, and government, deal with this eclectic curiosity of the seeker after new knowledge?

    It was while attempting to study the surface of Mars that the late Carl Sagan, confronted with an obscuring dust storm on the planet, decided to study it instead, and came up with what eventually led to the 'nuclear winter' hypothesis, which to this observer, did more to stop the cold war than any other single contribution (an opinion, no doubt biased).

    Davblo2 #6 makes an interesting analogy between artificial lighting on land and 'noise' in the sea. I will add this observation from a mountaineer's perspective (or at least from the seven years I spent pursuing this way of life).

    The animals which are most adaptaptible do well (by some measures), such as the coyote and the magpie (a corvid, like the raven and crow I believe). But the wolf, close cousin of the coyote, does not, nor does the Grizzly Bear, or mountain goat. But the golden mantled ground squirrels grow fat and presumably, by rough eye count, more numerous.

    The magpie used to follow the buffalo herds around - then came us - then no more buffalo. But the magpie persists, I see them every day even now, in the heart of a city, and occassionally, a coyote too.

    Doubtless there will be winners and losers in the sea?

    And I still think the United Nations has an obligation to let the people under its mandate know that there are too many of us on this planet, and that the results will be dramatic and unpleasant. We, as hunter/gatherers, have experience in self-limiting our numbers - we can do this again.

    Let the people KNOW - and let THEM decide!

    - Manysummits, Calgary - going to plus 20C today -

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  • 8. At 1:28pm on 09 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    i too agree with Asterionella - whales and dolphins always get the attention because they are "loveable", but other creatures must be affected by sounds etc in their domain, in the same way that we are affected by unwelcome sounds in our domain

    i don't have an answer

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  • 9. At 2:21pm on 09 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #8 ...get the attention because they are "loveable".

    Terrible really. I immediately thought of the polar bears; how cuddly they are (re Artic ice documentaries etc).

    I always thought the ladybird was very lucky. Black beetles get squashed, but when a ladybird settled on your arm, it was ... ooh look, and set it gently on its way. That was until they started biting people one year, then the game was up.

    I guess thoughtful individuals (like us?) see through the cuddle-appeal, but those playing to a general audience could be tempted to take advantage of it.

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  • 10. At 3:23pm on 09 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #8 the same way that we are affected by unwelcome sounds in our domain

    Not *just* the same way. That was the point. Lacking light for clear vision and being in a denser medium, sea creatures have presumably evolved to make use of all sorts of weird and wonderful senses and communication methods based upon vibration/sound. Quite how these interact with each other I've no idea; but it's easy to imagine that our unimpeaded generation of engine, propeller and sonar "noise" would not just irritate them but play havoc with some of them. Not just like noise irritates us, but like a searchlight blinding a hedgehog, or a light attracting moths and "cooking" them. On top of that there would be (as manysummits said) the winners and losers; ie upset or changed balance and probable lack of stability.

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  • 11. At 4:45pm on 09 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Got a few minutes so a quick couple of curved balls:
    IMO science has taken away our understanding of nature. It has encouraged us to think in slide rules and statistics. Nature is about using our senses which I believe are dumbed down as a consequence. I have suggested in the past that the BBC is not helping by putting Science and Environment in the same bucket. Natural Philosophy was the discipline that has been high jacked.
    In conversation on these topics I find the initial break through comes when folks realize I'm not a tree hugger. These enviro groups (and they contain some very committed folks) are prey to politics and activist groups who taking them over and exploit them. Many folks dismiss their messages which are often twisted to suit the politics.
    We could do more to help folks understand nature by engaging and challenging. Presenters like Desmond Morris, David Bellamy, that Australian who was tragically killed), Richard Black (my apology for embarrassing:)) have helped me. Pictures depicting cuddly Polar Bears diminish their statue, they are the most terrify beast on this earth.
    Nice to have the opportunity to share on this. Got to go now.

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  • 12. At 5:02pm on 09 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @davblo2 #10


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  • 13. At 5:41pm on 09 Apr 2009, Asterionella wrote:

    Thanks to Manysummits: I -in my turn- must admit not having known about the poem by Coleridge. So we are "quits", is this the right expression, I hope?
    And so I also learned about the Iron Maiden song ;-)

    I enjoy coming over here to read Richard Blacks posts, but also all your comments. I learn a lot and it's stuff about things I'm interested in. Things have to be discussed, and the best is to discuss them keeping in mind all points of view. That is what I appreciate here.

    Science has not taken away our understanding of nature ... no.
    The best scientists are people very open to many inputs: the best are people interested also in arts, people capable also of "playing", might this mean an instrument or games. The best scientist I met were people like that. And John Steinbeck gave a very good description of what a "real biologist" should be (and very often is, IMHO, a good biologist), in his "Lof of the Sea of Cortez".

    Things are not "black of white", good or evil: neither nature, nor humans. But we humans are many and our impact on nature is growing. Sometimes we aren't even aware of it. Starting to be aware of it is already something, and scientists as well as scientific journalists should do their best to tell and explain, so that we can really be informed, not just hustled into believing something. Richard Black informs and I like it when he poses questions ... good questions.

    I think the question of deafening a dophin for science I think is for example a very good one ....
    and not because the subject of the experiment was a dolphin, but in general ...
    how about an Ig-Nobel award for it? ... well, maybe not.

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  • 14. At 7:46pm on 09 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Asterionella #13
    Totally agree with you about scientists. I did not intend to label individuals. I was referring to science as a discipline.
    Science is a great tool and it has helped us in developing technologies, space travel, veterinary work etc.
    My point was that it focuses attention on bits and bytes and reduces it to the level of our limited knowledge. We are part of nature and a huge part of it operates in ways we do not understand. I know, if I’m not careful, I slip backwards on this and it’s easier to fall back on the bits and bytes when we feel the need to become engaged. e.g. It's easier than trying to understand how are senses are operating and how to respond to them.

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  • 15. At 8:04pm on 09 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    By the time I read timjenvey's comment @11 about science taking away from our understanding of nature, I had already read manysummits' comment @7 where he mentioned Carl Sagan.

    My brain being what it is, I put the two things together, and remembered the line from Contact, where Dr Arroway says "hold on, that's like saying that science killed God", or something close to that anyway.

    I think my education and understanding of science has opened up some of the marvels of nature to me in new ways, but I also like to think I can treasure nature's wonders in their own right, without seeking to deconstruct them or analyse them. The wonder of diving in a place like tie-dye cave in the Poor Knights, or wandering in Lappland, or sitting on a ledge overlooking a valley in the Rocky Mountains, watching an eagle rise on a thermal with scarecely any movement of its wings and seemingly close enough to reach out and touch... these things and more add something to my life in unique and special ways, beyond reckoning. And I for one don't want to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    The fun comes also in using the inspiration and passion and knowldege in seeking to do my analytical stuff; influencing decision makers in conference rooms; or trying to get my thoughts down onto sometjing lurking in my computer; or trying to find new ways to inspire my sometimes beleagured students...

    Sigh... Back to science..., I have asked some colleagues working on the watery side of things about their take on the CO2 and sound propogation story. I'll let you know if they have any interesting thoughts.

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  • 16. At 9:43pm on 09 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Simon-swede #15
    Nicely put. Helps with my focus.
    It was a curved ball in the hope of some comment as these types of thoughts go round my mind.
    I agree of course with all of your examples. Science has done the same for me. What I can’t get straight is that we have senses that connect us directly to nature ( interaction with Dolphins or my pet dog) that if I look at with science just vanish.
    My point being that what Richard does is helping to bring that focus.
    Thanks for feedback. I’ll get there one day.

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  • 17. At 10:38pm on 09 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    simon-swede, timjenvey, Asterionella & manysummits; I've been trying to relate to your consensus about science and nature. But I don't thing I have the same feeling.

    I can't say that my scientific knowledge detracts in any way from my appreciation of nature; more the reverse it heightens it in many ways.

    At one time I studied Material Science, so I know generally, the composition and internal structure of almost everything I see around me. That gives a good feeling for a start; the natural strength of the wood in the table, the toughness of the plastic on the laptop, the bendiness of a piece of wire, the springiness of a paperclip, the stiffness of a metal fork all speak back at me. When I look at the ice on our frozen lake, I don't just the the amazing patterns of cracks and animal tracks, I see the 4 degC quirk in water's density curve which causes the water to freeze from the top instead of from the bottom and without which we wouldn't exist in the form we do.

    The amazing range of size is always clawing at me. The enormous range from the size of the universe to the size of the nucleus of atoms, with use sitting in a very narrow range in between. We are fortunate enough to be able to see the stars at night from our house, but for me it's not just the incredible sight it is for my wife. For me it's even more because I know that the numbers and distances involved are so incredibly beyond our grasp. And then to look down and think that the enormous range goes on inwards again into each grain of sand. I don't see a jug of water without thinking about the fact that there are more molecules in it than there are jugs of water in the oceans. I read (took it on trust but could easily verify it I guess) that the smallest unit of time we can measure (like a photon passing a nucleus) is to one second, the same as one second is to 120000 time the age of the universe. That means that at that scale, our one second is an "eternity" by comparison, and for us it goes by in a flash. Just a few aspect of nature that science has enriched for me. Sometimes the science drifts to the background, but when it re-appears it only enhances, never spoils.

    On the other hand, I find that science has made it harder for me to cope with humanity. Our attempts to make laws which become so full of loopholes, get patched up, become unfair for different groups of people. Rules and procedures which seem so illogical to a scientific mind. We tried to make a will once. But the legal jargon was so contorted and unreasonable that I was never satisfied with it. I always saw gaps and faults in it. As to politicians, they just seem to be all hot air, never concise, clear and to the point in the scientific sense.

    I've always felt the need to explore in my work rather than aim for specific goals, which generally doesn't fit in with most jobs and projects. Fortunately computers offer an ever increasing potential for exploratory work so I get by.

    I've just read timjenvey #16 "What I can't get straight is that we have senses that connect us directly to nature ( interaction with Dolphins or my pet dog) that if I look at with science just vanish"

    I don't get that. I see the nature and the science together. I see a squirrel on the veranda eating sunflower seeds; I see it using paws as primitive hands; I see evolution; I see his instinctive movements which both match and differ from ours, when it hears me it "freezes" because he "thinks" I won't see him if he doesn't move (works for some animals I guess). And I still see an amazing, agile, highly capable creature as it leaps up to a branch and away. I don't think one scrap of nature escapes me but there is so much more to see.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 18. At 00:06am on 10 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    Hello everyone, I am just on the blog and I don't have enough time to read everything today. However, I do hope to read some of them as my time allows. I should have stated this first but I can still introduce myself here too. I am from Africa, currently living in Canada. my english is still terrible and hope blog will not be only a center of reading different ideas but also to improve my english, thanks to everyone.

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  • 19. At 05:26am on 10 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To davblo2 #17:
    You eloquently write what I struggle to express. To quote you: “The amazing range of size is always clawing at me” and “so incredibly beyond our grasp”.
    I can totally agree that knowledge of science can expand our appreciation and view. New discoveries just keep on opening up new avenues and new depths. You use the phrase "there is so much more to see". I would say "there is so much more to understand". This is where I threw in my curved ball earlier on. So I hope that helps to see where I was coming from.
    Perhaps I'm making too much of a point of it. But I’m going to keep the door a little open on this one.
    Back to Richard’s post: May be what’s needed is to spread a bit more knowledge of science so this appreciation of nature can be spread. I’m not talking here about being able to quote a few armchair facts (or should that be theories). I’m sure it will help with our handling of these issues. I find there is a lot of what I might call low appreciation (you can probably come up with a better phrase) in the public at large. We here seem very blessed.
    Really appreciate such thoughtful responses from all of you:- simon-swede, Asterionella & manysummits

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  • 20. At 05:43am on 10 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To wunariik #18
    May I be the first to welcome you! I started my blogging here a few months ago. I have appreciated the opportunity this forum provides with the subject matter and the vast combined knowledge of the contributors.
    If you’re looking to improve your English you can look forward to some 'colourful' language at times!!
    Looking forward to seeing you around and make sure to touch base with MannySummits who lives in Calgary.

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  • 21. At 06:44am on 10 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Just read the Richards next post:
    "Human rights make whale meat hard to swallow"
    This is an example of one of the curved balls I put in to my comment#11.
    "In conversation on these topics I find the initial break through comes when folks realize I'm not a tree hugger. These enviro groups (and they contain some very committed folks) are prey to politics and activist groups who take them over and exploit them. Many folks dismiss their messages which are often twisted to suit the politics."
    Time for bed.....

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  • 22. At 08:27am on 10 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    I asked a friend at NOAA in the US about the link between ocean acidification and noise propagation.

    They are aware of this paper and the possible interactions with ocean acoustics and physical changes in the environment, and take it seriously. There are two sorts of physical effects. The kinds of changes in chemistry which are expected, just based on known physical properties, to affect sound propagation. Also that other changes relating to climate change can also affect how sound travels in the ocean, for example, faster in warmer water, very different with ice cover vs. not.

    A key consideration though, is that one needs to be aware that these changes are not selective to 'signals' and 'noise' just to physical properties of the sounds, chiefly sound frequency. Thus, while interfering sounds might travel further in water of lower pH, so will the sounds of interest to the animals. How they interact, and how extensive of a difference will arise because of ocean acidification issues, is an empirical question that people studying ambient noise trends need to be aware of.

    The bottom line as they see it, is that they need to be cognizant of this possible interaction but it does not really change the impetus for their overall efforts or the objective to reduce as much as possible the sound signatures of large vessels.

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  • 23. At 10:56am on 10 Apr 2009, calcination wrote:

    Davblo2 - thats what I would have said. I too have something of a materials background, and can see all the different things going on around me.

    A question to tim Jenvey - is it that you feel science is forced on people as the viewpoint to use, or do you simply have trouble knowing that there are other ways of viewing things?
    You might also consider that many tree huggers have exactly the same complaint about science, but yet you are not a tree hugger, so what is different?

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  • 24. At 1:00pm on 10 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Tp wunariik #18:

    May I be the second to welcome you to the blogosphere! (timjenvey #20 was first)

    Since you are from Africa, I thought I would pass on some favorite words from perhaps my favorite mountaineer, H.W.(Bill) Tilman, from the United Kingdom, who spent almost a fifth of his life in East Africa, exploring for gold, raising coffee, and meeting Eric Shipton, thus forming one of the legendary partnerships in mountaineering history. He and Eric climbed Kilimanjaro and in the Ruwenzori, in both cases these were 'early' ascents, and are told in the most engaging manner, in his book, "Snow on the Equator".

    Finally, Bill Tilman left Africa forever. As for his leavetaking, he demonstrated the 'typical' Tilman style - he chose to ride by bicycle from Nairobi to his point of departure, Duala on the west coast, by bicycle. I quote some of his last words from "Snow on the Equator":

    "Sailing day arrived, bringing with it for me the mingled feelings of most 'last days.' Countries, if lived and worked in long enough, have a queer way of making a man feel an affection for them, whether they have treated him well or ill. For fourteen years - a fifth of our allotted span - Africa had been my task-mistress, and now I was leaving her. If she had not given me the fortune I expected, she had given me something better - memories, mountains, friends."

    - All the best, Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 25. At 2:18pm on 10 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To Asterionella #13:

    I have a copy of John Steinbeck's "Log from the Sea of Cortez" on my booksheves - my writing pen was purchased at the 'Steinbeck Center' in Salinas, California, and my favorite book of his is still "Travels with Charlie." "The Pearl" is right up there too (Baja).

    We are 'quits' if you wish it, but I would welcome your further input - I think you could lend perspective on Richard's latest blog about Greenpeace and Japanese whaling.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 26. At 8:46pm on 10 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To calcination #23
    You write:
    “A question to tim Jenvey - is it that you feel science is forced on people as the viewpoint to use, or do you simply have trouble knowing that there are other ways of viewing things?
    You might also consider that many tree huggers have exactly the same complaint about science, but yet you are not a tree hugger, so what is different?”
    You have summed up my dilemma very succinctly. I have tree hugger leanings but as you have observed, I’m not a tree hugger. Split personality is my problem!! Never looked at it like that before.
    To modify your summation a little: I would not say that science is forced on people; I just think it’s oversold as a panacea. I see that science chips away and takes a deep dive now and again and comes back up and starts again. So it gives those that study it an enhanced view of the vastness and depth of things. There’s a huge veil out there and we are missing the key for the basics to work up from. I like the phrases “learn what you can and trust the rest to your instincts”.....“the force be with you” etc.. There’s some truth in this and it does work.
    Thanks for a very thought provoking comment.

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  • 27. At 10:01pm on 10 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    to timjenvey and manysummits, I thank you for the welcoming. indeed being a part of this forum is a step stone, not only for improving my english, but all these combinations of knowledge from all the contributors will shape my ideas too.

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  • 28. At 00:41am on 11 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi again,
    wunariik; welcome and hope you can catch up with the various threads of thought going on here.
    timjenvey & calcination; I wasn't familiar with the term "tree hugger"; kind of guessed, but looked it up just to be sure. Seems to be rather derogatory.

    You say "I'm not a tree hugger. Split personality is my problem!". From as far back as I can remember, I had a problem in that I always saw both sides of an argument; ie things were never just black or white. Then this kind of matured into considering things carefully from all angles before committing to a choice. This doesn't work well with modern living when people want answers in an instant. Especially, I found, on visits to the States where the snapping answer was the only way. Anyway, now I call it an open mind. When it comes to the current debates on climate, I accept that in my position I am neither qualified, nor in possession of enough information to pronounce one claim or another to be true. The best I can do is let it all wash over me and "feel" the effects. This blog has contributed a lot to that process. I'll be in a quantum state until forced to commit.

    You mention "science...oversold as a panacea". I see so much non-science in everyday life that I can only wish for more scientific awareness. Although I must admit, that how to avoid its misuse and abuse, is rather beyond me.

    ...had more but late here, so must go...

    All the best, davblo2

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  • 29. At 01:00am on 11 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    From "Dolphins raise sound questions" to waxing eloquent and wistful on our perception of Nature, this thread has morphed into something very beautiful and engaging.

    My four and a half year old son, my wife and I have just returned from an eight hour walkabout to Griffith Woods, the gift of a rancher to the City of Calgary. A small wild river threads its braided, slightly swollen and brown way through a copse of spruce and fir. The headwaters and the source glacier are only an hour's drive to the west.

    We went this morning, under a blue sky and warm sun, the gleaming snowcaps of the Rockies clearly visible on the western skyline. We picnicked on Canadian cheese, Ukrainian sausage and California oranges, on a ground cover of Indian Kinnikinnik (bearberry), the boisterous stream only a few feet away. Snow and ice lingered beside the river.

    We startled an eagle from the top of its tree, and newly arrived Canada geese, in pairs, were searching out nesting sites for their ancient springtime rituals. A pair of Bufflehead ducks winged their way just above the surface of the water.

    Across the river to the south, Sarcee Hill, the Tsuu T'ina Nation's reservation ('ina_Nation), preserved the treed cover all the way to the top of this broad and long elevation, stretching both east and west. In contrast, the modern city with Signal Hill to the north, was treeless, and on top, million dollar mansions as far as the eye could see. A contast for sure, two world-views, a river apart.

    Watching my young son run up the hill, playing 'red light green light' with my wife, I experienced a profoundly satisfying day on the planet, realizing in my thoughts at the time, that in this life I had done at least one thing right.

    Since this blog has in essence become an artistic endeavor, I thought to relate a quote I particularly love - from Robert Louis Stevenson's "In the South Seas." Mr. Stevenson was, if memory serves, discussing the finer points of building and architecture with a creative priest on an island group in the south sea, and said:

    "An artist will understand how much I was attracted to this conversation. There is no bond so near as a community in that unaffected interest and slightly shamefaced pride which mark the intelligent man enamoured of an art. He sees the limitations of his aim, the defects of his practice; he smiles to be so employed upon the shores of death, yet sees in his own devotion, something worthy. Artists, if they had the same sense of humor as the augurs, would smile like them on meeting, but the smile would not be scornful."

    I am sure we will return to discussions of science and the environment soon enough, but I think this blog, actually about our feelings on Nature, is for me, invaluable. I pass on another quote, which I discovered on the frontspiece of Mark Bowen's book on climate change, "Thin Ice":

    "I do believe that we ought to pay more attention to the opinion of philosophers, that 'nothing but Nature can qualify a man for knowledge."
    - H. W. Lonfellow (poet)

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 30. At 04:33am on 11 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    I just finished reading the currently blog comments from #1 to #29 and couldn't believe how importance every single comment is to other comments posted. That being the case, I came to conclude by stating these two obvious observations: The most distructive thing on earth is "HUMAN" and the most needed solution is "HUMAN" according to the summary of all these posted.However, the case here is, how soon are we going to be a solution? I don't know, but it seems like we have already been the distructors enough.

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  • 31. At 06:14am on 11 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Hi wunariik #30:
    Well done on your first comment. Always the hardest. You requested some help with English. I'm not the guy for this but can offer the suggestion of first putting it in a Word Processor such as ‘Microsoft Word’ which has a spelling and grammar correction feature. Then copy and paste to the blog. II did this with your comment and with a couple of extra edits got the following:

    "I have just finished reading this current blogs comments from #1 to #29 and couldn't believe how important every single comment is to the other comments that have been posted. That being the case, I came to conclude that by stating these two obvious observations: The most destructive thing on earth is "HUMAN" and the most needed solution is "HUMAN" according to the summary of all the comments posted here. However, the case here is, how soon are we going to be a solution? I don't know, but it seems like we have already been the destructors enough.

    Nice start and thanks for contributing. Hope this helps and see you around.

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  • 32. At 06:31am on 11 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To davblo2 #28: It's very late here for me and its beyond me to!!. So later...

    To ManySummits #29: Beautifully written. Lumps in throat and tear in eye. Love the last paragraph:
    "I do believe that we ought to pay more attention to the opinion of philosophers, that 'nothing but Nature can qualify a man for knowledge."
    - H. W. Lonfellow (poet)

    BTW. Totally at odds with your thoughts on UN!!
    How can we be so different?!! Later...

    Night, Night

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  • 33. At 2:05pm on 11 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #30:

    I couldn't agree more - we have been the destructors long enough! Well put.

    To timjenvey #32:

    I'm glad you enjoyed our journey vicariously. And yes, that Longlellow quote struck me too!

    As for our differences on the UN and perhaps other issues. Well, the way you jumped in to help out wunariik meant a lot to me timjenvey, and it has me thinking along some different lines.

    My time in the mountains, seven years as a part of Nature, rather than an observer or occassional visitor, it resonates still. I truly consider that the natural world is my own best 'sounding board'. By that I mean it provides the beautiful music of perspective, rather than the individual isolated note. Hard to put it into words I see.

    Lets try this - we both respond to the natural environment - probably in a very similar way. 'Our sounding board', with, say, a several million year history for we hominids, is tried and true.

    But our civilized upbringing and life experiences in the city were probably very different, and the whole idea of city living is relatively new - not yet sorted out - it may not even work in the long run?

    So our views on artificial constructs to run an artificial world vary. Perhaps this is not so surprising after all?

    In my own life I learned this: If something is not working, try something else!

    So too here. We have tried the nation state, monarchies still exist, amidst so called modern democracies, which have been hijacked by multi-national corporate interests, which are themselves artificial paper constructs, and if Joel Baken, professor of Law and author of "The Corporation" is to be believed, are in effect, by legal construct, 'pathological entities', constrained and mandated to put the interests of their shareholders above the 'common good'.

    The United Nations, on the other hand, was conceived as The League of Nations, in response to the horrors of the First World War, dedicated to humanity. If subsequent history is any guide, our problems stem, if I may simplify, from not listening to the ideology of the united Nations, and instead from listening to the old saws of the nation states and the big corporate interests.

    So I say - lets try something else. Lets give an empowered United Nations a try.

    - Manysummits - wishing you well -

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  • 34. At 5:21pm on 11 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To timjenvey #31
    As I read your editing on my comments #30, and your suggestion on typing on the Microsoft words first, then copy and paste it to the blog, I was also thinking how to relate this wonderful help I had to our main topic. I put it this way, a “PROBLEM” “is a situation that unsatisfactory and causes difficulties for people” likewise, a “SOLUTION” “is a way of dealing with problems so that the difficulty is removed” both definitions are from (Collins Cobuild English dictionary) these two words are applicable in our daily lives, we encounter "problems" and we seek for "solutions", whether being economy, environmental, or war problem, we still need solutions for them. We all know getting a solution could be easy or difficult, but the idea here is that the solution is meant for removing the problem, whtever the degree problems might have. Typing on the Microsoft word and paste it is a solution to some of my English’s errors. The point here is we are living on earth facing many problems for so long, such as global warming, war crises and it seems as our solutions didn’t work very well for some problems. May be we are not applying the right solution to the right problem, or we are not cooperating on tackling problems together as timjenvy pointed out some solutions for problems. Whatever the case, we still have some steps to take to bring the full solution for any obstacle we face, and this is where we are let’s keep going…

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  • 35. At 10:44pm on 11 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi all; it's been a long day. The first weekend with some retreat of the snow. A chance to begin the clear up after winter.

    Thanks to manysummits #29 for sharing your experiences of yesterday. I find such days stand out most when I look back and recall them. Days to remember.

    Your final quote from Lonfellow...

    "I do believe that we ought to pay more attention to the opinion of philosophers, that 'nothing but Nature can qualify a man for knowledge"

    ...reminded me of an advertisement I saw recently here on the underground; it was a college advertising courses and said...

    "Knowledge is worthless if you don't have the ability to use it".

    Putting the two together left me rather bemused.

    timjenvey #31, good you brought Word as a spell checker; I do the same.

    Then; wunariik #34; congratulations, you seem to be doing very well with your English. So, about problems and solutions; I'd like to add that it is often not so simple as just "problem and solution"; but really involves several stages of work with important decisions at each step of the way. I'll try to explain as briefly as I can...

    Much of my work these days revolves around testing of software. A common occurrence during testing is that a problem is found.

    A problem appears first only by way of symptoms. So the first step is to try to find the root cause of the problem when all you have are the symptoms. This step is not always easy. It often involves a "lower level" investigation into the underlying programs to find out what is wrong; call it an error.

    Having identified the underlying error, someone has to find a way to solve it and explain how the correction can be achieved. Next comes an implementation of the proposed solution; and finally we have to carry out a re-test to determine whether the changes have actually solved the original problem.

    Add to that the fact that each step could involve meetings and reviews to discuss and approve what is being suggested and what will be done. So a "simple" problem doesn't always have a simple solution but a whole process of activities.

    Which means we all have much to think about!

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 36. At 04:04am on 12 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To davblo2 #28 contd.
    To pick up on your comment: "Anyway, now I call it an open mind".
    I say this same thing to folks and get the quick retort: "this is good but don't let the brains fallout". I usually say in reply that the only way to really think is to do just that and then get a quirky look in response!!
    For instance: have you ever tried having an open minded discussuion at your local wine and cheese party about something like evolution? Well, if you can survive the initial onslaught of being told you are a 'fundamentalist, Christian, Red States, ignorant, creationist' you have crossed the first hurdle. When I have established that I’m not any of these the response is one of disbelief.
    Like all theories they only go as far as our current understanding. The problem here is we do not understand the basic from which all else flows. As we go deeper from the outside the questions and gaps get wider. This is not what comes across as I see science used more and more to drive policy and decisions. Like ‘the science is in’ and therefore there is no more discussion to be had and as decision makers we are off the hook. I feel our minds are so controlled now to think in scientific certainties that we are missing/loosing vast areas (most IMO) of what I can only call 'instincts', 'intuition', 'the force:)'. Dolphins understand these far better than we do and they will surpass us in time if we carry on as we are (now I can hear you thinking "this guy is really wacko"). I have tried to be illustrative so please take in context.
    I like Newton’s approach. IMO he was a true scientist with the added insight of a philosopher. The philosopher bit has been lost/absorbed into modern science. Newton said something like “about the nature of gravity I confess my ignorance finding it inconceivable the idea of action at a distance” (I can’t find the actual quote for now). I think this has proven the test of time as Relativity and Unified Field Theories just take us deeper but no wiser.
    Got to go but I hope you get my drift……..

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  • 37. At 04:30am on 12 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To wunariik #34:

    Glad it worked for you. I'm a project/program manager by trade and delivering solutions is my stock in trade. Just don't ask me how to operate any of this fangled stuff or communicate in good English!!.

    We all have different strengths. Thank goodness we do not individually have to know everything and there are those around us that we can call upon. Goes both ways, there is joy of giving and receiving. Thanks for graciously receiving. Just don’t let governments (Manysummits should read UN if he's reading!!)know otherwise they will tax and control it?

    Got to go. More another time....

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  • 38. At 05:00am on 12 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    davblo2 #35. Just saw your comment as I was closing out.

    You bring up a good analogy which sparked another thouht. I see this in my work and I can add that there are cases where there is no fix or we are providing the wrong product.
    Another time

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  • 39. At 10:34pm on 12 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi all, just checking in. It's been a long day. Got distracted by yeah_whatever on the G20 blog (could do with some backup).
    Hope you're all having a good Easter (where applicable).
    All the best; davblo2

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  • 40. At 01:36am on 13 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Just catching up on news today and came across a story which would have been a brilliant illustration to go with a comment I made back in #11.
    I said: “Pictures depicting cuddly Polar Bears diminish their statue, they are the most terrify beast on this earth”.
    Take a look at this from the Telegraph and see if you agree.
    Reading about this also developed the thoughts for me that we have been exploring recently. The stuff we are fed now in sound bites (that davblo2 #28 touched on) and the armchair science from schools to the media, I think we are losing touch with the real world and our place as part of Nature. Therefore in making decisions we are missing a vital point of understanding which science does not come close to answering and in addition gives us a veil to hide behind.
    For me this goes back to Richards post and one of the ways we can raise awareness is to educate and encourage folk about more what I would call ‘philosophical’ side of nature studies instead of bits and bytes and DNA.
    I just love Manysummits quote. Made quite an impression on me and sums up my thoughts nicely:
    "I do believe that we ought to pay more attention to the opinion of philosophers, that 'nothing but Nature can qualify a man for knowledge."
    - H. W. Lonfellow (poet)

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  • 41. At 04:29am on 13 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To timjenvey #40, as I read your comments on what happened and clicked on the telegraph link you provide, I was shocked by seeing such a terrible picture and I was relating it to my experience of living in a jungle village in east Africa,where men used to fight lions to keep them away from cattle and other livestocks as well as humans, such risks were very common. I am condemning that bear to death. I missed the news for some days,so I don't know the details how did the lady got closer to the bear in the first place?
    I hope the lady is recovering,

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  • 42. At 05:58am on 13 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    wunariik #41. Actually my thoughts were more directed towards the bear being slaughtered for doing what came naturally. The stupidity of the lady was what caught my eye. Thankfully she is okay and we have all learnt a lesson.
    Interested in your comment about how you handle this back home. The lion is doing what comes naturally and we respond in kind. How do you feel about taking the life of a lion in such an instance?

    davblo2 #39. This is so surreal. Calling for backup from one post to the next. I swung by on your request and added my two cents worth. This is amazing interaction!!

    My little skeptical antenna has been aroused over this as I would have thought that the moderators under their rules would have removed him long ago. He could be one of those implants that are trained to disrupt and push the alarmist agenda. The feed back to his/her minders in this case would not line him up for another mission!!
    Perhaps Richard could comment on this?
    BTW. Just read a previous comment at #38. Forgot to add that an open mind would reveal and deal with such case more effectively.

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  • 43. At 2:55pm on 13 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi, another quick look in and couldn't resist #40 #41 & #42, re polar bears, lions and the like.

    I went for a bicycle ride yesterday with my son. We followed a single track road through the forest on the other side of the lake. The snow has just cleared and the track is water logged. Right at the start we saw large footprints. We figured out they were those of a bear, and going in our direction. They could have been a day or two old, I'm no expert. We cycled for a hour and the footprints continued the whole way. during that time only one car passed us, only to turn back because the road was impassable. The car driver spoke, and said it was not a small bear because of the size of the prints.

    My son was naturally worried about what would happen if we encountered the bear. I've seen advice saying don't run, but I an completely inexperienced in this area, so I could not be very re-assuring. He thought maybe we should get a gun to scale away bears. On this occasion we didn't have any trouble and we had a memorable ride.

    But it brought home the dilemma. We can sit at home and claim to be all for wildlife and condemn those who hunt them. But when it comes to a confrontation, what do we do? We have a luxurious position as top predator, but how can we limit the devastating impact. There are very few wolves left here and from what I hear the farmers with livestock would gladly see them wiped out. If it's us or them, then they lose.

    At the moment the bears run free and there are few problems. Their numbers are controlled by hunting quotas. I'm just afraid that it would only take a few incidents with tourists to justify higher quotas and less bears; and tourism is on the rise and promoted strongly.

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  • 44. At 3:48pm on 13 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    P.S. Forgot to say; thanks timjenvey for the backup (#39/#42). Much appreciated.

    All the best, davblo2

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  • 45. At 01:33am on 14 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To #42, As you requested how we handle such issues back home, compare to the bear's problems, we have some dangerous animals such as, lions and hyenas. The way we deal with them is fighting wherever we meet them, this is how we try to avoid the risk from them.Yes, their aggressions come naturally, and because of knowing their naturally aggressiveness, our instinctions before they can cause damaging is to push them away, which involve fighting and killing them. Last year, I went back to my village and because that village had been a war zone for so long,human fleshes were every where, those human bodies became the main food for foxes,and after the re-resettlement, foxes become the most dangerous animal ever. they attack houses at day time particularly kids, regardless of their small sizes, they are still risky for kids. Now the villagers are still under that endless war of foxes, because they are sneaky and small compare to lions, or hyenas, they stay near to residential areas with out being notice. their natural reactions is exceedingly out of control. what can you do in that condition? people don't go closer to them and their none stop attacking is aggravating every year. The village is so bushy, only summer time such attacking reduce little bit. Do we have to clear the forest? Seriously how can we avoid that problem?
    looking for some solutions,

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  • 46. At 05:07am on 14 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    wunariik #45.
    Thanks for one of the most insightful comments I have seen on this blog. This has made quite an impact on me and needs time to be absorbed for consider thought. Thanks so much for sharing. Your English has taken leaps and bounds!! :)

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  • 47. At 08:42am on 14 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #45 wunariik

    Thanks for that description of your village. It paints a striking picture.

    Again it emphasises the dilemma. At one extreme we need to control/destroy competitive animal life in order to survive comfortably; but in the long run we wipe them out. What do we really want?

    Something I found from 2007...

    Some snippets...

    "The freshwater marine mammal, which could grow to eight feet long and weigh up to a quarter of a tonne, is the first large vertebrate forced to extinction by human activity in 50 years, and only the fourth time an entire evolutionary line of mammals has vanished from the face of the Earth since the year 1500."

    "In the 1950s, the Yangtze river and neighbouring watercourses had a population of thousands of freshwater dolphins, also known as Baiji, but their numbers have declined dramatically since China industrialised and transformed the Yangtze into a crowded artery of mass shipping, fishing and power generation. A survey in 1999 estimated the population of river dolphins was close to just 13 animals."

    It seems their demise was clearly visible; but not halted.
    What hope do other species have?

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  • 48. At 11:22am on 14 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #'s 41 and 45:

    Fascinating insights into a way of life so different from that in Canada and the United Kingdom.

    In my seven years as a full-time mountaineer, I had occasion to view Nature differently than the weekend visitors to the National Parks of Canada's Rocky Mountains.

    I now think much more like you as regards wildlife. It is a mistake to consider a cougar or Grizzly Bear a 'neat thing to see', though it definitely is interesting. In my experience, the real danger comes from animals habituated to human tolerance, be it an Elk in the parking lot, or a bear used to campsites, or, as in California, to cougars protected and multiplying to dangerous levels.

    The flip side of the coin is humans habituated to the city and television shows about animals.

    When on the approach to a mountain, or on the return, often before daybreak or at night respectively, I always gave notice of my presence, the type of notice suited to the conditions - wind direction, proximity to food or water, the obscuring noise of a running stream etc...

    We don't have the real hunters in Banff National Park - lions etc..., but one of the most impressive sights of my life was a giant mother Grizzly and her two two year old cubs, foraging on an avalanche slope in the springtime. She was about a kilometer away, upwind, but she detected our presence, and turned her gaze directly into the binoculars though which I was viewing her. Her massive shoulders and motherly instincts had the hair on the back of my neck standing up, and considerations of tall trees were very much on my mind. She turned back to her foraging, and all was well.

    Please keep the stories of Africa coming wunariik, they are providing that much sought after gem - perspective!

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 49. At 2:09pm on 14 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #48, " different from that in Canada and the United Kingdom."

    Don't forget the rest of us. Sorry, maybe I should have said, I live in Sweden and I'm sure other nations are represented here. We all have different local and national conditions and I think it's a great opportunity to be able to compare them like this.

    In Canada, you describe the Banff National Park. From my experience of the UK, wildlife and forests are few and far between. Here in Sweden forests and lakes are abundent; there's not so many mountains; and wildlife although roaming freely, seems to be on the decline. Africa clearly has more than it's hands full with wildlife. Many more lands would be interesting.

    From comments on this blog I get the impression that we all love and enjoy nature, but I still wonder how long we can expect to do that as mankind continues to expand and dominate at the nature's expense.

    Confessing some ignorance on the matter I looked up manysummits' National Park, to find out more, and came across the comment...

    "Throughout its history, Banff National Park has been shaped by tension between conservation and development interests"

    I see it has tourism at the level of several millions per year. (just an aside; Sweden's entire population is only 9 million).

    Is the Park working well? Does it look set to continue indefinitely? Is it the way forward for countries who wish to preserve nature and make it available for visitors? Can the Park be compared to Africa's game reserves? I see that hunting and tourism are big on the agenda there. Does conservation have to go hand in hand with tourism?

    All the best; davblo2, Dalarna, Sweden

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  • 50. At 02:02am on 15 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #49 (Sweden)

    Sorry for the narrow-mindedness. I've often wondered how many visitors and from where to this site?

    As for your queries:

    "Is the Park working well?"

    Yes, I think, reasonably well. It is fairly large, and adjoins several other National Parks, and at least one Provincial Park (Assinaboine, British Columbia), and it is intermittently connected with parks and protected areas all the way south into the United States, to Yellowstone, and north, till one runs low on people, all the way to the Arctic.

    "Does it look set to continue indefinitely?"

    Yes, as far as I can see.

    "Is it the way forward for countries who wish to preserve nature and make it available for visitors?"

    Maybe. The connections spoken of above are deemed critical by some wildlife biologists to preserving health and diversity (the same thing?), amongst especially the big long distance and big territory wildlife, such as the Grizzly Bear, the wolf, etc...

    I say maybe in this sense. In the short run - Yes. But in the long run, there is implicit in the 'idea' of a Park a separation, probably necessary, but nevertheless a separation, between people 'zoned' into their cities and rural agricultural and livestock areas, and true wilderness. I can never understand why the entire population of Calgary does not desert the city on the weekend to go adventuring in the mountains an hour or two away? But if they did, there would be a problem. So we seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place, and I don't have a solution. Maybe the contrast between city and wilderness is a source of energy and creativity for those who would go, and then bring back their stories to the city??

    "Can the Park be compared to Africa's game reserves? I see that hunting and tourism are big on the agenda there. Does conservation have to go hand in hand with tourism?"

    Well, I've never been to Africa. But my impression is that Africa is very different. Africa is our cradle, and different from 'everywhere', I suspect.

    I don't think tourism has to go hand in hand with conservation in all circumstances. There seems to be a need for the safe 'destination - Lake Louise for example, where a good portion of those millions of visitors can be found on a summers day. Off trail - you are soon alone.

    Then there is the true wilderness - hard to get to, almost inaccessible, dangerous. Perhaps there should be no attempt to invite either tourists or biologists here - only those with the compulsion - and no airplanes!

    Nice chatting! I would be interested in some of your experiences in Sweden, which seems to me, so far away, remote, and therefore tantalizing.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 51. At 06:09am on 15 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    #49, davblo2 wrote:
    manysummits #48, " different from that in Canada and the United Kingdom." Don't forget the rest of us.
    Greetings from south of your boarder!!

    #41 wunariik:
    Your post has prompted all sorts of thoughts going around in my head which keep relating to this population control topic in the news these days.
    On the one hand there is the human control of actively curbing procreation and/or getting volunteers to walk into the gas chambers (over the top but I hope you get my drift)!! Or there is nature’s way, for which your post has graphically portrayed the reality for me.
    Both are pretty hard to stomach. Can't get it straight in my head right now but thought to share it for any input/help.
    Man’s attempts to help nature have a pretty poor success rate and often have ended up with opposite side effects because we cannot fathom the depths of the processes taking place. I’m cautious that any human attempt to moderate this issue will backfire.

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  • 52. At 11:48am on 15 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To timjenvey #51:

    You wrote:

    "Man?s attempts to help nature have a pretty poor success rate and often have ended up with opposite side effects because we cannot fathom the depths of the processes taking place. I?m cautious that any human attempt to moderate this issue will backfire."

    Yes - I agree entirely!

    My thoughts on this relate both to my time in the mountains as a 'part' of Nature, and to my time in 1994/95, when I learned intellectually to trust my instincts completely.

    We (modern Industrial Man) usually try and 'manage' the natural world using primarily our reason. I think that's a fair comment. For example, that's how Banff National Park is managed, or how the dam across the Oldman River in southern Alberta came to de-wild one of our last southern wild rivers, one of the best trout fishing streams here.

    As you point out, our success rate leaves something to be desired. I presume you are speaking from experience in your natural work off the coast of California and San Francisco?

    As far as self-limiting our numbers, I can only say that it feels right. I know from my researches that tribal societies have self-limited their numbers when time and circumstance warranted. It is always hard, emotional, hurtful. And therefore it is only done when absolutely necessary.

    We are currently faced with a dilemma. The science clearly says we need to do this now, but the science is hard to fathom, even for the specialists, and everything is based on projections into the future, which renders conclusions even harder to accept.

    For example, there is currently considerable debate over manmade climate change - a good portion of the public is unconvinced, or suspicious. Yet to the best scientists, working closest to the science, the case is clear enough to prompt dire warnings. How does the public imagine a slug of CO2 rich deep ocean water slowly (1000 years) conveying its load of lower alkaline, high CO2 water to the shores of Antarctica, where it will upwell and offgas the CO2 for decades, warming the planet further in an amplifying feedback loop? How?

    My experience is that a graph, say, of CO2 over time, say over the last 500,000 years, which says so much to me at a glance, is almost meaningless to many. I am beginning to realize that reading a graph is not a question of intelligence, but of cultural or scientific training, and that it is a "learned skill."

    How to overcome this dichotomy? James Hansen has reverted to using emotive language, not to sensationalize, but to try and bridge this gap. He is greeted with criticism and incredulity by many, whereas to the converted, he is only speaking the absolute truth.

    The problem is a serious one, because man has become a force of nature, capable with his industrial might of altering a planet. The only quick analogue I can think of is the oxygen holocaust, 2.3 billion years ago, when a class of microbes learned how to harness oxygen's superior energy engine, and transformed the world. Literally, the anaerobes had dominated until then, but never again. How do you discuss this in a meaningful way?

    I remember recently telling someone that the ocean fishery was collapsing, and projected to collapse entirely by 2048! The reply, "Well, I don't like fish anyway", seems to me a true reflection of the public mind. As if the collapse of the largest life structure on Earth is only meaningful in the sense implied. It's as if someone on the Titanic were informed of the impernding crash into an iceberg, and said: "Well, I didn't want to get home early anyway."

    So in conclusion, as I see little real chance of bridging this knowledge gap, I am wondering if trusting one's instincts, or more specifically, of 're-learning' to trust one's instincts, might not be the way to go, as all human beings are instinctive, but have put these tried and true guides away in favor of soverign 'reason.' This is the thrust of Robert Pirsig's marvellous and brilliant, "Zen and the Art of Mororcycle Maintenance."

    Have you read this one timjenvey?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 53. At 5:45pm on 15 Apr 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:

    Timjenvey; #51

    On the one hand there is the human control of actively curbing procreation …
    Or there is nature s way…
    Both are pretty hard to stomach.

    Actively curbing procreation, could mean, giving away condoms, surely that is not hard to stomach?

    But there are more options than just, unprecedented mass murder/suicide, or unprecedented mass starvation.

    If we can learn to live without destroying any more habitat, the Earth could easily support 100 billion bicycle riding vegetarians.

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  • 54. At 9:55pm on 15 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi, just dropped in . Thank manysummits #50, back when I have more time.

    But briefly; #53 Bicycle-Fan: " away condoms, surely that is not hard to stomach?"

    I'm no expert and stand to be corrected; but to the best of my knowledge there are many contries in the world which have not adopted "equal rights for women" as we called it. In such countries the role of the woman is much more orientated around having and raising children the whole of their life. If you force them to use condoms you would drastically affect their way of life. That may not be so easy for them to stomach.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 55. At 10:37pm on 15 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Oh and even more. #53 Bicycle-Fan: " away condoms, surely that is not hard to stomach?"

    It would be hard even for us to stomach; as I understand it, each of our pensions is based on there being several young people actively working and paying contributions, because all *our* contributions went to give pensions to our parents generation. The whole economic system would need a good shakeup. Not a bad thing at all, but a tough job none the less.

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  • 56. At 01:12am on 16 Apr 2009, Underacanoe wrote:

    To davblo2:

    Hello again!

    You know, earlier you asked me about Africa, and I said I had never been there, but I thought it would be different from 'everywhere'.

    Why don't we ask 'wunariik', who is from a village in Africa?

    To 'wunariik':

    Could you tell us please how life in your African village differs from our life here in Canada, and Sweden etc., and our National Parks? In our protected Parks, hunting is usually not allowed, even disturbing the wildlife is discouraged. So the animals become habituated to humans, usually tourists. But it all seems a little unnatural.

    But in your village, it appears you live 'in balance' with the wildlife? Presumably, this has been going on, this balance, for a very long time. Perhaps you could tell us how you grew up with the obviously dangerous animals in and around your village, and how you and your people view animals, who are at times a threat to you and your family and friends?

    Here, in the western world, we would not tolerate dangerous animals, but then, we are the ones who have all but destroyed the planetary ecosystem!
    Perhaps there is a lesson here - we 'speak' of the balance of nature, but you have 'lived' in balance with nature??

    - A curious Manysummits in Calgary -

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  • 57. At 01:15am on 16 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To underacanoe# 56:

    As some may have guessed, 'underacanoe' is my wife, Julia. The hazards of a one computer family!

    - Manysummits -

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  • 58. At 05:26am on 16 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To #56 and others who maybe longing to see the differences my village and our cities. To begin with, I would like to share my childhood experience. When I was a little boy at the age of seven, I used to spend day time with my brothers in our farm. My older brothers armed themselves with their arrows and bows, we hid ourselves on trees waiting monkeys to enter to our farm, after they entered and started eating our maize, groundnuts and other crops, our big brothers would started shooting them with arrows. That was my daily activity. Is that a brutality and unfair to animals? Yes, but was this a solution to protect our farm? indeed, because it scared monkeys from coming back to our farm and that was practiced by every farmer's kids in my village. How did we maintain the balance of nature here? We maintain the balance by killing monkeys not to finish our crops and leave us to die by starvation, and we didn’t wipe monkeys out as long as we were using our local bows and arrows. Sincerely, unbalancing of nature is a result of civilization (technology). If we were using guns, we would have cause unbalance of nature by finishing monkeys. Another example,In our village now, villagers use four long poles dig to the ground and place them firmly and really high with a ladder use for climbing up and down. On the top of the four poles are other short poles, place horizontally forming a bed shape. That place is use for leaving kids, for instance, when mother is going to collect water in a river, and father after cattle and no one left with kids. People also use that place before going to bed as sitting place around 6:00pm-9:00pm to avoid mosquitoes. Kids also use that place for protecting sorghums, and other crops from birds, they sit their with loud piece of objects and a stick, when birds come hovering over farms, kids beat those noisy objects (e.g. tin) to scary birs and stopped them from sitting on crops and eat them. My father generation use hippopotamus’ skin as shields, those shields are use for fighting lions, leopards, those animals which can jump on people. For example, when lion jumps on you, you let yourself fall backward hold your shield firm on your left and your sharp spear on your right hand, and this shield will completely cover you when is lion on it trying to unfold it on you, then you move the shield on your left side bit and with the final force spear the lion upward beneath the left fore leg and push it upward. It sounds scary, but it works. This method of killing such animals would not lead to their distinction at all, because you dare to fight five lions a day, chances of getting hurt are high, but it protect us from those animals.

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  • 59. At 06:27am on 16 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #85
    As a US citizen I employee James Hansen (or me as one of the people of the USA) to do research. I do not pay for him to flout his position to incite activists. I can’t think of anything else to say that makes this clearer. Every company/agency I have worked for has policies/laws/acts that rule against this type of behaviour. The Hatch Act was developed specifically because of the issues that arise (as have been shown up by Hansen's exploites) as a result. It’s normal practice and grounded in centuries of experience to deal with such matters. He breaks the spirit and is cognizant to not break the letter of the law. Have to agree to disagree.

    On a positive note: I think I would be onboard with your \\\ A United Planet Declaration /// as it seems to fit with the comment I’ve just posted. My hackles just go up when I hear the UN mentioned. IMO they are the epitome of how not to do it. “Government for the people by the people”. It works. We just need to be wiser about whom we have as our leaders (or perhaps “facilitators” is a better word).

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  • 60. At 06:35am on 16 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Welcome Underacanoe.

    A husband and wife partnership is going to add an interesting perspective and interaction to the blog.
    Can't wait to know how you came about the choice of your name:)

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  • 61. At 07:11am on 16 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    This Hansen debate seems to be following the same path in multiple blogs... so, to reiterate here...

    The Hatch Act, as adopted, is not simply about restricting what government employees may do. It is about finding a balance between preventing an abuse of such an employees or office holders positions and allowing individuals freedom to engage in political activity. Both components are essential to the Act, and one should not seek to find its "spirit" without considering the Act as a whole. In my view, Hansen's activities appear to be compatible with both the letter and the spirit of the Hatch Act.

    As noted elsewhere, like most companies, NASA does indeed have guidelines for what is acceptable or otherwise for its employees.
    Thanks to Timjenvey also for the NASA internal guidelines link.

    In these it is clearly stated that "NASA doesn't prohibit much. Basically, NASA employees are not allowed to be, in effect, subcontractors to NASA. " So NASA clearly not prohibit Hansen from undertaking the sort of activities you are concerned about. On the same page of the NASA link, it also says: that "The approval process is the most important issue for the majority of outside activities. NASA requires advance approval for outside employment involving the following: Teaching, speaking, writing, or editing, unless the subject matter pertains to the private interests of the employee, such as a hobby, cultural activity, or nonwork related professional pursuit; ..."
    So, if Hansen has the necessary approvals for his speaking and writing activities, then he clearly is keeping to the rules.

    I don't see any breach by Hansen of the letter or spirit of either the Hatch Act or the NASA internal rules. The same would apply to any other employee in a similar position undertaking similar activities, irrespective of their views on climate change.

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  • 62. At 11:24am on 16 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #58:

    Thank you for that wonderful narrative. Someone like me, born and raised in Canada, can hardly imagine the scenes you paint so graphically!

    We have a saying here in North America, "The real McCoy." It means the real thing, devoid of all pretense and posturing - integrity writ large!

    I suspect that there are no other replies for you because the information you have just passed on is not 'computing' with our site visitors yet.

    I would urge all 'nature lovers' to look again.

    I hope that as time passes and you hopefully continue to contribute here, your unique perspective will become a mainstay of our international blogsite, for we are rapidly becoming "A Planet United."

    - Manysummits - in awe! - Calgary -

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  • 63. At 11:28am on 16 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #56, I thought you maybe had split personality but thankfully #57 explains all.

    timjenvey #59 "As a US citizen I employee James Hansen ..."

    Hey you posted in the wrong blog!

    ...and dragged simon-swede #61 with you.

    If you can be so kind as to "warp" over to "Human rights make whale meat hard to swallow" we can keep this one a "Hansen Free Zone"!

    All the best to all; davblo2

    PS. wunariik #58 Looks good, will read soon when I have time... (tough job keeping up with the pace....)

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  • 64. At 6:56pm on 16 Apr 2009, Underacanoe wrote:

    timjenvey :
    Thanks for the welcome :)
    My name Underacanoe:I guess it came from one of the finest outings I've been on with 'manysummits' or Mike is his real name, and my little guy(michael jr).
    We cycled over to the Glenmore Reservoir, on a beautiful summer day.
    We rented a canoe at the Calgary canoe club, which is located right on the Reservoir.Spent a few hours on the reservoir, when a severe weather change occured.It was still warm, but the clouds rolled in.The three of us hid under the canoe with our picnic lunch on a bank under a little foot bridge.Hail the size of golf balls,were bouncing off the bank within seconds.
    Our son was laughing the whole time.It lasted for a good half hour.Not a soul in sight, and us under our canoe :)

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  • 65. At 7:08pm on 16 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #62 (re: wunariik #58) "...I suspect that there are no other replies for you because the information you have just passed on is not 'computing' with our site visitors yet."

    I do have a reply and more questions, but family is calling; so I'll be back....

    Also, thank; I saw you took Hansen back where he belongs.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 66. At 7:16pm on 16 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi Underacanoe #64. I see you've appeared in person.
    We live by a lake here in Sweden and have several kayaks and canoes.
    The trip I remember best (apart from the ones with the thunderstorms) was when we paddled for an hour, beached and unpacked for a BBQ to find my wife had forgotten the food. They sent me all the way back to fetch it. Eventually we had a good picnic...

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 67. At 8:49pm on 16 Apr 2009, Underacanoe wrote:

    davblo2 :Thanks for the welcome :)
    I hope you were kind to your wife for her slip up..
    Here is a you tube vid of us setting off on our canoe last year, mike, our son and I.

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  • 68. At 11:40pm on 16 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Underacanoe #67 "...I hope you were kind to your wife for her slip up"
    Yes; and I think the exercise did me good.

    Thanks for the video link; I must figure out how to do that. I have cameras here but haven't got into puting video onto youtube.

    I hope this somewhat erratic blog is of interest to you.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 69. At 00:10am on 17 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    wunariik #58

    Thanks again for you description of life in the village. It's really good for us to have such first hand information, much better than edited film on a TV documentary.

    Here in Sweden animals are kept under control by hunting and it is a well established tradition; but it is all done with modern rifles. Also the hunters seem to enjoy it as a sport. I was not brought up in that tradition so for me it is hard to accept. Making a sport of it seems bad, but with rifles I think it is no sport at all.

    Anyway; I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to ask you more questions. It's late here so I'll ask as briefly as I can.

    You speak of how things were during your childhood, so I wonder how things have changed since then. Does the village remain with the "balance" between humans & animals which you describe or have modern influences affected that balance? How is life in the village now?

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 70. At 01:27am on 17 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #68: You wrote:

    "I hope this somewhat erratic blog is of interest to you."

    Yes, and I am having some strange feelings on this 'Dolphin' blog.

    This blog has become a favorite of mine! As I write this I am trying to figure out why and express this.

    Science and the Environment - like minded people from all over the world - or at least like minded in the appreciation of nature - UNITED!

    That may be it. Here is something we can agree on, which unites us. It's a good feeling.

    I too am looking forward to 'wunariik's answer to your question, on how life in the village has changed since 'wunariik' was a boy.

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  • 71. At 03:10am on 17 Apr 2009, Underacanoe wrote:

    davblo2 :I will always be listening to everyone's posts, due to Mike's presence here.I do read the BBC news regularly, but I had never read the comments section till Mike started Blogging.
    So I suppose it's the'personal'human connection that brings me here.Not many females on this very scientific Blog though.
    The video link, no problem, I hope you get a chance to post a video yourself.The wonders of You Tube.


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  • 72. At 06:39am on 17 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    Manysummits #29 says:
    "From "Dolphins raise sound questions" to waxing eloquent and wistful on our perception of Nature, this thread has morphed into something very beautiful and engaging."
    Couldn’t agree more. The best thread yet and may it continue!!
    Time is hard to find and I'd like to spend more but life is a balance and it's tipped away from blogging right now. But this thread has been instructive and raised many questions so I'm going to be selfish and keep asking for now.

    wunariik #58:

    I have never been to Africa and never had the opportunity to share with somebody so close to the real world. Your posts are very instructive and add for me great perspective on our human nature.
    I'm being selfish for more and I'm feeling somewhat justified because I'm giving you the opportunity to practice your English (you may regret that request!!!).
    In your last post you mentioned farms which seemed to have a sense of territory and ownership.
    How were these organized, who gave out the land rights, how were conflicts handled?
    That's probably enough for now. Got lots more if you’re up for it.

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  • 73. At 06:50am on 17 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    wunariik #58:

    Just noticed that davblo2 has also asked questions!!! So take them in order as they came. No pressure.


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  • 74. At 11:24am on 17 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #70 "This blog has become a favorite of mine! As I write this I am trying to figure out why and express this."

    Yes, I feel the same. I thought at first the other blogs were just to chaotic and busy. But this one does have something special.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 75. At 4:42pm on 17 Apr 2009, Underacanoe wrote:

    Please come back with more of your experiences from Africa!
    Some of the finest experiences of survival Ive ever heard:)

    loving this Blog

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  • 76. At 11:53pm on 17 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    I Thought I could fill in with a little of our history and experience from the past.

    I moved from southern England to work in Sweden about 15 years ago and my wife followed later. During that period we have returned many times to visit family and friends; but with slowly decreasing frequency.

    This leaves be with some simple views of England; (sorry but they are not so good).

    Most prominent is the traffic. So many cars, filling roads day and night. Planning a long journey is always difficult because of the uncertainty of delays from congestion, accidents, road-works etc.

    Secondly, population density 250 persons/square km; mostly living in cities and towns. Even the smaller old villages have dense housing. The countryside is dominated by de-forested farmland; inaccessible to the public. There is a historical network of footpaths "rights-of-way" but mostly you see countryside from roads but cannot reach it on foot.

    Thirdly, there are beautiful areas both in the countyside and by the coast, but these become the targets for tourists and it is guaranteed that there will be a car park there taking a high fee for parking and if the weather is good the car park will be full. The possibilities to walk and roam are often limited by fences and walls and private property.

    Wildlife is severely limited to those species which manage to co-exist with people. The occasional fox, some deer in the small woodland areas; and squirrels and rabbits especially in the small parks within towns.

    We lived by the coast, and the best part was being able to reach the sea so easily. The coastline was mainly cliffs and rocks; and the whole family learned to canoe on the sea and enjoy its many varying challenges and temperaments.

    Now, here in Sweden we have the lakes and a more peaceful life, but I still miss the high waves on the open sea.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 77. At 00:45am on 18 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 and all:

    I enjoyed the post # 76 by davblo2 so much, I thought to include here some similar thoughts on England, and Ireland.

    When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer eleven years ago, we took a trip to Ireland and England, for the first time, as my mother is of Irish ancestry, and we had relatives living near London. The trip was a complete success, if that is the word, and I will tell you this with regard to my perceptions of particularly England, but surprisingly to me, also Ireland.

    First, your (davblo2) description of the landscape, and your reaction to it, are so incredibly similar to my own that I need add only this. I love travelling, and have done so alone many times, and with company. But I had never been homesick until England and Ireland. This is undoubtedly because of the lack of the freedom to roam at will. I suppose that's why I am drawn to mountains and deserts. I couldn't wait to get home and look west to that unbounded Rocky Mountain skyline, with its frequent Chinook cloud framing all. And this despite being treated very well by all the friendly people of England and Ireland.

    - Manysummits - having a 'McNally's' beer on a Friday after work -

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  • 78. At 05:09am on 18 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To all who asked me some questions, it seems to be almost everyone on the blog. As timjenvey mentioned that all these questions will help you improving your english,Indeed, I really agree and I love them.

    To #72 "who give the land for farming?" it might be a lack of term that forced me to call it a farm. This is how the village is structured:

    People live in sub-clans, for example, most of my neighbours are my uncles, and as polygamy is highly practiced, most of the times the closest houses would be wives of one husband and then the next man with his wives..., so on. The land is not given, but what determine your suitable location is to be close to your relatives. you always choose your farm closer to your closest relatives.

    Balancing between humans and nature (animals, environment,etc) in some areas, yes there are changes, towns and cities are growing. However, in my village where I was back last year (From June 03/2007 to March 13/2008) I lived there in that period. It is four hours and half to a little town where you can barely see a bicycle, and sometimes in the Summer a car or two. no tap water, no electricity.
    In the village I was one of the rare people who owned a torch, which I bought with twelve pairs of batteries in town of a distance of two days by working before I headed to the village.We used rivers' water for drinking, cooking and shoring, for the first two weeks of my arrival, my parents were concerned that I would get sick, but except mosquitoes were causing me skin problems for almost a month.

    Forest, trees, tall grass, shrubs are even getting densely populated, because of the war, population of people, cattle and some other livistock decreased drastically, and the remaining population love this forest that way for hidding when there is attacking, not for environmentalists point of view. On the other hand, this bushy is making it worse for foxes' problems as I mentioned in my #45. I don't know whether I answered your questions fully but it is time for bed and please don't hesitate to ask any question regarding that village, or other parts of I Africa that I have been, I grown up under the care of UN, I have been a refugee for 10 years, in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya, and all these..., the live in my village, in the refugee camps, and my new live in Canada are all different like day and night.It leaves me with some weaknesses and strengths...!

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  • 79. At 1:41pm on 18 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #78:

    You wrote:

    "...I [have]grown up under the care of [the]UN, I have been a refugee for 10 years, in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya, and all [of]these..., the live[life] in my village, in the refugee camps, and my new live[life]in Canada are all different like day and night. It leaves me with some weaknesses and strengths...!

    Thank yo for sharing your story wunariik. I have added a few [comments] in your narrative to help with your English. But the sense of what you say is as clear as a blue sky, and leaves me deeply moved.

    As you mention the United Nations, I thought you might be interested in something 'jr4412' and myself have been working on? It is a proclamation of sorts, a call to action, to the Peoples of The World, and to The United Nations. It can be found on the blog "Human righs make whale meat hard to swallow", post #101. It is nearing completion, but suggestions are welcome. I am wondering if we should title it:

    "Dance of Life - A Planet United"

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 80. At 5:25pm on 18 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To #79 I am more than delighted to see how you, Timjenvey, and many people of our blog, are always helping me in ideas, correcting my grammatical errors. This is more than taking an english class in term of improving my english. Keep doing that please.

    For your suggestion regarding United Nations, 'jr4412' #79, I was thrilled to find it out, but I didn't get the link. May be my poor level of computer too is hindering my chance of getting it. Indeed, United Nations used to be my parents, all my needs, being primary or secondary needs were addressed by UN.

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  • 81. At 6:04pm on 18 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #80:

    My apologies wunariik. I'll post below a link directly to the blogsite I mentioned in post #79: (see comments numbers 101 and 102)

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

    PS: Glad the grammar comments are a help - I'll continue to do this.

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  • 82. At 6:49pm on 18 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi wunariik.

    Now I've had time to read your #78. I must admit I've read it many times to let it all sink in. Now I have so many questions, but time is short this evening. Maybe later tonight.

    manysummits #77; I'm glad you liked my "outsiders" view of England and that you felt the same way. I must get back my train of thought about your National Parks after you so kindly answered my questions. I see you are vey busy with your "Dance of Life - A Planet United" and I wish you good luck with that.

    My wife is waitin, have to go; all the best; davblo2

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  • 83. At 8:52pm on 18 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik:

    Thought you might like to read this new report, and comment?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 84. At 06:48am on 19 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To #83
    I read your link below and I couldn't agree more-with Turok's AIMS across Africa.

    Most of Africans' problems are interconnected with Africans' cultures

    and without training Africans about those problems, there will be no success. For example in my culture a person cann't talk about birth control methods, otherwise it wouldn't make sense to them at all and such ways could possibly reduce some sexual transmitted diseases. Therefore, schooling teenagers of all these would be the best ways to start to deal with some problems; they will understand having one wife, one to two kids per family, and living with natural resources in harmony.

    So helps Africans by empowering Africans will be more successful.

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  • 85. At 5:08pm on 19 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik #84:

    You wrote:

    "So helps [helping] Africans by empowering Africans will be more successful."

    I couldn't agree more.v cx

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  • 86. At 11:52pm on 19 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    More about England:
    Before asking another question I feel I should share a little about England as others have done. I was born in London just after WWII. Our road had buildings missing where bombs had landed and our playgrounds were a mass of ruined bomb sites and I have found memories. After a few years we were moved out to the suburbs so they could rebuild the area. Our playgrounds became parks and woodland and although very different the play was the same and I have friends now that we remember more about bombsite adventures than parks.
    I'm now a US citizen living in California for last 10 years. One of the biggest difference is in the landscape. In England the scenery changes on the turn of every corner. Hills and mountains (Lake District) take on a different perspective as they are compressed in such a small area. In America the roads go on for 100's of miles with hardly a change of scenery. The mountains are higher but broader and majestic because of sheer size. I love both as they give a different perspective. After all they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    It does not rain very much in California (although when it does it's usually a heavy storm!!) as different from England which rains on and off all year round. I joke (although with some serious) with folks here that it's at times when it rains I get most home sick.
    That's it for now. I now feel better about asking another question!!

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  • 87. At 11:12am on 20 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi again.

    Thanks timjenvey #86 for sharing your experiences of post-war London. I wasn't brought up in London and vists to the city were always extremely daunting. I've been back more recently and find it more manageable, but still much too crowded. I know what you mean about the different scales of the landscape. I remember the Scottish Peaks were much more spread out than the Welsh; so rather more majestic.

    Wunariik; you've written more now on the "whalemeat" blog #103 and #106 and on this blog #78. You've described so much which is outside my everyday sphere of experience. We read, hear and sometimes see: hardship and pleasure; success and disaster; rich and poor; evil and goodness. But nothing I normally have to think about comes anywhere near matching the level of difficulties and suffering, and the ways of life you describe. It makes me feel guilty asking more questions because I know I lack the ability to *feel* the meaning of your answers.
    But if you can indulge my curiosity a little more, then I have wondered about one thing. Don't answer if it a too personal a question; but you say you were a refugee for 10 years under the care of the UN and that you have returned to visit your family. Does that mean that some stayed and some left the village? How was it decided who should stay and who should be taken into care?

    You said (in #106) "I also believe every single nation has the same situation of having some immigrants, which means across the globe we are interconnected at some points."
    I know that Sweden accepts many at the moment, maybe not for the best reasons, and the integration policies always seem to be lacking in foresight; but it's good for "interconnecting" as you say. I don't have any details to hand, but I remember reading that with some simple mathematics it's easy to show that by ancestry we are all much more closely related than most people think. Also there was some other research into the average/min/max number of steps it takes between acquaintances to get from any one person to any other. Again the numbers show we are all much closer than we think. Unfortunately many people seem to prefer to have enemies rather than friends.

    Hope you all enjoyed the weekend; mine was good. All the best; davblo2

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  • 88. At 04:19am on 22 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To davblo2 #87,
    Don't apologize for your curiosity for asking whatever doeson't make any sense to you. I just have my English exam., which I finished yesterday and I am kind of gathering back my energies. For that reason, I was away from the blog for awhile. Still I will answer your questions at my convenience time allows and don't ever hesitate for asking questions.

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  • 89. At 11:37pm on 22 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To wunariik #88:

    I'm sure the practice here will have added to your marks in your English exam!! Let us know the result.

    One of the questions I'd like to ask is how you spent your relaxation time. For example, in the evening after a hard day at work. We have television, books, newspapers and every type of recreational activities to entertain us.
    What activities did you involve yourself in?
    Did you have any lighting and how did you spend evenings when it gets dark earlier?
    And the big question now: What difference has it made to your life and outlook in having so many choices (TV Radio etc.) and activities to spend your time on?


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  • 90. At 11:46pm on 22 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To Davblo2 #87,
    I got the time to answer your question now, to begin with, the war in Sudan started in May 16 1983.After 21 years, and more than two million deaths occured,the peace was signed in Jan.6/2005 and the war was between Khartoum Regime(Sudan government) and the rebal, Sudanese People's Liberation Movement(SPLM)

    In the late 80's the SPLM decided to take all kids, mostly boys from age seven to fourteen, that was terribly opposed by parents, but parents failed as SPLM was tough on the issue. a very good number of kids were gathered rough 15,000 to 20,000 and were taken to Ethiopia, some of them died from wild animals, thirst.
    They settled as refugees in Ethiopia, it was a tough time. That idea of collecting kids became a continuous event, kids were taken to different areas in different years. By that time our village wasn't eradicated by the war yet.However, as time rolled along the village was completely destroyed, cows, goats, sheep,and any type of crop people could eat were wiped out. People fled to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zaire and many other neighbouring countries of Sudan. By that time, some kids were able to meet their parents after the destruction of villages, some received the news of their families' deaths, but others didn't even heard what happened to their families, myself included, but when the SPLA took over the area many people returned from the neigbouring countries to their villages, they rebuilt their houses and started step by step their new lives. That time, People were depending on UN.Meanwhile, they majority of those kids were still in refugee camps, some in Ethiopia, Uganda, and kenya.

    In 1999, the UN decided to resettle those kids, and that resettlement was negotiated between the UN and SPLM and finally it was approved in year 2000, when those kids were taken to different countries. They were given a name called "Red Army",around the late 80's, later on it turned to be called "Unaccompanied Minors" and finally after the approval of their resettlement, a new came was coined and up to now they (we) are called by this name "Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls" myself is included

    BN: when I keep saying "kids" they are no longer kids or (we are no longer kids) but it is a reference of the time when we were separated from our parents, just not to confused bad!

    How did these names came about?, how was their lives at that younger age of seven to fourteen without adults taking care of them? Why were they taken from their parents?
    And many other questions may arise in people's minds when they read this, not to take us off from what our blog main purpose is, I will leave these questions unanswered.

    Now the majority of them ( Sudanese Lost boys and girls) are in US, Australia, Canada, and European countries. Some are still in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

    So after my parents spent years of hidding, runing up and down along the Nile bushy swamp, they returned to our village in 1995, but still I didn't reunited with them until my returned from Canada last year. That was after fifteen years. I was introduced to my 'OWN' parents and 'I' to them, I was visiting for two months vacation and I ended up staying with them for a year.I would have remained with them, but I need education to write something about myself in the near future and Canada is offering this chance to me. THAT'S HOW WE WERE SEPARATED.

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  • 91. At 11:05pm on 23 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    To wunariik #90:

    Wow; it was just a small question, and yet you have so much to tell. Thanks for taking the time to write so much; and I see there is still even more to your story.

    Your writing is excellent; congratulations!

    You say "...I need education to write something about myself in the near future..." Does that mean you are going to write a book about your experiences? That sounds like a good idea.

    But timjenvey had some questions at #89 so I won't press you with any more for the time being.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 92. At 01:44am on 24 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To timjenvey #88,
    In the Summer, people come together in what is called "cattlecamp", and people spend evening hours around fire from woods, dried cow dung, about the darkness, for some reasons that I can't explain...stars are usually brighter, and moon. May be I am used to our cities' lights, I don't see that brightness here.

    your other question "What difference has it made to your life and outlook in having so many choices (TV Radio etc.) and activities to spend your time on?" is the big question, which may produce a couple of pages, but I will give you this little answer here; For the first two weeks in Canada,I sat under (TV), then I realized,I couldn't do anythihng else, so I gave up watching it through the day, but little bit. Then responsibilities, such as work, school, cooking came in and helped dividing my time accordingly,

    There're many different impacts that occured and still ocuring in my life, but one of them is, I feel like I am living in a cage of 'TIME' now. I have to know when Iam going to work, to School, for grocery, cleaning and washing my clothes over the week end and so on. A lot of mixed feelings I have now.

    About my marks, I will improve as a result of this writing practice, I am getting my result next Monday! and I will let you know.

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  • 93. At 11:33am on 24 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wunariik; timjenvey; davblo2 ...:

    I thought I'd take a break from our declaration this morning and post a couple of links which bear on the discussions on this blog, and indirectly on the declaration: (from the BBC this AM):

    Perhaps wunariik, you could give us your impressions on these two links??

    One is of the Masai, cattle pastoralists - similar to your people??

    The other is about music and the banjo. Have you any experience with the banjo-type instruments, or the 'marimba'??, or what instruments do you use in your village in Africa for music abd dance??

    - Manysummits -

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  • 94. At 11:27pm on 24 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi wunariik, and any others who find spell checkers useful....

    I've just come across a slightly easier way that using Word.

    If you get the new web-browser from Google called "Google Chrome"; (it's free to download from Google), it has built in spell checking and highlights mistakes as you type directly in this Comment window. You may have to go into the Tools, Options, Language menu and make sure it knows which language you are writing in; (my came up as default in Swedish). But then it works very well showing spelling mistakes and with right-click on the highlighted mistake you can see the suggested corrections.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 95. At 05:00am on 25 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    To davblo2 #94
    thank you for "Google Chrome", without a delay, I installed it.

    to ManySummits #93,
    Thank you for the links, actually when you click on the link, and click on Kenya fishermen, a lake appears and that's Lake Turkana, that Turkana's area is where I was a refugee in a camp called Kakkuma for six years, I know Turkanas as well as Maasai.

    About what kind of instruments we have; our instruments are local ones, and it is hard to name them in English, here is my translation for some of them: "Tung" is one of the best instruments we have and it's made from (big cow's horn) & "Gaak" from an ostrich egg's shell and many other local instruments from woods, otherwise I will comment when my time allows about the wildlife disappearing in Maasai area.

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  • 96. At 3:23pm on 25 Apr 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Hi wunariik,

    I don't know whether you've looked at the "Whale meat" blog recently; I mentioned there that I had set up a new web site for work & discussion centred on the Declaration idea of manysummits.

    You (and any others reading this) are welcome to join in. It's at...

    It's still at the experimental stage (I did it in a rush), but I hope we can get it into good shape soon. If you feel like adding some comments you need to register with a username and password. If you use the same username as here then we'll know who you are!

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 97. At 4:17pm on 25 Apr 2009, wunariik wrote:

    Hi davblo2,
    I am rushing for grocery, I will sign on for sure.

    All the best;

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