As soon as we were on our way, first thing was to find a bed for the night in the area of the Capitol Reef NP. This was a popular time of the year and so many places were full. Our ‘fall-back’ position was to sleep in the truck but I really hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
Eventually we found a room for just tonight in The Flute Shop and Motel in Torrey, just 10 miles from the National Park. Run by Vance and Elaine Morrill it was more than just a motel, it was a scene of much fascination. For Vance made flutes the American Indian way.
But more of that later.
Oh, and there’s a dog story as well. Again, I’m writing that up as a separate post.
On to the Capitol Reef Park.
Or rather a pause before we descended off the heights that surrounded this part of Utah down to the park.
The pause was to take a photograph of an intense rain storm that had a spot quite close where the remnants of a rainbow could just be made out. It’s hardly visible in the above picture.
It was simply stunning.
I promised you a little more about Vance Morrill and his flutes. But apart from the photograph I will delay that for a while (until the draft of the post has been approved by Vance).
Here is Jean looking at them.
Finally, Vance promised to draw some routes in the morning to some of the lesser known spots in Capitol Reef.
Written by Rob Moir, Ph.DI recently returned from a research sail through the Denmark Straits and I couldn’t be more in awe of mother nature.
We sailed aboard the gaft-rigged ketch Tecla out of Isafjordur, Iceland, bound for Greenland. We were thirteen women and men on a hundred-foot steel-hulled sailing vessel.
As we cleared the steep-sided fjord and sailed out into the bay past towering headlands, we saw a humpback whale breach. It rose straight out of the water, extended enormous knobby flippers, rotated and fell on its side with a large splash.
We sailed on, and another wheeled before us.
Further out, white-beaked dolphins streaked, exhaled, and splashed in the bow waves at the front of our boat.
Gray and white fulmars with outstretched wings carved the sky and nearly scratched the sea. And then there were icebergs.
The natural beauty of Mother Earth never ceases to take my breath away, no matter how many times I see it.
We traversed the threshold between the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. The south-bound East Greenland current squeezed between the craggy coasts of Iceland and Greenland to become a “superhighway” for turbulent water. Here, the denser Arctic water mass crashes into the bulwark front of warmer Atlantic Water. Arctic water plunges downwards into the Denmark Strait Cataract. This is the world’s largest waterfall. Yet, skimming the surface of immense water all we see are waves that crest white tumble and stream like the tossed manes of charging horses.
Unfortunately, we also saw the threats to nature.
First, a quick science lesson: When seawater freezes at the ocean surface, the ice is actually made of freshwater; the salt gets rejected back into the surrounding water. That surrounding water then becomes denser and sinks. This happens on a massive scale, which results in ocean currents around the world. Think of it like an organic engine that circulates the oceans’ water.
Now, because global warming exposes more of the surface every summer than it used to (about twice as much, in fact) that means more surface ice each winter. That means that our ocean circulation engine is twice as big, which radically alters the seascape, threatens not only the ocean ecosystem – from tiny algae to those humpback whales – but life worldwide.
We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.
I will do no better than to repeat that last paragraph.
We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.
Dog Survives 31 Days In Woods After Being Hit By Car
By LINDSAY NADRICH, KGW-TV
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Niko, a Vancouver family’s dog, survived 31 days in the wilderness after getting hit by a car.
Niko is 16-year-old Caden Alt’s adventure partner.
“He’s always fun to have around,” Caden told KGW-TV. “He’s right there at your side walking around and yeah, he’s just awesome.”
On July 26, Niko went camping with Caden’s father, David Alt, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Later that night, Niko wandered over to the road and got hit by a car. David ran from the campsite just in time to see Niko sprint off into the woods.
“A lady jumped out of the car immediately and said, ‘I don’t know how he could’ve survived that,'” he said.
He searched all night, but could not find Niko. He said it was devastating.
For the next 31 days, he and Caden spent as much time as they could going back to look.
“Every weekend we went up there, we searched, that was pretty hard, coming back every day not finding anything,” Caden recalled.
Then last weekend, they got a call from two men who had seen a post about Niko on Facebook and spotted him about 100 yards from where he disappeared.
“That was, just like, my heart dropped for a second, like, is this happening?” Caden asked.
The Good Samaritans canceled their own trip and drove Niko straight to Vancouver.
“So, yeah, my son and I were just crying, it was, it was unbelievable, yeah, and then of course when we’re in the driveway and they bring him up, Caden and I are crying, those two grown men are crying, four guys crying, it was great,” David said.
Niko lost about 15 pounds but is otherwise doing well.
“Skin and bones and one eye shut, he had lost 30% of his body weight, but he immediately was eating and drinking,” David said.
Niko seemed pretty happy to be back by Caden’s side.
“It’s been amazing,” Caden said. “I’m so glad to have him back. He’s not like perfect, energetic back up to himself, but he’s getting there, better every day. He’s just as cute as ever, the house is filled again.”
So what did Niko do for 31 days alone in the woods?
“As far as trying to recap, only Niko knows the story right, too bad he couldn’t tell it,” David said.
During the month Niko was missing, David and Caden said they got a lot of support from people on social media, as well as a lot of tips that helped with the search. They said they are so thankful for everyone who kept them going.
“Organic” is more than just a passing fad. Organic food sales totaled a record US$45.2 billion in 2017, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of American agriculture. While a small number of studies have shown associations between organic food consumption and decreased incidence of disease, no studies to date have been designed to answer the question of whether organic food consumption causes an improvement in health.
I’m an environmental health scientist who has spent over 20 years studying pesticide exposures in human populations. Last month, my research group published a small study that I believe suggests a path forward to answering the question of whether eating organic food actually improves health.
What we don’t know
According to the USDA, the organic label does not imply anything about health. In 2015, Miles McEvoy, then chief of the National Organic Program for USDA, refused to speculate about any health benefits of organic food, saying the question wasn’t “relevant” to the National Organic Program. Instead, the USDA’s definition of organic is intended to indicate production methods that “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
While some organic consumers may base their purchasing decisions on factors like resource cycling and biodiversity, most report choosing organic because they think it’s healthier.
Sixteen years ago, I was part of the first study to look at the potential for an organic diet to reduce pesticide exposure. This study focused on a group of pesticides called organophosphates, which have consistently been associated with negative effects on children’s brain development. We found that children who ate conventional diets had nine times higher exposure to these pesticides than children who ate organic diets.
Our study got a lot of attention. But while our results were novel, they didn’t answer the big question. As I told The New York Times in 2003, “People want to know, what does this really mean in terms of the safety of my kid? But we don’t know. Nobody does.” Maybe not my most elegant quote, but it was true then, and it’s still true now.
Studies only hint at potential health benefits
Since 2003, several researchers have looked at whether a short-term switch from a conventional to an organic diet affects pesticide exposure. These studies have lasted one to two weeks and have repeatedly shown that “going organic” can quickly lead to dramatic reductions in exposure to several different classes of pesticides.
Still, scientists can’t directly translate these lower exposures to meaningful conclusions about health. The dose makes the poison, and organic diet intervention studies to date have not looked at health outcomes. The same is true for the other purported benefits of organic food. Organic milk has higher levels of healthy omega fatty acids and organic crops have higher antioxidant activity than conventional crops. But are these differences substantial enough to meaningfully impact health? We don’t know. Nobody does.
Some epidemiologic research has been directed at this question. Epidemiology is the study of the causes of health and disease in human populations, as opposed to in specific people. Most epidemiologic studies are observational, meaning that researchers look at a group of people with a certain characteristic or behavior, and compare their health to that of a group without that characteristic or behavior. In the case of organic food, that means comparing the health of people who choose to eat organic to those who do not.
Several observational studies have shown that people who eat organic food are healthier than those who eat conventional diets. A recent French study followed 70,000 adults for five years and found that those who frequently ate organic developed 25% fewer cancers than those who never ate organic. Other observational studies have shown organic food consumption to be associated with lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, pre-eclampsia and genital birth defects.
The problem with drawing firm conclusions from these studies is something epidemiologists call “uncontrolled confounding.” This is the idea that there may be differences between groups that researchers cannot account for. In this case, people who eat organic food are more highly educated, less likely to be overweight or obese, and eat overall healthier diets than conventional consumers. While good observational studies take into account things like education and diet quality, there remains the possibility that some other uncaptured difference between the two groups – beyond the decision to consume organic food – may be responsible for any health differences observed.
When clinical researchers want to figure out whether a drug works, they don’t do observational studies. They conduct randomized trials, where they randomly assign some people to take the drug and others to receive placebos or standard care. By randomly assigning people to groups, there’s less potential for uncontrolled confounding.
My research group’s recently published study shows how we could feasibly use randomized trial methods to investigate the potential for organic food consumption to affect health.
We recruited a small group of pregnant women during their first trimesters. We randomly assigned them to receive weekly deliveries of either organic or conventional produce throughout their second and third trimesters. We then collected a series of urine samples to assess pesticide exposure. We found that those women who received organic produce had significantly lower exposure to certain pesticides (specifically, pyrethroid insecticides) than those who received conventional produce.
On the surface, this seems like old news but this study was different in three important ways. First, to our knowledge, it was the longest organic diet intervention to date – by far. It was also the first to occur in pregnant women. Fetal development is potentially the most sensitive period for exposures to neurotoxic agents like pesticides. Finally, in previous organic diet intervention studies, researchers typically changed participants’ entire diets – swapping a fully conventional diet for a fully organic one. In our study, we asked participants to supplement their existing diets with either organic or conventional produce. This is more consistent with the actual dietary habits of most people who eat organic food – occasionally, but not always.
Even with just a partial dietary change, we observed a significant difference in pesticide exposure between the two groups. We believe that this study shows that a long-term organic diet intervention can be executed in a way that is effective, realistic and feasible.
The next step is to do this same study but in a larger population. We would then want to assess whether there were any resulting differences in the health of the children as they grew older, by measuring neurological outcomes like IQ, memory and incidence of attention-deficit disorders. By randomly assigning women to the organic and conventional groups, we could be sure any differences observed in their children’s health really were due to diet, rather than other factors common among people who consume organic food.
The public is sufficiently interested in this question, the organic market is large enough, and the observational studies suggestive enough to justify such a study. Right now, we don’t know if an organic diet improves health, but based on our recent research, I believe we can find out.
A recent item in The Guardian suggests there isn’t!
I hang on to emails and files about dogs and dog stories for a very long time. For one reason that they make brilliant blog post topics. Such as this item that was published in The Guardian recently.
Have a read of it now and then see my closing comment.
Experience: my dog is a champion surfer
By Judy Fridono
Fri 19th July, 2019
The dogs have 10 minutes to catch as many waves as they can. Judges look at length of ride, whether they make it back to shore, and how many tricks they do.
When my golden retriever, Ricochet, was born, on 20 January 2008, she took her first breath in my hands. I had launched a non-profit organisation called Puppy Prodigies, to train service dogs for people with disabilities, and I supported her mother while she had her litter. Ricochet was the ninth of 10.
She was a brilliant puppy – high energy and lots of fun; she got her name because she was literally bouncing off the walls. She began service dog training at a few days old and started off well, but at 16 weeks she began to shut down; she was more interested in chasing birds. Luckily she found something else to do.
We live in San Diego, California, half an hour from the ocean. I never planned to raise a surf dog, but she had been in a kids’ pool at eight weeks old and showed great balance on a boogie board. We progressed to a bigger pool, then the bay, then the ocean.
I got her a 6ft foam board and a pink lifejacket. I don’t surf so, as she improved, she got a water handler. Surf dog contests were becoming popular in southern California and someone suggested she take part in one, at Ocean Beach in San Diego. Ricochet was placed third of about 15 dogs. I felt so proud – not because she had a medal but because she had shown what she was capable of.
Typically in contests, the dogs have 10 minutes to catch as many waves as they can. Judges look at the length of the ride, whether they make it back to shore, and how many tricks or turns they do, such as riding a wave backwards. A big wave scores higher in the judging stakes. Breeds with shorter legs, such as bulldogs or corgis, tend to do well because they have lower centres of gravity, but all sorts of dogs have won. It all comes down to balance. There’s always a crowd of spectators on the beach.
On the board, she looks pretty serious and focused. Dogs wag their tails on the sand, but not so much on the water, where they need them for balance. She’s 11 years old now and has taken part in about 20 contests. She has nine gold medals and has been placed second or third in most of the others.
Soon after she started surfing, Ricochet started doing something more meaningful with her talent. She began to accompany children with disabilities for surf therapy, and we have used her profile to fundraise for them, working first with Patrick, a 14-year-old quadriplegic boy. Patrick enjoyed the independence and Ricochet was joyful when they shared a board.
In 2009, a video of Patrick and Ricochet went viral. It’s had more than 6.5m views. She now has 230,000 Facebook followers and 100,000 on Instagram. We get messages every week from people wanting to work with or meet her. One teenage boy with a brain tumour asked to surf with her for his Make A Wish. She’s now raised more than $500,000 for humans and animals in need.
She is a certified therapy dog, and also works with service members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She connects with people on an extremely deep level and helps them express their feelings. Recently, she placed herself up against a wall to demonstrate how a naval officer she was working with was struggling inside. There is something about her that makes her excel.
Ricochet is one of only three competitive surf dogs from the original circuit still alive, but she doesn’t compete any more. Her last contest was at Imperial Beach in 2014, and she won first place. These days, competitions happen all over the world and up to 100 dogs compete for medals and bragging rights. Some dogs are sponsored, but there’s usually a charity element.
She’s in the last quarter of her life now and doesn’t have the energy for long rides on the board; but she still surfs for fun and does surf therapy work. Judges think it’s her ability to ride a wave that qualifies her as a winner. But, to me, it is her healing power that makes Ricochet a champion.
Firstly, I want to thank The Guardian, well the online version, for making their content reusable.
Secondly, this article shows yet another example of the bonding that can take place between a dog and their ‘owner’. I have no doubt that there will be many more.
Finally, dogs in the main are the perfect companions to us humans. It’s such a shame that so many are homeless, humans as well as dogs!
The new Covering Climate Now project will help media “tell the story so people get it.”
This is how the speech by Bill Moyers is introduced in this issue of The Nation:
The following is an abridged version of the speech by the iconic TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at a conference at the Columbia Journalism School on April 30. A video of the speech can be seen at TheNation.com/moyers-speech.
Well, we have the advantage of going straight to the video.
“What is journalism for, if not to awaken the world to looming catastrophes?“
When the Associated Press published Julia Le Duc’s photograph of a drowned Salvadoran man, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, and his 23-month old daughter Valeria, it sparked outrage on social media. According to Le Duc, Ramírez had attempted to cross the Rio Grande after realizing he couldn’t present himself to U.S. authorities to request asylum.
But beyond raising awareness via Twitter and Facebook feeds, does an image like this one have the power to sway public opinion or spur politicians to take action?
As journalism and psychology scholars interested in the effects of imagery, we study the ability of jarring photos and videos to move people from complacency to action. While graphic imagery can have an immediate impact, the window of action – and caring – is smaller than you’d think.
A political catalyst?
Photographs and videos – through their perceived authenticity – can have an effect on people.
But not all scholars agree. A recent article argued that it was a “myth” that the iconic “napalm girl” photo swayed public opinion and hastened the end of the Vietnam War.
We must also look to psychology to understand the impacts of emotional news content. Research demonstrates that audiences need an emotional connection – and not merely a “just-the-facts” reporting approach – as “prerequisite for political action” when it comes to appreciating the importance of distant mass suffering. And imagery can trigger this emotional connection by overcoming the psychic numbing that occurs when casualties mount, images blur and lost lives become merely dry statistics.
Images from Syria
In April 2017, gut-wrenching images seem to have awakened the world to the human atrocities happening in Syria. Following a chemical bomb attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, graphic photos and videos documented the horrific effects of the banned nerve agent sarin. Millions bore witness to excruciating human suffering: gasping, choking, writhing and dying. More than 500 people were injured, with at least 86 deaths, including 28 children.
The vivid, closeup images of sarin attack victims were resonant enough to break through the complacency of people and politicians accustomed to bad news emerging from the war-torn nation. In President Trump’s response – which included a retaliatory missile strike – he seemed to recognize the value of the Syrian lives depicted in the horrific photos and videos.
“When you kill innocent children,” he said during a news conference, “that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line – many, many lines.”
The limits of an image
Nonetheless, even though the attacks may have briefly heightened U.S. concerns over the wars in Syria, the photographic documentation of the suffering in Syria wasn’t new.
But the emotional and compassionate responses to both photographs were short-lived. The bombing of civilians in Syria continued. Refugees continued risking their lives to escape the war zone.
Since the publication of Le Duc’s photo of the dead migrants, supportive politicians may feel emboldened to sound the alarm on the plight of Central American migrants. Donations to immigrant aid organizations might briefly spike.
But it seems that a photograph, no matter how emotionally devastating, can only do so much.
Images can alert us to the horrors of violence, mass migration and poverty. But as we have seen time and again, photographs and news footage of human suffering generally precipitate a short-term emotional reaction, rather than a sustained humanitarian response.
As one reads the article it is much more than a comment on a single image despite how terrible that photograph may be.
The two scientists set out to show that the period that we are alarmed or terrified or just plain sad at the state of nations is rather short.
Maybe it’s the self-protective nature of our species that does this.
But it still doesn’t diminish the horror of that top photograph.