The first weekend of this month saw Jeannie and me in Chicago. Then back home in Merlin, earlier this week, half-an-inch of rain fell to break a long spell of dry weather. I went out last Thursday morning to capture some sights of the first misty morning of Autumn. The contrast between our rural home and Chicago was dramatic; to say the least! Enjoy!
(P.S. I sensed there was no need to describe each photograph in terms of which one was taken in Merlin or in Chicago!)
Jean and I were invited to Chicago this last weekend, actually Friday through Sunday, to support a charity that does a great deal of work saving dogs in many countries. (Will write more about this great charity soon.)
So we flew out, via San Francisco, from our local Medford airport last Thursday returning on Monday. The long week-end was not without a few challenges!!
I hadn’t been back to Chicago in nearly 30 years and found it a bit of a shock to the system.
So going to leave you for today with two photographs of the other side of city life!
I forget how I came across this editorial in the Chicago Tribune but it was published a month ago, to the day. What is more to the point is that the editorial was inspiring and I vowed to republish it. With the absence of any formal permission to republish the editorial I thought it best to leave it for a few weeks. When you read it you will realise just why it needed to be shared with you.
Editorial: The cougar killed in Illinois was looking for love
He was lean, athletic and had traveled hundreds of miles, most likely from the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota. He had attacked no one as he passed hundreds of towns and many more farms, each of them a lethal threat to his mission. Yet for lack of a better wildlife management plan in Illinois, the young cougar couldn’t get past a conservation officer armed with a state-issued rifle.
The necropsy says the cougar killed last week as he hid near Morrison, 130 miles west of Chicago, died of gunfire. In truth he died of official neglect: Even though more cougars and possibly wolves likely will be visiting Illinois, state lawmakers and the Department of Natural Resources haven’t forged policies that could allow the tranquilization, capture and survival of animals whose ancestors blissfully roamed the Midwest long before humans intruded on their turf.
Given his hunting skills, the young male could have homesteaded anywhere in the Upper Midwest and dined on the bountiful deer population for the rest of his life. Instead, his four huge paws carried out the imperative that drove him: With larger, older males driving him away from the females on their home ranges, this cougar came looking for love.
A farmer called authorities to report a large cat running from a cornfield toward his farmstead and, sure enough, a responding conservation officer found the cat under a corncrib, probably hiding until darkness would allow it to flee.
We won’t second-guess the officer, who consulted with law enforcement and wildlife personnel before killing the cougar. That said, this was an outcome that didn’t have to be. A magnificent creature might well be headed back to South Dakota if Illinois had learned lessons after Chicago police shot and killed a cornered cougar in the Roscoe Village neighborhood five years ago.
What all of us, legislators included, have to understand is that the return of feline or canine predators to their traditional realms doesn’t mean the animals want to hurt anyone. Even as this episode unfolded, millions of National Geographic readers were receiving the magazine’s December issue, with an 18-page spread: “Ghost Cats … Cougars are quietly reclaiming lost ground.” The relevant passage: “Cougars have attacked humans on about 145 occasions in the U.S. and Canada since 1890. Just over 20 of those assaults — an average of one every six years — proved fatal.”
Yet in this case, with an animal that had threatened no one while bypassing thousands of Midwesterners, a DNR spokesman rationalized that, “Public safety is what we’ll make the decision on every time.” The rest of DNR’s explanation is similarly lame: The department otherwise would have had to find someone to capture and move the animal. This officer thought the situation too unsafe to call a veterinarian to tranquilize the cat. Conservation officers don’t carry tranquilizer guns. That thinking led the DNR to the specious excuse that if the officer had shot the cougar with the wrong dosage of tranquilizer, the animal could have been harmed or killed accidentally. That excuse evokes the February 1968 explanation from a U.S. major to an Associated Press correspondent about the Vietnamese provincial city of Ben Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
We were struck by sensible comments last week from Bruce Patterson, curator of mammals at Chicago’s Field Museum, who wonders why this animal had to be shot when it evidently was hiding during daylight and hadn’t threatened anyone: “It’s possible to manage wildlife while still keeping it around.”
When we editorialize about humans slaying wild predators, some readers say our concern should be — as it constantly is — directed instead to the needless killings of young people, and not toward one lost, probably frightened animal.
Fair enough, although it’s possible to think about both. Just as we know there will be more homicides, we know that more big predators likely are coming to Illinois. So we’ll look back to what we expressed after the 2008 killing of the cougar in Roscoe Village: We hope Illinois comes away from last week’s episode with more than one dead cougar and a communal sadness. Illinois should develop a reliable protocol that errs on the side of trying to preserve the life of the lost animal — not of making the ad hoc decision to kill it and then resolving the ambiguities in favor of that decision.
That’s what happened here. A logical first step now: Give cougars protection under the Illinois Wildlife Code; they lack that protection now only because there is no known breeding population in this state. But with trail cameras capturing photos of one or more cougars in Jo Daviess, Morgan, Pike and Calhoun counties last fall, the animals evidently are re-establishing themselves in a state where they haven’t been known to live since 1870. In recent years, wolves have dipped into Jo Daviess, the state’s northwest corner. A black bear even visited there, evidently for a few days.
Lawmakers, DNR officials, you can do better. So can the rest of us, first by using sites such as cougarnet.org to offset our visceral fear with scientific knowledge.
Wild animals roam this state. Always have and, we hope, always will. As we urged here in 2008: The same Illinois that was unprepared for the last cougar had better get ready for the next. He’s probably en route.
As you contemplate your New Year resolutions for 2014 please resolve to protect our animals.
My reasoning was that the NCA report was such a stunning indictment of the madness, the myopic madness of mankind these last 100 years, that this appreciation of the wonder of dogs must act as a beacon for us all. I use the word ‘beacon’ because the qualities demonstrated by these nine dogs are just the qualities that we need to adopt.
Every living person on Planet Earth has to embrace the stark choice coming up on us like a runaway train. If we don’t change our values, our behaviours and our relationship with this one, finite planet, in the next ten years, at most, then the consequences will be beyond imagination; a world of unimaginable terror and chaos.
Forgive me if I repeat what the Home page of Learning from Dogs offers:
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
On the 30th December, 2012 The Week magazine published an item written by Editor Lauren Hansen. I ask Lauren if I might republish the article in full but that was denied. However, I was given permission to refer extensively to the piece. I will use it to underline just what we have to learn from dogs.
The 9 most newsworthy dogs of 2012
Dogs are the best. Here’s the proof… if you even need it
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably aware: Dogs rule. This year, a handful of canines rose above the rest, making headlines for their actions — whether facing imminent danger to save lives, enduring unimaginable physical hardships, or simply making us laugh. A look at nine of the year’s most newsworthy pups:
1. Chicago’s comfort dogs After the unimaginable events that befell Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 that left 27 people, including 20 children, dead at the hands of suspected gunman Adam Lanza, a team of golden retrievers was deployed from Chicago to the picturesque town. About 10 specially trained dogs, including Chewie, Ruthie, and Luther, made the 800-mile journey to sit with children and adults during masses and funerals. “Dogs are nonjudgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” says one handler. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.” The Chicago comfort dogs are notable not only for this caring venture but also for helping those who suffered through Hurricane Sandy and the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., in 2011.
The next story was about the puppies that kept a lost boy warm.
That was followed by the hero dog that lost its snout saving two girls.
One dog’s heroism so disfigured her sweet little face that her photo is often preceded by a warning. This canine’s story started with a motorcycle careening through the streets of Zamboanga City, Philippines, earlier this year. Young cousins Dina Bunggal, 11, and Princess Diansing, 3, stepped unknowingly into its path. A mutt named Kabang came out of nowhere and jumped in front of the motorbike, stopping it in its tracks, and saving the little girls from serious injury. The driver and the girls emerged with superficial wounds, but Kabang wasn’t so lucky. Her head landed on the motorcycle’s front wheel and as the wheel rolled forward, Kabang’s upper snout was ripped right off. Her story quickly went viral and when local doctors could do no more to help her, specialty surgeons from the University of California, Davis, flew Kabang to their facilities, where she’ll endure six to eight weeks of treatment to repair her face. The cost of her surgeries, which could top $20,000, will be covered by her many supporters who have started an online fundraising campaign.
Then my last dip into Lauren’s article is dog story eight.
8. The dog that saved its own life by calling the police
We’ve often heard the tale of the puppy that proves its “man’s best friend” status by saving its owner’s life. But this year, there was George, a 2-year-old basset hound in West Yorkshire, England, who reworked the well-worn script a bit, literally calling for help to save himself. Home alone, George had knocked the phone to the floor and was strangling himself with the handset’s cord when he apparently dialed 999 — England’s 911 equivalent — in a panic. The operator heard only frantic gasps and, assuming someone was desperately sick or reeling from an attack, sent police to the house. The dog was found and rescued from the cord. “Incredibly, you could see where his paw print was on the phone,” said the neighbor, “he literally saved his own life.”
Now, what fun-loving toddler can walk past a puddle without stopping for a little splash? Not this one!
Little Arthur was out for a stroll with his best mate, Watson the dog, when he noticed a tempting puddle. So he put down the leash and plunged straight in. And Watson? Well, he’s a more mature 12 years old, so he didn’t partake himself. But he was more than happy to wait while Arthur had his fun.
You know what this video is, don’t you? That’s right. Too. Cute. For. Words.
Here’s the video, seen over 4,800,000 times!
Finally, there’s the beautiful story of the dog befriending a Down’s Syndrome boy.
So what does this all add up to? That the qualities of the dog; integrity, unconditional love, patience, loyalty, and their ability to live in harmony with nature really do send us humans a message for the future.
Southwest forests are already in the early stages of a mega drought brought on by climate change that will result in massive tree die-offs and sweeping changes in Rim Country forests, according to an analysis published in the scientific journal Climate Change.
Severe drought will dominate much of this century, creating stresses on forests not seen for more than 1,000 years, according to the research that used tree ring samples from 13,000 trees, historical rainfall records and computer projections of future climate change.
The shifts will likely dramatically shrink the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona, replacing pines with junipers at elevations like Payson and replacing junipers with chaparral and cactus at lower elevations.
The article concludes,
Unfortunately, the team’s climate prediction models suggest that within the next 40 years the region will fall deep into mega drought conditions. The models predict that even the wettest, coolest years in the late 21st century will exceed mega drought levels. In that case, the drought conditions of the past decade will prove the new normal rather than a bad stretch.
Williams noted that while winters in the past decade haven’t been exceptionally dry, summer temperatures have soared. As a result, the stress on the trees in the past 13 years has exceeded mega drought levels about 30 percent of the time — conditions not matched for the previous 1,000 years.
One of the clean little secrets about dealing with climate change, is that if we make our cities more efficient, and reduce their carbon footprint, we will also make them more resilient, quieter, more comfortable, more human scaled, more inviting, and more fun.
As global temperatures rise, urban areas are facing challenges in keeping their infrastructure and their residents cool. Chicago is tackling that problem with a green design makeover. This report is part of our Coping with Climate Change series.
Recently over at the Blog Climate Sight, Kate wrote a Post about the antics of the group known as the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based PR group that denies the existence of human-caused climate change. Kate has given me permission to reproduce her post in full.
Here’s a classy way to slam people you disagree with: compare them to terrorists, dictators, and mass murderers.
Such was the focus of a recent billboard campaign by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a PR group that denies the existence of human-caused climate change. The only billboard that was actually displayed featured Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and read, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”
The message is clear: if a monster believes something, citizens of good moral standing should believe exactly the opposite. The Internet was quick to ridicule this philosophy, with parodies such as the following:
Similar billboards featuring Charles Manson and Fidel Castro were planned, but never publicly displayed. Heartland also considered putting Osama bin Laden on a future billboard. On their website, they attempted to justify this campaign:
The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.
Even though the campaign has been cancelled, the Heartland Institute continues to suffer financial repercussions. Dozens of corporate donors, including State Farm Insurance and drinks firm Diego (which owns Guiness and Smirnoff) have ended their support as a direct result of this campaign. Earlier in the year, Heartland lost financial backing from General Motors after internal documents exposed some of the group’s projects, particularly the development of an alternative curriculum to teach K-12 students that global warming is fake.
Will they recover from this failed campaign? Given Heartland’s reliance on donations, their prospects look poor. It seems that the Heartland Institute, previously one of the most influential mouthpieces for climate change denial, is going out with a bang.
My prayer is that the aforementioned institute goes out, not with a bang, but with the sound of whimpering! Because the right of free speech is abused and shamed by such disgraceful actions. Well done, Kate.