Thailand and Climate Change in 2020

Upon arriving in Chiang Mai for my twelfth time, I have been noticing obvious and more subtle changes in the city that will have me seriously considering why I should continue to return and look at it as a possible second home.

The most obvious problem for me has been the air quality issue. I arrived on the fifth of January which is normally a good time to be here before the effect of the burning which occurs every year in the North wafts its way down to Thailand’s second largest and most popular city.  This year smoke haze was already here to greet me with a pollution index climbing up to  170 PM2.5. This is considered too high and unhealthy for sensitive groups or people with respiratory problems such as the elderly or very young children. If it goes up to over 200, then we are in the very unhealthy range for everyone. Purple is over 300 so you can imagine what that must mean!  Last year Chiang Mai managed to reach that level some days in late March and April when the effects of the burning and drought were at their worst. This year it’s all up for grabs. No one knows what it will be like this April. The odd thing about all of this is that not every day is so bad. Recently, the index registered a healthy 71 because of the the way the wind was blowing. We could see the mountains all around us, and I felt my energy returning. The next day it was back up to 170! The government says it’s going to clamp down heavily on the farmers who insist on burning so as to get in two crops for the  season, but the big question is whether or not they will enforce that law? It’s always easier to say rather than do with  promises the Thai have all heard before.

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Transforming My Life

What is the one thing we all hate to face throughout our life? In fact some of us hate it so much that we sacrifice our bodies, our minds, and our souls to keep it at bay? If you haven’t guessed by now then you are one of the many who are resisting it, and why you resist it is because you fear it. It’s just in our human nature to fear anything new. Continue reading

Taking the Road Less Travelled

“Two woods diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled and that has made all the   difference.” –  Robert Frost

A brisk, Sunday morning walk in late November was all I needed to be inspired to write something for my blog which has been sorely neglected these past months. The inspiration to write often hits me on a Sunday especially when I am walking in the midst of nature. One of my favourite walks is the French Basin Trail located a few meters from my apartment in Annapolis Royal.

I had just begun my recent walk when Robert Frost’s quotation from “The Road Not Taken” popped into my head. Why this particular poem, I wondered? I had come to a fork in the trail. Before me lay two different paths meaning I would have to decide which one to take. This was easy because I was familiar with both, so what was the real reason for this poem’s appearance? Interesting how one thought or word can lead to another and another…For me this had to mean something deeper in my life at this time.

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Dealing With Climate Change on a Personal Level

Climate change is finally working its way up to the top of our list of concerns these days. How can we ignore it when our newspapers and other social media are bringing it to our attention every day? In fact, it’s no longer about climate change but about a climate crisis.

Young people around the world are worried  that there may not be a future for them and if there is , it won’t be anything like what we have now. Fear for their future is luring them to protest and camp out in the streets of large cities around the world in order to gain the attention of their governments to do something about it. If you dare to listen or read about what’s in store for us, it can be scary even for us older folk who will most probably escape it. We can’t help feeling frightened for our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the brunt of it. Continue reading

It’s Time to Respect our Forests

For awhile now, my mind has been filled with concern for what is happening to our forests, not only here in Nova Scotia, but all around our world.

This new found concern was temporarily relieved while packing up my books for a recent move.  My eye was drawn to a small, soft covered book simply entitled ” Love of Nature”…. a book given to me by my cousin, Joan Starr Murray, now deceased.

For many years, Joan and her husband spent her summers at their cottage in the Kawarthas’ in Ontario. By combining her deep love for the nature that surrounded her and using her keen eye for photography, she created an inspiring collection of poems and sayings by some of our most famous writers and philosophers. After reading her book from cover to cover, I chose those that clearly spoke to me and inspired me to write this post:

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir (1838-1911)

The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axeman who destroys it.” – Gautama Buddha c.563- c 483 BC

And finally these much loved words written by William Wordsworth I learned in school:

“One impulse from a vernal wood may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can.” 

A September walk in the woods in Kejimakujik.

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Tackling Climate Change in Nova Scotia

In my last post I wrote about how many of us are finally waking up to the challenges climate change is posing for us right now and in the future. This spring we have seen its effects all across Canada. In the west, Northern Alberta and British Columbia have been hit with wild fires which are devastating their forests and forcing inhabitants to leave their homes. Here in Nova Scotia we can’t believe how far behind we are in our planting. Temperatures below normal, too much moisture, and lack of sun have farmers wringing their hands trying to get their crops to grow and get them to their buyers on time.

I also wrote about the amazing young Greta Thumberg from Sweden and the Extinction Rebellion XR movement born in the UK and am excited and proud to see concerned Nova Scotians adopting their philosophy and tactics as a way to not only educate all of us but to also get our local politicians on board.

After my experience in dealing with the pollution in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I decided to attend some of XR’s  meetings in the nearby town of Bridgetown to find out more about their objectives and how they plan to carry them out.

What I like about this movement is that it’s very much a grassroots organization. Like – minded people wanting to personally do something to ward off the devastating effects of climate change come together to discuss ways to get their message out to everyone in a way that will educate and encourage people to get involved in a peaceful manner. Their aim is to be visible, creative, and persistent, but never violent.

For example, a group of XR followers turned out for the annual Apple Blossom Parade in Kentville dressed in bee costumes with fact sheets in hand to educate those in attendance on how important the bees are in our lives and what we can to do to protect them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend this event, but all reports from those I talked to was that our message got out loud and clear. They handed out over 2,000 fact sheets, and it seems that in talking to the parade attendees our bees heard repeatedly how important it is that we do as much as we can to protect them. This is how the XR  organization works. With a little bit of creativity and dedication to the cause, they know we can make a difference by bringing awareness to people in a peaceful manner.

This past Sunday, I made an effort to attend another one of XR’s peaceful protests at an old growth area called the Corbitt-Dalhousie Lake Forest to the west of Bridgetown. This 22 hectare piece of virgin land is wedged in between Lakes Corbitt and Dalhousie surrounded with  crown land that has been clear cut. It’s one of the last bastions of old growth forest in Nova Scotia. We have only 1% of this kind of forest left. It is a nesting place for a reported ten types of song birds. The nearly extinct chimney swift is also living there and generated much excitement as a flock of them flew over us.

We had some passionate and knowledgeable people  who have been watching the situation closely at Corbitt-Dalhousie who took the time to fill us in on what has happened so far.

We learned that XR has been informed by the Department of Natural Resources that their plans are to harvest red spruce and balsam fir trees, only. They are aiming for “service selection”. They have contracted Westfor as the company to carry out the task of cutting down those trees. However, XR has noticed that their huge machines are already mowing down everything in their path as they make roads into the interior of the forest.  It appears they aren’t practising “service selection” at all but clear cutting!

Westfor was scheduled to start harvesting this week but the latest report is now for mid-summer. Our plan was to have a couple of members there on an ongoing basis to erect our banners to prevent their machines from entering. Should we believe this and wait until then or be on guard from now on? Can we trust them to do as they say, or not? These are the questions.

We were also informed that the County of Annapolis had submitted a formal request to the Ministry that the entire 88 hectares of land between Corbitt and Dalhousie Lakes be managed by the county as a climate forest. Unfortunately, I heard that the county’s request was just rejected. Such bad news will mean that we will have to change any tentative plans we had for voicing our concerns. We will need all the help we can get so if there are any good lawyers out there who are committed to preserving our forest, we need you.

Clear cutting has been a contentious issue for some time in this province. Many of us are well aware that our changing climate is putting our forests and the wildlife that live there under great duress. Nova Scotia has been blessed with an abundance of coniferous and hard wood trees which have provided a lucrative living for many over the years. Next to the fishing industry, forestry has been a mainstay for our economy. Unfortunately, our forests have been poorly managed by successive governments who know little about how to manage them. They are good at publishing impressive, scientific papers espousing their plans on what they will do to preserve them but obviously haven’t been practising what they have preached. Clear cutting is their mantra.

Many Nova Scotians are waking up to the fact that we can no longer dismiss what our government is actually doing. We are fed up with accepting their promised actions and failure to deliver them. We are facing a crisis and we want Premier McNeil and Ian Rankin, the minister for Natural Resources, to listen to us and get on board.  We will no longer take  ‘no’ for an answer and will make our presense known until we see the changes needed to save our forests.

Waking Up to the Effects of Climate Change

My final two weeks in Chaing Mai this April were horrible…one of the worst experiences of my life. This may come as a shock to you from a returning visitor for the past ten years who has never hesitated to put this beautiful historic city at the top of her list as the most desirable city in SE Asia to visit and possibly live year round. I can only blame this change of mind on climate change. This year Chiang Mai broke all their previous records for high pollution indices and even gained the dubious title of being the most polluted city in the world beating New Delhi and Shanghai, the usual winners. The PM2.5 ( fixed particulate matter) was hovering between 140 to 200+ the whole time I was there. I can’t imagine what effect that had on my all ready compromised lungs where some bronchitis had set in while in Bali.

Bangkok gets smoggy, too

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