Monthly Archives: November 2016

The planet is hotter than ever!

It seems that 2016 will be the year that the average temperature will have been the warmest since 1880. Last month was the third hottest month on earth since records are kept. We are beating records of hottest months on a regular basis now.

In the Arctic Ocean the ice surface has been down 28% from the average of the 1981 to 2010 years. In the Antarctic there was 4% less ice cover last month as compared to those same years of 1981 to 2010.

All this means is that we are not going in the right direction. Already, the best estimates is that the average temperature of the earth is now 1.2 degrees Celsius higher. The goal was to limit the increase to under 2 degrees Celsius. With a new President of the United States that promises to turn back the clock on the Paris Accords and promises to weaken regulations that concern the environment we are perhaps entering a period of decline that could be fatal to our planet, and our survival. Let us hope that Mr.Trump will reassess all this and if he is a pragmatic President he will see that being green is a good way of making some green in the end. It seems that with him money talks. Maybe it will be the only language that he respects, and everyone will be a winner in the end.

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My foggy morning.

Imagine stepping out of your apartment and looking in front of you and around you. Imagine then facing a gray wall where you would see only about 10 feet in front of you. That is what I experienced this Saturday morning. True, at 07:00 in the early morning there was not much light and everything looks gray when there is no sun.

I waited for the bus to arrive, noticing that I really could not see much ahead of me. I was supposed to take pictures today, hoping that the sun would finally burn this fog and allow me to take some nice pictures. Alas, it never happened. The fog stuck around till the early afternoon.

The bus arrived and whisked me away towards my destination in less than 10 minutes and I arrived in the botanical garden just before 07:20. I looked around me and saw no one. I walked briskly around the area, trying perhaps to see a fox or a hawk soaring….in front of me? In this fog, a hawk flying high or low would be practically invisible. As for a fox, if it was more than 10 feet away I would not even see it. Add to that a rust colored fox lying on rust colored leaves and I think the reader will understand that better camouflage than that has not been invented. Mother Nature knows how to do things right.

I began taking pictures of my surroundings. I could see afar the trees and their branches in the fog. It looked like a horror movie. I was forever expecting to see a ghoul or two emerge from the fog. Naturally, Stephen King and his books entered my mind. One can add to that the humidity in the air that made it far colder and damp than the advertised temperature.

As I was walking near one of the ponds a cacophony of sounds suddenly erupted; first it was the quacking of ducks who for some reason thought it appropriate to let me know that they existed. I for one ignored them. There is a limit to taking pictures of mallard ducks after all. And then, high up in the air, I heard the honking of geese. Not one or two, but perhaps 100 of them. They flew over me…and I never saw them! They even turned around me but I was unable to see them in this thick fog. A second group arrived minutes later and still I could not see them.

Since I was blind I decided to focus on what I could see, the landscape that was in front of me and that I could see. I tried to focus on color, but in mid-November most trees have very little red leaves left. I was able to find a few trees that still had orange leaves with a background of very dark trees. I tried this several times and got some good shots.

In the end I did see a fox, but it was quite haughty; as soon as it saw me it sprang to life and faster than a bullet it sped in an area where the garden employees work. I had tried the old trick of going around the subject and then hoped to catch it by surprise in front of me. It did not work as the fox outfoxed me and just quickly left the area. At least the fog had not prevented me from seeing it but I wished that the fog at that moment had been

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The New Delhi fog.

In many countries public enemy number one is the air that people breathe, or try to breathe. This is the problem that is now afflicting India, in New Delhi more precisely. The capital has just lived through one of the worst episodes of air pollution in its history.

Many countries who are rapidly developing are suffering from bad air pollution in the cities. China ia another country that suffers as well from air pollution.

This problem of the air that we breathe is serious; globally, air pollution is the fourth top cause of death. Estimations are that 6.5 million people have died from air pollution globally, of both indoor and outdoor pollution.

Obviously only strong public policy can solve the problem. Megacities are mushrooming now exposing many more people to the problem. China, India and Russia have the highest number of deaths due to air pollution as they have the most people. As well, they are suffering from the legacy of old dirty industries and fleets of aging diesel cars.

In the end it comes down to what the public want. Once the outrage has reached a peak the political leaders will be forced to move on the issue and will try to solve it. It was only after the fog of 1952 did the people of Britain demanded change and cleaner air. The tipping point for India could be the New Delhi fog as well. Unfortunately people have to die and be sick before officials decide to move.

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Looking for the Grebe.

Grebes are freshwater diving birds that can be small to medium large in size. Apart of being excellent swimmers, they can also run short distances but tend to fall forward due to the feet being placed further at the back. These birds have narrow wings, responding to danger by diving rather than flying.

Another photographer had told me about this bird that had been found in one of the ponds in the botanical garden but to locate it on a body of water early in the morning is no easy feat. This grebe in particular was called the Pied-billed grebe, the most common grebe in Eastern North America. Unfortunately it does not exhibit many colors, being rather dusky brown in appearance.

Here we were, my friend and I, scanning the pond for this elusive bird. It was only after walking around the pond that we noticed a bird right in the middle of the pond. Now, I as a photographer had my 300 mm lens while my friend had his 420 but still, the bird was too far off. We had to wait.

We stayed close to the shore and waited for the bird to move closer and finally it did by diving and reappearing at the far edge of the pond near the shore. We walked quickly near the area and proceeded to set up our gear. We did get lucky as the bird plunged and appeared very near us, giving us the opportunity to capture some good pictures. It was just unfortunate that the skies were cloudy. A dark bird with an overcast day is not the best combination for a good picture.

This bird does not stay very long, and sure enough, a few days later it had disappeared from the pond, leaving the usual ducks there. I was glad that I had seen it but my pictures would have been better had there been some more sun.

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