Friday, April 20, 2018
I was six years old in 1971 when Keep America Beautiful, Inc. produced its anti-pollution campaign. It was probably the best-known and most guilt-inducing public service announcement in history. If this isn’t ringing a bell – it’s the commercial staring actor, Iron Eyes Cody as a Native American shedding a single tear at the sight of a trash-filled and smoke laden landscape.
The words in the ad go something like this: “Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country and some people don’t,” states a narrator in a baritone voice. Apocalyptic music follows as someone tosses a bag of half-eaten fast food out the window of a passing car. It lands and scatters at the actor’s feet. He looks forlorn into the camera as the tear rolls down his cheek. The narrator continues, “People start pollution. People can stop it.”
Without a doubt, this commercial made a massive impact on my six-year-old psyche and I became an environmental activist – well – at least for an hour after I saw the ad and until something else caught my attention. Eventually the commercial stopped running and although I never became an activist in the real sense of the word, you never caught me and never will catch me throwing trash out the window of my car. That tear really made its mark on me. Not only that, I do love the natural environment that Maine has to offer, and I would like to preserve it as best as I can.
Sunday, April 22, we celebrate the 38th anniversary of Earth Day. Whether you have been deemed an official “tree hugger” or not, we all have a certain responsibility to the environment if we wish to maintain the life we have now.
It really does not matter whether you are a conservationist, or you simply enjoy the Maine outdoors, it behooves us all to assume a certain obligation to not mess up our own back yards. Our actions do not have to be big, profound, or impressive (but if they are, contact us and we’ll write about you!).They can be simple everyday actions that work within our everyday lives.
One small action I started a little over a month ago happens during my morning run. I’ll take a trash bag with me and pick up garbage thrown along the side of the road. The down side to this small action is that I stop every two or three seconds and the trash bag gets full in less than a ¼ of a mile. Recently, I noticed that there is less and less trash on the portions of the road I run. As I was beginning to feel I was making a difference, I would notice more trash after a couple of days. This brought back my memory of “the lone tear” commercial of my youth.
It may appear as if I’m trying to save the Earth. But that’s not what I’m doing. I’m selfishly saving my own butt and the way of life I have become accustomed.
If there is any truth that the planet is a self-correcting system (which is a debatable topic) then it would seem that the earth, in all its natural intelligence, will adjust just fine. Humans, however, don’t adjust so well. We love things to remain the same and we fight change with all our might.
Whether it’s four-wheelin’ in the country side you enjoy or a nice meditative stroll down a forest path – we all want the same thing – for the beauty of nature and all it has to offer to remain as we know it.
Selfish? Maybe. But I personally don’t wish to experience Earth’s natural self-correcting system of a declining forest, dead lakes and animal extinction; particularly if we have contributed to that “self-correcting” process.
Comedian George Carlin once said that the planet itself will be just fine. It will just “shake us off like a bad case of fleas” to free itself from the object causing it pain.
So, the next time you consider throwing trash out the window, either remember the tear or think of the flea.
Friday, April 13, 2018
It is no secret that the pendulum of civil discourse has swung to the extreme side of uncouth, offensive and disrespectful – finding it “normal” to blurt out our opinions without much forethought.
I may be reaching here, but I am beginning to see that pendulum moving back to center. I know, I know - It may take a while to fully swing in the direction of good old-fashioned civility and respect, but I believe it will return someday soon. And, I think the youth in our community may be one of the forces that provides the weight, altering its direction.
At a meeting I attended recently, one individual in the group who is a retired fourth and fifth grade teacher shared something about his students and civility that impressed me. “I always told my students that they could disagree with me and tell me when I am wrong – with facts to back it up, but they must do so in a respectful manner,” the former teacher explained. He went on to state that his students were not only respectful but often spoke with more maturity than their older, more mature counterparts.
It seems to me that many educators in the RSU14 district are continuing in the same manner as this retired teacher.
I had the opportunity to speak with the Windham Middle School Principal, Drew Patin about the school’s educational approach with Project Based Learning (http://frontpage.thewindhameagle.com/2018/04/windham-middle-school-participates-in.html). In these projects, the students will meet the typical criteria expected in all classroom subjects – which are highly important to future success.
But just as important to success are the other learned skills that contribute to the development of character. The students will be expected to think critically, understand cultures and experiences different than their own and discover ways to make a profound contribution to all of society. It helps to carry these skills in your pocket if you want to have a civil conversation.
If this is a part of students' lives now, can you imagine what they will be like as adults? It is my hope that they carry these skills as they move on into high school and beyond.
I recognize it’s not all perfume and roses out there and I’m not ignoring that there are young folks who participate in less than unacceptable and bullying behaviors. For every truth that exist, the exact opposite is also true. But since I only have a 400-word limit with a deadline, I’m focusing on the good in our students - a fresh approach in dialogue that should not only impress us but make us take note.
As a result, I’m feeling optimistic that the pendulum of understanding and a well-mannered society is returning into our folds. I guess it’s possible I could be wrong – but let’s assume I’m not. I’m afraid the disappointment would make me pout and affect my ability for civil conversation.
I would like to thank Representative Patrick Corey for supporting LD 1444, a legislative bill that would have expanded on Community Solar Development and that would also eliminate CMP’s ability to charge a fee on solar energy generated and consumed behind customer’s meters in real time.
This common sense legislative bill won an easy 2/3rd majority in both the Senate and the House but was unable to overcome the Governor’s veto after the Governor leveraged his political power on House members and ultimately flipped seven votes from ‘Yes’ to ‘No’, which defeated the bill by two votes.
Thank you for having strong morals, for standing your ground, and for not succumbing to political pressure from those who lack a fundamental understanding of today’s modern and evolving energy landscape. Grid tied solar energy supports local jobs, moves Maine towards energy independence, and keeps more of our hard-earned money in our local economy; all while providing an unmatched economic and environmental return on investment.
I hope that you will continue to support sound solar policy into the future.
On page 9 of the March 30, 2018 edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper, there appears an article regarding a news conference at Cooper’s Maple Products in Windham. The news conference included a speaker from Senator King’s office, a conservationist, and Andy Whitman, a forest scientist from Manomet.
These people highlighted that climate change is affecting Sugar Maple trees in such a way that the sap season has dramatically changed, that sugar maple growth is “stunted”, and its normal range will basically move north, and that less desirable American Beech is increasing and replacing the Sugar Maple component of forest stands. In conclusion, climate change may have horrifying effects on the Maple Syrup industry.
To date, predictions such as these resulting from global warming, now called climate change, have not come true. Of course, the reason the phenomenon name was changed to climate change is because the people measuring atmospheric conditions, (temperatures etc.) were caught falsifying data, because the resulting global warming charge was not being supported by their work.
Some politicians, Al Gore, and others, believe the solution to getting better control of our climate is done by the U. S. Government taking more of its people’s money, rights and freedoms. The real issue for Senator King is the spending cut to the EPA by the Trump administration. Climate change is one of many deceptive methods of convincing the people that we need to expand, not shrink government.
Cultural treatment by man has caused increased amounts of American Beech, not climate change.
This species is shade tolerant and will stay alive for many years in the understory, responding in growth to a timber harvest or openings created due to wind throw or an overstory tree death. In addition, when cut or even run over by a skidder, American Beech responds by putting out many sprouts from the bent stem, the stump and the roots. Very few other species are this prolific in sprouting.
I have tapped sugar maple trees and made maple syrup on a noncommercial basis since the middle 1960s. From experience I learned that we get about six weeks of sap run, no matter what date I begin tapping. The records I have kept since 2003 confirm this. The only trend my fifteen years of records show is that production levels and dates of the season vary up and down from year to year. For some fifty years or so, I have taped trees in the same general time period, late February-early March. Nothing has changed about production, as it goes up and down over time.
I know my experience is no kind of study as referenced in the article, however, based on political motivation and the lack of honesty in “the climate change world”, I’ll stick to my 38 years of experience as a professional forester.
Gregory E. Foster
Republican Candidate for House Seat District #66