Who Are We?

I know WHO we are but do we really appreciate who we are in the greater context of WHERE we are? Because this blog is dedicated to sharing details about where we live and the importance of understanding our tightly, woven connection that every particle has in the past, does now, and will have in the future, I often search for ways to bring the many environmental pieces together as a whole.

There has been a lot of extraordinary research conducted on finding Earth-like planets throughout the universe. How successful has this search for other, high-probability planetary locations that could support the conditions for life (as we know it on planet Earth)? In a recent study that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - 8.8 billion Habitable Earth-Size Planets Exist in Milky Way Alone – its co-author, Geoff Marcy, from the University of California at Berkeley estimates that within the Milky Way Galaxy ALONE – using NASA data

“there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone (where life-crucial water can be liquid).”

Considering that we have only recently begun to develop technology to probe beyond our solar system, we could be considered somewhat “naive” in understanding the process. In fact, the study also shows that

“the 8.8 billion Earth-size planets figure is only a start. That’s because scientists were looking only at sun-like stars, which are not the most common stars. An earlier study found that 15 percent of the more common red dwarf stars have Earth-size planets that are close-in enough to be in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone. Put those together and that’s probably 40 billion right-size, right-place planets…And that’s just our galaxy. There are billions of other galaxies.”

Yet, for all of this fascinating research that is occurring in our lifetime, there is one scientific source that I always felt had a special way of presenting the awesomeness of all things related to space. That is Carl Sagan.

I hope that after viewing the following 4 minute video from the Sagan Series, you will truly appreciate who we really are in our small area of this vast universe. Once you can better appreciate how small we really are, perhaps there will be a renewed urgency to protect our environmental assets.

Enjoy: The Pale Blue Dot


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Chile: Protecting the Futaleufú Watershed in Northern Patagonia

This happens to be my second, recent post on saving/preserving an important ecosystem. Moving from Ghana, I now go to the most southern region of Chile in South America. A friend forwarded me the details of this campaign to: Protecting the Futaleufú Watershed in Northern Patagonia. To quickly become familiar with this area, here are some details from the website devoted to its preservation:

“The Futaleufú valley is one of the most stunning and captivating regions anywhere in the world. The valley is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, dense forests, glaciated lakes and roaring rivers, including the Futaleufú River. The river is just one of many draws to the watershed; the ridges, gorges, lakes, and glaciers surrounding the valley provide excellent hiking, horseriding, mountainbiking, fly fishing, canyoneering, and rock climbing opportunities, and offer panoramic views that attract expert photographers from around the world.”

Chile is a stunningly beautiful country. It shares its western region of Patagonia with Argentina. Patagonia stretches to the very tip of the continent of South America. It is a rugged region and is home to one of the world’s dryest deserts – the Atacama Desert that lies high in the Andes.

Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit this special part of the world but have been working closely with someone to become involved in an environmental project in the area. It seems that the threat to the beauty and purity of its rivers also comes from mining programs. It is believed that there is great mineral wealth under the glaciers and along the rivers of these Andean slopes. And, like all mining activities, vast quantities of water is needed.

The net result of this threat is that pure water is used going into the mining process and contaminated water is discharged.

Again, I encourage you to take the time to look through the site devoted to the preservation of this important Chilean watershed. And, if you are able, please contribute to the protection efforts. My story is becoming repetitious: the human assault on our global natural resources at the expense of the ecosystems surrounding the mineral reserves.

Please take the time to understand the scope of these preservation efforts. And, if you believe in the causes, then pass this along to your FB connections and share your concerns. Our friends in Chile will welcome our support.

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Ghana / Saving a Rainforest: Atiwa Forest Reserve

While living in West Africa, serving in the Peace Corps enabled visits to several of the neighboring countries to Burkina Faso and provided insight into many varied environments – from the extreme dryness and heat of the world’s largest desert to the lush beauty of tropical rainforests. Just as varied were the cultures that depended on these ecosystems for their livelihood and well-being.

Running along much of the southern border of Burkina Faso, Ghana was one of those tropical countries. Prior to becoming an independent nation in 1957, Ghana was a British colony known as the Gold Coast.

This is NOT an post about Ghana. It IS a post about one of too many environmental issues that is occurring not just in Ghana but is also being replicated throughout the expansive, tropical  rainforests of Africa and throughout the world. It is about the challenge between the demands placed upon the environment by companies wishing to exploit vast – and available – reserves of natural resources and the strategic importance of environmental sustainability. Sadly, we are finding that too often, the environment is the loser – and often by a very wide margin.

This post is about a petition to help save one of these important preserves – Atiwa Forest Reserve in Ghana. The link that follows will provide all of the details about the forest and its challenges for survival. I encourage you to read thoroughly, the website devoted to this effort. I hope also that you will consider signing the petition but only after reading about the Atiwa Reserve. Then, you will be better able tell why you support saving this important ecosystem from the longterm destruction that will likely come from extensive mining operations.

Save the Atiwa Rainforest Preserve

Just as many readers may enjoy reading this post or have the luxury of seeing documentaries about these endangered places around the world, there is a greater threat that will make these special places disappear forever – human exploitation. Like climate change, there seems to be little to correct its impact.

The United States has 59 protected areas known as National Parks.  The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Today, many other countries recognize the importance of these set-aside areas. Many countries do not. I believe this petition will help to raise the level of awareness and importance of Atiwa.


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