Tag: climate change

Hurricane Matthew Satellite View

After Matthew: Reflections on the Storm

Pearl Girl Cindy Kautter wrote this piece last weekend after weathering the storm here in Daytona. We thought it was lovely and so similar to the experiences that many of us had, and we wanted to share it with all of you! 

I am sitting in my Florida room on Saturday evening after Hurricane Matthew has, thankfully, passed. I am alone for the first time in a few days, as we had family members staying with us during the storm.

I am basking in the peace and quiet as I contemplate all of the craziness that has gone on since Monday night’s staff meeting at Pearls International. Marty opened the meeting with, “let’s go over our hurricane plans”. I’m like, “whaaaat, this is the first I’ve heard of a hurricane”! “Oh yeah”, says Jim, “could be a category 4, looks like it’s heading this way”. So in my typical Florida know-it-allness, I assure everyone that it won’t come this way, they rarely do. Denial has always been my hurricane coping strategy.

I tell everyone that my hurricane plan is as follows: If it looks like it’s going to be bad, I am getting out of town, the heck with the house. Plain and simple. The only trouble with my plan is that the rest of my family would not get on board. My husband, Rich, has dutifully appeased me in the past by whisking me away to Ocala to a cheap hotel so that I can blissfully watch the storm pass by on TV rather than watch it through the front window. This time he would not budge!

My Mother who has lived in Florida for 42 years and has never evacuated for a hurricane would not take my side in this matter. “Oh, we’ll be fine”, is her mantra. My daughter and her 7 year old refused to leave their cats! I confess and ashamedly admit that I am a hurricane scaredy cat, but what could I do? I can’t run off to Ocala and leave everyone behind, so I start getting ready to hunker down… as fear and dread begin to slowly consume me. I went to Winn-Dixie (bought the very last loaf of bread) then to Walmart and Walgreens in search of water, (found it at Publix, should have known, Publix never lets me down).

I waited in line at WaWa for gas, there was a nice lady there floating around with a tray of free mini frozen cappuccinos, it seemed rather surreal to me under the circumstances. We dug out the candles, flashlights and batteries. We dragged in all of the patio furniture, plants etc. Created a safe room in our bed room as we did not have enough time to board up the whole house. We go to pick up my mother, our daughter, and granddaughter and bring them all to our house so that they can leave their own cars in their garages and then, we wait.

The news goes from bad to worse, the media talks about death and destruction. They use words and phrases like catastrophic, decimate, wind speed, dangerous and the dreaded “storm surge”! I spend quite a bit of time on-line looking at inundation maps trying to determine how far inland this said “storm surge” can come and if it does come in as far as our house how deep will it be?

I have visions of all of us up in the attic to get out of the flood. It happened during Katrina, they found people sheltering in attics. I then begin to secretly gather what we might need to take up into the attic, if need be. I ask Rich if his chain saw is in working order. “Why”, he asks? “Oh, umm, we might need it after the storm if we have any trees down”, I reply. Actually what I am really thinking is, we may need it in the attic if the water comes up that high to cut a hole in the roof. Does this make me a resourceful person or a crazy person? I do not know, it’s just how I roll.

OK, enough of my drama. Let’s get back to me sitting in my Florida room basking in the peace and quiet after the storm. My yard is a mess, I spent all day raking and dragging debris to the curb. Rich did get to use his chain saw, but thankfully not to cut a hole in our roof. I am safe, my family is safe, I have no complaints. Now we get to watch and participate in what always happens after an event like this. We help and pray for those who may not have fared as well as us in this storm. We get out and actually talk to our neighbors. The community pulls together and helps each other to clean up and recover. I feel good about humanity, there is hope, I am at peace. Life goes on.

We hope all of you had the same good luck during Hurricane Matthew. Share your hurricane story in the comments!

Did you know that stronger hurricanes are a result of rising ocean temperatures? Find out why climate change is damaging to oysters and the pearls they create by clicking here!

GBR Bleached

The Devastating Change That’s Happening to the Great Barrier Reef

Pictured above is a recent photo showing the devastating effects of coral bleaching on the once bright and beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Always regarded as one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on Earth, the once thriving coral reef is now feeling the harsh effects of climate change. A phenomenon called ‘bleaching’ is killing off the corals. Bleaching is a process that happens when abnormal environmental conditions (such as a spike in water temperatures) affect the relationship that the corals have with a species of algae called zooxanthellae. Check out the infographic below for more information:

coral infographic

A recent arial survey of the reef shows that around 95% off the ecosystem is affected by bleaching. Of the 520 reefs surveyed, only four showed no damage.

So what does that mean for the Great Barrier Reef? Well, corals can recover from bleaching if the conditions return to normal and the zooxanthellae are able to repopulate the reefs. However, due to the severe nature of the bleaching, it seems unlikely that many will survive. Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert, estimates that about half of them will die off in the next month or so.

For comparison, check out the beautiful photos at this blog – showing the Great Barrier Reef in its former glory.

The beautiful colors once displayed across Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The beautiful colors once displayed across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Want to make a difference and inspire positive change in our world? Take action. Stopping climate change begins with the choices we make as individuals. So turn off a light when you leave the room, recycle, and make smart choices when it comes to choosing the products you buy. Check out our list of ways you can help stop climate change here for more information.


Sources:

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html (infographic found here)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-28/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-95-per-cent-north-section/7279338

How Can YOU Help Stop Climate Change and Save Our Seas?

Melting Ice

Climate change and pollution are real threats that are damaging the world we live in, particularly our oceans. These environmental problems and our own unsustainable practices are creating problems such as sea sparkle (which isn’t as lovely as it sounds) and the devastating bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

There are lots of things you (as an everyday, average person) can do to help put a stop to global warming, however. There are big moves, like driving an electric or hybrid car, or powering your house with solar energy – but there are also solutions that are attainable by everyone. If we work together, we can all make a difference just by changing small habits in our everyday lives.

Here’s a short list we’ve put together of ways you can help:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! You might be tired of hearing this, but the difference changing just a few of your habits can make is phenomenal! For example, did you know that Americans buy about 25 billion plastic water bottles each year – which requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture. That’s enough to fuel 100,000 U.S. cars for a year! Imagine how much energy we could save if everyone bought reusable water bottles instead? Consider buying paper products such as paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper from recycled sources. Saving trees means more oxygen in the air and less carbon dioxide, which is a huge contributor to global warming. When shopping for household products, choose items with less packaging and bring your own bags with you when you shop. In the United States alone, we throw away about 100 billion plastic bags a year.
  2. Use energy efficient appliances. Just by switching the lighting in your home to LED lights, you use around 80% less energy – helping the enviroment AND reducing your electric bill! Next time you need to replace one of your home appliances, look for the Energy Star label. They are the most energy efficient models. You can also make a difference by turning things off and unplugging them when you’re done using them. 10% of your energy bill comes from phantom loads. That means wasted energy from your home appliances, cell phone chargers and more being plugged in while they are not in use.
  3. Keep your car well maintained. No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, routine tune-ups and basic maintenance can make a big difference in your fuel economy. So, replace your air filter regularly, keep your tires properly inflated (that really does make a difference!) and stop putting off that tune-up you know your car needs. In addition to this, turn your car off when you’re stuck in traffic. It’s a myth that turning your car on and off uses more fuel than idling! Of course, you can also take advantage of car-pooling, public transit, your trusty bicycle or the shoelace express to save on emissions as well.
  4. Buy local – especially your food! Buying food from local farmers not only supports your local economy, but it helps the environment by reducing the amount of travel your food products have to go through to make it to your plate. Worldwatch Institute estimates that the ingredients for the average American meal travel more than 1,500 miles before they’re finally consumed. Try to purchase organic food whenever possible as well. Run-off from pesticides is a contributor to damaging our ecosystems both on land and aquatic.



Sources:

http://life.gaiam.com/article/climate-change-25-things-you-can-do
https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939044