Mother Nature and Human Nature Changes Our World


Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in US

Nature changes our world and human nature changes our world. And they both affect each other. The earth has a history of natural disasters and man-made disasters.

Unless it’s part of our job, most of us hurry and scurry without giving a mere thought to the billions of years in regard to celestial and earthly changes. Too much rain is a flood and too much sun is a desert. Of course, we shake in our boots when disasters like Hurricane Katrina destroy human life or when California earthquakes or blazing woodland fires wreak havoc. And we curse Mother Nature when other countries experience cataclysmic disasters; the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2017 hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.

A conversational storm ensures about the ozone and global warming, in the wake of melting glaciers and increased floods. Both sides argue for their truths. We go about our daily lives; working, paying bills and raising our families. Notably, the world experienced substantial change far before the existence of human beings and pollution. As an ecosystem, nature strives for equilibrium. Can we treat our planet more kindly?

The universe changes and this includes the planets, stars, and all other cosmic bodies. Albert Einstein theorized the universe had a beginning; therefore the universe will have an ending. Matter and molecules change. Humankind has changed outer space by way of space pollution. Discoveries come with a price.

Earth, our colossal home of dirt and rocks, changes. Fire burns the forest and new growth appears. Seeds are planted and harvested. We dig up our backyards for pools and gardens. Soil and sand erode and are replaced or lost to bodies of water to be recycled in a million epochs. Industry changes the landscape. Humans irresponsibly consume in excess and pollute. We point a finger at the destroyers of the Amazon rainforest, but conveniently forget about one of the most horrendous environmental tragedies in American history; the toxic dumpsite called Love Canal in New York. The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was a catastrophic nuclear disaster. Contamination changes our planet.

Weather is a daily global occurrence of change. Sun, rain, wind, snow, sleet. Seasons change as the earth rotates. Major volcano eruptions, mountain landslides, and historical hurricanes happen. We expect changes in weather and in nature. Do we expect changes in how humans take care of the earth and the universe?

Many of us fear or ignore change. Embroiled in a history of ecological transformation, how did we become so annoyed with change in our daily lives? How did we become so separated from our organic and environmental roots? You can’t stop progress or can you?

For the masses, workaholism blots out time with nature and I’ll admit to being a reformed workaholic. Several years ago, an exhaustion meltdown pointed me in the direction of rest. I took a timeout and discovered relaxation. Insight into my overworking had visited in earlier times, but insight without response and change is only insight. Work is therapeutic, but so are rest, recreation, and play. Strive for balance in daily life and in the mist of change. And spend time in nature’s playground.

I’ve found deepening change by spending more time in natural environments instead of shopping malls. Solitude and nature can coexist on your patio as you meditate, read, pray. Take a hint from nature and beautify your surroundings. Small changes— are often the big changes. Bird watching has become a popular activity along with creating butterfly gardens and sweet havens for hummingbirds. City life doesn’t have to negate trips to the woods. Spending time outside affects your inside.

Our bodies are around seventy percent water and without it we perish. The next time you turn on the water facet—say thank you for the vital liquid. We breathe oxygen from trees, plants, and the atmosphere. We need the natural environment to sustain life. Therefore, we need to learn to interact in healthier ways with the bodies of water on our earth home.

Nature is an awesome playground and many people experience fun, laughter, and the making of memories from the mountains to the beaches. Hiking, bicycling, swimming, boating, picnicking, and outdoor activities stimulate and refresh the mind, body, and spirit. Lee Ann Womack sings, “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.” The awesome splendor of nature leaves me speechless and puts a mystical perspective on priorities. I’ve vacationed at the beach and each oceanic experience is connected to a physical and spiritual reawakening. A few days with sun and sand reduces stress and promotes a sense of tranquility. Visiting the Caribbean Islands is on my bucket list.

Humans interact with the environment by way of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) and reconnecting our senses via nature heightens awareness, enhances curiosity, and gives perspective. Henry Beston wrote “The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.” Observing nature’s reaction to change may enhance resiliency and adaptation to what we cannot change and flexibility for what we can change.

Before you trot off to work each morning take 5 minutes and gaze at the sky. Inhale the air and exhale slowly. Stay in the moment. Reflect on the here-and-now.

I invite you to turn off technology gadgets and go outside with family or friends on weekends. Put worries on the back burner for a while. Do this on a consistent basis and incorporate it into your personal lifestyle. Think about it. Life changes and goes by unnoticed unless we intentionally stop and literally smell the roses along the way. You can make inside and outside changes in your own corner of the world while advocating for worldwide pollution management.

Try the following activities:

1. Go outside some night this week and gaze at the stars. Consider the physical properties of stars. What are stars made of? Do stars change? How are humans connected to the universe? the sun? the moon? How does the earth change when it rotates around the sun? Jump up and down and play with gravity.

2. Try to name the planets. What planet would you want to visit and why?

3. Pick a morning and watch the sunrise. Jot down your feelings.

4. Hold some soil in your hand. Describe how humans depend on these items for survival.

5. Purchase a plant for your windowsill. Ponder on the ingredients it needs to grow. What causes stunted growth?

6. Visit a body of water (i.e., pond, lake, river, stream, creek, ocean) and just lounge and listen.

7. Listen to the next rainstorm. Close your eyes and imagine you are a raindrop.

8. Discuss how your daily life activities change with each of the four seasons.

9. Make a home for toads and frogs in your backyard because they eat flies and bugs. Make peace with helper insects, bugs, and spiders, as they are a vital part of nature and the food chain.

10. Make a compost heap in your backyard from leafs and food scraps.

11. Pick up the trash regularly on the street or road where you live.

12. Read the eye-opening book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. We must teach our children to love and respect nature so future generations will flourish as planet earth flourishes.

13. Reread Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Published in 1962, this book is credited for laying the foundation for the environmental movement.

14. Consider joining a conservation organization or environmental club. Donate to the association of your choice.

15. Ollie Outside by Michael Oberschneider is a picture book that invites kids and parents to get outdoors and focus on family fun. Read it under a tree with your children.

Mother Nature and human nature are perpetually linked. And Albert Einstein proclaimed, “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

Natural Habitats on the Decline

Submitted by Charles Knighton
Do we as humans understand our relationship with the environment?

Do we as humans understand our relationship with the environment?

Almost a quarter of Europe’s bumblebees are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitats, climate change, the intensification of agriculture and changes in agricultural land.” Study: A quarter of Europe’s bumblebees face extinction, 3 April Barbados Advocate

Insects are under siege not just in Europe but worldwide, including Barbados.

On the first of November last year, when Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day from points north. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned. This year, for the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t arrive that day. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers even when compared to the record-low numbers of 2012. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

From 1992 through 1994, my wife and I spent our days exploring Barbados in a quest to determine the butterflies indigenous to Barbados, as well as their critically important larval host plants. Having determined such, we arranged our  plantings to facilitate a thriving butterfly sanctuary, which incidentally attracted other insect pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees. Alas, while the plants still beckon, these ecologically critical insects have become virtually nonexistent.

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Barbados Environmental Essay Contest For Students $4,000 In Cash Prizes

Submitted by Graeme Hall Sanctuary

The first Annual Environmental Essay Contest for students ages 9-18 is underway.

Sponsored by the Canada-Barbados Environmental Youth Awards Programme (CBEYA), the Essay Contest promises $4,000 in cash prizes for the top six winners, plus gift certificates for Honorable Mention winners.

It is an opportunity for students to develop and write their thoughts about the importance of the environment to Barbados, and an opportunity for the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to provide public service.  Entry to the CBEYA Essay Contest requires an essay of 300-500 words, and the student writer must obtain the sponsorship of a teacher.

The Contest deadline is February 19, 2011, and the winners will be invited to a special awards ceremony in March, 2011.

Slaughtering Tired Migratory Birds, A White Man's Sport In Barbados

Submitted by Whistling Frog

Credit:Care2 petitionsite

For years now every July to the end of the year bigup white men with teeny weensy penises and big shotguns murder indiscriminately poor defenceless tired birds that are trying to migrate for the coming winter months. Some of these bird have flown over 3,000 miles for safe refuge only to be met by these sadistic BASTARDS who gleefully and laughingly continue this program which they have now called HARVESTING so as to lessen the real meaning SLAUGHTER…..

I would like to see people in surrounding villages who are harassed on a daily basis by the constant barrage of automatic fire (like it were Vietnam or Iraq) to get some bullpistles and lick the shite out of those pathetic men or should I say boys who have nothing else in their lives to do than prey on creatures minutely smaller than themselves for SHEER PLEASURE.

Rare Sight Of A Leatherback Turtle Nesting In Barbados

My name is Christian Payne. I spotted this leatherback turtle nesting along the east coast at the end of May. The sighting drew a large crowd of both locals and visitors. It is a very rare occurrence to see them nesting and even rarer to see them nesting during the day. I thought you might enjoy these pictures for your publication.

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Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary: An Unfiltered View

Submitted by Call a spade…(as a comment)

The rest of the BU family will probably be tired of our exchanges on Graeme Hall, but since we share a love of history I hope they will cut me a little slack one last time!

This morning I called an old friend who had a long involvement with the shooting-swamp at Graeme Hall.  In 1960, he was personally responsible for clearing about 20 acres of mangroves in order to create the large ponds I knew as a boy there.

Here is the history according to him:

1. The mangrove swamp, which was very dense, was part of the Graeme Hall plantation owned by a Mr. Dudley Clarke.  He operated a shooting swamp there, but nothing on the scale of what existed after 1960.

2. Ownership of this mangrove land then passed to a Mr. Eric Manning.  The manning family were very involved in bird-shooting.  The family use to own what is now Rockley Golf and Country Club, and there was a shooting swamp at the lower end of what is now the golf course.  When Golf Club Road and Rockley New Road started to be developed as residential after the second world war, the Mannings started to shoot at Graeme Hall.

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Is The Last Remaining Mangrove Wetland In Barbados Disappearing?

Submitted by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

[Bridgetown, BARBADOS, May 6, 2010] A new environmental study sharply critical of the Government of Barbados shows the key Graeme Hall mangrove wetland is disappearing due to outside pollution and poor water quality.

The Graeme Hall wetland is the last remaining mangrove in Barbados – a red mangrove forest that has existed for no less than 1,300 years. It is the only wetland in Barbados recognized internationally under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar). It acts as a Caribbean flyway stop for migratory birds between North and South America.

The extensive 800 page study prepared for the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary by Environmental Engineering Consultants of Tampa, Florida shows the Sanctuary has suffered a 77 per cent reduction in salinity in the past ten years due to an inoperative government-run sluice gate. The huge reduction signals “an inevitable failure of the mangrove ecosystem” as freshwater flora and fauna take over.

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Europe Airspace Closed, Implication For The Caribbean

In the middle of a recession going on six consecutive quarters of GDP decline. The value of spend in our number one foreign exchange earner tourism down. Now we have this volcano in Iceland which has forced planes in the lucrative European market to be grounded. Yet the new Governor of the Central Bank was reported yesterday in the news as confirming Barbados needs to diversify our tourist product.

God help us!

The Future Of Graeme Hall: Setting The Record Straight


[Christ Church, BARBADOS, February 14, 2010] The Government of Barbados has not responded to requests for constructive meetings with the owner of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to discuss the future of Graeme Hall in over a year.

“Except for an introductory meeting in January 2009 with Minister Denis Lowe of the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, nobody from government has called back and agreed to substantive meetings,” said Stuart Heaslet, the owner’s representative for the Sanctuary. “This is despite our outreach efforts and multiple trips to Barbados.”

“We have personal knowledge that Minister Lowe cares deeply about the future of Graeme Hall and the people of Barbados. Minister Lowe knows that we are available at any time, and we agree with him that talking together in good faith about a way forward would be welcome.”

As to government’s claim that the final say in the reopening of the facility would be completely up to the owner of the Sanctuary:

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Water Service Cut To Graeme Hall Sanctuary

Submitted by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

graemehalllosanctuary[Christ Church, BARBADOS Dec. 15, 2009] The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) cut water service to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary last week without warning, sending Sanctuary workers scrambling to implement the Sanctuary’s Emergency Management Plan. At stake was the health and welfare of the endangered and captive bird populations in the captive breeding facility, and the Marshland, Gully and Migratory Aviary Exhibits.

BWA apparently shut off the water over a sewerage billing discrepancy. However, Sanctuary officials insist that they repeatedly made good faith requests to the BWA for a review of Sanctuary sewerage charges, and that water and sewerage billings were being paid pending that outcome.

“They never even talked to us about the merits of our requests, they just locked down our water valve and actually cut our main pipeline,” said one official at the Sanctuary. “We had to carry clean water from our homes to take care of the birds, and use emergency pumps and hoses from our water tanks to maintain the Aviary systems.”

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Should Barbados Be The Next Monaco?

Recently one of Barbados’ leading developers responsible for obliterating the West Coastline of Barbados made the statement he has a vision for Barbados being transformed to a Monaco. In the month of November when Barbadians will be reminded of the Mirror Image speech, is this ‘our’ vision for Barbados and is it what our 500,000 long stay visitors and 700,000 plus cruise ship passengers are expecting? According to our West Coast activist Save Mullins it is business as usual on the West Coast.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Sluice Gate Failures Cause Environmental Problems At Graeme Hall

Submitted by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Habitat map of Graeme Hall Swamp showing main vegetation types and location of CARICOMP monitoring plots.

[Bridgetown, BARBADOS] Low water levels caused by an inoperative government-owned sluice gate at Worthing Beach continue to cause mosquito infestations at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, according to Sanctuary officials.

“The water either drains completely or is stopped up,” said Stuart Heaslet, representative for the Sanctuary.  “There has been no effective wetland water level control in place for many years.” Low water levels in the wetland have caused stagnant ponds to form in the drainage canals. Stagnant water is a haven for breeding mosquitoes, including the malaria-carrying anopheles mosquito.   As a result, the Sanctuary has been forced to use insecticide pellets to control mosquito populations.

“Years ago we were able to control mosquitoes naturally.  When the sluice gate worked, we were able to raise the water levels and get water flowing through the canals.   Flowing water in the canals meant fewer mosquitoes not only for the Sanctuary but for the surrounding neighborhoods,” said  Heaslet.

Despite the already high chemical pollutant levels in the wetland, the Sanctuary has been told by the Ministry of Health that insecticide pellets are increasingly necessary because of the unpredictable wetland water levels. In addition, since the sluice gate ceased operations in 2006 there has been no tidal flushing of the wetland.  “We haven’t seen any tidal exchanges or fish migrations since the sluice gate went into total disrepair,” sighed Heaslet.   “The Graeme Hall wetland and its fish and wildlife traditionally depend on tidal actions to stay healthy.”

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Sewage Operations Threaten Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary And Wetlands

Submitted by Greame Hall Nature Sanctuary

Graeme Hall Swamp

[Bridgetown, BARBADOS] According to officials at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, the emergency sewage pipe and outfall from the South Coast Sewerage Treatment Plant facility to the sea has been effectively abandoned and is not operational, threatening the biodiversity and operation of the Sanctuary and Graeme Hall wetland.

Inspections last week confirmed continued silting of the Emergency Discharge Canal Structure outfall at the bisecting canal and an inoperative sluice gate at Worthing Beach. The approved Emergency Discharge Canal Structure was completed in 2003 to direct emergency sewage to the sea when needed by the three (3) million gallon-per-day South Coast sewage facility.

In sharp conflict with the originally approved operation of the facility, during emergency operations the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) manually bypasses the Emergency Discharge Canal and pumps sewage directly into the wetland. The Sanctuary and the wetland continue to accumulate contaminated sludge from this and other source points outside the wetland.

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Graeme Hall Parkland Loss Map Released


Submitted by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctury

[Bridgetown, BARBADOS] A land use map depicting the planned loss of parkland at Graeme Hall has been released this week by the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. Titled “Parkland Loss Planned at Graeme Hall,” the new map illustrates the Government’s plan to allow residential and commercial development on government-owned Graeme Hall land.

Contrary to the original 1988 National Physical Development Plan (PDP), the new 2003 PDP recommends that parkland at Graeme Hall be limited to the flood-prone Graeme Hall Swamp, and that all dry land be developed. Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary officials are critical of the land use change, saying that urban development of Graeme Hall would be akin to developing Central Park in New York, and that wetland buffers and recreational opportunities would be permanently destroyed. Sanctuary officials also cited recommendations from the Urban Land Use Institute quality-of-life recommendation of 25.5 acres of parklands for every 1000 people.

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The Disappearing Honey Bee

honey bee

Source: Wikipedia

Barbados Underground have written voluminously about ‘Bees’ of the political variety, but how many of us have taken time to give serious thought to the honey bee? It seems that with progress we have had to sacrifice making the finer observations which nature has to offer mankind. Last week Rudolph Gibson who is our local beekeeper extraordinaire expressed concern about the welfare of his bees which came under threat from the Graeme Hall fire. We have not heard if his bees perished but his mention of bees evoked some wonderful memories of growing-up in the village. It seemed a prophetic occurrence when we received the curt note quoted below in a recent email.

As a boy in school, I learned how important ‘Bees’ are for fertilisation. I have noticed over the years fewer and fewer of them. Is it where I live, has any body else noticed their absence? This year I noticed my mango trees and plants in my garden full of blossoms but no sight of bees. Are we using too much insecticides, is there a disease which is killing them off, or has killed them? – Submitted by Concerned Citizen

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