When the ocean is as the sand
and the flowers are in pain
let a kind one give the command
for love to let it rain.
By Mikial Millard
Copyright Dec 2013
All rights reserved.
This is an essay from the Huffington Post by Taylor Brorby, titled “The Conversation We Are Not Having“, that I am including in it’s entirety. I normally keep this blog focused on writing and nature, and this fits within nature and the environment.
It is about the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and what we do not know, what we do not see. Putting aside any political debate and views, this is about responsibility, the environment, conservation, and a healthy planet and future.
There is an awesome quote here that really gets the message home simply:
The noted geologist Stephen Jay Gould said, “We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well — for we will not fight to save what we do not love.“
How do we teach ourselves and children the importance of a bond and connection with the natural world? How do we emerge from a sheltered, technically distant world, and respect the tree, the river, the butterfly, and mother earth? I’m not saying there is no need for this resource, but we need better environmental management, understanding, and awareness of the impact on life, all life.
Few people are drawn to North Dakota — cold, uninviting, and xenophobic, many people believe there is little to love in the Peace Garden State.
Residents of North Dakota can be indignant when it comes to other viewpoints or attitudes, going so far as to take pride in the cold weather, saying it keeps the riffraff out.
North Dakota, then, seems to be the ideal place to host an oil boom. Populated with stoic Norwegians and Germans from Russia, North Dakotans, as a rule, do not discuss exciting topics such as politics and religion. In a recent survey, when the word “conserve” or “conservation” was used, 70 percent of North Dakotans agreed with the statement; when the word “environmental” was used, only 5 percent of North Dakotans agreed with the statement. In North Dakota, like everywhere else, our use of words matters, so let me describe the conversation those of us from North Dakota and we, as a nation, are not having.
The oil boom in the Bakken formation of North Dakota is ruining the environmental vitality of the state.
But no one cares about North Dakota; after all, it is the least visited state. It is a place ripe for an oil rush.
North Dakota has done a shoddy job regulating the oil industry, allowing flames to flicker and fly, flaring off 29-30 percent of natural gas. Given the current market, oil is 23 times as valuable as natural gas, but we know natural gas is a cleaner, more efficient energy source than oil. North Dakota might consider lobbying to eliminate flaring.
Last month North Dakota experienced the nation’s largest inland oil spill near Tioga. Over 20,600 barrels — or more than 865,000 gallons — of oil oozed onto Steve Jensen’s farm. Jensen discovered the leak on September 29. The state took over 11 days to tell the public about the oil spill, and governor Jack Dalrymple was supposedly notified on October 9, one day before the public.
Pipeline leaks are not the only mishaps in the state. All but around 50,000 of the 1.1 million acres of the National Grasslands in North Dakota, roughly 95 percent, is now leased for oil development. That’s nearly one-third of our entire National Grasslands at risk. The Little Missouri State Park is also open for oil development, begging the question: What’s safe from oil development in North Dakota?
In my travels around the western half of North Dakota last month I smelled both sulfur and propane in wheat fields, making my breathing difficult. Flares lit my path down Highways 85 and 2 through the night, making me feel as if I were baking in an oven. The evening sunset reflected pink and blazing orange, highlighting the increasing toxicity of the air.
I’m waiting for new medical studies to release information about exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the Bakken region. I’m waiting for reports of increased toxicity of water in the Missouri River channel. I’m waiting for reports of diminished plant and animal life. But I worry that those reports will be too late.
The noted geologist Stephen Jay Gould said, “We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well — for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”
So far we in North Dakota, and we as a nation, have voted to love the bottom line rather than draw the line and say enough. We have allowed corporations to remain simple, allowing the destruction of vital ecosystems and environments — including the environments of our own thinking. We have lapsed into thinking that we should have a life of abundance, rather than an abundance of life.
It is time for North Dakota, and the nation, to reexamine what it loves and protect what is desperately necessary to life on this planet — clean water, air, and rich ecosystems. We may soon realize that the biggest inconvenient truth of our energy independence is that we have bypassed the moment to practice self restraint.
The midnight sky
with the horizon
fallen to the earth.
A moon graces the
northern sky, scattered
across the white frozen
fields and apple trees.
Cold air rushes in
and quickly condenses
each time the door opens
letting the puppy briefly out.
In a dream
the sea stopped
calm and clear
the ocean floor
and we walked
along the shoreline
hand and hand
the last day
It’s been 3-months since I reluctantly returned home from Alaska. Which is slowly becoming a second home. Not just physically, but within my heart, soul, and mind. The sun rising over mountains, setting behind triangular peaks, and glacial lakes surrounded by boulders, has wrapped around every thought I have and tries to influence every action. I miss nothing specifically – but I miss being there, being in Alaska, being away from the concrete city.
Who knows where life’s path will take me, or if the decisions I make will lead back to Fairbanks, Anchorage, Palmer, or Hope.
When I look at where I am from a distance, trying to view myself as an outsider, where is this being most at peace? What placates the rampant thoughts and veins running hot with caffeine? Alaska.
As I enter the eight chapter of this life, and know there are a few more to go before I pass to the next, I feel that Alaska is not done with me yet. She has much to show and to teach me, and I am the eager student of the land of sun, water, ice, and wilderness.
Have we met before? Perhaps on a distant planet, on the other side of the known universe.
White and gold petals scattered through the void we cannot see, while consuming everything we do see.
I stand within light on a floating island. The willow tree comforts me on the long journey from planet to planet, looking for you, whose voice I can hear as a vibration, but the source is not visible.
Are you her, the angelic tone that pushes away transgressions and thoughts of fire and puts to rest questions returning no answers?
I reach across the dark matter through space in time searching for the light and the vibration I feel from you from far reaching places and spaces.
The day had no beginning, no end. The sun and moon do not exist. A void in the universe that has no explanation, an origin that escapes us.
Spheres and prisms suspended within the blackness are floating in the distance, displaying unfamiliar images and scenes from a path, a river and a great race.
And I move forward, toward the spheres, a chance meeting with a source and free spirit existing beyond the bonds.
Energy buzzes through fingertips, veins vibrate against bone, and my spine is loose.
The central fire burns, expands, and races outward, depositing dust particles and ingredients for life.
When my eyes close and the light subsides, clarity arrives knocking on the inner soul, the mind’s eye scanning across distant horizons. Within are the answers we seek, the light source that shines forth igniting the tunnel, expanding the vision before us.
The purple sun rises twice each day awakening weary eyes and mind.
And within the awakening billions of years pass and I see the one cross-legged suspended, held by hands of light, waiting.
glory to the stars white pinpoints.
glory to the sublime dust streaks across the eastern sky.
Haley visits. so too the particles surviving the atmosphere.
and the shower we do not see sprinkled upon barren heads
and barren earth.
murky primordial soup encroaching the shore catches falling bits,
no ripple, no wave, no cause, no affect.
consumed and assimilated, they fall, with time, over time, within time,
without time, or the awareness, through thick liquid matter, settling
and collecting on the obscure muddy bottom.
suns rise and fall. meteors come close. volcanoes burst and spew. glaciers appear, advance, and retreat. matter gathers and seeks the light.
and one cell divides.
moist eyes look just above the water’s surface, moving left to right.
right to left, tail snaps fluid movement, left to right along the bank, at the foot
of the dry fountain.
the fountain gravitates and hums, yet no water is seen, nor heard, nor tasted.
the rising sun seeks to uncover, seeks to show. nothing more.
the setting moon dying, muted light, a gift given from the sun.
and with purpose or motivation, feet or wings
appear and a new epoch begins.
Early winter walk
around the lake
hidden within the city.
Further in and background
noise fades to nothing.
And the sky explodes
with deep, dark colors
captured in the ice
and the motionless canoe.
The black sky
what we do not know
what we fear.
In the depths of thought
do we remember the ancient
rituals and sacrifice at the
base of each tree, at the shoreline,
at our fingertips?
The burning sky approaches
from the south, consuming
what we do not know
what we fear.
How much time remains
The burning sky
releases no smoke and
is silent as it paints
the tree tops and horizon.
With eyes closed I leave
here, transported away,
I see the beginning when
the fire began.
A speck in the middle
of the empty field just
after cultivation and through
neglect it gained life.
The sea laps at empty
Rocks cast empty shadows.
Tree leaves fall through empty space.
Ground swells erupt across empty fields.
The faceless moon speaks of empty origins
the billion year story.
Wheat and corn stalks gather snow flakes
from an empty blue sky.
Where is this?
A cylindrical vessel floats off
the coast hitting a large rock with
each rolling wave.
The size of a city bus
I see the setting sun
through the other side.
And nothing within.
No seat, no lights, no buttons -
The surface feels like glass
or carbon fiber.
Warm to the touch, it is
silent and still.
Further out basking
in the rising sun’s light path
pink cubes rest just
above the surface.
I look around, down the coast,
up the path, at the ground beneath
Is this a dream?
We are all about oil in Alaska. Whether you are pro- or anti-development, taxes from oil revenues provide 90% of Alaska’s state budget. Driving North on the Dalton Hwy, or "Haul Road" as it is locally called the trans-Alaska oil pipeline is ubiquitous. The road was/is used to supply the oil fields all over the North Slope of Alaska and has been open to the public for many years.
The white wolf
Shadows the treeline
Morphing into recent snowfall.
Within the empty fields
It disappears into nothing
And I fully awake in the middle
Of this field shaken, cold, and naked.
Others that may or may not exist anymore.
I am a rain drop that has merged back within the ocean and in doing that I share the oceans powerful qualities.
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