Sunday, June 30, 2013

Collecting fossils in Southern Ontario.


I have always enjoyed rocks. Whenever I’m at a beach, I’m at the water’s edge, looking down for all the coloured stones. When you reckon that all of them beach rocks basically came from somewhere else, the varying ages, the varying compositions and colours, the textures, the markings and the layers…it really is a snapshot of the cosmos. Or something like that…
Sometimes I see a white one with a certain look and I’ll pick it up to see if its igneous, with a vitreous, (glassy) look if you crack one open, which you can do with a bigger boulder to lay it on and a bit of judicious smashing.
Actually, flint has its own colour—it is after all, flint coloured, but I find pretty big pieces of that too, and right along the beaches of Southern Ontario.
I’ve got this little rock lying around here and I honestly think it’s a meteorite, but it really doesn’t correspond to any known type and so it probably isn’t. It’s probably just a rock, possibly a catalyst pellet for some chemical process, or even some kid’s slingshot ammunition. It’s kind of salmon red, porous, and has all kinds of shiny flecks of quartz or something in there. What with all the holes in it, it’s kind of asteroid-like, I have to give it that much. I guess I just like it.
Another thing I like is fossils. Many at the beach are eroded down to a nubbin of their former selves, yet there are some very crisp and clean specimens out there. It helps to know where to look. I only have a couple around the house at any one time but in some sense they’re common around here. I can always get more!
I’ve never been to Cragleith, but I have been to Rock Glen, Hungry Hollow, and a few other places where fossils are found, whether weathered, ground down by beach action, water-smoothed in a brook, or ‘fresh’ from a hillside, due to erosion by waterfall and frost. If you go back to a certain place you can often observe a fresh fall of the bluff or bank. The hillsides along a river are strictly temporary, and where you might draw a blank on one trip can bring a nice brachiopod or whatever the next time through. I’ve never really dug for fossils, I just pick ‘em up when I see them.
At Rock Glen, the waterfall is eating at a hillside, sitting on a shelf of rock, with a kind of grainy dark clay deposits under the ledge. It falls down and get washed clean in the bottom of the creek. The creek is small, and the waterfall and surface rocks are frozen in winter. At the mouth, where it enters the Ausable River, there is another huge embankment, to the south or the right, eroding all the time, again it is that clay. There are gravel and boulder beds right there.

Digging or fossil collecting on private property requires the permission of the landowner although there is a trail system and some dead-end back roads in the area. Hungry Hollow is a gorge upstream (east) from Rock Glen, where there are extensive rapids, boulder gardens, and the only vertical cliffs in Lambton County. It’s composed of pale white limestone slabs with thick layers of clay under it. There are chunks of it lying all along the cliff base and it’s the cause of the boulder gardens and rapids to begin with.
Trees grow out of cracks, the looming hillsides are heavily wooded and the salmon come up in autumn to spawn. There is a trail going back from a dead end road, ‘Fossil Road,’ take a left on the north side of the Hungry Hollow Road at the bridge. Don’t go in if its heavy snow, a small car can do a three-point turn at the end if you’re careful. Otherwise, I have backed all the way out once or twice. There is an old quarry pit there, but the various sets of rapids, as well as gravel beds and the base of the cliff are possibilities as well, and I’ve been known just to roam along there for a kilometre or so along the north bank.
So here are some Bryozoans collected from the Trent River area, (Campbellford.) Nice work there, guys.
Here’s the fossil website of paleojk. Beautiful photos from all over the place. Says he collects fossils and friends. Fair enough.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cougar tracking, coyotes and canids.

Puma concolor. Small head, long tail, this one is in the winter coat.

Is the fabled Eastern Cougar moving back into its natural range?

That’s what wildlife lovers are asking. In June of 2007, police in London, Ontario hired a wildlife expert to check out thirty-two reports of cougars in the city and environs.

Proof of deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, coyotes, and “possibly a bobcat,” was found. In late October of that year, a horse was mauled in Parkhill, Ontario. \

“The attack was made by an animal with sharp claws, consistent with a cougar attack,” according to Ontario Provincial Police sources. The horse had to be destroyed by a veterinarian. On October 31 of that year, Parkhill resident Adrian Cornelissen was driving to Watford and spotted a big cat.

“It was huge, yellowish-orange, and it darted right out in front of my car,” in the vicinity of Confederation Line just east of First School Line. “It definitely wasn’t a dog. It looked to be at least a hundred pounds. It had big paws and head…this was no barn cat.”

“I was afraid people wouldn’t believe me and they would laugh at me,” he said, so he called it in to police later, after thinking it over.

That same week the OPP also received a report of a big cat near Confederation Line and Mandaumin Road. Police searched the area but saw nothing.

London area farmer Bill Sweeney insists, “The big cats are for real.”

His encounter with the feline predators came one spring morning as he tiptoed the back forty acres of his farm hoping to get a look at some deer or wild turkeys. He saw a pair of tan-coloured cats, which he had previously seen only in books or in a zoo.

Sweeney watched them, “For a good eight to ten minutes.”

“They were beyond the open woods, just past a high hay field,” he said. “They were about two hundred  metres away.”

One sauntered along a fence line towards him, while the other stayed still.

MickaTP, (Wiki.) Note distinctive shapes.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind,” he says.

As he observed them, they bounded into a chase, and a covey of wild turkeys burst out of the tree line.

“People need to know that these are dangerous animals. Be alert, and be informed, especially as regards to your children,” according to Mr. Sweeney.

And on November 15, 2007, a 27-year old Port Franks woman saw a large, black, cat-like animal perched on a branch about thirteen metres from her home. She watched as the animal extended itself down to lower branches then dropped to the ground. She estimated it to be, “at least four feet long.”

When police officers arrived, the animal had left the area. They found no tracks or scratch marks. Police are asking the public to lock their barns and homes, not to walk in the bush or at night, especially alone. Keep pets and children indoors or under direct supervision.

The past five years have seen numerous big cat reports in Ontario.

Cougars are tawny, with reddish-white muzzle, chin and chest. They’re lighter inside the legs and on the belly, and have a black spot over each eye. The tail is the same thickness all along its length, and is comparatively long, while the head is relatively small compared to a lion or a tiger. The young have spots, and rings on the tail which disappear with maturity. With mild winters, there are plenty of rabbits, possum, deer, raccoons, wild turkeys and other small game to support them. It’s only a matter of time before some lucky photographer confirms it.

Rich Beausoleil. (Wiki.)
If you’re hiking, look for tracks to photograph, as a big cat should leave no claw marks. Most cats have retractile claws. Somewhere the big cat will rub up against a tree, and scratch at something just like any other feline. Try and get a sample, just put it in an envelope and label it. You could try sending it to a university zoology department somewhere. Cougar fur will be distinctive under a microscope, although DNA tests are expensive. The husk of a broken claw might be dislodged. If you find tracks regularly, come back later. Mix up some dry-type plaster-repair putty, and make a cast. I would think a big cat would have a pretty distinctive den, if you find one. A mother cat will defend the cubs, incidentally, so you’d better be careful. I found a deer kill once in the woods.

There’s not much to look at, unless it’s winter and you see some tracks leading away.

Then snow conditions dictate how clear the tracks actually are. As for other kinds of spoor, lots of other animals eat rabbits and other small game, and I don’t know how an amateur could really tell the difference. The size of a raccoon, or badger, or coyote ‘spoor’ can be quite startling. A cougar, like any cat will make some attempt to cover its business, and that’s a dead giveaway. No other animal that I’m aware of does that.

The existence of the cougars is not exactly confirmed, but there appears little doubt.

The question as to whether the animals are indeed wild animals re-populating an old range, or merely escapees from zoos and private collectors would seem to be academic.

The animals are clearly here and there needs to be some education as to how to deal with animal encounters in what is usually perceived as a pretty benign environment.

All big cat sightings should be reported to police. It is probably unwise to go looking for a cougar, but if you do, take a friend, and carry a big stick. If you see it first you’re probably okay; but if it pounces from above, it’s really going to hurt, or worse. Cougars usually kill their prey by biting down hard on the neck or throat area. If you’re driving down the road and see one, check the rearview mirror before stopping.

Safety first. I’ve gone looking for cougars two or three times, but I didn’t have any luck. If you have an unlimited budget and good camera, it would be a kind of labour of love to try and get some pictures…give me a call. I know this county like the back of my hand, and I know a couple of really good places to look!

I definitely want to see the big cat before it sees me. The odds of being able to swing up the camera, check the exposure, focus, and get a shot are almost astronomically small.

But it kind of grabs the imagination. The best time to track cougars is in the winter, in daylight, with good weather and visibility. You have to figure out where they will be. You need to get there first, quietly, with the wind just right. Then all you have to do is to sit there and wait and try not to freeze to death…you want to be under cover, with a good field of view in all directions. Don’t forget to look behind you once in a while, and check every big tree on the way in.

They say I’m half cat myself, don’t you know.


Eastern coyote.
Canid tracks are quite distinctive as any dog, coyote or wolf will show claw marks. Based on size and length of toes, this is not a big possum! Note there are four toes and a large pad behind them which looks like two small ovals and one bigger, wider ovate shape in the middle. A raccoon has very long toes.; a possum will have much longer toes, a badger or any burrowing animal will have even longer claws. This animal weighed between thirty-five and forty-five pounds, and the tracks are about two inches wide, and three inches long.

Snow conditions, melting temperatures, and even simple air circulation at sub-zero temperatures will enlarge any tracks. It is a matter of knowing what local weather conditions have been like over the previous week. Generally speaking, any dog will have a human companion. If you find tracks like this without any corresponding boot prints, then some caution is advised.
Generally speaking, an Eastern  coyote is up to twenty-five percent larger than their western cousins, and they do travel in a small, nuclear family type of pack. Timber wolves are extremely rare in Ontario, although there are a number of confirmed packs in the region of Algonquin Park.

“Ki-ki-wah-pah min mino.” (Goodbye.)


Coyotes kill Toronto singer, Cape Breton Island. (CBC.)

Hiking in Mountain Lion Country. (, Hiking.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ontario has natural and historical diversity.

My buddy and I descended that without ropes.
Rattlesnake Point.

Ontario presents us with a diversity of natural landscapes and a rich human history.
Much of the old-growth forest of southern Ontario is gone now, but small patches remain. Living and dead trees give an idea of what a fully mature forest might have once been like, with deeply-shaded glades and more open areas due to fires, tornadoes, and perhaps flooding. Other causes of natural death besides simple age would include periodic insect and fungal infestations, and natural climate fluctuations. The ages and the sizes of the trees are pretty impressive, and yet some of the oldest trees are dwarf trees (white cedars,) along the Niagara Escarpment. I’ve seen a few while traipsing around.
White cedar was a valuable commodity because of its resistance to rot and weather. Naturally, the most accessible ones were quickly cut down, and in Oakville for example, the mature trees, oaks for barrel staves and pine for masts for the Royal Navy, supported a local industry for decades before they ran out of trees. Much of the wood went into locally constructed schooners, used for fishing and freight.
Relic trees are scattered around all over southern Ontario.
The Oak Ridge Moraine runs north of Toronto and is the source of dozens of rivers and streams. It’s important to preserve it in the name of water quality and wildlife habitat, yet it is under pressure of urban and industrial development.
A fawn.
Bronte Creek is familiar to this writer as the Bruce Trail crosses it and he has hiked places such as Hilton Falls, the Nassageweya Canyon, Mount Nemo, Rattlesnake Point, and Twiss Canyon. This river runs on rock and stone for much of the time and is consequently clear and not silted up. It’s perfect for creek-walking. At the Highway 5 bridge, the gully must be 300 feet deep with steep sides. Salmon spawn in the lower reaches, and it is a home for brook trout and other fish. Because of the Bruce Trail system, there are a number of access points. One of my favourites is Limestone Creek, a tributary, where it runs down out of Nassageweya Canyon.
While the loss of natural habitat is sobering enough, the cultural loss is significant as well. The nations that once dwelt in the Great lakes basin are in some cases almost completely unknown. The Chat (Cat) nation, the Fire nation, otherwise known as the Eries were dispersed by the Iroquois before settlement. The Neutrals are a sad story because the Jesuits met them once. When next heard of they had been destroyed. Some surviving native groups went extinct or took off on treks that led as far as Tennessee and Oklahoma. They may have originated there, as did the Tuscarora, the sixth member of the Iroquois Confederacy. It would be a natural thing to do, for the survivors to go down the Ohio River and hence to the Mississippi. Some of them disappeared, as in the Petun, (often called Neutrals,) of southern Ontario.
Native habitation goes back to shortly after the last ice age. The landscape must have been a much different place back then and the impact of man small. We can only wonder, although dimly, from the perspective of today what it might have looked like.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Canoeing with the best and the worst in Algonquin Park.

Over the beaver dam, Jeffrey M. Dean.

My buddy Willy and I once launched at seven a.m. upon Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park. We were heading southeast towards the outlet of the Petawawa River. With the water like glass and windless, we paddled. Less than half an hour later, we had trouble.

Waves swept along from back to front, rising to within a couple of inches of the gunwales. They were lifting the back of the craft and accelerating us forward. Winds were blowing about 25-30 kilometres per hour, and we had a good three kilometres of open water ahead of us.

“Don’t look back!” I told Willy.

Luckily we made it to an island. Once behind it, the water was calm again. I hate ‘high following seas.’ I take responsibility for the mistake, as I was sitting in back and steering.

What if the wind had gotten stronger; or if we were ten pounds heavier? Yet Willy was a good guy to go camping with.

I have camped with the very worst. One time, a guy insisted on going into Stratton Lake. This guy had to bring a little 1.2 hp motor. He couldn’t live without it.

“There are no motors allowed on Stratton Lake,” I told him.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I know. We don’t have to use it after all.”

Of course the best way to carry the motor is on the mount, right?

After five minutes of paddling, you guessed it. He had to fire up the motor. That lake is V-shaped. The bay at the point of the V has a few campsites. People ran down to the water’s edge. They jumped in their boats. It looked like the opening credits from, ‘Hawaii 5-0.’ They were putting up rooster tails. We were soon surrounded.

All I could do was to sit in the front of the boat, shrugging my shoulders, red-faced.

Listening to him say, “Sorry, I didn’t know.”

“It’s on the map, you friggin’ dummies,” one guy said.

Clench my jaws and shut up.

We found a campsite. Put up the tent. He was tired, after paddling all that way. He fell asleep at three o’clock in the afternoon and slept till dawn. He always had to bring a six-man tent, and a bag with forty pounds of tent poles. 

Motor…fuel…tools…cooler…ice…three bags of milk. A tent heater; a lantern. More fuel. That’s a lot of stuff to carry over a 30-metre portage. An axe, hatchet and saw, three different knives…

Bored, I went for a paddle. Going past a campsite, there were six big guys standing around a fire drinking. They were wearing paratrooper boots, camouflage pants, 17-inch Bowie knives, and yelling; “You wussy! You bleeping a-hole!” 

Make my friggin’ day, eh?

Yet I went camping again with the guy. He promised to play by the rules! He couldn’t live without screwing things up for everyone else. It was an interesting case study, in some ways, but painful to watch. I found myself sitting in the front of the boat, motor going full blast. He promised to stay close to shore…we were exactly in the middle of the lake. I had specifically warned him about, ‘high, following seas.’ You just couldn’t reason with the guy, or trust him, either. I don’t think he was deaf.

Looking back, the motor appeared to be slanting backwards about thirty degrees. The plywood motor mount was breaking up. Did he not see it? Then we ran out of fuel.

We sat there in the middle of Cedar Lake, broaching sideways, in the heavy waves, while he attempted to re-fuel. We had 350 pounds of gear in the boat, and about three-quarters of an inch of freeboard.

The wind was blowing at about 35 kilometres an hour, or exactly as I had told him. He had to camp on an island, because it had a nice sandy beach. Beaches are popular sites.

They’re very dirty, with a lot of sand fleas, blackflies, etc. There was another site thirty yards away. He insisted on putting our tent on one site, and then the boat out in front of the other. Half a dozen other canoe parties showed up…went swimming…looked at that other site…and moved on. I cannot list all the stupid stuff he did on one or two trips together. The killer was what happened on the way home.

“There’s a cop behind us…” he hissed as we drove down the highway.

“Big deal,” I said.

Then: “What’s the problem…?”

Turns out screw-brain hadn’t renewed his license sticker!

Why not? Because he needed a ‘vacation.’ And he was a little short of money. 

I’m going to tell you something funny about Algonquin Park. When you go there, you provide ID and they write your name down. People aren’t shy about complaining if some other yo-yo has ruined the experience for them.

And if you should go back the next year, in all, ‘innocence,’ (perhaps ignorance is a better word,) they may have reserved a site for you. They know who you are, after all; for we reveal ourselves in so many ways.

It’s a little place called, ‘Varmint Lake.’ It’s the only one available, because you were too smart to reserve a site.

“Sorry boys, take it or leave it.”

“What you do is launch, but instead of going right onto the lake, you go left, up the swamp…follow the non-maintained trail over the Death March Hills…follow the winding stream bed for six kilometers until you hit water…then wade and drag the boat through Mosquito Swamp…and then you get to Varmint Lake, named for its size, not for any local wildlife, and then you use your two-inch buck knife, or better yet the dull hatchet, to clear a site anywhere you want on the boulder-strewn, 45-degree hillside.”

“Have a nice vacation boys, and if you hear a motor up in the hills, it’s probably just nice Mr. Ranger, releasing problem bears back into the wild.”

Really, it was all just a misunderstanding. (Greg Hume.)
“It’s nice and quiet up there…only other people in there right now are six big guys in camo pants, but they seemed like nice chaps, at least before they got to drinking…”

“Oh yeah, here’s a free bottle of Honey-Butter Sun Tan Oil, compliments of the management. And the best thing to do with sardine tins, which are not technically allowed, but we’ll let it pass just this once, is to hang them up all around the tent. Rules are rules, but of course they are meant for everybody else…right? Have a nice day and come again some time.” 

Might go camping with Willy again. Might go alone someday.

May even go back to Algonquin someday. But I got one rule: be careful of the company you keep.

Because it rubs off.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

An evolution of attitudes.

Temperate rain forest, northern Iran. Photo by Argooya, (Wiki Commons.)

     Like the debate between the right to life and the right to choose, the debate between evolutionists and creationists is always fascinating. Something about the cut, thrust and parry, between two mutually irreconcilable points of view, strikes a chord that resonates within this writer.
     When everything is boiled down into thirty-second sound bites, when everything is simplified to the level of the lowest common denominator, the objective spectator is not particularly well served. Does an adult threatening suicide have the right to choose? Does an unfertilized egg, or do a few million sperm, have the right to live? These are often seen as perverse lines of questioning, but it goes right to the heart of the matter.
     When school boards have to choose between teaching evolution, or creation, or teachers are asked to present two points of view to the kids, it seems to me to be just schizophrenia of the institutional type. Evolution is a theory and has always been presented as such. People have the right to choose if they believe it or not.
     All of the life forms we are familiar with have evolved over the last two to forty thousand years. I can prove that. Let’s go over to Siberia and you can show me the Asian bison. Because if you can’t, then bison must have evolved here in North America in the last 12,000 to 20,000 years, or since the last ice age. And every day, more species go extinct. Because they didn’t adapt quite fast enough to changing environmental conditions, the bulk of which are caused by our own activities. So; animals that don’t adapt fast enough go extinct. It happens quickly. One of the commonest misconceptions is that evolution, including human evolution, takes ‘millions and millions’ of years. Yet the average height in this area has gone up by four or five inches in the last one hundred years. It didn’t take a million years, neither did it take a thousand.
     Virtually all mutations or adaptations are environmental. We have changed our environment, and we are in the process of changing our environment even further, and at an accelerating rate.
     This is not ‘bad science.’ But it is possible that the rapidly climbing rates of respiratory disorders, diabetes, or even simple morbid obesity are biological responses to the immediate environment. Biological adaptations to an organism happen to that organism—then and only then, does that organism transmit them to the offspring. It’s not like something happens to you, and then after three generations; some changes begin to occur. Does any reader have doubts, that in a changed environment, one not quite so calorie-rich, that the average human body type would quickly revert, or, ‘evolve,’ back to a slightly-built, yet wiry form of much-reduced mass? No new babies have to be born for this to happen. Does the reader doubt that simple natural selection and mortality tables relating to age and nutrition would come into play in developing
this new body type ever the next few generations? If not, how did we get taller? And then suddenly fatter? Perhaps one can deny global warming. Can one deny pollution? Can one deny our chemistry-enhanced diet? Can one deny that the human race is undergoing some changes?
      I’m not asking if these changes are welcome. Neither is Mother Nature, to characterize reality. The forces of unending creation are not cruel, neither are they kind, they are merely indifferent as to our belief systems.
      Neanderthals, the familiar club-swinging, hairy, brutish types who dragged their wives home by the hair have died out. This happened in the last twenty-five to forty thousand years. They were displaced, supplanted, or driven to extinction by Cro-Magnon peoples, who were of a more modern type according to scientific thought. Interestingly enough, the Neanderthals had much bigger brains than the Cro-Magnons. It is possible that the Cro-Magnons developed a superior culture, and that affected the outcome? In a sense, ants have a social structure, and this evolved to help them survive as a species. Why should not social evolution in humans play a role in our survival as a species?
     Wouldn’t simple education play a big role in achieving such a goal, i.e. human social evolution, with cooperation as opposed to confrontation? Wouldn’t we evolve the biological ability to thrive in our new social structures, which have become increasingly complex and challenging? If we have the ability to change the physical environment so markedly, do we not have the potential ability to change our social environments relatively quickly? We do it when we want to, such as adapting ourselves to motor vehicles, or color TV’s.
     The common dairy cow has evolved, by selective breeding, over the last two or three hundred years. Corn, wheat, and other cereal crops are almost unrecognizable compared to a few hundred years ago. Aren’t we also unrecognizable?
     There are three major causes of evolution in an organism. The first is environmental. The second is random, genetic mutations, whether they are caused by cosmic rays, or simply arise from some flawed portion of the DNA chain. There is such a thing as ‘genetic drift,’ probably due to the fact that the one constant in all of creation is change, and change is necessary. 
     And the third is ‘unnatural’ selection. I use this term advisedly. Because we select our mates.
     We select them for height, weight, hair and eye color. We select them for personality, beauty, and cultural reasons. The odds of anyone reading this marrying an Andaman Islander or a San (Bushman), or a Pitcairn Islander, is quite small. For one thing, there aren’t very many of them, and they live quite far away from us. But also in the smaller, human scale of things, we select our mates from the local environment—where we are all created equal, in terms of air and water pollution, crime, the types of foods available in local supermarkets, the need for transportation of many miles or kilometres per day. Our pudgy, soft bodies have evolved within our own lifetimes, we’re not built so much for walking anymore. Now we’re built to ride, aren’t we?
     We select the cow that produces the most milk. We select the hardiest grains, and the biggest, sweetest apples. No one goes out and plants small, sour apples that are not resistant to drought, frost or pests. A news report recently suggested that we are still evolving. Apparently relatively thickset women have more babies than slender women! But is this truly cause and effect, or is it effect and cause? What I’m asking, do the skinnier women have fewer babies, and so therefore they stay skinnier? Having babies changes the body. Not all scientists or the conclusions drawn by them, are trustworthy, especially when dependent on research grants to stay in business.
Virtually every study has some kind of limitation if not outright flaw.
      So we continue to pollute our atmosphere, our water and our soil in the name of progress, and prosperity for the few, and in the name of order and rule of law. It seems all the common man can do is try to evolve a little faster. Because a changing environment means a changing human race, and it doesn’t take millions of years, in spite of unfortunate impressions promulgated by fuzzy teachings. In a recent documentary, a spokesperson for a major industry advocated ownership of the air, the oceans, the electromagnetic spectrum, in fact anything was wasn’t already nailed down, such as real property, or things like the airways, and the airwaves, otherwise owned by someone somewhere. In his view, “People don’t look after their water, which is held in common trust,” and, “They don’t look after the air, or even the soil in the case of some farmers refusing to adopt new practices in cultivation.”
     And he’s right, isn’t he? The very people who depended on the cod fishery in eastern Canada were the ones who were always complaining about diminishing quotas, red tape and regulations, governments interfering with their livelihood. They were always demanding that the government ‘do something about it,’ when they themselves were the only ones with the power to do anything at all about it. Were they seriously expecting the government to stock the oceans with fully-grown cod, putting them out right where the nets were going to be? Now the Fraser River salmon fishery collapsed, and all the interested parties are screaming for someone else to do something about it, perhaps have a big public inquiry. As yet, development of hydro on the Fraser has always taken second place to the salmon fishery. Now that the salmon are gone, perhaps the equation has changed. Now the river can be sold to a big corporation, and they will perhaps look after it better.
     Essentially he’s saying that some big corporation somewhere is going to own the atmosphere, and if they are supposed to provide you with certain services—i.e. ‘air,’ then you are obviously going to have to pay some kind of fee, and one would suppose not get too far behind on your bill.
     Then, and only then, someone, the corporation for example, will have a proper incentive to look after the said atmosphere or ocean. It is, after all, in their best interests to do so. As long as they have a proper and hard-working debt slave, it also kind of behooves them to look after you as well. Let’s hope so.
     Scary as this sounds, and I’m definitely not an advocate, but this might be the new face of social progress. One of the questions often asked about the United Nations is, “Why don’t they have any power?”
     And the reason is simple. Because no one single nation or group of people, or even certain individuals I know, are going to give up one iota of money, power, influence, control, or anything easily, and not without a lot of assurances that everyone else will too. And also a lot of reassurances that none of the delegated power would be misused. If the reader considers how people feel when some new political corruption scandal makes the headlines, just imagine the big countries of the world, or some of the more excitable ones, sitting around the committee room table. Any kind of a representative democracy, such as the UN, ultimately gets governed by patronage, the collection and redistribution of wealth in some form or another. Imagine all those countries sitting around the committee tables, trying to agree on who gets what project
first, and how much gets spent on it, and how much work local contractors will get, and who will
manage the project. This goes for each and every dollar spent on saving the planet. It’s no wonder the more responsible countries prefer to work alone.
     Ultimately, no one can forget who they really are, and nothing ever gets done. Simply put, few nations have the trust, or the courage, or even the simple maturity to go first. We cannot save this planet without making some personal sacrifices.
     Our mental attitudes are going to have to evolve.