Greetings from the Uncommon Mariner

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May you know deep joy and profound peace as you renew yourself this holiday season, and may endless hope be your constant companion as you chart your course for the coming year.

 

*** Enjoy this lighthouse located at the Giant Crab in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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A Christmas Present to the World

CHRISTMAS ISLAND
We have a lot to celebrate this holiday.

Millions of peoples are celebrating Hanukah, Christmas, and other holidays this time of year, the spirit of which is imbued with peace and harmony. The Paris Environmental talks concluded this past week, and the nations that attended did a wonderful thing. They gave a special present to the world. After two weeks, almost two hundred nations finally agreed on a strategy to help put our planet back on a safe environmental track.

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty. There was plenty of arguing, sulking, shouting, and finger pointing. But in the end, the nations who attended showed the world that despite differences on how to resolve the crisis eight billion people are facing, they were able to hammer out an agreement that involved a lot of compromise. It’s a lesson politicians in the United States could learn a lot from.

We’re far from living in a world that will soon be pollution free. The damage we have done so far will be felt for decades to come. If not one more pound of carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, the polar caps will continue to melt and the oceans rise, and many island communities will still be faced with the inevitable truth that they will eventually be displaced.

While it is non-binding, what the nations have agreed to among other things is put a cap on the emissions that affect rising temperatures worldwide. In short, the nations  agreed to limit the global average mean temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The original target was two degrees. While that half degree may not sound like much, it has incredible consequences. A two degree rise would mean the obliteration of many island nations from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to islands across the globe.

The higher target the nations were originally shooting for would have been comparable to putting out a house fire with a few buckets of water. We’re so deep in shit, (and my most sincere and deepest apology to anyone offended by the word, but there is no delicate way to sugarcoat this), everyone at the Paris conference pretty much realized for changes to have any real significance and to better protect island nations, the thermostat would literally have to be lowered.

Of course, there are many facets to this agreement with a lot of details to sort through. To complicate things, the expectations for developed nations are not the same as they are for developing nations. How could they be? It’s hard to be fair and just making all nations pay the same price when it’s the developed nations who for the most part caused the mess we’re in. Continue reading

It’s Christmas even in the Caribbean

 

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Ever wonder if pirates in the Caribbean bothered to take time out from their busy schedule of pillaging, plundering, and wenching to celebrate Christmas?

It was no doubt the perfect time for pirates to return to the Caribbean after a year of plundering from Charleston to Boston. Once cold weather set in, it was the custom of some to head for warmer waters.

Blackbeard is a good example. Except it seems he made two fatal mistakes. One, he partied it up in North Carolina in November instead of heading to the warm waters of the Caribbean where Reggae bands, fancy rum drinks, and hot wenches waited. His second mistake was that he aggravated the living hell out of Governor Spotswood of Virginia so much so that the governor sent Captain Maynard in search of him and put an end to his fiendish ways.

Maynard didn’t have to look too far. Maynard met up with Blackbeard just before Thanksgiving in Oracoke, North Carolina. After a delicate game of cat and mouse, the curtain descended on Blackbeard with a dramatic flourish. Had he sought out a warmer clime, Blackbeard might have lived to see Christmas and another New Year.

One of the benefits of taking a few days to celebrate Christmas was the opportunity to clean your ship. We’re not talking about the excellent job housekeepers at resorts from South Carolina’s Grand Strand to Key West perform. Wooden ships are infamous for being on the menu of the toredo worm. A family of these hungry creatures can turn the hull of any wooden ship into Swiss cheese, rye bread and pastrami not needed.

The only way to combat them is to take the ship out of the water and scrape the barnacles and worms down to the hull. The process is called careening. Considering their size and bulk, putting ships in dry dock wasn’t an option, but the endless array of sandy beaches and shallow water bays in the Caribbean made that unnecessary.

Careening involved leaning the ship on its side, doing the necessary scraping, then leaning it on its other side and repeating the process. And all this while hoping the rum didn’t kick in too much with your crew and that pirate hunters would not discover you.

I admit it may sound like more work than fun, but how much fun is it for Santa to work his buns off making toys, doing recon work spying on boys and girls- and that’s not to mention the naughty  wenches he’s got to keep an eye on. Well, okay, that part might bring a smile to his face, but how much fun is it to ride all over the world in one night, and then for a reward be stuck in your long johns the rest of the winter?

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Something Different 1

I never knew the rattle snake was the first Navy Jack. I can understand you retiring it for a while and going skinny dipping. Bring a towel with a rattler on it. It might ward off anyone offering you a cup of tea.

tugster: a waterblog

Something Different  (SD) is a joint venture of  tugster and coldisthesea.

For this first launch, let’s do Q and A format:  Doesn’t the yellow rattlesnake flag so common in political rallies recently  have a maritime history?  What IS that maritime history?

Below is an example of the flag, flying over a great coffee, beer, and lunch place up in Cold Spring, New York (across the river from West Point) .

These yellow flags with rattlesnakes you may have started seeing everywhere. . .  they are not new.  I trace them back to the contrarian from Pennsylvania who played with lightning, yes … Benjamin Franklin.  He also extolled the health benefits of skinnydipping and created bifocals, without which we older folk couldn’t exist.  His wit generated such gems as “fish and visitors stink in three days” and “beer is evidence that God loves us.”

Franklin liked rattlers, even proposed…

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Our Oceans are Burning and Paris is our Best Shot for Putting the Fire Out

 

OCEANS NEED HELP

The ocean is on fire, and 170 countries are meeting in Paris between November 30 and December 11 to try and stop it.

… Coral reefs are dying, crippling the food chain for fish who depend on them.

… Our melting Polar caps are already wreaking havoc for polar bears and other wildlife not to mention island and coastal nations whose populations will be devastated in the not too distant future.

… Over-fishing is decimating fish populations with disastrous consequences for nations whose livelihood depends on fishing. In particular is the wanton slaughter of sharks which keep the food chain of the seas in balance.

… Add to these woes habitat loss for a wide variety of marine life, and pollution through garbage and oil spills, and things seem like they can’t get much bleaker, but they can.

… Our oceans are growing more acidic daily. In fact, acidification has become the cancer of our seas, deadly and silent as it grows unchecked.

Acidification occurs naturally in the ocean on a routine basis. What makes it so horrendous is that the PH balance is occurring at an alarming rate. Treehugger.com does a great job explaining the process. When the PH balance of the sea is changed, the skeleton formations of many species of shellfish and other sea life is destroyed. Think of it as osteoporosis for the creatures of the sea.

And why is the PH level dropping? Because the tons of fossil fuel which we’re burning around the world is absorbed by the oceans once it falls from the atmosphere.

Planetearthherald.com warns us that the 30% increase of acidity we’ve seen in our oceans so far is nothing compared to the 150% increase we’re going to witness over the next hundred years. What a legacy to leave our grandchildren and their grandchildren!

If we learned nothing else about the ecosystems of our planet, it’s that everything is interconnected. Alter one part of the equation, and you affect everything else. Global warming, for example, contributes to coral bleaching big time. When coral bleaching occurs, the algae living in their tissue turn white. Though not dead, the coral become so stressed they have a hard time coping, and without a reprieve, they die. Of course, temperature, light, and nutrients affect the health of coral as well.

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