Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cycling Sunday

Today was a beautiful day for a bike ride along the Schuylkill River to the Philadelphia Art Museum. It was hot and sunny, but the cool breeze along the river made for a pleasant ride. Later, we stopped for brunch and then enjoyed the Manayunk Arts Festival.

In front of the Philadelphia Art Museum after the obligatory run up the steps (no one ever thinks of that!).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sierra Club Hike at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center

This morning I had a lovely hike at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center with the Sierra Club of the Lehigh Valley. Sierra Club is "the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States". 1 The local group has regular hikes, and of course is a voice for environmental advocacy in the Lehigh Valley. We visited Jacobsburg State Park, a favorite of local hikers, mountain bikers, families, bird watchers, and other nature lovers. We had a drizzly morning, but for most of the hike we avoided rain.

This afternoon the weather cleared and it was a beautiful day to celebrate Father's Day with my family.

Al Schwartz of Sierra Club explains to us the significance of the preservation of Jacobsburg Park.

View of Bushkill Creek from Henry's Woods

View of grassy and wooded area. Jacobsburg has many habitats for birds, including grassy fields, thickets of bushes and trees, woodland, and creeks. We heard and saw many species of birds, including tree sparrows, oven birds, wood thrushes, Carolina wrens, and many more.

Bushkill Creek with high water from our recent rain.


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Earth is One Country: Touring the United Nations

Today we went to New York City to tour the United Nations. I have been interested in the United Nations for quite some time, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Environment Programme . I was excited to see "where it all happens" and learn more about the process of international consultation. Our United Nations tour guide explained to us the various functions of the United Nations, including of course resolution of international disputes, but also the eight Millennium Development Goals encompassing ending poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combatting HIV and AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnership.

We also toured the Baha'i International Community (BIC) offices. The BIC is a Non Governmental Organization with consultative status with the United Nations. The BIC has been working with the United Nations since 1947, and before that was involved with the League of Nations. Carolina Vásquez was kind enough to show us the offices and also to spend time discussing the role of the BIC at the United Nations. The BIC represents the Baha'i viewpoint on such diverse topics as human rights, the status of women, social and sustainable development, and environmental issues, and offers their perspective for consideration when trying to solve the problems of our day. They have had considerable input and publish a wide variety of statements which can be found here.

In addition to having input in policy statements, they also offer the experience of the Baha'i Community in various social and economic development projects throughout the world. For example, in rural Columbia a System for Tutorial Learning was developed to educate rural students and pay particular attention to their current needs. The BIC publishes a newsletter called One Country which contains many enlightening articles about various development projects throughout the world. In addition, the Baha'i International Community attempts to protect the rights of persecuted Baha'i communities.

United Nations Secretariat Building

International flags

"Non-Violence" or "The Knotted Gun" by Fredrik Reuterswärd. This was a gift from Luxembourg to the United Nations.

The Secretariat building has 39 floors.

Member countries' flags

The "Uniting Painting"

The United Nations Environment Programme sponsored a lovely photographic exhibit entitled "Shared Destiny: Wildlife from Africa to the Arctic, a Photographic Exhibition by Luo Hong and Nigel Barker". This is Luo Hong's beautiful photograph of Kilimanjaro.

Wildlife photograph by Luo Hong

Also by Luo Hong

Nigel Barker's photo of a seal

Stained glass by Marc Chagall outside the United Nations meditation room

The United Nations is the recipient of many gifts from around the world. Here is the Vesak World Peace Buddhist Stupa containing sacred relics of Lord Buddha, a gift from Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar.

Mosaic based on Normal Rockwell's painting "Golden Rule" gift of Nancy Reagan on behalf of the United States. It contains the inscription "Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You".

Remembering Chernobyl

Our guide, who was from Eritrea, explains Peacekeeping. Tour guides can wear a classic navy uniform, or their national dress. She also explained to us that by entering the United Nations, we were on international soil, since the UN does not belong to United States territory.

The United Nations General Assembly Hall.

A display of land mines was particularly heartbreaking. Our tour guide explained to us that sometimes land mines are made to look like toys to attract children. I cannot think of a better reason to work for world peace and international understanding than the protection of the most innocent.

Since we were in New York of course we did a little sight seeing! This is beautiful Saint Patrick's Cathedral. We also did some people watching on Fifth Avenue and Broadway and Times Square. We visited the Empire State Building. Lunch was one of the best Indian buffets I ever had, and dinner was in a charming little Thai restaurant. We had a wonderful day in New York City, learned a lot about the work of the United Nations and the Baha'i International Community, enjoyed the amazing sights and sounds of the city, and of course sampled the fabulous diversity of ethnic food available!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Comprehensive Study Shows Impact of Global Climate Change in the United States

A study just released today by the United States Global Change Research Program summarizes the impact of climate change in the US. The report is a comprehensive analysis produced by experts from 13 US government science agencies and from several major universities.

The key findings are summarized as follows: (from Executive Summary, opens .pdf)

1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.
3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
4. Climate change will stress water resources.
5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.
6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.
7. Risks to human health will increase.
8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.
9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.
10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.

Read the full report yourself here. Understanding the science behind climate change and the potential impact is part of the key to finding solutions. The website for the United States Global Research Program contains a wealth of information on all aspects of climate change and the most up to date scientific research.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Peace Valley Park, Bucks County

Today we had a picnic at scenic Peace Valley Park in Bucks County. The day started out bright and warm, but by early afternoon some storm clouds were gathering. After lunch we took a walk around the lake and watched the clouds begin to roll in. Soft raindrops began to fall as we finished our walk, but we reached the pavilion before the heavy downpour. It was beautiful watching the clouds travel across the sky from the safety of our shelter, and several times we were treated to the return of some warm sunshine.

Beautiful Lake Galena

Spring means new life

A tranquil scene

Ominous clouds roll in

Colorful kayaks and canoes

I thought this tree looked inviting. I put a very light glass filter on it to give the appearance of a rainy day.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Delaware Water Gap and Sunfish Pond

Today we went on a beautiful hike to Sunfish Pond. The weather was in the low seventies, the sky was clear, and occasionally, there was a slight breeze. Ideal hiking weather!

Tall trees and clear skies. The woods were alive with birds; we heard ovenbirds, a hairy woodpecker, and eastern towhees.

The woods were covered with fresh young ferns.

The mountain laurel is just beginning to blossom.

Pink blooms were everywhere.

New growth and colorful flowers

Sunfish Pond, beautiful as always. We stopped here for lunch on the rocks overlooking the pond.

Reflections in Dunnfield Creek

A few little waterfalls here and there. I love to walk along water, I find the sound so relaxing.

Walking along Dunnfield Creek


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