Monday, September 22, 2014

Dangers That Lurk in Nature's Playgrounds

 The world in which  we live in is a contrast of “positives and negatives” and the choice is ours to understand, to cope and to develop solution strategies to combat dangers that may affect us. The rose is such example with its thorns.  Anne Bronte stated, “But he who dares not grasp the thorn...should never crave the rose!” And Alphonse Karr with a positive attitude wrote, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses!

For every “upside” ~ there's likely to be a “downside”
so there's good reason to heed the possible negative outcomes!

Consider the following:  Wars and Victories...Win and Lose Sporting events...Weather both Good and Inclement...Rich loam soil and Quicksand...Calm Waters and Turbulent Rapids...Shoals, Rocks and Lighthouses.  Along our fairway of life, Mother Nature contributes much to our daily living...offering wind, rain and rainbows; thunder and lightning; blue skies and billowy clouds; glorious sunrises and sunsets;  magnificent seasonal colours and temperatures escalating from frigid cold to blazing heat. And yet, scenic landscapes inspire  photographers & artists. Each unopened gift from Mother Nature.

“Not Everything in a Bed of Roses.”

The Bolsa Chica Wetlands (an ecological reserve in the City of Huntington Beach, California)
Along the Pacific Coast Highway, it is a haven for runners, hikers and nature lovers.  It's also home to some of North America's most endangered species..  Helen Clark, 60 of Westminster is a frequent birder who once was caught off-guard at Bolsa Chica by a Southern Pacific rattlesnake.  Carol Taylor,  a Cal State Long Beach zoology and herpetology student identified 4 snakes, spiders and scorpions common to the area. The “diamond-back-rattlesnake sports fangs around 2 ½ inches long; its venom can cause cell damage and hemorrhaging.

Florida's Everglades National Park: Some swamps, marshes and bogs are more dangerous than others...bear in mind depth, animals in the swamps, plant life that can tangle or trip you and reptiles that can attack.  Giant alligators grow up to 8 feet in length; swarms of mosquitoes, spiders and snakes are ready for a meal. There are 4 species of venomous snakes, if disturbed, awaiting you. Vultures can damage your vehicles...windshields, wipers and best to cover your 'wheels’ with a tarp.

I detest snakes, dislike crocodiles and alligators, so this true story really “gives me the creeps!”  Linda, a local bridge friend and her husband spend several weeks in Florida each winter in a townhouse complex that backs on a waterway. Her neighbour one day was  tending to her garden with  back to the brownish water.  Suddenly, her arm was grabbed with teeth sunk deeply into  it and the creature was dragging her toward the waterway.  She screamed which drew attention to  her neighbours.  Frantically, they were able to free her from the alligator at water's edge. Unfortunately, her arm had to be severed just below the elbow.  No one in their neighbourhood had ever seen alligators in this waterway!

Diseases ~ the Ebola Problem: No one knows exactly where the virus comes from or how to stop it from seeding new outbreaks. “First  and foremost is to get the outbreak under control, then go back and find where the source is,” said  a scientist who helped find the bat source of another Ebola-like disease called Marburg. Jonathan Towner works  for the U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention. Plaque was halted after the germ was tied to rat-riding-fleas. With the respiratory disease, Sars, civet cats played a role.  With Typhus, it was lice and with Bird Flu live poultry markets.  Efforts to control Mers, a virus causing sporadic outbreaks in the Middle East, include exploring the role of camels.

Dangers that Lurk in Your Cosmetic Bag: When 2 journalists discovered that formaldehyde was the miracle agent behind their sleek hair-dos, they decided to dig a little further into their beauty products' ingredient lists.  What they found was most terrifying!  That lipstick?  That mascara?  All full of toxic chemicals, as it turns out. The products that we buy and trust they have been vetted and approved by some kind of health organization and that's NOT the case.  (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration of Cosmetics and Colours really oversees the industry in name only.) Some ingredients are also contaminates that enter during the  process of manufacturing.  Consider the “soap lady” at the Farmers' Market, she wouldn't exist if strict laws were regulated.

Dangers that Lurk in Health Supplements: In a world where health consciousness is increasingly more popular each day, major corporations have entered the health supplements  marketplace under new health brands in an attempt to soak up some of the profits.  In doing this, these corporations tend to cut costs by using dangerous fillers and additives that pose a serious risk to your health. These 4 common fillers are your worst nightmare and mega corporations' dreams come true!  Avoid the following:  Nanoparticle Titanium Dioxide (may result in DNA and organ damage); Hidden Hydrogenated Oils (found in Health Food Stores, Pharmacies and Grocery stores); Artificial Colours (used to make vitamins and foods more appealing especially to children); Synthetic Vitamins which actually disrupt the entire endocrine system.

Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Tea: Tea is a miraculous thing, bursting with antioxidants and health benefits galore.  Drink it iced in the throes of summer or steaming hot to stave off that winter flu.  Guidelines when purchasing tea: Always choose an organic, non-GMO tea.  Celestial Seasonings is loaded with pesticides; even loose-leaf high-end brands have tested positive for dangers. Don't buy tea that lists “natural flavours” as an ingredient  “Natural Flavours” is a sneaky way to hide ingredients from the consumer, thus making the product appear more natural and pure. Make sure your favourite brand uses safe packing material or stick to loose leaf.  You know those luxury silk sachets...the ones that display your tea so beautifully?  Well, these are not made out of silk...they are made out of plastic!

Hidden Dangers of  Water: Drinking too much water too quickly can kill.  There is such as thing as a fatal water overdose! More than 1/3 of all waterways are reported to be unsuitable for fishing or swimming due to pollution. Rip currents (undertows) can be killing...accounting for more than 80% rescues performed by surf beach life-guards. Storms at sea and on the Great Lakes can result in ships and freighters sinking with lost lives. Extreme flooding can result in excessive damage to properties in both urban and rural areas.
In a Mutts cartoon…
he and Mooch, watching  from the prow of a boat in ocean water, observe a crab enjoying his swim… stunned to be facing a huge whale who opens his wide-gaped mouth saying,  “Ha! Ha!”, then devours  him.  Whale leaps high out of the water joyfully in front of Mutts and Mooch.  Mutts says, “WOW!  Why do whales do that?”  Mooch  replies, “It’s a mystery of life.”

Hidden Dangers Lurking in Plants (with crafty ways to fend off hungry animals). From the Philippines to America there are 10 dangerous plants, most with colourful blossoms.  These plants can can cause pain, sickness or  near-death symptoms.  Even the parts of the oleander are potentially murderous.  Locally here, we are familiar with the Venus Flytrap which can clamp tightly shut in ½ second. Poison Ivy grown in partial shade contains a resinous sap causing severe rash and itching.

The Food Chain:  Green plants are considered producers and are the beginning of the “Food Chain.”
Next are the consumers.  These living things need the producers to be their food.
Animals who eat plants  are called herbivores.
Animals who eat other animals are called carnivores who need the herbivores for their food.
Animals and People who eat both animals and plants are called amnivores.
Last part of the ecosystem is the decomposers.  They are the living things which feed off the dead plants and animals, reducing their remains to minerals and gases again. Did you know that Cowbirds help the majestic bison living in Yellowstone Park get rid of insects…while they get a meal?

Natural Disasters:  Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and severe we have been experiencing in various parts of our planet Earth over the past decade and more:
Tornadoes...Hurricanes...Cyclones...Typhoons...Tsunamis...Monsoons...Volcanic Eruptions!

Be sure to read Part 2 of  Dangers That Lurk in Our Neighbourhood.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written August 18, 2014
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