Earth, a Fragile Paradise:

Hunting;

Extinctions & Recoveries;

Pollution & Climate Change;

Finding Environmental Solutions;

Earth, A Fragile Paradise

Whale Mother and Baby. Photo by Max Lissenden from Unsplash.


Earth, a Fragile Paradise

Hunting

In the early days, Americans

burned whale oil in their lamps,

wore fragrances made with ambergris,

(a waxy substance produced in whale intestines),

and laced themselves into corsets

stiffened with whale bones.

Whales, once threatened by hunting…

became popular attractions

for the eco-tourists of today!

Racism, genocide, and greed

decimated the bison,

mainstay of Native Americans

living on the Great Plains.

Hunters killed them for their hides,

leaving carcasses to rot on the plains.

Starvation

drove Native Americans onto reservations.

Wanton slaughter

brought bison to near extinction.

Some bison today are domesticated;

others roam free in National Parks.

Whims of fashion:

egret feathers adorning ladies’ hats,

alligator shoes and luggage,

elephants, slaughtered for ivory tusks,

baby seals, annihilated for their skins,

glamorous women in leopard coats,

fashionable men in beaver hats.

Many species, once threatened, now recovered;

battles to save leopards and elephants…

Ongoing!

Appetite for wild meat is threatening

many species, including humans.

Diseases cross over from animals to humans:

ebola virus, thought to have originated

in bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, and antelopes;

bats in animal market blamed for Covid pandemic;

AIDS reportedly passed

from chimpanzees to humans.

A desire for exotic pets

brought many alien species

to Florida’s Everglades National Park…

abandoned when they grew too large,

escaped, or were released into the wild.

One species is hunted there once each year…

Burmese pythons, grown enormous

preying on deer and alligators!

Everglades rabbits, easy prey for pythons,

soon disappear when reintroduced.

Sadly, prolific pythons may be permanent

Everglades residents.

American Bison. Photo by Jonathan Mast from Unsplash.

Extinctions & Recoveries

Relentless hunting famously

caused the extinction of the dodo bird.

Some American birds have also disappeared.

Carolina parakeets no longer inhabit

the Eastern United States.

Passenger pigeons are gone forever,

Ivory-billed woodpeckers are no more.

The American flamingo and the wood stork

have re-established themselves

in the United States

after being absent for many decades.

Whooping cranes are still hanging on,

supported by conservation efforts.

White-tailed deer were reintroduced

into Shenandoah National Park.

Predators that used to

control deer populations are gone.

Feeding programs now prevent deer

from starving in winter

or being shot in cornfields outside the park.

Wolves, a bounty on their heads

for preying on livestock,

long absent from some of their range…

successfully reintroduced a few years ago

to Yellowstone National Park,

restored the balance of nature.

Monarch butterfly numbers dwindling,

Milkweeds and wildflowers vanishing

along monarch migration routes.

Pollution bleaching coral reefs,

habitat of marine animals and fish.

Wetlands, nurseries for sealife,

disappearing due to development…

Just a few examples of many animals

endangered by human activity!

Great Egret Family. Photo by homecare119 from Pixabay.

Pollution & Climate Change

Bald eagles, emblem of the United States,

barely escaped extinction.

In the years after DDT was banned,

bald eagles repopulated their former range

and can now be sighted

in every American state except Hawaii.

Ugly faces of pollution:

animals foraging in landfills and garbage dumps,

sea turtles entangled in plastic debris,

seabirds coated with oil, fish whose mercury content

makes them dangerous to eat,

microplastics in the food chain, now found in fish

and in humans who eat them.

Red tides, massive algae blooms in oceans,

blue-green algae blooms in rivers.

Toxic overgrowth, caused by pollution,

results in massive fish kills,

deaths of dolphins and endangered manatees.

Aerosolized red tide neurotoxins cause

respiratory irritation and illness in humans.

Exposure to blue-green algae

may result in permanent liver damage.

Everglades, stressed by climate change,

recent hurricane damage…

small communities struggling to rebuild.

Everywhere in Everglades National Park

staff gauges indicate water levels,

warn about effects of rising water.

Just a few more feet of water,

and beautiful mangrove forests,

home to alligators, dolphins, birds, fish,

and endangered manatees,

will be gone forever!

Global warming

is melting arctic ice at an alarming rate,

stranding polar bears on shrinking ice floes.

Can they survive global warming?

Can life on earth survive?

Polar Bear Cubs at Play. Photo by Hand Jurgen from Unsplash.

Finding Environmental Solutions

Zoos, once prisons

for kidnapped animals,

have become a refuge

for endangered species.

Captive breeding programs seek to

re-establish animals in the wild.

Shrinking habitat is being augmented

by setting aside land

for wildlife parks and preserves.

Magnificent animals of Africa and Asia,

tigers, snow leopards, and elephants,

require large territories.

Preserves protect them from extinction.

Tourists on safari now hunt with cameras.

Poachers are punished.

Villagers are compensated for livestock

killed by protected predators.

Europeans take great pride

in preserving vintage varieties of livestock,

cultivating heirloom flowers, fruits, and vegetables,

maintaining animal preserves.

Florida panthers, symbols of Florida,

inbred and endangered,

were infused with new genes

from Texas pumas, a closely-related species.

Florida panthers require large territories.

Land has been set aside;

tall fences now protect panthers

from collisions with cars.

Unlike reclusive Florida panthers,

Florida bobcats,

adapted to living near humans,

are frequently seen strolling through

suburban neighborhoods.

Blackouts on Florida beaches

protect sea turtles during nesting season.

Manatee zones shield

manatees from boat propellers.

Many programs rescue

injured manatees, sea turtles, and birds.

What’s it all about? Photo by Chen Lei from Unsplash.

Earth, a Fragile Paradise

Earth is a fragile paradise…

experiencing both environmental

degradation and preservation;

some people destroy; others rescue, restore.

Life on earth is threatened.

Working together, people may yet

save this fragile paradise!


Copyright Β© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Please Note: This post was written from my own experiences in Florida. I learned about environmental topics from news and documentaries, and I did some basic research while writing poems about Florida animals. I am not a scientist, just a retired elementary school teacher who cares about the environment.

It’s a big world! Please feel free to provide additional information from your experiences and perspective in the comments. Thank you. πŸ™‚

Let’s Celebrate Earth Day All Year Long!

Earth Day, April 22, 2023

58 Comments

  1. This is a magnificent article full of home truths of how ‘us’ humans have been environmentally ignorant and arrogant towards other species on our precious planet … hopefully, ‘we’ humans are beginning to the tide and are becoming a more environmentally friendly species, Cheryl … πŸ€—πŸŒ

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  2. A brilliant and deep write depicting the truth of the times! It’s so sad to see where the world is heading, all we can do is hope and do our part to contribute towards a better future.

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  3. you’ve packed this one full of info Cheryl but guess you are preaching to the converted here πŸ™‚

    The good news is that our Aboriginal people have inhabited this earth for more than 65,000 years and survived drastic climate changes. Our scientists are finally learning to work with them to glean their oral history in order to preserve life and environment.

    Yesterday I saw my first giant turtle lying very dead on the beach … I could not sight any wounds, not saying he didn’t swallow plastic, but he looked to have died of old age. In fact he looked like he had rusted out … nice to know they are still about!

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    1. Sea turtles can live to be nearly 100 years old! How fascinating to see one, Kate! πŸ™‚ We have many nests on our beaches here, but I’ve never seen turtles except in captivity. I think they are nocturnal.

      Thank you for sharing the news about your aboriginal people! ❀ Glad someone is interested in listening to their traditional wisdom and learning from their long history! 65,000 years is a very long time!

      I keep promising myself that I will stick to short posts, but this is a subject that is often on my mind. When I got started, I couldn't stop! πŸ™‚

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  4. I appreciate you and your beautiful thoughts on the fragility of the earth, our only home. You have extensively covered topics from hunting to extinction, pollution and climate change, but the main reason is human greed and selfishness that is nothing but shortsightedness. Nature suffers in silence, but it has its own ways to take revenge. Thank you, Cheryl for raising such an important issue. This is a nice tribute to the upcoming Earth Day 🌎 β€οΈπŸ’πŸ™

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    1. KK, I appreciate your kind and thoughtful response. Thank you so much! ❀ ❀ ❀ I couldn't agree more that shortsighted greed and selfishness are the main reasons we are suffering environmental problems. These issues are often in my thoughts. πŸ™‚

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    1. Selma, your comment made my day! Thank you so much! ❀ I really didn't intend to write such a long post, but once I started to write about these issues, I just couldn't stop! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am so happy that you liked it! ❀

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  5. Beautiful piece, Cheryl. Many don’t understand that Earth is home to more than just themselves. We share Earth with all walks of life, flora, and fauna. We should be grateful for our existence here on Earth rather than be inconsiderate and greedy. Truly a superb post, Cheryl. Brava! πŸ’–

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    1. Eugi, your very kind response touched my heart. ❀ These issues are never very far from my mind. I deeply regret leaving such a sad legacy to the next generation. I hope things start to improve in my lifetime. πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much for your comment, Eugi! ❀

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      1. You are most welcome, Cheryl. I agree and wish things would start to improve in my lifetime too. It’s sad to see the damaging effects getting worse every day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Maggie. ❀ It makes me so happy to hear that! I had promised myself not to write any more long posts, but when I started to write, all the issues that have been on my mind found their way onto the paper. πŸ™‚ You and Richard visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope they will always be there to enjoy!

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  6. What beautiful collections of poetry Cheryl and I echo your sentiments that we need to take heed and protect our blessed environment. ” love this “Life on earth is threatened.

    Working together, people may yet

    save this fragile paradise!”

    I have to hope, pray and do what I can and trust that future generations will take heed. Your words are important to humanity. We’ve lots of pigeons circling right now with some virus and finding many dead from some bacteria in the water I believe.

    Thank you for creating awareness of our beautiful species.

    πŸ’žπŸŒˆπŸ’ž

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    1. Oh, Cindy, I am so grateful that you took the time to read such a long post! Thank you for your beautiful response to the poem. ❀ Glad you like those lines. I guess you could say they represent my personal stance on all of these issues. My pleasure to write about these critical issues that are never far from my mind!

      I am sorry to hear about the pigeons and the unsafe water. I hope the situation can be corrected soon! πŸ™‚

      Take care, Cindy! ❀

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  7. I truly appreciated and spent a good amount of time reading and pondering with your post. Cheryl you have so thoughtfully compiled so many details in to the beautiful poems – felt very moving to read, the enormity of the impact of our choices and how the impacts literally change our worls around. I feel grateful for the awareness in this moment today and the reminders you brought. The resilience and the fragility both are precious, and for us to heed & regard.

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    1. What a deep, well-considered response, Pragalbha! ❀ ❀ ❀ Thank you for the time you spent reading this very long post and responding. I had not intended to write so much, but these issues are often on my mind, and after I began, I couldn't stop writing.

      "The resilience and the fragility both are precious." Yes! We need to take a more mindful, nuanced, and purposeful approach when addressing environmental problems. Each of us can do our part.

      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts! Take care. πŸ™‚

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      1. “after I began, I couldn’t stop writing.” – I could feel how this was a surge from your heart and so I couldn’t stop reading – only took pauses to allow it to settle. You are very welcome, Much Love to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My goodness, how these poems touch me! I love how you cover such an expanse of time and bring to light so many of the issues we are facing. That final poem “Earth, a Fragile Paradise” ends this so perfectly with its call to action. ❀

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  9. This is so powerful, Cheryl. πŸ’— Your words touched my heart. From hunting for fashion and food to pollution and climate change, humans have adversely impacted the natural habitats of many animals. We need to be more conscious of our actions and take necessary steps to protect our planet and the animals that inhabit it.

    As Carl Sagan said, “To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

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  10. Hi Cheryl,
    Your poems speaks more than what I can find inside a general book on β€˜Environment Conservation’.
    Your visit to β€œthe natural creations” with Katey and Ellen has fundamentally and widely changed your perspective. Or I would say you have updated yourself with a lot of fresh info.
    When you describe a topic you get a tight hold over its senses, meaning, history and significance.
    I can see a kind of β€˜environmental activism’ in your poems & you.
    You have counted the names of several birds and animal species, and the places where they’re located.
    No doubt, you have a good understanding of them and β€œa strong connection”.
    This poem is thoughtful, makes me aware about the environmental problems & issues around me.
    Our conservation efforts have helped in nature’s recovery. More can be done.
    I’m interested in knowing more.

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    1. Lokesh, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. The environment is a topic that is never far from my mind. I wish your generation were not inheriting the current environmental problems, and hope you have the strength and the will to solve the problems that exist and return our planet to health. It makes me happy to hear that you are aware of environmental issues and that you care.

      Wikipedia, though not an academic source, is good for general information. I have often used Wikipedia to look up the animals featured in my Hanging Out with Wild Animals books. The series has several environmental themes.

      I wrote this post from my heart without doing much research, although I did fact-check as needed.

      All the best! ❀

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      Reply

  11. When will we ever learn to take care of what we have? Here in the UK, our rivers are horribly polluted, as our water companies dump raw sewage into them. I have really noticed there is ugly brown foam on the water everywhere, even in the mountains. No one seems to take much notice. That, and all the downed trees in the wind storms we’ve been having. I fear that time is running out to make a positive difference, but complacency is not an option!

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  12. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more comprehensive, yet concise summary of our human destruction of Earth’s gifts. In some ways, it’s like the human species is being tested. But we put ourselves in this position. Thank you for the glimmers of hope.

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