Florida Python Invasion

Johnny L Brewer

The Florida Everglades at sunset

In the nineteen eighties, the exotic pet trade was booming. One of the top-selling animals in the pet trade at the time was the Burmese python. People bought these animals to keep in their houses in small glass displays. Soon, these three-to-four-foot snakes were becoming nine to ten plus feet long. Unable to feed them, some pet owners in southern Florida released the animals into the Everglades, which was the perfect habitat for the snakes to thrive. With a population beginning to take hold in the Everglades by the late eighties and early nineties, Hurricane Andrew made landfall in the Miami area in nineteen ninety-two, damaging a python breeding facility and releasing more snakes into the swamp.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact population of pythons in the Everglades today. Scientists know that there is an established breeding population there that could number into the…

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Gen Xers: Leveling Up At 50

            I awoke this morning to start my daily routine. Before my daily study time began, I was scanning news feeds to see if anything happened during the night that may have been of any importance to me, and this article caught my eye. I smiled a bit as I read it. Last night, during the airing of the Oscars, AARP aired an advertisement geared at getting Gen Xers to enroll. I thought to myself, “I’m a Gen Xer. I’ll be 50 in six more years.” Six years will be here with a snap of the fingers when you think about it. My wife and I have been married for six years. It doesn’t seem like it. But as I’ve chewed on it all day before writing this piece, I don’t dread it. I kind of look at it as leveling up.

            That’s one of the characteristics of Gen Xers. We don’t see ourselves as growing old—maybe seasoned or wiser for our experiences, but not old. After all, think about it, we never got to see two of the biggest stars of the 90s grow old or even burn out, Kurt Cobain or Tupac Shakur, both died in their prime. We were kids raised by MTV. The real MTV, not 16 and pregnant MTV. Computers and the internet were in their infancy, and the sound of dial-up was exciting. Y2K was the dawning of our adulthood as we entered our 20’s and 30’s. And September the 11th was our generation’s Pearl Harbor, our call to fight.

I don’t know, but that guy on the left looks like the singer for the Foo Fighters, only younger
Tupac Shakur

            I find it crazy that I don’t see myself as old. When my Mom and Dad were my age, they looked old to me. I don’t see my peers as old either. I believe that is because Gen Xers have found that balance between work and life. Where our baby boomer parents threw themselves into work and never did anything else seemingly, my peers and I maintained a healthy lifestyle and stayed active well into our 30’s.

Leveling up at 50

            As I stair down 50, I look forward to that decade of my life. As a matter of fact, I’ve already started planning for it. We’ll see if these plans pan out, but if they don’t, I’ll still be good. My message to all Gen Xers is to look at turning 50 as leveling up. Look at it as going from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White. Xers don’t grow old because our Icons died young. We have too much life ahead of us to be worried about our age.           

Capitalism + Consumerism | The Art of Coveting

Image taken from google images, created by Crusty Punk on Deviant Art

I’ve seen a lot of content as of late of many young people who seem to be disgruntled with the current job market. They compare having a job as a modern-day form of slavery. Many refer to it as wage slavery. They believe many people have become slaves to their employers. Handcuffed and shackled by their need for a paycheck. I can see this point of view and have pondered this train of thought over the last few days.

CAPITALISM

The current economic and political system that we operate under in the United States is capitalism. Capitalism is a system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state. In theory, this system allows people to earn an optimal reward for the amount of work that they are willing to put into getting paid— in theory.

CONSUMERISM

The flaw that I see with capitalism is not how it works, but with the rabbit hole of consumerism it leads an individual down. Consumerism is the idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal. And that a person’s wellbeing and happiness depend fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions.

THE CONCEPT OF WAGE SLAVERY

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Capitalism and consumerism go hand in hand. The way the systems are intertwined is like this. You get a job to earn money by producing a product or providing a service for an employer. Your employer compensates you for your time that you spent there doing so. That money is then spent on housing, food, clothing, and all essential needs. Then what’s left after that is spent on other things — your wants. Your wants are what enslave you. The new car, purchasing your own property, running up lines of credit that aren’t needed, like credit cards, personal loans, and such.

EXODUS 20:17

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 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…” I’m not a religious man by any means, but the human flaw to want what another man has is a flaw that many religions warn their followers about, and there is a good reason for that. That road leads to strife, war, and death. But for most people, debt and worry evolve when capitalism and consumerism are combined. The commercials every evening are so enticing. If you buy that new car, you’ll be so happy. How about that credit card? What’s in your wallet? You know the drill. The thing is the commercials must entice you into consuming to keep capitalism going. That’s just how it works.

BECOME DISCIPLINED AND AWARE

The way to avoid this trap is to become disciplined and aware. Aware of the trap of debt that has been set for you. Disciplined enough to be able to identify your needs and your wants. There’s no need to punish yourself. Get things you want. Have nice things, but do you need the new iPhone. I mean, you just got a new phone a year ago. It can wait a little while till you get a little further ahead in this game of life. Think about it.

WORKING A JOB

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If you think about it, working a job is not a natural way of life for humans. This modern way of consuming has only become normalized in the last 100 years. Before that, many people’s only jobs were just living. You tended your farm, grew your own food, made your own things. Whatever was left, you tried to sell to get a little money for some other amenities or supplies you couldn’t produce on your own. That was life. We fell into this modern way of life after World War II because Europe had to be rebuilt due to a man who coveted what his neighbor had. That unprecedented boom lasted into the late ’80s. That reconstruction period is over now. Now production is just for mindless consumption that depletes our planet’s resources, takes away our time for living, puts us in debt, and enslaves us to an employer. Maybe it’s about time we rethink this modern way of thinking and get back to things that matter to us and make us human.

Industrialization of Our Food Chain

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There’s a myth that all the large industrial agriculture companies would like for you and me to buy into. That myth is that without them and their innovative farming techniques, the world will run out of food by the end of this century. This is simply not true. Their farming techniques are simply unsustainable and will destroy our soil and waterways if we allow them to continue unsustainable practices well into this century.

INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

 Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine, harmful use of antibiotics and steroids in animals to enhance their growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions in which the animals are kept.

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INDUSTRIAL FARMING PRACTICES

Industrial farming practices are unstainable farming practices that deplete the soil of its natural fertility. They often plant the same crop over and over, not rotating crops, and not allowing for natural regeneration of the soil. This results in heavier use of pesticides and fertilizer. The heavier use of pesticides results in more resistant pests and the killing of pollinator insects. The heavier use of fertilizer results in runoff that causes dead zones in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, due to the high concentrate of phosphorus and nitrogen in the waters. The non-rotation of crops also results in soil loss, eventually rendering the land useless.

INDUSTRIAL LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS

Industrial livestock operations refer to a modern type of agriculture where densely populated groups of animals are confined to cages, barns, or feedlots. These conditions are unsanitary. They are injected with antibiotics to keep them well enough to make it to slaughter. They are also injected with large amounts of steroids to speed up their growing time to get them to slaughter quicker. Their diet consists of corn grown on an industrial farm complex. Their waste is pumped into large toxic holding ponds and slowly leeched back into the water table. These large livestock areas also contribute to methane release back into our atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that raises global temperatures.

REDUCING THE IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

The good news is that as of right now, these large-scale farming operations only produce 30% of the food we consume, the other 70% is produced by smaller farms that tend to practice more sustainable farming practices. But 30% of our growing population is still a large amount and a huge impact on our environment. Allowing these practices to increase higher could have a devastating impact on the environment. One way to reduce the impact of these industrial complex farms is to grow our foods in smaller areas allowing for rotation of crops and natural regeneration of soil. Think about blighted areas in inner cities? Community programs could get those areas and plant a community farm and provide nutritious food for community members. Some say that’s an outrageous idea, but why in most inner cities you can walk a couple of blocks to a fast-food restaurant, but it’s miles to a grocery store to purchase nutritious vegetables.

OUR FUTURE IS AT STAKE

We can’t continue down this path allowing big business to infiltrate our farming industry. It will only result in an unhealthier planet and an unhealthier population. For thousands of years, our ancestors lived off the land and left enough to be passed onto the next generation, we should make that a priority in our lives. This unsustainable way we’ve been living for the past 100 years has done more damage to the Earth than any other period in our existence. How much longer can we go on like this?

Wildfires and Climate Change

            Over the past 15 to 20 years, there has been a noticeable uptick in wildfires globally. Just here in the United States, it seems fire season has become a year-round thing. The Australian wildfires of 2019-2020 burned over 46 million acres and were declared one of the world’s worst wildlife disasters in modern history. In 2018 the Attica fire of Greece claimed the life of 102 people, making it the second most deadly wildfire of the 21st century.

Google Images
Google Images

Climate Change and Wildfires

            Climate change has had a massive impact on the number of wildfires we see worldwide. These fires are more prevalent in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions brought on by climate change. The drought conditions dry the organic material in the forest to a point to favor fire conditions, then all that is needed is an event that creates dry lightning or high winds down a powerline in dry brush. The next thing that happens is millions of acres burn, wildlife is displaced or killed, and people have lost their homes and potentially their lives.

Google Images

Living with Climate Change and The Wildfire Threat

            Until a substantial effort worldwide is put into combating climate change, it seems the wildfire threat will continue. This manageable threat will result in higher insurance and building cost for everyone. The following points should be considered when living in a world plagued by wildfire threats.

  • Discouraging developments (especially residential) near fire-prone forests through smart zoning rules.
  • Increasing the space between structures and nearby trees and brush, and clearing space between neighboring houses
  • Incorporating fire-resistant design features and materials in building
  • Increasing resources allocated to firefighting and fire prevention.
  • Removing fuels, such as dead trees, from forests that are at risk.
  • Developing recovery plans before a fire hits and implementing plans quickly after a fire to reduce erosion, limit flooding, and minimize habitat damage.
Google Images

A Call to Address the Issue

We as citizens need to take climate change and wildfire threats seriously. We may say to ourselves, “It’s not affecting the area we live in.” Yet it is or soon will be with rising insurance costs and taxes to combat the issue. Also, you never know when the weather may shift, and the area you reside in will experience a long-term drought and become a tinder box ready to ignite. We should hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire and tell them we want the climate issues in our world addressed. This is an issue that will eventually affect us all and making our planet a livable place for all is everyone’s responsibility.

WARGAMES. Nuclear War Induced Childhood Anxiety Disorder

This evening after work, I came home, and the movie Wargames was on TV. I had to give it a watch because I hadn’t seen it in forever— like since I was a kid. You might remember the movie? Matthew Broderick played the main character. A kid that hacked the computer system at NORAD and started it simulating a nuclear war with Russia. Bringing the world to the brink of nuclear destruction. At the end of the movie, the computer program figures out nuclear war has no clear winner and is not worth engaging in, everybody breathes a big sigh of relief, and everyone is happy. Then the movie goes off. If you haven’t seen it, give it a look. It’s a pretty good movie.

The thing about this movie is this. Nuclear war was the cause of so much anxiety for me as a child. I knew the Russians were coming. I saw Rambo: First Blood Part II. I also saw Red Dawn. The original, with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. I worried so much as a child about nuclear war. It was crazy. I just knew that I was never losing my virginity, graduating high school, or ever having an adult life. You couldn’t fathom the amount of relief I felt when at 14, there was a coup d’é·tat that toppled the Soviet regime and effectively, in my mind, significantly lowered the chance for nuclear war. Then life went on.

As you may have realized already, as a child, I had an overactive imagination. The crazy thing is that I wouldn’t change it for anything. I look at life now and back at those preposterous thoughts and appreciate those worries more than the ones of my adult life. I also appreciate the killer movies that entertained me as a child, just a nostalgic thought for the evening

4:30 AM WAKE UP!

I always get up by 4:30 AM every morning, including the weekends. My alarm clock is set for 4 AM, but my rule is that my feet must be on the floor by 4:30 AM. During the wintertime, I get up and mill about the house, eat my breakfast, watch the local news and weather, and then start my day at 6:30. Now that the temperature is a bit warmer in the morning, I can get my daily walk in before my day gets going.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been heading out for my daily walk at 5:30 AM. The early walk makes my day so much better. Recently I’ve enrolled in skillshare, and I work on my courses between 4:30 and 5. I watch about 15 minutes of news. Then get ready and go for my walk. This action increases the value of my day. I’m at work by 7 AM, and at 8 AM, I’m in a morning production meeting. This morning I was looking around and realized I’ve already crushed the day and these folks are just getting started; I wanted to jump up and scream, “AHHHHHH!” as I flipped over the table. No, not really, but it did make me realize the fruits of this discipline I’ve been practicing for the past year or so are beginning to reward me.

A year ago, today, if you had told me I’d enjoy getting up and walking before dawn, I’d thought, “yeah, right.” A year ago, if you’d told me I would be enjoying a skillshare course, I’d thought, “yeah, right.” And here is the big one, a year ago, had you told me I’d be blogging, I’d thought, “yeah, right.” It’s strange how your path turns out when you work on yourself with no intention but to try something new. Who knows where I’ll be in a year? I know on this path, it won’t be in the same place, and I’m cool with that.

With that said, I guess I’ll start my evening wind-down routine and look forward to what tomorrow may bring. If you get the chance, try something new. Try it for a while to see how it wears on you. It may just change you for the better.

A Look At Deforestation

            With our growing population, deforestation around the world is at an all-time high. We are removing large swaths of forest around the planet at alarming rates. This practice makes way for agricultural development, wood extraction for housing, and infrastructure development. By removing all these trees, we are removing valuable carbon storage resources and negatively impacting our already unstable climate. Also, we are destroying ecosystems that house other species that benefit our very existence on this planet. These unsustainable practices will affect future populations if we don’t stop now and develop a large-scale, sustainable operation to support our growing population.

Image taken from google images

            Forest act as our planet’s air filtration system. They pull in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year from our atmosphere. Trees are our most effective weapon against climate change. With our growing population and governments’ needs to support their people, we are destroying forests faster than they can regrow. In effect, carbon dioxide levels rise in our atmosphere. Leading to an overall temperature rise globally, allowing for more natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Creating economic strife and heartache for the very people that governments are trying to support.

Image taken from google images

            Another effect of deforestation is the breakdown of natural migration routes for different animal species. There is an island off the coast of Brazil named Snake Island. It’s named that for the large population of snakes that live there. The dominant species there is the Lancehead Viper, one of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world. Being secluded to this island, their main source of food is migratory birds that stop on the island en route to the Amazonian Rainforest to rest. In recent years, with the rise of deforestation in the rainforest, scientists have noticed a decline in birds’ migration to the area. In turn, reducing the amount of food for the Lancehead Viper. It is believed, this will eventually lower its population and may even starve that population out completely, allowing for the snakes’ extinction. You may be asking yourself, “Why does that matter to me?” well, it should matter whether you believe in science or theology because the universal belief is that all species are here for a reason, to create balance. Another reason is that creepy snakes’ venom is used in blood pressure medicine worldwide. We all must understand that we are stuck in this world together. All life here is interdependent. Humans’, as the apex species of this planet, are charged with the stewardship of it. That is our burden.

Lancehead Viper, image taken from google images

            So, with an exploding population, how do we deal with this deforestation issue? Well, we first need to set aside political differences. Politicians should stop pandering to these lobbyists that line their pockets, then acknowledge together there is a problem, and develop sustainable practices of farming trees just as we do food. The trees will allow our climate to stabilize. Develop a more sustainable way of harvesting the trees for building materials and more forest-based green areas should be implemented in our cities, along with the practice of afforestation, planting new forest, should become more common. Many may think this is a radical approach to the problem, but the way we are heading leads us straight to global extinction. So, I’m of the mindset that radical circumstances call for radical preventive measures.

Image taken from google images

            Over the last hundred years or so, our population has increased dramatically, resulting in the consumption of more and more of our planet’s raw materials. Deforestation has become a problem throughout the world. The need to feed the global population, house them, and create infrastructure has driven the consumption of our forest figuring out a way to create a balance in our needs as a population and the health of our planet is paramount in the survival of all species. We will need to evolve our approach to this if we want to sustain this world to pass on to future generations.           

Growing Old Doesn’t Suck. It Just Hurts.

            When I was younger, I always thought growing old was going to suck. Now that I’m older, it isn’t all that bad. I’ve screwed up enough when I was younger, so I don’t do too many stupid things anymore. I have enough experience to make a decent wage. I have a roof over my head, all those things a responsible adult is supposed to have, you know. But, as a kid, you think you know everything, so you assume growing older is going to suck. The partying was going to stop. The new experience would dwindle. Life would just become that of mundane existence as you saw in your parents. Your parents hid a vital secret from you though. Or maybe you just never listened to them? The secret was that growing up doesn’t suck it just hurts.

            Every day I wake up it seems something new hurts. And so many of those times, I ask myself, “What have I done to hurt right there?” One time my foot started hurting. I went to the doctor, and he couldn’t find anything wrong with it. He did x-rays, checked me for gout, nothing. Then after about a year, no lie, it just quit hurting. The same thing has gone on with my shoulder, which I think it’s more linked to tension than anything. The pain there comes and goes. One time my back got so messed up, I could barely get out of the bed. I went and dropped a small fortune on a mattress, and BAM! I was back in the game. You know, when I was a teenager, I’ve woken up in peoples’ shrubs, brushed a little dirt off, and rolled out. If I woke up in someone’s shrubs today, someone would probably have to call the ambulance. They’d definitely be calling the police.

Image taken from google, but check out the old guy reaching for his beer.

            As I look back on my life, I remember my youthful escapades with nostalgia. So many things I’ve done, I could never do again. Well, I could, but I’d be bedridden for a few days. Maybe my parents did mention those pains. But as a hardheaded teenager, I scoffed at the inevitable. I think growing up is more painful than boring. At least, I have enough experience to be compensated well to cover my insurance premiums and constant purchases of aleve.