When we first received word that a 66-year-old man was assaulted with a baseball bat while in the supposed safety of his own home near Millville, we were horrified.
After much deliberation and conversation, we’re even more so.
Property crimes have been on a severe uptick throughout this community over the past several years — originally chalked up to a slumping economy, then mass addiction to painkillers and, now, many have been linked to heroin addicts seeking money for their next fix.
But getting property taken is far different from being struck on the back of your head by a baseball bat while you are in your home. That physical harm is a completely different animal, and one that can come with even more grave consequences. What if the swing by that bat would have been more forceful, or struck him in a slightly different spot?
It can make you shudder at the thought.
The physical harm is unsettling enough, but what about the harm of not feeling safe in one’s home? What about the emotional scars that come with something like that? According to police, the man was transported to a local hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. We certainly wish him all the best in his recovery, and hope he can return to a life of normalcy soon.
The cold reality is that this is not the same sleepy community anymore where one can leave the doors to their home or cars unlocked. The crimes that have plagued much of the rest of the country over the years have made their way into our little coastal oasis, and the police can not possibly be everywhere at once to stop it all.
Again, we call for community action. We ask for our community to join together in the seemingly-simple task of looking out for one another. If you see someone near your neighbor’s home, and that person looks suspicious, call the police and tell them what you saw. We’re certainly not condoning you confronting anybody, but make the call. Our local police are responsive, and they will respond.
We’re all in this together.
A recent article in the Washington Post cited a paper published last week in the Journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.
Editor’s Note: It was important that I read the condensed version of this paper in the Post, as my personal knowledge of science is limited to kind-of, sort-of understanding that my water turns into ice cubes when I put them in the little blue plastic tray that lives in my freezer.
According to these researchers, there are nine “planetary boundaries” in nature, and breaking through these could lead to the extinction of humanity. Of course, one could argue that the presence of basic humanity has been missing for some time now, so...
But I digress.
The researchers have determined that we’ve crossed the threshold in terms of deforestation, the extinction rate, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertilizer) into the ocean. That’s four out of nine categories. A batting average like that gives you your own wing in the Hall of Fame.
“The boundary is not like the edge of the cliff,” cautioned Ray Pierrehumbert, an expert on Earth systems at the University of Chicago. “They’re a little bit more like danger warnings, like high-temperature gauges on your car.” Pierrehumbert was not involved in this research paper, simply commenting for the Post story, and added that a planetary boundary “is like an avalanche warning tape on a ski slope.”
So, now I’m supposed to be afraid of avalanches, too?
Look, I’m no doomsdayer when it comes to the world around us. It’s not that I don’t believe in climate change, or what wrath that could bring with it — I just kind of feel like that’s millions of years away and I have work to deal with right now. So don’t bother me.
But we also have to be somewhat realistic. If you believe that we’re the only lifeform in the solar system that walks around on two feet, chews gum and watches reality television, then you pretty much also have to realize that the environment of Earth must play a part in that. And if said environment is beginning to deteriorate, then, well, that could be a problem, right?
My original thought when reading this was that people much smarter than myself — and that is indeed an enormous list of people — will figure it out in plenty of time to keep us in business for years to come. They’ll use technology to steer us in the right direction or combat environmental regression, and I can go right back to blindly living my life without fear of being sucked into a giant vacuum that...
But I digress. Again.
“The trends are toward layering on more and more technology so that we are more and more dependent on our technological systems to live outside these boundaries,” said Pierrehumbert. “... It becomes more and more like living on a spaceship than living on a planet.”
Hel-lo. Did he say we could be living on spaceships?
Fine, looking back on it, that’s not at all what he said, but a man can dream, right?
Once I got over my short-lived fantasy that we’d all be living on spaceships, I started taking stock of what could happen if we indeed ruined the world around us and caused mass extinction. Again, I’m no doomsdayer, but consider what’s going on around us — environmental decay, terrorists around the globe, political infighting in our own borders, massive atrocities in Africa, North Korea being North Korea, etc. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that human beings as we know them might soon be running out of sand in the hourglass.
Editor’s Note 2: I know the following sentence is going to send shivers up your spine. I apologize for that in advance.
That got me thinking...
When that next species of life takes over the planet, and their archaeologists start sifting through what we left behind, what will they find? Weapons? Computers? Twinkies?
Will they view us as ingenius creatures who built skyscrapers and flew in outer space, or as simpletons who couldn’t recognize our own immortality or refused to learn from our mistakes? Will they actually be much more rudimentary than us and live in awe of the great beings that existed before them?
Or, will there just not be any more species, and this planet will be a giant landfill hurtling through space?
Actually, I’m bored with this talk now. When do pitchers and catchers report for spring training?
Letters to the Editor
Reader: We must protect that around us
The first rule of wildlife conservation is you cannot save species if you do not save habitat. For those of us who are conservative, we should regard that ethos and preserve our natural world for future generations, along with the health and well-being of all species that share this planet. If not, then that makes you a radical, someone disregarding the intrinsic value of biodiversity, which is directly and importantly the foundation of humanity on many fundamental levels.
The radical decision of DNREC to desecrate the Hen & Chicken Shoals, with the approval of the Rehoboth ocean outfall, is counterintuitive to the fundamental core of their mission. This is no surprise to the residents of Delaware, who suffer unjustly at the hands of a tyrannical state regulatory agency, time and time again. Nearly every recent record of a DNREC decision is under appeal, lawsuit or public complaint.
For a state agency to have a seasonal batting average of .000 each year, the citizenry is horrified. From half-hatched plans of Inland Bays oyster aquaculture to fish impingement at the Delaware City refinery and back to the Allen Harim chicken plant in Millsboro, public mistrust of DNREC should be of grave concern to the Markell administration.
Disingenuous state programs will now include the Delaware Wildlife Plan, under the direction of Fish & Wildlife. Its mission statement is a comprehensive strategy for conserving all native wildlife species and habitats — common and uncommon — as vital components of the state’s natural resources. While the plan itself is intended for all who are actively engaged in conservation efforts, the implementation of the plan will be coordinated by the Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Working together with conservation partners, the division’s goal is to keep Delaware’s common species common, and to prevent species from being listed as endangered. Well, the critical failure in this specific issue makes a fundamental case for federal agencies funding these programs to question the veracity of the program. Financially supported by taxpayer dollars, the Delaware Wildlife Plan is a falsified and egregious public-relations spin, when held to the litmus test of an ocean outfall approval in 2015.
As I scroll though the 357 pages of documents on this record of decision, and the supporting statements by Secretary Small, I’m reminded of another fictional piece of writing, “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy. While not of equal heft, both publications function best as a doorstop.
So many well-informed citizens and conservation groups objected vociferously to this project. To each and every one, I’m grateful. I would especially like to thank the Surfrider Foundation, MERR Institute, Sierra Club, Audubon and the Delaware River Keepers for their constructive comments and advocacy for clean water and healthy habitat for species.
When DE Administrative Codes and Coastal Zone Management laws are disregarded as regulatory impediments, and not guidelines for findings of fact, then the review process fails. Such systemic corruption in approving this ocean outfall reflects poorly on everyone who supports this choice.
In the next few weeks, the state government in Dover will be rocked by a myriad of legal ramifications concerning this issue. If not, then our elected officials have failed in their sworn duty to the constitution of the State of Delaware, the laws and regulations, which are designed to protect our health, community standards and the natural world for all species.
West Fenwick Island