Jungle Talk

Are we hard wired to run a sustainable planet? And are we accountable to the entire world that we live in? For me the Jungle is something made up of so many fascinating elements; a journey of intriguing possibilities. That kind of sounds like "life" on planet-johnson.

Can I travel with a presence that allows my footprint to add value to the world that you live in while "capturing moments" that tell a compelling story? Karma is a belief that all of your actions will have equal reprecussions, affecting you and I. This journey is a search for some balance, a little discovery and hopefully some visual poetry?

This blog will humbly attempt to see my world through the experience of TRAVEL, photos and sincere examination of an experential and visual karma. And I will find a way to incorporate some positive travel experience into that karma with the perspective of a Digital Camera. Photography and writing have become my "love affair" with life on planet-johnson. Hopefully I can share my passions for the best of this crazy world!

Please join in and welcome to the jungle! 

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In the Air Tonight in Fiji, Hawaii or Tofino 

“How far will I need to travel to breathe clean air tonight" 

Travelling this planet in search of it`s best moments sometimes leads to common sense revelations. There is no denying the energy, architecture, culture and culinary delights of the global urban pulse in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Panama City, New York or Delhi but there`s more than a little disappointment at the state of air quality in most large cities. Recent studies of the WHO are highlighting the cancer causing probability of the exciting urban lives that many of us live! It`s a sad story. But it doesn`t have to be our endgame.

So, travel, as it often does, causes this one to reflect on the best that Gaia has to offer for those interested in good health as part of that "good vibe' package that inspires the travel quest. Maybe, just maybe, the journey can "inspire new eyes and thinking" about environmental possibilities? Maybe the best of clean air is just around the corner if you keep moving, and possibly that realization and appreciation could invigorate urban planning? 

That kind of idealism is hopeful but until the global politic can drag it`s sorry ass into a common sense environmental revelation (possibly by COP 30?!), then I will search for those moments of clear air, sunshine, sea life and landscape to "die for" that still can be found if you keep moving through this grand adventure on the 3rd brick from the sun. I won`t ignore the problem but I will explore the possibilities. Travelling for truth and loving every moment of it! I`m just a greedy idealist with a waundering heart.

My search takes me to the Hawaian Islands. I once read an educated opinion that the "northwest corner" of Maui had the cleanest air on earth (due to remote location of these Islands) so I had to take my son there and teach him how to really breathe. It was special and I`ve since discovered the beauty and clean air of the similiarly remote Kauai. Hike the Waimea Canyon and take a breath of the breathless views and then wander through the timeless shoreline of Mahalepu Beach. This is nature on fire, the life soul of our best!

Time stops and nature thrives on Kauai, but the best of Hawaian air is probably on the Big Island at Mauna Kea. At 13,000 feet this celestial air has to be as good as it gets. You also get to view a Sagan starshow after the sun goes down. This must be the very best the planet has to offer! Our lungs will likely cry for more.

Then my search for a true breath of life takes me to Vanua Levu, Fiji which is the (that`s me) the poor man`s alternative to Tahiti. Here tropical rainforests scream with life; warm seas are filled with a coral-reef; and kind, generous local people know how to enjoy a good laugh. Bula baby in another land of smiles. Maybe it`s the air? Now don`t get me wrong, there is pollution in Fiji if you hang out in Nadi which is another burdened deveoping City but if you make your way to the other islands things start to come clean and fantastic. The air quality isn`t measured as readily here as back home (Canada) but the evidence is clear on the outter Islands.

From Savusavu, on Vanua Levu,  we hire a ride to Netawa Bay and the 2 of us with a private Captain-Guide in a small boat head into the beautiful and tranquil Bay. He anchors our boat and the show soon begins. A couple of pods of spinner dolphins (at least 30-40) begins to swim around our boat, jumping and spinning and dancing like the carefree souls that they need to be. What a show as we inhale the great air that inspires such a natural phenomena. This is about as far from civilization a you need to be these days to encounter this air but there are so many other good reasons to be here. Do Fiji if you can? The land of smiles and brilliant air that takes your breath away.

Next up is Tofino, British Columbia where the lichens  (which can indicate very clean air) grow wild in the Pacific Rim National Park which offers major league hiking in a Canadian Rain Forest. Down the road a virtual icon for surfing beaches, Long Beach, draws sweet tasting breeze over it`s reliable rolling surf. Apparently surfing is as good for your lungs as your soul in Tofino. Sweet breathing meditation and action so close to home!

This search for very breathable air is just heating up and I can`t cover all the possibilities without more time and money.  I could try to make a difference like this lady  so that I can be part of a solution that moves this world ever so steadily into a breathable direction. I can move to the air but if we don`t make some noise and demand the best it`ll find us eventually as we`re discovering in some parts of polluted Canada.  So for now I hope to continue the "air tour" with stops in Iceland, South Africa, Patagonia, Tahiti, New Zealand and anywhere else that I discover fits the mould. It`s a breathful of possibilities in a slow moving environmental activism? We need to deserve the best outcome but I`ll hit the road and breathe the best till then.


Dreaming Blue Sky Power in Panama

"We photograph to taste life lasting, in the moment and forever more. The future is now." 

I`m running on a beach in Panama that, for me, defines everlasting possibilities. Whew, that might seem to be a bit of a reach but I am in the travel, hope and sustainability exploration of what can be part a path to the             1 billion year plan. Hence the Dreaming part of the title in this piece. A lot of great plans start with a dream so here we go?

Here on Laslajs, Panama, on the Pacific Ocean, I can see for miles through endless sand and blue, blue and more blue sky that fuels a dreamer`s high. With each stride and moment of this running paradise it`s a natural leap to thinking about Solar Power. No cars in sight, little hydro available and no pollution possible but plenty of in your face, seemingly endless solar power on the Pacific coast of Central America. 

This story plays all over the world in Nicaraugua, Thailand, Austrailia, Hawaii, Fiji, California, Ecuador and on and on. Each will offer these pristine, coastal solar revelations in one form or other. Obviously the sun shines everywhere including occasionally in Mexico City or Shanghai but this coastal sunshine inspires the less than obvious notion, at least at government levels, that we have a pretty powerful and benign path to a sustainable future.

I still think about a 'National Geographic" moment in a bed and breakfast in Panama City where recently , finding a 1979 edition of this magazine, I discovered an add from the Exxon corporation promoting Solar Power. It was a crazy moment in American History where even Exxon was toying with the notion of a solar market. Now that sounds like a dream but it`s true and through a complicated set of political and economic historical consequences solar power was buried deep under rising oil subsidies and business. So here we are and the damage is done but the sun is still shining and I can no longer ignore it`s potential as I travel through another paradise. I`ve heard it said that the only reason that we aren`t entirely solar powered by now is because "Exxon doesn`t own the sun" and apparently there`s a bit of truth to that? But this worm has turned and the future is hopeful.

Solar power technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that hope is truly on this horizon. Solar power has just recently been reported to leap ahead of wind as an electrical source. Central America has come a long way in the past decade in developing policies and regulatory frameworks to promote renewable energy, and now projects are on the rise. From this report on Central American solar progress we see that Panama is expected be home to two large-scale PV plants of 2.4 MW and approximately 2 MW in capacity. Hopefully that`s just a tip of their potential? Meanwhile, the world is going solar with India planning the world`s largest project so far in Rajasthan (which I may visit in January), California continues to develope projects like the Mojave Desert, the largest self-consumption rooftop solar array has been built in Germany (which is fuel for urban solar projects), and now even the Vatican is going solar

Here I was travelling the best of beach paradise in Panama and I`ve been inspired again to talk solar. Travel can be a great way to wander into the future and maybe soon I`ll find another add from Exxon talking the newest profitable source of energy? But that will probably mean that they are on the verge of buying a piece of it. And so it goes with our sustainable hope and future! Now I think I`ll have to explore some more of the sea, sun, people and culture of Panama.

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Iceland: Dreamscape Photo Moments for Karma on Fire

“The problem with driving around Iceland is that you’re basically confronted by a new soul-enriching, breath-taking, life-affirming natural sight every five goddamn minutes. It’s totally exhausting.”  Stephen Markley

This story begins with a Rick Sammon-Tim Vollmer Photography Workshop in this terra Wonderland of Iceland. We are 9 students of Photography (and life) who aspire to taking their art and it`s passion for adventure to a new level of discovery, and hopefully accomplishment? We will mark 8 days of travel wrapped in high end Nikon and Canon gear and a devotion to "photo moments" reminiscent of kids in the proverbial candy store!

Luckily, 3 Photo Tour Workshop Guides are dedicated to offering us Iceland`s best possibilities (and fantasies) when they take time from inspiring our photo technique and post-processing potential. This was a 5 star karmic learning event for this photo traveler and our mentors, Rick sammon, Tim Vollmer and Susan Sammon, truly are the "shit"! They had us feeding at the trough of our passions and I`m feeling like a kid learning a new language. Yeah, I know, I`ve become a Photo Geek and a Dreamscape Surfer. And I love it!

Beyond learning Photography, I think that the best of this Global Travel experience is a connection where hopefully Iceland helps us "capture" it`s fantasy and help us realize our special bond with the best of Nature! And discovering how important that the "best of nature" might be to our future is another theme that I`m trying to understand?

This "very special" trip has reminded me that I need to give as much as I receive in this world of discovery. All I can give here are some Photo moments conveying how I`m trying to learn the "Art of Visual poetry" in the Land of Elves. Photography is my way to tell a story of beautiful possibilities!

Here I practice HDR capturing my buddy Martin swept up in his personal passion for Ice Pics! I`m learning like you probably are but it`s not too complicated. Bracket 5 exposures, load into Lightroom and use the LR Photomatix plug in to create HDR. Then I transfer HDR to LR plugin from Nik and use Color Effex Pro to fine tune the look. Voila, I create my karmic vision of an Icy Paradise!


Here I learn the value of a solid tripod and a Nikon Camera with the "timer" activated. Now I have a "selfie" of myself on top of the world! More simple photographic magic in Fantasy Land!


I try and add a little drama to Gullfoss (majestic waterfalls) with a Neutral Density Filter and some Nik software fine tuning (with advice from my buddy, Rick Sammon). I am becoming a big fan of Nik thanks to some inspiration from Tim Vollmer and Rick.

This all advances my road of Discovery through "Travel Photography" as I try to relate thought on culture, inspiration, visual literacy and maybe just the selfish moments of pure unadulterated joy during a global journey. Toss in a bit of HDR, Nikon (or Canon, Sony, Fuji), Nik, a wide angle lens and I`ll be back with more of this.


The Invasion of Greed, Jellyfish and Our Ocean`s Extinction

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean."  Arthur C Clarke

As a prelude to a possible "dive trip" to the Gulf of Thailand, I`m watching Rob Stewart`s latest movie Revolution lament for the future of mankind and for the state of our greatest treasure, the Ocean. It`s fascinating to see a movie nearly as good as his first, Sharkwater, that talks the talk of real science and real consequences. This siren views just as the scientific community begins to sound the alarm of Extinction for us all to consider between episodes of Dr. Phil and American Idol. Maybe we can find time for science and the reality of our neglect?

This planet is about 2/3`s Ocean, 1/3 land mass and a speck of humanity that shits into this massive Ocean as if it really is just one big pottyhole? And this speck of humanity can apparently excrete at unparalled levels of damage. Results from the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)/IUCN review of science on anthropogenic stressors on the ocean go beyond the conclusion reached last week by the UN climate change panel, the IPCC , that the ocean is absorbing much of the warming and unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide. They warn that the cumulative impact of this with other ocean stressors is way scarier than previous estimates. It adds up to dangerous acidity and extinction!

In Revolution, Stewart interviews scientists who claim that the Ocean can go belly up in 20 years. It has become 30% more acidic over the past 100 years and this Ocean hasn`t been threatened with these levels of potential acidity in 65 million years. What the frack! I didn`t hear about his on CNN, Fox news or our local newspapers. So what does it mean? Can I dive in a dead Ocean? Do I need a new travel plan?

I once talked to a fisherman in Amed on the east coast of Bali about their lost fishing industry. Many of their boats come back every day with less and less to feed their families. He blamed it on the Dolphins who he said were eating all of the fish? I didn`t have the heart to suggest that maybe our buddies in the Global Fishing Industry were probably overfishing here like everywhere else. Now this recent report from the scientific body, IPSO, suggests that overfishing of large Ocean species combined with Global Warming acidification of the same Oceans is on the verge of a catastrophic consequence. It`s become all too obvious that "greed is not good" and that profit and extinction are sharing the same boat. And that boat is sinking!

According to the Guardian newspaper, IPSO states that  "This [acidification] is unprecedented in the Earth's known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun." The much maligned IPCC reports are often vilified in MainStreamMedia as shrill overeaction to the environmental community but I find that the more I research this area of scientific consequences I find that the IPCC is somewhat muted and forced into overly cautious predictions. The proof is in the water. Ten years ago in National Geographic News it was reported that 90% of large fish species were already extinct! Ten fracking years ago. Is it better now? I don`t think so! Adding to that we have these recent scientific findings that Global Warming CO2 emmissions are adding acidity to the Ocean at disasterous rates of change. Well it`s not a pretty picture and if I care about what life is like "on the third Rock from the Sun" 20 years down the road? then I`d better try and be part of a solution?

The world`s Jellyfish are an ultimate symptom of degradation and are cockroaches of the sea. They can`t seem to be killed by anything. They are loving this problem and good for them but our Ocean`s are dying and increasing sites of too many Jellyfish is another Siren. I`ve tried swimming with these Jellyfish off the coast of Hua Hin, Thailand and Jamaica. It`s not a good experience. This "jelly bloom" can disrupt and destroy fisheries, make for unpleasant swimming (that`s me and you), or foul up the works of power plants that use seawater for cooling. They can be beautiful but deadly!

Can we save ourselves from the Ocean`s extinction? Common sense suggests that it is time for a reset button. But we can`t seem to find it so maybe it`s time to panic just a little bit and get our asses into a scientific International movement to turn this around. I`m not sure of the best way to approach this just yet, but I`m searching and traveling for possibilities!

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Whale Talk in a "Seashepherd Moment"

"We have heard the whales sing. And we want – we very desperately want – to hear them sing again." Jacques-Yves Cousteau

It`s after midnight on the Antarctic Southern Ocean and the ship`s fire alarm is ringing. I break out of light sleep and jump into my gear. Then I`m headed for the ship`s bow and hoping it`s a simulation. In a moment I`m standing on the deck of our ship the "Steve Irwin". Seas are up and a frozen wind is blowing.

A Japanese Whaling Harpoon Ship is headed toward us and the captain has set the alarm to brace the crew for a ramming. What the hell is going on? We`re just here to observe illegal Whaling activity by Japanese Harpoon boats but now we`re under attack. A crewmate scream to "brace yourselves". The larger, faster Whaling Ship clips our bow and we`re in big trouble!

Then I really wake up and realize that I`m dreaming in living colour! But this really is a consequential danger for the crews of ships used by the "Seashepherd Conservation Society" to prevent the illegal slaughter of Whales on the high seas.  This kind of threat appears imminent as Paul Watson and Seashepherd put themselves at significant risk to "do the right thing". They are the activist heros that inspire my latest travel dreams.

My travel life was affected profoundly by my first trip to Hawaii with it`s everpresent and always inspiring "call of the wild" moments highlighted by the awesome sights and sounds of the Humpback Whale. Whether it`s a seashore hike, a measured beach moment, a catamirand whale tour, helicoptor sighting or just snorkeling somewhere in the "Humpback Universe",  there are breach sightings or Whale songs that forever change the possibility that you can accept butchering any life form this special. They think, they sing, they play with a freedom we would die for, they are no threat to sensible human beings and they highlight a moment in this planet`s history that cries for "Ocean Conservation".  They provoke  a "Seashepherd Moment" in affected travelers! That, for me, represents an activist passion to live by a planetary fairness that recognizes the right to an Ocean life and freedom for these cetacean mammals.

Commercial Whaling has been illegal since an International Whaling Commission moratorium in 1986, but Iceland, Norway and Japan have slaughtered 25,000 whales since then? The last line of defence for the Whale, since there are no police on the high seas, is the Seashepherd Conservation Society who actively drive the Japanese Whale murderers crazy in their attempted seasonal Whaling slaughters. Seashepherd is a group on non-profit conservationists who, since 1977, have used direct action tactics to expose and confront the illegal activities of whale butchers on the high seas. The stuff of my dreams. 

Friends on a "whale tour" off Kauai have their moment as a Humpack surfaces (within a few feet) next to their catamirand and rises silently to eye level. Eye contact with Mobi Dick. Intelligent, sensitive and enormous. They`ve made the kind of contact that commercial Seaworld perverts. They discover a force of nature and freedom. Contact with something seemingly alien, but probably as special as ourselves?

At that moment I`m busy diving (near Poipu) with Giant Seaturtles and dolphins that inspire another significant "moment". These life forms are adding a peaceful balance to nature that we seem determined to corrupt. This traveler wonders if these creatures are probably as important to conserve as human beings? A crazy notion, but I don`t think we have proved ourselves especially worthy in recent history and maybe in the "Seashepherd Moment" I can help change that? Traveling with these animals is my karmic opportunity to understand possibilities! My dream to save the Ocean and ourselves.

So next I`m in Maui off Kaanapali Beach, snorkeling around the "Black Rock". This is always special with Turtles and the usual fish frenzy close by but now I see something on the sea bottom? Maybe an Eel? I dive to ten feet and whatever was there is now gone, but now I`m hearing the music. Whale songs of the Humpback Whale. Apparently it`s only the males that sing and scientists still don`t understand what it means, but this is some serious Ocean Melody. I go up for air and then back down for more. This performance goes on for 15 minutes and they seem so close. I swim about and look and look? No sign of the elusive humpback that might be close or could be miles away. But listening to this music brings me into his space.

Again I`m further drawn into the vortex of a lost freedom and the passion for Whale survival. I have seen and heard this beast and now I think I understand how important their freedom is. This kind of travel has made me aware and that is some of the best possibility and reason for travel. It`s what I search for in Nature and different cultures. This is the "art of travel", as inspired in a "Seashepherd Moment"! Something that I guess Cousteau might have appreciated!

To understand Seashepherd and it`s challenge try Whale Wars on the Animal Planet Channel

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Liars, Deniers and the Ugly Future of Climate Change

"The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun."  ?


I`m an average tax paying Canadian reading the morning news and mews on a Macbook with my sensory alarms running hot. Today I focus on the Environment and the news is not good! i.e headlines such as "Doctors Claim that Climate Change is the Greatest Threat to Public Health or We`re Beyond the Earth`s Carrying Capacity Now or Global Food prices expected to Climb and get more Volatile because of Global Warming."  But how can that be? The sky is blue, the forecast is cool and life goes on here in "neverland" Canada as it always has. This news must be shite and I`m going to talk my neighbour into idling her Hummer a little longer so that we can get the temperature up where it should be? Where is this damn Global Warming that everyone is whining about?

I`ve got to do a little research on this global warming crap and see what real Scientists are saying? I`ll start with "" which sounds like me. Here`s some of their thoughts:

"the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”. (Doran 2009). In other words, more than 95% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.  In the field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change."

Ok not good. What about Wikipedia, they usually have the answer?

National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states:   An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.[1] No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position.[2][3] Some other organizations, primarily those focusing on geology, also hold non-committal positions.

All right! Finally some common sense and as usual it comes the "American Association of Petroleum Geologists". I mean if you can`t trust Exxon then who the hell can you trust? They are a true Bullwort in the fight against "scientific nonsense"!

Just as I feel my Oily confidence getting real this damn "National Roundtable of Canada" comes out with their government sponsored study claiming that man-made Global Warming will cost Canada billions of dollars in damage by 2020? They`re saying we`ll have to spend $5 billion per year adaptation costs at that point and $43 billion per year by 2050!? Shite what will that cost the Americans if Canada gets dinged that hard? How did our government let these guys publish this dubious report?

Luckily our Environment Minister has this covered. He says Canada is putting $58 million away per year to cover this problem. That gives us 464 million adaptation dollars in the bank by 2020. Ok, so that`s only a tenth of the first year`s cost but I`m sure Kent and Prime Minister Harper have a plan (or the next PM Justin Trudeau). Probably they`ll print more dollars at 0% interest until our needs are met. Simple strategy. We`ve learned it well from the "Greatest Nation on Earth" and the deserved needs of our pampered civilization are met once again.

And if the printing press fails to satisfy our needs the Government has other obvious options. These "think tank" Science guys just don`t understand modern economics. We`ll just bring in some "Wall Street" brainiacs and put that $464 million into a government sponsored "Hedge Fund" that invests in "Oil and Gas Derivatives" that make so much money we won`t be able to understand its worth. Awesome, its like a free slot machine that you keep rolling until you get what you want. As Michael Moore might say "Capitalism is our Love Story" and Wall Street is our girl friend! You gotta love it!

Sure, you`d think the odds aren`t good with less than 5% of Scientists on my side and Roundtables or Intergovernmental Panels stacking up on the side of Scientific probability, but I`ve got help. Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, Rex Murphy at the CBC, the National Post and plenty of good sensible U.S. Senators are disputing these silly Scientific Truths more vehemently than I am. This gives me that warm and Oily confidence that Exxon will continue to make the most profit in the history of capitalism and that our Governments will print their asses off to maintain the status quo. This scientific truth nonsense doesn`t have a chance in this mighty Oil and Coal Kingdom! Praise the future of Climate Science!

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. "      Carl Sagan