Moss Grows on a Roaring Stone

Cottage Cliff

Spring has Sprung and the rock lichens are visible now that the snow is gone from the north face of the cliff outside the cottage on Sugar Mountain Farm. When we built our tiny cottage in 2005 we set it into a nook in the cliff face that we had carved out of the bedrock of Sugar Mountain. This protects us from the cold north winds and gives a little micro-climate around the cottage.

Lichens Loving the North Face

During the past nine years the rocks of the cliff face have gone from bare raw crystals to virtually completely covered in lichens and mosses as well as other growing things. It has been a fascinating transformation from lifeless to life filled.


This is the northern equivelant of the coral reefs that I dearly love to study. On the shield face rock at the top one can see long scrape marks which were left by the glaciers as they dragged harder rocks against the bedrock which they ground smooth as they shaved off the top of our mountain about 15,000 years ago. Had it not been for the glaciers I would be a lot higher.

What is truly amazing is that after the glaciers retreated they left all of the land they had covered barren and dead. Then slowly lichens, mosses, shrubbery and Monty Python fans repopulated the naked rocks. By the time our people several thousand years later New England was filled with life. The ability of life to spring back from the edge of extinction is truly amazing.

CO2 vs Glaciation Over the last 800,000 Years
Source: Wiki

The following joke has been deleted because some sensitive people don’t get it. The above graph clearly shows that the White Male Republican Big Business leaders are responsible for our past period cycles of glaciation over the past 800,000 years as demonstrated by the correlation between the CO2, global temperatures and Republican administrations in the White House during that time period. It is also suggested that loud rock music by the Rolling Stones may have had an influence in the last several cycles which could have prevented moss from growing in some places. Anyone can clearly see the obvious conclusion. Comments who didn’t like the joke have had their comments retracted to avoid embarrassment to all politically sensitive parties, genders, occupations, etcetera, etcetera. In the future I will never make another joke for fear of offending someone who doesn’t get it. Not.

Outdoors: 54°F/34°F Partially Rainy
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Don’t think too deeply.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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11 Responses to Moss Grows on a Roaring Stone

  1. Sally Sievers says:

    Quoting roughly from an article I just saw recently on the subject, “The earth will be fine; nature will do its thing. But it doesn’t care in the least about human beings.”

    I don’t have much fear for the bacteria, mosses, and lichens (and they are indeed beautiful and wonderful.) We’re the ones who may not be able to evolve as fast as we need to, to keep in the game. It’s grandchildren I worry about (not mine, none will happen). Human requirements are a bit more finicky than mosses. On the 100,000 year scale your graph is showing, life of some sort will persist. Wonder what the successor species will look like.

    Even in the worst case scenario your mountain might well stay habitable till the next ice age in 50,000 years or so, unless the weather patterns take your water away. You might have a problem with refugees from Florida when that subsides beneath the waves, but the dog pack may be sufficient deterrent.


  2. When I was a child articles in the media interviewing scientists were warning us that we were headed for another ice age. Big concern. Ice ages are really nasty. Given my druthers I would rather have warning than cooling. Then for the last 20 years they’ve been saying we’re headed for global warming. Except looking back now at the last decade of data they’re now saying we didn’t get the warming.

    On a side line they used to also make a big hoopla about the Population Bomb. But that fizzled too. The hockey sticks have had a tendency to not prove out. Things mitigate them. Like education in the case of birth rates.

    They used to say we were going to use more and more power exponentially, except that electronic devices have become more and more efficient. Not because of any eco-concern but to make phones and notebook computers lighter weight and longer lasting. My early computers were hot enough to heat a home. Now I can barely get any heat off them and they sip a tiny battery for a week. The side effect was less power consumption which bent the hockey stick which helped reduce power consumption and generation needs. Same thing happened in other appliances. If the government would stop subsidizing energy and let the price of gas rise to its natural $10 to $15 per gallon we would see a whole lot more innovation around conservation and efficiency.

    Not long ago they changed the wording from Global Warming to Climate Change since we didn’t turn out to be getting warming consistently so that wasn’t going over well. Now the politicians are working on a new name for it: Climate Uncertainty.

    What it really amounts to is a lot of FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. They’re trying to keep us stirred up and distracted. Meanwhile they ignore the real problems like toxic pollution. I doubt they’ll make for much in the way of real solutions.

    The moss and lichen persist and after the next ice age they’ll start the next recovery act. I’m optimistic.

  3. Unfortunately the latest trend in fad FUD is a distraction from real problems. The public and governments only have so much attention and resources to deal with things.

    You asked “Who benefits from the FUD?” Follow the money trail. One example is the carbon trading. They tell the public that there is a problem of global warming caused by CO2 caused by burning fuel. FUD. Then they tell people that they have a solution: buy our carbon credits! They guilt and fool people into buying a carbon offset with their airline ticket to make up for flying. Unfortunately carbon trading doesn’t do anything to solve the real problem, it just makes the carbon traders richer. That’s who “They” are. It really is a conspiracy. Don’t bother with tin foil hat though – it won’t do you any good.

    Another group who has benefitted greatly from the FUD around climate change is the media, on both sides of the political spectrum. Both the deniers and alarmists are extremists gaining publishing space which they use to sell advertising. The louder they scream the more people panic and pay attention to their articles. That means greater circulation for their newspapers, TV shows, etc and that is how their advertising departments generate revenue. They benefit from hyping things up more than it really is because that gets attention to their media outlet.

    Politicians are another group who benefit from the hype. They use it as a scare tactic in their campaigns against their opponents. The irony is they fly around the world attending fancy diner parties about Global Warming while telling the rest of us we need to conserve, they have huge mansions with heated swimming pools and all sorts of other means of pollution. Apparently the rules don’t apply to them. Their rabid fans make excuses for them claiming it is okay because they’re doing good work. The reality is all those meetings and speeches could have been done over the Internet without all that travel related pollution. As yourself, politico, how many penguins have you killed?

    This post was not about global warming although it seems to be devolving into that. I found the graph while looking up the date of the last ice age on Wiki because I was thinking about how glaciers had scraped the mountains clean. The graph was on that page which I linked too above. I thought it was funny to look at how “They” blame certain classes of people. Sorry you don’t like the joke. Other people did. (Your lack of humor is just your problem and I’ve removed your comments from here since they went so far downhill.) I still think it is funny because these swings in climate have been around since long before our species existed and they’ll be here long after our species dies off. We happen to be involved this time but it’s not all about us.

    I take pollution, both CO2, toxic pollutants, Genetic pollution and other forms of pollution very seriously. I designed my life around minimizing my impact on the planet. I have a deeply negative carbon footprint. I produce very little in the way of pollution. I don’t travel. I use almost no fossil fuels. I don’t use pesticides, herbicides and a whole long list of toxic pollutants. Meanwhile my land sequesters over 1,400,000 pounds of carbon a year as well as many more thousands of tons of nitrogen. This is not an accident. Since I’ve been working our land this has improved even further because actively managed forests sequester more carbon and pastured lands sequester far more than that. I don’t play games with carbon credits. I’m actively making a difference. I’ll make jokes about the absurdity of the situation if I like. You don’t have to like my jokes but I don’t like your implication that I don’t believe in global warming. I do believe in it. I’m pro-warming.

    • Dan says:

      I for one thought your post was great, in that I got the jokes (nobody is upset about Monty Python apparently.) Every once in a while I wish my blog would grow but then I see all the comments of people taking things way too seriously and I am glad for my small, local readers.

      I too have seen a graph similar to yours. I too have seen the latest global crisis come and go over the decades. Scientists are just a fallable as anyone else, more so when their livelihoods are controlled by politics, which they are. Doesn’t mean their conclusions are wrong, but it certainly doesn’t mean they are right either. I’m taking your path. I am doing all I can on my little piece of the world. If everyone trying to change the world just changed their own world, we would be a lot further down the path.

      Keep up the humor Walter. It is appreciated.

    • Mike Davidson II says:

      Walter I am curious about your statement of being pro warming. Obviously you are not a global climate change denier so I think there must be something more there that you are saying. Can you explain further?

      • By pro-warming I mean given my druthers I choose warming over cooling. We do not have the option of a steady state universe. The planet warms and cools, as the graph demonstrates, whether we like it or not.

        People happen to be used to the current temperatures and sea levels. They mistakenly think that is the normal. The graph proves otherwise. People have built their homes way too close and permanently to the oceans as a result. However in the past there were times when the sea levels were more than 300′ lower and more than 100′ higher. There was a time when the coast line of the USA was much further out to sea when the seas were lower due to ice ages such that we are now finding villages out there with underwater archeology. There were also times when the mid-west of the USA was flooded by an inland sea when the temperatures were warmer. These things change.

        The worst is when the world has been much colder. During the ice ages we had the greatest die offs of life other than by impact (meteor, etc) or volcanism, and in fact perhaps worse than those. On the other hand the periods of warming are when life on this planet has flourished.

        We do not get the option of setting the thermostat at the recent temperatures we happen to be used to living at – The planet is not steady state. It fluctuates. So if I have to pick between being pro-colding and pro-warming I’ll go far the pro-warming when life flourishes.

        Unfortunately, all this circus about global warming has distracted people from the real problems of toxic pollution like the PCBs, dioxins, mercury, GMOs and other things that are a much greater threat. Reducing energy consumption is already happening through the use of the internet instead of travel (politicians and ‘save the world’ conferences could still improve there) and through improved efficiency in appliances, electronics, etc that use far less power than in the past. Your modern computer uses less power not so much because of issues of global warming but because of improvements in the chips so that computers could become portable, even to the extreme of being handheld. e.g., your phone, iPod, etc. These were market driven changes with all the FUD that sells carbon credits and newspapers.

    • Mike Davidson II says:

      BTW- I got the joke and chuckled. Dont lose your sense of humor over someone who doesn’t get it.

  4. Emily says:

    great post! love the jokes. all of them. some people need to read the spark. keep on keeping walter!

  5. Glenn Warren says:

    Trying to catch up today after having been gone too long. I so enjoy following your family’s progress. And so glad to see things going well. I too appreciate your humor and your perspective which seems rather rational and sensible for a man not as connected to the “real” world as most of your fellow citizens. I think you have a pretty sensible view on the “climate change” issue and agree that is often informative to follow the money; you have. My best to you all, including all the species of flora and fauna under your stewardship.

  6. Tim says:

    3rd paragraph, 2nd sentence. 1 smooth instead of 2

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