Animal planet

The Sixth Mass Extinction

We are currently in the middle of the Sixth Mass Extinction on planet Earth. That’s right – the sixth one. The difference this time is that one species, Homo Sapiens (yup that’s you and me) is responsible.

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the non-fiction book, The Sixth Extinction, maintains that we are living in the Anthropocene period of Earth’s history. A time period characterized by human beings’ attempts to manipulate our environment, resulting in the extinction or near-extinction of many different species.

Just as with Climate Change, there are those who would deny that human activity has such a negative impact on the Earth. They would say that climate change and mass extinctions are a natural part of Earth’s history. And they would be right – I mean this IS the Sixth Mass Extinction. However, the previous five weren’t caused by a single species. This one is. Us.

Some anthropologists would even argue that this mass extinction started thousands of years ago when man hunted pre-historic animals like the mastodon and the giant sloth to extinction. But it’s accelerated within the last 100 years during the Industrial Age when we began spewing carbon into the atmosphere.

Carbon emissions are causing global warming and increased temperatures in the oceans which destroys coral reefs. Increased ocean acidity is killing off clams, barnacles and starfish. There are currently 1414 species of fish at risk of extinction. Due mostly to overfishing.

The animals on the Endangered Species List categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable include leopards, rhinos, gorillas, orangutans, elephants, giraffes, porpoises, dolphins, whales, pandas, hippos, turtles, bears, bison and bees. Rainforest deforestation by farmers and ranchers will result in many species that will not survive the reduction in habitat. And the species that rely on them will also perish because the biodiversity of the rainforest is inner-connected.

That is the single most important FACT to take away from this. We are ALL inner-connected. What happens to elephants in Africa has an impact on humans in Detroit or Albuquerque or Poland. Fires in Australia are impacted by rains in Indonesia. The nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 is STILL spreading radiation throughout the Pacific Ocean killing fish, contaminating the water and exposing millions of Homo Sapiens (that’s US again) to radiation as far away as the west coast of the United States and beyond. Ocean currents will eventually carry the radiation across the globe.

Concerned? You should be. Not sure what to do? SPEAK UP!!! Contact your senators and representatives. Attend Climate Change rallies. VOTE for environmental candidates. Look at what one girl in Sweden started by skipping school and sitting outside the parliament on Fridays. Fridays For Our Future is now a global movement of young people and Greta Thunberg is Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.

It’s not enough to simply reduce your use of plastic and recycle your newspapers. Time is running out. There is no second planet. The Earth needs us to act now.

Cover Reveal for CATALYST!

Cover design by Alex Katsaropoulos

I’m thrilled to share the cover for my next YA scifi novel, Catalyst! Publishing June, 2020. It was designed by my talented son, Alex Katsaropoulos of the band Verluna. @verlunamusic. I LOVE it!

Catalyst is about fracking and climate change with supernatural and science fiction elements thrown in for good measure! Eric’s younger sister, Marcie is the protagonist, but Eric and Renee have their roles to play, too.

Pre-oder your copy today!

There’s also a Goodreads Advance Review Copy giveaway going on until February 11th. Click here to enter to win!

Catalyst

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained—an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since. 

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her dig teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds—something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history.  

It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

Catalyst to Publish in 2020!!

I’m very excited to share that Brown Books Publishing has decided to publish Catalyst in 2020!! It’s the next book chronologically in the series after The Field and is also YA sci-fi.

As with my other books, there is an environmental theme. This time it’s fracking and climate change. I feel it’s an important book as these topics are so critical right now. Getting young people involved and aware is part of my personal mission as a writer.

Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, is the protagonist in Catalyst. It’s the summer before her junior year in high school. Eric and Renee are also featured ~ they’ve just graduated from high school. All three are on an archaeological dig in southern Indiana and discover that ‘Big Oil’ is planning to expand it’s fracking operations.

So excited to share this news!

Indian Summer will still be released as a prequel at some point, just not sure when.

Just Say NO to Fracking – and a word about “Horton Hears a Who”

Fracking1

All of my novels have an environmental theme and in my next novel (over halfway through the first draft!) the Horton family will be opposing Fracking in southern Indiana. My books are my way of taking a stand about the dangers of polluting and exploiting our planet, and hopefully awakening a similar outrage in my readers. All wrapped up in wonderful, exciting story. I believe if all of us make our own waves we create a tidal wave of change.

A side note about the Horton family. While each novel is a stand-alone story, the Horton family is featured in all three. I chose the name ‘Horton’ because of Dr. Suess’s (Dr. Suess is kind of my hero) book Horton Hears a Who. No one believes Horton when he hears the ‘Who’s’ calling out from a dust speck on a dandelion, but Horton perseveres. That book speaks to me on so many levels. First, that another group of beings could exist on a dust speck. I love the image of the Universe being as amazingly small as it is amazingly huge. Second, Horton knows the truth of what he hears and keeps on saying it even in the face of adversity. In the end, the other animals hear the Who’s and they are saved. I can only hope that will be true for humanity as well, and we will realize the truth of climate change and our role in causing it before it’s too late. There’s another Dr. Suess book about this, I’m sure you remember it – The Lorax. Remember what happened after all of the Truffula trees were cut down to make Thneeds? It wasn’t a pretty place.

There’s a lot in the news about the dangers of Fracking (if you’re paying attention) but is hasn’t stopped the energy companies from continuing to Frack or governments from continuing to support it – with some notable exceptions like New York. Even President Obama promotes Natural Gas, which is what is released when gas wells are Fracked, as the new clean energy. It may burn cleaner, but the impact of extracting it is anything but clean.

Fracking, or hydrolic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction by injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary – read unnamed – chemicals, under extremely high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures allowing natural gas to escape. In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the proprietary chemicals used do not need to be disclosed to the public. These chemicals are anything but safe.

Scientists have identified dozens of chemicals, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, in Fracking waste water. Chemicals that are known poisons and carcinogens!!! The Fracked wells are up to 8,000 feet deep and between one and eight million gallons of water is used EACH time a well is Fracked. A well can be Fracked up to 18 times.

So why should you care?

1. Only 50% of the water used (including chemicals) is recovered from the wells. That leaves the remaining  50% left behind to contaminate aquifers.

2. The waste water recovered is put into evaporation tanks and the chemicals are evaporated directly into the air, thus contaminating the air we breathe. The water is highly toxic and has to be treated after the chemicals have evaporated.

3. Drinking water wells and rivers and streams around the Fracking site are contaminated with the Methane gas that was released during Fracking. Residents can often light their tap water on fire. It is undrinkable.

4. Fracking, especially horizontal Fracking, creates cracks or fissures in the rock which has been proven to increase seismic activity and earthquakes in the areas surrounding the Fracking sites. Fracking in places where fault lines exist such as California, is reckless and potentially dangerous.

5. During a time of drought in much of the west, using millions of gallons of water to Frack is irresponsible to say the least.

Dr. Suess was writing about our responsibility as caretakers of Earth when I was a child. We’ve yet to heed the warnings. Will you join me in making waves so that we create a Tsunami of change?