Articles

Jan. 21st, 2013 11:07 pm
conuly: (Default)
Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile

http://nyti.ms/XWkCac

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How High Could the Tide Go?

http://nyti.ms/10zYreh

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Generation LGBTQIA

http://nyti.ms/RGv4TA

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For Space Station, a Pod That Folds Like a Shirt and Inflates Like a Balloon

http://nyti.ms/UusiiZ

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conuly: (Default)
Or, heck, we may have even passed it!

Obviously, when they say things like "irreversible" it's sensible to assume that they mean "within a human timeline", because it's not like the earth hasn't been super hot before. Of course, that was when the dinosaurs were around. But given a long enough view, we're fairly inconsequential.

Of course, when living our lives, it makes sense to take a slightly smaller view, one that helps us answer questions like "Is it really a good idea to raise the thermostat in my home, or should I put on a sweater before Mother Nature raises it for me?" and "Do I really want kids, or would it be better not to bring more lives into this soon-to-be hellhole?" You know, that sort of little human question.

But I wonder. Short of asteroids or mass volcanoes, IS there anything we could conceivably do to reverse things? Maybe something... overlooked in favor of scaring us all straight? (That doesn't seem to be working, is why I ask.)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Mixed-use neighborhoods may reduce some crimes

An article ambitiously titled "Evolution in Action" about how some skinks give live birth

What to do if you lose a body part. Not likely to come up, but better to read it now - are you really gonna go google if your fingers get chopped off?

An article on the bedbug conference

Hilariously, it notes that the bedbug control folks all religiously checked their rooms first thing. It'd be the worst kind of irony to come home from this event with a few little hitchhikers!

Interesting quote here: “People still have in their heads that bedbugs means someone’s dirty,” Mr. Linde said, “but I handle multimillion-dollar homes in Westchester and Connecticut, and believe me, no one’s dirty.”

"People" think bedbugs mean you're *dirty*, but *he* doesn't bring up dirt, he brings up wealth. Because people do think the two go together (or don't, rather).

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In Mezuzas, a Custom Inherited by Gentiles

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Thousands of Trees Killed by New York Tornadoes

This is right on the heels of a huge tree-killing storm only half a year ago. Two years before that we had the storm that took out half the (remaining) trees on our block and a spire off the church up the hill. They call these "freak storms" but how freakish can they be, really?


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A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies

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Family Fight, Border Patrol Raid, Baby Deported

What's all this crap I keep hearing about "anchor babies"? For crying out loud, the girl's mother's family has been in the US four generations, but she still got swept away.


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Mormon-Owned Paper Stands With Immigrants

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conuly: (Default)
One about the late lamented Holocene (I guess)

One claiming that the North Pole may be ice free this summer. (Wikipedia says 2050 is the more common claim)

I've got to stop reading environmental news. They're depressing, and I can never spend enough attention to ferret out what's hyperbole and what's not - I just don't want to spend the time on them.
conuly: (Default)
One quick one about how cutting down on your meat consumption does a lot more good than simply buying local foods.

And another one about the future of oil - not much new here, but it's all very frightening, of course.


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Which brings me to my link. It's been a while since I've talked about the need for solar ovens in some parts of the world, but hear me out here. Cooking fires are a direct cause of deforestation - which leads to global warming. They're also a direct cause of pollution which, given the number of cooking fires worldwide, leads to global warming. Cooking fires cause injuries to the people who use them - both fast ones like burns and long-time ones like damaged lungs. Going and getting fuel takes up so much of people's days, or their income, or both. Solar ovens can do so much good, really. There's another place to donate here, run by a Jewish organization. (Oh, and happy Passover, all.)

Just think about it.
conuly: (Default)
All these predictions!

I understand why the sea level rising, say, 100 feet is horrible. I understand why less rain in various parts of the world is horrible. Changing weather? These things are concrete to me.

But then I keep reading that predictions say the world could warm one degree, three degrees, five degrees in the next century, and... I stop.

I grasp that these increases in temperature are what ultimately causes the rising sea level, the droughts. I get it.

But I don't get how what seems to be such a small increase in temperature can really be such a big deal. Three degrees? I doubt I even *feel* three degrees either way, even if we *are* using Celsius. Five? I'd barely register it. So how does it make such a big impact on the entire Earth? That, I don't understand.
conuly: (Default)
I'd say I'm surprised... but I'm really not.

Look at it this way - with all the extinctions directly caused by humans, climate change won't be able to do as much this time around!
conuly: (Default)
Which is pretty much exactly what it says it is.

I have to say, I do take some of this to heart. I mean, I just found out I could read Understood Betsy online (and I loved that book as a kid, so of course I immediately did so). In the beginning of the book, we find out that the girl's house employs a maid out of charity - she's so depressed and asthmatic that it'd be difficult for her to get a job elsewhere. But when the entire house is disrupted and scattered to the four winds, it comes out that her brother wanted her to come help him at his store for years, and she only stayed on because she thought they couldn't do without her!

And if they'd been honest from the beginning, everybody would have been happier sooner.

And an editorial on renewable energy, as a lagniappe.

Take one on bees, too. Yes, I'm still interested in the bees.
conuly: (Default)
And I thought that donating solar ovens was a really simple solution to this problem?

Here's one. It seems fairly small-scale at the moment. I think what this idea needs now is some more publicity.

It's such a small thing to do, I can't imagine how it wouldn't catch on if more people had the idea.

Here's another, Jewish-run organization that sends solar ovens to Darfur.

And since we're talking about global warming anyway, here's a random link on passive cooling (in PDF format).
conuly: (Default)
That's, frankly, horrific. And it can't be pleasant to cook over a fire in that heat anyway. What's more, every time you cut trees to cook your dinner, you're... well... you're cutting trees! It's a double problem!

But unlike so many other problems, for this one, I have a solution.

Look, see? Solar cooking!

And theoretically, it's a simple job. Get money. Buy solar ovens. Ship them to countries that clearly need it more than others. Repeat. Yay!

Okay, I suspect the logistics of it are a bit harder, but it makes sense, doesn't it? I wonder if there's a pre-existing organization that does this.
conuly: (Default)
In the past 40 minutes or so, that is.

And there's just one thing to take from what I've learned - quick climate change is a bitch.

Really.

So, again I say - the cause of climate change doesn't matter except inasmuch as we can lessen or eliminate it. What matters is how we deal with what's already happening. The damage is done. It's time to find ways around, and I don't see people, on a large scale, doing that.
conuly: (Default)
Check it out.

So, let's see. We've got wheat blight, dead bees in the US and Europe, the ever-present risk of global warming, fighting over nukes in North Korea (and everywhere else has them too, I might add)...

I should start stockpiling popcorn. There would be nothing so fun as sitting around munching on popcorn as society collapses around me.
conuly: (Default)
Well, no duh. The poor are always the worst hit, that's why they're poor.

And I'm looking at the situation, and I know, I know that whatever happens, whoever survives, they'll make something of it. Not necessarily what we would all like to see, but something. And I really, really, really want to be a couple of thousand years from now, right now, just to see how it all turned out. Because I won't, of course. This is the part of the book that's the interesting, fascinating, page-turner part. I want to skip ahead to the end and read the middle after, and I'm kinda irked that I can't.

(And I bet it's one of those books that spawns a whole series that are just variations on the theme, same book with different covers. So I'd really only have to read the end once.)
conuly: (Default)
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/06/opinion/l06warm.html

As usual, the fashionable view eventually becomes tyrannical and will no longer permit debate. It looks now as if the momentum of the global-warming evangelists is unstoppable.

You state in your Feb. 3 front-page article that the United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s emissions. Somewhere between consuming and emitting fossil fuels is that thing called United States economic growth, which continues to be a boon to the world — for 2006, a sparkling 3.4 percent.

Some say they don’t want their children to have to cope with the alleged nightmare of climate change, but I am far sadder that my children will have to cope with the reduced richness of opportunity that will exist at every socioeconomic level in an economy crippled by restricted access to the energy that powers it.

It will be a sad sight to watch the spectacular American private-sector engine and the optimistic innovativeness that has always been its hallmark diminished for want of fuel.


She'd better get used to it. For better or for worse, the fuel was going to end eventually. If we end up switching to better sources of fuel, if we end up being less wasteful of it - there's still only so much oil in the world.

How short-sighted can you be, anyway? That's what I want to know. An "alleged" nightmare? As near as I can tell, it's already cost more than enough money in the US and overseas dealing with (not fixing) problems caused by climate change. That's an economic crisis right there, if you can't bring yourself to mind about human lives.

But, oh, don't mind me. It's not as though I've got evidence on my side or anything.
conuly: (Default)
Science Panel Calls Global Warming ‘Unequivocal’

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I, for one, cannot believe the sheer audacity of that man, claiming that the US is "a small contributer to the overall, when you look at the rest of the world". What a way to dodge all your responsibilities!

The Groundhog Emerged, and Sounded a Lot Like Al Gore

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conuly: (Default)
They're not all that easy to read, but NYC seems to get fairly swamped.

Well, the beauty of New York is that now that we don't depend on the port, we're actually a pretty portable city. Unlike New Orleans, which would just fold if the need for that port vanished. (And which is probably only hanging on because of that port - otherwise, even the token help they've gotten doesn't seem likely mihi.)

At any rate, it seems to me like now is the time to move inland, or at least as soon as I can possibly manage. Preferably inland to some area without fuel reserves - I like to make my safety nets free of hidden snags. Best to get while the getting's good, I always say - move now, and avoid the rush.

So, here's my plan. Pick a spot, probably (unfortunately, due to their oil) in Canada. Move there - maybe for college. Stay there. Become a citizen, stat. Buy up lots of land, pretty far inland. Cheap land - as long as I can substinance farm, I'm good. Plant lots of fruit trees - that fights global warming and makes fruit. Build a castle to defend myself against displaced invaders. I like castles. Include many secret exits and passages, why not? Invite others to come, pool our resources. Buy more land (and fruit trees). Repeat as necessary.

It'd have to be a castle that can also withstand massive storms, no? I can do that.
conuly: (Default)
A rise in sea levels could mean that....

"Most of the village of Kennebunkport along with President Bush’s family home on Walker’s Point could be completely submerged."

Now, that's what I call funny. I mean tragic, and sad. But still funny.

I was talking to somebody else about this, and they say "Well, I won't be here then, I'll have moved." Moved where? Inland? Like that'll save you. What does she expect, that she's the only one bright enough to get while the getting's good, that all the poor sods on the coast (most of humanity - for some reason, they just keep putting major cities near shipping! Imagine!) will just wait while the water goes up higher, and higher, up to their necks, and submerges them? Why? Because, wait, don't tell me, they have faith in God.

People don't think.
conuly: (Default)
You don't have to do everything.

Sure, we could save the world in three days or less if some enterprising group blew up all the oilfields and power plants (other than windmills and solar cells, of course!) and car factories. And cows (do you even know how environmentally unsound big cattle farms are? Do you want to know?) too.

But is that really necessary? At this point, I'd like to say no. Yes, it's good if you can get your house off the grid (that's just a good idea anyway), and it's great if you can convince your municipality to switch to more renewable energy sources.... But it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

I remember two different, unrelated articles I've read, with funnily congruent quotes. One was about a Peace Corps worker who had observed that there were people who could do everything, and would - for three months until they burned out. Then they were useless, and had to be trucked home, while the less obsessive workers got more and more shit done.

The other was about convincing people to go vegetarian. As one person said (paraphrase), you do more good if you convince three people to eat half as much animal products than if you concentrate on convincing one person go give this stuff up altogether. (Or if you don't even convince that one person because you're just going on and on about it, all the time.)

And that goes for anything. If you can't switch your lightbulbs, that doesn't mean you can't drive less, or carpool more. If your neighborhood isn't really dense enough to make a complex bus system sensible, that doesn't mean you can't start a movement for sidewalks and school busses.

If you can't convince people to change their entire lives, you can at least get them to change some part of it. I was talking to the mom of one of Ana's friends yesterday about this. She said "I'm not too concerned. I don't know why, I'm just not. I guess because I'll be dead by then."

Well, no, based on my very unscientific calculations, she won't be dead, she'll be seventy. I don't know - a few decades, a century - that seems unimaginably close to me, but so distant to her. And I'm younger than she is. So I don't know if I could convince her to change everything. But maybe I can get her to make one change, or two - her kid's only three, she'll be bound to be alive then. And grandkids? Sheesh.
conuly: (Default)
Well, yes and no.

Yes, both groups are responsible for evading the topic, ignoring it, and generally not helping it. Boooo. Damn librul media again, mucking things up!

But in the end, both groups are made up of... that's right, people. And both groups depend on... uh... that's right, people. And despite appearances, both groups really do care about the people, if only because it's people who keep them in power.

Major corporations aren't destroying the environment because it's fun and they're really looking forward to buying up beachfront property, they're doing it because, like most people, the folks that run 'em are short-sighted and are looking at their profits. So? Cut out their profits.

Buy the most energy-efficient appliances, the most fuel-efficient cars you can manage. (I believe there are subsidies...?) Then write to the companies (or write and email simultaneously) explaining your decision. Make your actions and words prove your point - there's money to be made in these products. Heck, write to the OTHER companies, explaining why you didn't buy from them - how you'd love to buy a product they make, if it doesn't mean having to invest in a submarine a few years down the line. (Though, I dunno, being able to wake up every day singing the "Yellow Submarine" song might be kinda fun. Do they make environmentally conscientous subs?)

Write to your representatives. Write to your potential reps, the ones starting to campaign now. Make it clear to them how important this issue is to you, and how very much you care about it. And don't vote for the failures in the area.

Write to your local news media. Write to national news media. Be a nuisance, in short. I'd talk about organizing the standard forms of protest, but considering the lack of media anti-war protests are getting (write about that too, why don't you?), I want to leave this on a high note.

I mean, when it comes right down to it, blaming politicians and the media is fun, but it's more fun when you know it's their fault and not yours. Lead them to water first, then you can whine about the fact that they didn't drink.

I have another post coming on You Don't Have To Do Everything - hang on a bit and I'll bother to type it.

Incidentally, the wuthering wind (love that word) is cheering me up immensely. I really do like winter. All that snow, when we get it, and wind, when we get it, and cold - it makes me feel safely alone.
conuly: (Default)
If we're about to hit peak oil, or have already hit it - well, that source of warming will be dried up soon. Of course, as I've said, coming decades are just going to be fun, but still.

My mom is saying "We're safe, we're on a hill, not that close to the coast". Well, we're on a somewhat steep hill, but we're only about a quarter mile away from the water, and if the city starts flooding, I don't think we're going to have our municipal services then.

I mean, lots of people would leave then, so we'd have plenty of room to plant trees and crops and have some chickens and sheep and yummy bunnies - but no electricity. Which would be a serious bummer. I keep telling her, we should put up solar panels, invest in a nifty hamster gym (for humans - y'know, with bikes and treadmills instead of wheels. Just 'cuz it'd be really damn cool) but I don't know if she's listening.

I read a really whiny editorial the other day, talking about how climate change is totally natural and has happened many times before, and how therefore we shouldn't be taxed soooo muuuuuch on our gas for our SUVs. He actually said that.

Now, aside from the fact that our oil is dirt cheap (and I wonder why he thinks we're at war right now, tell the truth) and running out.... Frankly, he had a point, if he'd been clever enough to connect the dots and actually make it. It doesn't really matter why global warming. I know there's a strong correlation between our actions and rising temperatures, but he's right. Correlation isn't causation. There could be any number of reasons adding up together for this.

What matters is that the climate is changing, and not only are we not doing much to fix it, we're also not doing anything to adapt to it.

This strikes me as immensely stupid, and yet pretty much what I'd expect from people.

I'm feeling much better now than I was this morning, that's for sure. Honestly, it's like being back in school, with a knot right in the middle of my stomach. Still, all those years of being educated have helped - I'm pretty good at ignoring that sort of thing by now :)
conuly: (Default)
Big, fluffy flakes.

But it didn't stick and it didn't last.

You have no *idea* how depressed that made me. I want my snow. I'm so hoping this is really just an aberrant year.
conuly: (Default)
It *is* a little creepy. And no, the fact that it's freezing in Texas doesn't make me feel better - global climate change doesn't mean that everybody gets warmer every day. Some places get colder.

But it's not the end of the world.

End of our way of living right now? Definitely.
End of our society as a whole? Probably, depending on how you define that.
End of humanity? Possibly.

Heck, I'll even accept "end of life on Earth" as a remote possibility. But not for long. Life pulled itself up from its bootstraps before it even existed, and life on this planet has survived cataclysms before.

End of the world for some people, but that doesn't mean nothing will be left.

I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse, by the way.

I'd like to see some sea walls and levees built. If they can build Holland up under sea level, can't they stop rising sea levels from flooding everything? Not that it'll happen, but I'd like to see it.


Last year was killer cold, so I don't know anyway. And apparently our stove and oven were never connected properly to the gas pipe. The stove and oven we depended on often to warm our house. WE COULD HAVE ASPHYXIATED SEVERAL TIMES OVER.

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