Climate Change

March 22, 2012

“Beginning in mid-March, however, its various offices began issuing bulletins that sounded slightly shaken. “There’s extremes in weather, but seeing something like this is impressive and unprecedented,” ”

“It’s hard to overstate how impossible this weather is—when you have nearly a century and a half of records, they should be hard to break, much less smash.”

There’s nothing much that needs to be added to this:

90 Degrees in Winter: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like


I’ve / written before /, albeit briefly, about synchronicity. I strongly suspect it is an aspect of attention. Our brains are very good at seeing or hearing what is of interest and ignoring the rest.

Words have been much on my mind lately, but also the enduring question of what it mean to be human. What is there that we can identify as uniquely us?

Perhaps all we are is an extension in directions and capabilities. Not apart from, only different. We are no more a ‘special’ species with our brains, our emotions, and our reasoning than is a bat with their echo location, or a cat with their night vision, or an octopus with their color changes.  The  same basic DNA, tweaked to different forms and different efficiencies. No more than that.

Now that allowing animals their various intelligences has become acceptable, we see myriad articles about previously unacknowledged capabilities. /  Magpies /  and /  crows  / (and /  here /, just for the fun of it).

Today I read / this  on bees /. Depressed bees.  Optimistic bees. We can’t avoid terms that have anthropomorphic connotations, but the results seem to allow the usages.

Humans. Unique, or part of the spectrum of life? Seems to me we should lose our egos and rejoice in our connections instead.

/ This is amazing /. “Mother” trees sharing nutrients and water with daughter trees.

For young trees, “increased survival was associated with belowground transfer of carbon, nitrogen and water from the old trees.”

Yet another reason never to clearcut. We shouldn’t need reasons for avoiding such an obviously destructive act, but unfortunately, logging companies want money. Clear cutting is fast and easy compared to judicious pruning, and then replanting a natural forest in the gaps rather than a one-species orchard.

Interesting: a healthy forest, like a healthy society, depends on both age and youth, diversity in its population, sharing resources, and those with experience and skill helping those who lack either or both.

What we keep learning about our world, about  life of all sorts, including ourselves, never ceases to astound me. And yet there is so much left to learn.

I appreciate the importance of this post from / Cosmic Variance / on our real knowledge of the basic laws of physics. We need to remember how much we already know. That knowledge gives us the tools to learn more. I include / this link / to Sean Carroll’s follow-up article because of this sentence: “Today we think of ourselves and the stuff we see around us as made of electrons, protons, and neutrons, interacting through gravity, electromagnetism, and the nuclear forces. A thousand years from now, we will still think precisely that.”

The joy of discovering and understanding something that was not just a mystery, but completely unexpected yesterday — that is one of the greatest joys we can experience.

How could I not have known know about / The Cloud Appreciation Society /?

I, who so love clouds… who regularly pause to admire their intrinsic beauty, their infinite variety, their sweeping majesty or ephemeral mystery.

Mackerel speckled, fish bone stripes, rolling waves, cotton piles, anvil heads,  layered wonders… I can wax entirely and (probably) tiresomely prolix on the subject of clouds.

And yet, I never knew about this society.

It is in the UK, which partially explains it.

I once requested our library purchase a charming little book on clouds. How to identify the myriad varieties coupled with history, folk-lore. I thought it delightful, and was so pleased when the librarians agreed. (I assume they agreed, since they ordered it)

Clouds… water vapor, dust, particulate matter, pollution (alas) but, as with any scientific labeling, the knowledge of their form and function only makes them a greater delight.

I am a proud, and soon to be card-carrying member of the Society. How long for mail from the UK?

Many thanks to  / Krulwich Wonders / for the link.

This video presents an entertaining perspective on evolution, disguised as the quest for a 6th grader’s dream: a pet dinosaur.

I’m linking to it through the post by Punctuated Equilibrium as well,  as I thought her comments were helpful to read before watching.

Incredible power.  How can one conceive the force behind an explosion that produces these clouds?

Overwhelming beauty. How can one describe the magnificence of these clouds?

The evening and night images of the cloud show it no longer softly billowing ash, but a fiery column.

Nature: so tame, so friendly. When Nature reveals its other side, we remember how vulnerable we truly are; whether during the short-term, like this volcano or earthquakes and tsunamis; or during long-term world-altering events such as climate shift.

When Nature speaks, we can only listen and struggle to survive. 

Gorgeous Geology Photos

April 5, 2011

I really like geology. (I also collect rocks. When one has moved a lot, this is problematic. But I can’t bear to get rid of my favorites)

I took quite a few courses in geology. I recall researching a paper on the apparent association of earthquakes and lunar cycles which my prof pooh-poohed.  It made sense to me if only because the moon affects groundwater, which in turn could affect the friction levels in faults. At least, that was my nebulous hypothesis. 

The lunar influence is now recognized as a negligible but real factor. (So there, Prof. Dude!)

I came across these collections of images. Absolutely breath-taking. If only my internet connection was being cooperative tonight. But then, with the typical perversity of human nature, when I’ve waited for so long for a picture to load, I spend a lot more time looking at it. And they’re all well worth that extra attention.

Winners of a Geology Photo Contest  

Rock Formations that look like people

The next three are all as seen from space:

Impact Craters

Sand Dunes



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