Monday, September 30, 2013

Ocean iron fertilization -- for ESS


Circular flow, Six Americas and Cultural Cognition, all for ESS

These are some resources gathered to address the social and economic questions raised by our climate knowledge inventory, to be discussed (eventually) in class:


 (Image credit: http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/Economics_Circular_Flow.htm)

1) The circular flow model of the macroeconomy. As a "Green Keynesian," I prefer the three sector model:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_flow_of_income

2) The Six Americas study:

http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/article/Six-Americas-March-2012/

3) The Cultural Cognition project:
http://www.culturalcognition.net/

Friday, September 27, 2013

Guerrilla Posters!


ESS held the first-ever "Guerrilla Poster" session today. Lots of posters, lots of students commenting on posters, lots of professors viewing posters and asking questions of students.

All in all, I'd call it a pedagogical success. Thanks to Dan, Tom Byron, Sandra Abbott-Stout and all their staffs for making it possible.

What I like in these photos is the concentration and engagement that is visible in the students' body language. Click on any photo to see the whole set as a slideshow.


 















Last-minute poster session reminder and instructions

  1. The "Guerrilla" Poster session will be from 10am to 2pm today. I'll be there from about 8.15 am.
  2. Get your poster set up before 10am. I'll be there to help.
  3. "Defend" your poster for at least 30 minutes, sometime between 10am and 2pm. You may do this in groups.
  4. Take one of the evaluation forms available and fill it out for at least four posters not your own.
  5. Come get your poster back at the end of the day, if you can, or I'll collect them and keep it for you.
  6. I'll allow one more draft of your poster after you get comments and feedback today, then submit (as a PowerPoint slide) by email for a final grade. Due next Friday, 6th October.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NOAA undergraduate scholarships!






INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES SOUGHT FOR SUMMER 2014 UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARS                                                 

The NOAA Office of Education (OEd) is seeking NOAA offices and programs nationwide to host Undergraduate Scholarship recipients in the Educational Partnership Program (EPP) and Hollings Scholarship Program.  Internship opportunities are sought for 136 scholarship recipients to participate in a 9-week OEd paid internship in NOAA mission-related research, technological, policy, management, and education activities, beginning May 26, 2014.

Host offices are requested to identify a discrete project that the undergraduate scholar can complete within a 9-week timeframe.  Internship opportunities must be submitted in the Student Scholarship Internship Opportunity(SSIO) on-line system.  To access the SSIO, go to https://oedwebapps.iso.noaa.gov/ssio.  The SSIO is open for past and potential NOAA mentors to view, update, delete, or create new internship opportunities.

Starting October, 1, 2013, new scholarship recipients will begin exploring the internship opportunities posted in the SSIO.  Scholars must select an internship by April 1, 2014.  

Undergraduate scholars are U.S. citizens and full-time undergraduate students majoring in NOAA mission sciences, including, but not limited to, oceanic, environmental, and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, engineering, remote sensing technology, physical and social sciences including, geography, physics, hydrology, and science teacher education.  Scholarship recipients receive an OEd-funded award that includes academic assistance, a 10-week paid internship, housing assistance, conference travel, and round-trip travel to the internship site.

The NOAA OEd Undergraduate Scholarship Programs provide NOAA with a valuable mechanism to help realize the vision and achieve the goals of the NOAA Strategic Plan. The Undergraduate Scholarship Programs also support NOAA's cross-cutting priorities of promoting environmental literacy and developing, valuing, and sustaining a world-class workforce.

For assistance in hosting an EPP or Hollings undergraduate scholar please contact the NOAA Office of Education, Student Scholarship Programs, at: StudentScholarshipPrograms@noaa.gov.

Know a student pursuing a degree in the NOAA mission sciences?  The application period for the 2014 EPP and Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Programs is now open through January 31, 2014.  Please share with students who may be interested in applying.  For information on program benefits, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, students are encouraged to visit: http://www.oesd.noaa.gov/ (Scholarships).

Guerriila Posters Friday! Be there or square!



Monday, September 23, 2013

Hansen et al: Target atmospheric CO2: for ESS

This is the key paper behind recent ideas of the proper stabilization level for CO2:

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nick Stern: "Stop dithering"

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/21/climate-change-ipcc-global-warming

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, guess who's #4 and #5 -- the arch-denialists.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/

The outrageous injustice of this, as people are flung out of their homes or killed by extreme weather, or as the fragile agricultural ecologies of other, less financially-resilient nations are damaged, simply makes me want to vomit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Common Ground Fair assignment (for Womersley EII)

You are assigned to go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Common Ground Country Fair held this Friday through Sunday September 20-22 right here in Unity. The fair is an all-around good time so you should need no incentive to go; however, the following are added:

How to get in the fair for free:
  1. You may get in for free if you arrive at the volunteer coordination tents at each gate and announce yourself to the staff on duty as a Unity College student volunteering under Jim Merkel and Mick Womersley (professors)
  2. You will then be required to participate in fair clean-up during class hours Monday. Transportation will be provide. Attendance will be taken.
  3. If you are a MOFGA member you already get in for free, so you don't have to clean up Monday if you don't want, but we would be happy to have the extra help
  4. Regular class is therefore cancelled both Friday and Monday 20th and 23rd Septemeber.
  5. For those of you who were planning to go home or cannot attend the fair for any reason, your assignment is to visit a local or organic food outlet, such as a farmer's market or food cooperative, and complete the same assignment as the fair-goers (below)
The fair/local/organic food response paper:
  1. Buy food for a meal at the fair or at some local or organic food outlet. Be sure to find out where each ingredient comes from
  2. Make and eat the meal. (If you live in the residence halls and eat on the meal plan, the meal can be a snack.)
  3. Describe the meal and track the ingredients in a short informal essay. Explain why this was (or was not) a good meal. Humor and/or pathos are optional
  4. Due Friday October 5th in class via Google.edu, posting to your ePortfolio optional
  5. This is a second check-in opportunity for me to evaluate your writing and critical thinking skills



"Learned helplessness?"

Aimee was having trouble moving the sheep to the New Paddock. You'd think they'd want to go there because it's full of apple drops, but one ewe-lamb got hung up in the Back Forty.

I emerged blinking from my nasty dusty insulation job in the new extension's attic crawl space (hence the rather strange garb) to see what all the fuss was about.

Aimee was tired of trying to chase her to where she needed to be, so I got Ernie the half-trained shepherd dog, who then chased her the wrong way. The lambie finished up down by the bottom fence where it just stopped dead, as did Ernie, who didn't know what to do with a lamb that wouldn't run. It was a Mexican stand-off.

So I picked the lamb up like a sack of Maine spuds and carried her to where she needed to be. Less tiring for the lambie, a bit puffy for me.



When she got to the gate of the New Paddock and was put down, she just lay there for a while.

I think it was all just a bit too exciting for her. Poor lambie.

But not poor wee lambie. She's one of our biggest ever.










Do American farms "feed the world?"

A radio discussion of the difficulties with an agrobusiness advertisement campaign.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/17/221376803/american-farmers-say-they-feed-the-world-but-do-they?ft=1&f=1053&utm_source=food_nprfood&utm_medium=twitter

And, for balance, a slightly inappropriate view of "big organic." Read at your own risk.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-maclean/surviving-whole-foods_b_3895583.html

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Climate change quantitative analysis demonstrator -- for ESS Dunckel/Womersley sections joint meeting

Both sections are meeting together this Wednesday, most likely in PW 205, our new regular classroom (now that we escaped the "sauna" of HW 211).

1) You'll need to read this paper:

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/le08200o.html

2) And this data set can be uploaded into J(u)MP or SSP if you'd like to follow along on your notebook, pad or laptop:

https://docs.google.com/a/unity.edu/file/d/0B3721mV8y-nySWRrZkFVTmk1Mzg/edit?usp=sharing
3) This is a graph of our final output that we'll need to discuss:


4) For my section only, here are the GISS data related to the Skeptical Science "escalator" and the Mail on Sunday article:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3721mV8y-nybXRkcXhpQzJ4MGM/edit?usp=sharing





Scarecrow ad is devastating socioeconomic criticism of food industry

And quite timely, considering where we are with our reading of Michael Pollan in EII.

But remember, this is just an advertisement!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Posters and poster materials -- for ESS

You're assigned to make a "guerrilla poster" by September 27th, on either your "wicked problem in your discipline", or on one of our climate change topics. This is a research poster and should be formal and properly cited. It doesn't have to be perfect. The idea is to get peer review and then (your choice) possibly revise in time for the Student Conference.

You'll need to brush up on poster preparation:

Here's the Library's web page on posters:

http://unity.libguides.com/content.php?pid=320050&sid=2619341

Here's a link to a PowerPoint walk-through. The templates are linked within this document. Be sure to use file>download to download as a PowerPoint and not a Google file.

https://docs.google.com/a/unity.edu/file/d/0B3721mV8y-nyamxMTlpDZGlZdzQ/edit?usp=sharing

The library asks that someone from each group come to the library and sign up for printer/plotter time before September 26.

An environmental injustice -- of a slightly different kind

Today I want to write about environmental injustice. This is an upcoming topic to be covered soon in Environmental Issues and Insights (the second class in our core Environmental Citizen Curriculum, which I'm teaching this semester), but the particular injustice is not the usual one covered.

Usually, when college teachers speak of environmental injustice, what we are talking about are cases where minority or low income communities are discriminated against in the siting of polluting factories, incinerators, power plants and the like, and so the burden of dealing with environmental toxicity is added to the burdens of dealing with social prejudice and lack of money.

But the burden I want to speak of is one I've experienced directly, and I'm neither a minority nor do I get a particularly low income. For me, the reality of this new difficulty hit only last week when a particularly taxing search and rescue call-out, during an out-of-season rainstorm, left me with a broken vehicle and behind on my work, a situation that was only remedied by, essentially, working the whole weekend and spending several hundred dollars I didn't have on vehicle parts.

I get paid relatively well for a Maine worker, if not for a college professor, and so the difficulty is only temporary, nothing that a couple of good nights' sleep and a little belt-tightening couldn't fix.

But it did make me wonder what the same amount of stress might have done to some of my less-well off comrades in the emergency response system, while the current news buzz about denialist response to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report reminds me that we're in this fix for a reason: because of certain people who've taken it upon themselves to intersperse themselves between the American public and the truth, in many if not most cases for their own nefarious commercial gain.

This new type of environmental injustice occurs when global climate change helps create extreme weather events. The change itself is being exacerbated by our government's inability to act, which is itself caused directly by denialist groups funded by oil and coal interests such as the infamous Koch brothers, or conservative ideologues like Rupert Murdoch. If it weren't for the denialists, we might have been able to get control of emissions by now. But the emissions keep rising, at least globally, while in the US they are falling only slowly, and so the difficult, dangerous weather keeps coming. The people that are suffering most from the added incidence and severity of severe weather events -- other than the direct victims whose homes and livelihoods are wrecked -- are the first responders, police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue professionals and volunteers.

(I'm one of the latter, a search and rescue volunteer, who also just happens to be a scientist and science educator working in the transdisciplinary nexus between energy and climate policy.)

The new environmental injustice occurs when low-income emergency volunteers, members of rural volunteer fire departments and search and rescue teams, are forced to respond to extreme weather emergencies. These added burdens stretch their ability to cope. Part of the problem is time. Another is money. Rural workers typically have to work longer hours than urban ones, and often face long commutes to get to work, often in less than perfectly maintained vehicles. They also often lack medical insurance. If a low wage worker is also an emergency volunteer worker, the unpaid hours spent on calls cut into paid work, which makes it hard to keep private vehicles gassed up and running or to pay the rest of the bills. When you're already stretched, a big wildfire, windstorm, tornado or hurricane can result in a lost job, an unpaid mortgage, a bankruptcy, a vehicular accident, an injury or illness, relationship stress, or, most likely, some combination.

The additional burden from extreme weather emergencies might easily become the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

This seems to me to be a clear-cut environmental injustice. There's an environmental perpetrator, environmental victims, an environmental agent that is loosed on the victims by the perpetrator, and a clear environmental remedy. It isn't quite as immediately dramatic as Erin Brockovich or A Civil Action, but it's happening all the same, and involves effects that can be just as toxic to a healthy, happy life.

The denialists are the perpetrators, especially the rich elites like the Koch brothers, the rural emergency worker whose energy, goodwill, and finances are stretched beyond bearing point is the victim, the environmental agent is the carbon emissions that result in the extreme weather, and the remedy is an environmental global policy that would result in reduced emissions and/or increased sequestration, and so limit the increased incidence of extreme weather or reverse its growth.

I expect the Koch brothers, like most of their well-to-do ilk, have various spiffy country pads, in the Berkshires, possibly, or Colorado. But the wealthy, disconnected from the gritty realities of day-to-day survival, may not realize that fire and rescue coverage in these kinds of places are typically provided by low-to-middle income volunteers and retirees.

That's right, folks: In many of the more desirable rural regions of our great country, poor people volunteer to put out fires in the homes of rich people or to search for their kids when they get lost in the woods. Go figure.

Federal money after the 9/11 attacks has boosted the quality and quantity of fire and rescue equipment that departments and teams have at their disposal, but the recession has cut into jobs and incomes in these kinds of places, and so while the technical resources look more abundant and competent than in the past, the backbone of the system, the rural volunteer, is stretched further and further.

In a more just world, it would be the residences of wealthy denialists that would go up in flames, unattended, or be blown to the ground in the cruel dark of the storm, and it would be their children and senile grandparents that would get lost in the woods, never to be found.  But, of course, these are more or less random events, life's unavoidable catastrophes. And the thing that begins to make it better is the hard, dangerous labor of the unpaid rural volunteer emergency worker, who does attend the fire and even puts it out, while the senile grandparent or precious missing grandchild does get found more often than not, although at great expense in labor and sweat.

We must now start thinking about the ethics of these things, if we are to call our society civilized.

When God handed out a sense of community and duty to each and every one of us, he didn't do so fairly. Some of us got more than our fair share, and far less of what we may really need, that Ayn Rand-type of arrogant, me-first selfishness, the kind of King Canute-type sensibility that makes one think it might be reasonable to negate a scientific fact. As a result, we emergency workers tend to suffer for our naïveté and ignorance of the real ways of the world, while others less dutiful will prosper.

The western wildfire season is coming to an end, spectacularly so in the region around Boulder, Colorado. Tornado season in the midwest and upper south is also dying down. All have been far worse than usual. Here on the eastern seaboard we're getting the last of the summer storms, which have come to include more frequent microbursts and tornadoes, while we gird our loins and pack our ready gear for hurricanes and the deep snow of winter. Both the latter have become less predictable and more damaging lately. Readers may remember how Hurricane Sandy was followed too close for comfort by deep blowing snow in the mid-Atlantic region.

In each of these places, the volunteer emergency volunteer is putting his or her life and livelihood on the line. Many, I expect, are worn to the bone, especially in Colorado right now. We should turn our attention to these good people, the backbone of rural resilience. They deserve more. They deserve the truth, unfettered by obfuscation and self-interest.

If we don't give them the truth, and act on it, the easily predictable result will be that each year, as the weather gets worse and worse, there will be fewer and fewer volunteer emergency workers to respond. The thin red line will get thinner and thinner. How could it be otherwise?

And while we wait for that truth, the denialist elites just get richer, selling us the petroleum, that we pay for ourselves, profiteering from the very gas that gets us to the firehouse or command post, in our own vehicles.

If that isn't an environmental injustice, I don't know what is.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ethanol ethics -- or lack thereof

A warning about what will likely happen if we don't get the fine print right on any future climate bill.

Might be a good time to do a thorough policy review of AB 32, whose first big implementation anniversary is coming up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/business/wall-st-exploits-ethanol-credits-and-prices-spike.html?hp

"Slowdown" attribution

http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/09/examining-the-recent-slow-down-in-global-warming/

Friday, September 13, 2013

Climate change knowledge inventory -- for ESS

We inventoried ESS 01 students' climate knowledge on Wednesday, in small groups and as a whole class. These are the things you believe you need to know more about.

I transcribed them, collated them, rephrased some of them (if needed -- most were perfectly lucid, even erudite and well-considered), and organized them in what I thought would be a logical order for learning.

How to understand current confusing climate fluctuations, including temperatures? 
Related: We would like to try to settle confusion over whether climate denier claims have any scientific validity at all. A minority would particularly like to know how to "debunk the debunkers."

Carbon sinks and sources. We would like to know more about where atmospheric carbon comes from and goes to, and what is does when it gets into the atmosphere. Related: possibilities for carbon sequestration.

Adaptation: How can we adapt to changing climates? Related: Definition and explanation of Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience
Positive and negative side effects of solutions: Are there ways we could make this a worse problem, by doing the wrong thing?

Policies and politics in the USA: How should we understand why we don't seem to be able to do (much) about climate change in this country?
Related: Perceptions: How worldviews, perceptions, and preconceived notions effect how we approach climate change. (To include Kahan et al and Six Americas)

Natural resource law (your phrase, not mine, most likely from other classes), but essentially, what are the policy options for climate change? Do any have good economics, i.e., a positive payback?

Related: What are the economics of climate change?

Social freedom and social control: Does climate change help us move to a more liberal (with a small "l", meaning "more free", not politically Liberal), society, or a more authoritarian one?
How are relations between countries impacted? How have other societies ("cultures") dealt with climate change?

Friday 13th! Reading response assignment for Pollan (for Womersley section of EII)

Due Friday 20th September, 12 noon, delivery by attachment to your ePortfolio (unless otherwise authorized).

Note: be sure to share your ePortfolio with mwomersley@unity.edu.

These are essay questions (i.e., answer all questions in full-sentence, full and multi-paragraph format). Expect to revise and resubmit if grammar, syntax and spelling require. Make good use of the Writing Center and Writing Tutors or ask the instructor for help with writing.
  1. What is the historical significance of the four meals in terms of human history? Do you think we should seriously consider old ways of life, as we explore how to cope with our modern industrial world? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think the employment and macroeconomic (look this phrase up, if you don't know what it means) consequences would be, if the USA were ever to adopt a strong food policy based on the farm ideas of Joel Salatin? Would this be a good or bad thing? Explain why, in either case.
  3. Describe your perfect meal. Explain your choices in terms of your personal "food policy."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

REaCTOR Project

I was just messing around on the internet the other day and I came across a website http://reactor.fusedworks.com/ and thought it was pretty cool and interesting and pretty informative. From the main page if you click on the resources tab at the top and then click on each individual technology you can download the free app to your mac, windows, iphone or android device and it has a well made app to show you how the technology works and more.

Revision is hiring!

Our largest regional solar power company is hiring -- again. They really know how to pump out the jobs and give the lie to all the far-right nonsense about climate policy being job-killing. As I've said for years now, "Green Keynesianism" works, and may be our best hope for stabilizing the climate, considering that all the alternatives have fatal flaws.

That's the good news. The bad news is you need a ticket or two for three out of the four positions, which SEM students won't yet have.

As I keep telling students, if you really want to work in the less cerebral side of the sustainable energy business -- if you want to work with your hands some of the time in other words -- you'll generally have to either go to community college to train for a license, or get a starter job, or both.

I got my "ticket", which in my case was a military engineering school qualification that made me eligible to be a supervising aircraft technician, many, many years ago.I then followed that up with six years on the flight lines and in the hangers. I never looked back. And, if you develop the skills of one serious trade, you can adapt to many, many others. In fact, I always feel sorry for people, especially men (I know this is sexist), that can't work with their hands. They are truly at the mercy of life's silly whims and disasters, especially if low income, and often bewildered by the basic engineering that literally holds their lives up. So I often recommend this pathway for those of my SEM students that struggle to keep attentive in class.

There are plenty of jobs for people without licenses and certificates, but these are the indoor ones for the most part, or the ones that require graduate school.

BTW, no license is required for the anemometry field. And I just heard of an interesting new internship opportunity.

But here's Revision.

http://www.revisionenergy.com/solar-jobs-maine-new-hampshire.php

Monday, September 9, 2013

Online vs. field and hybrid courses

Ironic, considering what the Womerlippis, Cheryl and Tom, and 40 Captives did Saturday.

From today's NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/opinion/the-pop-of-the-wild.html?hp

Sunday, September 8, 2013

You gotta love him

Dan Kahan, that is.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/new-study-politics-makes-you-innumerate

Headline: Balding professor finally gets students' attention


Three important (to me) comments about this picture of the Fall 2013 sheep health workshop for the Captive first years at Womerlippi Farm:
  1. Jeez, I am going bald, aren't I?
  2. Just look at the body language of concentration in these students, who are otherwise fresh out of high school
  3. This is effective pedagogy
Aimee has the rest of her pictures here.

Why The Observer is so good

It tells me about books like this one.

Theorems about Coase (and his theorem), as a (kind of) obituary.

Mixed obituaries for the economic legacy of Ronald Coase.

He was, of course, a classic Keynesian "academic scribbler."

But should we blame the scribblers, or the "madmen in authority?"  

Specifically, he's the scribbler whom we should thank for the carbon tax and for cap and trade, since he essentially invented the idea of internalizing an externality, although he would have denied to his deathbed (and probably did), that these were efficient or even acceptable means to internalize the externality of, and thus stabilize, climate change.

In my more lucid moments, in the wee wee hours, I secretly tend to agree. The market distortions even the best-planned carbon fee or carbon market systems set up are probably going to be intolerable in the long run.

There. My secret is out.

But in the pragmatic and more hectic daylight, I'm not sure what else we might do, and consider that it would at least be some progress if we followed the route the Australians took (at least until the election this weekend). And, as Keynes explained, in the long run we're all as dead as Dr. Coase is now. Why worry about the long run? We can't predict which emerging or unthought-of energy technologies will be available in 2050.

Thankfully, no-one in authority, mad or sane, is listening to me anyway.

The only current approach that makes full economic sense to me is divestment, a moral not economic technique, but one that worked in the past (for abolition and against apartheid).

Even divestment has its Keynesian downsides. I'm starting to consider that we need to add investment to divestment. Divest from fossil fuel stocks, invest the proceeds in green power and green jobs and companies that seem to be able to make and sell useful stuff, while also reducing fossil fuel inputs.

That's the real ticket.

Divest and invest, in other words. D & I.

Otherwise, do we really know what happened to the money we got from selling the fossil fuel stocks? Of course, that presents a eventual new problem, since managers will begin to run out of such high quality economic assets quickly. Filthy lucre is, after all, filthy. There's no brass without some muck.

But as this article here presents, the best asset management institutions, such as CALPERS, are already sending managers out to firms to work with their sustainability and social practices.

Job creation for Unity College SEM graduates.

Just for the record, all Unity College SEM and Environmental Policy graduates will have been exposed to The Problem of Social Cost before graduating. Even the deadliest scribblers should get their due. We just went over Marx. Coase theorem is an angel, compared to Marxism.

And, just in case any Keynesian "madman in authority" does happen to be reading my scribbles, when are we going to ask TIAA-CREF to divest? Isn't that the next big target?

Here's your quote for the day:
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, 1936.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sheep get their 30,000 mile service


Many thanks to the happy jolly crew of first year Captives that came to the farm yesterday and cleaned up our sheep and listened attentively while Aimee and I droned on about farm systems, the importance of science, nutrient capture and management, FAMACHA, and, of course, how to grab a sheep.

 










The building that fried an egg on the sidewalk

This story, which I've been following on the British BBC News as well, is just too funny, especially for anyone interested in solar power and building design.

But it also will help me develop useful themes in general education classes for years to come, related to the management and institutional problems caused by hubris and ego, as well as technological, geological and ecological ignorance.

A rhetorical question for the B-school theorists among us, especially those very few still tolerant of what I sarcastically term the "Fuhrerprinzip" of hierarchical leadership:

If this hapless architect, and the cost-cutters that contributed to the ruin of his already-flawed design, had collectively crowd-sourced even a little constructive criticism from experts and well-informed lay commentators, wouldn't they have then saved a lot of time, money, and their careers?

They obviously thought consultations would waste time and money. How wrong can you get?

Natural consequences. Because the only employment this poor fellow is good for now, unless he can pull off a successful Reggie Perrin, is the design of concentrating solar power plants!

Actually, on reflection, he might make a good comedian too. His comments (mentioned at the bottom of the Grauniad article) blaming the elevation of the sun in the sky and climate change show that he really knows how to milk a good joke.


Unless, of course, he's serious.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Alzheimers and hygiene -- for EII

Having had two parents who died of variants of Alzheimer's Disease. I can tell you from first hand experience what a horrible disease this is and how it impacts the lives of all around, especially close family members and care-givers.

This new research result is surprising, and adds weight to the claims of those of us who advocate more local and regional food systems and the greater spread of rural self-reliance. Clearly gardening, composting and food-growing in general are one way to get exposed to the dirt that is now required, if you want to reduce your chances of Alzhiemers.

It's going to be fun to watch the health nuts and the snake-oil industry scramble to provide good regular doses of all-American entrepreneurial free-market dirt to the gullible.

I'm also pleased to find out that my sister's and my own chances of contracting this disease are much less than I previously thought. This since, obviously, we otherwise have greater genetic susceptibility.

Both of us are gardeners, and raise our own vegetables.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/04/alzheimers-disease-link-hygiene

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Food Matters"...

...is the title of a new blog available at Scientific American. Who knew? You, now. Read it and weep.