Tag Archives: climate change

Slippery slope thoughts: my neck, mitosis, and climate change

11 Apr

Oops this was published too quickly…

I woke up this morning thinking about my neck.

Specifically, as you might imagine, wrinkles.  Those horizontal lines which shout and share my age.  A seemingly  inauspicious way to begin a day, right?  That same day which only ‘ages’ from dawn till dusk, yet is the same ‘age’ from year to year.  The birth of the new (calendar) year spawns a growth spurt resulting in longer days until the summer solstice, when as if exhausted by the hullabaloo of summer’s start, begins a steady decline to wizened daylight until after the winter’s solstice and the whole cycle starts again.

My neck, as luck would (not) have it, does not follow this same rule of nature.

The decline and rebirth of the day (and year) has an external cause:  the earth’s rotation and tilt around the sun.  But my aging neck is internal…..

The visible signs of aging across living organisms isn’t equal.  Talk about ringing in a new year:  no species ages like trees, growing taller, more majestic and more productive with each passing year.   Trees’ years may be imagined by their height, yet they have to die and be cut open to count  the rings marking their lives.  I know trees are vital to keeping me vibrant – even more than my skin care regiment – but it’s still not fair.  It’s certainly a slight from nature that trees alone not only increase oxygen output as they age – and are more valuable for their beauty.

Spite:  is this the reason humankind is out to kill all the trees on the planet?  Because they age effortlessly and gracefully and the cosmetic companies (and climate change deniers) don’t want a reminder they are not keeping up?  No, that sounds too ridiculous even for this early in the morning.

 

listverse.com Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

listverse.com
Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

I sometimes think the strides in anti-aging treatments far exceed those in alternative energy sources and cancer cures.

Nora Ephron's spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

Nora Ephron’s spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

 

As reason pulls me from mirror to computer, I remind myself aging is simple science.  It’s mitosis or mitotic imbalance or epidermal (cell) retirement.  I possess as many names for mitotic  decline as anti-aging oils in my bathroom.

But it’s not just that my skin cells up and die – it’s that there are no new ones to take their place.  It’s the imbalance of out with the old, but no new ones to plump back in their face – I mean place.

Simple science is all about equilibrium.   If new cells don’t replace old cells than aging occurs.  Matter cannot be created nor destroyed has nothing to do with skin cells – we’re talking biology not physics here.

Our aging all about the balance of new cells replacing old cells due to mitosis.

Simple science is the reason for trees regal aging:  the oxygen/carbon di-oxide cycle or balance of trees taking our carbon dioxide waste and exhaling out oxygen.  The same oxygen we need for vitality and life is because of the trees that take in our exhaust carbon dioxide.

Our faces mirror the need for balance everywhere in our lives.  Economically, if more money goes out of our wallets than goes in, we experience a financial ‘death’ = debt.  If we take more than we give to friends there is relationship death.  If we eat more calories than we burn, our skinny jeans are buried in the donation bin.

Life is all about balance and getting what we need.  Trees remind us our age on the inside is (and can be) projected out.  Regardless of age, we can still bloom and give life.

Of course we need trees for more than reminders about graceful aging.

 

The oxygen/carbon-dioxide cycle is a normal cycle (like mitosis).  Destroying the planet’s forests  unnaturally destroys this cycle.  Cutting down trees is aging the planet (aka climate change) and plaguing our health.   But this we can do something about.  Really.  Restoring this balance is the simplest thing we can do to combat global warming.

Personally, I can live with wrinkles….  Without oxygen, not so much….

Earth day is weeks away.  Let’s celebrate by planting trees.

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Going up! Running express from 350 ppm to 400 ppm: Is it worth the risk?

8 Jul

You’re running late.  Standing at the elevator, you push the button what feels like a bazillion times, fully aware that it won’t make it come any faster.  The familiar ping of the arriving car brings a wave of relief – until the doors open.  The elevator is packed tighter than  proverbial sardines in a can.  There’s a sliver of light between sweaty bodies and bulky briefcases –  just enough inches for you.

basia961-webd-pl.

basia961-webd-pl.

Fitting 12 oz. in an 8 oz. glass, there’s need for those compression storage bags to fit you all in comfortably.  Arranging your body in an uncomfortable angle, you mumble apologies and giggle, your eyes avoiding others.  Your bodies are  superimposed in intimate configurations.  For distraction, you fixate on the weight limit warning, boldly posted in the upper right hand corner.  Involuntarily your eyes, the only part of your body able to move, dart around the two square foot space, mentally adding up real vs. driver license weights.  Horror mixes with fear: realistically, you should all be crashing to your deaths right about now.

So when the door opens do you run out screaming for safety?  Or do you inhale and sidle up even closer to those nameless weighted bodies from the 7th floor to make room for the next dangerous addition to your safety violating can?  After all, this is a daily occurrence.  Besides, how often do overweight elevators crash at warp speed to a deadly destination for its inhabitants?  Your worries dissipate with thoughts of Chicken Little-like elevator inspectors.

Arriving safely at your destination, a bit late, a lot rumpled, you mentally run through all the warnings that never come to pass:  the 2012 Mayan calendar,  the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, the hazards of eggs or is it coffee this week?

Then there’s those environmentalists crying ‘wolf’, or rather:  global warming! global warning!  Is there any real difference between an elevator holding too much weight and the atmosphere holding too much carbon dioxide?

The CO2 limit in the right hand corner of the sky reads 350 parts per million (ppm).  That’s the safe amount of carbon dioxide in the mix of ‘air’ to allow life to continue as we know it.  But climate scientists lecture our ‘weight’  is now at a rip-roaring 400 ppm.

That air you’re breathing is CO2 obese.  Can we blame CO2 for personal obesity too?

400 ppm – we should be grabbing our chests and grasping for oxygen.  If the scientists are more accurate in their predictions than elevator inspections.  Which clearly they are not.  Because we are still here, sweltering in triple digit temps, disaster weary after hurricanes and tornadoes rip through formerly safe havens.

Global Warning!

Yet we can each make the choice to step off an overweight elevator.  When it comes to a safe gas mix in the air we breathe, there is no escape.  Though we escape from record-breaking heat in air-conditioned shelters, in air-conditioned cars.  AC that inches up the CO2 reading further.

It’s about risk.  We can always take the stairs.   In fact taking stairs and walking will reduce obesity.  Using less AC (the smallest of starts) will reduce CO2 levels.  (And wouldn’t it be nice to do away with plastic!)

There is no substitute for oxygen and healthy breathing air.  No substitute for balance in the CO2 cycle.  Not unless we want our species to go crashing down.

We might be safe for now.  Are you willing to risk your kids or grandkids future?

Speak up for alternative energy.  Recycle.  Support environmental groups.  The earth has taken care of us, now it’s time for us to take care of her.

350.org

Sierra Club

World Wildlife Fund

Heifer International

These are just a few…. share your favorite group and what they do!

Too much of a good thing: 3 things to learn from corn

27 Jun

“Americans are already paying the price of inaction,” he (President Barak Obama on coal power) said.

“Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all humankind.”

corn

It’s hot.  I mean really hot and I walk around feeling soppy.   I have to admit I’ve never gotten the whole ‘ain’t summer grand’ thing.

Growing up, it didn’t feel as hot as it is now.  We survived with fans – even in  out cars.    Though things always feel different when you’re a kid.

There’s a reason fans were enough back then:  since 1970, the earth’s temp has risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.  If you like this hotter world we’re melting into, stick around another 80 years or so.  Global scientists predict the temperature will rise about 11 degrees F – IF we keep burning coal, oil and fracked natural gas.

Of course not every area will suffer equally:  small Pacific islanders won’t suffer – they’ll just no longer exist.

It’s hard to imagine the power of a rising ocean level sweeping away cities, though hurricane Sandy gave us a sneak preview.   Honest now:   have you bought additional rain gear in the last year?   Will building big, big sea walls protect hurricane-challenged areas like NYC?

But it’s really corn I want to talk.  That same treat that reminds us it’s summer in the best possible way:  grilled, boiled, buttered, salted or plain.   Then there’s full planet empty plateseverything I didn’t know (we’ll just stick to corn for now) until I read  Lester Brown’s ‘Staple Crops Vulnerable to Rising Temperatures’ in Heifer’s World Ark this morning.

Remember the saying:  thigh high by the 4th of July as a good sign for corn.  As the world blazes,  rising temps will interfere with our corn growth spurt.

I know it sounds ‘corny’, or should I say there’s more than a kernel of truth in it, but it’s all about sex, or more specifically pollination.

Pollination is the most vulnerable part of corn’s life cycle.  Those silky strands stripped off the cob, sometimes right in the store, are each attached to a single kernel.  Each strand needs a grain of pollen to fall on it, that grain journeying to the kernel for fertilization and our ultimate delight.   Too much heat?  The strands dry out, thwarting all hopes of fertilization.  Hmm, I would never have thought about the similarities of human and corn reproduction.

Then there’s sun stroke/shock:  those high temps that leave me wilted and my hair curly, dehydrates the plants.  Just like we need to drink more water in the heat, so does corn.  (sans plastic bottles)

Unable to hide in the shade, plants curl curl their leaves to reduce sun exposure.  Less sun means less photosynthesis.  Less photosynthesis means less carbon-dioxide absorption – and less oxygen production.

For those who need to keep score: Greenhouse gasses: 1, summer picnic: 0

The sun gives life.  The sun can take away life.  Here are 3 things to learn from corn’s challenge:

1.  It’s all about balance:  or equilibrium, or homeostasis.  Even if like sun we think we need more of something.  Too much work burns us out – get it.  Too much play can leave our brains soppy.  Overspending can thwart hopes of fertilizing retirement, home or a new car.  We can take steps to regain balance in our life (usually).  But we can also take steps to balance adding hot air to the atmosphere.

2.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction:  Mixing biology and physics is enough to get anyone drunk.  If something is good for us, more MUST be better, but like sun and crops, instead of increasing yield, it decreases it.  It’s like thinking a bigger house will add joy, when it can also just add more stress.  Or, how technology makes our life easier – absolutely makes it more complex.  Changing one thing mean something else will too.  Just not in the way you think.

3.  It’s personal: Optimally and often, when good things happen, they spill into all areas of life.  It’s as if there is a cosmic synergy that sparks and connects all our dreams.  Yet I realize each part of us is tethered to the outside world by a vulnerable silky strand.  Each strand needs to be nurtured to fertilize, before yielding a bushel of dreams.  If the right job, love, or opportunity isn’t attracting the right pollinator, there is one variable that isn’t ‘right’?    Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the big picture and forget the little details that make that picture come alive.

A field of corn is similar to a networking event.   There needs to be balance (between listening and talking), going to too many  events can be as bad as going to none (burn out), and, it’s all being in the right place at the right time to meet the right ‘pollinator’/organization that will yield results.

Let’s respect the power of nature – and the added power we gift her by our actions!

Enjoy this weekend’s picnics (and corn on the cob!)

Post-Sandy: Doha meets the Biggest (CO2) Loser

28 Nov

A whimsical, wishful thought about human nature and change!

 What could You do with 42 Billion Dollars?

It would be like winning the biggest lottery ever!  You’d never have to worry about a thing.  Why you could live anywhere you wanted safely and securely.  Even if it was on the edge of a cliff – fiscal or otherwise.  You could build the safest support around to stay safely perched.

Unless of course Sandy-esque storms strike and sweep you into the void below.

Of course you could afford to build a new house – anywhere.   On a beach, or, on your own island in the South Pacific.

Unless that island drowns by rising sea levels – or a Sandy-esque surge.

Living on the edge – fiscally or environmentally it’s dangerous!

Climate change will change our sense of security.

I have to mention Sandy since only a month ago NYC was hit by the costliest storm to hit this island.  It will cost NYC $42 Billion to rebuild – well, actually it will cost FEMA that amount.

Global warming is REALLY expensive!

And like the song goes:  if climate change can make it here (NYC) , it can make it anywhere.”

Well, close enough.  Post-Sandy, there was real acknowledgement – by politicians and skeptics alike – of the real and present danger of global warming courtesy of rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

So a month after this devastating storm, acknowledged to be ‘The New Normal’, global climate talks are being held in Doha Qatar.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/28/understanding-the-doha-climate-talks-in-three-charts/  click here for the Washington Post’s sum of the talks past and present.

Global leaders are discussing policies and actions to halt, reverse, and take action about our warming planet and its deleterious effects.

It’s been 15 years since the Kyoto Protocol and the first climate talks.  Talk is just hot air.  Hot air adds to global warming.  And there has been lots of talk over the years.

Industrialization and ‘the good life’ has led to increased carbon dioxide emissions leading to to increased temperatures causing increased melting of the ice caps, and, rising sea levels.

And all of that leads to severe weather patterns like our blistering hot summer and catastrophic hurricanes.

Insult to injury:  melting ice caps are releasing methane (aka as carbon-dioxide), increasing temperatures even more and accelerating the above process.

I somehow assumed this years climate talks would be front page news considering the extreme weather of this past year including draughts and heat, and Sandy.

I somehow assumed people would really care this year.  But assumptions are as dangerous as not believing in climate change.

China is gearing up for action in 2030; the U.S. is poised for 2015.

This means potential for 3 more Sandy-esque storms to hit the Northeast – and we know New Yorker’s won’t stand for that.  I mean, would YOU?

Three more years of sinking islands and drowning polar bears.  Three more years

for carbon-dioxide levels to rise even further.

I continue to wonder why people don’t care and why these climate talks are buried beneath worries of the fiscal cliff.

I think I have the solution to get people interested and involved and to take action:

We need a REALITY SHOW! 

Imagine:  THE BIGGEST carbon-emission LOSER.

People LOVE that show and for good reason.

This would be a chance for all of us to lighten our load since the whole planet is CO2 pudgy.  No, let’s be honest:  CO2 OBESE.

And it’s dangerous and ugly.  People can’t breathe, can’t move.

This revolution needs a better sign! Help me out here!

So here’s how The Biggest carbon-emission Loser would work:

Each week on a televised broadcast:  Nations, represented by Presidents, Ministers, Kings, or Princes would weigh the carbon-dioxide output of their citizens and their actions.

Imagine Obama competing with Angela Merkel’s EU (for starters).

During the intervening weeks, citizens would take action in their countries to reduce CO2 to help their nations win.  Well lose first to win big!

Each and every one of us would have to:

  1. Consume less stuff, energy, gas
  2. Exercise responsible use of water and electricity
  3. Work out ways to support responsible manufacturing and safe energy production

We can do this – we can win! 

And for those of us in the U.S. we can whup some EU butt by putting our good ‘ole Yankee ingenuity to good use.

So what will you do to reduce our CO2 emissions?

Will you get  your community together to reduce and reuse?

Carpool?

Rethink holiday gifts or at least skip the wrapping paper? Re-gift?

Turn off the water?

Let’s start a revolution.

I say let’s take action and participate in the Biggest loser: carbon emission version! Pic: http://savemyblueplanet.blogspot.com/p/photos-showint-effects-of-global.html

We can all be reality TV stars!  Let’s get this on screens around the world!

Share your thoughts!

Hurricane Sandy’s Global Warming WARNing

4 Nov

Horrific devastation of a flooded then burned Breezy Point, Queens after Sandy struck – and compared to a bombed WWII city.
Are we at War?
If we are, we are losing – and we’ve been warned.
photo from: cnbc.com

A week ago we were preparing for Sandy.  Now, many parts of the city are dealing with unbelievable devastation.  Sitting in a Starbucks  close to Central Park, there’s an eerie sense of normalcy.

Runners from around the world limp by in their brightly colored shirts.  They’ve  run their 26 miles without the help of the cancelled NYC marathon.

At the southern tip of Brooklyn, the Atlantic Ocean nips the beaches of Coney Island and the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach.

Subtle.  We’ve all been transfixed by dramatic images of floods and fires.

Here are subtle but real images of the storm.

Starbucks on Brighton, a block from Brighton Beach’s boardwalk, still shuttered on Thursday, 10/31 after Sandy.

Normalcy is Starbucks where on the most ordinary of days is filled with chatterers and writers.  This particular Starbucks a block from Brighton Beach was shuttered as of last Thursday.  A small reminder.

Life will never be the same.  Or will it?  Memory is fleeting: our strength and challenge as humans.

Post-Sandy, I took a walk down Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.  Ocean Parkway is Central Park’ architects (Vaux and Olmstead) tree-lined grand promenade, linking Prospect Park  and Coney Island.

Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s landscaped park courtesy of Vaux and Olmstead – and the park they preferred!

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg and NY Governor Cuomo murmur loud enough to be heard over election babble:  Sandy’s vengeance  is the face of disasters to come.

And is the result of global climate change.

This is NYC’s third natural disaster in two years.

A killer 2010 snowstorm buried buses and cars for days on end, devastating holiday plans and shopping

Maybe we are at war?  Maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us something?  If we are at war, who are our allies?  Our enemies?

A casualty!  This tree-crushed car must have horrified it’s owner. Luckily for the owner, this neighborhood suffered no power loss, flooding, or fires.

Luck is in the eyes of the beholder, especially after a disaster.  My neighbor complained about the lack of milk and eggs in the stores.  And of course no gas.

It seems the less we have to complain about, the more we complain.  I bet a week ago, people in Staten Island would have focused on this complaint.   Things change – like the climate.  And what we complain about.

Uprooted trees fell to their death, united with chunks of the earth which had kept them stable and solid for so long. What will we do without them? How will we live?

Thousands of trees were killed during the hurricane. Sadly, these fallen trees now block streets, damaged houses, cars, and, even killed people.
(If you look carefully…)
I guess someone realized this dead tree could no longer feed herself (photosynthesis) SO LEFT A BOTTLE OF JUICE on her fallen trunk. For the tree to drink.

Irony:

Killed trees = less absorbed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Less trees = more carbon dioxide  = increased temperature.

Increased temperature = warmer ocean.

Warmer ocean = more hurricanes.

But we all know this.

Attack of the killer tree? Tree suicide? It almost looks like the tree attacked this car. She knows killing cars is one way to fight climate change.

Environmentalists have been crying ‘global warming’ for years, going back centuries.  Remember singing:  ‘they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ (Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi)

No Gas! Every gas station I saw was closed and lineless.
One more reason I am thankful and thrilled with a great public transportation system which IS up and running!
It’s as if the cars not crushed by trees were silenced by lack of gas. Coincidence?

Close to where Ocean Parkway meets the boardwalk,  the ocean’s surge took action on cars:

Cars were nudged out-of-place, not as dramatic as pictures of piles of boats in people’s yard. Disquieting. Like the ‘clean’ sidewalks and ‘dust’ in the air the closer one got to the ocean.

Sandy turned the entrance to the boardwalk into a sand dune!

Piles of sand, rearranged from one side of the boardwalk to the other – not major, not dramatic, subtle. Kind of like climate change so far. Kind of like small islands disappearing. Unless you live there. Or unless your car becomes buried in sand.

The ocean was apologetically quiet post hurricane. While I passed over a dozen wanderers, only one fisherman sat patiently waiting for signs of life to emerge on the end of his line.

There’s a ‘neutral zone’ between the energy of Coney Island’s amusement park and the calm, European flavor of ‘Little Odessa’, the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach.  In that zone is the NY Aquarium.

NYC’s diversity is its strength. We’ve survived 9/11, we’ll survive this. Diversity adds dimension and as perspective, the planet loses way too many species every year no thanks to human actions. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine how this loss of diversity will impact life as we know it.

Please donate to the victims of this natural disaster and for those who will suffer from disasters to come.

And vote:  remember only one candidate has spoken about climate change.  Climate change alone will focus our jobs and needs in years to come!

What do you think?  How can we save the planet?  What can each of us do?