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March 2010

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Mar. 26th, 2010

And so we arrive at this again...

I'm really tired of having debates with people who obviously have no foothold on what they're talking about. when talking with skeptics about climate change and global warming, the only comeback most of them have is the Climategate email scandal.

And let's say that everything in that argument is legitimate, and that these scientists did make up data to make the situation look extremely bad and to scare people into action. It's irrelevant. Bad practice, absolutely, but irrelevant. Do you know why? Because temperature is actually a horrible indicator for climate change data. Temperature is extremely subjective, and can change drastically over the course of even a few dozen miles, sometimes less. This is why I don't like using the term "global warming", because it puts this idea in everyone's head that what is going to happen is that the world, as a whole, is going to get warmer, which is not the case. Rising ocean temperatures and rising CO2 levels actually run more of the risk of dropping us into a premature ice age than anything.

But, obviously, if a few scientists made up data and definitely deserve to be standing in the unemployment line right now, that is the do-all-end-all of the climate change debate.

Please, don't look at any other evidence, like the fact that receding glaciation in Peru is causing a crisis on both a water supply and economic scale.
And since there was a mistake in calculations, and a paper was retracted, that means that sea levels aren't rising. Just tell that to the people along the coastline of the Florida keys, who are watching the shoreline rapidly creepy up near the foundation of their houses and aren't sure they'll have place to live in a few years. Also, that completely negates the fact that an island just sank underwater near the coast of Bangledesh for the first time in recorded history. India and Bangledesh were fighting over who owned the island for 30 years, but that doesn't matter anymore, because it's now a giant sandbar and looks to stay that way for a while.

I can agree with, or at least accept, the idea that at least some of this climate change is just a naturally occurring phenomenon. However, considering the Greenhouse Effect, we all know that CO2 plays a role in heating the Earth, and CO2 has been on a steady and incredible increase over the last few decades. The sticker is that most of the carbon released from natural sources is carbon isotope 13, which is what is released from the breakdown of calcium carbonate, which is a natural "storage" for CO2, especially in the form of shells and tests in our oceans. So, if the rise in CO2 were natural, we should see a rise in the occurrence of atmospheric carbon 13, or at least a balance with carbon 12, which is the form of carbon most common in organic material. But, we don't. What research is actually showing a decrease in the amount of carbon 13 in contrast to the amount of carbon 12 in the atmosphere. Where would so much carbon 12 come from? The destruction of organic material -- i.e. the burning of wood and fossil fuels.

The point is, regardless of how you look at it, there is a lot of evidence out there for climate change, whether through scientific foreshadowing or just through observation of the changes going on all over the planet. I find the number of people willing to make leap-judgments about climate change to be quite alarming. But then again, many of these people that I've personally spoken with are the type who don't want to be made to feel responsible when they fire up their hummer that gets 12 mpg highway to drive home to their house with the air conditioning already cranked up when it's only 70∘F, and who "can't be bothered" to set their recycling bin out on the curb with their used plastics and papers inside instead of using it as a "side table" out on their patio. Because we can all live comfortably in denial until the bad news really hits the fan, or until we're fighting crustaceans for space on our front porch, either or. After all, most of us don't have to worry about anything until changing growing seasons impact food cost and supply, unless you live on the coast of Florida, in which case, buy flood insurance.

Feb. 24th, 2010

Just a note...

Hey everyone,

I just got back from ConVocation last night, and I'm still feeling pretty rocked. I know I owe people a substantial amount of comments and replies.

I'm sorry I haven't gotten to you. Please know, I'm not trying to ignore anyone or be unsupportive or inconsiderate, I've just needed some time for me... and some time to detox from a pretty revolutionary weekend.

I'll try to read over everything I missed by the end of the week.

Cheers!

Feb. 15th, 2010

A short update before I begin

So, I've decided that it's about time I should stop being hypocritical in asking other people to share their experiences, when I, in turn don't, share mine.

I did a series of voice posts over the last couple days in attempt to actually be able to talk about some of my experiences. But, I think they're a little bit too scattered to really, so instead of asking people to listen to me babble on for five minutes, I'll just write everything out here.

I'll just do a little background as to what's been going on today to warm myself up. (For some reason, it's extraordinarily hard to talk about this kind of stuff, especially after replaying some of my voice posts, and realizing how extensively batshit I sound. ;) )

For starters, I've been having one hell of a Monday. I forgot to set my alarm last night, but by some sheer miracle of the gods, I woke up at 7:45 and still had plenty of time to get ready. Which is amazing, considering I got 4... maybe 5 hours of sleep last night.

So, I scramble around in my mini fridge for something that can pass for breakfast on the run and scrape one of those d-lite breakfast things out of the back of my freezer. Of course, the microwave near the cafeteria promptly turns it into a crouton. I ended up buying a couple pieces of fruit and a coffee and running off to class with just enough time to sit down before she started.
Of course, when passing around the attendance board a few minutes later, I knocked my coffee off the edge of my chair and it promptly exploded all over the tile. Thankfully, no one was sitting where it blew up, so no one was a casualty of the mess. I just had to crawl in and out of class in front of the professor who is THEE most sensitive to people leaving her class out of anyone I've ever had. She's paused a lecture to bitch about that numerous times, but my coffee was migrating and I needed paper towel. I think if she would have stared at me any more intensely as I crept in and out of the room, I would have spontaneously combusted.

After all that, I decided to skip Micro today. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and drop that class. It's really interesting, but its A LOT of work, and I just lined my schedule up really stupidly this semester. I feel like somewhat of a failure for not being able to balance my workload, but it's really killing me. I mean, if it was any other line up, this might work, but Micro's a lot of work, and so is physics... and so is organic chemisrty, and on top of that pile, even though Ecology and it's lab are easy, they're really the straw that's breaking my back between how I'm so scattered through different classes. Since Micro isn't required for my major, since I'm no longer going pre-vet, it's the obvious casualty. It's stupid of me to try to balance all five classes and do mediocre in them, and thereby threatening my chances for grad school, when I could only have to balance four and do really well.
Now I just need to hobble my sorry butt down to the Natural Sciences office at some point this week to formally change my major to zoology with a focus in ecological sciences. I really believe that I've finally found what I can be excited about doing for the rest of my life, and it has a great job market.

Anyhow -- on to the pertinent stuff.

Jan. 25th, 2010

Some thoughts on religion... and other things.

Morning!

So, I had a discussion with a friend of mine here on campus, and I wanted to share some topics of our conversation and get some more viewpoints, because I found them very interesting.

Now, this friend in question is finally attempting to find her own connection to God. Yay for her. I'm excited that she's finally reaching beyond what other people tell her, and that she's learning that it's not only okay to, but that you're supposed to ask questions.

So, one of the topics we got on was heaven and the Garden of Eden. We actually arrived on that on a round-about way, discussing the concepts of ghosts. She felt they were minions of Satan who preyed on human emotion, and compared them to the snake in the Garden of Eden. So, I again made the point to her that perhaps the imagery in the bible is less literal and more symbolism.

If you think about the conflict between Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knoweldge, this really represents something that we, as humanity, are faced with every day. We can choose to be ignorant, and not be exposed to the horrors and reality around us, or we can gain that knowledge, be little less blissful, but have the ability to act on it. I mean, I know I, at least, would be a lot happier not knowing about the child sex trade in third world countries, or about the disaster that just slammed Haiti. But, because I do, I can do something like join the Peace Corps and make sure that education is available, so that at least the girls (who weren't kidnap victims) can have an education and have a choice other than selling themselves on the streets. I can donate money to Haiti to help them in their time of need. Of course, that knowledge doesn't give a single person the power to fix a disaster. But, when I'm moved by what's happened as so is the majority of the populous around me, my measley $10 can turn into $10,000 fairly quickly. That's one of the beauties of humanity is what we can do on a large scale when we work together. That's why apathy is so dangerous.

But, anyway, I digress. Living in that state of ignorance, Adam and Eve could never have known true happiness. I believe, firmly, that we only appreciate the beautiful moments in life, because we've had suffering to compare them to.
Many of my friends give me a pretty incredulous look when I tell them that I wouldn't want to go to heaven. I mean, think about it: Do you have any idea how boring it would get if you lived your dreams every day? Think about life if everything you wanted and everything that made you happy suddenly dropped at your feet. How incredibly boring would that be? The only reason for striving for anything in life is because there's challenge opposing you. That's where the real victory comes from. It's not sliding that ring over your wife's finger, it's not crawling out of a totaled car with three cuts and a broken finger, it's not walking across that stage on graduation day. The real joy comes from the challenge of falling in love with someone -- of learning to trust and give of yourself, it's surviving the car crash, or it's going to through all that stress and hell for 2-8 years to get your degree.
I guess the reincarnation model works so well for me, for this reason. It's a constant renewal of that challenge.
I'm sure that, somewhere, there is a heaven, and that some people do go there, and maybe that's what works for them. I believe we all create our own afterlife out of the power of our belief. But hell, who knows what's out there until we reach the next point.

I truly do believe, though, that God knew they were going to bite the apple at some point. I mean, that's just basic human psychology. Put five people in a room with a button and tell them they can't push it. See how long until someone creeps over and presses it, just to see what happens. I give it an hour. Tops.
Sure, God was upset, but I suppose I compare that to a parent who wanted more time with their child before booting them out into the door they'd opened for themselves. Besides, what does every parent fear worst but having their child be in a situation where they can no longer protect them?

I guess I sometimes feel frustrated that no one reads a folktale, a myth, or even a play without looking for some inner symbolism, but so many people are just terrified to do that with the Bible. A lot of people are afraid that if they question God, even a little, that they're going to go to hell. To which I have to respond, "So, you're afraid of being damned by God, so you refuse to attempt to have a relationship with him?"
Maybe that's just the pagan in me talking, but I do get very excited to hear someone ask why something makes sense, and then go off and seek their own religious answer.

Even though I'm pagan, I really like what Jesus had to say. I can't hold truck with a lot of the rest of the Bible, unfortunately, but it really does excite me to see people taking up that challenge again of trying to have a personal relationship with their diety. Maybe the world would be a better place if more people attempted that.

Your thoughts?

Jan. 24th, 2010

So it begins...

After about five years of abstaining from the evil that is blogging, livejournal has swept me back up again. Let's see if this time has a little less drama than the first, shall we?