Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nevada shaped by fans of air conditioning

Actually, that title could be "Desert lives shaped by fans of air conditioning".

I have often found it amusing that many desert-dwellers say they love living in the desert, but for many months of the year, we live inside, viewing the desert outside through glass while we sit in air-conditioned comfort.  And if we do venture outside in the heat, it is usually to a very non-desert-like place, such as a pool, water park, or reservoir.

Here's a story from the Las Vegas Sun on air-conditioning:

They blasted dynamite holes in the ground to plant trees. The desert was too hard for shovels, but they needed the shade. This was Las Vegas before air conditioning. The trees were an early thermal coercion now quaint and crazy as the rest: People once hung wet sheets in their doorways to cool the air inside, families slept on porches, children chased the ice truck — the novelty of it, frozen water delivered! — grabbing dropped splinters off the hard dirt, stuffing them in their mouths.

None of it really worked. From roughly 3 in the afternoon until sundown, one early Vegas resident told historians, “We just suffered.”

Las Vegas today exists in large part because of air conditioning, which has enabled us to bend the desert to our demands. ...

Read more here:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What are our responsibilities to ourselves and our descendents?

From the New York Times Dot Earth blog, here are some excerpts from Sophie's World author Jostein Gaarder:

"On intergenerational responsibility:
An important basis for all ethics has been  The Golden Rule or the Principle of Reciprocity: you shall do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But the golden rule can no longer just have a horizontal dimension – in other words a “we” and “the others.” We must realize that the Principle of Reciprocity also has a vertical dimension: you shall do to the next generation what you wished the previous generation had done to you.
On the slow, steady, incomplete moral evolution of humanity:
The greatest triumph of philosophy to date may be the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights were not given us by the powers above. Nor were they pulled out of thin air either. They mark the end of a 1,000-year-long process of maturation.
Ten years into the 21st century, the question may be posed: how long can we speak of our “rights” without at the same time focusing on our responsibilities? Perhaps we need a new universal declaration? The time is ripe for a Universal Declaration of Human Obligations.
Finally, he spoke about the responsibility, if we use up a finite resource, to fill the gap for those to come:
Based on the Principle of Reciprocity, we should only permit ourselves to use non-renewable resources to the extent that we at the same time pave the way for our descendants to be able to manage without the same resources.
 You can hear it his whole speech, starting at 8:56 here:

Do Humans Need a Golden Rule 2.0?

Interesting stuff on the web: Gymnasts, testicles, and meat

The 2000 United States Olympic Team is awarded the bronze medal ten years later....  OK, think back to the 2000 Olympic Games, held in Sydney.  It was the Olympic games right after the Atlanta games, and much was expected of our gymnastics team.  They did well, and maybe you even remember the stunning performance of a young Tasha Swhwickert.  Unfortunately, they were edged out by the Chinese team, and came in fourth.  There was some controversy over the age of at least one of the Chinese team's gymnasts.  Well, it has taken this long but the Chinese team was disqualified, so ten years later, the bronze is awarded to the U. S. Gymnastics Team.  Here's the story from the Las Vegas Sun, along with videos of the performance by Tasha Schwickert:
Everything you wanted to know about testicles ... and I do mean everything!  Here's an excerpt:  "Sure they look great, and human females are almost hypnotised by their gentle swaying motion and generally perfect appearance but, let’s be honest, they’re not very well protected.  Dangling, as they do, around the human male’s midsection, on the outside of his body, they’re basically begging for a football to be kicked into them, reducing even the most Herculean specimen of a man into nothing more than a weeping, retching, crumpled up heap on the floor.  It’s a wonder men are actually capable of achieving anything if you consider that, at any point, they can be rendered completely helpless by even the gentlest of unexpected nudges to the plums."  Read more from Environmental Graffiti here:

Meat - our unsustainable consumption of it:  I wonder when reality of our unsustainable meat consumption set in.  Meat has become such an integral part of our diet, making an appearance at most every meal, but our consumption of it fuels a massive meat-raising industry that has major impacts on our land, water, and air resources.  Check out this New York Times article:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One day maybe I'll blog about this ....

"We used to think that the world was too big for us to seriously impact it. For much of our existence this was true. Our waste was biodegradable and there were only a billion or so of us. Now there are nearly 7 billion, producing non-biodegradable trash in unprecedented quantities. Whichever way you cut it, this cannot be sustainable. We live on a finite planet, where there is no "away". If we keep extracting all the good stuff out of the Earth, reconfiguring it into toxic substances, and dumping it out into our air, soil, and oceans, we can be sure that it will come back and bite us. "


Thursday, March 25, 2010