Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hammonasset State Beach
    When I first started writing, I thought it was like climbing a mountain.  Every time you think you're near the top, you discover the top is farther than you think.  I've come to realize, there is no top to this mountain.  It goes on and on and on.
     Writing is more like being on a boat, rising and falling on rolling swells. The trick is to stay afloat.  When the horizon slips out of sight, it's easy to get lost in the gutter of a giant wave.  A frothy wall of water looms over head when every road you take, takes you nowhere--unanswered emails, denied presentations, opportunities lost, rejections received, unanswered emails--all have a way of piling up.  But when you're riding high on a swell, you bask in the sunshine and catch a thrill from one wild ride.
     Thankfully new opportunities grow where others have withered and died.  One such opportunity dropped in my inbox this week.  In mid-February, I'm going to Texas to work on line items for test passages.  It's part of research on a new methodology for item writing.

Hammonasset State Beach
Recently I found this Frontline episode about climate deniers.  "The tactics that this movement uses were developed and tested in the tobacco industry first, and now they’re being applied to the climate change movement, and in fact, some of the same people and some of the same organizations that were involved in the tobacco issue are also involved in climate change."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The lacy look of a snow-dipped blue spruce
Today my recording equipment arrived and it works beautifully.  Yes! 

On 11/25/12 I emailed the legislature because I was dismayed that they were not recognizing climate change as a problem.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

As representatives of this entire nation, it is imperative that you understand the issues so you can act upon them.  Climate change is a complex problem.   In essence, it’s a chemistry problem.  Society needs to address this controversial issue now, but progress is slow because the words of scientists, writers and speakers are challenged, misinterpreted and distorted. 

As a science writer, it is my job to translate science for the general public.  I’m writing to give you a deeper understanding of this important problem.  If you need further information, I invite you to contact these organizations and talk to other climate science writers or chemists.
National Association of Science Writers
The Society of Environmental Journalists
The American Chemical Society

I then went on to explain the science.  Granted I could have listed a zillion websites, research facilities or scientists, but I was aiming to give them places that would explain the science in a way that politicians could understand.   I was heartened to hear these words at the inauguration, "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."   I'd like to think that in some small way I made a difference, but I suspect they were inundated with emails and letters after the debate where the topic was not mentioned.  It's interesting to note that now, two months later, two of the ten links in my email no longer work.    One was a university in Minnesota.  The other was a government site in Idaho.  Thankfully, it doesn't diminish the main idea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lake Mead

Lake Mead 55-65 years ago
Lake Mead 7/2/12

It has been a challenging week filled with lovely things like a wake, a funeral, a YouTube email complaining about a 5 year old video, new recording equipment that didn't record telephone calls, and an inability to print the return label because the printer was out of ink.  Enough!  One by one, I will get all of this straightened out.  New equipment is on the way and it can't get here fast enough.

I was hopeful when I read that the EPA revised its standards to cut soot.  According to a recent study, soot, or black carbon, "is the second most important human emission."  Carbon dioxide is #1.

The way I look at climate change is that it is like a disease.  Problems like sea level rise, declining sea ice, warmer temperatures and fierce storms are the  symptoms.  If we focus on the disease--extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere--then the symptoms will subside.  Good luck with that!     

While I was converting my mother's slides to digital, I found this old shot of Lake Mead.  Since I was out there this past summer, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two photographs.  The mountains seem to rise when the water level drops.   In this interactive map, Nevada had record breaking heat in 12 counties, 36 broken heat records and 86 wildfires last year.  3,527 U.S. weather records were smashed in 2012!   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chasing Ice

Last night I saw Chasing Ice, a documentary about glaciers.  It offers undeniable proof that glaciers are melting and that they are melting fast.  The amount that one glacier retreated in 10 years was equivalent to 100 years of retreat in the past.  Balog's photography, especially of ice at night, was stunning.

I chose to go on skeptic night because I knew I would have something to say.  I wanted to comment on several things:

1) The website Wattsupwiththat is known for cherry picking data off of research papers and taking that data out of context.  Watts is a meteorologist, a weather person, not someone who studies the Earth's past carbon dioxide levels (see #2). 
On a website that scientists contribute to, they report, "The “climate sceptics” website wattsupwiththat, noted for their false reports" (October 4)
2)  The skeptic was a physicist.  Would you go to a geologist to get your medical problem diagnosed?
3) I wanted to focus the sold out crowd on carbon dioxide levels and emphasize and add something.

I raised my hand, but the guy gave the microphone to others in the audience.  This morning it occurred to me that my location in the theater was not easy to reach.  I would have had to get at least 10 people to stand up to get over to that microphone.  I regret that I did not stand up, go out the right side (3 people), walk across the front of the stage and up the left side.  There was no other way to get there.  I left with a knot of frustration.

Walt took this shot of a cardinal on the back deck.  The camera still works, but the auto focus is spent so you have to manually turn the lens.  The bird is a reminder to me that I need to go plant the seeds of submissions.  In 2012, I had a lousy crop and one reason is that 2010-2011 were rough years, so I didn't have the time or mindset to put down the seeds.  I decided it wasn't all me, after reading   about "The past three years of struggle and shrinkage in the publishing industry" on an I.N.K. blog post.