Category Archives: Science

Choking Ourselves?

via Daily Prompt: Premature

The air that we breathe in some places contributes to illness, alergy onset, sets off asthma, and, according some researchers, is now a cause of premature death. The Guardian report below is somewhat singular in focussing on China and India, but it makes the point that air pollution is a serious business. Truth is, no country is absolved of this, we’re all in it. The country that provides the coal, the oil, the petrochemicals, they’re right in it too.

It is a fixable problem. Renewables, especially solar, wind, battery are strong contenders to replace carbon energy sources. But what happened to walking, public transport, bicycles, car-pooling, reducing non-esential travel? These are just as critical in the whole scheme of pollution control as electric cars and solar power. The same can be said of consumption, buying stuff. Our material wealth may be choking us, literally. That is also fixable, reducing consumption is another strategy in reducing pollution.

So, it comes back to each one of us. There are no faceless people to blame, we’re all in it, time to face up to it and deal with our own lifestyles first. To set the example is more powerful than just complaining. Living what we say we believe is far more potent than asking people to do something. The other trick is not to be too self-righteous when one begins to adopt new ways, that just alienates people. The way to invite people into new patterns of living is to show how good it is, and by demonstrating how it pays off. The evidence is what will move people eventually. I suspect that most people simply want to see what works and how it works. We can do that where we are.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Economics, education, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science

Glimmer

via Daily Prompt: Glimmer

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(Image: hdwalpapers2013.com)

I love the night sky, the glimmer of light, those stars, planets, refracting the sun’s light for vast distances we call light years. As a child I wanted to go out there and see how it all fitted together, and to see if there was life out there in some form. Space always captivates me, it is, as Captain Kirk said: “Space, the new frontier.” And with an ever expanding universe, there will be an ever growing new frontier, and one we cannot consume.

There is always a divide over space exploration, those who criticize it, for a variety of reasons, and those who support it. Constructive criticism is worth hearing, but that which is borne out of ignorance or fear is not. Fear closes us down, shuts off our creativity, our capacity to dream and think big. It’s easier to be negative than positive, but it is positive energy that will help us, negativity will be our death.

On a tangent here check out, and thanks to Skirmishes With Reality, Jaron Lanier on How We Need To Remake The Internet, where he talks about how negativity is destructive: www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

Martin Luther king Jnr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” No wonder that the great spiritual guides of the past all made that connection in a variety of ways, because as you say that quote it it seems logical.

As with light, so with love, love is a glimmer of hope, and a more down to earth hope. Like light, like the universe, love is a positive and ever expanding energy. When we become love in all its forms for others, we become glimmers of hope. Together we can dispel the darkness that haunts our world, our communities, our homes, and our selves. We can be that energy where we are. Love is a new frontier, lets explore that.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

22 Comments

Filed under astronomy, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science, Space, Spirituality

Frigid or Just Unheard?

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

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Photo: http://www.cleverdicc.com

 

There is such a confusion and misrepresentation around this word, instead of being an adjective, it has become a poisonous weapon.

Frigid was, in my learning and memory, principally a word to describe extreme cold. It described being out in the snow, or the wind chill factor in winter, or the bodily reaction to cold water. Who could forget the US giant Frigidaire and the heavy marketing of the 70s and 80s across the world? Their campaign aimed at Australia was one of turning extreme heat successfully in cool temps.

Somewhere, sometime, someone in history used the word frigid to describe women who weren’t deemed sexually responsive. Nothing, I note about men, though if you are keen you eventually find the references to men as frigid as well, but historically it has been used to describe women, because, well, only women could be dysfunctional – as if the planet were so bifurcated, ridiculous thought, but purely old school male thinking. The word was used in the sense that the woman was icy, frosty, frozen shut, cold hearted, incapable of warm response, and so on.

What it denies, is the reality, like all cheap put-downs. A woman, or man, who is (possibly) unresponsive may well be just exhausted. They may be lacking empathy, warmth, connection, romance, validation, equality. They may feel used, objectified, enslaved, robotic. They could well be feeling taken for granted, or stuck in a rut. There is no end to the possibility of why anyone might be (mis)judged as frigid. Australian academic Jill Matthews in her seminal work “Good and Mad Women” shows how women who failed to live up to male or societal (thus male) expectations were deemed mad, and some (too many) were incarcerated in institutions for the mentally ill, and in recent history!

Researcher and therapist John Gottman makes it clear that through his institute’s research over three decades, they have discovered that the real key to any problem is communication. Trivial as that may sound, I believe that in a non-defensive and mindful moment you will find that to be true, if you reflect openly you will know that it comes down how you perceive, how you think, how you respond, often without reference to the other. Gary Chapman, another therapist founded his focussed work on love language and communication which became his best seller “The Five Love Languages.” Clearly, communication is the centre of relational issues, not “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “You need fixing, but I’m good.” To call someone frigid is to hide behind a projection, an intent to wound or put down, a way of controlling another, a way of making oneself look good by comparison (the death of most relationships). It is an avoidance of one’s own part in relationship at the expense of the other, and in some cases becomes abusive.

The upshot of research is that most men don’t listen, I mean really listen, that active listening. If it comes down to sex, and it doesn’t really, solely sit there, it goes back to expectations, often unrealistic and selfish expectations.

Watch your expectations! Don’t hide your own shortcomings behind the other, and check your communication skills.

Just to give you an insight into Gottman’s insightful work:

Paul,

pvcann.com

9 Comments

Filed under life, love, mindfulness, psychology, Science, self-development, Sex, Therapy

In Memory of Karen Silkwood

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

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My mother entered her teens during WW2, and as a consequence she enthused her children to know about it. In my own meanderings around the subject of the war I could not reconcile the use of nuclear weapons (depite the plea for shortening the war), I was deeply moved by the photographic footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I still am (one photo the evokes the same response is the image of Phan Khi Kim Phuc Running while burned by napalm). The results of Chernobyl and Fukushima are horrifying.

But the story that really got me was the story of Karen Silkwood which I first encountered through the movie Silkwood starring Meeryl Streep, and thereafter through reading. The story of how she raised the issue of health and safety at the Kerr-Mcgee chemical factory, and how she mysteriously disappeared on her way to meet a journalist. In 1974 she testified before the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. Silkwood was also suffering from the inadequate safety of the chemical plant where she worked – she said she was suffering from plutonium contamination.

Silkwood’s story told me then that the nuclear industry could be easily compromised (but then, which industry can’t be compromised?) by sloppy safety practices and the lust for profits and market gain. And look at the results:-

Windscale, UK, 1957 – Windscale 1 caught fire, the radiation reached Europe (200 cancer related deaths documented).

Sodium Reactor Experiment, USA, 1959 – 13 fuel rods overheated, the gaseous material that resulted was discharged into the atmosphere.

SL – 1, USA, 1961 – power surge caused by single fuel rod extraction, the steam explosion killed the three workers on duty that day, they all received lethal doses of radiation.

Enrico Fermi Unit 1, USA, 1966 – the first and only fast breeder reactor that overheated.

Three Mile Island Unit 2, USA, 1978 – nuclear reactor coolant escaped.

Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 – massive release of radiation across the Soviet Union and Europe. Poor safety procedures during a scheduled maintenance operation resulted in the reactor suffering a series of explosions, followed by a fire which also accelerated the release of radiation.

Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, 2011 – and earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the nuclear plant, it overheated and suffered a series of explosions, and massive amounts of radiation were released.

Needless to say these are the big ones, there are myriads of small problems with radiation release due to reactor problems, but also from radioactive waste control problems. Currently the issue of nuclear waste rages as the state and federal govt. determine whether or not to place a nuclear dump at a small rural centre in South Australia, at Kimba (we stayed there last year, great little town). Of course, the community have been given all sorts of guarantees! But once you’ve understood Silkwood, once you’ve checked the serious nuclear disaster list and seen how most of them are human error issues,  guarantees don’t mean much. In my view, nuclear reactors = radiation in our environment.

I don’t know that I can stop the whole thing, I stay informed, I write to politicians, I bring it up with others, short of chaining myself to a fence in South Australia, that’s about it, but if more of us wrote and lobbied it would at least, if nothing else, alert our local reps to our understanding and concern. Guarantees don’t cut it! Don’t be fooled.

For those interested: https://antinuclear.net

Paul,

pvcann.com

1 Comment

Filed under chemicals, Country, history, life, nature, Nuclear, Science

Wonder

via Daily Prompt: Wonder

Stevie Wonder, Wonder Woman (especially Lynda Carter), the Seven Natural Wonders, are all engaging in their own right. But the video feeds my real sense of awe – the wonder of the universe. In the 1920s Edwin Hubble was able to prove a long held theory that the universe was expanding and wasn’t static. More recently, scientists have discovered that the universe is expanding at a faster rate than originally thought.

The video attempts to show in a graphic sense the scale and form of the universe, a true wonder to captivate the mind. It certainly brings a sense of scale to our galaxy, and to our planet. But it doesn’t diminish me or any of us, rather, it captures the sense of how wonderful it is we are even here, and that we are part of something that is truly amazing. That thought drives me to contribute, to learn, to be in community, to live into life, to be creative, to live compassion. There is more to life than just self, and there is more to life than just drudge, there is a universe, and that tells me we are part of something big, something unseen and unknown, something beyond our limitations. It tells me there is something more, and in relation, I am no mere speck, I am not irrelevant, but rather, I am part of the integrity of that whole, part of that wonder.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

17 Comments

Filed under astronomy, community, life, nature, Science

It’s A Fact!

Fact

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(poster from planetofthevapes.com)

Is it really a fact? Fact can be slippery. The real conundrum is that fact doesn’t necessarily means true.

Science rigorously tests and peer reviews, and arrives at a fact, but does not rest with that, it continues to test and review and analyse, recognising that a scientific fact is still open to challenge, it may be true today but not tomorrow when we have more data, more evidence. In the past century Newton’s laws have been adjusted, modified and reapplied.

In a more general sense fact is often confused with opinion, personal understanding, perception, expectation, belief, and so on. Do we rigorously wrestle with our inner issues and perceptions? Do we adjust and revisit our beliefs and views? When do we refelct and enable ourselves some self-awareness, or even invite the refelctions of others? Our inner world needs to accomodate the outer world as an experience that cannot be completely ignored, and we need to enable ourselves opportunity for growth and development, and not least – to be able to flourish. But even more than that, the space to dream and vision.

And, is it a fact that you can’t do something? Is it a fact that you are who they say you are? Is it a fact that you will never be XYZ? Of course not, but the inner script needs to be adjusted and reworked, reapplied. Without some self work, some inner attendance, our self-script goes unchallenged, our mind map corrals our very being and potential if not opened up to reflection and adjustment, and in particular, the awareness of others around us. Challenge your personal fact-sheet, let go the script, and live.

Paul,

pvcann.com

13 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, Science, self-development

Cleaning Up The Mess We Made

via Daily Prompt: Messy

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I see news bulletins or read an op ed piece and the sheer negative of the report overwhelms me. Some years ago I saw footage of plastic waste in the ocean and I had steam coming out of my ears. How could it come to this? Such a mess!

Boyan Slat, a young engineering student has one proposed solution to the problem. Slat encountered plastic in the Mediterranean Ocean and at 17 yrs began working on a solution to plastic polution in the ocean. We’ve all seen the shocking footage of marine life snarled in plastic, or the photos of granular plastic which makes the sand look coloured. But Slat has at least put his mind to it. Of course, his proposal has attracted both support and criticism. He has raised in excess of 27 million US for his company –  Ocean Cleanup, but some in the scientific community have pooh-pooed the idea because it is yet untested in the wild. However, some criticism has come from those who believe that we should be working solely on prevention.

There will will always be a need for constructive criticism especially in testing and peer reviewing scientic work, but I wish that the opinionated people who haven’t a clue would butt out. It would be nice to live in a world where prevention was the sole effort in anything, but on the face of it, our track record as a species is that prevention is hard won. I don’t work in binaries if I can help it, and my prefernece is to use both prevention and reactive solutions together. Besides, I’m a born skeptic in regard to the human condition, and I believe that even with prevention methods, we would still have a problem of plastic in the ocean. Some polution is just by negligence or accident.

Even if this doesn’t work, at least he’s tried, and I applaud that. We will soon find out as the company are set to deploy this year. For me, this is a positive step, and the scientific community have been engaged in a new way forward to resolving a mess of our own making. And in my view, a step forward invites more.

Paul,

pvcann.com

19 Comments

Filed under beach, boats, community, education, environment, life, nature, Science

Fightback

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Photo of London, BBC, news.bbcimg.co.uk

I’ve already referenced the environmental ethics group in Ecuador. But more recently, I’m heartened by the action of a group of lawyers known as Client Earth  https://clientearth.org

Well, Client Earth have had their third victory in court against the UK Govt. in three years in relation to illegal levels of air pollution. A stunning achievement, and hopefully more to come. It is wonderful to have such a boundary rider active in a world where governments are captive/vulnerable to business and political interests that could not care less.

Paul,

pvcann.com

10 Comments

Filed under community, environment, life, nature, Restorative Justice, Science

Conversant With Nature?

via Daily Prompt: Conversant

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One of my favourite places, the main beach at Augusta, clean, pristine, and great for everyone. There are dune protection programs, a series of specified paths, signs about protecting the Sand Pipers who breed there, and also for the possums too. The State govt recently imposed a ban on plastic shopping bags, and the community are supportive of that goal. The problems are few here, mainly the threat of bushfire, or the one or two people who flout the accepted behaviour for using the beach, river, or the forest trails.

I may not be fully conversant with all things environmental science, but I do feel conversant with nature, for me there is a sentience, a relationship with all beings. The result of that sense of relationship is more than just awe for nature, I have a respect for and desire to engage with nature. The interdependent relationships we survive with and thrive on are finely balanced and require care and attention. Any loss is more than just regrettable, it is permanently damaging, and in some cases, cataclysmic. Plastic islands in the ocean, plastic sand (grains of plastic) in the Mediterranean, marine and terrestrial creatures bound or damaged by fabrics, salinity, air pollution, and more, are a major concern.

As we continue to battle human rights and have made sweeping changes in some areas of human rights, it seems that we are not yet conversant with the rights and needs of nature across the world. Time is short, and nature needs us to be conversant with its needs now and its future. The irony is, the UN are in dialogue over space law, especially the treatment of the Mars environ by the Mars One team, yet we haven’t really ironed out a binding agreement on earth that gives nature a voice of its own. Ecuador has already stepped up (in 2014) and shown the way: “We the people assume the authority to conduct and Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. We will investigate cases of environmental destruction, which violate the rights of nature.” (Prosecutor for the Earth at the first International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Quito, Ecuador, January 2014). A sign of hope.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

18 Comments

Filed under beach, bush walking, community, Country, environment, life, nature, Restorative Justice, Science

Trill of my Life – Or, how science fiction saves the world.

via Daily Prompt: Trill

 

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Trilling? Well not quite, Nicole De Boer as Ezri Dax a Trill, as seen on Star Trek. And no I’m not a true Trekkie, but I did enjoy the show. In general I enjoy science fiction, it is another world, and yet it isn’t. All fiction is, in some way, related to real life, where it differs is that fiction can abstract, take licence, and allow fantasy. Fiction can be quite potent in confronting social justice issues. Take any of HG Wells’ works, Orwell’s 1984. Look at District 9, a movie that speaks to racism; Ursula LeGuin’s (who, sadly, died this week) The Dispossessed, a book about racial inequality; or Samuel Delaney’s Neveryon, a series about power, race, sexuality and aids, or Octavia’s Brood an edited collection by writers inspired by Octavia Butler, essays that speak to injustice and inequality. Star Trek was doing it very early with racial creations that confronted our constructs of race, it addressed class, wealth, inequality, power, race and sexuality.

Science fiction enables us to question our values, especially our inherited values, while enjoying being entertained, we are encouraged to look at difference, and to question power relationships, and to seek justice, in some cases restorative justice.

A basic musical Trill consists of a rapid alternation between two notes. A Star Trek Trill was a humanoid native to the planet Trill and who were inhabited by a symbiont, thus two lives in one body alternating. Science fiction enables us to trill inwardly, to look at different sides of an issue – of what might appear to be singular, but is in fact complex. Perhaps to trill is to possess a 20/20 vision in emotional intelligence?

Paul,

pvcann.com

10 Comments

Filed under community, nature, politics, Science, Space, Spirituality