From an interview with one of the founders of Weatherunderground:

Christine Shearer: Having really looked closely at the weather for a while now, is there something that stands out to you most?

Jeff Masters: The atmosphere I grew up with no longer exists. My new motto with regards to the weather is, “expect the unprecedented.”

Christine Shearer: Anything you would like to say?

Jeff Masters: Stronger hurricanes, bigger floods, more intense heat waves, and sea level rise have been getting many of the headlines with regards to potential climate change impacts, but drought should be our main concern. Drought is capable of crashing a civilization. To illustrate, drought has been implicated in the demise of the Mayan civilization in Mexico, the Anasazis of the Southwest U.S., and the Akkadians of Syria in 2200 B.C. The Russian heat wave and drought of 2010 led to a spike in global food prices that helped cause unrest in Africa and the Middle East that led to the overthrow of several governments. It’s likely that global-warming intensified droughts will cause far more serious impacts in the coming decades, and drought is capable of crashing our global civilization in a worst-case scenario, particularly if we do nothing to slow down emissions of carbon dioxide.

Extreme weather years like 2010 and 2011 are very likely to increase in frequency, since there is a delay of several decades between when we put heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere and when the climate fully responds. This is because Earth’s oceans take so long to heat up when extra heat is added to the atmosphere (think about how long it takes it takes for a lake to heat up during summer.) Due to this lag, we are just now experiencing the full effect of CO2 emitted by the late 1980s; since CO2 has been increasing by 1 – 3% per year since then, there is a lot more climate change “in the pipeline” we cannot avoid.

We’ve set in motion a dangerous boulder of climate change that is rolling downhill, and it is too late to avoid major damage when it hits full-force several decades from now. However, we can reduce the ultimate severity of the damage with strong and rapid action. A boulder rolling downhill can be deflected in its path more readily early in its course, before it gains too much momentum in its downward rush. For example, the International Energy Agency estimates that every dollar we invest in alternative energy before 2020 will save $4.30 later. There are many talented and dedicated people working very hard to deflect the downhill-rolling boulder of climate change–but they need a lot more help very soon.

Christine Shearer is a postdoctoral scholar in science, technology, and society studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a researcher for CoalSwarm, part of SourceWatch. She is Managing Editor of Conducive, and author of Kivalina: A Climate Change Story (Haymarket Books, 2011).

This piece was originally published at Conducive Chronicle.

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Jan. 29th, 2012 12:54 am

This month, I really feel like I figured out the perfect diet for me. It's kind of a 'I think of it as mostly raw food, but I actually eat cooked vegetables and beans pretty often, too' diet. But the important part, for me, is to keep re-attempting to focus on raw food. That way, the roasted vegetables and hot soups seem soooo luxurious in comparison. :) It really works for me. I lost 9 pounds in 10 days and I wasn't ever hungry. I'm telling you, peeps, it is so incredibly rare for me to not feel hungry. Sure, I know I'm not always actually hungry, but what I mean is, I always feel like I am. I'm usually always quietly planning my next meal.

To lose that nonstop internal monologue is so refreshing, and it has nothing to do with willpower. I figured out that that internal monologue is my body's way of communicating with me, but it can't use words, so all it says is I want. I want. I want. Only, what it would be saying if if it could speak my language would be, "No, not THAT stuff. I want carrots and kale, not any more goddamn bread and butter! Spinach! Beets, oh, God, please I need some beets..." When I finally give it that stuff, it shuts up and I float through life delighting in things like a fresh apple. It's amazing.

It's also a hard thing to keep going. This past week, I watched myself fall into some stress eating. See, on Wednesday, I got called into the personnel director's office and was told that our College was firing a friend of mine. (They told me because I was in charge of cutting off his IT resources when they did the deed). So, for two days ahead of time, I knew my friend was going to get fired and I couldn't warn him. Whilst angsting over my role in the execution, I watched my diet fall apart. Too depressed to go grocery shopping after work, I hid in novels, then started eating out again to avoid the work lunchroom, then it was beer and pizza time at home with Brian after it was all over. Then, tonight, another cooking club night with my ravenous inner demon making an appearance. :)

I'm not beating myself up about it. I've seen the light and I know what works for me and it's what I like to do anyway, so it all starts again tomorrow. It's taken me a long time to get to this understanding, I'm writing it here in hopes I won't forget it later.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

I'm going to spend the next week and a half or so on a mostly raw diet ("mostly" meaning: raw + cooked beans for protein). Then we're traveling again, so all bets are off. I'll probably be a vegetarian for those days.  Anyway, after that, I'll see how I feel. Sometimes I get super excited by the raw diet and really dislike the idea of going off it. If that's the case, I'll continue it as long as possible. I've never lasted more than two weeks, so I suspect it will be short. And I have to bend a bit for the occasional social interaction or my friends go loony. I'm going to eat vegetarian style if I can't get out of eating around other people. It's just easier.  I'll try not to bore you with too many details this time. Also, I'm not going to bore myself with calorie counting. Even though it's really easy to eat too many calories on a raw diet, I think that if I try to keep the nut consumption down, I'll be ok. And when it comes to that old "all calories are created equal" argument, I fall into the camp that disagrees, mostly because of this guy's experiment.

My diet plan today is... )


Jan. 1st, 2012 10:38 am
Happy New Year to you folks. If it's true that whatever you do on New Year's Eve sets the stage for the next year, then I'm in trouble since I spent it watching zombies and documentaries about the apocalypse. It was great. Specifically, we watched 'Walking Dead' and 'The Age of Stupid'. The latter, I recommend to everybody... It's a fascinating look at the year 2055.

I wasn't completely antisocial, though. Our friends Heather and Elizabeth joined us and brought champagne. None of us can drink that stuff straight so we made mimosas and had a fun time watching scary shows and playing games and just catching up in general. Since H&S work as teachers, I don't get to see them very much during the school semester.  After the hectic traveling we did over Christmas,  I was delighted no one made me pretend to want to go out and do exciting things for New Year's.

The Age of Stupid documentary did make me want to do something to prevent the apocalypse, though. Did you know we only have until 2015 to reverse our carbon consumption? After that, it won't matter what we do-some huge earth processes will be put into motion and we have no way of stopping them. That's what they mean about the tipping point. The best line from the movie was something like: Why didn't they [humans alive now] prevent this from happening? Did they feel deep down inside that they weren't worth saving?

So I'm trying to brainstorm some ideas of thing I can do. Some possibilities...

Volunteer for the Green Party. (Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act and all those Democrats voting for it makes me want to give up on the Democrats).
Go to Occupy Boston and get more involved in whatever they're doing lately. 
Figure out our carbon footprint and work to reduce it. (There is a campaign called 10:10 which aims to get everyone to reduce their carbon usage by 10%per year)
Sign up with Boston Organics and get their locally grown box of vegetables (I know from experience that means a lot of Jerusalem Artichokes in my future. Yuck)
Research and buy solar panels to run our computer and radiator off of...I've seen youtube videos on how to make your own. maybe that would be a better alternative.
Learn how to make my own windmill (not as hard as you'd expect, judging from videos..but it does require a lot of tools. Man, we really need to have good tool sharing resources in this city. Maybe they already exist.)
Be a real vegan and not a wannabe one.
Buy land and start homesteading from a yurt. :) Kind of unlikely, but it could happen, who knows? Of course then I'll most likelybe commuting from that land to my job. Right now we walk to work, so renting might be better for the Earth for us. Not so great for any hopes we have of retiring, though. Sigh)
Donate to the ACLU
Never take another g.d. plane trip again.

Hey, if you guys want to see a great documentary about clean energy that will make you feel more optimistic about our future on this planet, I highly recommend Carbon Nation. It'll really give you some hope... and maybe some ideas of what industries to invest in, too.

Netflix has it.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

I've been having a good time using Mog (for free) and going through all the R.E.M records from the beginning. Am I the only one that prefers their first 4 or 5 albums to their later stuff? Give me the dreamy stuff with the words I can't decipher that keep me endlessly interested. I'm listening now to a song on Reckoning and Michael could be singing 'lemons of yore', 'seven swords' or something else, but certainly it can't be 'letter never sent', right? lol. And, no, I don't want to know.

Sometimes learning the lyrics of a song can just murder it completely. For example, two days ago I had a love affair with a song that frequently comes up in my Last Fm rotation: On Numah Shivaya. Great song. LOVED it. So much so that I went in search of the lyrics and a video. Holy moly.  Now I'm thinking the affair might end soon. It's so...I don't know...uncomfortably religious!

I share (skip to the middle if you're short on patience to get into the good part. You'll get a contact high:

I've been a lousy poster, lately. Sorry, internet peeps. I stare at computer screens so much at work that when I get home it's the last thing I want to do. Ironically, what I do instead is stare at a Kindle screen. Didn't ever say I made sense.

Today, though, the books left on my Kindle are not inspiring:
Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (not too interesting yet)
Manual of Zen Buddhism by Suzuki (good, of course, but requires more concentration than i can muster today)
Idiot America; How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (super depressing, of course)
plus some other ones I haven't gotten into yet:
Raising Jake
Sweetness in the Belly
The Gates of November
Turn Left at the Trojan Horse

and Fight Club: A novel. That one is kind of a lark. When I was doing that self defense class that the cops taught at our school I enjoyed the idea of being part of a secret fighting society. I'm kind of curious what's in that book. I never saw the movie.

Anyway, that's been my life lately: lots and lots of books. I think it's a reaction from being free of my statistics class which soaked up every second of my life this summer. I don't know how people do it, to take class after class each semester. I'm taking this semester off. I end up resenting SO MUCH the infringement into my free time that it's hard to force myself to sign up for another one. I'm hoping to resume in the spring.

I have a recalcitrant, rebellious mind. I have been trying to get my ridiculous brain to settle down and finish my application to grad school (yes, the one I started a year ago). I will someday. I just have to grow into that decision first. I'm almost there, but not quite.

Speaking of fighting, today I'm fighting off the flu and not doing a good job of it. The 60 year old lady who gave it to me managed to fight it off, so I still have hope. I'm doing EVERYTHING she told me to do: lots of sleep, lots of orange juice, multivitamins, smoothies. I think I might be losing though, my whole body is sore. You know how that goes. No fever though, maybe it will be over by tomorrow.

What are my big plans, you ask? Indeed. That is always the question. I'm not going to get anywhere with that one today.
I'm heading to the beach this weekend! Woot! Yeah, sure, it'll probably be too cold/rainy/miserable to really enjoy it, but still...the BEACH. I'll breathe in fresh air and walk on the sand with bare feet...or ok, sandals, more likely. I'm afraid of crabs. Ironic, since I'm a July baby.

[Well, I'll walk along it and think about death....specifically, about how the ocean is both 1. dying and 2. likely to take those of us who live too close to it with it. I'm feeling pretty guilty about flying down there since I just swore a few months ago that I would never fly again. I'm not sure what changed my mind. My mom is getting old-- I think might be the main reason. *sigh* After THIS trip, I'm never flying again. Do you KNOW how much pollution a plane trip causes?]

I'll make sea castles in the sand with my niece. Or if it's too cold, we'll hang out playing games in the sea cottage my sister rented us. It'll just be my mom and all my sisters, including the in-laws, plus the ten year old niece. And if the falling satellite doesn't flatten us in a bit of cosmic humor (best way to die, ever, by the way) then maybe I'll have a good time. It could happen. I really like all my sisters... even the Republican ones.

[Of course, this weekend is a huge one in the environmental world. It's Moving Planet weekend, when we're all supposed to be protesting the continued use of fossil fuels and agitating for change. What will I be doing? I'll be on a fucking plane. And riding in cars for hours to get to the beach. Oh man, I hate myself sometimes. Some day, SOME DAY, I'm actually going to live up to my ideals and then! you shall see! insufferable I can get, no doubt...]

Bit windy

Aug. 28th, 2011 11:09 am
The wind is blowing pretty hard here in Cambridge, MA.. Not hard enough yet, that my primal instincts have made me run to a closet, but it's occasionally house-shaking.. I'm on the couch in the front room watching the trees. The most exciting thing that has happened so far is that the tarp flew off our neighbor's car across the street. Bri were joking that we should take a picture of that and come up with funny slogans for it: "Societal collapse imminent.", " Widespread destruction ". If we were good neighbors, we'd go rescue the tarp, but I have no urge to become death #13--not for a stupid tarp. There are some small branches blowing down the street. Every now and then there is a clanging of metal that sounds like a gong from a Japanese monastery. I wonder who it is tolling for.
I just filled up every pot and bowl we have in the house with water. Why do people buy bottled water in emergencies? Maybe they need it for their cars in case they evacuate? Otherwise, it seems silly.

We're also charging all our little electronic toys. If I have to huddle in a closet while a hurricane rages outside, I want my Kindle with me. If the house collapses on me, at least you'll know I didn't go out bored. (That would suck. I always feel so sorry for those airplane disaster victims who die after, like, 8 hours on a plane. Ugh. That just would make it so much more aggravating.) (Yes, I'm sure the Buddhists are shaking their heads sadly on my inability to stay in the moment.)

I wish our house was situated in such a way that I could see the sky more. I pretty much have to sit on the front porch if I want to see what's going on. But the clouds in Boston have been interesting these past few days. I'm trying to study them so I'll know what the days before a hurricane look like in the future.

We just got a flash flood warning for Cambridge. I wonder what the heck that means in terms of our topography. If I was standing on the side of the Charles would I see a wave of water coming towards me? Are they talking about a foot of water on the streets if the sewers back up.


The rain is just starting again and we just heard our first thunder. Oooh, BIG thunder. I hope Bri finishes his shower before the lightening gets close. Then we're going to fill up the bathtub (which may make things awkward if we have to hide in there...ah, but the promise of slapstick comedy is such a lure...)

Interesting times.
Brian and I celebrated our 19th anniversary today (The anniversary of our first date. Neither of us can remember what year we got married, although I suppose it's in LJ somewhere. Another good reason to back up my journal, [ profile] that.)

So we set off for a nice romantic bike ride along the Charles, a brunch in the North End and a day at the New England Aquarium. That was the dream. The reality was a fun but long, sweaty bike ride, a lot of restaurants investigated and avoided because of the close quarters of the table and the aforementioned sweatiness, a calzone/hot dog picnic in park instead, a walk along the waterfront with iced coffees, a short easy bike ride to the Aquarium, during which we passed several incredibly suitable looking outdoor restaurants along the way which caused us to groan (next time!), a long line for tickets at the Aquarium, and then a happy hour inside enjoying the sight of penguins getting fish crammed down their greedy gullets and Mrytle the turtle serenely swimming around the big central tank. We kind of rushed through because we had an IMAX movie to head to. It was a movie about the coral reefs (spoiler: sigh, they're dying, but you knew that) which featured all kinds of traumatic fish death. It's odd to me how these conservationists think. They portray the reefs as a violent war between big and small. No wonder we keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I think I witnessed a whole room full of children decide to themselves that they're never going to play in the ocean again. They're missing a golden opportunity to influence generations of new humans to be delighted by and protective of sea life. I'm really glad we decided against the 3d shark movie with its "feeding frenzy" highlight. Maybe I'm just ridiculously sensitive. The funny thing is, we watched a movie last night which featured aliens sucking up humans just like those cuttle fish suck up smaller fish. It didn't bother me at all.

Anyway, a long, challenging bike ride home and now we're about to eat some arancini that we bought 8 hours ago in a bakery and have been carrying around with us all day. If you don't hear from us again, that's why. Good night and good luck.
BU has changed so much lately. Not only do we now have "Hubway" bike rental outlets every few blocks, but we have a large rotating fleet of food trucks that stop along Comm Ave to tempt our hard earned (and easily squandered) dollars away from us. Seriously, I have 3 different food trucks that park across the street from our building (one for breakfast, lunch and dinner) AND an ice cream sandwich truck (?!) a block to the west PLUS a very much beloved (by me) Clover Food Lab truck near the BU bridge. I think I'm forgetting one. Oh yeah, every now and then we have a cupcake truck wander through. 

In other words, I'm in trouble. And heaven.

Is it bad that I'm thinking of getting a Hubway membership ($50 a year) just to bike a half mile to the Clover truck for lunch? lol
This article is interesting. What I got out of it is that everyone could help the world a lot if they could figure out a way to plant more trees. We've all heard that before, I know, but it's so much more urgent now. I passed a tag on a tree the other day that proclaimed which " junior arborist" is looking after the tree. Apparently a school nearby is teaching it's kids tree care. I loved it. :)
In other news, I got tired of not sleeping so I weaned myself off caffeine again. I did it really slowly- it took 3 weeks. Now I go whole hours without thinking about coffee. Sure enough, I' m sleeping like a baby these days and springing up at 5 am, wide awake. Except tonight- I got home super late and hungry after class and had TWO peanut butter sandwiches. Bad idea, that was way too much protein before bed. I'm fighting off sleep as I write this, though, so I think I'll be ok. I hope the rest of you are sleeping alright, too.


Jul. 10th, 2011 11:32 pm

I've decided to start documenting the ideas that keep me up at night. I think we all should be brainstorming as much as possible on how to get the planet's carbon load back down to 350 (parts per million). We can't just leave it up to the scientists. They're trying hard, some of them, but they have a hard time thinking outside the box, and that is where we come in. If we can come up with a really good idea, we can shout it from the rooftops later and try to make it happen, but until then, we can just make ourselves feel productive and less helpless by brainstorming. Besides, it's fun.

This is not really a great idea. I keep trying to make it work, but it's not going to get there. But it was fun trying. Tonight's idea is about how to keep the Amazon rainforest wet. I don't know if you've heard, but it's drying. Read some books about it if you don't believe me. Anyway, the problem with that is in the not too distant future, it will be ripe for fire and the world needs that oxygen that those trees produce. I mean, NEEDS it. We can't afford an Arizona fire in Brazil. So I'm picturing a lattice of plastic irrigation pipes (on the ground or above the trees, do you think? The latter, I bet. The wildlife is used to wet conditions, too, and the forest needs its humidity.) made out of recycled plastic ONLY and put in place by all those people who are currently busy clear cutting the forest to plant soy beans for biofuels or to raise cattle. We have to make it worth their while.

How to make it worth their while? (And avoid having militaries come in and take over, and make everything worse?) Sell oxygen rights to other countries? Give the Brazilians a plot of land to steward and put them on a yearly salary based on how many of their trees are alive? Actually, this is a good idea for all over the planet. We need tree stewards. We need to make trees more valuable alive than dead. Fire people if their trees die. We would all become a lot more educated about how to keep them alive, wouldn't we. Yes, this means every tree would need to be tagged, possibly. It's worth it. Or maybe environmentalists have a density system. How to keep corruption from happening? Who knows? Lots of education? Strict anti cronyism? Random plot assignments? These people need to know they have one of the most important jobs on earth. Not only do we need that oxygen, but those trees are a wonderful carbon sink for us. Especially in the Brazilian Rainforest, the wet conditions keep the vegetation from decomposing quickly so it traps carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere where it would act to keep heat locked in, raising the temperature, causing more climate change which will eventually kill us all.

Ok, the obvious problem is where the fuck are we going to get the water necessary to water all the trees in the rainforest? We have to figure out how to desalinate water more cheaply. The Amazon can't be relied on for water. How to desalinate water cheaply is like one of the biggest questions right now. If there is one thing we're going to have a lot of (for at least a couple hundred years or so), it is salty water.

Man, I really want a solar panel. Can you imagine using all your electronica totally guilt free? That would be amazing. I only rent in an apartment, so it's awkward, but I could put one in our front yard and string the lines through the front window, so I have been looking for some likely possibilities online. I've seen people who live in RVs and TinyHouses who have panels on wheels on the ground and that seems perfect for us. I still haven't figured out where to buy one of those, though. I'm going to keep looking.

Meanwhile, I came across this site and was astounded at how cheap it is to put a solar system on the roof of your house (if you own the home).

Granted, this only gives the part costs, I think. Maybe labor is more. But still, I put in our numbers and they told me a solar system for our house would only be $8000! Can you believe that? Why the hell has my landlord not done this yet? I'm thinking about emailing him the suggestion, but first I have to make sure we're going to stay here next year. And that means, are we going to find anything better in the next three weeks..  So probably we'll be here. It's hard to beat that 15 minute walk to work.
lololololol... apologies if you've seen this. It has apparently been viral for weeks now, but I just stumbled across it. 

lol. If you've ever shopped at Whole Foods, you'll find this song both funny AND embarrassing!

My favorite parts:

"I've been on edge ever since they took kombucha off the shelves."


"Picking up his cayenne for his Master Cleanse..."

How you set up a bee house, in case you need to know one day.
[ profile] squid_ink , is this guy just an idiot, or do you really not need to wear a body suit when you do this?

I watched an episode of Hoarders that totally terrified me today.  The episode was about "Lauren" in Charlottesville, VA (my old stomping grounds). She looked vaguely familiar to me. And, oh, man, she is so fucked. They didn't get anywhere with her. It looked like her boyfriend was not going to be able to put up with it for very much longer and they owned a condo together.  :( Man, what a horrible disease to get.   DO NOT WANT.  It's not just the clutter, it's that they get so mean and defensive when you try to help them. Makes me shake in my boots....

I came across the name of a financial planner who might be good for me and Bri. She was mentioned in the Your Money Or Your Life newsletter as being someone who is very used to people who want to live simply, etc. I'm trying to get up the courage to email her. I have no idea how much financial planners cost. Anybody?

I'm so close to signing up for a Tiny House workshop. $313, though, ouch. (for me and Bri  -he said he would go with me. I think he's actually starting to like the idea of building our own house.)  I should sign up, especially since I also stumbled across a Boston resource group website- they not only offer classes in house stuff, but I think they might be a good source for getting recycled lumber, etc.  So much synchronicity going on lately. It makes me feel I should move in that direction, but I also know that it will start the ball rolling and I'm not completely sure I want to head down that road (or that I want to get Brian tied up in it). The other idea is to job hunt in Western Mass and look for a cheap small house out there. That's not nearly as an enticing idea for some reason. Probably because we'll be wrapped up in taking classes for at least three more years, so we're stuck here. But a also...a mobile house...just deeply appeals to the 'afraid to commit' part of me.

The workshop is only 1 day, too. I'm a little cynical that I'll learn anything useful in one day. But maybe. It's right here in Boston, a great opportunity. Decisions, decisions...

By the way, the new R.E.M. album is pretty good, especially this song:
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