Wednesday, June 04, 2008

with summer coming on, i thought i'd turn my students loose on the watkins ice shelf falling down in west antarctica, and see what they could dig up about global warming, a continent falling into the sea, etc. it's all very depressing, for many reasons. one is that my students aren't all that good at talking about it, though i should have something to show you before it's over; thus i'm really slogging through some tepid pollution-ravaged waters down there by the big whirlpool, where one ocean is higher than the other, and the whole earth spins pretty quick above it. then also, it's gotten really hot here, all of a sudden, as it does in june, so one steps out into searing heat which also makes a person dizzy and disoriented.

but worst is this. mulberry season was approaching, and this cheers me up, seeing these big green mulberries slowly turning purple in two different places, one by the door of my office building, up high, near the woods, but where i can reach them as i go back into work, and another, a low tree, on a road i bicycle on, on a slightly overgrown lawn with lots of brush on it. good, i thought, reachable, no spray, big green berries all over the place. but the season came on, they were purple, the birds were getting to them, and i went to the low one, the one by the road, and it was very disappointing. spray, i figure, mosquito spray. nerve gas. you want to know why there's ld in this world, you don't have to look far. i've got to stay away from that nerve gas. at least the one at the university is up high, away from the grass, toward the woods, away from the spray.

down in antarctica, the wilkins ice shelf is history. another one, the larsen b, size of yorkshire, it was history too. that part of antarctica is getting warmer faster than anyplace else. 70-80% of krill gone, and the whole system relies on the krill, penguins, whale, you name it. and it's not just global warming. the ozone hole is actually changing the winds; the winds are coming over the mountains differently, and that's melting it. but it's not only that. the poles are shifting. and what that means, down there, is that there's a new bottom, a new place where the water churns and where the deepest sea water rises to the top. kind of unsettling, i'd say. the researchers are down there, huddled in little huts, measuring the difference between -20 and -25, trying to figure out if they're next to fall into the sea, or if anyone will notice. the secretary general of the un appears to have noticed.

the arctic of course is worse- it's an arms race, don't even talk about it. we're also doing frogs, now there's a disaster for ya- and the caribbean, where you've got large reef, small countries, big oil. and everyone denies that it's a problem, or that it could be their fault. ach. the problem is that i have to read these articles, just in order to grade the papers.

so, i'm moving more heavily into pop art. i'll do pop art quakers next. pop art george fox, pop art meeting house, that kind of stuff. on the home front, maybe i'll plant a mulberry tree, way back, off the street, wait a few years for it to grow. no sense relying on the university for that, for maintaining a tree, that just happens to produce berries that i associate with pure heaven, pure vitamin c, tangy freedom, the spirit of the outdoors. these days, it's hot out. you get out there, quick, before eight a-m, or right after a drizzle- you breathe in, and you stay in the air-con 'til it cools off a little. nobody said you gotta like it. this air-con, it's probably the downfall of the human race, not to mention the krill & the penguin. but there's no way i'd live without it, in the present situation. except, maybe, in the van, with windows open, and afel boucum, malian music, on.


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