Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Food, not zombies

By: Zane Fischer

Santa Fe Reporter staff writer Dave Maass’ zombie scenario may seem like an unlikely lark to most readers, but my ongoing fascination with the fetishy subculture of survivalism and disaster preparedness indicates a worldview wherein one is either ready for anything and everything, or is just one of the “sheeple” who will be thrown to the wolves when the SHTF and TEOTWAWKI is upon us.I recently read the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ “Preparedness Manual,” which the Mormon Church distributes to its members. The manual is a detailed and thoughtful plan on how to stockpile food and supplies, and develop the necessary skills to survive the_______(fill in the blank: zombie apocalypse, economic collapse, assault of the New World Order, nuclear holocaust, peak oil crisis, electro-magnetic pulse terrorist attack, etc.).The Mormon community isn’t proposing to live out a video game- and movie-fueled juvenile fantasy, nor does it promote the stereotypical survivalist, an assault weapon-hoarding loner in full tactical battle gear. Instead, it puts forth a method for prospering in a world that has proven to be volatile and unpredictable, and where prosperity is a fickle friend to comfortable nations. But the methods are still a bit, um, insular and extremist.
Assuming an actual zombie invasion is low on the probability scale, but fuel and/or food shortages—such as those that have recently rocked regions around the world, including the southern US—are potential situations over which it is worth hedging some bets, how do communities like Santa Fe best secure themselves? The key issue is food. In the winter of 2006/2007, more than 20 inches of snow fell on parts of Santa Fe proper, effectively shutting down the city for almost two days. Because grocery stores stock approximately three days worth of food for a community’s needs, it’s apparent any significant disruption in the timing of supplies will pinch.
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Climate Change Destroying Walden Pond's Flowers

"The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit — not a fossil earth, but a living earth." Henry David Thoreau -- Walden

Climate change is devastating the flowers of Walden Pond, picking off those species that cannot react to rising temperatures.
Comparing data meticulously gathered by Henry David Thoreau more than a century and a half ago with more recent observations, Harvard biologists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that more than a quarter of Walden's plant species have already been lost. And an additional 36 percent are in imminent danger, including lilacs, roses and buttercups.
"It had been thought that climate change would result in uniform shifts across plant species, but our work shows that plant species do not respond to climate change uniformly or randomly," said co-author Charles Davis, a biologist at Harvard, in a release.
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Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone Park, Researchers Say


Frogs and salamanders, those amphibious bellwethers of environmental danger, are being killed in Yellowstone National Park. The predator, Stanford researchers say, is global warming.
Biology graduate student Sarah McMenamin spent three summers in a remote area of the park searching for frogs and salamanders in ponds that had been surveyed 15 years ago. Almost everywhere she looked, she found a catastrophic decrease in the population.
The amphibians need the ponds for their young to hatch, but high temperatures and drought are drying up the water. The frogs and salamanders lay eggs that have a gelatinous outer layer—basically "jelly eggs," McMenamin says—that leaves them completely unsuitable for gestation on land. If the ponds dry up, so do the eggs. "If there isn't any water, then the animals simply don't breed," she said.
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Bio Lab in Galveston Raises Concerns

By JAMES C. McKINLEY JR, New York Times

GALVESTON, Tex. — Much of the University of Texas medical school on this island suffered flood damage during Hurricane Ike, except for one gleaming new building, a national biological defense laboratory that will soon house some of the most deadly diseases in the world.
How a laboratory where scientists plan to study viruses like Ebola and Marburg ended up on a barrier island where hurricanes regularly wreak havoc puzzles some environmentalists and community leaders.
“It’s crazy, in my mind,” said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in Houston. “I just find an amazing willingness among the people on the Texas coast to accept risks that a lot of people in the country would not accept.”
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Pakistan quake kills 170, more deaths feared: officials

ZIARAT, Pakistan (AFP) — A powerful earthquake struck southwest Pakistan before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 170 people, destroying mud homes and sending survivors screaming into the streets in panic.
At least eight villages were badly hit by the 6.4-magnitude quake , local police and officials said, warning the death toll could rise as rescue workers reached villages in the remote mountainous region bordering Afghanistan.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Sacred Places

"Sacred places are as varied as the human sense of the sacred and as various as the world's many spiritual traditions. We explore the history, significance, and enduring power of places here and abroad that people consider most sacred."

By Winifred Gallagher from US News and World Report

The term "sacred places" summons images of legendary destinations—Egypt's Pyramids, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca—that have drawn pilgrims throughout history. Such structures are physical expressions of religion, from the Latin religare, meaning to "bind together"—institutions primarily meant for communal experience.
But there's a different sort of sanctuary, or temple, that fosters private spiritual contemplation, derived from the Indo-European root tem, meaning "to cut." These are the settings—some natural, some man-made—that you seek when you want to cut yourself off from humdrum reality, open yourself to greater possibilities, and remember what really matters. Only 40 percent of Americans attend weekly religious services, but 90 percent say they pray, and 75 percent say that they do so daily—statistics that suggest that off-the-grid sacred places are important to millions and millions of inner lives.
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