Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The future's bright ... if you have the resources

The global population is growing incredibly quickly, and the UN estimates it could reach nine billion by 2030. Kathryn Goodenough and Daren Gooddy argue that the geosciences are essential to making sure the world's population can support itself while minimising environmental damage. We rely on natural resources from the ground - aggregates for roads and buildings; oil and coal for transport and energy; rare metals for new technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels; and water, the basis of life on Earth. But what will we need in the future? And how will our needs change in response to developments in politics, technology and social and economic growth? How can we make sure our natural resources are used sustainably? To try to answer some of these questions, and understand the priorities for the geosciences in the future, BGS has put together a Science Futures Team. The team developed a set of four possible, contrasting future scenarios, based on two important variables: how fast the Earth system changes and whether nations are cooperating or competing. The scenarios are based on our current knowledge of the most important issues likely to affect people's lives over the next 20 to 30 years. To illustrate them, let's look at some graduate scientists of the future and see how their lives might look under each scenario. Read More

Contrails warm the world more than aviation emissions The innocuous white vapour trails that criss-cross the sky may not be as harmless as they look. In fact, they might have contributed to more global warming so far than all aircraft greenhouse gas emissions put together...

Why we suffer

A report by Mansi Choksi
In a dim room atop the Prempuri Adhyatma Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai, surgeon-seeker Shantanu Nagarkatti's stories transported a group of city dwellers to a higher plane of spiritual consciousness. Nagarkatti shared episodes from the Yoga Vashishtha, of Rama's realisation that illness, physical and mental, arises from a deep conflict within oneself. Sage Valmiki's Ramayana documents Rama's journey from being a seeker to becoming a maryada purshottam — 'possessor of the qualities of an ideal person.' In the Yoga Vasishta, Sage Vashishtha tells Prince Rama the story of the enlightenment of Leela. "This story is for those who have lost a dear one, who live in pain and for those of us who are plagued by the anxiety of anticipatory loss," said Nagarkatti. Leela was the beautiful wife of King Padma — a fair, wise and kind man regarded as the 'lotus of his race'. They were deeply in love. Often, she would be overcome with fear, when she would think of the possibility of losing him. The fear became so overpowering that it sometimes prevented her from enjoying his company and even the present moment. Leela called on all the wise men in her court to find a solution to her problem. They advised her to engage in tapasya, fasting and meditation so that goddess Saraswati could show her the way. She chanted for days in secrecy and finally Saraswati appeared. "She asked the goddess for two boons: first, that she would appear each time Leela called her and second, that when Padma's soul left his body, it would not leave the room they shared," recounted Nagarkatti. Decades later, Padma passed away. As Leela sat next to his lifeless body, she was overcome by sorrow. Read More

Canyon Ranch founder practices what he preaches

Mel Zuckerman and I are seated on the deck of Canyon Ranch Miami Beach while an ocean breeze tousles our hair and a turquoise ocean taunts us. Zuckerman's glowing skin and trim upper body make him look much younger than 83. It's obvious he has embraced the lifestyle he envisioned when he transformed the fitness and spa industry with his posh Canyon Ranch retreats. I ask Zuckerman about the wellness revolution, figuring he would be thrilled about his role in kick-starting it a few decades ago. His answer surprises me. "There's still a disconnect between what we know we should do and putting it into action," he says. True, I admit to him. Most of us know we should be exercising and focusing on prevention, but we claim we're too busy. Then, we plunk ourselves in front of our television sets and snack on junk food while we boost the ratings of reality TV. Many Americans resolve each January to eat healthier, exercise more or get regular check-ups in the new year. Nearly 60 percent of people drop their resolutions by the six-month mark, according to studies by University of Scranton psychology professor John Norcross. Read More

2012 Author Sounds Off on Recent Disasters

by David Seaman
This is my second interview with Daniel Pinchbeck, influential author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and Breaking Open The Head, which detailed his exploration of shamanic initiation rituals around the world.
You're the "2012" Mayan prophecy expert -- it's certainly starting to feel a bit like the lead-up to a doomsday scenario, isn't it? Japanese citizens within 25 km of the damaged nuclear reactor are being exposed to a year's worth of radiation every single hour, ocean water is getting contaminated, and now the US has basically entered into a third military conflict overseas. Is any of this in line with what they predicted?
I don’t know if I am an “expert,” even though I have studied this area and written about it. Yes, sadly, all of this fits the prophecies of the classic Maya and other indigenous cultures perfectly. “Earth changes” – earthquakes, volcanoes, etc - are part of the predictions. Also, the indigenous people believe that humanity will be forced to confront our treatment of the world and one another. We will need to change direction as we experience the destructive effects of our technologies. We believed we could rise above nature: now we are learning that we have to be symbiotic with it.
According to the Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation myth which is dramatized in my film 2012: Time for Change, the end of this 5,100+ year “Great Cycle” and the start of the next are a time of destruction, regeneration, and creation. We are seeing an acceleration of all three as we move through this threshold. If the prophecies have validity, it is going to get more intense over the next year. Ultimately, humanity is being presented with a choice: it is not about an exact date but a window of opportunity. Read More

2012 apocalypse rumors are crazy [This article definitely presents another point of view.--L.] This past year, there have been a large number of disasters and conflicts springing up across the globe. It seems like far more than usual. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, uprisings in the Middle East, and a failing economy are just a short list of the total number of disastrous events taking place across the globe...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earth's Outer Core, Rotation, Surface Air Temperature May Explain Climate Change

NASA and international university researchers claim that humans have thrown off the balance between the Earth's rotation, surface air temperatures and movements in its molten core through our contribution of greenhouse gases.
Those included in the study were Jean Dickey and Steven Marcus from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with Olivier de Viron, from the Universite Paris Diderot and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France. It is well known that an Earth day consists of 24 hours, which is the time it takes for the Earth to make one full rotation. Over a year's time, seasonal changes occur due to energy exchanges between fluid motions of the Earth's atmosphere, the oceans and solid Earth itself, which changes the length of a day by about 1 millisecond. In addition, the length of a day on Earth can vary over longer timescales such as interannual timescales (two to 10 years) or decadal timescales (10 years).
But Earth’s oceans or motions of its atmosphere cannot explain the variances in the length of day over longer timescales. Instead, longer fluctuations are explained by the flow of liquid iron within Earth's outer core, which interacts with the mantle to determine Earth's rotation. This is also where the Earth's magnetic field originates, and because researchers cannot observe the flows of liquid iron directly, the magnetic field is observed at the surface.
Studies have shown that this liquid iron "oscillates in waves of motion that last for decades," and have timescales that resemble long fluctuations in Earth's day length. At the same time, other studies have shown that long variations in Earth's day length are closely related to fluctuations in Earth's average surface air temperature. Read More

Tsunami Was More Than 77 Feet High At Its Peak "A tsunami wave that hit a coastal city in Iwate Prefecture after the March 11 massive earthquake is estimated to have reached 23.6 meters in height, a government-commissioned field survey by the Port and Airport Research Institute showed Wednesday," Kyodo News reports.That's 77 feet, 5 inches. Or, about the height of a six- or seven-story building...

The 2012 Shift-- Eat Clean

By Holly Noonan
We are on the cusp of a new era of consciousness on the planet. The whole hub-bub about 2012 is about this shift. It's a transition from masculine to feminine consciousness, meaning those humans (men or women) who resonate with the earth's unfolding creative, dynamic, careening, ever-changing life force, will be better prepared for a future that holds a tremendous amount of change in the next 50 years.

A major determining factor on whether you will be one of the clear-minded, flexible, sensitive creatures who rides the universal flow or one of the clamped-down, stuck, recalcitrant, comfort-seekers is....of course.... THE FOOD YOU EAT.
I have noticed both a decline and a crescendo of human consciousness in America. (Have you?) The primetime network TV shows seem to be getting more crass, more violent or vulgar and yet... the artists and visionaries and healers I know are galloping over their life-hurdles at an apparently accelerating rate. The news gets ever-bleaker from around the world, and yet quantum physicists are agreeing with the Dalai Lama. (and Einstein might have too.) Read More

Earth Hour aims for hope in darkened world Lights will go out around the world Saturday with hundreds of millions of people set to take part in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, which this year will also mark Japan's earthquake and tsunami...

We are not primarily rational creatures

by Rachel Courtland
Emotion, not rationality, rules our world - something policymakers should learn. So says David Brooks, who uses fiction to illustrate cognitive science

Where did the idea for your book The Social Animal come from?
It came from covering policy failures as a journalist. For example, one factor in the financial crisis were regulations that assumed bankers made decisions rationally. Also, in education, we in the US have spent 30 years just reorganising the bureaucratic boxes of our education system. These failures were based on a false view of human nature, which is that we are rational individuals who respond in straightforward ways to incentives.

In the cognitive sciences, however, they have come up with a different and more accurate view of human nature. My book is an attempt to put this together and capture the implications it has for the rest of us: how to do education, business and policy.

Is there one insight from the cognitive sciences that really stands out for you? I guess there are three. The first is that most of our thinking is below the level of awareness and that these processes are very different from the linear and logical processes of consciousness.The second is that we are not primarily rational creatures. Emotion is the foundation of reason and you have to pay close attention to instant emotional responses: that is what tells us what we value. Read More

Raising consciousness Amid the political turmoil engulfing the Arab world, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. These trying times are the perfect opportunity to read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose”. A new earth refers to the rising of an awakened consciousness, a necessary transformation as the world is faced with radical changes and a chain of insurmountable problems...

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Scariest Earthquake Is Yet to Come

The tsunami that struck Japan was the third in a series of events that now put California at risk.

All of those broken bones in northern Japan, all of those broken lives and those broken homes prompt us to remember what in calmer times we are invariably minded to forget: the most stern and chilling of mantras, which holds, quite simply, that mankind inhabits this earth subject to geological consent—which can be withdrawn at any time.

For hundreds, maybe for thousands of people, this consent was withdrawn with shocking suddenness—all geological events are sudden, and all are unexpected if not necessarily entirely unanticipated—at 2:46 on this past clear, cool spring Friday afternoon. One moment all were going about their quotidian business—in offices, on trains, in rice fields, in stores, in schools, in warehouses, in shrines—and then the ground began to shake. At first, the shock was merely a much stronger and longer version of the temblors to which most Japanese are well accustomed. There came a stunned silence, as there always does. But then, the difference: a few minutes later a low rumble from the east, and in a horrifying replay of the Indian Ocean tragedy of just some six years before, the imagery of which is still hauntingly in all the world’s mind, the coastal waters off the northern Honshu vanished, sucked mysteriously out to sea. Read More

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What happens if a Japan-sized earthquake hits California?

Japan's massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and unfolding nuclear disaster have Californians pretty nervous. And not without reason: Both Japan and California have large populations served in part by oceanside nuclear power plants located not far from major tectonic fault lines. But is a Japan-sized quake on the West Coast a foregone conclusion? And should Californians live in "an existential anxiety — even an apocalyptic terror" of such a catastrophe? Here's a brief guide.
What are the chances California will get hit by the Big One?
"The question is not if but when Southern California will be hit by a major earthquake — one so damaging that it will permanently change lives and livelihoods in the region," warns the United States Geological Survey in a 2008 study. A magnitude 7.8 quake in California — Japan's quake was 30 times more powerful — would kill at least 2,000 people and cause $200 billion in damage, the USGS estimated. Because of how the state's many faults are structured, a quake of more than 8.0 is unlikely in much of California, geologists say.
Do we have any idea when it will hit?
The good news for California is that, according to the USGS forecast, there's only a 4 percent chance of that 8.0 quake hitting in the next 30 years. The bad news is that a 6.7 quake or stronger is 99 percent likely to hit, and a 7.5+ temblor has a 46 percent shot. In far Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, the forecasts are even more dire: A one-in-ten chance of a major earthquake, 8.0 or greater, along the dangerous Cascadia subduction zone in the next 30 years. "Some day we will be having this same type of earthquake [as Japan] near our shores," says UC San Diego geophysicist Frank Vernon.
What sort of damage would the Big One cause?
Many of California's newer skyscrapers conform to the state's now-rigorous building codes — but many older structures would likely collapse into a "carpet of rubble." Reuters also reports that California's "hot desert winds could fan fires that quakes inevitably cause, overwhelming fire departments, even as ancient water pipelines burst, engineers and architects say."
Are California's nuclear power plants prone to quake damage?
The Golden State's two operating nuclear plants — San Onofre, along the coast between San Diego and Los Angeles; and Diablo Canyon, in San Luis Obispo County — have different designs than the Fukushima reactors, but many of the same vulnerabilities. San Onofre is rated to withstand a 7.0 earthquake, and Diablo Canyon, which is near several major fault lines, a 7.5 temblor. Of course, it wasn't the 9.0 stunner that destroyed Fukushima, says Christopher Helman at Forbes. It was "the lack of adequate tsunami-proof back up power generation," and both California plants are right on the ocean.
And are they prepared for tsunamis?
Yes. San Onofre and Diablo Canyon both say they have gravity-based backup cooling systems as well as emergency diesel generators. Also, San Onofre is protected by a 30-foot-tall reinforced "tsunami wall," and Diablo Canyon sits atop an 85-foot cliff. "If a tsunami reached that high, California would have much bigger problems than a busted reactor," Helman says.
What are the chances of a massive tsunami?
Most experts say California isn't at great risk of a Japan-sized tsunami because, unlike Japan, there is no subduction zone (where one tectonic plate slides under another) off the state's coast. A 2005 report by the California Seismic Safety Commission says the biggest locally generated tsunami in recent years was in 1927, and caused 7-foot waves. The northern tip of the state, plus Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, don't have that security, however, thanks to the Cascadia fault.
So it's really Oregon and Washington that should be worried?
They already are nervous. Oregon is more worried about a tsunami, because more of its population lives on the coast. Seattle, on the other hand, sits directly on top of a big fault, and an earthquake over 7.0 would be devastating, and could send a wall of water down the Puget Sound to Tacoma and other cities. On the plus side, neither state has active nuclear power plants.

Magnitude-9.0 Earthquake Possible in Two U.S. Locations A massive earthquake on par with the recent catastrophic seismic event in Japan could happen in two places in the United States, scientists say.
Geophysicists estimate that the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an intersection of tectonic plates just off the northwestern coast that stretches from the northern tip of California up to Canada, is capable of generating an earthquake with a magnitude as high as a 9.0... Read More

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

US alarm over Japan atomic crisis

BBC- "They are leaving us to die," says the mayor of Minamasoma inside the exclusion zone. Increasing alarm has been expressed in the US about the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. Greg Jaczko, chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said attempts to cool reactors with sea water and prevent them from melting down appeared to be failing. Emergency workers in the vicinity could be exposed to "potentially lethal" radiation doses, he said. The plant was severely damaged by last week's huge earthquake and tsunami. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said that the situation at the plant appears to be more serious than the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. The US state department has urged Americans living within 80km (50 miles) of Fukushima Daiichi, which lies 220km from Tokyo, to leave the area - a much wider exclusion zone than the 20km advised by the Japanese government. Some US military personnel in Japan have been given tablets against possible radiation effects. Britain has now advised its nationals currently in Tokyo and to the north of the capital to consider leaving the area. Read More

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Understanding Our Relationship to the Earth

a message from Caroline Myss

As we all know by now, the Earth has shifted once again. Just the slightest change from deep beneath the waters, a crack in the fabric of her lining, and islands quake while tsunami waves rush across shorelines. We awake believing the world – our world – is stable, only to learn again and again that this Earth is as much a living, breathing, moving, active instrument of life as we are. It is the grandest live organism we shall ever encounter, this wondrous Being that sustains us each second of our life. Weeks ago, a cyclone of unprecedented size hit Australia and an earthquake shortly afterwards moved the ground beneath Christchurch, New Zealand. Buildings fell like toys, leaving much of the town in pieces. Who knows what the final death toll will be in Japan?

It would appear that the pace as well as the intensity of long-predicted earth activity and climate change is accelerating. Like many people familiar with prediction-oriented literature, all sorts of reasons can be put forward as to why the Earth goes through a period of increased seismic activity. Scientists will come up with "scientific" data, as expected. From my point of view, if they were so knowledgeable in the first place, the massive abuses to the Earth would have never occurred because they would have used their scientific data to protect the Earth. They're great at riding the caboose on the train of environmental change. Unfortunately, the few who have had the courage to attempt to direct the engine have been thwarted by corporate and political interests who insist that all data suggesting even a hint of climate change activity is a liberal conspiracy. Read More

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Japan's tsunami linked to climate change?

[Note: This recent research correlates to the I AM America Prophecies.--Lori]

Could the earthquake that triggered Japan's devastating tsunami be linked to climate change?

While it's unlikely that scientists will be able to provide a definitive answer anytime soon and Japan has long been a hotbed of seismic activity, past research suggests there may indeed be a link between climate change and earthquakes in some parts of the world.
Scientists have shown that weight shifts caused by melting glaciers can trigger tectonic activity. As ice melts and waters runs off, tremendous amounts of weight are lifted off Earth's crust. As the newly freed crust settles back to its original, pre-glacier shape, it can cause seismic plates to slip and stimulate volcanic activity, according to research into prehistoric earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Analyzing an 800,000-year record of volcanic activity in eastern California, Allen Glazner, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill geoscientist, found evidence that "peaks of volcanic activity occurred when ice was retreating globally," as told to the Wall Street Jorunal's Sharon Begley in 2006. "At first I thought it was crazy, but other scientists also found evidence that climate affects volcanism."

With Earth's glaciers and ice gaps melting at increasing rates due to climate change, it is conceivable that we could see further impact from "isostatic rebound" in the Earth's crust. Work by Patrick Wu, a professor of geophysics of the University of Calgary, suggests that past disappearance of ice "may still be contributing to quakes in eastern Canada."  Read More

Polar Ice Sheets Adding Much More to Rising Seas than Previously Expected In the longest study to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass, researchers funded by NASA have found that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at a drastic and accelerating rate, contrary to the findings in 2007 of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These findings suggest rather dramatically that the loss of ice into the oceans from ice sheets is soon going to overtake the loss of ice from Earth’s mountain glaciers as the largest contributor to global sea level rise a lot earlier than previous climate models had predicted...

Japanese Preparedness Likely Saved Thousands

by Alan Greenblatt
Kit Miyamoto was riding on a train in Tokyo on Friday when a massive earthquake struck off the Japanese coast. Although the earthquake's epicenter was hundreds of miles away, the train came to an immediate halt. Rather than panicking, Miyamoto recognized that the sudden stop represented an attempt to protect against loss of life. "As soon as the train feels an earthquake of any magnitude, it stops so you will not get derailed," Miyamoto says. "This is the Japanese alarm system at its best." Because of a long history of frequent, sizable earthquakes, Japan was relatively well-prepared for the latest quake. Japan could not protect its entire coastline against tsunami with its system of seawalls. And with sizable aftershocks still occurring, the final death toll will not be known for some time. But it will be a fraction of the 230,000 deaths seen in Haiti following last year's earthquake. That's in spite of the fact that the Port-au-Prince earthquake was far smaller in magnitude than Friday's, which was 8.9 — one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded. "The biggest difference between a place like Haiti and Japan is that in Japan, they experience earthquakes frequently and they build the habits of a high level of earthquake technology into their engineering," says Miyamoto, who is president of a structural engineering firm based in California. Read More

Expecting To Be Saved  Mary Lou Zoback, an earthquake risk consultant in California, worries that preparedness is not a strong enough part of American culture — for disasters of any kind. Retrofitting a home to be better able to withstand an earthquake would probably cost people less money than granite countertops for the kitchen, she says. Yet many people choose aesthetics over safety...

The Limits of Safeguards and Human Foresight  Here's the truly scary thing about the 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Honshu Island and its resulting tsunami: Japan is a country that is lauded for doing preparedness right...

Why America Isn't Ready for a Disaster  Japan’s tradition of emergency planning and strict building codes saved countless lives this week—but what would happen here? Disaster-preparation expert Irwin Redlener on America’s shocking lack of readiness—and our history of ignoring wakeup calls...

Gathering sand from around the world for mandala project

SARASOTA - She has coral from the Pacific Islands, volcanic rock from Costa Rica and some of the sand that surrounds the Great Pyramids of Egypt. In total, Jo Mooy has natural remnants from more than 100 locations worldwide — and she still has 21 months to build her collection. Mooy, 65, is on a mission to brighten up the public's perception of December 2012, presented in movies and by some New Age leaders as the end of the world. "There's a lot of fear and anguish around 2012 as the date begins to come closer," said Mooy, who has studied metaphysics for almost 50 years. "But I wanted to combat the Hollywood version of the end of the world in 2012 by uplifting and unifying people." The year 2012 has triggered such widespread speculation, and become the fodder for doomsday movies, because it marks the end of the Mayan "Long Count" calendar. But most scholars now agree that predictions of catastrophic events, including deadly solar-magnetic flares, are misinterpretations of both Mayan history and science. Nevertheless, predictions of doom and gloom continue. Mooy hopes to offset the negative predictions with her "Sands of the World Mandala" project. Mooy will make use of the multi-colored and multi-textured sand, soil, shells, rocks, reef and other remnants on Dec. 12, 2012 — the last time a dateline of 12-12-12 will occur for another 1,000 years. Read More

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NASA Scientist Explains Science Behind 'Supermoon' Phenomenon

The tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday (March 11) set the Internet abuzz with the false notion that the moon, which will be at its fullest of the year on March 19, played a role in the devastating natural disaster. The seed for the idea was planted by an astrologer, who contended that this large full moon – a so-called "supermoon"– would touch off natural disasters like the 8.9-magnitude Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami since the moon would make its closest approach to Earth in 18 years. Scientists, however, dismissed the suggestion entirely and now a top NASA scientist is weighing in.In a statement released Friday, noted NASA scientist Jim Garvin explains the mechanics behind the moon's phases and the causes of the supermoon. Garvin is the chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The supermoon phenomenon refers to the time when the moon is at its closest to Earth – or perigee – of its orbit around the planet. On Saturday, March 19, the moon will be about 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away from Earth. Here is Garvin's insight into the supermoon phenomena as provided in a NASA statement: Read More

March Madness is coming this week, from the Moon  A week from Saturday will be the night of the full moon for the month of March. But this won't be just any full moon, according to the all-knowing source we know as the Internet. For weeks stories have circulated about the potential effects of this next full moon referred to as a "supermoon" or in one article forwarded to me by a colleague as "Moonageddon."...

Did the supermoon do it? Scientists debate if lunar phenomenon caused tsunami Japan's giant tsunami has revived one of amateur meteorologists' favorite theories: the effects of the supermoon. The supermoon is a phenomenon that takes place when the moon is closest to the Earth, astrologer Richard Nolle said....

Quake changes Earth's axis

The earthquake in Japan has reduced the terrestrial day by 1.6 microseconds and shifted the Earth's axis by about 15 centimeters, expert Richard Gross of NASA told RIA-Novosti. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake which occurred on Friday was the strongest in the history of the country. Tremors caused a tsunami with waves of up to 10 meters high.The exact number of victims of the disaster is still unknown, however Japanese media report that casualtiwes will be over a thousand.

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 quake kills hundreds in Japan

The quake triggers a tsunami that threatens much of the Pacific. Up to 300 bodies are found in the city of Sendai in northeastern Japan, an area believed to have been hit hardest by the massive waves.

Reporting from Beijing and Tokyo — Hundreds are dead after the worst earthquake in generations struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, setting off a devastating tsunami that swallowed swaths of coastal territory and fanned out across the Pacific Ocean, threatening everything in its path.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake -- the world's fifth-largest since 1900 and the biggest in Japan in 140 years -- struck at 2:46 p.m. local time, shaking buildings violently in Tokyo for several minutes and sending millions fleeing for higher ground.

Nearby islands are bracing for the tsunami and warnings have been issued for 53 countries including ones as far as Colombia and Peru. Read More

China: Earthquake Kills Dozens in Southwest
An earthquake toppled more than 1,000 houses and apartment buildings in Yunnan Province near the border with Myanmar on Thursday...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet With Us

[Note: This is a long article, but well worth the read.--Lori]

By Chris Hedges

I have walked through the barren remains of Babylon in Iraq and the ancient Roman city of Antioch, the capital of Roman Syria, which now lies buried in silt deposits. I have visited the marble ruins of Leptis Magna, once one of the most important agricultural centers in the Roman Empire, now isolated in the desolate drifts of sand southeast of Tripoli. I have climbed at dawn up the ancient temples in Tikal, while flocks of brightly colored toucans leapt through the jungle foliage below. I have stood amid the remains of the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor along the Nile, looking at the statue of the great Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II lying broken on the ground, with Percy Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” running through my head:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elites, after clearing their forests and polluting their streams with silt and acids, retreated backward into primitivism. Read More

Ghost Horseman of the Apocalypse in Cairo Egypt

Why You Should Never Defend, Explain or Justify

by Russell Bishop
Why do some people seem to be forever defending, explaining or justifying themselves? Do you enjoy being around this person? Are you one yourself?

Quite the opposite from the critics who have been the subject of recent articles on complaints and criticism, this person becomes tiresome not because of a string of complaints, but more because of the somewhat toxic nature of self-defense.

Years ago, as the personal transformation wave was cresting via large group seminars, several of us started using a made-up word to highlight the toxic nature of self-defense and explanation: dexify. The word even seems to connote something toxic all by itself.

Certainly, someone who engages in dexification (there's another use that may suggest something kind of dark) seems to be sliding down a spiraling path of negativity. What's so negative about defending yourself, you might ask?

On the one hand, nothing really, especially if there's something there to defend. However, I am not referring to the kind of self-defense you might need when wrongly accused of something, especially something heinous or criminal. However, there's a difference between that kind of self-defense and the more common defend-explain-justify behavior that many of us seem to engage in almost daily.

To be fair, I know I have certainly done my fair share of dexification. The main problem in day-to-day life is that when you choose to dexify, you almost always sound guilty-as-charged. I know that when I find myself in justification mode, there's almost always some part of me that feels insecure about the area, perhaps even wondering-fearing-believing that it must be true.

There may well be several moving parts here, but allow me to underscore a critical aspect that may be operative and why dexification is usually not all that helpful. The worst possible scenario might be that the criticism is accurate and I'm simply digging myself a deeper hole by dexifying.

Some time ago, I wrote an article on this subject, citing a lesson learned from Bucky Fuller about how we can benefit from our perceived enemies. The gist of the story: after a wonderful lecture on the value of seeking to understand and be understood, Bucky took questions from the audience. One gentleman took the microphone and proceeded to tell Bucky that he was full of beans, didn't know what he was talking about, and had no basis for his point of view. Bucky considered the comment, and replied, "Thank you." Read More

Meditation: Change your brain, change your life

By Deepak Chopra
The benefits of meditation can't be called new. For decades the practice has been endorsed, even by mainstream medicine, as a proven means to reduce stress and produce relaxation. In fact, if it were not for "the relaxation response," a sanitized version of Eastern meditation that was popularized thirty years ago, it is doubtful that a secular society could be persuaded that meditation is real. Until recently, code words like "peacefulness" and "serenity" went about as far as anyone could go without seeming to bring religion in through the back door.

Now a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital has made headlines by showing that as little as eight weeks of meditation produces changes in various areas of the brain associated, not simply with feeling calmer, but with improved sense of self, empathy, and memory. Again this isn't exactly new. Since the Seventies a change in brain waves, particularly alpha waves, was associated with the regular practice of meditation. Today, with far more sophisticated brain imaging, researchers can pinpoint where these changes are taking place with remarkable precision.

The short period of time needed to produce benefits surprised everyone. Brain scans of Buddhist monks had already shown dramatic alteration of gamma waves in the prefrontal cortex, a region associated with higher cognitive responses as well as moral feelings like compassion. But learning that a life-long meditator produced gamma waves at 80 cycles per second instead of the usual 40, although fascinating to neuroscientists, still kept meditation far out of reach of busy, secular Westerners. Now we can say, without fear of seeming "too Eastern," that meditation sharpens the mind and produces benefits everyone would want. The old bugaboo that navel gazing makes you passive and "too peaceful" can be banished once and for all.

Consciousness, Poetry, and Bilingual Babies How much is human consciousness shaped by language? Somewhat, says theoretical psychologist Nicholas Humphrey. He’s more interested in the other things that shape it, like what he calls the “lake of sensation” — colors, lights and sounds. I guess you could argue that those sensations themselves comprise the elements of a language of consciousness...

Scientific experiments that upset our notions of who we are Darwin’s evolutionary theory, Milgram’s electric shock experiments and Galileo’s weight throwing are just some of the many findings that have rocked our world view

Friday, March 4, 2011

Worry over jet contrails' environmental consequences

"Peterson said she never uses the word "chemtrails" because it lacks scientific documentation and detracts from the real issue. But she does believe the government is involved in widespread geo-engineering -- modifications of the Earth's energy balance to reduce temperatures and counteract human-caused climate change. "

The Press-Enterprise

Wispy white jet contrails are a familiar sight, a sign of today's considerable air traffic and, to some people, a visible reminder of the environmental threat that comes with it.

The trails -- formed when moisture condenses around aircraft engine exhaust -- create cirrus clouds that block solar energy from above and trap heat below. They may be contributing to warming of the Earth's surface temperature, NASA studies show.

"There is absolutely an effect," said David Mrofka, a climate change lecturer at UC Riverside. "It's going to cool things in the daytime and warm things at night."

Numerous theories surround the trails. Scientists are studying contrails' impact on everything from climate change to crops, and conspiracy theorists contend they are the result of dangerous government experiments and cause health problems.

Contrails occur in clusters because of favorable atmospheric conditions -- temperatures below minus 40 degrees and high humidity at 30,000 feet altitude, said Andrew Carleton, a climate science professor at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. Those clusters occur over the United States, Europe and, increasingly, over Asia and Southeast Asia as air traffic grows. More than 8.3 million domestic and international flights crossed U.S. skies in 2010, according to the federal Department of Transportation. In 2003, the last year analyzed in a NASA study, there were about 27,000 flights per day over the United States that could cause contrails.

There has been an increase in contrails since the 1970s, primarily because of a change in the atmospheric pressure pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation, which influences weather in the northern, middle and high latitudes, Carleton said.

Climatologists don't know why it has changed but believe it may be related to global warming, he said. Read More

Report: Peer into the 'deep past' to divine future warming: Study Reports by 2100 the Earth will have more greenhouse gases in its atmosphere than at any time in the past 35 million years.

Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare

Since its first publication in 1998, Mae-Wan Ho's book , Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? has been widely acknowledged as providing the most sustained and reasoned challenge to many of the scientific assumptions underlying genetic engineering. It has now been reissued in a second edition that has been up-dated and redesigned to make it more accessible to the general reader

In her wide ranging and comprehensive book, Dr. Ho hits out against transgenic foods, which have the potential to be toxic or allergenic; monoculture - a major cause of malnutrition world-wide; cloning - a scientifically flawed and morally unjustified process; the large-scale release of transgenic organisms, which she describes as "much worse than nuclear weapons as a means of mass destruction - as genes can replicate indefinitely, spread and recombine". Read More

Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops? USDA senior scientist sends “emergency” warning to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on a new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tucson makes Time Magazine’s list of ‘Intelligent Cities’

by Pamela Powers, Tuscon Citizen

Finally… some positive, news coming out of Arizona.

In a recent issue, Time Magazine named Tucson one of the nation’s “Intelligent Cities” because it is a desert city with laws that promote grey water and rainwater use. Here’s the story:
In Tucson, Saving the Bath Water Too

If you would like to learn more about rainwater or grey water collection and use, check out the Watershed Management Group. They teach individuals and neighborhoods through workshops and lectures.

I attended a two-weekend, hands-on workshop conducted by Technicians for Sustainability and Stone Curves Co-Housing a few years ago. It was a great experience; I learned a lot of water collection dos and don’ts, which helped me transform my yard. I highly recommend a workshop for anyone who is considering installing a cistern or hiring someone to do it.

Water Harvesting by Pamela Powers