Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Nepal earthquake: We had been warned

[LA Times] Images coming out of Nepal's devastating earthquake on Saturday reminded me of another earthquake of similar magnitude that occurred 81 years ago. That earthquake of 1934, or nabbey salko bhuichalo, as it was referred to throughout my childhood in Katmandu, had acquired an air of a legend, delivered in black-and-white photos of men and women in traditional garb standing amid the rubble.
But the 1934 earthquake, which killed more than 10,000 people, was a thing of the past, recalled by old folks, resurrected only in history books and works of fiction. History came alive on Saturday at 5 a.m. when I opened my laptop to write, in Bloomington, Ind., and saw the news.
I awoke my wife, who through bleary eyes looked at me in disbelief as I told her, "This is a big one." The next few hours were spent in frantic attempts to contact our loved ones in Katmandu; first and foremost my parents, whose old age makes them vulnerable, and my wife's mother, a widow, who lives in a tall building.
For many Nepali expatriates, attachment to the homeland is fierce. I love America, but Nepal is my home —it's a landscape I have returned to in all of my novels and short stories. And every year I return in person, with my MFA students. Last year we went up to the Himalayan region of Mustang, where my students bathed in the icy cold water from the 108 springs around Muktinath Temple, situated at 12,000 feet. Throughout the trip I was moved by Nepal's beauty and moved even more by the kindness of the Nepalis we encountered, from the old grandma who served us food at Hotel Bob Marley in Muktinath, to the hotel owner in the resort town of Pokhara who went out of his way to arrange transport for us.
That such calamity would befall such generous people is heart-rending. The initial quake on Saturday has been followed by countless aftershocks that have everyone panicked. Reports are coming in of entire villages laid waste in the mountains. My parents, with whom communication has been difficult because of erratic phone connections and lack of electricity, are camped out in rain on a small field near their home on the outskirts of Katmandu. My mother-in-law is staying with one of her daughters.
We had been warned. In the early '90s, when I returned to live in Nepal for two years, the country experienced mild earthquakes. Articles appeared in newspapers claiming that a major earthquake was imminent. The reason: movement of tectonic plates in the Himalayas, the very process that created those mountain peaks of stunning beauty in the first place. Concerns were raised about lack of preparedness, especially with the alarming growth of shoddily constructed buildings. But these prophesies of a major trembler didn't come true. I was among those who thought the experts were exaggerating. Read More

Nepal Earthquake, How to Help:
UNICEF www.unicef.org
Red Cross www.redcross.org
Mercy Corps www.mercycorps.org
Save the Children www.savethechildren.org
Oxfam www.oxfamamerica.org
Doctors Without Borders www.doctorswithoutborders.org
CARE www.care.org
International Medical Corps internationalmedicalcorps.org

Chile's Calbuco volcano covers town of Ensenada in ash

[BBC]  The roofs of a number of homes and businesses collapsed under the weight of the ash and residents feared for their sheep and cows. Soldiers have been deployed to help with the clean-up. The authorities have warned of the possibility of further eruptions.

They also said that should it rain, the ash could mix with debris to create dangerous mudflows. The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted twice last week, forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people.
Chilean authorities said on Saturday that the volcano had spewed out an estimated 210 million cubic metres (7,420 million cubic feet) of ash. Local resident Victor Hugo Toledo said the area looked like a "grey desert".

"Wherever you look all you see is grey dust; there is an average of 50cm (20in) of it over the towns and on all the roofs," he told the Associated Press news agency. The authorities allowed some of the residents evacuated from the town of Ensenada to return briefly in order to try to save some of their belongings.
Rony Alvarado found that the roof of his restaurant had collapsed under the weight of the ash.
"Eleven years of work [gone] in one day, one second," he said. Read More

Friday, April 24, 2015

Aalto University helps Native Americans relocate after concerns of an impending tsunami

[YLE] Aalto University has received a rare opportunity to collaborate with a little-known Native American tribe from the Pacific Northwest. According to Aalto University Professor Trev Harris a natural disaster is threatening to wipe out their reservation in Washington State. They have started a "Move to Higher Ground" project to relocate their community.
Finland’s Aalto University is helping a rare North American indigenous people design a new hometown that is out of harm’s way.
According to Professor Trev Harris of Aalto University, the Quileute tribe of La Push, Washington holds a ritual each year, where every woman, man and child in the reservation summons local whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and other marine species to the community's beach by playing drums.
"The tribe’s chief then interprets the sounds they make", says Harris.
Harris says tribal leaders have received information from the Pacific Ocean whales that a tsunami would soon hit their community. La Push is located at the intersection of three tectonic plates, and is prone to earthquakes of a 9-point magnitude.
The tribe started to make plans to move their community to higher ground. It is now seeking potential funding from both the State of Washington and the federal government to fund the relocation.
Aalto University became involved in the project through a Finn working at the Microsoft office in Seattle, who knew the person handling the business affairs of the tribe and heard of their situation. This Finn also knew the Associate Professor of the Aalto University School of Architecture, Trev Harris, and recommended the tribe approach Harris’ team.
The tribe chose the Aalto University group to plan a new community for them that would include 50 new housing units and a new school building. Harris and his team returned from their first visit to La Push in March. He tells how the tribe hired his group to complete the task.
“On the last day there was a meeting of the tribal council. When it was over, one of the tribe's former elders stood and said ‘You’re all hired’”, to the students, Harris says. The statement was meant figuratively, as Aalto University is involved in the process as part of their coursework.
He says it wasn’t money alone that won his team from Finland the job.
“They were completely fed up with the business world seething around them. As soon as news of the government funding went public, all kinds of construction firms came peddling their wares. The chief said to me, that your team’s way of dealing with things shows us much more respect than what we are accustomed to.”
The Aalto University plan intends to take advantage of local woodworking skills and build the new Higher Ground community from Canadian redwood, in an effort to revive the indigenous building tradition.
“According to the tribe, the operation must be completed by 2017, before the threat arrives,” says Harris. Read More

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Pulitzer Prize Winner, and Two Finalists

(I have purchased both the Kindle and Audio Book version of Elizabeth Kolbert's, "The Sixth Extinction." It is a remarkable book that I highly recommend. - Lori)

[The New Yorker] We were pleased to learn, on Monday afternoon, that Elizabeth Kolbert has won the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, for her book “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” Kolbert, a New Yorker staff writer since 1999, has covered climate change and the natural world for more than a decade, beginning with 2002’s “Ice Memory,” about glaciologists in Greenland, and continuing with her series “The Climate of Man,” which won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest. “The Sixth Extinction” began as New Yorker article of the same title, about crashing amphibian populations in Panama, and parts of the book were published in the magazine in the two-part series “The Lost World.” The award is a recognition of both the power of Kolbert’s writing and the urgency of her subject. As the subheading on her magazine piece read, “This time, the cataclysm is us.” Read More

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lori Toye – The Ever Present Now – Prophecies of Political and Social Ch...

Earthquake fault heightens California tsunami threat, experts say

[LA Times] The earthquake fault cuts through the heart of Ventura's quaint downtown, past the ornate hilltop City Hall and historic Spanish-era mission before heading into the Pacific Ocean.
For decades, some seismic experts believed the Ventura fault posed only a moderate threat and was incapable of producing a major temblor.
But research in recent years shows that the fault is extremely dangerous, capable of producing an earthquake as large as magnitude 8 as well as severe tsunamis that until now experts didn't believe were possible from a Southern California quake.
Such a big earthquake on the fault estimated to occur every 400 to 2,400 years, experts said. The last sizable quake on the Ventura area hit about 800 years ago. Large temblors occur on this fault less frequently than on the San Andreas fault, which has long been considered the state's most dangerous.
 The California Geological Survey is studying whether it needs to revise tsunami hazard maps because of the researchers' findings. One study found that the inundation would be "severe right along the coast" but didn't call for redrawing evacuation zones farther inland.
"We're not done looking at it," said Rick Wilson, a California Geological Survey senior engineering geologist. "If new information comes forward, we'll change the lines to make sure the communities are as safe as possible."
Scientists have long known the San Andreas fault was capable of producing an 8.0 quake. But because that fault is so far inland in Southern California, the San Andreas does not pose a tsunami risk. The worst tsunami risk comes from a mega-quake from Alaska, which would give Californians hours of time to evacuate.
A huge quake on the Ventura fault could create a tsunami that would begin "in the Santa Barbara Channel area, and would affect the coastline … of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, down through the Santa Monica area and further south," said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and USC earth sciences professor, who was not involved in the research.
Scientists from Harvard University, USC, the U.S. Geological Survey and San Diego State used underground oil data, cutting-edge earth imaging and research on ancient beach mapping to form their conclusions, which were published last year in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
One key finding is that the fault now appears to be connected to a network of others that stretch from the Santa Barbara coast and into eastern Ventura County.
A major earthquake on the Ventura fault could then cause shaking along nearby faults to the east, along the foothill suburbs of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Read More

The Most Important Thing We Can Do to Fight Climate Change Is Try

by Rebecca Solnit for The Nation - Most forecasts of the future presume that something in the present will continue to grow and increase its power or influence. It’s as simple as doing a math problem on compounding interest or multiplication tables.
Orwell did this intentionally in 1984, creating the vision of a postwar Stalinist Britain circa 1948 that was taken to its absurd and appalling conclusion. Less imaginative people, however, genuinely believe that history moves in a straight line. Alarm about the “population bomb” arose from the assumption that women would continue to have babies at the rate they were worldwide in the 1960s. But thanks to reproductive rights and other factors, birthrates have plummeted so dramatically that some nations, from Germany to Japan, are now worried about a steep population decline.
Likewise, people unhappy about the Bush administration seemed to imagine that its power would only increase until it became some petro-cowboy version of the Thousand-Year Reich. People happy with the administration’s policies also failed to anticipate how brief its ride atop the wheel of fortune would be. The Obama victory in 2008 was as out of sight in 2003 as same-sex marriage was in 1977, when Florida-orange-juice spokesmodel and bigot Anita Bryant was successfully fulminating against homosexuality.
There are monumental changes under way that seem as if they will only continue: the decline of homophobia, the widening of rights and privileges from white Christian men to the rest of us, nonwhite and nonmale. But there are backlashes against these things as well, and the other way to call it unpredictable is to say that we can’t foresee which tendency will hold sway a century or more hence. Mostly, what we can learn by looking backward is that who and what we are now—sexually, socially, technologically, ecologically—was not only unpredictable but unimaginable a century or even a half-century ago. So is who and what we will be in another 100 years.
History is rarely linear. The cast of characters is never announced in advance, and the storylines are full of left turns, plot twists, about-faces, surprising crossroads and unintended consequences. In a recent article for Politico, Elana Schor notes: “As Keystone’s problems imprint themselves on the nation’s political DNA, environmentalists and local advocacy groups are using the same template that has stalled it for six years to stoke resistance to fossil-fuel projects from coast to coast. Word is out in the oil and gas industry that NIMBY is the new normal.” As I write, almost no one knows how Obama will ultimately handle the Keystone XL pipeline, but we do know that the struggle to stop its construction has had many ancillary effects. For example, the climate activists fighting Keystone have made the Alberta tar sands, numerous pipeline projects, the oil-by-rail system, and the larger problem of carbon emissions and climate change far more visible.
The struggle against Keystone has also catalyzed remarkable coalitions—for example, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance of rural peoples from the Great Plains, who gathered in the nation’s capital last April, horses, chaps, war bonnets, alternative-energy policies and all. Under the linear theory of history, we’ll decide if this was a successful movement based on the veto (or approval) of the pipeline, but as Schor points out, the effects are not linear; they ripple outward, like a rock thrown into a pond. Or they snowball. Or they catalyze some new action.
The same is true of the younger divestment movement as it spreads even farther around the world. Hundreds of investment portfolios, from college endowments and pension funds to church holdings, have been divested of their fossil-fuel stocks—but that’s far from the only thing the divestment movement has done. Like the resistance to Keystone, the movement has called attention to the broader issue of climate; generated activism and networks, particularly around universities; and shed considerable light on the financial risk of investing in what is now called “the carbon bubble.” With this, it has become possible to see not only that we live in the Age of Fossil Fuel, but that this age is coming to an end. Read More

Monday, April 6, 2015

Interlude: You were born for such a time as this!

[I think you'll enjoy this piece by David Spangler that correlates to the language of time presented in the I AM America Teachings. Here are a few: "The New Times," "Time of Change," "Time Compaction," and "Now Time."  - Lori]

by David Spangler - A number of years ago I took part in a small conference that had the encouraging title “You Were Born for Such a Time as This!” The theme of this event was focused on the potentials for creative living and success that each of us have within us. Sitting on a panel waiting my turn to speak, my thoughts went in a different direction, though. What, I thought, was meant by “such a time as this?”
Clearly the conference organizers had a couple of things in mind. One was the economic crisis facing the United States and the world at large. Another was the general sense of transformation abroad in the land as old habits and ways of doing things confronted a rapidly changing world that demanded new approaches and solutions. But not everyone was experiencing “this time” in exactly that way.
For instance, my youngest son works in a store located in a local shopping mall. When I went to visit him one day recently, I discovered the mall was filled with shoppers for whom no economic recession seemed to be happening at all. The happy faces of people moving in and out of the shops purchasing things bore no relationship to the news of job layoffs, unemployment, and stores going bankrupt that I had just seen on the evening news before coming to the shopping center.
So what was “such a time as this?” For the people in that mall, it did not appear to be one of economic hardship. That got me thinking about time not as past, present and future but as the unique condition that each of us inhabits. For instance, as I go outside after a long winter and glory in the sunshine and spring flowers, a friend of mine in Australia is putting on warmer clothes and preparing for the growing cold of winter. His time, his season, is not the same as mine.
I had taken my place at the panel not knowing what I was going to say. But when my turn came, I knew I would begin by saying, “We do not live in one time. We live in four of them.” The subject of this essay then flowed from that thought.
We inhabit four times. The first of these is World Time. This is the time we all commonly share by virtue of being on earth at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This is the time the conference organizers had in mind when they came up with the phrase, “You were born for such a time as this!” This is the time as portrayed by national news broadcasts and other media; it is the collective history we are all living. This time is one of global climate change, threats to the ecology, economic recession and meltdown, wars and terrorism, and the possibilities of pandemics. It is also a time of space flights, globalization, cures for ancient diseases, and the development of a planetary mind electronically mediated through the Internet and planetary communication technology. It is a time when the challenges and the opportunities are world-size and humanity is truly experiencing itself as a planetary species.
World time is what humanity as a whole experiences, and the challenge is with its scale. Over and over again, I hear people asking me, “How can I make a difference? The problems are so vast and I am just one person. What can I do?” And the answer individually, at least at a physical level, would appear to be, “not much.” There is very little that my actions by themselves, however enlightened, will do to stop the loss of the arctic ice, restore millions of lost jobs, or halt terrorism around the world. Even the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful individual on earth, cannot by himself accomplish these things.
To inhabit world time is to feel overwhelmed and possibly disempowered for the world is so large and we are so small. If it is the only time to which we pay attention, we can risk going a little crazy. Everything can seem so out of control, rushing towards one catastrophe or another carrying us along with it.
And we cannot avoid it. We are part of the world, and world time impacts us in various ways irresistibly, unstoppably, and impersonally.
By contrast, the second time that we live in is very personal. It is your time and my time. It is Individual Time. It is what we are experiencing—the challenges and opportunities we are facing—in our own personal lives.
When my youngest daughter was born, my wife’s sister was with us to help. In advanced stages of liver cancer, she had only a couple of months yet to live. I will never forget Merrily holding Maryn, each in their own very different individual time, a life going out cradling a life coming in, love flowing between them both.
In any given neighborhood, there are those being born, those who are dying, those who are getting their first job, those who are retiring from their last one; there are some who are losing everything and others finding abundance; there are those experiencing despair and those knowing hope and promise.
Personal time takes the events of world time and translates them into the unique contours of our individuality. The result may move in directions very different from the world at large. Prosperity may be everywhere yet I may be facing bankruptcy; economies are failing, yet I may be generating wealth.
The key is that, unlike world time, individual time is lived at a human scale. I may not feel I can influence the world but I can definitely influence my own life. My decisions, my intentionality, my actions—or my lack of the same—can immediately and profoundly change what happens in the sphere of personal time. Although events can seem overwhelming in my life, I still know that potentially I can make a difference. I possess the ability to choose and to act. World time can seem to be the product of vast, impersonal forces but individual time is hand-made, so to speak.
Personal time is the time we are most concerned with. Events in the world at large may trouble or inspire us, but it’s the challenge of our jobs, of meeting the mortgage, of keeping healthy, of raising a family, and of putting food on the table that will consume most of our attention. This individual time is made up of ordinary tasks, most of them repeated in one way or another each day.
The third time we inhabit is less obvious than either of the other two. Personal, individual time is in our face daily and world time is all about us in the news of events transpiring on our globe. But there is a Deep Time or a New Time that is within us and within the world, and it is where the power of transformation lies. Read More

California farmers resign themselves to drought: 'Nobody's fault but God's'

[The Guardian] Kim Hammond does not want responsibility for her neighbours’ livelihoods, or for the crops which stretch in all directions as far as the eye can see, or for the earth itself in this corner of California.

But these days, her little bungalow office in the yard of her family’s drilling company can feel like Mount Olympus.
“It’s just way too stressful, playing God,” said Hammond, a grandmother who co-owns the company and works as its secretary. “Every day we have people on the phone or here in person, pleading. It breaks your heart. But I always give it to them straight. I don’t sugarcoat it.”
It is her job to tell farmers when – or if – a team can visit their property to drill for groundwater and make a well which can save a crop, avert bankruptcy and, perhaps, preserve a way of life.
As California faces a likely fourth year of drought, demand for drilling in the Central Valley has exploded. Hammond’s company, Arthur & Orum, can barely keep up: its seven rigs are working flat-out, yet a white folder with pending requests is thicker than three telephone books.
The waiting list has grown to three years, leaving many farmers to contemplate parched fields and ruin in what has been one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. It supplies half of America’s fruit, nuts and vegetables.
“We’re overwhelmed. We’re going crazy,” said Hammond. “Everyone is in a desperate situation. Everyone has a sad story.”
Arthur & Orum has bought an additional rig for $1.2m, and out-of-state drillers have moved into the area. But as drills criss-cross the landscape, boring ever deeper into the earth, there is a haunting fear: what if they suck up all the groundwater? What if, one day, the water runs out?
“We’re having to go deeper and deeper,” said Hammond. “They say we’re tapping water millions of years old. That boggles the mind. I can hardly grasp it.”
Meagre rain has depressed the water table so much that in some areas drills bore more than 1,500ft. Sucking up water stored long underground can cause soil to subside and collapse. In some places the land has dropped by a foot. Hydrogeologists have warned that pumping out groundwater faster than it can recharge threatens springs, streams and ecosystems.
Hammond said she was conflicted that the family business was saving some neighbours’ livelihoods for now but risked long-term devastation. “They say we’re cutting our own throats. I live here. I don’t want to live in the desert.” Read More

Springtime in an Era of More Extreme Weather

[This is an interesting report on extreme weather and how it is related to volcanic activity and changes in the thermohaline currents. Some of this matches many of the I AM America Earth Changes prophecies, and the climate change areas indicated on the original I AM America Map - Lori.]

from Fabius Maximus by Evelyn Browning Garniss -
  1. The volcanic debris from two 2011 polar eruptions are causing the extreme Arctic cold and East Coast precipitation. This should be the last year of these eruptions affecting weather.
  2. With the current long-term cooler trend of the long-term Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the warm tropical El Niño has been weakened. … It currently is in Modoki (dry) configuration, but is warming to more standard El Niño conditions (wet) for March.
  3. The current long-term ocean patterns, a warm Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation and cool PDO phase, historically produce decades of more extreme weather for North and South America. Expect 15 to 20 years of more extreme climate.
  4. Despite above-average February rainfall, the drought conditions in South America, particularly Brazil continue. Coffee, sugar cane and soybean production is reduced and Brazil’s major cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are facing potential water rationing.
The temperatures, particularly eastern temperatures, have made headlines. North America has been so bipolar that in late February Anchorage, Alaska (25°F/3.9C) was 10°F warmer than Atlanta, Georgia (15°F/-9.4°C). El Niño conditions then produced Southern rain that raced up the East Coast, creating ice storms and wind chilled enhancement of the freezing cold. … The good news is that this weather was predictable. … This winter followed the historical pattern for years with volcanically cooled polar air, a weak El Niño and hot Atlantic waters off the East Coast.

Short term effects making the Weather More Extreme: Volcanoes

As regular readers are familiar with, our current weather has been partially shaped by recent volcanic activity – specifically the large eruptions of two polar volcanoes. In 2011, Mt. Grímsvötn in Iceland and Sheveluch volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. While these eruptions were not tremendously powerful, they were both large enough to enter the stratosphere. There the volcanic ash and chemical aerosols lingered for 3 years, increasingly cooling the polar air mass.

Recent volcanic activity has not been as powerful, but we are seeing constant activity in both Russia and Iceland. In Russia, several volcanoes are currently active. Sheveluch, Klyuchevskoy and Chikurachki have had a series of 5 – 7 km eruptions in February. While this is not high enough to change the climate for years, it is entering passing fronts. … Meanwhile, in Iceland, Bardarbunga volcano continues to leak lava and gas at low levels.
… The last time we saw this pattern of eruptions in both the Polar Regions of the North Atlantic and Pacific was back in the 1780s, so we are seeing patterns that haven’t existed in centuries. The dust and chemicals blocked out incoming sunlight, decreasing the Arctic’s summertime warming. Indeed, the end of the summer found 1.5 million sq. km (more than 579,000 sq. miles) more sea ice than two years previously.
Winter has allowed this cold to shift south, creating extreme, even record-breaking cold from Michigan to Miami. Only the fact that the North Atlantic Oscillation is currently positive, shifting weather patterns eastward quickly, has kept this year from being a repeat of last year’s awful polar vortex weather.
{T}he debris from Russian volcanoes in Kamchatka is also cooling the air in the North Pacific. This cooling strengthens a semi-permanent air pressure storm region called the Aleutian Low. The Aleutian Low is a key area for steering the polar jet stream and when it is strong, it veers the jetstream north along the West Coast. Unfortunately, this keeps polar storms from hitting the Western US. This, in turn, reduces rain and snowfall and creates warmer temperatures that evaporate the already low levels of moisture. When coupled with other air pressure patterns this makes a pattern known as a positive Pacific North American (pna) pattern that encourages cold air to plunge east of the Rockies. Read More