Why Pole Ice Matters


Melting ice caps mean a whole lot more than rising ocean levels. Arctic Tundra, thawing permafrost, diminished ice packs – seemingly insignificant, yet crucial on a global scale. I found and linked to this wordpress site, one able to explain the balance far better than I could.

http://wildtracks.wordpress.com/world-ecosystems/tundra-ecosystems/arctic-tundra-ecosystem/

As critical as the Arctic might be, it’s Antarctica that has me pondering. Would you believe me if I told you Antarctica is responsible for global weather? How about being the source of ocean currents responsible for maintaining ocean temperatures within a degree of average at all times?

Hovering at a consistent minus 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the total darkness of six month winters (43 degrees Fahrenheit colder on average than the Arctic) Unprotected by land masses, pummeled by constant 100 mph winds courtesy the “polar jet” ( a product of warm tropical air colliding with cooler south pole air masses – a conflict producing massive storms up to 4000 miles across). Polar winds, fed by earth’s rotation produce upper atmosphere winds of 200 mph. At the same time, churning water around Antarctica all the way to the ocean floor.

This is where it gets interesting. At 29 degrees Fahrenheit water begins to freeze, accounting for Antarctica more than doubling in size during “winter”.  As sea water freezes, salt separates becoming dense, heavy “brine”. Billions of briny gallons slowly fall to the sea bed – an unseen ocean waterfall, flowing away from Antarctica and over the continental shelf, coming to rest several miles below.  Thanks to raging “Polar jet” circulation, brine barely has time to catch its breath before the “screaming 60s” (below 60 degrees latitude, the roughest seas in the world), send it packing for warmer waters.

Urged by relentless circular motion, dense brine begins to move. Finding warmer water towards the Equator,  it starts to rise, taking along rich nutrients and minerals from the ocean floor. Flows of deep sea brine follow prevailing winds – in a nutshell, regulating ocean temperature, providing nutrients for plankton blooms and acting as the global barometer keeping weather in check. Joining other ocean currents, rising, falling, becoming diluted on the way up – the coldest, densest water known to man regulates average ocean temperature within a degree.

Ponder this irrefutable fact – without Antarctica and the polar jet, we have absolutely no way of regulating weather. Everything we take for granted – seasons, tropical monsoons, snow pack maintaining glaciers – without exception, the result of ocean circulation patterns. Antarctica protects the world from wild swings in temperature, end of story.

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/currents/06conveyor2.html

My simplified  explanation of the process can’t begin to convey the importance of polar ice. Antarctica in particular plays a role vital enough to be called crucial to our way of life. We need to stop dickering over who or what is to blame and start grasping it won’t matter once the ice is gone.

A link to the state of Arctic ice….

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

 

Festival


Re-posting another of my archived ponders, a symptom of two worlds at odds. On one side – Notes who wants nothing more than carefree hours pondering the world, on the other – work Notes, so hot.tired and busy – repeating myself is all I can muster between one wedding and the next. I’m hoping to find a “Festival” or two once the dust settles in the fall.

notestoponder

I grew up in a smallish farming community that happened to rest between two lakes. For most of the year a sleepy little place; but in summer – the population nearly doubled with vacationing sun seekers and transient farm workers. Summers were crazy – not for the Peach Festival or Square Dance Jamboree – but for my first taste of one giant street festival. I use the term “street festival” loosely as activities were far from sanctioned or organized. All the same, it was a time when many like minded people gathered for one purpose. In reality there were several reasons my town became a summer destination. First we had the “hippies” who hitch-hiked across the country to pitch a tent and pick fruit. Next college students from the coast and neighbouring Alberta looking for a few days of fun. Families on road trips, and last but not least –…

View original post 474 more words

Preventing Poverty Is Not A Mission


Oxfam began in England, 1942 as Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. Based in Oxford as a group of local citizens in support of the National Famine Relief Committee, a group calling on the British government to allow food relief through the Allied blockade of occupied Greece. In 1963, Canada became the first international country to open an office – the name Oxfam came from their telegraph address – by 1965, the organization was officially known as Oxfam International.

Oxfam’s mission is tackling poverty at the root. Working with local organizations in almost 100 countries, they view poverty as a symptom of poor education, human rights violations, injustice and oppression. Their goal – alleviate and prevent poverty through sustainable local programs, with emphasis on women’s rights. Oxfam’s ” approach sets forth five irrefutable rights …..

  • the right to a sustainable livelihood
  • the right to basic social services
  • the right to life and security
  • the right to be heard
  • the right to an identity

Under a law passed by Industry Canada in 2011, all non-profit charitable organizations were required to re-apply for tax exempt status by October 17 of this year. Oxfam submittted this mission statement…

“to prevent and relieve poverty, vulnerability and suffering by improving the conditions of individuals whose lives, livelihood, security or well-being are at risk.”

All Industry Canada submissions needed final approval from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency), CRA officials informed Oxfam “preventing poverty” was an unacceptable goal. “Relieving poverty is charitable, preventing it is not”.  In minds of the CRA, preventing poverty “may or may not involve poor people” .

“A group of millionaires could get together to prevent their poverty, and that would not be deemed a charitable purpose.”

Oxfam dropped the word “preventing” – resubmitting with this statement….

“Our mission statement still indicates we’re committed to ending poverty, but our charitable (purposes) do not use the word ‘end’ or ‘prevent’ — they use the word ‘alleviate.”‘

As for the CRA…

Philippe Brideau, spokesman for the Canada Revenue Agency, declined to provide information on the disagreement with Oxfam, saying “we do not comment on specific cases.”

However, he said legal precedents mean charities cannot help people not already impoverished from falling into poverty.

“Purposes that relieve poverty are charitable because they provide relief only to eligible beneficiaries, those in need,” Brideau said in an email.

“However, the courts have not found the risk of poverty as being equivalent to actually being in need. Therefore, as the courts have indicated, an organization cannot be registered with the explicit purpose of preventing poverty.”

He added that charities are still allowed to teach money management, budgeting and other life skills, which could lead to the prevention of poverty.

How interesting that Oxfam was “singled out” by Harper’s Employment Minister Jason Kenney a few months ago for opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Or that last July Oxfam signed a joint letter to Stephen Harper over allegations new Cabinet Members were briefed with a list of “friend and enemy stakeholder” organizations.

At this moment, 52 charities are under going audits – organizations like Amnesty International, David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty and the United Church Kairos project (a faith based organization of Canadian churches fighting for justice, with vocal emphasis on environmental issues – opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline and tar sand development). PEN Canada, a Toronto organization advocating freedom of speech, was added to the audit list when it publicly raised eyebrows over “muzzling” of scientists on Federal payrolls.

Harper handed the CRA 13 million dollars “special funding” to audit groups critical of Harper policy, in particular those opposing environmental issues. Ponder this Stephen Harper – you don’t fool anyone. Human rights, equality, women’s rights, clean water, hunger, oppression and freedom of speech might not mean anything to you – they mean everything to the majority outside your precious ivory tower – your bastion of hypocrisy and greed will fall long before your “mission” has a chance to perpetuate more suffering.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/preventing-poverty-not-a-valid-goal-for-tax-purposes-cra-tells-oxfam-canada-1.2717774

 

 

Worlds Largest Tomahawk


Pondering how much I need a road trip, finds me re-posting this “snapshot” .

notestoponder

Cut Knife Saskatchewan boasts the world’s largest tomahawk. Over 50 feet tall, it towers over the landscape, dwarfing  the tired homes and dusty main street.  Not visible from the highway, it sits hopefully on the edge of a tidy, empty camp-ground, waiting for travellers lucky enough to  remember what a road trip is. Mid afternoon and the only sign of life is a run down cafe where the waitress sits playing cribbage with a gentleman older than the peeling linoleum.

Ponder the road trip. Once the backbone of summer vacation, replaced by “all inclusive”, fading into obscurity. We can’t understand our world unless we look at it. It can’t be seen from a swim up bar….

World's Largest Tomahawk - Cut Knife, SaskatchewanWorld’s Largest Tomahawk
Cut Knife, Saskatchewan
Photo by Gerry Fox

View original post

Sarah Palin Confession


Thankfully, days of Sarah Palin making headline news is history. Palin tries – her recent call to impeach Obama fizzled faster than a dollar store sparkler. Likening Obama’s treatment of America to that of an abusive spouse, Palin argued “his unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, no mas”.

“Without borders, there is no nation,” Palin wrote. “Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept.”

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” Palin wrote. “The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

Oh Sarah – last year you called for Obama’s impeachment for the debt limit debacle – not even your old running mate John McCain found the stomach to back you up. Which brings me to my Sarah Palin confession – if I’m feeling a little grumpy, looking for something to buoy my spirits or a good old fashioned belly laugh – Sarah never lets me down.Take her comment to Sean Hannity when asked her opinion of the missing Malaysian airplane…

“I see all these smarty pants people on CNN saying it was terrorism or a fire in the cockpit, but I don’t hear anyone talking about the God possibility. I mean, what if they accidentally flew too high and got stuck in heaven”

Part of me wants to run a stream of equally idiotic Palin quotes – common sense screams “don’t kill the moment”. Read Palin’s “stuck in heaven” quote one more time before scraping your brain off the wall, then ponder Sarah Palin as a sure fire cure anytime you need a little “pick me up” – works for me every time. Holy crap.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/08/sarah-palin-impeach-obama_n_5567401.html?utm_hp_ref=sarah-palin

http://www.politicususa.com

 

 

Rosetta Mission


In March 2004, the European Space Agency launched Rosetta – the mission, to reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by August 2014, deploying a probe (dubbed Philae after an obelisk discovered on an island in the Nile leading to further unraveling of Egyptian writing and the Rosetta Stone) , one destined as the first to  land on a comet surface.

Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko travels around the Sun at approximately 800 million kilometers, on an orbit between Earth and Jupiter. For Rosetta to make the journey, “gravity assists” (momentum from flybys of Mars in 2007, and Earth in 2005, 2007 and 2009) explain the 10 years and over 6 billion kilometers Rosetta travels before reaching her destination.

Recently woken from a 31 month slumber, Rosetta sent extraordinary pictures on July 14 indicating the comet might be a binary system (one with two nucleus orbiting each other). On July 24, more pictures will be released following a “FAT burn” (far approach trajectory) adjustment to slow Rosetta down. “CAT burns” (close approach trajectory) on August 3 and 6 will place Rosetta 100 kilometers from the comet surface, traveling in polite unison. Months of August and September bring another “burn” taking Rosetta within 70 kilometers of the surface. October will find Rosetta within 5 kilometers of the surface, looking for a place to land Philae.

Possibly a few days one way or the other, November 11, 2014 Philae will separate from Rosetta, land on the comet surface, deploying anchors to keep it in place. For the next 7 days, a few more if we’re lucky, Philae will sample gases, water, ice, mineral composition – all while taking close up and panoramic pictures of the surface.

Ponder a unmanned space probe using gravitational support and a whole lot of ingenuity to journey 6 billion kilometers in 10 years – all for the prize of a week or so on the surface of a distant comet. If that doesn’t blow your mind, or at very least pass a “holy crap” through your head – I give up.

http://earthsky.org/space/as-the-rosetta-spacecraft-approaches-its-target-comet?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=f55004e443-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-f55004e443-393970565