About hamanne

Retired math prof from San Jose State University. Long time crusader rabbit for justice. Lost a precious son who was a poet. Have a precious daughter in radio. Tolerant husband who hikes/golfs/swears at hypocritical politicians at the breakfast table.

Saving Our Environment Requires More Than Limiting Fossil Fuels

Everything we humans do has an impact on Mother Earth. This is something that indigenous people have always understood. Modern society, however, is about making life more convenient, more interesting, more enjoyable, often at the expense of that which we seek. Originally, cars were lauded as a very convenient means of transportation. We can time our trips, chauffeur our children, run out for a single grocery item we have to have, but as housing becomes more expensive in cities, humans find them stuck in frustrating traffic to get to their jobs. It costs us our peace of mind. In the meantime our exhaust contributes to more cases of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Electric cars are sought as part of the solution to cut air pollution, but they too come with a cost, and worse detracts from ramping up public transportation. When I took a train to teach at San Jose State University, I could grade papers, prepare for class, or just relax.

Lithium is a rare metal required for EV batteries, our too smart phones, and tablets. While not like mining coal, mining lithium does not come without cost to the environment. One of the richest sources is in Chile’s Atacama desert. The mining of it is described as “clean.” Indeed, it may be, but it consumes huge sources of water from the area, which has a major negative environmental impact on the lives of indigenous people who have lived off the desert for 12,000 years. Flamingos that used to abound are now threatened. To me it is another example of the greed of wealthy corporations to mine or process fuel where the subsequent pollution is in poor

neighborhoods[1]


. The mineral is just different.

Fortunately, there are scientists who are very aware of such issues. Luckily the Salton Sea, a virtual wasteland in California — described by Palm Springs Life magazine in 2020 as the biggest environmental disaster in California history — contains an abundance of lithium 8000 ft below its barren surface. Further, the lithium is contained in a scalding-hot brine. The heat from the brine has been tapped for geothermal power for decades, but now companies are looking at extracting the lithium. Even though no one is dependent on the water, the lithium can be extracted by an absorption process rather than by evaporation as in the Atacama, and the leftover saltwater reinserted into the ground creating a minimal impact. The energy required by the operation will be provided by the geothermal heat. This is the genius of Australian Rod Colwell.

One thing that bugs me is self-driving cars. For them to drive autonomously, large amounts of computing power to run sophisticated algorithms and onboard camera systems to navigate traffic safely are required. In other words large amounts of energy. I understand we are addicted to energy. We all want comfortable temperatures in our homes, music & movies at our fingertips, easy ways to cook & wash our clothes at minimum. However, do we really need every imaginable energy-sucking convenience? Do we really need to exchange our smart phones, iPads, and every whizbang every one or two years, wasting precious lithium?

The book Braiding Sweetgrass charmingly describes an indigenous tribe in the SW as believing that Earth’s resources from Mother Earth are gifts. As a result, they don’t take more than they need and never deplete. While Earth’s population is not such that it can live off the gifts any longer, I believe we desperately need to discontinue our mindset and practice of Earth’s exploitation in exchange for sustainability and the Hippocratic Oath of First Do No Harm.

Major Source: Sierra Club Magazine Winter 2022

[1] Over Heated is a book that identifies corporations, CEOs and their practices along with their subterfuge to appear to be environmentally conscious, joining up with environmental organization like foxes in the henhouses.

My Christmas Rant on Technology & Modern Life

Selfie by SF Bay

by my daughter-Center

When technology first began to affect ordinary people’s lives, I thought it was wonderful! Google was like a magic library at your fingertips. Correcting papers while typing saved so much time and anguish in writing my academic papers. Email also seemed a gift from on high. Compared to snail mail, ubiquitous with ads and appeals for donations, all my email came from friends and relatives. Responses were rapid, and. I was delighted.

Now, as we all know our email sites are as polluted as our snail mail, while snail mail has not let up. I’m not particularly fond of texting, the next major messaging device to become popular and now also polluted with unwanted texts I type like the wind, but my fingers are a bit fat for smart phones. Further, re using my voice to text I once frightened my daughter after a protest with friends named Heifner. I had stopped at their house after a political protest before visiting my daughter. I voice texted her that I was at the Heifner’s paying more attention to my hosts. She offered to come and get me. I was puzzled until I noticed she had received the message that I was at the health nurse. I also find it more work to go back and correct a msi-heard word than to muddle through. Worst, the greedy corporate world and politicians have found another way to get atcha. Not only the corporate world, but every organization in need of donations have found me. It’s interesting. that they don’t use technology to track that you just made a sizable donation, and it might be wise not to beg again, thereby appearing ungrateful.

While search engines remain amazing, there is a down side as corporations track your interests in order to target ads via email, social media, and more.

Use of technology is replacing humans in answering phones for assistance by establishments of any size. The common description of the process by users as “menu hell” is most apt. Usually, none of the rabbit holes leads to answering one’s question. Often the Voice invites you to visit their website. If the answer were there, there’d be no need to call. Recently, online I was invited to chat. When I agreed, I discovered I had to join something called Chatca. At my age I don’t have time for whippersnapper ideas.

Then there’s the annoying Captcha. It wouldn’t be so bad if there were more clarity. Check the boxes with street lights, for example. If you can only see the street light’s post, does that count? Is that a bus or a van? Is that the back end of a bridge? I am now deliciously protesting their use, by refusing to proceed even if it’s to sign a petition I agree with.

My spouse has cursed parking meters that require programming to insert a credit card.

Everything from appliances to smart phones have added new features with each update. My iphone has a mind of its own. Not only do we not use the new features, they often get in the way of their general purpose. Like old folks when I was young I’m now complaining I don’t like these new fangled things! I’m with KISS. keep it simple stupid. Further, it seems people without smart phones are left out in the cold in terms of access to help for so many things.

Happy Holidays, readers!

Do You Argue with Your Partner About Color Descriptions?

It is well known that there are people who are color blind in different ways. There is red-green color blindness, where the two colors cannot be distinguished. There is also yellow-blue color blindness, and surprisingly more. However, I’m talking about ordinary-sighted people who argue over a color’s appropriate description. How many different red colors are there for example?  There’s ruby, scarlet, garnet, magenta, burgundy, cherry, blood-red, etc. We often affix adjectives like bright, dull, and plain. We speak of a mix of colors like bluish green. My spouse and I sometimes disagree on these subtle descriptions.

Color-driven painters like Wassily Kandisky are said to understand the subjectivity and relativity of color perception. He was mentioned in a recent major discovery involving the mathematics of color-space. The above are examples of Kandisky’s art.

A mind-blowing discovery about color has been recently described in an academic article whose lead author is Roxana Bujack, a computer scientist with a mathematics background from Los Alamos National Laboratory. . Of course, it’s mind-blowing for people with mathematical leanings as opposed to the general public. For over 100 years the 3D mathematical space, which describes how the eye distinguishes one color from another primarily developed by Nobel Prize-winning Schrodinger, Riemann, and Helmholtz—all super-geniuses in mathematics and physics— has been the accepted model. Now, it is believed this model has flaws according to the research done at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The scientists there had set out to develop algorithms to improve color maps for data visualization to be easier to understand. To their surprise, in their effort, they found the model did not work. They have yet to determine the exact geometry of what is called “color space” but are eager to do so. Video professionals depend on the accuracy of the geometry. Further, the textile and paint industries will have to recalibrate how displays are made, once more is known. .  

However, I doubt we will have new names for colors, nor will there be a solution to how different human beings describe the colors of objects differently.

PS: There’s a special on my online books at smashwords.com valid only from Dec. 15th through Dec. 31st.

Inhabited $1.49 , Lost Sea $.99, Lost Sea’s sequel Lower World $.99, and FREE a short story for children and adults The Foster Princess..

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

While the major sources of pollution are as follows below, collectively individuals can make a difference. In fact, much of the methane coming from agriculture are from cows so eating less beef would make a difference. Less consumption would reduce industry’s contribution. Driving electric vehicles, and installing solar panels  would reduce the next two categories. We can do nothing about volcanic eruption, but deforestation and desertification cause dust storms, which are harmful to human health. This is often due to overuse or overgrazing of land. Further, forest fires eliminate trees that absorb carbon dioxide. As individuals we can advocate for practices that reduce overuse of land and means of reducing chances of forest fires by reducing brush and other means. In general pressuring our government to act responsibly in regard to climate change will help.

  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Vehicles
  • Electricity
  • Natural disasters

Other ways humans can reduce their carbon footprint are

Eliminate Food Waste: The carbon footprint of U.S. food waste is greater than that of the airline industry, 37% of which happens in our homes. Don’t grocery shop hungry lest you buy more than you can consume before spoilage. Finding a method of keeping track of which food items  and leftovers are oldest, and moving them to the front of your refrigerator shelves can help along with general awareness. I hate waste, and one trick that works for me is in deciding what’s for dinner I don’t think what sounds good or what I’m hungry for, I think about what I can make with what I have. My Eloise surprises usually turn out well.

Ditch your grass: There is an estimated 40 to 50 million acres of grass in the US, which consumes 3 trillion gallons of water each year, 3 billion gallons of gas to run lawn and garden equipment, the equivalent of 6 million gas powered cars running for a year. Water is precious, and we are running out. Climate change seems to affect the distribution of rain with floods in some areas and drought in others. We love our artificial grass. Always green, no weeding, mowing, or fertilizing.

Help preserve our forests:  One small way of maintaining our national forests is to have a tree planted in honor of a deceased loved one instead of sending flowers. My favorite site (https://thetreesremember.com) allows some choice of which forest and includes a lovely packet. Have a friend or relative that has everything, but you want to remember with a gift, planting a tree in their honor may be a nice surprise.

Weatherize your home: Update your insulation, secure leaky windows and/or block leaks with window coverings. Whatever your energy source for heating and cooling, reduction of energy use leaves more renewable energy available for others. Consider a heat pump the next time you need to replace your furnace or AC. Ditch or reduce use of your fireplace.

Fly less often: When you do fly, try to use airlines that are working to reduce their use of fossil fuels and pledge to carbon capture the amount they admit. United was among the first with their plan. Others, who include Alaska, American, Atlas, Delta, FedEx, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United and UPS are calling for government assistance with laws and policies.

Data is from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/02/22/climate-change-actions-carbon-footprint/

PS: I recommend reading Under the Sky We Make by Kimberly NIcholas

It is interesting that indigenous people from time memorial and all over the globe take better care of where they live than most industrialized countries. It may well be an ingrained belief in the latter case that Earth’s resources are there for the pickings, while the indigenous take only what’s necessary to support their needs. For short, it’s exploitation vs. regeneration.

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

I don’t mean the one you set to fall back because of DST, although there seems to be as much fuss in the media over DST as over protecting our climate future. I mean the clock that is worrying COP27 attendees and Earth’s youth modeled by Greta Thunberg. Countries made reasonable pledges at COP26 to stop Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees as a goal with 2 degrees as a maximum to keep this planet livable. Unfortunately, very few countries have achieved their goals. Our own US has been heating 68% faster than the average world-wide increase.

Unfortunately, nighttime temperature has been rising faster than that of daytime. This means less respite for those who do not have AC. In general, the heating of the climate does not affect everyone equitably. In particular, increasing energy costs for heating and cooling impact lower income families most. Further, corporations tend to plant their most polluting factories in low-income areas. Worldwide, the wealthier countries contribute most of the pollution, while poorer nations take the brunt of the consequences.

To the credit of our government is the plan to help native American tribes whose habitats are threatened by paying some of the cost to relocate to higher ground. This doesn’t cool the climate  furnace, but is a bone to help those most affected. To the credit of some super wealthy a few are using their fortunes to try to make a difference. Michael Bloomberg is launching an effort to phase out coal in 25 countries.

Regarding individual human contributions to Earth’s fever, transportation tops the list with flying the worst. Fortunately, some airlines are working to offset the pollution. Commuting to work is second. The number of electric cars is increasing, and California is requiring Lyft, Uber, and taxi vehicles to be electric by 2035, more than a decade away.

The temperature of the top mile of our oceans has increased to a point that it’s expected to continue increasing through 2100 on its own. Since our oceans have been absorbing the excess heat for decades, it’s not surprising.

Climatologists have been saying—now screaming— that we’re running out of time. The public has finally recognized how desperate is the need to contain climate change, but it won’t happen by wishful thinking. Individuals must take steps to reduce carbon footprints and urge their government representatives to get on board.

The Good, the Bad, and the So-So

I ALWAYS LIKE BAD NEWS FIRST:

  • The top mile of the ocean is warmer than ever, and will not be contained without bold action. The temperature of the ocean affects our weather. .
  • Gas is leaking benzene to the tune of the same amount as 60,000 fossil fueled cars in California, which is where the research was done. It is difficult to think gas appliances and gas installation is very different across the U.S.
  • The Space Station had to duck to avoid  junk that humans have left drifting in the atmosphere. I find this depressing. Isn’t it enough that we have trashed our oceans and more?

INTERESTING, BUT NOT EXCITING

Interesting but I find myself indifferent:

  • New minerals are being found to exist likely only at the high pressure of Earth’s core.  Two minerals with similar molecular are daveomite and bridgmanite are such. Since similar minerals often combine, it may be that there is a third new mineral close to Earth’s inner core. Heat plays a factor for two parents to give birth.
  • An Earth-sized habitable planet has been found to exist. Habitable is of course defined as habitable to humans. I imagine this is most welcome to those who want their descendants to have an alternative to Earth if climate change makes Earth undesirable.
  • Lava may be bubbling under the surface of Mars.

NOW FOR THE GOOD STUFF

  • Cosmic wonders. I’m sure everyone’s seen some amazing photos from the Webb telescope, but don’t underplay the Hubble. Now there’s a video of Hubble’s contributions.
  • There’s active work on making Bio fuel from dead plants to fly airplanes. Corn stalks in particular are being looked at. Corn is such a common vegetable, and yet only one ear grows on a single stalk. I recall my parents used cobs to heat a cook stove before they had electricity. I guess it’s about time we did as well.
  • Video games have been discovered to be positive for development of children’s cognitive skills. I’ve also read recently that people who spend time on their computers rather than watching television are less likely to get dementia.. Exercise, of course, is also key to mental health as well as physical health.
  • A coral reef has miraculously recovered after keeping fishing away from the reef. I heard this on NPR while driving and didn’t catch the entire show, but the moderator asked about how practical this was given the fishing industry and the unspoken need of humans for food. The response was that there are example that both corals and fish thrive when the balance is right.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE TOPICS?

. Climate warming is actually ocean warming

Are gas stoves as responsible for pollution as cars?

Dodging space junk

New MInerals

Place for Our Descendents?

Marsquakes?

         Amazing Hubble Video

 Fuel from dead wood and plants?

.Maybe you don’t need to worry about video games

 Coral recovery & Relation between fish and coral

Elephants, Camels, and Bananas. Oh My

Take a trip to the John Day fossil Monument Center in Eastern Oregon to learn about our country’s ancient past. Fossils fascinate me, but I never thought about how they how they became preserved. It turns out that this region of Oregon was subject to volcanic activity, frequent in geologic time. On a recent trip there I was surprised to learn how tropical is its past, and that elephants, camels, and dinosaurs once there roamed, while banana trees bore fruit. Because volcanos violently poured out so much lava which mixed with mud–called lahars—animals and plants in its wake were killed but preserved .Then Mother Nature began over again in the resultant new ground. The resulting fossils were so numerous, investigating scientists have supplied museums all over the world. Many samples can be seen in the Visitor Center.

In addition, an area in the park called the Painted Hills is amazingly beautiful.  Stripes of rust red and pale-yellow circle the hills. It turns out that the climate prior to a lava flow determines the color. If it was wet, the rust from iron ore provided the red stripes. If it was dry, the lava dried to the pale-yellow. Odd, since we also visited lava caves in Northern California. Peaked hills of black and deep cavities of black block-shaped, but evidently the vegetation or other influenced the final color after centuries. Other places were green. The drive from a hotel in Prineville, Oregon was most interesting geologically. It’s a trip I highly recommend for nature lovers.

On the way we stopped at the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California not far South of the border between California and Oregon. There were a myriad of caves of varying difficulty to walk through mostly because of the need to duck, and to get down into the caves. One interesting piece of history was that these caves were cleverly utilized to hold off settlers that wanted to take over the Modoc territory. Despite being outnumbered, the caves made it possible to hold off the invading settlers until the US army was sent in, and they were held off for over 6 months until the Modoc leader, Captain Jack surrendered,and the Modocs had to move to the Klamath reservation. Man’s inhumanity to man throughout history and going on today is hard to stomach.

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Elephant Seals Are Helping Scientists and the Human Race

My husband and I love going to Ana Nuevo on the Northern California Coast. It is a sandy hike to a spot that could be an exclusive lounge for fat, lazy elephant seals. You can almost imagine them smoking specialty cigars and ordering scotch on the rocks. Some look as if they’re dead to the world but raise a fin now and then. Then there are the frisky pups that are scooting up and down the beach. Seals move awkwardly on land, dragging their stomachs forward with their fins. However, in the water they are highly mobile, and a female may travel as much as 9,000 miles per year. Some from Ana Nuevo have swum to Japan. This ability inspired scientists who study Earth’s oceans at great expense to harness elephant seals. One research apparatus called a rosette costs $40,000/day to run.

Scientists are interested in temperature, salinity, depth, and movement of currents, and despite sophisticated equipment the results are limited considering the desire to  map our vast ocean systems. Such mapping is important to understand consequences and predictions of climate change and weather, in particular, severe storms. Now, elephant seals with tags on their heads cheaply transmit ocean conditions data to satellites.  It is a most clever idea, but I wonder who has the job of attaching a bonnet to a humongous seal.

Scientist Mike Fedak says it’s impossible to collect the data any other way, although other marine animals are also utilized. He described utilization of his first seal, he called Mrs. Nasty, as like having magic binoculars. Over time the head tags have vastly improved in terms of miniaturization, energy efficiency, information compression, and hardiness. Biologists must love what they are learning about marine lives underwater.

A large part of the problem in understanding our ocean water is that the situation is not static. At our poles water freezes and melts on a regular basis, but not the same amount from year to year. As water freezes it discards its salt becoming lighter, sinking, and absorbing oxygen, thus impacting ocean currents. Scientists call it bottom water and understanding it in the Antarctic is absolutely critical to understanding global climate.

Source: Fall 2022 issue of Sierra magazine

Is There a Solar Storm a’Comin’?

Our sun is like a planet on fire. NOAA says our sun is acting scary. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration detected unusual recent activity. On September 18th three flares exploded from the sun. Fortunately, they were directed away from our Earth, but there is one large sunspot positioned to head our way should it explode. Imagine a pan of gently boiling caramel candy for English Toffee that occasionally pops a bubble of steam and syrup. The next few days will be critical, but a 24 to 48 hour warning is predicted before disaster strikes. Earth won’t be hit by fire, but radio transmission will be interfered with, and possible problems with internet activity, and power grids may occur. The ramifications would be significant.

Co