What happens when you combine an embarrassment of riches with managerial incompetence? You get opportunity squandered and systemic failures together with prevarications and blame-shifting. If only the Electric Reliability Council of Texas could somehow convert the prevarications and blame-shifting of state officials into useful current, citizens could use it to heat their homes. Unfortunately, the electric companies and the state’s elected representatives are now passing the cost of their malfeasance on to customers.
In her 2013 book, Farmacology, Daphne Miller, MD makes a compelling case that gut flora is linked to soil tilth. In one chapter she describes her encounter with a rodeo ridin’ Missouri cattle rancher and his conversion from all things antithetical to tree hugging. Cody Holmes, owner of Rockin’ H Ranch picks up the story himself with:
“What’s funny is that my wife Dawnell and I have morphed into rancher, foodie, tree-hugger, worm lovers.” He goes on to describe their realization that “to be more economical, we need to be holistically minded conservationists.” According to Cody, the pivotal decision occurred because, in his words: “We used to run the cattle through the squeeze chute and use Ralgro hormone implants.” He continues. “For years we were running the cows and doing the injections of antibiotics and growth hormones, and I was keeping one out to be injection free for the kids.”
When I first read about KickStart International’s Money Maker Hip Pump. The dance floor chant “Shake your money maker” immediately came to my adolescent mind. Although, once I got beyond the amusing imagery, I soon realized just how important a human powered pump would be to a farmer trying to scratch out a living in certain parts of the world.
The Berlin Air Lift style food drops that were once seen as the best way to alleviate poverty have since been replaced with missions that are more nuanced. Well intentioned efforts to make lots of food available quickly are now seen as a way to instantly ruin the market for the local farmer. True sustainability is dependent upon a deep understanding of the dynamics on the ground.
If you could measure the quality as well as the quantity of natural light entering your greenhouse or growing dome, you could supplement with the kind and amount of artificial light needed for optimal plant growth. The colors preferred by plants for rooting, stemming, branching, leafing, flowering and seeding vary just as they do for the temperature, atmospheric pressure, gas envelope, hormonal balance, and nutrient complement.
Television networks have worked continuously to maximize their return on investment by making spectator sports more exciting. For example, I once heard a proposal about how NASCAR races could be more compelling by putting the beer stand in the middle of the track. “Now that would be a sport!” said one producer. News organizations have long operated in accordance with the same doctrine “If it bleeds it leads.” They’ve been pushing the fine line between news and entertainment for a long, long time. One of the initiation rituals is to put young, low seniority reporters downtown to describe an incoming hurricane.
As they stand, waiting to be decapitated by a flying stop sign, they often struggle to be heard above the wind as it messes with the big furry microphone they’re holding. The synthetic fur cover you often see on a microphone is referred to as a “dead cat” or “wind muff” by TV news crews. Experience hath shewn the funny looking covers can actually help to reduce the amount of wind noise that gets broadcast or recorded. One time, when I was tilting at windmills on a calm day, it occurred to me that I was missing the glorious battle. While windmills are ferocious noisemakers, they are highly efficient energy generators because of the wind.
The romantic era poet George Byron wrote “The dust we tread upon was once alive.” Such contemplative reflection, over the interaction humans have with the environment, continues today in the evolving intellectual disciplines of science, philosophy, and religion.
Those that would have us believe that liquid is gas and that solar energy is “alternative” have long been packaging ideas for those they assume lack critical thinking skills. All of the physical energy that we can leverage while on earth traces its roots to that blazing orb at the center of our solar system. While the taming of fire is considered one of the cornerstones of civilization, any use of it today is seen, by some, as clear evidence we be bad!
Sometimes we are truly thankful for each day we manage to stay on top of the ground. If we lived a few thousand years ago, in or near the desert, we might prefer to get out of the hot sun by working underground. Digging tunnels that carried water from place to place would be like working in air conditioned comfort. Now the ancient me is thinking: “The longer I make the tunnel, the longer this cushy job will last!
Conserving water is one thing we’re forced to think about during a drought. And, sometimes it helps to consider the extremes when we’re searching for sustainable solutions. For example, there are golf courses on the Arabian Desert where the sprinkler system uses several times the usual amount of water, so that at least some of it will hit the ground before it evaporates. Yet, in ancient Ninevah and Babylon, there were pockets of innovation that produced aqueducts, various water elevators, and the earliest examples of that water culture we’ve come to know as hydroponics.
I recall reading a certain Superman comic-book story in my youth. Our hero was having more than a few bad days. On one of them, he had built and gifted a high-tech solar array to Metropolis. It was reflecting sunlight into, what would otherwise be, shadowy places. Unfortunately, the concentrated sunlight was also causing major fires. As you might imagine, Superman had a PR problem as the city was responding with hostility rather than kudos.
The home is the crowning achievement of human kind. Genuine science, philosophy and religion each recognize the home as the reward for progress, the capstone of an evolutionary struggle. Accordingly, the TLC broadcast is about The Living Crown as well as the Tender Loving Care that is brought to bear for enhancing this, the most basic institution of human progress. The unique artistry that involves, living on the canvas, presents stimulating challenges as humanity’s masterpiece continues to take form.