Oddments and Dire Circumstances
An oddment is a left-over, a remnant. I find that at this point, the beginning of a new year, I have a number of written pieces that have not yet appeared on this site. My aim then is to provide my readers with a summary of a few of those oddments, thereby covering myself in the event the actual pieces never appear. Also included are new oddments, along with a couple of dire circumstances, as if you didn't already have enough to worry about, what with the possibility of atomic devices falling into the hands of scoundrels, cosmic debris crashing into our planet, gargantuan storm systems triggered by climate crisis, rising ocean levels precipitated by global warming, or catastrophic earthquakes and volcanic disturbances. Duck and cover, my friends. Duck and cover?
Oddment the First:
How about worms? Yes, let's start off with a notion seemingly whimsical but actually quite practical. I recall working for a corporation (never mind which one); specifically, I recall a colleague telling me that he had once worked for a company where employees recycled paper scraps, luncheon scraps, and other non-biodegradable objects by maintaining earthworm bins next to their desks. They used shallow plastic wastebaskets for the bins, added newspaper strips and cardboard for bedding, and added a pound of red worms for every pound of bedding and garbage. The product of course was worm castings, quite suitable for potting material or gardening.
Oddment the Second:
When you're buying a manufactured log and fire starter, you might want to give your business to the producer of Duroflame fire logs, and pick up the Xtra fire log, the EasyTime log, or the Crackleflame log. The company has announced that they're becoming more ecologically responsible by replacing the petroleum wax incendiary material in their logs and fire starters with waxes derived from plants and vegetables.
Oddments the Third and the Fourth:
Let's hear it for the wee, wild creatures that are unable to fend for themselves against the advance of the more destructive patterns of human occupation of the planet; e.g., deforestation, unregulated tourism, climate change, and the introduction of invasive species and organisms. Let's hear it for the tiny blue anole. The small, elusive, and endangered blue anole, Anolis gorgonae, is the only pure blue lizard in the world, and is found only on the island of Gorgona, located off the coast of Columbia. Another resident on Gorgona, the basilisk lizard (Oddment the Fourth), is a member of the iguana family. Basilisks eat flowers, insects, and small snakes, birds, and fish—and occasionally, a tasty blue anole. However, the basilisk lizard is not the major threat to the blue anole population. The major threats contributing to the possible extinction of this rare and beautiful creature are invasive organisms and deforestation.
Oddments and Dire Circumstances
Dire Circumstance the First:
Another article of mine that has not yet appeared on EarthLab.com is titled, A Double Whammy: Global Warming and Dimming the Sun. The article was my summation of, and reaction to, the recent PBS production, Dimming the Sun. The fundamental conclusion reached by the many scientists who were interviewed for the program is that a decreasing level of sunlight is reaching Earth, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be related to the noxious particles in the atmosphere. These particles prevent some of the sunlight from reaching the surface of Earth, but a greater share of the sunlight fails to reach the surface because droplets of moisture collect around the particles, and, in the manner of tiny mirrors, reflect the sunlight away from Earth. Thus, the dimming phenomenon is actually masking the effects of global warming. The dilemma is that if we are able to reduce the level of noxious particles in the atmosphere, global warming would be accelerated.
Dire Circumstance the Second:
We in the United States are hardly in a position to criticize other countries for pollution and for the unbridled plundering of Earth's resources. Having addressed our culpability as a nation, I might now point out that the developing countries are releasing incredible levels of pollution into the atmosphere, and that not a day goes by without the opening of a new foundry in one of those countries. This pollution, however, is not all related to manufacturing initiatives; rather, much of it is related to fires continuously blazing in underground coal seams, resulting in the release of tons of toxic fumes, soot, and greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The leading sources of this toxic release are China, India, and Indonesia, with existing fires having the potential to burn for decades, even centuries. The United States is not completely free of guilt in this troubling issue. Several smaller fires of coal seams have been burning for decades in Colorado and Pennsylvania. This is a situation when it is good to be in fourth place.
Dire Circumstance the Third:
Sometimes I think that I should stop reading grim environmental reports that appear in the media each and every day. Other times I think that in the mornings I have awakened to a world more perilous than the one I have grown accustomed to, and that, on awakening on a subsequent day, I will find myself in a better world. A recent article on Bloomberg.com made the hair rise on the back of my neck. According to the article, volcanic activity some fifty-five million years ago caused the melting of natural gas (methane hydrate) frozen in the seabed, thereby triggering a catastrophic change in Earth's climate, and perhaps a global firestorm that led to the extinction of much of the life on the planet. I'm a pretty stupid person, but even I know that methane burns like the dickens. Guess what. Those busy critters, the Japanese, have decided to drill down to the trapped methane crystals and use the resultant gas for fuel. Not to worry; they are providing assurances that safeguards are in place to prevent the release of substantial amounts of methane into the air. (Think of it-a flammable atmosphere.) EarthLab members-fasten your seatbelts.
Don't you feel better now that you've read this article? If not, cheer up. Perhaps you will awaken tomorrow in a world where none of this nonsense is happening.