Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summertime, and the solar is growing

This was one of those magical Summer mornings when mist, unruffled by a bird-song-carrying cool, soft breeze, hovered over water bodies like the pond down the road. Last night's errant bears, seeking easy pickings from the bird feeders, were on their way home for a morning nap. Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

Hoary Alyssum (Berteroa incana) with ladybug(?)
Photo by J. Harrington

I headed off early to a meeting in Minneapolis. On my way home, I drove north on Central Avenue. Just about where Minneapolis turns into Columbia Heights a "mile-long" train of tank cars (full? empty?) tied up traffic for a while at a grade crossing. I started to wonder about vulnerabilities and derailments and fireballs. I also found myself pondering what Ed Abbey would write or say or do about some of the environmental disasters being heaped on citizens in the name of progress, jobs and profits. If our national and state leaders were actually leading, Canada could leave its tar sands and North Dakota its Bakken oil in the ground, we could install more solar panels in Minnesota and create a decentralized power generation system and avoid fireballs and oil-train induced travel delays and minimize Anthropogenic Climate Disruption. That probably makes entirely too much sense to ever get political support, especially if the Republicans maintain control of Congress and let the solar tax credit die next year, although maybe by then it won't make much economic difference. Think about that. Maybe going solar would be the best response those living in Minnesota Power's territory, instead of subsidizing big industrial users. (See pages 24 and 25 to decide if you think the reduction in electric costs will make a real difference.)

Cartoon Physics, part 1

By Nick Flynn 
Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,   
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.   
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,   
ships going down—earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,   
& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.


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