climate change

Shaken, Not Stirred

Yesterday I was curled up in a chair, ignoring my finicky WiFi and playing Farm Heroes on my phone – which has it’s own internet – when I got momentarily dizzy and thought I felt my armchair shake.

kit earthquake GIF

Turns out I was right. Around 11am, we did in fact experience an earthquake. A 5.7 to be exact. Nowhere near enough for most Trinis to notice. I was sitting down, and I always feel them anyway, but my bush-men, who were outside trimming the yard, felt nothing.

I find it odd that in Trinidad we have had up to a 6.7 and had only cracks to a few houses in some parts of the island. Most of the times, if it’s less than 6.0, we might not feel it, and there’s never any damage. This when anything over a 5.5 can cause damage in most other countries. I wonder if it’s because other countries are more densely populated and, therefore, there are more buildings to be damaged.

Which is not to say we’re nonchalant about earthquakes. Quite the opposite. Trinis HATE when the Earth shakes. It panics us the way rain panics Bajans.

What we’re nonchalant about is hurricanes.

hurricane GIF

Yep. We’re that crazy.

We live in a hurricane belt but remain convinced that since we haven’t been directly hit since before they started keeping records, we’re pretty much safe from storms. Part of that is due to the fact that the Northern Range of mountains tends to push storms north of us. The rest, if you ask anyone, is because, ‘God is ah Trini’.

Considering the way the weather has changed in my region over the last ten years, I really hope so. Because as another disaster slips past us without taking us down, I breathe a sign of relief while simultaneously thinking, how long can we stay lucky?

worried phineas and ferb GIF

And looking around at the devastation wrought in the Caribbean this year alone, I hope it’s a really, really long time.

 

The Tree Of 40 Fruits

This is amazing. An artist developed a tree that grows 40 different fruits.

The article talks about how he manages to do all this with a technique called chip grafting. And that’s not all. He plans to do it to many trees. He’s using resources that farmers think people don’t want to build something beautiful that provides food as well. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to try a yellow plum.

Here’s one of the many trees he’s planted:

And this is what he hopes they will look like when they’re all done growing:

Beautiful!

I hope Van Aken succeeds. We need new ways of thinking about nature, food and resources and this is a very clever way to address some very serious issues, using art.

Bravo, Van Aken! Bravo!

Science News: Odds And Ends

This is a fantastic article that interviews a teen inventor about her ideas and why she thinks it’s important to start teaching kids ‘Inventing 101’ classes.

My favourite quote comes at the end. “Inventors are basically anybody and everybody who’s ever tried to solve a problem.” So true! And we could use a lot more of them. I worry sometimes that this culture of kids having games handed to them on screens and in phones will slowly kill the impulse to think outside of those technological boxes. That the free time and interaction with the world we took for granted in previous generations–which I firmly believe had a part to play in us learning to problem-solve, learn social skills, and develop the imagination that leads to artists, engineers, inventors and scientists–is dying out.

I don’t think many realise how important it is to keep preserving a hands-on interaction with the world, to keep encouraging children to think and grow and learn, not just swallow and regurgitate what’s already available. If we don’t do that–if we stifle imaginations, curiosity and can-do spirit under the mass-produced, money-making fantasy play-fields of movies, games, tv shows and merchandise–how will anyone develop the skills to keep making those things that give so many of us joy?

So I totally support her idea. It’s amazing and sometimes all a kid needs to know to succeed is that they can do whatever they put their minds to. Sure, the world isn’t going to be that easy for every kid, but even kids who don’t have it that easy can take heart from the accomplishments of others and chart their own course.

Two divers are working on our food supply problem by building underwater greenhouses. Sure, there are kinks and we’re not even sure this is viable, but anyone who is thinking about how to grow more food, cheaper, better and where we haven’t thought to do it before is performing a huge public service. Articles I’ve read recently have direct predictions for our food supply once climate change is taken into consideration. And I’m talking the climate change we’re experiencing now, in our lifetimes. Not 100 years or more down the road.

This article, for example, talks about how dire some scientists see the situation as, and how much push-back they endured, and are still enduring, for trying to talk about it.

Scifi author Tobias Buckell, who was born in Grenada, wrote an amazing book on the kind of world we might see after climate change. ARCTIC RISING is a great thriller, fully researched and thoughtfully written, but he still gets reviews from readers and climate change deniers convinced he’s an alarmist. If you read the book though, and you saw this article about the US Navy’s conclusions about the loss of Arctic sea-ice, you’ll realise he’s one of many canaries in a coal-mine. If the US Navy is freaking out, shouldn’t the rest of us join them in actually trying to do something?

Okay, rant over.

And because we all need to laugh a little, here’s a joke I pulled from my favourite Twitter account, Science Porn:

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Stay thirsty, my friends 😉

You Haven’t Seen Snowpiercer Yet? Say It Ain’t So!

Because that movie rocks. It literally rocks. When did you last see a movie that uses horror to highlight social injustice in an entertaining and thoughtful way?

South Korean and Australian cinema, particularly the thrillers and horrors, have become my new favourite source for good movies. When I saw the trailer for Snowpiercer I knew I was going to see it. I even posted it on here as one of my must-see trailers. But the movie itself turned out to be far better than I expected. It was one of the best I saw last year. I reminded me of some of the other great South Korean movies I’ve seen, like ‘The Host’, and those I plan to see, like ‘Mother’.

I started thinking about the movie again today because I came upon this article which mentions the scientific concept used to such great effect in Snowpiercer. It nicely breaks down the premise and it’s possible effects. Which is damn scary, frankly. Especially since China is doing this already.

Was also explaining 3D printing to my Dad on the way to work this morning. He was fascinated by it, and totally got how much the method would strengthen certain constructs, like spaceship parts.

Some days I’m just struck by how much future-world we’re living in. Mostly, it’s not the one we expected. But I think that’s because growing up alongside technology makes it seem much more mundane than it really is. I love that about life, actually. In my writing, I like trying to capture how tech is just no big deal to the world now, while at the same time being pretty amazing. I mean, think about trying to explain the stuff we use today to someone born 100 years ago. Insane, right? In one hundred years, the advances we’ve made have been incredible in some areas. Sadly, once you step out of the arena of technology, we still have a lot of stuff to work on. Right, Emma Watson?

But yeah, this is a strange and wonderful future we live in. Hope we make the right choices so we can advance together from here. Some days, I’m not sure we will. Other days, I think it will all work itself out somehow.

Either way, I think we’re all in for a wild ride.

And much like the residents of Snowpiercer, we’d better make sure we’re on a train we can all live with.