Get Out the Saw, Pa

Contemplating A World Without Sparks

Our temperature has risen! In Saskatoon right now it’s 10 F or -12 C and the thermometer is supposed to climb all the way up to -1 C / 30 F. Balmy breezes, almost! Our cats are enjoying the great outdoors this morning.

Texas residents won’t be nodding at that. I’ve been reading about the dire weather conditions and suffering of the poor Southern folks and they do have my sympathy because I realize they aren’t at all prepared. With our well insulated houses, furnaces and insulated water lines buried deep, we’re prepared for extremes of -50 whereas -0 F is a disaster down there.

No power is a game changer anywhere, though. I appreciate what the folks in Texas are going through on that score. (Assuming you have a furnace) heating fans and water pumps need electricity. Baseboard heaters and stoves are useless. We lived in Quebec during “the ice storm of the century” and know what it’s like to have no power for days with the temp hovering at freezing point.

The only way to operate anything – like the pump that pumped water out of our basement – was with a gas generator. Farmers especially were bringing these in from the US as fast as they could find them. For our dairy farmer neighbours with their bulk milk cooling tanks, a generator’s a must. We did have a wood stove in the basement, thanks be, and waded through ankle-deep water to stoke it. Generally speaking, this is not where modern man wants to go.

A friend and I had a discussion one day; she asked, “What if our power supply was cut off permanently.” I said most of us would die. She said, “If we needed to, we’d just have to find other ways to survive.”

I said, “Ha! We can’t live without power for an extended time. In winter, how would you heat?” She thought we’d have to cut wood.

I asked her to imagine the seniors in her building, in all the apartments on all the floors, trying to burn wood. Someone might burn the place down! “And think the million people in your city all trying to find enough firewood and wood stoves. Or get water – or food? Or drive on completely blacked-out streets? What would happen to stores if the city was blacked out every night? All the factories shut down, people out of work? No, I’m afraid if power was permanently cut, most Canadians living in cities would soon perish.”

She was using the idealistic “We’d all go back to the land” mentality. Everyone would get a little chunk of land to live on (which would denude the countryside.) Big farmers would have to share their land. We’d all survive on raising our own veggies, hauling our water (from where?) and sawing our own firewood. Our lifestyle would keep us healthy. It worked once. Why not again?

Recently I read that President Biden is taking measures to wean the US off oil and gas; I tried to imagine how that will work in the long run. Kind of like Texas now, but nationally? Softie that I am, I hate the idea of wind power because those big turbine blades kill so many birds; perhaps that could be fixed somehow? Giant bird nets? But in Texas now we hear the turbines are all iced up. How would they manage at -30F like we get?

Solar panels may make enough electricity for a home, but for a city water and sewage system? For factories and hospitals? Time will tell, but I foresee The train they call the City of New Orleans coming to a grinding halt with its fifteen cars and twenty-five sacks of mail.

Without oil to run factories, I can picture a time when the US will go back to a farming economy, minus the big equipment. Maybe, like my friend suggested for us, each city family will be given a chunk of land and go with subsistence farming, but I fear those beautiful national forests will go for firewood.

I’d thought Canada could benefit: we could sell our oil to the US if they wouldn’t produce their own. But I see the new President has cancelled the Keystone Pipeline project, meant to carry Alberta oil to Louisiana. Eastern Canada would breathe easier if all those dreadful coal-burning factories in IL & OH were shut down, ending the acid rain now polluting Ontario & Quebec waters.

Oil is currently a necessity to our lifestyle, but bringing in oil from overseas runs the risk of more oil spills and pollution. Building hydro-electric dams costs the environment, too. Ontario found nuclear power an unreliable, expensive, waste-producing alternative. Every solution has side-effects that must be calculated. Or, as someone tersely put it, “The cause of problems is solutions.”

In reality we can’t just go back. Not unless you eliminate 70% of the population and their demands on fuel supply and the power grid. Transportation, international trade, heating, cooling, sewer & water, manufacture, agriculture, construction, health care and more: these depend on a steady stream of power/oil & gas.

Idealism is the luxury of folks who are financially secure or retired in their little estate with a nice nest egg. They can dither to their hearts’ content over solutions for environmental concerns. And we should certainly all do our part to stop consuming, wasting, and polluting. READ: Stop buying CHEAP JUNK. Be willing to pay more for things made in your own country, where pollution controls are in effect.

But the poor senior on pension, the welfare family, or the average Joe/Jill who lives in a big city and has to work for a living – especially in a factory – may have a whole different perspective on the importance of saving the environment. Running out of food before payday weighs more heavily on their minds than thoughts of the world running out of oil in the year 2525.

This is MY Chair

Ragtag Prompt Word today: SURRENDER
Word of the Day challenge: QUICK

Things are going slower than usual this morning, since I surrendered to an extra two hours of sleep. I let the cats in at 5:30 am, but decided it was just too early and went back to bed. So it does.

I got to thinking of de- words, like delight, deform, debase, etc., and wrote a post over at Word Buds on the word DESULTORY. This has quite an interesting root, salire meaning TO LEAP. You can read my post HERE.

As I was typing merrily away, posted my work, and went out to the kitchen for something. Came back and found my cat Angus — always quick to seize an opportunity of this nature — was curled up in my desk chair, prepared to nap for a few hours. Too bad for him! I wanted to do more on the computer and would not surrender my chair. “I’m going to sit here,” I informed him as I pulled him off and dumped him on the floor. His disgruntled look expressed his displeasure.

Cat.Angus.Alina Kuptsova
Alina Kuptsova —  Pixabay

But another opportunity afforded itself; he headed for Bob’s vacant chair and with one quick leap he’d claimed that. It looks like he may even catch forty winks before the owner thereof returns to demand it back. And by then I’ll be occupied with other things and my chair will be empty.

The Jibber Jabber with Sue prompt word for today is SILENCE, and I guess that apart from her scheduled writing prompt words, there is silence over at her blog as she takes a writing break.

There may be silence at our house — especially since I haven’t put in  my hearing aids yet — but there’s no silence outdoors. The birds start expressing their views at dawn and twitter until the daylight fades. We had a real treat yesterday afternoon, looking out the dining room window and seeing goldfinches at our niger-seed feeder. First ones we’ve seen this spring. Friends say they saw some, too, so the flock must have just arrived from the sunny south.

Farmers have been seeding in hope. They are brave souls who seldom surrender to the elements, but it’s been quite dry. We’ve been promised an inch of rain Wed and we sure hope it comes. I remember back about thirty years ago environmentalists being concerned for the survival of migratory birds because so many sloughs and small lakes — their breeding grounds — had dried up. We may be back to that before long.

The old farmers talk about weather cycles, about ten years of wet followed by about ten years of dry — and we’ve seen this played out since we came back to SK. Back then the prairie was in the grip of a very dry spell, then the wet cycle started and we had 8-10 years of plenty. Sloughs hereabouts were as full as any of the old-times could remember and gravel roads needed to be built up higher. Now we’re into a dry cycle again; the huge sloughs beside us are dry.

Maybe our focus is very small, but prairie folks don’t soon get panicked about climate change — especially those who’ve lived through the 1930s. But drought is something we understand too well; all of us older ones have been through a number of these cycles. Our young teens haven’t seen a real drought.

Please pardon my ramblings. Stay safe and have a great week, everyone.
Stores here open tomorrow. 🙂

Party.OCArt

Thirsty Sea

Like many folks this week, I’m staying home for the most part — which is never a cross to me. I’ve enough projects on the go to keep me busy for many months, if the world lasts that long.
If you read my last post, you’ll know I’ve been going through my notebooks today and “releasing some imprisoned dragons.” Here are a couple that rose up from the sea:

the ever-thirsty sea
drinks in the summer storm
cloud by cloud

plastic pop bottles
sink beneath the waves — the party
will soon be over

Wave.Gerd Altmann

The Climate and the Bee

Good morning everyone.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is the word EXTINCT.

I pondered this for a moment, wondering what I could write on this topic. Lots of things have become, or are becoming, extinct. My thoughts went to a another blogger’s article I read recently, titled SAVE THE BEES. Click here to read.

They say one good way of writing poetry, especially haiku, is to contrast the very great with the very small. The universe versus one point of starlight. The person who’s just lost everything in a house fire holding the melted frame from their family photo.

This morning I thought of the major issue being discussed these days — climate change — versus the poor endangered bee. I see a certain irony in the fact that while folks are worried about our extinction due to global climate changes, the loss of this little insect will pose a grave danger to our planet, if the research that prompted Sue’s article is correct.

Yes, it’s sadly ironic that, in order to produce more food, many growers are inadvertently poisoning the very thing that helps them produce the food.

The Life Cycle of Water

It’s been a long time since I thought of Dutch puck disease, but I read a news article this morning that jogged my memory, so I’ll tell you about it.

Dutch Puck Disease: From Beetle to Humbug

Back in the early 70s most Canadians had heard of the invasion of an elm bark beetle and the fungal infection, Dutch Elm disease, that was devastating our elm population. Cities were doing what they could to protect their beautiful shade trees, sadly, without much success.

Around 1972 some wit at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation got the idea to do a send-up on the story and the idea went over. So they made a mini documentary about the dreaded “Dutch puck disease” destroying Canada’s hockey-puck producing trees.

A narrator warned that this posed a dire threat to Canada’s favorite sport. Cameras showed scenes of devastation: shriveled and deformed hockey pucks hanging from the branches of wasted-looking trees. They even persuaded hockey great, Bobby Orr, to give an interview about the scourge. He almost managed a straight face as he said, “This is terrible! I can’t score goals if there are no pucks.”

They filmed a few man-on-the-street interviews, including one of an incredulous young lady exclaiming, “They do?! Hockey pucks grow on trees?”

From Spring to Bottle:
Big companies process for profit.

Apparently conservationists are trying to stop the Swiss company, Nestlé, from draining some California streams to bottle water. Protesters claim the giant Swiss corporation is actually drying up creeks by taking so much water out and making huge profits selling it back as bottled water.

There’s likely reason for concern, but one needs to exercise care to get the whole picture, not just the attention-grabbing headline. A person could make the same case against farmers irrigating crops. All summer long, “big corporate farms” draw water from the underground supply, pay next-to-nothing for it, irrigate their crops, sell their produce “pre-packaged” to consumers in the form of veggies, and pocket the profits. All the while, you could argue, depleting the nation’s underground water supply. Nestlé is accused of taking water from the streams, paying nothing for it, bottling and selling it as “safe pure water,” and pocketing the profits. The question is being asked: “Is this a crime, or is it business?”

As with Dutch Puck Disease, headlines, news stories, and especially documentaries can be manipulated to sound sensationally dire and point fingers. And people can be gullible: “If it’s on the news it must be true.” However, readers need to examine the facts carefully and ponder the validity of statements like the following:
“At its current pace, the world will run out of freshwater before oil,” Brabeck said. Apparently Brabeck is suggesting “privatization” as a possible answer.

Private companies — or the government? What blessings or woes would privatization bring? Communism was supposed to be wonderful, too.

People here in North America are very concerned about the environment and it’s so easy to raise a scare story. But let’s consider the logistics behind our water supply (the sky) and the possibility of drying up springs, streams and rivers.

We can’t squeeze more prehistoric animals to produce more oil, but water’s a different kettle of fish. I’m thinking the world will “run out” of fresh water when the clouds stop dumping it on us.

You can syphon off water at its source so the folks downstream get almost none. You can dam a flowing water source and even change its course so one area gets a stream and another area gets none. But mankind has not yet been able to dry up the clouds.

From Gush to Flush: The Life Cycle of Water

Every day the sun draws zillions of tons of water vapor from the ocean, lakes, rivers, etc. If we could shut off the sun we could prevent all this water vapor loss. But…

By some miraculous process, this vapor gathers into clouds that drift across the earth’s surface and, at a given signal, pour their contents wherever they happen to be. Drizzle, rain, hail, spit or snow it down on us. Topography, like mountain ranges, and a cooler land mass (as in hurricanes) influence where the clouds will empty out. However, in the past human attempts to redirect rainfall to dry areas (cloud seeding) have often met with grief.

A free gift from heaven, precipitation falls where it wills. It fills mountain streams, rivers, lakes, soaks into the land, replenishes underground springs. Water is absorbed by tree roots and drawn up into leaves that give off water vapor. Farmers draw from underground aquifers to irrigate their land. Cities draw water from said sources and people use it.

We water our gardens and lawns and the water is drawn up through plant roots and later evaporated by the wind. Thus it finds its way back into the cycle. As we hoe the garden or mow the lawn we sweat, and the breeze dries us off, whisking the moisture into the atmosphere to rejoin some cloud somewhere. Just think where all your sweat may travel.

People drink the water, replenish their cells, and urinate the excess. Our bodies are an amazing filtration system. Whether bottled water, tap water, or beverage, we drink it, filter it, and flush it. Really, we should should all do our part and drink lots so we can put more water back into the recycling system. 🙂

Conserve Water: Don’t Bathe

Just think. Every morning all across the continent people use zillions of tons of water to shower and bathe. My washing machine is chugging away as I write this. If we’d stop all this bathing and laundry we’d waste so much less water.

Thankfully, water is never used up. Household water runs down the drain, into the city’s waste disposal system, and — hopefully filtered — back into the rivers and reservoirs. Directly or indirectly it finds its way back into the ocean to begin another cycle of evaporation and precipitation.

We need to treat all natural systems with care, including our water sources, but conservationists shouldn’t resort to fear tactics. Big corporations may well be greedy; it kind-of goes with the territory. Bottling companies make a mega-buck profit selling their goods, and some may be diverting some streams, but they don’t actually destroy the water.

The company can’t keep taking water that isn’t there. If there’s no water in said streams, it’s more likely because there hasn’t been sufficient rainfall in that area to replenish them. At this time the folks in southern Quebec would gladly share theirs, but alas! We’ve not yet found a way to redirect clouds.

In my understanding, the system of evaporation and precipitation was in place when man arrived and will continue to replenish the springs, streams, lakes, and rivers until the end of time. We can dam it, redirect it, and pollute the “container,” but we can’t use it up.

Hockey pucks don’t grow on trees, either. The game goes on.

Party’s Over

I often get inspired to write a haiku for the Troutswirl weekly feature, What’s at Hand, but I seldom get my verse ready and sent off by Saturday afternoon. So I’ll just share my ideas here.

beach party over
empty bottles settle
into the sand

beer cans
in the cave – signs of
intelligent life

Don’t you just hate garbage left lying around?
Bottle + gull