In case you didn't know, a tornado touched down in Oklahoma, killing at least 51 people (20 children among them). We can't control the weather, we can try to stop climate change before it gets worse, and we can definitely help build solidarity networks to respond to emergency situations. FEMA is too busy picking which trees to cut down in the San Francisco Bay area.
An excerpt from my novel, American Dream. The character Daniel remembers his mother:
“If he could go back in time to when Mother was a child and protect her invisibly throughout her life, he was sure that he would do it. He tried to compose a poem for her during the long ride back.
Let me be a tree.
Let me be the locust tree
her dear hands clasp as a child
where she looks up
as if I were her eternity
And give me a coat of ribbed tree bark
for her to carve her ABC’s.
Let me be a thousand locust blossoms
to perfume her walk in spring
but keep her from the poison seeds
that scatter where she plays.
Or let me be the maple tree
her strong hands tap in spring
and the flowing golden syrup in her glass
then shed the crimson leaves
to line her walk in autumn.
Yes, let me be a tree.
But let me not be hacked into logs
not planed smooth and drowned in stains
not cut by rough hands.
Or if it must be
then let me be the welcome table
laid lovingly with bread by her dear hands.
Let me not fall into disuse, be discarded or burned.
Or if it must be
then let me be the fine smooth boards
that line the coffin where she lays her head
as a final resting place.
Yes, let me be a tree.”
-J.J.Brown 2012, American Dream
Gasland Part II Documentary Premier
Crossposted from Science in Film April 21, 2013
The audience rose for a standing ovation after the sold-out Gasland Part II documentary. It was a world premier of the new movie on fracking held at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 21. This movie shows film and entertainment at its best, informing and enlightening the audience on an important, global political issue of our time.
Fracking became a dirty word after it contaminated water and land in Pennsylvania and Wyoming communities. Fracking is a type of gas drilling that uses hundreds of toxic chemicals injected into deep wells. The drilling breaks up shale rock and forces out subterranean shale gas. Gasland, the 2010 movie in the documentary film genre, followed the dirty trail of chemicals. They went from gas drilling to the waterways and then into water faucets in homes – that lit explosively on fire.
The film Gasland was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010. It blew up the volatile issue of fracking into a full scale environmental battle. Scientists, doctors, artists and grass roots community groups joined the cause all across the United States. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon started Artists Against Fracking to speak out with the arts. The movie inspired me to write a novel about fracking that came out in 2012, called Brindle 24, the last day in the life of a town.
Now filmmaker Josh Fox is back with Gasland Part 2. The second installment of Gasland documents a second kind of dirty trail, one that runs from gas drilling corporations’ money straight to our elected government officials’ chambers. Fox suggests that our democratic process itself is fracked. Decisions about fracking are contaminated by corporate interests at the expense of individual land owners and families’ health. In a wave of contamination as intense and pervasive as the one that followed fracking, citizens had a right to expect the government to help protect them. That hope remains unrealized. But the fight for access to clean water isn’t going to end anytime soon.
Science behind Fracking Fears
The science behind fracking is presented in Gasland 2 by scientist Tony Ingrafea of Cornell University. He shows how drilling for gas deep below the surface of the earth causes the gas to leak out along the drill bore. Methane gas then seeps out around the gas wells and contaminates water wells, streams, and even the aquifers so many communities rely on for fresh water. The methane gas that leaks out is toxic to people and animals, and accelerates global warming by contaminating the air. In addition, toxic chemicals used in the drilling process contaminate the air, land and water nearby the drill sites.
Further science facts shown in the film that concern everyone near a frack zone, are the increases in tremors andearthquakes. Fracking for gas uses injection of toxic chemicals at super-high pressures to force out the gas. These injections destabilize the bed rock beneath the land and are linked to increasing numbers of earthquakes. Remarkably, fracking is even going on in California near the natural fault lines where earthquakes are already a major threat.
Hope for the Future
After the film, director Josh Fox joined families and supporters on the stage – artist Yoko Ono, actress Deborah Winger, and many people who were impacted by chemical contamination from fracking near their homes. They took questions from the audience. Viewers asked, how can we all help in solidarity as fracking continues to expand around the globe? The message was clear – believe in your own power and participation in government. Raise your voice to hold the elected officials responsible for protecting our clean air and water.
If gas is too toxic to extract, renewable energy like solar, wind, and water can fuel the energy needs of the country. A new bright light in the energy debate is the analysis of renewables for the future just out from Mark Jacobson. He also was at the Gasland 2 premier, and he joined onstage. Stanford’s Mark Jacobson fielded questions about how to drive toward renewable energy over older, dirty technologies like fracking for shale gas. This ended on a hopeful positive note, and I look forward to more renewable energy and less fracking in our future.
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20 years after director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park broke all kinds of records, this April the new movie version is out in 3D and doing well. Dinosaurs have qualities irresistable to the human imagination; power, speed, and dominance – all perfect for the science fiction film genre.
Dinosaurs lived 230 million years ago, when all earth’s continents were still connected. The dinosaur reign was incredibly long and lasted 165 million years. Then they all suddenly went extinct 65 million years ago. They were lost forever. This mass extinction was long before our species, homo sapiens appeared on earth – part of why the Jurassic Park story of resurection from master storyteller Michael Crichton is so fascinating. The 3D movie is visually stunning and the sound is gut wrenching.
- Were they really that BIG?
- And that FAST?
- Would they eat US if they could?
Scientists know from real fossils that dinosaurs ranged from bird-sized all the way up to ginormous – 60 feet long and 36 feet tall. Based on fossil footprints, Tyrannosaurus could run almost 27 miles per hour, and I certainly cannot. While many of the dinosaurs were vegetarians enjoying pine, cycads, redwoods and ginkgo, this is not true of theTyrannosaurus. The meat eaters like Tyrannosaurus did eat other dinosaurs, and probably ate the earliest known mammals too, like tree shrews. If humans were around back then, it seems likely the dinosaurs would have eaten us, too.
What happened to this dominant and diverse group of animals is debatable. The following theories about the mass extinction may sound familiar: climate change, sea-level change, low reproduction rates, or a mysterious poison gas. My favorite possibility is that a comet struck earth, because that seems less likely in the coming years than climate change and floods do.
Although they are now extinct, something about the dinosaurs’ tragedy reminds us of ourselves. Extinctions are galloping at more than 10,000 species lost each year, yet we are hoping our species, homo sapiens, won’t be the next in line.
If we could bring back dinosaurs by cloning, would we want to? The Tasmanian Tiger is not the only animal in the sights of scientists who would side-step the thorny issue of mass extinctions by artificial cloning in the lab. Wooly mammoths and Neanderthals are potential targets of resurrection or de-extinction that are recently in the news. The Lazarus Project had success with cloning live cells, but not yet full individuals, from the frozen cells of a recently extinct frog species. This suggests feasibilty of the plan. Are dinosaurs next?
So far, scientists have cloned sheep, cattle, cat, deer, dog, horse, mule, ox, rabbit and rats not from extinct species but from living cells. The costs of this kind of cloning are high and the success rates are very low. What’s more, thousands of individuals are required in order for a species to succeed. And so for now, cloning of dinosaurs is likely to stay within the realm of fiction and awesome fantasies in film and entertainment, like Jurassic Park.
Share Your Reactions
What did you think of Jurassic Park?
Is the 3d version of the movie more impressive?
If scientists could clone dinosaurs, would you want us to?
You may also be interested in: Science in Film: Cloning our Future Now and
Article originally posted 4/15/2013 in the Science in Film Series at Film Annex.
the monster is me
under careful clothes
the monster is me
below moving muscles
the monster is me
hiding deeper than bare bone
and haunting caverns of cells
inside my experience
the monster thinks
inside my ideas
the monster travels
inside my stories
the monster exposes himself
and is daring me to dream
For: Monster Poetics at dVerse http://dversepoets.com/