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  • feedwordpress 08:01:31 on 2018/06/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , Dust Bowl, energy efficiency, , , Rosenfeld, ,   

    “I will show you fear in a handful of dust”*… 

     

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    More than 40 percent of the global population, more than 2 billion people, have a dust problem. Not “dust” meaning the grey puffs under the couch, but the dust of the Dust Bowl: microscopic soil particles, less than 0.05 millimeters across, so small that they get hoisted up into the wind and end up in people’s lungs.

    We know that large amounts of dust are linked to premature death. However, climate change is expected to make the problem much worse in the next century, and scientists still don’t know how much. In the next century, the lethal range of dust is expected to proliferate. Between now and 2050, the many as 4 billion people, half the world’s population, are expected to live in drylands. It’s not because people are migrating there. Drylands are growing because of (you guessed it) climate change

    Dust is known to cause premature deaths, but climate change’s effect on how bad our dust problems will get remains notoriously understudied: “A global Dust Bowl is coming.”

    * T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

    ###

    As we do our best to go green, we might send grateful birthday greetings to Arthur Hinton “Art” Rosenfeld; he was born on this date in 1926.  A physicist at U.C Berkeley, he was moved by the oil embargo of 1973 to turn his attention to energy conservation, founding and leading the Center for Building Science at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Over the next 37 years he developed new standards which helped improve energy efficiency in California and subsequently worldwide.  His work helped lead to such breakthroughs as low-energy electric lights, such as compact fluorescent lamps, low-energy refrigerators, and windows that trap heat.  In his fight against global warming, he saved Americans billions of dollars in electricity bills– and earned the nickname, “godfather of energy efficiency.”

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    Rosenfeld receiving the 2011 Medal for Technology and Innovation from President Obama

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2016/03/06 Permalink
    Tags: Ash Wednesday Storm, , Dust Bowl, Great March Storm, hautepop, , , ,   

    “We are but dust and shadow”*… 

     

    On the 14th day of April of 1935,
    There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky.
    You could see that dust storm comin’, the cloud looked deathlike black,
    And through our mighty nation, it left a dreadful track.
    From Oklahoma City to the Arizona line,
    Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande,
    It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
    We thought it was our judgement, we thought it was our doom.
    — Woodie Guthrie, ‘Great Dust Storm’

    March had seen ‘dusters’ every day for thirty days straight; in Dodge City, Kansas, there’d been only thirteen dust-free days so far that year.

    Yet on that second Sunday in April, the morning dawned bright, sunny and clear. In the farms of the Oklahoma Panhandle, families opened up their front doors and breathed in deep. It was Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, and people hoped God was in a forgiving mood.

    They opened up their homes, and started to clean. Wet sheets and blankets and gunnysacks put up to catch the dust could be taken down; the tape and flour-paste strips sealing up windows and doors peeled off, and windows thrown open wide. Dust got swept and scooped out of the home by the bucket-load; roofs were shovelled before they collapsed under the weight of it; bedlinen and towels and clothing washed, and hung up in the sun to dry. People went to church – the Methodist Church in Guymon, Oklahoma held a ‘rain service’, the congregation praying for divine intervention to bring much-needed moisture. In Boise City they resumed plans for a rabbit drive, delayed a month by the dust storms. Elsewhere, families walked out to inspect their farms, the outhouses buried, the ceilings fallen in, new dunes nine and ten feet high, piled up against the fences.

    It was the best day of the year so far, temperatures in the 80s – shirtsleeve weather. In Springfield, Colorado, Ike Osteen cleared out his Model-A Ford, filed down the burnt spots on the distributor, got the engine to fire, and drove out to pick up his friends Tex and Pearl Glover.

    That same morning the sky turned purple and the winds rose, eight hundred miles to the north near Bismark, North Dakota. The temperature dropped 30 degrees as the winds picked up and blew south and south-southwest, forty miles per hour then sixty five miles per hour over South Dakota, Nebraska, and into Kansas, picking up the dry, dry dirt from the exhausted land into a roiling mass of darkness 2,000 feet high. At 2.30pm, Dodge City blacked out, the air too choked with earth for car headlights to let you even see your hand in front of your face.

    The stormfront rolled on southward, picking up more dust and dirt and power as it went…

    More at “Black Sunday,” an entry at Disturbances, a fascinating newsletter by Jay Owens (@hautepop) devoted entirely to dust.

    For even more, watch Ken Burn’s The Dust Bowl, and/or read the accompanying book.

    * Horace

    ###

    As we cover our faces, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that “The Ash Wednesday Storm” hit the the east coast of the U.S.  Also known as the Great March Storm of 1962, it was one of the most destructive storms ever to affect the mid-Atlantic states– one of the ten worst storms in the United States in the 20th century.  It lingered through five high tides over a three-day period, killing 40 people, injuring over 1,000, and causing hundreds of millions in property damage in six states, from North Carolina to Maine, and deposited significant snowfall over the Southeast.

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo of damage at Virginia Beach, Virginia

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:45 on 2014/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , Dust Bowl, , food security, migrant workers, , ,   

    “The future of the nations will depend on the manner of how they feed themselves”*… 

     

     click here (and again) for larger (and legible) version

    This map, compiled and published by meat-packing company Armour in 1922, illustrates the extraordinary range of agricultural activities in America at the time.  The broad message of the map is that America’s strength as a nation was substantially based on its strength as an agricultural power.  The huge expanse of American land and the vast number of climates across the country allowed the U.S. to grow a more diverse set of crops and raise more kinds of animals than other nations.  As Armour concludes, “the United States [was] the most self-sustaining nation in the world”…  but lots has changed in the near-century since then.

    How nations feed themselves has gotten a lot more complicated. That’s particularly true in the US, where food insecurity coexists with an obesity crisis, where fast food is everywhere and farmer’s markets are spreading, where foodies have never had more power and McDonald’s has never had more locations, and where the possibility of a barbecue-based civil war is always near…

    From Vox40 maps, charts, and graphs that show where our food comes from and how we eat it, with some drinking thrown in for good measure.

    * French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1826

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    As we pick a peck, we might send tuneful birthday wishes to Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie; he was born on this date in 1912.  Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned their traditional folk and blues songs. Many of his own songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era of the Great Depression– and earned him the nickname, “Dust Bowl Troubadour.”

    ‘This Land is Your Land (in D)’By Woody Guthrie

    CHORUS: This land is your land, this land is my land
    From California to the New York island
    From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
    This land was made for you and me

    CANADIAN CHORUS:

    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From Bonavista to Vancouver Island
    From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lake Waters
    This land was made for you and me

    SANIBEL CHORUS:

    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From California to Sanibel Island
    From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
    This land was made for you and me

    As I was walking that ribbon of highway
    I saw above me that endless skyway
    I saw below me that golden valley
    This land was made for you and me

    I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
    O’er the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
    While all around me, a voice was saying
    This land was made for you and me

    When the sun came shining and I was strolling
    And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
    As the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting
    This land was made for you and me

    As I went walking, I saw a sign there
    On the sign it said NO TRESPASSING
    But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
    That side was made for you and me!

    In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
    In the relief office, I seen my people;
    As they stood there hungry I stood there asking,
    Is this land made for you and me?

    Nobody living can ever stop me
    As I go walking that freedom highway
    Nobody living can make me turn back
    This land was made for you and me

     source

     
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