Monday, August 24, 2015

Whither UT and ORNL?

Here's my (and others) NPR  opinion on what we ought to be doing more of at UT and ORNL.

As the Instapundit would say: Read (or in this case, Read and Listen to) The Whole Thing. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Meadow of Flowers

Nanga Parbat: Rupal Face
Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, we voyaged to Kashmir, to Gulmarg; the Meadow of Flowers. As we climbed the slopes of Mount Apharwat,   the mighty Rupal Face of  Nanga Parbat hove into view - the highest mountain face on Earth, rising  15,000 feet above its base. I remember ridge upon brown ridge, on top of each other, like ascending brush strokes,  culminating in that  crystal peak that Hermann Buhl first summited in 1953, solo, without oxygen, in an insane 40-hour effort,  spending the whole night 'asleep' standing on a narrow ledge, the vast abyss a couple of inches away.  Then later, in 1970, when the greatest, Reinhold Messner, finally conquered the Rupal itself, did he abandon his brother to die on the descent? What motivates the human spirit to these extremes? And, after our voyage, the paradise that is Kashmir slowly sank into chaotic, benighted conflict....

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Desecration of the Isles

Bald Eaglets on Saltspring Island, July 2015

The Gulf Islands, in British Columbia, lying off the Eastern coast of Vancouver Island, are of outstanding natural beauty and ecological importance. Eagles soar above Arbutus and Cedar, and Orca whales fish in the Southern areas.

In 2010 National Geographic Traveler gave these islands top rating for destination stewardship, citing a "Wonderful mix of breathtaking scenery, functioning local communities, and a close-to-the-ground tourism experience.” I'm surprised. What I witnessed in my latest visit there was negligence and decay. 

The islanders are  laid back, smiling  and very pleasant. They think they are protecting the environment, but their demeanors change when you start to suggest they clean up their individual acts a little.  Clear cutting seems to be the norm here - you buy a piece of pristine property (prices seem to have gone down recently), get rid of as many trees as you like to create a waterscape view, sell the wood, then erect or half-erect  anything you like: trailers, piles of refuse, unfinished "building projects".  

Rusting hulks fill the island harbors. 

The rest of BC hardly helps them. Logging masters BC. Pulp mills pollute the air. Anchored tankers grace the sounds. Overfishing depletes Chinook salmon (the Orca staple). 

Canada has become environmentally unconscious, it seems. 
Sad, for such a breathtaking land.