Friday, August 22, 2003

Mars and misfortune

I have met with some unexpected tragedies this past week as car accidents either injured or claimed the lives of beloved relatives. My father told me the news on both counts. He said how grateful we should be for each day, as life is so precious, but it only reminded me more of our mortality.

I think of all that's happened this summer, all the contradictions of a resurrected community garden and my niece's first months on this Earth, contrasted by the ruin and rape of the cradle of civilization, the forests of British Columbia going up in flames, thousands expiring of heat in France, news of coral reefs, ancient and vast, disappearing within our generation, and our personal tragedies and near death experiences of friends and family. Even David Kelly's suicide, the esteemed UK weapons expert, has been shocking, personalizing the high drama of this spring with his final walk in the woods.

It all seems too much, and the fact that Mars, the red planet and god of war, will be at its closest in 60,000 years strikes me as not too surprising. I can already see how bright it is, a steady red dot shining in the firmament, made especially clear by the recent blackout. To think it hasn't been closer to Earth in all the history of homo sapiens sapiens is quite remarkable.

Here's the details:

At 5:51 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be within 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) of Earth. This will be the closest that Mars has come to our planet in nearly 60,000 years.

But no matter how terrible life gets, I see that life goes on. Recently, scientists discovered microbes that can survive temperatures of up to 121 degrees at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. This has led to renewed speculation that life could have flourished elsewhere such as on Mars. The incredible growth in our garden, with plants sprawling in all directions groping for sun and rain further reminds me of life's resilience and yearning. To see all life striving to live and unfold its biological potential dispells much of the gloom and does much to create a feeling of connection to all living things -- past, present, and future. I draw some solace from this even as our world dies a little more each day, and our loved ones slip from our grasp one by one until our own turn comes to rejoin the cosmos.

Looking at things this way helps, but our human memories quite rightfully remain. And then there are gems like this obit of an amazing woman.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

BBC covers Venezuela's urban gardens

In this report, only the BBC can debunk the hysterical accusations of the Venezuelan oligarchy with such understatement. Although a bit decontextualized, it does cover an important initiative by the Chavez government to increase self-reliance on the part of the poor, and how urban gardening is an integral part of that. Cool!

Here's also a link to an older Reuters article available at Environmental News Network.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Sacha Trudeau in Iraq

Quite unlike that other son of a former prime minister Ben Mulroney, Sacha Trudeau demonstrates a worldliness and humanism through film as he prepares to hop from Iraq to Liberia. Heck, maybe he'd make a great prime minister, as the following article is quite moving: A witness to war.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

With Eyes Wide Shut

With Europe broiling with record setting temperatures, and August in Toronto resembling Southeast Asian monsoon weather, the signs of dramatic climate change are spreading. However, humanity seems unable to respond rationally as Monbiot explains in his recent commentary in the Guardian.

Monday, August 11, 2003

The rising of Venezuela

Finally, an article that reflects the amazing things going on in the poor barrios of Venezuela. It seems actually possible that this civic awakening will reach the point of no return. If so, things will never be the same in Venezuela, and the Bolivarian Revolution can only grow stronger and spread throughout the lands of Bolivar and beyond!

Read here: Venezuela's slum army takes over

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Environment History Repeats?

Paul Krugman, the liberal columnist for the New York Times makes a timely visit to the environmental history of Sumerian civilization, present day Iraq, to raise concerns over Bush's environmental policies. That denial and deception are at the core of these abusive policies are self-evident, however past history tells us the consequences could be deadly.

Read the article here: Paul Krugman: Salt of the Earth.