Fires on the Ground, Confusion in the Soul

Regular readers of my blog or social media feeds will know that I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m proud of the city where I live. It just breaks my heart to see my city threatened once again by Mother Nature.

We have had our fair share of natural disasters, mostly in the form of earthquakes (something that I have written about on numerous occasions), but Christchurch is definitely not immune to the ravages of weather.

Flooding from March 2014 meant that many had be to rescued by boat. (Photo: Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ)

There was the flooding back in March 2014 were St Albans (the suburb literally on the other side of the main road from me) was evacuated because the water was waist high. My neighbour had flooding in her garage that was ankle deep. Meanwhile, I was nice and dry on my little low-level island.

We’ve had storms with extremely high winds, taking down trees that have stood for nearly 100 years, if not longer, and almost taking out my neighbour’s car as a branch fell across the road right in front of her. There’s been snow that has forced the city to shut for business for the day (and Christchurch doesn’t get snow).

However, in the 17 years that I have lived in Christchurch, I think this is the first time that my home city has come under threat because of a bush fire.
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Science and Government

Okay… It’s a little bit of a deviation from the normal type of post that I do, but I couldn’t remain silent.

Recently, my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with people objecting to political involvement in science. I was in the dark as to what was really going on. I had posted on my Facebook page the following message:

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are currently blowing up about something the Trump has done with regards to #science, and I have no idea what has happened. The feeds are suggesting tighter regulations for scientific research, cutting funding to particular areas, but I can’t seem to find details or facts — just a lot of hot-headed remarks about science being real. Can someone help a girl out and point me to the real facts of the latest frenzy?

It took a significant amount of research of my own, but I was able to work out what were the root causes for concern. At the end of January (when I first wrote this post), Trump had yet to appoint key science-related positions and there were rumors that he was looking at appointing non-scientists (people that have publicly shot down science as a hoax) into some of these roles. The most noted was Trump’s nomination of former Texas governor Rick Perry as the head of the Department of Energy, a post that has been held by respected physicists.

There were gag orders in place within several US governmental scientific departments, with people wondering if these were just orders for the transition or whether they would become permanent policy, muzzling scientist who just happen to work for the US government.

The Environmental Protection Agency was one such agency under gag order, with scientific findings requiring political review before they are released to the public.

The heads of many scientific organisations were being stonewalled, unable to get any answers out of the current administration as to what was happening. I will grant Trump has been in office for less than a month, but surely in this technological era, one would think that any government would want its scientists on its side.
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Global Warming — Fake Science or Real?

The latest episode of Conversations in Science has now aired on KLRNRadio. It was a requested topic and given the current escalation of the news about climate change and global warming, I can understand why.

Is all this hoopla about global warming really fake science (alternative facts) or is it real and something we should be worried about? Simple answer: it's all real, but the issues and solutions are far from simple.

 


Climate Change: Is it Real or Fake Science?
(First aired on KLRNRadio, Monday, February 6, 2017)

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2017: One month down. Only Eleven to go.

Here we are, February 1st, 2017 — one month in to 2017 and already it’s shaping up to be a mixed bag, teetering on the fence.

Let’s see… As many of my readers know, I started 2017 with not one but two computers that decided to become vary ill. However, there was light at the end of that tunnel that was more than just fantastic. The motherboards on both computers were replaced, but the true deliverance came in the form of a technological angel who gifted me a second-hand laptop to replace the pathetic Netbook with 1Gb of RAM that I had been using while waiting for machines to be repaired. Because of this amazing gift, I can now write when out and about, sitting at some coffee shop somewhere, and get some amazing editing work done. (I don’t need to print everything out if I don’t want to. Save the trees!) As per my angel’s request, she will continue to go nameless, but she knows how much I love her.

On the down side, during this first month of 2017, I fell ill — very ill. I was coughing up a lung every single time I turned around — I could barely breathe because of it — and I had lost my voice. As I write this post, I still have very little volume in my voice — still croaky and squeaky, and the family is constantly teasing me. Thankfully, I’m on the mend now, but three weeks of coughing and lack of sleep was just down right miserable. It did absolutely nothing for my complexion either.
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