Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Condition: (Hypo) Critical

I've had this post in mind since January, but hadn't the time to get to it. It is in a slightly different vein than most posts: it is meant as a revealing look at Fairbanks people-scapes, as opposed to the awesome landscapes which I have posted on before. Well, people are a major part of our lives, arguably playing a role even more influential than the natural beauty that surrounds us, so here goes:

On a January day in 2010, while reading the local paper, two articles stood out to me, both front page news, occupying space side-by-side. I am including the links to both articles, but for those of you wanting to read the abridged version, here is the summary:

Article One:
"Fairbanks air quality remains unhealthy
An averaged pollution reading for the borough was 97.8 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air as of 4 p.m. on Monday, according to the borough Air Quality Index. Anything more than 35.5 micrograms of particulate matter is above the level deemed acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "


(Note: this happens in Fairbanks annually when, during extremely low winter temperatures, there is a temperature inversion forcing a mass of cold air to sit on top of warmer air close to the ground and forces the pollution from cars, chimneys etc. to settle low)

Article Two:
"Frozen Gore’ sculpture returns in Fairbanks to fuel climate change debate
(...)The two-ton “Frozen Gore” sculpture isn’t exactly a tribute. It’s a tongue-in-cheek critique of Gore’s vocal belief in man-made climate change, complete with hot air pouring out of his mouth.
(...) Local businessmen Craig Compeau and Rudy Gavora contracted the piece from award-winning sculptor Steve Dean (...) This year’s version includes special effects, thanks to a system that pipes the exhaust from a Ford F-350 out of Gore’s open mouth. Compeau will fire up the truck periodically this winter to create the “hot air” effect. "

Can you believe it? So air pollution is so bad that the elderly and sick are urged to stay indoors, and we're asked to avoid burning wood and coal if we have alternate means to heat our homes. On the same day, Compeau and Gavora unnecessarily run their Ford F-350 throughout the day to create special effects for their dumb statue. And do so proudly.

But how can they get away with it? Well, perhaps some of the reader comments posted in response to the air quality article provide explanation (note the spelling :)

The air seemed fine to me. I've been breathing all morning.

Tell a lie often enough and even you will belive it. (...) Our elected officals should be screeming bloody murder about this latest EPA suptidity, but no they are all looking for where they can a job when their terms are up.

A few weeks ago the FNM printed interviews of half a dozen citizens asked what they thought of the air quality. It was not surprising that none expressed an opinion that it was ruining their health

This is just a small sample of local ignorance. I didn't even include the comment that pointed out how radon was also "supposed to be" dangerous, but it hasn't killed the poster so far. Stop the press! Radon toxicity is just a government conspiracy!

17 comments, and all of them in favor of bad air. I guess scientific facts are irrelevant for some.  So long as they believe hard enough in whatever narrative, it can be truth.  Everything is a matter of a belief system.  Radon is harmless and particulate air pollution is not real.  This way one can live their whole life in blissful ignorance of facts, AND lecture others who live in reality.  Talk about getting caught up in fighting for (against?) one problem, while contributing to another.  And so it came to pass that Compeau and Gavora, in a misguided, emotional and reactionary attempt to discredit the scientific fact of global warming (because they don't believe in it), proudly soiled the communal bathwater. 



Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Green to Bare, From 60 to 30: Fall in Fairbanks

Oh, no, don't you blink, or you might miss it! "What?", you ask? Autumn in Fairbanks, of course! It lasts precisely 4 weeks sometime between the end of August and the end of September.

So the story goes like this: sometime during the last week of August you notice that birch leaves are starting to turn yellow. The next day you wake up and realize that many more have done just that, and a few even have given up and fallen to the ground. Two weeks later you realize the birch trees are half bare, and your yard is blanketed with what was shed. Two weeks after that, the birch tree in front of your house looks positively winter-ready. Also, you go from temperatures in the mid-sixties (18 C for you Europeans) one week to mid-thirties and below the next ( 2C).

Kids went from shorts to coats and hats / gloves virtually overnight. Winter is here. The slide show above chronicles this process via the annual death of our birch tree at the end of the driveway. The first photo was taken on August 28 (very few yellow leaves) and the last on September 25 (bare branches).

And now the harvest moon can no longer hide behind the veil of foliage. Brrr...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Comments Fixed

My dear, loyal followers (the both of you :)

The Post Comment link has been fixed. So comment away, but be nice... I have mad computer skills and will totally track you down.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Those elusive, yet flamboyant Northern Lights

A couple of nights ago J and I had the privilege of watching a superb celestial dance show put on by the northern lights directly overhead. The display filled the sky clear across our town, and was so vivid.... we haven't seen them like this for a couple of years. Admittedly, I am no photographer, and my gear is appropriately amateurish.

I took this picture -not impressive by any means and easily outdone by a few Google image searches. However, this image is mine and so is the experience which makes it, for me, better than perfect. I saw the lights, I felt the crisp autumn breeze mixed with these northern colors caress my skin, and J and I held each other under the weaving sky. Life is good.


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