Greetings, readers! I hope this week’s article brings a bit less brain and a little more heart.

I hope I don’t appear as though I don’t care about the Monument fire and River Complex by writing this science column in a somewhat “ostrich with her head in the sand” manner. I care very much about the current events unfolding in these mountains. It’s all I think about, why I decided to speak up and write in the first place. My heart breaks for all those displaced, who have lost homes and are surviving the chaos of destruction and evacuation as best they can.

There is little more I can say beyond what has been written in the feature fire articles and the informative pieces offered by longstanding TC columnists. All I can add is that I am so sorry this is our shared reality and that there has been so much suffering. I’m inspired to see the way helpers spring forth from this community to care for their own. The fires of this season will not burn for eternity. The firefighters and residents of this county will do everything they can to see that these fires go cold. I hope this short article is a brief reprieve from pain.

Today we’ll review and recollect. We know Earth is a round planet, spinning on its axis, orbiting the sun. This means that sunlight reaches Earth’s surface at different angles: the equator receives direct sunlight over a smaller, more concentrated area, and the latitudes and poles receive light at lower angles that are less direct and allow the beams to spread over a larger geographic area. Here’s a helpful refresher: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_Sun_angle_on_climate. We have climate zones (tropical rainforests, mid-latitude deserts and grasslands, arctic tundra, polar ice caps) because of these variations in solar energy striking Earth’s surface.

We also know that materials can move from place to place (sphere to sphere) through chemical reactions or phase changes. Just as water moves between the sky and water bodies (atmosphere and hydrosphere), carbon moves between the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere by taking the form of CO2, methane, hydrocarbons, and carbonate rocks (limestone and marble). A tree or brick of coal becomes atmospheric CO2 through the chemical reaction of combustion, and CO2 becomes biomass (trees, calcium carbonate planktonic shells) via photosynthesis. In summary, energy and materials are constantly flowing from place to place around the planet in perpetuity, and at varying rates (days to hundreds of millions of years).

We also know Earth is a complex system with time lags (processes don’t happen instantaneously), non-linear (mostly exponential) relationships, and built-in feedback loops that can either amplify (increase) a change in the system, or dampen (decrease) a change in the system. We know from direct observation and from ancient climate records that Earth doesn’t usually react in a predictable, linear way. There are numerous examples of a forcing (a change in the system) going undetected for a good long while (the flat part of the exponential curve), but then suddenly manifesting in a rapid, lightning-fast flip into a new equilibrium (the steep, rocket-ship trajectory part of the exponential curve).

I grew up in New Hampshire. Before I was born, acid rain was falling from the sky and filling the lakes. Rather than having the fish die off in a gradual manner, with the death count increasing year after year, they survived for years with no apparent change in their population. Then, in the course of one summer, there was a massive fish die-off in the lakes that happened all at once, seemingly without warning. Once the waters were tested, scientists understood that the fish had been chronically poisoned, and then were pushed past the threshold of survival when the water became too acidic for sustained life and procreation.

We live on a miraculous, one-of-a-kind planet that is awesome and fearful in its complexity and interconnectedness. As John Muir once wrote, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” If we can better understand these nuances and intricate relationships, we can better care for and nurture this spectacular Earth. Agapé.

(5) comments

Trinity Bob

Thank you for showing us your heart, Megan, and for the clear explanation of how things can change so rapidly once they reach a tipping point. Everything in nature is interrelated. It seems that we humans, at least over the last several centuries, are the organisms that don’t fit in.

What would we do without nature? We wouldn’t be able to exist.

What would nature do without us? It’d be just fine.

Other than the role of appreciating the beauty of nature, humans are not essential to the web of life.

We could, however, get ourselves on a path to heal the damage we’ve done and live in harmony with nature and with each other. But time is running out. Our misdeeds are catching up with us.

Truth First

Excuse me for interrupting this Woke Wanka-thon/love feast/echo chamber, but I'm afraid adults have to enter the room now...

And nothing against this columnist, mind you; I'm sure she's a very nice person and all. But one can't help but wonder the need for such an article month after month, especially now that we have a panoply of much more pressing issues confronting us (if you'll pardon the understatement). Suddenly “climate” isn't such a big deal, sufficient to warrant regular articles alarming...uh, I mean alerting, us to the problem.

Instead, is it remotely possible we might start seeing newspaper columns dedicated to the weekly dissection of, say...I don't know, maybe some of the issues that we face every single day that have a bit more resonance to our daily lives. Tangible stuff, you know. Things that are actually within our grasp, in the here and now. Not that the environment isn't important and all, but there really are some topics out there that are somewhat more vital to we Americans' lives. No really, it's true.

For once, I'd like to see a “Crumbling Infrastructure Corner”, a “Dying Middle Class Corner”, or a “Too Dam Much Crime Corner”. Better yet, a “Why are things so g.d. expensive right now? Corner” might just fit the bill. Heck, I'd settle for a “Critical Race Theory Is Just Another Commie Hoax Corner”, just to see all the dumb people squirm.

All this hyper-analysis of pseudo-scientific climate gobbledygook—that, let's face it, we really don't know how, when or even if it'll ever play out some day—seems to me to be like discussing religion: Lots of theorizing, speculating, lecturing and—to be honest—more than a little wishful thinking. There's a time and place for that, but I kind of doubt the weekly paper is it. Maybe a special supplement once or twice a year—like those local real estate inserts that nobody reads.

Yes, I know. “It's an existential crisis”, or some shnitt. Fine. But keep in mind that many of the same people who've been tooting that horn ad nauseam for years and years are some of the same folks who've been lying to us, repeatedly and shamelessly, about the virus and vaccines over the last several months. (BTW, Nobody died from Ivermectin!) Think about it.

This just in: Coming soon to a newspaper near you, the “Wake Up: China Is Really What's Killing Us All Corner!” Now there's a read! Can't wait.

Megan Killeen

How delightful! You've no idea the can of worms you've opened. It's clear you are full of rage and don't have a sufficient outlet for it, so you have to call me "dumb" and a "child" (which is insulting to children, by the way), and you have to refer to the science that YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND as "gobbledygook". If you don't understand, TF, that is a YOU problem, and not a problem for anyone else.

Please tell me, is this how adults write? Is this how adults speak? Bullying, abusive adults, perhaps. I hope I never become an adult like you, pissing and moaning in public because you are unable or unwilling to be a helper and therefore must vent your frustration without making the circumstances better.

I have been talking specifically about Trinity County. I mentioned that we are going to have a warm dry winter and that we need to harvest rainwater for our domestic use. The fact that you conveniently omit all mentions of local affairs in my writing doesn't prove your point, it only proves that you hate everyone and everything and you think the best use of your time is to harass and stalk a young woman less than half your age.

Don't you have family members to hug and kiss? Don't you have a hobby you can immerse yourself into? Goodness, I hope I don't become bitter like you, but I'm so sorry for the pain and trauma that led you to be this way.

I will absolutely talk about our crumbling infrastructure, which is ill-suited to our changing climate and will contribute many human deaths as it fails. I will absolutely talk about Americans' addiction to buying cheap goods from China and how we partially footed the bill for China's extraordindarily rapid economic growth. My master's degree is in econometrics, so I will definitely, 100% explain why prices are so high and how our global supply chain is deeply interconnected and very responsive to small perturbations in the system.

You compare science to religion, but they are not the same. Religion cannot be proved or disproved as there is no tangible evidence. It is taken off faith, and regarding your irate comment on the "Religion is a Blight on Humanity" letter, you seem to favor religion. What I am writing about is provable. There is evidence written into the very water and air and sediments of the earth. Again, you failing to understand the difference is a YOU problem.

Your comment would be funny for how hypocritical it is, how many names and insults you threw out in an attempt to seem emotionally mature, but you are so earnest in your hatred, that I know your mind will not budge.

"It isn't true that facts never change minds. They just don't change minds that are already made up. If you see your ideas as identities to defend, you twist and resist data to rationalize your views. If you treat ideas as a hunch to test, you embrace data to update your views." Adam Grant.

If you want to twist your mind up, that's your freedom to do so. But I'll warn you: I was on the debate team, I'm highly energized, and I will gladly have a face-to-face discussion with you. I don't have the luxury of imagining my life 30 years from now, I only have today. That means I don't have time for fear. I will roar as loudly as I can with my voice because what we do and say today affects the future all coming generations will inherit. I'm going mother bear on everyone who lies repeatedly, lies through omission, and especially on people who insult and harass because their ideas don't stand up to the weight of reality.

Trinity Bob

Dear TF,

You are right. This IS a love feast. It’s a love feast of those of us who want to know the REAL truth first. Those of us who, when we encounter better information, change our minds. (For example, did the final report by the Maricopa County “audit” that confirmed Joe Biden’s margin of victory was even larger change your mind, or do you still think Trump won? If so, wow.)

You’ve got some great ideas for a new column. Perhaps you could follow Megan’s example and write one yourself. Here’s what she did: She wrote a letter to the editor, which garnered multiple comments and generated much interest, then she volunteered to write Megan’s Climate Corner, received numerous requests to the publisher to initiate that column, writes it every two weeks, and informs those of us who want to know more about how we affect the climate and how the changing climate in turn affects us. Good stuff.

I don’t wish to dismiss your column ideas, but let’s put things into perspective, shall we? Crumbling Infrastructure, Dying Middle Class, Too Much Crime, Things Are Too Expensive, and What Critical Race Theory Really Means, while interesting and important discussions, are all swept away as insignificant if we damage our planet so much that human life cannot exist. So, yes, the discussion of climate change really is existential.

It’s interesting as well that you’re not targeting the Sluice Box, the Fishing Report, or Hayfork Happenings. Do you view them as essential, but the Climate Corner is not? The paper’s purpose, it seems to me, is to report on the news around us as well as items of community interest. If you’re not interested in Megan’s Climate Corner, don’t read it. Perhaps you will find that happiness and joy will return to your life and you (and we) can enjoy your not complaining about every little thing that comes along that displeases you. Try it! Please!

Truth First

Any adult who reflexively cites their youth, and especially, their distaff qualities, as signs of their own fragility—effectively saying, “Back off; I'm delicate”—and then proceeds to lob catty remarks with abandon, seems to me to be someone emotionally ill-suited to serve as the (self)appointed sentinel of “existential” crises like the coming Climate Holocaust. Perhaps someone of a heartier constitution, who's not so thin-skinned and a bit less passive/aggressive as well, might be better equipped to tackle that burden. And then, to boast not only of a college degree but supremacy in debating skills—now there's a clear sign of insecurity. First victimhood, then muscle-flexing? She's at once a crybaby and a feminist. How incongruous! Or is it bipolar? In total, all of that makes for a potentially explosive combination of personality traits. Red flag!

“Harass and stalk”?? For calling her out with a single editorial? We have a high opinion of ourself, don't we? And yeah, she's used that “less than half your age” bit on this platform before, I've noticed; it seems to be a real hangup of hers—as if she knows anything about anyone else's vital statistics—or perhaps it's just another of the many obsessive personality defects shared by self-absorbed Millennials everywhere. Either way, it's unbecoming of a grown woman. She needs to have some dignity. Big girl pants, and all that.

Despite her propensity for psycho-analyzing someone she's never met, that college degree of hers, I notice, has nothing at all to do with psychology. If it did, this would be a clear case of “physician, heal thyself.”

As evidenced here, one need only read certain newspaper columns to understand the true value of higher education these days. As Bill Maher once said, college today is what high school used to be. Poignant.

When childless people tell you they're acting on behalf of “the children”...

She clearly needs to learn to take criticism, without flying off the handle. A long-winded copypasta diatribe might be therapeutic to her delicate ego, but it's no way to show her maturity. Take the hit. Suffer in silence. Keep your powder dry. These are some valuable life lessons she'll learn over time. Perhaps another fifteen or twenty years of life experience, then she'll be ready for a real debate, the precious little thing.

A great patriot once said, calling someone a “bully” or a “hater” only makes you look like a bigger p***y than you already are.

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