Global Nation Organization

Securing the Future With Love, Hardwork and Integrity

It baffles me how people continue to live in a flood plain and then expect the government to pay to clean up after a flood. The solution to Midwest flooding is not better levies, is not a better FEMA, is not faster response, is not halting “global warming”, but to either stop living there or to get smarter about the way buildings are constructed.

First off, my condolences go out to the families who have lost a loved one or their property. I know this is a difficult time for you. I do not wish to seem like I am insensitive to your current plight. I know many of you have lived through floods before. I am sure it never gets easier. However, I prefer to see things from a futurist perspective. If you see a problem, fix it the right way.

With that said, if people choose to live in a flood plain, it should be their responsibility to construct their property to withstand floodwater damage. There are two alternatives; raise structures onto stilts or as create amphibious buildings that will float when the river plain rises.

This is not a new concept and I had written about it previously in my post on Innovating the Future with Amphibious Homes. I find the amphibious solution to be the most attractive because for most of the time the home is on the ground. A building on stilts would be too challenging for anyone with a physical disability. Even something as minor as arthritic hips or knees would make it difficult to walk up a flight of stairs.

I realize this will do nothing for the farms that are facing a total crop loss for this year. Looking down the road, my best recommendation is to ask them not to plant in a predicted flood year. They could have save their money and give their land a break every fifteen or so years. The timing for such an endeavor is trickier than it sounds, but right now it is the best I can come up with.

While the local, state and federal government gets busy with another clean up, perhaps someone in legislature will think to revise building codes to facilitate living in a flood plain. Either insist people conform to the smarter building codes or they should shoulder the responsibility for damages themselves. Remember, they call it a flood plain because it floods there! So make the choice now; move to higher ground or get smart about your structures ability to withstand whatever nature has in store for her.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to stock up on non-perishable food staples, like flour, corn, rice, and beans. Also, if you have any land stock up on seeds and whatever you would need for a vegetable garden. If this fungus does indeed spread across the globe, it could be disastrous for a few years to come.

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Wheat Crop Failures Could be Total, Experts Warn

On top of record-breaking rice prices and corn through the roof on ethanol
demand, wheat is now rusting in the fields across Africa.

Officials fear near total crop losses, and the fungus, known as Ug99, is
spreading.

Wheat prices have been soaring this week on top of already high prices, and
futures contracts spiked, too, on panic buying.

Experts fear the cost of bread could soon follow the path of rice, the price
of which has triggered riots in some countries and prompted countries to cut
off exports.

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors,
said the deadly fungus, Puccinia graminis, is now spreading through some
areas of the globe where “crop losses are expected to reach 100 percent.”

Losses in Africa are already at 70 percent of the crop, Kotok said.

“The economic losses expected from this fungus are now in the many billions
and growing. Worse, there is an intensifying fear of exacerbated food
shortages in poor and emerging countries of the world,” Kotok told investors
in a research note.

“The ramifications are serious. Food rioting continues to expand around the
world. We saw the most recent in Johannesburg.

“So far this unrest has been directed at rising prices. Actual shortages are
still to come.”

Last month, scientists met in the Middle East to determine measures to track
the progress of “Ug99,” which was first discovered in 1999 in Uganda.

The fungus has spread from its initial outbreak site in Africa to Asia,
including Iran and Pakistan. Spores of the fungus spread with the winds,
according science journal reports.

According to the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) of the United Nations,
approximately a quarter of the world’s global wheat harvest is currently
threatened by the fungus.

Meanwhile, global wheat stocks are at lows not seen in half a century,
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientists fear that the spores could spread on the wind and reach the U.S.
and Canada or Europe.

“It will take five to eight years to genetically engineer a resistance,”
said Kotok. “In the interim, U.S. agriculture faces higher risk.”

Kotok is worried that governments around the globe are reacting to the
crisis - which he believes is as big of a threat as bird flu -
inappropriately by artificially lowering the prices of domestic wheat, and
raising export taxes on wheat.

William Gamble, president of Emerging Market Strategies, tells MoneyNews
that artificial mechanisms put in place by governments could be as much to
blame for the crisis as anything.

“Twenty countries have put food in price controls or export restrictions,”
Gamble says.

“Others have restricted futures markets. It is the politicians who are
interfering in the markets to protect themselves, and that causes the
problem.”

Source: http://moneynews.newsmax.com/money/archives/st/2008/4/24/100454.cfm

Yesterday I wrote about whether human actions are in concordance with our survival. I am not sure if I was clear enough though. While I do not believe humans are impacting global climate change, I do believe we are impacting our ecology. A perfect example are the two oil spills this weekend; one in San Francisco and the other along the Black Sea.

The San Francisco spill is downright puny at 58,000 gallons compared with 560,000 spilled in the Black Sea. So far 30,000 birds and an uncountable number of fish have been killed from a Russian oil tanker splitting open in bad weather. In addition, several humans have been killed. The damage to the ecology in the Black Sea will be devasting. It will take decades to cleanup. This type of occurence is the best reason to stop using oil for fuel.

If you’ve read the first page of this website you will know one of our tenets is for humans to live in balance with our environment. This is an interesting task. You have to remember, people are as much a part of nature as all the other animals, minerals and vegetables. So for us to dominate and decimate our environment is nothing new…from a species point of view. It is a part of our survival strategy. However, with that said, because we are humans and because our only natural enemy is ourselves and to a greater extent - bacteria and virus’ - it behooves us to question if our impact on the rest of nature is in fact concordant with survival.  I am not a big believer in humans impacting global climate change. We are not that big of a threat when it comes to the big Kahuna in the sky, the Sun. The Sun has more influence on Earth than anything us lowly humans can think up. And the Earth itself packs quite a punch as well. Just think back to the tsunami from three years ago in the Indian Ocean. Earth has other surprises in store for us too. Such as super volcanoes and methane hydrates locked into the ocean floor that could bubble up into our atmosphere one day, as they have in the past. 

So getting back to the question: Are we only taking what we need from the Earth or are we pigging out on our resources? Unfortunately, there really is no way of knowing. All we can do is look at our current resources, contrast them with past levels and extrapolate. We know that commodities such as oil, gas, copper, helium are all finite and are quickly dwindling. We know that the seas are being emptied of fish in a relatively short period of time. We know people inhabit every single ecosystem on the planet. And with every new habitation we are like an invasive species, disrupting the ecological balance that was once there. But because we are only looking at the environment over a short span of time, one or two generations, we are not capable of accurately predicting our true impact. We have no way of knowing if this is in fact natural. And to be frank, it is. 

If our species does not survive, it will not be at the hands of man. It will be due to a force of nature itself. This does not mean we should be free to eat all the fish, chop down the forest, smelt all the copper, consume all the helium, burn all the coal, oil and gas, drink or pollute all the fresh water; it means we need to strike a balance. I say this because while these things are plentiful now, they will not be in a few thousand years. And I’d like to see humans live at least as, if not longer than the dinosaurs did, for several hundred million years. I’d like to see us evolve further and that will require us to live in concordance with our environment as we continue to drive the most powerful force in life — survival of the fittest. 

 

Survival of the Fittest Sculpture   

 

Aloha readers,

The following is an article sent to me a few weeks ago by Franz. I should have posted it when he first sent it, but better now than never.

In many countries, cement is crucial for growth but an enemy of green
By Elisabeth Rosenthal International Herald TribuneSunday, October 21, 2007

In booming economies from Asia to Eastern Europe, cement is the glue of progress. The material that binds the ingredients of concrete together, cement is essential for constructing buildings and laying roads in much of the world.

Some 80 percent of cement is made in and used by emerging economies; China alone makes and uses 45 percent of global output. Production is doubling every four years in places like Ukraine.

But making cement creates pollution, in the form of carbon dioxide emissions, and the greenest of technologies can reduce that by only 20 percent.

Cement plants already account for 5 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.

Compounding the problem, cement has no viable recycling potential, as the abandoned buildings that line roads from Tunisia to Mongolia demonstrate. Each new road, each new building, needs new cement.

“The big news about cement is that it is the single biggest material source of carbon emissions in the world, and the demand is going up,” said Julian Allwood, a professor of engineering at Cambridge University.

“If demand doubles and the best you can do is to reduce emissions by 30 percent, then emissions still rise very quickly.”

Worse yet, green incentives may be allowing the industry to pollute even more. The European Union subsidizes Western companies that buy outmoded cement plants in poor countries and refit them with green technology.

The emissions per ton of cement produced do go down. But the amount of cement produced often goes way up, as does the pollution generated.

Many of the world’s producers acknowledge the conundrum. “The cement industry is at the center of the climate change debate, but the world needs construction material for schools hospitals and homes,” said Olivier Luneau, head of sustainability at Lafarge, the Paris-based global cement giant.

“Because of our initiatives, emissions are growing slower than they would without the interventions.”

Cement manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in programs like the Sustainable Cement Initiative, yet many engineers like Allwood see “sustainable cement” as something of a contradiction in terms, like vegetarian meatballs.

Lafarge, a leader in introducing green technology to its field, has improved efficiency to reduce its emissions from 763 pounds, or 347 kilograms, of CO2 per ton of cement in 1990 to 655 in 2006. Its goal is to get to 610 by 2010, but it expects it will be difficult to get much below that number.

Lafarge, which bought 17 cement plants in China in 2005 and has holdings throughout eastern Europe and Russia, acknowledges that its emissions are growing year by year.

“Total emissions are growing because the demand is growing so fast and continues to grow and you can’t cap that,” Luneau said. “Our core business is cement, so there is a limit to what we can change.”

Cement is certainly a good investment these days.

“The construction market is booming in Eastern Europe, so cement factories are booming,” said Lennard De Klerk, director of Global Carbon, a Budapest firm that arranges investments in Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria. “All the big cement companies, like Lafarge and Heidelberg Cement, have bought existing facilities there that generally use fairly outdated technology and that waste a lot of energy.”

Carbon trading schemes - green incentives created by the European Union and the Kyoto Protocol - encourage such purchases. But they also allow manufacturers to increase overall cement production, both in the developing world and at home.

The European Union effectively limits production of European cement makers in their home countries by capping their allowed yearly emissions. In places like Ukraine, meanwhile, there are no limits, so cement production can increase there without regulatory caps.

Moreover, European companies get allowances known as carbon credits to pollute more for use at home by undertaking green cleanup projects elsewhere. So buying an old Soviet factory and investing in converting it to green technology can bring multiple paybacks.

“They can invest in Ukraine and Russia, clean up, and earn carbon credits - the investment is much more attractive than it used to be,” said De Klerk, whose company brokers such “carbon” investments. Factoring the value of the carbon credits into the cost of refitting a factory in Ukraine, the predicted rate of return rises from 8.8 per cent to close to 12 per cent, he said.

Once outmoded plants are refitted with “clean technology,” their emission per ton of cement produced does decline. The Podilsky plant in Ukraine is being refitted with greener kilns - financed by the Irish cement manufacturer CRH to earn carbon credits - and energy consumption per ton of production is forecast to drop 53 percent.

But even that sharp drop may not be enough to stop the inexorable growth in cement emissions in the aggregate, or compensate for the new lease on life that refitting provides old factories that otherwise might have shut their doors. Production went up over 10 percent in Ukraine in 2005 and again in 2006. At Heidelberg Cement’s Doncement plant in Ukraine, output soared 55 percent in the first nine months of last year.

Old factories that for years were running at half capacity are now churning out cement as never before, propelled by booming economies and foreign investment.

And cement, which used to be produced and used locally, is increasingly shipped long distances. On the Internet, cement brokers are now selling relatively cheap Ukrainian cement to all corners of the world. Demand is particularly high in the Middle East.

Unlike many industries, cement has a basic chemical problem: The chemical reaction that creates cement releases large amounts of CO2 in and of itself. Sixty percent of emissions caused by making cement are from this chemical process alone, Luneau said.

The remainder is produced from the fuels used in production, which may be mitigated by the use of greener technology. So to “go green,” cement makers try to cut the fuel side of the equation.

When they buy plants in the developing world they often turn from a water-intensive system to a more energy efficient “dry” system. Ten percent of the fuel used by Lafarge is biomass and alternative fuels.

One industry project called the Cement Sustainability Initiative suggests that concrete should be mixed using smaller portions of cement to reduce emissions, and that cement buildings be given better insulation so that they are more energy efficient. But there is less incentive for cement manufacturers to take on fundamental changes in how to make buildings and roads.

Western cement manufacturers emphasize that the emissions problem cannot be solved until China and India and other booming economies realize that they must limit emissions as well. “Trying to solve emissions in the EU or G-8 will not solve the problem unless emerging economies and their cement production are included,” Luneau said.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/10/21/business/cement.php

I had wanted to contrast this with alternative building materials, such as clay and bamboo, but am concerned that nothing truly has the properties of cement. It is a bit of a conundrum. I will write more in a few days about the use of bamboo in construction. In the meantime I want to to say Mahalo to all of you!

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

…the number of women abused and even killed by their husbands seemed to be going up and that brutality toward women had become “almost normal.”

…in one town, Shabunda, 70 percent of the women reported being sexually brutalized.

After reading the article below, of which I have selected three quotes above, my entire being tells me to kill the men who are raping all the girls and women in the Congo and across Africa. Just shoot them as you find them. No trial, no jury of their peers; just kill them on the spot.

It seems to me they have failed the ‘human’ fitness test. Savagery is neither animal nor human. It is some other life-form that has no place in society. To the boys and men who have reached this pathologic psychosis of murder and mayhem, life has no meaning. It is as if they are rabid dogs. Kill them because they will surely kill you or me. And for the survivors, round them up and immerse them in an education program that teaches boys and girls how to live with stress of being alive during hardship. A program that teaches respect for a life that is worth living for.

Brutality requires brutal measures.

October 7, 2007

Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

New York Times

BUKAVU, Congo — Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”

The days of chaos in Congo were supposed to be over. Last year, this country of 66 million people held a historic election that cost $500 million and was intended to end Congo’s various wars and rebellions and its tradition of epically bad government.

But the elections have not unified the country or significantly strengthened the Congolese government’s hand to deal with renegade forces, many of them from outside the country. The justice system and the military still barely function, and United Nations officials say Congolese government troops are among the worst offenders when it comes to rape. Large swaths of the country, especially in the east, remain authority-free zones where civilians are at the mercy of heavily armed groups who have made warfare a livelihood and survive by raiding villages and abducting women for ransom.

According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way.

United Nations officials said the so-called Rastas were once part of the Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after committing genocide there in 1994, but now it seems they have split off on their own and specialize in freelance cruelty.

Honorata Barinjibanwa, an 18-year-old woman with high cheekbones and downcast eyes, said she was kidnapped from a village that the Rastas raided in April and kept as a sex slave until August. Most of that time she was tied to a tree, and she still has rope marks ringing her delicate neck. The men would untie her for a few hours each day to gang-rape her, she said.

“I’m weak, I’m angry, and I don’t know how to restart my life,” she said from Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where she was taken after her captors freed her.

She is also pregnant.

While rape has always been a weapon of war, researchers say they fear that Congo’s problem has metastasized into a wider social phenomenon.

“It’s gone beyond the conflict,” said Alexandra Bilak, who has studied various armed groups around Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu. She said that the number of women abused and even killed by their husbands seemed to be going up and that brutality toward women had become “almost normal.”

Malteser International, a European aid organization that runs health clinics in eastern Congo, estimates that it will treat 8,000 sexual violence cases this year, compared with 6,338 last year. The organization said that in one town, Shabunda, 70 percent of the women reported being sexually brutalized.

At Panzi Hospital, where Dr. Mukwege performs as many as six rape-related surgeries a day, bed after bed is filled with women lying on their backs, staring at the ceiling, with colostomy bags hanging next to them because of all the internal damage.

“I still have pain and feel chills,” said Kasindi Wabulasa, a patient who was raped in February by five men. The men held an AK-47 rifle to her husband’s chest and made him watch, telling him that if he closed his eyes, they would shoot him. When they were finished, Ms. Wabulasa said, they shot him anyway.

In almost all the reported cases, the culprits are described as young men with guns, and in the deceptively beautiful hills here, there is no shortage of them: poorly paid and often mutinous government soldiers; homegrown militias called the Mai-Mai who slick themselves with oil before marching into battle; members of paramilitary groups originally from Uganda and Rwanda who have destabilized this area over the past 10 years in a quest for gold and all the other riches that can be extracted from Congo’s exploited soil.

The attacks go on despite the presence of the largest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world, with more than 17,000 troops.

Few seem to be spared. Dr. Mukwege said his oldest patient was 75, his youngest 3.

“Some of these girls whose insides have been destroyed are so young that they don’t understand what happened to them,” Dr. Mukwege said. “They ask me if they will ever be able to have children, and it’s hard to look into their eyes.”

No one — doctors, aid workers, Congolese and Western researchers — can explain exactly why this is happening.

“That is the question,” said André Bourque, a Canadian consultant who works with aid groups in eastern Congo. “Sexual violence in Congo reaches a level never reached anywhere else. It is even worse than in Rwanda during the genocide.”

Impunity may be a contributing factor, Mr. Bourque added, saying that very few of the culprits are punished.

Many Congolese aid workers denied that the problem was cultural and insisted that the widespread rapes were not the product of something ingrained in the way men treated women in Congolese society. “If that were the case, this would have showed up long ago,” said Wilhelmine Ntakebuka, who coordinates a sexual violence program in Bukavu.

Instead, she said, the epidemic of rapes seems to have started in the mid-1990s. That coincides with the waves of Hutu militiamen who escaped into Congo’s forests after exterminating 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s genocide 13 years ago.

Mr. Holmes said that while government troops might have raped thousands of women, the most vicious attacks had been carried out by Hutu militias.

“These are people who were involved with the genocide and have been psychologically destroyed by it,” he said.

Mr. Bourque called this phenomenon “reversed values” and said it could develop in heavily traumatized areas that had been steeped in conflict for many years, like eastern Congo.

This place, one of the greenest, hilliest and most scenic slices of central Africa, continues to reverberate from the aftershocks of the genocide next door. Take the recent fighting near Bukavu between the Congolese Army and Laurent Nkunda, a dissident general who commands a formidable rebel force. Mr. Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi who has accused the Congolese Army of supporting Hutu militias, which the army denies. Mr. Nkunda says his rebel force is simply protecting Tutsi civilians from being victimized again.

But his men may be no better.

Willermine Mulihano said she was raped twice — first by Hutu militiamen two years ago and then by Nkunda soldiers in July. Two soldiers held her legs apart, while three others took turns violating her.

“When I think about what happened,” she said, “I feel anxious and brokenhearted.”

She is also lonely. Her husband divorced her after the first rape, saying she was diseased.

In some cases, the attacks are on civilians already caught in the cross-fire between warring groups. In one village near Bukavu where 27 women were raped and 18 civilians killed in May, the attackers left behind a note in broken Swahili telling the villagers that the violence would go on as long as government troops were in the area.

The United Nations peacekeepers here seem to be stepping up efforts to protect women.

Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them.

But the problem seems bigger than the resources currently devoted to it.

Panzi Hospital has 350 beds, and though a new ward is being built specifically for rape victims, the hospital sends women back to their villages before they have fully recovered because it needs space for the never-ending stream of new arrivals.

Dr. Mukwege, 52, said he remembered the days when Bukavu was known for its stunning lake views and nearby national parks, like Kahuzi-Biega.

“There used to be a lot of gorillas in there,” he said. “But now they’ve been replaced by much more savage beasts.”

 

 

 

Shirley, Jack and neighbor’s Jim discover a strange rusty box on the old barn’s crumbling wall. Old tangled cables lead out from there, to nowhere near. Curious kids, they break the metal box open. Under several layers of cobweb and dust, there lurk a number of old porcelain fuses.

“Wow, this looks cool,” says Jim, and tries to unscrew the biggest fuse in the upper-left corner.

“Need a drop of oil,” asks Jack, who had found a can of lubricants, and is about to pour the viscous fluid.

“Hold, please hold on,” says Shirley, “we better understand first, what we are doing.”

I’ve been writing this little story as a metaphor for what’s going on our Planet Earth. All of the above standpoints are correct, all are needed, and very much in conjunction.

Our species has been gradually taking over the planet, to the point that many of its dynamics are the results of human action (or interaction), compared to physical forces, and non-human life that used to dominate the world.

Now, it seems, mankind is discovering, similar to the children in the tall tale above, some hidden command fuses that regulate world climate on a higher, and rougher level.  The clever monkey is finally learning how to cook. One might call these fuses: ocean temperature, Atlantic conveyer belt, atmospheric partial C02 pressures, and a few others.

The problem is that really nobody knows for sure what could happen, when these fuses blow. Some may have blown a long time ago, long before humans existed, turning the planet into Mars- Venus-, aquatic or snow-ball worlds.All models suggest extrapolated climatic developments could be dramatic, in particular for a larger-than-ever human (and already suffering) world population that requires very stable climatic conditions to remain sustainable. Even right now, habitat destruction is not only affecting wildlife, but human habitats, too. We’re burning our own house.

What I’m getting at is that the world urgently requires a global resources management system. The times, where everybody can pollute at will or catch as many fishes as possible from the ocean are over – but not everybody is realizing this apparent fact.

Yet before a common platform of action can be developed, there needs to be a common platform of human ethics. Our planet can only be successfully managed, if fundamental agreement is reached on practical issues such as “right of drinking water,” “right of clean air,” “right of food, ” “right of sex and reproduction,” for humans and other living beings, including plants.

Like Jim, the boy with the oilcan, we need to pave the road, and to iron-out the many (often unnecessary or theoretical) controversial standpoints that have developed during human history.

We cannot just say: “ this is what the holy book says,” but instead all efforts have to aim at generating an acceptable model of human fellowship, that includes element of religion, Law, and most important perhaps: science.

Only with a united model, mankind could possibly embark on her finest task: rescue and ecologically balance the natural forces of planet Earth. I do recognize an urgent need for action, yet, like Shirley, one top priority should be to understand the complexity of human interaction with our planet. Hence our efforts must target four issues at the same time:

  • Address the most urgent issues, “extinguish the fires;”
  • Bundle all available research to clarify questions of human-planet-interaction;
  • Create a platform of universal ethics, and Law;
  • Develop a long-term plan to sustain the biosphere.

Needless to mention, that these are high goals – yet our human race, plus the planets biosphere may depend on their fulfillment.

 

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

 

The other day while flying through Chicago O’Hare, I heard an announcement over the public message system: “Department of Homeland Security has determined we are in an Orange alert. Any bags left unattended will be removed.” The message, which was broadcast repeatedly every few minutes, was in a very loud and pitchy voice, designed to catch everyone’s attention. Even the most jaded of road warriors such as me, could not help but take notice. It affected me the same way TV or newspaper stories on terrorist (which despite what George Bush wants to believe, does not rhyme with tourist) attacks do. It made me want to spend some time on the gun range.

I know from conversations with people in my personal and Internet life, this is a shared sentiment. Recently though I speculated on just how useful a firearm would be under an actual terrorist attack. Would there be enough time to actually shoot off a few rounds at the perpetrators before they blow themselves as well as others up? So I’ve come up with an additional proposal: Send our pet dogs to bomb-sniffing or biological and chemical-agent-detection school.

You might be thinking, there must be equipment out there already doing this work. Well, you are partially correct. Mechanical detectors are available, capable of detecting biological and chemical agents, but they are very costly and have limitations.

Biological detection systems are currently in the research and early development stages. There are some commercially available devices that have limited utility (responding only to a small number of agents) and are generally high cost items. Because commercially available BW detection systems and/or components exhibit limited utility in detecting and identifying BW agents and are also costly, it is strongly recommended that first responders be very careful when considering a purchase of any device that claims to detect BW agents. This is a very different situation when compared to chemical detection equipment; there are various technologies for detection of chemical agents and toxic industrial materials (TIMs) that can be purchased by the emergency first responder. One reason for the lack of available biological detection equipment is that detection of biological agents requires extremely high sensitivity (because of the very low effective dose needed to cause infection and spread the disease) and an unusually high degree of selectivity (because of the large and diverse biological background in the environment).

Another reason for the lack of biological detection equipment is that biological agents are very complex systems of molecules compared to chemical agents, which makes them much more difficult to identify. For example, Ionization/Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), an excellent (though expensive) system for collection, detection, and identification of chemical agents, cannot detect or discriminate biological agents in its present form. In fact, the need for high efficiency collection and concentration of the sample, high sensitivities, and high selectivities make all chemical detectors in their current form unusable for biological agent detection.

However, Detection Support Services claims a properly trained bomb dog is considered superior to current machine technology, especially in areas of sensitivity, mobility, and user friendliness (Institute for Biological Detection Systems, 1999). Adding, “Law enforcement and military bomb dogs were in very short supply before the devastating terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. Subsequent to 11 September, the requests for bomb dogs have out stripped all available resources.” Meanwhile there are 73 million pet dogs in the United States, all of which could be pressed into service.

Imagine every time you walk your dog, particularly if you live in an inner city, your pet companion could be on guard duty, helping to save a nation. Or what about those of you, who fly with your little dogs, wouldn’t their bomb sniffing skills make you feel more secure, knowing they would alert you to danger. Better yet, how about putting a trained dog on every flight? Certainly that would be less costly than an Air Marshall. Of course, an Air Marshall could shoot a terrorist dead, but what if they never get a chance to fire off a single round? Wouldn’t a dog on board be a visible cue not just to the passengers, but to terrorists as well? A dog could even work in conjunction with an Air Marshall; as a double team. So instead of just sending our dogs to obedience school, why not also train them in the fine art of bomb or chemical detection.

Video: Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy

Recently I had a short exchange with a friend regarding the reality of humans affecting global temperatures. Thinking humans could not manipulate nature without nature’s permission, or rather without its assistance. Regardless of whether humans are causing global warming, or are just active participants in the natural cycle of global climate change, we are in the midst of severe changes. Rather than seeing this as a cause for a panic attack, it would be wiser to view this as an opportunity.

My initial contention with my friend regarded dinosaurs. Thinking, even with their enormous size, enormous appetite and equally enormous fecal and urine output, they did not impact global climate, and in fact thrived over a hundred and sixty-five million years. Humans on the other hand have only been around for around 1.5 million; one hundredth as long as the dinosaurs. And while dinosaurs did eventually die off after either global warming brought about from an extremely volatile volcanic period or an asteroid impact, humans have an adaptability dinosaurs did not which could protect us from extinction. We can, through the application of science and technology, overcome the impact of global climate change.

Think about it, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, they ate enormous amounts of vegetation. Possibly devouring large swaths of cycad forests in short spans; leaving behind enormous amounts of excrement in their wake. If you have ever visited an area with a large bird or seal population, you would know what it must have smelled like. You would understand just how polluting dinosaur waste must have been to air and water. So here we have, humans, little teeny tiny creatures relative to dinosaurs, wrecking the environment. Polluting, devouring natural resources, and dumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Okay, if you say so.

Anyway, you are probably wondering how I can call global warming the opportunity of the century. Simple. First, its advantage is already evident to Northern European and Canadian areas that were previously covered in ice. Areas now exposed, ready for exploration.

The second opportunity will come from other benefits to global warming. Such as fewer cold weather related deaths; fewer traffic fatalities from icy roads; shorter and milder winters; higher crop output from both warmer weather and increased CO2.

Lastly, I see global warming as an opportunity because it will create demand for products and services developed specifically to either combat global warming or make its inevitability more bearable. Global warming is already fueling the largest economic boom of humanity either through legislation (an interference if you ask me to the invisible hand of supply and demand) or from isolationist, racist, bigoted reasons. Not to mention plain old desire for the latest, greatest, and coolest anything.

You are probably wondering what the hell am talking about. You think the world is coming to an end and I’m talking about global warming as if it were something beautiful. Well, the world is not coming to an end. It is only going to be different from what we have become accustomed to. The world, whether warm or cool, is beautiful.

However, change will require management. It will require many new industries, new ways of thinking about old technologies and of technologies that might not exist yet. Engineering positions will be in high demand in the future of global warming as the world seeks out ways to meet or exceed reduced engine emissions on motor vehicles; or as people start coveting more energy efficient appliances; newer, better types of home insulation; and more highly efficient thermal windows.

Then there will be a demand for economically alternative and renewable energy sources, such as solar energy for more than just water heaters; moderately priced windmills that might make it possible to be mounted on every roof or in every backyard; geothermal energy, which is already being used as geothermal heat pumps for heating or cooling air and water; and of course we cannot forget the big baddy, construction and maintenance of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of nuclear power plants.

Really, the list is endless. So don’t panic. Just get to work because the future needs you. Opportunity is an impatient lover, it will find some other willing partner should you fail to become captivated by her.