Posts Tagged ‘Earth Hour’

Peering Out at the World: Quick Notes & Links

March 27, 2010

I am peering out from behind a huge pile of undergraduate papers to see if the world is still there.  Looks like it is, for now.  So I’d like to take a few minutes to post some links.

This past week the American Association of University Women came out with a report called Why So Few?  http://www.aauw.org/research/whysofew.cfm

“Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers – including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities – that continue to block women’s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls’ and women’s achievement and participation in these areas and offers new ideas for what each of us can do to more fully open scientific and engineering fields to girls and women.”

When pondering this question, which is close to my heart, I’ve always felt that we not only need to change how society views girls in relation to science and science careers but we have to address the internal culture of science in research labs and universities and colleges.   This internal culture seems to be to be oriented toward certain personality types while putting others at a disadvantage — at its extreme there can be cutthroat competition, a confrontational style of dealing not only with people but with Nature, and a narrow, blind, disconnected approach to the problem at hand.  Not everyone thrives under such conditions.  I’ll have a lot more to say about all this in a future post.

And in news from our favourite satellite, it appears that the Moon might have more water than we thought.  600 million metric tons distributed over 40 craters near the lunar north pole.  What this makes possible is: stations on the moon, and a place from which to launch space exploration vehicles — a stepping stone to Mars and beyond!  Water means life resource and rocket fuel.

Somebody needs to write a poem about this.  I mean, all that water on the moon!

All of our spacely adventures can only happen if we have the sense to save the planet by slowing and reversing global warming.  Tomorrow, Saturday March 27, is Earth Hour, the annual momentum-building, consciousness-raising event that is growing hugely every year.  I plan to be one of the millions around the globe participating by turning of my lights for an hour, 8:30 to 9:30 pm.  Last year’s participation was around a billion people and hundreds of cities, organizations and institutions.

This reminds me that I started this blog about a year ago, so this is an anniversary of sorts.  I’ve posted only sparsely but have somehow managed to maintain the pace, however slow, of inflicting my thoughts upon the world.

In personal news, I am surprised and pleased to note that one of my novellas, Distances, published by the good and brave folks at Aqueduct Press, is a Tiptree honor book for 2009, as announced here.  Congratulations to the Tiptree winners (Hi Greer!) and honor list authors, and to L. Timmel Duchamp (Hi Timmi!) who gets special recognition for her tremendous Marq’ssan Cycle.

Also, I have a story coming out soon in Strange Horizons.  It is vaguely related to the first story I published there a long time ago, one called Three Tales from Sky River.  When I first wrote that story, years ago, I imagined a woman who went from planet to planet in a far future starfaring age collecting stories like the three tales of the title.  I wanted to write a story about her, but when I finally managed to write it last year, it turned out that it wasn’t just about her, and she needed a teller as well, and somehow events in 11th century C.E. India became important.  In short, it got complicated, hopefully in a good way.

Post-Earth-Hour Thoughts on a busy Monday

March 31, 2009

Well, we did it.  On March 28, this past Saturday, at 8:30 pm local time, more than 4000 cities around the world and possibly nearly a billion people turned off or dimmed their lights for an hour.  India and China participated for the first time. 

What did I do? 

Well, this past week was insanely busy with post-midterm marking papers and so on, but somehow between classes and between breaths I managed to spread the word at the college where I teach.  Students in the college green team made a facebook page, the administration cooperated readily, and somehow we became official participants.  But I had no idea to what extent the dorm students would cooperate and how effective it would be, until I happened to drive by the college on my way to an Earth Hour gathering at a local Unitarian Universalist church.

It was an amazing sight.  Usually the college is a blaze of lights on a hill above the main road, but the hill was completely dark, except for the college sign and the streetlights.  I was stunned into silence, then couldn’t help cheering and yelling.  I almost felt like abandoning my party and going up to see what mischief the young people were up to, but managed to resist the temptation.  I felt very proud of them, however.  And amazed at how my minimalist networking had resulting in this near-complete voluntary blackout.

My earth hour party was fun, though.  We were a small group, sitting in a large, empty room around four small candles (soy and beeswax only, so they are part of the carbon cycle and not a “new” carbon source as a petroleum-based candle might be).  We had a guitar and an Irish flute, and we sang songs and chatted.  At first it was a bit awkward but there is something magical about candle-light.  So the conversation warmed up and the singing became more enthusiastic, and we had some poetry as well.  The hour went by but we were all reluctant to turn on the lights so we sat around for another half hour or so.  Then it was time to go. 

When the lights were back on it was as though a spell had broken.  I realized then that I hadn’t really relaxed for months before then, so that I had forgotten what it felt like.  Sitting around a few candles was perhaps like sitting around a fire, telling stories, which humans have been doing for millenia.  Somehow electric lights don’t have the same effect. 

Not that I don’t appreciate technology — I love my computer, for instance.  But it is nice to be reminded that there is life beyond electricity. 

I am now waiting for reports from the Earth Hour folks.  I have read that 36 million people in the US participated, and that the world figure was perhaps close to a billion.  If this builds momentum it will be really exciting.

Here are some pictures and an update

I wish there was more about all this in the SF blogosphere.  Perhaps I simply haven’t been looking at the right blogs, but SF folks seem to be very quiet about this.  And here we are, trying to build a mass social movement to stop climate change, to save the world — what could be more SFnal than that?