Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Climate Change "Debate" Continues to Heat Up

A recent article by Naomi Oreskes examines why climate change deniers are having problems with their position on climate change.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Exploring the Koots 09/15

 After spending Monday with our boys, we decided that a short bit of biking was in order, despite the stinkin' heat.

The route selected was the Slocan Valley Rail Trail that runs from Slocan City to South Slocan.  Our plan was to do one part we hadn't done before, that from Slocan City south about 20 km to Winlaw.

The weather for the past few days had been very hot and bright, almost too much to tolerate being outside.  We camped for the night in the cool of Springer Creek CG in the village of Slocan City and started on our ride early in the morning.

It was very pleasant riding along a flat trail, usually passing near the Slocan River, currently in spring flood conditions, enjoying the shade and the views.  It was a quick ride and we were back in Slocan City by 10 am, just in time to beat the heat of the day.

This trail used to be part of the CP Rail system which brought people and rail cars up to the south end of Slocan Lake where they were put on barges and hauled up to New Denver.  A road was finally constructed around and through the cliffs at the south-east end of the Lake and the old ways of travel passed into history.  Now it is a pleasant ride or hike down a pleasant valley with views of the Valhallas to the west.

On our return to Slocan City, we drove to New Denver for a short stroll through the Kohan Meditation Garden.  This garden memorializes the Japanese-Canadians who were interned in the area during WWII, one Canada's less-proud moments in the treatment of people who didn't happen to be white and European.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nepal - Starting to Rebuild?

Although the news coming out of Nepal has been bad, with a 7.3 magnitude quake coming just 2 weeks after the 7.9 jolt and aftershocks, there seems to be some hope that things are starting to enter the rebuilding phase.

Of course, Nepal is a poor country, and it's not just a matter of bringing in the heavy machinery.  There is very little of that kind of thing available.  What seems to work best, and perhaps the only way to get things done, is muscle power.

The Nepali Times had a series of pictures showing the destruction but also the spirit of the Nepalese people.  Some pictures here, and here, with another story about homelessness here.

Despite this kind of news, one western mountaineering group in Nepal at the time has decided to get busy and help out.  It's available on Facebook under #rebuildnepal.

There are a number of photos of the quake aftermath on this Facebook page.  As the poster put it:

 "If you want to help Nepal, then do not be afraid to visit Nepal.The 7.9-magnitude quake laid waste to large swaths of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu (including several iconic heritage sites) and entire villages across the countryside have been flattened, but companies and officials alike insist visiting the country is now more important than ever.The quake came during Nepal’s summer trekking season, and its aftermath and gradual recovery will undoubtedly affect this year’s peak autumn trekking expeditions beginning in September. The streets are empty. No one is buying anything, renting rooms, booking treks, or making reservations for the near future. While we help #rebuildNepal....... we need people to come see it. It is still a beautiful, and vibrant country with so much to offer. http://www.morethansport.org/partner/nepalrelief

There are several organizations that are accepting donations to help in the rebuilding process.  One more that I've discovered recently is: Kina.org - programs to help girls in poor parts of Nepal (and their families).

In addition to the Red Cross and UNICEF, there is also OXFAM Canada.

Finally, there is this article about how (and how not) to help.

[Update] - Two good videos:  Kathmandu: Before the Quake and Nepal: After the Quake.

[Update] - An article from the Nepali Times about the fall in tourism, even in parts of Nepal (like Pokhara) that weren't affected by the quake.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Disintegration of Civil Society?

The news has been full of events that point to more violence, more anger and what one might call the breakdown of civil society.  These articles caught my eye:

Police brutality far from Over in Baltimore

America is on the Road to Revolution

"I'm White and America's Police Frighten Me"

It could be a long, hot summer.  I think I'll stay home.

Breaking Research

Something many of us have long believed has been supported by recent research.

Uncertain what the fix will be.

[Update] - One of my witty former students commented that the best that could be offered by way of an antidote was a vaccine.  :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nepal - Aftermath of an Earthquake

Pictures are now starting to come out of Nepal of the damage caused by Saturday's earthquake.

One set of pictures around Kathmandu.

This set from Swayambunath, Pashupatinath and Kathmandu

From rural Nepal, pictures and news are starting to arrive.

A journalist reflects on his time in Nepal

And, although the immediate relief effort is just getting started, there is already talk of rebuilding.

Donations are still badly needed.  This site lists Canadian charities that are directly involved in the Nepali disaster relief effort.

[Update] - One week after the quake and more information about the damage is starting to appear, including some CCTV video from Kathmandu.

[Update] - a map of the earthquake-affected areas of Nepal

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nepal - Reaching Out

The news is full of stories coming out of Nepal, and, in the aftermath of the 7.9 earthquake last weekend and the many aftershocks, it's not good.

I had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Nepal back in the fall of 2013, 3 weeks trekking in the Manaslu and Annapurna regions and another 2 weeks visiting Pokhara and Kathmandu, both very close to the epicenter of the quake.  I'm quite saddened to hear news of the human tragedy, misery for a people who already had little and who now have nothing, the damage to centuries-old cultural icons, UNESCO World Heritage sites that may be damaged beyond repair.

This source shows some before and after pictures.

One useful source of news is the Nepali Times, as well as the usual Western news outlets.  The sheer scale of the disaster and the difficulty of gaining access to affected areas is hard to imagine for people living in Canada and the USA.  At this time, the scale of the disaster in rural mountain villages is unknown. 

I've been trying to discover the best way to help out in Nepal's time of need and in the future as they try to rebuild.  This is what I've found so far.  I'd be interested in any other suggestions.

First, there is the immediate disaster relief effort.  There are many, many charities and disaster-relief organizations involved in Nepal.  To verify the credibility of any particular charity, prospective donors can get information about any charity from an organization called Charity Navigator.  They also have some general comments about donating to the relief effort in Nepal, as well as a list of some vetted organizations who are involved in the current disaster.  Keep in mind that this is an American organization but some of the organizations they mention are international.

Canada has dispatched the DART, has earmarked $5M for immediate help and has said it will match all donations to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund until May 25.  This article from Global News has a number of suggested organizations which have good reputations and will be able to use donations.

However, one easy donation to make which will definitely trigger matching $$ from the Canadian Government is the Canadian Red Cross.  The link to the Red Cross donate page for Nepal is available from here.  So far, I have been unable to determine what other organizations you can donate to and still trigger the matching donation.  I will update as more information becomes available.

[Update] - It appears that donations to Oxfam Canada will also qualify for the matching government money.

There are, obviously, many credible organizations already doing important work in Nepal.  These include Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and others too numerous to mention here.

After the immediate crisis has been managed will come the next, long-term challenge, that if rebuilding Nepal.  I'm still researching organizations that have been involved in that kind of work in the country and which will be involved in the future needs of the country.  One possible organization is the American Himalayan Foundation.  I would welcome information about any other organizations which do this more long-term work in Nepal.

[Update] - from the National Geographic - what's still standing....

[Update] - Donations to UNICEF Canada will also qualify for matching $$ from the Canadian Government AND also matching donations from UNICEF's corporate donors.