Let the Earth Bring Forth Life

Sensational headlines get attention, so you can’t blame Salon for the bit of hyperbole in the title of the article God is on the Ropes, about a new theory that claims “Under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life”–certain conditions being those that prevail on a planet such as the earth.

I have been thinking for a while about a couple of verses in Genesis 1.  In the first God says, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation” (1:11).  Then in verse 24 “Let the earth bring forth living creatures (animals).”  Similar is verse 20, “Let the waters team with living creatures.”

God assigns a role in creation to the earth.  Other verses describes God as arranging “certain conditions,” separating the land mass from the oceans, providing an atmosphere, and roles for the sun, moon, and stars.

Genesis 1 uses simple images to describe the process of creation and the sequential development of life on earth as the creator willed.  If the language of science is mathematics, then you would have to say Genesis is unscientific because it does not use scientific formulas.  But there is nothing in Genesis 1 incompatible with what the natural sciences have shown us about the origin and development of life on the earth.

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The Greatest Invention of the Twentieth Century is . . .

In my humble opinion, the greatest invention of the twentieth century was the bicycle derailleur shifting system.

This invention made the bicycle a realistic mode of transportation in a variety of terrains.

Average people with a few weeks of practice can travel on a modern multi-speed bicycle on moderately hills roads at an average speed of around 13 miles per hour.  With improved fitness a normal adult can average 15 miles per hour.  This makes daily commutes of 7-10 miles realistic.

Of course elite athletes race up steep mountains at speeds over 20 miles per hour, and they descend the other side of the mountain at 50 mph or more.

Before the derailleur was allowed in the Tour de France in 1938, racers had two gears, one on each side of the rear wheel.  Just before entering a mountain stage, for example, they could pull over, remove the rear wheel and flip it around.  In those days riders didn’t have support teams.  They had to carry tools and supplies in their pockets with spare tires slung over their shoulders.

Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release in 1927 after frozen fingers prevented him from turning the wing nuts to release his wheel so he could flip it around.  He went on to found a bicycle parts company that eventually perfected (though they did not invent) the derailleur.  The device itself began to appear as early as 1905.  Its predecessors included complex systems of levers and pulleys.

The bicycle was invented early in the 1800s.  Hundreds of bicycle companies rose up in the United States.  By 1900 there were two large patent offices in the nation’s capital.  One was for bicycle inventions, the other was for everything else.

Susan B. Anthony once said,

The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else.

The bicycle could also do a lot to emancipate us from dependence on oil.  The author’s of the book Bicycle Science estimate that a human powered by the equivalent number of calories in a gallon of gasoline could travel about 1000 miles.  Or, drinking milk instead of gasoline (remember milk is over 90% water) a rider could go about 99 miles.  If riders neglected to replenish all those calories, cycling could also help liberate us from the plague of obesity and diabetes.

Sources:

Jim Langley, Campy Only, Pedaling History.

Oily Hair?

Since hair is a natural oil absorber, tons of donated hair are going to soak up the oil spill on the gulf coast.  Matter of Trust tells how you can help.

Support Your Local Cow

After reaching records highs a year ago, wholesale milk prices–the prices paid to farmers–have plummeted to a 40-year low.  As a result, many dairy farms are facing bankruptcy.  Two or three large agribusiness concerns control most of the milk industry.  Most farmers have no choice but to sell to them, even at a loss.  You probably haven’t notice much difference in the price at the store.  The “middleman” is making a killing.

There are a couple of area dairies that are bucking the trend.  We buy either Iwig or Emerich milk  (See “Mum in Bloom” for photos.)  Both are small scale, locally owned operations.  Both dairies treat their cows humanely and avoid injecting artificial hormones or routine antibiotics. They sell their milk, butter, and ice cream at local grocery stores, and at the Alma Creamery.

When my grandson is visiting we enjoy taking the short walk to the Alma Creamery to buy some cheese and a half-gallon of milk in an old-fashioned glass bottle.   In the past year, I have broken three bottles, through my own negligence–on the other hand I haven’t been putting plastic bottles in the local landfill, so I’ve learned not to cry over spilled milk.

I recently learned that at least one of these dairies is having a tough time financially.  To all of my friends in NE Kansas–do yourself a favor.  See how much better naturally and humanely produced milk tastes.  Support Iwig or Emerich.  If your grocery story doesn’t sell it, ask them.  In Manhattan, Kansas, you can find it at People’s Grocery or Eastside and Westside markets.  In Lawrence, try the Merc.  Here in Alma both the local grocery story and the Alma Creamery sell it.

If you know of other places that sell local dairy products, let me know.

By the way, the ice cream, chocolate milk, and eggnog (available around Christmas) are fabulous.  (More)

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

The day before Easter Sunday we helped Alex and Margaret burn the pastures.  Not a scorched-earth tactic, it is actually an environmentally friendly, natural way of managing the prairie.

Alex and Margaret send this message:

EatingWell This Week

Happy Earth Day All!!        Do something green today- recycle if you are not, drive less-walk or bike more, take your sack lunch,
pick up someone else’s litter, Carry on the spirit!!!!
It can start a snowball effect!!!!!
mj
Margaret participated in the first Earth Day, back in 1971.  She was a student back then, full of youth, energy, and idealism.  She still has those same qualities, to which she has also added wisdom.

Are There Too Many of Us?

The earth is finite; it would be idolatrous to suggest otherwise.  There is a limit to how much human life the earth can sustain, and we are probably getting close to that limit.  Overcrowding is already causing immense human suffering.

The population is exploding in the poorest areas of the world; the birthrate is shrinking in wealthier nations.  When women have access to opportunity, education, and health care, the population problem takes care of itself.

In countries like the United States and most European nations, the birthrate is already below 2.1 per couple, the “zero-growth rate.”  Those few couples with more than two are three children are statistically insignificant.

So, it makes no sense to call for oppressive laws to limit family size in countries that already have a negative growth rate.  Freedom, not coercion, is what is bringing the size of families down.   Yet, some in the UK–a country that already has a negative population rate–are calling for mandatory enforcement of a two-child rule.

The problem is not the rare families who want to have several children.  The problem is the economic assumption that growth in consumption equals economic health.

The Optimum Population Trust calculates that ‘each new UK birth will be responsible for 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions . . . than a new birth in Ethiopia’. (Telegraph).

The solution is not for wealthier countries to stop having babies.  The solution is for people in wealthy countries change their consumption habits and help people in poor countries gain access to education, opportunity, and healthcare.

Earth Hour Is Upon Us

Tonight at 8:30 PM citizens around the world will turn the lights off for one hour as a symbolic gesture.  This is the Lenten season when many people are voluntarily fasting or giving up something as a sign of repentance and humility.  Unplugging for one hour is what I call a “coal fast.”

Will it change the world?  Symbolic gestures don’t change the world in themselves.  What they do is raise consciousness.  And a change in awareness could make us take other actions.  Here is what people in other countries are doing:

In Switzerland, the city of Geneva plans to switch off the lights on its theaters, churches and monuments. Among these are the Reformation Wall, where floodlights normally illuminate 10-foot (three-meter) statues of John Calvin and other leaders of Protestantism. The city’s motto engraved on either side of the statues is:

“After darkness, light.”

Romania planned to turn off lights at the massive palace built in Bucharest by the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.  (more from Yahoo News)

Last night I attended a Care of Creation seminar.  I learned that one in four mammals is endangered, and one in three mammals, and half of the world’s frogs.  Half of the world’s forests, wetlands, and grasslands are endangered or already gone.

Turning off the power for an hour and meditating on what we can do individually and collectively, might be a good way to spend the evening of the fifth Sunday in Lent.