Thursday, April 28, 2011

Global Warming?

With the events unfolding in the mid-west and Gulf states, tornadoes in particular, it seems to me that these tragedies leaving hundreds of people dead and significant damage in the wake, are an excellent example of the how global warming is progressing worldwide. Because heat is energy and vice versa, these atmospheric events, like tornadoes, are natures' response to the build up of heat in the atmosphere. While tornadoes are familiar to those living in the middle of the country, the increased frequency and magnitude of these atmospheric storms is what is news. Many expect that global warming, and its cousin climate change will be felt almost exclusively at the poles. And it is a correct assumption that we are seeing the first and most dramatic response at the poles at least initially, it is not the only dynamic at work here. When we mess with the feedback loops that are the planet's weather patterns, we can expect those patterns to be disrupted. The imperative for the global human population is that we cannot predict with any real accuracy what the response will be on global weather, and atmospheric and oceanic systems; there is simply no precedent for changes that are proceeding at the rapid pace we are seeing, such as the melting of the polar ice sheets, and/or the thawing of permafrost at the poles.

As has been the case for a couple of decades now, the question is not whether global warming and the resultant global climate change are occurring, but how we will respond with behavior changes to help mitigate the changes that will play out not for us ourselves alone but for future generations, and the generations of all of the Earth's inhabitants. I had a student several quarters ago who expressed his opinion about whether global warming was actually occurring by stating that he lives in Ohio, and it is very cold there (during the winter). His response meant to me that he was either too lazy or too stupid to read and educate himself about the issue regardless of the fact that our course material covered the issues very well. We no longer have the luxury to choose either of those perspectives (stupid or lazy), but must act to help mitigate some of the detrimental effects on global ecosystems. It no longer really matters how global warming began, except for education, data collection and modeling purposes, but what our response will be to our credit or discredit. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When the going gets tough....

The old saying that begins with the "When the going gets tough..." has been swirling around my brain for the last few days. Not that the 'going' is getting tough, or at least not very tough, but when I am feeling challenged I like to cook. This has become my therapy in recent years. While I used to view cooking therapy in terms of butter, sugar, and chocolate (not always chocolate, it could be pumpkin, apples, strawberry-rhubarb, etc.), I have now added soup to my therapy list. Soup, as a category of food, has an aura of comfort around it. Who can think about soup without reminiscing about the best bowl or cup you have had. Within the last few months, I have made the following soups for my sweetheart, family, and friends: 

Lentil (curried and traditional)
Split Pea
Turkey and Pasta
Turkey Chowder
Cheesy Potato Soup
Salmon Chowder

After a hiatus from Lentil and Pea soups for a number of years, they have come flooding back into my menu planning thoughts. And, well deserved too. I have also been thinking about a recipe for white bean/pasta/ham soup that dear friend gave to me many years ago. When I make her soup recipe, I think about her in the warmest way. Isn't it amazing how food translates to love? We have a large-ish extended family, and many friends in the area and I have felt absolutely compelled, and maybe even mandated to cook for everyone. The time for such endeavors has been hard to come by, but when the rewards of cooking wonderful food for family and friends are so magnificent, the time has been made even if it is in-and-around grading papers, developing the next unit of coursework. Even when I am terribly busy I find that a simmering pot of soup on the stove fills the air with good smells and warm feelings. 

So, for those of you who may feel bombarded with soup and/or cookies (cookies; another post!), please allow me to love you through food! There is only so much love and warm feelings that a wife/mother/grandmother/daughter/friend (among other status categories) can contain without bursting. Please and thank you!