Thursday, March 27, 2008

Saving the Earth, One Hour at a Time

This Saturday marks observance of the second annual "Earth Hour", an event foisted upon us by the World Wildlife Fund. The idea is that businesses and residences will turn off all "nonessential" lighting from 8pm until 9pm "to symbolize that each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change - no matter who we are or where we live." (

Now, I'm all for a serious and coordinated response to climate change, though I'm coming around to favor an emphasis on adaptation rather than mitigation. After all, even if we stopped emitting carbon altogether by late this afternoon, human-induced climate change could continue for decades. We should try to mitigate as much as we can, but I have no illusions that the path to a more sustainable form of civilization will be easy or straight.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Behind the Curtain

An important turning-point in my intellectual life occurred while I was washing dishes and listening to music - a combination, I might add, that is a reliable generator of good ideas. In this instance, I was standing at the sink in the kitchen of our apartment in New Hampshire, listening to Laurie Anderson's Big Science CD. It was, if memory serves, 1997.

I had been wrapping up work on one draft of my first book, casting around for a new direction for my research. I was a-jumble with vague hints and half-formed indications, nothing much to go on.

Then, in the track called "Born, Never Asked," a single question set up some kind of resonance, and I knew what I should do next.

The Return

Well, I'm back.

In a fit of pique against the dominance of technology in my life, I obliterated the earlier version of this blog . . . though not before saving all of the entries for my own reference.

But then there would be a story in the news about some rank hypocrisy, an editorial about climate change ridden by particularly sloppy thinking, yet another damned screed by a belligerent, dogmatic atheist (or anti-atheist), and I'd think: I'd sure like to be able to write about that in my blog . . .