Friday, September 15, 2006

I've Got Sun in Morning & The Gazette on Fridays

Have you ever sat around a camp fire on a cold winter's night, unable to get warm all over?

Ever hiked above 12,000 or 14,000 feet and been a little short of breath?

Well, imagine trying to keep Planet Earth somewhere between 30 degrees below zero and 120 above with a gigantic blow torch from 93 million miles away -- something the sun does with seeming ease every day of the year.

Imagine trying to maintain an 80% nitrogen-20% oxygen mix outside of a lab, or a container, over an area as vast as the surface of the earth (197 million square miles).

Those are just a couple of the features that make human life on earth possible, characteristics that should bring forth much more awe and wonder, respect, focus and thanks than they do for most of us most days.

Irving Berlin came close to the idea in the lyrics to his song, "I've Got the Sun in the Morning." ("Got no mansion, got no yacht/Still I'm happy with what I've got/I've got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.")

And on Fridays, at least, The Gazette recognizes these most significant of all "news" items with an almost full page report called, "Earthweek: A Diary of the Planet."

Today's (September 15) "Earthweek" reports that the Artic ice, formerly 10 feet thick, has melted to a depth of 1 to 7 feet. A fireball from the sky landed in New Zealand. There are reports of hurricanes Florence, Gordon, Lane and Typhoon Shanshan. Earthquakes and other earth movements were felt in an area from Florida to Louisiana to Tennessee; Israel and Palestine, Iran, India-Myanmar, Hong Kong, Tasmania, Chile and New Zealand. There were volcanos on three Indonesian islands. And a tree was found in the Redwood National Park in California a full 8 feet taller than what was believed to be the tallest tree; it's named Hyperion and is 378.1 feet tall. All this and the return of El Nino.

We share this great planet with somewhere between 10 and 100 million other animal species, many of which have useful qualities and abilities that have been denied us (e.g., speed, sight and hearing, radar and sensitivity to magnetic fields, etc.), and somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 species of plants.

All, including us, are threatened by global warming. But that's not my point.

I just thought it useful to put our hangnails and burden of unanswered email into some kind of context -- and to thank The Gazette for providing us "Earthweek," a weekly report about our home planet. It's the only paper in the state of Iowa to provide the service to its readers.

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