Rub A Dub, Dub, Nelson Needs A Tub

It’s pretty common for researchers and common man to first think about the coastal dwellers who will be displaced by rising ocean levels due to climate change. Thoughts also quickly turn to coastal species of plants and animals that may fare even worse, having nowhere to turn, and thus possibly becoming extinct.

One thing that is rarely considered are national treasures that sit seaside or within a harbor. What will happen to the likes of the Statue of Liberty or Nelson’s Column? What of the Doe and Stag columns that welcome sailors into safe harbor at the island of Rhodes? How many wonderful works of art will possibly be swallowed up by the seas and lost to landlubbers because of climate change?


Statue of Liberty, USA, image source:

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The Doe and Stag, Rhodes, image source:


Unconditional Surrender, San Diego, CA, USA, image source:


Annie Moore (first registered Ellis Island immigrant), Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, image source:


The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark, image source:

And these are only a few that the gringa was able to search for and find. There are very few land-locked nations. Every country with a coastline has something to lose. We all have some artistic skin in the game. Beautiful, historic works of art are destined for watery graves, sooner or later, because of climate change. There may be a few heads bobbing above the waves but most of them will be forgotten by future generations except for adventurous scuba divers on photo safari.

Experts indicate that fossil fuel pollution accelerated climate change will continue to affect our planet even if we switched tomorrow to alternatives. We have passed the tipping point. It’s possible we have caused enough damage to affect significant change for the next 100,000 years. Over that period of time, as global temperatures continue to rise, sea levels will, too. Possibly as much as fifty meters (150 feet).

That means that timeless works of art that look out upon the seas and oceans of this world will definitely be inundated to oblivion. But to understand the true scope of the course our lifestyles have plotted for our planet, consider Nelson’s Column which is located well inland, at Trafalgar Square in London. Models of climate change predict that by the time this cycle has run its course, only half of the column will be visible above the water line.


Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, London, UK, image source:

Before these dramatic events reach their fulfillment, mankind will have undergone dramatic migrational upheavals. As much as one fifth of the world’s population is expected to be affected. Rough estimates put current world population at about seven billion. That means that about one billion and four hundred million (1,400,000,000) people are going to have to move.

Dear readers, consider the strain Europe is undergoing right now with a Syrian refugee migration.  The United Nations reports that over nine million Syrians have fled their homes since the civil war began years ago. Estimates put the numbers spilling into Europe at about one million, but those numbers are questionable. Imagine if the refugee numbers Europe had absorbed had been one thousand fold. That’s the kind of numbers scientists are talking about where climate change migration is concerned.

There is no technology available to build any seawall adequate to protect the populations of coastal cities. They will have to relocate. Eventually. Period. There is no going back. The best we can hope for is that if we start tomorrow with zero carbon emissions we might be able to spare future generations from a worst case scenario (as if).

And, since that’s not going to happen, the gringa says invest in some scuba gear, sturdy suitcases, and quality maps of inland locales if you are a coastal dweller. If you live on secure high ground, perhaps you should build a guest house or two, or three, or maybe even forty. It may be the humble beginnings of a future hotel and housing empire for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren.




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Read With The Gringa “Reuben and the Blizzard”

Gather the little ones for a snowy story by Merle Good about an Amish boy, his family and a new litter of puppies that need to be named.

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Read With The Gringa “Will Stutely Is Rescued”

Join the gringa in a read along of chapter 3 of “The Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle. The crazy outlaws outfox the sheriff again!

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Black Hole or Black Gold?

If you’re reading the gringa’s blog, chances are you find science interesting. That would mean you must know who Stephen Hawking is. Stephen always has interesting things to say. Something he has recently said that has really got the gringa’s interest piqued is his idea that if we could just get a mini black hole trapped within the Earth’s orbit it could be used as a limitless energy source.

Now, the gringa asks, “What?” I mean, my limited knowledge of black holes tells me I don’t want a black hole of any size near the only planet that can sustain my life. Even if it is a “mini”. Aren’t black holes basically eternally hungry bottomless pits that consume everything in their paths, growing larger and larger over time? Won’t it one day no longer be a “mini” and capable of sucking the Earth right down its cosmic drain? Stephen, have you lost your mind?

Well, according to this genius physicist we have all been misunderstanding the poor ol’ black hole. The only tricky part is in finding one that’s about the same size as, say, Blue Mountain, a Canadian peak of about one thousand meters. A black hole that size would be large enough to provide energy for the entire world.

Although other physicists don’t necessarily deny the theory altogether, they do believe that since it would take, oh, say, possibly about ten thousand years to first prove mini black holes exist, then develop a black hole lasso and tow system and then fly out to wherever it is to retrieve it and bring it back, well, therein lies the problem.

But the gringa is still scratching the old noodle thinking how could all of this be possible if a black hole is really nothing more than an enormous organic Hoover? I was raised to believe that a black hole is a point in space where stars and other cosmic matter have collapsed into a rotating mass so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull. If anything gets near enough, it just gets sucked right into a slow, orbit of death until it finally reaches the center of the spiral where it (or you and I) is snuffed out with one final crush, becoming one with the space-blob in the center causing all the murderous outerspace mayhem.

But then, in the 1970s, the idea of “Hawking radiation” came along which is a theory that my science teacher in school never mentioned. Apparently, Stephen discovered that black holes are not gravitationally omnipotent. Sometimes they can spring a leak. Quantum particles can begin escaping. This would be the energy source mankind could utilize.

Now, almost all of the known black holes are enormous, incredibly old, cold, and stingy on the leakage. However, if we could discover a younger, smaller black hole burning hotter thus generating more quantum energy (like most youngsters do), we need only then figure out a way to tow that baby home and plug her in.

Stephen estimates that a “mountain-sized black hole” would leak the X-ray and gamma ray equivalent of about 10 million megawatts. Whoa, there, Nellie! Yep, more than enough to power the entire Earth. And we would all enjoy this non-Earth polluting energy until the harness system failed and our orbiting power plant soon sucked its way straight to the Earth’s core.

I mean, just how would you lasso the thing, nudge it into orbit and keep it there? There is no surface to a black hole so a cosmic lasso is out. We could go fishing with a larger, higher gravity producing object as bait to attract it’s attention and lure it back to Earth’s orbit. But this all sounds so complicated. Stephen’s suggestion is for us to just stay home and have a mini-black hole DIY project. Yes, he suggests we just build one. The gringa thinks, “What WILL these crazy scientists think of NEXT?!”




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Read With The Gringa “Shasta Among The Tombs”

We are moving on with Chapter 6 of “The Horse and His Boy”, book 3 of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Was that Aslan that Shasta saw or just some ol’ stray cat?



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How Bad Is 82%?

Did the gringa’s dear readers hear the news? The Earth’s report card has arrived and, well, it doesn’t seem to be all that bad. It’s a “B”, after all, 82%. That’s the grade the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory gave our lovely planet. What, exactly, does that mean?

By using what the laboratory calls the “habitability index”, our planet was graded on the likelihood of supporting life. It rated an 82%. The same guidelines used to determine the habitability of life on other exoplanets throughout the vast cosmos was applied to Earth and she got a “B”. Among these guidelines are factors like: atmospheric pressure, terrain, existence of water, etc.

The funny thing is that if we didn’t live here already, and sent out a probe to conduct an analysis of our planet according to this habitability index, we wouldn’t think the planet was inhabited or capable of sustaining life if we wanted to pay it a visit with boots on the ground. We would think it was too hot to support life. What? Yes. Our scientists would think it too close to our host star, the Sun. The gringa says, “That’s crazy!” I then have to wonder how many other planets out there in space have been deemed “uninhabitable” but, in actuality, could very well support life and possible may be doing just that?!

The researchers at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) seem to be thinking along the same lines as the gringa. Now, SETI typically keeps a fairly low profile. However, with the discovery of exoplanets, there is renewed vigor in the organization’s work.

When work first began in the 1980s, SETI was not a group of ufologists looking for little green men. These were serious scientists who were actually skeptical that intelligent life existed in the universe other than here on Earth. And then the discovery of exoplanets was made. These cosmic bodies orbit stars just like Earth and our neighbors within our own Solar System.

In addition to the discovery of exoplanets, extremophiles were also discovered. These are living organisms that survive within an extreme ecosystem, such as bacterial ecosystems around a 700 degree Fahrenheit hydrothermal vent, surviving without sunlight and under extreme oceanic pressure.  That means that life in the most basic form that evolved into all that populates our planet today can exist in outer space. In fact, it’s highly likely that it does, somewhere, we just have to find it.

You see, about 2,000 exoplanets have been discovered and that is just scratching the surface of an infinite universe. Mankind’s limited exploration abilities have yet to uncover what is likely to be hundreds of thousands, possibly millions and billions, of exoplanets. That dramatically increases the chances that somewhere out there is an exoplanet supporting life.

Consider that many of these exoplanets are much older than Earth. That means they have had plenty of time for bacteria to evolve into intelligent beings. Now, more than ever, is the gringa excited about the future of space exploration. The nearest exoplanet with a score high enough on the habitability index to consider a likely place to start in such a search is over 1,400 light years away. The gringa would rather go there than Mars.


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Read With The Gringa “The Shooting Match”

Join the gringa for a read along of chapter 2 of “The Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle. Robin’s in disguise and tricks the sheriff!


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