Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
I recently viewed a video on the Mother Nature Network about Salina Turda, a huge 13th century Romanian salt mine that was converted into a tourist attraction. It lay 360 feet below ground and was large enough to accommodate a spa, an underground lake and its own amusement park. The footage was amazing.
But as I watched, I began to understand that places like this could very well become the last refuge of our species should a global climate catastrophe become a reality.
The Earth's coral reefs are already in the throes of an extinction event, triggered by rising CO2 levels in the upper layers of the ocean. As the seas become more acidic, the limestone in the corals is being eaten away. Like dropping vinegar onto concrete, but on an epic scale.
The Mauna Loa Observatory, run by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, has observed that atmospheric CO2 levels have already reached 400 parts per million, once considered the highest acceptable level of this gas.
I've read that if global temperatures rise just four degrees above normal, the process of global warming will take on a life of its own, releasing trapped ocean gases, making the seas anaerobic and killing off most sea life. At that point, the process will become irreversible. Extinction of most land-dwelling species will follow.
I believe it was Carl Sagan who described human beings in terms of the universe observing itself. But this world wasn't created just for us. It never was and never will be just about us.
I have no doubt that deep underground bunkers exist that are capable of creating oxygen, water, food and power for its inhabitants for years at a time. Most likely, only the very rich and those in the highest echelons of government will be allowed to live in them. But will these places be able to sustain their communities for the hundreds or even thousands of years necessary for global equilibrium to be restored? As I watched the video and wondered, my eyes began to tear up. I realized that it may be just a matter of time before we go the way of 99 percent of all species that have ever lived on this planet.
The old one-two
The hook was baited in Pulaski County, when the school district announced that deseg money had stopped and they are cutting programs. The deseg money doesn't stop immediately. Patrons and parents got upset and want the programs to remain. Step two will be with the suggestion to raise the millage, oh let's just pick a number, between 5 and 5½. Taxpayers won't think twice about it, right? As stated before, you're still paying taxes and have no representation. It's time to take back your school district.
Ignored by Stodola
The Little Rock Marathon ran recently, and I find myself a little nonplussed by the reaction I received when attempting to convey some serious concerns about the condition of the course and our city streets in general.
I've come to think of the intersection of Cantrell Road and Riverfront Drive as one of the gateways to our downtown. A major state highway connecting to a major office corridor, it shepherds thousands of vehicles to and from the suburbs each day. It's visible as it can be, and the litter that carpets that area is a disgrace. It looks simply awful and has been thus for years.
I know Mayor Mark Stodola, like him well enough, and thought that since I was once a voter for him in at least two elections that I might give him a heads up about something as innocuous and easy to remedy as this was! So, I pick up the phone, put a call to him. The marathon minus 10 days is plenty of time to place the necessary call to make this happen.
To his credit, he returned my call, and it was then that this got to be difficult and just a bit irksome. I had difficulty getting him to understand about what intersection I was concerned with I had difficulty getting a word in edgewise about the deplorable, ongoing condition of the area, and I had difficulty believing he had never noticed it. He readily admitted to that.
He asserted that it was a state Highway Department issue, the trash. Call them. I asserted that it was in the city of Little Rock in a damn ditch along Cantrell Road and we had 12,000 people running in a huge event in a matter of days. OK, he would call Public Works.
Four, five days go by. Still looking really bad. Text to Stodola. Return text suggesting I get in touch with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and that I should feel free to join a group that adopts and monitors trash on roads and highways.
Suffice it to say, 12,000 of Stodola's friends and admirers ran in trash along Cantrell Road. I can only surmise that Little Rock Public Works thought Stodola was kidding about having them clean the area. Maybe Stodola thought I was kidding, too.
Great news! The European economic crisis is over. The New York Times has been tracking the Eurozone's industrial output and the stabilizing ratio of European debt over gross domestic product. Europe has been producing more than experts predicted. And here is more good news: The Chinese have finished renovating their stock market indices by now. The beginning of the Chinese New Year and the gathering of the Chinese parliament marked the right time to change Hong Kong's outdated trading method. The Chinese are struggling to get their new systems up to speed, but their economy still met the 7.5 growth forecast for 2014, according to Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, back here in the states, we have finally recovered from the sour economy of this century's first decade. These really are the good old days, aren't they? To everything there is a season, right? I think everyone can admit, at least in secret, that our economy is finally on the right track. We must all savor the fruits of this prosperity, for some Americans will soon elect to steer our nation in the opposite direction. Too bad.
Here is some more good news! Unemployment in Arkansas has recently diminished one-tenth of a percent, according to Hola, Arkansas.
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