23. February 2024 · Comments Off on WE MUST SAVE OUR OCEANS! · Categories: Blog

From United Nations UN News, Jan. 8. 2021

Humankind’s future wellbeing is directly linked to the health of the ocean.

The health of the ocean will ultimately determine the survival of humankind on Earth, according to the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson. Marking the opening of the International Decade for Ocean Science, the former top Fijian diplomat and General Assembly president, told UN News that a healthy planet is inextricably linked to a healthy ocean.

Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. , by UNDP/Freya Morales

At the moment, only around 10 per cent of the ocean’s make-up is understood by science. In the years ahead, we will have some very important decisions to take on our relationship with this planet and we will need to make them on the basis of solid science. With the ocean covering 70 per cent of the planet, full scientific knowledge of its properties is clearly required. It is for this reason that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development assumes such great importance for us all.

Throughout the Decade, the ocean science community will be called upon to play a central role in global efforts towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 14 which focuses on conserving and sustainably using the ocean’s resources.

Bernard Spragg

Large areas of the ocean which covers 70 per cent of the planet are yet to be fully explored.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming tells us that once global temperatures increase beyond 2˚C above pre-industrial levels, we will lose the great majority of the planet’s living coral reefs.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns us that on our current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3˚ to 5˚C by the end of this century. Coral reefs are home to around 30 per cent of the ocean’s biodiversity; thus their loss would be catastrophic for the ocean’s ecosystem.

The ocean plays a fundamental planetary role in mitigating the effects of climate change through its absorption of heat and carbon. This service alone makes the healthy functioning of the ocean’s ecosys-tems critical to all humans. This is true whether you live thousands of miles inland or are part of coastal communities that rely on the ocean for livelihoods. In short, the health of life on land is inextricably linked to the ocean’s health.


A healthy ocean where marine life thrives is crucial to the survival of the planet.

Ocean science is a very broad field and a huge amount will be happening in the field in the next decade. For example, it’s expected that a global effort to map the entire ocean floor will be completed by 2030.

The plan for the UN Decade has recently been approved and I’m excited by all it offers. This includes a clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and reduced or removed; a healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are understood, protected, restored and managed; and a safe ocean where life and livelihoods are protected from ocean-related hazards.

Over the next ten years, from a comprehensive scientific understanding of the ocean and the genetic properties of life in the deep sea, I’m confident we’ll find the medicines we require for human security. I’m also convinced that when we get to know more about the ocean, we’ll be able to source new sustainable forms of seafood, rather than concentrating on our hunt for ever-diminishing wild stocks of finned fish.

In terms of energy, we can get ten times our energy requirements from offshore wind alone.

This is why it is crucial for us to fully understand the ocean ecosystem if we are to develop these elements of a sustainable blue economy. All of these developments will require adequate finance and the people making those funding decisions will want to see sound evidence of sustainable ocean planning before allocating funds. Such plans will have to be based upon reliable science, so the UN Decade of Ocean Science could not be more timely.

Mary Hagedorn, US Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute 

Mary Hagedorn, a Hawaii-based senior research scientist at the US Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, is developing cryopreservation techniques to save coral reefs

“I come from Fiji, where I’ve been working with the Pacific’s regional institutions to ensure the Decade is a movement in which the Pacific Islands are fully involved. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), the UN body responsible for supporting global ocean science, has made it clear that a core objective of the Decade will be to improve the scientific knowledge base through capacity development to regions and groups that are presently limited in capacity and capability, especially Small Island Developing States and the Least Developed Countries.”

SDG Goal 14: Life Below Water, by United Nations

The Decade will be a time of partnership, for philanthropists, universities and NGOs, for international organizations, governments and the private sector. I see it as a time to embed the partnership model that the UN has long been espousing through an inclusive, multilateral approach.

Given the growing importance of the Sustainable Blue Economy and the need for it to be governed with sustainability and science as its hallmarks, I’ve been encouraging young people around the world to consider ocean science as a worthy career-path. To have the science we need for the ocean we want, we will need dedicated communities of ocean scientists around the world.

The ocean is becoming more acidic and its oxygen levels are declining, largely because of our burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions. Over time this makes living conditions for many marine species increasingly difficult. Meanwhile the ocean is warming, causing marine life to move away from traditional habitats, adding to coral’s existential challenges, and leading to the rising sea levels that threaten to inundate atoll countries, low-lying coasts and river deltas around the world.

These threats are very real and I think the urgency of the message is finally getting through. As I’ve said, good science is required to give us the information we need to make the right decisions for our future security.

12. January 2024 · Comments Off on MARKETING · Categories: Blog

A few years ago, a market research analyst I know named Joanne Dove decided to quit her dead-end job and become a freelancer. She knew she was very good at what she did, and friends had always encouraged her to go into business for herself. However, she was a bit timid and lacked drive, so once she had thrown a good deal of money into setting up her business, she felt that the services she offered were so good that her market would come to her. It didn’t.

At about the same time in a neighboring city, a friend of hers, Harry Beecham, also a market research analyst and also wishing to be his own boss, decided he would go into business for himself. He set up meetings with a tax consultant and a business manager, and offered the same kind of services Joanne was offering. But Harry knew the value of marketing, and his business flourished.

Before he even left his old job, Harry had made an appointment with his tax attorney to discuss whether to incorporate or not, and how he might arrange his equipment purchases and invoicing so as to avoid problems with the IRS. He wrote a business plan, which is helpful whether or not you want venture capital funds or a loan. The plan required him to think through who his market would be, how he was going to reach them, what he would do with the income he received and what his actual business was. Through the business and marketing plans, he was able to decide how he would market his services so that very little time was wasted trying first one thing and then another.

Harry’s tax attorney referred him to a Public Relations expert, who helped him decide what kinds of publicity he wanted, and all his decisions had been made by the time he started work on his first contract proposal.

Writing Your Business Plan

This article will be an investigation into some of the tools you, as an entrepreneur, might consider when writing your own business plan. You can do a simple plan just for yourself, clarifying your mission, stating exactly what service and/or product you want to provide, who you might expect to purchase those services or products (your target market), where these customers might be found and how you might connect with them, and how you’ll treat the income your product or services will generate.

You could also purchase software that will help you to write a business and marketing plan if you want something more complex, or if you wish to use the plan to generate capital. You can find this software in office supply stores or online, or you can hire a consultant to write a plan with you.

A small business consisting of one to three people most likely doesn’t need a 40-page plan, but do write your goals and your mission statement down, however simple or complex you feel it needs to be. It will be very helpful to think through your first year, and you’ll probably find several areas you wouldn’t have considered without the formal process, which may save a lot of wear and tear on yourself in the future.

Market Yourself

You’ll want to be clear about how to market yourself, how to spread the news about your new small business, and how to put yourself forward as a professional.

Some of the tools you might employ to market your business and spread the news about it include newsletters, flyers, direct-mail, fax/electronic mail, telemarketing, newspaper and magazine advertising, and/or publicity. Here’s a brief exploration of each of those tools.

  • Direct-mail – You can write, or have a professional writer prepare, a persuasive sales letter that can be sent to your prospective client list by snail-mail, fax or email; but remember, a sales letter ALWAYS asks for the sale.
  • Telemarketing – You might purchase a list from a professional list service, according to demographics you specify, and then hire friends or students who can make up to a hundred phone calls a day offering to set appointments for you to discuss your products or services.
  • Advertising – You could prepare a display ad (or simply a Yellow Pages or classified ad) that would appear in one or in every issue of a newspaper or magazine that goes to your target market (the specific types of people you are targeting for your product or service).
  • Newsletters – You can write articles about the kind of work you do, items that summarize recent studies in the field, and ask friends in the same or related fields to contribute ideas, columns, articles or fillers that your target market would appreciate. This might be a one-page newsletter prepared with an inexpensive software program, printed in black & white at your local printer, with clip art and your own mailing list labels applied, all the way up to a glossy four-color six-page newsletter, professionally produced and mailed to a large, expensive, professionally developed mailing list.
  • Flyers – You might prepare black & white or color flyers and arrange for them to be direct-mailed to a targeted market, included in local newspapers, stuck under windshields or even stuffed into mailboxes. These might announce your debut as a service provider, or they might offer a big discount on a special deal.
  • Website – You might want to hire someone to prepare a website that you will contribute to regularly (once a month would be fine); these contributions might include articles about what you can offer, how-to articles, or interviews of local entrepreneurs, etc.
  • Publicity – You might decide to hold a fund-raiser, sponsor a charity, teach a class, publish an article about your services or have someone write an article about your business – in some way, make yourself visible in the community to draw the attention of prospective customers to you. You should consider writing a press release and sending it to local newspapers.

You might wonder whether you need publicity. A Public Relations consultant can give you guidance as to what their assistance will result in. But be careful – not all publicity is good publicity; the difference between publicity and notoriety is that publicity is good, although maybe more difficult to get.

Be Seen As a Professional

You can be perceived as a professional in a variety of ways: Your business card and stationary will say a lot about your professionalism, as will the brochures, the website and the flyers you prepare. You can also join one or more trade associations related to your business, and make yourself visible within them, or you might choose to become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and attend their networking meetings, or both. You might consider joining a group of like-minded small business owners and professionals in a networking group, where you’ll likely be encouraged to share your expertise and will learn methods of quickly introducing yourself and your business. These groups are also great sources for referrals.

In the long run, our friend Joanne was probably as good a market research analyst as Harry, and might have had a pretty competent business head on her shoulders. But she didn’t know, or she forgot, that it was her responsibility to go to her customers, and not theirs to come to her.

12. January 2024 · Comments Off on GEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS · Categories: Blog

Scientists now understand most of what has happened on Earth in past eons — Ice Ages, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc. The answers lie in the following methods.

Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events (i.e., the age of one object compared to another), without necessarily determining their absolute age. In geology, rock or superficial deposits, fossils, and the description of a rock’s physical characteristics can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another. Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating, which provided a means of absolute dating in the early 20th century, archaeologists and geologists used this technique to determine ages of materials.

The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith. While digging the Somerset Coal Canal in southwest England, he found that fossils were always in the same order in the rock layers. As he continued his job as a surveyor, he found the same patterns across England. He also found that certain animals were in only certain layers, and that they were in the same layers all across England. Due to that discovery, Smith was able to recognize the order in which the rocks were formed. Sixteen years after his discovery, he published a geological map of England showing the rocks of different geologic eras.

Absolute dating is the process of determining an age on a specified chronology, in archaeology and geology. Absolute dating provides a numerical age or range, in contrast with relative dating, which places events in order without any measure of the age between events.

In archaeology, absolute dating is usually based on the physical, chemical, and life properties of the materials of artifacts, buildings, or other items that have been modified by humans and by historical associations with materials, with known dates (e.g., coins and written history). Techniques include tree rings in timbers, radiocarbon dating of wood or bones, and trapped charge dating methods such as thermoluminescence dating of glazed ceramics. Coins found in excavations may have their production date written on them, or there may be written records describing the coin and when it was used, allowing the site to be associated with a particular calendar year.

In historical geology, the primary methods of absolute dating involve using the radioactive decay of elements trapped in rocks or minerals, including isotope systems from very young to systems such as uranium-lead dating that allows acquisition of absolute ages for some of the oldest rocks on earth.

Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings, also known as growth rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year. In some areas of the world, it is possible to date wood back a few thousand years, or even many thousands. Currently, the maximum for fully anchored chronologies is a little over 11,000 years from the present.

Dendrochronology has three main areas of applications: paleoecology, where it is used to determine certain aspects of past ecologies (most prominently climate); archaeology, where it is used to date old buildings, etc.; and radiocarbon dating, where it is used to calibrate radiocarbon ages.

With regard to Ice Ages, there are three main types of evidence: geological, chemical, and paleontological.

Geological evidence for Ice Ages comes in various forms, including rock scouring and ice cores. Early theories about glaciation assumed that the glacials (the Ice Ages themselves) were short compared to the long inter-glacials (the time between glacials). The advent of sediment and ice cores revealed the true situation: glacials are long, inter-glacials short.

The chemical evidence mainly consists of variations in the ratios of isotopes in fossils present in sediments and sedimentary rocks, and in ocean sediment cores. However, this evidence can be confounded by other factors recorded by isotope ratios.

12. January 2024 · Comments Off on DINOSAURS · Categories: Blog

Scientists believe that a six-mile wide asteroid landed in what’s now Central America 66 million years ago, causing fires and leading to what they call a “nuclear winter.” This means that the dust and debris kicked up by the impact, and smoke and ash from the fires, filled the air and created a barrier to sunlight for a very long time, so that plants and animals that depended on sunlight could not grow. This in turn was believed to be the cause of the disappearance of dinosaurs that lived at that time all over the earth. They died off eventually from starvation, or dehydration, or other unknown causes (e.g., battles for the last vegetation).

Some recent studies have shown that:

The impact of the asteroid created the Chicxulub crater, which is buried under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The crater measures around 112 miles in diameter. The asteroid impact that wiped out most of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago sparked two years of darkness caused by the soot from raging wildfires that filled the sky and blocked the sun. This phenomenon further contributed to the wave of extinctions that followed.

Dinosaurs died off about 33,000 years after the asteroid hit the Earth, much sooner than scientists had believed, and the asteroid may not have been the sole cause of extinc-tion, according to a recent study. The asteroid impact that wiped out most of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago sparked two years of darkness caused by the soot from raging wildfires that filled the sky and blocked the sun. This phenomenon further contributed to the wave of extinctions that followed. The dust from the impact might have stayed in the atmosphere for up to 15 years, the team’s models suggest. During this time, global temperatures would have dropped by as much as 15 °C.

An in-depth analysis of the fossil record shows that placental mammals (the group that includes humans, dogs and bats), co-existed with dinosaurs for a short time before the dinosaurs went extinct. Since dinosaurs died off about 33,000 years after the asteroid hit Earth, this means that those mammals co-existed with dinosaurs for sometime around 33,000 years.

All modern humans share a common ancestor who lived around 200,000 years ago in Africa. Comparisons between known skin pigmentation genes in chimpanzees and modern Africans show that dark skin evolved along with the loss of body hair about 1.2 million years ago, and that this common ancestor had dark skin.

02. December 2022 · Comments Off on BLOG · Categories: Blog

I recently repotted my little yellow miniature rosebush, and then proceeded to way over-water it. Now it has a bunch of dead or dying leaves, but the new soil does appear to be soaking up the leftover water, so I’m in hopes that it will soon bloom again. Because of being repotted, and also being moved from the bookcase, which is about 52” high, to the desk, which is 40” high, I’m sure it’s been badly shocked. And then, to add insult to injury, I over-watered it. Poor thing. My sister says I should talk to it when I water it, and I haven’t tried that yet, but it may help—who knows?

Have I discussed my collectibles before? I used to collect owls, and got up to 19 of them, all varied but mostly small porcelain or clay figures. When I had to move and downsize, I gave them to my son who doesn’t really care about them, but displays them in his living room. After I stopped collecting owls, I moved on to Erté plates from Franklin Mint. I have six, and two coffee table books about them. But it’s been a year or more since I looked at the books, and I had to put the plates away when I downsized four years ago.

Many years ago, mostly because of my interest in Erté fashion, I started collecting fashionable ladies, mostly in porcelain and mostly less than a foot tall. I now have three 18” tall ladies (one Lladro), two 8” tall Lladro bridesmaids, one 8” tall Royal Daulton lady and a lovely slender 8” tall lady my sister sent me from Paris. My sister also sent me a painting of a pink lady and another of a model wearing a lovely scarf. There is also a 2’ tall plaster white lady that I saw in a thrift shop and had to have.

A friend recently gave me three little snowmen (about 5” tall), and I had long ago found a 15-16” tall Irish Santa figure, that have become part of my collection. In addition, I have a pair of old-fashioned baseball kids, 6” tall, in plaster.

My final topic today is about my latest WIP, a collection of short stories, similar to my self-published book, “The Dawn People,” about life in the Grey Owl tribe of the Megalithic era. I’d drafted ten stories until I started to edit them and realized three of them really didn’t belong. So I had to come up with three more stories that would fit, and those are still in very rough draft form at this point.

I’m still working on two other YA books, one a fantasy about a witch and a gemstone, and the other Book One of a thriller trilogy, about an investigative reporter who takes a sabbatical to drive around the Pacific Coast mourning her beloved husband. I’ve finished a YA novella called “Magical Brownies,” and another, contemporary middle grade book, called “Snow” about a girl and her white horse, which I’ve discussed here before. But so far I haven’t had any luck getting the attention of an agent or a publisher for either book.