Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day....again

So another Earth Day is here.  Much harder to miss this time around.  I don't know about where you live but where I live there are a number of events planned. My favorites are the anti-Earth Day rallies.

For myself, I plan to spend Earth Day at the Herbarium where I have been slowly working my way through an out-of-date filing system (think index cards), cross-referencing specimens & updating everything in a new computer database.  This has less to do with Earth Day then it does with Thursday.  This is what I do most Thursdays.

In previous posts, I have been quick to point out the corporate sponsors, so this time I thought I would let you in on who is sponsoring the Earth Day network, some of them might surprise you.  NASA caught me by surprise, but they really should not have.  When I think about NASA I usually think about giant explosions needed to lift massive machinery & personnel out beyond, well, the earth.  It is easy to forget that the earth is a planet & there are a lot of other planets.  Some of them might even have clues about how to make things better here.

Scientists often get bad press from both sides of any issues:  they love & want to help animals, they want to torture animals & study the impact; they spend money in pursuit of information that will be years & years before it is useful, they did not do the kind of research we really could have used like whatever it would have taken to be on the way to curing cancer (because if they did,  we would not still have cancer, right?); they live in a rose-colored never-never-land that is completely out of touch with how real people live, they are completely corrupt & taking advantage of guileless taxpayers.  Scientists get it coming & going.  Lately they get it from swathes of people who really like their lives just as they are, despite their bitching to the contrary, & don't want to make any changes that might not make them happy.

I do not remember when exactly, it was sometime between 1998 & 2008, if that helps, but there was some discussion among physicists about how to better acquaint the average person with what it is exactly a physicist does.  A was one of the people talking about it & he thought that rather than spending actual cash dollars on a  "physics is good & good for you" type ad campaign, they should take their promotions budget & make SchoolHouse Rock style vignettes, although to be fair I do not think he used the word "vignettes".  This was actually a compromise idea from his original "Let's call NOVA"  which was itself a scale back from "how can a room with this many jews not have a single person who knows Steven Speilberg"?

I do not know what the physicists did with their promotions budget in the end.  I can tell you they did not hire private yachts for illegal fishing trips or host bondage parties.  I doubt they even went anywhere special to have their meeting; even when they do, they tend to miss the point of the locale.  Physicists like to tell stories about how the last time they met in Las Vegas, the hookers went on vacation.  & A's former roommate, also a physicist, once  missed his flight to a national meeting, caught another routing through a different airport &  knowing he had a tight connection was very impatiently waiting for the airline staff to work their way to him & let him know what gate, etc. when he decided instead to follow all the guys with pocket protectors.  Guess who made his flight, no problem.

Maybe some one did call NOVA.  There certainly has been an adjustment to the science:engineering ratio (all to the good from my point of view) in more recent programming.  How much good it might do, though....  Earlier this month a program about plants which included a UF researcher & was filmed, at least in part, in the Herbarium (I recognized the cabinets) did not help the Botany Department one iota.  That is because there no longer was a stand-alone Botany Department at UF; it had already been folded into Zoology, among other cuts to earth education. 

Happy Earth Day.  & many more.

1 comment:

  1. I could take Earth Day more seriously if I hadn't seen first hand all the crap some of the participants have left behind for other people to clean up,