Friday, June 21, 2013

Montana Health Insurance exchange, hope for the lower middle class

  So I was driving around today, Worrying about the strange radiating pain in my left side , chills and occasional numbness in my left arm . The question is being uninsured do I want to get this checked out ? Considering we don't have ( can't afford ) insurance for the family, If its something serious, do we treat it and go broke or do I just work on a poor mans bucket list ( Jimmy Buffet concert in Key West !) go boots up and leave my wife and child with some money to carry on?  I'm sure this is question for a lot of people. Despite what Fox News and the radical right think, there are a lot of people out there that do not want to bleed the system, they just want to be able to protect and feed their family all at the same time. 
   So its still up in the air if the powers that be in this Republic ( we are not a Democracy ) will let the process move forward but at least Montana seems to making steps to help people find some  footing in the future of Health Care Insurance . Check out the new web site

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hearing about a suicide over the Phone

Does it happen more here in Montana , or is it just the norm ? Got word last night that an old friend has killed her self.  Hard times do not mean just lack of money  I guess.


Looking at the sunset
after hearing the news,

A light that burned so bright
amid the turmoil of the dark.

Never what she wanted to be,
or what she could have been

She rides across the Montana sky
on a blood streaked white horse.

Finally free of the pain
of being simply mortal,

Proof that money
can't buy happiness.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Climate Change and the American Farmer

  I know for a lot of Americans the debate  about climate change is a political issue. If you believe in global warming you are a god damn liberal . I see it as the belief in the future. Why not  consider the fact that it might be true and try to make things a little better for your children and your grand children.

Maybe its like religion, you may believe in a god but its your daily living that proves your worth. I believe in the effect of humanity on our  environment As much as I'd like to belive in the hand of  god, I've seen so much crap occur on the Earth I'd much rather believe that we need to take steps to protect the thibngs that provide food, water and oxygen.

 here is a great article on the canary in the coal mine the AMERICAN FARMER

Posted by: Dr. Ricky Rood, 3:52 AM GMT on June 10, 2013+14
Not Like My Father’s

I want to continue in the personal and spontaneous spirit of the last blog. I heard a lecture recently talking about climate change and farming. The speaker made the comment that the climate was changing fast enough that a family farmer could not count on the weather being the same as his father’s.

Many of the discussions I have heard about farming and climate change start with a discussion of drought and that we expect more frequent and more severe droughts in the future. Flood is also mentioned, but anecdotally at least, we think of flood as more localized than drought. We also hear about warmer and earlier springs, and hence, longer growing seasons. This potential opportunity is muted by concerns that even if there is more precipitation that it will be warmer, and that additional heat will cause more water stress for crops. In general, the farmer will have to manage more variable and more extreme weather.

We are already in a time of rapidly changing climate. The first decade of this century was the warmest recorded, and it has been many years since the month’s average of the Earth’s surface was cooler than the 20th century average. For the northern hemisphere this has led to a lengthening of the growing season, as defined by frost-free days. This has already motivated adaptation by planting earlier with seed hybridized to take advantage of these changes. The last thirty years have also been a time when the rhythm of precipitation has changed. We see more precipitation in intense storms, and changes in the seasonal cycle of the availability of fresh water.

I was recently on a telecon with some scientists from the Department of Agriculture. I learned that in recent years, heavy spring rains had been inhibiting spring planting. There have been problems with getting heavy equipment into the field. The amount of time where the soil moisture is right for both holding up the equipment and providing a good seedbed is becoming shorter (news link). The likelihood of seedlings being washed out by intense rains is increasing. Curiously to me, one response to this has been to build still bigger equipment so that more can be planted in the shorter amount of time that is available.

What I described in the previous paragraph is not something that is projected for the future; it is already happening (Impacts of Climate Change on Illinois Agriculture). Farmers and manufacturers see what is happening, and they adapt. This adaptation to perceived changes is real, costly and much more concrete than the abstract threats of more drought and more flood. Another real issue that we already respond to is the warm spell in spring that causes budburst of orchards, followed by a freeze that wipes out a crop.

Events such as the wet spring, bud burst and crop loss, flooding out of a crop are not new to farmers. What is new is how often such events are happening. It is also new that the places where the events are occurring are changing.

I grew up in the South of the United States, which is a four-season climate. I remember throughout my childhood peach crops that were wiped out by a late frost. In fact, almost every year there was concern in some part of the South of a swath of peaches being wiped out. And that is an interesting fact of climate variability and farming, there is almost always weather-related damage some place. In a country as large and rich as the United States other regions of plenty balance these places of loss out. It is this balance of agricultural plenty and loss that leads some to say that when viewed as a global or national market, agriculture is resilient to climate change.

If this collective agriculture is, in fact, resilient to climate change, this assumes either 1) the future climate is, on average, like our father’s climate or 2) we effectively adapt to climate as it changes. A confidence in agricultural resilience assumes that what resilience we have built in the past transfers into the future. Even if agriculture is collectively resilient, locally there is boom and bust.

In the South precipitation is spread out across all of the seasons. Irrigated farming is the exception, not the rule. Southerners do not worry about water being stored in snow and dribbling out to use as it melted in the spring and the summer. As I have grown old and traveled and moved, I found out that much of the world does not have four seasons with rain spread throughout the year. Much of the world has a wet season and a dry season. Many parts of the world rely on water being stored as snow on high mountains, lasting into spring and melting to be used for agriculture in the warm season.

Scientists call being able to rely on having our father’s climate “stationarity.” If the climate were stationary, then in the future the averages and the extremes would be the same. To describe stationarity scientists often use figures that describe the statistical distribution of “climate” or perhaps more correctly of temperature and precipitation. We talk about the average temperature increasing. We talk about average precipitation increasing or decreasing, depending on the region. We often talk about the “extremes,” especially extremely hot temperatures increasing. Precipitation extremes might increase either as prolonged drought or as intense rain and snowstorms. The changes in the statistical distribution of parameters that measure climate describe the lack of stationarity.

The normal ways that we talk about extremes does not always convey the way we are feeling climate change. The seasonality, the rhythm, the ebb and flow this is changing and felt in those muddy fields that preclude farm equipment and endanger planting. The change in seasonality is felt in intense winter snowstorms, followed by winter rains and early spring causing water to run through the ditches, rivers and reservoirs and to be unavailable for summer growing. The changes in seasonality are felt in an increasing number of early bud bursts followed by the killing frost. This change in seasonality is as much a change in stationarity as any change in the average and mean temperature. In fact, the change of the rhythm of seasons can occur with very little change to the statistical description of averages and extremes. It might not even seem hotter.

How to cope with a climate that is not stationary is a major challenge for agriculture (and engineering). Deep within our planning for the future is the assumption that weather will remain the same – it will be like our father’s and mother’s weather. This is no longer the case.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

teaching city kids to grow green

Maybe I am getting obsessive about this , but being lucky enough to live in a place where there is open ground to plant some green an watch it green, makes me aware that a lot of city kids don't have that opportunity. Here is a great story on Ted about a teacher helping city Kids learn how to enjoy and make money from growing things ( other than pot)