“Man”made earthquakes April 5, 2012Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in earthquakes, hydraulic fracturing.
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A paper will be presented by US Geological Survey geoscientists at the upcoming meeting of the Seismological Society of America meeting that asserts the following: the injection of fluids into the earth’s crust in the pursuit of natural gas has caused a spate of earthquakes from the southeastern U.S. to the Rockies.
Cherishing Living Beings — Seen and Unseen January 9, 2012Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in Antarctica, Buddhist concepts, earth community, earth system science, environmentalism, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, hydrosphere, ocean pollution, oil spill, science, yeti crab.
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This piece is cross-posted at Shambhala SunSpace.
(Image from the first-ever video footage of the newly found Yeti Crab.)
The first time I chanted the Metta Sutta — the Buddha’s teaching on lovingkindness — I was a retreatant at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and I got caught up in the inflection marks that appeared above the words; I couldn’t quite figure out when my voice should go up and when it should go down. I felt self conscious about not getting it right and awkward each time we chanted thesutta (in Pali, the language of the Buddha, sutta means “thread” and its presence in the title of a text indicates that it is a sermon of the Buddha or one of his major disciples). Still, at each sit I looked forward to the collective chant. I listened carefully and chanted along with the group following the rhythm, tempo, and pitch. Eventually the sutta seeped into my bones, resonated in my body. In short order, I loved it.
These days, one of my favorite aspects of a retreat with Sylvia Boorstein and Sharon Salzberg is our coming out of silence by reciting together this sutta and discussing the lines we love. Usually my mind settles on “contented and easily satisfied” or “so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings.”
For there, seven thousand feet beneath the sea surface, are “black smokers” — hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor — that spew hot, mineral-rich water into cold deep and build chimneys of a sort. Around them, living beings seen and unseen, cluster–species of giant tube worms and clams feeding on microscopic organisms, species sharing this spot on Earth over millions of years.
Not that I’m trying here to suggest that either the microscopic organisms or the larger animals at the vents are sentient and feel what human beings call contentment; rather, these critters are simply eking out a living — making the best out of their (sub)station in life. And I guess that to me, this is another manifestation of the wisdom of the Earth System; at these black smokers we see other beings that live within the constraints of their situation –”contented and easily satisfied.”
I’m inspired by these beings that make their own food not from sunlight (photosynthesis) but from chemicals in the water (chemosynthesis)! They’re not grazing on golden hills like the deer Sylvia has described that wander near Spirit Rock Meditation Center. They are what biologists call extremophiles. They dwell under pressure, in the dark, making their food from the Earth’s hot effluent!
Amazingly, but perhaps not surprisingly given that three-quarters of the Earth is ocean and we’ve explored precious little of the floor beneath, there seem to be plenty of living beings we’ve yet to meet. A few days ago, published research on newly discovered deep sea hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica revealed some entirely new species. Check out this previously unknown species of hairy-armed crustaceans called “yeti crabs” living tightly packed together on and around the vents.
In the aftermath of various insults to the salty portion of the Earth’s hydrosphere such as the recent oil spill off the Nigerian coast, and in anticipation of damage from hydrofracking to unknown beings that undoubtedly reside in deep regions of the lithosphere, I offer these observations.
Perhaps one day we may, in the words of the sutta, cherish with a boundless heart all living beings, omitting none.
The Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Extremely Unskillful? November 9, 2011Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in Buddhist concepts, climate change, Dalai Lama, earthquakes, fossil fuel, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Jack Kornfield, Keystone XL Pipeline Project, tar sands.
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The Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion (Keystone XL), operated by Calgary-based TransCanada, is the southernmost geographical component of the Keystone Project that will carry crude oil derived from Alberta, Canada tar sands through Saskatchewan, across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma to southern Texas where it will be refined along the Gulf of Mexico. In a recent interview TransCanada CEO Russ Girling commented
“We never expected to be the lightning rod for the development of the Canadian oil sands. At the end of the day we build a conduit from A to B.”
What’s wrong with this attitude? The idea that this complex enterprise can be reduced to as simple a notion as connecting two points by a line can only arise from a profoundly confused mind. Here’s some geoscience in the service of clarity.
Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas April 4, 2010Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in fossil fuel, hydraulic fracturing.
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Despite the fact that we humans must curb our use of fossil fuels, the technique of hydraulic fracturing (aka ‘fracking’) is being touted as an innovative way to extract natural gas from shale deposits. In my home state of New York, much attention has been paid to the issue because of the presence of an extensive sedimentary layer, the Marcellus shale, that could serve as a substantial source of the fossil fuel. For a balanced treatment of the potential promise and peril of this technology see the Scientific American report, “Fracking to Free Natural Gas”