Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pen Meets Paper Sept.27'10

Opinion by Helge Nome
The availability of energy is the precondition for any form of life, from microbes to dinosaurs. We humans are part of that mosaic and are absolutely dependent upon the animating force of our sun in our little spot in the universe. Luckily for us, the sunshine of a thousand yesterdays are locked up in the plants and animals around us. And we have learned to unlock that energy at our pleasure in order to sustain ourselves.
In the modern world, we have even tapped into solar energy stored in fossils for millions of years, greatly extending our ability to thrive in a what can be hostile environments.
But before we pat ourselves on the back too vigorously, some humility may be in order:

Sir John Franklin, leader of the Franklin expedition which left England in 1845 to map the fabled North West Passage across the top of the world, was neither able nor willing to tap into the energy riches of the area. The local Inuit people watched in amazement as the remnants of the well equipped Franklin expedition ran out of options for self support and in the final stages resorted to cannibalism to try unsuccessfully to stay alive.
And all this happened in a land of abundance, from the perspective of the Inuit. You see, they had discovered the secret of the Arctic a long time ago and were literally the kings of their castle because of it. Amazingly, it is a substance that we, in our culture, waste, throw away and generally seek to get rid of. It has no, or little value for us whereas it is the fundamental precondition for any kind of warm blooded life in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the Earth. Having this substance available to you allows you free reign over millions of square kilometers of landscape. People like Franklin and his men could only hope to make a limited excursion into these hostile regions, and then withdraw before succumbing to the elements.
This substance is stored vibrant solar energy, an instantly ignitable fuel that will turn a miserable arctic blizzard into a minor discomfort for someone in an igloo. Please be careful if you experiment with this substance. It is raw animal fat and if you burn it it will turn your stovepipe red hot.

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