One of my favorite science writers is Ellen Morris Bishop. She wrote In Search of Ancient Oregon, which I’ve lavished much-deserved praise on here and cannot recommend highly enough. If I could personally grab each of you by the lapels, give you a good shake, and scream “Buy this book!” in your faces, I’d do it. You’ll also need a copy of Hiking Oregon’s Geology, dog owners need Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon, and she’s got a Field Guide to Pacific Northwest Geology on the way.
She doesn’t update her blog often, alas – in fact, last I’d checked, there’d been no activity since 2008. Silly me, I assumed that was that. But I dropped by there the other night on the off chance that maybe, possibly, things might have changed, and there are two new posts! Well, posts from summer 2010, anyway. New enough, damn it!
I wish I’d known about “Energy and Entropy” when the BP oil spill was still leading the news, but better late than never, especially when a scientist takes on the laws of thermodynamics to explain why we need to get serious about green energy. Here’s a taste:
We can re-order things now by plugging the well. Period. And we can continue the rest of the system pretty much as-is. Not a lot of energy. Not much change. But also, according to thermodynamics, it will take a minimal amount of energy dysfunction to once again slip into chaos. If we continue offshore drilling without re-ordering our processes and priorities, if we invest minimal political and physical energy in fixing the system, then we will live with chaos on our doorstep. That’s not my opinion. It’s thermodynamics.
Or we can truly change the system. Energize a whole new order to energy and our use of it. It is in these convective overturns of an existing system where new orders are established and, for a time, entropy is driven back. This is an opportune moment to demonstrate mastery of the Second Law.
Once you’re done with that, there’s a poem for ye. It’s one of those poems that makes a person pause and consider. And if by some bizarre circumstance I ever end up dying as a soldier, I want it read at my grave.
Now, my darlings, go pester Ellen. The geoblogosphere needz moar Ellen! Only, of course, not so much that it slows down the delivery of her books to our shelves.