Burn, Baby, Burn — Rain Forest Inferno

The Amazon is hot right now, and I’m not talking about popularity. The world’s largest rain forest is literally hot as an unbelievable amount of fires are raging there. Burn, baby, burn. It’s a rain forest inferno! So vast are these blazes that NASA was able to capture images of Amazonian forest fire plumes from space. What’s going on and how does it affect you? The answers are surprising and very scary.

First of all, why are fires burning in a rain forest? Isn’t that a rather wet place where a fire would be unlikely to start? Fires are indeed rare in the Amazon most of the year because moisture keeps them down. July and August bring the dry season, and fires consequently increase during this time.

Fires this summer, though, are off the charts. Approximately 73.000 fires have been detected by Brazil’s space research center, INPE. The resulting smoke has drifted about 1,700 miles away and darkened the skies in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, during daylight hours. NASA has pictures of a resulting smoke layer from the fires more than 3.2 million square kilometers.  Holy smoke! The Brazilian state of Amazonas has even declared an emergency because of the fires.

It must be an extremely dry year for all these fires to be burning, right? Nope. The weather is normal this year, so Mother Nature isn’t the culprit for starting all these blazes. Who is? HUMANS. And these are not accidental fires, they are deliberately set. Humans are causing these fires by utilizing slash and burn tactics to clear land for farming and pasture.

Satellite images show an increase in deforestation in the Amazon during May, June, and July. Trees are being pulled down and then later burned after they have dried. Scientists have confirmed that the fires are linked to deforestation because the areas ablaze line up with areas of prior land clearing. The fact that such big columns of smoke are being produced, indicates enormous piles of wood are being burned. Scientists have basically concluded that where there’s lots of smoke there’s big fires as a result of deforestation.

And big fires are the result of BIG deforestation. The latest reported figures show deforestation increased in the Amazon area by 88% in June compared to the same period last year. By some estimates, more than a soccer field’s worth of the Amazon rain forest is being felled every MINUTE. Ain’t that a kick in the environment’s face?

Why such enormous land clearing? Blame the cows! Cattle ranching is the biggest reason behind deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80% of current deforestation. Where’s the beef? Well about 200 million head of cattle are in the Amazon area of Brazil. Brazil is the largest cattle exporter in the world; it supplies 1/4 of the global market. And those cattle have to go somewhere. They can’t climb trees, so the rain forest trees are being cut down to accommodate cattle. Hmm! Maybe if we ate more chicken like the Chick-Fil-A cow urges, less deforestation would occur…

But cattle can’t take all the blame. Old MacDonald is guilty as well. Thousands of acres of Amazonian rain forest are being cleared at a time to benefit large-scale agriculture. Brazil also exports large amounts of soybeans. Given the current trade war between China and the U.S., China is turning to Brazil as an alternate source of soybeans.

And is Brazil’s government simply allowing all this deforestation to occur? Pretty much. The country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who took office January 1, 2019, is known for his anti-environmental rhetoric. He has indicated he does not intend to go after farmers, loggers, and miners who take and clear forests.

Not only is Bolsonaro looking the other way when it comes to deforestation, he is actually encouraging it to bolster Brazil’s economy. The Brazilian president has been accused of harming the Amazon’s environment to benefit the loggers, farmers, and miners who helped get him elected. When the head of Brazil’s IPNE agency reported the 88% increase in deforestation from the past year, he was promptly fired. Bolsonaro stated that these deforestation figures were “lies.”

The Amazon rain forest fires have caused an international outcry and were a hot topic at the recent G7 Summit in France. French president Emmanuel Macron described these fires as an international crisis and squarely put the blame on the Brazilian president. He characterized the situation as an emergency which should be addressed at the G7 Summit because the Amazon rain forest, known as the plane’ts lungs, produces 20% of the world’s oxygen.

Macron’s comments brought the Amazon fires to the attention of many in the world who were not aware they were occurring. Due to the resulting international pressure that more action be taken, Brazil deployed its army to tackle the fires.

While the loss of rain forest land due to fire is regrettable, why is it a crisis and why should we be concerned? One of the main tenets of global climate policy is to curb deforestation.Such action is seen as vital to slowing global warming. Specifically, carbon stores in the rain forest serve to slow global warming.

As a result of the ongoing fires, millions of tons of carbon dioxide is being spewed into the air daily. The Amazon is a key part of Earth’s climate system because it absorbs about 5% of the carbon dioxide emitted. Less rain forest means more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Damage to the Amazon isn’t cool because it could reduce the forest’s cooling effects. Tropical rain forests are like giant air conditioners for the local area and the world. Water evaporating from tree leaves removes heat from the atmosphere reducing the temperature..

A rain forest is also a rain factory. It generates rain to help crops grow. If land is cleared, you may be able to grow more crops, but will there be a successful harvest if there’s not enough rain to grow the crops?

The long-term outlook is extremely concerning. The Amazon has already been deforested by 15% of its original state. Scientists worry that a tipping point will be reached when the deforestation hits 25%. What happens when the tipping point is hit? There will not be enough trees recycling water, and the Amazon will degrade into dry grassland.

A rain forest is a magical place because it is lush, green, and wet. It produces oxygen for us to breath, absorbs carbon dioxide, generates rain to grow crops, and produces cooling effects. But it we abuse the forest by clearing too many trees, the magic will be lost. Brazil, and in fact all inhabitants of planet Earth, need to be nice to Mother Nature, and ultimately to ourselves, by ensuring rain forests are protected. If there has to be an inferno, let it be a disco inferno. Burn, baby, burn!

JUST WONDER-ing:

Is it nice to fool with Mother Nature by allowing rampant deforestation? Have you considered how the environmental policies of other countries may ultimately impact you by affecting the world as a whole? Is a government being responsible if deforestation is allowed to occur unchecked? Is is short-sighted?

 

Hey, Greenland — Let’s Make A Deal!

President Trump is no longer a secret shopper. Word is out he would like the U.S. to buy Greenland. Yes, that’s right–the large northern land mass which is pretty much covered with ice, i.e., it isn’t green. The idea sounds crazy, but is it really?

Why would anyone want a frigid and icy land mass which mostly sits above the Arctic Circle? (Can you say Brrrr?) Three-fourths of Greenland is covered by a permanent ice sheet. In fact, 80% of Greenland is covered by ice one mile thick. Well, potential purchasers aren’t eyeing Greenland for its balmy weather and golf courses. Two things draw their attention–Greenland’s abundant natural resources and its strategic location.

Global warming leads to more than just higher temperatures; it causes Arctic ice to melt. As a result of global warming, Greenland’s mineral and energy resources are being uncovered and becoming more accessible. These resources include iron ore, zinc, diamonds (that’s my kind of ice!), gold, lead, oil, and uranium. Drilling and mining are more likely activities on Greenland than golfing.

Strategically, Greenland provides access to the Arctic. The United States’ northernmost military base, Thule Air Base, is located in northern Greenland. The base is 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 947 miles from the North Pole. In the past, the U.S.’s main interest in Greenland has been obtaining space for military bases there.

So, good reasons exist why a country would want to own Greenland. But Donald Trump is not the first or only leader to consider this, as he describes it, “large real estate deal.” In fact, the U.S. has tried to buy Greenland before. Way back in 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward explored the possibility of our country buying Greenland. His idea was dropped due to congressional opposition. Later, in 1946 President Harry Truman attempted to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100 million in gold. Today, that offer would equate to $1.3 billion.

And the U.S. is not the only country to be sizing up Greenland for a purchase. China has been eyeing buying Greenland for years because of the minerals and sea lanes it offers.

So Greenland is an attractive purchase for a world power such as China or the U.S. But why would a deal have to be struck with Denmark, a country over in Europe? Well, it’s because Greenland is an autonomous Danish territory and a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Based on the 2009 Self-Government Act, all governing power except for foreign affairs and defense was transferred to Greenland. Denmark’s constitution provides the future of Greenland’s sovereignty is in the hands of Greenland’s population to decide in a referendum. Sure, Denmark could negotiate to sell Greenland, but residents of Greenland would have to approve the purchase.

Why might Denmark want to unload Greenland? The icy land mass is poor with its economy tied to fishing, which accounts for 90% of Greenland’s exports. The country is not very developed. It consists of only about 17 towns, and virtually no roads connect them. Over one-third of the Greenland’s population lives in its largest city and capital, Nuuk. Danish subsidies are required to maintain the standard of living. Even if you aren’t an economic genius, you can see Greenland is an economic drain on Denmark.

And Danish subsidies go to support a fairly small number of people. Greenland’s population is merely about 57,000 people. To help you visualize this number of people, consider that the entire population of Greenland would not fill Sanford Stadium (seating capacity of just under 93,000), where my beloved Georgia Bulldogs play football. The world’s largest non-continental island, which is about three times the size of Texas, is not teeming with masses of people.

Denmark can’t bolster Greenland’s economy by promoting it as a great tourist destination. Since Greenland is located between the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans, it is not a Caribbean island with sun and fun. Greenland does boast the world’s largest national park, the Northeast Greenland National Park, which, true to its name, is located in the northeast portion of Greenland. But outdoor activities are limited due to the ice covering the ground and the freezing temperatures.

So, is Denmark eager to make a deal? It does have a track record of entering into large real estate deals with the U.S. about islands. Back in 1917 Denmark sold what was then known as the Danish West Indies to the U.S. for $25 million. Today these islands are known as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Despite this past transactional history, Denmark apparently isn’t interested in making a deal. Trump’s proposed purchase was quickly rebuffed by Greenland’s foreign ministry who responded, “We’re open for business, not for sale.” Similarly, Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, pooh-poohed the idea by characterizing it as “absurd.” Apparently responding, “No thanks, we’re not interested in selling,” was ruled out as being too diplomatic.

Thus, the deal is off. So what? Well, the drama continues. Donald Trump had been set to make his first formal visit to Greenland in early September. Not only is the purchase not happening, but neither is Trump’s visit which was cancelled in the wake of his real estate deal idea being torpedoed. President Trump did not take kindly to the Danish PM’s characterization of the idea as “absurd,” finding it a rather “nasty” response. Guess now is not a good time for the country’s leaders to meet face to face and have to play nice.

While the U.S. may not be buying Greenland, there is a bright side to the failed transaction. China isn’t going to be buying Greenland either since Greenland’s made it abundantly clear that it isn’t for sale. Period. Now China and the U.S. can go back to duking it out in their trade war instead of jostling to see who will buy coveted real estate.

Guess President Trump will have to revise his shopping list if Greenland is off the market. If he really wants an island, he may be able to get a good deal on a private one. I don’t think Jeffrey Epstein will be using his 70 acre private Caribbean island, Little St. James, now…

JUST WONDER-ing:

Is it “absurd” for a country to want to acquire specific real estate for strategic reasons? If Denmark was willing to sell Greenland and Greenland’a population would approve the transaction, should the U.S. spend the money to buy Greenland? Why or why not? Have you ever wanted to visit Greenland?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Daze — Reading, Writing, And Reality

It’s back to school time, and reading, writing, and arithmetic are not all that students are facing. What they encounter at school these days is a cold hard dose of reality. They are learning a whole lot of bad exists in the world, and that bad often rears its ugly head in the school house.

Back when I was in elementary school, the biggest danger we students could imagine was a fire in the building. We regularly had fire drills where we learned to calmly and quickly line up and exit the school building and go to a designated spot safely away from the burning structure. Did these drills scare us? Heck, no. It was quite fun to go outside and have a break from the normal classroom routine.

Things became a little darker when I was in high school. We students experienced bomb threats. Someone would call the front office and claim to have planted a bomb in the school. The building was evacuated, and the students would typically go sit in bleachers on the athletic field. Were we scared? Heck no! These threats coincidentally occurred when a test or anticipated pop quiz loomed in some class. We weren’t concerned that it was a terrorist calling in the threat; of course it was just an ill-prepared student.

Fast forward to 2019, the year my grandson has started first grade. It’s a different, and scarier, school environment for him and all other  students than the one I grew up in. They have to face the reality that at any time someone might try to kill them right there on the school grounds. Forget test anxiety; students may need to be more concerned about surviving the school day than about passing a test.

You don’t even have to set foot on school property today to get that safety and security are huge concerns. All the schools in our county are now surrounded by fencing to keep the bad guys out. Put a little concertina wire on top, and the grounds might start resembling correctional rather than educational institutions. Oh, and the doors to the building and to the classrooms where classes are occurring are kept locked. Sure the bad guys are locked out, but students may get that locked in goodness feel just like they were in jail.

Preparation for entering this risky environment begins before the school year starts. It used to be that students would stock up on lined notebook paper, pencils, and erasers. The current must have item for students is bullet-resistant backpacks. TuffyPacks sell for between $129 and $149, and Skyline backpacks go for $119 for kids and around $199 for adults. These backpacks are touted as being like wearing a police vest. Sadly, though, these backpacks don’t protect against military-style weapons. Geez! What good are they?

But it’s not enough to have the gear, students have to know what to do to get it in gear if an emergency arises. School are engaging in risk management and taking preventive steps to deal with situations which are unthinkable but could still happen. What do they do? Active shooter drills! Such drills came into use after the Columbine shooting in 1999. According to a May 2019 piece by Yahoo News, up to 95% of schools in this country have held a drill or lockdown in recent years to prepare for such violence.

While it might be fun to have something bearing your name, I shudder to think that one violence prevention training bears my name. ALICE training it is. That stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. Alice is not in Wonderland if this training is necessary; it is more like being in the Twilight Zone.

Are active shooter drills a good thing? Well, certainly they enhance everyone’s awareness of risks. But therein lies the problem. Take a kindergarten student for example. Will he feel prepared to deal with an intruder event by undergoing such a drill or will he be more likely to be stressed and anxious about being gunned down before he gets to eat his PB&J sandwich for lunch? I’m thinking that there has to be some psychological trauma to thinking there really is a Boogeyman, and he’s coming to the school to get you with a gun. President Trump  falls in the trauma causing camp on this question. He’s stated that active shooter drills are “very bad for children.”

And why might these drills be bad for children? I’m sure we can all agree that these drills are upsetting to students. It has been well established that a sense of safety and security in childhood is tied to mental health later in life. Do we want little ones to become Chicken Little early in life with the sense that they sky (or at least bullets) might be falling any minute while they are in school?

And what if the active shooter is a student? If he’s been through the drills, he knows what the procedures are and how to use them to his advantage. Take the Parkland shooting for example. The shooter, an expelled student, had been through numerous such drills while a shooter at the school. He pulled a fire alarm which he knew would trigger the procedure for students to evacuate the building, i.e., become sitting ducks for him to fire upon.

But active shooter drills won’t prepare students for all the violence which they might encounter in the school house. Let’s not forget bullying, gang violence, fights, etc. Home schooling is not a viable alternative to keeping students safe from violence. Students are more likely to be abused by a parent than to be shot in school. And the home is a big source of weapons for students who do attend school. According to CDC’s School-Associated Violent Death Study, firearms used in school-associated homicides and suicides came from the perpetrator’s home or from that of relatives or friends.

While it is a laudable goal for students to learn in a safe school environment, it is not always going to be an achievable goal. The school environment mirrors that of the community in which it exists. If violence is occurring outside the newly fenced school grounds, it isn’t a quantum leap to expect that the school environment will reflect that reality.

How did we end up in such a violent society today? Would that we could go back to a simpler time decades ago when there were no active shooter drills. Oh, wait. There used to be drills for students to hide under their desks for a possible nuclear bomb attack during the Cold War. Never mind. There always has been and always will be violence on this Earth and it will inevitably impact our youngsters in school.

Just WONDER-ing:

Do active shooter drills prepare students for emergencies or cause trauma? Has our society become more violent as the years have passed? Do you worry about the safety of your children/grandchildren when they are in school? Will you rush out and buy a bullet-resistant backpack for you or for your favorite student after reading this post?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking A Shot At Understanding Mass Shootings

 

It’s been a bang-up time since July 28th, and I don’t mean that in a good way. In case you’ve been living under a rock (which might be a pretty safe place to be these days), three separate mass shootings occurred here in the U.S. in less than a week’s time. Let’s take a shot at understanding what’s up with all this violence.

As Americans, we like to believe our country is #1. And it is–it has more mass shootings than any other country. Shoot! That’s not a record of which to be proud.

Why is the U.S. at the top of the list for sites of mass shootings? A number of factors have been identified as contributing to this infamous ranking. First, there are more guns owned here, and these weapons are more accessible. In fact, the U.S. has the highest per-capita gun ownership in the world–a whopping 120.5 guns for every 100 people. This statistic makes sense. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. So where there are guns, there is bound to be gunfire.

Is the solution to clamp down and make sure illegal weapons aren’t available? Not really. A recent report from the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center found that 75% of shooters had legally purchased or were legally in possession of the firearms they used in a mass shooting in a public place. Since the Secret Service released this finding, I’m assuming the statistic isn’t secret.

Another proposed reason for the high incidence of these violent crimes in the U.S. is the shooters’ desire for fame. The media is all over these situations. While the shooter may be getting negative attention, i.e., people decry his actions, for some negative attention is better than no attention at all.

Dylan Klebold, a 17 year old shooter at Columbine High School in 1999 where 13 were killed, would clearly be Demonstrative Exhibit A for this desire for attention theory. He made a video prior to the shooting which expressed his thoughts about what he was going to do. He stated “directors will be  fighting over this story.” Sure, he may have had his 15 minutes of fame during the actual incident, but his actions live on in the media that reaches untold masses..

Hand in hand with the desire for attention theory is the copycat theory. According to this theory, publicity about one mass shooting sparks a desire in someone to do the same thing. Unfortunately, it is not a bright or legal idea which they copy. Mass shooters and lemmings apparently think along the same lines.

Some mass killings are a reaction to bullying or other mistreatment, real or perceived. Disgruntled employees, present or former, may target bosses and co-workers. Bullied students may target those who have bullied them or those who are accepted while they are not. Seems like shooters’ coping skills are far less refined than their shooting skills.

Regardless of why they do it, who are the people who are committing these mass shootings? Unfortunately, according to a former chief psychologist of the U.S. Secret Service, there is no useful profile of a mass shooter. About the only common factor among all such shooters is that they are men. The N.Y. Times reported that the vast majority of these perpetrators were white males acting alone. Would banning men from owning weapons and only allowing women to do so solve the mass shooting problem?

And what exactly is a “mass” shooting?  How many people does it take to make a “mass?” I’ll take a wild guess and say more than one. The FBI defines a mass killing as the killing of 3 or more people in a public place.

The most highly publicized mass shootings have resulted in the deaths of way more than 3 people. The El Paso and Dayton shootings this past weekend resulted in 22 and 9 people respectively losing their lives. Seventeen were killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, and 26 were killed in the 2017 Sutherland Springs Church shooting. Fifty-eight perished in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, and 49 perished in the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Twenty-seven died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Is it just me or do you hear strains of “Living In The Wild, Wild West” playing in the background? No matter how many people are killed in these types of incidents, one life lost in this manner is one too many.

The AR-15 is widely known as the weapon of choice for the perpetrators of mass shootings. For example, it was used in this past weekend’s Dayton shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and the Las Vegas shooting. The National Rifle Association calls the AR-15 “America’s rifle.” The N.Y. Times describes the AR-15 as one of the “most beloved and most villified rifles in the U.S.” Translation? Shooters love it; victims and their families don’t.

To me, a gun is a gun. The only difference between two guns is their size and how loud they are. Those in the know about guns will tell you that the AR-15 is a lightweight, semi-automatic firearm. The weapon was developed by Armalite in 1959. The designation “AR” does NOT mean “assault rifle” as I would have guessed. It stands for Armalite, and 15 is the model number. Colt now holds rights to the name AR-15.

Both Australia and New Zealand have banned the AR-15 from use. New Zealand quickly enacted a ban on the AR-15 effective April 10th of this year following the Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15th in which this type of weapon was used. The shooter was quick on the draw, and the New Zealand politicians were quick on the ban.

The El Paso shooter did not use an AR-15. He wielded an AK style firearm. “AK” does not stand for “All Killed.” AK stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova or Automatic Kalashnikov. Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov was the designer. Aha! A Russian consipiracy!  When they aren’t busy interfering in elections, Russians are paving the way for mass shootings to occur in this country. The AK-47 is reportedly the most widely used shoulder weapon the the world today.

I am not a crime or gun expert, but I am a human being. I have decades of experience being one and interacting with others. Based on that experience, I believe that regardless of what laws are passed or what guns are banned, if someone is hell-bent on wreaking havoc, they will find a way to do so. It may not be with an AR-15, but it might be with a car. People have intentionally plowed into crowds resulting in death and destruction.

The cause behind these mass shootings is the person with his finger on the trigger. This person is someone who has himself experienced pain through bullying, mental illness, lack of acceptance, lack of attention, lack of self-esteem, etc. As President Trump noted this week, “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” Banning guns may be a quick fix, but the issues behind the hand itching to be on a trigger will remain and likely find a violent outlet through another medium. Let’s get to the root of the gunman’s problems and eradicate the underlying cause for the violence. We could at least give it a shot.

JUST WONDER-ing:

Do you think banning the weapons commonly used in mass shootings will preclude any future violence? What steps do you think could be taken to address the underlying issues leading a gunman to commit violence? Is our society becoming desensitized to violence as a result of frequent mass shootings?

 

 

 

 

Dust To Dust

 

It’s everywhere. It’s under your bed. It’s on the road. It’s in the air. It’s on Mars. What is it? It’s dust. For something that’s apparently everywhere, we sure don’t think about dust much. It’s time to dust off your thinking cap and learn something about this ubiquitous substance.

What is dust? Your answer is likely to be similar to what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity. It’s not easy to define, but you know it when you see it. You may not be able to spit out a definition for dust, but you know it’s what is covering the floor under your bed that hasn’t been swept since who knows when.

Dust really isn’t that hard to define. Basically it is fine bits of matter that hang in the air and settle on surfaces. Run your finger along the top of a nearby bookcase for demonstrative Exhibit A as to what dust is.

Big deal, you are thinking. Dust is merely an annoyance that requires us to use elbow grease to clean our houses every now and then. Wrong! Dust plays a big role in our universe and in our day to day lives.

According to scientist Joe Hanson, everything in our solar system began with a cloud of dust. Cosmic dust is prevalent in space where gas and dust clouds serve as precursors to planetary bodies. Carl Sagan poetically described Earth as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Once planets are formed, dust covers a solid planetary body. Dust storms on Mars are so massive that they cover almost the entire planet. Please adjust your idea of Martians being little red-men to being dust-covered little red men.

So there’s dust in outer space. What does that have to do with us here on Earth? Cosmic dust, also referred to as space dust, commonly falls onto our planet. According to one estimate, as much as 40,000 TONS of cosmic dust reaches the Earth’s surface annually.

Space dust which has fallen from the heavens is not the only dust with which we Earthlings come in contact. We create plenty of our own dust through industrial operations and transportation activities. Thirty-three percent of air pollution is caused by dust kicked up off the road by vehicles.

Of course, natural phenomena produce dust as well. For example, the wind may pick up bits of dirt or sand and carry it off through the air. The Sahara Desert is the major source of mineral dust here on Earth, an estimated 60-200 million tons each year. Reportedly a trainload of dust is carried off from the Sahara every four seconds. Saharan dust  can be lifted by convection from hot desert areas and reach high altitudes. From there it may be transported worldwide by winds. The hot, dry air of the Sahara Desert sometimes combines with the dust to form an atmospheric layer known as the Saharan Air Layer. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a dust dune.

But all this dust is outdoors. We’re safe inside our homes, right? Uh, no. Scientists tell us that it is impossible not to have any dust in your house. And 2/3 of the dust we find indoors is from the outside. That dust is tracked in on your shoes or your pet’s paws. It blows in when you open a door or window or comes in through a vent.

Even if you sealed your house off from outside contaminants, dust would still be in your house. One-third of the dust is generated indoors. The major source of this dust is dead human skin cells. Each adult sheds about 1 1/2 grams of skin every day. Please remember that when you are scolding Fluffy for shedding on the couch. Fabric bits also contribute to indoor dust. Textiles, particularly carpets, trap dust as well as creating it when they disintegrate.

Dust may be made up of small particles, but over time those particles  add up. According to Maria Popova, a foot of dust can accumulate in a span of over three centuries. What a mess your house would be if you don’t dust for 300+ years! Note to self: Dust at least once a century.

Dust is constantly being created (you shed dead skin cells each day), so dusting your house is a never ending task. If you don’t clean regularly, you may inadvertently end up with a less than desirable household pet–a dust bunny. A small clump of dust that forms under furniture and in corners that are not cleaned regularly is called a dust bunny. And you know how bunnies reproduce rapidly….

The presence of dust in your house also means the presence of disgusting bugs known as dust mites. These are tiny bugs in the spider family who live in household dust and feed off of dead skin cells. YUK! These bugs are also related to ticks and are non-biting; however, they can be an allergen. Bed linens are one of a dust mite’s favorite locations. This fact should give you nightmares even if you are awake.

We’ve worked our way down from outer space to the natural environment of Earth to inside our house. How about the human body? Genesis 2:7 relates that God formed man out of the dust of the ground. Indeed the human body is composed of materials and minerals found on the surface of the ground.

And what happens to the human body upon death? If you’ve ever been to a funeral you’ve probably heard the phrase “dust to dust.” Ecclesiastes 3:21 states: “all are of dust, and all turn to dust again.” The human body will decompose and turn into–you guessed it, dust. As Kansas sings, “All we are is dust in the wind.” And Queen would add, “Another one bites the dust.”

Even though we may not contemplate dust and its importance in the circle of life, we do mention dust in everyday conversation. If we get into a fight, we say we have had a “dust up.” In our competitive society, one may say someone he’s bested has “eaten my dust” or was “left in the dust.” In baseball, a pitcher may dust a batter off who is crowding the plate.

Dust is a fact of life. It’s above us in the skies. It’s below us under our beds. It’s around us in the air. It’s where we’ve come from and what we will ultimately be. Aren’t you glad you’ve dusted up on this subject?

JUST WONDER-ING:

Have you ever stopped to think about what dust is? How many dust mites do you think inhabit your home along with you? Did you realize that there is dust in outer space? How often do you dust your house? Will you do it more frequently after reading this post?