Yes, this morning's walk on Sullivans Island was a wet one - intermittent rain showers and rainbows - that left the Perfect Wood unfazed and happy (and now sore as her 11-yr old frame recuperates from a 2-hr walk). It was funny - walking on the beach in the rain on the last day of the year, walking through rain showers yet not feeling cold because it was so warm out.
Sometimes I wonder why I'm so drawn to the ocean. I was raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Virginia, and although I call those mountains home, even still - it's the oceans that have captured my curiosity and it's the oceans that calm me now. I started out enamored with soil - mapping fields in southwest Virginia, growing sunflowers in an alternate cropping rotation with winter wheat in a research station outside of Blacksburg - learning about cation exchange capacity and partical size and horizons - and while my own garden roots me to the soil even still, as does some of my research - much of what I do now focuses on the study of on-going sea processes. Walking along Sullivans today, a barrier island that's changing, growing, evolving at a rapid pace each day now - I came across a very large tire that had washed up on the beach, parts of a dock, and metal debris - pieces of metal scattered amongst the bodies of a dead pelican and heron. Ironically, the dogs respected the newly dead bodies and didn't rush to roll on them - but kept walking, keeping some distance. As I walked I realized how little I know fundamentally about the oceans - although much of my lab's research is focused there - and how much I need to learn. There is always so much to learn - but I find myself now in a marine laboratory, without ever having taken a single marine biology course in my life. It's never too late to learn I hope.
Recently I came across a ScienceBlog - Deep-Sea News - that I think I will enjoy. They have a 'series' going, '25 Things You Should Know About the Deep Sea' (they're on #14: The Deep Sea is Not Stable) - that seems really interesting (and should be for all of us living so close to the ocean). You can find the whole list to date here (I especially like this post on deep ocean diversity - since diversity at the micro-scale is something we study). However, their most recent post was interesting to me - and they pointed to another site that focuses, to put it simply, on the need for scientists to stand up and defend science - in the political arena (and it refers to a group doing just that, Scientists and Engineers for America - SEA). This makes me cringe (the whole political arena thing) - and I find myself fitting into this stereotypical Seed Magazine description of a scientist:
What Scientists and Engineers for America seeks to accomplish runs strongly against the instincts of the nation's scientists, however, who have traditionally been much more inclined to write a letter to Nature than sign a check funding attack ads. Scientists have preferred less direct means of influence, like releasing technical reports and studies with thinly veiled policy implications, as opposed to directly confronting political candidates who egregiously misuse and abuse scientific information. Science, they have often argued, must enjoy bipartisan support in order to ensure steady levels of federal research funding. Explicit engagement in politics would inevitably upset this fine balance, prompting politicians to make research dollars contingent on scientists' political support.
Further, Seed states:
Going into the November congressional elections, Scientists and Engineers for America has targeted an as-yet unannounced group of congressional races to try and influence. Whatever happens when votes are cast in November, the group must be sure to handle the issue of partisanship with agility, both in 2006 and as candidates and advocacy groups gear up for 2008. As the stem-cell vote in July demonstrated, Republicans are the most influential foes of science today—but not every Republican. Scientists and Engineers for America should identify science-friendly Republicans as well as Democrats and try to help them in their races. Though the "war on science" has clearly taken place in the context of Republican political rule, the group should reward Republicans who want the party to reform itself.
Perhaps 2007 will be an interesting year for Science (and Scientists). Here is the Bill of Rights on the Sea website: