Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Utopian Refugia: Self-Sufficiency and the Noachic Charter City
July 3, 2011

from the Zoroastrian Vendidad 2: Yima and the Flood

Overpopulation and expansion of the earth:

V.2.8 When Yima had ruled for three hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.9 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.10 Then Yima went forth toward the lights, at noon, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and bow far and wide, O carrier/womb of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.11 Thus Yima made this earth expand by one-third in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.
V.2.12 When Yima had ruled for six hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.13 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.14 Then Yima went forth toward the southern lights, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and spread wide, O carrier of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.15 Thus Yima made this earth expand by two-thirds in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.
V.2.16 When Yima had ruled for nine hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.17 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.18 Then Yima went forth toward the southern lights, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and spread wide, O carrier of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.19 Thus Yima made this earth expand by three-thirds in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.

Gods and men take counsel:

V.2.20 Ahura Mazdâ, who has set everything in place, convoked a gathering together with those worthy of sacrifice in the world of thought, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river). Radiant Yima with good herds convoked a gathering together with the best humans, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river).
V.2.21 To that gathering Ahura Mazdâ came. he who has set everything in place, together with those worthy of sacrifice in the world of thought, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river). To that gathering radiant Yima with good herds came together with the best humans, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river).
V.2.22 Thus Ahura Mazdâ said to Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, Bad winters will come over the bony world of the living, together with which (one) harsh, horrible winter. Bad winters will come over the bony world of the living, together with which snow will accumulate on the tallest mountains, in the deepest of the *valley.
V.2.23 And threefold cattle will perish here, O Yima: that which is in the most *fearful places, that which is on the heights of the mountains, and that which is in the depths of the rivers (and) in the most solid homes.
V.2.24 Before this winter the land will have rich pasture (and) plenty water to flow (over) it after the snow melt, and wondrous it will seem here to the bony existence, O Yima, that the trace of a sheep should be seen here.

Yima makes the bunker:

V.2.25 So make that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides. Bring together there the seeds of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. Then make that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a dwelling for men, the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a keep for cattle.
V.2.26 Make water flow forth there the length of a league. Place meadows there, with green … (?), with inexhaustible savory foods. Place homes there, with roof and *awning, *porch and *fence.
V.2.27 Bring together there in the same place the seeds of all the men and women who are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth. Bring together there in the same place the seeds of all the cattle species that are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth.
V.2.28 Bring together there the seeds of all the plants that are the tallest and most sweet-smelling on this earth. Bring together there the seeds of all foods that are the most tasty and most sweet-smelling on this earth. Make those into pairs—imperishable as long as these men are in the *enclosures.
V.2.29 May no one with humps, in front or in the back, nor an impotent or a …, nor a driveling one, deceitful one, one with pustules, or a crooked one, nor one with irregular teeth, or one with blotches whose body has been excluded, nor any of the other marks that are the mark of the Evil Spirit put on man.
V.2.30 In the first section of the land make nine passages, in the middle six, and in the last three. In the first passage bring a thousand seeds of men and women,mthe middle six hundred, the last four hundred. And goad them with the golden pick and stroke the enclosure from behind (to make) a door admitting light, self-shining from within.
V.2.31 Then Yima reflected: How I shall make those into an enclosure, the way Ahura Mazdâ told me? Thus said Ahura Mazdâ to Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, tread apart this earth with (your) heels, kneed it apart with (your) hands, just like also now people *step about in wet earth.
V.2.32 Then Yima did exactly the way Ahura Mazdâ wished him to. He trod apart this earth with (his) heels, he kneeded it apart with (his) hands, just like also now people *step about in wet earth.
V.2.33 So Yima made that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides. He brought together there the seeds of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. So Yima made that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a dwelling for men, the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a keep for cattle.
V.2.34 He made water flow forth there the length of a league. He placed meadows there, with green … (?), with inexhaustible savory foods. He placed homes there, with roof and *awning, *porch and *fence.
V.2.35 He brought together there the seeds of all the men and women who are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth. He brought together there the seeds of all the cattle species that are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth.
V.2.36 He brought together there the seeds of all the plants that are the tallest and most sweet-smelling on this earth. He brought together there the seeds of all foods that are the most tasty and most sweet-smelling on this earth. He made those into pairs—imperishable as long as these men are in the *enclosures.
V.2.37 No one with humps, in front or in the back, nor a castrated one or a …, nor a driveling one, deceitful one, one with pustules, or a crooked one, nor one with irregular teeth, or one with blotches whose body has been excluded, nor any of the other marks that are the mark of the Evil Spirit put on man.
V.2.38 In the first section of the land he made nine passages, in the middle six, and in the last four. In the first passage he brought a thousand seeds of men and women, the middle six hundred, the last four hundred. And he goaded them with the golden pick and stroked the enclosure from behind (to make) a door admitting light, self-shining from within.
V.2.39 O Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! But which *were these lights, O Orderly Ahura Mazdâ, which shine hither in that way in these *enclosures that Yima made?
V.2.40 Then Ahura Mazdâ said: there are lights established by themselves and those made in time. For once it (?) has gone down, the stars, the moon, and the sun seem to come up(?).
V.2.41 And they think it is a day what is a season. In forty years from two humans two humans are born, pairs: a man and a woman. And the same holds for these cattle species. And those humans live the most beautiful life in these *enclosures that Yima made.
V.2.42 Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! Who thus brought the daênâ of those who sacrifice to Ahura Mazdâ wide and far in these *enclosures that Yima made. Then Ahura Mazdâ said: The Karshipta bird, O Orderly Zarathustra.
V.2.43 Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! Who is their first life and model? Then Ahura Mazdâ said: Urwatat.nara, O Zarathustra, and you, Zarathustra.

Jane Poynter tells her story of living two years and 20 minutes in Biosphere 2 — an experience that provoked her to explore how we might sustain life in the harshest of environments.

“There‘s no impediment, other than a failure of imagination, that will keep us from delivering on a truly global win-win solution.”

 —Paul Romer, http://chartercities.org/

Jaque Fresco: Designing the Cities of the Future with the Venus Project

Plato’s Myth of Atlantis, the End of the Minoan Civilization, and A Hard Look at Human Extinction
May 11, 2011

Lost Worlds: Atlantis

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Secrets of the Dead: Sinking Atlantis

http://video.pbs.org/video/1204753806

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Plato on Deforestation, Soil Abuse and Water Mismanagement

“What now remains of the formerly rich land is like the skeleton of a sick man, with all the fat and soft earth having wasted away and only the bare framework remaining. Formerly, many of the mountains were arable. The plains that were full of rich soil are now marshes. Hills that were once covered with forests and produced abundant pasture now produce food only for bees. Once the land was enriched by yearly rains, which were not lost, as they are now, by flowing from the bare land into the sea. The soil was deep, it absorbed and kept the water in the loamy soil, and the water that soaked into the hills fed springs and running streams everywhere. Now the abandoned shrines at spots where formerly there were springs attest that our description of the land is true.”

–Plato, “Critias”, ca. 360 BCE, an entire dialog devoted to the myth of Atlantis.

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Sources for the Myth of Atlantis in Plato’s Timaeus:

“And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander. 
About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us. 

Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition. 

He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called “the first man,” and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on themountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient. 

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven. 

Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens. You are welcome to hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time. In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to us, as in your part of the world first to you. Then as to wisdom, do you observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding every sort of knowledge which was akin to them. All this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods. 

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island. 

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us. And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to youcame into my mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon; but I did not like to speak at the moment. For a long time had elapsed, and I had forgotten too much; I thought that I must first of all run over the narrative in my own mind, and then I would speak. And so I readily assented to your request yesterday, considering that in all such cases the chief difficulty is to find a tale suitable to our purpose, and that with such a tale we should be fairly well provided. “

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Robin Hanson: Catastrophe, Social Collapse and Human Extinction

Earth Day, 2011: Aquaponics
April 22, 2011

Charlie Price: Aquaponics – Getting More Out of Less

“Charlie Price from the social enterprise Aquaponics UK, explores the role aquaponics can play in the future of our collective food supply. He provides an insight into both the applications for aquaponics but more specifically a new approach to urban agriculture, turning wastes into resources and transforming disused urban spaces to provide not only food, but resilient communities.”

ATTRA: Aquaponics—Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture 

Integrating Aquaponics With Deeply Sustainable Systems Feat. Don McCormick:

http://gradschool.marlboro.edu – “Don McCormick was the MBA in Managing for Sustainability Featured Speaker for December 3, 2010. McCormick is the president of Carbon Harvest Energy, and his presentation addressed his company’s landfill gas-to-energy project in Brattleboro as a practical model of sustainable and responsible resource use. The central principle of this project is to replace a linear model of resource extraction-to-consumption-to-waste with a circular model based on nature, where waste/outputs are recovered to become new inputs for further processes–until no waste remains. McCormick has over 20 years of entrepreneurship, management and engineering expertise. Prior to founding Carbon Harvest Energy, he designed Laughing Duck Farm, a sustainable aquaponics business that produces year-round food (microgreens and Tilapia) in a cold climate, as well as a greenhouse that uses all renewable energy inputs and eliminates waste through a closed-loop water system.”

“The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower…”
April 20, 2011

 MIT Chemist Daniel Nocera Harnesses Photosynthesis to Store Solar Power:

Sun Catalytix Company Website (has not gone public yet!!)

Dr. Daniel G. Nocera @ MIT

[PAPER] Powering the Planet: Chemical Challenges in Solar Energy Utilization

ABSTRACT: Global energy consumption is projected to increase, even in the face of substantial declines in energy intensity, at least 2-fold by midcentury relative to the present because of population and economic growth. This demand could be met, in principle, from fossil energy resources, particularly coal. However, the cumulative nature of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere demands that holding atmospheric CO2 levels to even twice their preanthropogenic values by midcentury will require invention, development, and deployment of schemes for carbon-neutral energy production on a scale commensurate with, or larger than, the entire present-day energy supply from all sources combined. Among renewable energy resources, solar energy is by far the largest exploitable resource, providing more energy in 1 hour to the earth than all of the energy consumed by humans in an entire year. In view of the intermittency of insolation, if solar energy is to be a major primary energy source, it must be stored and dispatched on demand to the end user. An especially attractive approach is to store solar-converted energy in the form of chemical bonds, i.e., in a photosynthetic process at a year-round average efficiency significantly higher than current plants or algae, to reduce land-area requirements. Scientific challenges involved with this process include schemes to capture and convert solar energy and then store the energy in the form of chemical bonds, producing oxygen from water and a reduced fuel such as hydrogen, methane, methanol, or other hydrocarbon species.

The supply of secure, clean, sustainable energy is arguably the most important scientific and technical challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Energy security, national security, environmental security, and economic security can likely be met only through addressing the energy problem within the next 10–20 yr. Meeting global energy demand in a sustainable fashion will require not only increased energy efficiency and new methods of using existing carbon-based fuels but also a daunting amount of new carbon-neutral energy. The various factors that conspire to support the above far-reaching conclusions and the basic science needed for the development of a large-scale cost-effective carbon-neutral energy system are the focus of this paper.

Learning From History: The Collapse of Complex Societies
April 15, 2011

Preamble: A Brief History of Complexity with David Christian

[From TED.com:] Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.

Dr. Joseph Tainter,

“The Collapse of Complex Societies”

Tainter, Joseph, The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge, MA, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Dr. Patricia McAnany on ‘Questioning Maya Collapse: A Reconsideration of Apocalyptic Narratives  (podcast)

McAnany, Patricia (Ed), Yoffee, Norman (Ed), Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire, Cambridge, MA, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Questioning Collapse challenges those scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies – past and present – collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars bring history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American southwest, the crisis and resilience of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly “collapsed.” Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal “success” and “failure.”

Daniel Hillel and the Natural History of The Bible
April 15, 2011

ABSTRACT: The Middle East encompasses five ecological domains: (1) the humid highlands and their intermontane valleys, where rainfed farming was begun and permanent settlements were first established; (2) the semi-arid steppes, where the lesser amount and instability of rainfall made rainfed farming marginal but still provided vegetative resources that could be utilized by semi-nomadic pastoralists; (3) the river valleys, where irrigated farming was practiced in the floodplains and hydraulic works (including diversion canals and ponding basins) were developed; (4) the seacoasts, where fishing, seafaring, and maritime trade were practiced; and (5) the deserts, where a sparse population subsisted by hunting and occasional marauding, and eventually by becoming caravaneers conveying products such as herbs and spices overland from distant sources to centers of population. In each of these domains, a distinctive culture evolved, characterized by a specific set of precepts, beliefs, and rituals based on the deification and worship of the dominant forces of nature whose interplay seemed to govern the particular environment. In an exposition more fully elucidated in his forthcoming book The natural history of the Bible: an ecological reading of the scriptures, the author hypothesizes that it was the encompassing ecological experience of the ancient Israelites (who shifted from one domain to another in the early course of their history) that enabled them to perceive the overarching unity of all nature and therefore to begin worshipping a single God. The holistic perception of nature as an integrated domain governed by consistent principles was compatible with, and probably contributed to, the much later advent of modern science.

http://environment.research.yale.edu/documents/downloads/0-9/103hillel.pdf

DANIEL HILLEL is Professor Emeritus of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently Visiting Senior Research Associate at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He serves as a consultant to the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and also works at the Center for Environmental Studies at Karkur, Israel. He is the author of 20 books and well over 200 papers in the area of environmental physics.

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