Saturday, May 24, 2008

The 7th Fire Prophecy

In the Seventh Fire prophecy of the Anishnabek, each of the seven fires represent an era in human history. We are now in the time of the Seventh Fire. The task of the people of this age, including the Anishnabek and other red people, the yellow people, the black and the white, is to come together through choosing the road of cooperation. Without this, there will be no Eighth Fire, or future for Natives and others.

One person who talks about the Seventh Fire is Grandfather William Commanda of Maniwaki. An Algonquin elder, he holds three wampum belts, one of which is the Seventh Fire Prophecy belt which was made in the 1400s. His understanding of the prophecy was received from Ojibwe people in Minnesota, Michigan and northern Ontario, and through his own family, which has held the belts for over 100 years.

He speaks of the fact that the white race was welcomed by the Anishnabek, and it was hoped in the time of the Fourth Fire that the white race would come wearing a face of brotherhood, and that the Anishnabek and whites together would form one mighty nation. This did not happen and the white race chose the course of destruction and death.Today, in the age of the Seventh Fire, the races are again faced with a choice. The two roads are the black road of technology and overdevelopment leading to environmental catastrophe, the other is the red road of spirituality and respect for the earth. Together, people of the world have to choose the right road, be of one mind, or the earth cannot survive. Their prophecies are in line with those of the Seventh Fire: "Mankind must return to Peaceful ways, and halt the destruction of Mother Earth, or we are going to destroy ourselves. All the stages of Hopi prophecy have come to pass, except for the last, the purification. The intensity of the purification will depend on how humanity collaborates with Creation." William teaches that now is the time for Native people to forgive colonizers for their ignorant and destructive actions. The Seventh Fire is not just a time of reclaiming spiritual teachings; it is the time to use those teachings to help correct the imbalance felt in the circle that is the world. It is more than a revitalization movement, it is more like an arrival. Many Natives today are listening to teachings like the Seventh Fire prophecy, the Seven Generations teachings of the Iroquois and the prophecies of nations like the Hopi.

Chaitén: news from SERNAGEOMIN, 22 May 2008

SERNAGEOMIN have issued a new bulletin today about the situation at Chaitén. The key point is that Chaitén volcano is now busy building a lava dome: ‘The eruptive activity is continuing and has begun a phase of dome construction (the slow accumulation of viscose lava around an eruptive centre) inside the active crater, on the north flank of the old dome’. From its northern flank the new dome is active with ’sporadic explosions’ and the generation of ’profuse pyroclastic flows’, while from its western side ‘a white eruption column of steam’ is being produced. To the south of the new dome is the vent from which the main eruptive activity of the last few weeks has emerged; there ’the main eruption column remains vigorous but low, pushed to the south-east by the prevailing winds. In general the column has maintained an oscillatory form, with occasional explosions lifting it above the volcanic edifice’.

The SERNAGEOMIN report includes this photograph, which is a view within Chaitén crater, looking southwards:

view of the new lava dome. SERNAGEOMIN image.

The new dome (’Domo nuevo’) is in the foreground, with its slopes of debris and reddish eruption plume. it rises from the northern flank of the old dome (’Domo antiguo’). Behind the new dome is a white steam plume (’Columna principal’) erupting from the active vent on the southern side of the old dome. A larger version of this image, without the captions, can be found here.

The bulletin reports that the new seismic networks installed by SERNAGEOMIN and the USGS are being activitated today. The new network will be invaluable in assessing the processes now under way at the volcano and clarifying potential SERNAGEOMIN is maintaining volcanic red alert and continues to be concerned about possible major explosions producing the destruction of the old dome and the generation of pyroclastic flows. Nor can the occurrence of lateral explosions be disregarded. The eruptive dynamic now includes the evolution of the new dome, the growth and collapse of which can, in turn, generate pyrocastic flows on its flanks.

Early Mars Had Floods, Yellowstone-Like Hot Springs

May 22, 2008

The formation of an Idaho canyon thousands of years ago has given scientists a clearer picture of how water sculpted the surface of Mars.

The chasm in the western United States has a shape once thought to be characteristic of slower, sustained groundwater flows, but new research suggests that was carved by ancient torrential floods.

Comparable canyons on Mars may share a similarly violent history, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley say.

A plentitude of Martian canyons—once thought to be evidence of gradual erosion—supported the theory that rain never fell on the red planet, said lead author Michael Lamb.

"That's probably not true," he said. "You need a lot of water to carve these canyons."

A separate study analyzed silica deposits recently dug up by NASA's Spirit rover. The deposits suggest Yellowstone-like hot springs have operated on Mars's surface, scientists note.

Both new studies—appearing in this week's journal Science—suggest Mars was wetter than previously believed, with water falling from above and shooting out of the ground as geysers, hot springs, and thermal vents.

Such active sites may be ideal for finding signs of past life, experts say. (See full coverage of the search for life on Mars.)

Did Comets Cause Ancient American Extinctions?

Anne Casselman
for National Geographic News
May 6, 2008

Debate has heated up over a controversial theory that suggests huge comet impacts wiped out North America's large mammals nearly 13,000 years ago.

The hypothesis, first presented in May 2007, proposes that an onslaught of extraterrestrial bodies caused the mass extinction known as the Younger Dryas event and triggered a period of climatic cooling.

The theory has been debated widely since it was introduced, but it drew new scrutiny in March at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

Stuart Fiedel from the Louis Berger Group, a private archaeological firm in Richmond, Virginia, argued that the theory fails to address some major questions—like how comet blasts could have wiped out woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats in North America Also around this time, large mammals including mammoths, mastodons, horses, camels, and saber-toothed cats went extinct in North America. Previous hypotheses have suggested that early humans wiped out the large animals in a prolonged act of slaughter referred to by scientists as overkill.

Growing Ocean Acidity May Erode Coastal Ecosystems

May 22, 2008

Ocean waters along North America's west coast are becoming more acidic than expected in response to atmospheric carbon emissions, which will likely cause significant changes to economically vital marine ecosystems, a new study says.

At one spot in northern California, waters acidic enough to corrode seashells now rake the shore, researchers point out.

"The models suggested they wouldn't be corrosive at the surface until sometime during the second half of this century," Richard Feely, a chemical oceanographer with the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, said via email.

Scientists have long known that the oceans serve as a giant carbon sink, moderating the effects of global warming by absorbing about a third to a half of human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

But the added carbon dioxide is lowering the oceans' pH, changing their chemistry and biology, explained Feely, whose lab is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Acidic waters inhibit marine organisms from producing the calcium carbonate that makes up their exoskeletons and shells.

"Scientists have also seen a reduced ability of marine algae and free-floating plants and animals to produce protective carbonate shells," Feely said.

For example researchers have seen a decline in swimming mollusks called pteropods that are eaten by creatures ranging from shrimplike krill to whales. The mollusks are particularly vital to juvenile salmon and other commercial fish.

"The impact of ocean acidification on fisheries and coral reef ecosystems could reverberate through the U.S. and global economy," Feely said.

Mars Lander Headed for "7 Minutes of Terror" Sunday

Victoria Jaggard
National Geographic News
Updated May 23, 2008

After years of planning followed by a ten-month journey, the Mars Phoenix Lander is slated to touch down Sunday near the red planet's north pole.

If successful, the probe will be the first lander to reach a Martian pole and the first to actually touch the planet's water ice. (Related gallery: "Phoenix Lander's Search for Mars Water" [August 3, 2007].)

What's more, it could settle the debate over whether Mars was once suitable for life.

As Phoenix closed in on the last miles of its journey, NASA scientists were gearing up for the "seven minutes of terror" that could make or break the U.S. $420-million mission. (Video: animation of the lander's expected turbulent touchdown.)

"Approximately 14 minutes before touchdown, the vehicle separates from its cruise stage," Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said at a recent press conference.

"At this point we lose communication from the vehicle."

Once the craft reaches Mars's atmosphere, the next critical seven minutes make up what's known as the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) phase.

Screaming down at about 12,600 miles (20,270 kilometers) an hour, the craft must open a parachute to slow itself for a three-minute glide to the surface about 70 miles (113 kilometers) below.

The craft's landing sequence then includes steps such as jettisoning its heat shield, extending its legs, and firing its landing thrusters.

2008 Hurricane Season Will Be "Well Above Average"

April 9, 2008

Four major hurricanes, including one with a good chance of hitting the United States, will form in the Atlantic Ocean during the upcoming hurricane season, experts said today.

Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) predict a "well above average" 2008 hurricane season, with 15 named tropical storms gathering between June 1 and November 30.

Long-term yearly averages are nine or ten named storms, six hurricanes, and two intense hurricanes per year.

Eight of the 2008 storms are expected to intensify into hurricanes, which are defined as having winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour.

East Coast Landfall

There is a 70 percent likelihood that a major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the U.S. East Coast during the coming season, CSU forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach said.

The forecasters did not speculate about where the hurricane is likely to come ashore.

Over the past hundred years, the likelihood of the East Coast being hit by a major hurricane has been about 50 percent.

Gray, who has been issuing long-range hurricane forecasts for decades, told National Geographic News that the summer of 2008 will continue a trend of above-average hurricane seasons that started in 1995.

U.S. 2008 Tornado Death Toll 58% Above Average

Buzz up!

Tornadoes killed at least 22, and flattened parts of in Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia over the weekend. Towns like Kite, Ga., and Picher, Okla., were all but wiped off the map.

The tornadoes came just three days after tornadoes left one dead in North Carolina and flattened a mall in Mississippi.

And though spring is typically only the start of tornado season, this is just the latest spate of killer tornadoes in the United States this year. Already, the death toll from tornadoes is 98 people, nearly 60% above the average over the past three years. It's the deadliest on record since 1998, according to USA Today and it's on pace to be the deadliest ever recorded. (ABC News put the death toll to date at 97 people.)

The 905 reported tornadoes through May 11 is far ahead of the total typically seen by this time of year. It's been late July or even early August by the time this many tornadoes have typically been recorded, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The U.S. has already been hit by 71% of the tornadoes expected in an typical year, when compared to the 10-year average. The year is only about 34% through, and we've only just entered the typical tornado season. 2008 has been unusual because the winter produced so many damaging storms.