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April 12 – Lots of people are wondering about the number of severe earthquakes experienced recently. Our perception that there has been an increase in the number of earthquakes of significant magnitude is difficult to verify. The little bit of hard data available, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, does not indicate an increase, though it does depend upon what magnitude you’re researching, and which years. Are the media giving earthquakes more coverage than they used to? That possibility certainly cannot be discounted.

I’ve heard an interesting theory that’s been offered to explain an increase, and I thought
I’d share it with you. It is highly theoretical, and, as I say, the numbers pro or con are
difficult to verify. Figures lie, and liars figure. Slicing and dicing numbers can lead in many different directions. This theory is, in my opinion, worth pondering, so – for whatever it’s worth – here it is: we know that an enormous amount of Arctic ice has
melted. The water that was once contained in this ice has now been dispersed across the oceans. The weight contained in the ice has been similarly dispersed. Is it possible that the increase in the ocean’s water weight is sufficient to cause the movement of tectonic plates? Be mindful: the ocean’s total weight has not increased; some of it has moved. Where it was once confined to one general area, in the form of ice, it is now widely dispersed, in the form of water. Different locations now have more weight bearing down on them than they did before. Whether there is enough additional weight in seismically active locations to cause an increase in seismic activity is the $64,000 question. Coming up with precise, accurate numbers in order to prove or disprove such a theory would probably be impossible, so we will likely never know if this is what’s happening. Could this theory be the explanation? You be the judge.

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This morning I read that two more glaciers in Glacier National Park have melted, and that the rest are expected to disappear, along with the streams they feed, no later than 2020.

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I am now the proud owner of a reel lawn mower, i.e., a non-motorized lawn mower. It’s not as hard to push as I thought it might be, and nowhere near as noisy as another model I tried. The cutting height can vary between one and three inches, though I gather a setting as low as one inch requires careful adjusting. Right now my primary motivation is beheading our bodaciously healthy-looking crop of dandelions. That battle will last the better part of April. It’s a war I’ll never win, but as long as the yellow-headed monsters aren’t upsetting the neighbors too much, I’m ahead of the game.

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My gardening technique continues to move in the direction of permaculture. I’ve planted the snowpeas directly beneath a Rose of Sharon bush, so they can use it as a trellis. On an actual trellis I plan to grow “Jewel of Africa” vining nasturtiums (flowers and leaves are edible – mild black pepper flavor). Brand-new raspberry bushes (more accurately termed raspberry sticks, at this point) occupy one corner of the vegetable garden, and strawberries will occupy a berm, with evergreens for company. Two apple trees now occupy opposite sides of the front yard. Though I know permaculture is defined as requiring minimal labor, I just have to dig, so I’ve been busy burying last autumn’s leaves in the vegetable garden. I’ve worked on amending its soil for years and am finally beginning to see some payoff. Two kinds of lettuce, carrots, snowpeas, and potatoes are all making good progress. I just planted broccoli. Next comes digging in the green manure on the other side of the garden, where I’ll plant my warm weather veggies.

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