Archives—May 2012

Teeth from every angle

Ann Gibbons penned an interesting News Focus article in this week’s Science, reviewing research presented at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center on two Mayan communities on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico; one that was relatively wealthy and could afford soda and processed foods with refined sugar and flour, and one that was poorer and subsisted on more traditional maize-based foods. Residents of the wealthier village not only suffered more cavities (as one might expect), but far more problems with overbites, teeth overcrowding, impacted wisdom teeth, and other dental issues that often require the services of an orthodontist. It turns out that having lots of food in the diet that is coarse or difficult to chew (read: unprocessed) is important (especially for children) to help the lower jaw grow larger (allowing all those teeth to come in straight and uncrowded), and for adults to scrape harmful bacteria and plaque off of the surface of the teeth.

This special meeting focused on the “Evolution of Human Teeth and Jaws”, and was very diverse in disciplines represented: paleoarchaeologists, anthropologists, dentists, and food scientists. This area is a bit outside of my expertise, but I enjoyed reading about the findings because these interesting questions, and fascinating answers, really do require a multidisciplinary team looking at the issue from many angles. Indeed, it is not only exciting to work in these kinds of teams, but just as exciting to read about the results of others.



Food (Green Film Series) – May 17th

Green Film Series Issues & Dialogue:
Food
Date/Time:  7:00-8:30 pm, Thursday, May 17
 Location:  135 Fisher Hall, MTU
Cost:   FREE; $3 suggested donation.  Coffee, dessert, and facilitated discussion with Sarah Salo
 
May 17 Food – Food is a local and a global issue. The film explores whether it is possible to design a food system that ensures health, accessibility and affordability for everyone? (49 min.)

Discussion facilitator:  Sara Salo, School Food Tour. Meet Sara Salo, Founder & Executive Director of the School Food Bicycle Tour. Join us as we welcome Sara back to Houghton (she’s a Houghton HS graduate) after her epic 6,000-mile solo ride with the goal of empowering students, schools and communities to advocate for equitable access to wholesome food. She earned a M.S. in Public Health from Oregon State University. Sara is fascinated with examining and strategizing how the roles of place, community and individual come together to create and maintain sustainable food systems.  School Food Tour http://schoolfoodtour.org/about/
 
The Green Film program is partially funded with a grant from:
♦ League of Women Voters of the Copper Country ♦ Friends of the Land of Keweenaw ♦ U.P. Environmental Coalition
 
Green Film Series is cosponsored by:
Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative   http://lakesuperiorstewardship.org/
Keweenaw Land Trust   http://www.keweenawlandtrust.org/
Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society   http://www.mtcws.mtu.edu/
Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship   http://www.kuuf.net/
 
2012 Green Film Series schedule posted at: http://wupcenter.mtu.edu/news/2012/2012GreenFilmSeries.html


(Time) frame of mind

Last week I attended the 2012 Trans-Atlantic Research & Development Interchange on Sustainability (TARDIS) workshop, in lovely Seggauberg, Austria. The theme of this year’s workshop was “Time and time frames for sustainability”, and the attendees did not disappoint on the theme. Much of the discussion visited two main issues:

  1. How do we manage our systems for sustainability if we can’t predict the future?
  2. How do we identify and correct the mismatches between the rate at which catastrophes occur, and the rate at which humans and political entities can respond to them?

While we came a bit closer to understanding these two issues, sadly we did not solve them. While it was encouraging to see the diversity of approaches that have been attempted to arrive at a solution, we seemed to be constrained by solutions that wouldn’t feel like a “shock doctrine” approach to the status quo…. individuals to societies tend not to respond politely to this approach, even when it might be the fastest way to a better quality of life.

One interesting sidebar was the notion that while Western cultures tend to think of time linearly (it only flows in one direction, usually towards progress but occasionally over a cliff), Eastern cultures think of time as cyclical or circular. It occurred to me that this also may simply be a function of the time frame; if systems evolve as the Panarchy folks advocate, then a very short-term view of a system in the process of maturing or reorganizing may seem linear. Take a step back for a longer-term view, and you may see that the system does follow a cycle, with a systemic reset every so often to clear the system of dysfunction. However, step even further back, and a progressive system of cycles may emerge. Of course, there may be a step further back than that, as our five previous global mass extinctions remind us.

panarchy revolt remember color.gif