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Getting your goat

The UW's Program on Climate Change Summer Institute was held at Friday Harbor Labs from sunday through wednesday. On thursday, I took a break, and hopped in the Prius for a drive down to Chehalis with a friend to pick up the latest addition to her farm -- this adorable 4-month old French Alpine goat. My hatchback became an impromptu goat pen for ~3 hours, with the very necessary addition of a tarp under all the towels. This is the first goat I ever picked up (to put in the back of my car) and figured out how to lead away from its mother, so I'm attached to it of course. It's the cutest goat in the world!

That evening I received a mailing from Heifer International, which included a bit about how the gift of goats & training in goat breeding and care are helping two gypsy communities in Romania. It's amazing that something so basic as a handful of livestock can make such a positive change in the world. (Then again, there are a lot of city folk who would benefit from spending quality time with the animals that provide their food and clothing.)

One of the presenters at the conference was arguing that being in science, especially working in climate science, is not the way to change the world for the better, and the only real way to "make a difference" is through direct action. Well and good, but there must be knowledge to make action effective -- and besides, one can both pursue science and make direct, local, substantive contributions to benefit society, whether it's picking up trash from your local beach or community park, donating money to effective charitable organizations, or fetching goats in gas-sippers.

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November 2009

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