endeavors Spring 2006
Research and Creative Activity • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
FEELING THE HEAT OIL AND TIME ARE RUNNING OUT. NOW WHAT?
up for a meeting and lit cigarettes. Very often, almost all of the men at the table were puffing away, filling the room with their smoke. Presumably, these were rational, educated men, most of them with doctoral degrees. They had read the Surgeon General’s warning; they had seen the dire statistics. But on that campus, smoking was a point of honor. The men were exercising their freedom, demonstrating their loyalty. After all, tobacco was essential to our economy, and it was paying a share of the bill. Only a few years later, no one smoked in university buildings; smoking there was against the law. But the change ran much deeper than mere regulation. Opinion had shifted, and now it was dirty and shameful to smoke. Today, we crowd onto highways in gigantic cars, exhaust pipes all puffing away. It’s a point of honor. We are exercising our freedom. Yes, we have read the warnings, the dire statistics. We know that the oil we are burning is scarcer and scarcer, and mostly in foreign control. We know that the gases that rise from our cars and our factories and our power plants are heating the globe. We are rational, educated people, but we’re living on faith. We believe that science and technology will come to the rescue. Somebody smart will invent a contraption that saves us, or will someday discover a new source of fuel. Sometimes, science does come to the rescue. But often it can’t. No one invented a nifty contraption to let people smoke without wrecking their health. We had to learn how to stop. The same thing applies to this matter of oil and the gases that build in the atmosphere, trapping the heat. We’ve been doing something shameful and dirty. It’s time now to learn how to stop. The Editor
Twenty years ago, when I worked at a university down the road, people showed
Feeling the Heat Global warming is real. Oil is running out. Time is running out. What happens next? by Mark Derewicz
Will Your Pain Get the Point? Eastern needles meet Western ills. by Mark Derewicz
What Happens Back Home After papa crosses the border, can the dollars fill the void? by Mark Derewicz
Overview Seeing what others hear, streaming flicks of punks and potters, a salty solution for cystic fibrosis, and saving newborns from HIV.
In Print A big idea that bombed, opening a well of secrets, and love in the middle years.
Endview A town without men.
This Golden Glow
When it comes to medieval art, modern lights don’t hold a candle to the old. by Margarite Nathe
A historian ferrets out the scribes
who left their mark on the Bible. by Mark Derewicz
Getting Past Stickiness
A lab takes on the sickle cell’s tendency to clog the flow. by Jan McColm
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Spring 2006 • Volume XXII, Number 3
James Moeser, Chancellor Robert Shelton, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tony Waldrop, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development
Endeavors is published three times a year by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editor: Neil Caudle, Associate Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development
Readers’ comments, requests for permission to reprint material, and requests for extra copies should be sent to Endeavors, Office of Information and Communications, CB 4106, 307 Bynum Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4106.
Writers: Mark Derewicz, Jan McColm, Margarite Nathe, and Lynn Thomasson
Use of trade names implies no endorsement by UNCChapel Hill. phone: 919/962-6136 e-mail: email@example.com
Associate Editor: Jason Smith
Design: Neil Caudle and Jason Smith Production and online design: Jason Smith Visit us online: http://research.unc.edu/endeavors/ ©2006 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Cover: Hourglass by Steve Exum. This page: Mexican boy by Todd Drake; Saints Sergios and Bacchos, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt; Bart Ehrman by Coke Whitworth. Back cover: Mexican boy by Todd Drake, lab jars by Jason Smith, acupuncture patient by Steve Exum.
overview on the face of it
t’s hard enough for students to keep pace with a professor’s lecture and still be able to scribble down notes. But what if you’re a deaf student? Forget taking notes; you’ve got to keep your eyes on the interpreter. This was the challenge for Alex McLin, a hearing-impaired computer science major at Carolina. “Often, hearing-impaired students have to look away from the interpreter to look at the board or what the lecturer is doing. They end up missing information because their eyes aren’t on the interpreter,” McLin says. So he suggested a twist on Facetop technology, a software system that allows users who are in different locations to work together on the same document or graphic. The users can also see and hear each other through live video. (See Endeavors, Spring 2004, “Seeing Eye to Eye.”) To solve his problem, McLin wanted to point the Facetop camera at his interpreter, and then take notes on a Tablet PC. Facetop developer Dave Stotts, along with Gary Bishop, got to work making changes to the Facetop system. McLin spent a summer tweaking the original Facetop, then took a version of the system to class and jotted down his notes. Computer science researchers at Carolina continued to work on the code and finished the project after McLin graduated. “It’s Facetop technology turned around so that you can look at your paper on the Tablet PC and your signer at the same time,” Bishop says. “You can draw a little mustache on your signer if you want to.” Newer generations of Windows and better Tablet PCs allow Facetop video to run smoothly on a bigger screen. If you’re watching people move their hands in sign language, fluidity of motion is key. “Here is a student who realized that this is a technology that could address a real problem—not just a problem for him but a 2 endeavors
With Facetop, a hearing-impaired student can point a camera at his interpreter and send the live video image to his Tablet PC. This allows the student to watch his interpreter and take notes at the same time. Photo by Lynn Thomasson.
problem for all hearing-impaired students,” Stotts says. Facetop researchers also added a recording capability that synchronizes notes written on the Tablet PC with the video and audio of the class. That allows students to pick out the important notes. They can also see and hear just those moments of the lecture—a feature that could make the technology valuable for all students. Stotts and Bishop are working with Disability Services at Carolina to make Facetop useful for more students. They also plan to team up with researchers and more hearing-impaired students at East Carolina University to test the technology.
Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and ECU are brimming with ideas about how
to bring Facetop to more people. With the cell phone fast turning into an all-in-one device, Stotts says, someday you might see people on the street communicating in sign language over their phones. —Lynn Thomasson Dave Stotts, associate professor of computer science, and Gary Bishop, professor of computer science, developed this new Facetop technology with graduate students Kyle Gyllstrom, James Culp, and Dorian Miller. Stotts and Jason Smith, a former Carolina graduate student, co-invented the original Facetop.
Films of the Folk
owboy Poets. A Jumpin’ Night in the Garden of Eden. Pizza Pizza Daddy-O. Ray Lum: Mule Trader. These are movies you’ll probably never see in the theater, or even on cable TV. Despite the fact that folklore is a part of our everyday lives, documentary films about American folk and roots culture are hard to find. But they’re testimonies to our heritage, and now they’re available to scholars and students everywhere. Collaborators in a project called Folkstreams.net have been hard at work gathering together these far-flung documentary films to create an online national preserve. In 2000 Tom Davenport and his fellow filmmaker and folklorist Daniel Patterson pulled together a group of scholars, filmmakers, and computer specialists to unveil some forty films online with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Folklore is the ongoing construction of culture,” says Paul Jones, who has been leading UNC’s efforts on this emergent project. We create folklore every day when we invent and share stories through word of mouth with people in our ethnic, religious, and occupational circles. The unwritten tales and legends of our society include a wide range of eclectic subjects that might not immediately come to mind. “These films are about everything from musicians to boat-builders,” Jones says. “Until now, many of these films existed only in the hands of the filmmakers. They’ve been invisible for a long time. But the reason filmmakers make films in the first place is so that people will see them.” So the Folkstreams.net folks sought out the participation of dozens of independent filmmakers who gave permission to make their works available to the public at no cost. But the partners found that pulling the videos out of the filmmakers’ barns and dusty cabinets would be the simple part.
Archiving them and making them easily viewable would be trickier. The team decided to use video streaming for the Folkstreams.net site. Unlike downloading the video—which takes longer than most of us are willing to wait and could lead to infringement on the ownership rights of the filmmaker—video streaming buffers the film a few seconds ahead of itself so that you can watch the video as it’s coming to your computer. Your hard drive then discards what you’ve already watched. With video streaming, the film “is only temporarily passing through your computer,” Jones says. They also created a digital archival recording of each film as a reference copy. All non-digital copies, most often created on 16 mm film, are archived at the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC. The films Folkstreams.net takes in are from the 1950s through the 1990s, and some older formats are “basically suffering from format-rot,” Jones says. One day soon the technology to read 16 mm film might not exist. Without archival backup copies, we run the risk of losing these films forever. Folkstreams.net offers extensive background materials that provide facts about the subject matter and the history of each film. Biographies, transcripts, and bibliographies supplement the full-length videos. But the NEH grant covered only the beginning of the team’s visualization. “Not only do we want more films,” Jones says, “we want more and better sup-
porting material.” Folkstreams.net is the only non-commercial resource of its kind. As of today, the site boasts fifty-five videos available to its users and gets up to five hundred hits a day. “Heretofore, much good independent film work was like the tree falling in the wilderness with no one to hear,” Davenport says. “With the internet and video streaming, we will be able to make a national park from this wilderness.” —Margarite Nathe Folkstreams.net is a collaboration of Folkstreams, Inc. and Carolina’s ibiblio.org, Southern Folklife Collection, and School of Information and Library Science. The project was conceived by Tom Davenport, Folkstreams.net project director. Paul Jones managed the organization’s most recent grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services; he is director of ibiblio.org and a professor in Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Members of the Folkstreams.net advisory committee also include UNC’s Glenn Hinson, chair of the Curriculum in Folklore; Steve Weiss, Southern Folklife Collection librarian; and Rob Roberts, graduate student of journalism.
Clockwise from top left: Gandy Dancers; Rattlesnakes: A Festival at Cross Forks, PA; Gravel Springs Fife and Drum; and Home Movie: An American Folk Art.
Salt for CF
cott Donaldson was, well, wrong. His research study, published in January 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine, disproved his theory. But he isn’t disappointed. Because being wrong means that an inexpensive, simple treatment fights a deadly disease—cystic fibrosis—better than he imagined. The treatment? Basically, salt. And a lot of it. It’s hypertonic saline solution, which, at 7 percent sodium chloride, is about eight times saltier than physiologic saline (the stuff used in many hospital IVs). People with cystic fibrosis (CF) have a hard time clearing the mucus that is supposed to simply trap bacteria and then move out of the lung. In someone with CF, bacteria and thick mucus accumulate, causing debilitating and often life-threatening lung infections. Past research from Donaldson and veteran CF researcher Richard Boucher has suggested that the problem with CF lungs is that they are dehydrated; they don’t have enough of the layer of salt and water that normally coats the airway surface. The extrasalty hypertonic saline might work for CF, the researchers hoped, by drawing water from surrounding tissues onto the surface of the airway. In one of the first clinical trials of hypertonic saline in CF patients, led by Donaldson, twenty-four patients inhaled the salt solution four times a day, using a nebulizer (a machine that converts liquid medicine into a mist). The researchers measured patients’ mucus clearance and lung function for two weeks before treatment and then periodically during two weeks of treatment. Half of those patients also inhaled amiloride—a drug that blocks salt absorption and is typically prescribed as a diuretic— before inhaling the saline. The researchers predicted that hypertonic saline alone might be absorbed too quickly to be effective and that the amiloride would keep the saline on the surface of the lungs for longer periods of time. But that’s where they got a surprise. The patients who inhaled hypertonic saline 4 endeavors
alone fared better than those who got the combined treatment. Patients who inhaled only hypertonic saline cleared mucus faster than they did before treatment began, and their lung function, as measured by the volume of air they could expel, improved. They also reported feeling better, with fewer respiratory symptoms. When the patients who took both amiloride and hypertonic saline did worse than those on saline alone, Donaldson went back to the lab to find out why. “In the lab, we observed that if we put amiloride on cells before a concentrated salt solution, no water moved out to where the salt was,” he says. “So amiloride blocked the Kirby Zeman
This gamma-camera scan shows the initial position and clearing of a radiolabeled tracer shortly after it deposited on the airway surfaces in a human lung.
water movement. It turns out that amiloride has a second action that was not known to anyone before. It not only blocks sodium channels but also appears to block water channels, which are little proteins that help conduct movement of water through cells.” So hypertonic saline, which is cheap and already available by prescription worldwide, seems to work well on its own. A longer, larger trial of 164 patients, conducted by
Australian colleagues and published in the same issue of the journal, found similar results. Patients who inhaled hypertonic saline, compared to those who inhaled a much weaker saline solution, showed improved lung function and had fewer flareups of their disease. A 7 percent hypertonic saline solution like that used in the studies isn’t currently produced commercially. But Donaldson gets around that by prescribing for many of his patients a mix of 3 percent and 10 percent solutions, which are both readily available. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sells such a prescription kit. The treatment isn’t recommended for patients with asthmatic symptoms, such as wheezing, which hypertonic saline might aggravate, Donaldson says. Donaldson and Boucher are now exploring ways to make the treatment better, such as using different types of devices to deliver hypertonic saline and combining it with other treatments. Doctors at Carolina, led by Stephanie Davis, assistant professor of pediatric pulmonology, are testing hypertonic saline for safety in very young CF patients—aged three to five years. “If it proves to be safe, we’ll proceed by testing infants to find out how they tolerate it,” Donaldson says. “We really think this therapy could have the greatest benefit in young kids, before the lung damage that happens with CF occurs.” —Angela Spivey For more information about obtaining hypertonic saline for CF, visit the CF Foundation web site at www.cff.org. Scott Donaldson is assistant professor of medicine at Carolina. Richard Boucher is professor and director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research and Treatment Center. Other authors of the study, all at Carolina, are William Bennett, research associate professor of medicine; Kirby Zeman, research associate at the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology; Michael Knowles, professor of medicine; and Robert Tarran, assistant professor of medicine. The UNC study was funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The Australian study was funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and led by Peter T.P. Bye, of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
Blocking HIV at the root
n Malawi, a narrow ribbon of a country in southeastern Africa where more than 14 percent of the population is infected with HIV, Steve Meshnick and his team of researchers collected data and samples from 149 HIV-positive pregnant women. When they got home to their labs, they took what may be a step forward in HIV prevention and our understanding of how the virus is spread. “Mother-to-child transmission—or vertical transmission—is a huge problem,” Meshnick says. Over half a million babies are infected at birth every year. When infected mothers don’t take antiretroviral drugs during delivery, their babies contract HIV about 25 to 35 percent of the time. The women who participated in Meshnick’s study received a single dose of an antiretroviral drug when they went into labor. Doctors in the United States usually give HIV-positive mothers three doses to help prevent transmission, but the antiretroviral drugs are too expensive for hospitals in Malawi to keep in stock. While most of the mothers in the study did not transmit the virus to their babies, some did. And the researchers think they may have figured out why. Usually, the mother’s blood never mixes with the blood of the fetus. The placenta, a paper-thin layer of cells, separates the blood of the two individual beings. The connection between mother and child comes in the form of villi, which Meshnick describes as “the baby’s roots in the maternal soil,” stretching into the placenta to absorb filtered oxygen and nutrients. “There’s never any real mixing, and there shouldn’t be. So the question becomes, is there some sort of mixing that occurs abnormally, and is this mixing possibly responsible for some of the transmissions?” The researchers found that placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP), an enzyme which normally exists in the placenta, was
present in the umbilical cord serum of some of the babies. PLAP is too large to get through the placental barrier to the fetal bloodstream and, the researchers concluded, must have gone through a small fissure in the placenta. It turned out that in the cases where PLAP was present in the cord serum, the babies were almost always infected. During delivery, microtransfusions of virus-laden blood escaped from tears formed in the placenta during the mothers’ contractions. The maternal blood leaked to the umbilical cord and into the baby’s circulation. Although they had rested in the womb safely for nine months, the babies were infected during their perilous last moments there. “There are three ways to stop vertical HIV transmission,” says Jesse Kwiek, a postdoctoral fellow on Meshnick’s team and lead author of the research report. “Chemotherapy and antiretroviral drugs, elective cesarean sections, and not breast-feeding.” While all of these things are easily attainable here in the United States, where there were fewer than a hundred cases of vertical transmission last year, they’re far out of reach in Malawi and many other African countries.
The villi (red and blue) act as “fetal roots in the maternal soil” by filtering nutrients and oxygen through the placenta.
Medical treatment and drugs are expensive and often unavailable. Hospitals lack the staff and resources to perform elective c-sections regularly. And even when they can find and afford formula for their babies, women who do not breast-feed their children are stigmatized and suspected of carrying HIV. HIV infections are always comprised of multiple genetically distinct viruses, which mutate often and rapidly. The next step in the team’s research, Kwiek says, will be to determine the virologic mechanism of HIV transmission, actually characterizing the virus the mother is carrying as opposed to the virus transmitted to the infant. “We want to find out whether it’s a randomly selected virus transmitted from the mother to the infant, or if there’s some sort of viral determinant that makes certain ones more likely to be transmitted,” he says. “For me,” Kwiek says, “the most frustrating part is that we know how to stop vertical transmission. But for economic and infrastructure reasons, they can’t implement what we already know in Malawi.” Although these results bring us a new understanding of the way HIV spreads, the public health implications aren’t immediately obvious. “No one has really looked at this before, and we’re just sort of starting,” Meshnick says. “It’s a nice beginning.” —Margarite Nathe Steve Meshnick is professor of epidemiology at Carolina’s School of Public Health. Jesse Kwiek is a postdoctoral scholar at Carolina and lead author of the report “Maternal-Fetal Microtransfusions and HIV-1 Motherto-Child Transmission in Malawi.” Other researchers involved in the project include graduate student Alisa Alker, professor of medicine William Miller, and University of Malawi researchers Victor Mwapasa, Eyob Tadesse, and Malcolm Molyneux.
UNC Medical Illustration
Will your pain get Steve Exum
Afraid of needles?
Imagine instead a whisker-thin needle so flexible that you could bend it until its ends touched. Then forget that needles are even in the room. Imagine yourself in a state of complete relaxation. Now breathe. Fall asleep. Wake up, completely relaxed and limber. That wasn’t so bad. Acupuncture is a mystery in the West because we rely on scientific proof for most things medical. Yet there is little scientific proof that acupuncture relieves pain or cures ailments—either in the West or in China, where it has been used for five thousand years. Still, acupuncture has become popular in mainstream Western culture because it often helps patients, even cures them. Because of this gap, a handful of American medical universities are researching the technique. Carolina doctors not only study it; they use it on patients in the physical medicine and rehabilitation department and at the Family Medicine Center, which is home to several clinical trials that may determine whether acupuncture helps relieve headaches, induces labor in full-term pregnancies, or relieves discomfort from menopausal hot flashes. It has been known to do all of these.. Remy Coeytaux is in charge of the studies. He’s a medical doctor and credentialed medical acupuncturist. Headaches can be debilitating and frustrating. Researchers are finding that acupuncture can help.
By Mark Derewicz
“If acupuncture helps prevent c-sections, which it may well do, that has tremendous public health implications,” Coeytaux says. Cesarean sections are expensive, and medically induced labor increases health risks for mothers. “Most everyone agrees that we’d like to reduce the number of cesarean sections,” Coeytaux says. Nearly 30 percent of pregnant American women have c-sections for various reasons, including hypertension, swelling in the legs, and an increase in the baby’s heart rate. “The cure for some serious conditions, such as pre-eclampsia, is to deliver the baby,” Coeytaux says. “C-sections are critically important in some situations, but there is a common belief among doctors, patients, and policy researchers that the national rate of c-sections may be quite a bit higher than necessary.” Part of the reason is that labor is often medically induced soon after a woman reaches her due date, to avoid complications. “The problem is that formal induction of labor with medicines such as pitocin places women at a higher risk of needing a c-section.” There is wide consensus that physicians should use reasonable means to minimize the need for medical induction of labor and to reduce c-sections. Last year, Coeytaux and Terry Harper, a clinical fellow in obstetrics and gynecology, conducted a preliminary acupuncture study, Acumom I. The study showed that patients who received acupuncture treatment delivered twenty-one hours earlier on average. Acupuncture patients tended to be more likely to labor spontaneously and less likely to deliver by c-section. (Only 17 percent of the women who received acupuncture had a c-section. Of the women who received no acupuncture, 39 percent had a c-section.) But the study had some flaws. There were too few participants—fifty-six. Also, the study enrolled women until the end of their
fortieth week of gestation. Health-care providers made the decision to induce during the forty-first week. “In other studies, more women were allowed to go past the forty-one-week mark in their pregnancies before being induced with medications or delivering via c-section,” Coeytaux says. The study, then, is not definitive, although all results point toward favorable outcomes for acupuncture. And that’s good enough to proceed with Acumom II, which will enroll 120 women. Coeytaux is seeking funding from the National Institutes of Health for a definitive study—Acumom III—which will enroll one thousand women. The Kissinger effect Acupuncture (Latin for acus, meaning needle, and pungere, meaning to prick) entered American culture when New York Times reporter James Reston was stricken with appendicitis while following Secretary of State Henry Kissinger around China in 1971. Chinese doctors successfully removed Reston’s appendix, but he complained of pain and nausea during recovery. In came the acupuncturist, whom Reston said relieved his discomfort. In a report sent home, Reston said, “I’ve seen the past and it works!” He wrote a front page story for the Times, but failed to explain exactly what acupuncture is. Wunien Chen, Coeytaux’s Traditional Chinese Medicine expert, says, “this combination medicine is common in China’s best hospitals. Even if the doctors don’t communicate, the patients might go to both.” Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners say acupuncture restores health and well-being by stimulating energy flow, which is generally called Qi (pronounced chee). In 1999, researchers at the University of California-Irvine and Shanghai Medical
Remy Coeytaux (right) and Wunian Chen are conducting acupuncture clinical trials at the Family Practice Center.
University found that needles placed in various points throughout the body trigger the release of endorphins, which have been called natural opiates that relax muscles and dull pain. Acupuncturists go one further. They say that when endorphins are sent across synapses—junctions between cells—the resulting stimulation helps put the body back in its natural, healthy state. The technique, some acupuncturists say, fosters the body’s innate healing responses. It helps stimulate the immune system and carry away dead or damaged blood cells. Coeytaux adds another layer: “We know that every cell has a little electromagnetic field. If you have millions of these cells in an organ, you get a larger electromagnetic field around the organ—a dynamic field that changes depending on the electrical activity of the organ. How do we know this? We do electrocardiograms. We have an EKG that is well-established in Western medicine and it measures electromagnetic radiation of the heart. We know it’s there. There’s no argument about that. We know this organ is sending out this electromagnetic field. Now endeavors 7
what do we do with that information? We use it as diagnostic information. We recognize patterns, and we know that a certain pattern suggests that there is heart damage or that there is a rhythm problem. We learn to read it. We stop short of asking the question, ‘does this electromagnetic radiation have any interaction with the tissues of our body?’ We don’t really ask that question in Western medicine. We consider it a by-product of living. We know it’s there but we don’t ask if it’s involved in health or illness.” Coeytaux says Western medicine has proven other things. Pumping electromagnetic radiation into the body, for example, affects tissues. “High doses can be good or bad,” he says. “We know it causes cancer or can help other things. But we don’t think of the fact that electromagnetic radiation produced in our bodies might interact with our health. That’s why I say acupuncture is not incompatible with Western medicine. It’s just that we haven’t asked these questions.” He says it’s plausible, though not proven, that this electromagnetic radiation, generated by organs throughout our bodies, travels through our tissues, presumably on a path of least resistance like all natural things do. “Like water down a mountain,” Coeytaux says. Maybe electromagnetic currents pass along nerve passages. Maybe currents travel between connective tissue separating or binding together muscles and organs, or through blood vessels. Needles, he says, are like metal electrodes. If you put two near each other, an electrical current is measurable. “Possibly by putting an electrode on that spot, it somehow immediately alters the organ or organs that generate it. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s not implausible.” Chen calls Coeytaux’s explanation the best he’s ever heard. Does it work? Warren Newton, chairman of Carolina’s family medicine department, says, “Some doctors are still skeptical about acupuncture, but I don’t see very much hostility toward Remy’s work. The key issue for me is does acupuncture work?” Newton says that acupuncture, unlike many alternative approaches, has a welldeveloped comprehensive diagnostic system. It also has a long track record, which Coey8 endeavors
taux and Chen are continuing at the Family Medicine Center. As Newton notes, they have very loyal patients. Gary Barker, a fifty-four-year-old Chapel Hill construction worker, is one of them. “I would wake up with a headache and it would get worse all day,” he says. “By eight o’clock at night, I couldn’t take it any longer and would lie down. That somewhat relieved it. Then I’d go to sleep, and the same thing would happen the next day.” This went on for eighteen months. Drugs containing codeine dulled the pain for a couple of hours, but taking too much made Barker groggy. The hospital did CAT scans, checked spinal pressure, and prescribed several medications. None worked. Neurologists shot botulin toxin into his head to deaden aggravated nerves and relieve pain. It didn’t work, though he reports a less wrinkled forehead. “I was at the point where I would try anything,” Barker says. Neurologists explained his choice of referrals: psychiatry or acupuncture. He took the earliest available slot, which happened to be with Dr. Chen. There was no change in his condition after three sessions. Chen told him it takes time. Then, it happened. “I walked out of the fourth session without a headache. I kept thinking it would come back, but it never did. It’s unreal. I’m a believer.” It’s unclear what caused Barker’s headaches. He takes several medications for a bad heart, some of which cause side effects including headaches. But Barker had taken the meds for a decade before he experienced headaches. Now he receives acupuncture once a week and takes Chinese herbal medicine that, he’s convinced, gives him more energy. Last October, Coeytaux and a team of six other doctors published a paper in the journal Headache detailing a study of seventy-four chronic daily headache sufferers like Barker. All patients received medical attention. Those who did not receive acupuncture treatments did not see significant improvement, except for “a weak trend of decreased daily pain severity.” Acupuncture recipients, though, reported a significant reduction in headache pain and long-term quality-of-life improvements. Western medicine breaks down headaches into two major types—tension and migraine. Tension headaches are the common mildto-medium pain headaches we all know. Migraines are more severe, sudden, and
can be triggered by different things, such as certain foods, varying hormone levels, sensitivity to light, and even weather. Though less common, migraines afflict over thirty million Americans. East meets West Coeytaux became interested in headaches after seeing too many people receive inadequate medical care for their headaches. He came across acupuncture and was fascinated. He realized that from a public health point of view, doctors should study it. “People are using acupuncture,” he recalls thinking. “Either they’re wasting their money or we’re missing out.” Coeytaux attended a brief acupuncture training program at UCLA. He loved it, and decided to take two hundred training hours to become a credentialed medical acupuncturist. Back at Carolina, Coeytaux found the perfect partner in Chen, who was trained in both Eastern and Western medical traditions in China. Their work together has convinced them that combining Eastern and Western medicine in one clinical setting is possible, and perhaps preferable. For instance, Western medicine has uncovered the pathology of headaches—how they develop and cause pain. Some drugs work. Some don’t. Most have side effects. Eastern medicine offers natural treatment including acupuncture, which is safe and often relieves pain. Coeytaux and Chen, along with occupational therapist Kate Lindemuth, are now writing a paper about how to combine diagnostic and treatment methods from both traditions most effectively. And Newton, for his part, is curious to know if clinicians can be trained to do simple acupuncture treatments for sinus inflammation and similar conditions. “Do you need knowledge of acupuncture points in order for acupuncture to work?” he asks. “Can we teach someone to do this? There are lots of clinical questions like this.” In the meantime, Coeytaux and Chen are trying to show that both are better. “Since we know both, we should use both,” Chen says. Coeytaux adds, “Eastern and Western are not like parallel approaches. We’re trying to integrate both perspectives. From a clinical point of view, it’s logical.” e
Feeling the Heat Global warming is real. Oil is running out. Time is running out. What happens next? by Mark derewicz Dale Taylor
loods obliterate Wilmington, Norfolk, even New York. Millions of people relocate inland. America’s breadbasket—the world’s main producer of grain—returns to its Dust Bowl days. Hurricanes as wicked as Katrina regularly ravish the Southeast. East Coast weather imitates Ontario. Southern Europe swelters and then the North plunges into a deep freeze. Our global economy is shattered in one day. Sounds like the movie The Day After Tomorrow, which left scientists scoffing. Weather changes on a dime. Climate doesn’t. But it can change quicker than you might think. “It won’t happen on Tuesday at 2:52 p.m.,” says Doug Crawford-Brown, director of the Carolina Environmental Program. But, he says, the time frame “is stunningly short.” By 2100 the Earth will be a very different place, he says. Here’s why. In the mid-1990s, ice core samples from Greenland revealed that climate has severely changed throughout Earth’s history due to increased amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. But some of these changes happened over a span of only fifty to one hundred years. Takaaki Iwabu, the News & Observer
Doug Crawford-Brown “If we continue to settle the way we do—with people in suburbs working thirty miles away and shopping twenty miles away—forget it. We’re doomed to high levels of energy use.” His Carolina Environmental Program seeks ways to reduce the “carbon footprint” of people and their communities.
Tom Meyer Three factors are pushing us over the edge: industrial nations pumping out CO2, other nations imitating our industrial revolution, and global population reaching ten billion. Jason Smith
“This really scared people because climatologists thought climate changed subtly over centuries,” Crawford-Brown says. Now climatologists fear the worst could unfold within decades, drastically altering global civilization. If we do nothing to curb carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, homes, and industry, Crawford-Brown and many other scientists predict, global mean temperature will increase four to seven degrees Fahrenheit by 2060. If this happens, look out. Icecaps, which are already melting, will thaw even quicker. Ocean levels will rise. Already, rising waters have swallowed up small islands located halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Satellite images show that Switzerland has lost 20 percent of its glaciers over the past fifteen years. The signs aren’t good. Under the worst-case predictions, Crawford-Brown says, the resulting floods “will be enough to inundate North Carolina’s coast thirty or forty miles inland and displace half the East Coast by 2100.” Other calamities include the outbreak of infectious and malarial diseases that could creep north from the tropics, and more days of deadly heat and cold. That’s not the worst of it. Siberian and northern Alaskan permafrost is thawing, releasing methane—another greenhouse gas. This could accelerate global warming and cause ocean temperatures to rise, which would create a breeding ground for intense hurricanes, Crawford-Brown says. High water temperatures are already killing coral that are vital to Caribbean and
Southeast Asian fish nurseries. Melting icecaps will also decrease ocean salinity. In 2005 scientists discovered that ocean temperatures were rising, which their computer models had predicted. Scientists fear that desalination and increasing ocean temperatures will eventually shut down the global oceanic conveyor belt. If that happens, northern Europe freezes and the United States gets much drier and cooler—in a hurry—imperiling mass agriculture that feeds much of the world’s 6.5 billion people. Tom Meyer, professor of chemistry at Carolina, says that this sci-fi climate change seems a little extreme, but, “this has happened historically. Geological records are clear.” Meyer says that atmospheric CO2 levels are now at 380 parts per million. “Most of the models say that when we reach four hundred fifty to seven hundred, the heat will build up quite dramatically.” And, he adds, we might not have until 2060. Meyer says that three factors are pushing us over the edge: industrial nations pumping out CO2, other nations imitating our industrial revolution, and global population reaching ten billion (ETA: 2100). More humans plus more energy use equals increased global warming. Both Crawford-Brown and Meyer say that global climate change is the most urgent and complex issue of our time because it’s interwoven with energy consumption and fossil fuels. The big three: coal, natural gas, and oil. Global warming isn’t in doubt. But
the severity and timeline of drastic climate change are. “These are our best predictions,” Crawford-Brown says of the 2060 CO2 projections. “But there’s a lot that’s left out of the models.” Such as the end of cheap oil and natural gas. Wouldn’t limited supplies of those fuels affect the models? Peak Oil Astrophysicist Gerald Cecil, the former project scientist of Carolina’s SOAR telescope in Chile, was reviewing global warming models for an undergraduate class in 2001 when a big red flag went up. Economists had advised the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that more than twice the world’s current energy consumption would come from oil in 2030, but Cecil was skeptical. “I recalled 1980 concerns that we were running out of oil,” Cecil says. “They talked about a thirtyyear time frame.” He searched for information on the longevity of oil supplies, and stumbled onto the concept of peak oil—the moment when oil can be extracted from the ground no faster. Once that happens, less and less oil will be available on the market. Prices shoot way up—not only gas prices, but prices for food, clothes, shelter, plastics, and just about everything else—because oil is integral to their production and distribution. “As I got deeper into it, I started to switch fields,” Cecil says. “I could not in good conscience expend my efforts solely endeavors 11
Jim Parkin (photo); Jason Smith (chart)
This chart, which was created by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, illustrates the possibility that global oil production will peak before 2010. Global petroleum supplies would then decrease, causing oil prices to rise.
on astrophysics when I saw this massive problem that few people recognized.” As first steps, he has developed two undergraduate energy courses and is finishing a book, Out of the Oil Trap, in an attempt to quantify an understudied subject. He wants to make something clear: there is no big pool of oil in the ground. “It’s distributed throughout pores in only a restricted range of rock types,” Cecil says. Oil depletion, then, is not like pouring gasoline from a can. Instead, he says, think of a straw sucking on a milk shake. “If you pull too hard, the milk slurps as it mixes with air,” Cecil says. “There’s a disconnection, and you actually end up drawing less fluid. You have to pull it with a slow, steady tug so that it connects by pressure and pulls itself out.” Similarly, oil is stranded if pumped too fast. This is why the flow rate of an oil reservoir is key, he says, not how much crude oil it holds. He says that a large volume of oil remains underground, but after peak oil, it will take longer and longer to get it out. For example, American oil discoveries continued to increase until they topped out in the 1930s. After that geologists discovered smaller and smaller oil fields in the lower forty-eight states each year. Thirty years later American oil production peaked at nearly ten million barrels daily. But since 1970 the extraction rate has decreased steadily. Today, Texas oil wells produce just a few barrels a day—a mere trickle—but the fields still contain about 10 percent of the original recoverable oil. Global oil discoveries crested in 1964, when easily accessible oil gushed from gigantic pressurized fields
around the Persian Gulf, Cecil says. Later discoveries throughout the world paled in comparison, forcing non-OPEC nations to develop expensive and sophisticated ways to drill horizontally, under water, and under ice floes. “All of this effort affects the flow rate from discovery to delivery to the consumer,” Cecil says. The other problem, he says, is that there are many kinds of oil. The light, “sweet” stuff was easier to find and produce. Right now companies are recovering heavier oil, which is tougher to refine, and this also affects prices. Cecil points to the work of industry experts such as geologist Colin Campbell and energy investment banker Matt Simmons. They underscore that at least thirtythree of the forty-eight major oil-producing nations outside the Persian Gulf, including OPEC members such as Indonesia, have declining flows. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, is now injecting massive volumes of expensive desalinated water into three huge but aging fields. Water repressurizes the fields’ fluids to maintain high flow rates, Cecil says. The Saudis have been using it for years to stabilize the world oil market when production elsewhere goes awry. Saudi Arabia, which is notoriously secretive about the decline rates of its fields, says it can increase the overall flow of oil to meet increased demand. The Saudis, though, haven’t released field-by-field justification of this statement for decades and, in fact, they are mostly just reworking old oil fields to squeeze out more oil, not bringing large new fields on line. This, Cecil says, will bring on peak oil faster, and the decline rates will likely be even steeper than projected, which
Gerald Cecil “I think the big picture is absolutely overwhelming. But this is something that could energize every department on campus.”
are typically between 4 and 7 percent annually. Cecil says that if there’s a 7 percent decline rate, which was typical in North Sea oil fields that used water injection, then within 15 years, oil will be flowing from today’s fields at half its present rate. “This,” Cecil says, “is a very big deal.” When will oil peak? Cecil says it’s a tough call, but thinks we could decline permanently from present near-peak rates within five years. Because of this, Cecil says, global warming trends should be lower than expected—“unless we go absolutely nuts with coal, or have somehow missed a major feedback in the regulation of atmospheric CO2.” Crawford-Brown isn’t so sure. He says, “I’m always a little bit skeptical of arguments about us running out of stuff because, to our detriment, we seem to be very clever at coming up with new things.” Oil companies, for instance, say that they have new recovery technologies ready to leave the lab and enter the field. But the faster we pump out the oil, Cecil says, the harder we’ll fall after peaking. They also say that massive tar-sand deposits in Canada and Venezuela, and later, shale from the United States, will delay any peak beyond 2030. Tar sands are a mixture of clay, sand, water, and bitumen—a hydrocarbon. But you can’t stick a pipe in the ground to hit a bitumen gusher, Cecil says. It has to be strip-mined in large amounts to produce a relatively small volume of crude oil. It’s an expensive and intensive process. Cecil’s research shows that projections from Canadian tar-sand developers won’t come close to replacing the declining flow of conventional crude oil. Neither will oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, should drilling there proceed. Cecil says that oil prices likely will spike sharply instead of climbing gradually. Coming up short In his book, Cecil shows what sort of energy upgrade we will soon need from alternatives. For this, he developed a web tool, the U.S. Energy Simulator, which can plot exponential increases in alternative forms of energy, not to mention fossil fuel growth, decline, or stability. For instance, the United States currently gets about 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, according to the Department of Energy. The simulator can plot that, and increase it endeavors 13
Mort Webster “History shows that whenever governments try to pick winners, they always get it wrong.”
year by year until 2040. The tool then breaks down the information into useful units, such as how many nuclear plants we will have to build. Cecil’s program makes it clear that replacing fossil fuels will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without changing the way American society functions—people consuming much less stuff, especially gasoline. He says that as oil supplies begin to decrease per capita, we will become much less mobile, eventually relying on slower, less convenient, and more expensive electric cars. And, he says, this electricity will increasingly come from solar, wind, and most of all nuclear energy. For smaller communities, such as those in North Carolina, another alternative is biomass—generating energy from landfills, hog waste, wood chips, and other renewable sources. Such projects are under way across the nation, but the short-term problem remains the same—we need liquid fuel. Cecil’s research shows that other fuel alternatives, such as hybrid technology, ethanol, and biodiesel, are not long-term solutions if society remains structured as it is today. He researched the topic and co-authored a paper in which he calculates that America’s entire corn crop could produce enough ethanol to fuel just 7 percent of this nation’s automobiles. And ethanol’s energy ratio—how much energy is put into its creation compared to how much energy it will produce—is so bad that production depends on three billion dollars in state and federal subsidies. Cecil adds that massive ethanol production—which uses coal, largely imported oil, and natural gas—would degrade the environment, including global warming. Using more land for mass agricul14 endeavors
ture is also problematic because tilling soil is a major CO2 contributor. On the other hand, ethanol and methanol can be made from other biomass, such as wood chips and sugar cane, so they could provide a slice of the energy pie, especially for smaller communities. As for biodiesel—fuel made essentially from new or used vegetable oil—Americans used about sixty-five million gallons in 2005. But that’s a mere drop in the tank: it only takes about a dozen typical gas stations to sell that much gasoline in a year. The jump in alternative production would have to be enormous, so biofuels barely register on Cecil’s energy simulator. Cecil’s energy outlook doesn’t include hydrogen, which many people assume has the most potential. Hydrogen, though, has to be chemically extracted from substances, such as water or coal. Extraction consumes significantly more energy than is released when hydrogen powers a fuel cell. Meyer, who has followed hydrogen’s journey for years, says that fuel cells are still very expensive, and a hydrogen-based economy will take years of research and development, not to mention tons of money. Coal and natural gas can be liquefied to make car fuel, although such liquefaction facilities pollute worse than typical coal plants. Another problem is that domestic supplies of natural gas peaked in 1973, and the infrastructure to distribute them between continents is almost nonexistent, Cecil says. “The constricted flow of natural gas is also not reflected in most global warming models,” he adds. If global production of natural gas peaks, could our cumbersome coal infrastructure be ramped up to quench our energy thirst? Although it’s abundant,
coal is like oil—there are different grades. We’re just about out of the best stuff, and we’re mining lower quality brown coal instead. Brown coal yields less energy, which means we need more of it. And it’s dirtier than the pure black kind, Cecil says. It’s easy to see how we got into the twin troubles of peak oil and global warming. It’s not so easy to see the way out because, as Cecil points out, we chose to move from wood to coal and then to oil. Each transition was to cheaper and more convenient fuel. This time we have to move away from fossil fuels out of necessity, and it won’t be cheap or easy. Coal has been with us since Englishman Abraham Darby decarbonized it to make coke in 1712. Oil entered the mainstream around the same time that German Karl Benz invented gas-powered automobiles in 1886. And thanks to the free market and a bit of ingenuity, American industry rose swiftly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Vast factory lands consumed urban centers. Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line in 1913 and began churning out cars. Machine labor replaced manual labor. After World War II, dirty cities, a swelling population, and cheap oil helped create suburbia and superhighways. Driving became our way of life. Today, China—with its 1.3 billion people— is on the same path. Picture Shanghai’s many bicycles filling the streets. No more. China banned bikes on Shanghai’s main roads to make room for millions of cars. China also wants to build more than five hundred coal-fired plants. India wants more than two hundred, and the United States has plans for seventy-two more.
Techno-fixes Global warming models factor in CO2 increases from coal, but the models vary quite a bit because of unknowns, such as the rate of thawing permafrost, possible cloud cover, and atmospheric water vapor. These and other factors could speed up or slow down global warming. And, as Cecil admits, the peak oil situation is a physical scientist’s nightmare, due to scattered data that researchers such as Campbell and Simmons are only now piecing together. In light of the unknowns, researchers focus on what they do know. Ninety-eight percent of the world’s mountain glaciers are melting. Even if we cease all CO2 emissions right now, the Earth’s mean temperature will still rise another degree, according to scientist Bob Corell’s Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. He says that would cause the entire Arctic ice mass to melt. Adding a few more degrees could do even further damage. And scientists say to avoid that, we have to limit CO2 emissions. Scientists are researching and developing clean-coal, zero-emissions technology, but so far the newest coal-fired plants still produce CO2. Back home, Chapel Hill’s biggest single CO2 emitter is the university’s cogeneration plant, which produces one-fourth of UNC’s energy. In most energy plants, heat is an unused by-product. But Carolina’s award-winning plant captures heat to create steam for electricity and chilled water for air conditioning. The facility, built in 1992, gets more than twice the energy from a pound of coal than standard plants do. It also has the best pollution controls available. Meyer, former associate director of research at Los Alamos National Laboratories, believes that American and European researchers are close to finding affordable ways to intercept CO2 before it enters the atmosphere. Once captured, the CO2 must be stored. The United States and Europe are testing underground aquifers for that. In the short term, Meyer points to hightemperature superconducting technology, which is already making high-powered transmission lines two hundred times more efficient. Right now the United States loses 10 percent of its electricity—three hundred million kilowatt hours each year—due to resistance problems of copper and aluminum wires. At Carolina, Meyer has delved into renewable energy research in green chemistry. The
Nuclear energy Is on the table as one option among many. But managing Nuclear fuel and waste takes Global coordination, Meyer says: “We would need a new nuclear order that would have designated nations as manufacturers of nuclear fuels, and the same countries would take back the spent fuel rods. And this makes things even harder.” according to the Department of Energy, the United States gets about 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors. If demand for Power continues to rise almost two percent per year, where will the energy come from? Jason Smith
Solar is a clean, safe source of energy, but its role will be minor unless technical breakthroughs improve the efficiency of solar collectors. Simon Smith
goal is to shine sunlight on water to make oxygen and hydrogen. “If you do that, you can run them through a fuel cell to make electricity,” he says. The problem is that a glass of water doesn’t absorb visible light. Meyer is trying to create an energy interface that can rip apart the water molecule to produce energy. “This has a long-term future,” he says, “and will probably have a slice of the action.” But, he notes, a slice won’t cut it. Nuclear power can be a more substantial piece. Although few people like it, many scientists, including those contacted for this story, believe that nuclear is back on the table because it’s the cleanest, most costeffective alternative to fossil fuel. A chunk of uranium the size of a golf ball stores as much energy as 2.3 million pounds of coal, and it releases no CO2. The United States shied away from nuclear power after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, when the fear of catastrophic meltdowns was rampant. Other countries, though, embraced nuclear, including France, which gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors. Although nuclear reactors create miniscule amounts of waste, disposing of leftover uranium and plutonium has always been problematic. But spent fuel rods can now be recycled so that almost no waste is left. Nuclear weapons, though, can still be made from the waste. “We would need a new nuclear order that would have designated nations as manufacturers of nuclear fuels and the same countries would take back the spent fuel rods,” Meyer says. “And this makes things even harder.” But, he adds, the 16 endeavors
Department of Energy has announced plans for a new Global Nuclear Energy Initiative for such controls. If we want to limit nuclear energy, or abandon it altogether, can the world conserve enough? Your carbon footprint Crawford-Brown leads the United States chapter of the Carbon Reduction Program (C-Red), which calls for a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025. It’s an ambitious project based on a 2003 British government goal of the same reduction by 2050. Scientists at Britain’s East Anglia University say that the reduction would keep CO2 levels from doubling the pre-Industrial Revolution levels. This, Crawford-Brown says, could hold off or lessen the worst climate-change scenarios while alternative energy sources and sustainability practices take hold. As part of C-Red, Crawford-Brown and Carolina students assessed plans for Cambridge University’s new off-campus research center and proposed energy-efficient changes, such as parking space reductions, alternative transportation, free buses, energy-efficient buildings, water recycling, and energy-efficient boilers and other equipment. The students also worked out financing plans to show how green initiatives save money in the long run. Chapel Hill and UNC were the first in this country to sign on to the C-Red program, and Carolina students are now evaluating emissions here. They say that 27 percent of town emissions come from transportation, 33 percent from commercial development,
and 40 percent from residential areas. Crawford-Brown says that the heating and cooling of homes account for 80 to 90 percent of residential energy use. So the first step, he says, is to separate legitimate need from obsession. “UNC Hospitals must run kidney dialysis machines,” he says. “But there are illegitimate needs, like my son wanting to keep the upstairs eighty degrees in the winter so he can wear beach clothing.” Lowering the winter thermostat to 65 degrees and upping the summer AC closer to 80 can make big differences, CrawfordBrown says. It helps to turn off appliances and lights and to use high-efficiency light bulbs—but not nearly as much as monitoring HVAC units and filters. Insulation, double-glazed windows, energy-efficient appliances, solar water heaters, and even photovoltaics are all initial steps. The next one is getting people out of their singleoccupancy vehicles. Politicians are considering a carbon tax, but that always raises the question of oil subsidies. U.S. oil companies reported billions of dollars in record earnings in 2005, but the government still subsidizes oil exploration and production. The government also gives incentives to small businesses that buy sport-utility vehicles, but not high-efficiency cars. In essence, the government subsidizes people to use more fuel. Why? “It’s political,” says Mort Webster, a public policy professor who specializes in climate change policy. “Oil and auto industries have access, money, and influence.” Plus, cheap gas and driving are rooted in the American conscience as inalienable
Philip Berke “There’s a notion that transit is expensive. Well, so are highways... We subsidized our way into sprawl.” Jason Smith
rights. Stripping oil subsidies—raising gas prices in the process—is political suicide, Webster says. His research shows that more policymakers are talking about tradable carbon permits. Here’s the idea: a country sets a goal to reduce emissions, and it sets a limit to the amount of CO2 each company can emit. If a company prefers to reduce emissions even further, it can choose to emit CO2 amounts that fall below the mandate and sell a permit to another company, which is then allowed to emit more CO2. Together the two companies meet the reduction goal. Such CO2 cuts would likely not come close to 60 percent, Webster says, but it’s important to steer policy in the right direction. Policymakers move slowly because they typically look ten or twenty years into the future, he says. That’s problematic because coal-fired plants have a fifty-year life span and, as for global warming and climate change, we’re talking about a century of constant policy assessment. Also, the government relies on companies to invest in technologies purely on their own. “We ask them to be nice guys, and do this,” Webster says. This is fundamentally flawed, he believes. Companies need incentives. But, Webster says, the government should not subsidize one thing—such as ethanol—and not others. “History shows that whenever governments try to pick winners, they always get it wrong,” he says. The government currently subsidizes some alternatives, Meyer says, such as wind power. And government subsidies are critical to the push by utility companies to consider constructing more nuclear plants, he adds.
Big houses, long commutes Carolina researchers agree that the federal government should lead the way on global warming and peak oil, but they also agree that these issues have deep roots that all of us should understand. Our sustainability nightmare began with the American dream—suburbia. At the turn of the twentieth century, cities were crowded and polluted, which caused public health problems. The government subsidized cars, oil, and highway construction. Banks gave better mortgage deals for suburban development. “We subsidized our way into sprawl,” says Philip Berke, professor of city and regional planning and chair of environmental studies. From an economic standpoint, it made sense. Environmentally, the problems keep popping up. “If we continue to settle the way we do—with people in suburbs working thirty miles away and shopping twenty miles away—forget it,” Crawford-Brown says. “We’re doomed to high levels of energy use. Redesigning our communities is the ultimate answer.” (see Endeavors, Winter 2004, “Made for Action.”) Berke believes that we should concentrate commercial and residential areas together and then provide mass transit if none exists. “There’s a notion that transit is expensive,” he says. “Well, so are highways.” Transit-oriented developments would justify alternative forms of transportation, he says. There are favorable trends. Since 1990, city centers of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham have gained popularity. Some towns are building up instead of out. And,
according to Berke, more than one million Americans have moved into planned new urban communities, such as Southern Village and Meadowmont in Chapel Hill. Cecil says that a local agriculture component would help sustain new and old communities. Also, Berke says, education is essential, starting with elementary school-age kids. As for the rest of us, we’ll likely have to adjust our lifestyles. For example, when it comes to peak oil, Cecil says, “the easiest way to adapt in the short-term will be to carpool.” Ultimately, our entire transportation system will have to be reconfigured, he says. The final part of his book addresses such massive changes. “We need much more efficient ways to move goods—by barge or train,” he says. Not by truck. “We’ll have to transport people by trains, bikes, and much better cars than even hybrids.” We’ll have to develop better housing and working patterns to lessen transport time and energy. Air travel, Cecil thinks, will once again be only for the rich. “I think the big picture is absolutely overwhelming,” Cecil says. “But this is something that could energize every department on campus in a common-sense way. As in, ‘here’s a really tough problem to tackle. What do we do? Let’s have a significant impact on the community.’” Cecil adds that the best way to pitch all of this might be to ask ourselves what sort of world we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. “It’s not a world that’s going to get easier; it’s going to get harder. We must be vigilant about our energy use for decades to come.” e endeavors 17
This Mexican boy created a message for his grandmother, who lives and works in Carrboro, North Carolina, to support her family. Photo by Niklaus Steiner.
What Happens Back Home by Mark Derewicz “Have you ever heard of the leyenda of the dollar? In God We Trust? We believe in that legend. We know it’s dangerous to cross the border, that many Mexicans die, but we put ourselves in God’s hand and trust that we will make it and that we’ll get ahead in life.” —Saul, Mexican immigrant and former resident of Carrboro
We think we know their stories. They are Mexican immigrants here to earn money to support families back home. Carolina anthropologist Hannah Gill understands this, but she’s more interested in the details behind the dollar signs. So after earning a doctorate from Oxford in anthropology and Latin American migration, she returned to her native North Carolina to research the state’s burgeoning immigrant population. She found a new way to listen to immigrants’ issues, and learned that what happens back home is just as important as what happens here. 18 endeavors
er first stop was El Centro Latino, an advocacy and service center in Carrboro. Gill stands out as a volunteer, but she speaks fluent Spanish and wants to help. Her goal was to gain trust and then tell migrants about her oral history project—a book to be published in their own voices. She met dozens of people before spotting a trend. “Celaya, Celaya, everyone was from Celaya,” she says. About 75 percent of North Carolina’s 600,000 Hispanics are Mexican. And in Orange County, most Mexicans are from Celaya, a decaying manufacturing center of 383,000 people, situated 125 miles northwest of Mexico City. Downtown is surrounded by poor villages, sweatshops, and, further out, agricultural fields. When Celayenses want to get a leg up, they look to the United States. Angela, one of Gill’s thirty-two oral history participants, says that money earned in the States goes back to Celaya for schooling, lunches, uniforms, and transportation to school. “Before, the majority of children couldn’t study past elementary school because you have to pay for high school,” Angela says. “Now they can.” Art as an opener But there’s more to the story back in Mexico. Gill traveled to Celaya with artist Todd Drake, an exuberant painter who prefers community building over the solitary artist’s life. He asks students to paint personal themes. Then he incorporates their art into a much larger painting of his own. In Celaya, he helped families create paintings in the Mexican tradition of ex-votos, which typically are small religious paintings placed on church altars to commemorate miraculous events. As Drake guided workshops, Gill recorded conversations. Themes of loneliness, money, sentimentality, and religion came through. The biggest issue, though, was separation of families. “One of the villages we visited was devoid of men,” Gill says. “It was surreal. What was surprising was that most women said they would prefer that their husbands and sons come home and live in poverty.” Several told Gill that Mexico is home; the United States is for money. “You can see how families in Mexico benefit monetarily,” Gill says. “They can put a roof on their house but, when you
talk to them, they are sad because all the men are gone.” One woman from a village west of Celaya told Gill, “One hundred percent of us have families in the United States.” Gill spoke to Celayenses educators who said schools now try to fill roles traditionally held by men. Teachers spoke about moral education and teaching life skills. Gill says some Celayenses attribute increases in drug abuse and drop-out rates to migration. A teacher in Celaya told Gill, “The kids miss their dads, and can’t concentrate in school as well. You see a huge change in winter, when a lot of the men come back. The students are animated and excited to learn. Unfortunately, some parents never return and families disintegrate. This tends to happen more.” Loyalty means everything Some men are extremely faithful and send money home regularly. Others aren’t and don’t. Saul, a Celaya resident, told Gill, “There are people who, after three months, forget their family. They meet another señorita, maybe more pretty or young, or maybe they have left their wife. There are a lot of people like this.” Another told Gill, “Some men change a lot. There are many who don’t come back, many who never call. They don’t communicate. They leave their families here, their wives. They find new families and stay.” In 1994, sixty-four Mexicans lived in Carrboro. Now there are about two thousand. Most come directly from Celaya. Over the past ten years, though, some migrants came from California, which has been home to a large Hispanic population ever since the United States annexed part of Mexico in 1848. Gill says that some settled Mexicans in California are hostile to newcomers. “Settled Mexicans get lumped into the category of Mexicans using up tax dollars and all the stereotypes,” Gill says. “They want to be distinct from new immigrants.” Josefina, another oral history participant, told Gill, “In North Carolina, Hispaños treat each other better because everyone is new. No one thinks he is better than anyone else. In California, new immigrants are treated terribly by second generations.” She told Gill that she didn’t want her grandson to grow up in that atmosphere. A mother of five whose husband died several years
ago, Josefina couldn’t find a job that paid enough in Mexico. She heard there were jobs in North Carolina, so they moved to Carrboro, where she lives with her daughter and son-in-law. “Of course, the flip side is that the Americanos treat you worse in North Carolina,” she said. “We are not terrorists! We are people just like anyone else, trying our best to help our families back home.” Need versus danger In the 1990’s, the Mexican economy tumbled as ours boomed. Mexicans flocked north to fill jobs in construction, meat processing, and farming, all at the lower end of the pay scale. Many migrants new to California came east when word of mouth reached them about the South’s affordable living and growing economy. By 2000, Latinos made up 50 percent of North Carolina’s meat processing work force, and 75 percent of Charlotte’s construction jobs. More than 25 percent of all Triangle carpenters, construction laborers, painters, and food processors were Latino. Migrant labor is in demand throughout the state, including Smithfield Foods down east, Case Farms in Morganton, Tyson Farms Chicken in Siler City, and the High Point furniture manufacturers. A recent KenanFlagler Business School study showed that Hispanics contribute more than nine billion dollars annually to the state economy. The amount could total eighteen billion by 2009. Immigration’s drain on health care, education, and correctional services doesn’t come close to equaling either figure, the report says.
Hannah Gill traveled to Mexico to see how emigration affects the people left behind. Photo by Jason Smith.
ut before Hispanics reach North Carolina, they often take an arduous journey, as Gill’s students found out. Last fall, Sarah Plastino, a junior public policy and international studies major, took Gill’s course, “Immigrant Perspectives,” which Plastino says taught her more than any other class at Carolina. As a part of her research on pregnancy, birth, and motherhood in the migrant community, Plastino met a woman at El Centro Latino who had been five months pregnant when she walked across the border into Texas. “She told me how helpless she felt due to the language barrier during prenatal care,” Plastino says. “She spent the rest of her pregnancy alone and isolated. Her husband worked long hours while she was unable to drive.” The woman told Plastino that she could only assume her baby was healthy when nurses said she could leave. Gill also heard harrowing stories. Since Celaya sees a lot of emigration, the town has a lot of “coyotes”—people paid to drive truckloads of Mexicans across the border. The price for coyote transport has increased substantially due to tougher American border patrols. “It’s now more lucrative to smuggle humans than drugs,” Gill says. “So these dangerous criminals now dabble in smuggling people. Some people kidnap migrants from coyotes and hold them for ransom. If they don’t get paid—well, there have been reports of migrants being killed.” Typically, migrants pay part of the money before the trip and the rest at the coyote house across the border. Sometimes families of migrants, either in Mexico or in the States, are supposed to pay or meet the coyotes
once across the border. Gill says that when neither shows up in time, some migrant women prostitute themselves to get out. Others have reported rape. Some women now refuse to travel alone and many others refuse to leave Mexico. Gill’s work adds a different voice to the immigration debate. She believes that many Mexicans would rather stay home. With this in mind, she will head back to Mexico this summer to document more stories, as well as needs, such as potable water and working toilets in Celaya’s village schools. Her goal is to link Mexican Rotary clubs with American Rotarians. She will also present her findings to North Carolina Rotary clubs to raise awareness and, she hopes, money for projects back in Mexico. “There’s a way to get at the root of immigration,” Gill says. “It’s not about fortifying the border. Improving conditions in Mexico can help.” e Hannah Gill and Todd Drake were 2004-05 Rockefeller Fellows at the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), which hired Gill in 2005 as a research associate to head its Celaya Project. Its aim is to link universities here with those near Celaya. UCIS Executive Director Niklaus Steiner and Research Associate BeatrizRiefkohl-Muñiz (now Associate Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies) were part of Gill’s research team in Celaya. Sarah Plastino will go to Mexico this summer to research the impact of emigration on new mothers. She will also travel into Celaya’s villages with a mobile medical unit dedicated to helping the underprivileged. Gill’s book, Going to Carolina del Norte: Narrating Mexican Migrant Experiences, was published this spring.
Below, Gill helps a client at El Centro Latino in Carrboro. Photo by Jason Smith. Left, With the help of Todd Drake, these children from Celaya created paintings about emigration. Photos by Todd Drake.
this golden glow What do we miss when we look at thirteenthcentury art through twenty-first-century eyes?
by Margarite Nathe
Right, Jaroslav Folda purchased this modern icon painting in Jerusalem in 1975. The artist was Sister Gabriela, a Russian Orthodox nun from the Convent of the Ascension and a professional traditional icon painter.
The year is AD 1250. You live in ment in the Crusader icon paintings a small Western European town and he was studying. work according to the rising and the “No one talks much about chryssetting of the sun. It’s almost always ography,” Folda says. “Whenever cold, wet, and muddy. As you leave anybody has anything to say about it, the firelight of your cottage, your they say in their catalog entry for the eyes adjust to the oily-black night. work of art, ‘there’s gold highlighting You trudge down the path toward a on the figure in the following…’ But building whose windows are spilling it opens up a wonderful new issue. a warm, golden glow. It has to do with the fundamental Inside the church, candles flicker interaction between the Byzantine under and around the paintings on East and the Latin West in the second the walls. There are images of Christ, half of the thirteenth century.” the Virgin Mary, patron saints, and angels. Each figure in the paintings Crusaders in the Holy Land is radiant; light shines around their At the end of the eleventh century, bodies, which seem to hover in a Christians from the West enjoyed golden haze. Their robes are veined initial success in their attempt to seize with golden streaks and splashes. The territory from the hands of the Turks candlelight shines in the paintings’ and Arabs. As they settled down to the gold backgrounds and gives them a first hundred years or so of life and shimmering depth. war in what we know today as the Now the year is 2006. You stroll Middle East, they assimilated some through an art museum and see the of the exotic habits of the local ChrisThe Mellon Madonna. Typical mid-thirvery same painting mounted on a tians—mostly Greek Orthodox but teenth-century Byzantine-style chrysograbright white wall, lit by spotlights also Jacobite, Syrian Orthodox, and phy decorates this major Christian image from above and below. You stop for a Armenian Orthodox. The Crusaders of the enthroned Virgin and Child—a moment. Your eyes pass quickly over began to imitate the Byzantine style golden background creates depth, and the mustard-hued background and in manuscript illumination, mosaics, the golden highlights in Mary and Jesus’s robes transform the figures into a source you take in the rich reds and blues. and frescoes. Eventually, the Eastern of light. One of few medium-to-large Very pretty, you think, and move on churches introduced the Crusaders Crusader icon paintings, it measures 81.5 to the next work. to icon paintings—images through by 49 centimeters. A framed reproduction “That’s exactly what you didn’t see which artists revealed the power and hangs over Folda’s desk. Printed with perin the Middle Ages,” Jaroslav Folda divinity of holy figures. mission of the National Gallery. says. “No medieval person ever saw Pilgrims visiting the Holy Land a work with electric spotlights on gave written accounts of beautiful it. Nobody in the Middle Ages was icons used to adorn church walls, chamaking art to put in some museum, pels, and altars. And because most of because there weren’t any museums.” It’s difficult for us to the Crusaders’ icon paintings are small—only a little larger than recreate the context of the works today, but back then, he says, a sheet of notebook paper—we can guess they were also used “church was the best show in town.” around the home for personal worship. You must think about what a medieval painting was used for, Folda says, “because Writing in gold every medieval work of art essentially had a function.” The word chrysography literally means “writing in gold,” and Greek Orthodox Christians immediately kissed their icon originally referred to a technique employed by early Christian paintings upon entering their churches or houses. “Like when scribes who used gold ink to copy the Gospels of the Bible. you walk into your grandparents’ home and you walk up to The gold ink wasn’t just a sign of affluence—it actually brought your grandmother and you give her a kiss,” he says. “It’s the light to the words on the page. The effect was almost magical, same kind of thing. They thought of these icons in a very Folda says. When the owner opened the book, whatever light he personal way.” used—usually candlelight—was immediately reflected, making the words glow and flicker. Artists, soldiers, and widows While completing his most recent book, Crusader Art in the The phrase ‘Crusader icon paintings’ may bring to mind an Holy Land, from the Third Crusade to the Fall of Acre, Folda began image of a soldier who, pausing briefly from swinging his sword to realize that this gold highlighting—made of paint consisting or stringing his bow, dabs a quick watercolor on a spare bit of of crushed gold mixed with egg tempera—was a crucial eleparchment. But not all Crusaders were fighters. 2222 endeavors endeavors
The Crusaders occupied the Holy Land for nearly two understand more about the differing developments in medieval hundred years, and many who were born in the East to Cruart and how it differs from Renaissance art.” Innovative Western sader ancestry chose to decline the soldier’s life. Some took up European artists were keen to adopt the newest methods, but apprenticeships in artists’ workshops and learned how to paint the transition from one style to the next subtly changed the as the Byzantines did. use and purpose of chrysography. Art of the Maniera Greca, an Icon painters were most often monks, nuns, and, later on, Italian expression that means “in the manner of the Greeks,” commercial artists trained to use a traditional technique to create was fashionable in Italy for a time. But by the sixteenth century, holy images, which were in high demand. Patrons—bishops, it had negative connotations, generally referring to a primitive priests, soldiers, wives, widows, mothers, or anyone else with the or medieval approach—“medieval in a bad way,” Folda adds. means to purchase the paintings—made specific requests when they commissioned the artists. Images of soldier saints, such Unexplored territory as Saints Sergios and Bacchos, were particularly popular with Art historical scholarship about the function of chrysography military men and their families. Churches requested images in painting is virtually nonexistent, but Folda is ready to enter of their patron saints. Wealthier clients ordered icons with into this unexplored territory. “What’s the purpose of this more lavish chrysography. In Byzantium, Folda says, people chrysography?” he asks. “Where did it come from? How did it had a psychological investment in their icons; they identified develop? What is the art historical story about chrysography? with the figures. No one’s written anything about it.” Church officials then consecrated the images. Their blessing Folda will present his research to graduate students of Italian transformed a painting from a holy art history at the University of Florimage into a holy object with much ence this summer, and he’s excited greater liturgical and devotional to show them what he’s found—that worth. At this point, Folda says, there’s a functional reason for chrysthe deeply spiritual Crusader found ography in Byzantine, Crusader, A late thirteenth-century image of Saints more than just the presence of wood and medieval Italian painting and Sergios and Bacchos created in Acre. Although it is painted in a Byzantine-influand paint in his icon. Base matter that what looks like a muted yellow enced style, certain subtle elements of the became a mirror of the heavens, and background and highlighting today is image—the standard bearing the cross the figure in the painting was a true actually one of the work’s most vital of Saint George, the quiver of arrows, reflection of a holy being. elements. and the workmanship of the horsemen’s In planning for his visit, Folda is stirrups—betray the Western European roots of the artist or patron. Image now A golden age in Italy contemplating a field trip with the held at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, in Folda believes that merchants and students to an Orthodox church in Sinai, Egypt. pilgrims passing through Italian port Florence. “When you walk into a cities during the thirteenth century Byzantine church,” he says, “you’re brought news to Italian painters of a leaving the natural world outside and new technique in the Crusader and you’re entering a sacred space. All of Byzantine East. The Italians eagerly a sudden we switch gears. Our frame incorporated their own methods of of reference is no longer the natural golden highlighting into their panel phenomenon of sunlight and color paintings. and space. It’s the sacred space of the “There’s a difference in the way church. We shift our notion of space, that chrysography is used in Byztime, and reality, and experience a antium versus the way it’s used in wholly spiritualized mode.” e Italian panel painting,” Folda says. “The Byzantines saw light as evoking Jaroslav Folda is N. Ferebee Taylor Proa spiritual reality.” fessor of the History of Art at Carolina. The Italians, who were mostly His most recent book, Crusader Art in Latin Catholics, experimented the Holy Land, from the Third Cruinstead with a new naturalism, how sade to the Fall of Acre, was published light falls over a three-dimensional by Cambridge University Press in 2005. figure. They used these images to He will present his research to students tell stories from the Bible through at the Istituto di Studi Umanistici at altarpieces and other paintings in the University of Florence at a three-day churches. conference in June, where the theme will “If we can better understand be “the Experience of Icons and the Idea chrysography,” Folda says, “we’ll of Sacred Space.” endeavors endeavors2323
in print NUCLEAR EARTHMOVING DREAMS OF RESHAPING LAND WITH THE BOMB
University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Department of Energy (Atomic Energy Commission)
Proving Grounds: Project Plowshare and the Unrealized Dream of Nuclear Earthmoving. By Scott Kirsch. Rutgers University Press, 257 pages, $39.95.
hree things come to mind when thinking nuclear—energy, weapons, and potential catastrophe. What about earthmoving? Seriously, that’s exactly what American scientists were thinking between 1957 and 1974. Scott Kirsch details this Cold War corollary in Proving Grounds: Project Plowshare and the Unrealized Dream of Nuclear Earthmoving. Led by physicist Edward Teller, often called Father of the H-Bomb, Plowshare scientists thought they could use nuclear bombs to create a new canal in Panama or Colombia. The Army Corps of Engineers estimated that three hundred buried nuclear bombs along a forty-six-mile corridor in Panama could do the job. The Corps said that 764 bombs would suffice in Colombia. Scientists created a map showing areas that radiation would likely contaminate. 24 endeavors
“There was a great deal of arrogance in thinking that to do this, you have to displace thirty thousand people,” Kirsch says. “But for the most part, the weapons scientists thought it could be done safely.” They believed in the threshold theory that said humans could withstand certain levels of radiation before causing genetic damage or diseases. “The science was debatable,” Kirsch says. “They were ignoring many of their opponents’ arguments. This was not a cautious group.” The five-year, $17.5-million canal study was authorized by Congress, as was the entire Project Plowshare for some $750million (in 1996 dollars) over seventeen years. “We will change the Earth’s surface to suit us,” Teller once proclaimed. Why so gung ho? “For some of these scientists, it was a kind of moral mission to turn the atom bomb into something good,” Kirsch says. “They were true believers.” Another reason was financial. Weapons labs tried to diversify into other research to increase funding.
As part of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Plowshare scientists had to receive presidential approval before each series of bomb tests. Politics at the national level, then, played a big role in the eventual demise of nuclear earthmoving. But even more important, Kirsch argues, was that the program’s risks and hazards generated opposition among a wide range of scientists and activists from Alaska to Australia. Such opposition wound up galvanizing the environmental movement in important ways. For example, Plowshare scientists proposed the creation of a harbor at the mouth of a small stream on Alaska’s northwest shore. The AEC wanted to plant five atom bombs totaling 280 kilotons. Newspaper editorialists and a senator from Alaska were initially swayed by Teller’s argument that fallout would be contained. Many University of Alaska scientists and others were unconvinced. They studied the area and plans at the AEC’s request. They filed reports showing potential radiation side effects. The AEC buried the reports, Kirsch says. “So the scientists made an end run.”
Why her family forgot her The Silencing of Emily Mullen and Other Essays. By Fred Hobson. Louisiana State University Press, 217 pages, $24.95. Project Sedan, a 1962 underground nuclear test, aimed to show how atom bombs could be used for peacetime engineering.
They contacted activists, other scientists, and government officials. The local Eskimo population lobbied Native American rights groups and the Department of the Interior. The project was shelved after five years. “We need to remember these stories of technological failure,” Kirsch says, “because they don’t just happen. There are critical lessons about the relations between science and democracy, the way science is processed by the public, and the ways in which we deal with uncertainty and risk.” Project Plowshare, then, remained limited to the Nevada desert, where scientists exploded twenty-seven bombs. The largest and most infamous was Sedan. Scientists planted a 104-kiloton device 635 feet below ground. It left a crater 1,280 feet across and 320 feet deep that remains a popular tourist attraction today despite above-normal radiation levels. In all, the AEC detonated 928 bombs from 1951 to 1992 in Nevada. Is it safe? “I wouldn’t go camping there,” Kirsch says. —Mark Derewicz Scott Kirsch is assistant professor of geography.
our great-grandmother committed suicide, you know,” great-aunt Clara whispered to Fred Hobson almost twenty-five years ago. “She jumped into a well and drowned.” The family had just finished a big Sunday dinner, and Clara, the self-appointed family historian, had found a captive audience in her thirty-five-year-old nephew. “No, I didn’t know,” he said with polite surprise. Later, Hobson asked his mother about what Clara had told him. This was the first she had heard of it, his mother said, and wouldn’t her own mother have told her about something like that? They dismissed Clara’s declaration as the imaginings of a woman in her eighties, but Hobson filed it away in his mind. All this took place at a Sanford, North Carolina get-together for the Gregory side of the family. Hobson didn’t know much about this branch of his family tree, except for a vague impression that it cultivated high-strung relations who were, despite keen intellects, prone to nervous breakdowns. It was more than twenty years before he would search for the truth in Clara’s so-called imaginings. During a break from his usual research and teaching load, Hobson’s search began, as many do, in the library. He wanted to know if this thing was true—had his great-grandmother, Emily Mullen Gregory, taken her own life? If so, why had no one in the family spoken of it? Why had his mother, Emily’s granddaughter, not known of it? Victorian propriety weighed down many Southern families in the nineteenth century, and even in today’s South, there are some things of which one simply does not speak, if one has good manners.
obson searched through countless reels of microfilm, examining census records, church records, alumni records, cemetery records, old newspapers, and anything else the librarians unearthed for him. He uncovered little information about Emily—even the exact date of her death was obscure. She seemed to have disappeared behind the massive social shadow cast by her husband, who was an authoritative and respected lawyer in Greensboro. Hobson did find that she gave birth to nine children in twenty years. That she was often plagued by “bodily afflictions.” That she was well-liked despite her tendency to become despondent and unhinged. And from a newspaper article about her death in 1881, that she was a “devout Christian,” and that “the entire community was shocked” by her “sudden and untimely death.” Hints—these were all hints of the manner of Emily’s death, but few solid facts were to be found. One day, as he slipped yet another microfilm reel back onto the shelf, Hobson’s eye caught something the librarians had not mentioned: a single reel of a minor newspaper called The North State, which happened to chronicle the exact period during which Emily had died. “And there I found it,” Hobson says. “In greater detail and more sensational reporting than I ever thought I’d find.” The North State article described a spectacular scene in which Mrs. Gregory, being wracked with “paroxysms of derangement,” rose silently from her knees and stole out of a family prayer session. Upon noticing her disappearance, her husband rushed from the room to see her perched on the endeavors 25
brink of a well in the distance. As he began to run toward her, “sounding the alarm,” she flung herself in and drowned before anyone could rescue her. While some of the other entries in The Silencing of Emily Mullen discuss various family members, none is as dark as this story of Emily Mullen Gregory. Much of Hobson’s research had been centered on American and Southern literary and intellectual history. This collection is a social history of the South reflected through his own eyes and family, but speaking to a much broader geography. When he began his search, he’d planned to write an essay about the rumor surrounding his great-grandmother and to include it in this volume. “It was at that point,” Hobson says, “that it developed for the first time into something more personal than I’d realized it would become.” Up until the North State article, his thoughts were trained on the thrill of the hunt for facts. But this poor woman, he began to realize, was his great-grandmother, the mother of his grandmother. She spent almost her entire adult life pregnant, in confinement, or caring for a newborn—an existence of which she may have grown very weary.
Lelia was not alone in her vocation. Hundreds of women from the American South went to China when it reluctantly opened its doors to the West at the beginning of the twentieth century. Women found there the independence and fulfillment of professional life that was beyond their reach in the United States. Thousands of the best and brightest women in the country flocked to China and the opportunity for a career in which they could be well-educated, influential, and enjoy the same status as their male counterparts. As a child, Hobson knew great-aunt Lelia as a woman in her eighties who delivered superb renditions of Joel Chandler Harris’ Brer Fox and Brer Bear, always before moving on to talk about her years in China. Even then it was clear to him that Lelia was an inspiration. “She was known as something kind of special in the family,” he says. All of the essays in Hobson’s The Silencing of Emily Mullen, even those that have nothing to do with his own family, explain certain things about the past in which many of our aunts, uncles, and grandparents came of age. Incorporating the stories of some of his own family members made history come alive for Hobson. The he nineteenth century fruits of his quest for historisaw the male medical cal facts are laid out in these establishment’s comessays: thoughtful assessments plete ignorance of women’s of African American author Photograph of Emily Mullen Gregory, circa 1870, when she health, Hobson says. In parMary Mebane, novelist Richwould have been between twenty-five and thirty years old. ticular, so-called hysteria, the ard Ford, social critic James “female disease.” In 1895, one McBride Dabbs, and several American physician wrote that it was conAlmost thirty years after Emily’s death, other prominent Southern figures. sidered “natural and almost laudable” that another of Hobson’s ancestors, his greatIn writing The Silencing of Emily Mullen, middle- and upper-class women should aunt Lelia Tuttle, left her home and family Hobson discovered things about his home“break down under all conceivable varieties in the South for China. Her story, which is land and heritage that he hadn’t expected. of strain—a winter dissipation, a houseful of the subject of the next essay in the collection, “But even when you know the facts, you servants, a quarrel with a female friend.” is much happier than Emily’s. Armed with a really don’t know the truth,” he says. “You He began to understand why his grand- master’s degree from Columbia University, don’t know why.” mother, Emily’s daughter, had always seemed she set out in 1909 for China, where she —Margarite Nathe so withdrawn. But did she actually know remained as a missionary and teacher until what had happened to her mother when, at 1941. Lelia was feisty, tough, independent, Fred Hobson is Lineberger Professor in the the age of five, she saw her disappear into and determined. She was both a friend and Humanities at Carolina. He is also the editor of the earth? It was not an event Mr. Gregory critic of Madame Chiang Kai-shek and later, the Southern Literary Studies series and cowanted to have publicized, and it seemed to dean of women at Soochow University. editor of the Southern Literary Journal.
have taken only one generation to obliterate it from the family’s awareness. Even if the community at the time had buzzed with gossip about the Gregory family, and even if Hobson’s grandmother did know the truth of her mother’s death, the secret stopped with her and her siblings—except, evidently, for the person who let slip to great-aunt Clara the facts of Emily’s fall.
Moves of his own Tantalus in Love: Poems. By Alan Shapiro. Houghton Mifflin Company, 87 pages, $22.00.
sixteen-year-old boy dove for a loose ball during basketball practice one day and broke his wrist. He couldn’t play for the rest of the season. Disappointed and bored, Alan Shapiro picked up a pen and started writing poems. “I formed the same kind of competitive relationship with poetry that I had with basketball,” Shapiro says. “I found people who wrote well and I imitated them like I did the older kids down at the playground that were making moves and doing things that I wanted to do. I studied other poets’ moves and tried to imitate them.” That broken wrist led him to a fruitful career in writing and teaching poetry. Shapiro’s newest collection, Tantalus in Love, begins with the collapse of a marriage and ends with the renewal of love. The title poem describes Tantalus, a character from Greek mythology, and his anguish as tree branches dangle above him but are blown out of reach just as he is about to grasp their fruit. Frustrated, angry words from a quarrel between a suspicious husband and an indifferent wife are scattered throughout Tantalus’s torment. Another poem deals with love after loss. “Bounty” is the story of two lovers who drift with each other in a dream state in front of an oscillating fan, and who feel the breeze as “only the faintest rippling / of cool air like a ghostly lotion / that vanishes / as soon as spread along the skin.” Other poems in the collection deal with the effects of parents’ separation on their children, the anxiety and excitement of starting over after divorce, and acquiring the capacity to be hurt again in order to start afresh. Shapiro doesn’t play much basketball these days. Instead, he teaches creative writing classes and explores the civilizing effects of writing about uncivil emotions and experiences, which he says “encourages hope that we can become better than we are.” “I get great joy out of writing,” he says. “Even when I’m writing about unjoyful experiences.” —Margarite Nathe Alan Shapiro is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of English and creative writing at Carolina.
Iris Love flower of the middle-aged, the interanimating pain and beauty in the way the stalk bends under the unexpected weight of the still uncrumpling gaudy tissue of the newest blossom while the lower blossoms like a ghostly time lapse in reverse appear to shrivel into themselves and turn away forlorn before they fall, the way the snapshot fell from its sleeve into her lap, and there she was, my new love with her old love years before beside a lake with blue hills in the distance rolling down to bluer water, and there they were, the lovers, naked, hand in hand, both smiling back at me a smile of joy so new so mischievous you couldn’t look at it and not believe no lovers ever gave themselves so freely to each other. The flower bends under the blossom’s weight; it trembles, bending it almost seems to hold it up, as if to hold it there forever, its one and only darling, honey child, how did I ever live without you? How could I ever let you go? “Iris” from Tantalus in Love: Poems by Alan Shapiro. Copyright (c) 2005 by Alan Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. endeavors 27
Misquoting Jesus Bart Ehrman’s twenty-five-year journey by Mark Derewicz Coke Whitworth
art Ehrman was a first-year student at Princeton Seminary when a professor’s remark about a Bible passage changed his life. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells a story about King David when Abiathar was high priest. But Abiathar was not high priest at that time, according to the Old Testament. His father Ahimelech was. Ehrman wrote a thirty-page paper arguing that Jesus didn’t really say that Abiathar was high priest. He made several points, including how Greek words have more than one meaning. It was a convoluted but clever argument. “My professor liked the paper,” Ehrman recalls. “I got a good grade, but at the end he wrote, ‘maybe Mark just made a mistake.’” This shook Ehrman’s whole world. Before this, he had thought the Bible was without error. “After all this fancy footwork trying to interpret away this problem, the simplest solution is that it’s just a mistake,” he says. 28 endeavors
“This opened up the floodgates. Once you acknowledge there could be mistakes, you start finding them everywhere.” Ehrman embarked on a twenty-five-year journey, both scholarly and personally, that culminated in his new book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Turns out there are thousands of errors in the New Testament, Ehrman says, and several places where passages were added to early versions of the Bible. Mysterious additions Remember the classic story about the woman taken into adultery? She’s about to be stoned before Jesus confronts her accusers: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The men say no more and walk away. Jesus looks up and asks the woman, “Is there no one who condemns you?” The woman says, “No one, Lord.” Jesus finishes the scene: “Neither do I condemn you. Go
and sin no more.” It’s the ultimate story of forgiveness and compassion. Too bad the passage doesn’t exist in the earliest versions of the Bible, Ehrman says. It was added much later by scribes. Why? “A scribe heard the story, and thought that it exemplified Christ’s forgiving nature,” Ehrman says. “Maybe a scribe originally wrote it in the margin, and a later scribe thought that the story had been left out.” But is the passage in the original Bible? No one knows because there is no original Bible. We know that it was written on papyrus, and that the original language was Greek. “I think people read them so much that they just disappeared,” Ehrman says. Subsequent copies, also written on papyrus, were heavily used and then lost to history. “We don’t even have copies of the originals, or copies of the copies, and so on,” Ehrman says. Most early Christians probably thought duplicates were sufficient, he says, but didn’t think about human error, or worse, a scribe’s
desire to change or add passages. The original version of Revelation, though, actually contains a verse warning against adding passages to the Holy Book. It is commonly thought that John, the author of Revelation, wrote the passage as a testament to the completeness of Christianity or prophecy. But Ehrman and most textual critics say that John was simply trying to tell future scribes to leave his version alone. Included in the things copyists added is the only passage that explicitly affirms the trinity. It reads, “There are three in heaven that bear witness—the father, the word, and the spirit. And these three are one.” It is not in early Greek versions, so sixteenth century humanist Erasmus left it out of his first edition. “The theologians went ballistic,” Ehrman says. But Erasmus said he would include the passage in his next edition if theologians could show him a Greek manuscript that contained it. They copied one of their Latin versions into Greek and gave it to Erasmus, who was true to his word. The King James Bible and subsequent English versions were based on this second edition. It’s not clear if Erasmus knew what the theologians had done. Still, Ehrman says, we have 98 or 99 percent of what the New Testament authors wrote. “The problem is that one or two percent winds up mattering,” he says. Sometimes, a one hundred-word passage contains one important error. Ehrman points to a story in the Gospel of Mark about Jesus feeling compassion before healing a leper. Some of the earliest versions, though, say Jesus felt angry. Scholars can’t say why Jesus would’ve been angry—at the man, disease, or society—but the meaning of the passage changes because one word is altered. Ehrman’s book is full of similar examples, but he says he’s not out to dismantle Christendom. “The ultimate goal of the book, contrary to what people have suggested, is not to destroy anybody’s faith,” he says. “The goal is to give people information about something they are interested in, or should be interested in, because the Bible is the most important book in the history of our civilization.” The truth is that the Bible is a very human book that has been changed many times, Ehrman says. “This should give people pause when they want to argue for their points of
view based on a literal reading of the text,” he says. Literalism, then, is Ehrman’s target. Fundamental shift Ehrman wasn’t raised in a particularly religious environment. His family revered the Bible for its ethical teachings and stories, but not as something to be mastered. For him, that changed when he attended Christian youth meetings during his sophomore year of high school. He says he had “a bona fide born-again experience” that launched his life in a new direction. He attended Moody Bible Institute, where faculty and students had to sign a statement that said the Bible was the inerrant word of God, completely and divinely inspired, and with no mistakes.
It was there that Ehrman learned that the original Bible doesn’t exist. This didn’t bother most students, Ehrman says, but it stuck with him. After Moody’s three-year program, he finished his bachelor’s degree at Wheaton College, where he began to study Greek. Questions about the text surfaced because Greek and English are very different languages, in which similar words have various meanings. If that’s the case, then how could the words be understood in their literal sense? Ehrman wondered if believers had to be Greek-reading scholars to understand the Bible literally. These questions led Ehrman to Princeton to study textual criticism. After his professor’s off-hand remark about the mistake in the Gospel of Mark, Ehrman sought and found many other inaccuracies. If the Bible is strewn with errors, how can it be interpreted literally?
Detail of a fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, a Latin version of the New Testament. The note in the center margin reads, “Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don’t change it!” Ehrman says that the author, a medieval scribe, was impugning a previous scribe for altering the manuscript. But scholars say that the first scribe actually made a proper correction. The scribe who wrote this note was wrong, and later, the text was changed back.
f course, even literalists see Biblical metaphors. “The trick is separating metaphors from literal truth,” Ehrman says. “Literalists make decisions to their advantage.” When literalism is put into action, he says, fundamentalist deeds are often the result—the Inquisition, the KKK, oppression of women, slavery, suicide bombings. Same goes for religious ethical teachings. When those are played out in deeds, good things usually result. Interestingly, Ehrman says, New Testament scribes were not literalists. Neither was Paul, who interpreted the Old Testament allegorically and spiritually. “That should be a lesson to modern Christians about how the text should be interpreted,” he says. “You can see that the text has some kind of authority behind it without urging a literalistic interpretation of it.” Ehrman also says that there were many forms of Christianity in the early days, just as there are today. “I think recognizing this ought to make people a little more tolerant toward other forms of belief, because even in the early Church, nobody had a corner on the truth.” e Bart Ehrman is distinguished professor and chair of religious studies. His book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, was published by HarperSanFrancisco in 2005. endeavors 29
t s a p g n ti
s s e n i k c t si
t e G
ol C c an M J y B
E ye o
n ce /
Re h oto
s ea rc
Sickle cell disease affects the shape and stickiness of some red blood cells. (Above, sickled cells are shown in magenta.) In the United States, 72,000 people have the disease, 5,000 of them in North Carolina.
Their work has changed the way doctors think about what causes a pain crisis, and has opened the way for some
Left to right: Julie Brittain, Leslie Parise, and Sheritha Lee.
much-needed new therapies.
he pain can begin suddenly. In your arms or legs, chest or stomach. Sharp or dull, throbbing or stabbing. It can last for days. Acetaminophen is not going to help; you’ll need to visit the ER. This kind of pain crisis is common for the seventy-two thousand people in the United States—mainly African Americans—affected by sickle cell disease. Other symptoms include a shortage of red blood cells, serious infections, and damage to vital organs. At present there is no cure. Doctors know that a pain crisis happens when red blood cells become stuck in small blood vessels. But they don’t know what triggers it or how to prevent it. That’s what Leslie Parise, professor and vice-chair of pharmacology, and her lab have spent the last fifteen years trying to understand. What they’ve found has changed the way doctors think about what causes a pain crisis, and has opened the way for some much-needed new therapies. Back in 1989, Parise wasn’t researching sickle cell disease. Not because it wasn’t important, but her focus was cell adhesion—how cells stick—and her main passion was platelets. But two things happened that brought sickle cell research into her lab.
First, Chris Joneckis, a graduate student looking for a research project, approached Parise. “Chris was very interested in adhesion,” Parise says, “but not so interested in platelets.” Secondly, Parise attended a conference of cell biologists and heard a talk on the potential of sickle cell adhesion. “It was an area that wasn’t very well understood,” she says. Until then, sickle cell disease had been thought of as a mechanical problem. We knew that sickle cell was a genetic disease and that the problem lay in hemoglobin— the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies. People with the sickle gene have a structural defect in their hemoglobin, so the red blood cells are deformed and can’t carry oxygen efficiently. These cells are sickle shaped, more rigid, and, we believed, this caused them to get stuck more easily in small blood vessels. Parise was intrigued by an idea that she had heard at the conference: sickle cells might be stickier than normal red blood cells. This theory suggested another way that cells might get stuck in capillaries, but more importantly, if true, it provided a target for drugs. So she returned to Chapel Hill
and told Joneckis, who was excited by the idea and started to look at red blood cells’ adhesiveness. Joneckis tested whether sickle cells had different adhesion molecules on their surface than did normal red blood cells. They did, and he published his findings in the December 1993 issue of Blood. For the first time, Parise’s group had shown that red blood cells don’t just happen to become lodged on blood vessel walls—they have the active ability to stick there. Joneckis moved on and the research lay dormant until Sheritha Lee, a master’s student from North Carolina Central University, approached Parise. Lee was personally interested in sickle cell; as an African American her family had first-hand experience with the disease. “I was thrilled to find a project I could be passionate about,” Lee says, “to think that I could uncover information that might somehow be beneficial to members of my family.” Her research confirmed that sickle cells adhere to laminin, a blood vessel wall protein, and she narrowed down exactly where on the laminin molecule the sickle cells were sticking. Lee published her research in the October issue of Blood in 1998. endeavors 31
Then two new researchers joined the lab—Patrick Hines, an MD/PhD student, and Julie Brittain, a doctoral student. Both were interested in sickle cell research, particularly in what factors triggered a pain crisis. Brittain’s research demonstrated that the sickle cells became stickier because of proteins that float around naturally in plasma. “This was a huge breakthrough in the sickle cell field because these cells had not been previously thought of as cells that could respond to become more adhesive,” Parise says. Brittain published her findings in the June 2001 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. After reading medical literature that noted a relationship between stress and the tendency for sickle cell patients to have a pain crisis, Hines took a slightly different approach. He knew that when stressed, our adrenaline or epinephrine levels rise, preparing us for fight or flight. So Hines investigated what epinephrine did to sickle cells. He found that it increased sickle cell activation of a protein called BCAM/Lu. It also increased BCAM/Lu adhesion to laminin, the adhesive protein Lee previously studied.
o the combination of stickier cells and stickier blood vessel walls explained why sickle cell patients were more likely to have red blood cells lodged in their vessels. When the researchers published their findings in the April 2003 issue of Blood, it was the first time anyone had biologically linked stress to a pain crisis. Though Parise’s group may not have started out in sickle cell research, it is now a topic of major interest in the laboratory. Brittain, now a research assistant professor, describes herself as committed to sickle cell disease. “I can’t work on anything else,” Brittain says. “To know that these red blood cells are actually flowing through peoples’ veins breaks my heart and makes me angry.” But Brittain’s research in sickle cell disease has also changed some fundamental beliefs about red blood cells. “For a century, everybody thought red blood cells were inert bags of hemoglobin that just circulate around. The notion that red blood cells could react was just not talked about,” she says. Brittain’s continuing work in sickle cell disease has moved away from red blood
cells and into white blood cells. “I’m a red blood cell researcher,” Brittain says. “Love ’em, can’t get enough of them. But there are other cells in blood.” White blood cells are part of the immune system, and there is no doubting the reactivity of these cells. In fact, it’s their job to react to infection. Typically, sickle cell patients have increased white blood cell counts, and this is the single best indicator of disease severity and life span. “It’s not how many sickle cells you have, or your hemoglobin level; it’s how many white blood cells you have,” Brittain says. Brittain’s research is now focused on one type of white blood cell called the monocyte. High monocyte counts seem to have the highest correlation with increased pain crisis. Most recently, Brittain has shown that red blood cells stick to monocytes, and that platelets stick as well. “So what you have is an aggregate of different cells that speeds through the blood of the sickle cell patient,” she says. These aggregates are another way that blood vessels clog. It’s become increasingly clear to Brittain that sickle cell disease is a chronic state of inflammation and increased blood coagulation. “Sickle cell disease has gone from a hemoglobin problem, to a blood problem, to a blood vessel problem, and now we look at all those things,” says Brittain. Sheritha Lee returned to Parise’s lab in 2001 as a doctoral student to investigate the role of inflammation in sickle cell disease. She was particularly interested in a protein called CD40L. “It’s been shown to cause chronic inflammation in many disease states,” Lee says. “So I measured CD40L in sickle cell plasma and found that patients had really high levels.” CD40L is normally found inside platelets, and Lee noted that in sickle cell patients the platelet CD40L level was half the level of normal. “It suggested that the protein was being relocated from its usual protected store in platelets,” Lee says. And once the CD40L got into the plasma, it could do real damage. Apart from understanding the disease better, Brittain and Lee also want to be able to offer patients more treatment options. Currently there is only one treatment for sickle cell disease—a drug called hydroxyurea, or HU. “HU was originally discovered as a cancer drug,” Brittain explains, “and was used for its bone marrow-destroying properties.” But an interesting side-effect of
HU brought it to the attention of sickle cell physicians: HU causes fetal hemoglobin to
be re-expressed in adults. Fetal hemoglobin, a type of hemoglobin found only in fetuses, has a much higher affinity for oxygen. “It’s a neat evolutionary thing,” Brittain says, “that because of the fetal hemoglobin, the fetus is guaranteed to get oxygen before the mom.” Around six months after birth, the fetal hemoglobin shuts off and adult hemoglobin takes over. “It’s the adult hemoglobin that’s mutated in sickle cell disease; fetal hemoglobin is unaffected,” Brittain says. Cancer research receives much more funding than sickle cell disease does. So the doctors “borrowed” HU from cancer studies, and it’s provided relief to a lot of sickle cell patients. Because HU causes fetal hemoglobin to be produced again in an adult, red blood cells are less prone to sickling. “But it’s less than perfect,” Brittain says. “It increases the risk of cancer and it causes fetal abnormalities, so if a woman gets pregnant, she can’t take the drug.” Parise lab members are now investigating new treatments based on their research. But before they can try out drugs in people, they need a good model of the disease. There are mice that have been genetically engineered with a hemoglobin deficiency, and they develop many of the characteristics of sickle cell disease. Lee and others in the Parise lab intend to use the mice to develop new treatments. “We hope to treat the mice with antibodies or drugs to lessen the disease pathology,” Lee says, “and early results are promising.” “It’s an exciting time to be involved in sickle cell research, because people are looking at the disease in a different way,” Brittain says. But for Brittain, and for the rest of the Parise lab, it’s more than a research project. Brittain feels a personal responsibility for the patients with the disease. “When you’re a sickle cell researcher, you can’t just go into the lab and work, work, work,” she says. “You must be an advocate for these patients and ensure that all of them have a voice.” e The author acknowledges the assistance of the UNC Sickle Cell Center, the UNC General Clinical Research Center, Eugene Orringer, Paul Watkins, Ken Ataga, Susan Jones, and Dell Strayhorn. Brittain was recently honored with a BIRCWH award and Lee recently received an Impact Award from the UNC Graduate Education Advancement Board.
endview Niklaus Steiner
orth Carolina towns occupy their own space on a bus station wall in downtown Celaya, Mexico. That makes sense, because many Celaya citizens live and work in our state. Daily buses leave Celaya for North Carolina, and several buses a week travel from Carrboro back to Mexico. This summer, Carolina anthropologist Hannah Gill will pay $265 for a direct forty-hour bus trip to Celaya to further research the effects of emigration on Mexicans left behind. When she first traveled to Celaya in 2005, Gill found that the villages outside town were devoid of men. She learned that many were in North Carolina earning money to send home. Families often stay separated for very long periods of time, and some men abandon their families. The most vocal women told Gill that they would prefer to have the men at home, no matter the economic consequences. Niklaus Steiner, executive director of the University Center for International Studies, took these photographs while Gill met with women from Jofre, a small community on the outskirts of Celaya. Some women laughed after Gill told them that, no, she canâ€™t grant visas; sheâ€™s just a teacher, not a government official.
Office of Information & Communications Research & Economic Development CB 4106, 307 Bynum Hall Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4106
NONPROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID RALEIGH, NC PERMIT NO. 2483