Reflecting on the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima


When the first atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, Father Pedro Arrupe was master of novices in a suburb on the outskirts of the city. A medical student before entering the Jesuits, he responded to the extraordinary events unfolding around him by transforming the novitiate into a hospital and his novices into nurses. He headed one of the first rescue teams into Hiroshima after the devastation. Together they cared for about 200 people suffering from traumatic injuries as well as the mysterious burns and sickness associated with radiation poisoning.


Pedro Arrupe with quote added by Bruce Witzel - August 5, 2020


An excerpt from The Essential Writings of Pedro Arrupe:

I was in my room with another priest …when suddenly we saw a flash of magnesium. Naturally we were surprised and jumped up to see what was happening. As I opened the door which faced the city, we heard a formidable explosion similar to the blast of a hurricane. At the same time doors, windows, and walls fell upon us in smithereens…

A shock in time of war, a terrible explosion of extraordinary power, these always leave an impression. For me, at that first moment, it was just one more explosion. What did we know of the atomic bomb? We were ignorant of what that solitary B-29 had carefully laid, at a height of 1700 feet, in the semi-transparent atmosphere, on that cloudy August morning….


Replica of atom bomb Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima Aug 6 1945 - bruce witzel photo

Los Alamos replica of the atom bomb code-named “Little Boy”  dropped on Hiroshima – bruce witzel photo


The roof tiles, bits of glass, and beams had scarcely ceased falling, and the deafening roar died away, when I rose from the ground and saw before me the wall clock still hanging in its place but motionless. Its pendulum seemed nailed down. It was ten minutes past eight. For me that silent and motionless clock has been a symbol. The explosion of the first atomic bomb has become a para-historical phenomenon. It is not a memory, it is a perpetual experience, outside history, which does not pass with the ticking of the clock. The pendulum stopped and Hiroshima has remained engraved on my mind. It has no relation with time. It belongs to motionless eternity…

I shall never forget my first sight of what was the result of the atomic bomb: a group of young women, eighteen or twenty years old, clinging to one another as they dragged themselves along the road. One had a blister that almost covered her chest; she had burns across half of her face, and a cut in her scalp caused probably by a falling tile, while great quantities of blood coursed freely down here face. On on and they came, a steady procession numbering some 150,000. This gives some idea of the scene of horror.

It is at such times that one feels most a priest, when one knows that in the city there are 50,000 bodies which, unless they are cremated, will cause a terrible plague. There were besides some 120,000 wounded to care for. In light of these facts, a priest cannot remain outside the city just to preserve his life. Of course, when one is told that in the city there is a gas that kills, one must be very determined to ignore that fact and go in. And we did. And we soon began to raise pyramids of bodies and pour fuel on them to set them afire…

We did the only thing that could be done in the presence of such mass slaughter: we fell on our knees and prayed for guidance, as we were destitute of all human help.

                                                                                                      Pedro Arrupe


Nevada Nuclear Test Site - public domain

Nevada Nuclear Test Site (photo is public domain)



The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was estimated to equal 15 kilotons on TNT. One B83 warhead in todays US nuclear arsenal is 80 times more destructive – equal to 120 kilotons of TNT. Many major nations throughout the world continue to spend Billions, even Trillions, annually “upgrading” crazy weapons of war.

Currently at least 1 Billion people throughout the globe (more during the pandemic) don’t have access to running water and suffer from chronic hunger. In my view, this doesn’t jive for the earth to survive. Where do you stand on this issue?

Father Pedro Arrupe later became the Superior of the Jesuits and is a dearly remembered advocate for nuclear disarmament and impoverished people everywhere.


Peace ~ Bruce 


Living Memorial Sculpture Garden - created by Vietnam veteran and sculptural artist Denis Smith - photo by Bruce Witzel

Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California created by war veteran Dennis Smith (photo by Bruce Witzel)


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A Zen Story from Thomas Merton


Zen story:


   A monk said to Joshu: “What is the way?”                                                               Joshu replied: “Outside the fence.”

  The monk insisted: “I mean the Great Way? What is the Great Way?”                        Joshu replied: “The Great Way is that which leads to the Capital.”


   The Great Way is right in the middle of this story, and I should remember it when I get excited about war and peace. I sometimes think I have an urgent duty to make all kind of protest and clarification –but above all, the important thing is to be on the Great Way and stay on it, whether one speaks or not.


Catwalk and Whitewater Canyon in Gila National Forest New Mexico 2016-10-10 bruce witzel photo


     It is not necessary to run all over the countryside shouting “peace, peace!” But it is essential to stay on the Great Way which leads to the Capital, for only on the Great Way is there peace. If no one follows the way, there will be no peace in the world, no matter how much men preach on it.


    It is easy to know that that “there is a way somewhere,” and even perhaps to know that others are not on it (by analogy with one’s own lostness, wandering far from the way). But this knowledge is useless unless it helps one find the way.


from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander  – Thomas Merton




The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy.


Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves …


Life's a beach, Grant Bay best 2006-07-09 bruce witzel photo




the whisperings of grasses …


Burgundy grass 2010-10-20 bruce witzel photo




the shimmering of leaves.


Spider web and apple tree with old mans beard in background 2017-05-20 bruce witzel photo 


—Terry Tempest Williams



Peace ~ Bruce



The following excellent article is by Charles F. Kutcher of the Renewable Energy Institute, University of Colorado Boulder. It was originally in The Conversation and is republished with permission of Creative Commons.


Artist rendition of the National Western Center, a net-zero campus under construction in Denver to house multiple activities. City and County of Denver | Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, CC BY-ND Charles F. Kutscher, University of Colorado Boulder


Buildings consume lots of energy – here’s how to design whole communities that give back as much as they take.


Although the coronavirus pandemic has dominated recent headlines, climate change hasn’t gone away. Many experts are calling for a “green” economic recovery that directs investments into low-carbon energy sources and technologies.

Buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the U.S., compared to 32% for industry and 28% for transportation. States and cities with ambitious climate action plans are working to reduce emissions from the building sector to zero. This means maximizing energy efficiency to reduce building energy use, and then supplying the remaining energy needs with electricity generated by carbon-free sources.

My colleagues and I study the best ways to rapidly reduce carbon emissions from the building sector. In recent years, construction designs have advanced dramatically. Net zero energy buildings, which produce the energy they need on site from renewable sources, increasingly are the default choice. But to speed the transition to zero carbon emissions, I believe the United States must think bigger and focus on designing or redeveloping entire communities that are zero energy.

Tackling energy use in buildings at the district level provides economies of scale. Architects can deploy large heat pumps and other equipment to serve multiple buildings on a staggered schedule across the day. Districts that bring homes, places of work, restaurants, recreation centers and other services together in walkable communities also significantly reduce the energy needed for transportation. In my view, this growing movement will play an increasingly important role in helping the U.S. and the world address the climate crisis.

(What is a Zero Energy Building 2 minute overview)  


Ambient loops heat and cool

Heating and cooling are the biggest energy uses in buildings. District design strategies can address these loads more efficiently.

District heating has long been used in Europe, as well as on some U.S. college and other campuses. These systems typically have a central plant that burns natural gas to heat water, which then is circulated to the various buildings.

To achieve zero carbon emissions, the latest strategy uses a design known as an ambient temperature loop that simultaneously and efficiently both heats and cools different buildings. This concept was first developed for the Whistler Olympic Village in British Columbia.

In a typical ambient loop system, a pump circulates water through an uninsulated pipe network buried below the frost line. At this depth, the soil temperature is near that of the yearly average air temperature for that location. As water moves through the pipe, it warms or cools toward this temperature.

Heat pumps at individual buildings or other points along the ambient loop add or extract heat from the loop. They can also move heat between deep geothermal wells and the circulating water.

The loop also circulates through a central plant that keeps it in an optimum temperature range for maximum heat pump performance. The plant can use cooling towers or wastewater to remove heat. It can add heat via renewable sources, such as solar thermal collectors, renewable fuel or heat pumps powered by renewable electricity.



Schematic of the ambient loop system for the Whistler Olympic Village in British Columbia. Integral Group, CC BY-ND


Putting wastewater to use

One example of a potentially zero-energy district currently being developed, the National Western Center, is a multi-use campus currently under construction in Denver to house the annual National Western Stock Show and other public events focused on food and agriculture.

A 6-foot-diameter pipe carrying the city’s wastewater runs underground through the property before delivering the water to a treatment plant. The water temperature stays within a narrow range of 61 to 77 degrees F throughout the year.

The wastewater pipe and a heat exchanger transfer heat to and from an ambient loop circulating water throughout the district. The system provides heat in winter and absorbs heat in the summer via heat recovery chillers, which are heat pumps that can simultaneously provide heating and cooling. This strategy serves individual buildings at very high efficiency.

Electricity used to operate the heat pumps, lighting and other equipment will come from on-site photovoltaics and wind- and solar-generated electricity imported from off-site.


Integrated low-energy housing in Austin

Another district that will minimize carbon emissions is the Whisper Valley Community, under construction in Austin, Texas. This 2,000-acre multi-use development includes 7,500 all-electric houses, 2 million square feet of commercial space, two schools, and a 600-acre park. Its design has already received a green building award.


Whisper Valley subdivision

Whisper Valley will run on an integrated energy system that includes an extensive ambient loop network heated and cooled by heat pumps and geothermal wells located at each house. Each homeowner has the option to include a 5-kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic array to operate the heat pump and energy-efficient appliances, including heat pump water heaters and inductive stovetops. According to the developer, Whisper Valley’s economy of scale allows for a median sale price US$50,000 below that of typical Austin houses.


The future of zero-energy communities

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and other project partners are developing an open source software development kit called URBANopt that models elements of zero energy districts, such as building efficiency/demand flexibility strategies, rooftop photovoltaic arrays, ambient loop district thermal systems. The software can be integrated into other computer models to aid in the design of zero energy communities. NREL engineers have been engaging with high-performance district projects across the country, such as the National Western Center, to help inform and guide the development of the URBANopt platform.

The projects I’ve described are new construction. It’s harder to achieve net zero energy in existing buildings or communities economically, but there are ways to do it. It makes sense to apply those efficiency measures that are the most cost-effective to retrofit, convert building heating and cooling systems to electricity and provide the electricity with solar photovoltaics.

Utilities are increasingly offering time-of-use rate schedules, which charge more for power use during high demand periods. Emerging home energy management systems will allow home owners to heat water, charge home batteries and electric vehicles and run other appliances at times when electricity prices are lowest. Whether we’re talking about new or existing buildings, I see sustainable zero energy communities powered by renewable energy as the wave of the future as we tackle the climate change crisis.


Written by Charles F. Kutscher, Fellow and Senior Research Associate, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Cheers ~ Bruce



My offering


“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.”

Mohandas Gandhi


Charcoal drawing in Ottawa Art Gallery - artist unknown

Charcoal drawing from the Ottawa Art Gallery – artist unknown


Peace, love and unity


Happy Mothers Day


“It is not half so important to know as to feel.”
Rachel Carson


Our grandaughters group selfie July 1, 2019 - Emma Keely photo, edited by Bruce (2)


For all mothers – thank you for carrying us forward into the world


Happy mothers day


Love ~ Bruce


“If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches on the same tree.”


W.B. Yeats


Kohan reflection garden Slocan Lake, BC 2014-10-13  Fran Guenette photo 

Kohan Reflection Garden in New Denver BC Oct. 13-2014 – next to The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre

Peace ~ Bruce

The way in the heart

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true . . . The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.

the Buddha

Reflection on the lake 2020-02-17 bruce witzel photo(1)(1)

Sky and clouds on the lake, Feb 17 – 2008 (with a polarizing filter)


Prayer flags 2017-02-26 bruce witzel photo

Prayer flags in our yard, Feb 26 –2017


Cheers ~ Bruce



Reflections 2020-02-17 bruce witzel photo


“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves.”

Rachel Carson



Earth flag 2020-03-25 bruce witzel photo



View over Phoenix 2007-03-01  bruce witzel photo


~ Peace ~



Pieta Easter – and a John Prine Tribute

My good friend Charles Brandt  sent me this yesterday – Jesus’ mother Mary, holding him after the crucifixion. Not a rousing Easter image, but somehow to the point.

Look below for a couple more Easter COVID 19 reflections including a tribute to John Prine.


by Michelangelo  ~ Pieta

“The Pity”

Michaelangelo  sculpture - from c.branct.

photographer and source unknown



My granddaughters Britney’s Easter 2020 dough art


Britney's Easter doe art ornament




Easter morning  – “The rising sun”


Easter morning lignt  is over the lake 2020-04-12 bruce witzel photo


My Easter Tribute to John Prine


Many people have universal feelings of loss for the music legend John Prine. He died this past week, April 7 – 2020, from complications due to COVID 19.  He was 73 years old.

John wrote with humor and poignancy  – anti war songs like “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” and  “Sam Stone”…  “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes; Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.” Prine explained later how the line came to him as an expression of the complete hopelessness of addiction.

Prine wrote the true precautionary tale “Paradise” (click link for a listen). The song became an environmental anthem – “Mr Peabody’s coal train hauled it away.”

And of course, “Angel from Montgomery.”


Angel form Montgomery cartoon


Here is a message from Johns wife, Fiona Whelan Prine:

Our beloved John died yesterday evening at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville TN. We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time. John was the love of my life and adored by our sons Jody, Jack and Tommy, daughter in law Fanny, and by our grandchildren.

John contracted Covid-19 and in spite of the incredible skill and care of his medical team at Vanderbilt he could not overcome the damage this virus inflicted on his body.

I sat with John – who was deeply sedated- in the hours before he passed and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.

My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). We send our condolences and love to the thousands of other American families who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time – and to so many other families across the world.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, and fans all over the world. John will be so missed but he will continue to comfort us with his words and music and the gifts of kindness, humor and love he left for all of us to share.

In lieu of flowers or gifts at this time we would ask that a donation be made to one of the following non profits:


“When I Get to Heaven” (click to listen)

John Prine

When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel; ain’t the afterlife grand?


Happy Easter, Dear John


john_prine photo by_Danny_Clinch                                                                                                                                              photo by Danny Clinch


Love and Cheers,



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