Monday, September 26, 2016

Climate vs weather: delusion vs illusion

So far we simply have not been prepared to accept the revolutionary implications of our own findings, and even when we do we are reluctant to voice such thoughts openly … many are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.
(Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, Manchester, England)

Destructive children

One number in particular always stands out for me. That number is 0.00004. It represents the time we humans have existed on our planet compared to Earth's total age. Earth is 4.543 billion years old.

Modern humans have been around for approximately 200,000 years. Perhaps 6 or 7 million years ago our distant ancestors, possibly in what is present day Chad, and the chimpanzee separated from our common ancestor Sahelanthropus Tchandensis (see “Remembering uncle sah,” May 7,2013).

Only 92 elements make up ALL of life on this planet. We humans today are quite likely breathing the same air that the dinosaurs breathed 100 million years ago. Scientists believe, in a general sense, that any given species of plant and animal, vertebrate or invertebrate on average lasts around 10 million years. We Homo sapiens (sapiens) are animal vertebrates. How long do you think humankind will manage to hang on? How much misery and destruction to all life are we capable of leaving in our wake?

Brief Explanation of Weather and Climate

The numbers but which ones

The number of importance at the moment for government policy makers and climate scientist is 2 degrees Celsius.

While it may be of more significance politically than scientifically, it is a serious marker that the international community has set as a temperature standard in an attempt to avoid a global warming disaster, which in the worst case scenario could conceivably result in human extinction, possibly sooner than what was previously imagined. The objective is to keep global warming increases under 2 degrees Celsius. (A temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Several years ago the number 400 ppm was well known to policy makers and climate scientists. It represented parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The objective was to keep CO2 emissions in the atmosphere under 400 ppm.

The last monitoring station that crossed the threshold occurred in the Antarctic on May 23 of this year. What happens in Beijing, New York or Paris doesn't stay there. This is the first time in 4 million years that carbon emissions have risen above 400 ppm and remained there.

Since the beginning of the Neolithic era, which began some 10,000 years ago global temperatures fluctuated only about 1 degree Celsius. This is the period when human civilization got underway, beginning with human settlements, agriculture and what we call culture. We are now moving into the unknown. Since the 1800s we have warmed 1 degree Celsius.

All the truth and only the truth so help me....

Kevin Anderson, a respected climate scientist, believes many scientists are indulging in a form of self-censorship; in other words, they are producing reports that are “politically” acceptable, because the reality may be far worse than government policy makers, corporations and the public want to hear at the present time.

The first video clip is a short interview with Anderson at the climate talks in Paris in December 2015 and the second video is a lecture that Anderson gave in September 2015. It is very much about the numbers and the possible consequences.

NEXT: U.S. election, climate change and protest votes

Monday, September 19, 2016

Searching for deplorables

Credo Quia Absurdum Est
translation: I believe it because it is absurd
(Tertullian, influential early Christian author, 155-240 A.D.

I live in Kansas City, Missouri at the present time, an increasingly vibrant and diverse medium-sized city in the middle of the United States. Unfortunately, my fair city is in Missouri, a state whose heart seems to reside in the Old Confederacy and the OK Corral rather than the 21st century.

Missouri brings to mind the line from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial published in 1925: “It's only because of their stupidity that they're able to be so sure of themselves.”

The Missouri state legislature, overriding the governor's veto, has recently approved a bill, which expands our “concealed carry” law. Now, no gun permit is required, no criminal background check needed and no firearms training deemed necessary. We're just all lusty, red-blooded yeomen, you know, like Thomas Jefferson praised in the 18th century.

Of course Missouri is as well a major contributor to the expanding dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, because of unregulated farming pollution runoff in the Mississippi river. Welcome to Missouri. Give us your tired and your deplorables.

Speaking of those “deplorables,” Hillary Clinton supposedly made a political mistake when she spoke of the Trump's supporters. Okay, 50% might be high. Let's say it's only 45 percent that are kind of deplorable, even though some polls have claimed that something like 60 percent of the White People's Cult believe that President Obama is a Muslim or not born in the U.S. or the founder of Isis—well whatever. Time to buy my gun(s) and protect my castle.

From Missouri with love

For a glimpse of white gun culture in America, see The Guardian video 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The global boneyard, chinless dildos and glimmers of light (2)

The twenty-first century is not characterized by the search for new-ness, but by the proliferations of nostalgias.
(Svetlana Boym, late Russian-American philologist)

In the charged atmosphere of the populist insurgency, spectacle lynchings sent a message: Stay out of any politics that would divide whites and weaken white supremacy.
(Age of Betrayal 1865-1890, by Jack Beatty)

Why has it seemed so improbable to so many people that Donald Trump, the repulsive, narcissistic buffoon, could very well become the next president of the United States? Trump might well be the inevitable outcome—the poster child--of a country desperate to fail.

It's called American history

No, it's not new at all, regardless of whether or not assorted politicians and info-entertainers on television today purport to be presenting some fresh insight to an oftentimes uninformed electorate. The election year 2016 in the United States is depressingly familiar. We can, however, still make an attempt not to—once again—do the same stupid.

The Populist movement of the 1880s and 1890s had many themes familiar to us today, including the demands for economic fairness, equality and the end of political corruption. The movement exploded across the mid-west and the south in the 1880s brought on, as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan recalled, by a “deep feeling of unrest.”

Small farmers and the relatively poor were especially hard hit by economic forces they had little control over and by decisions made in New York and Washington that more often than not had virtually nothing to do with the needs of the American people as a whole.

But by fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which started out in a remote part of Texas, the Populist movement became arguably the greatest mass movement in American history. By 1891 they were a powerful political force, quite capable of challenging the oligarchy, the status quo and possibly capturing the White House. By 1900, however, the Populist movement was virtually finished.

White racism, the sickness that was built into the founding of the United States, was certainly a major reason for the eventual collapse of the Populist movement. White Southerners especially were ultimately incapable of getting beyond their, uh, “cultural” heritage. The year 1892, when the Populist movement was at its pinnacle, was also the worst year for lynchings since 1868.

Once again white people, especially the rural poor and the powerless in the south, responded to the various “dog whistles,” employed so skillfully by the likes of the robber baron Jay Gould in New York or by some wealthy, politically connected plantation owner in Dixie.

The W.P.C., aka the white people's cult aka formerly known as the Republican party

The comedian Samantha Bee once referred to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “chinless dildo.” While McConnell can easily claim the mantel of mediocrity, he reflects reasonably well the cult, of which he is a leading member, and which the Donald, for the time being, is also an “honored” member.

The Karl Marx coloring book

In fairness to Karl Marx, Susan Sarandon and many of my Progressive friends, the times they are most certainly changing. WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! Er, which workers might that be? There are the self-employed. Not all of them are rich lawyers and doctors that have set up their single-person corporation. And what about the growing number of temporary employees? They're workers. And yes, the monster under the bed. It's called automation and likely to grow.

The not-so-secret observation is that probably a majority of these “lost” jobs are never going to come back, here or from anywhere else, with or without Bernie Sanders, or the return of Malcolm X or Leon Trotsky.

Susan Sarandon, the well known actress, said a few months back that a Donald Trump presidency would likely speed up the “revolution.” Yes, we workers will all unite and storm the Winter Palace. We could though most definitely get noticeable change, but it will not be the kind that we want, and the majority of us will not be able to ride out the storm on the island of Majorca.

It's so hard and unfair

Yes, yes we did not get Bernie, we don't like Hillary, even though she's not remotely the devil incarnate that our 21st century Jay Goulds want Americans to believe. And once again the so-called white working class is mad because they've been duped and manipulated for, er ... well ... since the beginning of our republic, but Trump tells it like it is, and what about and so forth … imagine not standing for the National Anthem … what's climate change....

The original Populists got it right in the beginning: they knew it was about fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which was a full-time job with dignity. It's unfortunate we're having difficulty understanding this in 2016.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Global boneyard, chinless dildos and glimmers of light (1)

Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.
(John Muir, environmentalist, preservationist and known in the U.S. as the “Father of the National Parks,” 1838-1914)

In the beginning

At the present time, with 7.2 billion self-absorbed humans wandering around on the Earth, we're probably at least 4 billion over the carrying capacity of the planet to support all life, sustain itself and insure a viable ecosystem. Simply put, our technology has easily outstripped our evolutionary development. We Homo-sapiens have just barely climbed down from the trees and begun our cautious journey across the savanna.

But as hope springs eternal in the minds of us humans, there are a few faint signs for cautious optimism in a handful of locations on the planet. There are indications that where there is good governance and control of corruption there is some decrease in environmental pressures. As well, regions of high urbanization may have positive effects in that housing and infrastructure needs are not spread across the larger landscape. This is the good news.

The bad news is that at the present time more than 70 percent of Earth's eco-regions have shown a large increase in their human footprint. For those interested in some of the specifics a good place to begin is a study in NatureCommunications.

Being anything you want to be

Of course it's in the realm of possibility that a Silicon Valley billionaire will come up with a product to save all of us in the nick of time or some software engineer in Mumbai, India will create the "miracle code or maybe an obscure scientist in Shanghai, China will transform the primitive Limbic system in the brain, allowing us to make a “quantum leap” into the 21st century.

Last but most certainly not least the Kurzweillian-phantasmagorical-transhuman-cum-cyborg, brought to us by the futurist Ray Kurzweil, could arrive at the last possible moment and save the planet.

More than likely, however, there will be no techno-fix, no Libertarian John Gault galloping in on his unicorn, and most assuredly no bronze-age invisible sky god that will make the bad things go away.

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.
(From The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot)

The world is this way

Excluding the Syrian apocalypse of course at the present time … well, possibly Somalia, maybe Sudan, and yes Libya, and how can we forget Iraq … actually most of the Arab world in general to be fair. Then there is Afghanistan maybe Pakistan in South and Central Asia, the former Soviet republics and those island nations sinking beneath the sea because of rising sea levels, and....

Asia is where the action is today. In Southeast Asia Indonesia is destroying its rainforests as fast as possible to create more and more palm oil plantations, the ingredient that's used by the snack manufacturers and personal care products and cosmetics, among others. Greed, corruption and human ignorance make everything that much easier of course—anywhere.

Moving up to Northeast Asia, Japan's aging population is continuing to practice its cultural cuisine. It's a sideshow in the global scheme of things but a telling commentary on humankind. In addition to the hunting of whales for, er, scientific purposes, there is the annual bloodbath festival that may have been going on for a thousand years. Dolphins are rounded up in a cove, the “prettiest” sold to aquariums and the rest clubbed to death for the meat.

Zhonggou—The Middle Kingdom

China right now, with its rapidly increasing economic and military might and strict authoritarianism, has perhaps become the tarnished gold standard for much of the world. Its overriding historical imperative, in addition to the reinvention of some modern day Middle Kingdom, seems to be the creation of a vast global plantation, sort of an updated 16th and 17th century European mercantilism. Africa and South America are its current targets and the ends are sure to justify any possible means for the billionaire technocrats who run the “peoples republic.”

One of the grand Chinese proposals is to build a 3,300 mile-long railway line through the Amazon rainforest to access soya plantations and mining regions, a potential environmental disaster of monumental proportions. *

China single-handedly may be responsible for the extinction of numerous wildlife throughout the world, perhaps the best known example being the elephant, a keystone species, hunted for its ivory and other body parts including its feet that are cut off and used for stools by the wealthy in every sink hole across the planet.

This is the way the world ends. But perhaps not.

NEXT: Chasing the carnival in the U.S., 2016

* Amazon's forests hold approximately 90-140 tons of carbon, around 9-14 years of current global, annual human induced carbon emissions.