The Other Reason We’re Doomed

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The Other Reason We’re Doomed

by Alton C. Thompson

The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.

(While watching the Super Bowl yesterday, February 1, 2015, I heard the above statement on a BMW automobile advertisement.  It was quoting Arthur C. Clarke.  What came to my mind in hearing this nonsense was Puck’s declaration, in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”  Yes, indeed!)

Research findings regarding what is happening to Earth System—such as those reported in my  “The Ironies of Our Present Situation” and Guy McPherson’s frequently-updated “Climate-Change Summary and Update”—strongly suggest that just as other species are being threatened currently (with about 200 species going extinct every day at present), so is our own species on the road to extinction. (Source for figure to left.)

In fact, McPherson, writing in 2013, stated “A decade ago, as I was editing a book on climate change, I realized we had triggered events likely to cause human extinction by 2030”—as a result of the impact of human activities on Earth System.  Especially since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (i.e., since about 1850 CE), one might add.

McPherson has cited three reasons for expecting the near-term extinction of our species:

  1. “Global climate change” (or, as I prefer, “global warming”—or even “trendular atmospheric depatternization”!).
  1. “Environmental collapse.”
  1. “Nuclear meltdown.”

That is, human activities—the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation—have been causing that complex of phenomena commonly given the name “global warming”; and Earth System changes resulting from global warming are likely to eventuate in environmental collapse.  Regarding nuclear meltdown, McPherson states:  “Safely shuttering a nuclear power plant requires a decade or two of careful planning.  Far sooner, we’ll complete the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy [making such “shuttering” impossible].  This is a source of my nuclear nightmares.”

Given that the future cannot be known with certainty, let us interpret McPherson’s 2030 date (or John Davies’s 2040 date) for our extinction as a species to mean that if existing trends continue, it’s likely that our species will be extinct by 2030 (or 2040).  It follows from that assumption that there may be time to avert catastrophe (although such an assumption is, true, questionable given the approximate “four-decade lag between emissions and temperature rise”!).  There is no guarantee that we will be able to prevent our imminent extinction, but why not assume that there is reason for hope—so long as we act (a) soon, (b) in a relevant manner, and (c) decisively? one might very well ask.

The question that that question, in turn, suggests, however is:  Is it likely that we humans will so act?  My answer:  No!  The other reason that we are doomed, then (to allude to my title), is that just as human actions have gotten us into our current predicament, our failure to act quickly, appropriately, and decisively in response to our predicament will surely doom us.

Let me briefly give my reasons for that answer:

  1. The educational experience that most of us have involves others telling us what we should know. Thus, it is easy to develop the habit of not asking oneself what is, and is not, important to know.  This may be a reason why “according to a Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, in an international survey of 39 countries, Americans were among the least concerned about climate change threatening the country.  Global warming also ranked near the bottom of Americans’ priorities.”
  1. In the latter part of our educational experience we are given choices—as to what to major in, e.g.,—but within a given branch of knowledge tend to be told by others what is important to know—and remember for upcoming tests! To a degree this is justifiable, of course, because in entering a given profession one must learn certain things.
  1. As an adult one is told what is important to know by the local newspaper, television news, popular magazines, etc. Few become aware of the “manufacturing” of beliefs (of “consent,” to use the language of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky) that occurs in our society—meaning that people are “fed” partial truths and outright lies, and that important truths are not considered to be an important part of their intellectual diet and, therefore, not fed to viewers/readers!
  1. Various diversions—such as television programs, movies, and sports (the recent Super Bowl, e.g.)—are given prominence in our society, and these have the effect of discouraging people from seeking truth from sources that would provide them with accurate and relevant information. (My excuse for watching the Super Bowl—despite the fact that the Green Bay Packers were not in it:  To maintain one’s sanity in today’s world, one needs some diversions!)
  1. Insofar as some are aware of the fact that global warming is occurring, they believe that this is a problem whose responsibility is our political leaders; after all, in our “representative” government it is our various “representatives” who are charged with making those decisions that affect us as a society.
  1. Many of our political leaders, however, are “deniers,” whether for reason of “possession” by an economic or religious ideology/mythology. Because they are deniers, they cannot be expected to vote for any proposals aimed at halting global warming.
  1. Some “scientists” are paid shills of the fossil fuel industry, who therefore argue that science does not support the claim that global warming is occurring. Because such individuals seem to speak with authority, they are likely able to convince at least some of those who hear them speak.
  1. Scientists who do argue that global warming is occurring are often too cautious in their pronouncements. They fail to convey to the hearer or reader just how serious a problem global warming actually is.
  1. Some of those engaged in environmental activism are individualistic in their approach, believing that if more and more people “go green,” the global warming problem will go away. They may be right in believing this, but in not recognizing that “time is short,” they are misguided.
  1. Some may have developed solutions of a more global nature, but in not having the resources, etc., to act on their ideas, those solutions remain in the category “on paper” solutions.

For a variety of reasons, then, regarding the “people environment” that currently exists—has long existed, in fact!—in the United States (especially) we humans did not act 30 – 40 years ago when it might have been possible to avert catastrophe, had appropriate actions been taken.  Now, however, I fear that it is too late to act in any meaningful manner.  What scares me—as one with three children, and five grandchildren—is not only the four-decade time lag mentioned above, but the fact that (as Paul Beckwith has noted):  “The Arctic is absorbing a lot more solar energy, and by itself at a much greater rate, than anywhere else on the planet.  In fact, on average, in the last number of decades, the Arctic temperature has risen 1.0C per decade whereas the global average temperature rise has been about 0.15C per decade.  So that ratio is 6 or 7 times more.”  (Beckwith is with the Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology at the University of Ottawa).

The Arctic can be compared to the proverbial “canary in the coal mine,” so that, in consequence, most scientists “view what’s happening now in the Arctic as a harbinger of things to come.”  That fact is by no means “good news” for our species!  As I am 75, I am likely to be “dead and gone” before the extinction process begins.  But my children and grandchildren . . . ?!  Is it any wonder that I have high blood pressure?!

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19 February-4 March 2015, In and around New York City, New York (details below, more forthcoming)

24 February 2015, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m., Spoonbill Books, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, telephone 718.387.7322. Reading and signing books, with plenty of time for Q&A, wine, and cheese. Details here.

27 February 2015, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, Suite 4, New York, New York

1 March 2015, 6:00 p.m. Woodbine Collective, 18-84 Woodbine Street, Flushing, New York. Reading and signing books, with plenty of time for Q&A.

4-16 March, northern California, organized by Peter Melton: 530-680-5550,
Peter.Melton3@gmail.com, additional events to be announced

11-12 March 2015, Grass Valley/Nevada City, venue to be announced
11 March: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. presentation and public discussion

11 March: 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. workshop: Pursuing Love and Excellence as Liberation from Modern Culture

Life of Excellence workshop Intro 8:30-10
12 March: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. workshop: Pursuing Love and Excellence as Liberation from Modern Culture

13-14 March 2015, Chico, venue to be announced

13 March 13: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. presentation and public discussion

13 March: 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. workshop: Pursuing Love and Excellence as Liberation from Modern Culture

14 March: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. workshop: Pursuing Love and Excellence as Liberation from Modern Culture

18-30 March 2015, Boston, Massachusetts. Details to follow.

6-30 April 2015, western Europe (additional details forthcoming, and follow the tour on Facebook)

European tour spring 2015

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Comments 40

  • 2.3.2015 great podcast, the dark side of humor always brightens my day.

  • Maybe a second weekly NBL SHOW, a weekly Gallows humor show would be appropriate, definitely timely and relevant! So by 2030 the Methane bubble pops ? Any day the society bubble [whatever it is that holds Empire together] pops ? This speeds up the second pop and takes the air out of the business as of the usual,and the remaining fun out of whats left in life, depending on the life. Only as long as the Society bubble [Empire, civilization, the beast,whatever it is] floats and I think I hear a popping sound.DUCK! A quick tip on bio-char always ad the right Rock Dust [All minerals] to the project,more on this latter. Thanks this is the best place to get the whole picture on the whole picture,Happy Valentine’s lots of love!

  • Gallows humour always chokes me up.

    “We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

    Just because the world is ending, doesn’t mean we don’t fight, especially if it is hopeless. The Arctic Light Brigade’s “Omnicide 2023-2030” is using fear to manufacture consent for geo-engineering the Arctic, all while we are doing nothing here at home to remedy the emissions-depletion-extinction problems.

    The idea of geoengineering the Arctic while we still have diposable lighters, pens, phones etc. is reprehensible in the extreme. Performing crazy experiments while engaging in business as usual is morally repugnant.
    And, this from someone who’s not even sure what that means.

    Any of you who do pay attention, know that I’m some kind of crazy über-doomer, but I’ve been on a carbon-charred soil kick lately because it offers a small ray of hope. Albert Bates, over at http://peaksurfer.blogspot.ca/ , has found that some varient of carbon-charred soil can even remedy radioactivity from Fukushima using fossil diatoms and clay minerals.

    If we don’t pay people to carbon-charr soil in 2015, we’re fucked.
    A mere 2% increase in carbon-charred soils offsets emissions 100%, making carbon-charred soil 6X more effective than anything else we can do. It also rejuvenate and remediates worn soils. No-brainers don’t get easier than this.

    Yet, we do have to have milestones, or, markers that show progress. So, if no mention is made of carbon-charring soils in Paris this year, then it is indeed time to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

    Any plan to risk life on earth by fucking with the Arctic is incredibly asinine to the max, especially without picking the low-hanging carbon-reduction fruit here at home.

  • Alton,

    Great post. Thanks.

    You wrote: “It follows from that assumption that there may be time to avert catastrophe (although such an assumption is, true, questionable given the approximate “four-decade lag between emissions and temperature rise”!).” (Alton’s original quote has links in it)

    I read a recent paper indicating that it is not a 100% four decade lag, but depends (Time Keeps on Slippin’ Slippin’ Slippin’ In From The Past, quoting IOP science) on several factors, and can be sooner (e.g. 10, 20, 30 yrs).

    I have not noticed if anyone disputes that, but if so I would like a cite so I can also put that disputed on my post as an update, so as to present all views that make sense.

    You wrote: “The question that that question, in turn, suggests, however is: Is it likely that we humans will so act? My answer: No!

    That too, based on observation of decades of official behavior, is the only valid conclusion one can draw IMO.

    Thus, unless something “Earth shaking” takes place, the current trances that are operative in civilization are destined to continue, because, as you also wrote “There is no guarantee that we will be able to prevent our imminent extinction“.

    I expect some psychopathic and sociopathic behavior under the banner of “religion” (numerous government officials think, write, and say that “God is doing the climate change“) once the masses grasp the reality that the only rescue available at that point is beyond human ability.

  • All good points, and yet somehow the world was able to rally around the issue of ozone depletion and the growing ozone hole. Within a matter of years, the world had taken decisive action to curb/eliminate the use of CFCs and this global disaster was averted. The problem isn’t in our ability to act decisively, it is our message delivery system. Messaging this global threat has been done poorly and at the behest of craven politicians.

  • InAlaska Says:
    February 4th, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    You wrote “… the use of CFCs and this global disaster was averted …”

    Environmental action is never a “one of” … it is a way of life.

    The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on Sept. 11, 2014 according to scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The size of this year’s hole was 24.1 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles) — an area roughly the size of North America.”

    (The Ozone Hole).

    “This is me in the corner losing my religion.” -REM

    — my two for the day —

  • Robert Callaghan: “The idea of geoengineering the Arctic while we still have diposable lighters, pens, phones etc. is reprehensible in the extreme. Performing crazy experiments while engaging in business as usual is morally repugnant.
    And, this from someone who’s not even sure what that means.”

    I think you have a very good grasp on exactly what that means, as do I, and I too find it morally repugnant.

    and I thought the essay was spot on as well.

  • ‘is not only the four-decade time lag mentioned above’???

    The warming effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is both instantaneous and cumulative.

    The often-cited four-decade time lag does not exist and is a cultural myth.

    However, like so many of the myths in our society, now that the ‘four-decade time lag’ myth has been established, it cannot be eradicated, despite numerous attempts to eradicate it.

    By the way, Paul Beckwith has lost most of his credibility as a climate scientist, particularly since he has failed to establish the correct instantaneous forcing factor for methane and has been promoting geo-engineering as a way out of our predicament. ‘Refreeze the Arctic Sea’, indeed! Just what has Paul Beckwith been smokin’ lately?

    Two more reasons why the situation is hopeless.

  • Thanks to the author for brining into sharp focus a way of thinking that, while powerful and understandable, is being increasingly challenged by what I call “new paradigm thought.” Today’s Democracy Now demonstrated, especially by the interview with Johann Hari, just how effective it can be to change the way we think. “You are so much more powerful than you know,” he declares.

    democracynow.org/

    Johann Hari

    Chasing the Scream

    ***

    So, what I want to post is really for simple and unsophisticated people. It may sound overly hopeful, but it is what a simple person might see as making sense.

    Someone posted recently why it’s impossible to decommission nukes once collapse ensues. What that comment misses is that the nukes couldn’t possibly be decommissioned NOW, prior to ultimate collapse. The issue is the Present Paradigm. Here’s a tiny snippet of what CAN’T be done under the current paradigm:

    Can’t shut down nukes NOW, despite functioning economy

    Can’t keep plastic sludge out of the oceans

    Couldn’t prevent half the wild animals going extinct in the last 40 years

    Can’t prevent 200 species going extinct each day

    Can’t prevent resource wars

    I contend that this is not due to human nature, but to the current paradigm.

    My projection based on the Dean Baker interview on Democracy Now today:

    Poor economy results in military recruitment without a draft

    MIC could make something that is systemically more wise than requiring it to promote war. (Or it could better go out of business.)

    Infrastructure spending could create widespread economic benefit that compensates for economic losses from paradigm shift.

    Infrastructure improvement could be done on the cheap energy- and economy-wise

    Drugs:(as pointed out by Hari): Subsidize drug treatment by providing jobs. Based on experiments with rats, it became clear that the antidote to drug addiction was the increase of opportunities and choices.

    ***

    Author’s Points 1-10 for why we can’t change–no mention of a new paradigm, even to argue against it. (see Charles Eisenstein)

    Sacred Economics: http://sacred-economics.com/

    Doing all these(above listed fails) things within the current paradigm is impossible. But based on what I understanding, doing them under a new paradigm would not only be possible; these crises would be the very motivation that fuels a new paradigm. In short, for a new paradigm to exist, things would need to be this bad. And since they have never been this bad, there is no basis on which to conclude that people can’t or won’t change when the world population is faced with an even deeper crisis than this.

    ***

    There are many things to jettison (Notes)

    Mayor of SF, based on pressure from the transgender community, wants to make public toilets gender neutral. Normally, I would object. But in the face of collapse, why sweat something of such insignificance? And if life for the transgender gets a bit easier, I’m happy. Or, there’s the case of Egypt meting out life sentences to dissidents. Horrendous. But there won’t be life sentences in the normal sense, for everything will be different in five years. Unrecognizable, no matter what, from circumstances today.

    That feeds into paradigm shift. Israel and Palestine are locked in intractable opposition. Horrendous. But water is the bigger issue. So change the subject. It’s global warming, stupid! Egypt’s life termers can change the subject too. Everybody can and perhaps should change the subject. Keep it simple.

    Here are new-paradigm approaches that contradict the author’s thesis:

    — Begin now

    — Think holistically as one planet.

    — Total focus and prioritization of the life or death issues for the planet. No more distraction.

    — When the people lead, the politicians and the media will follow.

    — De-emphasize materialism and individualism.

    — What is thought becomes what is enacted.

    I said this would be simple minded!

  • Friedrich Kling will generously match all donations to NBL dollar-for-dollar to a maximum of $5,000 (today’s tally is $756, with my thanks). Gifts of any amount are welcome. This opportunity is being made available until 28 February 2015. Thanks very much for your kind support, Frank.

    Hello Folks, I have not yet understood the concept behind a matching donation when the pool of fellow Matchers is kinda low. Does this mean that the 5000 dollars will not be given if others cant donate the required amount?

  • viveik, Friedrich Kling will match up to $2,500. For example, if donations total $1,500 on 28 February, then Mr. Kling will donate an additional $1,500. If donations total $3,000 on 28 February, then Mr. Kling will donate $2,500 (because that’s his upper limit).

    As you can see from the “thermometer” bar in the right-hand column of the home page, we’re now at a total of $2,812. This amount presumes Mr. Kling’s matching contribution (i.e., others have donated $1,406 at this moment).

  • An excellent article, Alton. Thank you. Point #3 certainly makes it a challenge when trying to open up people’s eyes to what is really going on. All of this mainstream media, acts like a shield against the truth. Talking to people about the ideas expressed here at NBL, is like talking to a brick wall most of the time. Still, I keep on talking to the ones who want to listen. They are few and far between.
    —————
    Guy and Mike- Great NBL show the other night. Thanks for the laughs. I felt as though I was right there in the Mud Hut with you.
    —————
    From the previous thread.
    @Amy Pike,
    A belated happy birthday. 🙂 Mike was certainly one of a kind and will be missed. I was fortunate enough to visit with him in Colorado back in May of 2013. I am grateful for having had that opportunity.

  • I think that this five minute video “Why Do We Lie?” by The Behavioral Science Guys contains much relevant food for thought for many people here at NBL:

    Note especially this ending comment at 4 min 30 sec: “One of the biggest drivers of moral disengagement is social norms. If you enter a system where other people seem to be okay with moral lapses, then we adopt that immediately and in an unquestioning way.” Hmm. Might this have something to do with the rampant ad hominem attacks, insulting, emotional abuse, and other forms of bullying that so commonly occur here on the NBL comment board and so actively and loudly supported by so many? Might we have here an excellent and extremely common example of “a system where other people seem to be okay with moral lapses”, largely created, supported, and protected by great anonymity? Doesn’t this just serve as another everyday example of the alienated and disconnected social norms, a “luxury”, inherent within our politico-economic system totally, physically dependent on and driven by high-energy industrial capitalism, a very short-term situation in Earth’s history?

  • Just curious as to why I should be concerned about why privileged Americans need grief counseling and affirmation of their psychic dilemmas when they come to terms with having all their toys taken away (i.e. NTE)? That is when the same privileged Americans on the whole show less than zero interest – much less grief – over genocidal levels of violence in Iraq, real genocide and institutionalized brutalization, theft and robbery of indigenous peoples, a legal system that willfully targets and demolishes the lives of vulnerable minorities, an economic system that leaves well over half the world’s population hungry and locked in misery and poverty (not to mention that the same economic system is the engine of global annihilation). I am supposed to care about how these people feel when they finally recognize and become traumatized by their own reflection in the mirror? I mean…these people are feeling grief? You mean now they are actually feeling a human emotion? One besides hate, fear, loathing, envy or greed? I guess that is a minor miracle in itself.

    And no doubt, compassion should be shown, even to the biggest yutzes among us. But that is not a job I have the stomach for any longer.
    Me personally, I am much more worried about the grief visited on the rest of the world, every day. Mostly by these newly traumatized imperial instigators. You know, those beneficiaries and reproducers of the system.

    At least two or three people in the third world have their brains blown out across the wall plaster every time one of these loverly Anglo cololials farts or blows their nose. That is what worries me. Not so much the grief of the exploiters of the system who otherwise live most of their lives in hard-core denial of practically every aspect of their reality.

    Let me say my lack of empathy for those who clearly and belligerently lack empathy comes from protracted personal experience. Hope you are luckier than me.
    Cheers

  • Listen to Dr. James White, University of Colorado, who says the earth’s climate is not stable and Greenland’s ice cores show that the temperature can jump 10-15°C in just a few years. There are even data showing 10°C changes in as little as a year. Rate of snowfall can double in 1-3 years, methane goes up 50% in a lifetime, nitrous oxide goes up 10% in a lifetime. While these dramatic changes in the Arctic are 3 times what the rest of earth experienced, they are definitely more than enough to jam the workings of civilization.

    I strongly urge Guy to stop quoting Paul Beckwith because of the sheer number of credible climate scientists who do not support him, which by reflection hurts Guy’s media credibility. You can listen to James White on this week’s Radio Ecoshock. He’s scary enough for sure, as well as credible enough i would guess.

    Happy Birthday Amy Pike, I’ll be 57 this month, making me 2 years older than God.

  • Alton: thanks for your thoughts and analysis.

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2015/02/more-us-measles-cases-in-january-2015.html

    2 February 2015 (CDC) – From January 1 to January 30, 2015, 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles*. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park [Disneyland] in California. On January 23, 2015, CDC issued a Health Advisory to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities about this multi-state outbreak and to provide guidance for healthcare providers nationwide. For more information see CDC Press Briefing Transcript: Measles in the United States, 2015, January 29, 2015.

    * CDC will update this data weekly on Mondays.

    The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. [there’s more, and links]

    On vaccination, you might want to listen to this:

    News In Two Minutes – Vaccines Metals and Aborted Fetuses – Islamic State Oil Attack – Flu Deaths

  • kevin moore Says:
    February 4th, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    You wrote: “‘is not only the four-decade time lag mentioned above’???

    The warming effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is both instantaneous and cumulative.

    The often-cited four-decade time lag does not exist and is a cultural myth.”

    =================================
    Then you should easily be able to cite to something besides your own assertions.

    Alton mentioned the 40 year lag, Dr. McPherson mentions it, and I provided a link to three other compentent sources for it:

    I read a recent paper indicating that it is not a 100% four decade lag, but depends (Time Keeps on Slippin’ Slippin’ Slippin’ In From The Past, quoting IOP science) on several factors, and can be sooner (e.g. 10, 20, 30 yrs).

    Further, a recent study that I also cite to indicates it is scientific fact, to wit: “It is known that carbon dioxide emissions cause the Earth to warm, but no previous study has focused on examining how long it takes to reach maximum warming following a particular CO2 emission. Using conjoined results of carbon-cycle and physical-climate model intercomparison projects (Taylor et al 2012, Joos et al 2013), we find the median time between an emission and maximum warming is 10.1 years, with a 90% probability range of 6.6–30.7 years. We evaluate uncertainties in timing and amount of warming, partitioning them into three contributing factors: carbon cycle, climate sensitivity and ocean thermal inertia. If uncertainty in any one factor is reduced to zero without reducing uncertainty in the other factors, the majority of overall uncertainty remains. Thus, narrowing uncertainty in century-scale warming depends on narrowing uncertainty in all contributing factors. Our results indicate that benefit from avoided climate damage from avoided CO2 emissions will be manifested within the lifetimes of people who acted to avoid that emission. While such avoidance could be expected to benefit future generations, there is potential for emissions avoidance to provide substantial benefit to current generations.” (IOP Science Link, ibid).

    The issue is not whether or not there is a delay, the issue is how long is the delay.

  • Yesterday I enjoyed a good belly laugh as there were several white tail deer close by and browsing whatever they could find. They usually find something to eat here. I had shoveled a path through the deepening snow to the bird feeding station because I don’t want to put on the Sorrel®™ boots everytime I replenish the feeding stations. Most of the browsing deer were thigh deep in snow but one Odocoileus virginianus female was browsing on the perennial rye grass that had been exposed on the shoveled path. Smart that one. The Picoides pubescens – Downy Woodpecker, Picoides villosus – Hairy Woodpecker and Melanerpes carolinus Red Bellied Woodpecker are enjoying the beef suet cakes which are loaded with assorted plant seeds. The other day I observed a male Dryocopus pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker searching for burrowing insects (probably carpenter ants) on a long ago winter storm ‘Alfred’ damaged Acer saccharum – Sugar Maple. The male Pileated woodpecker is much more color intensive (showy) than its female counterpart which is a common evolutionary trait found in most bird species. The Pileated woodpecker makes large holes in trees and the wood chips fly once it starts a jack hammerin’ with its long, sharp beak. A relative new comer to the area Thryothorus ludovicianus – Carolina Wren is one of my favorites to observe probably because it likes to hang out in the log pile where the piled logs offer cover, shelter and probably food and is by no means shy or apparently fearful of my presence. There is an abundance this year of Junco hyemalis var. hyemalis – Slate Colored Junco moreso than in past years. The Poecile atricapillus – Black Capped Chickadee which I refer to as “little friends” are a joy to watch as they are polite and wait their turn at the feeding station perch with no observable fighting or jockeying for position. The Baeolophus bicolor – Tufted Titmouse I have nicknamed the ‘Pita Bird’ as its song repeats the familiar high pitched ‘peeta, peeta, peeta’. The tufted titmouse is another polite native and also awaits its turn on the feeding perch of the bird feeder. The Sitta carolinensis – White-breasted nuthatch is always a pleasure to observe as it is a bird that is gifted with the ability to walk up, down and all over tree trunks in any direction and has no problem hanging upside down while seemingly defying gravity on the suet cake and sunflower seed feeding stations. The Spinus tristis – American Goldfinch loses its bright yellow color in the winter and becomes more muted, soft brown and grey with only a hint of yellow in its wings. Gold finches like thistle seed and a thistle seed feeder has to be provided for them although they will take sunflower seeds as well. Haemorhous purpureus – Purple Finch. The purple finch is an irregular visitor this winter. It’s population seems to fluctuate and while it has been observed this winter it is not present in large numbers. Meleagris gallopavo – Wild turkey were around before the heavy snow came so I suspect they are living in the softwood forest where the snow is not as deep and hunkered down. Cheap thrills on a winter’s day.

    Code Pink. You gotta love em! Calling out Kissinger, Albright(We think the price was worth it) and Shultz as the war criminals they are! Got the McCain all riled up too.

  • Civilization is the root of all evil.
    We should return to the wild. Kill nothing. Eat only that which falls from the trees. Sleep on the ground. Drink from the river. Plant no crops, build no cities.

    I will give a brief statement describing what a civilization actually is:

    A band of people with the seven characteristics:
    1.centralized government, 2. Agricultural intensification, 3. Specialization in occupation, 4. Class structure, 5. Merchants and trade, 6. Development of science and writing, 7. And State of religion.

    Centralized government – enforces rules, laws and regulations on your life. Destroys all hope for freedom. Laws are only needed in a civilization where panicy, stupid, and fearful masses of people thrive.

    Specialization occupation – creates the need for money… Enough said.. Money is evil in its ultimate form. Money is greed, corruption, evil, war, caution, death and destruction all in one word.

    Class structure – This separates everyone in a class, putting certain people on a higher level than others. This separation of people creates distress among the masses, and ultimately creates racism. It abandons any sense of equality.

    In a civilization, a sense of purity and unacceptance occurs. Usually there is one ultimate group of people that control everything. This leads to genocide, and conflicting war with people around them. The people of the civilization think they are the chosen ones and think nothing of the people around them.

    A civilization also holds a greater number of people. This leads to a great rate of consumption and destruction of everything they need to sustain their mass.

    Therefore, helping people become responsible, acceptable and productive members of civilization is only fueling the flames that will eventually destroy us all. The best we can do is limit our consumption – do not aspire to own things – live simply. Do not have children.

  • .
    don’t feed wildlife – it disconnects them from nature.
    .

  • great post, Alton. cuts through right to the heart of some very important things. thank you.

    “To maintain one’s sanity in today’s world, one needs some diversions!”

    for sure. and here is a very nice one. some truly amazing work here:

    http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/stories/first-light/

  • Dredd.

    There is near-total misunderstanding of practically everything by many (most?) people who comment on this site. And Guy does get things wrong -he is human after all and is not a chemist with specific training in spectroscopy (which I am).

    The so-called evidence you cite is for a PULSE of carbon dioxide, and does not apply to the situation we are in, of enduring the effects of an abnormally high background level of carbon dioxide which is being steadily raised by continuous industrial activity.

    I find myself not bothering to comment much these days, either here or anywhere else, because people are not listening and continue to hang on to whatever nonsense is already in their heads. I suppose this is an inevitable consequence of living in a scientifically illiterate (both local and global) society, and is another reason why there is no hope for humanity.

    It has been my experience over a period of four decades that it is usually those who know the least (or just a little bit) who argue the mos.

    For around the tenth time, the effect of [excessive and increasing] carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is both instantaneous and cumulative.

  • some minor glitches with the presentation here,
    but well worth your time.

  • kevin moore Says:
    February 5th, 2015 at 11:23 am

    You wrote:

    Dredd.

    The so-called evidence you cite is for a PULSE of carbon dioxide, and does not apply to the situation we are in, of enduring the effects of an abnormally high background level of carbon dioxide which is being steadily raised by continuous industrial activity.
    ==================================
    You cite only yourself again, so here comes the peer review dood.

    The paper written by Katharine L Ricke and Ken Caldeira, of the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, among other thisngs, says:

    In this study, we focus on the amount and timing of global warming associated with a present-day emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere—information that is relevant to the projection of the future amount and present value of climate damage expected to occur from the emissions made today.”

    The context for the report was set by the authors’ quoting people who specified about a 40 year delay from emission to full damage done.

    An analogy would be a person taking a poison that may not cause immediate death, or clearly observable symptoms, but will eventually.

    “How much time to I have doctor” is a common question.

    I can’t understand why that would give you cognitive constipation such that you do not want to comment and link to a scientific paper or papers relevant to the subject.

    Guy does that regularly on his ongoing Climate-Change Summary and Update page.

    Quoting scientific papers written by others is a sign of professionalism as well as successful ego management.

  • “Wester Says:
    February 4th, 2015 at 11:47 pm
    Just curious as to why I should be concerned about why privileged Americans need grief counseling and affirmation of their psychic dilemmas when they come to terms with having all their toys taken away (i.e. NTE)? That is when the same privileged Americans on the whole show less than zero interest – much less grief – over genocidal levels of violence in Iraq, real genocide and institutionalized brutalization, theft and robbery of indigenous peoples, a legal system that willfully targets and demolishes the lives of vulnerable minorities, an economic system that leaves well over half the world’s population hungry and locked in misery and poverty (not to mention that the same economic system is the engine of global annihilation). I am supposed to care about how these people feel when they finally recognize and become traumatized by their own reflection in the mirror? I mean…these people are feeling grief? You mean now they are actually feeling a human emotion? One besides hate, fear, loathing, envy or greed? I guess that is a minor miracle in itself.

    And no doubt, compassion should be shown, even to the biggest yutzes among us. But that is not a job I have the stomach for any longer.
    Me personally, I am much more worried about the grief visited on the rest of the world, every day. Mostly by these newly traumatized imperial instigators. You know, those beneficiaries and reproducers of the system.

    At least two or three people in the third world have their brains blown out across the wall plaster every time one of these loverly Anglo cololials farts or blows their nose. That is what worries me. Not so much the grief of the exploiters of the system who otherwise live most of their lives in hard-core denial of practically every aspect of their reality.

    Let me say my lack of empathy for those who clearly and belligerently lack empathy comes from protracted personal experience. Hope you are luckier than me.
    Cheers”

    ______________________________________________________________________

    I had to copy and paste that whole darn thing because I enjoyed reading it sooooo much that it made my toes curl! Wester pretty much describes my opinion of most Americans. And even though I would support Guy and Carolyn in trying to bring comfort to those suffering from NTE Sudden Onset Syndrome, because it is the compassionate thing to do, I have to admit that I will be happy to see most of the heartless scum, better known as my ‘fellow Americans’, suffer the most disastrous emotional and psychological traumas possible. Wester is right in pointing out the horrors we bring to people around the world on a daily basis while we go about our lives as if we deserve everything we’ve taken from them, including their lives.

    It is my firm opinion that America and the wealthier peoples of the planet have devolved into a state of proto-cannibalism. They prey on the poor and the weak, not eating their flesh directly, but are the cause of their starving and wasting away. To grow fat while causing the death of others is cannibalism, pure and simple!

    How can so much evil be so passively ignored? I don’t get it! It spooks the crap out of me to ponder what must be going on in most people’s heads.

  • Did I post this before? Can’t remember…

  • “reproducers of the system”

    Such as those teaching English to Southeast Asians who want good jobs in International Banking, Computer Programming, or Hotel Management?

  • Wester: Your rants always make me smile!

  • Dredd

    Around 1859 Tyndall worked out that carbon dioxide absorbs and reradiates energy in the IR range instantaneously, and therefore causes instantaneous warming. I won’t bother to cite a reference -there are dozens, and many have already been cited dozens of times. And is common knowledge amongst the scientifically literate.

    Around 1895 Arrhenius worked out that the warming effect of excessive emissions is cumulative, and published the following year. Again already cited dozens of times.

    I have spent most of my life proving other people, many of them university professors, wrong. Eventually exasperation sets in, and one cannot be bothered anymore.

  • @pat

    You would serve yourself well, members of the NBL community and the planet if you took your own advice more seriously.

    @Lidia

    So Lidia. How’s that crappin’ in the garden thing workin’ out for ya?

    Almost forgot.

    @Alton

    Been reading your essays for some time over at Dissident Voice. Thanks for your perspective.

    Everyone needs a hacker.

    It’s a start.

  • I’ve posted a guest essay, courtesy of a first-time contributor in this space. There’s more, too. It’s all here.

  • Kirk: i’ve had those same feelings and thoughts since JFK was assassinated (when i was 15) and i began reading to figure out what i could. i’m as complicit as the next guy in trying to stay afloat after being coerced via socialization and media to ‘make something of themself’; though i lived through the 60’s i became completely disappointed in my entire generation for selling out and not becoming ‘radical.’ College freed me from my youth and i lost all hope in humanity after reading Silent Spring, Herman Hesse, Orwell, Huxley, the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, and other minorities (all around the world due to American corporate capitalism) and finally became a functioning depressive – gave up on saving anything but my own ass. i attempted to make changes via politics, letter writing to ‘representatives,’ read:’reprehensibles,’and made the mistake of trying to change things from the inside, having been dissuaded from becoming an eco-terrorist in college. Of course it didn’t work, the whole game is rigged! It would take everyone all at once going in the opposite direction to make anything change – and even that wouldn’t work, since the system of civilization is on autopilot and runs itself (into the ground).

    i watch the sinkhole of collapse expand to take in more and more human and animal life – aerobic life – every day, fascinated at our stupidity, arrogance, blindness, ability to be manipulated, greed, and barbarity.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • “Brad Phillips Says:
    The thread at the following url is worth reading:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskEngineers/comments/2rars4/what_happens_to_a_nuclear_reactor_if_you_just/cne3f06

    Very good information. Thanks.

  • @ogardener, just dandy, thank you for asking!
    My water bill has gone down, so that’s an extra benefit.

  • I can use what I’ve saved to stock up on razor blades.

  • Tom, thanks, thanks for sharing. We two perceived that which cannot be unseen when we were still quite young. Though the vision of reality often comes with sadness, confusion and rage, consider yourself lucky! You could easily have become one of the living dead.

    Hang in there, pal. Only love remains!

  • OT A little..

    Study: Arctic Emitting Methane For Over Two Million Years

    10:39 AM 02/07/2015

    The Arctic Ocean has been seeping methane for longer than humans have been roaming the Earth, according to new research published in Geophysical Research

    Letters.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL062474/abstract

    This gas, emitted among others by burning/drilling natural gas, has been worrying environmentalist groups because a thaw in the Arctic permafrost might free up more methane, accelerating global warming and the Arctic meltdown.

    But this new study shows that the Arctic Ocean seabed has been emitting methane for at least 2.7 million years. “We know from other studies in the region that the sediments we are looking at in our seismic data are at least 2.7 million years old. This is the period of increase of glaciations in the Northern Hemisphere, which influences the sediment,” says Plaza Faverola, one of the research, in an interview published on Anthony Watt’s blog.

    In other words, the last Ice Age changed the composition of the soil, making it susceptible to emit methane. The study also shows that emissions can be influenced by earthquake activity. These underwater methane columns can be as tall as 800 meters (over 2,600 feet), taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower, the world’s highest human structure.

    These emissions may have influenced temperatures in the past. Researchers believe that bursts of increased temperatures in the past are linked with high methane emissions as shown by studying glaciers.

    Geophysical Research Who are these guys and who funds them?

  • kevin moore Says:
    February 6th, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Dredd

    I have spent most of my life proving other people, many of them university professors, wrong. Eventually exasperation sets in, and one cannot be bothered anymore
    .”
    ================================
    That is the way of life (exasperation) when “some people” are legends in their own mind, and have no publications of their own to cite to.

    I notice that you, in our back and forth, provided none of your work, nor cites to it, that disproves university professors (or anyone else’s for that matter).

    By “your work” I mean work published in scientific journals that are peer reviewed and accepted by the competent scientific community.

    Dr. McPherson uses prolific citations to scientific journals that publish the works of the competent scientific community.

    That is the example you should emulate, not your own anecdotal fishing stories.

    As to your other personal anecdotal assertions, have you disproved the climate scientists, who are university professors, who assert that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to civilization (The Exceptional American Denial)?

    It isn’t about you or me, it is about everyone else who is endangered by personal beliefs of overly egotistical people who “cannot be bothered” with consensus science.