Flooded Planet

Exploring the World to the Very Last Drop

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J’Ville all Jacked up on Progress

Had to go to Jacksonville to take care of some personal business the other day. The long and wearying drive over and back from Panama City, where I live, was to be considered a necessary affront (both to my back and the environment) to get to a city I had never visited before. Not that I wanted to go, but there was no getting around it. Sometimes governments, both big and small, place impositions on us, the citizens, that we’ll have no luck protesting, and will lose out on perceived benefits, even if we consider any protest we do mount as successful. At any rate, governmental bureaucracy, bloat, and short-sightedness have nothing to do with this diatribe. I’ve got other axes to grind (snicker).

So, I took the opportunity to use the day trip as an evaluation of ‘progress.’ If you haven’t read my Entropecology post yet, I hope that you will, as it provides the basis for much of what I share here. In short, what we, as Humanity, consider to be progress is, in fact, quite the opposite. It’s the steady and persistent ‘using up’ of our storehouse supplies, with no replenishment coming, ever, and with serious consequences that will be felt with increasing intensity for a long time to come. We can call the consequences pollution. We can also call them Climate Change. In the end, it’s all entropy in one form or another, and once piled up and piled on, very hard to get rid of.

The unabated growth I witnessed in many parts of J’Ville today is the very same animal running amuck here in PC. The similarities were striking.

I wouldn’t doubt that there exists this small, well-organized and deep-pocketed group of developer / investor / venturist types behind all this outrageous growth along Florida’s I-10 corridor. Starting over there in J’Ville and threading its way clean across our state until it exits around P’Cola (this shortening of city names is a habit of mine), I-10 continues boldly on all the way to the other coast (hmm…I wonder what excessive and ill-planned building projects are going on in those other states? I’ll bet I already know).

These guys and gals are experts at cobbling together the chunks o’ real estate they’ll need to bring in the massive building ventures guaranteed to turn any existing landscape on its head. Neighborhood? Habitat? Farmland? Community? Forget about it. Anything that invokes images of all those things that bind us together in some humanizing way are all tossed out with vigor, replaced unapologetically with more urban sprawl, more concrete jungle, more consumerism, more tired, worn-out franchised predictability.

Once their team is unleashed on your team, it’s very likely that they’ll wind up with most of what they wanted in their back pocket, and you’ll wind up holding the proverbial bag. What you thought was your quaint and quiet little community about two summers back now butts straight up against the backside of a shopping center that runs continuously, with no gaps, for several concreted and blacktopped blocks. The view is dire, and trending toward more of the same, since these projects typically run in phases, y’know. The bulldozers are already assembled on the property that lies diagonal to your own, and adjacent to the one where the parking lots start filling up around 7 or so (you’ve begun to notice), since consumers don’t spot the day’s deals as well on empty stomachs. The fast food chains start serving those yummy sausage biscuits as soon as the sun breaks the horizon. It’s all for a good cause—spending money.

Sidebar: I don’t make these statements casually. I’m witnessing what I’m writing about every day. I see neighborhoods that once existed among live oak and palmetto for as far as the eye could see now surrounded on all sides by strip malls, convenient stores, banks, and restaurants.

I drove past this guy the other day, squatting at the entryway of his very posh abode. He was smoking a cigarette, pointing a garden hose at the street, apparently thinking that blacktop grows better when it’s watered. He had this vacuous look in his eyes, like things hadn’t turned out quite as he’d planned. I could see why. His neighborhood was full of mini-mansions, just like his own, beautiful landscaping, large lots, decent amount of natural beauty left behind to give the whole neighborhood a sense of unity with its surroundings.

But something was unexpectedly juxta-positioned just across the street, where I’m pretty sure a bunch of undeveloped stuff had been when he purchased, all scruffy and uninhabited. Now it was stuffed to the gills with a big old shopping center that was truly a poorly designed project if ever there was one. The streets were too narrow, the parking spaces crammed in, very little plant life, lots of pavement and concrete, and everything plain and whitewashed with black or gray trim. The designer probably thought it would suggest elegance. To me, it suggested nausea.

Anyway, this guy puffed on his cigarette, watering the road, not even acknowledging me or my car as I passed only a few feet from his squatted caricature, I guess in a pose of what disillusionment looks like. I’m pretty sure he was crunching numbers in his head, wondering if he’d ever get his investment back. Who wants to live a stone’s throw from an ugly architecture with mostly unleased spaces? I guess that’s what we get when developers and zoning commissioners strike deals over dinner and drinks.

And about those shoppers able to find the deals better on full stomachs? As I type, I’m literally sitting in a parking lot, watching the people come and go. In the space directly in front of me, there is a van that contains two grossly obese women. One gets out while the other stays behind and eats something fried while she waits. The car next to hers holds the same—two females, both terribly overweight, and wearing brightly colored summer wear that should have been purchased two sizes larger, maybe three. The car on the aisle one over from my own just spit out two more people, the man really chunky, the woman only a little less so.

I really do see obesity everywhere, spilling out of over-sized vehicles and waddling in to the over-sized shops. It’s really quite astonishing these proportions on display. Not only are the people big, but the vehicles, too. The trucks the robots are stamping out now almost require a step stool to scrabble up to that shiny chrome bar that will serve as a rung to get you to the floorboard, where you can then hoist yourself up by latching on real hard to the steering wheel, then swiveling over on the captain’s chair of your plush vehicular domain. It’s the best cardiovascular workout you’ll have all day. God help you if you fall, too, because your melon will go splat from that high up. (Please don’t think I’m poking fun while exempting myself—I’m part of that crowd I describe, sporting an expanding paunch just like the rest of us, enjoying the fried food and soda pop, too).

If the drivers and cars are getting bigger, the parking spots, as they must be, are small, so’s to pack in the most shoppers in the least amount of space. The massive shiny gleaming hunks of Hemi have to be sort of shoe-horned in (crank-the-wheel-hard…Reverse…crank-the-wheel-hard the other way, Drive…crank-the-wheel-hard…Reverse…you get the comical idea). Some of ’em just don’t give a damn anymore and will take up two spots, and screw you if you don’t like it. Yeah it’s five pounds of pure crap in a two pound bag…what about it?

I witnessed all the same stuff in J’Ville. As I drove into what appeared to be one of the very latest building orgies going on in St. John’s County, my jaw did not drop. Why not? Because it was as if I was staring at the same plot of over-developed land I had just come from in my (what used to be) sleepy little Panama City Beach, Florida. The same franchises. Same architecture. Same everything. Matter of fact, I can drive clean across America on Interstate 10 and I will see the same everything in every town I visit. Sameness. All of it. One great big Same. Welcome to the United States of Same. If you have at least one stop light in your fair little Podunk, look out because a Wal-Mart Super Center is looking at you hard (that is, unless you’re already shopping there).

In J’Ville, there was this place where the changeover was absolutely palpable. Farmland, riddled with unattended wide open spaces, dilapidated structures, and the fragrance of Nature running free and wild because nobody was mowing down anything so they could jam through the new infrastructure. Anyway, it had the signs of death written all over it, literally. The massive wheels of the earth movers, already visible here and there, looked like ravenous wolves gathering around their prey, anxious to begin the toothy work. Even the way previously undisturbed lands get violated in a very predictable evolution of sequential movements has that characteristic mark of…Same.

New mortgages dotted the landscape, and the bright orange surveyors’ flags and spray paint, like so much cryptic engineering graffiti, was on display on any flat surface that could be defaced. Pretty yellow ribbons were tied around old oak trees, a sign that their end was nigh at hand (sorry Tony Orlando and Dawn), and the temp plastic fencing defined perimeters that said, “Here’s what it used to be, now get used to what it’s about to become…Sameness.”

The big waste management companies had their roll-offs placed strategically for all that rubble that results from any project, big or small. Yeah, life was good and the slightly sour smell of money was steadily overpowering that cool, fine fragrance that wafts up from any place that’s green and lush, rather than black and hot.

Progress was rearing its ugly head and sneering. Another place where the elements of Nature might have enjoyed at least some chance at freedom were now being broke, tamed, corralled, hemmed in, penned up, sheared off, eviscerated. All the critters of the planet that weren’t human were in the ongoing and unfolding process of flight. What lives in a concrete jungle besides us, our pets, and rats?

Yeah, progress is all backwards. Progress is a heat engine. Progress is loss of habitat and bio-diversity. Progress is resource depletion. Progress is a slow demise. Progress is cheese burgers and thick crust pizza. Progress is a big belly and a weak heart. Progress is finding the closest spot in the parking lot to your favorite plastic crap vendor. Progress must proceed at breakneck speed or the house of cards buckles and the jig is up. Progress is a progression toward something totally undefined. Does anybody have any idea where this train is headed? Who’s the conductor, anyway?

Mostly, Progress must strike a balance. The world is a very small place, and with a storehouse that has borders and limits. Only so much can fit in any physical structure, and so much pulled back out of it. The world is that physical structure. We’ve been emptying out her coffers for quite some time now. Our continued existence has depended on it. Now our continued existence depends on us slowing down…way down. Progress eventually runs out of all the things it needs to keep going. We’re getting there. It’s just a matter of how fast.

Because I’m a skeptic by nature, and a bit of a doubter as a result of living fifty plus years in an industrialized society, I wasn’t surprised by what I saw. I wasn’t even disappointed. The view from yet another city where I’d never gone before was nothing if not predictable to an unspeakable degree. Urban sprawl sprawling more and more. Same thing the rest of America, and the world, is doing. I think the agreements our fearless leaders made for us in Paris in 2015 to cool this planet back down to a suitable temperature simply aren’t going to hold water. Too much progress still to be had out there.

In the meantime, I concluded that J’Ville was all jacked up on the stuff. It’s what I expected, but I guess I had to see it for myself to be sure.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”       

Albert A. Bartlett

 

2017 Remix

We’re well past the first quarter of the calendar year for 2017, and I’ve pulled back quite significantly on the intentional reading of Climate Change news stories. I realized several weeks back that, once I became familiar with the basics of the Big CC, I only need peruse the headlines and skim through the paragraphs to update myself on what I am now largely familiar with. It is for this reason that I stated some few posts back that 2017 is shaping up to look a lot like 2016. In essence, this same statement can be used over and over again, going back many years sequentially, so that one could say that 1982 looked a lot like 1981, for instance. What do I mean by this, and of what use is it to even bother with such a non-committal, non-useful comment?

Well, I’m limiting the statement to Climate Change only; however, I suspect that it could probably be applied to many other disciplines with equal accuracy, the premise being that, for the most part, big change still happens rather slowly. Even though small changes taking place now are shaping the next moment, the next decade, the next century, they oftentimes do so in ways that can basically be considered imperceptible, at least in the short term. You feel something is different, but you’re not sure what. You know that something has definitely happened, and it’s most assuredly exerting pressure on your circumstances, but you’re just not able to express that change, that pressure, in meaningful, concrete terms.

Back when the Industrial Revolution really got to cooking along, nobody but perhaps a handful of really astute observers would have said that the climate was going to change as a result. It simply did not compute, and still doesn’t for many to this very day. The excitement of the steam engine and its limitless potentials would have drowned out any voices expressing concern over such trivialities. John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius would have been like so many lone voices crying wolf in the wild.

So, the seas rise imperceptibly and no one’s the wiser. Who really notices such things? Most of us only acknowledge that fact…the sea level rise…because it’s what we’re being told to believe. Same with the increase in atmospheric carbon levels, coral reef bleaching, ocean acidification, sea ice decrease, ocean temperature rise, etc.

You name “it,” “it” is mostly imperceptible to someone who never leaves their concrete jungle but for a two week vacation in some other concrete jungle (this one with a water slide and roller coaster in the middle of it to justify the time and money spent getting there, and the term “tourist destination” to make the weary traveler feel better about things).

Recent studies (although this really only requires some good ole common sense) tell us that, just because we say we believe in the things science professes to be true, doesn’t mean that we truly embrace what our mouths say we do. In other words, if we don’t change our world view as a result of what we claim to personally embrace as real, factual, and valid, it’s kind of like a little white rationalized lie we perpetuate on ourselves to get through the day. Like responding on the survey we were asked to participate in that we believe recycling is a good thing for the planet while, back home, we continue to throw all our plastic bags, gallon jugs, and water bottles in the regular garbage. Why? Because it’s such a major hassle to get them to the recycling center.

Up until now, Climate Change hasn’t been dramatic enough to fully proclaim it as the new reality. It is, of course, but we really still don’t quite believe it. The big weather events being the one exception, most people respond with a big yawn when the climatologists present their latest numbers to the public, shocking to those who understand them, next to meaningless to those still in search of a valid reason to care.

And then there’re the cautions, caveats and disclaimers. Such academic trepidation means that the rest of us wonder how much of this is solid science, how much is informed guesswork relying a bit too much on computer modeling, a bit too little on sound field observations (I’m just parroting similar remarks I’ve read in the media here, nothing more).

This approach clearly has not, and will not, serve well the goals I think we’re all collectively after, i.e., saving ourselves from our own misguided ways so that the planet might continue to serve as our home beyond just another generation or two.

It is for these reasons and others that I am no longer pursuing the minutiae involved in every aspect of Climate Change, such as those I used as examples above. That’s a very small sampling of the data points Science is keeping its eye on, and, as I also mentioned, things are trending this year in the same direction they have for several decades prior. After all, one would have to be a fool to think that any of these tracked metrics are going to suddenly reverse themselves in some big time way, or for any significant amount of time. No, 2017 is looking a whole lot like 2016, with just a little more of that imperceptible concern for all those things that will eventually make this planet uninhabitable (or at least extremely uncomfortable) for homo sapiens.

All the items I listed on my blog’s 2016 page will be there with us in 2017. Speaking in generalities, and in no particular order, we can rest assured in confidently predicting that this year will bring us:

  • More extreme weather events
  • More scrambling for clean reliable water sources (water is scarce on a planet that’s soaking wet with the stuff) (so, more desalination plants, more hydroelectric dams, more subsidence, more salination of ground water, more water wars)
  • More coral bleaching
  • More sea level rise
  • More carbon in the atmosphere
  • More record high temperatures
  • More flora and fauna extinctions

In short…more crisis. This is what Climate Change represents. This is what we have behind us, and, as it turns out, what we also have in front of us. Does that mean we’re kind of stuck in the middle? Seems to be the case.

Sincere Thanks for stopping by.

G2

 

463 (Amur Leopard / Jeremy Rifkin)

Amur Leopard – Critically Endangered

To understand the premise of what we’re doing here, please read my post A Remembrance of Personalities.

The burgeoning artist in the family, my youngest daughter, drew this stylized version of these Amur Leopards displayed above and discussed very briefly below. I went over her mixed media rendering with black ink, then brightened things up a bit in some graphics software. As we decided earlier between us, because it was a collaborative effort, we will both provide our signatures on the result.

If you look closely, you can see 463 separate one- or two-initial abbreviations for the memorized figures names, each person separated from the next by a little dot. They start on the outside of the kittens, then spiral around the two in a tightening circle until the list is finally finished.

We’ll be selling limited editions of these over on my Etsy website. Each one comes signed and numbered, along with a complete list of the personalities involved. We will be donating 10% of all profits gained in this manner to the World Wildlife Fund.

Amur Leopard

It is only mere coincidence that my daughter and I discovered both a tiger and a leopard on the endangered list with the word ‘Amur’ prefacing their species name. They both roam about in the same general area of the world. The Amur River, like so many others in the world, forms a natural border between two neighboring countries–in this case, Russia and China. Although the tiger is in dire straits, the leopard is caught in some wild, white water rapids of those same dire straits. Between the two, the tiger stands the best chance at continued survival, at least in terms of sheer numbers left in the wild. In fact, when things get really hairy, and the times particularly lean, the tiger, fully capable as the largest of the big cats, has been shown to take the leopard out.

The leopard has the unenviable designation as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the last stop on this list of increasingly ominous designations before a species is considered extinct in the wild. With well less than a hundred known animals left to make their stand in a very small and fragmented swath of land, and with adverse health signs of inbreeding all about, things couldn’t get much worse for this incredibly beautiful animal.

Jeremy Rifkin

In my post Entropecology back in December of last year, I mentioned the personality of Jeremy Rifkin, a man who, after reading his book Entropy: A New World View, considerably influenced how I would perceive the world around me from then on.

Rifkin had already written several books prior to that one, and has continued writing prolifically since. All of them deal with very weighty subject matter, including many that either directly or indirectly overlap with the issues we’ve discussed ad nauseum in this evolving blog of mine. I’ve always greatly admired writers who can enlighten me, broaden my horizons, lift the veil from things I thought I understood but actually did not. This is classic Rifkin, consistently, over the years, shining penetrating lights down on incredibly controversial and important topics, including political, social, economic, scientific, and philosophical areas of conversation. As a globe-trotting economist with considerable reputation and clout, he continues to be an influential voice in the economic policies of other countries, including China and Germany. His current focus revolves around working with the world’s economies as they implement principles, such as sustainability and renewability, he outlines in his Third Industrial Revolution.

Links:

WWF’s Amur Leopard Facts

Connect the Dots? The obvious connections here between an endangered species, such as this leopard, and Mr. Rifkin would be his life’s efforts of bringing to light, through continuous authorship of prescient works of literature, the predicament the planet finds itself in as a result of humanity’s careless ways, and the animals that suffer the worst as a result of those ways. Rifkin’s subject matter draw a direct path into the fragmented habitats of the world, just like the one the leopard now struggles to survive in. Unfortunately, this direct path is also twisty and multifarious, with vines and thorns and dark shadowy places. You can basically plot your trek from any of a hundred different points and they’ll all lead you, one way or another, to the same undesirable spot…a troubled place we’ll call 21st Century Earth.

Sincere Thanks for stopping by!

G2

462 (Amur Tiger / John Glenn)

To figure out what in the world I’m doing here, please read my post A Remembrance of Personalities.

My daughter, the youngest art talent in the family, drew this stylized and adorable version of the Amur Tiger (displayed above and discussed below). I went over her mixed media rendering with black ink, then added a little pep in PhotoShop. Because it was a collaborative effort, we decided that we will both provide our artistic autographs.

If you look closely, you can see 462 separate one or two initial abbreviations (hopefully, and you’re certainly welcome to count them out) of the memorized figures names, each person separated from the next by a little dot. They start up in the left corner by the tiger’s ear, then sort of spiral around the outside border of the tiger on the first pass, followed by the next line, which then jumps to the inside of the border. This pattern continues on until the list is finished. As I mentioned in the linked post, all 462 can be recited without memory aids of any kind, save for the picture of them all I carry in my brain.

We’ll be selling limited editions of these over on my Etsy website. Each one comes signed and numbered, along with a complete list of the personalities involved. More details can be found there, once we get things posted over the next few days. We will be donating 10% of all profits gained in this manner to the World Wildlife Fund.

Amur Tiger

If ever there was a species that perched precariously close to the extinction abyss before making a comeback, the Amur Tiger is it.  Some estimates from several decades ago had put its numbers at something less than fifty. Now, with the political will to save this beautiful big cat stronger than ever before, the tiger’s numbers are on the rise, with recent estimates ranging from the high-400s to the mid- 500s in number. Most of the animal’s range is in the far eastern part of Russia, and the bulk of the responsibility to save this precious resource has fallen squarely on that country’s shoulders.

Fortunately, the Soviets seem to have stepped up to the plate admirably in that regard, allocating money and labor power to the conservation of habitat, the criminalization of tiger poaching and trafficking of tiger parts, and the enforcement of current efforts to ensure that the tiger’s numbers continue to rise. But the race is surely not over, with other threats, like illegal logging, and the continued loss and fragmentation of remaining habitat (and hence, also the loss of the very prey it must have in order to survive) means that the fight to protect this big big cat will go on for many decades to come.

Links:

WWF’s Amur Tiger Facts

John Glenn represents number 462 on my memory list, the inestimable astronaut and U.S. Senator who passed away in December of last year and who was laid to rest just a few days ago with full military honors. I still remember in 1998 when, at the age of 77, he became the oldest man to fly on the Space Shuttle. His service to “God and Country” was, in my opinion, of incalculable benefit to this nation. His undying sense of adventure hopefully inspired others—those who may think that life has to become something fundamentally tamer just because of wrinkles and calendars—to keep their dreams alive, and to keep living life large. A true American Hero in my book.

As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.

~ John Glenn

Connect the Dots? The only connection between an Amur Tiger and John Glenn I can readily come up with would be that Glenn was probably one of the few people in history (and still is) to be able to visually witness, in real time and in living color, the entirety of the tiger’s range while seated happily in a spacecraft hurtling at crazy fast speed through the ether above. What an amazing life this man lived.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

A Different Kind of Flooded

When I started FloodedPlanet.com about eight months ago, my intent was to have some fun writing about water-related topics, then sharing my stories with readers through the ever more popular blogging approach. It was a totally unintended consequence that my rather simple and joy-filled pursuit should get caught up in the pernicious, all-encompassing sticky web that is the Big CC – Climate Change. But it happened, and I’m not sorry for it, and now I must move on.

If you’re not careful, Climate Change can latch onto you, like it did me, with its insidious tactics and strategies, sneaking its way into your gray matter, turning you into a junkie, of sorts, causing you to crave more and more news about all the events that the Big CC claims to be a part of. I ask, “How are the coral reefs faring this year?” I must know. “What heat record did we set today? What’s this about the methane bubbles? How fast is Greenland melting? What does ocean acidification mean? How much will the water rise?”

Each question drives you on to the next one, then the next, until you realize that you’re obsessed with this beast and how it’s taking over the planet, threatening to gobble up everything in its path, including your very own life. “Whoa…Wait…Slow down and lighten up!” I told myself. There’s got to be more to my existence on Little Blue than obsessing over how many ppm of CO2 we’re heading toward in 2017.

Here’s my admission—I’m done with being an addict. The news pours in and wrestles for my attention and I can decide to ignore it. It’s a choice, after all, and entirely mine to make. This has actually been taking place subconsciously, without me being totally aware that it was even happening. When I finally realized that I had reached saturation point, I wondered how it had occurred, and why. One of the biggest interests I think I’ve ever had in something, and now I was walking away. What gives? I’ll tell you what—our own apathy. I’m more than just a little resigned to the fact that there is a huge gaping disconnect between what is going on with the weather and the everyday concerns that the majority of people have as they go about the business of living.

Telling a smoker that the cigarettes may eventually kill her won’t stop her from engaging in the habit she loves most. She may even burn through her little sticks quicker if you really press her into a corner about it. Same for the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, the men and women hooked on one or more of any of the vices the world has to offer, including the addiction of consumerism. We can’t very easily save the planet (er, I mean, ourselves) if doing so means we have to give up all the conveniences of modern day life we love with all our hearts and souls.

So the back and forth, the give and take, the one step forward and two steps back approach to reining ourselves in, and weaning ourselves off the fossil fuels nipple simply isn’t going to cut it. Sometimes compromise just isn’t near enough. When the compromise is compromised, it’s not a good deal. We are firmly in the business of “business as usual,” and there’s nothing going on in a big time way that will convince me otherwise.

The current administration’s salacious and shameful acts with regard to the environment and its blatant disregard for the well-being of the country’s citizens is enough to give the most ardent optimist reason for pause. If you’re a born skeptic, as I am, however, the whole fiasco could easily be deemed as nothing more than what we should expect when our priorities are entirely misplaced. Our core beliefs have been supplanted by whimsical fantasies about technological diversion and disruption.

Our futures are dictated by the capricious and callous decisions of those in control, perhaps more deluded than the rest of us by the power they wield, the money they control, the influence they can buy. People who look surprised by it all have probably been living lives under a heavy influence of diversion. As I said in my last post, we’re asleep at the wheel. What does that really mean? It means that serious dialog among the citizenry about topics that fundamentally matter to a strong society concerned about its well-being has largely gone the wayside.

Consumerism = Climate Change. The more we consume, the more of the Big CC we can expect.

When I named this blog FloodedPlanet, my emphasis was on water. Now, the name will be a reflection of a broader approach to the flood that is taking place down here in every way imaginable. The source of the flooding is, of course, us. We the people, all 7 billion of us, are responsible for this deluge. So, let’s talk about that…the people, I mean…in all the ways we can.

Sincere Thanks for stopping by!

G2

 

Killing the Messenger

It doesn’t seem a rational reaction to kill the messenger who brought distressing news to the attention of the villagers. It’s a primitive, knee-jerk reaction that releases tension through the very effective means of violence. Warding off bad omens by snuffing out the source of the dark clouds. Short term satisfaction at the expense of viewing reality without blinders on.

Denying that something is real because we don’t like it, then killing the messenger (even if speaking metaphorically at this point)—these are really just two different sides of the same coin. If you have a weak constitution, and the spillage of blood makes you queasy, maybe you just make light of the bitter pill you’re being asked to swallow, casting doubt on the news itself by casting dispersions at the messenger. If you play your part to paint the delivery schmuck as an ineffective boob, maybe your villagers will play along and everything can return to the way it was before somebody rained all over your parade. Either way, you’re chasing down the same troubling demons. Demons being demons, you probably won’t catch them.

Fear makes all of us do strange things. Irrational things. Dumb things. Fear is running the world now. Fear wastes energy, wastes time, causing us to find ourselves in even more dubious and dreadful environs than we would have been had we courageously addressed the things that make us tremble in the first place, rather than hiding from them as though they were merely shadowy figments of our imaginations.

In the case of Climate Change, the reactions to fear run the gamut. In the business sector, the loss of income is the fear. Doing more of what we’ve been overtly warned about is the expression of that fear. It’s the sign of denial. It’s an act of defiance. It allows us to thump our chests in the face of that fear.  In a sense, it’s a bold way of saying “I’m still free, and this is how I’ll show you that I’ll continue to do exactly as I please.” Think of the captains of the fossil fuel industry. Their number one priority is profit, not a clean environment. The two are mutually exclusive ambitions.

In the political arena, falling out of favor by delivering the wrong message to your constituents is the fear. Cutting the funding to some pivotal agencies that run counter to your message, gutting their brain trust in the process is the perceived solution to that fear. Think of the current administration running things poorlyin DC. As far as its concerned, the entirety of the Climate Science community could drop dead tomorrow and the world would be a better place for it. Damn science anyway.

I’ve been doing this blog since August. That has given me nearly eight months to learn a massive amount of information regarding Climate Change, and it’s only a drop in the bucket. One thing has become increasingly evident to me: even though Climate Change isn’t supposed to be political…that’s mostly what it is. We aren’t ready to face Climate Change head on, with all our cards on the table, with no more poker face in the game, with no more belief that we can get around this thing, with no more self-deception about having our cakes and eating them too.

No, that day is still a long way off. We’re scared, but only a little bit. To be filled with so much fear that we are humbled in our hearts, humiliated in our souls, horrified by our circumstances and quite ready to fix the mess we’ve made without hesitancy and without caveats, disclaimers, ifs, ands, or buts…that day is probably years off yet.

In my estimation, when Nature has rattled us back to our senses, when we’re finally ready to take the bull by the horns and wrestle it down to the ground, we will already know what it’s like to be viciously trampled and gored, robbed of much of our strength and resolve, surprised time and again at how relentless, how brutal, how strong the world feels now when we try to push back against her. The world has always bent to our will. Now it seems the tables are turned. The laundry list of untenable challenges shows up increasingly in the news.

We’re thirsty, we’re hot, we’re poor, we’re hungry, and we’re fighting harder and harder over less and less. There are too many of us and the resources are running low. We’re sitting in a pan on the burner and the heat’s just barely bumped up. Imagine how it will be when the temperatures get to the places the scientists tell us are coming our way in the very near future.

One day, we will finally hear the wake-up call, but it will already be late in the afternoon, when opportunity for decisive action has largely passed us by. We’ve been asleep at the wheel, and it seems that the happy slumber will go on for a while longer yet.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by!

G2

 

A Remembrance of Personalities

Right around the same time that Jacques Barzun wrote his amazing tome From Dawn to Decadence, I was teaching myself different memory techniques. One that caught my attention was Method of Loci: one sets up a familiar place (such as the rooms in one’s house) that they then use as the mental construct upon which to build their memories. Each memory is anchored at a certain spot within this mental locale. Remember the spot and the item mentally placed there is also easily remembered. The method is exceptionally good for items of a sequential nature…like lists, for instance.

At the time, I had the idea of committing to memory the historical figures that appear in Barzun’s index. Although I never got close (due to lack of time, I suppose) it was fun attempting to do so. The list, such that it was, has never really left my head, even though it’s some fifteen years later.

That was segue into my recent post suggesting that this blog is going to change. I don’t think that reporting the headlines surrounding Climate Change is adding much value to what many of you probably discover on your own, every day (if you are addicted to the headlines, as I admittedly am). You know about the fires burning outside of Boulder, Colorado very early in the season; the record hot temps being set out west that indicate what will probably amount to another record-breaking hot year on the whole; and the unraveling of long-standing policy regarding the environment by our new president’s cabinet members, whose ties to the fossil fuels industry apparently fog their vision and obligation to first do what’s right by the American public. As it is, we may be further down on their list, if we’re included at all.

Sometimes, it’s the personalities behind the headlines that are more interesting to me than the story, itself. That’s why I suppose I wanted to memorize all those characters from Barzun’s book – they fascinate me (rest assured, none of these politicians from the 2016 campaign will make the list). The idea that I could chance upon these personas at any time–simply by recalling them to memory from my list–made me happy in a simple sort of way.

At the same time, the relevance of most of those personalities has little, if anything, to do with what I’m currently doing with this blog… but they might.

In the posts to come, I will be expanding my memorized list in an earnest manner. The starting point will be 462, the number of people currently stored in my head, growing from there as we go along. The spin on this pursuit, and the thing that will hopefully make it interesting, and a little wacky for the both of us, me (the writer / artist) and you (the reader) is to tie the addition of more personalities together with the names of the beautiful animals that share our planet with us, many of which will be shared for the simple fact that they are already on, or heading there fast, the very undesirable list of “Endangered Species.” (More of course are disappearing all the time (read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Last Extinction) and I venture to guess that more than a few are going to be placed on this list, and later removed (because they didn’t make it) all within the span of a single human lifetime).

How am I going to do this? With the help of my artistically talented daughter. Each stylized, cutesified art illustration will have, as part of its composition, the initials of each historical figure on my list built right into the composition. We’ll be starting this adventure very soon, so be on the lookout for the first one.

These art pieces will be offered for sale over at my Etsy artshop, so visit there in the near future for more details about what I will include with each sale (type the words FloodedPlanet (no space between words) in the search field on Etsy’s home page to find me.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

G2

 

Coral, Giraffes, and Oil

Irony abounds…and the more the prevalent species tries to fix things, the more ironic the consequences become.

I wrote in my last post, Evolution of Thought, that the world’s oceans are heating up faster than the scientific community previously thought. That’s not the least of it, of course. The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing catastrophic coral bleaching for the second year in a row now. Experts say this is a first, since usually ocean temperatures ease off from one bleaching event to the next, giving the coral time to recover before being thrown into its next environmental tumult caused by stressors it simply wasn’t built to withstand. That tenet is not holding up so well this year.

Ironic that a British cruise ship (the thing weighs 4,200 tons) ran aground on some of the fragile stuff in Indonesia, causing extensive damage to a large section of reef skirting one of the country’s bio-diverse marine habitats. The locals were none too happy, with livelihoods dependent largely upon a healthy tourism industry catering to intrepid divers and other water-loving adventurists. Well, it’s bound to happen, though, isn’t it? Something that large is apt to cause some damage when it accidentally scrapes bottom with something as delicate as coral.

I also mentioned the idea that civilization is riddled with these deep holes we call landfills, where we dump our used up wealth so we can go buy shiny new wealth. In Ethiopia, the landfill probably consists of more humble offerings than those here in the United States. Ironic there, as well, that a landslide at the city dump of Addis Ababa should kill some 60  people who had been living there amongst the rubble.

Tragic in the extreme on a number of different levels, not the least of which is that human beings in a third world country are subsisting in squalor on the rim of a dump, surrounded by stench, filth, disease, and fires caused by the methane of rotting things. All while the government claims that it is striving to relocate them to better environs; but where to put your displaced poor when your whole country offers little more than better poverty over worse poverty?

Meanwhile, a humble giraffe holds the world entranced with her impending birth of her little one in a zoo somewhere in NY (I haven’t tracked the specifics). The world celebrates, as though victory can be claimed while her erstwhile, wild-roaming relatives across the planet are on the brink of collapse, with numbers tumbling fast and a classification of ‘endangered’ probably just a year or three off.

I read a story by a journalist lamenting the ironic backwardness of it all and was amazed at how his opinions aligned with those I offered in my recent post Views on Zoos. We both mentioned the idea that a giraffe confined to the narrow margins of a zoo is, almost by necessity, something of a heart-wrenching tragedy to behold.

Also ironic is the fact that Scott Pruitt, a shameless Climate Change denier, is now heading up the EPA, the very agency officially and diametrically opposed with reference to the Big CC as the opinions held by the agency’s new chief. He has sued this agency more than a dozen times in the past as Oklahoma’s attorney general. It’s clear what he quite possibly intends to do to the very agency he now holds in his clueless hands – destroy it from the inside out, all with the full faith and confidence of our fearless leader, Mr. Trump.

Also ironic that Japan, the dark aggressor in WWII, and a peace-loving nation in the decades since, has recently felt it necessary to add to its military fleet the biggest carrier it has commissioned since the end of that terrible war. North Korea lobbing missiles into the sea, just shy of making Japanese soil its target, probably has something to do with it, prompting observers everywhere to view the situation in that part of the world as the powder keg it most assuredly is.

Ironic too, that China, now the aggressor on the world stage in too many ways to count, is playing a large part in the potential (and probable) collapse of some of the world’s largest and most diverse fisheries located in the South China Sea. Legal decisions ruling in favor of other nations with stakes in the area have not backed China off of its own overly ambitious claims. In short, it would seem the Chinese believe that possession is nine tenths of the law. Their approach seems to be working just fine.

So many of the waters, islands, and territories that were once rightfully claimed by as many as seven other neighboring countries (used as fisheries for generations to sustain their families and contribute to their nations’ economies) have now fallen into Chinese jurisdiction by fiat. Overfishing is the new law of the land, and with each succeeding catch becoming increasingly smaller, it may just be a matter of time before the abundance of the South China Sea is also a thing of the past.

Probably the most stunning irony among those appearing here is an article I just read moments ago about a huge oil field find in northern Alaska, purportedly containing some 1.2 billion barrels of oil. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

“First production from the discoveries could come as soon as 2021, with output of as much as 120,000 barrels a day, Repsol said. That would represent a lifeline for Alaska, which has seen oil revenues plummet after prices crashed in 2014. The state also needs new crude to keep oil flowing on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

‘We must all pull together to fill an oil pipeline that’s three-quarters empty — and today’s announcement shows measurable results of that hard work,’ Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said in response to the news of the discovery Thursday.”

So, let’s just scuttle the idea that we’re supposed to leave the oil that remains in the ground right where it pools if we’re to have a fighting chance of continued survival down here. No, it would seem we’re going to go right on exploring, discovering, drilling and refining until we’ve sucked the well fairly bone dry.

Ironic that what seems to be such a massive find (1.2 billion barrels) would actually keep America happily motoring at its current frenetic pace for all of about 62 days.

These are but a few of the ironies currently littering the stage, and all with the unpleasant mark of Climate Change (vis a vis anthropogenic activity) as the culprit of their occurrences. I’m quite certain that more of the same can be reported on soon.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

Evolution of Thought

Robert Scribbler wrote a post a few days ago referencing a new study that confirms the world’s oceans are heating up faster than the scientific community previously thought. Like him, I have said that it does seem a prevalent message within the climate science community—this revelation that events are occurring faster than was earlier established.

Worrisome in the extreme, of course, since it means that we, Humanity, have less time than we assumed to change course, our small efforts to fix our Climate Change Conundrum appearing even less significant when viewed against the looming backdrop of a planet transforming itself into something we may be unable to tamp down. What awaits us all, if we are unable to fix it, is runaway weather. This is the idea that self-reinforcing feedback loops will pick up their own paces, causing weather events that are simply no longer predictable, and with a ferociousness never before seen. If that doesn’t scare you, I can’t imagine what would.

But we’re starting to feel that fear by way of catastrophes that seem to follow closely on the heels of one another. There’s little idle time, if any, between one horrific headline and the next. Floods, fires and famines crowd each other out as one presses in while the other reluctantly exits off the page.

What is Climate Change, after all, but the observable effects of Nature sort of turning themselves upside down, with Humanity offered the court side seat, watching with dismay the consequences of our unbridled growth. But then, many things that we’d readily term as firmly right side up are, in fact, most definitely turned upside down.

What we define as Progress is actually just the piling up of Entropy. Entropy is pollution. It’s the detritus we leave behind us in our march toward an unseen destination. The new car becomes a fixture in the junk yard. The shiny new building is eventually knocked down and hauled off in large scoops to the landfill. Civilization is riddled with the deep holes into which we dump our discarded wealth.

Entropy is the by-product we pump into the atmosphere every single day, 24/7, without let up, heating up the planet more and more, with no end in sight. And how can there be? There are 7 billion of us on this endless roller coaster that isn’t stopping, even as some of its riders beg to get off. It’s inertia. It’s momentum. The heavier the object, the longer it takes to bring it to a halt. Modern day civilization is the heaviest object we can imagine, but it cannot be stopped…and it’s the one thing that must be abruptly reined in if we are to have any kind of a chance for continued and prolonged existence into the future. Decisive action is long overdue.

Evolution of thought is the idea that we have to fundamentally change the mindset we’ve all been taught to embrace since the time we were tiny little children. The whole thing is encased in one word – Capitalism. The basic tenet is this: Grow or die. This is why we are taught to consume, and why we are called Consumers. We’re supposed to wear the label like a badge of honor. This is why we go to work and get our checks and buy with impunity all the things the advertisers tell us we must have in order to fit in. So we grow, so that we will not die.

But we all die, individually. That’s always been the case. The difference now is that we may all die, as a species, which has also always been the case, we’ve just never been faced it in any concrete way. Every species that ever roamed the planet has eventually gone extinct (or is currently in that process). When viewed from the perspective of environmental factors, Climate Change may simply be the stressor that is going to spell the end for Humankind.

In the meantime, the world’s oceans are heating up faster than the scientific community had previously assumed, and there’s less time to fix it. Paradoxically, the growth I see unfolding, both locally and globally, is unprecedented. Civilization continues to sprawl, largely unaware, or unaccepting of the dangers directly ahead.

I suspect that, in the end, we simply may not “get it.” The oceans of the world are a reflection of this.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

 

Psych!

I’ve been doing a lot of observing lately. I suppose it’s what they call Progress that I’ve been watching. You know, all the usual stuff—new roads being built, new housing developments being slapped up (brimming with spec homes that all look exactly alike, spaced about ten feet apart from one another, with no yards, no trees, no personality, no privacy, and selling for around $325,000 each because they’re situated only several blocks back from our pretty replenished beaches), more strip malls (yep, they too look like any other strip mall just up the road, or several states over, it matters not), more schools, more administrative buildings…well, just more in general. Of course, this is all in response to the influx of people heading south to the warmer climes, about 10,000 per day, if statistics cited in the media are to be believed. We were born of the water, and to the water we yearn to return.

I watch the hustle and bustle as whole new swaths that used to provide habitat for lots of creatures other than just ourselves are carved up, cleared, leveled, and readied to meet all the zoning regulations currently on the books. The sitting city council will be convinced that all is unfolding as scheduled, in accordance with the statutes that cover such human activities as scraping the land clean of all its natural living stuff so that a bunch of non-living, human-manufactured artificial stuff can be erected in its place. Seems to make perfect sense for most of us. Progress.

Such activities are, of course, for one reason only…an ever expanding human population wanting to live the same dream that it’s parents got to live. A whole bunch more peoples want to come in and park their massive vehicles in massive parking lots, then waddle their massive bodies, like so many corn-fed ducks, into the massive new establishments, buying up massive amounts of cheap plastic crap, followed by the consumption of massive meals that have nothing to do with fine cuisine and everything to do with cardboard.

They’ll haul everything they purchased back to all those uninspired little spec homes they live in, replacing the older plastic crap with the newer stuff in an ongoing cycle that feeds the machine, feeds the voracious heat engine we collectively call Civilization. Eventually, everything that got shoved out of a factory somewhere is shit out yet again, in one form or another, into a toilet or a landfill, so we can go back the next day, or next week, maybe in a newer, bigger vehicle, and do it all again, over and over for the rest of our lives.

When I moved to Panama City, Florida nearly a quarter century ago, it really wasn’t much to write home about. Redneck Riviera laughed the locals, and proud of it. A sleepy little place with a beach that sort of “dried up” as they say, once the tourist season ended each year. Now, everywhere I go on the beach, aint nothin’ dried up; no no, it’s filled up all the time with us peoples. Everything I see is either falling down and hoping for that developer’s bulldozer to roll in one day soon, or brand spanking new and already drawing in the new peoples by the thousands.

In short, there’s no place left to breathe, and the patience needed in tolerating the crushing pressure of ever more peoples makes me want to run for the hills where there’s nothing human-made for as far as the eye can see, and with bucketfuls of unadulterated air just waiting to be sucked in by my lungs.

Now don’t worry. I’m not having a panic attack on the page, or a mental breakdown here in cyberspace. I’m too old school for any of that. Nerves of steel my friend, nerves of steel. This is just my roundabout way of saying that I’m convinced, at least as much as I ever was, and probably more so, that our fate is very probably sealed already. Many climatologists (according to insiders) want to say just that, but are too afraid to do it for fear they’ll lose their funding. Ironic wouldn’t you say? Plus, they’re supposed to maintain a hopeful countenance amongst their colleagues, lest someone start to wonder what the serious one knows that the rest are supposed to know.

The equation is simple, maybe even elegant: Cease and desist with our current careless ways or perish. Stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere to give ourselves the remotest chance of continued existence on this here planet. That’s it. Ignore this warning and pay an increasingly higher toll in the very near future. It sounds like an apocalypse of biblical proportions. Well, read the dirty laundry list further down and decide for yourself.

I’ve said it before—there’s very little reason (in fact none) for us to believe that the same sorts of heat-producing activities described above aren’t taking place in every other industrialized nation. Maybe a little more here, a little less there, but on the whole, the pace is probably indistinguishable in the aggregate. Of this we can all be quite sure. The only evidence we really need to ascertain that mitigation of our dreadful circumstances is virtually non-existent is plainly before us:

  • Atmospheric CO2 levels are still rising steadily, year after year, as manifested on the Keeling Curve in Mauna Loa. Those numbers WILL NOT go back down in our lifetimes, nor our children’s.
  • Ocean acidification, and hence coral bleaching, is also steadfast in its progress. Remember that coral reefs sustain massive amounts of bio-diverse colonies on which much of the oceans’ other species depend.
  • New planetary heat records are set year after sweltering year. The fires, the droughts, the flooding, all baked in, and with the promise that things are only going to get worse.
  • Greenland’s ice sheets are melting, and will continue to do so now until the job is finished. It’s not a matter of if, but only when. We can measure and monitor* the pace all we want, but that’s about it.

(*I’ve also said this in the past…Climate Change generates a lot of jobs for people, many of them futile in the extreme…with the appearance of upmost scientific importance. I don’t disagree that computer modeling is important, but it feels sometimes that we are deluding ourselves with our gadgetry. Ever more sensitive monitoring and measuring devices won’t solve the problem. Only action will. We have a sense of reassurance because we can predict the moment of our demise down to the day month and year. Good for us, although do we really want to know?

I often listen to scientists talk about Climate Change now, as though expecting that something new is going to be conveyed. I’m consistently disappointed. All the rhetoric mostly revolves around the idea that we can really really really pinpoint with exactitude and laser sharp accuracy what’s going on with the planet, everywhere and all the time.

Let’s strike a balance, shall we? I don’t want a doctor to hook me up to a dozen machines and predict with a high degree of certainty when I’ll take my last breath. I’d rather she pick up that scalpel of hers and wield it with authority, perhaps even rid me of my tumor.

The socio-political equivalent of this would be to never allow a president, such as the current one we somehow deemed to be the most fit for the office, nor the Climate Change Deniers he has packed his cabinet with, to ever be the remotest possibility in the future…we can’t afford such immeasurable wasting of oh so precious time twice over).

  • Habitat will continue to be lost and the species die off will also continue to accelerate.
  • Sea levels will continue to rise.
  • Weather anomalies will also be something we can no longer deny or hide from. The storms are finding us, no matter where we try to hide. Our possibilities for a safe haven have largely run out.

The list of concerns is much much longer…

The reason I named this post Psych comes from the stupid thing we used to say to one another as youngsters after instilling false fear, false hope, false whatever, in our closest friends, then pulling the contrived moment out from under the victim, like a carpet, yelling “Psych” in their faces as a way of affirming what a moron they were to fall for it in the first place. Like Joe’s friend declaring enthusiastically that Mary Lou wants him to know that she thinks he’s super cute and hopes he’ll ask her to the dance. Joe responds excitedly with “What? She did? Really?” Joe’s friend chuckles, “No, not really…PSYCH!” Good clean cruel fun. Like I said…stupid.

If you’re paying attention to all the conversational noise going on all around you on any given day, you’ll realize quite quickly that the culture is full of Psych. It starts in the media and flows out from there, into society’s information pipelines, big and small, until it enters your ears, in one form or another, mostly in sarcastic overtones regarding the idiots who buy into all that Climate Change crap.

The sun is shining outside, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, the economy is good, you’re going on vacation in three weeks, and your boss just gave you a raise. Plus, America is now producing so much oil, we don’t even need those stinking Saudis (there are many ways to delude ourselves). You smile, knowingly, agreeing with the naysayers.

Yeah, what a fool you’ve been to ever think that this Climate Change stuff was ever anything to worry about. It’s just weather. Nature does weird things, sometimes. It will eventually fix itself and we can get on with it. Climate Change…really? C’mon, Man. Who cares?

Psych.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

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