Exploring the Future...until we get there

Author: G2 (Page 3 of 10)

Inspiration

Many of the writer’s reference books I read frequently now suggest that every serious writer should be gathering ideas for stories nearly all the time. The authors of these books say that inspiration can strike nearly anywhere, and at nearly anytime. We should be ready to receive this spark when it happens, since the same idea might never visit us again.

Some of the books even offer methods for encouraging the muse to come and sit on one’s shoulder, murmuring in the ear of the would-be-novelist as she meditates in the living room, takes a long soak in the tub, or sits idling in traffic on her long commute back home from work.

I’ve always had ideas come to me while communing with Nature. A leisurely walk in the park will surely trigger a flash or two of insight, as well as biking, walking, kayaking, or just sitting quietly on the back porch while the breeze blows through the trees and the birds sing me into a nap with their happy little songs.

Such was the case today while I was outside for several hours, engaged in the intensely laborious task of mowing my weeds. I have about an acre and a half, much of which could be categorized as mangy and feral. I had actually lived on my property for several years before stepping foot on much of it, some areas so thick with trees, bushes, brambles, and thorny things, that I was simply unable to penetrate there. A few years ago, I was motivated to clear some paths. This is an excerpt from a post I made on this blog in October 2016 titled Backyard Playground (my daughter came up with the trail names):

“It is only very recently that I set foot on parts of my own property, simply by deciding that I would cut through the undergrowth (along with the overgrowth and middlegrowth, if those terms can properly describe the thick mass of vegetation that crept and hung and tangled its way across my path from head to toe). Now, after several weekends of effort, we have forged, for our walking pleasure, trails with the following names…Deer Run, Walking Stick, Three Sentinels, Armadillo Hideaway, Picky Vine, Knife Fork and Spoon, Brown Bench, and one or two more. I blazed two of the last ones today (Sunday), before deciding that the look and feel of the place is just about right for now.”

Hurricane Michael roared through our neighborhood two years later, and it is only just now, in April of 2019 (six full months after the life-altering destruction) that I have ventured back onto my trails to clear them out once again. The task has been anything but easy.

But let’s not get side-tracked. We’re talking about inspiration here, and not the kind that drives a person to wage war against jungles that spring up on the sides of country roads, but the stuff that drives writers to create best-selling novels.

There was an episode today, and a comical one at that, during which I stepped into a hole about a foot deep, knocking myself off balance. Skittering sideways, I crashed into the stump of one of the trees that had probably been laid low by the storm. My ribs took the brunt of the impact, causing me to relinquish my grip on the handle of the mower I had been using to gain some leverage against the fall. On my way down, and with the handle of the mower now on its way up, I got cracked on the chin with an upper cut that caused my teeth to clap together, forcing me to call out in pain. The mower having gone silent, suddenly I was surrounded by the buzz of nature. My head felt full as I lay there on the ground, wincing at the abruptness of it all, thankful I wasn’t hurt too badly, surprised that I was on the verge of laughter.

I read somewhere that Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” In that moment, Mike seemed very wise to me.

In the meantime, I had knocked my glasses off, and was unable to find them, try as I might. As I hoofed it back to the house to ask for my wife’s assistance (and who would surely have something to say about my ongoing habit for inflicting physical pain on myself for no apparent reason), I realized something rather happily. I had come up with an idea for a story! My altered view of Nature, blurry in the extreme, made me realize that I, my house, the paths I had re-established, and everything all around this quaint little rural scene was constantly and steadily being inundated with green. If I did nothing to keep it all pushed back, in a year the house would be impinged upon by the foliage. By three, it would be half-overtaken. In five to seven, the structure would be well on its way to being overrun by the rightful earth-bound dwellers of the place.

And thus came about my inspiration for my latest apocalyptic story – “Creaking.” Humanity is going to be done in by Nature, and it will be at the hand of the foliage Mother sends to do her dirty work. I can’t begin to tell you how many ideas came swirling into my brain as a result of this very temporary stroll down my walkway, surrounded by these great big blobs of green, clumped together and coming at me from above, below, and every side. In this cheerful little tale, Gaia will rid herself of at least a size-able portion of her most invasive species-us. It will be a real mind-bender. I’m laying out the plot lines as we speak.

Look for inspiration. Write down your ideas as they come to you. Be on the look out no matter where you are or what you are doing. Keep the best ones. Develop one or two. Make them into something beyond just a quick moment of inspiration that you just as quickly forget. These lightbulb moments came to you for a reason. Honor them by paying attention and exploring where they might take you next.

This is all the difference between those who write and those who dream about writing. Make it happen!

Fire Sale

Terms of Lease can be something you definitely want to read carefully before signing on the dotted line. Who would think that the renter of an office space in an outlet mall would be held as the responsible party for replacing the rusted a/c hardware on the roof above their square footage to the tune of about fifteen thousand dollars? Unfair? Undoubtedly. Yet, there the owner was, up a creek without a paddle, in a leased storefront with no way to adequately cool it, and with a second blazing hot summer knocking at an already very hot door. The decision was made to close down. Sell everything and sell it fast, before everything buckled under the searing heat of another Florida scorcher.

There was more inventory to drag out than I thought the place could have held. I, myself, held out until the end, refraining for a couple of months’ worth of ever deepening discounts. Once the overly hot establishment finally began to look respectable in its emptiness, I began seriously contemplating my purchases. It wasn’t until just a few days ago when I entered the place, the brisk breeze from several large fans pushing the air around as best they could, that I was finally satisfied with the prices offered. Hardbacks were going for $1 a piece. I bought seventeen of them before stopping myself, lugging myself and my brood out of there, quite proud of what I’d accomplished.

Strangely enough, I haven’t read the works of other sci-fi writers’ all that much, and it’s high time I did. I’m excited to get started. I’ll let you know what I discover.

Keep writing!

Writers, Prepare for Endgame!

When my daughter asked me several months ago to watch a Marvel movie with her, I couldn’t possibly have known what I was stepping into. It all seemed innocent enough. Excitement, adventure, superheroes saving the world. Good stuff. My daughter is pretty low key, however, so I was caught a bit off guard to witness this imaginative personality so unrelentingly captivated by this hulking behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even less predictable would have been me, the dad, getting so thoroughly swept up, as well. I’ve sat down on the couch once, twice, now at least a dozen times. I’m hooked. I’m a fan. I can’t wait for more! Why?

It’s the beginning of April 2019, and I’m just as excited as the youngsters about the release of “Endgame,” now only a few weeks away. I’ve been casually searching my brain to pin down the source of such unbridled attraction to this tantalizing franchise. My answer came quickly and was certainly predictable, since it’s an element I find important in many creative efforts, including my own: it’s the details.

If you ever want to gleefully jump down a bunch of frivolous and entertaining rabbit holes, go to Wikipedia, then hop around in the world of superheroes. Click on the name of a specific character. Any of them will do. Let’s say Iron Man. Wow, look at all those Team Affiliations! He’s a busy guy. There’s a whole day of reading right there. Fictional Character Biography could be another hugely wonderful waste of time. Now click on his Armor link to go to yet another page dedicated entirely to that one aspect of Mr. Stark’s character. Oh jeez! So many links beckoning me. I don’t have time for this. And yet, I find that I actually do, and there’s a good reason why – I’m honing my craft by studying the pros, seeing how they do it.

For someone still learning the tricks of the trade in fictional writing, this is not trivial stuff. It’s a gold mine to be discovered and explored. MCU is not just for kids. Oh no. I’d be willing to bet the adults love the storylines even more than the young fans. And for me, the guy still putting “pen to paper” after all these years, the value of spending ridiculous amounts of time ogling the special effects on the big screen, trying to figure out the web of intricacies that tie it all together, wondering how I’ll ever keep it straight, then realizing that, slowly, I actually am…this all counts as a very good investment in my book. Not to mention Marvel has given my daughter and I something very fun and endlessly entertaining to share and talk about, and that’s always a good thing.

So I’m happy to sit on the couch, my little sidekick by my side, both of us riveted to our seats, watching, listening, waiting, only to be surprised, time and again, by something new, or an unexpected someone coming to steal the scene in surprising, mind-bending ways.

MCU has become my classroom. For those of us drawn to speculative fiction, Marvel can teach us a’plenty about character development, plots and subplots, world creation, twists and turns, pacing, good dialog, danger and suspense, and unexpected endings that leave us yearning for more.

If you, too, are a writer, struggling to get your creative juices flowing, I urge you to spend some time with Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, and all the rest. Consider it study time. A fun homework assignment. Your portal to see how the professionals go about bringing their audiences back, time and again. How many of your own story ideas might your cranium generate as you watch, glued to the screen, imagining new characters coming to life on the page, your own new worlds springing to life, your own new plots being planted like seeds in a vast plain of potential.

Can’t wait for April 26. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. You should too. Seriously…go get busy!

Little Gems of Addiction

(fiction…sort of) I’m sitting in my house. It’s the weekend. I have some time. Precious little. What to do? I already know. Right in front of me, sloppily stacked, one tossed on top of the other, is a hastily acquired collection of Little Gems, aka writer’s reference books. I showed not the least hesitation in bringing them home, scoring one more hit each time, the last one, the last one, my mantra, until I needed another, then another, individually, sequentially, collectively hoarding them, now all residents in my home, unhesitating in their role to quench my thirst for more.

How could I deny myself? Their titles so titillating, their promise so unbearable, seducing me with subtitles suggesting that I can master plot twists, can write with emotion, tension, and conflict, can change the world if I so desire.

“No I can’t,” I’m arguing with myself.

“Yes…you can,” squeals the Little Gem from its perch. I swipe out quick with one hand, then thumb through quick like.

“Of course I can,” I whisper quietly, like I’m in a library or something.

“of course i can, of course I can, of Course I Can, Of Course I Can…” The Little Writer Who Could, I find myself plodding, yet again, toward the front of the store, my supplier, a dingy little outfit daring to include the word “Noble” in its name. Ironic, since there’s nothing noble about the way it feeds my addiction, my thirst for knowledge. Surely I’m not alone. The experience is debilitating. For me…for all of us.

I stand there at the checkout counter, silent, not making eye contact. Smiling quickly to myself, I feel grimly satisfied with my latest Little Gem, furtively snatched from uncomfortable nest, it squeezed tightly on both sides by competitors, all fighting for that same rite of passage-to be purchased by a complete stranger.

Driven home to unfamiliar surroundings, fully aware that I, its new owner, will only care for the briefest of moments about its pretty cover. It knows, it confesses, without a doubt, that I, the stranger, won’t hesitate the slightest bit to find out just exactly what hides inside. I almost sense an exhilarated shudder from the Little Gem, struggling only slightly to free itself from my grasp, the smallest of doubts lingering about leaving its safe haven.

An addiction. What else can I call it when the only happiness I can find is to stand at the checkout, yet again, quietly waiting my turn. I wonder if that lady behind the counter, who now knows my face, can sense my sickness, my compulsion. Some people turn tricks. I turn pages, God help me, and I don’t even care. She fires a glance my way, even before I’m half-way to the swipe, nervously smiling all the while. Then she fires another quick shot down toward the freshly harvested Little Gem that will be getting in the car with me, plucked from its temporary orphanage at the very back of the store.

I sense her artificial satisfaction. We’re all complicit. Without me, she gets sent home, as well, another casualty of a shuttered supply house. I know they’re disappearing all across the nation, the authorities intent on shutting them down, trying to stamp out the addicted, the ones like me frequenting such establishments, all of us feeding our needs and wants, our hopes and desires. It’s all so twisted. So raw. So…literary.

She’s anxious to get me out the door. Familiar with all the many flavors of obsession trudging toward the exit, she’ll have something personal to say to each of us. About me and my particular brand of weakness? She’ll ask if I’m a member yet, knowing I resent the insinuation.

“Hell no!” I’ll say.

“You can save a lot of money,” she’ll reply, reprimanding me for abstaining from that indulgence.

“I don’t want to save money,” I snap back. “Why must we have this little dance every time. Who are you to exploit me!”

She calmly smiles, almost expectant of my outbursts now, as though she knows it’s probably just a matter of time. I dread what’s coming next.

“Well, here’s a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a cookie, and you have a nice day.”

It’s all very non-committal. I stare down at my paunch, then explode.

“Don’t you think you’ve already done quite enough? You’re the one who needs to have the nice day, Lady, not me. And don’t look so smug. I’m not the only one addicted, you know?”

I traverse her up and down with a critical stare, sneering all the while. She knows that I know. It’s no accident when I drop my coupon on the floor. Everyone watches it sway, back and forth, fluttering down for the longest moment. One guy makes a leap for it. I cut him off with nothing more than a step, trapping the little shred of wood pulp beneath my shoe. Everyone feels sullied. Shaken. The checkout lady drops her head in shame. I’ve called her out.

Everybody standing around virtually applauds me in silence, all the while gripping their select Little Gems a bit tighter, shuffling forward in the line, anxious to make their own purchase, to get home as soon as possible, only caring for the briefest moments about their individual exteriors, hesitating not a bit to find out just exactly what hides inside.

I’m sitting at my house. It’s the weekend. I have some time. Precious little. What to do? My symptoms are on the rise. My head is spinning. I’m dizzy and overwhelmed, caught-up in this frenzy of information overload. I’m an addict, doing what addicts do. Situated comfortably on my couch, mindlessly sipping coffee, cradling my latest Little Gem in slightly trembling hands, a trickle of sweat slowly sliding down my back, a roaring raging river of unbridled writing desires carving out huge swaths of an interior shoreline badly in need of a makeover for untold years.

I take another sip of coffee, feeling pathetic. My wife is staring at me curiously. Does she know. Can she tell I’m daring to believe? Maybe I’m too far gone to care.

“What?” I say.

“Oh nothing…it’s just that…”

I bring the Little Gem toward my nose and sniff deeply of its fragrance.

“Don’t judge.” It’s all I can manage and she knows it. She turns away, barely stifling her amusement, heading pridefully toward her own coddled collection of Blue Rays, mostly unaware that a freshly minted universe is violently exploding itself into existence inside my aging cranium.

I casually play with the corner of my Little Gem’s cover, scarsely aware of its glittering exterior. Something about mastering plot twists. Whatever. I tear open the cover to get at the meat. What I find waiting inside leaves me utterly astonished. And yet, I remind myself, it’s been hiding there all along.

The Humbling Act of Honing

I mentioned a few blogs back that I’m working once again on a novel I initially started about ten years ago. How that passage of time occurred, or where I was while it unfolded, I truly cannot say. It’s rather eye-opening to think how much productive time I lost by avoiding the pain of really buckling down. Had I worked out the kinks in the manuscript back then, the story could have more quickly resembled something close to the state it’s in now, lo these many years later.

What’s most humbling to me, however, is the idea of how much I absolutely did not know about writing a novel ten years ago, but was thoroughly convinced that I did.

The difference between the opinion that I held of my writing back then, as opposed to what I think about it now, is the acquisition of knowledge. Specifically, knowledge about the art of writing. More simply put is to say that I have recently decided to dive deeply and take the time to hone my craft. Now that I have started in earnest, I can confidently say that I’ve begun to accomplish a whole new level of writing.

It’s not that I became a better writer. Perhaps I did not. ‘Better’ is a subjective term. It is only that I became a more involved writer. What does that mean? Mostly that I am now aware of many more components of writing. This awarenesss, while wonderful to be sure, is also perhaps responsible for the anxiety that more intensely accompanies my efforts. The devil is in the details. More details, more devil. Damn!

The same question that surely must have always been there in my mind, even as I was only beginning to understand what it means to pick up a pen and write, now cries out in a voice that is deafening – Am I getting it right? The worry, the stress that I feel now is surely more intense than it was when I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

And certainly I’m not suggesting that I’m done with the honing. No no…the self-flagellation shall continue. So the future surely carries only one message for me: be prepared for more suffering. Oh, what misery have I wrought?

This must be why the saying Ignorance is Bliss feels comfortable sliding in here, since it seems so appropriate to express such sentiments. Knowledge is power? Maybe. But be prepared to acknowledge that, the more you know, perhaps the more you don’t want to know.

To hone your craft can only mean one thing-you will become much more unhappy as a result. But maybe, it might also mean that you will one day achieve literary greatness. Hmm…

Better keep writing, anyway, you wretched, miserable soul!

Persistence

The other night, I had the honor and privilege of watching my youngest child try to figure out an insolvable problem. This is the very same girl who, I learned quite some time ago, must never be told that something is not possible. Such silly pronouncements mean nothing to her. Whenever I’ve been foolish enough to tell her such, she has promptly proven me wrong. I smile big in response, beaming with joy, acknowledging that I’m the only one who’s being silly.

This particular night, I turned her loose (granted permission, really…she turned herself loose) on hooking up a brand new DVD player to a rather dated TV set, given to me a few too many years ago by a dear friend. Several lessons were learned by me that evening, not least of which is the idea that unbridled enthusiasm can be a beautiful thing to witness. My daughter’s relentless effort in trying to make something work that, of the two of us, only I concluded would be impossible, was quite touching (if not a little hard on my heart).

I also learned that, if you don’t believe (or know) that something’s impossible, there’s nothing in your mind to second guess any of your best efforts. My advice, as the evening progressed, was that we were probably not going to enjoy success, neither with the hardware and cabling, nor with the interface. I’m sure I know how her mind processed my assessment. She continued undaunted (mostly because the viewing of Spider-Man was at stake). She didn’t realize, as I already had, that our task was, indeed, impossible.

In fact, her unflagging efforts actually accomplished some things that I was not capable of pulling off. To be blunt, whereas I lost patience and interest somewhat quickly (let’s call this giving up due to known constraints), she sallied forth (let’s call that sheer energy, youthful exuberance, and an unwillingness to yield in the face of adversity). Between the two of us, I’d definitely want Daughter on my team, not Dad.

A mere child with no experience in these electronic incompatibilities, her only methodology was one of tinkering her way through a problem. No know how, no prior knowledge, just a stubborn working out of an intractable challenge. Try try again. Brilliant.

The exertion was truly admirable, concluding in results not too shabby by any stretch of the imagination. Not success, but certainly not failure. I smiled at her, hugged her, told her I loved her, then casually added that her earnest struggle, although ultimately ending in our mutual disappointment (I wanted to watch Spider-Man, too), was something she should be exceedingly proud of. I used simpler language, too.

How can any of what I just relayed possibly be related to the act of writing? Mostly I can sum it up in a single sentence of advice, revolving around a single, simple word:

If you want to continually improve your chances of realizing success, it comes down almost exclusively to just one thing…persistence.

Thank you, Daughter of Mine. You are my best teacher.

Conversion

It’s been a year and a half since I made any entries on this blog. A lot has happened in that time. So much change has driven me to shift gears. Flooded Planet is going to stick around, but its focus will no longer be on Climate Change. Instead, we will be talking about writing here, with a strong emphasis on Science Fiction. The motivations for such a drastic change cannot be summed up directly or intuitively.

The main reason is that, well…Climate Change has still been marching on in the year and a half that I neglectfully chose to stay away from this space. Nothing has reversed, slowed down, lessened, gotten better, eased off. No, I’m quite certain such wishes will go unanswered in my lifetime, and I’m already two-thirds of the way finished-assuming I even get to those golden years.

In the meantime, while I continue to watch the news, shake my head as I must, more concerned than ever about what’s coming our way, I’ve been writing a lot about things that have nothing to do with Climate Change. Intense efforts on a novel I started about a decade ago have resumed. Surprising to note that the source of my renewed motivation was my youngest daughter, one of my biggest fans (I will soon share with you the wonderful pain she put me through by forcing me to watch nearly the entire collection of Marvel movies together. While that doesn’t seem like an obvious tie-in to writing motivation, it’s still an important link that we must soon explore).

As I get older, the realization that unforeseen circumstances can keep us from our craft is more pressing than ever. We can be delayed, distracted, and discouraged in ways we find simply astonishing. With that in mind, should we not passionately pursue what brings the most joy to our hearts? Persistently? With a sense of urgency? I vote we say Yes.

Climate Change is being written about by the world at large, and there is little I can add that is fresh or insightful beyond the heavy-laden conversation that is already taking place. Consequently, this blog shall now devote itself to writing about the art of writing. Yeah, me, your host, G Squared (G2) hoping to share with you all the ups and downs that I’m sure to encounter soon as I put my final spit shine on that novel I mentioned and slap it up for sale on Amazon.

Let’s stay in touch!

Don’t Hold Your Breath

During my brief hiatus from this blog, I did a lot of looking about, both locally and regionally, as well as keeping a close eye on news events. The hiatus wasn’t intentional, by the way. Life just got extremely busy, and the blog’s priority started slipping down a notch or two. Of course, because I love this blog, the fact that I wasn’t writing left me with feelings of guilt. So I’m back…maybe not in full swing, but doing my best to get there. In the meantime, my look about left me convinced that there was no need for me to change any of my notions where Climate Change was concerned. No, I am more doubtful than ever that we hold any promising developments for resolving our predicament on the planet. Some terribly rough times lay ahead for us humans, I believe, and I’m certainly not alone in that perspective.

When I say that I “looked about,” I mostly mean that I did a lot of reading. What I continually discover is discouraging in the strongest sense of the word. Downright depressing is a more apt description.

Because I do keep such a close eye on Climate Change news (even though I’ve vowed not to because it’s changing my entire world perspective much faster than I would like to shift…I’m dizzy), I can tell you that I am perceiving a palpable increase in the number of stories readily accessible to the average reader concerning Climate Change, and of course none of them uplifting or holding much promise for the future. The warning signs are becoming more prevalent, and this must be the cause behind the more focused attention that is being paid to the scientific community and its persistent alarms.

Here are ten random factoids about the climate, ranging from the very cold to the very hot. With these kinds of observations, as with many others, the term “feedback loop” comes to mind, and it’s important not to consider such unfoldings in a linear manner. The way that the Big CC is proceeding would appear to suggest exponential acceleration, and that’s about as frightening as things can get:

  1. Larsen C is scheduled to calve off from its parent ice shelf any day now, becoming one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, comprising about a ten percent loss to the ice shelf it has always called home. Some scientists say this will only accelerate the rush to the sea of the glacier that is “held back” by the shelf.
  2. According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, glaciers around the world have been retreating, with few exceptions and at unprecedented rates for decades now. Some have disappeared altogether, and other are retreating so rapidly that they may vanish by mid-century. (Note that, because glaciers are so sensitive to weather fluctuations, they are one of the most reliable indicators of change. It would be hard to draw any other conclusion about the planet, based on this collective glacial retreat, other than the fact that it is warming up, and fast).
  3. The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is accelerating at an alarming rate. So much can be said about that fact alone, but mostly all you need to hear is the collective alarm of all those who research the ice on Greenland as a vocation to send chills up your spine. As I’ve said before in this blog, rejoinders to most quotes included in media stories, such as, “We knew it was bad, but not this bad,” or “It’s happening so much quicker than we expected” almost seem obligatory now.
  4. Last winter’s temperatures in the Arctic were record-setting, with highs that could only be categorized as “extreme” in nature (30 to 35 degrees above norms). As a result, sea ice melt is occurring months before it normally would. Instead of the ice becoming thin and sparse more toward August and September, these conditions are already present in May and June. An Arctic that is free of sea ice in the summer becomes more of a potential reality with each passing season.
  5. When I began this blog nearly a year ago (August 2016), reporting that we had reached 400 ppm for the very first time (2013) seemed like a big deal for the scientific community, at least in a symbolic context. Since that time, we’ve already breached 410 ppm, and are seriously flirting with 415 ppm. The take away here is that these same levels of CO2 in the atmosphere occurred millions of years ago.
  6. As of March 2017, the world has experienced 627 consecutive months of warmer than normal temperatures.
  7. Some 93% of all Climate Change heat is absorbed by the ocean. It’s an incredible heat sink. Lucky us. The downside is that the coral reefs that live there are taking a huge hit as a result of all this excess heat. The corals are now experiencing the worst bleaching event (most widespread and longest lasting) on record. The worth of the Great Barrier Reef was recently valued at approximately $40 billion or so. Reefs occupy only about one percent of the ocean’s floor, but support about 25% of all marine life. A disproportionate loss of marine life could be experienced if we lose the coral, not to mention the millions of livelihoods directly connected to the vitality of this eco-system.
  8. The Doomsday Clock is now set at two and a half minutes before midnight. The clock is now closer to midnight than it has been since 1953. If you’d like to know the primary reason for this extremely concerning move, look no further than the current resident president and his utter failure to lead politically.
  9. Scientists tell us that the sixth mass extinction event to ever occur on the planet is actually taking place right now. Every day, scientists estimate that some 200 species go extinct, well above any rate of occurrence we have experienced as a species since the dawn of civilization.
  10. Food production around the globe is diminishing, and will continue to do so as a result of Climate Change. While most human population growth in the future is expected to occur in the tropics, the food produced there will decrease in those same zones as a result of higher temperatures, increased plant disease and pest predatation, and a migration toward the poles by plant and animal species (fish) that will only be able to adapt and survive by moving toward colder temperatures. As another surprising result of the Big CC, researchers tell us that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 also results in a lower nutritional value for crops grown under these elevated CO2 conditions. People will develop zinc, protein, and iron deficiencies as a result.

Let’s say someone walks up to me on the street and asks me to participate in their poll (I wouldn’t, by the way, but this is for illustration purposes). The survey is about Climate Change. One of the questions is “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most optimistic, what are the chances for homo sapiens continuing to thrive into the future as they have until now?” My answer: 1 (the textual translation would maybe be “Don’t Hold Your Breath.”)

Speeding Trains Will Not Budge

As I was barreling down the highway today (well, actually I’m more often accused of driving like an old lady, so I chose ‘barreling’ to make it sound more dramatic than it really was…let’s say I was going 57 mph in a 55…all caution thrown to the wind).

Anyway, so there I was. I had to slam on my brakes in order to avoid a collision. My laptop was situated on the back seat of the car, because I’m dense and don’t think that what happened last time will happen this time). Mr. Hewlett Packard went crashing to the floorboard…again. Inertia does what it’s paid to do—it keeps things going in the same direction they were just undertaking a moment ago, even when some outside force says that the situation has changed.  It takes a moment or two for all things to sync up again I guess.

All objects in motion tend to stay in motion until acted upon by some outside force (I’m paraphrasing, Mr. Newton, so stop looking at me like that…it’s close enough).

Fortunately, the computer is still working…again, after being slammed to the floor for the umpteenth time.

This inertia law applies to pretty much anything and everything in the physical universe, including heavy things, like speeding trains, and even things as light as atmospheric gasses, like CO2, methane, water, or sulfates of various ilk. If we can picture the idea of the CO2 being ‘pumped’ into the air (the classic smoke stack doing its thing is a nice visual), that really means just a couple of things. First, because these compounds are gasses, they’re going to go, and then mostly stay, where we’d expect them to—up. Second, their elemental composition of relatively small molecules, coupled with the idea that a turbo-boost of heat energy helped to send these little cuties aloft in a big time way…well maybe this picture helps us to imagine what will be necessary to get those annoying gasses back down where we can do something constructive with them—we’re going to have to ‘suck.’

I read a headline today that the world’s first industrial-scaled attempt at removing carbon from the atmosphere was recently brought online (question…why would this seemingly simplistic endeavor take this amount of time to come to fruition? Surely I’m missing something here). Sounds exciting, I thought to myself, delving into the story with gusto. Turns out it’s the Swedes once again leading the way, and apparently there’s an enterprising businessman on the development team.

The facility is located somewhere outside of Zurich and basically operating the way most people might imagine. At its most basic, we’re talking about a ginormous vacuum cleaner that sucks the CO2 out of the atmosphere. Once this has been accomplished, the carbon is filtered out, then used, in this particular example, to help grow things in greenhouses (commercial plant vendors already do something similar, introducing copious amounts of CO2 into the plants’ environment so that they’ll be prompted to grow better, faster, stronger… faster). The company’s rep also claims that synfuels may be developed, as well as providing carbonation for soda, which I thought was a very worthy benefit to pursue.

Then I read the part of the story that absolutely did not work for me. The company hopes to remove 1% of civilization’s global annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2025. To do so, he said, 250,000 comparable-sized facilities would have to put into operation, as well. Yes, you read that correct—250,000 plants. So…eight years…250,000 more buildings of similar capacity…to achieve 1% extraction of annual global CO2 emissions. Sounds like a good plan, right?

One other very very important aspect of this story to unfortunately emphasize: this enterprise is not contributing to the concept known as ‘negative emissions.’ What’s that, you ask? In practice, it would mean that we are removing more carbon from the air than we are spewing into it. The theory is that, if we reduce the overall amount of the CO2 floating around up there in the atmosphere (the stuff causing the greenhouse effect that is warming the planet) we might gradually cool things down. This facility is not doing that. It’s ‘repurposing’ the carbon (my term), using the very by-product of their efforts for other things such as those already mentioned.

So, to be clear, yes, this outfit is sucking carbon out of the air, but it’s not permanently removing the stuff. No sequestering happening here yet. One can easily imagine that if a company is going to pursue that business model, I guess what we might call the “Removing carbon from the atmosphere, not to better secure an optimistic outlook for future generations, but to then take the sucked-out carbon and make a little cash on the side by using it for things like safeguarding soda as the sticky sweet carbon-ated beverage king it already is” business model, well, that company might be accused of ethical transgressions, moral hazards, legerdemain, bait and switch, etc., and, indeed, such accusations have already been flying.

I’m sure that businessman tucked amongst them is happy to spin the questions that will surely be leveled against him as this carbon removal enterprise begins to look more and more like business as usual.

I took the time to dive into some of the other alternatives on the table as possible solutions to our Climate Change sticky widget, quickly discovering that nobody out there really has the slightest idea about how we’re going to tackle Climate Change head on. There are fleas on the ticks on the flies on the hair of the half-starved dogs we’re calling the best of the best. A solution that comes even remotely close to something that looks and smells like a bona fide solid scientific promise is as far off as that speeding train looked nearly 50 years ago when the subject matter experts started sounding the alarm. As hard as it is to stop a speeding train, looks like it’s just as hard to get up a good head of steam (objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by some…well you know the rest).

The comments I read in many of these journalistic articles are the most honest and unfiltered truth one can find out there. Leave it  to somebody who is a natural born cynic and skeptic to state things as they really are. In truth, we don’t know what the heck we are doing, and we’re simply running out of time to even have a chance at figuring it out.

Meanwhile, the POTUS has taken us out of the Paris Agreement when he absolutely did not have to. Pretty soon, we may have to say that we’re out of the game entirely…all of us, because we understood the rules, we just thought we could skirt around them.

Here’s part of the comment that I liked best because it says the same thing I’ve been saying on this post for several months now. I will not give attribution because I didn’t get this person’s permission. I only offer a ‘two-thumbs-up’ for the honest and simple words that really drive it home for me, simply because it’s true (grammar, punctuation, and slight wording changes mine to improve read…intent wholly intact):

“…I mean besides a very, very select few of us, how many do you observe who take this matter to the level of seriousness it deserves? Most people shrug it off. “Warming, yep, what can you do?” Then they get in their oversized SUV or pickup, crank the AC and floor it into the sunset. There has to be some major major events before people as a whole will take notice, and then it will be too late. I just cannot see people rolling back to the level required to avoid going over the cliff…”

Sincere Thanks for stopping by!

G2

Cleavage

So Trump has decided to cleave the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change Agreement crowd, putting us with unenviable neighbors of Syria and Nicaragua as fellow abstainers (Syria’s busy with all that civil war distraction, so I suppose we can forgive them for not caring about anything other than who’s going to cobble the place back together once the dust finally settles).  The other separation event, of course, happening almost at the exact same time, is the ten percent ice shelf loss down on Larsen C, with its full frontal cleavage line really showing and growing these days. Eleven miles of expansion in just six days, and less than that to go before it’s fully separated, ready for the big venture out into the sea as one of the largest icebergs ever to be recorded. It’s epic proportions have been compared to those of Delaware, for Pete’s sake!

What can we say about these two seemingly unrelated events? First off, I’d like to offer that they’re not unrelated by any stretch. In fact, I would almost say that they go hand in hand. After all, if it weren’t for the anthropogenic activities of homo sapiens, we never would have needed a Paris Agreement to pull out of to begin with. At the same time, if it weren’t for the anthropogenic activities of homo sapiens, Larsen C probably wouldn’t be about to drop 2000 square miles of ice into the ocean. See how nicely that all fits together?

Meanwhile, we have such disparate scientific opinion with regard to how fast we’re going to bump up against circumstances that will spell doom and disaster for all of us. The truth is, nobody really knows. If they did, we wouldn’t have to keep hearing the now common phrase about how things are happening faster than expected, if they even expected such and such an event to happen in the first place.

We’ve learned so much about how the climate works on a global scale, and how intertwined it all is, how susceptible to change, even when slight perturbations in the atmosphere occur. What we do on a daily basis is anything but a slight perturbation. According to James Hansen, the granddaddy of climatologists, we pump the heat equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs into our atmosphere every single day. Can you wrap your head around that? This is Hansen’s number, based on solid scientific data. This guy is a trailblazer. He’s no dummy, and this is his figure going back at least five years. In that same 2012 TED talk in which he threw out this number, he also issued many other dire warnings, none of which I doubt in the least. (By the way, he also justifiably tooted his own horn as a way to lend further credence to his words, reminding his audience that everything he and other scientists had predicted in an article going all the way back to 1981 had, in fact, come to pass, or was well underway). At the time, the ppm reading of CO2 was apparently sitting right around 391. Hansen said we needed to get it back down to around 350 ppm if we were to avoid the most serious climatic consequences. Where are we today? Steadily heading in the opposite direction, with current measurements suggesting an average closing in on 410 (although we’ve spiked above that already).

We’ve known about this CO2 acting as an atmospheric blanket stuff for well over a century and a half. Yet, here we are, way way down the road since this initial discovery, still spewing the stuff into our personal atmospheric cesspit as though it’s the most natural and uneventful thing we can do here on Little Blue.

As a totally unnatural segue into other clueless developments (take that literally), there’s rumor of plans to build a new 6 million square foot ‘shopping mecca’ (not my words) in south Florida, bumping right up next to The Everglades. If all goes as planned, the thing could be approved as early as this fall. Keep in mind that the Pentagon weighs in at 6.6 million square feet as you read this description:

…Developer Triple Five Worldwide Group of Edmonton, Canada, says this will be different, combining retail space with an indoor ski slope, a water park, a submarine ride attraction, a skating rink, 2,000 hotel rooms, theaters, a performing arts center, and places to eat and drink.

Oh, it’s good to be alive in America, if only for a little while longer. Meanwhile, God Bless our President as he continues down his modest, earnest, honest and well-metered path toward the train wreck that is almost certainly coming his way at some point in the first term (and probably in the first quarter of it). My bet is on impeachment, but if not that, then undoubtedly some other variety of debilitating debacle. When it happens, the world will have continued on with its diligent efforts toward reducing the effects of Climate Change, despite our inept leader’s best efforts to derail a most noble undertaking. The world will be hotter, more unstable, more crowded, less bio-diverse, and with our own existence more tenuous everyday. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, first one to plant a flag on the new iceberg gets to own it for the duration.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

 

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