Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tahlequah's Baby by Dakota/Salish Artist Robert "Running Fisher" Upham

Tahlequah's Baby
Order here.

Dakota/Salish Artist Robert "Running Fisher" Upham wrote "Tahlequah is an orca, part of the 'J Pod' which spends part of each year off the northern coast of Washington State. Her story became known to the human community in 2018, when she carried her calf for 17 days, refusing to let her baby go to the Spirit World. There was something about her life and her baby’s death, which spoke to human hearts. Particularly women were moved. It felt at the time, that there was a collective grieving with her. Anyone who’s ever lost a loved one that you did not want to let go of can understand this mother’s grieving. Especially a young, sacred one, who has died too soon. It felt that she was calling heart to heart. The story brought attention not only to her child’s death but also to the very difficult times in which her nation has fallen. The imbalance which pits orcas and sea lions and salmon for the same resources is a microcosm of ecological disease. The human nation, particularly those who see our mother earth as merely a source of 'resources' is under indictment by the simple act of love of a mother for her baby. This drawing, 'Tahlequah’s Baby' is the moment when she finally allowed her beloved to move on to the Spirit World. There are many helpers assisting her to lift her baby to its final moments in this world."

Upham continued, "I had heard of Tahlequah and her baby, and several people asked me to do a ledger of her story. But it wasn’t until a young woman understood the meaning and intent behind the signatures on my ledgers, and she sparked my creativity by saying, 'You should do a piece honoring the names of all the orcas who have died.' And, just like that, the idea for this piece was born."  Other examples of his ledger art and paintings are here.

Upham's art brought focus to learning from the nonhuman world. He gave me permission to include his art and text above. Tahlequah, noted by scientists as a Southern Resident orca, showed the importance of real grieving before moving on. National Geographic authors Lori Cuthbert and Douglas Main wrote August 13, 2018, "The death of another calf is a significant blow to J Pod, which hasn’t seen a successful birth in three years. Combined, the three pods have 75 members, and time is running out to maintain its viability. Ken Balcomb, founder and principal investigator at the Center for Whale Research, gives it five years [ . . . . ] to have viable offspring [ . . . . ] 'We have long demonstrated that these fish-eating whales are getting skinnier and skinnier, and the death rate is increasing,' [Balcomb] writes on the center’s website. 'Whales in this endangered population are dependent upon Chinook salmon for their primary food source. Unfortunately, Chinook salmon are also endangered.'"  

My May 2, 2019 post "Epic of Gilgamesh and Climate Change" cited a report from The Guardian, "The Lummi Nation is dropping live salmon into the sea in a last-ditch rescue effort" to save starving orcas. I included the Dammed to Extinction Trailer, about a minute long, showing the best way to help orcas, as Dr. Deborah Giles said, "is to breach the lower four Snake River dams." The post links to the anthology FOR LOVE OF ORCAS. Editors Andrew Shattuck McBride and Jill McCabe Johnson noted "proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the SeaDoc Society's efforts to restore the Southern Resident orcas and their extended ecosystem."

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Climate Scientists Plan for Their Families, COVID Scientists Struggle to Help in December 2020, as I Again Recall Words of Isaac Asimov

The video below is a repost of my May 20, 2018 list "Climate Scientists Expressing Nightmare/Anger/Fear/Gratitude/Other Feelings."  

I was reminded of it after reading Hanna Krueger's December 4, 2020 Boston Globe article "‘Makes you ask why the hell we even bother.’ Infectious disease experts face disillusionment as COVID-19 pandemic worsens."

Krueger's article quotes a former Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, epidemiologist and Harvard scientist Michael Mina: "At almost every step of this pandemic, we have failed magnificently as a country. And in ways that we just really didn’t need to fail.”  Mina continues, "I’m just astounded by the dysfunction, the willingness to just stay the course as hundreds of thousands of people die, and the unwillingness to innovate in literally any way.”  Mina "has been advocating for widespread at-home rapid antigen testing since March with little success." He said “I’ve realized that when we need to rise up as a country, we have truly no moral capacity to do it. It’s just the most mind-bending, complete 'Twilight Zone' experience that makes you ask why the hell we even bother.”

I respect Mina's emotional honesty, sincerity, and frustration. He is knowledgeable, hard-working, and has retained, so far, capacity to care.  The article notes "And Mina, in all those hours spent not sleeping each week, continues his crusade to universally distribute at-home rapid tests." The article ends with Mina's words "I just see a lot of people dying. And I really want this pandemic to stop. I really want people to not die so much."

Similar emotional honesty of four Australian climate scientists was show in the video below:


The video notes "Among climate scientists, the conversation is turning to their personal plans." The scientists say "And you can cope with extreme heat much better if you've got cooler nighttime temperatures to sleep. [ . . . . ] I don't think there will be any safe places. [ . . . .] So my approach is to be as mobile, as flexible, as possible to be able to adapt to whatever is going to happen. My children are bilingual and we're working on a third language. Both children have three passports, and they actually have the freedom to be able to study and work either in the European Union, or in Canada, or in Australia. [ . . . . ] I've done what I can to protect my family. I can't protect them from changes in the global economy. I can't protect them from [ . . . ] mass migrations." 

Regarding the need to educate and respond, Isaac Asimov said, "Well, it’s perhaps not important that every human being thinks so. How about the leaders thinking so? How about the opinion-makers thinking so? Ordinary people might follow them. If we didn’t have leaders who are thinking in exactly the opposite way; if we didn’t have people who are shouting hatred and suspicion of foreigners; if we didn’t have people who are shouting that it’s more important to be unfriendly than to be friendly; if we didn’t have people shouting somehow that people inside the country who don’t look exactly the way the rest of us look, that something’s wrong with them."

Today the University of Cumbria published "International Scholars Warning on Societal Disruption and Collapse." The post notes this "public letter signed by over 250 scientists and scholars from 30 countries, calls on policy makers to engage more with the growing risk of societal disruption and collapse due to damage to the climate and environment. The letter invites focus on how to slow, prepare for, and help those already suffering from, such disruptions. The signatories are specialists in a range of subject areas that relate to this challenge, who commonly believe it is time to listen to all the scholarship on humanity’s predicament."  The Guardian published a short version here

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

"UN Secretary General: Without the US in the Paris Agreement, Humanity Faces Climate ‘Suicide’" by Mark Hertsgaard in The Nation, Dec. 2, 2020

Quotes from Hertsgaard's article in the Dec. 2, 2020 issue of The Nation include: "In an extraordinary, if largely unheralded, diplomatic achievement, most of the world’s leading emitters have already joined the UN’s 'net zero by 2050' coalition, including the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, and China (which is the world’s largest source of annual emissions and has committed to achieving carbon neutrality 'before 2060'). India, meanwhile, the world’s third largest annual emitter, is the only Group of 20 country on track to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, despite needing to lift many of its people out of poverty, an achievement Guterres called 'remarkable.'"

"[Global average temperature above year 1850 baseline . . . ] could be limited to 2.1 C, the group said—higher than the agreement’s target of 1.5 to 2 C, but a major improvement from the 3 to 5 C future that business as usual would deliver."

"[T]he 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP 26, was supposed to take place this week but was postponed because of the pandemic."

"A total of 110 countries have joined the 'net zero by 2050' coalition [ . . . . ]"

"I’m totally convinced that a lot of the oil and gas that is today in the soil,” [UN Secretary General Guterres] said, “will remain in the soil.”  

Guterres' belief is interesting because a Feb. 15, 2020 investopedia.com article "What Percentage of the Global Economy Is the Oil and Gas Drilling Sector?" reported "According to market research by IBISWorld, a leading business intelligence firm, the total revenues for the oil and gas drilling sector came to approximately $3.3 trillion in 2019. This sector is composed of companies that explore for, develop, and operate oil and gas fields. It is also sometimes referred to as the oil and gas exploration and production industry, or simply E&P. With 2019 global GDP estimated to be $86 trillion, the oil and gas drilling sector alone makes up around 3.8% of the global economy."

In contrast, Bill McKibben wrote a Nov. 15, 2019 article at yesmagazine.org, "Big Oil Needs to Pay for the Damage It Caused," noting "Indeed, the high-end estimate for economic damage from the global warming we’re on track to cause is $551 trillion, which is more money than exists on planet Earth. Even that figure is notional: How do you compensate the generations of people yet unborn who will inherit a badly degraded world? Even if Exxon et al were to disgorge every dirty penny they’d ever made, it wouldn’t pay for relocating Miami, much less Mumbai [ . . . . ] But at this point, even the best-case scenarios are relentlessly grim; lots of damage has been done, and far more is in the offing. We’re going to have to remake much of the world to have a chance at survival. And if we’re going to try, then that repair job shouldn’t repeat the imbalances of power and wealth that mark our current planet. Justice demands a real effort to make the last, first this time around."

My question is "What will be the value of the oil and gas drilling sector if humans are extinct?"

Saturday, November 28, 2020

What is the Best Way to Explain the Climate Crisis?

Yale Climate Connections recently published an audio/text article by psychologist/researcher/journalist Renée Lertzman, "Why frightening facts don't always move people to action on climate change." The article noted "Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation [ . . . because] it can get results faster." She said “When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker. And we don’t have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency…. We do not have time to not take this approach.”  

With some groups, especially those at or under the age of 16, I agree. However, in general with those 17 and above, I prefer writer James Baldwin's quote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."  In the 2016 documentary film Before the Flood, astronaut and former Director, Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Piers Sellers says "the ice is melting, the Earth is warming, the sea level is rising – those are facts. Rather than being, 'oh my god, this is hopeless', say, 'OK, this is the problem, let’s be realistic and let’s find a way out of it'. And there are ways out of it. If we stopped burning fossil fuels right now, the planet would still keep warming for a little while before cooling off again." At the time he says this, he has "pancreatic cancer, stage four," and dies December 23, 2016, about two months after the film is released October 21, 2016.  I observed people close to death get rare perspective and honesty, and Sellers gives both. He said his experience in space made him "immensely more fond of the planet [ . . . ] which I never thought about when I [ . . . ] just lived on the surface. And also kind of fond of the people on there too. It's like being taken away from your family and coming back. And [ . . . ] I wish it all well."

In the past four years, however, climate news has grown much worse. In the reposted video below, Dahr Jamail says "At this point, knowing all of the science as I know it, it's really hard to see how humans make it through this." and "Today's carbon dioxide levels [in May, 2019, of 412 ppm] are already in accordance with what historically brought about a steady state temperature of 7 C higher globally [above year 1850 baseline]. [NOAA's climate.gov site noted "The global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2019 was 409.8 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.] Jamail continues, "We're losing 2.4 percent of global insect biomass every year. [ . . . ] There will be no insects within a hundred years. No insects basically means no humans." and "The International Energy Agency stated that preserving our current economic paradigm virtually guarantees a 6 C rise in Earth's average temperature before 2050."

According to Jamail's Website, his book The End of Ice was "one of Smithsonian Magazine’s 10 Best Science Books of 2019, and was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award in 2020." The book's Website notes "Jamail embarks on a journey to the geographical front lines of this crisis—from Alaska to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, via the Amazon rainforest" and includes "the tundra of St. Paul Island where he meets the last subsistence seal hunters of the Bering Sea and witnesses its collapsing food web." Jamail, a fourth-generation Lebanese American, received the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored awards.

Regarding the often-heard "People are too stressed to think about climate change," I recall Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, in a Comedy Central interview, "We can do more than one thing at a time. We're not like one-year-olds. It's possible to think about two, maybe three things, simultaneously, and I think that climate change should be one of them."

At 42:10 in the video below Jamail asks "What do we do knowing all of that, [ . . . ] and I think more importantly, how are we going to be in what we do?" He suggests Cherokee Elder Stan Rushworth's point about "rights vs obligations." Jamail said, "I am obliged, no matter what, to serve future generations, and to serve the planet. [ . . . . ] Since we've never been here, we don't know what's going to happen. [ . . . . ] One of the stories that I write about is being up on a peak in the Deception Basin area in the Olympics [ . . .] at 7,000 feet, roughly 2000 feet above treeline, [and] there is this tree growing [ . . .] out of this [ . . . ] crack in this rock. [ . . . ] Given half a chance, life is going to persist. [ . . . . ] The two questions I'll send you home to ponder are: 'Where do you go to listen to Mis Misa [healing, and centering place]?' and 'When was the last time you went there to listen?'"

When Suz and I visited trails near Mt. Shasta (Mis Misa), I took the photos below Jamail's video.



On the Trail to Avalanche Gulch

Castle Lake


Castle Lake from Above

Gateway Peace Garden

Monday, November 9, 2020

"What Biden will and won’t be able to achieve on climate change" by James Temple at MIT Technology Review

James Temple's subtitle is "Passing aggressive climate laws will be highly difficult without Democratic control of the Senate. But there are other ways to make progress." See the November 6, 2020 article here. 

Temple wrote "A Biden administration would [ . . . ] be likely to quickly remove the roster of climate deniers, fossil-fuel lobbyists, and oil executives that Trump placed in positions of power throughout federal agencies; end the suppression of scientific reports; and restore the federal government’s reliance on scientists and other experts to make critical decisions on climate change (and other crucial issues like the covid-19 pandemic)."

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

For the Sake of Our Only Planet: A Nonprofit’s Fight Against Economic Growth by Richard Tibbetts

I invited Richard Tibbetts, Communications Specialist for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE), to write a guest post because I was impressed with CASSE's steadystate.org Website, and saw writer David Orr on the Executive Board.  It seems CASSE Mission's second point of "promoting the steady state economy as a desirable alternative to economic growth" is nearly impossible, but I like what Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Fridtjof Nansen, known for helping hundreds of thousands of refugees, said to a group at the 1925 League of Nations, "the impossible is that which takes a little longer." I respect CASSE's vision, team, and work, and, in a related matter, I chose Manfred Max-Neef as the top economist in my Updated Best Practices for Climate Crisis.  Please visit CASSE's podcast The Steady Stater, and share on social media, to help speed inevitable change global governments will make, or be forced to make, at a greater loss of biodiversity than necessary. 

For the Sake of Our Only Planet: A Nonprofit’s Fight Against Economic Growth by Richard Tibbetts

What do most economic publications, forums, and scholars have in common? A fixation with endless GDP growth. Mainstream, neoclassical economics posits that an economy can grow infinitely and that this growth is always desirable. In other words, the higher the GDP, the better off society becomes. 

 Unfortunately, proponents of this view ignore the reality that all economies are undergirded by a finite ecological base. As an economy expands, it requires evermore natural resources — such as timber, soil, water, oil, metals, plants, and animals — to sustain its growing size. This ecological structure guarantees that the more an economy grows, the more damage it inflicts on the environment.

 Leading the fight against GDP growth is the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE), a small non-profit in Arlington, Virginia. Environmental protection is at the core of CASSE’s educational mission. However, instead of leading with a message of recycling or clean energy, CASSE advocates for a steady state economy with stabilized population and consumption, not just in some vague manner but as an explicit policy goal.

 In 2003, CASSE founder and current Executive Director Brian Czech created the nonprofit to counter the fallacious and dangerous rhetoric that “there is no conflict between growing the economy and protecting the environment.”  The “win-win rhetoric,” as Czech calls it, was prominent in American politics and even within the U.S. government. Czech was serving in the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and had been prohibited from speaking on the conflict between growth and wildlife conservation. This prohibition was the impetus for the establishment of CASSE.

 Czech’s efforts are rooted in the growing field of ecological economics, which recognizes that economic activity is inextricably linked to — and limited by — the natural world. He asserts, “Mainstream economists with no background in the environmental sciences continue to promote the fallacy of perpetual GDP growth. It’s about time that fallacy is challenged.” In recent years, a sizeable number of CASSE advocates — better known as “steady staters” — have formed in countries around the world, but Czech still faces an uphill battle convincing those in power to adopt his line of thinking. “Pro-growth rhetoric is the status quo in economics, business, and politics,” says Czech.

 CASSE seeks to disrupt the status quo by creating a groundswell of public support for a steady state economy through multiple educational outlets. For example, the nonprofit posts high-quality weekly articles to its blog, The Steady StateHerald, publishes books out of its inhouse publishing company, Steady State Press, and shares daily steady-state content on its social media pages.

 Most recently, CASSE added a new public education tactic to its arsenal: The Steady Stater podcast, hosted by Czech and produced by CASSE Communications Specialist Rick Tibbetts. The podcast covers a range of topics, including limits to GDP growth, the implications of a steady state economy, salient current events, sustainable solutions, and the burgeoning degrowth movement. Most episodes feature guest appearances from prominent steady staters, like the current Secretary of State of Wisconsin Doug LaFollette and CEO of the Global Footprint Network Laurel Hanscom. New episodes air Mondays at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and are available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and the CASSE website.

 You can help make CASSE’s vision a reality by following the The Steady Stater, signing its online position statement, and becoming a member. Structural change does not come easily, but with your support, CASSE can achieve a smarter, fully sustainable economy for the betterment of our planet — and the people who have no other planet to occupy. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Open Letter to Director Watson and Washington Dept. of Ecology to Please Do a Climate Analysis of Northwest Innovation Works’ (NWIW) Proposed Fracked Gas-to-methanol Refinery in Kalama

UPDATE: Columbia Riverkeeper reported "a broad coalition of over 30 community organizations representing tens of thousands of people from across the Northwest urged the Washington Department of Ecology and Governor Jay Inslee to deny the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery, proposed in Kalama, Washington. Over the past 40 days, thousands of commenters urged denial of the massive refinery, which would use up to 320 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day, more than all of Washington’s gas-fired power plants combined. At least 6,000 comments were submitted in opposition to the project. [par break] Altogether, Ecology concluded the methanol refinery would cause 4.6 million tons of climate pollution every year for 40 years—making it one of Washington’s largest sources of climate pollution."  In addition to Columbia Riverkeeper, organizations working "to deny the . . . refinery" included Washington Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council, Food & Water Watch, 350 Seattle, 350 Tacoma, NoMethanol360.org (Kalama), Lower Columbia Stewardship Community, Green Energy Institute, Don & Along Steinke, Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light, Friends of the San Juans, STAND.earth, 350 PDX, Breach Collective, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Save our Wild Salmon, Neighbors for Clean Air, Rogue Climate, Portland Audubon Society, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Oregon Conservancy Foundation, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition, Stop Fracked Gas PDX, Stop Zenith Collaborative, Climate Action Coalition, Sunrise PDX, and First Unitarian Church of Portland.

UPDATE: Columbia Riverkeeper reported "The Washington Department of Ecology just extended the Kalama methanol comment period deadline to October 9, 2020."

Last night I, and 88 others, attended the Kalama Methanol Pre-hearing Rally and Comment Workshop organized by Sierra Club, and this morning I sent the email below to support "a Climate Analysis" and consider earthquake risk to what could become "the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington" if money and politics win instead of conscience and common sense.  Please consider opposing this project by using the Washington's Department of Ecology Website, mailing comments to Rich Doenges, Department of Ecology, PO Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775, or giving oral comments during one of three online public hearings. Register for online hearings here.

Director Watson and Dept. of Ecology:

I have fished the Columbia River and her tributaries for 50 years, and I'm concerned about impacts on salmon.  I worked the Pacific Ocean as a commercial salmon troller and charter captain, and now I mainly fish the rivers.

In addition to climate impacts, I understand the proposed gas-to-methanol site is unstable as noted in the draft EIS explaining soil at the plant site has a “moderate to high liquefaction susceptibility”  in the event of an earthquake.

I saw a July 13, 2015, New Yorker article by Kathryn Schulz noting "In fact, the science is robust, and one of the chief scientists behind it is Chris Goldfinger. Thanks to work done by him and his colleagues, we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three." The article continues "In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens [odds are 'are roughly one in ten'], that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America, outside of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which killed upward of a hundred thousand people."  

Therefore, I imagine building the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama is about as smart as building the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, near the Pacific Ocean about 33 feet above sea level partly to reduce operating costs of seawater pumps.  You know the result of that. Charles Perrow wrote in the April 1, 2011 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  "Currently our approach to risk is 'probabilistic,' and the probability of a tsunami seriously damaging the Fukushima Daiichi plant was extremely small. But we should also consider a worst-case approach to risk: the 'possibilistic' approach, as Rutgers University sociologist Lee Clarke calls it in his 2005 book Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination. In this approach, things that never happened before are possible. Indeed, they happen all the time." 

In short, in addition to the obvious climate impacts, a one in three chance of a big earthquake hitting Kalama in the "next fifty years" should be enough risk to say "No."

Sincerely,

Scott T. Starbuck

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Thinking of Orwell’s 1984, Australia’s 2019-2020 Fires That Killed or Destroyed Habitat for Nearly Three Billion Animals, Oregon’s 500,000 Citizens Widely-reported as Fleeing Fires, or Ordered to Prepare to Flee Yesterday, and California and Washington Fires, as Climate Crisis Morphs into Climate Tsunami

In George Orwell's novel 1984, he wrote “It is not merely that speeches, statistics, and records of every kind must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in all cases right. It is also that no change in doctrine or in political alignment can ever be admitted. [ . . . . ] And if the facts say otherwise, then the facts must be altered. Thus history is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love. [par break] The mutability of the past is the central tenet of Ingsoc.”

“Australia’s 2019-2020 Fires That Killed or Destroyed Habitat for Nearly Three Billion Animals” may be easier for readers to understand if they see just one rescued Koala.  The “Nearly Three Billion” number, from a July 28, 2020 bbc.com article citing the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also noted an Australian “royal commission inquiry” “has heard overwhelming evidence from scientists who said the unprecedented frequency and severity of the blazes were a result of climate change.”

I know some people mistakenly think La Niña in the Pacific Ocean is the major reason for Oregon’s current historic fires that various media sources noted burned about a million acres.  The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 10, 2020, “So far, this [La Niña] is fairly weak.”  In contrast, oregonlive.com’s Ted Sickenger noted Sept. 13, 2020, “ The [‘rare’ east] winds were the main culprit in making the catastrophic infernos as fast moving as they were.” and “there is broad consensus that climate change is driving higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns and drought cycles across the west and in Western Oregon. [ . . . . ] A 2019 report by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute found that fire risk due to climate change is projected to increase across the state by mid-century, with the largest increases in the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon.”

I could write many things about these fires in Oregon, California, and Washington, but instead I’ll repeat the end of my poem “Reframe, Redefine” from my book Hawk on Wire:

Reframe, Redefine

 

How many years

did the naming monkey

fool me?

 

As Earth warms,

soothing words attempt

to pacify

 

but the ancient voice,

old as missing rain,

says look, look, look.

 

#


I recall in the film I Am, the Dalai Lama said the most important meditation of our time is critical thinking followed by action.

Friday, September 4, 2020

My Review of Planet of the Humans, and My Thoughts on Climate Tsunami

I read Jeff Gibbs' interview regarding his controversial film Planet of the Humans which I saw. In Gibbs' interview he noted "All of the data in the form of charts and graphs are from the most recent year available, typically 2019 or 2020."  The problem, as Dave Borlace notes, is Gibbs' main arguments in the film about such things as solar panels and electric cars are from long ago, not "2019 or 2020."  However, I like Gibbs' argument about "a vast amount of energy storage which does not exist at scale" which is what Paul Kingsnorth also said

According to Borlace's evidence, this Gibbs' statement is the wrong focus: "Switching from carbon based energy sources to so-called 'renewables,' even if it was possible, INCREASES our dependency on, and consumption of, non-renewable resources, hastening the demise of industrial civilization." Overall, carbon-burning is the main problem with the focus being fossil fuels, and while switching to "renewables" will increase dependency on non-renewable items used to make them, favoring "carbon-based energy" is what is currently "hastening the demise of" all civilizations and all human, and non-human, life on Earth.

Regarding Gibbs' nuclear energy analysis, I have to agree with James Hansen. The window of opportunity for meaningful action is rapidly closing. Specifically, Brian Kahn, citing Science Advances issue 02 Sep 2020, reported at GIZMODO, "the Bering Sea hasn’t seen a winter like 2018 in at least 5,500 years. The study also shows that the world may have locked in irreversible changes that will leave the sea completely ice-free this century. [ . . . . ] Miriam Jones, a paleoclimate researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey, led the new research [ . . . . ] Perhaps the most shocking part of Jones and her team’s analysis is the tie between Bering sea ice and carbon dioxide. [ . . . . ]  [T]he results suggest that it’s possible today’s sea ice is coming into equilibrium with carbon dioxide levels from 100 years ago."  Obviously, if that is true, 50 and 100 years from now will mean horror film-scale melting. 

According to the film Before the Flood, India needs much more electricity now.  In the film Sunita Narain, Director General of Center for Science and Environment in Delhi, says "We have seven hundred million households who cook using biomass today. [ . . . . ] If those households move to coal[-produced electricity] you have that much more use of fossil fuel. Then the entire world is fried." I'm not a fan of biomass but I'm unwillling to criticize those who have no other options. In other words, if India burns its massive coal reserves, "probably the 3rd or 4th largest reservoir of coal in the world," climate damage will rapidly increase. It seems better to use new nuclear technology now then phase out all nuclear plants over time. 

At SCRIPPS last year I heard "In the event that geoengineering did cause disparate regional impacts, a regulatory scheme would need to develop that would contain enforceable compensation mechanisms to compensate those who suffer any damages." Sources noted China said it will use geoengineering, if needed, and I believe it is coming sooner than most realize, and likely without "compensat[ion" for those who suffer damages in other countries seriously affected. I hate hate hate nuclear energy because it seems wrong to produce waste that will be hazardous to humans for 500 thousand years (plutonium), but I hate India burning coal even more because of all the threats to survival for humans and non-humans.

For example, I'm concerned what will happen when China goes ahead with aforementioned geoengineering without "compensat[ing] those who suffer any damages," especially since India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and seem unlikely to just let their people die on massive scales that are possible with 4 C and 5 C if Shell gets its way

Regarding Gibbs statement about the green movement, I think of Bill McKibben being harassed by "Right-Wing Stalkers," and how McKibben noted "when I first heard rumors of [Gibbs film 'attacks'] last summer I wrote the producer and director to set the record straight, and never heard back from them." 

Gibbs was asked "Should the more conscious and radical activists engage in environmental movements to change them from the inside or are there better places and ways to conduct this battle?"  His complete answer was "Good question. I think the most important thing is to have the correct vision. This is way bigger than a climate emergency, as dire as climate is. Our entire industrial civilization of seven going on eight billion humans is coming to a close. We either get ahead of the now emerging civilization and biological collapse or suffer the most extreme consequences. Non-human species are already suffering the most extreme consequences across the globe." Regarding this, I have long supported Extinction Rebellion because I like how it, as an organization, requires nonviolence.  Two of it's founders were Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook

I must disagree with Gibbs closing: "We learned our so-called critics are shameless in their dissembling, slandering, coordinated, and apparently well-funded attacks. They choose to ignore the larger truths to keep people distracted. Once people have seen the film, the criticism seems ridiculous." Dave Borlace does not seem to fit Gibbs' description. 

Gibbs also wrote "Now, while we still have blue whales and redwoods,songbirds and butterflies, it is a fine time to come to grips with the only hope we have: either less is the new more, or we’re going on the scrap heap of failed civilizations taking everything down with us."  Saying "it is a fine time to come to grips," and making a film attacking Bill McKibben and all green energy does not actually solve the problem.  Bill McKibben's years of sacrifice led to global awareness/fossil fuel divestment, and Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook's nonviolent protests, and Extinction Rebellion's three stated goals,can help. Many students challenged me about what I have done to reduce carbon, and I answered in December 2017 "short of violence against against corporate and political climate criminals, I did what I could."

On the plus side, it seems Gibbs, Moore, I, and many others, are willing to make sacrifices if they mean "blue whales and redwoods,songbirds and butterflies" Gibbs noted in his interview could have a fighting chance. My March 31, 2019 Solution to Reducing Climate Change is Purple is on par with Gibbs saying "it is a fine time to come to grips," meaning both are wildly idealistic given political reality in the U. S., and globally. 

I know we don't get to decide much but how we spend our time and energy, while, as I wrote in my last post, "I recall a Shell CEO told Hans Schellnhuber (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), 'The climate problem is real but it is completely intractable. You can not solve it. So, let's get rich quick before the world ends, huh?'"

As carbon increases in the sky and oceans no matter what nations and individuals say, I imagine many more voices will compete for attention and meaningful action. At the least, it would be great if the U.S. could better fund birth control instead of allowing millions to die in a climate tsunami of starvation, disease, and war.  As the World Health Organization citing the Guttmacher Institute notes, "Worldwide, an estimated 214 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for modern contraception."

Thursday, August 20, 2020

August 2020 COVID-19 and Climate Updates

 

Video used with permission of Aspen Strategy Group.

In the above video Pulitzer-winning science reporter Laurie Garrett and New York Times writer David Leonhardt give an overview of the COVID-19 situation in the United States as they explain "How COVID-19 Will Reshape the Globe."  Garrett notes regarding "economic disruption," "I'm looking at it from the 50,000 foot level, and if you look at the IMF details regarding their projected negative 8.5 % GDP for the United States, negative 4.8 GDP for the world for this year, if you look at the Eurobank projections for the European region, the Asia Development Bank projections for that region, they're all really grim [ . . . ]. You can start going through the list in your mind of governments/countries, and then here inside the United States of cities and counties that were already facing problems A, B, C, then COVID came in, and one more problem. NOAA just put out their forecast for this summer's hurricane season. They're calling it a historic season coming with 22 hurricanes and tropical storms due to slam the United States between now and October. [ . . . .] They're saying at least 9 of them will reach major hurricane status." 

Laurie Garrett's Twitter page linked David Wallace-Wells' nymag.com//intelligencer article "California Has Australian Problems Now" noting "Over just the last seven days, 700,000 acres have burned in California [ . . . . ] Update August 25, 2020 -- The Guardian reported "an Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the renowned Redwood Trail at Big Basin Redwoods state park on Monday and confirmed most of the ancient redwoods had withstood the blaze."

Yesterday at The Guardian Adam Gabbatt reported "Almost 250,000 people are under fire evacuation orders and warnings in California, as three huge fires continue to rage around the San Francisco Bay Area."

November 24, 2019 and December 14, 2019 I warned "U. S. winter is Australia's summer so it's vital to watch what is happening in Australia 'with summer yet to start' according to Nine News Australia to preview the trend of possible U. S. climate impacts June through September 2020. The 40.9 C Melbourne's 'hottest November day on record' equals 105.6 F." In my December 14, 2019 post I added "The slowness of meaningful COP response is like being at a party inside a house on fire where so-called leaders are fighting over the last bag of chips.  I recall a Shell CEO told Hans  Schellnhuber (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), 'The climate problem is real but it is completely intractable. You can not solve it. So, let's get rich quick before the world ends, huh?'"

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote on his blog Weather West, "Size and scope of NorCal fires is historically unprecedented -- As I’ve stated publicly, I’m essentially at a loss for words to describe the scope of the lightning-sparked fire outbreak that has rapidly evolved in northern California–even in the context of the extraordinary fires of recent years. It’s truly astonishing. By the time this post is published [Aug. 21, 2020], around 800,000 acres of land will have burned over the past 8 days in California–over 700,000 of which in the northern part of the state, and about 500,000 within 100 miles of San Francisco. For perspective: less than 250,000 acres burned in California in all of 2019. There are so many fires right now that multiple wildfires under 5,000 acres have gone largely unattended, and unmentioned in the media. CalFire stated earlier today that to fight these fires to the maximum of their ability, the agency would [need] nearly 10 times more firefighting resources than are available."

In a related matter, Bill Gates' blog GatesNotes August 4 post "COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse." reported "If you want to understand the kind of damage that climate change will inflict, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain out over a much longer period of time. The loss of life and economic misery caused by this pandemic are on par with what will happen regularly if we do not eliminate the world’s carbon emissions. [ . . . . ] In other words, by 2060 climate change could be just as deadly as COVID-19, and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly. [par break] The economic picture is also stark. The range of likely impacts from climate change and from COVID-19 varies quite a bit, depending on which economic model you use. But the conclusion is unmistakable: In the next decade or two, the economic damage caused by climate change will likely be as bad as having a COVID-sized pandemic every ten years."

Regarding the climate issue, I recently taught another poetry workshop at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Masters of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy (MAS CSP), like I did last year. Students in this interdisciplinary program are excellent, and it will take the best of their hearts and minds to respond to these challenges.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Two Salmon and a Melting East Antarctic Ice Sheet

An 18 pound and 16 pound spring chinook on my truck gate in June 2020.

"CATCHING SPRING CHINOOK"

is an article I wrote for Northwest Fishing Reports four years ago.
Suz and I had another fight over which fish is better, winter steelhead or summer steelhead? I said winter because they are bigger, and I catch more. She said summer because you can wear T-shirt and shorts, catch them after 2 p.m., and they are more acrobatic. This is the high order of our breakfast conversations. I keep asking when she is going to get her gallbladder out so I can use it for sturgeon bait.

My other favorite fish is the salmon. Salmon need cold water, and orcas need salmon. In my previous blog post, I wrote about "Widely-reported Arctic Record-breaking Heat."  Today, regarding the other end of the globe, I read a National Geographic article by Douglas Fox noting "the last time the East Antarctic ice sheet collapsed, it added over 10 feet to sea level rise, and that it’s likely to happen again" and "If these new findings bear out, then East Antarctica may contribute to sea level rise sooner than expected. The greenhouse gases that humans have produced to date may have already locked in 42 feet [12.8 meters] of eventual sea level rise from all of the glaciers predicted to melt in the coming centuries, including the ones in East Antarctica." As my poem below notes, that means "London, Tokyo, Mumbai, New York, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands" would be submerged. Where I live, in the Pacific Northwest, that means huge parts of Vancouver, B.C. (clickable elevation), Skagit County, and Olympia may be underwater.

Personal, family, community, nation, global implications are beyond what many can imagine. Competition for resources and livable land could create global nightmare issues. Below is a poem from My Bridge at the End of the World, a 2020 Finalist for the Blue Light Press Book Award near San Francisco. My poem also appeared in Blast Furnace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in my book Industrial Oz.

Antarctic Dream After Watching Chasing Ice

 The bumper sticker near the airport asks
 “Are You Really Awake?”

 As I fly south on Alaska Airlines Flight 529,
 a kid beside me watches Gilligan’s Island reruns.

 I drift off, and the pilot announces
 Amundsen Sea Embayment just melted

 so during the trip from Portland to San Diego
 the sea will rise 20 feet.

 “I guess that wrecks my surf trip,” says Gilligan.
 “I guess that wrecks my ocean-front condo,” says Ginger.

 “I guess that wrecks London, Tokyo, Mumbai, New York,
 Bangladesh, and the Netherlands,” says the Professor.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Love in the Time of Coronavirus, and Widely-reported Arctic Record-breaking Heat

Creek not far from my house.
Big Leaf Maple.
Nearby barn owl.

Red Dragonfly of Transformation Appeared in the Garden
Suz cut my hair but it turned out lopsided as, due to her allergy, she only has one good eye. In return, I let her fish with my Lamiglas rod for the first time in 9 years we've been together. I explained there's love, and then there's love. There's trust, and then there's trust.

"Whatever," she said, casting for spring salmon. Speaking of salmon, yesterday I asked her to make blueberry pancakes in the shape of salmon, and now she won't make them at all. I don't know why some people have to be so difficult. 

In more serious news, PBS NEWSHOUR yesterday posted a video about 6 minutes Why a 'feverish' Arctic will affect everyone on the globe. In the video "Dr. Merritt Turetsky, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder, [who] has studied the Arctic for decades" says "Permafrost is the glue of Arctic ecosystems [ . . . . ] Lakes can literally disappear in the period of a few weeks. These are lakes that have been used as fishing grounds for generations. [This is] because the permafrost thaws and it is like pulling the plug out of a bathtub."

Previously on this blog I wrote about "Climate Grief" and, in another post, "One of my Native friends of many years told me in June [2019] some tribal elders said this may be the last human generation on Earth so it's time for gratitude for many gifts received, and time to help young people as we can."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Asia Times Reports "Severity of [COVID-19] disease impact linked to BCG policies"

April 6, 2020, Update: Roni Caryn Rabin at The New York Times updated the Covid-19 / BCG topic with her April 3 (updated April 5) article "Can an Old Vaccine Stop the New Coronavirus? -- A tuberculosis vaccine invented a century ago is cheap and safe, and seems to bolster the body’s immune system." 

Today Dave Makichuk at Asia Times reported "According to a US study made widely available by MedRXiv, a combination of reduced morbidity and mortality could make the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine — Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination — a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19."

The article notes "For example Iran, which has a current universal BCG vaccination policy that only started in 1984, has an elevated mortality rate with 19.7 deaths per million inhabitants, the report said. In contrast, Japan, which started its universal BCG policy in 1947, has approximately 100 times fewer deaths per million people, with 0.28 deaths, the report said. Furthermore, Brazil started universal vaccination in 1920 and has an even lower mortality rate of 0.0573 deaths per million inhabitants."

The article continues "'We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination, such as Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,' the researchers state. [ . . . . ] The inoculation is also believed to offer broad-ranging protection against respiratory infections, which present similar symptoms to Covid-19." [par break] "In fact, Australian researchers have just announced plans to fast track large-scale testing to see if the BCG vaccination can protect health workers from the coronavirus, the report said."

The CDC's "corrected" Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020 noted "This first preliminary description of outcomes among patients with COVID-19 in the United States indicates that fatality was highest in persons aged ≥85, ranging from 10% to 27%, followed by 3% to 11% among persons aged 65–84 years, 1% to 3% among persons aged 55-64 years, <1% among persons aged 20–54 years, and no fatalities among persons aged ≤19 years."

Wikipedia, citing "BCG vaccines: WHO position paper – February 2018" in Weekly Epidemiological Record noted, "Serious side effects are rare. Often there is redness, swelling, and mild pain at the site of injection.[1] A small ulcer may also form with some scarring after healing.[1] Side effects are more common and potentially more severe in those with poor immune function.[1] It is not safe for use during pregnancy.[1] "

People in the US received contradictory information about COVID-19 facts. Zeynep Tufekci's March 17, 2020, New York Times opinion piece "Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired," has a subtitle "To help manage the shortage, the authorities sent a message that made them untrustworthy."  Tufekci wrote "First, many health experts, including the surgeon general of the United States, told the public simultaneously that masks weren’t necessary for protecting the general public and that health care workers needed the dwindling supply. This contradiction confuses an ordinary listener. How do these masks magically protect the wearers only and only if they work in a particular field? [par break] Second, there were attempts to bolster the first message, that ordinary people didn’t need masks, by telling people that masks, especially medical-grade respirator masks (such as the N95 masks), needed proper fitting and that ordinary people without such fitting wouldn’t benefit. This message was also deeply counterproductive."

In the US there was a lack of following pandemic preparation guidelines according to Jeremy Konyndyk, former Director of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID.

Thomas McAndrew, a Postdoctoral Fellow of Biostatistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, recently wrote "The average probability that experts assigned to a 'second wave' of COVID occurring in the fall months (Aug.-Dec.) of 2020 was 73%." 

Decision makers in health care, education, government, business, and many other areas would be wise to consider long-term planning for worst-case scenarios. March 29,2020, it was widely reported Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the nation's top COVID-19 adviser, estimated COVID-19 may kill "between 100,000 and 200,000" in the US. In contrast with other causes of death, Dan Mangan, Tucker Higgins, John W. Schoen in an April 1, 2020 article at cnbc.com, citing CDC, NOAA, and the White House, showed heart disease in the US recently killed 647,457 a year, and cancer killed 599,108. The three main threats with COVID-19 are speed of infection and death overwhelming hospitals, effects on jobs and economy, and threat of a more lethal mutation in the second global wave in fall months.

In a previous post March 17, 2020, I wrote "Historians and scientists note the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed most of its estimated 65 million the second time it went around the Earth." This was because, according to Dave Roos at history.com, the Spanish Flu mutated into a more lethal strain. Roos wrote "Somewhere in Europe, a mutated strain of the Spanish flu virus had emerged that had the power to kill a perfectly healthy young man or woman within 24 hours of showing the first signs of infection."

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Global Dimming Debate

I'm grateful to Dave Borlace's Just Have a Think for reporting the "global dimming" climate issue may not be as serious for humans as many thought. Borlace's video contrasts with meteorologist Eric Holthaus February 8, 2018 Grist article citing this 2018 report in Geophysical Research Letters

Scope, intensity, timescale, and solutions regarding "global dimming" are the four main issues. In my November 24, 2019 post "Climate Equity Graph from Meinshausen et al. 2009, and Aerosol Killing / Cooling Double Bind" I wrote about Holthaus Grist articleThe McPherson Paradox, and James Hansen in 2012 speaking about the aerosol problem as "Doubling Down on the Faustian Bargain" at 35:48 on this Climate One video. In my post I noted "I am uncertain about the magnitude of this problem." Even after Borlace's interesting video, I still feel this way. It seems more data and research are needed, and stakes are high enough to justify both. 

Borlace's description of "regional impacts" contrasts with Climate Scientist's David Travis' global analysis in this BBC video which originally aired in 2005 (a transcript is here). The BBC video provides a history of "global dimming" including Gerald Stanhill's research in Israel, Beate Liepert's research in Germany,  Graham Farquhar and Michael Roderick's research in Australia, Veerabhadran Ramanathan's research in The Maldives, Peter Cox's global research from the United Kingdom, and Leon Rotstayn's research about the Sahel drought whose model, according to narrator Jack Fortune, showed "what came out of our exhaust pipes and power stations [in Europe and North America may have] contributed to the deaths of a million people in Africa, and afflicted 50 million more." Rotstayn explained "The Sahel's lifeblood has always been a seasonal monsoon. For most of the year it is completely dry. But every summer, the heat of the sun warms the oceans north of the equator. This draws the rain belt that forms over the equator northwards, bringing rain to the Sahel. But for twenty years in the 1970s and 80s the tropical rain belt consistently failed to shift northwards [due to "global dimming" "pollution from Europe and North America" blocking the sun] - and the African monsoon failed."

Ramanathan explained in the BBC video "The Sahel is just one example of the monsoon system. Let me take you to anther part of the world, Asia, where the same monsoon brings rainfall to 3.6 billion people, roughly half the world's population. My main concern is this air pollution and the global dimming will also have a detrimental impact on this Asian monsoon. We are not talking about few millions of people. We are talking about few billions of people. There is no choice here. We have to cut down air pollution, if not eliminate it altogether."

In my March 3, 2018 post "Is a human life worth $450 to you?" I wrote "The highlight was when, as noted elsewhere, 'Dr. Ramanathan said it would take $450 per person per year in the top one billion people to change from our carbon economy to renewables' saving over 3 billion people that may otherwise die from exposure to 130 degree plus heat 35 years from now if humans fail to convert energy sources from coal and fossil fuels to 'solar, wind, hydro, and possibly nuclear. [ . . . . ] We have 10 to 15 years to solve the problem.'"