Thursday, January 13, 2022

Arctic and Antarctic News (Record 38 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in Arctic confirmed by World Meteorological Organization.)

Used with permission of DW.

January 17, 2022 Update: Three days ago Jeff Masters at Yale Climate Connections reported "Australia ties Southern Hemisphere’s all-time heat record of 123°F; epic heat cooks Argentina." Thank you to the recent 352 visitors from Romania, 339 from United States, and 107 from France.

As a reminder, President Niinistö of Finland said in a Joint Press Conference with President Trump, August 28,2017 “If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe,” and we are rapidly heading there regarding overall trends. With notable exceptions, local, state, national, and global governments are failing us. Brad Plumer reported in The New York Times January 10, 2022, "America’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry rose 6.2 percent in 2021 as the economy began recovering from pandemic lows and the nation’s coal plants roared back to life, according to a preliminary estimate published Monday by the Rhodium Group." This is unacceptable given our track record historically as the world's worst offender! If it continues, I will write a poem about it. I know this sounds like an empty threat, but I will do it. My wife says things like "Nobody cares about your blog" as her version of encouragement, but here I am again. 

I recall Robert Bly described war as "sleepers joining hands" (title of his 1973 book), and the same could be said about human war (especially oil companies' war) against all life on Earth. Any nonviolent action you could take to help "sleepers" wake up would be appreciated. 

In related news, Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone contributing editor, continued excellent reporting on the dangers of losing ice, which in addition to the sea rise problem taking out coastal cities, has been a sort of thermal regulator for Earth since, according to researchers, "700,000 to 4 million years in the Arctic," and "about 45.5 million years" in Antarctic.

In more related news, Bill McKibben has a new newsletter, "The Crucial Years," to which I gladly subscribed. It is free to $60 a year, depending on your choice. Funds the first year will be "used to support a nascent organizing effort that [he is] calling Third Act. This is an attempt to organize people over the age of 60—I think it’s as vital that the Boomers and the Silent Generation join this fight in force as it has been to watch the incredible work of youth organizers and of frontline communities." I chose McKibben as the top "Organizer" on my "Updated Best Practices for Climate Crisis." Like 50-year activist Joanna Macy, he is a wise elder.

Thoughts and prayers go to people and nonhumans of Argentina where, according to Matthew Cappucci at washingtonpost.com, "Buenos Aires [was] 106 degrees [Dec. 28, 2021]" and "700,000 people there have lost power." Parts of Argentina were reported January 11, 2022 by voanews.com to be "around 45°C (113°F)." This reminds me of my July 23, 2021 post "Climate Reality Pushback" when I noted  "'More than one billion marine intertidal animals [ . . . ] may have perished along the shores of the Salish Sea during the record temperatures at the end of June, [2021] said University of British Columbia researcher Chris Harley' according to Canada's nationalobserver.com journalist Rochelle Baker." I reminded readers of a heat wave that "killed or harmed three billion animals" in Australia according to a July 28, 2020 bbc.com news article. Similarly, I wrote in my October 26, 2021 post "Rethinking Weather Forecasts," "121.2 Fahrenheit (49.6°C) air temperature [was recorded] in Lytton, B. C. June 29, 2021," and "a professor of statistics at my college said the probability of 115 F (46 C) in Seattle before June 2021 was zero, but it happened. He added at the time there were better odds buying one lottery ticket, and winning."

Thank you to the recent 221 visitors from Japan, 92 from Russia, 37 from Germany, 18 from Canada, 12 from France, 9 from Sweden, and 7 from Italy. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

COP26 Report from Tim Crosland, Extinction Rebellion spokesperson and Director of Plan B.Earth

Used with permission of Extinction Rebellion.

My deepest respect goes to Tim Crosland, Extinction Rebellion spokesperson and Director of Plan B.Earth, for keeping his focus on climate reality. Near the end of the Sky News (Australia) approximately 7-minute broadcast, Adam Boulton says "But the way politics works you've got to take everyone along, and that recognition by the [COP26] global community is surely worth something."  

Crosland responds, "What about taking everyone along from the Marshall Islands, and from Tuvalu, countries that are going to disappear if that 1.5 limit is exceeded. People in Bangladesh. Whole regions of the world are going to be uninhabitable. How are those people feeling right now when they see it ['emissions rising by 13.7 % by 2030' in the deal] going in the opposite direction [of scientific report to limit warming to 1.5 C by 'reducing carbon emissions 45% by 2030'] ? And how would you be feeling?" 

In related matters, RTE, the Irish Public Broadcast Service, reported Saleemul Huq, of the Global Climate Action Expert Group, Bangladesh, said "It's a death sentence for the poorest people on the planet, and not only that, the polluters are saying 'To hell with you. We don't care. We're not going to give you a penny.'" In the same video, it was noted former President of Ireland Mary Robinson tweeted, "[ . . . . ] While millions around the world are already in crisis, not enough leaders were in crisis mode. People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty."

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Reframe, Redefine

Those who closely follow the climate emergency know even if we had COP26 global cooperation, and sincere GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction commitments by 2030, the climate future would be challenging. I understand U. S. President Biden's frustration with global leaders regarding COP26. However, in fairness to General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, it's important to note, according to Carbon Brief "[ . . . ] the US [ . . . ] is responsible for the largest share of historical emissions, [ . . .] with some 20% of the global total." while China, ranked second, is responsible for "11%, followed by Russia (7%), Brazil (5%) and Indonesia (4%)." Carbon Brief added "The latter pair are among the top 10 largest historical emitters, due to CO2 from their land."

I had to reframe the issue into who and what may be protected for how long, and redefine success as keeping alignment with one's conscience for atheists, and God for believers. Writer Dahr Jamial said, as I wrote and posted in a video before, "'What do we do knowing all of that [bad news about the climate emergency], [ . . . ] 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?'" 

102-year-old "independent scientist" and originator of  the Gaia hypothesis James Lovelock wrote a COP26 Opinion in The Guardian Nov. 2, 2021, "Beware: Gaia may destroy humans before we destroy the Earth." In the article Lovelock warned "But my fellow humans must learn to live in partnership with the Earth, otherwise the rest of creation will, as part of Gaia, unconsciously move the Earth to a new state in which humans may no longer be welcome. The virus, Covid-19, may well have been one negative feedback. Gaia will try harder next time with something even nastier."

To help students, and others, understand pressure on world leaders regarding "climate risk management," watch the approximately 14 minute video "Paying For Predictions" game designed by Pablo Suarez and Janot Mendler de Suarez for the Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Monday, November 1, 2021

After the First Day of COP26 (began Sunday, October 31)

Used with permission of Extinction Rebellion.

The gap between COP26 rhetoric and action reminds me of the end of Nirvana's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit": "A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial, a denial/ A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial." Previously, I linked to their playing of David Bowie's song "The Man Who Sold the World" which fits. I appreciate the above Extinction Rebellion video has writer James Baldwin's quote I also used, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." 

As a reminder, after The Paris Climate Agreement December 12, 2015, Amanda Erickson wrote in the Washington Post October 11, 2018, "Few countries are meeting the Paris climate goals." The Climate Action Tracker graph in the article was updated November 2021, as carbon and methane emissions keep rising. The Gambia is the only country that is "1.5°C PARIS AGREEMENT COMPATIBLE."

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Rethinking Weather Forecasts

Recently, a professor of statistics at my college said the probability of 115 F (46 C) in Seattle before June 2021 was zero, but it happened. He added at the time there were better odds buying one lottery ticket, and winning.

In my August 4, 2021 post "Gauguin and July 2021," I wrote about "120 Fahrenheit (49°C) [ground surface temperature in Seattle, June 25, 2021, and 121.2 Fahrenheit (49.6°C) air temperature in Lytton, B. C. June 29, 2021] shattering records." Dr. Jason Box was quoted, "That's basically unlivable, at least for nature. [ . . . .] We have to prepare [for] extreme disruptions to our lives."

In my July 23, 2021 post "Climate Reality Pushback" I noted  "More than one billion marine intertidal animals [ . . . ] may have perished along the shores of the Salish Sea during the record temperatures at the end of June, [2021] said University of British Columbia researcher Chris Harley" according to Canada's nationalobserver.com journalist Rochelle Baker." I reminded readers of a heat wave that "killed or harmed three billion animals" in Australia according to a July 28, 2020 bbc.com news article.

In a related matter of extreme heat, Dani Anguiano reported in The Guardian Oct. 21, 2021 about a "California family found dead on hike killed by extreme heat, sheriff says." She wrote, "Temperatures were in the 70s when the family started their hike, but climbed as high as 108F as they made their way through the trail. [ . . . . ] An 85-ounce (2.5-litre) water container the family had with them was empty, and they had no other water. There is no cellphone reception on the trail." 

Here in Washington State, the morning of October 24, 2021, I left the Vancouver area to fish near Mt. Hood when a National Weather Service Emergency Alert cut into the Oregon Public Broadcasting/NPR program I was listening to regarding a Category 5 "atmospheric river" headed just north of Vancouver, Washington that could rip roofs from houses. Before driving, I heard about the threat to northern California and southern Oregon, but nothing about a serious weather warning in my area.

People in northern Clark County, Washington were advised to shelter in lower rooms to wait it out. One person I spoke with said, "The weather people don't know anymore."

Today Monica Garrett, Jason Hanna and Dave Hennen reported about severe weather at cnn.com regarding "A nor'easter drenches the East Coast, spurring flash flooding and water rescues in northern New Jersey." The article noted, "The storm, expected to deliver about 2 to 6 inches of rain in short order over several states, led the governors of New Jersey and New York to declare states of emergency in advance, just weeks after Hurricane Ida left severe flooding there in early September. [ . . . . ] In New Jersey's Union Beach south of New York City, floodwaters trapped some vehicles, and emergency workers made more than a dozen water rescues late Monday into early Tuesday, Union Beach Police Chief Michael Woodrow said. [ . . . . ] [New Jersey] Gov. Phil Murphy delayed the opening of state government offices until 11 a.m. to allow workers ample time to arrive [, noting] 'If you're out on our roads and come across a flooded section, please just turn around -- don't go ahead. Sadly, we lost too many people in Ida who went ahead.'"

Oct. 25, 2021, CapRadio Staff reported at capradio.org "Sacramento sets rainfall record as atmospheric river passes through Northern California." The article noted, "A week ago, Sacramento broke a record of 212 consecutive days without rain. Then yesterday it set a record with more than 5 inches of rain in a single day. [ . . . .] But these sort of extreme swings — from incredibly dry to cyclone bombs and atmospheric rivers — could become more common as climate change warms California."

What next?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

October 2021, Near a Washington State River

October 2021, Near a Washington State River

On my truck gate, pulling up waders,
branches snap in morning dark as a cougar stalks me.

When it gets closer, I re-enter and wait until
a fellow angler arrives and we descend in canyon.

We split at two trails, and the cougar follows me.
I toss rocks and yell at it.

Later, under stars, I reflect if this were
a metaphor for global climate response,

I would wear a blindfold, hang a T-bone steak
on my neck, go back in forest whispering

“Here kitty, kitty,” and hope nothing happens. 

In other poetry news, I'm grateful to former Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at University of Alabama Heidi Lynn Staples for accepting my poem "When I Lived Upriver" in her project Hold Our Breath 2040: Artists and Writers Reimagine Forestation, an international creative digital commemoration of afforestation efforts to address climate change. I also appreciate Flyfishing & Tying Journal for including two of my poems in the next issue. 

Thank you to the recent 222 visitors from Sweden, 117 from Russia, 92 from Germany, 18 from Hong Kong, 18 from Senegal, 17 from Canada, 17 from Indonesia, 10 from United Kingdom, and 5 from Spain.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

I Found Some of my 2006 Clay Art in the Garage


Recent words of climate desperation are not encouraging. Jeff Goodell's excellent 10/1/21 Rolling Stone article "Joe Manchin Just Cooked the Planet" noted, "As climate journalist Amy Westervelt put it with characteristic aplomb: 'The change these motherfuckers are signing us up for is so many times more radical than any climate policy ever proposed.'" Goodell continued, "You can argue that the real action on climate happens at the local level. Or that the astounding decline in clean energy prices will drive the revolution. But without a big push from government, it won’t happen fast enough, nor will the deep injustices of climate chaos be addressed in any meaningful way." 

Similarly, US Climate Envoy John Kerry was quoted by cnn.com's Nada Bashir 10/2/21, "We are behind and we have to stop the B.S. that is being thrown at us by a number of countries that have not been willing to sign up to what Great Britain have signed up to, we have signed up to, Japan, Canada [,] the EU. That is to keep 1.5 degrees alive [ . . . . ] That's what has to happen at COP26, a new level of transparency and accountability."

However, I also recall Joanna Macy's words, "Don't pour all your energy into defeating what is already defeating itself at the core [ . . . . ] People know that the whole life on Earth is in danger. They are aware of it in their bodies at any rate. Help them to feel the strength to feel life within them, and move together [ . . . . ]"  

About 15 years ago, I feared this climate emergency would happen so I used the energy of that to make clay art. Putting my hands in clay was one of the most healing things I have done. The art was made with bones of salmon and steelhead trout I caught in Oregon and Washington rivers, and ate.

I included work featured at the The Spirit of the Salmon Fund's Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum "Salmon People" Gala in Portland, Oregon below. When all else fails, make art, sing, do activist work, hike in nature, set an example. Some things are in one's control, some are not, and all are in control of, or allowed by, the Creator. Joanna Macy's translation of Rilke is:

Dear darkening ground,
you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built,
perhaps you’ll give the cities one more hour

and the churches and cloisters two.
And maybe those that labor—You'll let their work
still grip them for another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
where you take back your name
from all things.

Oh, just give me a little more time!

I am going to love the things 
as no one has thought to love them,
until they’re real, and ripe, and worthy of us.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Arctic Methane Release, and the Urgency of Now

Blog readers may recall my February 7, 2019, post "Arctic Methane Debate Rages On," and my October 28, 2017, post "'If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.' -- President Niinistö of Finland in Joint Press Conference with President Trump, August 28, 2017." In 2015 Bill Nye made a 3-minute video of this methane threat with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Nye's climate therapist.  Regarding an update, there is good news, and bad news. 

The good news is October 2, 2020, The Guardian writer Mark Hertsgaard, citing climate scientist Michael Mann, wrote "Using new, more elaborate computer models equipped with an interactive carbon cycle, 'what we now understand is that if you stop emitting carbon right now … the oceans start to take up carbon more rapidly,' [ . . . ]. Such ocean storage of CO2 'mostly' offsets the warming effect of the CO2 that still remains in the atmosphere. Thus, the actual lag between halting CO2 emissions and halting temperature rise is not 25 to 30 years, he explains, but 'more like three to five years.'" This is important because, as I wrote before, "Duncan Clark's January 16, 2012 article in The Guardian noted 'Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years' while 'Methane, by contrast, is mostly removed from the atmosphere by chemical reaction, persisting for about 12 years.'" Therefore, the obvious threats are related to how much carbon and methane are released how fast, and how long major releases continue. 

Bad news is in the next three paragraphs. 

In the October 4, 2016, Siberian Times, according to Professor Igor Semiletov, of Tomsk Polytechnic University and University of Alaska Fairbanks, it was noted "the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 20-30 times greater than one molecule of CO2." In my post "Arctic Methane Debate Rages On,"  Carolyn Ruppel, Ph.D, a Research Geophysicist at Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, and leader of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project, said in a January 29, 2019 Yale Climate Connections video "Polar melting: 'Methane time bomb' isn't actually a 'bomb'," "People who may not be too aware of the thermodynamics of gas hydrates may believe that once you start triggering warming of those, and breakdown of those deposits, you can't stop it. And, in fact, the thermodynamics helps you a lot on that because of the nature of the reaction [ . . . .] this is a problem when we try to produce methane from hydrates. It keeps shutting itself down, right? So it's not a situation where we trigger breakdown, and [ . . . ] the whole deposit's going to release its methane all of a sudden. That [ . . .] is not a scientifically sound worry." 

My concern is that even if it's not all released instantly, there may be enough released to cause major problems with heat, fires, droughts, water security, crop failures, etc. For example, Jonathan Watts wrote at The Guardian in an article "amended on 4 and 17 November 2020," "For the second year in a row, [Semiletov's] team have found crater-like pockmarks in the shallower parts of the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea that are discharging bubble jets of methane, which is reaching the sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal." 

Sue Natali and Brendan Rogers wrote in an 8/30/21 opinion piece in The Hill, "The major emitter that's missing from climate negotiations," is "permafrost, and its carbon footprint this century could be on par with unchecked emissions by the likes of Japan, India, the U.S., or even more than all these nations. Excluding such a player from international calculations and negotiations would be unthinkable. And yet, that is precisely what we’ve been doing with permafrost emissions." They noted "[In] the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),  [ . . . . ]  permafrost thaw and its emissions are not accounted for in global carbon budgets that guide emissions reduction schedules aimed at limiting climate warming to thresholds such as those set out by the Paris Agreement. This is a disastrous mistake." Similarly, there is no accounting for climate tipping points, and none for feedback loops in the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I recall Dahr Jamail said in a video I posted November 28, 2020, "Another person from within the IPCC, it was passed on to me, said you can basically take the IPCC's worst case predictions and double them."

Therefore, here are questions for political and corporate leaders at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland regarding the title of this Trees, Fish, and Dreams Climateblog.

Trees: Will we have water? (Evergreens are turning rust red along I-5 between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.)

Fish: Will we have rivers? (Since 2015 salmon have been trucked by Washington or California officials to or from the sea.)

Dreams: Please respond to Professor Stefan Rahmstorf's dream below. He is Head of Earth System Analysis at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which partnered with the Noble Prize Summit -- OUR PLANET, OUR FUTURE April 26/27/28.

"Sometimes I have this dream.

"I’m going for a hike and discover a remote farm house on fire.

"Children are calling for help from the upper windows. So I call the fire brigade. But they don’t come, because some mad person keeps telling them that it is a false alarm.

"The situation is getting more and more desperate, but I can't convince the firemen to get going.

"I cannot wake up from this nightmare."

Stefan Rahmstorf

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Will COP26 Be the "great unraveling or great turning?"

JOANNA MACY: Climate Crisis As Spiritual Path from Old Dog Documentaries on Vimeo. (Used with permission.)

In the above video Rainer Maria Rilke translator, eco-philosopher, and 50-year activist Joanna Macy says "We've been thinking that we are consumers. [ . . . . ] all the time imprisioned in this shrunken sense of self. And now this [climate] crisis is telling us [ . . . ] 'Wake Up! You are life on Earth!'" Macy was featured in the 2013 film THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community (free until October 17th, 2021 with Vimeo account). The film editors wrote, "We feel Joanna's wisdom and Rilke's poetry have the power to help all of us face these difficult times." She is a wise elder in a time desperate for wise elders.

Macy's site notes, “Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response.” and "To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words.” Please watch and share her great video above.

COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, also called 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, between November 1st and 12th, notes on its site "UNITING THE WORLD TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE." It seems the vast majority of climate scientists ("97 percent or more" according to NASA) and Earth's citizens are already united. A better heading would be, "WILL POLITICAL AND CORPORATE LEADERS OF DEVELOPED NATIONS LISTEN TO THEIR SCIENTISTS, INDIGENOUS LEADERS, ADULT CITIZENS, YOUNG PEOPLE, AND CHILDREN TO REDUCE THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY ON BEHALF OF ALL LIVING AND UNBORN BEINGS ON EARTH?"

Thank you to the recent 94 visitors from Romania, 58 from France, 55 from Germany, 48 from Vietnam, 32 from Canada, 26 from Russia, 19 from the U.K., 14 from South Africa, and 13 from the Netherlands.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

It's Time to Remove the Lower Four Snake River Dams to Save Salmon and Orca

I agree with Don Sampson of Northwest Tribal Salmon Alliance, "We're in a salmon crisis. [ . . . . ] They're suffocating. They're weakened. [ . . . . ] We need cold, clean water, and we've got to take the Snake River Dams down to make that happen." Please share. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Driving Through the Climate Apocalypse

For many years people asked me for good climate news, and I expect this to increase with the haunting new sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Regarding this, I like Mary Annaïse Heglar's tweet she gave me permission to repost January 2020: "My wish for 2020 is for people to stop asking climate activists what gives us hope and start asking 'how can I help?'”

Here is my weak attempt at good climate news. While we are losing vast numbers of trees and salmon, Bendix noted your car tires will not begin to degrade until 195 Fahrenheit. That is a joke, for anyone who missed it. 

It's no joke that today Northwest Oregon will have, according to the National Weather Service, "Dangerously hot high temperatures 95-105F expected." I often see idiots walking dogs on these hot days, and yell "YOU'RE BURNING HIS PAWS!" Responses range from terror, to utter guilt, to anger. Friends asked me to lower the volume and sweeten the language as in "If it's not too much trouble . . .," or "You may want to consider . . .," or "Friend, please rethink walking your dog on hot pavement." 

I've never been good at that kind of diplomacy, but, regarding phys.org's August 12, 2021 summary of the sixth report of the IPCC by Simon Torok, James Goldie, and Linden Ashcroft, I will try. "Friend, humans are torching Earth, and all life on land, and in the sea and sky. If it's not too much trouble, maybe we could, uh, you know, rethink doing absolutely nothing about oil companies and industrial society killing most humans, and nonhuman species." One option is to support divestment of fossil fuels. Another option is to help those trying to stop the worst effects of "climate destruction" such as Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and local groups like Olympic Climate Action if you are in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Gauguin and July 2021

Paul Gauguin - D'ou venons-nous
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? 1897-1898 --Paul Gauguin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
August 5, 2021 Update -- My favorite recent climate article is by Thom Hartmann in Salon "Civilization-ending climate change is knocking on the door — unless we act now" featuring Dr. Jason Box who "Last week [ . . . ] Skyped into [his] show from Europe." Box responded to Dr. Michael Mann's position voiced by Hartmann "We are not anywhere close to that kind of disaster scenario [ . . .] wiping out major chunks of life on Earth [ . . .]" Box said "This catastrophe is in slow motion [ . . . .] We are looking at a future of 15 Celsius warming [59 Fahrenheit] in the Arctic by end of century, [ . . .] 25 Celsius in winter [77 Fahrenheit]. [. . . .] Those projections don't have these abrupt processes [of wildfires and thermokarst lake collapse] in them so the path that we're on is most definitely a catastrophic path. How soon does the world become unlivable? I think we're approaching that when [ . . .] the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. that was 120 Fahrenheit (49°C) [ground surface temperature in Seattle, June 25, 2021, and 121.2 Fahrenheit (49.6°C) air temperature in Lytton, B. C. June 29, 2021] shattering records [ . . .] That's basically unlivable, at least for nature. [ . . . .] We have to prepare [for] extreme disruptions to our lives. [ . . . ] I don't think anyone knows just how soon the [ . . .] civilization [ . . .] falls apart. [ . . . ] We are resilient. When you put this species under threat it acts very well to preserve its own future, but that won't come without a tremendous amount of suffering, especially for poor people who lack the resources to mitigate [ . . .] I like the analogy of applying brakes so we're slowing down and so the crash becomes less hard. [. . . .] So, halting carbon emissions and removing [. . . ] 500 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere is the project of the century. [ . . . ] I don't see that happening anytime soon."  

In my June 13, 2019 post "Universities, Colleges, and Schools at All Levels Must Focus on Climate Literacy and Action," I wrote about Box. I wrote "I recall Jason Box was far ahead of many scientists in his accurate warnings about Greenland. Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, wrote in Rolling Stone July 25, 2013, "In 2009, [Box] announced the Petermann glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, would break up that summer – a potent sign of how fast the Arctic was warming. Most glaciologists thought he was nuts – especially after the summer passed and nothing happened. In 2010, however, Petermann began to calve; two years later, it was shedding icebergs twice the size of Manhattan. Another example: In early 2012, Box predicted there would be surface melting across the entirety of Greenland within a decade. Again, many scientists dismissed this as alarmist claptrap. If anything, Box was too conservative – it happened a few months later." 

A few days ago I drove up the Clackamas River in Oregon where I was raised before I was owner/captain of The Starfisher in Depoe Bay. Fire damage, as expected, was severe, and the road above North Fork Reservoir was closed. I recalled when I was about 17 Terry Gray and I saved Dave Traxler from drowning there when his boat capsized, and he was clinging to the hull. Terry and I borrowed a boat over the objections of onlookers who said "It's not your boat! Wait for help! You two are going to drown!" They were like Gauguin's white bird near the old woman above, which Gauguin said "represents the futility of words[ . . .]" as cited by Albert Boime on the Wikimedia site.  The same can be said about the climate emergency now. From Hawaii to Turkey, and north to the Yukon and Siberia, the pattern of more talk/not enough action is becoming obvious as CO2 in the atmosphere increases with longer and worse fire seasons, etc. Gauguin's painting deserves more thought.

Below is an overview of July 2021, Portland, Oregon:

332 miles south, "hundreds of thousands"

of salmon smolts are dying, infested with

drought-enhanced shasta parasites,

 

and nearby Columbia River sockeye,

paused on their upward journey,

bloom sores like dogwoods.

 

Low numbers of Yukon chum,

leaving Alaska tribes hungry,

chant to us “You’re next. You’re next. You’re next.”

 

Here in Portland it was 116 degrees June 28

shocking many climate scientists

and weather forecasters.

 

Allison Mechanic at katu.com reported

“July 31, 2020, there were 23 fires

and more than 40,000 acres burning.”

 

She contrasted “As of July 31, 2021,

there were 50 fires

and more than 20 times the acreage burning.”

 

Since 1959, while Oregon farmers ploughed and planted,

men from oil companies

slaughtered future wives and children.

 

While trollers I knew joked about mermaids,

enemies in suits invented fracking

poisoning town wells.

 

In the hot smoky morning,

a dried frog stuck in a door jamb

is an omen of bigger changes.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Guest Post by Will Kautz

This is a story of redemption.  I know that word can mean different things to different people but sometimes redemption shows itself in strange places.  Sometimes a person’s pain can be redeemed. Sometimes the anguish we’re carrying might actually be the very thing that opens our eyes to something disarming and unexpected and transformational…  

When my son died in an avalanche, he was 25 years old.  Justin was healthy, happy, loving and mature. We had a camaraderie that I valued a lot.  Shortly before he died, he sent me an email.  In it he wrote, “Dad, you’re the most honorable man I know.  Thank you for teaching me how to love.”  Those are the words that a parent longs to hear and so, when the news came of his loss, I was devastated.

I think I probably grieved in the usual way during the next two or three years.  There was nothing exceptional about it. I was basically an emotional basketcase during the first year and gradually, over time, my mind adjusted to the "new normal" even while that big gaping hole remained in my soul.

Then one day, I realized that I wasn’t accomplishing anything of value.  I was focused only on my losses.  It was like I was viewing my pain through a camera with a zoom lens attached to it.  I couldn’t see peripheral things.  I think it’s healthy for a grieving person to focus on a loss.  But there comes a time when we’re ready to take off the zoom lens and begin viewing life through a wide-angle lens because redemption is often found hiding in the peripheries where no one thinks to look.  

But… how do we do that?  How do we begin searching for something that we’ve never experienced before – especially when we don’t even know what it is?

Something told me that I needed to find people who had suffered more than me.  So one day I sat in front of my computer and began googling things.  I didn’t even know where to start.  I forget how my search began but at the end of several hours I found myself viewing a video of a little girl living in a garbage dump in Latin America.  The place was called "La Chureca" and there were hundreds of kids in that dump.  I had never been to Latin America but when I saw that little girl, a mysterious feeling came over me that just said, “Go.”

Ordinarily, I’m not the kind of person who says, “God told me this, or God told me that.”  There have been so many kooky people saying so many kooky things in the name of God and I just never wanted to be one of them.  But when the word “Go” began reverberating in my soul, I recalled the day after Justin died.  I remembered sitting on my bedroom floor with my face in the carpet, sobbing my heart out, and another mysterious feeling came over me then as if I was being told, “This isn’t an accident, Will.  I am doing something.  Trust me in the darkness.”

So after reading about that garbage dump, I bought a ticket, got on a plane and headed to a place that travel agencies never tell you about.  As soon as I arrived, I knew my life would never be the same.

Sometimes we encounter things that profoundly change our outlook on life and when it happens, it doesn’t matter that former joys have lost their allure or that our foundations have been shaken.  All we know is that the walls we’ve built around ourselves have crumbled into dust.  Somehow, our unsatisfied yearnings no longer throb inside us and something restorative is taking place deep inside our souls.

Sitting on the outskirts of Managua, the dump has been called one of the most wretched places on earth. A few thousand people make their homes there. They sift through the rubbish for food to eat or things to sell.  The children begin their careers early.  You can see them with their sticks – poking and prodding the soil for plastics or metal or something of value.  Girls as young as nine years old prostitute themselves to the garbage truck drivers in exchange for the first pick from the truck. 

This is a world where violence and innocence live together and where a young girl’s best protection against a sexual predator is an emaciated body.  The poverty is relentless.  The shame is merciless.  Disease pocks the scalps of tiny little heads.  But despite all the danger, the place is strangely disarming.  How can we poke our lives into such a world without lowering our guard?  What is the point of my fortress when a daddyless girl wants to play with me?  Brick and mortar melt like wax in the warmth of her smile and the glow of her eyes.  It’s like falling in love with grace itself – and I found myself not wanting to leave that miserable place.

Maybe I was nuts.  Maybe I touched something unclean.  Maybe I contracted a strange disorder.  Maybe the heat got to me.  Maybe I hadn’t felt so alive in decades.  Maybe I had to be emptied before I could ever be filled…

I have a faith.  I don’t go to church anymore because the tradition that I grew up in isn’t very healthy these days.  But… I began praying that I could adopt one of those kids from Nicaragua.  It was an impossible prayer.  I knew it.  The Nicaraguan government doesn’t allow Americans to adopt anyone.  I was also a single male who wasn’t getting any younger and no agency would ever allow me to adopt a little girl anyway.  But I prayed that prayer because I thought maybe God is the God of the impossible and I was crazy enough to believe anything could happen.

I eventually had to fly home but on my third trip to Nicaragua, something unexpected happened…

I had made arrangements with a Nicaraguan woman named Diana to translate for me.  I was learning Spanish but…  Es difícil porque mi cerebro está viejo y decrépito.  So Diana was a life saver.  

As soon as I arrived at the airport, Diana began telling me about her kid sister named Jenny.  Diana was one of those super-organized women who wanted to plan my itinerary by the hour - months in advance.  I was the free-spirited artist who just wanted to go with the flow and Jenny, well… Jenny was a wreck.  Her dad had died when she was two years old.  The family lost everything.  She spent her childhood in a Third World hell.   She had slept on floors as a child, gone days without food, suffered various indignities, developed an anxiety disorder with debilitating panic attacks and an extra dose of depression on the side.  Diana wanted Jenny to just pick herself up and earn some money for the family but Jenny was having a tough time of it.  She was 25 years old when I met her – the same age as Justin when I lost him.  

The good news is that Jenny was very creative. She wanted to be a photographer but she had no camera – just a cheap cell phone that took pictures.  She also had the disorganized personality of an artist.  She didn’t mind chaos in the bedroom she shared with her sister and that drove Diana absolutely nuts.  It was an amusing spectacle to watch.

So one evening I took Diana and Jenny and their mom out to dinner.  When we were on our way to the restaurant, Jenny began to talk.  She said, “My family doesn’t want me to say this but I’ve been having problems.  I have panic attacks and depression and I don’t know how to fix myself.”  Those few words almost made me cry.  Not because they were sad, but because I wasn’t used to the beauty of her honesty.  Most people can’t do what Jenny did.  She was open and transparent and she had no interest in cultivating a fake veneer of perfection.  

When we arrived at the restaurant, she took out her cell phone and showed me her photos.  I was impressed.  They weren’t just pretty pictures.  I could tell that she had an eye for composition and light and she also had one other thing that brought life to her work.  She had a heart for vulnerable people.  The more I listened to her, the more I saw how intelligent and analytical she was.  By the end of the evening, I was in awe.

Sadly, after ten days, I had to fly home. Jenny surprised Diana by waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the airport with me.  Ordinarily, Jenny was too depressed to get out of bed before noon.  Some days she didn’t get out of bed at all.  So… Diana couldn’t believe her eyes when her sister accompanied us to the airport.  When we were there, I could tell that Jenny wanted to ask me something.  But she didn’t.  So I got on the plane and flew home.

Once back in Vermont, I received an email.  It was from that crazy girl with the cell phone camera.  She wrote… “I have an unusual question for you.  All my life, all I ever wanted was a dad.  I never cared about toys.  I just wanted a dad to spend time with me and encourage me and protect me.  Would you be my dad?  Would you help me to believe in myself?  Would you help me overcome my problems?”  My heart melted.  I realized immediately that my impossible prayer was answered and that her humble cry for help would begin one of the sweetest chapters of my life. 

After telling Jenny how honored I was to be her dad, I sent her a camera with lenses and a computer too.  Then I asked her if there was a school in Managua where she could learn photography.  She told me about a photo academy run by the French government as part of a cultural exchange effort.  We enrolled her.  A few weeks later, I received an email from a psychiatrist in Managua who had been helping Jenny for free.  She said, “I cannot believe the transformation that is happening to your daughter!  She wakes up early each morning, goes to school, does her homework, and teaches herself photo editing online.”   A few months later, Jenny’s professor said, “Your daughter is a frickin’ genius!”

Jenny graduated at the top of her class and has since established a name for herself in her field.  When she visits me in the US, she is full of joy.  She loves being in my workshop as I sculpt and paint.  She says, “Teach me Dad!  I want to learn!”  When we go places, She brags about me to others.  She says, “My dad is an honorable man!”  I can’t begin to express the joy this brings after years of mourning.  She tells everyone our story.  People cry.  It is a story of redemption.  In some mysterious way, the most heart-breaking events of our lives gave birth to the most beautiful events of our lives.   

So I’ll leave you here with perhaps the only words that really matter because… there are mysteries also hidden in the peripheries of your life.  They are waiting to be found with a wide-angle lens while you mourn your losses and bear your pain. There is also a voice calling from the deep and offering to redeem that pain with words that are disarming, unexpected and transformational:

“This isn’t an accident.”

“I’m doing something.”

“Trust me in the darkness.”

“Go.”

*Read more of Will Kautz's work at his Facebook page. 

Climate Reality Pushback

Used with permission of marine biologist Chris Harley.
Kabir wrote, "people won't wake up -- Not until they feel death's club inside their skulls." It's a good quote for many facing climate reality that "killed or harmed three billion animals" in Australia according to a July 28, 2020 bbc.com news article, and "More than one billion marine intertidal animals [that] may have perished along the shores of the Salish Sea during the record temperatures at the end of June, [2021] said University of British Columbia researcher Chris Harley" according to Canada's nationalobserver.com journalist Rochelle Baker. 

In related matters, Shafiq Najib reported today at krcrtv.com on a press release of California State Senator Mike McGuire's upcoming July 27 hearing: "River conditions wherever salmon are found are so bad here in California that baby fish are being cooked alive or wiped out by heat-driven disease. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that 100% of the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon could die off this year." Covering nearby southern Oregon, Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported in today's Los Angeles Times "Bootleg fire [. . . .] consumed more than 400,000 acres of forest." and other sources noted it could grow from 500,000 to a million acres depending on conditions. The current 400,000 acres equals 625 square miles or about 1619 square kilometers. 

Amy Graff at sfgate.com reported today "California's Dixie Fire straddling Plumas and Butte counties was 18% contained and 142,940 acres as of Friday morning, making it the largest wildfire in the state so far in 2021, Cal Fire said."

My favorite climate article this week, "Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’," appeared in The Guardian in a revised form July 22, 2021. 

I was glad to see in thecrimson.com, "Mass. State Reps. Introduce Bill Seeking To Compel Harvard To Divest From Fossil Fuels" which may be a useful model for other students, professors, and alumni seeking fossil fuel divestment. 

The heat is seriously affecting the Global North. Jason Samenow wrote at The Washington Post July 20, 2021, "In recent days, all-time record highs have been set in Turkey, northern Japan and Northern Ireland, while the mercury reached 110 in Montana." 

One of the main reasons for this blog has been to create awareness of, and help for, people in developing nations most affected, and least responsible. I have written about how, according to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, "Rising Seas Could Affect 1.4 Billion People by 2060" and necessary "Climate Grief." Similarly, I wrote "in addition to making fossil fuel companies pay for mitigation and adaptation, and colleges/universities and pension funds divest, we must also find ways to increase capacity for caring in developed nations before many more human and nonhuman inhabitants globally will be forced to migrate and/or die early and awfully." Regarding "people in developing nations," I am grateful to Will Kautz for permission to repost his essay above. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Climate Culling and Healing

July 18, 2021 Update: Thank you to the 127 visitors from Myanmar (Burma) yesterday. The “Translate” tool in the lower right frame offers these languages: 

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Imagine Earth reaches 5 C above 1850 preindustrial baseline "within 80 years or so at our current trajectory" as noted by Dave Borlace if we don’t cut enough carbon. Before that, with a 4 C world, Earth’s population is reduced “below one billion people” as predicted by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), quoted by Paddy Manning July 9, 2011 in The Sydney Morning Herald. One third of the global human population migrates to survive. Next, imagine large-scale negative carbon emissions such as carbon capture devices don’t work, large-scale aerial geoengineering remains technically impossible over 1 C, and targeted country-scale or part-of-country aerial geoengineering in the Global North are not options because India and Pakistan, which both have nuclear weapons, simply say “No.” due to how they may be affected. Think this sounds like a Hollywood disaster film? It gets worse. Ordinary citizens lose trust in governments to provide water security, food security, employment, and protection. In the U. S. the National Guard fails to report to work to distribute food and water, and maintain order. How will Earth’s citizens, many of whom in privileged countries never wanted to be global citizens, decide who survives?  

If things get near that bad, I propose a 100-question exam designed by 3rd graders in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Haiti, Yemen, The Philippines, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and The Marshall Islands tuned by leading academics so only one eighth of the global population can pass. Everyone else dies. This would be far more equitable than “politics of the armed lifeboat” described by Amitav Ghosh in The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. I chuckled when I read a September 8, 2016, article about that book in The Guardian by Kavitha Rao noting “So chilling was Ghosh that the local paper reported – only half in jest – that a disturbed audience had to be soothed by a subsequent talk by Buddhist monks.” The point is Jonathan Swift cared deeply about starvation in Ireland in 1729 so he wrote “A Modest Proposal” suggesting Irish babies be raised for meat and gloves as a way to draw attention from wealthy London investors. Similarly, Edward Abbey, who wrote about preservation of wilderness, wild creatures, and biodiversity gave a 1985 speech at the University of Montana “One Life at a Time, Please” to cattle-raising people suggesting “we open a hunting season on range cattle” to eliminate livestock damage. He added “If there’s anyone still present whom I’ve failed to insult, I apologize.” I quoted Abbey on this blog, and imagined his ghost speaking about the climate issue in my book Hawk on Wire.

Thanks to Olympic Climate Action's "Hot Off the Wire" for posting a June 23, 2021 Phys.org article by Marlowe Hood with Patrick Galey and Kelly MacNamara, "Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared: draft UN report."

In this post I am arguing for nonviolent creativity like Ghosh, Swift, and Abbey in response to our climate emergency to act fast globally. I deeply respect musicians on the Titanic because they had no other options. We do. 

Regarding the "healing" in my title, I enjoyed U. K. Psychotherapist Rosemary Randall's Six short videos on Coping with the Climate Crisis. She focused on emotional heath, and has been working with climate-stressed patients 15 years. It's a great series to share with students, professors, or anyone stressed about climate inaction and/or delay. Watching the videos, I was reminded of Pink Floyd's song "On the Turning Away," because of how she said "turning away," and encouraged us to get on with the necessary work of personal and global healing without ignoring our feelings, or escaping into illusion of "control" by endlessly telling disaster scenarios. Pink Floyd's song reminded me of another fitting song, "Learning to Fly."  Teaching creative writing for about 30 years, I had many students who, while young, dreamed of flying.  It is time to recall those dreams. Of course, since I mentioned those two songs, I must include "High Hopes." Virgil wrote "In the lives of mortals, the best days are the first to flee." Now, this applies as much to biodiversity loss as it does to unrestrained magic of childhood. In other words, for human existence to be more than a technicality, our animal brothers and sisters are needed.

In a related matter, I have long used writing and wilderness to balance, heal, and cause constructive trouble. Ray Bradbury said “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Long ago he gave me written permission to use his story "A Sound of Thunder" in my classes without any copyright restrictions.

Here is my short fiction "Crew," published by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) in their “Quick Fictions” episode in honor of EcoCast’s first birthday July, 2021. The icon to play the stories is at the bottom of that page. I'm grateful to join authors from England, India, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Spain, Pakistan, Australia, and Nigeria writing about "ecological issues, climate breakdown, or mass extinction."

As I wrote at the end of my previous post, "['Crew']was inspired by friend and longtime Tradewinds captain of the Debbie Lynn, Bill Wagner, formerly of Depoe Bay, Oregon [ . . . . who] told me a background story about his near-death at sea [ . . . ]"  Anyone who has water, food, air, and real human and nonhuman community has much to be grateful for. Circling back to my agreement with Rosemary Randall's work, I recall the end of Voltaire's novel Candide, when Candide says "let us cultivate our garden," and the end of Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock" (with lyrics):

Billion year old carbon

Caught in the devil's bargain

We are golden

And we've got to get ourselves

Back to the garden