The UK (in partnership with Italy) will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, COP26 in Glasgow on October 31- November 12, 2021.
COP26 will be one of the most significant meetings in modern human history, comparable to the meeting of the Big Three at the Tehran Conference November 28, 1943 when the Normandy invasion was agreed, codenamed Operation Overlord and launched in June 1944. Thenceforth, tyranny was stopped, an easily identified worldwide threat symbolized by a toothbrush mustache. Today’s tyranny is faceless but recklessly beyond the scope of that era because it’s already everywhere all at once! And, ten-times-plus as powerful as all of the munitions of WWII.
What’s at risk at COP26?
Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs answers that all-important query in a summary report intended for heads of governments, entitled: Climate Change Risk Assessment 2021.
The report introduces the subject with three key statements:
1) The World is dangerously off track to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
2) The risks are compounding.
3) Without immediate action the impacts will be devastating in the coming decades.
The report highlights current emissions status with resulting temperature pathways. Currently, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) indicate 1% reduction of emissions by 2030 as compared to 2010 levels. To that end, and somewhat shockingly, if emissions are not drastically curtailed by 2030, the report details a series of serious impacts to humanity locked in by 2040-50, which is the time-frame for item #3 to kick in, which states: “Impacts will be devastating.”
But, hark: Governments at COP26 will have an opportunity to accelerate emissions reductions by “ambitious revisions of their NDCs.” Whereas, if emissions follow the current NDCs, the chance of keeping temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (the upper limit imposed by Paris ’15) is less than 5%.
Not only that, but any relapse or stasis in emissions reduction policies could lead to a worst case 7°C, which the paper labels a 10% chance at the moment.
The paper lambastes the current fad of “net zero pledges” which “lack policy detail and delivery mechanisms.” Meanwhile, the deficit between the NDC targets and the carbon budget widens by the year. In essence, empty pledges don’t cut it, period!
Failure to slash emissions by 2030 will have several serious negative impacts by 2040:
9B people will be hit by major heatwaves at various intervals of time.
400 million people will be exposed to temperatures that exceed “the workability threshold.” Too hot to work!
Of more immediate and extremely shocking concern, if drastic reductions do not occur by 2030, the paper suggests “the number of people on the planet exposed to heat stress exceeding the survivability threshold is likely to surpass 10 million a year.” This can only refer to the infamous Wet Bulb Temperature, meaning:A threshold is reached when the air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is above 90 percent. The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, or +95/90, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. Climate models only a few years ago predicted widespread wet-bulb thresholds to hit late this century; however, global warming is not waiting around that long. Indeed, the Wet Bulb Temperature death count of 10 million per year nearly scales alongside WWII deaths of 75 million, both military and civilian, over six years or 12.5M per year.
Population demands will necessitate 50% more food by 2050, but without huge emissions reductions starting now, yields will decline by 2040 as croplands hit by severe drought rises to 32%/year. Fifty percent more food demand in the face of 32% rise in drought impact does not add up very well.
Wheat and rice account for 37% of calorific intake, but without drastic cuts, >35% of global cropland for these critical crops will be hit by damaging hot spells.
By 2040, without the big cuts in emissions, 700 million people per year will be exposed to droughts lasting at least 6 months duration at a time. “No region will be spared.”
Accordingly “Many of the impacts described are likely to be locked in by 2040, and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what many countries can adapt to… Climate change risks are increasing over time, and what might be a small risk in the near term could embody overwhelming impacts in the medium to long term.” (Pg. 5)
Chapter 4 of the paper covers Cascading Systemic Risks, which is an eye-opener. Systemic risks materialize as a chain, or cascade, impacting a whole system, inclusive of people, infrastructure, economy, societal systems and ecosystems. 70 experts analyzed cascading risks, as follows: “The cascading risks over which the participating experts expressed greatest concern were the interconnections between shifting weather patterns, resulting in changes to ecosystems, and the rise of pests and diseases, which, combined with heatwaves and drought, will likely drive unprecedented crop failure, food insecurity and migration of people. Subsequently, these impacts will likely result in increased infectious diseases (greater prevalence of current infectious diseases, as well as novel variants), and a negative feedback loop compounding and amplifying each of these impacts.” (Pg. 38)
“Climate change contributes to the creation of conditions that are more susceptible to wildfires, principally via hotter and drier conditions. In the period 2015–18, measured against 2001–14, 77 per cent of countries saw an increase in daily population exposure to wildfires, with India and China witnessing 21 million and 12 million exposures respectively. California experienced a fivefold increase in annual burned area between 1972 and 2018. There, average daytime temperatures of warm-season days have increased by around 1.4°C since the early 1970s, increasing the conditions for fires, and consistent with trends simulated by climate models.” (Pg. 39)
And, the biggest shocking statistic of all pertains to the high risk red code danger region of the planet that is ripe for massive methane emissions: “In Siberia, a prolonged heatwave in the first half of 2020 caused wide-scale wildfires, loss of permafrost and an invasion of pests. It is estimated that climate change has already made such events more than 600 times more likely in this region.” (Pg. 40)
“600 times more likely” in the planet’s most methane-enriched permafrost region is reason enough to cut CO2 missions to the bone, no questions asked.
Several climate change issues dangerously reflect on fragility of the food system and a pronounced lack of adaptation measures as well as natural systems and ecosystems “at the edge of capacity.” Lack of social safety and social cohesion is found everywhere, all of which can erupt as a result of an unforgiving climate system that is overly stressed and broken.
Cascades will likely lead to breakdown of governance due to limited food supplies and lack of income bringing on increasingly violent extremists groups, paramilitary intervention, organized violence, and conflict between people and states, all of which has already commenced.
Already, migration pressures are a leading edge of climate-related breakdowns in society. Each year in 2008-20 an average of 21.8 million people have been displaced by weather-related disasters of extreme heat, floods, storms, and wildfires. In the most recent year, 30 million people in 143 countries worldwide were displaced by such climate disasters.
Without doubt, the eyes of the world will be focused on COP26 to judge commitments by governments.
There is no time left for failure because failure breeds even worse failure.
Rome is scorching hot. This beautiful city is becoming unbearable for other reasons, too. Though every corner of the beaming metropolis is a monument to historical grandeur, from the Colosseum in Rione Monti to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in San Giovanni, it is now struggling under the weight of its own contradictions.
In Via Appia, bins are overflowing with garbage, often spilling over into the streets. The smell, especially during Italy’s increasingly sweltering summers, is suffocating.
Meanwhile, many parts of the country are literally on fire. Since June 15, firefighters have reportedly responded to 37,000 fire-related emergencies, 1,500 of them on July 18 alone. A week later, I drove between Campania, in southern Italy, and Abruzzo, in the center. Throughout the journey, I was accompanied by fire and smoke. On that day, many towns were evacuated, and thousands of acres of forests were destroyed. It will take months to assess the cost of the ongoing destruction, but it will certainly be measured in hundreds of millions of euros.
Additionally, the entire southern Europe is ablaze, as the region is experiencing its worst heat waves in many years. Greece, Spain, Turkey, and the Balkans are fighting fires that continue to rage on.
Across the Atlantic, the US and Canada, too, are desperately trying to battle their own wildfires, mostly direct outcomes of unprecedented heat waves that struck North America from Vancouver to California, along with the whole of the American northwest region. In June, Vancouver, Portland and Seattle all set new heat records, 118, 116 and 108 Fahrenheit, respectively.
While it is true that not all fires are a direct result of global warming — many in Italy, for example, are man-made — unprecedented increases in temperature, coupled with changes in weather patterns, are the main culprits of these unmitigated disasters.
The solution is more complex than simply having the resources and proper equipment to contain these fires. The impact of the crises continues to be felt for years, even if temperatures somehow stabilize. In California, for example, which is bracing for another horrific season, the devastation of the previous years can still be felt.
“After two years of drought, the soil moisture is depleted, drying out vegetation and making it more prone to combustion,” The New York Timesreported on July 16. The problem, then, is neither temporary nor can be dealt with through easy fixes.
As I sat with my large bottle of water outside Caffettiamo Cafe, struggling with heat, humidity and the pungent smell of garbage, I thought about who is truly responsible for what seems to be our new, irreversible reality. Here in Italy, the conversation is often streamlined through the same, predictable and polarized political discourse. Each party points finger at the others, in the hope of gaining some capital prior to the upcoming October municipal elections.
Again, Italy is not the exception. Political polarization in Europe and the US constantly steers the conversation somewhere else entirely. Rarely is the problem addressed at a macro-level, independent from political calculations. The impact of global warming cannot and must not be held hostage to the ambitions of politicians. Millions of people are suffering, livelihoods are destroyed, the fate of future generations is at risk. In the grand scheme of things, whether the current mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, is elected for another term or not, is insignificant.
Writing in the Columbia Climate School website, Renee Cho highlights the obvious, the relationship between our insatiable appetite for consumption and climate change. “Did you know that Americans produce 25 percent more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, sending an additional one million tons a week to landfills?” Cho asks.
This leads us to think about the existential relationship between our insatiable consumption habits and the irreparable damage we have inflicted upon mother earth.
Here in Via Appia, the contradictions are unmistakable. This is the summer sales season in Italy. Signs reading “Saldi” – or “Sale” – are everywhere. For many shoppers, it is impossible to fight the temptation. This unhinged consumerism – the backbone and the fault line of capitalism – comes at a high price. People are encouraged to consume more, as if such consumption has no repercussions for the environment whatsoever. Indeed, Via Appia is the perfect microcosm of this global schizophrenia: people complaining about the heat and the garbage, while simultaneously consuming beyond their need, thus creating yet more garbage and, eventually, worsening the plight of the environment.
Collective problems require collective solutions. Italy’s heat cannot be pinned down on a few arsonists and California’s wildfires are not simply the fault of an ineffectual mayor. Global warming is, in large part, the outcome of a destructive pattern instigated and sustained by capitalism. The latter can only survive through unhindered consumption, inequality, greed and, when necessary, war. If we continue to talk about global warming without confronting the capitalist menace that generated much of the crisis in the first place, the conversation will continue to amount to nil.
In the final analysis, all the conferences, pledges and politicking will not put out a single fire, neither in Italy nor anywhere else in the world.
The fourth of John Talbott’s criteria is the need for cultural sustainability: Satisfying our need as human beings to be creative and expressive; to learn, grow, teach and be; to have a diverse, interesting, stimulating and exciting social environment and range of experiences available.
― Christine Connelly, Sustainable Communities: Lessons from Aspiring Eco-Villages
And, we can take what Connelly states in her book to the level of — There is relatively little sharing of facilities, faculties, things, social capital, land, farming, cooperative everything, largely due to the dispersement of collective action capitalism has welded to the capitalist consumer, err, citizen. In one sense, many people in this Western society like the idea of big familial situations, and dispersing extra “things” and extra “time” in a cooperative sense, but the systems of oppression, the systems of dog-eat-dog, the systems of malformed educations and coocoo histories, all of that and the retail mentality AND the psychological fears (real, imagined, post-hypnotically suggested through a debt society) of losing home, health, humanity with the wrong throw of the mortgage and employment dice, we have now mostly a society that is not a sharing society, not a sharing economy, not a cadre of millions who believe in a genuine progress index as a marker of a democracy’s overall health.
But to allude to the title, specifically, I am looking at more and more systems of shutting out the ground-view of things versus the global view, or the international view. I am seeing more and more web sites forgetting the lynch-pin of humanity — the family, the community around a family, and the attempt to create tribes and communities of similar purposes and communities of place. Leftist websites spend countless miles of digital ink repeating what the take is on Imperial power, what the take is on the perversities of the American Chaotic diseases, what the world is in those white nations (sic) of more and more poverty, fencing out solutions and global bullshit tied to hobbling literally China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and any country where a social contract with the people and the land is emerging. Important, sure, but some of us are Marxists because we look at the ground as a way toward the larger truths.
Keeping it Local for Global Perspectives
The reality is that, like Thoreau, most do not have to travel far geographically or scholastically to understand systems from one example or a limited set of examples. If a community, or town or county can’t stop job-killing, physiology-killing, ecological-killing things/ideologies/processes coming into said community, such as, say, aerial sprays of mountains and valleys and hills that have been razed by industry, then, what sort of hope do people hold out in the larger view that your country will do the right thing with say, oh, Cuba. You know, stopping the plague of economic and financial and shipping sanctions/blockades. You can see in plain view the results of stealing countries’ bank accounts or stopping the shipping of valuable life saving “stuffs.”
So, how can that Lincoln County, OR, attempt to go to the State Supreme Court to lobby these shyster judges to do the right thing — stop the spraying of neurological and gut killing sprays to inhibit the unnatural grown and profusion of noxious weeds and opportunist shrubs and bushes on a part of mother earth that once was a dynamic forest with dynamic species, with shaded creeks, with ground food for subsoil, terrestrial and avian creatures.
I get why web sites that carry leftist news and reports go for the international gut wrenching or elitist view, but we need balance. We need proof of life and hope and action at the human level. We need writers like me to take one example of humanity doing humanity right, and giving it to the world.
That is the world here, for a moment — less than 72 hours on a plot of forest land I happen to own with my sister. Nothing fancy, just 20 acres of white pine and cedar and Douglas fir. Turkeys and bears, and the amazing skies. It is near Pahto, or Mount Adams. What should be wet soil is something like I’d find in Colorado near Durango. Snow for the season, more than one fifth the average snowfall. And there has been no rain since June 17.
We are talking Oregon, in the viewshed of Pahto and Wy’east (Adams and Hood). Things on those 20 acres and my neighbors’ adjoining 75 acres are not right. Fire, as one of the brothers told me, will be — unless climate models change 180 degrees — a bigger and bigger part of the land. The landscape. The people’s trial and tribulations. Throughout the west. Throughout the globe.
As we are in a 24-7 loop of being entertained (distracted) to death with sports, Trump Beatification Syndrome/Trump Derangement Syndrome, the politics of perversity, Corona Crisis Number 999, and all the junk that occupies the brains of Homo Retailopethicus.
I’ve been coming to this property for going on 30 years. Not regularly since I have lived and worked in such places as El Paso, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Gladstone, Beaverton, Estacada, Vancouver, and down here on the coast. It is a three and three-quarters of an hour trip from our house on the Pacific (Central Coast) to the place eight miles north of a town called White Salmon.
I met the neighbor landowners, let’s call them Rita and Ron, before they had put down the concrete footings to their house. Now, some 30 years later, they have a garden, tapped into water, have a nice modern house, lots of out buildings, a Cat for grading, and other things to make life in the woods pretty nice. Ron’s got a degree from U of Washington in geography. He is from Seattle. His brother (we’ll call him JW) put in 30 years at Boeing, and he spends time up on some acres he owns next to my property. A motor home that is nothing fancy, a SUV and he has juice, water and a septic system. There is a lot to do, and not a lot to do. He has a condo in Scottsdale, and he has kids in Spokane and Florida. He is living the good life, and it isn’t a huge ecological footprint. He’s a dyed in the wool democrat.
There are robust and real discussions with these two guys and Ron’s wife Rita. She has been married three times, has childhood trauma, had major drug addictions and she is a big time worker, gets things done, and is in recovery. Her gigs include not just taking care of rich people’s linens, scrubbing and cooking. She’s done this sort of work so long that she gets requests from really sick spouses, or individuals. She is there as caretaker, first responder, nutritional coach, travel agent, companion on some of those trips, and navigator for finances, health care concerns, family issues, and more.
Heavy things taking care of people who once were robust, skiers, surfers, outdoors folk, who are now bed-ridden and stroke paralyzed. There are plenty of issues tied to family members of the people she cares for wanting their cut of the goods, and those who want to outright steal from their moms and dads, grannies and papas.
This is a job we call “caring for people” angels. While Rita doesn’t buy into any heaven/hell theme, she jokes about being both an angel of mercy and of death. Many have died on her watch due to advanced stages of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and the like.
I worked as a union organizer in Seattle, for part-time college faculty, but my union, SEIU, was and is all about health care workers. I spent time with women and men in Seattle and surrounding communities who were the licensed caregivers — the care home owners and the care home workers. Those workers are many times employed by the state to work the low paying, hard hours jobs of assisting people, old or young, who are incapable of thriving on their own without help with any number of things. Many of the people I represented in the union did the bathing and the feeding.
What I learned in those microcosms (again, the big picture stuff was always at the forefront in the union, with them beating the drum to support Obama-2 and Insley for WA governor) was again ramifying how mixed up Capitalism is under Democrats or the Demons of Republicanism. In Seattle, post-Occupy where I got to teach a few times in those famous street teach-ins, all of the Trayvon Martin protests, and those against Amazon, the fabric of that disjointed concept of those who have and those who do not have was in plain sight.
The levels of inequity were in plain sight in that backyard of mine. And, those people from African nations, those Latinx, working as personal care support, or CNAs, and those managing houses where the old, tired, sick would end up, now that was yet another lesson, and all the world is a stage was there as the underlying theme in that Diaspora of people from poverty-stricken post (sic) colonial lands, where war and murder by despots were daily concerns. These humble people were/are the caregivers, the end-of-life shepherds for “our” people — citizens.
In so many cases, the people who come from poor countries, they were the only people in the lives of these American citizens who were languishing in their sadness as their families had abandoned them in many instances. Some woman from Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, there she was, bathing, soothing, singing to and holding the lives of white people who were stuck in a room, slowly or rapidly dying.
Caregivers, and SEIU represented them as a unit. All the training these caregivers have to undergo, at the state and county levels. Black women and men, and those of Muslim faith, in the Seattle area, tending to the lives of the dying, or the developmentally disabled, that is the reality of capitalism as throwaway society. Capitalism of the impersonal, Capitalism of the scam after scam. Each layer of Capitalism is like a tree riddled with termites and beetles and all manner of disease eating it from the inside out.
That’s the real world stage — what a society does to assist the old, young, vulnerable, failing, too weak to move. What a society does to collectively build safety nets, to look at the “all the world as a stage” perspective from a macro lens, in order to widen the scope to the county, regional, national, global level. Rita taking care of super vulnerable people who do not worry about how they are paying for her private services. Aging in place — in these big homes overlooking the Columbia Gorge. Aging at home before all things go south.
In some cases, Rita is their only confidant, their only set of ears and eyes. Twice weekly visits are the only human touch they receive in their lives. Her job is that multiplicity of jobs in a patriarchal disaster capitalism society — nurse, PT provider, social worker, psychologist, taxi service, health navigator, nutritionist, legal consultant, errand person, cook, mover, travel consultant, companion, financial planner, and more. to end up as a symbolic friend and quasi-daughter or sister.
Rita and Ron live a good life out in the woods, with turkeys jumping into the trees, deer coming to the great garden they have, and the seasonal bear pushing over stumps to look for grubs. A riot of hummingbirds. Snakes and lizards. Butterflies we don’t see in suburban areas anymore. And those trees.
Ron works the land, tends to the canopies, looks for crowded trees, or dying ones, and has learned how to shepherd the land so the trees on the property thrive. Canopies where the crowns don’t touch. A better than park-like feel to the land. And now, with the changing precipitation, the nighttime temperatures last week in the nineties, all that desiccating climate heating, we have yet another “world is a stage” with the poor management of the land, the lack of state resources, the lack of collective will to mitigate fire suppression, and how to bring these forests into some manageable fire dampening state.
Yes, Ron is 68, still capable of logging and stacking trees, but his shoulder a few years ago was operated on, and a knee replaced this year. And, just a week ago, a reminder that the other knee will be chopped out with a titanium replacement to come.
Rita and Ron save money, use the Washington state Medicaid system, they are not consumers — Ron saves the old Ford sedan, cannibalize parts from old washers and dryers, and he knows how to tune up chainsaws, and how to build. His degree in geography and his deep regard for American history keep him sane. He likes golf, he plays dozens of types of cards, including Texas Hold’em, and he does Scrabble. He knows the native names of the two mountains in his geographic area.
This is the small fry of America, and a hidden gem. I know for a fact that old aging in place infirm people, or chronically unhoused folk, or people on the more untenable end of the Autism Spectrum, as well as people who do not fit in, who have intellectual disabilities, or those with complex or simple PTSD, would thrive here.
Again, setting up communities that are multi-generational, with residents possessing multiple avocations and occupations, people with varying skills, those who want community big time, and those who need community in their lives to do some checks and balances. Horse therapy, or dogs. Healthcare and PTSD recovery through gardening. Skills of building a tiny home from logs to end product. Designing microhomes that are in kits, packages that a couple could put together. Imagine that, housing people, and getting abandoned farms or degraded farms into the hands of intentional and healing communities.
So, that one 72 hours on the land, my land shared in title with my sister (it’s really never OUR land, now is it), the small things of just regular people spark, again, from this socialist, Marxist, communist, the deep well of experience and deep learning to a much higher ground, something worthy. But imagine, a thousand, or ten thousand farming centered healing communities, with Native American elders/wisdom, with that wounded veteran to farmer ethos, with all the markings of communitarian outposts of real healing and body-mind-spirit functioning. You know, all those yellow buses that are no longer road worthy. Think of them in the millions, taken to some of these places to be stripped, insulated, interior designed, made into HOMES, with amazing artistic touches, in a big circle, like a sunflower, with a community gathering place in the center, commercial kitchen and food processing center, healing center, and arts center. Imagine that, Bezos and Gates and all the other Financial Stormtroopers who have gutted communities from the bottom, up.
Alas, that’s what the small generates — the systems thinking approach to communities, which need food security, water security, direct health care, even living, aging and dying in place. This does work, will work, and should be scaled up to the thousandth degree. But in this scorched earth and scorched body capitalism, nothing can be moved unless there are a thousand lawyers, ten thousand contracts, and one hundred thousand overseers-code enforcers-middlemen/women in the mix, denigrating human agency, deconstructing the value of people and ideas, and destroying hope.
Bear, turkey, deer, on the deck sipping tequila, and the four of us talking about life, aging, the intricacies of lives so different yet here, on this plot of land, with a common humanity beyond just the intercourse of money and exchanges a la capitalism. The land, that is, the mountains and hills, all those animal trails, each tree a testament to these people, Rita and Ron, caring for the place for more than three decades.
Got a Few Million for this Real Solution?
So, the state of affairs is rotten, to the max, in every aspect of Capitalism. Sure, JC and Rita and Ron have a more middle of the row belief in this country’s exceptionalism. They are not versed in Howard Zinn, W.E.B. DuBois, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and so many others who have pried open this country’s evil roots, it’s so-called founding, and the wars, the expansionism, all of that. It’s much easier to look at the past with rose tinted glasses, and to believe that something was right, with Eisenhauer or Truman, FDR, any of them. That is the limitation of Americans, even good ones like Ron, Rita and JC. Truly, but they are in their own world, so to speak, a bubble, and yes, they get the world around them is harsh, that some (sic) of USA’s policies have kinked up the world. But to have those limits, to not see how the US has always been Murder Incorporated, or that this is Rogue Nation, a nation of chaos, a nation run by CIA-DoD and the secretive cabal of banks-industrialists-AI fuckers.
And, lo and behold, another friend, we’ll call her Betty, sent to me this other chunk of land, in Oregon, near wine country, 205 acres, up for sale, with amazing infrastructure, up for sale for 6.9 million dollars. The possibility of a developer coming into 205 acres, setting the torch for 5 acre dream (sic) homes for the rich, in a planned and gated community of millionaires, well, that is the rush she had to ask me if I had ideas.
Of course, I have ideas. Look at the list above. This place is called Laurelwood — Look at it here. Link.
Here, the low down via the realtor —
205 +/- acres zoned AF-5
Includes 49 Acre Campus with 6+ Buildings totaling approx. 130,000 SF:
Expansion Hall- Administration Building with Auditorium, Classrooms and Offices
Harmony Hall- Girl’s dorm with 67 rooms, 7 offices, lounge, chapel, commercial kitchen, dining room, bath suites, etc. and attached 3-bedroom Dean’s house
Devotion Hall- Boy’s dorm with 49 rooms (19 rooms need sheetrock finished and painted), apartment with kitchen, bath suites, rec room, lounges, etc. and attached 5-bedroom Dean’s house
Gymnasium/Music Building with Stage
Science Classroom Building with Library
Industrial Arts Building with Auto Shop, Wood Shop and Welding Shop
Extensive Updates during current ownership include:
Administration Building has newer metal roof, updated windows, new insulation, remodeled auditorium and meeting rooms, new HVAC, electrical service and lighting
New windows, high efficiency hot water system, new HVAC, new kitchen appliances and walk-in refrigerator, insulation, paint, lighting and carpeting in Harmony Hall (Girl’s dorm)
New windows, insulation in 49 rooms plus new sheetrock in 30 rooms of Devotion Hall (Boy’s dorm)
New and repaired roofs and new electrical services
Domestic water system and sewage system for campus
Includes separate 4.69 acres (Tax Lot 1301) with Spring and water rights– domestic water source for campus
Adjacent 151 +/- acres well suited for low density residential development with 30 LA water co-op certificates
Vineyard soils & Beautiful Views
South Fork Hill Creek flows through property
Rural location approximately 14 miles south of Hillsboro near Gaston
Ahh, the place is now a retreat, in retreat, as the Yoga enthusiasts are old or aging, and the place was closed due to the corona insanity/lockdown, and the people are giving up, and now it’s on the market: It is Ananda of Laurelwood. I present the basic website verbiage:
What Is Ananda?
Ananda is a global movement to help you realize the joy of your own highest Self.
Living Wisdom School
Temple & Teaching Center
Education for Life
There you have it — water, a spring, land, buildings, the potential of being not just this 205 intentional-healing-farming-tiny home building community, but a model for many others to spread across the land. I know I could get dozens of groups to come to this property for workshops, test kitchen work, growers, even wine producers, horse therapy folk, music healers, and even entomologists to create insect and pollinator fields. Students from the dozens of colleges around the Pacific Northwest, doing projects on aging, on healing, the dog and horse therapy works.
Take a look at this —
So, how do I, well trained, well educated, well versed, find the money? My proposal to Betty is to send a letter to, well, that famous ex-wife, McKenzie Bezos, now McKenzie Scott Tuttle. Billionaire who has pledged to give away half of her wealth, in the billions, tens of billions. Oh, there is Nick Hanauer, and other billionaires, so, imagine, just putting 6.9 million down, owning the property, shelling out for two or three years the monthly upkeep and insurance shit that this property would need while people like me and others build this community, pulling in all those actors, business women and men, the nonprofits, the outside the envelope people who could help design this place as a place of healing.
For me, it is a quick writing prompt, and what follows it that letter to McKenzie Scott Tuttle. First draft. You can never get this to Abigail Disney or Melinda Gates, others, including the Phil Nike Knights. That is Capitalism on steroids — lies, flimflam, propaganda, marketing us to death, layer after layer of buffering, check systems, until good ideas and a good piece of land go the way of the dodo — extinct. This project I could spark into action. I have no problem talking with McKenzie or her handlers with her there, of course. Anyone. There are 2,800 billionaires in the world. Hundreds of philanthropies. A few million angel investors. Collective action and stakeholder building. But the property needs to be held in a trust, a placeholder to allow for a group of people to design its future, to get entrepreneurs involved, to get this thing going so it can be self-sufficient. A model for thousands of other places around the USA and Canada, being scarfed up by the evil ones, the developers.
Below my letter to Scott-Tuttle, see Nick Hanauer. McKenzie Scott gets wealthier even giving away billions below that. Abigail Disney below that. Below her, the author of Dream Hoarders. Better yet, Michael Parenti on Capitalism below the hoarder talk. Below that, Michael’s son, Christian, speaking about Tropic of Chaos, his book climate chaos/heating fueling violence and war.
Here, my letter to McKenzie Scott Tuttle (Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started the Giving Pledge in 2010. It encourages those billionaires to pledge to give away 50% of their earnings to charity. By 2012, over 81 billionaires joined the Giving Pledge. That number is now over 120 billionaires, as of May 2014, according to the Giving Pledge’s official website.)
Reverence is an emotion that we can nurture in our very young children, respect is an attitude that we instill in our children as they become school-agers, and responsibility is an act that we inspire in our children as they grow through the middle years and become adolescents.
— Zoe Weil, p. 42, Above All Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times
Oh, the naysayers tell me and my cohorts to not even try to break into the foundation you run, that this concept of having Mackenzie Scott Tuttle even interested in becoming a placeholder for an idea, and for this land that a group of visionaries see as an incubation collective space for dreams to become reality.
We place our hopes in your ability to read on and see the vision and plans driving this solicitation, this ask. And it is a big ask.
This is figuratively and literally putting the cart before the horse. Here we have 200 acres, and the vision is retrofitting this center that is already there, Ananda, into a truly holistic healing center, youth run, for a seven generations resiliency and look forward ethos of learning to steward the land, learning to grow the land, toward biodynamic farming, all mixed in with intergenerational wisdom growing.
We are seeing this, as stated above, as a medicine wheel. A circle of integrative thinking, education, experimentation and overlapping visions of bringing stakeholders from around the Pacific Northwest (and world) into this safe harbor. There are already facilities on this property as you can see from the real estate prospectus. There are 120 rooms in a great building. There are outbuildings, a gymnasium, barns, and spring water.
It is unfortunately up for sale, and the danger there is a developer with a keen eye to massive profits and turning a spiritual and secular place of great healing and medicine wheel potential into “dream homes” for the rich.
Good land turned into a gated community? We are asking your philanthropy to take a deep dive into helping put this property on hold from those nefarious intentions and allow our group to develop this circle of healing – education across disciplines, elder type academy mixed with youth directed programs; farming; food production; micro-home building and construction facility; trauma informed healing.
Actually, more. Think of this as a community of communities.
Young People Need Hope, a Place (many places) and Leadership and Development
So many young people are done with Industrial and Techno Capitalism. They know deep down there is more to a scoop of soil than a billion bacteria, and they want to be part of healing communities.
We are proposing the Foundation you have set up invest in this property, as a placeholder for our development plan – actually it is an anti-developer plan. This property will be scarfed up for a steal, by, land and housing developers who want McMansions out here in this incredible eco-scape. Just what we do not need in the outlying areas of Portland. Or in so many other locations across this country.
We are a small group ready to do what we can to get food growers and producers at the table to invest in intellectual and sweat and tears capital to make this 200 acres work as a living community of new farmers, people living and learning on the property, incubating ideas for, we hope, to include a micro-home building project, crops, vineyards, learning centers for farming and preserving, marketing and engaging in food healing.
We come at this with decades around food systems, learning from Via Campesina/o or Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, Winona LaDuke, Rachel Carson. We believe in biomimicry, that is, learning how nature settles scores, survives and thrives. We come at this as deeply concerned about ecological footprints, life cycle analyses, the disposable culture and the planned and marketed obsolescence.
We are also coming at this as educators – earth teachers, who know classrooms in prison like settings, with rows of desks, do not engender creative and solutionaries– young people ready to go into the world, even a small community, with engaged, creative and positive ways to deal with climate chaos and the impending shattering of safety nets, including biological and earth systems “nets” and “webs.”
This property is unique, as all of our earth is. This is firstly Kalapua land, first, and that is the Grande Ronde and Siletz, as well as the Atfalsti, too. We call it Gatson, near Hillsboro, Oregon, but the land is the essence of the spirit givers of this continent before “discovery.”
Rich, in the wine country of the new people to this region, this land is about applying our ethos and yours, Ms. Scott-Tuttle, toward a real healing, a real stewardship and real intergeneration ethos around carrying the wisdom of tribes and growers and educators to the youth. We believe women are at the center of many of the themes already listed – farming, educating, healing, human stewardship.
Think of this project as the cart before the horse because the old system, the horse, was always the money, the source of power, and with power comes strings attached. The people involved in this project are looking to have a multistoried community of farmers, learners, youth learning trades and people skills, as well as elders, both Native and new arrivals, to understand that a farm is more than that, as well as a vineyard is more than the sum of the grapes. It is about a reclaiming of the sacred – soil, air, photosynthesis in a truly sustainable fashion.
The only “green washing” we can imagine this project will carry forth is the washing of the greens, the other harvests, in tubs of clear spring water.
Some of us on this project have traveled to other parts of this continent, and spent time with coffee growers and understand that shade grown coffee and beyond fair trade are the only elements to a truly fair and equitable system. Train the people of the land, who are the true stewards, to not only grow, but to roast and market the bounty. Grow the community with water projects, irrigation, schools, and globalized sharing of people, visitors.
This project needs a placeholder, to keep the land out of the insane real estate market. We will do the rest, we solutionaires. There are so many growers and investment angels who want to be part of the Seventh Generation solution.
Clearly, the lessons for people to be in this 200 acre community, farm-soil-healing satellite, are lessons you, Ms. Scott-Tuttle, the fiction writer, know, which you capture deftly with Luther Albright. The world for young people in the Pacific Northwest is that crumbling home and crumbling dam of Albright. The healing we need is more than the structures and infrastructure. It is inside, at the heart of the soul of imagination. Some of us on this project are soliciting from your charity a placeholder purchase of the property are tied to the arts, believing STEAM is the only way forward, and that S.T.E.M. is lifeless and dangerous without the A – arts. We believe the true voice of people are those who believe in asking “what should we do” rather than what is currently on superchargers – “What Can We Do?”
We realize that for many young people, politics have failed them. Many youth I speak with and work with, believe this country is in the midst of an empire of chaos in steep decay. Alternatives to the decay is building communities that would fit the model here on 200 acres – agro-ecological farming; nutritional centered living; housing; long-term care assistance; youth directed entrepreneur projects; bringing in local and state businesses leaders to be part of a design from the grassroots up.
The catch for most of the youth we have engaged is — to paraphrase and level a composite point,” We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American.” This simple statement is packed full of context and frightening reality for millions of students and adults who feel disconnected and neutered by both government agencies and corporate policies.
First, who wants to be “ruled” by anyone? That we have this class system of elite, middle managers, the elite’s high ranking servicers, and then, the rest of the citizens, the so-called 80 percent who have captured less than the overall 10 percent of “wealth” in this country. The very idea of an elite out of touch, or completely out of touch speaks to an ignorance that is dangerous to the world, to the 80 percent, and also speaks to a possible planned ignorance. That we have millions of amazing people, to include nonprofits, community-led organizations, educational institutions, journalists, and others, who can speak to what those “travails” are, and yet, the elites failing to grasp those challenges, or failing to even acknowledge them, this is what many believe is the decay of this society.
This may not sit well with you or your philanthropy, but we as a group have dozens of years experience working with K12, higher ed, farming groups, social services/mutual aid movements, and have systems thinking in our backgrounds, and we underscore youth and community-driven projects and designs. This medicine wheel/circle land trust we are asking you to consider with a follow up meeting, well, this is the only way to a model-driven set of safety nets to move into some challenging times for this Empire in a world that is no longer USA centric.
We are solutionaries, that is, we look for solutions by taking apart problems and then applying holism and deep experimentation in design, but using tried and proven systems that do work.
Healthy food, healthy relationships to culture, people, nature, healthy work, worthy work, with an eye always on the arts. Just as a farming and tiny home community, where biodynamic farming and food preserving and from nail to roof to complete tiny home design are part and parcel the key elements for this community to thrive under, well, there are no better classrooms and transferable skills.
Some of us have seen youth and adults learn the crafts needed to design, plan, buildings, and market tiny homes that would be used to seed communities that are, again, centered around farming, centered around healing, centered around Native American healing, and local community values. A young woman who finishes the hands-on learning of building a tiny home – with windows, skylights, plumbing, furnishings, electricity ready, all of that which a home entails – is a remarkable, valuable person. All those skills, again, like a medicine wheel, teach deeper lessons, and transferable skills.
This is what this property would also “house.”
All Tied Together – School, Outdoors, People, Action, Solving Food Insecurity and Housing
The should is an educational-farming-entrepreneur-solutions incubator on these 200 acres. Proving that this could be one of a thousand across the land. There are literally thousands of similar properties around the US, within their own cultural-community-ecological-historical milieus, but again, this project is one that Luther Albright would have thrived inside as a “New Engineer for Growing Communities,” as opposed to river-killing dam builder.
Our earthquake is here now, with all measure of tremors and aftershocks — that is the climate chaos, wildfires, food insecurity, and alas, the New/New Gilded age of deep inequities that are criminal, as you well know, Ms. Scott Tuttle.
Here, the cart (before the horse): this amazing collective piece of land and buildings with a multiversity of spiritual under girders . The horses are ready, but they need the cart, the home, the fabric of incubation. Those stallions and mares are engaged, ready, who are willing to take a leap of faith here and risk being outside the common paradigm of predatory and consumer-driven capitalism that has put many millions in a highly precarious position.
It’s amazing, the current system of philanthropy which forces more and more people to beg for less and less diverse money for fewer and fewer truly innovative ideas. Funding a project like this is a legacy ad-venture, the exact formula we need (scaled up to a 1,000 different locales) to break the chains of Disaster and Predatory Capitalism. We need that “capital,” the cart, to help those stallions and mares to break for the field of ideas and fresh streams of praxis.
There are any number of ideas for sustainability communities. Co-ops, growers groups, or mixed communities for young and old to exchange knowledge, capacity, growth, sweat equity — called intergenerational living. This is about a pretty inventive suite of concepts and practices:
learning spaces, inside and outside
buildings to develop micro home (unique, easily packaged and ready to put together) manufacturing and R & D
food systems – farming of sustainable food, herbs and those vines
learning food systems, from farm to plate
ceramics, painting, music, dance, theater and writing center
farmers, restaurateurs and harvesters with a stake in the community
Youth directed outdoor education and experiences
sustainability practicum’s for students
low income micro home housing
day care center, early learning center
How does this make any sense to a billionaire, who has devoted her life to “giving away” half of her wealth in her lifetime? Well, we see this project – this land-property – as a legacy for many of the avocations and interests (passions) you have articulated over the years. Your vision and commitment to education and women-centered projects are admirable. This is one of those projects.
There is that emotional and sappy Movie, Field of Dreams, and the statement – “if you build it, they will come.” We have found that over the years teaching in many places – Seattle, Spokane, Portland, El Paso, Auburn, Mexico – that young people and nontraditional students want mentoring, leadership and the tools to be mentors and leaders. They need the cart before the horse can herald in the new ideas, and the new way to a better future. If the classroom and master facilitator allows for open growth, unique student-led ideas and work, well, that person has BUILT the field of dreams from which to grow.
There are so many potentials with this project, and it starts with the land, holding it as a Scott-Tuttle placeholder. From an investment point of view, as long as you have people wrangling other people and professionals to get this satellite of sanity, the medicine wheel with many spokes radiating out and inward, the property increases in monetary value. Land is sacred, but just as sacred are the ideas and the potential that land might germinate and grow. It is the reality of our country – too few control too much. We see it in the infamous “Complex” – not just military, but, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Media, Big Business, Big Education, Big Medicine, as well as private prisons, for profit social services, AI , and Big Tech, so called Surveillance Capitalism. Who in the 80 percent has the funds to purchase a $7 million project?
Big ideas like this cooperative land medicine wheel (a first of many satellites) might be common, but the web of supportive and cohesive things tied to this property is unusual, to say the least. With the failing of small businesses throughout the area, with the food insecurity for women, children and families, with the housing insecurity, added to debt insecurity — with all those insecurities young and old face, this project could be the light at the end of many tunnels. We have connections to Oregon Tilth and Latinx Farmers, and large biodynamic vineyards. We have connections to women’s veteran groups, to aging in place experts. We have connections to trauma healers and growers and interested folk who know construction and design. Additionally, the Pacific Northwest, from Puget Sound to Gold Beach, OR, is full of innovators, and those include the dozens of colleges and universities just in these two states – Oregon and Washington. We intend to trawl for investors – farms, food purveyors, wineries, restaurants, schools and various college programmers – to put into this project. A soil plot to test perennial wheat, a al the Land Institute, to Amory Lovins, Novella Carpenter, and so many more, finding a place of integrated living, ag, permaculture and ever-evolving cultural understanding of the finite planet we are on.
We are hopeful, even under the current Sixth Extinction.
It is telling, this entomologist and educator’s perspective after three decades of teaching:
Diana Six, an entomologist for 30 years who teaches at the University of Montana, took her students to Glacier National Park on a field trip and reported the following:
Life doesn’t just deal with this. When I went up Glacier with my students a few weeks ago, the flowers were curling up. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks and they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds, are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked… People seem to think of extinctions as some silent, painless statistic. It’s not. You look at birds that can no longer find fish because they’ve moved too far off shore. They’re emaciated; they’re starving to death. We are at the point that there’s nothing untouched.
How contradictory and illustrative that this student experience took place in a “protected national park.”
Referencing how climate change impacts life, Diana said:
Somewhere along the way, I had gone from being an ecologist to a coroner. I am no longer documenting life. I’m describing loss, decline, death.
We are hopeful that our youth can document life on this Medicine Wheel Land Satellite, and instead of describing “loss, decline, death,” this one satellite can help individuals to describe resurgence, restoration, holism, and growth. A model, like the one we propose, could be the incubator and inspiration for other similar projects throughout the land. So many empty buildings, so many abandoned farms, so much good land about to be grabbed up by McMansion developers, or those who have no vision toward a resilient and communitarian existence.
We are thinking of a medicine wheel since so many people can utilize the Farm, from horse therapists, to gardening as trauma healers; from alternative medicine experts, to restaurants with a connection to growers. This is Tierra Firma Robusta, for sure, with so much potential to integrate a suite of smart, worldly, localized and educational programs, permanent, long-term, and short in duration. This would be the linchpin of inspiration, an incubator for similar projects, and we’d make sure that the Philanthropy you head up would be in some form of limelight – imagine, a billionaire placing a property with a deep spiritual history into a land trust of perpetuity. I know another billionaire has purchased farmland and is now the largest farm land holder in the US, but this one here we propose would fit an entirely different model, having nothing to do with industrial farming, genetic engineering and monocultures. Like all good societies, the cornucopia of life and backgrounds and people and land is what makes them dynamic, healthy and resilient, as well as fair.
We propose a grand idea, but we need that field of dreams, that field, that farm, before we can engage a hundred people to be part of this medicine wheel of land healing and hope.
Please let our team discuss this further. Truly, we have both the passion and persistence to get this Medicine Wheel of Healing Farm Community to an unimaginably vibrant level. Will you be part of our field of dreams?
The world is on fire like never before: “Wildfires Have Erupted Across the Globe Scorching Places That Rarely Burned Before” (CNN headlines July 22, 2021) but not only is fire raging, Biblical floods are destroying entire communities; e.g., 9,000 homes swept away in central China (BBC News) as towns were nearly decimated in Germany, “Europe’s Deadly Floods Leave Scientists Stunned” (Science, July 20, 2021). All of that with worldwide droughts at a fever pitch.
Is the sky (actually) falling?
According to SPEI Global Drought Monitor, the current drought cycle is worldwide. Only Antarctica is spared. In some corners of the world water reservoirs are dangerously low, big hydroelectric plants sputter, as long-standing verdant forests morph into dried-out firetraps.
This shocking coincidence of three major catastrophic events hitting at the same time is likely unequaled in modern history. Why are the most serious threats to 21st century civilization; i.e., drought, fire, and floods simultaneously ravaging the planet from east-to-west, north-to-south?
Answers can be found in a new book: Drought, Flood, Fire, How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes by Chris Funk (Director of Climate Hazards Center, UC Santa Barbara) Cambridge University Press, August 2021.
Funk provides a very accurate description of the linchpin of climate-related trouble in one brilliant paragraph:
We hang isolated in space, with only an incredibly thin layer of atmosphere standing between us and oblivion. If we could drive our car straight up at highway speeds, we would approach the edge of the atmosphere in a matter of minutes. And into this thin membrane we are dumping about 28 million gigatons of carbon dioxide every day. The rational decisions of nearly 8 billion people are resulting in collective insanity as we choose to destroy the delicate balances that support Earth’s fragile flame. (p. 21)
Climate change is making climate extremes more frequent and intense… Not in the future, but right now… Over the past few years (2015-2020) the fingerprints of climate change have seemed more like a slap. Extreme heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires have exacted a terrible toll on developed and developing nations alike. These extremes have impacted hundreds of millions of people and resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in losses, all across the globe. (p. 5)
Early on in Funk’s book a chart of weather-related losses (1980 to 2018) clearly shows a four-fold increase in less than 40 years, which is foreboding and demanding of attention. Funk educates readers how and why such huge increases have occurred in such a short time:
One goal of this book is to describe how energy moves through the Earth’s energy system, so you can both better appreciate the beauty of our life-sustaining complex planet, and how human-induced warming is altering this system in a dangerous and alarming way. (p. 12)
Drought Flood Fire delves into the onset of complex life, as well as the rudimentary basics of the mechanisms by which greenhouse gases warm the planet, to wit:
Even most people who believe in climate change don’t really understand the basic mechanism of why adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere has to increase the amount of energy reaching the surface of the Earth. (p. 65)
This book serves as a tutorial and, as such, a compelling asset for students and advocates and world policymakers. It’s an authoritative teaching tool with occasional fun images that depict the ironic fragility of our enduring planet, e.g.,
Imagine an egg painted blue. The atmosphere is as thick as the blue paint. (p. 67)
Ever wonder how tropical storms originate or hurricanes or cyclones via understanding the intricate details behind the reported facts, in plain English?
Is Earth uniquely fragile or steadfast and how is it that humans disrupt its ecosystems?
Indeed, Drought, Flood, Fire is a primer on the most elemental developments of all aspects of the universe and solar system and the origin of complex life itself. This seminal book is essentially a lecture series about the remarkable features and development of the universe ultimately devolving into today’s anthropogenic distortion of nature. It’s well worth the read.
Funk personally describes his approach, as follows:
Some aspects of climate change are complex and hard to fathom. Some are fairly straightforward concepts and facts that everyone really needs to understand. This book is mostly about the latter. Some of the most important mechanisms of climate change can be understood by everyone: Why do greenhouse gasses have such a direct warming effect on our planet? How does this warming intensify the impact of droughts and fires? How can this same atmospheric warming, paradoxically, also increase the frequency of extreme precipitation events and floods? This book approaches these questions with a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) attitude. (p. 59)
He explains the dynamics of extreme events, as for example, the interrelationship of California fires, warmer air temperatures, and drier vegetation like the infamous Thomas Fire of 2017, which was for a brief period the biggest most damaging fire in California history with flames roaring six stories into the sky.
Interestingly enough, along with that California example, Funk spells out warning signals for all of humanity, to wit:
By looking carefully at both weather data and disaster statistics, we can see with our own eyes that a 1°C warming is already having dire consequences. (p. 64)
That one fact alone “dire consequences” at only 1°C, especially in the context of a world currently at 1.2°C above baseline, should alert policymakers around the world to the inescapable gravity of today’s scenario with worldwide firestorms, floods, and droughts bordering on the apocalyptic, which are broadcasts on TV for all to see. These are unprecedented, out of control real time scenes of climate destructiveness never witnessed before. And, it’s happening around the world, and it’s happening now. It’s unvarnished reality!
According to Funk:
The intent here is serious. California just experienced a large increase in fire extent, due in part to an exceptional increase in temperatures. We will likely see this happen again, and again, over the next forty years. (p. 65)
Statements like that are backed up by scientific data that needs to be front and center for policymakers. His book should be on the desks of every policymaker because immediate remediation measures have never been more urgently crucial, especially with so much destruction at today’s global temperature of only 1.2°C above baseline. Whether they thoroughly read the book or not, policy wonks need a reminder of Drought Flood Fire on their desktops. It’s essential.
The rate of increase of global warming, as detailed in Funk’s book, sends a clear message of deep concern. Figure 5-3 in the book demonstrates “exceptionally warm” ocean and air temperatures throughout the planet. It’s the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s monthly temperature data set of sea surface and land temperatures. In true Michael Mann fashion the graph is parabolic!
The graph shows the fraction (percentage) of Earth that’s exceptionally warm over time, as explained by Funk:
This time series should deeply disturb you. The fraction… is increasing very rapidly. When I was born, it was about 2%. By the time I started graduate school it was around 5%. When my children were born, it hovered around 7%. Since that time the area of exceptional warmth has doubled again to around 17%, increasing rapidly just between the beginning and end of our focus period (2015-2019). Now almost one-fifth of the globe experiences extreme temperatures at any given time. (p. 99)
Those extremes result in severe health impacts, including death. For example, China has reported “at least 300 deaths” as a result of recent record-making floods whilst the same flooding traps passengers in subway trains standing in neck-deep water in the provincial capital Zhengzhou; meantime, hundreds of people died in the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave, according to estimates; there were at least 486 deaths in British Columbia, 116 in Oregon, 78 in Washington… there were more than 3,500 emergency department visits for heat-related illness this past May and June in a region that includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State, which is normally a very cool region.
Funk’s research group has developed a methodology to provide accurate estimates of maximum air temperatures called the Climate Hazards Center Infrared Temperature dataset. His accomplishments at U of Calif. Santa Barbara involve satellites and computers used to identify and predict climate hazards. Because of the planet’s berserk climate system of late, Funk’s work should be mandatory for nation/state policy wonks.
Funk’s Extreme Event Attribution methodology identifies “the fingerprint of climate change” well ahead of time. For example, his research group explains the mechanisms or observations by which extreme weather events can be anticipated to help formulate humanitarian aid well ahead of a severe drought. As for example:
In late 2016 we predicted the spring 2017 drought that struck Kenya, Somalia, and southern Ethiopia. (p. 15)
According to Funk, we live on a “Goldilocks Planet” with a life support system entirely dependent upon a “very thin atmosphere and the absolute necessity of maintaining temperatures with a narrow range.” In that regard, Drought Flood Fire focuses on what’s happening to the planet now vis a vis extreme heat, extreme precipitation, and out of control droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes turbocharged by human-generated greenhouse gases.
Of interest, in spite of Funk’s careful examination of the dangers presented by human-generated greenhouse gases and examples of how devastating those have been at only 1°C above baseline, towards the end of his book he discovers an upbeat note by referencing the German and California experiences of effectively mitigating GHGs whilst experiencing rapid economic growth as examples of what the world can do to favorably resolve the climate crisis.
He goes on to tabulate all of the wonderful positives of modern day society, the accomplishments in medicine, science, etc., which are all true. Yet, it somehow comes across as way too Disneylandish in the face of repeated failures by the nations of the world to uphold their climate mitigation commitments. After all, every world climate conference, like Paris 2015, has failed, horribly failed. This is worse than a tragedy and cause for not holding one’s breath over the outcome of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow in November called COP26 where 30,000 delegates are expected.
Yes, since 1995 in Berlin, the world has already held 25 COPs! Begging the question: What results? Namely, annual CO2 emissions have skyrocketed (double the 20th century rate), unrelenting global warming (a new heat record, 2020) CO2-e at record levels year-by-year. Meanwhile, Biblical fires, massive flooding, and killer droughts haunt civilization like never before.
What’s to celebrate?
Maybe it would be better if COP26 is cancelled and save the millions spent on 30,000 professionals gathering to chitchat, meaning “lots of smoke but no flames,” except for the long-standing forests of the world, which are burning like crazy.
At the end, Funk comes back to reality, which is crucial for understanding where the planet’s health stands and what must be done, to wit:
Right now we appear to be headed for 3°C of warming or more. This level of warming would almost certainly have catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts on our planet’s life support system. (p. 299)
But, according to Drought Flood Fire, it’s already happening with just 1°C warming, as Funk additionally queries: Imagine +3°C or +4°C bringing on decimated crops, super storms, and considerably higher sea levels, but yet:
Even the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of warming will make an incredible difference. (p. 300)
Nobody knows for certain where climate change/global warming is headed, but one thing is certain, it’s always worse than climate models; it’s always worse than scientists expect. That’s a concerning preamble to yet one more UN Climate Summit.
All of which gives one pause with today’s 1.2°C above baseline as Biblical droughts, floods, and fires scare the daylights out of scientists. They’re publicly admitting it, which is a refreshing bold approach. Hopefully, their deep-seated concerns override, supersede the bureaucratic nightmarish results of past COPs.
Meanwhile, Drought Flood Fire, How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes puts everything into perspective.
In the newly coined so-called War on Covid, the arsenal is eclectic. There is not only science, in the form of experimental RNA vaccines hastily developed by giants of the pharmaceutical industry, but also semi-authoritarian or full-blown authoritarian government measures imposed and legally validated by declarations of states of emergencies. The panoply of edicts include mandatory face masks indoor and sometime outdoor, depending on the country; enforced or unenforced social distancing recommendations; limitation of public or even private gatherings; and more drastic measures like lock-downs and curfews.
The crescendo of assaults on personal liberties eased up for a few months, but governments are now using, because of the spread of the Delta variant, the threats of reinstating their coercion as an insidious blackmail to force people to get vaccinated. In other words, if one has the temerity to refuse the salvation brought by Big Pharma’s vaccines, life shall be so extremely problematic and isolated as almost to make one a social pariah. In France President Macron is defining a new ideology that could be called semi-authoritarian neoliberalism, while in the Philippines neofascist Duarte is entirely blunt in his approach. Regardless, both politicians have the same goal: to get their entire population vaccinated. They use a strategy of psychological warfare based on reward and punishment, a bit similar to that used on lab mice.
In the case of Macron, the reward for the good and fully vaccinated French citizens is that they will carry, as a badge of honor, a Pass Sanitaire. The misfits, refuseniks, pesky bad citizens who still refuse to see the light and comply, will receive punishments. These bad French apples will be deprived from travel except in their own vehicles, and from cultural events like concerts, movies and museum exhibits.
Duarte’s fascist approach, if more brutal, is in a sense a bit more honest. It is still about manipulating his population with the rewards versus punishments principle, but there are many sticks and basically no carrots. Case in point: Duarte is seriously considering locking up in their homes those Filipinos who refuse to be vaccinated. One can only wonder what will happen to the vast homeless population in the Philippines.
Covid management styles and policies have been diverse in tone and strategies, but it seems that governments worldwide are all watching, then mimicking, at times, each other’s minor achievements to avoid major failures. Only one question is on their minds, which seems to be the universal governmental panacea, independently of ideology: how do we get the entire population vaccinated?
In the more sophisticated media manipulation of Western democracies, the secondary questions are as follows. How do we convince the citizenry that the coercive measures put in place nearly 18 months ago, in a quasi entirely undemocratic fashion by decrees etc., were gently forced on people for their own good rather than in an attempt to avoid a global economic collapse? And further, how do we persuade them that these measures will be entirely lifted one day to go back to an almost mythological happy pre-Covid world?
In other words, how can leaders, with varying degrees of incompetence and undisclosed ties to giant global corporate interests, make people believe that they are acting for the common good rather than to avoid a global stock market crash? Altruism and the collective social good rarely guide the paths of politicians anywhere, and citizens in large numbers have finally caught on to this reality.
People have become more doubtful about what they are told, either directly by their elected officials, or through mainstream media outlets via so-called experts charged with propagating — yes, like propaganda — the government narrative with powerful bullhorns, and sort of carpet-bombing people’s brains with a relentless coverage of the immense danger of Covid, especially the brand new Delta variant, and the great virtue of vaccines as being almost 92 percent accurate silver bullets against the pandemic.
Unfortunately, a one-note intrusive narrative eventually has an undesired effect on a fragment of the population. This is precisely what is going on in France since Macron made the choice, which could be fatal to his political future, to jam through parliament, in the middle of the summer holidays, a law infamously called Pass Sanitaire, to blackmail French people into mandatory vaccination. Many opponents perceive it as a pass to submission, and they have decided to make their voices heard, loud and clear, in the streets. Will this movement of dissent be long lived, contagious to other countries, or ultimately twisted and hijacked for a political purpose? This is so far a question in limbo. The large scale protests, however, were unexpected.
A year ago the Covid-19 pandemic accounted for about 75 percent of the media coverage across the board worldwide. This alone, if a virus could have been granted the Person of the Year award from Time Magazine, would have assured it the coveted price. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won person of the year in 2020, but if it had been Creature of the Year, SARS-CoV-2 would have won. As matter of fact, one can easily argue that without the Covid crisis, Donald Trump would have likely been reelected. In political, sociological, and economic affairs, the microorganism has been a game changer.
So far, Covid has not been a seed of much needed social change but instead has been used as a nasty new tool for disaster capitalism to thrive by changing some fundamental economic parameters, as well as serve as a powerful device to concentrate wealth. What could be better for capitalism than to convince taxpayers that their money needs to be injected by the trillions into corporate conglomerates? Across the world, in all the COVID-19 stimulus funding schemes, the lion share went to corporations while private citizens got the crumbs. Wall Street should have crashed but didn’t, because vast amounts of public funds were pumped into the global financial markets. Airlines that were saved from bankruptcy by a Covid bail out should have been nationalized; instead Air France, for example, remained a private company with an overpaid CEO while France’s government became a bigger share holder.
The bait and switch worked on a global scale. It worked with the financial aspect, just like it worked in the semantic of fear. For the media, it’s all about key words. Some might have noticed that at first it was COVID-19, then it became simply Covid, but now, probably because the word’s traction is wearing off, governments or corporate-controlled outlets have switched to Delta variant. It is today’s winner in the fear factor department, and it is repeated ad nauseam. This element of constant fear has established a nice level of docility in a majority of the global population, as well as a numbing anxiety focused on the narrow topic of the pandemic, and the easy vaccine fix proposed by governments.
The cloud of anxiety has obstructed from many the clarity that WE, as a species, face a threat much greater than a virus. How gullible many of us might be to believe that a pandemic, which so far has killed a quarter of the number of victims of the Spanish flu 100 years ago, is more of an existential threat than the unfolding climate collapse? It is pathetic and ironic for governments and their media servants to use a pandemic as a smoke screen for a much bigger problem, especially when a substantial potion of Earth is currently being consumed by fires.
Last time I checked, 800 wild fires were burning in Italy, Turkey was scorched, the US northwest was still burning, Greece was baking with a 45 degree Celsius temperature, Siberia had been burning for months, and there were killer floods in Germany and China. Meanwhile, the so-called climate experts on mainstream media hardly connected these climate crisis events. They barely connected the dots between extreme weather events and catastrophic climate change by softly saying “isolated extreme weather events could be a manifestation of global climate change.” It shouldn’t be “could be” but are; it shouldn’t be “climate change” but climate crisis. The global fear of Covid is highly lucrative. By contrast a fear of climate collapse — or actually a recognition of its imminence — would lead people to reject the global capitalist system that is driving our species into the abyss. It would lead human societies away from consumption and toward zero-growth economies and population models that would deal capitalism a fatal blow.
We have more or less collectively experienced, since March 2020, a life of fear and a sort of lingering collective anxiety. Fear is usually correlated with a reduction of critical thinking and greatly diminished opposition against the abuse of authority.
The protests in France show that fear can lose ground. Citizens do not have to surrender their fundamental rights of freedom and liberty to the whim of governmental authority based on semi-valid cognitive notions, or purely arbitrary ones, at times absurd, which appear to serve an agenda foreign to the common good. Popular resistance, whatever forms it may take in France and elsewhere, is always a viable option. At critical times in history it even becomes a civic duty.
On July 21, I was walking in the forests surrounding the German Air Force Base at Büchel in the Eifel Mountains with three Catholic Worker friends, Susan van der Hijden of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Susan Crane of Redwood City, California, and Christiane Danowski of Dortmund, Germany. We were there at the end of an “International Week” of protests against the approximately 20 US nuclear gravity bombs known as B61s kept at the base in a “nuclear sharing” agreement with the United States.
In previous days we had visited the entrance gates to the base with our signs and banners and two days before we participated in a “Digging for Life” action outside the fences, near the other end of the runway, where the German pilots liftoff and land their Italian made PA200 Tornado jet fighters, daily training to drop US nuclear bombs on Russia when the order is given. This day we hiked to the other, less accessible, end of the runway, through a forest of dead and dying trees decimated by recent years of drought, unprecedented heat and a massive bark beetle infestation affected by climate change.
In the clearing near where the runway begins, we noticed a couple of “spotters,” hobbyists who got there before us looking to get dramatic photos of the jets taking off. In their company, while we were scouting and imagining potential future protests at the site, we also knew that some action was imminent.
Beyond the fence that marked the boundary of the base from the forest, there was a high berm of earth that shielded the nearby Tornados warming up their engines for takeoff from our view. We could not see, but we heard the purr of their engines turn to a roar and we felt the earth shake and we saw and then smelled a wall- acrid and black, a stinking miasma of burnt and unburned jet fuel- rising above the berm and over our heads before the jets screamed off away from us to take to the air to rehearse for the end of everything.
Not far from where these Tornado jets were spewing out more than 13 tons of CO2 per flight hour into the atmosphere, cities and towns in the river valleys were cleaning up from recent rains and floods that left more than 177 dead and hundreds more still missing at the time- in some places the rivers rose to the highest in over 100 years, possibly higher than any seen in the last 1,000 years.
Participation in the annual “International Week” in the COVID pandemic was already hampered by the fact that it was held just days after Germany opened its borders to vaccinated visitors from places like the US, and by July 15, the day after my own arrival by air, many railroads and highways were closed by rising water. We heard harrowing travel stories from those few who were able to join us from various points in Germany. Our numbers were much less than expected and the catastrophe of the floods called us to reassess our plans for the week.
We had planned to have enough people to nonviolently blockade the various gates of the base on Friday July 16th, marking the 76th anniversary of the first atomic bomb detonation at Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945, and the 42nd anniversary of the 1979 uranium mine waste spill at Church Rock, New Mexico — the largest accidental release of radioactive materials in US history. We recognized that even with our reduced numbers, such an act of civil resistance would distract police from search and rescue work that many of them were doing in flooded places in the region. Members of our group met with local police and the commander of the base to inform them that instead of a blockade there would be a simple quiet vigil with signs and prayers outside the main gate on July 16, the planned “Digging for Life” action scheduled for three days later would go on.
The original concept of the event was to be a symbolic piece of theater around the base’s new highly armed security fence with surveillance cameras, motion sensors and a deep concrete foundation. The plan that some of us would dig with pink shovels with the impossible aim of making a tunnel under the fortification and get onto and close the runway while others would cheer them on from a picnic in the adjoining meadow, had to be adapted to our reduced numbers and in recognition of the devastation that had been unfolding around us in the preceding days.
The vibrant pink shovels were muted with black paint or tied with black ribbons. Banners with more light hearted messages written in pastels were left behind and new ones made more in keeping with the moment, in German, white on black, “STOP THE NEXT CATASTROPHE BEFORE IT BEGINS- ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS!”
As the event unfolded, 14 activists from Germany, the US and the Netherlands were met at the fence by several times that number of civilian and military police, who after an hour arrested four of the most persistent diggers who were soon released without any charges. While especially in light of the $14 million plus spent on the new fence meant to keep people like us out, the civilian police had better things to do and could easily have ignored our clearly symbolic effort, some in the local press and more in social media blamed us for distracting the police and military from dealing with the aftermath of the floods.
In the midst of their national disaster, only about 1,000 of the 150,000 soldiers in the German military were employed in flood relief and on the day we were digging for life at Büchel, Tornado jets were crisscrossing over our heads, causing police, protesters, soldiers and members of the press alike to cover our ears from their deafening roar, illustrating what is often ignored and never mentioned in climate negotiations, the huge part that the militaries of the world play in the climate crisis, the US and its allies more than the rest.
Before the digging began at the fence and under the screaming jets, a police detective called my name and with some ceremony served me with papers from the court informing me that I had been accused, convicted and sentenced to a 900 euro fine or 30 days in prison in response to my actions on my last visit to Germany and to Büchel, two years ago, along with two others, Susan from California and Susan from Amsterdam. It was decided by the court that “through the same act and acting collectively” and “within the scope of the annual meeting and demonstration against nuclear weapons at the airbase of fighter-bomber squadron 33,” I had “gained unlawful access to the military area and its security sector” by cutting holes in the fence. I remember that the military police sergeant who apprehended us was unreasonably upset about the hole we had made, not so much concerned about the weapons of mass destruction that he was guarding nor the violations of the German Constitution and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that they pose. Before leaving Germany, I filed an appeal of my conviction and sentence in the court at Cochem and I hope for the opportunity to argue against the assumed legality of nuclear weapons in a German court.
The United States is preparing to upgrade its current B61 nuclear bombs with the new B61-12, reportedly costing over $20 million each and the German government is looking to soon replace its fleet of Tornados with more sophisticated fighter bombers, both governments spending billions on systems that will significantly lower the threshold of nuclear war and contribute to global warming. There is no solution to the climate crisis and no hope for human life on this planet that does not include disarmament and an end to war.
Apocalypse is complete destruction of the world as described in some detail in the biblical book of Revelation. Nothing worse can happen to humanity. Interestingly, it has been a recurring aspect of civilization for over two thousand years but every prediction of “End Times” has failed.
Yet, modern day society is proving that apocalypse has multiple possible outcomes. In fact, a case can be made that it’s never been closer to reality because it’s already happening here and there.
At the turn of the new century Frontline aired a two-hour PBS Special, APOCALYPSE! The program traced the evolution of apocalyptic belief from its origin within the Jewish experience after Babylonian exile, to modern times. Historians and biblical scholars were interviewed to discuss the concept of End Times and doomsday in order to elucidate the ideas of mass destruction and how those ideas shape the cultural world. Indeed, the concept of apocalypse has influenced civilization in a multitude of ways for over 2,000 years.
The Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, is central to Western consciousness of apocalyptic belief, and a considerable portion of Revelation originated in the six hundred year period of Jewish political history involving wars and defeat by foreign invaders, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. As a result, visions of heaven and hell and the eternal battle between good and evil arose, shaping culture for 200 years before the birth of Jesus. Ever since, apocalypse has been on people’s minds as a final reckoning.
The concept of apocalypse remains a very powerful force to this day, especially amongst true believers. Not only that but recently apocalypse has transitioned a new variety known as “Climate Apocalypse,” a term that interestingly enough generates 7,610,000 Google hits in all of 0.58 seconds. Truly, Climate Apocalypse has an audience as well as strong adherents and strong detractors, like Forbes magazine and several mainstream publications. As for those editors, apocalypse is only for doom-and-gloom Cassandra’s that should be discounted and maybe ridiculed.
Yet, some of the Google searches turn up the darnedest doom-and-gloom sources, for example: “Leaked UN Climate Report: The Apocalypse Is Almost Here… The Worst Is Yet To Come….” references the recently “leaked draft” climate report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that allegedly proclaims: “A dire warning that we are on the cusp of planetary destruction thanks to the myriad dangers of worsening climate change.” This references the 4,000-page UN report leaked to Agence France-Presse.1, which isn’t due for publication for some months.
What if the IPCC “doom-and-gloom report,” as alleged, is on target, dead-on but similar to all past IPCC reports, it ends up as way too conservative?
In point of fact, it is not all that difficult to make a case for Climate Apocalypse by simply observing what’s happening today. What are the signs? By definition, normalized climate behavior is not an apocalyptic signpost. It doesn’t count if it’s normal regular ole climate behavior that humans have seen over the centuries. To be apocalyptic, a climate event must be damaging “beyond human experience, and then some.”
Unfortunately the list of actual apocalyptic events is a very long one. A few recent real events make the point, to wit:
The Guardian newspaper recently (July) interviewed Diana Six, an entomologist for 30 years who teaches at the University of Montana. She took her students to Glacier National Park on a field trip and reported the following:
Life doesn’t just deal with this. When I went up Glacier with my students a few weeks ago, the flowers were curling up. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks and they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds, are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked… People seem to think of extinctions as some silent, painless statistic. It’s not. You look at birds that can no longer find fish because they’ve moved too far off shore. They’re emaciated; they’re starving to death. We are at the point that there’s nothing untouched. 2
It is instructive, as well as extremely troublesome, to note that her experience took place in a “protected national park.”
Referencing how climate change impacts life, Diana said:
Somewhere along the way, I had gone from being an ecologist to a coroner. I am no longer documenting life. I’m describing loss, decline, death. 3
Diana, an entomologist, is “… no longer documenting life. I’m describing loss, decline, death.” That describes an apocalyptic event on a very personal level.
On a larger scale, Krefeld Entomological Society (est. 1905) issued a report of more than a 75% decline over only 27 years in total flying insect biomass in several protected European nature reserves.4
And, on a larger scale, last year the World Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London issued an eye-popping report that over-exploitation of ecological resources by humanity from 1970 to 2016 caused a 68% plunge in wild vertebrates. Numbers of that magnitude border on the onset of apocalypse, especially considering it happened within one human lifetime. According to the Report, tropical sub-regions were clobbered, hit hard with 94% loss of wild vertebrate life, which is apocalypse in spades.
Throughout the planet, apocalypse is hitting, but on a regional basis, especially where few, if any, people live to see it happening.
That is, until it did started hitting where lots of people live. In China in July 2021, “apocalyptic flooding” trapped passengers in subway trains standing in neck-deep water in the provincial capital Zhengzhou, a metropolis of 12 million where chaos descended as entire neighborhoods were covered in waist-deep water, and a massive unrelenting inordinate rainfall caused a 60-foot crevasse in the structure of the major dam of the region, which could collapse at any time, possibly drowning thousands. 5
According to Reuters in China, several people have died as a result of massive rains and dozens more cities have flooded in the country. Zhengzhou evacuated 100,000. Over three days, two feet of rainfall devastated parts of central China, smashing homes apart. That describes a severely damaging climate system that is not normal, not even close to normal. It’s one more signpost of apocalyptic behavior.
According to Reuters:
Like recent heat waves in the United States and Canada and extreme flooding seen in Western Europe, the rainfall in China was almost certainly linked to global warming, scientists told Reuters.6
According to a recent CNN article:
Scientists have warned for decades that climate change will make heat waves more frequent and more intense. That is a reality now playing out in Canada, but also in many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere that are increasingly becoming uninhabitable. 7
Apocalyptic is the most apt description of formerly inhabitable regions turning uninhabitable. It’s the onset of apocalypse, as hundreds of people died of too much heat, which also triggered 240 wildfires across British Columbia, with global warming turning verdant forests into tinder.
According to the implications within a recent article in Scientific American, the Pacific Northwest just experienced early stage apocalypse:
Hundreds of people died in the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave, according to estimates; there were at least 486 deaths in British Columbia, 116 in Oregon, 78 in Washington… there were more than 3,500 emergency department visits for heat-related illness this past May and June in a region that includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State.8
According to Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists who was interviewed about the heat wave, the climate models did not come close to predicting the level of heat in the Northwest. She added: “But then to realize that I am seeing it in my lifetime, and living it right now, is really terrifying.” 3
Early stage apocalyptic events are hitting terrestrial regions of the planet, region by region over time, but it’s much more universal or across the board in the oceans. According to the documentary film Seaspriacy (Netflix, March 2021), which focuses on whether the planet’s fish stock survives and for how long, five million fish are killed per minute. Global fish populations are plummeting and already at apocalyptic levels, to wit: (1) halibut -99% (2) cod -86% (3) Bluefin tuna -97% (4) haddock -99% (5) thresher shark -80% (6) bull shark -86% (7) hammerhead shark -86% (8) total shark mass decimation of 80%-to-99%. Shark deaths (100,000,000 annually) at the top of the food chain bring in their wake the death of almost all other ocean species down the marine food chain. The oceans used to contain 80% of all life. Nobody knows that number now with killings too rapid to keep count of what remains. By all accounts, apocalypse is already rampant in the world’s oceans.
Above all else, the results of a new research discovery must be broadcasts as wide as possible: “Planet Earth is now trapping twice as much heat as it did 14 years ago.” 9
The nations of the planet must get their act together and do something extremely big, very, very major very soon to tame the climate monster, as well as put a halt to the insanity of stripping natural resources like the ocean’s fish stock down to the bone or suffer unfathomable adversity, meaning some advanced stage of apocalypse which unfortunately has already started to strut its stuff.
The Byte/Climate Report, June 23, 2021
Top US Scientist on Melting Glaciers: “I’ve Gone From Being an Ecologist to a Coroner”, The Guardian, July 21, 2021.
PLOS ONE -Public Library of Science, October 18, 2017.
“Unprecedented Floods in Central China, Passengers Trapped in Subway Train With Neck-Deep Water”, Outlook, July 21, 2021.
“At Least 25 Dead as Rains Deluge Central China’s Henan Province”, Reuters, July 21, 2021,
“Unprecedented Heat, Hundreds Dead and a Town Destroyed, Climate Change is Frying the Northern Hemisphere”, CNN, July 4, 2021.
“Why Extreme Heat Is So Deadly”, Scientific American, July 22, 2021.
Norman G. Loeb, et al, Satellite and Ocean Data Reveal Marked Increase in Earth’s Heating Rate, Geophysical Research Letter, June 15, 2021.
The news does not get much worse than a recent scientific report that the planet is trapping twice as much heat as it did only 14 years ago.
If this one report does not turn heads and create a sense of panic to get off fossil fuels, as soon as yesterday, then nothing will ever move the needle to fix the planet’s broken climate system.1
Scientists have been warning about the consequences of human-generated greenhouse gases ever since James Hansen testified before a Congressional committee 33 years ago: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”
In fact, the warnings have been coming for 44 years. Prior to James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate committee, the most publicized report came from the National Academy of Sciences in 1977 when it warned that burning coal would crank up global temperatures to intolerable levels by 2050.
Meanwhile, a well orchestrated core of climate deniers, including many members of the Republican Party, current and past, for decades have worked to create “doubt” about human impact on global warming in order to safeguard the fossil fuel industry and as a consequence block effective governmental policies to halt greenhouse gas emissions.
That type of obstructive behavior was formidably demonstrated only recently by former president Trump along with his entourage, like Pompeo, who shortsightedly celebrated Arctic ice loss in an Arctic Council speech. Unfortunately, he described as a positive event the meltdown of the planet’s greatest safeguard against global warming; i.e., Arctic ice. As the former secretary of state spoke, the planet was in its final throes of losing its biggest, most important giant reflector of incoming solar radiation, which has been around since humans discovered fire but now gone in only a few short decades because of human-generated global warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels like oil and natural gas and coal.
The climate denier class, especially in America, carries a heavy burden for the current out of control status of the planet’s climate system. It is beyond shameful that repeated warnings by the nation’s scientists have been ignored for decades, finally leading to the current state of a worldwide climate emergency. Deadly heat is tormenting the world.
Along those lines, Donald Trump’s destruction of environmental agencies and the removal of scientists and destruction of years of irreplaceable scientific data and removal from the Paris climate agreement of 2015 will go down in history as the worst-timed stupidest policies in all of American history.
The shocking Loeb study that lamentably demonstrates a frightening rise in heat absorbed by the planet utilized satellite data via CERES instrumentation that measures how much energy the planet absorbs in the form of sunlight and how much it emits back into space in the form of infrared radiation. This measures “energy imbalance.” Their study found a doubling of the imbalance for the period from 2005 to 2019. That’s exceptionally troubling, almost beyond comprehension, data collection is indicative of a climate system that’s way out of balance as an impending threat to existence.
Meanwhile, making matters doubly bad and emphasizing the fact that the planet is absorbing twice the heat, NASA reported 2020 as the “hottest year ever.” And, by all appearances, 2021 is shaping up to break the records once again, as abnormally high temperatures throughout the planet exceed all-time records. The planet is literally in a burn mode like humanity has never experienced, and nobody is doing anything about this burning dilemma with any sense of global reach. Meanwhile, talk of holding back temperature by controlling emissions at the nation/state level remains, like always, very cheap and ineffective. As well as totally remiss of the big picture of a global mess that requires global unity, or the lights go out fairly soon, here and there all across the land.
Confirmation of the Loeb study’s CERES data was established using Argo, which is an international network of sensors in the world’s oceans used to measure the rate at which the oceans absorb heat. This strengthened and confirmed the CERES data that the planet is trapping twice the amount of heat of 14 years ago.
According to the scientists for the study: “The two very independent ways of looking at changes in Earth’s energy imbalance are in really, really good agreement, and they’re both showing this very large trend,” Norman Loeb, lead author for the new study and principal investigator for CERES at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. 2
Thirty-three years after James Hansen testified to Congress, global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 70% and have never gone down in any given year, always up, never down. When Hansen testified, fossil fuels were 79% of the world’s energy. It’s 84% today in the face of every wind turbine and solar panel that’s been installed over the past decades ever since Hansen spoke out about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions.
Frankly, the world is getting what it deserves and what it has failed to recognize in spite of the world’s top scientists’ warnings, a lot of heat!
Norman G. Loeb, et al, Satellite and Ocean Data Reveal Marked Increase in Earth’s Heating Rate, Geophysical Research Letters – Advanced Earth and Space Science, June 15, 2021.
Earth is Trapping Twice as Much Heat as it did in 2005, Space. Com, June 24, 2009.
While Australian politicians languish in a world blotched by climate change scepticism and fossil fuel love-ins, global oil and gas companies have been shaken. Three titans of oil fame – Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron – faced a range of decisions in May that promise to dramatically shape their future operations. The point is not negligible, given that this triarchy produced, between 1988 and 2015, 5% of total global scope 1 and 3 emissions.
Royal Dutch Shell was the first giant humbled by a Dutch court ruling that it was required to reduce total emissions by net 45% of 2019 levels by 2030. “The reduction obligation relates to the Shell group’s entire energy portfolio and to the aggregate volume of all emissions (Scope 1 through to 3).” The case had been brought by a number of environmental groups, including Milieudefensie, claiming that RDS had “an obligation … to contribute to the prevention of dangerous climate change through the corporate policy it determines for the Shell Group.” To not do so would result in a breach of human rights.
The company submitted the rather amoral rationale that not selling its products would simply mean that others would do the same thing. A vain effort was also made to convince Judge Larisa Alwain that RDS was sufficiently doing its bit to deal with climate change by reducing its Net Carbon Footprint comprising direct, indirect carbon emissions and customer emissions for products sold “by 20% in 2035 and by 50% in 2050.”
RDS also claimed that there should be no legal solution to this dispute: climate change policies were ultimately up to lawmakers and politics, not judicial heads. These grounds were soundly dismissed by the court. The judgment found that RDS was “free to decide not to make new investments in explorations and fossil fuels, and to change the energy package offered by the Shell group”.
While not facing the ire of courts, Chevron was tackling climate change activism from within, meeting a proposal by shareholder activist firm FollowThis to reduce its Scope 3 emissions by selling reduced quantities of fossil fuels. The measure had the support of 61% of investors. Other measures voted upon registered lower but not insignificant numbers: 48% of shareholders wished for a report on the impacts of a 2050 net-zero outcome while the same number also voted for a report on “dark money” lobbying.
One could hardly see this as a tree-hugging measure of ecological fancy. Investments were potentially at stake. “As shareholders, we understand this support to be part of our fiduciary duty to protect all assets in the global economy from devastating climate change. Climate-related risks are a source of financial risk, and therefore limiting global warming is essential to risk management and responsible stewardship of the economy.” Not willing to be dictators on the issue, those making the proposal did not wish to limit “the Company’s powers to set and vary their strategy or take any action which they believe in good faith would best contribute to reducing GHG emissions.”
To the two giants facing the headaches of necessary reform can be added Exxon Mobil. Last month, Exxon Mobil’s CEO Darren Woods failed to quash what was described as an “insurgency” at the company’s Annual Shareholder Meeting. Engine No. 1, a small activist hedge fund with a mere 0.02% stake and no history of oil or natural gas activism, daringly nabbed two seats on the board. This took place, despite the warning by Woods that voting for such an environmentally minded concern would “derail our progress and jeopardise your dividend.”
One of Engine No.1’s backers, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, called the vote “historic”, representing “a tipping point for companies unprepared for the global energy transition”. Climate change constituted “the greatest threat to our future” and it was incumbent on shareholders “to hold the ExxonMobil board accountable to mitigate risk and contribute to the sustainable value of their investments.”
This would have come as a rude shock to a company with an extensive record of concealing its own research on climate change. In September and October 2015, it was revealed by InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism that one of the planet’s largest oil companies was well immersed in the study of global warming. Its public front was one of scepticism. In 1990, the board claimed that the company’s “examination of the issue [of global warming] supports the conclusions that the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.”
Despite this terse dismissal, it transpired that engineers and researchers in the employ of Exxon were conducting work on how best to adjust the company’s approach to rising temperatures. Internal briefing papers were circulated and discussed, data generated and mulled over. In 1978, James Black of Exxon’s Products Research Division wrote a paper for discussion with the unmistakably relevant title of “The Greenhouse Effect”. This followed on from his 1977 presentation to the management committee. “Present thinking holds,” writes Black, “that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”
In 1991, senior ice researcher Ken Croasdale of Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary told an engineering conference that “any major development with a lifespan of say 30-40 years will need to assess the impacts of potential global warming.” This was particularly pertinent “of Arctic and offshore projects in Canada, where warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.” Not wishing to bite the hand feeding him, Croasdale brightly considered the benefit a warming planet might have for company operations in the Beaufort Sea: “potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs”. This is no longer the case: the investors and funds are in revolt and such large oil companies are counting a different set of costs.
To float over such an aqueous body is to find a majestic creature unparalleled in beauty and expanse, stretching at 2,300km. There are other stunning formations on the planet, but the Great Barrier Reef has such dimension, form and cocksure brilliance as to make others shrink, not so much because of beauty as due to sheer scale and ecological variety.
But the Reef’s health record has been patchy. Each year brings a series of negative assessments about the patient. Its ticker is having palpitations; its central mineral supports in the form of coral life is being bleached. Water quality is being affected. The crown-of-thorns starfish, richly stimulated by nutrients from runoffs, has grown in number to savage the unmoving coral with relish.
With such activity, it was little wonder that the World Heritage Committee, under the umbrella of UNESCO, has suggested placing the Reef on the endangered list. While taking note of “many positive achievements by the State Party [Australia], progress has been insufficient in meeting key targets of the Reef 2050 Plan. The Plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures.”
Despite the money committed by the Commonwealth government to protect the Reef, along with cross-institutional collaboration, “the long-term outlook of the ecosystem of the property has deteriorated from poor to very poor, and that the deterioration has been more rapid and widespread than was evident during the period 2009-2014.” Bleaching events from 2016, 2017 and 2020 “as a result of global warming”, are also noted in the agenda.
Given such considerations, the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature recommended “that the property is facing ascertained danger” and should be placed upon “the List of World Heritage in Danger.” Australia would be invited to collaborate with the World Heritage/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission “to develop a set of corrective measures” to enable the Reef to be removed from the list of world heritage in danger.
Richard Leck, Head of Oceans for the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia summed it up thus: “The recommendation from UNESCO is clear and unequivocal that the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our greatest natural asset, especially on climate change”. Imogen Zethoven, consultant for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, saw the UNESCO recommendation as a chance to draw attention to Australia’s lethargic climate change policies. “Australia’s climate record is more consistent with a 2.5 to 3 Celsius rise in global average temperature – a level that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs.”
Members of Scott Morrison’s government violently disagreed. Ministers claim, in outrage, that such moves to deem the sacred reef endangered is a profanity and in the spirit of diplomatic duplicity. This is all the more tickling for the fact that Australia has one of the weaker environmental portfolios: Environment Ministers usually find themselves as fossil fuel cross dressers and apologists for mining. “Australia believes,” claimed the startled Environment Minister Sussan Ley, “it is wrong to single out the best managed reef in the world for this potential ‘in danger’ listing.” Ley also claimed to have been “blindsided by a sudden late decision.” It was “unheard of for a site to be added to an endangered list, or recommended … without the necessary consultation leading up to it.”
In a press release, Ley claimed that “UN officials” had assured Australia that no such recommendation would be made prior to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting to be hosted by China in July. The draft decision had been a mere “desk top review with insufficient first-hand appreciation of the outstanding science-based strategies being funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.”
For a government that has politicised everything from renewable energy to the granting of mining permits, such anger was mildly amusing. In Ley’s barely credible words, “When procedures are not followed, when the process is turned on its head five minutes before the draft decision is due to be published, when the assurances my officials received and indeed I did have been upended. What else can you conclude but that it is politics?”
The allusion lurking in such views was that the decision had been massaged. In what is fast becoming a boring tic, Australian government sources pointed the eager finger at China. One, who remained unnamed, told the South China Morning Post that Australia would “appeal but China is in control.”
Rupert Murdoch’s press outlets, showing how quickly they can change from ingratiating themselves with Chinese Communist officials to condemning them (the mogul’s failed dream to penetrate the Chinese market continues to rankle), is running the Yellow Devil story. China, raged Sky News host Chris Kenny, was being aggressive towards Australia “under the guise of climate activism.” The UN was being used as a vehicle for “environmental emotional blackmail”. Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell was most pleased to reveal that the environment minister had “specifically mentioned China in the Coalition party room with the hint being this was another example of the coercion tactics that China has been using against Australia.”
The view from the other side was rather different. Dr Fanny Douvere of the World Heritage Centre attempted to correct the record. “We don’t share [decisions] before they are finalised,” she toldGuardian Australia. “That’s the simple truth.” Nor was it credible to assume that China had been a factor. “There is absolutely zero influence. This is simply not the truth. There is no interference at all.” Beijing was not even aware of the recommendations being made.
Some of Ley’s angst may well be due to the return of the deputy prime minister, who hails from the junior partner, the National Party. Barnaby Joyce remains wedded to the idea of nuclear energy and snorts at investing in renewables. “What this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables going to do to our economy?” he asked in 2013. Having languished in backbench exile for alleged sexual harassment, exiting a long marriage and scooting off with his mistress, he has stormed back to the front of the Morrison cabinet, decapitating (politically speaking) the now former leader, Michael McCormack. In doing so, he resumes a position he left in disgrace three years ago. More to the point, the fossil fuel fanatics are now breathing more furiously than ever, being the types who think that the Great Barrier Reef is the sort of thing you see in specimen drawers and Madame Tussauds.
South Australia’s Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young saw the problem closer to home and rather damning. “You weren’t ‘blindsided’,” she scornfully tweeted about Ley, “you had your eyes closed [and] ignored the science and kept taking donations from the fossil fuel industry.” The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, had her own barb with the federal government, telling a press gathering on June 23 that the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef was none other than the National Party.
The one true victim in this international brawl is the Reef itself. Bureaucrats will be haggling and disagreeing over data, labels and outcomes as the degradation continues. And Australia, for its incessant resort to that fiction called the “rules-based international order” will seedily attack international institutions if it serves to placate domestic interests.