Wake up time

insanity defined

A short history of tomorrow

Guest post from Ken Sayers

The American people are experiencing existential crises on many levels simultaneously. It is little wonder that the N Y Times reports that suicides are up. For the most part, many of those crises are “self-made” by a government that no longer cares for its people, and one looming crisis in the world, brought about by the insatiable greed of those same people who are causing all of the other problems~ namely Climate Change.

Climate Change is the primary crisis because it not only exacerbates or drives our other problems, but it also puts a clock on the time we have to get it together as a race to save our own and all the other species on this planet.

If we are unable to halt the increase in greenhouse gasses, our planet will no longer be able to support us. The first and simplest reason is that our temperatures will increase to the point that we will be unable to go outside. The heat index yesterday, in one Texas town, was 117°F. The actual temperature was near 100°F on June 23. At that temperature, it is dangerous for man to work outside. But, man is not the only organism affected. Plants shut down at 85°F. That means crops will fail. At some point we lose the natural pollinators and then we can forget feeding our roughly 8 billion people.

Photo by Forrest Cavale on Unsplash
Photo by FORREST CAVALE on Unsplash

In addition to hunger, the ocean levels will rise and the world will experience coastal flooding. This, in a sense, will help because 60% of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of a coastline. We are already experiencing sunny day flooding in south Florida and it will only get worse. This will create climate refugees the world over. To what country will the folk living on the south sea islands flee. Australia is already balking. To what part of Florida or the United states will the people along our coasts flee. Who will give them a place to live? In its current state, do not look to the Federal Government for help. And, the “State of Florida” is not even allowed to mention the words, “Climate Change.”

In addition to widespread drought, increased flooding, and crop failures, the natural disasters like wildfires, tornados, and hurricanes are increasing in actual numbers as well as strength. Even a simple thing like snow has become a major problem.

These are not problems that will appear at the end of the century when sea level will rise by 6’ or so. These are problems that will occur much sooner.

We are not ready and our government shows no inclination to prepare. Our electrical grid is a patchwork of greed and neglect. We are not employing near enough renewable resources. We still use coal and our transmission lines are woefully inadequate and vulnerable to hacking. These were problems pointed out in the first Bush Administration.

Our Trans-continental Highway System was built roughly 62 years ago. Traveling cross country today, you must pay attention to closures, as bridges are collapsing. When I went to California 3 years ago, we had to avoid the southern route because Interstate 10 was shut down. When I went a couple months ago, my GPS routed me up HWY 99 because Interstate 5 was too dangerous. Besides the gut wrenching potholes, the highway surface was so slick, an 18-wheeler tried to stop and even the barricade between on-coming lanes of traffic didn’t stop it. Interstate 5 is a MAJOR north/south transportation route in one of the busiest states in the nation and California is not the Lone Ranger.

Worst of all is our potable water situation. Do not even get me started on our own avoidable blunders, as occurred in Flint Michigan. There are other problems. Nestle Corporation is pumping millions of gallons of water a minute across the entire country and putting it into plastic, single use bottles. Petrochemical companies are fracking across the entire country, poisoning our aquifers with chemicals so bad that the companies got a law passed that they do not have to even tell us what they are. Add to that, the Trump administration has removed all regulations that were prohibiting corporations from poisoning our waterways.

Just two more items in the water category of which I am aware. The infrastructure that delivers fresh water from Hetch Hetchy, in Yosemite, to the San Francisco Bay Area is in serious need of repair. It leaks like a sieve. The other is the Colorado River that supplies drinking water and electricity to the Southwestern United States, namely Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Southern California. It is drying up.

We need to fix these things, but our government is dumbing us down in a serious way. States, across the entire country are rewriting history books and science texts, math, and even the way English is taught.

The development of language of a country determines that country’s productivity. The vocabulary of today’s children is half of what it was when I went to school. When I was 45, I had occasion to go back to school, from which I graduated 27 years ago.

A new graduation requirement was added since I had originally graduated in 1968. It was called the “English Proficiency Exam.” It is just a simple test where you are given 3 controversial topics about which you are to choose one and write a paper. It can be as short as 4 paragraphs long. You need only have a thesis statement, an enlargement of your statement, its support, and the conclusion. It must have proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Even if you didn’t know these things when you got to college, you had to pass a course in “English Composition,” so you could write your papers for your other classes as you progress to a degree. You might well ask, how could anyone get to graduation without knowing those things, but they do. More than 50% of graduating Seniors have to take that test 3-4 times before they pass. There are even refresher classes to teach you how to pass. The English Comp class, that I took 30 years before, stood me well. The Trump/DeVoss team is doing all it can to destroy education as we knew it.

Add to all this, the monumental problem of the stranglehold the corporations have on our government and it is easy to see why suicides are up. Our younger people are saddled with unbelievably huge college debt (to our own government I might add) that they cannot afford to make a living if they even find a job. Our even younger people will not even be intelligent enough to get into college. We will have a country that is breaking apart and no one intelligent enough to put it back together.

And what happens when the shit hits the fan? Well, the only thing in this country of ours that has any resources at all is our military. You tell me. I don’t know if we are past that tipping point or not. If not, I know we are dangerously close to it. What are your plans? If we make it another 20 years, 60 or 70% of the careers that people will have, do not even exist today. Will your children survive. Are you going to even leave them a world in which survival is possible? Yes, we are Smack in the middle of existential crises.

The thing with the children is grave, of course, but I believe it is just to provoke a reaction serious enough that the “government” can declare martial law and suspend the constitution.

Pushing shit uphill gets to you in the end

Jon StewartThe state of “democracy” is so toxic that it’s destroying those who are trying to help us to reclaim it.

The media good guys know that they’re in an echo chamber. They’re preaching to the converted, but gaining little traction with those whom they most need to inform: the naive majority who have no understanding of the problems the world faces.

Dealing with constant bad news, denial, and abuse is a psychological problem and perk of the job for many climate scientists. The effects of researching and presenting constant bad news forced David Roberts of Grist to take a year’s sabbatical, and now it has claimed the best news satirist in the business.

We all lose.

Here’s the real story behind the retirement of the best and most effective communicator in the business:
John Stewart throws in the towel

Inequality hurts the rich too

How economic inequality harms societies

This remarkable TED talk by Richard Wilkinson should be required watching for every person on the planet, it needs to be shown in schools, it should be understood by every voter and particularly by every politician and economist.

Inequality is one of the most important causes of the woes of the 21st century world.

It’s worth noting that in the developed world, the most unequal societies are generally those of the English-speaking world and the most equal and most contented are in Scandinavia.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndh58GGCTQo&w=560&h=315]

Dr Richard Wolff on the failure of capitalism

Capitalism created prosperity for me, my children, and most of the developed world. Unfortunately, it has now turned upon 99% of the population and is in the process of destroying its own foundations.

Richard Wolff explains how and why in this excellent interview with Bill Moyers.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/60234702 w=400&h=300]

You have the power

You are the 99%. You have the vote. What are you going to do about it?

Sayonara Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron97% of scientists: “the Kardashians cause global warming!”

OK, that’s not literally true, scientists haven’t said anything of the kind; but the constant diet of trash peddled by the media distracts us from matters of importance, and those girls rack up a lot of air miles, so there is a kernel of truth.

The Kardashian sisters get 40 times as many news write-ups as ocean acidification, so it’s no surprise that until I chanced upon one of her essays recently, I’d never heard of Nora Ephron. Unbeknown to me, she had made my life a little brighter, and the lives of millions of others, .

If you liked Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, or Sleepless in Seattle, you can thank Nora. She wrote those movies and she wrote, produced and directed many others. She also wrote great serious essays. This one in the New Yorker, “My Life as an Heiress“, was my introduction. Read it, It’s funny and wise. You’ll like it. Really.

Movies like Sleepless in Seattle may be written off as fluff by culture vultures, but as an old sentimentalist I enjoyed it. Entertainment doesn’t have to be profound, sometimes it’s just entertainment.

In 1962, when she was just 21, Nora was working as an intern for JFK; she applied to be a writer at Newsweek. Astonishingly, they had the nerve to tell her “We don’t hire women writers.” Nora didn’t take that too kindly, and participated in a class-action lawsuit against Newsweek for sexual discrimination, which went some way toward changing laws and attitudes.

Over to Nora:

“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all.”

“In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.”

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

Goodbye Nora, I should have known you sooner.

Read about her interesting life and work here on Wikipedia.




Negative carbon liquid fuels

In the previous post we saw our civilisation’s quandary in a 5 minute nutshell. Sometimes it seems that the plight of the planet is so dire that we might just as well party up and forget about it. Fortunately for my grandchildren’s future not everyone feels that way. Innovative people are busy developing ways of addressing the problem.

Mike Cheiky is one of those people. He and his team are producing liquid fuels from biomass while simultaneously sequestering carbon and restoring soil fertility. This is not a pie-in-the-sky academic dream. It’s based on solid science and Mr Cheiky has some seriously big time backers.

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkYVlZ9v_0o&w=560&h=315]

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It’s rather odd, but I can’t find any opinions on this elsewhere on the web. Something of this magnitude with big backers like Google should have attracted attention. I’d like to know whether or not there are any fishhooks in this process. One area of concern could be the catalysts: are they plentiful, recyclable, and/or reusable?

You can also watch this video here on YouTube.

Playing For Change: “Stand By Me”

There’s too much misery in the world. Here are some nice people doing something about it. From the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”, come the uplifting “Songs around the world” created by many musicians in many nations each adding their unique flavour to the song as it morphs around the globe. This cover of the Ben E. King classic “Stand by Me” started it all.

Does it for me. 🙂

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM&w=640&h=390]

It all started with vocals and guitar recorded in Santa Monica by a street musician called Roger Ridley. The producers then set off around the world with a laptop and some microphones.

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music… ….musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope.

Visit their website right here.

Did you enjoy that? Here’s another one.

Swimming against the tide

A thank you noteSir Roger Douglas

Sir Roger Douglas has suffered an astonishing amount of vilification. He’s been unmercifully mocked, and the ill-informed media have made him a scapegoat for every economic woe in the history of mankind.

It’s disgusting.

The economic reforms he ushered in from 1984 saved this country from going into an even steeper economic decline than we’ve experienced in the last quarter-century under the incompetent rule of those who decry him. What’s more, all those lesser mortals from the right and the left—Cullen, Clarke, English, and others—who’ve since sneered at him have left every one of his substantive reforms in place and in some cases extended them. The much-maligned GST, for instance, has been taken from Roger’s 10%, to 12.5% and now to 15%.

  • Who, in their right mind, would scrap GST and increase income tax to compensate?
  • Who wants to go back to a fixed New Zealand dollar exchange rate?
  • Who thinks we should still be dishing out massive subsidies to farmers?
  • Anybody for the 66c in the dollar marginal tax rate that I was paying on a middling income in 1980?
  • How about bringing back import tariffs? Anybody for that?
  • Remember the Post Office and Telecom before corporatisation?
  • How about another taste of near 20% p.a. inflation?

It’s an absolute disgrace that this man has been so shamefully treated. If the vastly over-rated Bigmouth from Mangere (aka David Lange) hadn’t been so gutless he’d have continued the reforms and we’d all be far better off. Lange was cut from the same cloth as Barack Obama seems to be. Talks up a great storm and accomplishes bugger all.

Bias confession

In 2011 I voted Green. I’m not in agreement with all of the Green party’s philosophies—particularly their barely supressed socialist bent—but they’re by far the best of a bad bunch.

I’d been a National voter for almost 50 years. I strayed once (to Social Credit) as a protest against the criminally insane Think Big policies in 1984. Muldoon had totally lost the plot and none of the sycophants surrounding him had the guts to speak up. I switched to Labour in ’87 in support of Roger’s reforms.

Then Lange chickened out, the Labour party turned on Roger Douglas, whose reforms had got them re-elected, and I switched back to National. For most of that time I thought that National seemed to be trying to do the best for this country, although I now realize, with 20/20 hindsight and a lot more knowledge of economics, that they didn’t actually have a clue. In 2008 I held my nose and voted for National again, but only because the alternatives were worse.

When Don Brash took over ACT I saw a glimmer of hope. The good doctor understands the problems and has the economic nous to address them. Unfortunately, Don has as much political nous as my chocolate lab. He hadn’t been in the job 5 minutes and he was off at a tangent making a total fool of himself on matters Maori, on climate change, and on happy baccy. He’s totally lost the plot politically, and even though I’m absolutely in favour of the majority of ACT’s economic policy I can’t see them getting my vote.

They needed Don as finance spokesman but they should have looked elsewhere for a leader.

It’s a tragedy for this country. And Sir Roger must be absolutely disgusted. We’re about to accelerate our decline into the Third world. We need a new Roger Douglas to put a stop to it.

Someone else who understands that it’s not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong.

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From at least one person in this country, thank you Sir Roger. A plague on your detractors. Have a happy and well-deserved retirement. I hope you don’t have to join half a million Kiwis across the ditch to do so.

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If you want to know where and why we’re going down the gurgler check my series starting on this page or watch Dr Sir Paul Callaghan’s Beyond the Farm Gate video here.

Nature in subjection

Where does it all end?

Habitat loss, pollution, desertification, over-population, vanishing topsoil, the resource crunch—it’s not just about climate change…Jonaton Schell

Jonathan Schell is an insightful writer and scholar. A man of many accomplishments. He has elegantly summed up my generation’s legacy to our children’s children in this quote:

“Taken in its entirety, the increase in mankind’s strength has brought about a decisive, many-sided shift in the balance of strength between man and the earth.”
“Nature, once a harsh and feared master, now lies in subjection and needs protection against man’s powers.”
“Yet because man, no matter what intellectual and technical heights he may scale, remains embedded in nature, the balance has shifted against him too, and the threat that he poses to the Earth is a threat to him as well.”

Believe it. Those cupfuls of oil add up. Whether you’re a climate change evangelist, a climate change sceptic or just in denial you can’t escape the fact that we’re fouling our grandchildren’s nest and squandering their heritage. Whether or not you believe that our output of greenhouse gas is contributing to climate change, it’s undeniable that the measures which need to be addressed in order to limit pollution and to husband non-renewable energy sources are the same measures as those which the proponents of anthropogenic climate change promote.

One world, one people, one chance

If nothing else disturbs you, contemplate the source of funding for Al Qaeda, Hamas, Abu Nidal, Islamic Jihad and dozens of other groups. Every time we buy petroleum based fuels we’re contributing to their cause. Those groups obtain most of their funding from oil money: mainly, but not exclusively, from Iran and from the USA’s bosom buddies in Saudi Arabia. We’re funding an openly declared war upon ourselves. A quote from the Middle East Forum in 2003:

“The Saudi government has admitted to spending more than $87 billion over the last decade in an effort to spread Wahhabism. This money has been spent on the creation of Mosques, schools, and other institutions that have constituted the breeding grounds for the foot soldiers of the global Islamic terrorist movement.”

“Political considerations, and oil, have prevented Washington from holding the Saudis accountable for their role in promoting terrorism.
A briefing by Rachel Ehrenfeld September 19, 2003

Eventually, the rising cost of oil is likely to be seen to have been a very good thing in every conceivable way. We only get one bite of the cherry.

Also on mistywindow

See David Roberts from Grist with a convincing climate change update and the resource crunch video:
There’s no tomorrow“,
a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the collision of infinite growth with the brick wall of a finite planet.