Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
Welcome to Learning from Dogs
Can’t believe how quickly a month has gone by!
This last Tuesday, the 15th April, was a month to the day after our rescue horses, Ben and Ranger, arrived here in Merlin. There was a post on the 20th March called Welcome Ranger – and Ben!
Here’s a picture from that day:
Here’s a picture of Ben from sadder times:
So with no further ado, here are four photographs taken last Tuesday, the 15th April.
Jean is used to horses from previous times in her life but, for me, horses are not animals that I am familiar with.
But after a month of getting to know Ranger and Ben and them getting to know me, I find them adorable!
The latest IPCC report is more than dry science; it’s our future!
Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will be aware that yesterday I published a post called A bedtime story for Jimmy. It was prompted by learning of an eight-year-old who was offered the opportunity of shooting a wild turkey early last Saturday morning. The penultimate paragraph read as follows:
If we care for nature then we care for the health of our lands, for our forests and for our seas. We are careful with how we live our lives. If we care for nature then as we live our lives we do our best to leave things better for those that come after us.
Little did I know when writing my post that on the same day of publication would be a chilling post from Patrice Ayme; a post that Patrice has generously given me permission to republish in full.
Indeed, little did I know that when I composed my preface to Jimmy’s story and included these words:
However, this eight-year-old lad is facing a future that demands that he and all his generation accept that embracing nature, totally and whole-heartedly, is their only hope of not being the last generation of humans on this beautiful planet.
That less than twenty-four hours later Patrice’s perspective on the latest IPCC report made that sentence of mine far from hyperbole! Here is that essay from Patrice.
Terminal Greenhouse Crisis.
A CRASH TECH PROGRAM IS NEEDED, & HAS TO INVOLVE HYDROGEN.
At the present rate of greenhouse gases emissions, within nine years, massively lethal climate and oceanic changes are guaranteed.
Such is the conclusion one can draw from the Inter Governmental Panel On Climate Change of the UN (the IPCC, with its top 300 climate scientists from all over the world). About 78% of the emissions have to do with heating, cooking, and basic, necessary industrial activities, such as making cement.
They are not elective.
Notes: CO2 FOLU = CO2 emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use. F-gases = Fluorinated gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol. At the right side of the figure: Emissions of each greenhouse gas with associated error bars (90% confidence interval).
Only a crash program of construction of several hundreds of new technology nuclear fission plants, an all-out renewable energy program, with massive solar plants all over the American South and the (similar latitude) Sahara desert, plus a massive hydrogen economy to store the wind and solar energy could allow us to mitigate the massive lethal change incoming.
In other words, it is already too late to avoid the massive lethal change.
What’s the problem? Simple mathematics. It’s evaluated that human activities in the last century or so released 515 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The IPCC and the best experts believe that 800 to 1,000 billion tons of such gases would bring a rise of global temperatures of two degrees Celsius.
At the present rate, that’s nine years to reach the upper reaches: one trillion tons of GHG.
Most of the temperature rise will be in the polar regions, melting those, and inducing worldwide climate catastrophe, especially if emissions of polar methane turn apocalyptic. The polar regions are the Achilles heel of the Earth’s present biosphere. By striking there mostly, enormous changes can be brought to bear, as they would destroy the Earth’s air conditioning and oceanic circulation.
In 2014, trade winds in the Pacific had four times the energy they usually have, creating abnormally intense ocean upwelling off the west coast of North America, thus a high pressure ridge (thus a drought there), causing a world wide oscillation of the jet stream that dragged cold polar air down the east coast of the USA, before rebounding as continual storms and rain on the west coast of Europe, and so forth.
Nobody can say the weather was normal: precipitation in England beat all records, dating 250 years, whereas most of California experienced extreme drought.
At this point, warm water is piling down to 500 meters depth in the western Pacific in what looks like a preparation for a massive El Nino, similar to the one in 1997-98. If this happens, global temperature records will be smashed next year.
Massively lethal means death to the world as we know it, by a thousand cuts. It means cuts to democracy, privacy, life span, food intake. Some of these are already in plain sight: the Ukraine war is already a war about gas, no less an authority as dictator Putin says so.
Tom Friedman in “Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day.” takes the situation lightly. “SO the latest news is that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has threatened to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev doesn’t pay its overdue bill, and, by the way, Ukraine’s pipelines are the transit route for 15 percent of gas consumption for Europe. If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas, does that make me a bad guy?
Because that is what I’m rooting for, and I’d be happy to subsidize Ukraine through the pain. Because such an oil shock, though disruptive in the short run, could have the same long-term impact as the 1973 Arab oil embargo — only more so. That 1973 embargo led to the first auto mileage standards in America and propelled the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries. A Putin embargo today would be even more valuable because it would happen at a time when the solar, wind, natural gas and energy efficiency industries are all poised to take off and scale. So Vladimir, do us all a favor, get crazy, shut off the oil and gas to Ukraine and, even better, to all of Europe. Embargo! You’ll have a great day, and the rest of the planet will have a great century.”
It’s not so simple. The investments needed are massive, and all the massive investments so far have to do with fracking… Which is, ecologically speaking, a disaster. 3% methane leakage makes fracking worse than burning coal. And this leakage is apparently happening.
Unbelievably, some of the countries with coal beds got the bright idea to burn the coal underground. Australia, about the worst emitter of CO2 per capita, experimented with that. It had to be stopped, because some particularly toxic gases (such as toluene) were coming out, not just the CH4 and CO the apprentice sorcerers were looking for.
Carbon Capture and Storage does not exist (but for very special cases in half a dozen special locations, worldwide, not the thousands of locales needed). And CSS will not exist (profitably).
What technology exist that could be developed (but is not yet)? Not just Thorium reactors. The hydrogen economy is a low key, and indispensable economy. Water can be broken by electricity from wind and sun, and then energy can be stored, under the form of hydrogen. Nothing else can do it: batteries are unable to store energy efficiently (and there is not enough Lithium to make trillions of Lithium batteries).
The hydrogen technology pretty much exist, including for efficient storage under safe form (one thick plate of a material that cannot be set aflame can store 600 liters of hydrogen).
Another advantage of storing hydrogen is that oxygen would be released. Although it may seem absurd to worry about this, too much acidity in the ocean (from absorption of CO2) could lead to phytoplankton die-off, and the removal of half of oxygen production.
In this increasingly weird world, that’s where we are at.
Oh, by the way, how to stop Putin? Europe should tell the dictator he can keep his gaz. Now. As good an occasion to start defending the planet, and not just against fascism.
I can’t add anything at a scientific level to what Patrice has written. But I can offer this. Each and every one of us needs to make sure the message is spread as far and wide as possible (you are free to share and republish this post) and then do something, however small it may seem, to make a difference. And do it now!
For the sake of all the Jimmys in the world – and all the turkeys!
Inspired by hearing a young boy shoot a wild turkey early on Saturday morning.
Because we have horses, friends living close to us called to warn that early on Saturday morning, a young lad, accompanied by his father, would be experiencing what it was like to shoot a wild turkey at close range. The turkeys are easy targets; almost pets.
So it was that around 6:30am last Saturday morning that a single shot rang out and we knew that a turkey had been killed. Now in fairness to American history it’s not that long ago that the early settlers relied on hunting to survive. The first permanent European settlement in Oregon wasn’t until 1811. Thus hunting may be something close to the American’s heart; so to speak. However, this eight-year-old lad is facing a future that demands that he and all his generation accept that embracing nature, totally and whole-heartedly, is their only hope of not being the last generation of humans on this beautiful planet.
Jean and I thought the following was an appropriate way of expressing our feelings.
What was it like to point your gun at that turkey and pull the trigger? What did you feel as you saw the bullet hit and the turkey fall to the ground?
Now I wasn’t there with you, of course, but I could imagine the thrill and excitement that you would have felt. Not many young lads of your age get to handle a gun and shoot a turkey.
But Jimmy, what we feel as an eight-year-old is a very poor indicator for what we feel when we are much older. Possibly the only exception is love, which is a golden feeling at any age.
So, if you will forgive this sixty-nine-year old from reading an eight-year-old a very short bedtime story, I will get started.
The world, this enormous world, must seem infinitely huge to you. Even if you stand on the shoulders of your Dad, your eyes ten feet above the ground, the horizon is just four miles away. You could run to that horizon in less than an hour. However, to run all the way around the world at that same speed would take you, dear Jimmy, nearly two hundred and sixty days of running; running twenty-four hours a day! It’s a very big planet!
Look at this wonderful picture of our planet. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful!
It must seem to you that there is nothing an eight-year-old could do to harm this planet we all live on.
That’s true! There is nothing you could do to harm the planet.
However, when you get older and reach the point where you have a job, drive a car, fly to places on an aeroplane, heat your house and a million other things that we grown-ups do, then all of us together, all the millions of people living on this green planet can hurt it.
Indeed, Jimmy, you may have already heard of things like climate change and global warming being spoken about on the television. All of the people living on this planet are hurting it. And the people who are really going to see how we humans are hurting the planet, and how the planet is changing, are all the people who, like you Jimmy, are not yet even finished school.
So what does shooting a wild turkey have to do with caring for your planet throughout the many years ahead for you?
If we care for nature then we care for the health of our lands, for our forests and for our seas. We are careful with how we live our lives. If we care for nature then as we live our lives we do our best to leave things better for those that come after us.
Jimmy, sleep well my young man. Wake knowing the death of that turkey was not in vain. Wake with love in your heart. Love for every living creature.
Written and offered with peace.
Sometimes, one does have to wonder!
Years ago I recall hearing the retort, “What part of the word no are you having trouble with!“
It made me laugh out loud.
It comes to mind again, and this is why.
The accumulation of evidence mounts almost on a daily basis that mankind is critically affecting the viability of Planet Earth. Not only threatening a sustainable home for tens of thousands of species but, most importantly, for homo sapiens.
Yesterday, I included a report that suggested we may be on the verge of one of the largest El Ninos in history. The presumption being that the extra heat energy in the atmosphere is transferring to the Pacific waters.
Today, I want to stay with the theme that it is nature, not mankind, that is dictating our future; that our leaders, are way ‘behind the drag curve’ to use an aviation expression.
But let me offer yet another lesson from dogs. Learnt from understanding the role of the ‘alpha’ dog; the leader.
When dogs lived in the wild the size of their pack, or community, was around fifty animals. The most senior in status was the alpha dog. The alpha dog was a female who had two important roles on behalf of the pack. First, the alpha dog had the pick of the male dogs to ensure the optimum genetic health of the entire group.
Second, it was alpha dog that, in the rare circumstances of their pack’s territory becoming unsustainable, made the decision for her pack to find a new territory.
Humans are on the verge of understanding that our ‘territory’ is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Just a great shame we don’t have any ‘alpha leaders’ to find ‘a new territory’. Clearly in a metaphorical sense. Because the last time I looked a ‘backup’ to Planet Earth wasn’t anywhere close!
No better illustrated than by a recent essay from George Monbiot that I am republishing in full within his blanket permission to so do. The essay is called Loss Adjustment and was published in the Guardian newspaper on the 1st April 2014.
When people say we should adapt to climate change, do they have any idea what that means?
By George Monbiot
To understand what is happening to the living planet, the great conservationist Aldo Leopold remarked, is to live “in a world of wounds … An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” (1)
The metaphor suggests that he might have seen Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People (2). Thomas Stockmann is a doctor in a small Norwegian town, and medical officer at the public baths whose construction has been overseen by his brother, the mayor. The baths, the mayor boasts, “will become the focus of our municipal life! … Houses and landed property are rising in value every day.”
But Dr Stockmann discovers that the pipes were built in the wrong place, and the water feeding the baths is contaminated. “The source is poisoned …We are making our living by retailing filth and corruption! The whole of our flourishing municipal life derives its sustenance from a lie!” People bathing in the water to improve their health are instead falling ill.
Dr Stockmann expects to be treated as a hero for exposing this deadly threat. After the mayor discovers that re-laying the pipes would cost a fortune and probably sink the whole project, he decides that his brother’s report “has not convinced me that the condition of the water at the baths is as bad as you represent it to be.” He proposes to ignore the problem, make some cosmetic adjustments and carry on as before. After all, “the matter in hand is not simply a scientific one. It is a complicated matter, and has its economic as well as its technical side.” The local paper, the baths committee and the business people side with the mayor against the doctor’s “unreliable and exaggerated accounts”.
Astonished and enraged, Dr Stockmann lashes out madly at everyone. He attacks the town as a nest of imbeciles, and finds himself, in turn, denounced as an enemy of the people. His windows are broken, his clothes are torn, he’s evicted and ruined.
Yesterday’s editorial in the Daily Telegraph, which was by no means the worst of the recent commentary on this issue, follows the first three acts of the play (3). Marking the new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the paper sides with the mayor. First it suggests that the panel cannot be trusted, partly because its accounts are unreliable and exaggerated and partly because it uses “model-driven assumptions” to forecast future trends. (What would the Telegraph prefer? Tea leaves? Entrails?). Then it suggests that trying to stop manmade climate change would be too expensive. Then it proposes making some cosmetic adjustments and carrying on as before. (“Perhaps instead of continued doom-mongering, however, greater thought needs to be given to how mankind might adapt to the climatic realities.”)
But at least the Telegraph accepted that the issue deserved some prominence. On the Daily Mail’s website, climate breakdown was scarcely a footnote to the real issues of the day: “Kim Kardashian looks more confident than ever as she shows off her toned curves” and “Little George is the spitting image of Kate”.
Beneath these indispensable reports was a story celebrating the discovery of “vast deposits of coal lying under the North Sea, which could provide enough energy to power Britain for centuries.” (4) No connection with the release of the new climate report was made. Like royal babies, Kim’s curves and Ibsen’s municipal baths, coal is good for business. Global warming, like Dr Stockmann’s contaminants, is the spectre at the feast.
Everywhere we’re told that it’s easier to adapt to global warming than to stop causing it. This suggests that it’s not only the Stern review on the economics of climate change (showing that it’s much cheaper to avert climate breakdown than to try to live with it (5)) that has been forgotten, but also the floods which have so recently abated. If a small, rich, well-organised nation cannot protect its people from a winter of exceptional rainfall – which might have been caused by less than one degree of global warming – what hope do other nations have, when faced with four degrees or more?
When our environment secretary, Owen Paterson, assures us that climate change “is something we can adapt to over time” (6) or Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian yesterday, says that we should move towards “thinking intelligently about how the world should adapt to what is already happening” (7), what do they envisage? Cities relocated to higher ground? Roads and railways shifted inland? Rivers diverted? Arable land abandoned? Regions depopulated? Have they any clue about what this would cost? Of what the impacts would be for the people breezily being told to live with it?
My guess is that they don’t envisage anything: they have no idea what they mean when they say adaptation. If they’ve thought about it at all, they probably picture a steady rise in temperatures, followed by a steady rise in impacts, to which we steadily adjust. But that, as we should know from our own recent experience, is not how it happens. Climate breakdown proceeds in fits and starts, sudden changes of state against which, as we discovered on a small scale in January, preparations cannot easily be made.
Insurers working out their liability when a disaster has occurred use a process they call loss adjustment. It could describe what all of us who love this world are going through, as we begin to recognise that governments, the media and most businesses have no intention of seeking to avert the coming tragedies. We are being told to accept the world of wounds; to live with the disappearance, envisaged in the new climate report, of coral reefs and summer sea ice, of most glaciers and perhaps some rainforests, of rivers and wetlands and the species which, like many people, will be unable to adapt (8).
As the scale of the loss to which we must adjust becomes clearer, grief and anger are sometimes overwhelming. You find yourself, as I have done in this column, lashing out at the entire town.
1. Aldo Leopold, 1949. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press.
Now watch this film!
Published on Apr 6, 2014
Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy. Watch new episodes Sundays at 10PM ET/PT, only on SHOWTIME.
It’s the biggest story of our time. Hollywood’s brightest stars and today’s most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Hardly seems necessary to say this but natural forces are ‘top of the pyramid‘!
As is so often the case, a few outwardly disconnected events offered a deeper picture; well they did for me!
The first was a recently published post by Alex Jones over on his blog The Liberated Way. Alex lives in Colchester, Essex, North-East of London, a place where I ran a business way back in the ’80′s’ and lived not far away in the village of Great Horkesley. Many people, including many Brits are unaware that Colchester, or Camulodunon as the Celtics called it, meaning “the Fortress of Camulos” (Camulos was the Celtic god of war), was the Capitol city in Roman days and that evidence of man’s settlement goes back 3,000 years.
Anyway, back to the thread of today’s post.
That first post from Alex. A post under the title of Catching a fox. Alex has generously given me permission to republish it.
Catching a fox.
After two years of hunting I catch a fox with my camera.
Nature is a shifting tapestry of life, often catching me by surprise with magical manifestations of wildlife that abruptly vanish before I can catch a brief record of its passing through my life. It is a matter of chance that I get lucky with my camera, and I was in luck today.
This morning a fox manifested in my garden. The fox sat looking at me, it had a forlorn look about it, but the fox was content to sit and watch me as it sun bathed in the warmth of a tranquil garden. I had my camera with me, so I made up for two years of frustration by firing off dozens of photographs of my elusive wary model. The fox made my day.
The second event was a chance photograph of a vulture taken two days ago here at home.
Now I’m sure that readers so far will find these three photographs, of the fox and the vulture, are producing feelings of pleasure; feelings of wonderment about the natural world around us.
That world of nature ‘speaks’ to us. If we are prepared to listen.
It spoke to South-West England in February earlier this year:
There are signs that Mother Nature will be speaking to us again; fairly soon. From EarthSky:
Warm water in Pacific could spark a monster El Nino in 2014
The giant red blob in this image is a huge, unusual mass of warm water that currently spans the tropical Pacific Ocean. Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate, says the volume of water is big enough to cover the United States 300 feet deep. And that’s a lot of warm water, he says. Holthaus also says that, as the sub-surface warm water in the Pacific moves eastward – propelled by anomalous trade winds – it’s getting closer to the ocean’s surface. Once the warm water hits the sea surface, it will begin to interact with the atmosphere. Why? Because Earth’s oceans and atmosphere are always interacting. In this case, the warm water will likely boost temperatures and change weather patterns … and possibly bring on a monster El Nino in 2014. There are signs this is already beginning to happen. Read more at Slate.
If one clicks on the link to that Slate article, one then reads:
By Eric Holthaus
The odds are increasing that an El Niño is in the works for 2014—and recent forecasts show it might be a big one.
As we learned from Chris Farley, El Niños can boost the odds of extreme weather (droughts, typhoons, heat waves) across much of the planet. But the most important thing about El Niño is that it is predictable, sometimes six months to a year in advance.
That’s an incredibly powerful tool, especially if you are one of the billions who live where El Niño tends to hit hardest—Asia and the Americas. If current forecasts stay on track, El Niño might end up being the biggest global weather story of 2014.
The most commonly accepted definition of an El Niño is a persistent warming of the so-called “Niño3.4” region of the tropical Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii, lasting for at least five consecutive three-month “seasons.” A recent reversal in the direction of the Pacific trade winds appears to have kicked off a warming trend during the last month or two. That was enough to prompt U.S. government forecasters to issue an El Niño watch last month.
Forecasters are increasingly confident in a particularly big El Niño this time around because, deep below the Pacific Ocean’s surface, off-the-charts warm water is lurking:
Now I’m not going to post the whole of that article so for that reason strongly recommend you read the rest here. However, I am going to offer a couple more extracts.
The warm water just below the ocean’s surface is on par with that of the biggest El Niño ever recorded, in 1997-98. That event caused $35 billion in damages and was blamed for around 23,000 deaths worldwide, according to the University of New South Wales. The 1997-98 El Niño is also the only other time since records begin in 1980 that sub-surface Pacific Ocean water has been this warm in April.
Or like this:
One of the theories put forth by the mainstream scientific community to explain the slow-down since 1998 has been increased storage of warm water in the Pacific Ocean. If that theory is true, and if a major El Niño is indeed in the works, the previously rapid rate of global warming could resume, with dramatic consequences.
As I wrote last fall, the coming El Niño could be enough to make 2014 the hottest year in recorded history, and 2015 could be even warmer than that. The 1997-98 super El Niño was enough to boost global temperatures by nearly a quarter of a degree Celsius. If that scale of warming happens again, the world could approach a 1ºC departure from pre-industrial times as early as next year. As climate scientist James Hansen has warned, that’s around the highest that temperatures have ever been since human civilization began.
Now I’m not trying to be a ‘drama queen’ but there are times when one does wonder what it will take for those who govern us to wake up to the fact that Mother Nature is getting more and more restless.
I shall return to this theme tomorrow.
The third and final set of photographs by Elena Shumilova.
A MOTHER FROM RUSSIA TOOK THESE PICTURES AT HER FARM
ALONG WITH HER TWO SMALL BOYS, A CAT AND A DOG.
These wonderful photographs by Elena Shumilova plunge the viewer into a beautiful world that revolves around her two boys and their adorable dog, cat, duckling and rabbit friends.
Taking advantage of natural colors, weather conditions and her enchanting surroundings, the gifted Russian artist creates cozy and heartwarming photography that leaves you amazed. Elena said, “Children and animals – it’s my life. I’m a mom with two sons and we spend a lot of time on the farm.”
Aren’t they stunningly beautiful!