Author: Paul Handover

The wonderful history of dogs and humans!

A wonderful account!

A friend of the blog recently sent me the following; I quote:

How dogs became our best friend

There are plenty of reasons why we love our dogs – and now science has turned its eye on our furry companions to better understand why we can’t live without them. Animal expert Jules Howard joins host Krys Boyd to discuss advancements in dog research, what we know about dog cognition and emotion, and the decades of study that brought us to where we are today. His book is called “Wonderdog: The Science of Dogs and Their Unique Friendship with Humans.

Jules Howard

The friend included a link to the radio broadcast in which Jules Howard talked on Jefferson Public Radio and you can go there by clicking here and scrolling down the list of podcasts. It is just over 34 minutes long and you can find it from both the title and the date: NOVEMBER 23, 2022.

However, there is a longer video from Jules Howard on YouTube. It is 53 minutes long but, boy oh boy, Jules provides so much evidence that dogs are in tune with us in ways that one can hardly believe. Yes, he is sort of promoting his book Wonderdog but so what! So sit oneself down in an easy chair in front of your large screen and watch the following:

So let me close this post by repeating the introduction that I posted on November 4th that included the photograph of Oliver.

I love all our three dogs but Oliver, below, is so in tune with me that I swear he practically understands what I say!

What a beautiful gaze and something that Jules speaks of in his video

Apologies!

Technology got in the way.

As usual Jean and I were reviewing the post that I had planned for today yesterday evening.

All of a sudden a vast chunk of the post disappeared and the computer I was using made it very difficult to recover the text, so I decided to delay the post until tomorrow.

Parkinson’s Disease

It affects so many but it is also a cruel disease.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is unique to each individual as it is a disease of the brain. Yet there are aspects of the disease that affect most and especially the people who are close to the PD sufferer.

From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke comes a small extract:

Following Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder in the United States. Most people diagnosed with PD are age 60 years or older, however, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Approximately 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD, but given that many individuals go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed the actual number is likely much higher. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 million Americans have PD. Of course, given the progressive nature of the disabilities associated with PD, the disease affects thousands more wives, husbands, children, and other caregivers.

NINDS website

Jean was diagnosed in December, 2015 at the same time as my best friend in England, Richard Maugham.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with PD!

Here is a video put out by Parkinson’s UK that is introduced as follows:

In this honest and often funny live talk Colin describes his experience with Parkinson’s and his hopes for the future.

So a wish on behalf of those countless other people: May there be a cure soon!

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Sixty-One

Just a change for today! A fabulous change!

Tinker

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Tinker on the Beach

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Tinker and Lucy

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Tinker and Lucy playing

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Tinker

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Princess sharing her bed with Smokey the cat.

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Princess

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Princess in her new bed.

I can’t put it better than the email that I received recently from Chris. Here it is:

Hi Paul

Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully you had a far better one than the last time I celebrated with American friends when I lived in Indonesia. We ended up having to evacuate the house (including the deputy US ambassador) as the kitchen caught fire!

It’s been a bit of a journey writing the post as so many adventures with the dogs came back to me. In the end I focussed on the first one Princess and the latest Tinker. I hope it’s OK. Let me know if not, as I can always rewrite it. There are so many other dogs I could have mentioned which is the scary thing! Still, the copy is attached and I’m sending photos using WeTransfer.com. They’ll send you an email with a link to download the pics. It’s totally safe and free (It’s been a godsend for designing book covers as it stops emails getting clogged up). I’ve put far too many pics in there so please feel free to use the ones you like and discard others.

Thank you so much for letting me do this post. It’s been quite emotional, but put a huge smile on my face all week.

Best wishes

Chris

The incredible story of Diablo

Just watch this after the introduction.

Countless numbers of people have dreamt that they can communicate with animals and I would imagine an enormous percentage of those would have dreamt that they can communicate with dogs.

Certainly of the three dogs we have alive still here at home (we had in the past some fifteen dogs) Oliver below appears to understand much of what is said to him by me and Jean

If one goes to the YouTube website then one is introduced to Anna Breytenbach who has made it her life’s passion to better communicate with animals. Here’s a small piece from the extensive WikiPedia entry:

In her twenties she decided to pursue her passion for wildlife (big cats in particular) by becoming a cheetah handler at a conservation education project. On moving to America, she explored wolf and other predator conservation. She has also served on committees for wolf, snow leopard, cheetah and mountain lion conservation.

Anna Breytenbach and friend

So now we come to this video of Anna and Diablo, more properly called Spirit, (and the video will make that clear).

Arjan Postma explains the background to the film:

I just want to share this message as much as possible without any commercial intent, personal benefit or whatsoever. All used materials and therefore copyrights do not belong to me. I hope you enjoy discovering and watching this story and skill as much as I did: What if you could talk to animals and have them talk back to you? Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals. In this section, Anna transforms a deadly snarling leopard into a relaxed content cat. The amazing story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit… I found the source of this amazing documentary here: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/docum… This is the first full length documentary film on the art of animal communication. Nominated for Best Long Documentary, Best Director of “Jade Kunlun” Awards of 2012 World Mountain Documentary Festival of Qinghai China. Director: Craig Foster | Producer: Vyv Simson | Narrator: Swati Thiyagarajan Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Why is intelligent life so rare?

Maybe it is because of a ‘Great Filter‘.

Like so many others I read many items online. One of the websites that I follow is the EarthSky site because for a long time I have been interested in space.

So when I saw an article on why intelligent life is so rare in our Milky Way I read it fully. And hoped it would be of interest to others.

Here it is:

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What is the Great Filter, and can we survive it?

Posted by

Kelly Kizer Whitt and Deborah Byrd

November 17, 2022

This graphic depicts intelligent civilizations as stars. The vertical lines represent Great Filters that civilizations do or don’t survive. This graphic depicts Earth’s human population (the yellow “star”) approaching its own Great Filter. How would we surpass it, and keep going? Image via NASA/ arXiv.

What is the Great Filter?

Is intelligent life common, or rare in our Milky Way galaxy? If it’s common, why haven’t we encountered it? While discussing UFOs on a walk to lunch in the year 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi is famously said to have asked, “But where is everybody?” Scientists today call that riddle Fermi’s Paradox. Now a new paper by NASA scientists explores one possible answer to the paradox. The answer may be what’s called the Great Filter.

Economist Robin Hanson first proposed the Great Filter, in the late 1990s. It’s the idea of that – even if life forms abundantly in our Milky Way galaxy – each extraterrestrial civilization ultimately faces some barrier to its own survival. The barrier might come from without (for example, an asteroid striking a planet, and wiping out all life forms). Or it might come from within (for example, all-out nuclear war).

Hanson proposed that a Great Filter might be at work within our Milky Way galaxy. He argued – from what we can see here on Earth – life expands to fill every niche. And so, he argued, we should see signs of intelligent life beyond Earth in nearby star systems, perhaps even in our solar system. But we don’t see this.

Is humanity facing a Great Filter?

The authors of the new paper take Hanson’s idea further. They explore the idea that humanity may now be facing a Great Filter. The authors wrote:

We postulate that an existential disaster may lay in wait as our society advances exponentially towards space exploration, acting as the Great Filter: a phenomenon that wipes out civilizations before they can encounter each other … In this article, we propose several possible scenarios, including anthropogenic and natural hazards, both of which can be prevented with reforms in individual, institutional and intrinsic behaviors. We also take into account multiple calamity candidates: nuclear warfare, pathogens and pandemics, artificial intelligence, meteorite impacts, and climate change. 

And they offer solutions, beginning with, as they say:

… a necessary period of introspection, followed by appropriate refinements to properly approach our predicament, and addressing the challenges and methods in which we may be able to mitigate risk to mankind and the nearly 9 million other species on Earth.

In a sense, the authors of the new paper – including lead author Jonathan H. Jiang of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – are engaging in a “necessary period of introspection” by the act of writing their paper.

And, with their paper, they’re laying out the challenges we’re facing and methods of addressing them.

We’ve already survived some ‘filters’

The scientists point to life’s resilience. Life on Earth has already survived a number of filters in the form of mass extinction events. The Permian-Triassic extinction – aka the Great Dying – occurred 250 million years ago and nearly ended all life on the planet. This extinction event wiped out about 96% of marine life and 70% of land species. The exact cause of the Great Dying is still a matter of study, but some scientists have said it was a combination of warming temperatures and decreasing oxygen.

But these previous filters, or extinction events, have been natural, arising from the evolution of our planet and solar system, including volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts

A Great Filter of our own making

But now, clearly, humanity may be facing a Great Filter of our own making, and one that other intelligent civilizations in the galaxy have faced … and failed to withstand. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the technological advancements humans have achieved might ultimately lead to our undoing. Perhaps that’s nature’s way. As the new paper said:

It seems as though nearly every great discovery or invention, while pushing back the borders of our technological ignorance, is all too quickly and easily turned to destructive ends. Examples such as splitting the atom, biomedical innovations and resource extraction and consumption come to mind with disconcerting swiftness. Still, some have suggested artificial intelligence (AI) as yet another factor, which, pending substantial technical hurdles, may yet have its chance to prove friend or foe.

Here’s a look at some of the issues that might compose Earth’s Great Filter.

Unchecked population growth

One of the factors Earth faces, according to the paper, is unchecked population growth. Earth just passed a milestone on November 15, 2022, when it reached 8 billion human inhabitants. The paper said with our current population figures, Earth has experienced:

… an exponential rise from about 1.6 billion [people] at the start of the 20th century.

Technological advancements in farming, energy production and distribution have made such a large population possible on Earth. But, as the paper said, these advancements cannot:

… indefinitely offset the multifaceted stresses imposed by an ever-escalating population.

When will Earth’s human population reach its peak size? Some projections report that education in developing nations might allow Earth’s population to peak at 10 billion in the 2060s. But, of course, no one really knows.

Nuclear war

While warfare has long been a factor of life on Earth, only in the past century has humanity had a weapon that could destroy all nations, not just those participating in a nuclear war. The scientists said the greater the number of democracies in the world, the better our chances for avoiding nuclear war. The scientist also saw other encouraging signs, including:

Peace agreements in the historically troubled Middle East, a vast reduction in nuclear warheads since the height of the Cold War and a wide coalition of nations rallying their support for the besieged in Eastern Europe.

Pathogens and pandemics

The threat of illness and pandemics continues to grow simply because our world is so interconnected. Spreading diseases have a much easier time in our global society. But on the positive side, advancements in medicine have also given us an edge. The scientists said that having current and reliable data is crucial:

… in predicting how future pandemics will spread, how deadly they will be and how quickly and effectively we will be able to leverage our knowledge of the life sciences to counter this manifestation of the Great Filter.

Artificial intelligence

While true artificial intelligence as a separate sentient being is not yet reality, the authors of the paper urge a proactive plan to peacefully share Earth. They project that computer sophistication will one day rival that of the human mind. The scientists said:

As for whether AI would be benign or otherwise, self-imposing a Great Filter of our own invention, that will depend on the evolving nature and disposition of Earth’s first high-tech species.

Asteroid and comet impacts

Here’s an extinction event from the past that could still spell our doom in the future. While large impacts are exceedingly rare, there is, as the scientists said:

… a non-zero percentage [of asteroids or comets] which are large enough to survive passage through the atmosphere and, impacting the surface, cause catastrophic destruction to our sensitive biosphere.

The odds of a mass extinction level event in the coming years is vanishingly small. But, over time periods extending into the very distant future, the odds increase toward 100%. Meanwhile, with projects such as the DART mission, and given enough lead time, humanity has a way of defending itself.

Climate change

Climate change has become one of the most studied threats to life on Earth. Because the threats from climate change happen on a slower time scale than, say, the time it takes to launch a nuclear weapon, the efforts to curb these effects have not been as rapid as they could have been. The scientists said:

The major impediment to taking more decisive actions, however, are the challenges imposed by transitioning to non-carbon-based energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear power. Here again, rapidly advancing technologies in areas such as modularized nuclear power plants and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) are among the best hopes for avoiding slow-motion ensnarement by this lulling but lethal Great Filter.

Avoiding the Great Filter

So you see there’s not just one possible Great Filter for Earth, but many. Any one of them could be our downfall. These scientists are suggesting something that sounds simple on its face, but is (apparently) hard to do. That is, in order to avoid the Great Filter, humans must work together and recognize the big picture. As the paper said:

History has shown that intraspecies competition and, more importantly, collaboration, has led us toward the highest peaks of invention. And yet, we prolong notions that seem to be the antithesis of long-term sustainable growth. Racism, genocide, inequity, sabotage … the list sprawls.

Meanwhile, we continue to look outward, peering at the dark depths between the stars, hoping for a sign that we aren’t alone in the universe. Ultimately, our quest to find life beyond Earth is part of trying to understand life on our planet and where we fit in. As Carl Sagan said:

In the deepest sense, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves.

Bottom line: Scientists say the reason we haven’t found intelligent civilizations in the galaxy is that they may not have survived the Great Filter. And they say we may be facing down our own Great Filter.

Source: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2210/2210.10582.pdf

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We are a funny bunch! As was said just a couple of paragraphs ago we humans must work together and recognise the big picture. But we do not!

Why do we not do that?

I wish I knew the answer to that conundrum! Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the article.

Healing your dog!

A guest post from Breanna Alam.

Let me first provide some background to Breanna. She offered the following:

Breanna Alam is a passionate dog-lover who strives to find holistic ways for dogs to live their very best lives. The most recent passing of her 10.5 year old boxer, Santana taught her how to truly understand a dog’s purpose in this world. She always felt a strong emotional connection to dogs, and throughout her life she often noticed that dogs reflect the personalities of their owners. Breanna earned her master’s degree in User Experience Design and utilizes that knowledge to better understand how dogs and owners can enhance their experiences with one another in their everyday lives. This also brought her to the realization that through showing owners how to better understand their dogs, they can better understand themselves. She hopes to spread peace, love, and deeper connections to dogs and their owners all around the world by bringing awareness to the natural ways to plug back into the earth. 

I’d love to spread the word about the natural healing power of crystals for dogs!

And what better than this article by Breanna on how crystals help the healing of dogs.

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How Crystals Can Help Heal Your Dog

By Breanna Alam.

Crystals are a natural way to connect to the earth. They often form when magma hardens and cools slowly or when water evaporates from a mixture. This can take a few days to several years! Most crystals are naturally formed while others can be man-made or manipulated to exude a certain color or shape. Since crystals are composed of natural elements from the earth, they contain grounding properties that allow us to feel centered and calm. But the power of crystals doesn’t stop at humans, dogs can benefit from them too! 

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Chevron Amethyst

Black Obsidian

If you’re concerned about negativity, black obsidian is perfect for you. While other crystals tend to enhance positive attributes and surrounding energy, black obsidian will absorb the negative! This works well in conjunction with other crystals, but also works perfectly fine on its own. If your dog has a dark or painful past, black obsidian can help draw out the toxic energy that is no longer serving purpose in your happy home. Along with drawing out negativity, this powerful stone has the ability to help heal old wounds and traumas. Place black obsidian in any area your dog frequents to reap the benefits of this powerful stone. 

Howlite

Does your precious pooch have trouble sleeping? Howlite might do the trick! This powerful stone promotes a better sleep cycle to allow you both to wake up feeling refreshed each morning. It’s also known to encourage expression, which can help boost the confidence of shy dogs. When a dog feels more confident, they are less likely to excessively chew or exhibit destructive behavior. Howlite is a dreamy white and grey color combination and one that could benefit from staying near your dog’s bed.

Howlite.

Rose Quartz

New owners should definitely consider adding rose quartz to their shopping list. It’s well known for attracting feelings of unconditional love, within and without. An increase in self-love allows dogs to see an increase in love all around. This can especially come in handy with opening a dog’s heart to its new owner. It also helps to heal old wounds, which could benefit those suffering from a traumatic past. Rose quartz is a soft pink color, and you can place it anywhere near your dog to amplify all the loving energy around you both!

If you’ve been curious about how crystals can help strengthen your relationship with your dog, we hope this article helps. Always be sure to keep crystals in an area where your dog can’t accidentally (or purposely) eat them. Check with SpaDog weekly for more tips, tricks, and useful information on spoiling your dog in healthy and fun ways!

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Thank you, Breanna, I am sure that will find many readers who see where you are coming from. That last sentence says it all for dog-lovers: “Check with SpaDog weekly for more tips, tricks, and useful information on spoiling your dog in healthy and fun ways!”

Thank you once again!

Herman Daly.

A recent article in The Conversation

I was short of time yesterday when I turned my mind to Tuesday’s post. So I hope you won’t mind if I leave you with this very interesting article.

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The inconvenient truth of Herman Daly: There is no economy without environment

The economy depends on the environment. Economics can seem to forget that point. Ines Lee Photos/Moment via Getty Images

Jon D. Erickson, University of Vermont

Herman Daly had a flair for stating the obvious. When an economy creates more costs than benefits, he called it “uneconomic growth.” But you won’t find that conclusion in economics textbooks. Even suggesting that economic growth could cost more than it’s worth can be seen as economic heresy.

The renegade economist, known as the father of ecological economics and a leading architect of sustainable development, died on Oct. 28, 2022, at the age of 84. He spent his career questioning an economics disconnected from an environmental footing and moral compass.



In an age of climate chaos and economic crisis, his ideas that inspired a movement to live within our means are increasingly essential.

The seeds of an ecological economist

Herman Daly grew up in Beaumont, Texas, ground zero of the early 20th century oil boom. He witnessed the unprecedented growth and prosperity of the “gusher age” set against the poverty and deprivation that lingered after the Great Depression.

To Daly, as many young men then and since believed, economic growth was the solution to the world’s problems, especially in developing countries. To study economics in college and export the northern model to the global south was seen as a righteous path.

Headshot photo of Daly as an older man, with glasses and thinning hair,
Economist Herman Daly (1938-2022) Courtesy of Island Press

But Daly was a voracious reader, a side effect of having polio as a boy and missing out on the Texas football craze. Outside the confines of assigned textbooks, he found a history of economic thought steeped in rich philosophical debates on the function and purpose of the economy.

Unlike the precision of a market equilibrium sketched on the classroom blackboard, the real-world economy was messy and political, designed by those in power to choose winners and losers. He believed that economists should at least ask: Growth for whom, for what purpose and for how long?

Daly’s biggest realization came through reading marine biologist Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring,” and seeing her call to “come to terms with nature … to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature but of ourselves.” By then, he was working on a Ph.D. in Latin American development at Vanderbilt University and was already quite skeptical of the hyperindividualism baked into economic models. In Carson’s writing, the conflict between a growing economy and a fragile environment was blindingly clear.

After a fateful class with Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Daly’s conversion was complete. Georgescu-Roegen, a Romanian-born economist, dismissed the free market fairy tale of a pendulum swinging back and forth, effortlessly seeking a natural state of equilibrium. He argued that the economy was more like an hourglass, a one-way process converting valuable resources into useless waste.

Daly became convinced that economics should no longer prioritize the efficiency of this one-way process but instead focus on the “optimal” scale of an economy that the Earth can sustain. Just shy of his 30th birthday in 1968, while working as a visiting professor in the poverty-stricken Ceará region of northeastern Brazil, Daly published “On Economics as a Life Science.”

His sketches and tables of the economy as a metabolic process, entirely dependent on the biosphere as source for sustenance and sink for waste, were the road map for a revolution in economics.

Economics of a full world

Daly spent the rest of his career drawing boxes in circles. In what he called the “pre-analytical vision,” the economy – the box – was viewed as the “wholly owned subsidiary” of the environment, the circle.

When the economy is small relative to the containing environment, a focus on the efficiency of a growing system has merit. But Daly argued that in a “full world,” with an economy that outgrows its sustaining environment, the system is in danger of collapse.

Illustrations of a square (economy) inside a circle (ecosystem). Energy and matter go into and out of the economy square, and some is recycled. Meanwhile solar energy enters the ecosystem circle and some heat escapes. In one, the square is too large.
Herman Daly’s conception of the economy as a subsystem of the environment. In a ‘full world,’ more growth can become uneconomic. Adapted from ‘Beyond Growth.’ Used with permission from Beacon Press.

While a professor at Louisiana State University in the 1970s, at the height of the U.S. environmental movement, Daly brought the box-in-circle framing to its logical conclusion in “Steady-State Economics.” Daly reasoned that growth and exploitation are prioritized in the competitive, pioneer stage of a young ecosystem. But with age comes a new focus on durability and cooperation. His steady-state model shifted the goal away from blind expansion of the economy and toward purposeful improvement of the human condition.

The international development community took notice. Following the United Nations’ 1987 publication of “Our Common Future,” which framed the goals of a “sustainable” development, Daly saw a window for development policy reform. He left the safety of tenure at LSU to join a rogue group of environmental scientists at the World Bank.

For the better part of six years, they worked to upend the reigning economic logic that treated “the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” He often butted heads with senior leadership, most famously with Larry Summers, the bank’s chief economist at the time, who publicly waved off Daly’s question of whether the size of a growing economy relative to a fixed ecosystem was of any importance. The future U.S. treasury secretary’s reply was short and dismissive: “That’s not the right way to look at it.”

But by the end of his tenure there, Daly and colleagues had successfully incorporated new environmental impact standards into all development loans and projects. And the international sustainability agenda they helped shape is now baked into the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of 193 countries, “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.” In 1994, Daly returned to academia at the University of Maryland, and his life’s work was recognized the world over in the years to follow, including by Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, the Netherlands’ Heineken Prize for Environmental Science, Norway’s Sophie Prize, Italy’s Medal of the Presidency, Japan’s Blue Planet Prize and even Adbuster’s person of the year.

Today, the imprint of his career can be found far and wide, including measures of the Genuine Progress Indicator of an economy, new Doughnut Economics framing of social floors within environmental ceilings, worldwide degree programs in ecological economics and a vibrant degrowth movement focused on a just transition to a right-sized economy.

I knew Herman Daly for two decades as a co-author, mentor and teacher. He always made time for me and my students, most recently writing the foreword to my upcoming book, “The Progress Illusion: Reclaiming Our Future from the Fairytale of Economics.” I will be forever grateful for his inspiration and courage to, as he put it, “ask the naive, honest questions” and then not be “satisfied until I get the answers.”

Jon D. Erickson, Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, University of Vermont

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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I found this to be absolutely fascinating and I am sure many besides me agree.