Author: Paul Handover

Yet another amazing story about a dog’s skills

Who knows whether it was a smell, or a sound, or what…

This is a story from England. From a town called Tow Law, a few miles to the south-west of Newcastle. As wikipedia explains: Tow Law is a town and civil parish in County Durham, England. It is situated a few miles to the south of Consett and 5 miles to the north west of Crook. 

Anyway, the story was published by The Dodo and is reproduced below.

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Dog Out On A Walk Finds Someone Very Stuck In A Stone Wall

He wouldn’t leave until his dad agreed to help 💞

By Caitlin Jill Anders

Published on the 25th February, 2022

A guy and his dog were out on a walk one day through a field in Tow Law, England, when the dog suddenly became very interested in a nearby stone wall. After looking a little closer, the pair found a cat — who had somehow gotten himself completely stuck in the wall.

The RSPCA was called and Inspector Ruth Thomas-Coxon drove over to try and help. She was hoping that it would be as easy as just gently pulling the cat, later named Freddy, out of the wall, but she quickly discovered that he was much more stuck than that.

“Initially it looked as though he’d chosen to tuck himself inside the gap, but he didn’t try to run away when we got closer,” Thomas-Coxon said in a press release.

Thomas-Coxon weighed all her options and decided the best way to free Freddy would be to take apart the stone wall.

“The owner of the paddocks and wall came out and, between us, we removed some of the stones to dismantle the top part of the wall and free the cat,” Thomas-Coxon said. “He made a dash for it and jumped into another part of the wall, where we were able to catch him.”

Even though Freddy was definitely stuck and needed help, he was also not super pleased about being rescued by strangers. Once he realized he was safe, though, he calmed down, and Thomas-Coxon took him to the vet to get him checked out.

“Vets found he was in fairly good health, although he had some mats in his coat, which they removed,” Thomas-Coxon said. “He was a sweet, friendly cat, so I wondered if he was a missing pet, but he was not microchipped. I made some inquiries nearby, put up a poster where we rescued him and also put his profile on PetsLocated, but, unfortunately, he’s not yet been claimed.”

Freddy is settling into the shelter well, and if no one comes forward to claim him, he’ll be put up for adoption. From being stuck in a stone wall to a potential forever home — Freddy’s come a long way.

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It’s a strange story in the sense that the cat was not claimed so who knows where he had come from. But his future is much better, thanks to the RSPCA, and if he is adopted it will be to a good, caring home.

Transformation

A more positive view as to how the future will pan out.

I tend to be rather pessimistic about the future. Maybe it is my age, I don’t know. But a week ago I posted an article by Ophelia Benson called Cruising over the Edge.

For this week I am republishing another climate change article but one that has a positive outlook on where we are going.

Have a read and let me know your thoughts.

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Climate change will transform how we live, but these tech and policy experts see reason for optimism

Authors

  1. Robert Lempert Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
  2. Elisabeth Gilmore Associate Professor of Climate Change, Technology and Policy, Carleton University

Published April 18th, 2022

It’s easy to feel pessimistic when scientists around the world are warning that climate change has advanced so far, it’s now inevitable that societies will either transform themselves or be transformed. But as two of the authors of a recent international climate report, we also see reason for optimism.

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change discuss changes ahead, but they also describe how existing solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help people adjust to impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided.

The problem is that these solutions aren’t being deployed fast enough. In addition to push-back from industries, people’s fear of change has helped maintain the status quo. 

To slow climate change and adapt to the damage already underway, the world will have to shift how it generates and uses energy, transports people and goods, designs buildings and grows food. That starts with embracing innovation and change.

Fear of change can lead to worsening change

From the industrial revolution to the rise of social media, societies have undergone fundamental changes in how people live and understand their place in the world.

Some transformations are widely regarded as bad, including many of those connected to climate change. For example, about half the world’s coral reef ecosystems have died because of increasing heat and acidity in the oceans. Island nations like Kiribati and coastal communities, including in Louisiana and Alaska, are losing land into rising seas.

Other transformations have had both good and bad effects. The industrial revolution vastly raised standards of living for many people, but it spawned inequality, social disruption and environmental destruction.

People often resist transformation because their fear of losing what they have is more powerful than knowing they might gain something better. Wanting to retain things as they are – known as status quo bias – explains all sorts of individual decisions, from sticking with incumbent politicians to not enrolling in retirement or health plans even when the alternatives may be rationally better. 

This effect may be even more pronounced for larger changes. In the past, delaying inevitable change has led to transformations that are unnecessarily harsh, such as the collapse of some 13th-century civilizations in what is now the U.S. Southwest. As more people experience the harms of climate change firsthand, they may begin to realize that transformation is inevitable and embrace new solutions. 

A mix of good and bad

The IPCC reports make clear that the future inevitably involves more and larger climate-related transformations. The question is what the mix of good and bad will be in those transformations.

If countries allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue at a high rate and communities adapt only incrementally to the resulting climate change, the transformations will be mostly forced and mostly bad

For example, a riverside town might raise its levees as spring flooding worsens. At some point, as the scale of flooding increases, such adaptation hits its limits. The levees necessary to hold back the water may become too expensive or so intrusive that they undermine any benefit of living near the river. The community may wither away.

Riverside communities often scramble to raise levees during floods, like this one in Louisiana. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The riverside community could also take a more deliberate and anticipatory approach to transformation. It might shift to higher ground, turn its riverfront into parkland while developing affordable housing for people who are displaced by the project, and collaborate with upstream communities to expand landscapes that capture floodwaters. Simultaneously, the community can shift to renewable energy and electrified transportation to help slow global warming.

Optimism resides in deliberate action

The IPCC reports include numerous examples that can help steer such positive transformation.

For example, renewable energy is now generally less expensive than fossil fuels, so a shift to clean energy can often save money. Communities can also be redesigned to better survive natural hazards through steps such as maintaining natural wildfire breaks and building homes to be less susceptible to burning.

Costs are falling for key forms of renewable energy and electric vehicle batteries. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Land use and the design of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, can be based on forward-looking climate information. Insurance pricing and corporate climate risk disclosures can help the public recognize hazards in the products they buy and companies they support as investors.

No one group can enact these changes alone. Everyone must be involved, including governments that can mandate and incentivize changes, businesses that often control decisions about greenhouse gas emissions, and citizens who can turn up the pressure on both.

Transformation is inevitable

Efforts to both adapt to and mitigate climate change have advanced substantially in the last five years, but not fast enough to prevent the transformations already underway.

Doing more to disrupt the status quo with proven solutions can help smooth these transformations and create a better future in the process.

Disclosure statement

Robert Lempert receives funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation and Culver City Forward. He was coordinating lead author of the IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report, Chapter 1, and is affiliated with RAND Corp.; Harvard; SCoPEx (Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment) Independent Advisory Committee; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Decision Science and Analysis Technical Advisory Committee (TAC); Council on Foreign Relations; Evolving Logic; and the City of Santa Monica Commission on Environmental, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice.

Elisabeth Gilmore receives funding from Minerva Research Initiative administered by the Office of Basic Research and the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. She is affiliated with Carleton University, Rutgers University, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and was a lead author on the IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report.

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The article makes the proposition that fear gets in the way of change. I think this is true because I tend to be a person that goes around saying ‘what can be done’ or ‘it is down to governments to set the changes required’ but not taking action personally.

So this is wakeup call for me and many others to be more positive and to support those changes that are beneficial, and to undertake them ourselves if at all possible.

Another beautiful dog story

This time first detailed on the BBC.

You will forgive me for keeping my comments to a minimum but, amongst other things, I have started rewriting my book.

What I read on the BBC website was this:

Ukrainian soldiers were inspecting abandoned homes on the frontline near Kyiv, in an area that has been reclaimed from the Russians. The troops came across a lonely dog in an apartment and after finding identification documents, they discovered her name was Bavaria. A volunteer has taken the dog in and hopes to reunite it with its owner.

There was a short film also and I am delighted to find this video on YouTube.

With so much disruption and cruelty going on in Ukraine it is a real delight that compassion and love are still very much alive.

Cruising over the Edge

I am very grateful to the Free Inquiry for permission to republish this article!

I am a subscriber to the print edition of Free Inquiry. Have been for quite a while. In the last issue, the April/May magazine, there was an article by Ophelia Benson that just seemed to ‘speak’ to me. I was sure that I was not alone. It was an OP-ED.

I emailed Julia Lavarnway, the Permissions Editor, to enquire what the chances were of me being granted permission to share the story. Frankly, I was not hopeful!

So imagine my surprise when Julia wrote back to say that she had contacted the author, Ophelia, and she had said ‘Yes’.

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Cruising over the Edge

By Ophelia Benson

The trouble with humans is that we never know when to stop. We know how to invent things, but we seem to be completely unable to figure out how to uninvent them—or even just stop using them once we’ve invented them. We can commission like crazy but we can’t decommission.

Like, for instance, cruise ships the size of condo towers. They’re feats of engineering and ship building no doubt, but as examples of sustainable tourism, a small carbon footprint, a sensible approach to global warning, not so much. How many gallons of fuel do you suppose they burn while cruising? Eighty thousand a day, for one ship.

We can’t uninvent, we can’t let go, we can’t stop. We can as individuals, but that’s useless when most people are doing the opposite. It’s useless when cruise ships keep cruising, SUVs keep getting bigger, container ships are so massive they get stuck in canals, more people move to Phoenix as the Colorado River dries up, more people build houses in the Sierras just in time for more wildfires, air travel is almost back to “normal,” and Christmas lights stay up until spring.

So heads of state go to meetings on climate change and sign agreements and pretend they’ve achieved something, but how can they have? Have any of them promised to shut down nonessential enterprises such as the cruise industry? Will they ever? The CEOs and lobbyists and legislatures would eat their lunch if they did. They can’t mess with profitable industries like that unless they’re autocrats like Putin or Xi … and of course Putin and Xi and other autocrats have zero inclination to act in the interests of the planet.

Janos Pasztor wrote in Foreign Policy after COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow this past November:

Even if all Glasgow pledges are fulfilled, we are still facing a temperature overshoot of approximately 2 degrees Celsius. In the more likely scenario of not all pledges being fulfilled, warming will be more: perhaps 3 degrees Celsius. This would be catastrophic in nearly every sense for large parts of humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are suffering first and worst from escalating climate impacts.

Ironically, the technologies we can’t uninvent aren’t just the material luxuries such as huge cars, they’re also intangibles like democracy and freedom and individual rights. It may be our very best inventions along these lines that are the biggest obstacles to doing anything about the destruction we’ve wrought. We believe in democracy, and a downside of democracy is that governments that do unpopular things, no matter how necessary, are seldom governments for long. Biden and Macron and Trudeau and Johnson probably can’t do anything really serious about global warming and still stay in office to carry the work through.

Pasztor went on to ask a pressing question:

So how do we avoid temperature overshoot? The most urgent and important task is to slash emissions, including in the hard-to-abate sectors (such as air transport, agriculture, and industry), which will require substantial lifestyle changes.

Yes, those substantial lifestyle changes—the ones we show absolutely no sign of making. Maybe the biggest luxury we have, and the one we can least afford to sustain, is democracy.

Democracy at this point is thoroughly entangled with consumerism or, to put it less harshly, with standards of living. We’re used to what we’re used to, and anybody who tries to take it away from us would be stripped of power before the signature dried.

This is why beach condos in Florida aren’t the only kind of luxury we have to give up; we also have to give up the “consent” part of the “consent of the governed” idea when it comes to this issue. Not that I have the faintest idea how that would happen, but it seems all too obvious that democratic governance as we know it can’t do what needs to be done to avoid catastrophe.

We don’t usually think of democracy as a luxury alongside skiing in Gstaad or quick trips into space, but it is. It relies on enough peace and prosperity to be able to afford a few mistakes.

We take it for granted because we’ve always had it, at least notionally (some of us were excluded from it until recently), but it’s not universal in either time or place. To some it’s far more intuitive and natural to have “the best” people in charge, because they are the best. It’s a luxury of time and location to have grown up in a moment when non-aristocrats got a say.

The British experience in the Second World War is an interesting exception to the “take people’s pleasures away and lose the next election” pattern. Hitler’s blockade on shipping created a very real threat of starvation, and the Churchill government had to take almost all remaining pleasures away in pursuit of defeating the Nazis. Rationing, the blackouts, conscription, censorship, evacuation, commandeering of houses and extra bedrooms were all commonplace. Much of the dismal impoverished atmosphere of George Orwell’s 1984 is a picture not of Stalin’s Russia but of Churchill’s Britain. Life was grim and difficult, but Hitler was worse, so people drank their weak tea without sugar and planted root vegetables where the roses had been.

It’s disastrous but not surprising that it doesn’t work that way with a threat that’s unfolding swiftly but not so swiftly that everyone can see how bad it’s going to get. We can see what’s in front of us but not what’s too far down the road, especially if our contemporary pleasures depend on our failure to see. We’re default optimists until we’re forced to be otherwise, Micawbers assuring ourselves that “something will turn up”—until the wildfires or crop failures or mass migrations appear over our horizons.

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I do not know what the answer is? But I do know that we have to change our ways and change in the relatively near future; say, ten years maximum.

Because as Janos wrote, quoted in part above: “This would be catastrophic in nearly every sense for large parts of humanity…”

We are in a war. Not a military one but a war with the reality of where we are, all of us, heading. We have to stop ducking and weaving and come out fighting. Fighting for the very survival of our species. Do I think it will happen? I am afraid I do not. Not soon enough anyway: not without the backing of every government in the free world.

I really wonder what will become of us all!

Bela, RIP.

John Zande loses a dear doggy friend.

In a comment to a recent post on this blog, John said: “Just sent you an email.

I went to that email and read:

Hi Paul — just a personal note to let you know Bela died yesterday at 3.30pm. Her old beaten up body couldn’t do it any longer. A week after the last of her two operations she started going downhill. Her walks were more laboured. Last Tuesday I stopped walking her because (although she wanted to keep going) she was failing. She deteriorated over the weekend… Monday was spent racing her between vets, diagnostic clinics, and finally to the emergency care hospital. She made it through the night. She made it to us going there to see her. She was in a terrible state, her kidneys dissolving, her heart giving up. She was thankfully without pain, and although barely conscious (she was on heavy, heavy opioids), she managed to lift her head one last time. The vet there later said it was like she was waiting for you to say goodbye. She died thirty minutes later. Her heart gave out, and they could not revive her.

John subsequently emailed me the details of when he found Bela.

I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye driving home one day. I *thought* it looked like a dog. I turned around, and that’s how we found her… skin and bones, leg broken, paw smashed. And as we’d later discover, megaesophagus. We scooped her up and raced her to the vet. First time in my life after a rescue I actually asked the vet that day if we should just end her misery right then and there. Four years is what she gave us, and our lives are richer for it. Four short years.

Since then Bela has had four or five major operations, the last two to remove cancers were in January and March of this year. As John puts it: “In my mind we were setting her up for many more years of health.

Finally, here is a video of Bela. It is rather poor quality because the original is far too large. But it doesn’t matter at all because it just shows Bela alive and well!

Be in peace, dear Bela.

Are we alone?

As in: Is there life on other planets?

Last Saturday, we went to the local Freethinkers meeting in Grants Pass. It was a fascinating presentation by fellow member, Chas Rogers. Chas teaches Earth Science courses for the Rogue Community College and elsewhere.

Here is a taste of what we saw:

The Rare Earth Hypothesis argues that the development of complex life on Earth, not to mention intelligence, was an incredibly improbable thing in terms of the geological and astronomical variables involved, suggesting that the galaxy is not filled with other intelligent life forms waiting to be found.

One important factor is the Drake Equation. Here it is explained on the SETI website:

How many alien societies exist, and are detectable? This famous formula gives us an idea. The Drake Equation, which was the agenda for a meeting of experts held in West Virginia in 1961, estimates N, the number of transmitting societies in the Milky Way galaxy.

Here is that Drake Equation.

N    : The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.

R*   : The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life (number per year).

fp   : The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.

ne   : The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.

fl    : The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.

fi    : The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.

fc    : The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that produces detectable signs of their existence.

L    : The average length of time such civilizations produce such signs (years).

There is a great deal of information online for those that want to look into the question in much more detail. But I rather like this YouTube video by Carl Sagan.

(Sorry about the funny ending to that video.)

Carl was speaking of the Milky Way. There are plenty of astronomers who believe that the universe holds many galaxies. Plus, the universe is expanding drawn ever outwards by something that is completely unknown!

What a way to think outside the box for a while!

John Fowler

Never sleeping alone!

A story about an amazing gentleman.

There are so many stories about humans going beyond the call of duty in giving dogs love and attention. In my own case, complete chance meant that I met Jean down in San Carlos, Mexico, rescuing street dogs and giving them love and support before finding homes for as many as she could in America, mainly Arizona. Jean had upwards of 20 dogs around her beach-front home and all the dogs were incredible, as in attentive and friendly and well-behaved.

The following article was seen in The Dodo and I wanted to share it because it says so much about the relationship that can be achieved between a human and dogs.

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Woman Walks In On Her Dad Napping With All The Neighbor Dogs

“They come running when they see his car and follow him inside.”

By Lily Feinn

Published on the 18th March, 2022

When Catey Hall checks in on her dad, it’s not unusual to find him napping on the couch. But Hall’s dad never sleeps alone — dogs from around the neighborhood join him to make one big comfy pile.

“Dad sees, plays with and naps with one or more of these dogs on a daily basis,” Hall told The Dodo. “They come running when they see his car and follow him inside.”

Catey Hall

Hall’s dad, Lon Watson, has always loved dogs and works with the local rescue Pound on the Hill to make sure every animal gets the help they need.

“For as long as I can remember, my dad has rescued stray dogs,” Hall said. “Growing up, we always had a dog. But there was always room for a stray in need. Now that he lives alone with his wife, there’s room for several. They work with rescues in the area to find homes for the dogs in need; however, not all of them are re-homed, and they stay with dad forever.”

Catey Hall

Watson has four resident dogs at home, all of whom he and his wife have rescued and rehabilitated.

But he receives daily visits from Hooch, Fluffer-Nutter and Rosie — all of whom live nearby and have a special connection with Watson.

Catey Hall

The neighborhood dogs are happy to wait all day just for some brief one-on-one time with Watson.

Catey Hall

“The neighborhood is an unincorporated section of semi-rural Alabama. The houses are set far back from the street, so the dogs can bounce from house to house safely,” Hall said. “The dogs can usually hear my dad’s truck coming, and they will meet him in the driveway.”

Catey Hall

Luckily, Watson’s human neighbors don’t seem to mind that their dogs spend most of their time with Watson — and would never get in the way of their special naptime.

Watson just seems to have a way with every dog he meets. Even Hall’s two dogs try to get in on the action. “As a matter of fact, they try to leave with Dad when he’s here visiting,” Hall said.

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Hall’s dad is a very fine person, in my book. If one clicks the link to go to the Pound on the Hill Animal Rescue, almost the first thing that one sees is a piece written by Dana Derby. I am taking the liberty of finishing off today’s post by quoting Dana’s words.

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I am a wiggly butt, adorable puppy. Who wouldn’t want ME? I am cuddly and warm. I look at you as my hero… and you are my hero… you saved me! I want to be with you; I feel safe in your arms. And you know I love you unconditionally. It matters not what you wear, your age, your weight or if your roots are showing… I love you just for you! 

What I need to know is will you still love me? I will make mistakes. I may piddle on your best rug. If I am lonesome, I may chew on your favorite shoe… because it smells like you.

Will you still love me? I will grow into a dog. Though I will be cute, I won’t be the tiny baby you held in your arms. I may be rowdy until I learn my manners. It could be trying, at times. My tail might knock things over when I am so happy to see you it won’t stop wagging! I may run in circles, jump and bark simply because I am happy to love you so very much. 

Will you still love me? As years pass, I will slow down. We age just like humans… only at a faster rate. This is because I cannot live without you. My face may become white with age, my legs not work so well, and my eyesight could deteriorate.

Will you still love me? And when my time comes to go to the Rainbow Bridge… I will want you by my side as I say goodbye. Not so much for me, but for you. I will want to be with you during this difficult time, just as we have shared the joy and sorrow of life together for years. I am your companion and will be with you forever… and I will still love you as I live patiently in your heart.. until we meet again.

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