Category: Climate

We’re back!

On last Thursday morning, at 02:30, in the middle of a huge storm the electricity was lost. So was the telephone and the internet.

The electricity was restored at 04:30 on Friday, the telephone later in the morning but no internet.

Finally, the internet was restored at 21:00 last night, too late to do anything useful.

So that explains the absence of yours truly over the last three days. Hopefully, if it remains on there will be a normal post at midnight tonight. All times are Pacific Time.

It was a huge storm with about 6 inches of snow.

It’s a New Year!

Well we have passed the Solstice!

Each year I try and promote the fact that we are in a New Year.

This year’s December Solstice took place at the moment this post was published: 20:19 PST .

Or in the words of EarthSky.org:

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All you need to know: December solstice

Posted by in | December 15, 2019

December solstice 2019 arrives on December 22 at 4:19 UTC.

That’s December 21 for much of North America. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!

Ian Hennes in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, created this solargraph between a June solstice and a December solstice. It shows the path of the sun during that time period.

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (That’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time).

No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate.

When is the solstice? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2019, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST. That’s on December 22 at 04:19 Universal Time (UTC). It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.

Just remember: you’re translating from 04:19 UT on December 22. For example, if you live in Perth, Australia, you need to add 8 hours to Universal Time to find out that the solstice happens on Sunday, December 22, at 12:19 p.m. AWST (Australian Western Standard Time).

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2019 solstice (December 22, 2019, at 04:19 UTC). Image via EarthView.

What is a solstice? The earliest people on Earth knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments such as Stonehenge in England – or, for example, at Machu Picchu in Peru – to follow the sun’s yearly progress.

But we today see the solstice differently. We can picture it from the vantage point of space. Today, we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.

At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the North Pole horizon. As seen from 23 1/2 degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets. All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.

For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.

Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun. Image via NASA.

Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere.

For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of all light and warmth on Earth.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can notice the late dawns and early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon. And be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s opposite. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high. It’s your shortest noontime shadow of the year.

Around the time of the winter solstice, watch for late dawns, early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Notice your noontime shadow, the longest of the year. Photo via Serge Arsenie on Flickr.
Meanwhile, at the summer solstice, noontime shadows are short. Photo via the Slam Summer Beach Volleyball festival in Australia.

Why doesn’t the earliest sunset come on the shortest day? The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. But the earliest sunset – or earliest sunrise if you’re south of the equator – happens before the December solstice. Many people notice this, and ask about it.

The key to understanding the earliest sunset is not to focus on the time of sunset or sunrise. The key is to focus on what is called true solar noon – the time of day that the sun reaches its highest point in its journey across your sky.

In early December, true solar noon comes nearly 10 minutes earlier by the clock than it does at the solstice around December 22. With true noon coming later on the solstice, so will the sunrise and sunset times.

It’s this discrepancy between clock time and sun time that causes the Northern Hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the Southern Hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice.

The discrepancy occurs primarily because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A secondary but another contributing factor to this discrepancy between clock noon and sun noon comes from the Earth’s elliptical – oblong – orbit around the sun. The Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we’re closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit. Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes in early January. So we are moving fastest in orbit around now, slightly faster than our average speed of about 18.5 miles per second (30 kilometers per second). The discrepancy between sun time and clock time is greater around the December solstice than the June solstice because we’re nearer the sun at this time of year.

Solstice sunsets, showing the sun’s position on the local horizon at December 2015 (left) and June 2016 (right) solstices from Mutare, Zimbabwe, via Peter Lowenstein.

The precise date of the earliest sunset depends on your latitude. At mid-northern latitudes, it comes in early December each year. At northern temperate latitudes farther north – such as in Canada and Alaska – the year’s earliest sunset comes around mid-December. Close to the Arctic Circle, the earliest sunset and the December solstice occur on or near the same day.

By the way, the latest sunrise doesn’t come on the solstice either. From mid-northern latitudes, the latest sunrise comes in early January.

The exact dates vary, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, shortest day on the solstice around December 22, latest sunrise in early January.

And so the cycle continues.

Solstice Pyrotechnics II by groovehouse on Flickr.

Bottom line: The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (that’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time). It marks the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day (first day of winter) and Southern Hemisphere’s longest day (first day of summer). Happy solstice, everyone!

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Well for many in the Northern Hemisphere the worst of the winter weather is yet to come.

But at least the days are drawing longer.

Welcome to the start of a New Year!

Out playing in the cold

Another fascinating article.

Indeed, this article from Mother Nature Network has no fewer than six YouTube videos of dogs out in the cold.

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Why dogs love the cold and playing in the snow

By Mary Jo DiLonardo , December 5, 2019

Snow turns your dog’s world into a brand new playground. (Photo: Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock)

When temperatures drop or snow starts to fall, many of us hibernate inside under warm blankets — after stocking up on bread and milk, of course. But not our dogs.

Cold? They love the cold! They run around the yard with heads held high and tails streaming, bucking like frisky foals.

What is it about the cold and snow that makes our canine friends so absolutely bonkers?

“I think it’s just fun. It’s something new. Plus snow is like a brand new toy,” says certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer. “They have fur coats on, and they’re warm all the time so they feel good when it’s cold.”
But it’s even more amazing when it snows. That baffling, stupendous, chilling white stuff is for catching, rolling around and racing in. Like this:

Dogs have fun in the snow for probably the same reason little kids have fun in the snow: It changes their usual playground.

“It’s really no different than us humans (particularly children), who find many different forms of entertainment in the winter,” says certified professional dog trainer Katelyn Schutz in Wisconsin Pet Care.

“We toss snowballs, build snow forts, and hurdle ourselves down snowy hills on sleds, skis, and snowboards. It’s no wonder our dogs follow our lead!”

This newness isn’t just what they see, of course, but it’s what they smell and what they feel when they’re outside romping in the snow.

“More than anything, I suspect that the very sensation of snow on the body is engaging for dogs,” Alexandra Horowitz, PhD, author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs, See, Smell, and Know,” tells Scientific American.

“Have you ever run through the shallow waves of the sea? Why does kicking up sand and seawater make us happy? I can’t say. But it is clear that it does.”

Not all dogs love the snow and cold, Aga points out. Hairless breeds shiver and get too cold when exposed to frigid temperatures. (Above all, just pay attention; your dog will let you know if he’s not enjoying the weather.) They might need doggie sweaters or jackets before heading outside to play.

But cold-weather breeds like Siberian huskies, Newfoundlands and great Pyrenees have dense coats and were bred to withstand winter’s wallop.

“For snow dogs, that’s when they come alive,” Aga says. “They become more energetic. It allows them to run and play without getting overheated. They just feel freer in it.”

When your dog is racing and bounding around in the snow yelling, “Wheeeee!” it’s obvious he’s having fun.

“Dogs will play with something that is interesting and moves in a different way — it feels interesting,” Dr. Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist, told the Dodo.

“It’s about novelty and creating different movements — they’re trying to learn what is this thing and what to do with it.”

Plus, snow is really fun to catch.

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That’s a really fun post and a delightful collection of videos.

It’s a truism I know but it still needs saying out loud: Dogs are amazing!

Dogs are meat-eaters!

Humans are not – never have been!

On Monday when Jeannie and I went to our regular session at Club Northwest, Jean to her Rock Steady class, and me to spend 45 minutes with Austin Raymond, one of the fitness coaches, he and I were speaking of health in general and veganism in particular. Austin, Jean and I are vegans.

Austin mentioned had we watched the film The Game Changers on Netflix? I replied that we had not but we were subscribers to Netflix and would watch it in the evening.

Well what an incredible film! I mean really incredible!

P.S. If you are a Netflix subscriber then you may watch it without any fuss.

(So I taken time out from book writing to publish this post; I’m over 9,000 words already written in November!)

Here’s a YouTube trailer to the film:

Have you ever seen an ox eating meat!

But apart from the solid science that we never were meat-eaters were the facts about illness being so much prevalent in those eating meat compared to vegans. That was just one aspect of the film that grabbed our attention! There were many more.

Back to fundamentals!

Let’s examine one fact, the jaw shape.

Here’s the jaw of a dog.

Dog skull and jaw isolated on white

and here’s another:

That is a mouth that has evolved to tear meat from an animal.

And here’s the jaw of a human:

and the picture of the whole skull.

Notice that the teeth have always been adapted to eat fruit and vegetables.

And that’s before we think how much land has been converted from natural land and forest to grazing land for cattle and sheep!

Now I don’t know how long the full documentary will remain for free on YouTube but here it is:

It is an hour and twenty-five minutes long.

But PLEASE watch it! It’s very important.

And I would be very interested in your thoughts!

In my opinion this is as important as it gets.

Thank you, Austin!

Waterfalls!

Another one to share with you while we are away!

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Taken from here.

Chasing Waterfalls

Posted on

Written by I recently returned from a research sail through the Denmark Straits and I couldn’t be more in awe of mother nature.

We sailed aboard the gaft-rigged ketch Tecla out of Isafjordur, Iceland, bound for Greenland. We were thirteen women and men on a hundred-foot steel-hulled sailing vessel.

As we cleared the steep-sided fjord and sailed out into the bay past towering headlands, we saw a humpback whale breach. It rose straight out of the water, extended enormous knobby flippers, rotated and fell on its side with a large splash.

We sailed on, and another wheeled before us.

Further out, white-beaked dolphins streaked, exhaled, and splashed in the bow waves at the front of our boat.

Gray and white fulmars with outstretched wings carved the sky and nearly scratched the sea. And then there were icebergs.

The natural beauty of Mother Earth never ceases to take my breath away, no matter how many times I see it.

We traversed the threshold between the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. The south-bound East Greenland current squeezed between the craggy coasts of Iceland and Greenland to become a “superhighway” for turbulent water. Here, the denser Arctic water mass crashes into the bulwark front of warmer Atlantic Water. Arctic water plunges downwards into the Denmark Strait Cataract. This is the world’s largest waterfall. Yet, skimming the surface of immense water all we see are waves that crest white tumble and stream like the tossed manes of charging horses.

Unfortunately, we also saw the threats to nature.

First, a quick science lesson: When seawater freezes at the ocean surface, the ice is actually made of freshwater; the salt gets rejected back into the surrounding water. That surrounding water then becomes denser and sinks. This happens on a massive scale, which results in ocean currents around the world. Think of it like an organic engine that circulates the oceans’ water.

Now, because global warming exposes more of the surface every summer than it used to (about twice as much, in fact) that means more surface ice each winter. That means that our ocean circulation engine is twice as big, which radically alters the seascape, threatens not only the ocean ecosystem – from tiny algae to those humpback whales – but life worldwide.

We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.

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I will do no better than to repeat that last paragraph.

We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.

Here! Here!

It’s been hot here in recent days.

And not just here!

This story comes from Mexico, a country renowned for being a hot place. Even in Northern Mexico it can be flipping hot (and that’s putting it nicely). Let’s face it I met Jeannie in San Carlos, Mexico in 2007. San Carlos is in the county of Sonora, just along the coast from Guaymas and about 270 miles South from Nogales on the Arizona border.

Anyway, back to the story which comes from The Dodo.

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Nice Store Opens Its Doors To Homeless Dog During Heat Wave

“He came to us for help.”
BY

PUBLISHED ON THE 27th August, 2019.

Recently, on a scorching hot day in northern Mexico, Adolfo Pazzi Ahumada witnessed love in its purest form.

After noticing he was out of milk at home, Ahumada decided to brave the 104°F weather to make a quick stop at his local market. When he arrived, he saw sweet scene unfolding out front.

“A stray dog was being fed and getting water from the [store] clerk,” Ahumada told The Dodo. “Then I saw they let the dog inside.”

Google Maps

Once Ahumada entered the store, he decided to ask the clerk about the dog. Ahumada recounted that conversation to The Dodo: “He has been here the past [few] days. We suspect he was left behind by his owner. He came to us for help,” the clerk told Ahumada. “We could only provide him with food, water and some toys from the store that we paid with our money.”

But the shop’s kindness doesn’t end there.

“We let him inside because the temperature outside is really hell-like. We feel bad for him, but he looks happier around the store,” the clerk said.

Peeking down one of the aisles, Ahumada observed that firsthand:

Adolfo Pazzi Ahumada

The downtrodden dog had found people who cared.

In the time he’s been there, the dog has shown kindness to the clerks and customers in return. The store hopes perhaps a shopper will see fit to adopt him into their home.

Unable to be that person, Ahumada paid for his milk and bought a treat for the dog to enjoy after his nap — resting assured the pup was in safe and caring hands until that day comes.

Adolfo Pazzi Ahumada

“I felt bad for what the dog has passed through,” Ahumada said. “But he is now receiving the love he deserves.”

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 I find myself staggered at what this dog has endured yet at the same time how very quickly he settled in at the store. Well done to all the staff at the OXXO store. It would have been so easy to let the dog suffer and in all probability die in the heat.

Please, let the sweet dog find a loving home as soon as possible!

From Montana!

One of my most favourite blog sites!

There is a blog site, primarily for all those interested in photography. It is called Ugly Hedgehog! Seriously! But UHH, as it is known, also has room for general non-photographic chat so it really does cater for all.

I have been a member since July, 2017, and have been amazed at how quickly the time has gone.

Anyway, the home page of Ugly Hedgehog is here, it’s free, and if you have any interest in photography I strongly recommend it.

This item came in a couple of weeks ago and I’m taking the liberty of sharing it with you.

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Spent a few days in Bozeman Montana visiting my youngest son and daughter in law before heading out to Southern California. A couple of images from my trip to Montana…

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Incredible country!

What if Reporters Covered the Climate Crisis

Like Murrow Covered World War II?

The new Covering Climate Now project will help media “tell the story so people get it.”

This is how the speech by Bill Moyers is introduced in this issue of The Nation:

The following is an abridged version of the speech by the iconic TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at a conference at the Columbia Journalism School on April 30. A video of the speech can be seen at TheNation.com/moyers-speech.

Well, we have the advantage of going straight to the video.

What is journalism for, if not to awaken the world to looming catastrophes?

Reflections on the future

Father’s Day ….

….. was OK in the morning but for some reason I was in a dark mood in the afternoon.

(And if you want to skip today’s post I don’t blame you at all. This is not my usual style albeit it is important.)

I was reflecting on the state of the world. Global population was well in excess of seven billion people. The longevity of those people was increasing. That’s good news. The health standards were increasing. That’s also good news.

However, the pressure on farming is intense. More and more land is required. The natural world is under supreme pressure. Extinction rates of many natural species are soaring.

Planet Earth has far too many people!

OK, maybe in time the population level will come down but right now it is too high.

Then in came Tom Engelhardt’s latest essay. I read it and reflected. Is it too dark to post? Then Jeannie said that if you really want to share it then publish it.

Here it is, published with Tom’s kind permission.

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Tomgram: Engelhardt, Trump Change

Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 4:23pm, June 16, 2019.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

If Donald Trump Is the Symptom…
Then What’s the Disease?

By Tom Engelhardt
Don’t try to deny it! The political temperature of this country is rising fast. Call it Trump change or Trump warming, if you want, but grasp one thing: increasingly, you’re in a different land and, whatever happens to Donald Trump, the results down the line are likely to be ever less pretty. Trump change isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s distinctly global. After all, from Australia to India, the Philippines to Hungary, Donald Trumps and their supporters keep getting elected or reelected and, according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans think Trump himself will win again in 2020 (though, at the moment, battleground-state polls look grim for him).

Still, whether or not he gets a second term in the White House, he only seems like the problem, partially because no president, no politician, no one in history has ever gotten such 24/7 media coverage of every twitch, tweet, bizarre statement, falsehood, or fantasy he expresses (or even the clothes he wears). Think of it this way: we’re in a moment in which the only thing the media can’t imagine saying about Donald Trump is: “You’re fired!” And believe me, that’s just one sign of a media — and a country — with a temperature that’s anything but 98.6.

Since you-know-who is always there, always being discussed, always @(un)realdonaldtrump, it’s easy enough to imagine that everything that’s going wrong — or, if you happen to be part of his famed base, right (even if that right isn’t so damned hot for you) — is due to him. When we’re gripped by such thinking and the temperature’s rising, it hardly matters that just about everything he’s “done” actually preceded him. That includes favoring the 1%, deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants, and making war (unsuccessfully) or threatening to do so across significant parts of the planet.

Here, then, is the question of the day, the sort you’d ask about any patient with a rising temperature: If Donald Trump is only the symptom, what’s the disease?

Blowback Central

Let me say that the late Chalmers Johnson would have understood President Trump perfectly. The Donald clearly arrived on the scene as blowback — the CIA term of tradecraft Johnson first put into our everyday vocabulary — from at least two things: an American imperium gone wrong with its never-ending wars, ever-rising military budgets, and ever-expanding national security state, and a new “gilded age” in which three men (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett) have more wealth than the bottom half of society and the .01% have one of their own, a billionaire, in the Oval Office. (If you want to add a third blowback factor, try a media turned upside down by new ways of communicating and increasingly desperate to glue eyes to screens as ad revenues, budgets, and staffs shrank and the talking heads of cable news multiplied.)

Now, I don’t mean to sell Donald Trump short in any way. Give that former reality TV star credit. Unlike either Hillary Clinton or any of his Republican opponents in the 2016 election campaign, he sensed that there were voters in profusion in the American heartland who felt that things were not going well and were eager for a candidate just like the one he was ready to become. (There were, of course, other natural audiences for a disruptive, self-promoting billionaire as well, including various millionaires and billionaires ready to support him, the Russians, the Saudis… well, you know the list). His skill, however, never lay in what he could actually do (mainly, in these years, cut taxes for the wealthy, impose tariffs, and tweet his head off). It lay in his ability to catch the blowback mood of that moment in a single slogan — Make America Great Again, or MAGA — that he trademarked in November 2012, only days after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency to Barack Obama.

Yes, four years later in the 2016 election, others began to notice the impact of that slogan. You couldn’t miss the multiplying MAGA hats, after all. Hillary Clinton’s advisers even briefly came up with the lamest response imaginable to it: Make America Whole Again, or MAWA. But what few at the time really noted was the crucial word in that phrase: “again.” Politically speaking, that single blowback word might then have been the most daring in the English language. In 2016, Donald Trump functionally said what no other candidate or politician of any significance in America dared to say: that the United States was no longer the greatest, most indispensable, most exceptionable nation or superpower or hyper-power ever to exist on Planet Earth.

That represented a groundbreaking recognition of reality. At the time, it didn’t matter whether you were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Marco Rubio, you had to acknowledge some version of that formula of exceptionalism. Trump didn’t and, believe me, that rang a bell in the American heartland, where lots of people had felt, however indirectly, the blowback from all those years of taxpayer-funded fruitless war, while not benefitting from infrastructure building or much of anything else. They experienced blowback from a country in which new billionaires were constantly being created, while the financial distance between CEO salaries and those of workers grew exponentially vaster by the year, and the financing of the political system became a 1% affair.

With that slogan, The Donald caught the spirit of a moment in which both imperial and economic decline, however unacknowledged by the Washington political elite, had indeed begun. In the process, as I wrote at that time, he crossed a psychologically taboo line and became America’s first declinist candidate for president. MAGA captured a feeling already at large that tomorrow would be worse than today, which was already worse than yesterday. As it turned out, it mattered not at all that the billionaire conman spouting that trademarked phrase had long been part of the problem, not the solution.

He caught the essence of the moment, in other words, but certainly didn’t faintly cause it in the years when he financed Trump Tower, watched his five Atlantic City casinos go bankrupt, and hosted The Apprentice. In that election campaign, he captured a previously forbidden reality of the twenty-first century. For example, I was already writing this in June 2016, five months before he was elected president:

“In its halcyon days, Washington could overthrow governments, install Shahs or other rulers, do more or less what it wanted across significant parts of the globe and reap rewards, while (as in the case of Iran) not paying any price, blowback-style, for decades, if at all. That was imperial power in the blaze of the noonday sun. These days, in case you hadn’t noticed, blowback for our imperial actions seems to arrive as if by high-speed rail (of which by the way, the greatest power on the planet has yet to build a single mile, if you want a quick measure of decline).

“Despite having a more massive, technologically advanced, and better funded military than any other power or even group of powers on the planet, in the last decade and a half of constant war across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, the U.S. has won nothing, nada, zilch. Its unending wars have, in fact, led nowhere in a world growing more chaotic by the second.”

Mind you, three years later the United States remains a staggeringly powerful imperial force, with hundreds of military bases still scattered across the globe, while its economic clout — its corporations control about half the planet’s wealth — similarly remains beyond compare. Yet, even in 2016, it shouldn’t have been hard to see that the American Century was indeed ending well before its 100 years were up. It shouldn’t have been hard to grasp, as Donald Trump intuitively did, that this country, however powerful, was already both a declining empire — thank you, George W. Bush for invading Iraq! Mission Accomplished! — and a declining economic system (both of which still looked great indeed, if you happened to be profiting from them). That intuition and that slogan gave Trump his moment in… well, dare I call it “the afternoon sun”? They made him president.

MTPGA

In a sense, all of this should have been expectable enough. Despite the oddity of Donald Trump himself, there was little new in it, even for the imperial power that its enthusiasts once thought stood at “the end of history.” You don’t need to look far, after all, for evidence of the decline of empires. You don’t even have to think back to the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, almost three decades ago in what now seems like the Stone Age. (Admittedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a brilliant imagineer, has brought back a facsimile of the old Soviet Union, even if, in reality, Russia is now a rickety, fraying petro-state.)

Just take a glance across the Atlantic at Great Britain at this moment. And imagine that three-quarters of a century ago, that modest-sized island nation still controlled all of India, colonies across the planet, and an impressive military and colonial service. Go back even further and you’ll find yourself in a time when it was the true superpower of planet Earth. What a force it was — industrially, militarily, colonially — until, of course, it wasn’t.

If you happen to be looking for imperial lessons, you could perhaps say that some empires end not with a bang but with a Brexit. Despite all the pomp and circumstance (tweeting and insults) during the visit of the Trump royal family (Donald, Melania, Ivanka, Jared, Donald Jr., Eric, and Tiffany) to the British royals, led by a queen who, at 93, can remember better days, here’s something hard to deny: with Brexit (no matter how it turns out), the Earth’s former superpower has landed in the sub-basement of history. Great Britain? Obviously that adjective has to change.

In the meantime, across the planet, China, another once great imperial power, perhaps the greatest in the long history of this planet, is clearly on the rise again from another kind of sub-basement. That, in turn, is deeply worrying the leadership, civilian and military, of the planet’s “lone superpower.” Its president, in response, is wielding his weapon of choice — tariffs — while the U.S. military prepares for an almost unimaginable future war with that upstart nation, possibly starting in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the still-dominant power on the planet is, however incrementally, heading down. It’s nowhere near that sub-basement, of course — anything but. It’s still a rich, immensely powerful land. Its unsuccessful wars, however, go on without surcease, the political temperature rises, and democratic institutions continue to fray — all of which began well before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office and, in fact, helped ensure that he would make it there in the first place.

And yet none of this, not even imperial decline itself, quite captures the “disease” of which The Donald is now such an obvious symptom. After all, while the rise and fall of imperial powers has been an essential part of history, the planetary context for that process is now changing in an unprecedented way. And that’s not just because, since the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, growing numbers of countries have come to possess the power to take the planet down in a cataclysm of fire and ice (as in nuclear winter). It’s also because history, as we’ve known it, including the rise and fall of empires, is now, in a sense, melting away.

Trump change, the rising political temperature stirred by the growing populist right, is taking place in the context of (and, worse yet, aiding and abetting) record global temperatures, the melting of ice across the planet, the rise of sea levels and the future drowning of coastlines (and cities), the creation of yet more refugees, the increasing fierceness of fires and droughts, and the intensification of storms. In the midst of it all, an almost unimaginable wave of extinctions is occurring, with a possible million plant and animal species, some crucial to human existence, already on the verge of departure.

Never before in history has the rise and decline of imperial powers taken place in the context of the decline of the planet itself. Try, for instance, to imagine what a “risen” China will look like in an age in which one of its most populous regions, the north China plain, may by century’s end be next to uninhabitable, given the killing heat waves of the future.

In the context of both Trump change and climate change, we’re obviously still awaiting our true transformative president, the one who is not a symptom of decline, but a factor in trying to right this country and the Earth before it’s too late. You know, the one who will take as his or her slogan, MTPGA (Make The Planet Great Again).

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs TomDispatch.com and is a fellow of the Type Media Center. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands,Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2019 Tom Engelhardt

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I’m 74. I don’t know how long I’ve got.

Part of me wants to live for a long time. That’s why I am vegan and trying to stay as fit as I can. (I’m also aware that Jeannie’s Parkinson’s Disease is a terminal disease and that in the latter stages she will need me to look after her.)

But then again I’m not sure I want to live in a world that continues to degrade especially continues to degrade in natural ways.

What’s the answer?

What do others who are on or around my age think about it?

What is the disease?

Protect dogs in this hot weather.

It’s all too easy to forget that a dog can’t cope with hot weather.

As in too hot. Especially in a car!

I want to republish a post that appeared on The Dodo blog site recently. It is about a dog trapped in a car when it was far too hot.

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Guy Sees Puppy In Hot Car And Realizes What He Has To Do

Photo Credit: Jason Minson

Jason Minson, an Army veteran who runs a landscaping business, was out on a job in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday when the first of several unusual things happened.

Minson was inspecting a tree in a yard when he heard a bang on the street.

When he went to check, he realized that a car driving by had bumped another car parked on the street. If that hadn’t happened, Minson probably never would have approached the parked car and discovered what was inside.

A black Labrador puppy was sprawled out on the floor of the vehicle — the noise and shudder seemed to have woken him up for a moment.

And he was incessantly panting.

“It was the kind of panting that was the last effort a dog does to try to cool himself off,” Minson told The Dodo.

Photo Credit: Jason Minson

Minson immediately called 911.

The police dispatched a unit to come help the dog — but they also informed Minson that breaking the window of the car to free the dog is a crime. (The law varies depending where you are.)

Minson watched the panting puppy from behind the pane of glass. He brought one bottle of water to the sliver of opened window and the dog jumped up on the seat and started drinking from it.

The dog went through the whole bottle. And then another.

“I’m usually a pretty cool, level-headed person but I was kind of fed up,” Minson said.

Photo Credit: Jason Minson

An animal control officer arrived and she started to try to pry the door open, but it wasn’t working. And nearly 20 minutes had passed since Minson had found the dog — and he was worried they were already out of time.

“The dog had laid back down on the floor of the car and wasn’t panting as quickly,” Minson said.

“I honestly didn’t think this pup was going to make it,” Minson wrote.

That’s when he took matters into his own hands.

“Charge me,” he can be heard saying in one of the videos he shot, “I don’t give a sh*t at this point.”

Using the baton from the animal control officer, Minson smashed the window and opened the door.

The animal control officer rushed the dog over to her van and took him to the vet for urgent care. And the owner of the dog was charged by the police. Minson received a call from the police, too — but to be a witness at the hearing about the incident.

The following day, Minson went to visit the pup at the facility where he’s recovering. Already, the dog seemed to be much stronger.

Photo Credit: Jason Minson

Minson, who has a Great Dane, hopes that if someone saw his dog in trouble in any way that they would do something about it.

“This is REAL talk people,” Minson wrote on Facebook after the dog was saved. “It’s hot out and if you leave an animal in your car [he’s] going to die from the heat … Take care of your fur babies.”

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I can’t think of a more dramatic way of telling you about the perils of dogs in cars in hot weather!

It really does kill dogs!