Category: Core thought

A very small step.

But an important one!

From the 21st November until the 23rd Sunshine Solar installed a solar panel system. But we were then told to wait until Pacific Power had come to the house to put in a new electricity meter. Last Thursday, 1st December, Brent from Pacific Power called by and replaced our electricity meter. He replaced it with a bi-directional meter that when we were producing more power than we are consuming then the surplus would be ‘banked’ to be used at times when we required the surplus.

This was the result of us investing in a ground-mounted solar system.

We purchased the system from Solar Sunshine after doing a great deal of research. Indeed Brent said that they were a great company.

The other thing that we had no choice over was to install a ground-mounted system some 120 feet from the house. Because neither the house nor the roof face East and therefore are no use for solar. But as Brent pointed out last Thursday the ground-mounted system, despite being more expensive, was a good alternative to the roof system because new roof tiles were irrelevant.

The system consists of 30 individual panels capable of producing a maximum output of 65 amps at 240 volts; in other words 15,600 watts!

Yesterday, Cory and Brandon (sp?) came out to the system and checked that it was alright. Plus they gave us an digital application so we could see how much power we were generating, plus more, and they also took some photographs, that I offer you now.

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This last photograph was one taken by yours truly with Cory on the left and Brandon on the right with Jeannie in the middle.

Finally, the ‘app’ is going to be very useful.

Already it shows that last Saturday the array produced 29 kilowatts and then yesterday, the 4th December, the array produced 22.9 kilowatts and these were by no means sunlit days all the time. That brings the total for all 5 days in December, in other words since the system went live, to 91.1 kilowatts as of 15:27 PT on the 5th.

We are most pleased with the company and the installation.

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

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.

Dogs may be better for our overall health than we realised!

This is a great article!

(And I am sorry for missing yesterday!)

Now here’s a truism. One cannot feel bad about the world, at whatever scale, when one pets a dog. I have observed my wife, Jean, kissing and cuddling anyone of our three dogs and she is in a beautiful mental place. Same for me

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

So when recently I read a post about the positive effects on mental health that owning a dog provides I just had to share it with you. It was first published in The Dodo.

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Petting A Dog Is Good For Your Brain

As if we needed another reason to love them more ❤️

By Ellen Schmidt

Published on the 14th October, 2022

PIXEL-SHOT/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Dog parents already know that petting a dog is one of the best things ever.

And as it turns out, science agrees. While some studies have shown that petting a dog can both lower your stress and release the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin, new research suggests that petting a dog is good for your brain in other ways, too.

Scientists in Switzerland claim in a new study that when you pet a dog, you can get a boost of brain activity in the frontal cortex — a crucial part of the brain that controls attention, working memory, problem-solving, thinking and emotional reactions.

During the study, participants hung around a pup while fitted with a scanner. They started out just watching the dog from across the room, gradually getting closer until they could pet him. Then they did the same thing with a stuffed animal.

And when comparing both scenarios, researchers discovered there was a stronger boost of brain activity when the real dog was nearby and available for a few pets.

This study just goes to show how great therapy animals truly are, since they can boost the cognitive and emotional activity in the brain of their human in ways a stuffed animal can’t.

“If patients with deficits in motivation, attention and socioemotional functioning show higher emotional involvement in activities connected to a dog, then such activities could increase the chance of learning and of achieving therapeutic aims,” study lead author, Rahel Marti, told CNN.

While pet parents already know just how awesome petting a dog is, it’s good to know the positives of bonding with a pup are endless — just like their love for us.

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I am at the age where I am very anxious to do all that is good for my brain. This “... frontal cortex — a crucial part of the brain that controls attention, working memory, problem-solving, thinking and emotional reactions.” hits the target.

This is a great article as I said at the head of this piece.

Dogs are the perfect companions for us humans; body and mind!

The story of Zeus!

What a wonderful tale!

First, let me will quote from the text that comes with the YouTube video.

This is the remarkable story of Zeus, who was effectively paralyzed at the time he was rescued from a high-kill animal shelter in Oklahoma by the wonderful people at St. Francis CARE in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Video edited and produced by Jason Greene

Next, this unmissable video confirms what so many now already: Dogs are stars in their own world.

There you go! A short, little post for today but one that highlights the power of dogs! They are incredible!

A disturbing report from NASA.

About the 2022 Artic Summer Sea Ice.

There’s no way to make this pleasant; the Arctic Summer Sea Ice tied for the tenth lowest on record.

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This image visualizes sea ice change in the Arctic using data provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st-Water “SHIZUKU” satellite, which is part of a NASA-led partnership to operate several Earth-observing satellites. The visualization can be accessed at https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/5030. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

According to satellite observations, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent (lowest amount of ice for the year) on Sept. 18, 2022. The ice cover shrank to an area of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles) this year, roughly 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) below the 1981-2010 average minimum of 6.22 million square kilometers (2.40 million square miles).

The average September minimum extent record shows significant declines since satellites began measuring consistently in 1978. The last 15 years (2007 to 2021) are the lowest 15 minimum extents in the 43-year satellite record.

This visualization, created at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, shows data provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), acquired by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) instrument aboard JAXA’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st-Water “SHIZUKU” (GCOM-W1) satellite.

Music: “Celestial Vault” from Universal Production Music

Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Kathleen Gaeta (GSFC AIMMS): Lead Producer

Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Animator

Roberto Molar (KBR): Lead Writer

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As I said, a sorry tale for which there is no good news. I wish there were!

Climate Change

Paul Handover’s talk to the Grants Pass Humanists and Freethinkers group, Saturday, 17th September, 2022

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Martin Lack, a good friend of Paul’s from England, wrote a book called The Denial of Science. The first words in the preface were from Sir Fred Hoyle, Fellow of the Royal Society (1915-2001).

Once a photograph of the Earth taken from the outside is available, once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes plain, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.

Here, in Paul’s opinion, is that photograph:

Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders, this iconic picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard.
Image Credit: NASA Last Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Editor: Yvette Smith

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, from 31st October to 13th November 2021. It was called COP26 because it was the 26th UN Climate Change Conference to be held. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, now King Charles III.

The Prince warned: “Time has quite literally run out.”

It is us!

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicked off its 2021 report with the following statement: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.

The article also says: It took a while, but climate modelling is now refined enough to predict how things would go without human influence, within a margin of error. What we are observing today, however, is beyond that margin of error, therefore proving that we have driven the change.

It is getting hot

The last decade was the hottest in 125,000 years.

The oceans

We live on a water world. The facts are that 71% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. A 2019 study found that oceans had sucked up 90% of the heat gained by the planet between 1971 and 2010. Another found that it absorbed 20 sextillion joules of heat in 2020  – equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs per second. A (chiefly British) definition of a sextillion: It is the cardinal number equal to 1036. Sextillion is a number equal to a 1 followed by 21 zeros. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 is an example of a sextillion.

Carbon-dioxide

In fact CO2 levels are now the highest that they have been in 2 million years. Today, they stand at close to 420 parts per million (ppm). To put that into context pre-industrial levels, say before 1750, had CO2 levels around 280 parts per million.

We are losing ice big time

Paul can do no better than to quote from Earth.org“Since the mid-1990s, we’ve lost around 28 trillion tons of ice, with today’s melt rate standing at 1.2 trillion tons a year. To help put that into perspective, the combined weight of all human-made things is 1.1 trillion tons. That’s about the same weight as all living things on earth.”

To repeat that: Every single year we are losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice! (1,200,000,000,000).

Extreme weather

We can now attribute natural disasters to human-driven climate change with certainty. We can now say with precision how much likelier we made things like the North American summer 2021 heatwave, which the World Weather Attribution says was “virtually impossible” without climate change. Then there is the Indian heatwave that experts believe was made 30 times more likely because of climate change.

Climate change mitigation

There is a long and comprehensive article on the above subject on WikiPedia. I will quote from the paragraph Needed emissions cuts.

If emissions remain on the current level of 42 GtCO2, the carbon budget for 1.5°C (2.7°F) will be exhausted in 2028. (That’s 42 gigatons, as in 1 gigaton is a unit of explosive force equal to one billion (109) tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT).

In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report on climate change, warning that greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030, in order to likely limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Secretary-general of the United Nations António Guterres clarified that for this to happen “Main emitters must drastically cut emissions starting this year”.

WikiPedia also reports that: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, aims to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level where ecosystems can adapt naturally to climate change, food production is not threatened, and economic development can proceed in a sustainable fashion. Currently human activities are adding CO2 to the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove it.

We need to act now, otherwise…

… it will be too late for billions of us.

This may be the most catastrophic of our climate change facts. As of now, only 0.8% of the planet’s land surface has mean annual temperatures above 29°C (84.2°F) mostly in the Sahara desert and Saudi Arabia (solid black in the map).

study by Xu et al. (2020) called “Future of the Human Niche” found that by 2070, under a high emissions scenario, these unbearable temperatures could expand to affect up to 3 billion people (dark brown areas in the map).

Doing nothing is much worse than doing something

On the current path, climate change could end up costing us 11 to 14% of the global GDP by mid-century. Regression into a high emissions scenario would mean an 18% loss, while staying below 2°C would reduce the damage to only 4%. 

It has been proposed that ending climate change would take between $300 billion and $50 trillion over the next two decades. Even if $50 trillion is the price tag, that comes down to $2.5 trillion a year, or just over 3% of the global GDP. 

These are the facts. There is no disputing them. Paul and Jean, Paul’s wife, are relatively immune from the effects, because of their ages, but not entirely so. The last few weeks of summer (2022) with the imminent risk of their property being damaged by wildfires is one example. The last three winters being below average rainfall is another (and the prediction that next year will continue with below average rainfall). But it is the youngsters Paul fears most for. On a personal note, his daughter and husband have a son, Morten, and he is presently 12. What sort of world is Morten growing up in?

What about global attitudes to climate change?

Here is another chart setting out those concerns.

Paul is not a political animal. However he recognises that it is our leaders, globally, but especially in the top 10 countries in the world, who have to be leaders!

Here are the top 10 countries with areas of their country in square kilometres:

Russia. 17,098,242,

Canada. 9,984,670,

United States. 9,826,675,

China. 9,596,961,

Brazil. 8,514,877,

Australia. 7,741,220,

India. 3,287,263,

Argentina. 2,780,400,

Kazakhstan. 2,724,400, and

Algeria, 2,381,741.

But these are the top ten countries based on land size. That is not helpful. We have to examine the top countries in terms of CO2 emissions. Here are the top five countries, as in the top five worst, (readings from 2020):

  1. USA, 416,738 metric tons,
  2. China, 235,527 tons,
  3. Russia, 115,335 tons,
  4. Germany, 92,636 tons, and,
  5. UK, 78,161 metric tons.

This puts the USA as the top worst country, some 77% ahead of China.

So focussing on the USA, again in 2020, the split of greenhouse gas emissions, was:

  1. Transportation, 27%,
  2. Electric Power, 25%,
  3. Industry, 24%,
  4. Commercial and Residential, 13%,
  5. Agriculture, 11%.

So back again to all five countries we say, please, dear leader, make this the number one priority for your country, and for the world.

The end.

Sir David Attenborough.

There are not many who achieve so much, but Sir David most definately has!

This is our planet. It is the only one we have (stating the obvious!).

This beautiful photograph taken from the Apollo 11 mission says it all. That Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969 changed everything.

But one thing that was not on anyone’s mind then; the state of the planet!

This view of Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon was taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth’s Sea on the nearside. Coordinates of the center of the terrain are 85 degrees east longitude and 3 degrees north latitude.
While astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) “Columbia” in lunar orbit.
Image Credit: NASA

How that has changed since 1969.

David Attenborough is a giant of a man, and I say this out of humility and respect for what he has done in his long life, he was born in May, 1926, and he is still fighting hard to get us humans to wake up to the crisis that is upon us.

Wikipedia has an entry that lists all the television shows, and more, that David Attenborough has made. As is quoted: “Attenborough’s name has become synonymous with the natural history programmes produced by the BBC Natural History Unit.”

Please take 45 minutes and watch this film. It is so important.

But before you do please read this extract taken from this site about the film:

For decades David Attenborough delighted millions of people with tales of life on Earth, exploring wild places and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen.

Honest, revealing and urgent, the film serves as a witness statement for the natural world – a first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the jungles of central Africa, the North Pole and Antarctica. It also aims to provide a message of hope for future generations.

“I’ve had a most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary,” Sir David says in the film’s trailer, in which he also promises to tell audiences how we can “work with nature rather than against it”.

The film retraces Sir David’s career, his life stages and natural history films, within the context of human population growth and the loss of wilderness areas. “I don’t think that the theoretical basis for the reason why biodiversity is important is a widely understood one,” he told the Guardian in September.

This autumn, a series of publications warned that “humanity is at a crossroads” in its relationship with nature, culminating in a UN report that the world has failed to meet a single target to stop the destruction of nature in the past decade.

Sir David has been vocal about the threat of climate change in recent years, calling on politicians to take their “last chance” to act rather than continue to “neglect long-term problems”.

We need to learn how to work with nature, rather than against it”, according to Sir David. In the film, he is going to tell us how.

Now watch the film. Please!

As you can see, in the film Sir David states that the only way out of this mess is a massive focus on rewilding.

Coincidentally, Patrice Ayme last Sunday wrote about rewilding: California Grizzly: Rewilding Is A Moral Duty. In the latter half of that essay, he wrote: “One should strive to reintroduce American megafauna, starting with the more innocuous species (and that includes the grizzly). By the way, I have run and hiked in grizzly country (Alaska), with a huge bear pepper spray cannister at the ready. I nearly used the cannister on a charging moose (with her calf which was as big as a horse). The calf slipped off, and I eluded the mom through a thicket of very closely spaced tough trees. But I had my finger on the trigger, safety off. Moose attack more humans than grizzlies and wolves combined (although a bear attack is more dangerous). In any case, in the US, stinging insects kill around 100, deer around 200 (mostly through car collisions), and lightning around three dozen people, per year.

As it is, I run and hike a lot in California wilderness, out of rescue range. I generally try to stay aware of where and when I could come across bears, lions and rattlers. My last close call with a large rattlesnake, up a mountain slope, was partly due to hubris and not realizing I was moving in dangerous terrain. Fortunately I heard the slithering just in time. Dangerous animals make us aware of nature in its full glory, and the real nature of the human condition. They keep us more honest with what is real, what humanity is all about.

And that should be the primordial sense.

I will close by offering you this photograph. May it inspire you to rewild, in small ways and also, if you can, in bigger ways. All of us must be involved. Otherwise…

…otherwise… (sentence left unfinished).

The critical value of a dog.

I am republishing an item from the American Kennel Club on the subject.

Oliver has a very special relationship with me. Plus Jean loves him just as much. That is not to say that he isn’t very friendly with other humans that he knows but there’s something that I have trouble putting into words when it comes to the bond between me and Oliver.

It is very, very special and truly magical.

I am reminded of this bond between Oliver and me because of a post that I want to republish.

It is about emotional support animals and was published by the American Kennel Club. Here is that article.

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Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

By Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT

February 24th, 2021

Key Points

  • Emotional support dogs (ESAs) are pets and not service dogs.
  • Mental health professionals prescribe emotional support animals under the law.
  • Airlines are no longer required to accommodate emotional support animals.

Every dog owner knows there are many benefits to having a dog, from getting themselves out for exercise to receiving loyal companionship. However, for some people with mental or emotional conditions, the presence of a dog is critical to their ability to function normally on a daily basis. The pet provides emotional support and comfort that helps them deal with challenges that might otherwise compromise their quality of life. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs).

What Is an Emotional Support Dog?

Although all dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner, to legally be considered an emotional support dog, also called an emotional support animal (ESA), the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist must determine that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give them a focus in life. The dogs can be of any age and any breed.

Emotional Support Dog vs. Service Dogs

ESAs provide support through companionship and can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. However, they are not service dogs, and ESA users do not receive the same accommodations as service dog users.

A service dog, such as a guide dog or psychiatric service dog, is generally allowed anywhere the public is allowed; ESAs are not. For example, ESAs generally cannot accompany their owners into restaurants or shopping malls.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The act clearly states that animals that simply provide emotional comfort do not qualify as service animals. Some state and local laws have a broader definition, so be sure to check with local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your area.

The key difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. For example, service dogs are trained to alert a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or guide a visually impaired person around an obstacle or provide pressure on someone with PTSD who is suffering from a panic attack.

Behaviors such as cuddling on cue, although comforting, do not qualify. The tasks need to be specifically trained to mitigate a particular disability, not something instinctive the dog would do anyway.

Emotional Support Dogs Are Not Psychiatric Service Dogs

There are service dogs, known as psychiatric service dogs that require extensive training to work specifically with people whose disability is due to mental illness. These dogs detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes and help ease their effects. Although this sounds similar to the role of an ESA, the difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA is again in the tasks performed by the dog and the training received to perform these tasks.

Psychiatric service dogs (recognized by the ADA as service dogs) have been trained to do certain jobs that help the handler cope with a mental illness. For example, the dog might remind a person to take prescribed medications, keep a disoriented person in a dissociative episode from wandering into a hazardous situation such as traffic or perform room searches for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder. If it is simply the dog’s presence that helps the person cope, then the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog.

Housing Accommodations for Individuals Who Use Emotional Support Dogs

Individuals who use ESAs are provided certain accommodations under federal law in the areas of housing and air travel. The Fair Housing Act includes ESAs in its definition of assistance animals. Under the act, people cannot be discriminated against due to a disability when obtaining housing. Rules such as pet bans or restrictions are waived for people who have a prescription for an ESA, and they cannot be charged a pet deposit for having their ESA live with them.

Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed on Flights?

In December 2020, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced final revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The final rule, effective in January 2021, defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  This change in the DOT’s definition of “service animal”  aligns closely with the definition that the Department of Justice uses under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The changes also clarify that emotional support animals (ESAs), comfort animals, companionship animals, animals being trained to be service animals, and species other than dogs are not considered to be “service animals” under the new DOT definition. Instead, airlines may recognize and accommodate emotional support animals as pets. For most airlines, the new no-fly policy for ESAs started on January 11. Some airlines now require passengers with service dogs to complete a DOT-authorized form prior to travel that confirms their training, health, and certification.

In the past, the AKC has expressed concern for safety with the previous recognition of ESAs as service animals, including the growing number of people misrepresenting their pets as service animals.

Emotional support dogs can perform an important role in the life of a person with mental or emotional conditions. When people who do not have a disability abuse the system by misrepresenting a pet as an ESA to obtain special accommodation, they undermine important accommodations for individuals with a legitimate need for this assistance.

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This is a valuable article in my opinion and, I am sure, in the opinion of many others. It clarifies the legal position of dogs that are not, however loving the animal is to you, legally-defined as service dogs.

It may seem trivial for those not in the category of requiring a dog that is a service dog but I am certain that for those who definitely do require such an animal this clarification was necessary.

Meantime I will stick with our Oliver, our Brandy, our Sheena, our Cleo, and our Pedi.

And we still miss Pharaoh.

Just being a dog!

Back again, and with a guest post!

It has been a great time and yet too short!

Last Sunday week, the 22nd May, seems both a long time ago and yet seems as though it was yesterday. Having my son here was fabulous and he was able to take plenty of mountain bike rides and photographs of birds, in particular hummingbirds at our hummingbird feeder.

But that picture does not make a post. What does is an article written by Cara Achterberg about very special mothers and their work in rescuing dogs. It was published on the website Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

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Moms Who Rescue

BY CARA SUE ACHTERBERG

Polk County, Florida is ranked first in Florida and fourth in the nation for the number of dogs ‘euthanized’ each year. The Polk County shelter killed 5000 dogs in 2020. Which is even more remarkable considering 2020 was the year so many shelters were emptied (momentarily).

The only way a dog labeled a bully breed can leave the Polk County Shelter alive is if a rescue pulls it. They are not allowed to adopt out any bully breeds. In 2020, the county took in 16,000 dogs; they killed nearly a third of them.

This is the harsh reality that Shannon and Angie, of the Polk County Bully Project stepped into. Like so many others, they never set out to create a rescue. They met through their children, and their relationship should have revolved around play dates and pool parties, but when they learned the plight of bully breeds in Polk County, they instead bonded over saving lives.

Initially, they volunteered with the Polk County SPCA to secure rescues and transport dogs out of Polk County a handful at a time. That simply wasn’t enough for these smart, driven, passionate women and they realized that with their own rescue they could save more than a handful of dogs. The Polk County Bully Project was born. PCBP saves about 600 dogs a year – almost all bully breeds, but also dogs with medical needs and lots of heartworm positive dogs—the dogs that would otherwise be killed at the shelter.

I asked how they were able to save so many of the breed of dog that others struggle to rescue or find placement for and Shannon shrugged, “We hustle,” she said.

But it’s also that they don’t know any different. They’ve never tried to rescue any other kind of dog. They don’t know there are easier dogs to rescue. To my mind, they jumped right in the deep end of rescue with very little swimming experience. And the remarkable thing is they are succeeding in every measure.

When we visited the rescue a few months ago, the dogs we met were sweet and happy and obviously well-cared for. The shelter is small, a remodeled brick rancher in a nondescript neighborhood. The dogs are divided into separate rooms with maybe four dogs in a room. We arrived at naptime when everyone was contentedly in their kennels, listening to soft music or watching TV. The staff had already had everyone out for walks and playtime, something that happens several times a day.

PCBP is big on enrichment—something critical to these smart, active dogs who need to be challenged. At Christmas they had 25 days of enrichment and every day brought the dogs special treats (anchovies, cheeseburgers, special individual cakes baked by a volunteer) and special activities (like a bubble machine and dog art, which they’ll be auctioning off).

On rainy days, the staff keeps the dogs busy with puzzles and their doggy treadmill. In their play area, where they also have regular play groups (all the staff has been trained to run playgroups), there is AstroTurf, lots of toys, even an agility teeter.

PCBP is a 501c3 run on 100% donations. Many of their adopters become their supporters, but they work hard with fundraising and events to pay for not just the staff (although Angie and Shannon do not take a salary and both work the rescue fulltime and more), but for their medical bills. Last year their bill was 115K! (If you’d like to donate directly towards their vet bills, give Lakeland Vet a call 863-648-4886.)

Beyond treating so many heartworm positive dogs, the rescue takes on lots of medical cases who would otherwise not make it out of the shelter. We met Aspen, a sweet little pitmix whose scarred face, protruding teeth, and wiggly butt combine to make him adorable. He was removed from a home where he’d had a leash wrapped so tightly and permanently around his nose that it was embedded in his skin. He’s had eight reconstruction surgeries to repair his face. But now he’s ready for an adopter.

Other dogs have had amputations, orthopedic surgeries, and Agatha, a sweet senior bulldog mix, has had vaginal reconstruction and eye surgery. We watched as Pippi, one of the staff brought her out to meet us off-leash. She’s 102 pounds of sweetness. When it was time to go back inside, Pippi pointed the way and Agatha ran/ambled back inside to her kennel on her own. Agatha is 11-12 years old, but the rescue would love to find an adopter, or even a foster for her because every dog deserves to live out their lives in a home not a shelter, even one as nice as this.

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Polk County is a tough county for dogs, but even tougher for pit bulls. There are no animal laws, no spay/neuter vouchers available for community animals, and backyard breeders abound. At the time of our visit (January), the rescue had 64 puppies.

Beyond that, it’s simple prejudice (my words, not theirs). The leadership in Polk County judges these dogs not adoptable and condemns them based on their appearance. The rescue hopes that with education and advocacy, they can influence the commissioners in the county to enact anti-tethering laws, require dog licenses and breeder permits, and prioritize spay/neuter resources. Any of those would help to turn the tide.

To reach the next generation (these are two moms after all), they created an Ambassador program to get kids ages 8 and up involved at the rescue. They make toys, treats, and paint rocks in honor of the dogs at the shelter, but more than that they learn about the situation and how important it is we do better for our animals.

Rescues that focus on pit bulls are few and far between, but rescues who do it so well in such numbers are even harder to find. The Polk County Bully Project is saving the dogs who are the hardest to save. As their van says, “We fight for them, so they don’t have to.”

Shannon and Angie are positive people who operate on a currency of hope—that they can change the narrative here in Polk County.

They save the dogs that need them the most through sheer determination with the resourcefulness and creativity of moms, counting on their dog-loving community to come through for them. And they have.

Spending just an hour or so with them, it was clear that these two women are game-changers, rescue warriors, and then some. I believe they will do it, but they will need even more support to fight this battle.

If you’d like to help, you can donate through the secure link on their website, or by calling Lakeland Vet and donating to their vet bills directly (863-648-4886).

We are getting ready to head out on another shelter tour in two weeks. If you’d like to support our tour or sponsor one of the shelters, find out more here.

Until each one has a home,

Cara

Please help us raise awareness by subscribing and sharing this blog. You can also keep track of us on FacebookInstagramYouTube, and now Tik Tok!

The mission of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (we call it Waldo for short) is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them.

You can learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.

Amber’s Halfway Home  is our short documentary film produced in partnership with Farnival Films. It follows the work of a remarkable woman and one day of rescue in western Tennessee. Selected for sixteen film festivals (to date), it’s won eight awards (including Best Short Doc, Best Soundtrack, Best of Fest, and Audience Choice), and was nominated for an Emmy! It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring story we hope will compel viewers to work for change. Please watch it and share it far and wide.

For more information on any of our projects, to talk about rescue in your neck of the woods, or become a Waldo volunteer, please email whowillletthedogsout@gmail.com or carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

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I am privileged to be allowed to share this post with you.

Please help!