Now again this has nothing to do with dogs and I would be the first person to say that there are still some people out there who are not convinced that global warming is a major result of human activity.. But none other than the Union of Concerned Scientists are persuaded that humans are the major cause. See their website here. (From which the following is taken.)
Every single year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001, and 2016 being the warmest year on recorded history. A study from 2016 found that without the emissions from burning coal and oil, there is very little likelihood that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record would all have happened.
And further on in the article, this:
Scientists agree that today’s warming is primarily caused by humans putting too much carbon in the atmosphere, like when we choose to extract and burn coal, oil, and gas, or cut down and burn forests.
Today’s carbon dioxide levels haven’t been seen in at least the last 800,000 years. Data assembled from Antarctic ice core samples and modern atmospheric observations.
So on to the film.
My son, Alex, sent me the following email on the 7th October.
This is a really interesting film about climate change in the west coast mountains, USA. A bit skiing related but a good watch !
Lots of love
Included in the email was a link to the film available on YouTube.
The film is just under one hour in length and a great film to watch as well as having a clear, fundamental message: All of us must act in whatever ways we can if our children and grandchildren are to have a future. Indeed, do you believe you have another twenty or more years to live? Then include yourself as well.
About The Film
Professional snowboarder and mountaineer Jeremy Jones has an intimate relationship with the outdoors. It’s his escape, his identity, and his legacy. But over the course of his 45 years in the mountains, he’s seen many things change: more extreme weather, fewer snow days, and economic strain on mountain towns.
Motivated by an urge to protect the places he loves, Jeremy sets out on a physical and philosophical journey to find common ground with fellow outdoor people across diverse political backgrounds. He learns their hopes and fears while walking a mile in their shoes on the mountain and in the snow.
With intimacy and emotion set against breathtaking backdrops, Purple Mountains navigates America’s divide with a refreshing perspective: even though we may disagree about climate policy, our shared values can unite us.
A look, courtesy of my daughter, at Sarah Nicolls’s 12 Years project.
Again, this is not about dogs, well not in a direct way. But, indirectly, it affects all of us, young and old, and, inevitably, it affects our dear dogs.
I’m writing this in response to something that came my way as an email sent from my daughter’s company, SOUND UK. The company holds to the view that: Sound UK produces extraordinary musical encounters for all.
Sarah Nicolls has her own website and on her About page this is what she presents.
My name is Sarah Nicolls. I am a visual artist who makes pictures with language, books with pictures, prints with type, and animations with words. I combine image, visual narrative, and time in prints, books, and ephemera that are often research-based. I am interested in urbanization, local history, climate change, the history of science and technology, alternative economies, found language, and the history of publishing. I have written a collection of self-help aphorisms, I publish a series of informational pamphlets, and I organize a range of participatory walks and programs around the series.
For twelve years, I ran the studio programs at the Center for Book Arts in NYC, organizing classes, public programs, readings, and talks, coordinating publications, running residency programs, and teaching interns. I learned everything I know about letterpress and bookmaking while I was there. Now I teach at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design, and work on a variety of projects.
I also do illustration and design work for individuals and institutions. Do you have an interesting project in mind? Contact me here, I welcome commissions and collaborations.
Well back to Sound UK. This is Sarah.
“What she does should be happening every week of the year” The Guardian
Acclaimed pianist and composer Sarah Nicolls’ new Inside-Out Piano project 12 Years was inspired by the 2018 IPCC Special Report saying we had just 12 years to radically change our behaviour to save the planet. Starting on the second anniversary of the report, 8 October, Sarah launches 12 nights of online performances.
With her striking vertical grand piano, Nicolls combines original music and recorded speech in an absorbing performance. Piano melodies and textures interweave with phone calls between three fictional characters challenging each other to either worry less or do more. We hear from environmental experts, survivors escaping from a wildfire and a glacier melting, eloquent speeches from Greta Thunberg and finally the sound of hope emerging. There is humour and humanity as well as time for reflection.
On selected nights leading climate scientists will also join Sarah for exclusive post-show discussions online, specifically to talk about what we can all do.
See list of speakers below.
“This should be prescribed viewing/watching/listening for anyone even remotely concerned with the welfare of our planet.” Ciaran Ryan, Galway Jazz Festival
Plus, if you would care to listen to a track on Sarah playing her piano, then feel free:
I’m bound to say that I am reasonably hopeful of living another twelve years but, at the same time, reasonably expectant that life could become very interesting indeed!
Austin Pets Alive! is not your average animal shelter. We pioneer innovative lifesaving programs designed to save the animals most at risk of euthanasia.
They are in Texas.
But back to the article which appeared on the Treehugger website.
This Rescue is Building Tiny Homes for Shelter Dogs
They offer a calm alternative to the chaos of shelter life.
By Mary Jo DiLonardo, October 1st, 2020
The shelter environment can be incredibly overwhelming for any dog. There are strange sights, smells, and sounds, and the presence of unfamiliar animals and people can be constantly changing. Some pets adapt more quickly than others, while some struggle with the frenetic surroundings.
One animal shelter in Texas is building tiny houses as a solution for those anxious dogs that need a calmer place to stay. The non-profit rescue is creating two small cabins on their shelter grounds complete with heating and air conditioning, dog-friendly furniture, and their own private yards. The cabins will also provide workspaces for staff and volunteers.
The tiny homes should be ready for their first guests later this month.
“The idea is to provide more of a home-like environment for the unique population of dogs Austin Pets Alive! cares for as the safety net for shelter animals who need us most — a place for decompression, training, and quality-of-life purposes,” Director of Operations Stephanie Bilbro tells Treehugger. “It seemed like the best opportunity for the investment, and also has the benefit of being a project that can be repeated as many times as we want!”
Having tiny homes for some of the shelter’s canine residents was a long-time dream of the rescue’s executive director, veterinarian Ellen Jefferson. The rescue put together a committee of staff and volunteers in 2019 to assess the facility and see what improvement could be made.
They decided to build the tiny homes “as a way to provide a better quality of life for some of our longest-stay or most behaviorally challenged dogs”, Bilbro says.
The cabins will house one dog at a time and they will remain there for the rest of their stay until they find a foster or adoptive home. The cabins will primarily be used for dogs who are overstimulated by the standard kennel environment.
“Overstimulation can lead not only to higher stress in the animal, but can actually be dangerous for a handler, or other animals, if you have a dog who expresses stress by showing impulsive or aggressive behaviors,” Bilbro says.
“Overstimulation is also a big barrier to successful training or behavior modification, so it can be difficult to make progress with dogs like this in a kennel or shelter environment. The cabins will ideally provide a quiet and low-stimulation place for the dogs to decompress and relax in a way that will help our staff and volunteers get through to them easier.”
The rescue is relying on donations to keep saving lives and trying out innovations like these, Bilbro says. When the pandemic first started, the rescue increased its intakes so smaller and more rural shelters that were temporarily closing wouldn’t have to euthanize animals.
The first dogs should be moving into their tiny houses soon. And maybe they won’t be staying long.
“We also hope that the ‘home-like’ environment of the cabins will help us learn a little more about how a dog would act in a home, which could tell us more about what kind of foster or adopter they need for our matchmakers to match them with their forever families,” Bilbro says.
“Would they be calm or anxious, would they be destructive or tidy, are they possibly housetrained, will they let people come into their space without conflict? These are things we would hope to learn from a foster home but without needing to find a foster who is willing to take on a challenging dog, or a dog we don’t know a lot about.”
I have nothing to do with neither Treehugger nor Austin Pets Alive.
However, I was so impressed with the way they operated that we made a very small donation. So, if there’s anybody else out there who can afford some money then this is the link to donate.
I just donated to Austin Pets Alive!, an organization that serves the animals most at-risk through innovative programs that address the animals’ needs. I’m proud to support a mission that believes that animal shelters should do just that – provide every animal the chance to find their forever home!
“Provide every animal the chance to find their forever home.“
It doesn’t get any better for our lovely dogs than that.
Whichever way you look there are substantial challenges.
This post is largely a republication of a recent post from Patrice Ayme. Because when I read it I was profoundly affected. I thought that it needed to be shared with all you good people because if nothing is done then life as we know it is going to come to an end. Period! That includes our gorgeous dogs as well as us humans! So, please, please read it all the way through!
But before Patrice’s post is presented The Economist this last week came out with a special report entitled Business and climate change. I offer a small extract:
For most of the world, this year will be remembered mainly for covid-19. Starting in Asia, then spreading across Europe and America before taking hold in the emerging world, the pandemic has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands. And it has devastated economies even more severely that did the global financial crisis which erupted in 2008.
But the impact of covid-19 has also given a sense of just how hard it will be to deal with climate change. As economic activity has stalled, energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen sharply. This year the drop will be between 4% and 7%. But to have a decent chance of keeping Earth’s mean temperature less than 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, net emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must fall to more or less zero by mid-century. And such a drop needs to be achieved not by halting the world economy in its tracks, but by rewiring it.
The next section in the special report was A grim outlook and it was, indeed, a very grim read.
Back To The Jurassic In A Hurry: 500 Part Per Million Of Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse gases (GHG) used to be 280 parts per million. Now they are around 500 ppm (including CH4, Nitrogen oxides, chlorofluorocarbons, etc.). This is more GHG than in at least thirty million years, when the Earth was much warmer, and it is similar to CO2 densities during the Jurassic.
So we should talk about climate catastrophe rather than climate change, and global heating rather than global warming: recent fires got helped by temperatures dozen of degrees higher than normal, in part from compression of the air due to record breaking winds. This is why parts of the Pacific Northwest which never burn are now burning. This will extend to Canada, Alaska, Siberia and already did in recent years. The catastrophic massive release of frozen methane hydrates could happen any time (it already does, but not as bad as it is going to get). It has up to one hundred times more warming power than CO2 (fires release it by billions of tons).
What is the way out? Well, hydrogen is the solution, in two ways, but has not been deployed as it could be. A decade ago, thermonuclear fusion, on the verge of becoming a solution, was starved for funding, and so was green hydrogen (the then energy secretary, Obama’s Steven Chu, prefered investing in batteries, it was more lucrative for his little greedy self).
Green hydrogen enables to store energy for renewables, avoiding blackouts which cut electricity to pumps to fight fires.
Joan Katsareas from Philadelphia, PA wrote back: “Thank you @Patrice Ayme for sharing your knowledge of the causes and extent of the climate crisis. I will be seeking out more information on hydrogen as a solution.”
@Joan Katsareas Thank you for thanking me, that is much appreciated. Hydrogen is indeed the overall solution we need at this point. Actually Australia, in collaboration with Japan, is building a gigantic, 15 Gigawatts, project in north west Australia, AREH, the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, to convert renewables from sun and wind into hydrogen products which will then be shipped to Japan. The same needs to be done all over, it would collapse the price of “green hydrogen” (99% of the US hydrogen is from fossil fuels).
In the case of thermonuclear fusion, the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) being built in France was slowed down by ten years, from reduced funding, and uses obsolete magnets (superconducting, but not High Temperature Superconductors, which can now be engineered with more compact and powerful fields). A massive effort would bring a positive energy thermonuclear reactor within 10 years… But that effort has not been made… except in China, the usual suspect, where a project, the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR), aims at an energy gain of 12 and a total power equivalent to a fission nuclear reactor. Its detailed engineering has been launched for a while (it’s supposedly symbiotic with the European DEMO project, which will produced as much as a large power station and will be connected to the grid. That too has been delayed, to the 2050s, although it’s feasible now). The USA needs to launch a similar project, right away.
We face ecological constraints incomparably more severe than those of the Roman state. Rome did not solve its paltry problems, and let them fester: they had to do mostly with a dearth of metals, and the Franks solved them readily. This hindered the Roman economy. The situation we are facing, the threat of a runaway greenhouse is a terminal existential threat.
Look at Venus, we can look at our sparkling neighbor when the forests have finished burning, and the smoke dissipates (we were told it could be months). Once Venus probably had a vast ocean, and probably, life. But it died from a brutal greenhouse generated by Large Igneous Provinces (LIP). The same happened on Earth, on a smaller scale, more than once, in particular with the Permian Triassic mass extinction, which destroyed 95% of known species..
Now the rumor has it that indeed some life may have survived in the atmosphere. This is not a joke. Consider:Life on Venus? Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds. The detection of a gas in the planet’s atmosphere could turn scientists’ gaze to a planet long overlooked in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Life on Venus? Ah, science, all those possibilities… We never imagined we would ever think possible.
P/S: I argued in the past, before anybody else, that the dinosaur-pterosaurs-plesiosaurs extinction, and extinction of anything bigger than 20 kilograms was due to volcanism (I was at UC Berkeley when the two Alvarez were, and they seemed too full of themselves with the iridium layer, and I like to contradict certainties…)
How would LIP volcanism set forests on fire? Well, by the same exact mechanism as now: through a massive CO2 driven greenhouse, what may have terminated the Venusians…
In this perspective climate cooling, for millions of years, visible in the graph above, would have disrupted those species which were not equipped to generate enough heat, and then the LIP accelerated into a vast holocaust…
The end with general burning and acidic oceans is hard to duplicate with a bolide, so the impactophiles have argued that the bolide magically impacted the most CO2 generating rock imaginable… Maybe. But an enormous LIP does all that CO2 production/destruction of the oceans, effortlessly… A friend of mine who is the biggest of the big in this academic domain, he decides who publishes, replied to me that the 66 million year old Dekkan LIP is too small… To which I replied that we don’t know what lays below the ocean…
Now it is up to all of us to make whatever changes we can to lessen our use of CO2.
Returning to that Economist special report. Green machines is an analysis of what has to change, what already has changed, and the time left for these changes to take effect. But as the article states it is far, far below what is necessary:
Last year 20m households purchased heat pumps. To stop the planet from overheating, the IEA reckons that number has to triple by 2030.
In the 4th September issue of Science magazine, there is an article about The Carbon Vault.
Industrial waste can combat climate change by turning carbon dioxide into stone.
The article closes with these words:
To avert the worst damage from climate change, Lackner says, “we need to throw everything we can at it.” Including, perhaps, a lot of rocks.
Klaus Lackner is a physicist at the Arizona State University, Tempe.
So there is a great deal going on and the general awareness of what we are facing is growing. That is good! But the speed of change is not fast enough by a long shot.
Last word from Patrice:
However we know enough to realize forceful mitigation has to be engaged in immediately.
I came upon Elizabeth when she left a comment to my post on the 26th August, The science of dog learning.
This is what she wrote:
Reblogged this on The Last Chapter and commented:
Please visit Paul’s website, something new to read and learn each day. Thank you Paul for bringing your site to the blogging world.
Naturally, I replied:
Elizabeth, thank you for leaving your response, and thank you so much for your republication of my post. I read a little about yourself and, I must say, found it fascinating. And your poem The Last Chapter – wow!
Now I will hopefully republish The Last Chapter for another day. (And I have now heard that I have permission to republish it!)
But today, I want to publish the words of Elizabeth in writing about her dear, dear, recently departed dog.
Mason Murphree was born on January 31, 2012; what can one say about Mason, I bought him off the back of a pick-up truck, only two pups left out of the litter I held both in my hands as they lay upon my chest; one yellow and the other white. I did not see their mother or father; I was told that the father was Bichon Frise and his mother Shih Tzu. The white one instantly begins to crawl into my sports bra, nuzzled himself against my warm flesh and I was instantly in love.
I did not believe that he was six-weeks-old he was still wobbly on his feet when trying to walk. I made him what the old folks call a “Sugar Tit”, a rag rolled on the end tightly and the tip soaked in warm sweet milk. I fed him laying on his back in my hand for a week, the second week I started him on baby food. Then, what I thought to be the seventh-week, he begins to walk with unsteady confidence and I thought was ready for the big world around him.
I found quickly that he had a set of razor-sharp teeth, yep, time for the hard bits of puppy food. I took him to the Vet when I brought him home, and he was given an “A” in health. But, I am getting ahead of myself. When I brought him home I sat him on a potty pad he used until he was six-months-old, then he discovered grass. I might add that in the nine years he was with me he never did his business in the house.
Alas, it was his six-month birthday, and his first time to the groomer, which I found that he had to be calmed down by medicine to get groomed. It was not too long until the Vet announced that he was out of this world’s atmosphere with anxiety. He had “MaMa” withdrawal big time when he was not with me. He would bark for half-an-hour before settling down to wait for me to come back from the store, gym, or anywhere I had gone! He disliked children, anyone less than teenagers. He loved every adult he met. He begins life attached to my hip and me to his.
Mason loved paper products; he would wait patiently to see if anyone would drop a Kleenex, paper towel, or napkin. The pursuit would begin chasing a four-legged speed demon around the floor, me never winning. We called him the Tasmanian devil, and he looked like it when he tried to defend his catch of the day. It was impossible to go on vacation without him; he would stay with one of his two-legged siblings. Of course, that was only for one day, he would accept his situation for about twenty-four-hours, then once again turn into the Tasmanian devil, the telephones would ring trying to find him another place to stay, he traveled back and forth from house to house until my return. A chore to his brothers and sisters, but finally he must have thought he had caused enough trouble for me to return home, and he did.
He loved everyone he met except children, let me explain; when he was six-months-old I took him to the park. On the playground were about a dozen small children, when they spied him, they came running. He jumped up for me to protect him, and that was that. He loved his favorite human friends and his family.
He was the best companion anyone could have; his personality was so individual those who would see him thought he would start talking at any moment. He look intently at you when you were talking, always smiling. He thought he was a Great Dane when in his protection mode, but a clap of lighting and boisterous thunder would send him under my feet. He loved to walk; he loved all the trees on his block and several other blocks.
I won’t describe Mason’s death other than it was quick and painless, he got to spend one day saying good-bye to his two-legged brothers and sisters. We covered our faces and our tears and sadness until we walked away, he knew. As his MaMa, I watched him go from a lively, wonderful, sweet little dog to one that was holding on to every minute waiting for his family to arrive. There are not enough words for me to describe the heartache and loneliness with him gone.
My heart feels much like a patchwork quilt, many little pieces sewn back together after being shattered. Saying good-bye, he took a piece of my heart and soul with him. I know that I will see him again, that is the only thing I have to hold on to this moment. And, that is how I am living my life one moment at a time until I see my four-legged fur baby again. He loved and he was loved.
Sweet dreams little boy.
How we become so attached to our dogs. Elizabeth not only was beautifully attached to Mason but also wrote perfect words in her tribute.
So who is Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree?
This is her biography but it doesn’t really tell me who she is; in a feeling, living, emotional sense. I suspect one has to read her writings to learn more.
Born in Alabama to a Native American father and an emotionally absent mother.
Raised by her father, her Native American Great-grandmother, her Aunt, and an African-American woman, all magnificent storytellers. Her childhood was filled with listening to the stories her great-grandmother would tell about the grandfathers and grandmothers that perished on the Trail of Tears, of she and the grandmother living in the slave quarters in northern Alabama.
Aunt Francis needed a home when her son went to prison, she would tell the stories of her parents being slaves and how she survived the Civil War. Aunt Vina, her father’s sister a fantastic storyteller; she could bring together characters and build a story that would have you at the edge of your chair, only to find it was all fiction.
As a child, Elizabeth ran free in the woods, fields, and the caves below Burleson Mountain where she grew up. Elizabeth has been writing all of her life, seriously since 2010. She has published a memoir about her daughter who passed in 2010; a small coffee table book filled with pictures of her precious Mason, and ten books of poetry. Her poetry is filled with happiness, sadness, spirit, and anger. The memoir is the private life of her daughter, living with bipolar, and schizophrenia. The books of poetry range from light to darkness that appeared during the creation of each book.
That is a special post, as I said at the start.
I look forward immensely to sharing with you Elizabeth’s poetry.
We tend to watch many of the TED Talks that come our way.
But this one had me riveted to my seat. It’s a very powerful, nearly 9 minutes long, talk given by a person who doesn’t have legal citizenship.
Speaking on a personal basis, I was a person who went through the Citizenship test, successfully I might add, in March, 2019. So I watched this video with more than just academic interest.
See if you sense the feelings I had.
At age 16, journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas found out he was in the United States illegally. Since then, he’s been thinking deeply about immigration and what it means to be a US citizen — whether it’s by birth, law or otherwise. In this powerful talk, Vargas calls for a shift in how we think about citizenship and encourages us all to reconsider our personal histories by answering three questions: Where did you come from? How did you get here? Who paid?
Jose Antonio Vargas, author of “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” is the founder of Define American, a nonprofit organization that uses stories to shift the narrative on immigrants.
In the 10th July issue of Science magazine there was an Editorial written by Sudip Parikh, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
I am taking the liberty of republishing that Editorial here. For I think it needs to be widely shared.
I am a scientist. I am an American. And I am the product of special expert visas and chain migration—among the many types of legal immigration into the United States. On 22 June, President Trump issued a proclamation that temporarily restricts many types of legal immigration into the country, including that of scientists and students. This will make America neither greater nor safer—rather, it could make America less so.
The administration claims that these restrictions are necessitated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to prevent threats to American workers. This reasoning is flawed for science and engineering, where immigrants are critical to achieving advances and harnessing the resulting economic opportunity for all Americans.
For decades, the United States has inspired both immigrants and nonimmigrants to make substantial contributions to science and technology that benefit everyone. Preventing highly skilled scientists and postdocs from entering the United States directly threatens this enterprise.
My uncle, a geologist, came to the United States in the 1960s to work at NASA. He then taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina and later served as lead geochemist for the state of California. He sponsored my father to come to America in 1968. Leaving Mumbai, a city of millions, and arriving in Hickory, a town of thousands in North Carolina, my father came home to a place he had never been before. My parents worked in furniture factories and textile mills to put us though college and ensure we had opportunities. Today, my sister works at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and I have the privilege of leading the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the publisher of Science). We exist because of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and our parents’ belief in the vision of the United States as a shining city on a hill. My family’s story is repeated by thousands of American scientists.
These stories include uncertainty when an immigrant’s status in America is in question. This uncertainty causes stress and the possibility that immigrants will leave and take their skills, talents, and humanity elsewhere. For the successful, these stories culminate with relief, celebration, and the pride of becoming a naturalized citizen. As President Reagan said, the United States is the one place in the world where “anybody from any corner of the world can come…to live and become an American.” Naturalized citizens love the United States deeply because they chose to be American. They and other immigrants make huge contributions to science and engineering.
According to the National Science Foundation, more than 50% of postdocs and 28% of science and engineering faculty in the United States are immigrants. Of the Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine, and physics awarded to Americans since 2000, 38% were awarded to immigrants to the United States. I don’t know the number of prizes given to second-generation Americans but Steven Chu—current chair of the AAAS Board of Directors—is among them. The incredible achievements of the American scientific enterprise speak volumes about the vision and forethought of the American people who have worked to create a more perfect union.
Suspending legal immigration is self-defeating and breaks a model that is so successful that other nations are copying it. As Thomas Donohue, chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said regarding the administration’s proclamation, “Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back. Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”
To develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, cure cancers, go to Mars, understand the fundamental laws of the universe and human behavior, develop artificial intelligence, and build a better future, we need the brain power of the descendants of Native Americans, Pilgrims, Founding Mothers and Fathers, Enslaved People, Ellis Island arrivals, and immigrants from everywhere. The United States has thrived as a crossroads where people are joined together by ideas and contribute by choice to the freedom and opportunity provided by this wonderful, inspiring, and flawed country that is always striving to live up to its aspirations.
Scientists, look around your labs and offices. Think about your collaborations and friendships. We must ensure that this “temporary” restriction on legal immigration does not become permanent. Now is the time to speak up for your immigrant colleagues and for America.
Maybe because years ago he gave me blanket permission to republish his essays. Maybe because he and I are more or less the same age. Maybe because in my more quieter, introspective moments I wonder where the hell we are going. And Tom seems to agree.
Have a read of this.
Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Unexpected Past, the Unknown Future
[Note for TomDispatch Readers:Even in this terrible moment, TD does its best to continue offering an alternate view of this increasingly strange planet of ours. And I can only do so because of the ongoing support of readers. (I just wish I could actually thank each of you individually!) If you have the urge to continue to lend a hand in keeping TomDispatch afloat, then do check out our donation page. For a donation of $100 ($125 if you live outside the U.S.), I usually offer a signed, personalized book from one of a number of TD authors listed on that page and you can certainly ask, but no guarantees in this pandemic moment. Still, you really do make all the difference and I can’t thank you enough for that! Tom]
Let me be blunt. This wasn’t the world I imagined for my denouement. Not faintly. Of course, I can’t claim I ever really imagined such a place. Who, in their youth, considers their death and the world that might accompany it, the one you might leave behind for younger generations? I’m 76 now. True, if I were lucky (or perhaps unlucky), I could live another 20 years and see yet a newer world born. But for the moment at least, it seems logical enough to consider this pandemic nightmare of a place as the country of my old age, the one that I and my generation (including a guy named Donald J. Trump) will pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Back in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, I knew it was going to be bad. I felt it deep in my gut almost immediately and, because of that, stumbled into creating TomDispatch.com, the website I still run. But did I ever think it would be this bad? Not a chance.
I focused back then on what already looked to me like a nightmarish American imperial adventure to come, the response to the 9/11 attacks that the administration of President George W. Bush quickly launched under the rubric of “the Global War on Terror.” And that name (though the word “global” would soon be dropped for the more anodyne “war on terror”) would prove anything but inaccurate. After all, in those first post-9/11 moments, the top officials of that administration were thinking as globally as possible when it came to war. At the damaged Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately turned to an aide and told him, “Go massive — sweep it all up, things related and not.” From then on, the emphasis would always be on the more the merrier.
Bush’s top officials were eager to take out not just Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, whose 19 mostly Saudi hijackers had indeed attacked this country in the most provocative manner possible (at a cost of only $400,000-$500,000), but the Taliban, too, which then controlled much of Afghanistan. And an invasion of that country was seen as but the initial step in a larger, deeply desired project reportedly meant to target more than 60 countries! Above all, George W. Bush and his top officials dreamed of taking down Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein, occupying his oil-rich land, and making the United States, already the unipolar power of the twenty-first century, the overseer of the Greater Middle East and, in the end, perhaps even of a global Pax Americana. Such was the oil-fueled imperial dreamscape of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and crew (including that charmer and now bestselling anti-Trump author John Bolton).
Who Woulda Guessed?
In the years that followed, I would post endless TomDispatch pieces, often by ex-military men, focused on the ongoing nightmare of our country’s soon-to-become forever wars (without a “pax” in sight) and the dangers such spreading conflicts posed to our world and even to us. Still, did I imagine those wars coming home in quite this way? Police forces in American cities and towns thoroughly militarized right down to bayonets, MRAPs, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, thanks to a Pentagon program delivering equipment to police departments nationwide more or less directly off the battlefields of Washington’s never-ending wars? Not for a moment.
Who doesn’t remember those 2014 photos of what looked like an occupying army on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of a Black teenager and the protests that followed? And keep in mind that, to this day, the Republican Senate and the Trump administration have shown not the slightest desire to rein in that Pentagon program to militarize police departments nationwide. Such equipment (and the mentality that goes with it) showed up strikingly on the streets of American cities and towns during the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
Even in 2014, however, I couldn’t have imagined federal agents by the hundreds, dressed as if for a forever-war battlefield, flooding onto those same streets (at least in cities run by Democratic mayors), ready to treat protesters as if they were indeed al-Qaeda (“VIOLENT ANTIFA ANARCHISTS”), or that it would all be part of an election ploy by a needy president. Not a chance.
Or put another way, a president with his own “goon squad” or “stormtroopers” outfitted to look as if they were shipping out for Afghanistan or Iraq but heading for Portland, Albuquerque, Chicago, Seattle, and other American cities? Give me a break! How un-American could you get? A military surveillance drone overhead in at least one of those cities as if this were someone else’s war zone? Give me a break again. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d live to witness anything quite like it or a president — and we’ve had a few doozies — even faintly like the man a minority of deeply disgruntled Americans but a majority of electors put in the White House in 2016 to preside over a failing empire.
How about an American president in the year 2020 as a straightforward, no-punches-pulled racist, the sort of guy a newspaper could compare to former segregationist Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace without even blinking? Admittedly, in itself, presidential racism has hardly been unique to this moment in America, despite Joe Biden’s initial claim to the contrary. That couldn’t be the case in the country in which Woodrow Wilson made D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, the infamous silent movie in which the Ku Klux Klan rides to the rescue, the first film ever to be shown in the White House; nor the one in which Richard Nixon used his “Southern strategy” — Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater had earlier labeled it even more redolently “Operation Dixie” — to appeal to the racist fears of Southern whites and so begin to turn that region from a Democratic stronghold into a Republican bastion; nor in the land where Ronald Reagan launched his election campaign of 1980 with a “states’ rights” speech (then still a code phrase for segregation) near Philadelphia, Mississippi, just miles from the earthen dam where three murdered civil rights workers had been found buried in 1964.
Still, an openly racist president (don’t take that knee!) as an autocrat-in-the-making (or at least in-the-dreaming), one who first descended that Trump Tower escalator in 2015 denouncing Mexican “rapists,” ran for president rabidly on a Muslim ban, and for whom Black lives, including John Lewis’s, have always been immaterial, a president now defending every Confederate monument and military base named after a slave-owning general in sight, while trying to launch a Nixon-style “law and (dis)order” campaign? I mean, who woulda thunk it?
And add to that the once unimaginable: a man without an ounce of empathy in the White House, a figure focused only on himself and his electoral and pecuniary fate (and perhaps those of his billionaire confederates); a man filling his hated “deep state” with congressionally unapproved lackies, flacks, and ass-kissers, many of them previously flacks (aka lobbyists) for major corporations. (Note, by the way, that while The Donald has a distinctly autocratic urge, I don’t describe him as an incipient fascist because, as far as I can see, his sole desire — as in those now-disappeared rallies of his — is to have fans, not lead an actual social movement of any sort. Think of him as Mussolini right down to the look and style with a “base” of cheering MAGA chumps but no urge for an actual fascist movement to lead.)
And who ever imagined that an American president might actually bring up the possibility of delaying an election he fears losing, while denouncing mail-in ballots (“the scandal of our time”) as electoral fraud and doing his damnedest to undermine the Post Office which would deliver them amid an economic downturn that rivals the Great Depression? Who, before this moment, ever imagined that a president might consider refusing to leave the White House even if he did lose his reelection bid? Tell me this doesn’t qualify as something new under the American sun. True, it wasn’t Donald Trump who turned this country’s elections into 1% affairs or made contributions by the staggeringly wealthy and corporations a matter of free speech (thank you, Supreme Court!), but it is Donald Trump who is threatening, in his own unique way, to make elections themselves a thing of the past. And that, believe me, I didn’t count on.
Nor did I conceive of an all-American world of inequality almost beyond imagining. A country in which only the truly wealthy (think tax cuts) and the national security state (think budgets eternally in the stratosphere) are assured of generous funding in the worst of times.
The World to Come?
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the pandemic yet, have I? The one that should bring to mind the Black Death of the fourteenth century and the devastating Spanish Flu of a century ago, the one that’s killing Americans in remarkable numbers daily and going wild in this country, aided and abetted in every imaginable way (and some previously unimaginable ones) by the federal government and the president. Who could have dreamed of such a disease running riot, month after month, in the wealthiest, most powerful country on the planet without a national plan for dealing with it? Who could have dreamed of the planet’s most exceptional, indispensable country (as its leaders once loved to call it) being unable to take even the most modest steps to rein in Covid-19, thanks to a president, Republican governors, and Republican congressional representatives who consider science the equivalent of alien DNA? Honestly, who ever imagined such an American world? Think of it not as The Decameron, that fourteenth century tale of 10 people in flight from a pandemic, but the Trumpcameron or perhaps simply Trumpmageddon.
And keep in mind, when assessing this world I’m going to leave behind to those I hold near and dear, that Covid-19 is hardly the worst of it. Behind that pandemic, possibly even linked to it in complex ways, is something so much worse. Yes, the coronavirus and the president’s response to it may seem like the worst of all news as American deaths crest 160,000 with no end in sight, but it isn’t. Not faintly on a planet that’s being heated to the boiling point and whose most powerful country is now run by a crew of pyromaniacs.
It’s hard even to fully conceptualize climate change since it operates on a time scale that’s anything but human. Still, one way to think of it is as a slow-burn planetary version of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And by the way, if you’ll excuse a brief digression, in these years, our president and his men have been intent on ripping up every Cold War nuclear pact in sight, while the tensions between two nuclear-armed powers, the U.S. and China, only intensify and Washington invests staggering sums in “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal. (I mean, how exactly do you “modernize” the already-achieved ability to put an almost instant end to the world as we’ve known it?)
But to return to climate change, remember that 2020 is already threatening to be the warmest year in recorded history, while the five hottest years so far occurred from 2015 to 2019. That should tell you something, no?
The never-ending release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has been transforming this planet in ways that have now become obvious. My own hometown, New York City, for instance, has officially become part of the humid subtropical climate zone and that’s only a beginning. Everywhere temperatures are rising. They hit 100 degrees this June in, of all places, Siberia. (The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of much of the rest of the planet.) Sea ice is melting fast, while floods and mega-droughts intensify and forests burn in a previously unknown fashion.
And as a recent heat wave across the Middle East — Baghdad hit a record 125 degrees — showed, it’s only going to get hotter. Much hotter and, given how humanity has handled the latest pandemic, how will it handle the chaos that goes with rising sea levels drowning coastlines but also affecting inland populations, ever fiercer storms, and flooding (in recent weeks, the summer monsoon has, for instance, put one third of Bangladesh underwater), not to speak of the migration of refugees from the hardest-hit areas? The answer is likely to be: not well.
And I could go on, but you get the point. This is not the world I either imagined or would ever have dreamed of leaving to those far younger than me. That the men (and they are largely men) who are essentially promoting the pandemicizing and over-heating of this planet will be the greatest criminals in history matters little.
Let’s just hope that, when it comes to creating a better world out of such a god-awful mess, the generations that follow us prove better at it than mine did. If I were a religious man, those would be my prayers.
And here’s my odd hope. As should be obvious from this piece, the recent past, when still the future, was surprisingly unimaginable. There’s no reason to believe that the future — the coming decades — will prove any easier to imagine. No matter the bad news of this moment, who knows what our world might really look like 20 years from now? I only hope, for the sake of my children and grandchildren, that it surprises us all.
This is such a powerful essay written from the heart of a good man.
I, too, wonder and worry about the next twenty years. Indeed, there are the stirrings of a book in my head. How that younger generation are reacting to the present and, more importantly, how they will react and respond to the next few years?
I’m 75 and really hope to live for quite a few more years. Jean is just a few years younger.
But much more importantly I have a son, Alex, who is 49, and a daughter, Maija, who is 48, and a grandson, Morten, of my daughter and her husband, who is 9.
Not that long ago I was contacted by Gabriella Coppolecchia, or Gabby for short, about writing a guest post. Of course that was alright especially as Gabby comes from the U.K.. In fact, as her bio explains:
Gabriella Coppolecchia is a young dog trainer and dog walker in Chelmsford, Essex. During her studies she realised that there is a lot of misinformation around the world of dogs and she vowed to help people overcome the confusion. Her fiancé suggested she would write a blog since she can’t stop talking about dogs anyway. So along with her day business, she created Cinofilo.
So let’s welcome her to this world of blogging and her first guest post on Learning from Dogs. (And, hopefully, not her last!)
HOW TO AVOID DOG THEFT
Dog theft is a phenomenon always on the rise. Here in the UK, I’m seeing missing dog posts on Facebook everyday. Most people believe it’s confined to a bad neighbourhood but it’s not. It can happen anywhere and almost to anyone. There are a few dogs that are the perfect target for dog theft and these despicable people will steal your dog to make an easy buck.
Why Dogs get stolen
1. Purebred dogs
With the cost of purebred dogs on the rise and the creation of always new breeds (such as labradoodle and cockapoo), more and more people are attracted to this huge market. If not neutered or spayed, stolen dogs could end up in the hands of other dog breeders that will use them as the studs or the bitches that will produce the new generations. These people might also steal puppies and disguise themselves (or have someone else doing so) as hobby breeders with one last puppy left and sell these dogs again for half of their original value. Or they might claim to be someone that wants to sell their own pet because they can no longer take care of him. They will justify the dog’s price by saying that they don’t want to lose the money they have spent when they bought “their” dog. To unsuspecting and uninformed first time buyers these could all look like legitimate trades. These people might look like regular neighbours, with regular jobs and regular families.
2. Weak, young and small dogs
The illegal world of dog-fighting always requires some new dogs to sacrifice for training. This training needs to be pretty safe and easy for the dogs that will be enlisted in the matches. Weak, young and small dogs are considered the best choice because they have slim to none chances of survival against their opponent and because they will not be able to injure him. Bigger and strong dogs will sometimes be used but only with their mouth taped shut. This training is effective because winning all the fights during training will boost the winner’s confidence. In turn, when the real match happens, the dog will think that winning will be easy and he will not recognise the danger. Not even when it’s charging right at him, jaws open. The dogs for the training are often acquired by online ads of dogs that need re-homing and that are given away for free. But when this source starts to become scarce, these people will start stealing.
These dogs might also be stolen for the dog-fighting world. If not neutered or spayed these dogs could become breeders that will supply new champions. Or they end up being the ones that will be trained to fight for the entertainment of horrible people.
There are also dogs that are not targeted for a specific feature. These dogs might be stolen because these thieves will wait for a large ransom to be put out and then will return the dog claiming to have found him. Another reason is to sell dogs to research, veterinary and medical facilities that need them for testing and experiments. These facilities will not do a thorough research on the animal’s past, especially because they often use a third party to get the dogs.This makes it easy for the thieves to sell stolen pets to them.
Once your dog is stolen, he will likely be quickly moved many miles away and it will become very difficult to trace the bad guy’s steps. So the best course of action is to try and prevent this from happening.
How targets get chosen
To steal your pet, there are a number of tactics that they can use. Simply put, anytime your dog is out of your sight, he can become a target. But there are a few everyday situations that often occur that might make things easier for these thieves.
We have all done it. We need to pop in a shop for a second and we think it’s easier to leave our dog tied outside. We think it’s going to be fine. We’ll only take a minute and that moment it’s enough for a thief. Especially if we end up taking longer than expected or if we can’t really keep an eye on our dog from inside the shop.
2. back gardens
We might think that the fence of our back garden is high enough and we think that if we are home we will be able to keep an eye on our dog. But we are often wrong. These thieves will usually study their targets for a while. They will monitor the times your dogs spends outside and find the right time to strike.
A dog should never be left in a car unattended but this is not just for the risk of heatstroke. A car is not a secure place. The only thing in the way of those thieves is your car window and that’s pretty easy to break. Another problem is that when we leave our dog in a car, we feel like he is more safe than tied outside. Overestimating his safety means that we feel comfortable going farther and leaving him alone for longer.
4. off-leash walks
When on walks, your dog might be used to spend some time off leash. This often happens when you are in a park and you want to give your dog more freedom to explore in a car free space. While exploring it could be easy for a dog to go too far and out of sight for a while. This is often enough for a thief to snatch your dog right under your supervision.
How to keep them safe
There are a few things that you can do to help your pet be safer and keep your mind more at ease.
1. less information
It’s always nice, when people that we meet on a walk, stop us to compliment our dog. This can happen at every walk and often several times during the same walk. Although most people will only ask a couple of questions out of curiosity, you never know when you have a thief right in front of you. These people will often ask more information and you might start suddenly seeing them often, even when you never used to see them before. They will ask questions like your dog’s name, if he is friendly, if you can let him off, if you walk around the area around the same times, if you live close by. These are all informations that can help the bad guy see a pattern in your routine and that can uncover an opportunity for him to act. So if faced with all these questions try to remain very vague or lie about some details. You could say that you don’t always walk at the same times. Or maybe you can say that you like the area for walks but you live quite far and you actually have to drive there.
2. vary your routes
I’m sure you and your dog have a favourite route. Maybe you like the pond he can swim in or maybe you like the dogs you meet. But going to the same routes everyday might give the bad guys the opportunity to study you and gain information that they can use to put their plan into motion. Instead choose 3-4 different routes and try to alternate them in an unpredictable way.
3. keep a close eye
As I said, basically, every time you keep your eyes off your dog he could get stolen. So if you are out and you need to pop in a shop, try asking someone that works there if they can wait outside with your dog as you are shopping. This might not always be possible but it’s worth a shot. Moreover most people will happily take a break from work to pet your dog as they wait. If your dog, when off leash, tends to go so far he is often out of sight, you could try a different spot, such as a big clearing, where your dog will hardly ever be out of sight. If, instead, you are worried your dog might get stolen from your garden, try a higher fence and don’t take the habit of leaving your back door open at all times. Only let your dog out when he asks.
4. security system
Installing cameras and an alarm system around your house and your garden might be a real weapon against burglars and bad guys in general. As well as protecting your dog, they are optimal for keeping your family safe. These can be a powerful deterrent for anyone looking for an easy target, and can be an even more powerful source of information in case someone should still decide to break in.There are all sorts of pet friendly security systems that will not be accidentally activated from your dog.
By law a dog should be microchipped and should be wearing a collar with name tag at all times. Thieves can easily remove the collar and it’s even possible for them to go to a vet and change the ownership to them, no questions asked. This is becoming more rare but it still can happen. If the vet checks the owner the dog is registered to and contacts the registered number, you could be contacted by the vets that will have your dog at that time. Something what could also happen is that your dog might be abandoned once the bad guys no longer need him. Someone could then find him and take him to a vet where he would be identified.
6. GPS tracking collars
This kind of technology is more useful for a lost pet than a stolen one, mostly because a thief can easily remove the collar and dump it somewhere. There are however collars that have an hidden GPS tracker. This can make it look like a regular collar and a thief might not feel the need to remove the collar until later. This can give an idea of where your pet is or has been and give an indication of who might be responsible. It might not be much but it can mean a higher chance of finding your beloved pet.
What to do if your dog gets stolen
If you believe your dog has been stolen there are a few things that you can do:
Report your dog missing to the microchip databases (petlog, PETtrack and Identibase). They can contact you if your dog’s microchip gets scanned and the guardianship details checked. Report to the police, making sure to give all the informations that come to mind. Even the ones that you don’t redeem relevant can help. Be sure to tell them when you last saw your pet and when and how you think he has been stolen. Tell them if you met someone suspicious during your walk or if you saw someone suspicious walking around your house. Tell them the routes you use during your walks and be sure to describe any special feature that your dog might have.
2. tell everyone
Put up posters in your local area. If your dog is still in town someone might see him. Post about your missing dog on social media and ask for help from the community. Register your pet on social media groups or on dedicated websites that help people reunite with missing dogs. Start locally but then widen your range.
Now that you have more information I hope you’ll start feeling safer. But if you are here because your pet has been stolen, here some links to websites that can help. There are a lot more but these are a start:
I think this is a terrific post and I’m delighted that Gabby contacted me and went on to post this. All over the world readers will be aware of the issue and Gabby has done a fine job in describing what one can do.
Independence Day should also apply to our beloved dogs!
This was first published four years ago but I wonder if there has been any real change. So it’s being published again for the 2020 Independence Day.
So today is July 4th. One of the key days of the year in the American calendar, if not the key day.
Freedom and independence are the corner stones of a healthy nation. That ‘nation’ should include our dogs. Ergo, I have no hesitation in republishing the following that first was seen on the Care2 site.
The sight is heartbreaking: a sad animal, exposed to the heat or the cold, often without shelter, chained in a backyard. Sometimes all it takes to secure them is a thin rope tied around their collar on one end and a dog house on the other, in others it’s a thick metal chain that keeps the dog from moving away from a tree. Whatever the case, it’s enough to inspire any animal lover to change that dog’s life, but how? The answer is simpler than one would imagine: build a fence.
“Building a fence really changes the relationship between dogs and owners,” explains Michele Coppola, President of Fences for Fido, a nonprofit organization that builds fences in houses that have chained dogs so the dogs can run freely in the backyard. “Many times dogs who were outside 24/7 go on to become a family member, spending time in the house and outside because they’re no longer a location.”
Since 2009, Fences for Fido has been helping dogs in the Southwest Oregon and Washington state areas. People can anonymously nominate a house with a chained dog on their website or people can nominate themselves if they don’t have the means to build their own fence. According to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, who helped Fences for Fido get started and has been building fences since 2006 in North Carolina, that lack of resources is the most common reason why people keep dogs chained.
“When we first started we thought we would build this fence and solve a problem but we quickly saw the problem is not chained dogs, it’s poverty,” explains Lori Hensley, Director of Operations at Coalition to Unchain Dogs. “No one wants to chain a dog. They just don’t have the means to build a fence.”
Other common reasons are not understanding that dogs are social animals that need to run around, an owner not knowing how to address behavioral problems and trying to keep the dog from running away, says the Humane Society of the United States.
“People chain their dogs for a variety of reasons so we always approach them without judgement because most times we’re not seeing the whole story,” says Coppola adding that those issues are addressed when building a fence for someone to make sure they’re educated on why chaining their dogs shouldn’t be a solution. “Maybe they didn’t have a fence to start with and someone, maybe a family member, dumped a dog with them and they’re keeping it out of the goodness of their hearts but they don’t have a fence. You don’t know.”
Between the two organizations, over 3,400 dogs have been freed from chains but since they only operate locally, they have created resources for people in other parts of the country who want to help. Unchained Planet, a Facebook group of volunteer fence builders, offers advice and tips to anyone looking to start their own fence building organization and a DIY tutorial is also available for free download.
From materials needed to step by step instructions, anyone can start building a fence to help chained dogs in their communities, though to complete novices, the guidance of a seasoned builder or a professional is encouraged.
“If you’re starting out for the very first time, it might be a good idea to pair up with a fence company who may be willing to help and even donate the materials,” suggests Coppola. “Or you want to find somebody who’s done a fence before and can kind of show you how to go about it.”
I follow Colin’s blog Wibble. It ranges across a myriad of thoughts and beliefs and it’s a good follow.
On June 9th, Colin published a post regarding The wolves within, a beautiful legend from the Cherokees. Colin readily and promptly gave me permission to share it with you.
The content isn’t mine, but of course it’s fine by me, Paul. You’re too polite by half! 😀
Here it is.
The wolves within: a Cherokee legend
Posted on June 9, 2020
An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.
“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
“But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
“But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
“Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, grandfather?”
The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”