Category: People

Reflections on the internet.

An interesting item that recently crossed my ‘screen’.

I make no apologies for cutting corners for today’s post. Because the last few days of looking after, and worrying about, Hazel have soaked up so much of our time and energy that I just couldn’t find the creative impulse to do much more than ‘copy and paste’.

That’s not to downplay the great interest of this article that appeared over on The Conversation blogsite a few days ago.

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Why the Internet isn’t making us smarter – and how to fight back

April 15, 2016 5.58am EDT

Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

Disclosure statement: David Dunning has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Templeton Foundation in the past.

In the hours since I first sat down to write this piece, my laptop tells me the National Basketball Association has had to deny that it threatened to cancel its 2017 All-Star Game over a new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina – a story repeated by many news sources including the Associated Press. The authenticity of that viral video of a bear chasing a female snowboarder in Japan has been called into question. And, no, Ted Cruz is not married to his third cousin. It’s just one among an onslaught of half-truths and even pants-on-fire lies coming as we rev up for the 2016 American election season.

The longer I study human psychology, the more impressed I am with the rich tapestry of knowledge each of us owns. We each have a brainy weave of facts, figures, rules and stories that allows us to address an astonishing range of everyday challenges. Contemporary research celebrates just how vast, organized, interconnected and durable that knowledge base is.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that our brains overdo it. Not only do they store helpful and essential information, they are also receptive to false belief and misinformation.

Just in biology alone, many people believe that spinach is a good source of iron (sorry, Popeye), that we use less than 10 percent of our brains (no, it’s too energy-guzzling to allow that), and that some people suffer hypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation (for which there is no scientific evidence).

But here’s the more concerning news. Our access to information, both good and bad, has only increased as our fingertips have gotten into the act. With computer keyboards and smartphones, we now have access to an Internet containing a vast store of information much bigger than any individual brain can carry – and that’s not always a good thing.

Better access doesn’t mean better information

This access to the Internet’s far reaches should permit us to be smarter and better informed. People certainly assume it. A recent Yale study showed that Internet access causes people to hold inflated, illusory impressions of just how smart and well-informed they are.

But there’s a twofold problem with the Internet that compromises its limitless promise.

First, just like our brains, it is receptive to misinformation. In fact, the World Economic Forum lists “massive digital misinformation” as a main threat to society. A survey of 50 “weight loss” websites found that only three provided sound diet advice. Another of roughly 150 YouTube videos about vaccination found that only half explicitly supported the procedure.

Rumor-mongers, politicians, vested interests, a sensationalizing media and people with intellectual axes to grind all inject false information into the Internet.

So do a lot of well-intentioned but misinformed people. In fact, a study published in the January 2016 Proceedings of National Academy of Science documented just how quickly dubious conspiracy theories spread across the Internet. Specifically, the researchers compared how quickly these rumors spread across Facebook relative to stories on scientific discoveries. Both conspiracy theories and scientific news spread quickly, with the majority of diffusion via Facebook for both types of stories happening within a day.

Making matters worse, misinformation is hard to distinguish from accurate fact. It often has the exact look and feel as the truth. In a series of studies Elanor Williams, Justin Kruger and I published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2013, we asked students to solve problems in intuitive physics, logic and finance. Those who consistently relied on false facts or principles – and thus gave the exact same wrong answer to every problem – expressed just as much confidence in their conclusions as those who answered every single problem right.

For example, those who always thought a ball would continue to follow a curved path after rolling out of a bent tube (not true) were virtually as certain as people who knew the right answer (the ball follows a straight path).

Defend yourself

So, how so we separate Internet truth from the false?

First, don’t assume misinformation is obviously distinguishable from true information. Be careful. If the matter is important, perhaps you can start your search with the Internet; just don’t end there. Consult and consider other sources of authority. There is a reason why your doctor suffered medical school, why your financial advisor studied to gain that license.

Second, don’t do what conspiracy theorists did in the Facebook study. They readily spread stories that already fit their worldview. As such, they practiced confirmation bias, giving credence to evidence supporting what they already believed. As a consequence, the conspiracy theories they endorsed burrowed themselves into like-minded Facebook communities who rarely questioned their authenticity.

Instead, be a skeptic. Psychological research shows that groups designating one or two of its members to play devil’s advocates – questioning whatever conclusion the group is leaning toward – make for better-reasoned decisions of greater quality.

If no one else is around, it pays to be your own devil’s advocate. Don’t just believe what the Internet has to say; question it. Practice a disconfirmation bias. If you’re looking up medical information about a health problem, don’t stop at the first diagnosis that looks right. Search for alternative possibilities.

Seeking evidence to the contrary

In addition, look for ways in which that diagnosis might be wrong. Research shows that “considering the opposite” – actively asking how a conclusion might be wrong – is a valuable exercise for reducing unwarranted faith in a conclusion.

After all, you should listen to Mark Twain, who, according to a dozen different websites, warned us, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Wise words, except a little more investigation reveals more detailed and researched sources with evidence that it wasn’t Mark Twain, but German physician Markus Herz who said them. I’m not surprised; in my Internet experience, I’ve learned to be wary of Twain quotes (Will Rogers, too). He was a brilliant wit, but he gets much too much credit for quotable quips.

Misinformation and true information often look awfully alike. The key to an informed life may not require gathering information as much as it does challenging the ideas you already have or have recently encountered. This may be an unpleasant task, and an unending one, but it is the best way to ensure that your brainy intellectual tapestry sports only true colors.

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The way the world now communicates, for good and bad, using the internet is staggering. As the website Internet Live Stats reveals: (as of this moment today)

3,352,197,085 Internet Users in the world

1,016,623,500 Total number of Websites

2,060,120 Blog posts written today

So with that last figure in mind, I’ll send this for posting without delay!😉

Of art, and science.

The learning and healing journey continues with Hazel.

The title to today’s post came from Dr. Jim Goodbrod, DVM. When he and I were taking a walk yesterday Jim mentioned that diagnosing exactly what an animal is suffering from is as much an art as it is a science.

Jim and Janet are close friends and neighbours who live a couple of roads away. Jim also attends the Lincoln Road Vet Clinic on a part-time basis. Off his own volition he has been speaking with Dr. Codd (Russ) about the situation with Hazel and the pair of them are showing incredible devotion to getting to the bottom of what is happening.

So, like yesterday’s post, today is being offered to you in the spirit of information. Forgive me if I repeat the caution from yesterday. (This is being written at 4pm on April 19th, 2016.)

CAUTION: The following is offered by way of information reaching out to other loving dog owners. Please do not assume I have any specialist veterinarian knowledge and please do not take the following as a replacement for seeing your own vet.

Late on Sunday afternoon Hazel was becoming so weak and lethargic that Jean and I feared that she wouldn’t make it through the night. So it was wonderful to see that she was alive and still connected to the world at 6am yesterday; Monday. Nonetheless, Hazel had not eaten since Saturday afternoon and was only drinking very small amounts of water. We made the decision to ring the Clinic as soon as they opened on Monday at 8am. They recommended that Hazel be brought in to go on to an IV drip to boost her anti-fungal intake and also to receive an anti-nausea intake to help her regain an appetite. But there was the question hanging over everyone that if this was a fungal infection, as in Coccidioidomycosis, that is not present in the Oregonian soil but is found in the drier parts of the USA and Mexico then why had it been such a long time before it brought Hazel down?

Jean also had this suspicion that Hazel might be suffering from a form of ‘Tick Fever’ that is very common in Mexico.

So off we went to the Clinic again. There were discussions about the whole situation.

Dr. Codd (RHS) speaking with Jean at the Clinic.
Dr. Codd (RHS) speaking with Jean at the Clinic.

Dr. Codd took a quick blood test and, bingo, it revealed that Hazel was showing that she had, or had had in the past, an Ehrlichia Infection; a tick-borne infection.

The lower of the left-hand spots is the indicator of a past or present Ehrlichia Infection.

The cure for that was a course of Doxycycline.

So now we are looking at battling two separate diseases.

The blood that was taken from Hazel last Friday, when she also had radiographs taken of her lungs, had been sent for a ‘titre’ that would confirm one way or another if her lungs were suffering from a fungal infection. Those results will be available on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

One of the radiographs taken of Hazel.
One of the radiographs taken of Hazel.

Back to Hazel’s lack of appetite. One of the side-effects of Fluconazole is that it depresses appetite. Getting Hazel eating again was becoming a priority. It seemed to make sense that until we had confirmation of whether or not Hazel had a lung fungal infection, for which taking Fluconazole would be an excellent course of action, we should pause in her dose until the results were in. To speed up the return of an appetite Dr. Jim prescribed a short course of Mirtazipine.

So that’s about it for the time being. Except for Jean and me to say how much we appreciate the art and the science that is being so skillfully offered by the Clinic. (As of 19:00 PDT yesterday Hazel was eating again!:-) )

Great team effort!
Great team effort!

Their “Special Love of Animals” comes over in spades!

In praise of the ‘mutt’.

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays”.

When it comes to loving stray dogs I thought that the friends of John Zande and his wife were showing the rest of the world how to do it. For it is my understanding that Sandra and her partner down in Brazil are providing a home for around 300 ex-rescue dogs.

Then I came across this recent item over on Mother Nature News about 700 rescued ‘mutts’ living in a doggie paradise.

Here’s the full article:

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700 rescued mutts live the life at Costa Rica’s ‘Land of the Strays’

Catie Leary

April 13, 2016.
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays,” an amazing, privately funded, volunteer-run animal sanctuary in Costa Rica where no mutt is turned away.

Located less than an hour outside the bustling capital city of San José, this doggie safe haven is home to hundreds of abandoned canines that have been given a second chance at life.

This is no ordinary animal sanctuary, though. After all, when you live in a place as beautiful as Costa Rica, you take advantage of what the landscape provides. That’s why volunteers lead the ragtag pack of rescued mutts on scenic hikes through the gorgeous mountains nearly every day. It’s a sight to behold.

 A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Aside from the free-range mountain hikes with breathtaking scenery, Territorio de Zaguates functions just like any other animal rescue or sanctuary.

“First thing we do when a new dog gets here is spay/neuter, vaccinate and get rid of parasites,” the organization explains on its Facebook page. “Then we assess if the dog requires any other type of special treatment [and] put them in quarantine if necessary.”

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

What makes Territorio de Zaguates even more special is the creative approach to finding the dogs forever homes.

To encourage adoption, every doggie resident at the sanctuary is not only given a name, but also a customized “breed” name based on the dog’s phenotypic traits. These one-of-a-kind breed monikers include memorable titles like “Alaskan collie fluffy terrier” and the “chubby-tailed German doberschnauzer.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed. Learn more about this clever campaign in the video below:

 

Caso: Territorio de Zaguates from GARNIER BBDO on Vimeo.

As any animal rescuer will know, maintaining such an massive sanctuary requires an enormous amount of time, money and labor. But thanks to a host of charitable donors and an eager base of volunteers, the sanctuary is a great success.

“We have a very small staff but still we manage to do everything from daily picking up the poo and disposing of it properly, to feeding and medicating the dogs, and everything in between,” a spokesperson for the organization writes.

Continue below for just a glimpse of what life is like for these adorable pups at Territorio de Zaguates:

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Mattresses provide natural lounge spots for the dogs throughout the day.

A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

The pack takes a leisurely hike in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers and some prospective dog adopters

Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Lunch time at Territorio de Zaguates means serious business, which is why kibble donations are so important!

Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In addition to food, comfy dog beds are also a much welcomed donation item for the sanctuary!

A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A sanctuary volunteer leads the pack downhill during a scenic hike through the mountains.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In case you were wondering where all those yummy kibble donations went … behold the trough

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A few of the sanctuary’s senior residents rest on the steps of the facility. Even if the pups aren’t adopted out, they’ll always be guaranteed a luxurious forever home at the sanctuary.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Concrete drainage pipes makes excellent (and sturdy!) makeshift dog houses

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Rescued dogs hang out in the shade of the sanctuary’s many trees

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A nice refreshing dip … in some drinking water

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

After a long, fun-filled day of being a dog, there’s nothing like cuddling up with a friend and snoozing before dinner time

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Well it certainly puts our ten dogs in the shade!

In doing a trawl through YouTube I came across this video that I will use to close off today’s post. Chances are that, as with me, you won’t understand the voice-over but it won’t diminish your pleasure at looking at these dogs.

Published on Jul 3, 2014

“Territorio de Zaguates” ubicado en las hermosas montañas de Costa Rica, es un albergue de animales donde se le da casa, comida, atención veterinaria, ejercicio, esparcimiento y cariño a 700 perros callejeros víctimas del maltrato, el abuso, el abandono y la negligencia humana.
–ENGLISH– “Territorio de Zaguates” is a No-kill-shelter in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica that provides home, food, vet care, exercise, recreation and affection to over 700 stray dogs, victims of neglect, abandonment and abuse.

Actually, let me close off today’s post with these two sets of words from the story above:

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

“essentially a doggy paradise.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed.

That is so true! Each and every dog, especially an ex-rescue dog, is a unique breed.

Time – Like the flick of a finger.

Five years has just gone by in a flash.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to Larry, one of our lovely neighbours who, as with me, is the wrong side of 65 (as with me, by quite a lump) and he was bemoaning how more quickly time seems to pass by the older one gets. It had never previously crossed my mind but in that instant I knew exactly what Larry meant.

For today I have been a Permanent Resident (aka Green Card holder) for precisely five years. And in seven months time I will be 72 years old. Where did it all go!

So it seemed very appropriate for others who are staring at their ‘senior’ years to republish an item that recently appeared on the Dr. Sinatra website. It is all about the amazing benefits of regular exercise.

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To Live a Longer Life, Even Moderate Exercise Gives You Big Benefits

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, General Health
Last Reviewed 02/29/2016

As you know, exercise is essential for your heart and overall health. Now, a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise has quantified the powerful impact exercise can have on the length of your life.

For this study, researchers looked at data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study which included 3,000 participants ages 50-79. All of the study participants wore highly sensitive activity trackers, called accelerometers, for seven days. Then, they compared the participants’ activity levels with recorded deaths during the following eight years. What they found is that the participants who had the lowest level of activity were five times more likely to have died during the follow-up period than those participants who had the highest activity level. Those with the lowest level of activity were also three times more likely to have died than those who had moderate activity levels.

There’s no question that inactivity is a prominent risk factor for many health problems, and even minimal amounts of regular activity can have immediate benefits. Plus, for seniors the benefits of exercise go far beyond good cardiovascular health, increasing strength and flexibility so you can stay independent in your senior years.

What Type of Exercise Should You Do?

My answer is always the one that you will enjoy and stick with for the long-term—whether it’s walking, tennis, dancing, swimming or another activity you enjoy. My personal favorites are pilates and yoga, which are good for range of motion, flexibility, and strength.

But regardless of the type of activity you choose, here are some tips to get you started:

  • If you haven’t exercised in a long time and you have a medical condition such as osteoarthritis or cardiovascular disease, talk to your doctor about what kind of limits you may need to abide by. You don’t want to take on more than your body can handle. Also, consider having your feet checked for irregularities that require shoe inserts.
  • Start slowly and pace yourself. Should you experience shortness of breath or pain in your chest or arms, see your doctor as soon as possible. If you feel ill, stop. If symptoms persist after 3–5 minutes of rest, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms may occur up to an hour after exercising, so be mindful of how you feel as you cool down and resume your regular activities.
  • The joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles aren’t as forgiving as they were when we were younger, and they require an appropriate level of training. If you train with weights—even light ones—you must use correct form to avoid microtrauma and aggravation to joints. A personal trainer who is experienced in working with middle-agers and seniors can help with this. Long term, strengthening the muscles around ailing joints can help reduce pain.
  • Warning signs that you may be doing too much exercise include light-headedness or dizziness, palpitations, jaw pain, tingling or numbness in the arms, a tight feeling in the lungs, and shortness of breath (being unable to carry on a conversation).

Now it’s your turn: What are your exercise goals?

You May Also Be Interested In:

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 And to close this post with nothing at all to do with exercise but everything to do with loving a dog, here’s a picture of Brandy taken on Tuesday morning.

Very good exercise for the heart! :-)
Very good exercise for the heart!:-)

Repeat of the Meet Molly post

Three years ago today.

I was working outside until late afternoon and didn’t leave myself sufficient time for a new post for today. So, as I do on these occasions, I pick one from previous times. Like Meet Molly from this day three years ago.

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A most heart-warming story! Beats the heck out of murders, politics and terrorists!

This was sent in by John Hurlburt for Jean who has been a bit of a ‘horse lady’ in her times and is devoted to the two miniature horses we have here in Oregon.

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Meet Molly

molly1Molly is a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana . She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a dog and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to Louisiana State University (LSU) for help.

However, LSU were overwhelmed and Molly became a ‘welfare’ case. You know where that goes, don’t you!

Then surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly and changed his mind. He saw how Molly was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores. He saw how Molly allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Surgeon Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and, in a very real sense, that’s where her story really begins.

This was the right horse and the right owner!” Moore insisted.

Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in Post-Katrina Louisiana. The little pony gained weight and her mane finally felt a comb. Then, amazingly, a prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports:

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Kay said. “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.

Allison Barca concluded, “She’s not back to normal, but she’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis.
This is Molly’s most recent prosthesis.

Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind. Literally as well as metaphorically.

The photo shows the ground surface that she stands on has a smiley face embossed in it!
The photo shows that the bottom flat surface of the prosthesis has a smiley face embossed in it!

Leave you with that wonderful feeling of love for Molly? Feel free to share it with all the animal lovers that you know.

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See you tomorrow!

Keep shouting it out!

The force of public opinion has never been more important; critically so!

As you all know this world of blogging: authors; followers; readers, is a great number of wonderful communities right across the planet. It is nothing like the traditional media, now owned and controlled by just a handful of large corporations, because the vast majority of blogging participants are free to say what they want, when they want.

Here’s an example.

Martin Lack is an Englishman who is the author of the blog Lack of Environment. As his home page quietly states:

Although scientificly trained (with degrees in Geology and Hydrogeology – see my About page), this blog arises from my having also got an MA in Environmental Politics and, as such, as the tagline indicates, is a blog on “the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems”… I hope you will take this on board; and enjoy the discussion.

“There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation” – Herman E. Daly (former World Bank economist).

The science about the chemistry of climate change especially the new danger of methane is clear. The commitment of our political leaders is less clear. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep shouting out loud.

As Martin Lack did recently.

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Open Letter to David Cameron

29 March 2016

The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP

The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister,

Whatever happened to the greenest government ever?

Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones).  I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way.  Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case.

As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power.  However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster.  Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.[1]

With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy.  Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research.

It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels;[2] and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”.[3]  As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole.

However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.

I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question:

What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030?

Yours sincerely,

Martin C. Lack

————
[1] See: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/uk-can-be-almost-entirely-powered-renewable-energy-2030-new-study-shows-20150921.

[2] Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London.

[3] Oreskes, N. & Conway E. (2010), Merchants of Doubt,  New York: Bloomsbury. See: http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/

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Let me finish today’s post by republishing an exchange between Patrice Ayme and Martin over on a recent PA essay, that I republished in full in this place: Runaway Antarctica.

Martin:

I know I am wasting my time writing letters to David Cameron; and I know my opinions are irrelevant. However, the facts of history are not; nor will they be in the future.

Patrice:

I know you are doing the right thing. Writing to Cameron is entirely correct. But of course, he is a guy with just a salary and a few “savings”, a few tens of millions dollars of savings, maybe, or maybe not, and knew nothing about his recently deceased father having a fund of around 50 million dollars sheltered by shell companies, out there, somewhere related to Panama, or the British Virgin Islands, or the Bahamas, or Bermuda, whatever…

OK, David’s wife, officially, has a fund of more than twenty million pounds….

Martin:

For the record: I am socially-conservative (i.e. as opposed to liberal) but under no illusion as to the folly of what has been called ‘money fetishism’ (Karl Marx); and ‘growthmania’ (Herman E. Daly).

Patrice:

Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. I spent a whole hour reading the hard cover version of the paper the electronic version of which I criticized above. It’s quite a bit different. They use RCPs (Reasonable Carbon Projections, or the like in meaning). Yet, they don’t explain what they consist of exactly. All I know is that we are around 500 ppmv, and they work with 400 ppmv, in the 130 K-115 K years BP, when orbital conditions were cooler than now.

Plus we are going to be at 550 ppmv within ten years, at the present rate. The earliest date they have for the failure of Larsen C in their worst RCP 8.5 is 2055 CE. I would be surprised if it did not fail within ten years.

However, the paper version is more insistent on the danger of AIR warming, not just subsurface.

Also the Hansen paper has a scenario, which is suitably apocalyptic, but not apocalyptic enough in my book. Temperatures over the Arctic were strikingly high this winter, of the order of 4 to 5 degrees Centigrade higher than normal, and sometimes more. Nobody expected this sort of jumps. Except for yours truly!😉

Martin:

Thanks for the explanation, Patrice. This is all very reminiscent of the position of (Arizona) Professor Guy McPherson, who believes most scientists are in denial about the consequences of multiple positive feedback mechanisms we can already see operating:
http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/what-on-earth-are-we-doing/

You all have a wonderful weekend and keep hugging those dogs of yours!

Just something silly for today.

High-flying chickens!

This vidoe was posted on Roger Davis’ Facebook page in the last day.

By way of background, Roger and I were running companies from the same office base in Colchester, Essex, England back in the 1980s and it was Roger who introduced me to gliding, or sail-planing in American speak.. Here’s a short extract from a previous LfD post in 2014.

My first exposure to private flying was on the 7th June, 1981 when, at Rattlesden Gliding Club in Suffolk, I was taken up for two air-experience circuits in a two-seater glider known as a ‘K7’. I was immediately hooked! Those experience flights leading to a 4-minute flight (flight number 46) on the 6th September, 1981 that has the remark in my pilot’s log book: Solo! Now fast forward to October, 1984 and my log book shows me attending a gliding instructor’s course at Lasham, resulting in me being issued with a British Gliding Association (BGA) Assistant Instructor Rating on the 14th October. (105/84).

A K-7 two-seat glider.
A K-7 two-seat glider.

Anyway, here’s the item that just had to be shared:

How on earth does one follow that up!😉

The certainty of uncertainty

Just wanted to share this with you.

There seems to be so much going on in the world that creates uncertainty. In browsing the web looking for some inspiration for today’s blog post, I came across this short video of the late Richard Feynman and just wanted to share it with you.

The Richard Feyman website explains:

This web site is dedicated to Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988), scientist, teacher, raconteur, and musician.  He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb, expanded the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, translated Mayan hieroglyphics, and cut to the heart of the Challenger disaster.  But beyond all of that, Richard Feynman was a unique and multi-faceted individual.

Find out about Feynman, what he was and why he remains one of the most celebrated and revered scientists of modern times.

Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman

Now to the video. The Uncertainty of Knowledge

“If you expected science to give all the answers to the wonderful questions about what we are, where we are going what the meaning of the universe is and so on then I think you can easily become disillusioned and then look for some mystic answer to these problems. How a scientist can take a mystic answer I don’t know because the whole spirit is to unders…well never mind that, anyway I don’t understand that…but anyhow…if you think of it though…I..the way i think of what we are doing is, we are exploring, we are trying to find out as much as we can about the world.

People say to me, “Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?” No I am not. I am just looking to find out more about the world. And if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law that explains everything so be it. That would be very nice discovery. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers and we just sick and tired of looking at the layers then that’s the way it is! But whatever way it comes out it’s nature, it’s there, and she’s going to come out the way she is. And therefore when we go to investigate we shouldn’t pre-decide what it is we are trying to do except to find out more about it. If you said…but..the problem is why we do you find out more about it, if you thought that you are trying to find out more about it because you are going to get an answer to some deep philosophical question you may be wrong and may be that you can’t get an answer to that particular question by finding out more about the character of the nature.

Hope you find this inspiring!

If you want to find out more about this amazing person then do go across to that website.

 

Lifting spirits

The power of caring for our animals.

I thought after yesterday’s rather gloomy post, the republication of an essay from Patrice Ayme under the heading of Runaway Antarctica, we should be reminded of the goodness that is very much alive within humanity.

It was prompted by a comment left by Marg to that post. Here is a part of her comment:

It’s easy to get very despondent. However, I must say that probably the main thing in my life which lifts my spirits and gives me joy on a daily basis, even more than my family, are my pets, especially my No. 1 buddy, my Jack Russell cross.

That reminder came in the form of an item on yesterday’s Care2 selection, and is republished in full, as follows:

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Dog Gets Trapped in a Giant Tree Trunk, Firefighters Rescue Her.

3172807.largeBy: Laura S. April 3, 2016 About Laura

We’ll never know exactly what species of animal “Jane Dog” was chasing through the woods when she got her head wedged inside the trunk of a tree, but for the sake of her pride, let’s just pretend it was a panther.

Credit: Port Orange Police Department/ Facebook
Credit: Port Orange Police Department/ Facebook

Last week a Port Orange, Fla., family was walking their own dog when they heard Jane Dog’s whimpers. They tracked the sound and were surprised to see a full-grown dog stuck in an opening at the base of a very large tree trunk.

Port Orange police and firefighters were called to the scene and were joined by Dr. Malensek from Ravenwood Veterinary Clinic.
An on-site health check immediately following the rescue does not reveal any serious health concerns.
An on-site health check immediately following the rescue does not reveal any serious health concerns.

Fortunately, Jane Dog is doing just fine and has been reunited with her family who, while amused by her temporary name, have gone back to calling her Sailor.

Police officers carry Jane Dog who’s true identity was later revealed to be Sailor.
Police officers carry Jane Dog who’s true identity was later revealed to be Sailor.

Photos courtesy of Port Orange Police Department Facebook page.

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Well done all involved – well done, indeed!

Runaway Antarctica

Do you hear the turnstile about to click!

Not so long ago I wrote a series of three posts under the titles of Interconnections One, Interconnections Two and, yes you guessed it😉 , Interconnections Three. They were about the consequences of rising sea levels.

Now one might argue that this has nothing whatsoever to do with Learning from Dogs but I would disagree. For as I declare in The Vision of this blog:

It seems to me that a Vision statement should encapsulate just why the owners of the enterprise are committed to that venture.  The author of Learning from Dogs is committed to this project; here is the Vision.

Our children require a world that understands the importance of faith, integrity and honesty

Learning from Dogs will serve as a reminder of the values of life and the power of unconditional love – as so many, many dogs prove each and every day

Constantly trying to get to the truth …

The power of greater self-awareness and faith; faith that the only way forward for us is through the truth …

For in a very real and devastating way even a small rise in global sea level is going to cause tens of thousands of dogs, and their loving owners, to become homeless. We are long overdue a commitment from our global leaders and power-brokers to that, “.. faith, integrity and honesty.”

However, championing that greater self-awareness is what blogger Patrice Ayme does almost all of the time. With his kind permission, I republish his latest post on the state of the Antarctic Ice.

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Runaway Antarctica

I have written for years that a runaway Antarctica was certain, with half the icy continent melting rather spectacularly on an horizon of two centuries at most, and probably much less than that. This rested on the fact that half of Antarctica rests on nothing but bedrock at the bottom of the sea. At the bottom of what should naturally be the sea, in the present circumstances of significant greenhouse gas concentrations.

Visualize this: until sometimes in the Nineteenth Century, GreenHouse Gas (GHG) concentration was 280 ppm (280 parts per million), including the man-made sort. Now we are close to 500 ppm, using a variety of exotic gases we produce industrially, among them, CO2. In CO2 alone we are at:  Week beginning on March 20, 2016: 405.62 ppm. Weekly value from 1 year ago: 401.43 ppm. Weekly value from 10 years ago: 382.76 ppm. So the CO2 alone is augmenting at a bit more than 1% a year. Thus we will be at an equivalent of 550 ppm in ten years (including the full panoply of all the other man-made greenhouse gases, not just CO2). There is evidence that, with just 400 ppm, disaster is guaranteed.

Now visualize this:

antarctica-truth-revealed-nyt-2016-450
How Antarctica would appear if its ice melted: it’s half under the sea.

Why so watery? Because the enormous glaciers, up to nearly 5,000 meter thick, press down on the continent with their enormous weight. Since the end of the last glaciation, 10,000 years ago, Scandinavia has been rising, and is still rising (I long used a picture with a similar information about Antarctica’s bedrock.)

A paper published on line in Nature on March 30, 2016, that is, two days ago, “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise” opines that:

Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9 metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. Here we use a model coupling ice sheet and climate dynamics—including previously underappreciated processes linking atmospheric warming with hydrofracturing of buttressing ice shelves and structural collapse of marine-terminating ice cliffs—that is calibrated against Pliocene and Last Interglacial sea-level estimates and applied to future greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. In this case atmospheric warming will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss, but prolonged ocean warming will delay its recovery for thousands of years.

Notice that the scenario evoked in the last sentence is different from my  very old scenario, which is similar to the one advanced in November 2015 by the famous Hansen and Al. (I raised the alarm before Hansen, at least seven years ago). In my scenario, and Hansen’s the ice sheets melt from below, due to warm sea water intrusion.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is larger than Mexico.

Here is a taste of the paper (I have a Nature subscription):

“Reconstructions of the global mean sea level (GMSL) during past warm climate intervals including the Pliocene (about three million years ago)1 and late Pleistocene interglacials2, 3, 4, 5 imply that the Antarctic ice sheet has considerable sensitivity. Pliocene atmospheric CO2 concentrations were comparable to today’s (~400 parts per million by volume, p.p.m.v.)6, but some sea-level reconstructions are 10–30 m higher1, 7. In addition to the loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)2, these high sea levels require the partial retreat of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), which is further supported by sedimentary evidence from the Antarctic margin8. During the more recent Last Interglacial (LIG, 130,000 to 115,000 years ago), GMSL was 6–9.3 m higher than it is today2, 3, 4, at a time when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were below 280 p.p.m.v. (ref. 9) and global mean temperatures were only about 0–2 °C warmer10. This requires a substantial sea-level contribution from Antarctica of 3.6–7.4 m in addition to an estimated 1.5–2 m from Greenland11, 12 and around 0.4 m from ocean steric effects10.”

So notice: when CO2 ppm per volume was at 280 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, sea level was up to ten meter higher than now. And now we are at 500 ppmv…

And notice again: When CO2 ppmv was at 400, sea level was up to 30 meters (100 feet) higher than today. And now we are at 500 ppm, and, in a blink, in ten years, at 550 ppm.

Here is another example from the paper. I said all of this before, but to have scientists paid to do research in this area write it black on white in the world’s most prestigious scientific magazine, will no doubt endow me with greater, and much desired, gravitas. So let me indulge, not so much for my greater glory, but because it should help taking what I have long said more seriously.

“Much of the WAIS sits on bedrock hundreds to thousands of metres below sea level (Fig. 1a)13. Today, extensive floating ice shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas, and smaller ice shelves and ice tongues in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas (Fig. 1b) provide buttressing that impedes the seaward flow of ice and stabilizes marine grounding zones (Fig. 2a). Despite their thickness (typically about 1 km near the grounding line to a few hundred metres at the calving front), a warming ocean has the potential to quickly erode ice shelves from below, at rates exceeding 10 m yr−1 °C−1 (ref. 14). Ice-shelf thinning and reduced backstress enhance seaward ice flow, grounding-zone thinning, and retreat (Fig. 2b). Because the flux of ice across the grounding line increases strongly as a function of its thickness15, initial retreat onto a reverse-sloping bed (where the bed deepens and the ice thickens upstream) can trigger a runaway Marine Ice Sheet Instability (MISI; Fig. 2c)15, 16, 17. Many WAIS grounding zones sit precariously on the edge of such reverse-sloped beds, but the EAIS also contains deep subglacial basins with reverse-sloping, marine-terminating outlet troughs up to 1,500 m deep (Fig. 1). The ice above floatation in these East Antarctic basins is much thicker than in West Antarctica, with the potential to raise GMSL by around 20 m if the ice in those basins is lost13. Importantly, previous ice-sheet simulations accounting for migrating grounding lines and MISI dynamics have shown the potential for repeated WAIS retreats and readvances over the past few million years18, but could only account for GMSL rises of about 1 m during the LIG and 7 m in the warm Pliocene, which are substantially smaller than geological estimates.”

I said it before. Including the details. So the evidence was clear, and out there. The optimism (it will take 5 centuries for 50 feet of sea level rise) is not supported by evidence. Actually collapsing channels coming from inverted rivers running up on the bellies of ice sheets are now obvious on satellite pictures and collapse of major ice shelves is going to be a matter of years, not centuries.

But science is made by tribes and these tribes honor the gods (of plutocracy) who finance them, and their whims. So they don’t want to make their sponsors feel bad. So they say unsupported, optimistic stuff, contradicted by a first order analysis.

Science is good, metascience, better. Metascience includes the sociological reasons which explain why some scientists will take some “facts” for obvious (although, coming from another sociology, they are not).

Deep in the Nature paper, in the quote above, or in four drawings and graphs of future sea level rise, one can find projections according to what various models “predict”… 130,000 years ago (!) The “Old Physics” model predicts one meter rise of the sea (this is the official UN maximal prediction for 2100). The new model, again starting with the present conditions, predict more than a six meter rise (!) This is a case of metascience playing with sea level.

This way, the authors of the paper will be able to say, one day: we told you so. While at the same time not irritating their sponsors now (because to understand what they are really saying takes quite a while, and has to be understood as tongue in cheek, when they pretend to apply the analysis to 130,000 years ago… What they really mean is six meters now, not just one meter… Bye bye Wall Street. Punished by its own instruments…)

The question is not whether we will be able to avoid a twenty meter sea level rise: that’s, unbelievably, a given (barring unforeseeable, yet imaginable technological advances to extract quickly a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere). The question is whether we will avoid a 60 meter rise.

Patrice Ayme’

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Let me add a footnote.

Namely, that on Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog on Saturday was an item under the heading of A Wake-Up Call on Climate Change and Clean Energy.

By Eric Beinhocker, Executive Director, INET Oxford. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

A stark warning from Institute researchers on the probability that ‘2°C capital stock’ will be reached in 2017

A new study from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and the Smith School for Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford, shows that we are uncomfortably close to the point where the world’s energy system commits the planet to exceeding 2°C.

In the paper, to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Energy, the authors calculate the Two degree capital stock – the global stock of electricity infrastructure from which future emissions have a 50% probability of staying within 2°C of warming. The researchers estimate that the world will reach Two degree capital stock next year, in 2017.

Read the full item here.

It’s enough to make us all feel angry and hopeless. That would be understandable but wrong.

Go and read my Inconnections Three for within that post is this:

Want to fight climate change? Here are the 7 critical life changes you should make.

For the sake of millions of us and our wonderful pets stay with it and demand change from our politicians and leaders in every way that you can.