Category: Science

What’s that noise?

A rather funny reason about what freaks out dogs!

I was searching my files for something light-hearted to post for today and came across this article.

For some reason I hadn’t really noticed that our dogs are bothered by their farts and, thanks to a broken nose years and years ago, I have a very poor sense of smell.

Anyway, I wanted to share the article with you.

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Why Do Dogs Get Scared Of Their Own Farts? 3 Reasons Passing Gas Spooks Them

Farts can be sooo scary for dogs sometimes 🤣

By Sam Howell

Published on the 13th April, 2022

Have you ever noticed that when your dog farts, he’ll jump up and just stare at his butt totally confused — and even a little spooked — by the gas that just came out?

It seems hard to believe that your pup can actually be caught off-guard by a totally normal bodily function that happens to him on the regular, but here we are. Another day, another fart that’s totally bamboozled your dog.

We spoke with Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small- and exotic-animal veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com, to find out why dogs get scared of their own farts.

And there are a few reasons why your pup’s own flatulence might spook him.

Your dog didn’t know he farted

This might be hard for you to imagine, but there’s a decent chance that your dog just has no idea what a fart even is.

“Most dogs do not know what their farts are,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “They do not have the mental capacity to process that they just farted.”

Not only does your dog not understand the scientific concept of passing gas, but he also doesn’t expect this gas to be expelled from his body, even if it happens often.

“I think some dogs are surprised to know that some air just came out of them,” Dr. Ochoa said. “The air leaving them is a surprise to them and sometimes a smelly surprise for us.”

Your dog’s farts are loud

An unexpected loud noise can startle anyone, so if your dog rips a particularly noisy fart, he’s probably going to be a little confused and scared.

“Just like with people, some farts are louder and some farts are smellier,” Dr. Ochoa said.

And if you’re wondering why sometimes your dog’s farts are super loud, while others are the silent-but-deadly type, that simply has to do with how much air is coming out of him and how intensely it’s being expelled.

“The sound intensity of the fart is due to the amount of air and force behind the farts,” Dr. Ochoa said.

It happened at the same time as another bodily function

Have you ever sneezed and happened to fart at exactly the same time? (This is a safe space, no one’s judging you.) Well, it probably surprised you when you realized you broke a little wind while you sneezed, because you were only expecting one bodily function.

The same can happen to your dog, too.

“My little dog will commonly cough and fart at the same time, which scares her,” Dr. Ochoa said. “I don’t think she is expecting the fart. When she is coughing, everything just lets loose and she farts, scaring herself.”

Why does my dog fart so much?

It’s actually pretty natural for dogs to fart a bunch.

“Some dogs will fart every day, [and] other dogs will never fart,” Dr. Ochoa said. “I find dogs who snore also fart a lot.”

But if you noticed your pup’s farting a little too frequently, it’s probably related to what he ate. If he’s eaten something nasty or you recently changed his diet, his gastrointestinal (GI) system may need to adjust by releasing a bunch of gas.

Why do my dog’s farts smell so bad?

According to Dr. Ochoa, the reason your dog’s farts smell so bad is because he’s not exactly eating great-smelling food.

“Dog food does not smell like flowers, so the farts are also not going to smell good,” Dr. Ochoa said.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a great sign if he’s regularly passing some putrid gas. In fact, if your dog’s farts are particularly rancid all the time, you should call your vet just to make sure everything’s OK with his GI system.

So even though passing gas is a common occurrence for your pup, dogs still get scared of their farts because they don’t quite realize what’s going on. But at least you’ll always know exactly when it’s accurate to blame it on the dog.

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I hope you learnt something from this post; I certainly did.

See you on Sunday.

Slight pause in my affairs!

No more posts until a week’s time!

Good friends,

I am going in today to Asante Hospital for a minor operation for a hernia.

It has been slowly getting worse and, although it is still an easy op, I didn’t want to delay things any longer.

I shall be out of hospital later today (with a bit of luck) but I have been told in no uncertain words to take it very easy for the first couple of weeks and not to lift anything .

I will be offline until Tuesday, 17th.

But in terms of lifting anything above 15lbs I will have to take it easy for six weeks, or until the end of June. That is going to be hard!

Meanwhile, we have been stocking up, especially for the horses. Because both the equine senior feed and the hay come in too heavy. The equine feed comes in 50lb bags and the hay bales must be about the same, and tough to move around.

Thirteen bales for the next six weeks!

Transformation

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

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

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

Have a read and let me know your thoughts.

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

Authors

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

Published April 18th, 2022

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

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

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

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

Fear of change can lead to worsening change

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

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

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

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

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

A mix of good and bad

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

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

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

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

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

Optimism resides in deliberate action

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

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

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

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

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

Transformation is inevitable

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

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

Disclosure statement

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

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

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

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

Are we alone?

As in: Is there life on other planets?

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

Here is a taste of what we saw:

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

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

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

Here is that Drake Equation.

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

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

fp   : The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Sorry about the funny ending to that video.)

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

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

John Fowler

Happiness!

Two events, by chance, lead me to today’s post.

The first was the closing paragraph in that guest post by Indiana Lee last Thursday. Let me quote him:

It’s already been said, but it’s worth saying again. A happy dog leads to a happy owner. That isn’t just a cute saying, either. People are literally known to live longer and have good mental health if they have a dog in their lives.

The second was a talk at our local (Grants Pass) Freethinker’s meeting, held on Saturday. Jerry had sent out an introduction a few days before and included in that were three videos that we were encouraged to watch.

One, in particular, was excellent. It is a talk by Robert Waldinger, and it is reproduced below.

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

YouTube

It is just under thirteen minutes long; please watch it!

Therapy dogs.

What a precious dog this one is.

Margaret down in Tasmania recently sent me a link to a story about a surfing dog. It was remarkable and I am going to share it with you. (I hope that I am allowed to!)

The link was to a website called Goodness-Exchange.

Here is the story.

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The Surfing Therapy Dog Helping Those with PTSD and Autism

It’s no secret that dogs are capable of extraordinary things. We’ve seen them predict seizuresdetect cancersniff out buried truffles, and assist in the conservation of some of our world’s most precious ecosystems. But can a canine heal a wounded soul? Grab your surfboard (and maybe some tissues) because we are about to introduce a dog named Ricochet who is sure to melt your heart and bring on the happy tears. This sweet golden retriever has multiple championship surfing titles under her collar, but it’s the way she uses her unique talents to help others that truly makes her so special. 

As many remarkable stories do, Ricochet the Surf Dog’s story began where another journey ended. She was just a lil’ pup when she began training to become a service dog, where part of her training was balancing on a boogie board in a kiddie pool. In 2009 she took her first steps into the ocean, and just a short time later that year she won third place in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Surfing Dogs Competition!

Alas, the temptation to chase critters was too great for Ricochet to become a service dog, but her owner Judy decided to focus on what she could do instead.

Courtesy of Judy and Surf Dog Ricochet

The “Aha Moment” that decided Ricochet’s destiny. 

2009 was a big year for Ricochet, as this was the year she made it clear to the rest of us what her purpose really was. One day out in the water, she decided to jump aboard the board of quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison, and it was at this moment that her owners discovered Ricochet’s true potential.

Surfing has been at the forefront of Ricochet’s work, but her true magic lies in the way that she intuitively adapts with each individual she interacts with. According to her owner,

“…It’s her mystifying ability to make immediate, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connections with strangers both in and out of the water.”

Ricochet makes deep connections with all types of people, but she is most sensitive to those with PTSD who have served in the military, and children with autism. In the video we’re about to watch by the Smithsonian Channel, you can see for yourself how Ricochet has an instant calming effect on Audrey Estrada, a military veteran who suffers from PTSD and an intense fear of the ocean.

I get by with a little help from man’s best friend.

Many of us suffer from invisible threats that intrude on our mental well-being. In the U.S. alone, 6% of the population have PTSD, that’s approximately 15 million adults each year. 2

It’s a condition that is often hard to explain to other humans, so it makes total sense that a dog would make the perfect confidant. They don’t judge you, they don’t talk back or tell your secrets, they simply feel you. And in turn, carrying the weight of it all feels less heavy.

Ricochet has had such a profound impact on people’s mental health, it’s enough to make one want to ask the doctor to prescribe an empathetic dog with a pink vest. But in addition to being an adorable floof of empathy and innocence, as of 2015, Ricochet is a certified therapy dog and level II Reiki healer!

The story has only just begun.

Our wish for anything pure and good like Ricochet’s story, is that it will continue to fan out over humanity in the best way possible. And in this case, it really has.

Ricochet’s owner Judy started a non-profit called Puppy Prodigies that offers swimming lessons, canine assisted water rescue, dog training, and adaptive surfing! Click here to meet Aqua Dog Cori, a super cute female golden lab who was donated to the group and now uses her natural instinct to perform trained water rescues!

In addition to these programs, Puppy Prodigies also tackles the root of the problem that they see in many of the people they help by creating awareness for PTSD, anti-bullying campaigns, and mentorship programs. Learn more about these branches of their mission and learn how you can contribute by checking out their website here.

Catch a wave and ride that baby for as long as you can!

I hope you found this story as wonder-filled and inspiring as I did. It really made me think about the journeys that we find ourselves traveling, and the people we can help along the way if we look at our abilities through a lens of opportunity. 

If you find yourself failing at something, or your plans didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, remember Ricochet. If a golden retriever can find it’s true purpose and have such a life-changing impact on others, I have full confidence that you can, too. 

And when you do find it, stand sturdy and ride that wave of goodness!

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What a fantastic video that was. But there are many videos about Ricochet so if you want to stay with him then YouTube is as good as place to start as any.

But as we all know when it comes to dogs each dog is an individual with their own likes and dislikes. Their ability to understand us humans is magical as well. I swear that many of our dogs here at home can understand words spoken by Jean and me. Whether they interpret the words directly or associate the tones expressed with each phrase, rather like a musical sound, is beyond me. I am sure someone knows and if anyone has a link to the researcher who has discovered this about dogs then please let me know.

This changed me.

Suzanne Simard’s compelling book, and compelling life.

I have just finished reading Suzanne’s book. It is Finding the Mother Tree.

The subtitle might be: This is not a book about how we can save the trees. This is a book about how the trees might save us.

In her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths – that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes – in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways – how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies – and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

From Suzanne’s website

Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the book, you can learn about Suzanne and her precious scientific work by watching the following TED Talk.

Here are a couple of excerpts.

The first from page 277:

Our modern societies have made the assumption that trees don’t have the same capacities as humans. They don’t have nurturing instincts. They don’t cure one another, don’t administer care. But now we know Mother Trees can truly nurture their offspring. Douglas firs, it turns out, recognize their kin and distinguish them from other members of the community.

And the second from page 283:

I have come full circle to stumble onto some of the indigenous ideals: Diversity matters. And everything in the universe is connected – between the forests and the prairies, the land and the water, the sky and the soil, the spirits and the living, the people and all other creatures.

To say that I was amazed is an understatement. It is a book that will appeal to nature lovers all over the world. But more than that, the trees of the world have the ability to save humankind from accelerating climate change, if only enough people sign up to protecting trees, and soon. If you haven’t read it yet I implore you to read it now.

Finally, in Suzanne’s own words: Turning to the intelligence of nature itself is the key.

If you want to get involved then please go to The Mother Tree Project.

The world of fungi.

A stark contrast to where I was a week ago.

A good friend of mine, Peter McCarthy, back in the UK, said that he had recently gone on to a supplement called Lion’s Mane. It is a supplement for keeping the cognition working and maintaining good brain function. Peter also mentioned a film called Fantastic Fungi that was available on Netflix.

At home we have Netflix and we watched the film. It was incredible, almost beyond words.

If you want to watch the official trailer then here it is:

The film is about the power of Mycelium. Here is an extract from Fungi Perfecti:

The activities of mycelium help heal and steer ecosystems on their evolutionary path, acting as a recycling mechanism to nourish other members of the ecological communities. By cycling nutrients through the food chain, mycelial networks benefit the soil and allow surrounding networks of plants and animals to survive and thrive. 

Increasingly known as the “wood wide web”, mycelium can be found underfoot with nearly every footstep on a lawn, field, or forest floor. It has been concluded that as much as 90% of land plants are in a mutually beneficial relationship with mycelial networks. Without fungi – without mycelium – all ecosystems would fail.

Mycelium and mycological applications have enormous potential to benefit the health of both people and planet. We are committed to continuing our research efforts to find new and innovative ways to build bridges between mycological applications to both human and planetary health.

We can think of it in a way of finding the mother tree.

The film speaks of protecting the old-growth forest trees. So if you have old-growth trees nearby, do everything in your power to protect them.

Here is a report including a video on Suzanne Simard’s New Book.

Forest researcher and university professor Dr. Suzanne Simard has spent years studying trees. Her research led to the discovery that the forest’s plants and trees have an underground communication system, with trees and fungi cooperating. Her Ted talk brought her work to a larger audience, while her 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals shared her research findings with the larger science community. Now, she is releasing her first book Finding the Mother Tree, published by Penguin Random House.

This is not a book about how we can save the trees. This is a book about how the trees might save us’.

A heart-rending plea from George Monbiot

It is about global warming.

The article from George Monbiot came into my mailbox quite recently. Now of course Mr. Monbiot has a living to make and him publishing articles in the Guardian newspaper is normal. But I sensed that in this particular post he was worried. Worried about the situation regarding the planet and, by implication, all those who live on it.

I read yesterday on the UK Met Office blog about HILL events.

HILL events go beyond traditional weather extremes, potentially taking the climate system into uncharted territories. For example, much of the UK’s climate is predicated on two large elements of the climate system: the North Atlantic jet stream, a core of strong winds five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface, and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a system of ocean currents which transports warm water northwards in the Atlantic.

Later on in that Met Office article it was said:

Prof Richard Betts MBE is the Head of Climate Impacts Research in the Met Office Hadley Centre and a Professor at the University of Exeter. Prof Betts, who led the team which prepared the Technical Report for the UK’s 3rd Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3), is calling for a monitoring, attribution and prediction system that can provide early warning of HILLs. Professor Betts said: “With rising global temperatures, we are edging closer to the thresholds for more and more HILL events. Greater research into these events will help scientists advise policy makers on their thresholds and impacts.”

A week ago I wrote with real pride about the achievements of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Later on I felt some shame that the focus on the real issue, that of climate change, was too low a priority for the US, let alone the world! Then I looked up the US expenditure on the military. Here’s a small quote from WikiPedia: “In May 2021, the President’s defense budget request for fiscal year 2022 (FY2022) is $715 billion, up $10 billion, from FY2021’s $705 billion.”[1] That puts the JWST into perspective. JWST cost ten billion dollars.

Expand one’s mind and just think of the global cost of war!

Here’s George Monbiot. Republished with his permission.

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Losing It

10th January, 2022

Faced with the gathering collapse of the biosphere, and governments’ refusal to take the necessary action, how do we stop ourselves from falling apart?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 4th January 2022

No wonder journalists have slated it. They’ve produced a hundred excuses not to watch the climate breakdown satire Don’t Look Up: it’s “blunt”, it’s “shrill”, it’s “smug”. But they will not name the real problem: it’s about them. The movie is, in my view, a powerful demolition of the grotesque failures of public life. And the sector whose failures are most brutally exposed is the media.

While the film is fast and funny, for me, as for many environmental activists and climate scientists, it seemed all too real. I felt as if I were watching my adult life flash past me. As the scientists in the film, trying to draw attention to the approach of a planet-killing comet, bashed their heads against the Great Wall of Denial erected by the media and sought to reach politicians with 10-second attention spans, all the anger and frustration and desperation I’ve felt over the years boiled over.

Above all, when the scientist who had discovered the comet was pushed to the bottom of the schedule by fatuous celebrity gossip on a morning TV show and erupted in fury, I was reminded of my own mortifying loss of control on Good Morning Britain in November. It was soon after the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, where we had seen the least serious of all governments (the UK was hosting the talks) failing to rise to the most serious of all issues. I tried, for the thousandth time, to explain what we are facing, and suddenly couldn’t hold it in any longer. I burst into tears on live TV.

I still feel deeply embarrassed about it. The response on social media, like the response to the scientist in the film, was vituperative and vicious. I was faking. I was hysterical. I was mentally ill. But, knowing where we are and what we face, seeing the indifference of those who wield power, seeing how our existential crisis has been marginalised in favour of trivia and frivolity, I now realise that there would be something wrong with me if I hadn’t lost it.

In fighting any great harm, in any age, we find ourselves confronting the same forces: distraction, denial and delusion. Those seeking to sound the alarm about the gathering collapse of our life-support systems soon hit the barrier that stands between us and the people we are trying to reach, a barrier called the media. With a few notable exceptions, the sector that should facilitate communication thwarts it.

It’s not just its individual stupidities that have become inexcusable, such as the platforms repeatedly given to climate deniers. It is the structural stupidity to which the media are committed. It’s the anti-intellectualism, the hostility to new ideas and aversion to complexity. It’s the absence of moral seriousness. It’s the vacuous gossip about celebrities and consumables that takes precedence over the survival of life on Earth. It’s the obsession with generating noise, regardless of signal. It’s the reflexive alignment with the status quo, whatever it may be. It’s the endless promotion of the views of the most selfish, odious and antisocial people, and the exclusion of those who are trying to defend us from catastrophe, on the grounds that they are “worthy”, “extreme” or “mad” (I hear from friends in the BBC that these terms are still used there to describe environmental activists).

Even when these merchants of distraction do address the issue, they tend to shut out the experts and interview actors, singers and other celebs instead. The media’s obsession with actors vindicates Guy Debord’s predictions in his book The Society of the Spectacle, published in 1967. Substance is replaced by semblance, as even the most serious issues must now be articulated by people whose work involves adopting someone else’s persona and speaking someone else’s words. Then the same media, having turned them into spokespeople, attack these actors as hypocrites for leading a profligate lifestyle.

Similarly, it’s not just the individual failures by governments at Glasgow and elsewhere that have become inexcusable, but the entire framework of negotiations. As crucial Earth systems might be approaching their tipping point, governments still propose to address the issue with tiny increments of action, across decades. It’s as if, in 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the global financial system began to sway, governments had announced that they would bail out the banks at the rate of a few million pounds a day between then and 2050. The system would have collapsed 40 years before their programme was complete. Our central, civilisational question, I believe, is this: why do nations scramble to rescue the banks but not the planet?

So, as we race towards Earth system collapse, trying to raise the alarm feels like being trapped behind a thick plate of glass. People can see our mouths opening and closing, but they struggle to hear what we are saying. As we frantically bang the glass, we look ever crazier. And feel it. The situation is genuinely maddening. I’ve been working on these issues since I was 22, and full of confidence and hope. I’m about to turn 59, and the confidence is turning to cold fear, the hope to horror. As manufactured indifference ensures that we remain unheard, it becomes ever harder to know how to hold it together. I cry most days now.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Now there is very little that we folk can do. We can do our best but it all comes to nought. The real change is for governments, especially the governments of the US, China, Russia, the UK, and Europe, to make a difference soon.

Don’t hold your breath!

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

A beautiful example of humans in the supreme invention and deployment of JWST.

(A reminder that Tuesday is a ‘non-doggie’ day.)

JWST is astounding. It will look back to the beginnings of the universe, just 200 million light-years after the Big Bang, or possibly further back in time. Because of the way that the universe stretches out and causes light to go red, as it were, JWST will be searching for images from the cosmos in the infrared.

I recently listened to a 30-minute programme on BBC Sounds. It was a BBC Discovery episode about the JWST. Recorded before the launch it was, nonetheless, a deeply fascinating programme about what JWST will be looking for.

Now the link is here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct1m8t

Please listen to it!

Then there is the NASA website that has many videos about the progress of JWST. I selected this one.

Finally, YouTube also have many videos and I selected this one to share with you.

I feel very grateful to be alive when this is happening.