In the days when I lived in South Devon in England and had cause to travel, as in drive, to London one of the route options was to take the M5 motorway (Freeway in American speak) up to Bristol and then follow the M4 motorway that ran from Bristol all the way into the outskirts of London.
One of the benefits of this was that half-way, give or take, was at the Swindon exit and a further ten-minute drive took one to the delightful car-park at the White Horse at Uffington. No, it wasn’t a pub despite numerous pubs in England being called The White Horse; it was something much more special.
Against All Odds, England’s Massive Chalk Horse Has Survived 3,000 Years
Cleaning up the Uffington Horse is the neigh-borly thing to do
Emily Cleaver smithsonian.com July 6, 2017
If you stand in the valley near the village of Uffington in Oxfordshire, England, and look up at the high curve of chalk grassland above you, one thing dominates the view. Across the flank of the hill runs an enormous white, abstract stick figure horse cut from the chalk itself. It has a thin, sweeping body, stubby legs, a curiously long tail and a round eye set in a square head.
This is the Uffington White Horse, the oldest of the English hill figures. It’s a 3,000-year-old pictogram the size of a football field and visible from 20 miles away. On this July morning black specks dot the lower slopes as small groups of people trudge slowly upwards. They’re coming to clean the horse.
It’s chalking day, a cleaning ritual that has happened here regularly for three millennia. Hammers, buckets of chalk and kneepads are handed out and everyone is allocated an area. The chalkers kneel and smash the chalk to a paste, whitening the stony pathways in the grass inch by inch. “It’s the world’s largest coloring between the lines,” says George Buce, one of the participants.
Chalking or “scouring” the horse was already an ancient custom when antiquarian Francis Wise wrote about it in 1736. “The ceremony of scouring the Horse, from time immemorial, has been solemnized by a numerous concourse of people from all the villages roundabout,” he wrote.
In the past, thousands of people would come for the scouring, holding a fair in the circle of a prehistoric fort nearby. These days it’s a quieter event. The only sounds are the wind, distant birdsong and the thumping of hammers on the chalk that can be felt through the feet.
Conservation organization the National Trust oversees the chalking, making sure the original shape of the horse is maintained. But the work is done by anyone who wants to come along. Lynda Miller is working on the eye, a circle the size of a car wheel. “The horse has always been part of our lives,” she says. “We’re really excited that we’re cleaning the eye today. When I was a little girl and I came here with my mother and father, the eye was a special spot. We used to make a wish on it.”
National Trust ranger Andy Foley hands out hammers. “It must have happened in this way since it was put on the hillside,” he says. “If people didn’t look after it the horse would be gone within 20 to 30 years; overgrown and eroded. We’re following in the footsteps of the ancients, doing exactly what they did 3,000 years ago.”
“There is something very special about this landscape that attracts people,” says archaeologist David Miles. In the 1990s, he led an excavation of the site that established the prehistoric date for the horse. Before the excavation, it was thought that the design was only scratched into the chalk surface, and therefore un-datable, but Miles’ team discovered the figure was actually cut into the hill up to a meter deep. That meant it was possible to use a technique called optical stimulated luminescence to date layers of quartz in the trench.
Up on the hill it’s not possible to view the whole horse at once; the curve of the slope gets in the way, the sheer scale of it confuses the eye. It is only from the valley below that the whole picture can be taken in. From this long distance, the horse is a tiny white figure prancing timelessly across the brow of the hill. But to the people who live near and tend the horse, it’s a monumental reminder of Britain’s ancient past.
“It was older than I’d been expecting,” Miles remembers. “We already knew it must be ancient, because it’s mentioned in the 12th-century manuscript The Wonders of Britain, so it was obviously old then. And the abstract shape of the horse is very similar to horses on ancient British coins just over 2,000 years old. But our dating showed it was even older than that. It came out as the beginning of the Iron Age, perhaps even the end of the Bronze Age, nearly 3,000 years ago.”
The trenches would have been dug out using antler picks and wooden spades: tough, labor-intensive work. How the builders planned and executed such a large figure when the full effect can only be taken in from several miles away is still a mystery.
Nobody knows for certain why the horse was made. “It’s a beautiful shape, very elegant,” says Miles. “It looks like it’s bounding across the hillside. If you look at it from below, the sun rises from behind it and crosses over it. In Celtic art, horses are often shown pulling the chariot of the sun, so that may be what they were thinking of here.”
From the start the horse would have required regular upkeep to stay visible. It might seem strange that the horse’s creators chose such an unstable form for their monument, but archaeologists believe this could have been intentional. A chalk hill figure requires a social group to maintain it, and it could be that today’s cleaning is an echo of an early ritual gathering that was part of the horse’s original function.
The Berkshire Downs where the horse lies are scattered with prehistoric remains. The Ridgeway, Britain’s oldest road, runs nearby. This is the heart of rural England and the horse is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks, an identity badge stamped into the landscape. During World War II, it was covered over with turf and hedge trimmings so Luftwaffe bombers couldn’t use it for navigation. (Oxford is about a 30-minute drive and London about an hour-and-a-half.)
For locals, it’s part of the backdrop of daily life. Residents in the village reportedly arrange their rooms so that they sit facing the horse. Offerings, flowers, coins and candles are left on the site.
The people who come to the chalking have a variety of motivations. Martha Buckley is chalking the horse’s neck. ” I’m a neo-Pagan and I feel it connects me to the land. It’s of great spiritual significance,” she says. Lucy Bartholomew has brought her children. “It’s good to be able to explain to them why it’s here.” For Geoff Weaver, it’s the imperative to preserve history. “If we don’t do it, it would disappear, and the world would be a sorrier place,” he says.
In December 2014, Animal House Rescue and Grooming in Fort Collins, Colorado, found a very special delivery on its doorstep. Three dogs arrived from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation.
One of the poorest communities in the country, the reservation has an overabundance of unwanted pets facing the risk of disease, starvation, exposure to the elements and, unfortunately, violence.
After a five-hour drive, DeeDee, Prince and Maizy made the first step to finding new and happy lives.
DeeDee was originally discovered living in the trash dump on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where she made her home upon an old discarded sofa atop a pile of tires. A local rescuer, aware of her plight, spent a week slowly gaining DeeDee’s trust with food.
Once the understandably nervous dog allowed the rescuer to get close enough to her, she found herself on a leash and then in a car. Little did DeeDee know she was on her long way home.
DeeDee spent some time in foster care in South Dakota, recovering from mange and learning to trust again before she was transferred to Animal House to give her a better chance of finding her future family. It didn’t take long for them to find each other, with DeeDee’s charming and playful nature quickly winning over their hearts.
Prince, a 2-year-old shepherd mix, had been found covered in matted fur and burrs. He showed up at Animal House having been shaved, but full of affection.
When Prince arrived, they noticed that there was a problem with his back leg and quickly got him in for x-rays. The cause became quickly apparent, and horrible: Prince had been shot on the reservation. The bullet had travelled through his rear hip and shattered his femoral head.
Not knowing how long he had been suffering through the pain of his injury, the staff at Animal House was anxious for Prince to find relief as quickly as possible. He was sent to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a femoral head osteotomy, a surgery that alleviated his pain and allowed him to keep his rear leg.
Thankfully, his lovable nature showed through. Prince was able to recover in comfort and bask in newfound love, as he went to his new home shortly after surgery.
Maizy was a beautiful 8-month-old Husky mix puppy with eyes that melted hearts. Whatever happened to Maizy on the reservation, something that will remain a mystery, she came to Animal House in a lot of pain.
Maizy had several neurological symptoms and pain in her neck. After x-rays, the shelter soon found that the puppy had a fractured cervical vertebra, which was causing compression on her spinal cord. This could have been catastrophic for Maizy, but she’s a fighter.
Maizy’s foster family dedicated their time to bringing her to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for regular bandaging and casting to keep her spine in place. Her beautiful face and wonderful personality through all of this ended up winning the heart of an Animal House volunteer. Having made a full recovery and a lifelong connection, Maizy now lives happily in her loving forever home.
Adoption Highlight: Special Needs Dogs
Banjo is a 6-year-old pit bull terrier mix who had a rough start to life, facing his many challenges with a great attitude. He arrived at Animal House with skin issues related to allergies, worn down teeth and scarring on his body, as well as kidney disease. Banjo gives the best hugs and thinks he is a lap dog, so he would make an excellent snuggle buddy.
Bella is a 2-year-old shih tzu mix who arrived at Animal House after her former sanctuary had to close its doors. Bella has a love for life and gets along well with other dogs and cats. She does struggle in some areas, though, specifically with constipation and some house-training. Bella is looking for a patient and kind forever home willing to help her live comfortably with her condition.
Ghost is a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix who is sensitive, intelligent, and inquisitive. He is nervous about new people and environments and needs a home that can build his confidence so that he can be happy and comfortable in a variety of situations. Ghost just wants some good old-fashioned love and patience!
You can find out more about these adoptable dogs here.
Photo credits: Animal House Rescue and Grooming, Colorado
Whatever the state of the world, as long as there are organisations and people who will love and care for animals in need then I will be at peace.
This is a very personal, possibly rather mixed-up, set of reflections of how the day after Pharaoh died felt for me. Some of you may prefer not to read this or view the photos.
I sat down to write this, late morning Tuesday, as it was becoming too hot to stay outside. I felt inspired to be 100% honest about my feelings and the photographs are, in essence, copies of the pictures that are in my head.
I woke early yesterday, a little after 4am, and started listening to BBC Radio Four using ear-phones plugged into my tablet while Jeannie slept on.
But I couldn’t get the images of Monday out of my head. Such that it seemed unreal to think that less than thirty-six hours previously Pharaoh was sleeping quietly near his bed, albeit unable to walk on his own.
Then, in what seemed like the flick of a finger, Jeannie was offering Pharaoh my dinner plate Monday evening.
For every evening, unless we had eaten a very spicy meal, Pharaoh always licked my plate clean.
A routine that had gone on for years.
I lay there in bed as 1pm arrived in England (5am PDT) and BBC Radio 4 was broadcasting The World At One. Despite the gloomy headlines still focusing on that terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London (not three miles from where I was born in 1944), the images of Monday kept thundering into my consciousness.
How dear friend, Jim Goodbrod, and I had driven into Allen Creek Veterinary Hospital, where Jim is a visiting DVM each week, to collect the required amount of euthanasia drug (apparently just 1 c.c. for every 10 lbs of animal weight – looking at it in the syringe it seemed such a small amount of fluid to bring an end to Pharaoh’s life.)
Then over breakfast, as in Tuesday morning, Jean said how difficult it was watching Pharaoh yesterday (Monday) when Jim and I were away getting the meds because it seemed to her that Pharaoh sensed something was happening outside the run of a normal morning.
Continuing with Monday. When Jim returned, accompanied by his wife, Janet, and knelt down to examine Pharaoh his analysis was that the time was right. Pharaoh had lost massive amounts of muscle tissue from his rear legs and hips.
It was time. Jean and I settled down sitting on the floor alongside Pharaoh’s bed. Pharaoh shifted his body and placed his wonderful, furry head across my outstretched legs. It was time.
Jim injected Pharaoh with an anesthetic. Slowly, gently Pharaoh fell fast asleep. Jim shaved a patch of fur from Pharaoh’s front, right lower leg. Janet pinched a vein in Pharaoh’s leg and moments later, Jim injected the euthanasia drug. Jean and I continued to stroke Pharaoh’s forehead but frequently looked down to where the rise and fall of Pharaoh’s lungs was visible.
Then at 11:57 PDT Monday, June 19th., there was no more breathing. Jim took out a stethoscope and confirmed that there was no heart-beat. Jim closed Pharaoh’s eyelids while Jean and I sat quietly just holding on to Pharaoh. A few minutes later, Jean and I had wriggled out from under Pharaoh and then Jim slipped a plastic sack over the rear half of Pharaoh’s still body.
Pharaoh had died without pain and in the most gentle way imaginable.
Back to Tuesday, as in yesterday, and now Jean and I were awake and I was reading every comment and response to the post Adieu, Mon Brave.
I must tell you that the love and compassion extended by every single one of you, including the numerous emails sent to me, is the most precious, special recognition of what Pharaoh meant to me, to my Jeannie, and to you all.
Thank you! Thank you so much!
Time then for a call into England and to let Sandra Tucker know that Pharaoh had died. For Pharaoh had been born at Jutone, the GSD breeding kennels run by Sandra Tucker, and Jim, in Hennock, Devon.
Pharaoh’s legacy will live on forever. What he stood for. What he represented. What I learned from Pharaoh. What he inspired in me. That inspiration that will live with me until it’s my turn to take my last breath.
Then it was time to get up and try and stay occupied. But I didn’t warrant for seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed as I walked out of the bedroom into the living-room.
It looked so empty, so lonely.
I burst into tears.
I turned on my heels and went out to feed the horses and the wild deer. As is done every morning.
Walking back to the house, I stepped up on to the rear deck and looked up at the line where the tops of the forest trees on the hills to the East meet the morning sky. It was a clear, cloudless sky.
The sun was within seconds of rising above that skyline. I took a photograph and then the sun had risen. It was 06:24 am. Fifteen hours to the minute before the exact moment of the Summer Solstice this evening (21:24 PDT).
I don’t know what it all means other than in some mysterious, natural fashion, everything is connected.
Again and again the power of our relationship with dogs is breathtakingly beautiful.
If I carried on writing about dogs and sharing articles with you for a thousand years, I still don’t think I would become immune to the joy and wonder of what dogs mean to us. (Luckily for your sake you won’t have to follow this blog for quite those many years!)
Turning to us, the measure of a compassionate and caring society is how it looks after those who, through circumstance and bad luck, are disadvantaged. While there are many in such a situation who are the wrong side of twenty-one there’s something especially important, critically so, in reaching out to help our youngsters.
So why this switch from dogs to disadvantaged young people?
Shelter Dogs and Special Needs Kids: A Match Made in Heaven
Brook, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was sitting in a high-kill shelter in Arizona with just two days to live when she was rescued by Janice Wolfe, founder and CEO of Merlin’s KIDS. The nonprofit organization rescues, rehabilitates and trains shelter dogs to work as service dogs for children with autism and special needs, as well as to assist disabled veterans. After extensive training Brook returned Wolfe’s kindness by transforming the life of Julie, 21, who is developmentally delayed due to a premature birth.
Wolfe describes Brook as a “rock star,” a calm sweet dog with the perfect temperament for working as an emotional support service dog. Julie’s mom, Ellen, couldn’t agree more.
“Brook has given Julie a greater sense of confidence,” Ellen said. “They are always together and Brook definitely knows that it’s her responsibility to take care of Julie.”
Before being paired with Brook, Julie was afraid to go outside the house on her own. Now she and Brook take walks down the block or sit together in the yard. Julie has become more outgoing and enjoys speaking or singing in front of people.
“Brook has become an emotional support for all of us,” Ellen said. “I can’t believe that they almost put her to sleep. She is the love of our lives!”
Another Merlin’s KIDS graduate, Willow, was rescued from a beach in Aruba where she ran with a feral pack. She was so scared that nobody could touch her. With patience and love her foster family won her love and trust. Now after completing the training program, the 40-pound sweet-natured cunucu dog is ready to join three other Merlin’s Kids service dogs in the Animal Adaptive Therapy program at the Calais School for special needs children in New Jersey. Willow is a cortisol detection dog trained to detect stress signals in students and to alert the counseling team so that they can intervene before a problem escalates. She will also work with students to learn the social, emotional and behavioral skills they need to succeed in life.
Willow and Brook are just two of the 1,300 dogs that have been rescued, rehabilitated and trained as service dogs by Wolfe, a canine behavior rehabilitation specialist and author of “SHH HAPPENS! Dog Behavior 101.” In addition to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the nonprofit organization has rescued and rehabilitated Labrador mixes, pointer mixes and coonhound mixes to work as service dogs. The goal of the organization is to ensure that service dogs are available to families in need regardless of financial circumstances. To fulfill this mission it depends on financial donations and sponsorships.
Wolfe said that Merlin’s KIDS service dogs are highly trained and highly specialized. They can do anything from keeping a special needs child from wandering away to opening doors or picking up pencils for children with disabilities to alerting before the onset of a seizure. It’s important, the trainer said, to make sure that the dogs are physically capable of doing the jobs being asked of them and that they have the right temperament.
“I’m very careful when placing dogs with autistic children because these kids can have such erratic behavior and the dogs have to be able to handle that,” Wolfe said. “Service dogs who will be tethered to a child have to be really chill and calm”
When it comes to autistic children Wolfe’s dogs are trained to serve the individual child. For example, dogs are trained to help children who are overstimulated by interrupting behavior patterns, and they can prevent children from opening a door and running out into the street. Some children need deep pressure to fall asleep so Wolfe and her team train service dogs to lay across their laps at night.
“We have a lot of autistic kids who had never slept in their own beds until they got a service dog,” Wolfe said. In addition to donations and sponsors, Merlin’s Kids is always in need of volunteers and foster families.
Yesterday it was gliding, tomorrow it is going to be a celebration of Pharaoh’s 14th birthday and today it is about you!
Kadam Morten Clausen is a Buddhist teacher. Now I would be the first to stick up my arm and say that my understanding of Buddhism is pretty poor. But in the days many years back when I spent time exploring a number of Asian countries I found the culture surrounding Buddhism very appealing. (And I write as someone who is not a religious believer.)
Kadam Morten met his teacher, Geshe Kelsang, while attending university in England. He taught widely throughout the UK and helped develop many Kadampa Centers in England. Kadam Morten has been teaching in the US for more than 20 years and has established centers throughout the New York area, as well as Washington DC, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. In addition to his local teaching responsibilities, he teaches and guides retreats regularly throughout the United States and Europe.
Kadam Morten is greatly admired as a meditation teacher and is especially known for his clarity, humor and inspirational presentation of Dharma. His teachings are always practical and easy to apply to everyday life. Through his gentle and joyful approach and his peaceful example, he has helped many people find true happiness in their hearts.
So what’s this all about when I say that today’s post is about you?
Evan Thompson of the University of British Columbia has verified the Buddhist belief of anatta, or not-self. Neuroscience has been interested in Buddhism since the late 1980s, when the Mind and Life Institute was created by HH Dalai Lama and a team of scientists. The science that came out of those first studies gave validation to what monks have known for years — if you train your mind, you can change your brain. As neuroscience has begun studying the mind, they have looked to those who have mastered the mind.
While Buddha didn’t teach anatta to lay people, thinking it might be too confusing, the concept is centered on the idea that there is no consistent self. The belief that we are the same one moment to the next, or one year to the next, is a delusion. Thompson says that “the brain and body is constantly in flux. There is nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.”
[W]hen there is no consistent self, it means that we don’t have to take everything so personally.
It is useful to look at a video of yourself from the past, or read something you wrote years ago. Your interests, perspective, beliefs, attachments, relationships, et al, have all changed in some way. Anatta doesn’t mean there’s no you; it just means that you are constantly changing, constantly evolving, and shape-shifting. Why is this important? Why does it matter if there’s no solid “you” or “me”?
Buddhist teacher Kadam Morten Clausen says Buddhism is a science of the mind:
Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain, argues that when there is no consistent self, it means that we don’t have to take everything so personally. That is, our internal thoughts are only thoughts and don’t define us. External events are only external events and aren’t happening to us personally. Or as Tara Brach says, our thoughts are “real, but not true.”There is tremendous liberation in not identifying ourselves with thoughts, or a set idea of who we are.
It is then that we can grow and change, with the help of neuroplasticity. There is then hope that we can overcome our vices or bad habits (of mind and body), because if we aren’t stuck with the self-limiting beliefs inherent with a consistent self, we may orient ourselves toward becoming more of who we want to be.
The belief that we are the same one moment to the next, or one year to the next, is a delusion.
As science and Eastern thought continue to hang out with each other, there may be more 21st Century studies to back up 2,600-year-old thoughts. But, as HH Dalai Lama said, “Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation. … Suppose that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”Hearing a pro-science stance from a religious leader is a relief to many. In the end it seems Buddhism and neuroscience have similar goals: What is this thing we call the mind, and how can we use it to make ourselves a little less miserable and a little happier? Maybe even just 10 percent happier, as Dan Harris wrote. If there is no consistent self, it is at least my intention that my ever-changing self be equanimous and, well, 10 percent happier. No matter who I am.
Lori Chandler is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, NY, which is the most unoriginal sentence she has ever written. You can look at her silly drawings on Tumblr, Rad Drawings, or read her silly tweets @LilBoodleChild. Enough about her, she says: how are you?
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
So if there are times when you find yourself talking to yourself, perhaps the first thing to do is to ask if it is you! (Golly! I can feel a headache coming on!)
Couldn’t have a better story to follow yesterday’s news about Socks finding a new home.
I have lost count of the times that over the years I have featured on this blog the bond between a person and a dog. Yet that hasn’t blunted my mind or dulled my heart to hearing of new stories of this wonderful bond arriving over the ‘air waves’.
Doctor’s tell dog to leave owner’s hospital bed, but dog refuses and lays by his owner’s side
written by Jenny Brown on July 11th, 2016
There is the saying that a dog is a man’s best friend. It might be because a dog is by your side when you’re feeling down, is there to play catch when you feel like throwing around the frisbee, or simply there when you want some company.
As dog-lovers we are grateful for the things dogs do for us, but do we consider how dogs might be as grateful for the things we do for them? In this video, the beautiful relationship between one man, Ben, and his dog is shown from the perspective of not the man, but his dog.
The relationship between Ben and his dog begins in their earlier years. The two of them travel around the world. From camping in the deserts to hiking in the mountains, they discover their favorite places to visit and make new friends along the way.
As the story continues, however, Ben develops cancer. While Ben must spend his time in a hospital and away from traveling, his dog continues to stay by his side, night and day. The relationship between Ben and his dog seems that it may worsen due to Ben’s obstacle, but instead, their relationship only strengthens.
The story progresses years later, as Ben overcomes his battle and the bond between him and his dog continues to grow. Through the highs and lows of their relationship, Ben and his dog remain the best of friends until the very end.
This touching video is a dedication made by Ben to his dog, for all the best moments they spent together. This video also shows what is truly the essence of friendship, between a man and his best friend, his dog.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
(Ed: Note that the dialogue in the following professionally shot film is the voice of the dog.)
Friendship, as in true friendship, is very precious. That true friendship is rarely unconditional between humans. Not impossible, just rare.
For common examples of unconditional friendship, as in the unconditional love bond, we have to turn to our dogs.
I included a photo of Socks and wished him the very best of luck in finding a home.
Well, miracles of miracles, when I came to my emails last Saturday morning awaiting me was this email from John Zande.
Paul and Jean, Socks has a wonderful new home!
I really don’t want to jinx it by writing this email (I am the superstitious naked ape, after all), but the morning started out with not much hope as we drove and drove out into the countryside, wondering where on earth this petshop was that was hosting the adoption fair.
When we eventually found it, it was a tiny storefront, little more than a dog-bath business. We thought, “nothing is going to come from this.” They were just opening as we arrived and met the young girl who runs it. Lovely person. Literally two minutes later a family walk up the road dropping off their two dogs for a bath. We got to talking. They fell in love with Socks.
After a phone call to the woman’s husband (a serious, serious dog lover, we’re told, as she is too) we heard the words we did not think we’d hear: “If it’s OK, we’d love to give him a home.”
Ten minutes later we were in their house, which was about 50 meters down the road. Nice place, lots of room, and Socks has full run of the outside, and a huge enclosed laundry-come-Socks-home for the night. He won the lotto! Three young boys full of energy. He took to them like a champion. I still can’t believe it. It’s like this every time we find a home. It just doesn’t seem real.
Anyway, I’ve attached two short videos of Socks and his new home, and a photo. And yes, the family is keeping Jean’s name, Socks. They loved it. I’m sure G will write you later tonight, but you both played a huge role in this. Your help paid for his neutering, and for that we’re eternally grateful.
Here is that photo and those videos.
A little later on ‘G’, John’s nickname for his wife, sent me these further details:
Hello Paul and Jean – I guess you’ve been cheering since John’s e-mail, right? So have we, since this morning.
Well, I have to say I still can’t believe how lucky we (and Socks) have been. Virginia and Fabiano and their three boys: Lago (11 or 12 y.o, not sure); Marcos (turning 8 tomorrow, Sunday) and Raphael, 6. Lovely family, she invited us to go to their place (he was working), showed us around.
As I said at the outset: It doesn’t get more beautiful than this!
It is very hard to avoid hyperbole when one speaks of global warming.
I am indebted to The Nation magazine, May 8/15 Issue, in which is included a feature article authored by Bill McKibben. My sub-heading is much of what Bill wrote in his first line.
It is hard to avoid hyperbole when you talk about global warming. It is, after all, the biggest thing humans have ever done, and by a very large margin.
A few sentences later, Bill offers this:
In the drought-stricken territories around the Sahara, we’ve helped kick off what The New York Times called “one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” We’ve melted ice at the poles at a record pace, because our emissions trap extra heat from the sun that’s equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima-size explosions a day.
Yet what scares me, scares me beyond comprehension, is the almost universal disregard being shown by Governments and those with power and influence right across the world to what in anyone’s language is the most pressing catastrophe heading down the tracks. Not next year; not tomorrow, but now!
Or in Mr. McKibben’s words, once more from that Nation article:
But as scientists have finally begun to realize, there’s nothing rational about the world we currently inhabit. We’re not having an argument about climate change, to be swayed by more studies and journal articles and symposia. That argument is long since won, but the fight is mostly lost—the fight about the money and power that’s kept us from taking action and that is now being used to shut down large parts of the scientific enterprise. As Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney said in March, “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” In a case this extreme, scientists have little choice but to be citizens as well. And given their credibility, it will matter: 76 percent of Americans trust scientists to act in the public interest, compared with 27 percent who think the same thing about elected officials.
Whatever your response is to what I have already presented, the one thing that I do know is that you have been aware of humanity’s effect on our atmosphere for many, many years. Indeed, Bill McKibben wrote his first book twenty-eight years ago!
His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.
But I would be the first to acknowledge that back in 1989 while I did become aware of Bill McKibben and did purchase and read that book of his, I didn’t see the effects he prophesied. In addition, I didn’t understand the mechanisms that would bring those effects into place.
Now, today, it’s very difficult to deny that global weather systems are behaving in ways that most do not understand albeit we do understand how those weather changes are affecting our lives.
One person who did, and still does even more, understand the physics involved in our changing weather, is Patrice Ayme. For some nineteen years after Bill McKibben’s first book, Patrice published a post on his blog. I have been following Patrice’s blog for some years and while I would be the first to stick my hand in the air and declare that some of his posts are a little beyond me, there’s no question of the integrity of his writings and his bravery in spelling out the truth of these present times. (OK, the truth a la Monsieur Aymes but I would place a decent bet of PA being closer to the core truth of many issues than Joe Public.)
I am indebted to Patrice for granting me permission to republish that post. Please read it. Don’t be put off by terms that may not be familiar to you. Read it to the end – the message is very clear.
Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.
By Patrice Ayme, March 8th, 2008.
Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, 2007 was the warmest year on record.
This year, record cold is more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures so far are below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years.
Yet, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Met Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.
“It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?”” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).
Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics.
A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill.
(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure systems, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)
In the case of meteorology, this implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the energy should go into heat (and everybody focuses on the augmentation of temperature). Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.
As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.
Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).
As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.
In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.
Wind speed augmentations have already had a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2 (other oceans absorb CO2, and transform it into carbonic acid).
Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.
Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).
Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.
Going to leave you with a picture taken from weather.com
Please, please, please: make a difference! Environmentally, domestically and politically, please make a difference.
Glenn Greenwald Unveils New Project to Build Animal Shelter in Brazil Staffed by Homeless People
Published on May 10, 2017
http://democracynow.org – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald unveils his plans to build an animal shelter in Brazil with his husband David Miranda, a city council member in Rio de Janeiro. The shelter will be staffed by homeless people who live on the streets with abandoned pets.
If you, like me, needed to be reminded as to Mr. Greenwald’s background there’s plenty online.
Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to co-founding The Intercept, Glenn’s column was featured at The Guardian and Salon. He was the debut winner, along with Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the abusive detention conditions of Chelsea Manning. For his 2013 NSA reporting, he received the George Polk award for National Security Reporting; the Gannett Foundation award for investigative journalism and the Gannett Foundation watchdog journalism award; the Esso Premio for Excellence in Investigative Reporting in Brazil (he was the first non-Brazilian to win), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award. Along with Laura Poitras, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. The NSA reporting he led for The Guardian was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service.