Tag: Alberta Tar Sands

Foreign lands.

These seem like times where very little makes sense.

Blogger Patrice Ayme posted an item on Wednesday under the title of Doomed Dems. It was, inevitably, a commentary on the recent news regarding Donald Trump. Here’s how Patrice’s post opens:

So Donald Trump will be the Republican committee (😉 ) for the presidency. And Trump will, probably, be elected US president. Why? Because people want change, and they did not get it. Instead they got more of the drift down, after the reign of the teleprompter reading president. Average family income is DOWN $4,000 since (“Bill”) Clinton’s last year as president. According to a FOX News poll, 64% of Americans blame Wall Street. Meanwhile in a vast report in the New York Times, Obama celebrates, in May 2016, the alliance he said he made with Wall Street in 2008.

Later on in that same post, Patrice goes on to write about the horrific fire in Alberta, Canada, and the damage to trees in Yosemite National Park in California. At first sight those two events would appear disconnected. But not according to Patrice:

Meanwhile a friend of mine went to Yosemite ten days ago. She told me she could not believe the devastation of the forest. Most of it is fiery red. It is devastated by the Pine Bark Beetle. To kill the Beetle, one needs twenty days well below freezing. However, this hard freeze is now a memory. So the Beetle invades, and kills forest. Treating tree by tree is hopelessly expensive, and futile. Yes, the forests will burn soon, adding to CO2 in the atmosphere. And it is all the way like that to Alaska.

Fort McMurray, Alberta may not have seen the worst of a devastating wildfire.

Massive walls of flames prompted authorities to order the evacuation of all the city’s more than 80,000 residents last night. The blaze has been caused by un-naturally high temperatures. Such giant fires are our immediate future. Nobody said the Greenhouse crisis was going to be nice. More evacuations coming.

Anything to do with dogs? Well, yes!

For this coming Saturday I am giving a talk about my book, Learning from Dogs, to our local Rogue Valley Humanist and Freethinkers (both Jean and I are members) and it struck me that what Patrice wrote about and what we see all around us are part of the same big picture. That we need to be reminded of a few fundamentals. As I will be saying in my talk:

Dogs are creatures of integrity! Wow! Now you might see where this is leading to!

But more than that, much more than that, they offer us humans a model for a range of behavioural qualities that we ignore at our peril:

I then list the qualities that we see in our dogs, and continue:

Hold those values close to you for just a few moments. Imagine what would flow out across the world if those were the characteristics, the behavioural values, of us humans!

Finally, towards the end of that talk on Saturday I will be saying:

Nature will always have the last word regarding her natural world, to which we humans are so intricately linked. Standing alongside and respecting nature as the future comes to us will be so much wiser than pushing back against nature, and ultimately failing, trying to “convert” nature to some form of materialistic human resource. Because that route will only return those of us who survive to a life of hunting and gathering. Which, so many thousands of years previously, is where early dogs started humankind on the long journey leading to now.
Dogs have been the making of humans and a viable future for humankind on this beautiful planet depends on us never forgetting this oldest relationship of all, the one between dog and human.

Because if we, as a global society, don’t understand that when it comes to power all the plutocrats and all of their money come to naught in contrast to the power of nature then these present lands are going to become very strange indeed!

And nature is rapidly encroaching on these lands that we are now traversing.

Rivers of ice

or should that be rivers of tears for our planet!

Our beautiful planet

A chance dip into the BBC News website a few days ago allowed me to come across an article about the vanishing glaciers in the Himalayas.  It just about broke my heart.  Here’s what it said,

Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers

Stunning images from high in the Himalayas – showing the extent by which many glaciers have shrunk in the past 80 years or so – have gone on display at the Royal Geographical Society in central London.

Between 2007 and 2010, David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

The mountaineer and photographer is the founder of GlacierWorks – a non-profit organisation that uses art, science and adventure to raise public awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Himalayas.

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya can be seen at the RGS in London until 11 November 2011. Admission free.

All photos courtesy GlacierWorks and Royal Geographical Society. Map copyright Jay Hart. All images subject to copyright.

Music courtesy KPM Music. Audio slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 11 October 2011.

Then follows a 3:59 film made by David Breashears that is so beautiful as well as so upsetting.  I don’t have a way of linking to the film directly but it’s easy to watch, just click here and be very moved.

David Breashears has his own website, from where one can learn that,

David Breashears is an accomplished filmmaker, adventurer, author, mountaineer, and professional speaker. Since 1978, he has combined his skills in climbing and filmmaking to complete more than forty film projects.

In 1983, Breashears transmitted the first live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest, and in 1985 became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest twice.

In the spring of 1996, Breashears co-directed and co-produced the first IMAX film shot on Mount Everest. When the now infamous blizzard of May 10, 1996 hit Mount Everest, killing eight climbers, Expedition Leader Breashears and his team were in the midst of making this historic film. In the tragedy that soon followed, Breashears and his team stopped filming to provide assistance to the stricken climbers. After returning to Base Camp, Breashears and his team then regrouped and reached the summit of the mountain on May 23, 1996, achieving their goal of becoming the first to record IMAX film images at Earth’s highest point. Breashears has said that if there is a lesson to be learned from the May 1996 tragedy, it is that for him, success that year was not to be found in reaching the summit, it was that everyone on his team returned safely. The film, titled EVEREST, premiered in March 1998.

As was written in that BBC item, David is the founder of GlacierWorks which is full of beautiful, albeit tinged with sadness, images of the glaciers featured in that BBC item.  As the GlacierWorks website explains on the home page,

The Mighty Himalayan Glaciers are Vanishing.

The rate of recession is unprecedented, accelerating and, without some remedy to the problem of climate change, unstoppable. GlacierWorks is a non-profit organization that uses art, science, and adventure to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Greater Himalaya.

Read that first sentence again, “The rate of recession is unprecedented, accelerating and, without some remedy to the problem of climate change, unstoppable.” [my emphasis]

There are a number of videos on YouTube if you search for David Breashears, none up to the beauty of the slide show in the BBC item so don’t miss that at all.  However, the following is also worth watching,

OK, a change of topic but one that connects with the underlying message about the disappearing glaciers.  This was an article in the American The Nation newspaper written by Naomi Klein, following her speech to the demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street.  The article really should be read in full but I wanted to highlight just the following words from Naomi,

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

Thanks to Bill Mitchell of Billy Blog for linking me to the Naomi Klein speech.

We can afford to build a decent, inclusive society and we must – not tomorrow but now.  Start with your local community, think about transition.  Some of our grandchildren will be mountaineers – let them see the beautiful rivers of ice.