Tag: Boston Globe

Changing the mathematics of the climate!

An important plea to support a major road tour by the 350.org team.

Bill McKibben

There are a number of key players in the movement to arrest the affects of man on the world’s future climate and one of those is Bill McKibben.  His organisation, 350.org, has been at the forefront of raising the public’s awareness as to the terrible consequences of not changing our ways pretty damn soon.

As Wikipedia puts it,

William Ernest “Bill” McKibben (born 1960) is an American environmentalist, author, and journalist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College. In 2010, the Boston Globe called him “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist”  and Time magazine described him as “the world’s best green journalist.”

Anyway, something came in to my ‘in-box’ the other day that I wanted to share with all Learning from Dogs readers.  This is what was said,


The reaction to our announcement of our national “Do the Math” road tour has been utterly pheneomenal.

Case in point: the event in Boston sold out in 24 hours. We’re trying to find another, larger venue to seat everyone, but the main point is this: this tour is going to be huge, and you need to be part of it.

Get your tickets here (math.350.org), and please do spread the word to everyone you know.

See you on the road,

Bill for the 350.org team

P.S. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read our first announcement, I’ve included it below.


Dear Friends,

We’re getting ready for our most ambitious venture yet.

From November 7th to December 3rd, I’ll be on the road, visiting 20 cities in 20 nights (with a few days for travel in between) to help bring together the movement we need to make sure this planet has a future that we can all appreciate.

We’re calling it the Do the Math tour, but it’s not (thank heaven) just going to be me standing in front of a microphone.The goal is to jump-start the kind of movement that I discussed in the article I wrote for Rolling Stone about the scary new math of climate change. We will bring together musicians, artists and voices from across the movement to work together on directly confronting the financial and political might of the fossil fuel industry.

If you are near one of our stops, I want to make sure you’re there with us. You’re exactly the people we need to be there — folks who understand the climate math already, have experience in the movement, and are willing to step up to do more.

Click to check out the tour and RSVP

These events will need to be big, and reach beyond our normal circle of friends. That’s why we need to make sure that everyone knows that something big is underway. Can you take a moment to share the Do the Math tour site with your social networks?

Click to share on Facebook                 Click to share on Twitter

Also, just a heads up — we’re going to be putting together a live web event so that everyone who doesn’t happen to be near a tour stop can still get together and get a campaign started in their community. Our team is still hammering out the details for the exact date and time, but please keep an eye out — we absolutely need you in this fight.

I do a lot of talks to big groups, but this is a new kind of undertaking for me, and for 350.org. We’re trying to quickly build up some serious momentum, which is why we’ve gone to great lengths to make this a very different kind of event.

Not only will we have music and guests like Naomi Klein, Jim Hansen, Desmond Tutu, in person and via video, this event is also the kickoff to some serious organizing in your community. This tour will launch our next big mission — a campaign to directly confront the economic power of the fossil fuel industry. Our message will be crystal clear: it’s not OK to sacrifice our future for the sake of one industry’s bottom line. Divestment is one important tool that we’ll discuss, but we’re ready for many other tactics as well.

Over the past few months our planet gave stark warning signs that humans have never seen before. The Arctic melted, breaking every record. The Great Plains sweltered. The West burned. This roadshow is the next big step — but the price of admission, besides the ticket, is a willingness to really go to work to change the world in the year ahead. That’s why we need you this November.

The stakes have never been this high, and I’ve never been more serious.

Please join us: math.350.org

–Bill McKibben for 350.org

So go across to that Tour site, where you will read this,

On November 7th, we’re hitting the road to jumpstart the next phase of the climate movement.

It’s simple math: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.

This November, Bill McKibben and 350.org are hitting the road to build the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.

and see the link to the Tour locations and dates.


***Click a city to sign up and buy tickets.***

Don’t see your town on the map? You can still get involved by signing up here.


This won’t be your typical lecture.

Each event will be a unique and interactive experience, unlike any talk you’ve been to before. It will pick up where Bill McKibben’s landmark Rolling Stone article left off — and everyone who comes will be asked to join a growing movement that is strong enough to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Together we’ll mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.

This won’t be easy: we’re up against the most profitable, powerful, and dangerous industry in history. But we have our own currency: creativity, courage and if needed, our bodies.

Never let it be said that we, as in all of us, don’t have the power to change the world.  Oh, and feel free to circulate today’s post.

Unreliable witnesses.

The obvious may not be that obvious!

Think you can think independently?

Watch this video from Simon Singh

Then there’s Michael Shermer who describes himself as follows:

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University.

Finally, Joe Keohane (with thanks to Tom M. for the intro.)

Joe wrote a fascinating article that appeared in the Boston Globe last July that opens,

How facts backfire

Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains

By Joe Keohane

July 11, 2010

It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

This is a very smart article and much recommended, do read it fully here.

That’s all clear and straightforward then!


Paws of love

They are such wonderful, amazing creatures – man’s longest and best friend, the dog.

A couple of events caused me to be reminded about the preciousness of our relationship with the dog.  The first was coming across this article in The Boston Globe.  It is entitled, A friendly paw to a veteran and is all about how therapy dogs bring relief and joy to veterans.  Incidentally, the story was written by good friend to Learning from Dogs, Daniela Caride who has her own blog, The Daily Tail.  Here’s how that article opens,

NORTHAMPTON — Carter the Chesapeake Bay retriever, Sassy the Pomeranian, and Spyder the German shepherd spend most of their time playing, begging for treats, and getting belly rubs just like other pet dogs. But their unconditional love gains a purpose every time their owners take them to the hospital to visit veterans.

They are therapy dogs — canines trained to give affection to strangers — and they are becoming more popular in veteran facilities. An increasing number of dog owners are willing to volunteer at VA homes and hospices, where 6 million veterans get treated for acute and chronic health conditions. The service they provide is invaluable, health care specialists say.

Read the rest of it here.

The second event was coming across something that I wrote nearly three years ago.  Here it is in full.

The knowing eyes of your best friend


(Based on an article sent to me, unfortunately from an unknown author, and modified to reflect the special relationship that I have with my 4 year old German Shepherd, Pharaoh. Paul Handover, 14 September, 2007.)

I am your dog and have something I would love to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead very busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise, some have to do this alone. It always seems like you are running here and there, often too fast, never noticing the truly grand things in life.

Look down at me now. While you sit at your computer. See the way my dark, brown eyes look at yours.

You smile at me. I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a single moment of your time?  That is all I ask.  To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me.

So many times you are saddened by others of my kind passing on. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, so suddenly that it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes, we age slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract-clouded eyes. Still the love is always there even when we must take that last, long sleep dreaming of running free in a distant, open land.

I may not be here tomorrow. I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when grief fills their souls, and you will mourn the loss of just ‘one more day’ with me. Because I love you so, this future sorrow even now touches my spirit and grieves me. I read you in so many ways that you cannot even start to contemplate.

We have now together. So come and sit next to me here on the floor and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? Do you see how if you look deeply at me we can talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come not to me as my owner but as a living soul. Stroke my fur and let us look deep into the other’s eyes and talk with our hearts.

I may tell you something about the fun of working the scents in the woods where you and I go. Or I may tell you something profound about myself or how we dogs see life in general. I know you decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share things with. I know how much you have cared for me and always stood up for me even when others have been against me. I know how hard you have worked to help me be the teacher that I was born to be. That gift from you has been very precious to me. I know too that you have been through troubled times and I have been there to guard you, to protect you and to be there always for you. I am very different to you but here I am. I am a dog but just as alive as you.

I feel emotion. I feel physical senses. I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a dog on two feet; I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.

So, come and sit with me. Enter my world and let time slow down if only for a few minutes. Look deep into my eyes and whisper in my ears. Speak with your heart and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow but we do have now.

There is no question that one of the important aspects of life that we can surely learn from dogs is the ability to stay in the present as much as we can.  Easier to write than accomplish, of course.  But letting go of the past (because it’s gone) and making the best of today as opposed to worrying about the future (because that interferes in the joy of today) is still a powerful reminder of that we would do well to keep close to our heart.

Kathryn Schulz, being right about being wrong!

Life is not a success-only journey. Even the best-laid plans sometimes must be altered and changed. Be open to input and consider any potentially viable alternative. Be willing to be wrong and be willing to start over.” Dr. Phil.

Kathryn Schulz

I am indebted to Daniela Caride of The Daily Tail for passing me details of Kathryn Schulz someone, I must admit, that I had not heard of before.  But Kathryn is the author of the book, Being Wrong.  Here’s how she is described on the TED Talks website,

Kathryn Schulz is a journalist, author, and public speaker with a credible (if not necessarily enviable) claim to being the world’s leading wrongologist.  Her freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, TIME Magazine, the Boston Globe, the “Freakonomics” blog of The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. She is the former editor of the online environmental magazine Grist, and a former reporter and editor for The Santiago Times, of Santiago, Chile, where she covered environmental, labor, and human rights issues. She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism (now the International Reporting Project), and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East. A graduate of Brown University and a former Ohioan, Oregonian and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Her website is here and her Blogsite here.

Here’s a flavour of this woman.

Magical connections

A wonderful aspect of our modern digital world

There is much about the modern World Wide Web that reflects the more crass aspects of modern civilisation.  But there is also much that offers a magical way of learning about people and sharing their moments.

Thus it was via a comment posted on Facebook that took me to a web link for the Boston Globe and thence to an article about Russia in Color. Try this for a photograph!


An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey), circa 1910. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC)


The author of the article in the Boston Globe writes:

With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.

Not only are the images presented in that article stunning – truly so – it was very easy to find the link to the Prokudin-Gorskiĭ photograph collection in the Library of Congress.  This is how the collection is described:

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskiĭ’s photographic survey of the Russian Empire (1909-1915) provides 2,615 distinct photographic views that show cities and villages, religious architecture, industrial and agricultural activities and sites, historic sites, waterway and railway construction, cultural artifacts, people, and flora and fauna. Each journey is represented by one or more photographic albums and corresponding negatives for the Caucaus, Turkestan (Central Asia), Marinskii Canal, Ural Mountains region, Volga River region, Napoleonic War area, and Murmansk Railway. There is also an album of various studies, including views in Europe.

Using this link Prokudin-Gorskiĭ photograph collection it is relatively easy to access the individual photographs – but set aside some time to so do – you will easily lose yourself in these wonderful images of yesteryear.

Let me close with another image.


A switch operator poses on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, near the town of Ust Katav on the Yuryuzan River in 1910. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC)



By Paul Handover