Tag: Pacific Ocean

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Five

Just a few photos from our night away.

Last Tuesday, Jean and I took a little overnight trip away. We went to Brookings on the Oregon Pacific coast.

As Wikipedia explains:

Brookings is a city in Curry County, Oregon, United States. It was named after John E. Brookings, president of the Brookings Lumber and Box Company, which founded the city in 1908. As of the 2010 census the population was 6,336.

Anyway, a few pictures taken at Meyers Creek Beach that evening and a couple of shots of the Redwood trees seen on the way home on the Wednesday.









What legacy do we wish to leave others?

What on earth are we all doing!

I started writing this early morning last Friday, 10th May.  It was prompted by a post then just in from Christine’s blog 350 or bust. I didn’t have the heart to republish it for a few days.

Then as the news of the atmospheric CO2 concentration passing 400 parts per million (ppm) moved more and more into mainstream news, I found myself morphing from sadness and puzzlement into anger and then into some form of determination to ‘do something‘, however insignificant that might be.

Because if humanity does not turn back from our carbon-based lifestyle pretty damn soon then those who are, say, 20 years or more younger than me (I’m 68), are in for some very tough, very rough times indeed.

So over the next two or three days, I shall focus on this topic simply from the motivation of wanting to join the numerous others around the world who are also recognising this moment in the history of man.

Ergo, for today that post from Christine. But I make no apologies for staying with the theme for much of this week.


Rolling The Dice: CO2 Concentration Hits Record High Amid Global Inaction On Climate Change


Via The Guardian:

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.

Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday.

Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.

“I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450ppm within a few decades,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory.




Source: Scripps Institute of Oceanography


For more on the awful implications of this milestone in human history, check out the links below (hint: it isn’t good news for humans or animals or the ocean).

More links:

As CO2 Concentrations Reach Ominous Benchmark, Daily Updates Begin

The Keeling Curve: A Daily Update of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide From Scripps Institute of Oceanography At UC San Diego

Greenhouse Gas Levels Near Milestone: Highest in Millions of Years


To the Sea of Cortez.

Journey to the Sea of Cortez.

John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck

I feel very guilty as I didn’t make a note of where I came across this film.  Whoever highlighted the film, thank you!  It’s truly beautiful.  So, please, settle yourself down and be enthralled.

In March 1940, the author John Steinbeck and his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts, sailed down the coast of California and Mexico to the Sea of Cortez. “The abundance of life here gives one an exuberance,” they wrote, “a feeling of fullness and richness.

Their stated purpose was to document the creatures that inhabit shallow waters and tide pools on the margins of the Sea of Cortez. But it became much more. In these mysterious, phosphorescent waters they sought an understanding of mankind’s relationship to the natural world and a wellspring of hope for a world headed toward war.

Looking beyond the events of the day, the two friends foresaw our rising impact on the oceans and the devastating impact that over fishing would have on this rich sea. And yet, in their journey, they encountered a periodic cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean known as La Niña that can still set off an explosion of life.

Can the story of their journey inspire new efforts to preserve the Sea of Cortez? Down along the shores of western Mexico, the wind blows hot and dry. Beyond these barren landscapes, cold currents rush up from the deep and the ocean literally boils with life.

Following their journey down to the Sea of Cortez in March of 1940, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts searched for a way to describe what they saw. “Trying to remember this place,” they wrote, “is like trying to re-create a dream. It is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back if we live, and we don’t know why.

The Sea of Cortez is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. It’s shaped by the cool waters of the California Current flowing into the warm tropics and by a complex undersea terrain that rises up along a chain of islands and sea mounts. It was the shorelines, between the desert and the deep, that drew John Steinbeck, the author, and Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist and expert on coastal ecosystems.

Ricketts’ book, “Between Pacific Tides,” is a classic study of the inter-tidal zones of the California coastline and the myriad creatures that live in shallow pools, clinging to rocks to sift the rich nutrients carried in by the tides. Steinbeck and Ricketts sought to extend this work to the Sea of Cortez and to explore ideas at the core of their friendship. They shared a belief that man’s fate, like that of the animals they saw, is linked to the health of the natural world. [Ed. my emphasis]

Ricketts is said to have inspired some of Steinbeck’s most memorable characters, including Doc in Cannery Row, and the preacher Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath, published a year before their voyage. Set against the backdrop of drought and economic depression, the book describes the dustbowl conditions that gripped the American heartland in the 1930’s. “Now the wind grew strong and hard and it worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the sky was darkened by the mixing dust, and carried away. The wind grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like sluggish smoke.

In most years, southerly winds carry moisture into the midsection of the country from the Gulf of Mexico. In the 1930’s, according to a recent NASA study, those winds were diverted by a build up of warm water in the Western Atlantic and by a periodic cooling of the Eastern Pacific known as La Niña. This combination robbed the region of rain.

By the time Steinbeck and Ricketts began their journey, the historic backdrop had shifted to war. Fighting had engulfed Europe and was spreading to the western Pacific. While the United States was still officially neutral, American companies had begun supplying arms to the allied effort. In early 1940, John Steinbeck used money he earned from “The Grapes of Wrath” to hire a sardine boat called the Western Flyer. From Monterrey, California, he, his wife Carol, Ed Ricketts and a four-man crew headed south, charting a course along the Mexican coastline.

By all accounts, the journey was filled with adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of wonder at the diversity of living things they encountered. Over a six-week period, the two friends wrote journal entries, took notes on conversations, and catalogued specimens they collected on the way. They compiled these writings into a book: “Sea of Cortez, A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research,” later changed to “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”

The work amounts to a search for a way to understand nature, and humanity at large, in a world steadily coming apart at the seams.

Ed Ricketts
Ed Ricketts

The film was released last Feb 28, 2013. Directed by Thomas Lucas, the Producers were John Friday, Thomas Lucas and Adam Ravetch.


Will end with a couple of personal reflections.  First is that when I was invited out to Mexico for Christmas 2007 by Suzann and Don, I travelled to San Carlos, Mexico on the Eastern shores of the Sea of Cortez.  San Carlos is a little under 300 miles south of the Arizonan border with Mexico and was where Jean had been living for many years.  Meeting Jean changed my life forever!  Here’s a picture of the Sea of Cortez through the rear door of Jean’s house in San Carlos.

Not the longest walk in the world to the beach!
Not the longest walk in the world to the beach!

Second reflection is about dogs. Jean had spent many years rescuing Mexican feral dogs and finding homes for them; hundreds of them over her time in San Carlos.  We brought 13 of those dogs with us when we moved to Arizona and 9 came to Oregon.  Below is Hazel, one of the five remaining Mexican ‘rescue’ dogs that are still with us in Oregon.

Hazel doing what she does so well - sleeping.
Hazel doing what she does so well – sleeping.

A few reflections on a new world order

Maybe the power of open communications is our only way forward.

A number of disparate ideas have flown into my ‘in-box’ and left me with these thoughts.

The first was the last essay on TomDispatch.  This one from the hands of Mr. Engelhardt himself.  I’m referring to Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Washington Straitjacket.  As many of you know, Tom has been generous in granting me blanket permission to republish his posts and I frequently so do;  as yesterday’s post written by Professor Michael Klare demonstrated.

Let me give you a idea of where Tom was coming from with this personal essay,

The Barack Obama Story (Updated) 
How a Community Organizer and Constitutional Law Professor Became a Robot President
By Tom Engelhardt

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama,

Nothing you don’t know, but let me just say it: the world’s a weird place. In my younger years, I might have said “crazy,” but that was back when I thought being crazy was a cool thing and only regretted I wasn’t.

I mean, do you ever think about how you ended up where you are? And I’m not actually talking about the Oval Office, though that’s undoubtedly a weird enough story in its own right.

The next paragraph opens, thus:

After all, you were a community organizer and a constitutional law professor and now, if you stop to think about it, here’s where you’ve ended up: you’re using robots to assassinate people you personally pick as targets.

Then there’s a comprehensive description of all the outcomes that have taken place in the last few years as in this paragraph,

Still, who woulda thunk it?  Don’t these “accomplishments” of yours sometimes amaze you? Don’t you ever wake up in the middle of the night wondering just who you are? Don’t you, like me, open your eyes some mornings in a state of amazement about just how you ended up on this particular fast-morphing planet? Are you as stunned as I am by the fact that a tanker carrying liquid natural gas is now making a trip from Norway to Japan across the winter waters of the Arctic? Twenty days at sea lopped off an otherwise endless voyage via the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Did you ever think you’d live to see the opening of the Northeast Passage in winter? Don’t you find it ironic that fossil fuels, which helped burn that oceanic hole in the Arctic ice, were the first commercial products shipped through those open waters? Don’t you find it just a tad odd that you can kill someone in distant Yemen without the slightest obstacle and yet you’ve been able to do next to nothing when it comes to global warming? I mean, isn’t that world-championship weird, believe-it-or-not bizarre, and increasingly our everyday reality?

Tom’s essay comes to this conclusion,

And don’t you ever wonder whether a labyrinth of 17 (yes, 17!) major agencies and outfits in the U.S. “Intelligence Community” (and even more minor ones), spending at least $75 billion annually, really makes us either safe or smart? Mightn’t we be more “intelligent” and less paranoid about the world if we spent so much less and relied instead on readily available open-source material?

I mean, there are so many things to dream about. So many ghostly possibilities to conjure up. So many experimental acts that offer at least a chance at another planet of possibility. It would be such a waste if you only reverted to your community-organizer or constitutional-law self after you left office, once “retirement syndrome” kicked in, once those drones were taking off at the command of another president and it was too late to do a thing. You could still dream then, but what good would those dreams do us or anyone else?

It’s a very powerful analysis that I really encourage you to read.

Then thanks to a mailing from the WordPress team, I was drawn to a recent account of life by Ruth Rutherford.  In an essay from the 13th November, Ruth writes about living in the dark, as this sample evocatively describes,

Dating in the dark

Just got back from visiting my ol’ stomping grounds in New Jersey where I spent the weekend with my parents and grandparents, just talking, eating and enjoying good company. And all this was done in the dark. Yep, that’s right. Even nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy unleashed her fury, the Garden State is still struggling to recover. And let me tell you: Living without power for that long will quickly make you appreciate the little things.

Like walking into a dark room and then transforming it with just the flip of a switch. Or turning on a faucet and seeing water actually pour out. Or pulling into a gas station on any day you choose, not just the days you’re allowed to based on the numbers on your license plate. Or just using the bathroom without strategically planning your “number twos” based on how much water is in the tank. Or not having to wake up at two o’clock in the morning to wander outside in your pajamas to fill the generator with gas. (Okay, fine. My dad did that part. But still…)

When you’re without electricity for a while, your mind tends to do a lot of thinking. There are no reality shows to turn your brain into mush, no hair dryers to block out the noise of everyday life, and no steaming hot baths to drown your worries in. Basically, it’s you, alone, with a candle, a flashlight and your thoughts. So I spent the time brain blogging.

At the heart of this essay is the concept that ‘dating’ as in finding one’s life partner has become too complex.  This is how Ruth concludes her ideas.

Yep, I’m telling you to be shallow.

Forget the deep end, folks. Jump, cannonball style, into the shallow end and let the fun begin!

Shared interests. Favorite movies. Local hot spots. Interesting hobbies. Recent vacations. Current music playlists. Boring work stories. Embarrassing childhood memories. Stupid jokes. Mutual attraction. Sparks. Chemistry.

Because if you can’t relate on these basic levels, then who the heck cares if you both want two boys, one girl and a yellow Labrador named Minnie?

Start small. Start simple. Grab a lantern and meet during a power outage. It’s amazing what you’ll find out about your date in the dark. (With your clotheson, people! Get your minds out of the gutter.)


Finally, closer to home. Patrice Ayme and Martin Lack have been exchanging views in comments to my recent post Unintended Consequences.  Patrice ended a comment with this: ” If goodness is to win, it has to be smarter than the enemy.

So what’s this all coming to?  According to WordPress there are over 500,000 people blogging about the world as they see it.  The number of others who read all those words must be well into many, many millions.  Even humble old Learning from Dogs received over 45,000 viewings in November alone bringing the total viewings to over 785,000!

As the saying goes, “the only thing required for evil to win, is for good people to do nothing.”

Go and read the latest from Bill McKibben on 350.org.


The article in The New York Times tells the story of students, faculty and alumni around the country who are demanding divestment from fossil fuels. On a few campuses, like Swarthmore, they’ve been at it for semesters — but all of a sudden, as the article says, they find themselves “at the vanguard of a national movement. In recent weeks, college students on dozens of campuses have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks. The students see it as a tactic that could force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back onto the national political agenda.”

The picture that accompanies the article comes from our Minneapolis roadshow last Friday night, and the article concisely lays out the demands and the strategy of the campaign. It’s precisely the boost we need. So please, go read it here: www.nyti.ms/SESrfr

We’re quickly getting traction, but we can get more if we have your help.

So, first things first: please email the article by clicking the “E-Mail” button on the New York Times website — if we can get it on the newspaper’s “most emailed list”, we can help make sure it goes as far as possible, as fast as possible.

For full instructions on how to email the article, click here: www.350.org/nyt

I sense that we, as in the peoples on this planet, are well into a period of such change that even by the end of 2013, a little over 50 weeks away, the precipice for humanity will be within sight.  I hold out zero hope that any time soon our leaders and politicians will stop ‘playing games’ and focus on doing what’s right.  The time for truth, for integrity, for sound debate is NOW!

The sharing of ideas, thoughts and emotions that this ‘virtual’ world of blogging offers (despite me regarding the word ‘blogging’ as ugly) is going to be the only tool, the only channel to carry sufficient weight and power for the wishes and desires of the ‘common man’ to live peacefully and safely to the end of this century and beyond!

Be entranced

Our beautiful planet home; the only one we have.

With great thanks to Dan G. for sending me the link.

Science educator James Drake built this amazing timelapse video from the perspective of the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America. He created this video by downloading a series of 600 photographs that were available online at theGateway to Astronomy Photograph of Earth, and then stitching them together into a complete video. You can see more of James work at his blog: infinity imagined.

Apollo 13 – who remembers?

55:55:20 – Swigert: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Apollo 13

Probably one of the most famous phrases from the whole Apollo program, these immortal words were uttered shortly before 10.10 PM EST on April 13th, 1970.

There is so much material around that it would be pointless covering too much ground in this Post.  So why the Post today?

Because today, too, is the 13th April.  So on this day, 41 years ago, the world came together held its collective breath and prayed for a successful outcome to this scary disaster.

There are some wonderful archives around from NASA.  Here’s one that covers the chronology of events of that famous accident.

The following includes events from 2.5 minutes before the accident to about 5 minutes after. Times given are in Ground Elapsed Time (G.E.T.), that is, the time elapsed since liftoff of Apollo 13 on April 11, 1970, at 2:13 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST). 55:52:00 G.E.T. is equal to 10:05 PM EST on April 13, 1970.

Also, those who want more information, may wish to go here, here and here

And 41 years ago, this coming Sunday, i.e. April 17th 1970, with the whole world praying for their safe return, Apollo 13 splashed down near Samoa.

Four hours before landing, the crew shed the service module; Mission Control had insisted on retaining it until then because everyone feared what the cold of space might do to the unsheltered CM heat shield. Photos of the Service Module showed one whole panel missing, and wreckage hanging out, it was a sorry mess as it drifted away. Three hours later the crew left the Lunar Module Aquarius and then splashed down gently in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa. From here.

In a very real sense, Apollo 13, like a number of the other historic Apollo flights, is a wonderful reminder of something that this Planet needs right now.  A coming together of all the peoples of this beautiful planet, a unity of mankind, to remind us in these fragile and difficult times of the saying, ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’

Finally, this Post is published, not only on the 41st anniversary of that memorable Apollo Flight but the day after the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight of a human into space, the 12th April, 1961.