Tag: Planet Earth

Just to focus our minds.

One blink of the eye and we’re gone.

Or that’s how it struck me!

Just to put this into context, if you watched the George Monbiot speech that was the highlight of my post last Tuesday, The Goon Show, you might well have been forgiven for wondering if these are starting to feel like the end-times for species homo sapiens.

Almost perfectly on cue, on Monday, John Hurlburt down in Payson, AZ., sent me the following.   It does make one think!

Time Required for the Earth to Heal if the Human Race Disappeared Today

Time Required for the Earth to Heal if the Human Race Disappeared Today.
Time Required for the Earth to Heal if the Human Race Disappeared Today.

(While John over the telephone read out the URL that was the source of this ‘chart’, I was unable to link to it. Thus apologies for not recognising the author.)

Then if you are up for more of the same theme, here’s a film that will ‘entertain’ you.

Published on Sep 2, 2012
What will happen when humans disappear from the face of the Earth? This movie will certain make you think about the impact we have made on this beautiful planet. But when humans are gone… Earth does continue.

Imagine if one minute from now, every single person on Earth disappeared. All 6.6 billion of us. What would happen to the world without humans?
How long would it be before our nuclear power plants erupted, skyscrapers crumbled and satellites dropped from the sky?
What would become of the household pets and farm animals? And could an ecosystem plagued with years of pollution ever recover?

Similar to the History Channel’s special Life After People (recommended), Aftermath features what scientists and others speculate the earth, animal life, and plant life might be like if humanity no longer existed, as well as the effect that humanity’s disappearance would have on the artefacts of civilisation.

FAIR USE NOTICE: The material on this channel is provided solely for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Infringement of copyright is not intended. The material is made available to help educate people about health related issues. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17, section 107 of the US Copyright Law. The material is distributed without profit to those who would like to use such material for research and educational purposes.

Sleep well tonight!

Picture parade fifty-three

More of Lew Levenson’s gorgeous pictures.

As I said in last week’s picture parade, “A friend from Payson, Arizona, Lew Levenson, recently sent across a set of 38 astounding photographs, all on the theme of perfectly timed shots.” Despite the fact that they had previously appeared in this place, your responses were do delightful that I have no problem in staying with these pictures over the next few Sundays.















Each picture gives one such a warm and cuddly feeling!

You all take care out there.

Evolution of the family dog.

A republication of an essay on the history of dogs.

Dr. George Johnson
Dr. George Johnson

For some time I have been aware of an essay authored by Dr. George Johnson under his On Science series page umbrella.  As that page explains:

ON SCIENCE is a weekly science column written by me (George Johnson), published initially in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and now in the online newspaper St. Louis Beacon (stlbeacon.org). For over 30 years I taught biology to college students at Washington University. For the last decade of these years, I taught a freshman course that introduced nonscience majors to current issues where science plays a key role, issues such as AIDS, the environment, cloning, genetic engineering, and evolution.

The course was intended to give them the tools to think about these issues as citizens and voters. I write my column as a way of teaching the general public about these same issues.

Most people are very interested in science, but put off by the terminology. When you don’t know what the words mean, it’s easy to slip into thinking that the matter is difficult, when actually the ideas are simple, easy to grasp, and fun to consider. It’s the terms that get in the way, that stand as a wall between citizens and science.

It is the intent of my column to turn those walls into windows, so that readers can peer in and join the fun. Analogies are my tool. In each column I look for simple analogies that relate the matter at hand to things we all know. As science, analogies are not exact, but I do not count myself compromised. Analogies trade precision for clarity. If I do my job right, the key idea is not compromised by the analogy I use to explain it, but rather revealed.

A quick trip to Dr. Johnson’s bio details reveals a substantial academic background.

Anyway, the particular essay that I was very interested in was, unsurprisingly, one about the history of the domestic dog.

I wrote Dr. Johnson asking for permission to publish his essay here on Learning from Dogs and promptly received such permission.  Indeed, better than that, here is his reply email:

By all means, but please cite a revised version of the article (in ESSENTIALS OF THE LIVING WORLD, 5e, George B Johnson, McGraw Hill Publ., 2015). It is somewhat shorter, but more up-to-date. I enclose a copy of the relevant page below.


Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.49.36 AM

Where water runs through rock!

A delightful coincidence to last Saturday’s post.

Last Saturday, I published a post under the title of Slotting right in!  It was an introduction to ten of the most beautiful slot canyons featured on Mother Nature Network.

Then less than a day later, Rob from Transition Town Payson, sent me a link to the following essay.  Regulars will recall that Jean and I lived in Payson for a while before moving to Oregon; indeed were married in Payson.


The Place Where Water Runs Through Rock

Antelope Canyon located in Northern Arizona is well known around the world!

Antelope Canyon lies just outside of Page, Arizona.
Antelope Canyon lies just outside of Page, Arizona.

Just outside of Page, Arizona lies Antelope Canyon. Located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. The Dine (The People as the Navajos call themselves), manage the use of the canyon as a Navajo Nation National Park. Antelope Canyon is broken into two sections, Upper Antelope is known as Tse bighanilini which means “The place where water runs through rocks” (aka The Crack), and lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdestwazi or “spiral rock arches” (aka The Corkscrew). Both of these canyons are an awesome display of natural forces at work. Carved by flash floods that are common to the area, this Navajo National Park has been accessible only by Navajo Permits since 1997. The permit system came after 11 tourists from around the world were killed by a flash flood in Lower Antelope Canyon!

For more information on these Canyons go to the following links;



Navajo is a Descriptive Language

The Navajo language is very descriptive and their words often describe things that they see in the natural world. Hence the name for Upper Antelope Canyon “The Place Where Water Runs Through Rocks”. The language was one that was used by a few heroic Navajo veterans to help win World War II. For example, a Battleship was translated into the Navajo word Lo-Tso which means “Whale”, while a Cruiser was Lo-Tso-Yazzie which meant “Small Whale”.

See the following link for the dictionary they used;


The use of Code Talkers was kept secret for many years!

The Code Talkers were kept secret for 23 years after the end of WWII. President Ronald Reagan gave them a Certificate of Recognition and made August 14, 1982, National Code Talkers Day. On December 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded the surviving Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medals and Silver Medals to the approximate 329 surviving heroes.


Where Water Enters Upper Antelope Canyon.
Where Water Enters Upper Antelope Canyon.


The Canyon is 140 feet deep at it’s deepest point!
The Canyon is 140 feet deep at it’s deepest point!


The Sandstone Walls are Cut into Mysterious Shapes.
The Sandstone Walls are Cut into Mysterious Shapes.


The Canyon is so Narrow in places only two people can walk side by side.
The Canyon is so Narrow in places only two people can walk side by side.


The Heart of the Canyon.
The Heart of the Canyon.


The Sands of Time.
The Sands of Time.


Sunlight lights the exit.
Sunlight lights the exit.


Just a magnificent set of pictures.  If you ever find yourself in Northern Arizona then don’t hesitate to visit the canyon.  The address is: Antelope Canyon, 5975 Hwy 98, Page, AZ 86040.

Thanks Rob!

Slotting right in!

(Excuse the pun!)

I saw this on Mother Nature Network not too long ago and made a note to share it with you.  “It” being some stunning photographs of slot canyons around the world. The article opens:

Geological wonders

Slot canyons are narrow, naturally formed canyons with towering walls and a width no wider than your arm span, if that. If they weren’t so mesmerizingly beautiful, they would make you feel claustrophobic. Found around the world, these geological formations usually occur in places with low rainfall, and many of the most well-known are in the American Southwest, including Wall Street (pictured here), which lies in a section of The Narrows in Zion National Park. Check out the beauty of the world’s most stunning slot canyons — it will make you want to pack some hiking gear and get traveling. (Text: Jaymi Heimbuch)

Wall Street Canyon Photo: kan_khampanya/Shutterstock

Now I don’t have permission to reproduce this article but hopefully the one above and this one below will entice you to look through them all starting here.

Photo: holbox/ Shutterstock
Antelope Canyon Photo: holbox/ Shutterstock

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Perhaps the most famous of all slot canyons, Antelope Canyon is found near Page, Arizona. There are two separate sections, known as Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon, or more affectionately, The Crack and The Corkscrew. Formed by the erosion of sandstone from flash flooding and other processes, the slot canyons have curvaceous, strangely angled walls. The beautiful colors, textures, curves and spectacular lighting — particularly during the summer months — are a major draw for photographers and sightseers. They are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation and have become a significant source of tourism for the Navajo tribe.

Fabulous!  Don’t miss out – see the full set of twelve pictures here.

Our Earthing experiences.

This is really starting to open our eyes!

On Saturday, the 14th June, I published a post Are you grounded?  That post was a reaction to this book that Jean and I had recently read.

I also explained that we had ordered an earthing sheet for the bed and that I would report further upon our findings.

Today’s post is that further report.

The slim box containing the half-sheet kit was delivered on the 18th June, five days ago at the time of writing this.


The next photograph shows more clearly what was included in the kit.


From left to right: Case histories from users, an earthing rod above, the earthing half-sheet, and below the sheet, an outlet ground checker, the earthing connection cord, the book, and a full-length DVD of a film on the subject of grounding.

It was then a case of laying the sheet on the bed as recommended in the instruction guide.


Then upon testing that we had a safe earthing connection via the ground pin on our nearby outlet, it was a case of connecting the earthing sheet to ground, as may be observed in the next photograph.


I’m writing this yesterday.  We have both slept on the earthing sheet for four nights now.

So what are the results so far?


Jean has had leg muscle cramps each night for months and months.  Often just enough to waken her but frequently sufficiently severe to require her getting out of bed and walking around the room.  I can vouch for the latter!

Jean has had those four nights totally free from cramps!

Plus Jean has reported sleeping more soundly.

Me – Prostate

In recent months my bladder has been showing ‘old man’s bladder control’!  Certainly, over the last year I have been getting up for a pee two times, frequently three times, during the night.

During the day, I could hardly take a hot drink without the need to pee within minutes.  It had got to the stage where I would avoid having a drink before Jean and I went out unless I was certain that there would be public restrooms available.  I was taking a natural prostate medicine, morning and evening, but still starting to think that it wouldn’t be long before I would need to see a medical specialist.

Since sleeping on the earthing sheet, I have gone down to getting up just once during the night.  But it’s better than that!

I have stopped the prostate tablets.  During the day, my bladder control is hugely improved.  I hold my breath that this is going to continue.

Me – Memory

Like many of my age (I’m 70 in November), my short-term memory is not what it used to be.  I have not noticed any improvements in this area.

But I am sleeping much more soundly, which is never a bad thing.

But get this!

Being an old Englishman with a sense of connection to the ancient customs of Stonehenge, especially observing the sun’s dawn on the morning of Mid-Summer’s Day, I had looked up the exact local time equivalent of the moment of the Solstice here in Oregon.

Stonehenge at Dawn.  On the morning of Mid-Summer's Day the sun rises exactly over the heel stone.
Stonehenge at Dawn. On the morning of Mid-Summer’s Day the sun rises exactly over the heel stone.

Early in the hours of the morning of June 21st, ergo Mid-Summer’s Day, I woke unexpectedly.  I lay there wondering what had awoken me.  It wasn’t to jump out of bed and have a pee.  How strange!

I lay there for what felt like ten minutes and then curious as to the hour reached across and pressed the illuminate button on my bedside clock.  It read 3:48 am.

3:48 am!! How could that be! I could hardly believe it!

Let me explain.

The previous afternoon, I had been curious as to the exact time of the 2014 Summer Solstice.  Had looked it up online.  In the United Kingdom that precise moment was 10:41 am.  The equivalent time of the Summer Solstice in Oregon’s local Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) was 3:41 am.

I knew that was when I had woken up.

Now that’s what I call being grounded to the Planet!

OK, that’s enough for today but there is much more information about the whole business of being grounded to the planet. I shall return to the subject in Wednesday’s post.

Way to go!
Way to go!

Are you grounded?

Or just away with the fairies!

Sorry, just kidding: Couldn’t resist!

I have just finished reading a book with the title of Earthing.


It has been an absolutely fascinating read and one, I’m bound to say, that seems entirely plausible.

That is that our modern lifestyle that has us disconnected from Mother Earth for much of our time is the cause of many ailments. As the associated website explains:


Just as the sun gives us warmth and vitamin D, the Earth underfoot gives us food and water, a surface to walk, sit, stand, play, and build on, and something you never, ever thought about—an eternal, natural, and gentle energy. Think of it perhaps as vitamin G: G for ground. What does that mean to you? Maybe the difference between feeling good and not so good, of having little or a lot of energy, or sleeping well or not so well.

You can’t see the Earth’s energy but some people can feel it as a warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation when they are out walking barefoot along the water’s edge at the beach or on a stretch of dew-moistened grass.

Throughout history humans walked barefoot and slept on the ground. But modern lifestyle, including the widespread use of insulative rubber, or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from the Earth’s energy and, of course, we no longer sleep on the ground. Fascinating new research has raised the possibility that this disconnect may actually contribute to chronic pain, fatigue, and poor sleep that plague so many people.

The remedy for the disconnect is simple. Walk barefoot outdoors whenever possible and/or sleep, work, or relax indoors in contact with conductive sheets or mats that transfer the energy to your body. People who do so on a regular basis say they sleep better, feel better, and have more energy during the day. This simple practice is called Earthing, also known as grounding, and it is both a technology and a movement which is transforming lives across the planet.

Were you aware, for example, that the sole of our foot has more nerve endings per square inch than any other part of our body! And more sweat glands! All from thousands of years of being connected to the Earth.


Then watch Part One of a conference video by Dr. Stephen Sinatra, one of the authors of the book:

(The remaining parts of Dr. Sinatra’s talk will be presented in a post on Monday!)

Jean and I have just ordered the half-sheet and I shall be delighted to write more of our experiences over the coming weeks.

And I don’t need to remind you that dogs have been in bare-foot contact with Planet Earth for some time now!

Stay healthy!


Secesh Reservoir, Oregon.

A gem in the crown of stunning countryside.

Funny how things happen!

In last Wednesday’s post I included a picture of Jean with Robert who helped us load 60 bales of hay onto our trailer.  This photo:

Jean thanking Robert for his great help in loading 60 bales!
Jean thanking Robert for his great help in loading 60 bales!

Anyway, Tad, who farms the land, mentioned a wonderful place to fish not far from his farm at Wolf Creek.

I’m not a fisherman but Andy, who is staying with us with his wife, Trish, is a keen fisherman.

So last Wednesday we all set off into the high forest lands up above Wolf Creek and after some pretty tough driving up some steep dirt roads found the lake.  Here’s a record of our morning at Secesh.

Wow! First sighting!

As you can see, it was a breath-taking oasis in a sea of tall trees and towering peaks.

Still waters!

With crystal-clear waters that just seemed to be calling out to those that enjoy fly-fishing!

Doesn't get much better than this!
Doesn’t get much better than this!

Meanwhile, yours truly decided to walk the perimeter of the lake that is, apparently, some 3.7 acres of water area.

Towards the farthest point of the shoreline, a beautiful stream was flowing into the lake.

Mountain streams.
Mountain streams.

And not too farther along, a likewise beautiful stream outflowed from the lake.

What flows in ... must eventually flow out.
What flows in … must eventually flow out.

From this vantage point, one could look across the full breadth of the lake.

First sighting of the lake!
Tranquility in spades!

And marvel at the wildlife, from ….

Dragon flies.

… the very small, to ….

An American bald-eagle.

…. the stunning eagles of the land. A veritable icon of this country!

Returning in time to see Andy pulling a (small) fish from the lake.

that was promptly returned ..
that was promptly returned ..

And Jean and Trish catching up on old times.

Pure bliss!

What a fabulous discovery!

Less than 25 miles from home.

Thank you, Tad!

We will return – possibly with a dog or two!

The future of food.

Eating oil!

Yesterday’s introduction to today’s essay was predominantly the film made by Rebecca Hosking investigating how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low-energy farm for the future.  Rebecca discovering, unsurprisingly, that nature holds the key.

The film highlighted the degree to which our modern system of food production and distribution is dependent on oil.  I am sure that Jean and I were far from alone in not fully appreciating just how much oil is used in agriculture.  Let’s start with the UK.

Following the oil crisis in 1973, a book was published in 1978 by B.M. Green under the title of Eating Oil (1). In 2005, Norman Church wrote an essay over at the website 321energy.com in which he referred to that book.  Here’s some of what he wrote.

The aim of the book [Eating Oil] was to investigate the extent to which food supply in industrialised countries relied on fossil fuels. In the summer of 2000 the degree of dependence on oil in the UK food system was demonstrated once again when protestors blockaded oil refineries and fuel distribution depots. The fuel crises disrupted the distribution of food and industry leaders warned that their stores would be out of food within days. The lessons of 1973 have not been heeded.

Today the food system is even more reliant on cheap crude oil. Virtually all of the processes in the modern food system are now dependent upon this finite resource, which is nearing its depletion phase.


The article is a ‘must-read’ for anyone who wants to understand better the approaching crisis and the madness of present behaviours.  Take this, for example (my emphasis):

One indicator of the unsustainability of the contemporary food system is the ratio of energy outputs – the energy content of a food product (calories) – to the energy inputs.

The latter is all the energy consumed in producing, processing, packaging and distributing that product. The energy ratio (energy out/energy in) in agriculture has decreased from being close to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies to less than 1 in most cases in the present food system, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, have gradually increased.

However, transport energy consumption is also significant, and if included in these ratios would mean that the ratio would decrease further. For example, when iceberg lettuce is imported to the UK from the USA by plane, the energy ratio is only 0.00786. In other words 127 calories of energy (aviation fuel) are needed to transport 1 calorie of lettuce across the Atlantic. If the energy consumed during lettuce cultivation, packaging, refrigeration, distribution in the UK and shopping by car was included, the energy needed would be even higher. Similarly, 97 calories of transport energy are needed to import 1 calorie of asparagus by plane from Chile, and 66 units of energy are consumed when flying 1 unit of carrot energy from South Africa.

Just how energy inefficient the food system is can be seen in the crazy case of the Swedish tomato ketchup. Researchers at the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology analysed the production of tomato ketchup (2). The study considered the production of inputs to agriculture, tomato cultivation and conversion to tomato paste (in Italy), the processing and packaging of the paste and other ingredients into tomato ketchup in Sweden and the retail and storage of the final product. All this involved more than 52 transport and process stages.


1: Green, B. M., 1978. Eating Oil – Energy Use in Food Production. Westview Press, Boulder, CO. 1978.
2: Andersson, K. Ohlsson, P and Olsson, P. 1996, Life Cycle Assessment of Tomato Ketchup. The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Gothenburg.

But, surprise, surprise, it’s no different here in the USA!

Dale Allen Pfeiffer
Dale Allen Pfeiffer

Dale Allen Pfeiffer‘s (1) book Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture makes it clear (my emphasis):

The miracle of the Green Revolution was made possible by cheap fossil fuels to supply crops with artificial fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Estimates of the net energy balance of agriculture in the United States show that ten calories of hydrocarbon energy are required to produce one calorie of food. Such an imbalance cannot continue in a world of diminishing hydrocarbon resources.


1: Dale Allen Pfeiffer is a geologist and writer from Michigan, U.S. who has investigated and written about energy depletion and potential future resource wars.

Over at The Wolf at the Door British website (1) author Paul Thompson, another Devonian, offered this article about peak oil and farming (and 1 hectare is 2.47 acres):


When we think of the problems associated with peak oil, our first thoughts may turn to transport, electricity, or plastics. The use that tends not to come to mind, yet could be the most devastating of them all, is agriculture.

The Diesel Farm


Tractor Oil and gas are essential to modern farming. The most obvious use is to run the tractors and machines. Car drivers can switch to public transport, lorries can move their goods (partially, at least) to railways, but the only option for a tractor or combine harvester is a horse or an ox. Clearly modern agriculture could not switch to an animal-power-based system and hope to continue with modern yields. A tractor can plough in an hour an area that a horse would take a day to (0.9–1 hectare). The horse also needs more skill and you have to put aside some of your crop to feed it. Imagine trying to gather the harvests of the vast fields of maize and wheat of the USA using only horse- and human-power.

But diesel is only one of the uses for oil and gas. Another, possibly more important use, is petrochemicals.


Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in fertilisers. In the most common method, the Haber-Bosch process, hydrogen is combined with nitrogen to form ammonia. It requires high temperatures and strong atmospheric pressure, therefore a great deal of energy. The nitrogen is taken from the atmosphere while the hydrogen is obtained from natural gas. The process became economical in the 1920s and since then, fertilisers have become indispensable. Worldwide use of commercial fertiliser more than doubled between the late 1960s and early 1980s.

The use of fertilisers allows farmers to grow the same crops each year, rather than rotating (previously farmers planted fields with legumes that restored nitrogen to the soil.)

Oil and gas are also used in the production of many herbicides and pesticides.


1: There is a note from Paul on the home page, “I created this site several years ago and do not have the time any longer to keep it updated. Therefore you will find that the data is only relevant up to around 2006 and some of the links will no longer be correct. However the principles of peak oil still apply and I have left the site online as a useful introduction to the problem that hasn’t gone away.

Alright! That’s enough to upset anyone!

Thankfully, there are a number of positive moves going on all over the world and tomorrow I will conclude the essay with details of those positive happenings!

In the meantime, think about what you eat!