Tag: TIME magazine

Maintaining the good life in later years!

Living well as we age.

TIME magazine published a double-issue in February of this year How To Live Longer Better!

The article, on Page 47, opens:

Old age demands to be taken very seriously – and it usually gets its way!

Then later on in that same article one reads:

Exactly how much – or how little – exercise it takes to begin paying dividends has been one of the happy surprises of longevity research. A 2016 study found that elderly people who exercised for just 15 minutes a day, at an intensity level of a brisk walk, had a 22% lower risk of early death compared to people who did not exercise.

Then two sentences later:

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada even found that breaking a sweat for just 60 seconds may be long enough to improve health and fitness (as long as it’s a tough workout).

As part of Jean’s commitment to slowing down the progression of her Parkinson’s Disease (PD) she attends every Monday and Wednesday a special class at our local Club Northwest in Grants Pass. The class runs for 90 minutes and is a boxing class! The instructor, Mark Whiting, is a boxing coach and the class, called the Rock Steady class, is specifically for PD sufferers. One of the exercises involves rapid punching of a punch bag.

Dr. Laurie Mischley of SIM had a telephone consultation with Jean a few days ago. It was Dr. M following up Jean’s consultation with Dr. Nutt in Portland on the 10th that I wrote about in my post Jeannie’s PD Journey.  Dr. M commented as to how well Jean was doing.

Possibly, vigorous exercise seems to be offering something that many in their elder years may not have cottoned on to.

Readers may recall Patrice Ayme leaving a comment in my recent Facing up to PD post:

The one and only countermeasure we have is violent neurological activity. As in powerlifting. This has been indicated by research published in 2018… But it was long obvious. So the way to “comfort” is the discomfort of maximum motor-neurological… hmmm… violence. Too much local gentleness doesn’t optimize overall comfort and gentleness… I guess that’s one of my overall philosophical messages… Not one popular with the PC crowd…

Now I’m still trying to get to bottom of this link between vigorous exercise and long-term health and have reached out to McMaster University in Canada seeking academic backing for the link.

More from me as I learn more.

Turning to diet.

In that same TIME magazine, on page 53, there is a single page listing five places around the world known as Blue Zones.

Global life expectancy averages out to 71.4 years. That means. of course, that some parts of the world see much shorter spans, while others enjoy far greater longevity.

Five places, in particular, fall into the latter category. They’re know as Blue Zones – named for the blue circles researchers drew to identify the first one on a map – and they’re home to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution, told TIME why residents of these places live so long – and how you can steal their habits

Those five places are listed below with me republishing just a small extract regarding diet from four of those five place descriptions.

Sardinia, Italy – “A largely plant-based diet ….”

Okinawa, Japan – No mention of diet.

Nicoya, Costa Rica – “The Costa Rican people traditionally get the majority of their caloric intake from beans, squash and corn, plus tropical fruits. This plant-forward, nutrient-dense diet ……”

Loma Linda, Calif., USA – “Adventists live 10 years longer than their fellow Americans. Many avoid meat and eat plenty of plants, whole grains and nuts.”

Ikaria, Greece – ” …. and a strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet – eating lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, potatoes and olive oil – propels 1 in 3 ikarians to live into their 90s, often free of dementia and chronic disease.”`

I will return to this topic!

Meanwhile, stay fit and healthy!

On veganism!

Just in case this reaches out to others concerned about their diet!

The one thing we know for sure about our fabulous dogs is that they are meat-eaters!

As the The Natural Doggie website offers (my italics):

Dogs have always been a part of our families, so much so that many dog owners even save a seat on their dining tables for their furry friends. While this is all good and well that we shower the canine members of our family with as much love and affection as we do the other members of our family, it’s important for us to remember that their digestive systems and dietary requirements differ from ours.

However, for us humans with our distinctly human dietary requirements, meat is far, far from being an essential food ingredient!

When I met Jeannie back in 2007 it quickly became clear that she was, and had been since the age of 14, a vegetarian. As soon as were living together I joined ‘the club’!

Then a few days ago we both watched a documentary that we saw on Netflix. The film was called What The Health! and, boy oh boy, did it open our eyes. Not just to the very real dangers of eating meat but also fish and chicken. We resolved to become vegans immediately.

There is a website for the film, as in What The Health Film. While the film is only available for Netflix subscribers or may be purchased in other forms, as that website explains, there is a trailer available on YouTube. (The text that follows that trailer is from the Vimeo website.)

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time.

With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

Join Kip as he tracks down the leading and most trusted American health nonprofits to find out why these groups are staying silent, despite a growing body of evidence. Audiences will be shocked to learn the insidious roles played by pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies in the nation’s health, especially in the most vulnerable communities, and will cheer at the transformation and recovery of those who took their lives into their own hands.

What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

However, in fairness a quick web search comes up with other perspectives. Try this 27-minute interview with Dr. Neal Barnard.

You really should watch it even before you decide to watch What The Health. Please!

Or you may want to read the review that was published by TIME Magazine in August, 2017.

The recent pro-vegan Netflix documentary, What the Health, is under fire from nutrition experts. The film, which is co-directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn—the creators of another Netflix documentary, Cowspiracy—and co-produced by actor Joaquin Phoenix, is being criticized by some health professionals for exaggerating weak data and misrepresenting science to promote a diet that avoids all animal foods.

TIME fact-checked the film. Here are four things that What the Health got wrong—and what it got right.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal choices.

But for those that want to explore the pros and cons try the information on the American Vegan Society website. Or call into Vegsource.com.

Plus, on Monday I shall be republishing a recent article from George Monbiot that addresses the issue.

But I started with a reference to dogs and I shall close by doing the same thing. How many saw the item on the BBC News website about how “A dog that transformed a 104-year-old’s life“?

Image copyright Dona Tracy

Milt Lessner has “always had dogs” throughout his life – and he’s 104 years old, he tells writer Jen Reeder. So are dogs the secret to longevity?

“I’d like to think so,” he says.

“I enjoy the familiarity with them, and the pleasantness, and the bonding – especially the bonding.”

Do read the full news story here.

Have a great weekend all of you!

Written with a heavy heart!

Such a need to learn from our dogs!

A couple of items that recently landed in my ‘in-box’ had me in pain; emotional pain that is. I agonised over republishing them but then thought it felt like a duty to promulgate this particular terrible aspect of life. Trust me, today’s post is going to generate a deal of passion (see reference to TIME magazine at the end of the post). Also it is not something that should be read by a young person under the age of sixteen.

The first item was an email sent to me by dearest Suzann and is republished here with Suzann’s kind permission.

(For those that may not know or recall, Suzann, and her husband Don, invited me to spend the Christmas of 2007 with them at their home in San Carlos, Mexico. Suzann and Jean, who then lived in San Carlos, had been good friends for many years working together to rescue the many feral dogs found on the streets in San Carlos and surrounding areas. Indeed, Suzann continues to rescue those needy dogs and find loving homes for them. Out of the 9 dogs here at home in Oregon, 6 are ex-rescue dogs from Mexico.)

This is what Suzann sent:

I am so sorry to have to send this to you, but it needs to get out there for people to know.
What can we do?
1. Make others aware of this atrocious and vile assault on innocent people, so people will WAKE UP to the evil that is happening in this world!
2. PRAY!
3. If you are not a believer, send to others that you know who are, so they can send it on.
The whole world needs to see this!!
Thank you.
suzann

YOUR PRAYERS ARE THE NEED OF THE HOUR.

PLEASE SEND THIS TO AS MANY AS YOU CAN.

PLEASE LOOK AT THESE PICTURES. ISIS IS KILLING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN. ONE WAS CRUCIFIED. PLEASE PRAY.
Be sure to see the 4 photos below. The whole world needs to see what kind of people these ISIS terrorists are.

Su1

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Su2

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Su3

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Su4

Here is an urgent prayer request for all of us!!
She asked that it be forwarded ASAP to as many people possible:

Dear Friend: Just a few minutes ago, I received the following text message on my phone, from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI), We spoke briefly on the phone, and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all our contacts.
We lost the city of Queragosh. It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food to. ISIS has pushed back Kurdish Forces, and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated its staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!!!.

Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of people of northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians in this area.

May I plead with you not to ignore this email? Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible.
Send it to friends and Christians you know. Send it to your prayer group. Send it to your pastors. Any one you can think of. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians.

I was still struggling to ground, as it were, my emotional response to Suzann’s item when a second item came into my ‘in-box’. It was a new post over on Patrice Ayme’s blogsite. This, too, is republished in full with Patrice’s kind permission.

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Savage, The Franks? Islam Is Worse

Our friend the half-philosophers may start to huff and puff, as “Franks” were citizens of a federation (actually two of them, the one of the Sea, and the one of the River; the one of the Sea, or more exactly, Salt, is now known as Salian, or Salic).

Whereas “Islam” is a thought system, devised by some Arab warriors (PBUH), who got a good gig going for themselves.

To put in the same basket an ethnicity and a religion is what some half-philosophers would love to call a “category mistake”. The irony is that I know (the basics of) Category Theory, and they don’t.

In Category Theory, there is a concept called a functor, which allows to go from one category to another.

islamists

In other words, because I know of functors, I can mix and match different categories such as Franks and Islam, and be relaxed about it (instead of being all gripped and unimaginative, as is the average constipated half-philosopher. Notice in passing that the concept “functor” was invented by the philosopher Carnap in linguistics).

The historian Pirenne, long ago, suggested the thesis that the collapse of the economy in the High Middle Ages was caused by the Islamists (Islam confiscated most of the Roman empire, and imposed a total embargo, cutting not just the Paper route, but the Silk Road as well).

In other news, On Fascism, Russian & Islamist Edition, Feb 26, 2015, a plan surfaced for the invasion of Ukraine, written more than a year ago, by some major Russian plutocrats, who have influence on Putin and are best buddies with the leadership of the Russian “Orthodox” Church.

Don’t worry, anybody involved will soon die, and things will calm down; this is Putin’s way.

There is a clear self-censorship going on throughout the West right now, because people are scared of these fanatics, the Putinists, and the Islamists. This, in turn, is deleterious to any critical mood, thus discourse, thus adverse to fixing any problem.

One cannot have a sane public discourse if one cannot even draw a human being. Having public insanity in place of public discourse will affect the Republic, to the point it will die, and that is why it died in all and any nation that submitted to Submission (aka “Islam”).

TODAY’S ISLAMISTS: MORE BARBARIAN THAN THE FRANKS, SIXTEEN CENTURIES AGO:

As it rose, Christianism destroyed the Roman Republic (or what was left of it). In 363 CE, under fanatical emperor Jovian, an ex-general, a systematic policy of burning libraries got started (Jovian may have been behind the assassination of laic emperor Julian; I am speculating). In 381 CE under ex-general Theodosius, then emperor, laws were passed to enact a “War Against the Philosophers“. Heresy (“making a choice”) became punishable by death.

The Roman empire, which still had many characters of a Republic (which officially it was… Now a “Christian” Republic) exploded.

However, in the next century, in the West, the Franks took control and build a Catholicism so moderate that it made Paganism, Judaism, and Apostasy all legal (and conversions in all directions).

Interestingly, the Franks, who soon built what they called “Europe”, as an empire, have the reputation of uncouth savages. “Frank” means Ferocious, not just Free.

But the Franks had no problem with Catholics becoming Jews, entire villages converted, until the priest was the only Christian in town. Charlemagne himself, four centuries after the Franks acceded to power, had his friends call him “David”, because he wanted to be like Israel’s King David (not a friend of God, according to the Bible).

Compare with the savagery of Islam: Somebody who leaves Islam is to be killed, say the Hadiths.

So what of the supposed great intellectual tradition of “Islam”? That sounds strange, on the face of it. What about the great intellectual tradition of Christianism? Well, the answer is that there is no such a thing. As soon as he became a fanatical Christian, Pascal produced nothing. All great “Christian” intellectuals are intellectuals first, and, second spent the reminder of their mental capabilities avoiding the fire in which the church wanted to throw them.

In France alone, around the year 1530 CE, three major philosophers were burned alive for having contradicted Catholicism. This explains why Descartes, a century later, preferred to live in the Netherlands.

Contrarily to repute, the situation with Islam was even worse. At least, in the West, intellectuals could engage the Church in full combat, and they often won. This is a direct consequence of the Frankish leadership submitting the Christian leadership, starting in the Fifth Century. After that time, the Church was never again the government of the West (except inside the Papal states, a gift of Charlemagne, later de facto rescinded).

Famously, around 1300 CE, Philippe IV of France and his vassal the English king engaged in full submission of the Pope and his army. The Pope and the Templars both ended judged, dead, and, more importantly, taxed.

So what of these great Muslim thinkers? The answer is that most of them were, truly Jewish or Christians, or very recently “converted”, or then did not finish too well.

ISLAMIST SCHOLARS WANT TO KILL YOU:

The fact is, the greatest Muslim university, Al Azhar in Cairo, is definitively founded on what the Franks, 15 centuries ago, would have viewed as barbarian principles. It actually refused to condemn the “Islamist State” as not conforming to Islam.

Al Azhar has decided that those who renounce Islam and their children ought to be killed:

“In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

Al-Azhar

Fatwa Committee

A question from Mr. Ahmed Darwish who presented the question through Mr. (Blanked out) of German nationality:

A Muslim man of Egyptian nationality married a Christian woman of German nationality. The two spouses agreed that the aforementioned Muslim man would enter the Christian religion and join the Christian creed.

What is the ruling of Islam regarding this person’s situation?
Are his children considered Muslims or Christians and what is their ruling?
The Answer:

All praises are due to Allah, lord of all the worlds. And peace and blessings be upon the greatest of all messengers, our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions all together. As for what follows:

We inform that he has apostatized after having been in a state of Islam, so he should be asked to repent. If he does not repent, he should be killed according to the sharia.

As for his children, so long as they are small they are Muslims. After they have attained maturity, if they remain in Islam then they are Muslims. If they leave it, then they should be asked to repent. If they do not repent, they should be killed. And Allah knows best.

President of the Fatwa Committee of Al-Azhar

Seal of the Committee

September 23, 1978”

http://www.councilofexmuslims.com/index.php?topic=24511.0

Our civilization was founded on rejecting this sort of savagery on the part of Christianism. When the Islamists appeared, the Franks considered them to be a Christian sect, the Sons of Sarah (Saracens). Let’s persist in rejecting the savagery.

Antique Greece was not just defined by what it built, but what it rejected: the Barbarians (those whose talk sounded animal-like: barr… baa). One cannot be positive all the times, otherwise positivity itself loses meaning.

Patrice Ayme’

PS: After publishing the preceding essay, it came to light that the Islamist State, applying literally the savage texts that guide them, destroyed Mesopotamian art more than twice older than the invention of Islam by the raiders (Muhammad and the father of his six-years-old child bride, etc.). 

There is no savagery but savagery, and Islam is its prophet?

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Not to have upsetting reactions to these items from Suzann and Patrice would be abnormal. Both Su’s item and the post from Patrice had me going round in emotional circles. Ranging from seeing our species as cruel, barbarous creatures to thinking that maybe there are times when the only proper course of action is to take up arms against savages. Along the lines of that quote about the only thing that evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

Finally, it was the editorial in the latest (March 9th.)  TIME magazine, written by the Editor, Nancy Gibbs, that had my head nodding.  Here’s a little of what Nancy Gibbs wrote:

Analyzing a threat as complex and diffuse as ISIS requires a global effort, and so our special report reflects the work of dozens of journalists on three continents with decades of experience reporting on the Middle East.

………

We invited Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations and Karl Vick, our former Jerusalem bureau chief, who is now based in New York City, to argue the case for and against the U.S.’s sending ground troops into the fight.

It was the next sentence that underlined for me why I had so many conflicting emotions (my emphasis).

The hardest thing about confronting a group like ISIS,” Karl observes, “is seeing past the fear they delight in projecting to discern the threat it actually presents. But they make dispassion really difficult.

Makes our dogs look like profoundly straightforward, loving animals! Why, oh why, can’t the human race essentially be as straightforward and loving!

A return to community values.

The foundation of change.

Undoubtedly, those of you that watched the George Monbiot speech in yesterday’s post will have been struck by at least two key aspects.  The first being the utter absurdity in the way that we are being governed (UK and the USA) and the second that change can only come from people bonding at a local level.  For it is within local communities that groups of people share their ideas and develop a vision for change that they can stand behind in an open and demonstrable manner.

The history of mankind is inseparable from the history of living in communities.  It’s only in recent times that so many have chosen to live in cities and towns. Dogs, of course, offer a brilliant and wonderful example of the benefits of community life.

African wild dogs (Photo credit: Trent Binfold-Walsh)
African wild dogs (Photo credit: Trent Binfold-Walsh)

(See more pictures at the African Wildlife Conservation Fund website.)

Back to George Monbiot. Here are some of Mr. Monbiot’s words towards the end of his speech. (My emphasis.)

As Lakoff has pointed out, these people are trying to do the right thing but they are completely failing to apply a frames analysis. A frame is a mental structure through which you understand an issue. Instead of framing the issue with our own values and describing and projecting our values – which is the only thing in the medium- to long-term that ever works – we are abandoning them and adopting instead the values of the people who are wrecking the environment. How could there be any long-term outcome other than more destruction?

There’s another way of looking at this, which says the same thing in different ways. All of us are somewhere along a spectrum between intrinsic values and extrinsic values. Extrinsic values are about reputation and image and money. They’re about driving down the street in your Ferrari and showing it to everyone. They are about requiring other people’s approbation for your own sense of well-being.

Intrinsic values are about being more comfortable with yourself and who you are. About being embedded in your family, your community, among your friends, and not needing to display to other people in order to demonstrate to yourself that you are worth something.

The desire for humans to belong to a community was highlighted in a recent article in Time Magazine under it’s Culture section (August 4th). The article was called Atheist “Churches” Gain Popularity—Even in the Bible Belt (again, my emphasis).

Jerry Dewitt (Left), A former Pentecostal minister, DeWitt now leads the secular Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, La. Mike Aus (Right), In September 2012, Aus began Houston Oasis, an atheist service that is considered a model for nonbelievers nationwide.
Jerry Dewitt (Left), A former Pentecostal minister, DeWitt now leads the secular Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, La. Mike Aus (Right), In September 2012, Aus began Houston Oasis, an atheist service that is considered a model for nonbelievers nationwide.

On a clear, Sunny July morning, as churchgoers all around Houston take to their pews, dozens of nonbelievers are finding seats inside a meeting room in a corporate conference center on the city’s west side to listen to a sermon about losing faith. But first there’s the weekly “community moment”–remarks on a chosen topic delivered by the group’s executive director, this time focused on how we’re hardwired to read sensationalized news–as well as announcements about an upcoming secular summer camp. In between, a musician sings softly of Albert Einstein.

The men speaking before the assembled gathering–executive director Mike Aus, who regularly leads the group, and Jerry DeWitt, a visitor who heads a similar gathering in Louisiana–are both deeply familiar with the idea of Sunday ritual.

Later in the article, Mike Aus (see picture above) goes on to say (once more, my emphasis):

There are a lot of people in the free-thought movement who say: Well, this is just mimicking church. But if we don’t offer regular human community and support for nonbelievers, it would be detrimental to the movement.

Whether we like it or not, change is being thrown at us by nature at an unprecedented scale; certainly unprecedented in the experience of homo sapiens. Our only hope is to turn away from the destructive agendas of our present governments all across the world and build change from the grassroots up.

It’s time to remember the value of communities.

Nature doing what nature does.

The more that man tries to interfere the more that man screws up.

Jeannie and I subscribe to Time Magazine.  This week’s edition had a pretty eye-catching cover that required a second look.

Illustration by Justin Metz for Time. Photo reference for emerald ash borer courtesy of PDCNR—Forestry Archive, Bugwood.org
Illustration by Justin Metz for Time. Photo reference for emerald ash borer courtesy of PDCNR—Forestry Archive, Bugwood.org

That cover referred to the lead article concerning invasive species, “From giant snails to Asian carp, alien wildlife is on the move.“, written by Bryan Walsh.  The essence of the article is that man’s global activities are responsible, albeit often unwittingly, for the movement of a wide range of species across national borders. My own reaction to the article was that it was typical of the many ‘scare’ stories the media present but that at the end of the day, nothing will change. However the last two paragraphs of the article did resonate with me.

Human beings have become the dominant force on the planet, so much so that many scientists believe we’ve entered an entirely new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.  We have already been shaping the planet unintentionally, through greenhouse-gas emissions and global trade and every other facet of modern existence. The challenge now is to take responsibility for that power over the planet and use it for the right ends – all the while knowing that there is no single correct answer, no lost state of grace we can beat back toward.

How we respond to the thickening invasions that we ourselves loosed will be part of that answer – which is only just. There is one species that can claim to be the most dominant invasive of all time. From its origins in Africa, this species has spread to every corner of the world and every kind of climate.  Everywhere it goes, it displaces natives, leaving extinction in its wake, altering habitat to suit its needs, with little regard for the ecological impact.  Its numbers have grown nearly a millionfold, and its spread shows no sign of stopping. If that invasive species sounds familiar, it should. It’s us.

Thus with that article from Time in mind, it was very pertinent to see the latest essay from George Monbiot.  It reinforces, in spades, the sentiment expressed by Bryan Walsh in those paragraphs above and is republished here on Learning from Dogs with the generous permission of George Monbiot.

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A One Way Street to Oblivion

As soon as an animal becomes extinct, a new bill proposes, it will be classified as “non-native”.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 21st July 2014

Can any more destructive and regressive measures be crammed into one bill?

Already, the Infrastructure Bill, which, as time goes by, has ever less to do with infrastructure, looks like one of those US monstrosities into which a random collection of demands by corporate lobbyists are shoved, in the hope that no one notices.

So far it contains (or is due to contain) the following assaults on civilisation and the natural world:

– It exempts fracking companies from the trespass laws

– Brings in a legal requirement for the government to maximise the economic recovery of petroleum from the UK’s continental shelf. This is directly at odds with another legal requirement: to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions

Abandons the government’s commitment to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2016

– Introduces the possibility (through Clauses 21 and 22) of a backdoor route to selling off the public forest estate. When this was attempted before, it was thwarted by massive public protest.

– further deregulates the town and country planning system, making life even harder for those who wish to protect natural beauty and public amenities

– promotes new road building, even though the total volume of road traffic has flatlined since 2002.

Enough vandalism? Not at all. There’s yet another clause aimed at suppressing the natural world, which has, so far, scarcely been discussed outside parliament. If the Infrastructure Bill is passed in its current state, any animal species that “is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state” will be classified as non-native and subject to potential “eradication or control”. What this is doing in an infrastructure bill is anyone’s guess.

At first wildlife groups believed it was just poor drafting, accidentally creating the impression that attempts to re-establish species which have become extinct here – such as short-haired bumblebees or red kites – would in future be stamped out. But the most recent Lords debate scotched that hope: it became clear that this a deliberate attempt to pre-empt democratic choice, in the face of rising public enthusiasm for the return of our lost and enchanting wildlife.

As Baroness Parminter, who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill, pointed out, it currently creates

“a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild, it ceases to be native.”

She also made the point that it’s not just extinct species which from now on will be treated as non-native, but, as the bill now stands, any species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Among those in Schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.

After the usual orotund time-wasting by aristocratic layabouts (“my ancestor Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, who was known as the great Sir Ewen … killed the last wolf in Scotland” etc), the minister promoting the bill, Baroness Kramer, made it clear that the drafting was no accident. All extinct species, it appears, are to be treated as non-native and potentially invasive. At no point did she mention any of the benefits their re-establishment might bring, such as restoring ecological function and bringing wonder and delight and enchantment back to this depleted land.

Here is a list, taken from Feral, of a few of the animals which have become extinct recently (in ecological terms) and which probably meet the bill’s new definition of non-native: “not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state”. Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it’s clear that a debate about which species we might welcome back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate. There’s a longer list, with fuller explanations and a consideration of their suitability for re-establishment, in the book.

European Beaver: became extinct in Britain in the mid-18th Century, at the latest. Officially re-established in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll. Unofficially in the catchment of the River Tay and on the River Otter, in Devon.

Wolf: The last clear record is 1621 (not 1743 as commonly supposed). It was killed in Sutherland. As far as I can determine, neither Sir Ewen Cameron nor any of the other blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits from whom Lord Cameron of Dillington is descended were involved.

Lynx: The last known fossil remains date from the 6th Century AD, but possible cultural records extend into the 9th Century.

Wild Boar: The last truly wild boar on record were killed on the orders of Henry III in the Forest of Dean, in 1260. Four small populations in southern England, established after escapes and releases from farms and collections.

Elk or Moose (Alces alces): The youngest bones found in Britain are 3,900 years old. Temporarily released in 2008 into a 450-acre enclosure on the Alladale Estate, Sutherland.

Reindeer: The most recent fossil evidence is 8,300 years old. A free-ranging herd grazes on and around Cairn Gorm in the Scottish Highlands.

Wild horse: The most recent clearly-established fossil is 9,300 years old. Animals belonging to the last surviving subspecies of wild horse, Przewalski’s (Equus ferus przewalskii), graze Eelmoor Marsh in Hampshire.

Forest bison, or wisent: Likely to have become extinct here soon before the peak of glaciation, between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. A herd was temporarily established at Alladale in 2011.

Brown bear: probably exterminated around 2000 years ago.

Wolverine: survived here until roughly 8,000 years ago.

Lion: the last record of a lion in the region is a bone from an animal that lived in the Netherlands – then still connected to Britain – 10,700 years ago.

Spotted hyaena: around 11,000 years ago.

Hippopotamus: it was driven out of Britain by the last glaciation, around 115,000 years ago, and hunted to extinction elsewhere in Europe about 30,000 years ago.

Grey whale: the most recent palaentological remains, from Devon, belonged to a whale that died around 1610 AD.

Walrus: late Bronze Age, in the Shetland Islands.

European Sturgeon: possibly as recently as the 19th Century.

Blue stag beetle: probably 19th Century.

Eagle owl: the last certain record is from the Mesolithic, 9,000-10,000 years old . But a possible Iron Age bone has been found at Meare in Somerset. Now breeding in some places, after escaping from collections.

Goshawk: wiped out in the 19th Century. Unofficially re-established in the 20th Century, through a combination of deliberate releases and escapes from falconers.

Common crane: last evidence of breeding in Britain was in 1542. Cranes re-established themselves through migration in the Norfolk Broads in 1979, and have bred there since then. Now breeding in two other places in eastern England. Re-introduced in 2010 to the Somerset Levels.

White Stork: last recorded nesting in Edinburgh in 1416. In 2004 a pair tried to breed on an electricity pole in Yorkshire. In 2012 a lone bird built a nest on top of a restaurant in Nottinghamshire.

Spoonbill: the last breeding records are 1602 in Pembrokeshire and 1650 in East Anglia. In 2010 a breeding colony established itself at Holkham in Norfolk.

Night Heron: last bred here in either the 16th or 17th Century, at Greenwich. Today it is a scarce visitor.

Dalmatian Pelican: remains have been found from the Bronze Age in the Cambridgeshire Fens and from the Iron Age in the Somerset levels, close to Glastonbury. A single mediaeval bone has been found in the same place.

These and many others are now to be classified as officially non-native, unless this nonsense can be stopped.

Incidentally, determining what is and isn’t a native species, let alone what “should” or “should not” be living here, is a much more complicated business than you might imagine, as Ken Thompson’s interesting book, Where Do Camels Belong?, makes clear. He also points out that some species which are initially greeted with horror and considered an ecological menace soon settle down as local wildlife learns to prey on them or to avoid them. Sometimes they perform a useful ecological role by filling the gaps created by extinction. He overstates his case, and glosses over some real horror stories, but his book is an important counterweight to attempts to create a rigid distinction between native and non-native wildlife.

Many species introduced to this country by human beings are now cherished as honorary members of our native wildlife. Here are just a few I’ve come across. How many of you knew that they were all brought here by people?:

Brown hare

Little owl

Field poppy

Corncockle

Crack willow

Greater burdock

Pheasant’s eye

Cornflower

Wormwood

Mayweed

White campion

Isn’t this an interesting subject? Unfortunately government ministers seem to know to know nothing about it and to care even less. They are crashing through the middle of delicate interactions between people and the natural world like bulldozers in a rainforest.

www.monbiot.com

ooOOoo

I will close today’s post with another, very recent, story in The Guardian, that opens, thus:

Wild beaver kits born in Devon

Thursday 17 July 2014

One of the first wild beavers to be seen in England in centuries and due to be taken into captivity has given birth to three young.

Local retired environmentalist Tom Buckley captured the three young beavers climbing all over their mother. Photograph: Tom Buckley/Apex
Local retired environmentalist Tom Buckley captured the three young beavers climbing all over their mother. Photograph: Tom Buckley/Apex

A wild beaver due to be taken into captivity has given birth to at least three young.

The young, known as kits, were born to the family of two adult and one juvenile European beavers (Castor fiber) that were spotted living on the river Otter in Devon earlier this year, in what was believed to be the first sighting of the species in the wild in England in 500 years.

Do go and read the full article here.

All that is left for me to do is to quote a little from a recent letter from John Hurlburt.

 Our future depends on the air we breathe. Our lives depend upon rivers of living water. Our health requires the blessings of organic agriculture. Our energy streams through us from the cosmos.

We are warrior animals. Peace must come from within. Non-violence is our best choice.  We have the magnificent opportunity to wake up as an animal that is grateful and sings in harmony with the Earth.

The present is surrounded by the past and the future. We float on the wings of compassion and wisdom with a sacred responsibility for the Nature of all Creation.

Amen to that!

Market forces.

A powerful essay from Paul Gilding.

Having our good friends, Andy and Trish, with us for a few days means, quite rightly, that time with them is top of our list; so to speak.

Thus I want to republish a recent post from Paul Gilding that seems to me to be right on the mark.

But first an apology.  About 10 minutes ago (07:40 US PDT yesterday) I pressed the ‘reblog’ key over on Paul Gilding’s posting in error.  Subscribers to Learning from Dogs will have been sent an email to that reblog and then discovered that I had deleted it, in favour of this approach!

Mr Paul Gilding.
Mr Paul Gilding.

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THE GLOBAL ENERGY MARKET’S MOMENT OF TRUTH

If you want to know what addressing climate change will really be like for business and investors, then take a look at today’s electricity and energy markets. Driven by climate policy, technology development, business innovation, NGO campaigns and investment risk analysis, creative destruction is inflicting itself upon the sector with a vengeance – and the process has just begun.

Value is being destroyed at an incredible scale with just one example being European utilities losing $750 billion in market cap in recent years. Another is the huge losses in value for coal companies and the cancellation of a large number of new coal mining projects around the world as the forecast growth in China and India evaporates. As I argued in my last Chronicle, Carbon Crash Solar Dawn, this is not a temporary market blip but a fundamental shift. Company strategies and business models that have been working for generations are collapsing. In parallel we see the creative side of the process, with new industries being built, entrepreneurs flourishing and massive wealth being created. Now the market is working, as it should, allocating capital to the places where risk and return are best aligned. It is at once a beautiful and brutal process to observe.

This is an important inflection point to acknowledge, with significant implications that should reframe our thinking about these issues.

For a start it means, climate policy and its economic consequences have now shifted from future forecasts to present reality. This reality, with all its brutality for existing businesses, give us important insights into what to expect as the world wakes up to climate change. Business is already waking up to what that means in a market economy – creative destruction unleashed to destroy slow responders.

This suggests that traditional corporate responsibility, which argued sustainability was good for all businesses, is outmoded and not helpful. We have moved into an era of win/lose rather than win/win, and with that, sustainability is shifting from ‘environmentalists vs business’ to ‘business vs business’ as I covered in this earlier Chronicle.

Taken together this means we need to change the way we talk and think about climate change and business. Sustainability is not good for many businesses – in fact it means they’ll have to go out of business. This is what sustainability at its core is all about – things that are unsustainable will stop.

While on the one hand this is blindingly obvious, it is a conversation many in business and politics don’t want to acknowledge. So when the previous Australian government brought in its carbon pricing scheme, it went to great lengths to argue that Australia would still have a healthy coal industry. And President Obama’s new regulations on CO2 emissions in the US power industry are likewise being positioned as being as much about health and air pollution as climate policy.

But as Michael Grunwald argues in this Time Magazine piece on “Obama’s War on Coal” – a phrase used by the coal industry to suggest this is unfair and unreasonable – it’s time to face up to the reality of climate action. It is a war on coal, pure and simple. Grunwald calls it the “just but undeclared war ”. But rather than “just” with its moral overtones, we could simply argue it is “necessary” based on any objective analysis of what’s good for the economy and for society. What is necessary is to move a range of companies out of the economy and replace them.

Coal is first in the firing line. As a major cause of CO2 emissions and with the lack of market support for Carbon Capture and Storage suggesting “clean coal” is either a delusion or at best an expensive PR campaign, coal simply has to go. That means coal companies will go out of business, and then oil companies and gas companies will follow them.

This is not a problem at all for the economy, as they will be replaced with new companies and new industries, which will create new jobs, new wealth and new innovations. But it is a major problem for the incumbents who will cease to exist and for their owners who will lose their money. Unless we have that conversation honestly and openly, we are setting ourselves up for pain and suffering we can easily avoid or at least minimise by thinking through the consequences and being better prepared for their departure.

Of course the best way to minimise the pain would be for fossil fuel companies to transition to new areas of business, to use the great wealth they have created to diversify into sustainable sources of profit. But most of them won’t. It’s not that they couldn’t – it’s just that they won’t. And it’s not just coal but also oil and gas who are, for the most part, in strong denial about what’s coming and so won’t be prepared, as well explained in this article by Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy.

We shouldn’t be surprised. History shows how rare it is for companies to transform and survive major market and technology shifts. That’s why the average life expectancy of a successful multinational is only 40-50 years. And that’s why the financial markets – who act without ideology based on looking at the data – are rapidly responding. They are stripping value from fossil fuel exposed utilities and the resource companies that provide their fuel. They are also downgrading credit risk, with Barclays recently issuing a warning the investors should no longer see utilities as a “sturdy and defensive subset of the investment grade universe”. The report concluded: “We see near-term risks to credit from regulators and utilities falling behind the solar plus storage adoption curve.” No doubt Deutche Bank considered these risks when they recently announced they wouldn’t consider funding a major new coal port next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

So while the idea of “war on coal” is in some ways an accurate summary of the momentous threats the industry faces from a range of forces that are consciously and deliberately coming after them, we could also just see this as how markets work.

Fossil fuels provide us with energy, but they also destroy value across the economy – by driving climate change, damaging health and increasing costs for taxpayers while imposing unmanageable risks on other companies who rely on a stable climate for their business success. So the market is simply doing its job, pricing in some of these costs using the proxies of regulatory, credit and technology risk.

The market is working …. and fossil fuels are losing.

ooOOoo

Hope you agree with me that it’s a great essay and, also, I hope you followed the links – they are all very interesting.

Those of you who are not familiar with Paul Gilding can find out more about him here.  Plus the following TED Talk by Paul is highly recommended viewing.

The Gift of Happiness

A fascinating article by Robert Holden, Ph.D

Let me offer thanks to Resurgence Magazine for the written permission to reproduce this article in full, see terms at the end of the article. More background information about Robert Holden may be obtained from his own website and, finally, the Happiness Project website is here.

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Robert Holden

The Gift of Happiness

Robert Holden was at the forefront of ‘Happiness’ research. Here, he reflects on how that topic – initially laughed off the agenda – has gained credibility and explains why happiness is important

When I set up The Happiness Project, in 1994, the original goal was simple: talk happiness. In my training in psychology, philosophy and psychotherapy my teachers didn’t talk about happiness. We focused solely on the causes of unhappiness. This didn’t feel right to me. After all, how can you know what the causes are if you do not know what happiness is?

My goal, then, was to stimulate a conversation, so as to deepen our appreciation of what happiness is, its benefits, what enables it, and what blocks it. One conversation I focused on was the question of whether happiness is learned and whether it can be taught. To investigate this further, I created an eight-week happiness programme (which still runs today) called Be Happy.

Today happiness is a much more popular conversation than when The Happiness Project began. We are all talking more about happiness than ever before. The conversation is alive and well. Universities, hospitals, economists and governments publish new studies on happiness every week. So, what we have learned? And where does this conversation about happiness need to go next?

Let’s start with what happiness researchers refer to as ‘static happiness’. In a recent US study, it was found that when people in the 1940s were asked, “How happy are you?” the average score was 7.5 out of 10, whereas today the average score is 7.4 out of 10. In other words, in spite of all the ‘progress’ we appear to have made in the last 50 years or so, our happiness levels have remained mostly static. This tells me we need more conversations to clarify what real happiness is. For instance, we need to discern between pleasure, satisfaction and joy; and on my eight-week happiness programme we always begin by asking people, “What is your definition of a happy life?” and, “Are you living it?”

Happiness researchers have also found that most of us are only semi-happy. In 2006, I participated in a BBC documentary called The Happiness Formula. It reported, “the proportion of people saying they are ‘very happy’ has fallen from 52% in 1957 to just 36% today.” Clearly, research like this is questioning our most basic assumptions about what happiness is, and what we think will make us happy. That’s a good thing. An honest inquiry into happiness is an opportunity to rethink your life. It is one of the gifts of happiness.

Do you really know what makes you happy? This is the question both psychologists and economists are asking now. The evidence suggests we do not know. For instance, many of us believe that more money will make us happier. Some money does help, especially to cover the basics of food, rent, clothing, etc. After that, the correlation between more money and greater happiness is vague. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychology Association, and one of the founders of the Positive Psychology movement, concludes most forcibly: “The change in purchasing power over the last half century in the wealthy nations carries the same message: real purchasing power has more than doubled in the United States, France and Japan, but life satisfaction has changed not a whit.”

An inquiry into happiness challenges you to rethink everything. For example, almost everyone agrees with the idea that if their life circumstances improve, their levels of happiness will increase. This is the basis for almost every political and economic strategy the world over. And yet scientific research into happiness tells us this is wrong. New Zealand researcher Richard Kammann reports, “Objective life circumstances have a negligible role to play in a theory of happiness.” The same research concludes that your attitude and personal choices have a far greater influence on your happiness levels.

Another popular theory is that a better education will make our children happier. This has resulted in more tests for preschool children, more focus on regular exams, and more money spent on private education. Surely this increases happiness? “Sorry, Mom and Dad, neither education nor, for that matter, a high IQ paves the road to happiness,” states Claudia Wallis, who compiled a report called The New Science of Happiness for TIME magazine.

Happiness challenges us to rethink what is a “better education” for our children. I support the idea of happiness lessons for children at school, as pioneered at Wellington College by psychologist Nick Baylis and college Master Anthony Seldon [read his thoughts on this important topic in his article Stillness in Schools]. One opposing argument for happiness lessons at school is that children should not be “taught” happiness, but that they should be allowed to think about happiness for themselves. However, this is precisely the aim of these happiness lessons. The approach is inquiry, not dictation.

People who attend my happiness programme are always telling me, “I wish I’d learned this at school.” It’s time then for more conversations about happiness in school, and at home with our children. I encourage all my students and clients to talk more about happiness with their families. Why? Because one of the ways we evolve is through conversation. Drawing happiness with our children or talking about happiness with our partner helps us to clarify things, to heal, to come together, and ultimately to live a happier life.

And now, even governments and politicians want to talk about happiness. In Britain, David Cameron has commissioned a new survey called Measuring National Well-being. A new organisation called Action for Happiness [see what founder Richard Layard says about this new movement in his article A Better Way of Life] is working closely with the government to help create better social change in society. Again, some people are concerned that governments should not “tell us” how to be happy. I agree with this, but I don’t think governments are trying to tell us. Like us, they are simply trying to understand what happiness is, and how we can be happier.

In my latest book, Be Happy, I have written: “Your definition of happiness will influence every significant decision in your life.” It is essential, therefore, that individuals and governments alike keep happiness on the agenda because, more than ever before, humanity needs a better understanding of happiness. We have learned so much, about atoms and galaxies and other things, but we still do not understand ourselves very well; we still go to war too often, and there is still too much suffering.

I remain deeply committed to talking about happiness. Why? Because I believe that happiness is our true nature (it is the natural state of our Unconditioned Self), and for that reason happiness brings out the best in us, both individually and collectively. Happiness research has found a strong link between happiness and altruism, for instance. In a recent study by a Charities Commission, it was reported that the highest predictor of generous giving is not your income level: it’s your happiness level.

Good things come from real happiness. Happier people make better choices, which is good for society and the planet. Your happiness is a gift to the world. I believe this with all my heart.

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Robert Holden is director of The Happiness Project. His latest book, Be Happy;, is published by Hay House. For more about the eight-week happiness programme visit: http://www.happiness.co.uk

The Gift of Happiness features in Resurgence issue 269, November/December 2011.

This article is reprinted courtesy of Resurgence magazine – at the heart of earth, art and spirit. To buy Resurgence, read further articles online or find out about The Resurgence Trust, visit: http://www.resurgence.org

All rights to this article are reserved to Resurgence, if you wish to republish or make use of this work you must contact the copyright owner to obtain permission

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One final note from yours truly.  Perhaps the art of happiness is yet another thing we can learn from dogs!

A smile from ear to ear!