Of Mice, Men and Power

Mariner came across the following text while skimming through emails from his sources:

In Nairobi National Park, a succession of concrete piers rises over the heads of rhinos and giraffes, part of a $13.8 billion rail project that will link Kenya’s capital with the Indian Ocean. It’s a project with the ambition and scale of global leadership, and the site safety posters are in the language of its engineers and builders: Chinese.

Four hundred miles farther north, in one of Kenya’s city-sized refugee camps, there’s another sign of what global leadership used to look like: sacks of split peas, stamped USAID; a handful of young, quiet Americans working on idealistic development projects. The author saw both this month, but one already looks like a relic of the past. The baton of global leadership is being passed from the U.S. to China.[1]

Mariner disagrees with the author’s perception. Mariner feels the US effort is the result of 240 years of democracy and social justice knowing and promoting the value of human beings. Human beings should not be the source of creating wealth and power for others but should be participating in validation and purpose with fellow human beings – the distraction of profit and power is a troublesome overhead.

Since the beginning Homo sapiens has used a phalanx of money, militia and political dominance to shape its cultural values. In the mariner’s lexicon (see previous posts), the gorilla side still dominates but the American experiment – despite all its flaws – has insights into what true human value requires. It isn’t money; it isn’t political influence; it isn’t threat of violence – it is civility and compassion.

Mariner has alluded in the past to the difference between Bonobos (essentially the same as chimpanzees) and chimpanzees. Chimpanzees have some aggressive genes because during their evolutionary era food and space were an issue in northern Africa but the Bonobos lived in southern Africa during an era of plentiful food and space. Bonobos chill; chimpanzees find reasons to be contentious.

In the grand evolution identified by Darwin, the human brain truly is an aberration, a shift in in evolution toward reasoning that is constrained by the primate branch of evolution. The human brain sees beyond physical reality. If the brain had its way, gorilla might well be assigned to the garbage dump. But evolution is slow, very slow. Still, as we live our lives our brain knows the true value of existence. We may not want to commit to the ethical life but we know that value: empathy. It is a magical formula that gorillas find hard to accept – after all our ancestors were chimpanzees not bonobos. Empathy is a genuine political force except that it does not take advantage of human society, it reinforces it. Profit is not the primary energy in life; it is how well every human experiences life. Three cheers for the handful of young, quiet Americans working on idealistic development projects.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/americas-global-influence-is-declining/568708/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=politics-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20180828&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

The Times – They are A-Changin’

Mariner found the article below in an old Time magazine. Currently, scientists anticipate 20 billion living humans by the end of the century. If they all live forever and each couple continues having two children, what a fine thing that will be???

Is an Anti-Aging Pill on the Horizon?

By Alexandra Sifferlin

“NAD+ is the closest we’ve gotten to a fountain of youth,” says David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. “It’s one of the most important molecules for life to exist, and without it, you’re dead in 30 seconds.”

NAD+ is a molecule found in all living cells and is critical for regulating cellular aging and maintaining proper function of the whole body. Levels of NAD+ in people and animals diminish significantly over time, and researchers have found that re-upping NAD+ in older mice causes them to look and act younger, as well as live longer than expected. In a March 2017 study published in the journal Science, Sinclair and his colleagues put drops of a compound known to raise levels of NAD+ into the water for a group of mice.

Within a couple hours, the NAD+ levels in the mice had risen significantly. In about a week, signs of aging in the tissue and muscles of the older mice reversed to the point that researchers could no longer tell the difference between the tissues of a 2-year-old mouse and those of a 4-month-old one.

Now scientists are trying to achieve similar results in humans…[1]

– – – –

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Indeed so as we enter what looks like it will be civilization’s most disruptive century since the Black Plague. Consider this list:

Climate change – coastal cities around the world will be flooded; much of the temperate zone will become tropical; ocean life will dwindle to a serious degree; penguins and polar bears will be homeless and hungry; environmental stresses will interfere with war; the travesty of climate destruction will test the strongest economies.

Artificial Intelligence – already reducing major job markets and soon will displace many lawyers, family care physicians, financial advisors, mortgage brokers and everyone who performs data entry tasks; public transportation including trains, planes, cars and 18-wheelers will drive themselves (this likely may require making human drivers illegal); AI will interfere with cultural policies about race and religious segregation – simply because identity politics won’t be affordable.

Banking and Finance – Artificial intelligence also will affect the way we relate to income and assets; economies will be influenced by increasingly socialist solutions to solve problems too large and diverse to be addressed by individual national economies or corporations; individual families may not own much directly but will participate in largescale consortiums (think something like Amazon.Com); salaries will be separated from most jobs and distributed directly to citizens. [Yes, this may sound blasphemous to fiscal conservatives but mariner draws this opinion from existing evidence that banks, corporations and governments are thinking about how to manage a future where everyone around the world has instant contact with everyone else and personal assets are managed electronically; ways to bundle housing, payroll, transportation and accessories as a single package; ways to bundle services like health care and education.]

Mariner is concerned that we may simply turn over to others our privacy, independent choices in our lives, even our choice of taste in clothing and other daily interests. Both the book 1984 and the movie Matrix loom as literary shadows if we do not move into this century level-headed and wisely.[2]

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] http://time.com/5159879/is-an-anti-aging-pill-on-the-horizon/

[2] For someone who has given the immediate future great thought, buy the book, We’re doomed, Now what?: Essays on war and Climate Change. by Roy Scranton.

Some Items

Peter Beinart has written an intriguing article for Atlantic magazine titled “Why Trump Supporters Believe He Is Not Corrupt.” From the beginning mariner has been confused by the blind eye of Trump followers who insist that he is not corrupt. Peter provides an insight:

“Trump supporters appear largely unfazed by the mounting evidence that Trump is the least ethical president in modern American history. When asked last month whether they considered Trump corrupt, only 14 percent of Republicans said yes….”

“Once you grasp that for Trump and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies, their behavior makes more sense.”

To Donald’s followers, the idea that a woman would become President is untenable. Oddly, they called Hillary corrupt from the beginning. The core realization for us is that Donald’s followers long for the traditional image when men were men (especially white men) and social rank was important. The social changes since Barack became President (talk about a violation of hierarchy) are both socially and economically threatening. Donald’s followers are against cultural change; Donald’s choice of words stirs feelings in his followers that things are being put back where they belong; Donald calls a spade a spade, and so forth.[1]

A forthcoming book titled “How Fascism Works,” by Jason Stanley addresses this phenomenon in detail.

– – – –

Mariner often uses the term ‘class.’ It turns out, upon further reading, that the term class is not well received among those who study such things. Class has so many variables, definitions and criteria that identifying a person within a unique class is virtually impossible. One example that confuses is that a librarian, expected to be more educated and likely have a college degree, is paid only a fraction of what a laborer makes in a factory. Still, there is a line drawn between working with one’s hands and those who do not.

Mariner, like most folks, uses ‘class’ to define economic status; broadly speaking, a lower class, a middle class, an upper class and the absurdly wealthy. The argument is made that Americans are preoccupied with capitalistic comparisons but economic ratings are not reflective of reality. Dollars do not classify a human being by race, sex, morality, intelligence, lifestyle, suppression, criminality, profession, or geography – just to mention a few. In other words, an amount of dollars does not classify the empirical reality of a living human being. Perhaps it may be more accurate to describe individuals by their lifestyle and behavior rather than the number of dollars they have. A frequent observation is made of ‘working class’ individuals who win the lottery for millions of dollars; they don’t change their behavior very much despite the opportunities massive assets may offer. Further, a person may be very wealthy and be President of the United States but behave no differently than a New York City mob boss.

– – – –

Another note from Chicken Little about privacy and data mining by corporations: The Associated Press (AP) asked Princeton University to investigate whether Google continuously tracks your location even if you turn off that option. Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.[2]

One cannot own one’s life without privacy. Has this item brought us back to the first one that deals with fascism?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/what-trumps-supporters-think-of-corruption/568147/

[2] https://apnews.com/828aefab64d4411bac257a07c1af0ecb?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=politics-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20180813&silverid=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Is there any Room for Capitalism?

If cancer could grow as large as it desired without harm or imposition to other living organisms, one hardly would notice its highly consumptive nature. Alas, one’s body needs all its space and functions for other purposes. Cancer can’t have free run of the body.

Regarding consumptiveness, capitalism is a lot like cancer. From its inception the American experiment has let capitalism grow at will; for many generations capitalism wasn’t bothering anyone or any systemic functions of economy. In fact, capitalism is what brought the United States to the top of the international arena. But no one noticed how consumptive capitalism was.

It was unbelievably good fortune that Europeans landed on the shores of a virgin continent. There was enough room to spread out to the point that many early colonies had their own flavor of Christianity and variety of government. Entrepreneurs could consume endless virgin forests, endless water, abundant minerals were harbored in the continent’s soil and rock. Blessed by a favorable temperate climate, agriculture had no bounds. Wildlife from shellfish to grizzly bears were more than plentiful. Even before the eastern continent was full, the US acquired the Louisiana Purchase, Texas, the Gadsden Purchase, territory from the Mexican and Spanish cessions, and cut a deal with Britain for the Northwest. The entire Forty-Eight were in place – with no industry, a few native indians, no Europeans, nothing but space, nature’s riches and an ethos based on freedom of everything, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 200 years after the first settlers, land still was in such abundance the government had programs to give away land to those who would claim it.

It would take an unleashed capitalist economy to leverage the virgin riches of the continent. With good timing the Industrial Revolution came along with steam and oil and trains, planes, automobiles, and highways. Consumption of America was feverish and overwhelming compared to normal circumstances in the rest of the world. Even continuous war every few years with other nations would not make a dent in growing GDP. No one noticed the greed and hoarding – necessary side effects of capitalism.

But then, suddenly, the continent was full. 350 million people; no extra land; overcut forests; polluted streams and rivers; overfished lakes and oceans. Still, capitalism raged on with its consumptive behavior funneling more and more resources to the wealthiest capitalists to sustain profits.

Today, the greedy aspects of capitalism are noticed. Corporations merge with corporations just to sustain record profits. But a strange thing happened in the 1980’s: profit was no longer driven by production and labor. Instead, wealth invested in other wealth by using the stock market and a plethora of profit-taking maneuvers engineered by the banking industry and US Federal and state governments. Consumption is so important to capitalism that the United States can no longer afford high concepts like freedom, life, liberty and happiness – they are too expensive because unlimited resources no longer exist. As fewer and fewer resources are available, capitalism is a victim of its own strength: expansion. Profit and assets must continue even without resources. All that is left is the assets of the public. Fringe benefits and salaries suffer; human dignity is unaffordable. Oligarchy and kleptocracy emerge as the pressure mounts to sustain capitalism.

Pure economies of government, capitalism, communism, socialism, and all the derivatives, are not healthy. Left to perform unopposed, any single form of economy will run amok. Any effort at modifying American capitalism will take years of pain in the public sector but they must prevail if a new American ethos is to emerge that will focus on freedom, life, liberty and happiness.

For the next decade or two, capitalism will find profits in computerization. More important to the public sector is that they will be part of the solution. Else, as in the previous post, change will be devastating.

Ancient Mariner

 

What REAL Change is

The world map might look differently had the Greek volcano Thera not erupted 3,500 years ago (1645 BC) in what geologists believe was the single-most powerful explosive event ever witnessed. Thera dwarfed the atomic bomb. Thera didn’t just blow a massive hole into the island of Santorini – it set the entire ancient Mediterranean onto a different course in history. The legend of Atlantis and the story of the Biblical plagues and subsequent exodus from Egypt also have been connected to the epic catastrophe.

Minoan culture, the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean at the time, crumbled as a result of the eruption, changing the political landscape of the ancient world indefinitely. Environmental effects were felt across the globe, as far away as China and perhaps even North America and Antarctica.

There are no first-person accounts of what happened that day, but scientists can compare it to the detailed records available from the famous eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, in 1883. Krakatoa killed upwards of 40,000 people in just a few hours, produced colossal tsunamis 40 feet tall, spewed volcanic ash across Asia, and caused a drop in global temperatures and created strangely colored sunsets for three years. The blast was heard 3,000 miles away.

Thera’s eruption was four or five times more powerful than Krakatoa, exploding with the energy of several hundred atomic bombs in a fraction of a second.

An absence of human remains and valuables like metal suggest that the Minoan residents of Santorini predicted the eruption and the island had been evacuated, but the culture as a whole did not fare as well. The powerful Minoan civilization declined suddenly soon after Thera blew its top. Tsunamis spawned by the eruption would have swamped its naval fleet and coastal villages. A drop in temperatures caused by the massive amounts of Sulphur dioxide spouted into the atmosphere led to several years of cold, wet summers in the region, ruining harvests. The lethal combination overran every mighty Minoan stronghold in less than 50 years.

– – – –

The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague, the Black Plague, or the Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague, is believed to have been the cause. The plague created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history.

– – – –

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. A change in orbit is expected relatively soon.

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions released into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice each year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.

Is our twenty-first century civilization facing another REAL change?

Mariner will not speculate on the changes to civilization overall, which will be dramatic, but some effects already have been determined by scientists:

By 2100 worldwide shortages in potable water will be severe.

By 2100 every major coastal city in the world will be flooded.

By 2100 every major agricultural belt will be severely diminished. For example, the average temperature across the US wheat belt will average 104° with no let up during winter.

Take note that these changes are worldwide. How will civilization change? How will concepts like nations and economy and civil liberty change?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Cultural salve

An opening allegory: A fine house is built in 1952. Not ostentatious but finely built with a pleasing layout. A family buys the house newly built. They live there until the parents retire and sell it. It is bought by a middle aged couple who turn the second floor into a separate apartment to lease. They retire eventually and sell the house to a real estate person who converts the house to a four-plex. Finally in 2018 the house is condemned.

What happened to this house is common. Two conditions contributed to the demise of this house: the neighborhood slowly changed and the house was used as a source of maximized profit. Neither of these conditions felt it necessary to invest in the wellbeing of the house. No one championed the architectural ethos, the vibrancy of sustaining a solid, appreciated structure. If at the point of condemnation one were to purchase the house for one dollar with an agreement to full restoration, the expense would be exorbitant. The neighborhood as well would need to be changing to a better situation otherwise bulldozing the house would be the only rational decision.

This allegory represents the house of the United States of America since 1952.

Let us assume the electorate will reclaim the US for one dollar and start restoration. There is the same risk in asking the electorate to fix things as a restoration investor has that a profit may be possible – a long shot in either case. Democracy, with all its voting and representation machinations, is not a good approach for this situation. In 2016 some of the electorate were hasty in their judgment and purchased the wrong tool. Without using the power of the vote, what can an individual citizen do?

Similar to a serious burn on the skin, we apply a healing salve. There is no way to remove the skin and do without; we need the skin to heal while we continue to depend on the skin. Unfortunately, salves are not remarkable. The skin must be left in place to heal on its own terms – with the help of the salve.

The salve for our situation as citizens of a burned government is to apply compassion. Compassion, especially for the eager citizen, is not rewarding. But that is the whole point: gratifying ourselves to maximize personal ‘profit’ is what brought us here. In other words, ignoring our house since 1952 has occurred because we did not use compassion to sustain the ethos of our nation.

Continuing with the salve theme, our skin grows dry and flaky and even splits painfully at times. We can’t, for example, lease our feet or move out of our feet – we must seek curative methods. If the electorate does not apply compassion, our nation will continue to flake and split. Without compassion in our daily lives, derision has become commonplace; prejudice is unparalleled between common citizens; class discrimination has become deliberately destructive; most significantly, those who continue to seek maximized profit will lead the nation to be condemned – leaving room for a new international solution to take its place in the world neighborhood.

Most folks don’t like to use compassion habitually. It is easier to scratch the itch of prejudice than to deliberately allow another human to have the primary need, to seek comfort for them in their life rather than seek comfort for one’s self.

Using compassion allows citizens to begin at the foundation, to replace brick by brick the substructure of a growing society, a maturing culture. The nation – a very complex entity – will wobble and waffle its way through our current dysfunction. Without compassion, however, the electorate risks condemnation.

Ancient Mariner

 

Who Shaped Your Religion?

Each of us has a religion and a faith (yes, they are different) influenced by specific life experiences, our station in society, our choice of religions and even specific houses of worship. A question that is rarely asked is “Who influenced you the most and set your religious understanding in place?”

Mariner pondered this question recently. Who had influenced him the most to establish his understanding of religion and faith? He had been a Methodist pastor; he had studied theology in college; he had a father who was a Methodist pastor for fifty years. None of these sources forged mariner’s position regarding religion. True, he is well schooled in Christian/Methodist doctrine; he worked as a probation/parole officer; he served on several state commissions dealing with drug abuse and criminal justice policy. While mariner participated in all these activities, they were pragmatic in nature and not experiences that formed his philosophy and understanding of religion.

Mariner became aware that four writers had shaped his religion: Albert Schweitzer Out of My Life and Thought and The Philosophy of Civilization, Joseph Campbell entire body of work, Paul Tillich Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions, and Reza Aslan God – a human history. Albert was a living example of a righteous life; Joe explained the paleological foundation of spirituality; Paul compared the survivability of religions faced with what he called the quasi-religions similar to communism, fascism, capitalism, etc.; Reza explained the sociologic structure of religion.

Albert Schweitzer. Early in the twentieth century Albert challenged the historical conveniences that interpreted the early Christian movement. With a scholarly method that earned him a Nobel Prize in 1952, Albert brought to light the context of first and second century beliefs that showed early Christians were apocalyptic and expected Jesus to return within their lifetimes. In place of the early, very Jewish expectations and the later orchestrated Christian doctrine, Albert reinforced the importance of a thoughtful and sympathetic life. He adopted his term “reverence for life” as his motto. Importantly, he lived his life according to his faith – something most of us find challenging.

Joseph Campbell. Joe was an anthropologist with an ability to interpret spiritual motivation as an act of human behavior. He studied older cultures as well as modern ones and with great insight gave human definition to spiritual phenomena such as transformation, ascension, and soul. He believed that everyone acts according to a set of myths that provide deeper meaning to one’s life. In Christianity the myth of the Trinity is a central belief that provides spiritual and behavioral value for Christians.

Paul Tillich. Paul’s book focused on the vulnerability of religion as a participant in a power game involving politics, wealth, social precedent and diverse cultural interpretations. He suggests that Baal worship is common, undisciplined and accepted even as one proclaims other religious values. An excellent example is the dollar – money. Money is the false Jesus; money is the route to salvation; money defines our worth and value as a human being – but make no mistake . . . we’re Christians.

Reza Aslan. Reza has traveled the world studying religions. His ability to compare commonality and differences between religions is impressive. Reza’s book, God – a Human History, is a culmination of his career as a theologian and student of our relationships with our god(s). His perspective is highly sociological, to the point that some may find his interpretations of spirituality less than spiritualists may desire. His key insight, if mariner may be so brief, is that God is us. Humans invented religion and needed a sense of self that was above the foibles of daily life – humans need a god exactly like themselves. He states that in every religion, just as in politics, doctrine is a manifestation of power and control. His common example is the holy chamber where one can commune with god but only the priests are allowed in the holy chamber. In Methodism it’s The Book of Discipline. In the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it is the Vatican.

As a footnote, there is one more influence. When mariner was twelve years old he read George Santayana’s abridged Life of Reason. Influenced by the book, Mariner remains a naturalist although his interpretation of religion is shaped by the four authors listed above.

Now it’s the reader’s turn: Who shaped your religion?

Ancient Mariner

Soul Mates

Mariner has discovered a soul mate. He is an ex-computer person that has switched to social psychology and philosophy and now writes books about the abuses that we put upon ourselves in the name of modern communication technology. His name is Jaron Lanier. He has written a book: Ten arguments for Deleting Social Media Accounts Right Now. He has an interview on CSPAN that is enlightening[1]. Mariner must warn you that his sartorial splendor leaves much to be desired but his mind is clearly focused. No one that mariner has read has delved into the disruptive consequences of social media as Jaron has.

Jaron starts his presentation by reminding everyone of the science of behaviorism; he cites B.F. Skinner, the major personality of behaviorism. Stated as briefly as mariner can, behaviorism is a person’s response to feedback, that is, if it is rewarding, people tend to return and do it again; if it is negative, people tend not to do it again. Skinner proved in his experiments with animals that manipulating reward or negativity will modify behavior in a predictable way.

Jaron suggests that the Internet and the data manipulators using the Internet have created a negative loop in the communication cycle. This is because negative behavior is more reactive and, importantly, expands in the loop much faster than positive behavior. We can reference this phenomenon ourselves with the racist and Russian impact on the Internet. The negativity flows rapidly and expands until no one can tell the difference between truth and falsehood. Another example is Donald’s constant reference to fake news; the negativity spreads quickly, outrunning positive behavior that requires confirmation. The end result is no information can be trusted.

Jaron warns us that while only five or ten percent of the user group will adopt negative information that is enough to disrupt politics, society norms, and stable platforms for unity and ethical values. To wit: the 2016 Presidential campaign where Donald held forth with negative values thereby overwhelming informative dialogue offered by other candidates.

Listed briefly below are the ten arguments for deleting your social media account[2]. Exploring each one is a whole post. Mariner suggests the reader buy the book or watch the C-SPAN video.

1.You are losing your free will.

2.Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.

3.Social media is making you into an a**hole.

4.Social media is undermining truth.

5.Social media is making what you say meaningless.

6.Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.

7.Social media is making you unhappy.

8.Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity.

9.Social media is making politics impossible.

10.Social media hates your soul.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] See: https://www.c-span.org/video/?447079-2/ten-arguments-deleting-social-media-accounts-now

[2] Courtesy of Christine Pennylegion at https://inthisordinarytime.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/jaron-laniers-ten-reasons/

Stop the Presses

Chicken Little visited mariner this morning; he was concerned about the following clip from Nate Silver’s newsletter (fivethirtyeight.com):

A public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos found that a plurality — 43 percent — of Republicans agreed that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Twenty-three percent of Republicans agreed that “President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.” [Daily Beast]

The gap between conservatives and liberals is no longer a gap. It is a dangerous, sprawling chasm. One expects some defensive reflex from conservatives as a conservative cycle comes to an end but what bothers mariner is the lack of thought in our American discourse. Our opinions are founded entirely on stressed emotions.

Chicken Little sees a striking similarity to Egypt, Greece, Argentina, and even Israel/Palestine. These nations are in the midst of economic and cultural change; violence, death, massive property damage and the collapse of the relationship between the people and their government causes great travesty. Even more scary is the US makes sure as many people as possible are armed with weapons. Dare we think that any day now the electorate will use those firearms on each other?

Aside from physical harm, the ethos of the American Dream is disappearing among those who espouse it most. What happened to free press, free speech and the right of every citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Chicken Little dug out his single shot air rifle and loaded it just in case.

Ancient Mariner

Climate Change – Too Slow to Worry About

Actually, the title is inaccurate in that it suggests there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, just because it is too slow to cause concern as if it were a tornado approaching, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

The current Atlantic website and magazine has an article presenting the latest findings of scientists who have new tools and insights into climate change[1]. It turns out that in Earth’s history, about 60 million years ago when mammals began to emerge, the atmosphere held 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 – the same amount we have in the atmosphere today. The last time CO2 was at 400 ppm (as it is today) was 3 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch, when sea levels were perhaps 80 feet higher than today. Scientists predict the sea level will catch up to the effects of CO2 around the end of the century – which may or may not reach 80 feet[2]. Mariner suggests a homework assignment: using Google Earth, determine how many major cities around the world have an altitude less than 80 feet above our current sea level (The entire shoreline of Florida including the Keys qualifies).

There is more science and environmental change in store, like palm trees in Scandinavia, and an increase in methane from very large swamps covering thousands of square miles. Methane is the chemical that slowly accelerates sea level rise. Mean temperatures in places like the Mediterranean and St. Louis will hover around the 104° mark and have no winter.

This climate future largely is out of our hands. The damage has been done and the results will play out. Interestingly, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wants to hold CO2 to 1,000 ppm – only 600 ppm more than what we have today. What’s an 80 foot sea rise when it may be possible to wipe out mammalian existence in a few hundred years?

Mariner often hears a common retort: “Well, we won’t be around then.” This response, besides pretending to be an ostrich with its head in the sand, is part of the fact that climate change is so very slow. Yet, the end of the century is just 82 years away. One’s grandchild still may be around to endure the slow, slow inevitable impact on world economy, health and survivability near ocean waters.

Given the current US political position on climate change (fake science – no, undesired science), younger voters will have more than racism and greed to worry about at election time.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/earths-scorching-hot-history/566762/

[2] There are so many variables, from the planet’s point of view, that it is difficult to predict actual sea level rise. What worries scientists is current annual sea level rise is increasing geometrically; small amounts now but increasing dramatically over time.