The mice warned us

The early pioneers in psychology, the standard list around the western world is Pavlov, Skinner, Jung, Maslow, Erickson, Rogers, Freud, and Piaget, focused on an individual’s response to reality. These folks helped us understand the physiology of the human brain and mind; they provided insight into the human response to love, fear, success, failure and a myriad other emotional behaviors. It wasn’t until the Second World War and after that psychology partnered with sociology and history to investigate group behavior. Similarly, management theory and economics incorporated psychology and sociology to uncover new approaches to management; one thinks of Deming, Drucker, Chandler and Aldrich among others.

An interesting observation is that the study of group behavior began about a decade before differences in individual behavior versus group behavior began to be documented in contemporary terms. Two world famous experiments were conducted that have become common knowledge. The first was one of a series of studies of mice by John B. Calhoun in 1972; the second was a college experiment performed at Stanford University in 1971 covered in the next post.

CALHOUN’S MICE

The mouse study was performed to answer the question, ‘what happens when overcrowding occurs?’ (The human brain is optimized for a social group of about 150-200 people). Calhoun was careful to eliminate the lack of resources as an influence and fed his mice with an endless supply of food, water and nutrition. Calhoun provided a mouse utopia with apartments and different levels called Universe 25; the initial number of mice was 8. The landings of the pilgrims and the first migration to the Middle East from the Rift Valley in Africa come to mind.

Brackets [] in the quoted material below are added by mariner.

At the peak population [2,200 by day 560], most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. [Nations live this way now on every continent except Australia and Antarctica] Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. [Forced migration] Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it. [Closely approximates behavior in estranged communities and certain starving populations in Africa; mice had no chemical alternatives or voluntary abortions]

The few secluded spaces [owned territories] housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” [wealthy class] Generally guarded by one male, the females—and few males—inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young.” [Comparatively, humans in their teens and twenties today have significantly less sex than their elders at the same age] [Add to that the lessening need to socialize with other humans directly because of the smartphone, TV and other electronics]

A notable side effect as the population approached its maximum was that mice that still had a bit of territory chased other male mice into specific corners at the opposite end of the cage. Mariner wonders whether suppressed groups in Africa and other nonproductive locations are simply ignored because there is no forced limit of territory at this time. Oh to live in Silicon Valley….

Now, in 2015, interpretations of Calhoun’s work have changed. Esther Inglis-Arkell (UCSF) explains that the habitats he created weren’t really overcrowded, but that aggressive mice enforced territorial prerogative to keep the beautiful ones isolated. She writes, “Instead of a population problem, one could argue that Universe 25 had a fair distribution problem.

“In 1972, with the baby boomers coming of age in an ever-more-crowded world and reports of riots in the cities, Universe 25 looked like a Malthusian nightmare. It [collapse of society] even acquired its own catchy name, “The Behavioral Sink.” If starvation didn’t kill everyone, people would destroy themselves. The best option was to flee to the country or the suburbs, where people had space and life was peaceful and natural.

“The fact remains that it [Universe 25] had a problem, and one that eventually led to its destruction. If this behavior is shared by both mice and humans, can we escape Universe 25’s fate?” [Inglis-Arkell]

Mariner leaves the door open for readers to have further speculation about group behavior in unbalanced societies.

Next post, the effect of power.

Ancient Mariner

2018 Observations

    Speak to a member of Donald’s base and they will say “Donald is doing exactly what we want him to do.” The populist base wanted a grenade thrown at the Establishment. It did explode and has upset the status quo to a great extent – especially in Cabinet policy. In fact, the grenade exploded so strongly that it exposed the GOP for what it is: Republican Senators living foremost for selfish reasons; Senators holding on to Reagan economics which don’t work in today’s international economy; GOP Senators are conservative tribalists rather than national statesmen. Could a blue wave wash over the Senate in 2020? Mariner believes a few new democrats may make it but not enough to overturn the GOP majority. The Senate doesn’t work correctly in today’s Government consisting of 50 states, 350 million citizens and a modern computerized society. Mariner’s observation is to abolish the Senate completely or at a minimum combine the two houses thereby making every representative subject to proportional representation. And toss out the Electoral College while we’re messing with the Constitution.

   January 2018 had bouncy temperatures ranging from below zero to days in the sixties in the Southeastern part of Iowa. El Nino is forming in the Pacific; it appears the winter jetstream will offer slightly warmer weather in January 2019 than we had last year. If one lives in the Carolinas or New England, the same jetstream won’t be so nice with increased rain, snow and energetic storms. It is a fact that one cannot predict climate change with weather forecasts over a short time. However, mariner agrees with the observation of scientists who study the Earth in geologic terms: the climate change thing already is out of the bag and will have its way with us. Even if the international community meets the requirements of the Paris agreement, the Earth is a big place and large, slow moving planetary phenomena have too much momentum for us to steer. The main worry is what will rising seas, floods and droughts do to our economy?

   According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report, Instagram “was a significant front” in Russian election meddling, eclipsing even Facebook itself. Between 2015 and 2018, there were 187 million interactions with Instagram content from the Internet Research Agency, the Russian trolling operation, compared with 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter. [Bloomberg]

A popular quote is in frequent use at the moment. The quote is Ben Franklin’s response to a woman’s question about what the founders had delivered: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

A democratic republic requires constant maintenance by its citizens. This means that managing our government at Federal, State and Local levels is a necessary chore that we must continually exercise by voting (but today only 47 percent vote), attending town hall meetings and other events that provide access to our representatives, participating in political causes and party affiliations (only 12 percent of citizens participate even minimally in civic activities). This is sophisticated stuff that requires an educated understanding of citizen responsibilities (civics is not taught in public schools).

It is mariner’s observation that US citizens duck responsibility and blame Russian influence on the Russians. There’s nothing stopping any citizen from taking ownership of their democratic republic at a cultural level and at a political level. Stop blaming others a la Donald and step up to ownership of a nation. If we Americans did that, the Russian issue wouldn’t exist.

Ancient Mariner

 

Another Episode of Brain v Gorilla

When mariner moved to his current residence in a small Iowa town, he noticed that many families had leaf blowers. It is also true that town families have affection for any kind of two cycle engine some of which are cultivators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, air compressors, lawn trimmers, car washers, paint sprayers and generators. In recent years some two cycle engines have been replaced by battery-driven power using Lithium. All these devices save (avoid) physical labor.

When he was younger mariner remembers old timers saying, “Back in the day we had to cut grass with push mowers” or “When I was seven, I had to rake leaves with a rake and burn them” and of course the classic, “When I went to school, it was uphill both ways.” Many more examples of saving labor can be conjured. Technology has changed the level of labor-saving opportunities: “Back in my day we had to forge and shape our pistols on an anvil.” Today, of course, just turn on your 3D printer and one will be made for you.

Mariner observes this tendency to avoid labor as a universal characteristic of all living things. The squirrel in mariner’s back yard raids the bird feeder rather than hunt for food; monkeys in Bangladesh raid street market fruit stands with the precision of a navy seal team rather than hunt for food in the surrounding trees; chipmunks greatly prefer a life of pilfering to a legitimate relationship with nature; Raccoons prefer the corncrib to rummaging in the forest.

In response, most folks would say, “And?” Being retired and of an idle mind, mariner has time to speculate on this important dichotomy in evolution. Imagine that evolution did not have a fluid-like motion of change and a cause and effect adaptation over eons of time. Imagine that evolution was a result only of serendipity and otherwise was a defined marching order set forth by a permanent genome. Mariner dares to say evolution would fail and species would disappear even faster than humans have succeeded in expiring them.

Humans in particular are quite adaptive to their own circumstances. Humans even have created their own environmental reality far beyond the influence of two-cycle engines – to the chagrin of Mother Earth, also subject to planetary evolution. It is evident that the conflict between Brain and Gorilla grows more intense. (If the reader must be prompted, Brain is the grey matter in our skulls that has an extraordinary imagination unbound by anatomical ethics; Gorilla represents our physiologic constraints as a primate on evolution’s tree. Brain has no difficulty, in fact, enjoys manipulating anything and everything it can from atoms to global atmospheres. Gorilla is bound to follow the current constraints of its body and an environment favorable to that body.)

Too slow to notice, there is a cause and effect phenomenon created by our supple brains. The simplest example mariner can think of at the moment is the ability of the brain to control fire. Before Brain, fire was a cleansing function, born of the Solar System itself that reenergized an environment. The recent fires in California demonstrate how violent and indifferent fire cleansing can be. But Brain turned fire into an every day experience used to keep warm, cook, and incorporate into chemical processes (oil, explosives, herbicides, nuclear bombs and most important, electricity) that are to the advantage of human ingenuity. These new processes go far beyond any physiological requirements held by Gorilla – and often are in conflict with those physiological requirements.

Those who are concerned about the state of Gorilla, e.g., physicians, physical therapists and the like, lament an invention by Brain: the chair. Gorilla has a skeleton and musculature that is ruined by sitting in a chair. For the vast majority of us, sitting in a chair is the dominant activity of the day. Sitting in a chair leads to general back pain, stooped posture, bulbous abdomen, accelerates atrophy of leg muscles and arthritis. Compression of the viscera along with fat caused by sitting all the time interferes with kidney function, digestion and oxygenation. Functionally, the chair deters Gorilla from performing the exercise needed to remain fit.

Mariner offers the chair conflict as a simple metaphor for all the divergent issues between Brain and Gorilla. The most important effect of these conflicts lies in the unnoticed process of evolution. In recent centuries, as conflicts increase both in number and impact, Brain has begun to have visibly negative effects on Gorilla. Further, Gorilla’s environment has serious problems. Gorilla and its fellow creatures are not doing well and constitute a modern major extinction of species.

It is the inventiveness of Brain that forces scientists to rename the present Holocene Epoch as the Anthropocene Epoch because Brain has such an impact on Earth’s environment.[1] Evolutionary activity typically follows a significant change in environment. Briefly, the primary demise of dinosaurs and the beginning of mammals and birds was caused by destruction of the Earth’s environment by a meteorite. While Gorilla hasn’t changed much in a million years and its needs have been met by the environment, Brain has separated its environmental needs from the traditional habitat of Gorilla.

Brain requires above all else a controlled, electrically-based environment. To emphasize this transition, the next era of Brain (AKA human) progress will be artificial intelligence (AI). AI will enable Brain to replicate human behavior in robots and androids, including perception through the five human senses (Gorilla senses?). Relative to all the immense changes of the next age, how long will it take for Brain to cohabitate with its new friends and not need Gorilla or Gorilla’s habitat?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An excellent and easy to read reference about Brain’s impact on Earth’s history can be found at https://www.livescience.com/28219-holocene-epoch.html

On The Atlantic and other Things

Regular readers will know that mariner’s favorite magazine is The Atlantic (TA). He has added a few to his personal library. There are several other magazines in its class that provide cogent insights in the social sciences and can be trusted to deliver balanced reality based on studied facts. TA often approaches scholarly levels in its presentation of the human experience.

Not everyone would want to spend the time and focus required to read TA. When TA focuses on an issue, it is a 3-credit course on the subject. An excellent example of this pattern is the October 2018 issue. The cover headline asks, “Is Democracy Dying?” Nine articles are referenced right on the cover that provides an excellent base for understanding the turmoil of contemporary society, politics and governance.

Reading TA cover to cover in one sitting is not recommended. Mariner keeps copies of recent magazines on his dining room table to be perused an article at a time. When the October issue is completely read, one is knowledgeable, capable of thematic reasoning about democracy, and aware of the human experience dependent on democracy.[1]

– – – –

Writing about life experiences often drops to melodramatic levels which  certainly are valid but limit the reader’s ability to contemplate broader views. One magazine that is unique in presenting holistic articles about reality that give a reader room to ponder is Smithsonian Magazine (SM).

Like TA, SM often promotes a theme for its articles but SM also includes articles about the world, interesting individuals, nature, and often, articles based on the Smithsonian Museum collection in Washington D.C. SM is a pleasant read.

The September 2018 edition focuses on moments in American history that have been forgotten or that provide insight into unknown situations. The issue also includes articles about Rhinos in Washington and a toy school bus.[2]

– – – –

There are several magazines about science. Most are focused on one kind of science like astronomy or health or agriculture. Three magazines, Science, Nature and Scientific American, are widely read. Over time mariner has chosen Scientific American Magazine (SA) because it is totally comprehensive in its range of science and technology and at the same time provides reader-friendly articles and references. Every edition has an endless insight into diverse – and often surprisingly humanistic – branches of science that enrich the reader’s familiarity with science.

Like other recommendations, SA often sets a theme for an issue. In the October 2018 copy, the theme is “How to fix Science” It covers funding, enforcing the ability to reproduce research claims, dealing with government denial, and increasing interdisciplinary research. There is an article preparing us for fake videotape and fake audio.[3]

– – – –

Each of the above magazines has a strong Internet presence. Mariner and his wife enjoy reading books and magazines in print form but for many who are too busy or who prefer to pick and choose what to read, mariner recommends both the official websites and subscribing to their newsletters that arrive in your email.

Another source for intelligent, dependable dialog is the collection of National Public Radio (NPR) products and broadcasts. If one is more interested in good fiction than nonfiction, there is no better place to look for a good book than NPR’s Book Concierge at https://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/ . On the other hand, the NPR news page avoids the hysterical advocacy of TV news; see https://www.npr.org/ . This home page will lead you to broadcasts, podcasts and other entertaining – and rational – information.

Remaining informed is similar to keeping fit. It requires commitment.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] Fortunately, TA has an excellent archive. To read the articles in the October 2018 issue, see:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/toc/2018/10/

[2] Find SM archives at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/issue/archive/

[3] Find archive issues at https://www.scientificamerican.com/store/archive/?magazineFilterID=Scientific%20American%20Magazine

On Lack of Literary Greatness

Mariner has one comment on the results of the 2018 midterm elections:

Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate to 51+ seats — even though 10 million more people voted for Senate Democrats than for Republicans. The Senate was never intended to be a democratic institution. Today it is a hurtful political influence when our nation, indeed the world, needs desperately to deal with human issues, scruples and a new democratic vision.

– – – –

Of more immediate interest, Mariner will never be an author of insightful literary works. The post, “A Future of Oneness,” was written as an allegorical work depicting life without human friendship, love, bonding, compassion and even argument and disagreement – between authentic human beings. Alas mariner’s crude prose left readers only with a literal interpretation of the future, either a gushy basketball or extinction.

In truth, the distant future doesn’t matter much if at all. Our only relationship to the distant future is our disregard for our own wellbeing today. What is missing from this allegory is physical, three dimensional, person-to-person respect and affection, and a desire to participate in these intimate experiences above the need to engage in electronic distraction and convenience.

Many times mariner has witnessed couples sitting beside one another foregoing mutual conversation and the exercise of hippocampus engagement in favor of some nondescript, certainly inhuman distraction on an electronic device. Allegorically, we are adapting to a future as gushy basketballs needing only a port connection to the gushy network.

Similarly, foregoing real experiences intertwined with real human beings, even loved ones dear to one’s heart, so that one can talk to an electronic box full of faux confederacies interested only in manipulation, seems headed for gushiness as well.

Mariner read a psychologist’s article that said android devices are an escape from the energy and commitment required to relate to fellow humans. Yet, that is what living as a human is all about. The commitment we choose to escape is the authentic experience of being human.

As to the second allegorical reference of extinction, two elements are of supreme importance: breeding and environment. One won’t have many children copulating with various sex toys and realistic androids. It is easy even to include smart phones as a distraction from human interaction and the commitment required for foreplay or just having an interesting conversation. Surely, after ninety million years of evolution, the intimate practices between humans has become the most important experience we can have and to which we owe priority over electronic circuitry no matter how disguised.

On the matter of environment – just as with the ease of preferring the convenience and laziness provided by electronics – wealth, physical comfort, and the avoidance of what a real human life is all about, distract humans from their obligation to maintain their environment. A major premise in the study of creatures of all kinds, including humans, is that there must be a net zero relationship with the source of life – environment. Only humans can deliberately alter the net zero relationship: we burn oil for money, convenience, distractions like war, the convenience not to physically weed millions of acres of crops, and so forth – even though our environment is no longer under our control. The planet itself has taken charge. Will the planet allow us to survive or will it choose extinction?

Ancient Mariner

 

A Future of Oneness

Mariner mentioned that he took a trip recently to visit friends and family. He has been traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike for many, many, many years. Do any readers remember the service stops alongside the turnpike where one did not have to exit the toll road? If the reader hasn’t traveled I-76 recently, these service stops have been upgraded to modern facilities. They are pleasant, much roomier, with up-to-date restrooms and the stop incorporates several chain stores chief among them Starbucks and Burger King along with tourist trap stores and gasoline stations.

This was mariner’s first experience with order kiosks at Burger King. A customer doesn’t need to interact with another human being to have a meal; just push buttons and pay with one’s transaction-tracked credit card. Mariner chose to interact with a fellow human being and ordered lunch at the traditional counter by talking with a pleasant older woman who shared in an aside that she didn’t like the kiosks, either.

This isolation of human beings appears to be a trend. No longer does one need a checkout clerk to kibitz with or an aisle clerk to tell one where Mexican catsup is. Increasingly, a customer checks themselves out now with the conversation limited to a muttering to one’s self about checking out alone. Even more isolationist is the ability to order one’s groceries over the telephone and have them delivered to one’s home. The US claim of “In many one” will soon be “In many none.”

Walmart and Amazon are well on the way toward social isolationism. What happened to a human’s natural relationship to environment, time invested and store clerks visited? Then there’s Facebook. Lack of government regulation about privacy and security aside, there are members of mariner’s family whose only family relationship across years of time is digital; digital photographs are shared to remember what a human lifeform looks like.
And of course the smartphone and Alexa. Mariner is quite sure that soon humanlike robots will be purchased so real humans will have someone to dance with when they ask Alexa to play some oldies.

Mariner has read some marginal futurists who claim the human being will evolve into a brain with a few key visceral organs – all of which are sustained by AI food supply, medicines and communication – a lot like Facebook now but much more sophisticated and very, very, communist. Even the five senses will be replaced with electronic sensory imitations. In other words, the end of Homo sapiens is a gushy basketball attached to a port in a massive network of gushy basketballs.

But mariner doubts this scenario. He listens to Amos, who says the entire Planet is in a death spiral; the Sixth Extinction means humans too, not just tigers and giraffes.

Have a pleasant election.

Ancient Mariner

 

FYI

Tidbits from mariner’s email:

֎60 percent of vertebrate species

According to a new report from the World Wide Fund For Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), there has been an average 60 percent decline in vertebrate animal species population — you know, like mammals, fish, birds, etc. — between 1970 and 2014. “Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” the report reads. The cause? “Exploding human consumption.” [BBC]

֎2,681 planets

The Kepler Space Telescope is dead. Long live the Kepler Space Telescope. The NASA craft discovered 2,681 planets since its launch in 2009, along with many more promising outer space “blips.” Kepler ran out of fuel. It will be missed. [The Verge]

֎1 million lost users

Facebook saw zero growth in the U.S. and Canada and lost 1 million users in Europe last quarter. God bless you brave million. Go outside. Dance. Sing. Frolic. Be free. [TechCrunch]

֎The Democratic Divide:

New York progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did better in gentrifying precincts than she did in working-class neighborhoods. Do blue-collar Democrats really want what the far left is offering? [David Freedlander, Politico Magazine]

֎How much will summer temperatures in US cities change by 2050?

Des Moines, Iowa:             2018 – 85.4° ….. 2050 – 91.1°

Los Angeles, California:    2018 – 83.5 ….. 2050 – 87.1°

Baltimore, Maryland:         2018 – 82.6° ….. 2050 – 92.3°

Denver, Colorado:             2018 – 86.4° ….. 2050 – 91.7°

New York City, New York: 2018 – 83.1° ….. 2050 – 87.9°

Billings, Montana:              2018 – 85.4° ….. 2050 – 90.7°

Miami, Florida:                   2018 – 89.9° ….. 2050 – 93.4°

Phoenix, Arizona:              2018 – 104.7° ….. 2050 – 109.2°

[VOX]

֎Worried about voting? Here’s what to know before you go:

Double Check Your Registration

Know Your State’s ID Requirements

Know Where You’re Going

Beware of Misinformation

Find Out What’s on Your Ballot Right Now

Access to the Ballot if You’re Disabled

Vote Provisionally if You Must

If All Else Fails, Call For Help [ProPublica]

Ancient Mariner

 

What lies ahead

Mariner recently posted a metaphor relating the status of the United States, its culture and its economy at war with itself. This cultural war is the result of inadequate regulations on wealth. As if this were not enough, another war is horning in on the citizen’s awareness: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – but even more so the domination of daily, personal human life by computers.

Artificial Intelligence will displace our need to perform mundane tasks, even sophisticated tasks. The hidden agenda is that using AI, corporations will know so much about our daily activity, preferences, illnesses, and common daily behavior that computers will decide how much insurance will be available at what cost, how much salary will be permitted, what we can eat, buy or have access to. Where we are permitted to live, how much housing cost we will be allowed and what medical insurance we may have based on our daily behavior, all will be based on monitoring our lives in minute detail. In short, computers will control our choices in life and our routine behavior – the concept of privacy will disappear.

The simple conveniences of talking to ECHO or similar devices will do us in. The data tracking behind ECHO will capture every instruction, every activity, and every movement of daily activity into a complex database that will determine who you are – statistically. Not so much who you are as an individual but who you are compared to everyone else. You will be allowed behaviors commensurate with your statistical relationship with the population – statistically.

Perhaps younger generations see no problem being defined as a statistic somewhere in a database. Mariner is of an older generation, perhaps one that has lived too long given its genetic foundations. Mariner still has a unique persona with its own consciousness, intellectual awareness and the idea that he can be who he wants to be in society. While statistics may describe him, they do not create him; free will is still a dream with which he can build his life.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Future

֎Yuval Noah Harari

Mariner has mentioned Yuval Noah Harari in previous posts. He is an unusually pragmatic futurist not prone to future utopias, fantasies or whimsy. His main concern, as is mariner’s, is that there will be large numbers of humans who will be useless to society and for which there is no reason to exist and no way to participate in the world of artificial intelligence (AI). How will AI deal with these humans? Mariner highly recommends you read his article.[1] Having finished the article, mariner turned to his wife to describe the future:

Future reality will be like a glove we wear on our hand – but it isn’t our glove and our hand does what the glove tells it to do.”

֎25 percent for every 1 degree Celsius

Using reliable news services and scientific journals, mariner has kept abreast of climate change and the unexpected effects of global warming. Hotter temperatures will, according to a new study in Science, make insects hungrier, which in turn will spread more disease and decimate more crops. For every 1 degree Celsius (about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in global temperature, wheat, corn and rice will be damaged 10 to 25 percent.

֎The Democrats are sailing a ship named ‘Liberalism’ and enjoy good winds as they sail toward November 6 2018. Fivethirtyeight.com, mariner’s reliable oddsmaker gives the Democrats a 7 out of 10 chance to win the House. Mariner’s alter ego Amos is worried that (a) ‘Liberalism’ will lose its favorable wind as the election nears. He is skeptical that the likes of Senator Sanders and Senator Warren are the types that will unify the electorate behind a new liberalism. (b) Donald has left the electorate in disarray; the Trump party and its base will not play nice; the Democrats have their own problems with identity politics; the disemboweled Department of State, Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and especially the Department of Justice will be unable to provide signs of early progress and reorganization. This inadequacy may run long enough to influence the 2020 Congressional election.

֎By the way, did anyone notice someone named Martin O’Malley stumping in Iowa for Democratic candidates? Turns out he ran against Hillary in the 2016 primary and is a former Governor of Maryland. Hmmm.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/yuval-noah-harari-technology-tyranny/568330/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-weekly-newsletter&utm_content=20180831&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

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