A civilization in decline looks at its options

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Two essays linked in two different emails this morning characterize polar opposite views of the future of modern civilization.

In the first, published yesterday, Chris Hedges sermonizes about The Wages of Sin.

In the second, we get yet another picture of what's looking like a desperate attempt to save civilization with the promise of low carbon producing energy: Big push for small nuclear reactors.

Reading first one and then the other, I don't know if it matters which one reads first, creates quite a muddle. Which will be our fate?

Hedges himself describes the delemma as analogous to Alice who's fallen down the rabbit hole:

Quote Chris Hedges:

When a society laments the past and dreads the future, when it senses the looming presence of death, it falls down a rabbit hole. And as in the case of Alice—who “went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, ‘Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ and sometimes, ‘Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it”—language becomes unmoored from experience. Daily discourse, especially public discourse, is, as our presidential campaign illustrates, reduced to childish gibberish.

The article on the international push for mass production of small nuclear power plants ends with a summary of a warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists, that was already raised over two and a half years ago.

Quote Paul Brown:

The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists points out the difficulties of placing small reactors close to centres of population and doubts that they can produce power more cheaply than larger ones. It points out that existing commercial reactors originally got bigger and bigger to produce economies of scale.

The scientists accept industry claims that smaller reactors are inherently less dangerous than larger ones, but argue: “While this is true it is misleading, because smaller ones generate less power than large ones, and therefore more are required to meet the same energy needs.

“Multiple SMRs may actually present a higher risk than a single large reactor, especially if plant owners try to cut costs by reducing support staff or safety equipment per reactor.”

Their report concludes: “Unless a number of optimistic assumptions are realised, SMRs are not likely to be a viable solution to the economic and safety problems faced by nuclear power.”

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.ren
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Paul Brown continues his exploration of civilization's dilemma with this article:

Nuclear costs in uncharted territory

Summarizing:

Quote Paul Brown:

Primary task

In total, there are 200 reactors worldwide due to be shut down by 2025.

But while the primary task of the current decommissioning programme is to make reactors safe by removing their old fuel and storing it, one of the major problems of the industry is nowhere near solved.

All over the world, governments have tried and failed to find sites where they can store the vast quantities of radioactive waste that has arisen from nuclear weapons programmes, nuclear submarine and ship propulsion systems, and the civil nuclear industry. The waste needs to be isolated from human beings for as much as 250,000 years to make it safe.

Only one country, Sweden, has a workable plan for a deep disposal repository. Elsewhere, many plans have been tried and abandoned, either because of political opposition or unfavourable geology.

So nobody knows yet how much this epic problem is going to cost, or how many decades will pass before it is under control. As the brochure for the conference puts it: “Estimating lifetime costs is a journey into uncharted territory.” No wonder executives from many companies are paying up to £1,500 each to attend. – Climate News Network

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.ren
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Some scientists are looking at the earth and the forests for answers.

Soil could save Earth from overheating

Reexamining and changing currrent agricultural practices may be the key to working with the soil instead of against it:

Quote Soil could save the Earth from overheating:

And there is a range of sustainable agricultural practices that can conserve carbon and, at the same time, continue to deliver food to the table.

Farmers could grow crops with deeper root systems, use charcoal-based composts, and exploit a suite of more efficient practices tailored to their crops and terrain. Schemes such as Cool Farm Tool could help farmers measure and manage emissions from their own land.

There would not be one big answer, but a host of varied responses. These range from better crop rotation to low tillage as opposed to deep ploughing, and from land restoration to agroforestry. All of these added together − what the researchers call the “all-of-the-above” approach − could make a big difference.

With help from science, government policymakers and new approaches, ultimately they could help soils retain the equivalent of four-fifths of the emissions released each year by the combustion of fossil fuels, the researchers say.

Industrial civilization, with its endless hunger to strip mine the planet for resources and strip clean the forest lands for the purpose of replacing them with monocultural crops to feed a burgeoning human population, destroys both indigenous human cultures once adapted to their locales, and plant cultures that make up those locales, the sum of which make up the biosphere of this planet. Recently scientists have discovered that trees are more than objects growing together in a forest, they are an actively sharing community that works together to balance the carbon and oxygen in the atmosphere that benefits us all:

Trees share their survival skills

Quote Trees share their survival skills:

They used the crane to get to the canopies of spruce trees, 120 years old and 40 metres tall. Then they used a network of fine tubes to flood the crowns of these trees with their own labelled carbon dioxide. Their supplies of the greenhouse gas were conspicuously short of the proportion of the rare and heavy isotope carbon-13 that is normally detected in air.

This sudden flooding of the canopy made no difference to the experimental trees. They did what trees do and used photosynthesis to take the carbon from the air, and used the carbon to make sugars which then became cellulose, lignin, proteins and lipids in the plant tissues, not just in the leaves and stems but all the way down to the roots and the fungi around the roots.

And then the researchers used an atomic mass spectrometer to track the carbon through the entire tree. They found that their carbon not only spread through their prime specimens, but neighbouring trees – sometimes of different species – that had not been given the labelled carbon dioxide also turned out to have acquired an unexpected quantity of the experimental gas.

Carbon exchange

The only way the carbon could have been exchanged between spruce, beech, pine or larch, was by a network of tiny filaments belonging to the mycorrhizal fungi that traffic nutrients in the forest floor.

And although the discovery is not directly part of climate science, it offers yet more unexpected insights into the role of forests in managing atmospheric carbon for the rest of the living world.

Climate science presents a global-sized puzzle, and the latest find in every sense gets to the roots of one aspect of the great carbon puzzle: where does the stuff go, and how does it get where it does?

As one of the report’s co-authors, Professor Christian Körner, a plant scientist in the Basle team, observes: “Evidently, the forest is more than the sum of its trees.”

A regular destruction of that intricate sharing structure that builds in a forest is what I get to watch taking place around me here in SW Washington state as the lumber corporations clear cut these forests an a regular schedule. A stand of trees lives and grows together, regularly sprayed and so forth, about 40 years, and then it's stripped clean to start anew.

Which brings me back to concepts like ecopsychology and permaculture as two different ecology-enhancing strategies to help modern humans relearn how to live with the other species of this planet, rather than off them as if they were no more than conveniently existing resources.

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.ren
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The sane, reasonable answer? VHEMT. But when were the great mass of humans ever reasonable? War, more war, Killing, more killing.

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Alberto Ceras 2
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I added yet another tree (toona sinensis) with edible leaves to my temperate climate 'Food Forest' just today.

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mjolnir
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Thousands of acres of the native old growth forests, including those here in SW Washington, were given away to fledgling railroad companies as an incentive to build a national transportation system.

The United States and Canadian governments blissfully claimed territory after territory across a continent during the 1800s in what has finally revealed itself as an economic empire-building land grab. Since no indigenous cultures actually thought to set up macro federal governments, or even private transnational corporations, in order to own such a vast territory, there was little to stop this take over of the a continent. Those very "civilized" concepts of empire building came to this continent from Europe.

Then our "people's" Republic here in the U.S. gave thousands of acres of what were briefly "public" lands to the newly emerging industrial revolution's railroad corporations, who turned around a few years later and sold it to the lumber barons who had just finished clearing the old growth forests from Midwestern states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I just don't see 7 point some billion human beings voluntarily deciding to go extinct. I see a scenario that resembles something much closer to what lemmings do when they expand exponentially and eat themselves out of a low succession, ultimately meager tundra fare. Where the humans may differ is something like this: after creating vast areas of low succession monocultures that replace complex climax succession ecosystems for the benefit of rapidly expanding their own species, when those monocultures begin to damage the supporting biosphere and fail to produce the necessary calories to feed the growing human population -- just as the tundra fails to feed the lemmings after they rapidly expand their population -- they will also turn on each other through various institutional strategies.

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"Regional disparities in the beneficial effects of rising CO2 concentrations on crop water productivity" 2016

"Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) are expected to enhance photosynthesis and reduce crop water use1. However, there is high uncertainty about the global implications of these effects for future crop production and agricultural water requirements under climate change. Here we combine results from networks of field experiments1, 2 and global crop models3 to present a spatially explicit global perspective on crop water productivity (CWP, the ratio of crop yield to evapotranspiration) for wheat, maize, rice and soybean under elevated [CO2] and associated climate change projected for a high-end greenhouse gas emissions scenario. We find CO2 effects increase global CWP by 10[0;47]%–27[7;37]% (median[interquartile range] across the model ensemble) by the 2080s depending on crop types, with particularly large increases in arid regions (by up to 48[25;56]% for rainfed wheat). If realized in the fields, the effects of elevated [CO2] could considerably mitigate global yield losses whilst reducing agricultural consumptive water use (4–17%). We identify regional disparities driven by differences in growing conditions across agro-ecosystems that could have implications for increasing food production without compromising water security. Finally, our results demonstrate the need to expand field experiments and encourage greater consistency in modelling the effects of rising [CO2] across crop and hydrological modelling communities."

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Already discussed:

The Eco-Woodstock of America

Post #5

Post #6

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.ren
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Quote .ren:

I just don't see 7 point some billion human beings voluntarily deciding to go extinct. I see a scenario that resembles something much closer to what lemmings do when they expand exponentially and eat themselves out of a low succession, ultimately meager tundra fare. Where the humans may differ is something like this: after creating vast areas of low succession monocultures that replace complex climax succession ecosystems for the benefit of rapidly expanding their own species, when those monocultures begin to damage the supporting biosphere and fail to produce the necessary calories to feed the growing human population -- just as the tundra fails to feed the lemmings after they rapidly expand their population -- they will also turn on each other through various institutional strategies

That is a possible scenario. But it would not lead to extinction. In fact that sort of ecology, and it is an ecology - however bizarre and foreboding, would be one of a cyclical human civilization. I don't know if you've ever read the Larry Niven's Mote series of books. But it describes just that sort of thing with an alien species. Built to a point of collapse, then out of the rubble build up again. And this went on for over millions of years and thousands of cycles.

I hope that doesn't happen, of course I will be dead & buried by then anyway. It is not helpful to constantly preach doom & gloom and ignore simple minded opportunities to avoid such catastrophies. As I have stated many times, the major problem is corruption, right now success in anything is hampered at the least and at the worst is completely nullified by corruption. Getting money completely out of politics would be an important first step. Vote for Bernie not Hillary, or if the tragedy happens, and Hillary is the Dem candidate, vote for Stein not Hillary.

Instant-RunOff-...
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Quote IRV:

That is a possible scenario. But it would not lead to extinction.


I never made that claim. Somebody else is proposing human extinction, and voluntarily. I was responding to that.

Lemmings don't go extinct in my analogy, their population rises and falls in a regular pattern over time. The rise is something like the current rise of the human population in relation to its ability to over consume, although that's a very recent phenomenon for the species. Time will tell about the decline.

We humans may have some ability to effect the steepness of any potentially forthcoming decline, but it will not likely be an individual matter of choice in the scope of the whole planet. I don't see how it can be, anyway. I see too much cultural variation across the many present nations for everyone to get the same idea and act on it voluntarily, although it would certainly help if everyone could understand what's going on.

That eco specific lemming-like population rise with its corresponding fall is the analogy I was making, is all, along with the analogous practice of humans consciously (or unconsciously, depending on one's read) reducing enormous sectors of complex eco systems of the planet to a low level succession environment like the tundra, which, because of its nature never reaches a state of equilibrium of a climax community.

Since you didn't seem to notice that I was responding to this concept: VHEMT, the rest of your comment is either an agreement with my point or a non sequitur. Hard to determine.

Here Encyclopedia Brittannica's brief overview of the concept:

Ecological succession

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.ren
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More likely you will see the decline of the West, as has been long predicted:

i.e. Oswald Spengler:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decline_of_the_West

It is obvious the seat of human civilization is moving to Asia. In fact throughout human history you have seen those shifts happen. China, Babylonia, Aztec, Persian, Mongolian, Roman, Britain, America ....

Western nations will only comprise 18% of World population by 2050, I recall is the UN prediction.

There are other forces at work, underneath the bit that we are aware of, so the future remains a big unknown but a civilization shift is likely. I also like to think that there is adaptive mutation & epigenetics at work on human biology, may result in serious changes to human behaviour and sociology.

Instant-RunOff-...
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These folks figured it out a long time ago. They have a philosopher on payroll. They are #1 on the UN human development index, vs US @ #66, Sweden is #2. No wonder the gop hates the UN, they tell it like it is.

Americans think Limbaugh is a philosopher, and that all philosophy comes from talk radio.

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One possibile view of Nordic justice is educational. https://www.youtube.coOne possible view of Nordic Justice might be that it is educational, or rehab vs revenge (revenge is more profitable).

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According to world systems analysts, anyway, Norway is not some magical land that escapes the network of connections that makes up rest of the globe, it remains a part of a total global system, and whatever happens to that system as a whole will dynamically effect multiple, perhaps unintended consequences on the parts. The very comparative ranking of it in relaton to other nations is a sign of its inclusion -- intended or otherwise -- in the underlying structures of the world economy.

As the philosopher you mentioned explains to Michael Moore, The Norwegians have plenty of experts in the upper echelons of their particular version of a political hierarchy to explain the financialization aspects of their dreamy, paradisical enclave in the whole global system, but they also feel the need for the luxury of a staff philosopher as well to help explain how the money dictates the way the human system and the world ecology will interact. Why is that so, exactly? Or is it?

World-systems theory; an overview with an introduction to the terminology of a field of study that tries to make some rational and therefore structural sense of a uniquely human species-created and ever dynamically changing system within a global ecological system. My simplistic analogy above was to relate these humans in this global system to the lemmings in their micro tundra subset eco system. I doubt if any of these scholars would see their humans in this simplisticly analogous light. Theyd soon be out of a job!

My first introduction to world-systems theory was through the work of an anthropologist, who we have discussed previously: Eric R. Wolf and his Europe And the People Without History. Remember Wolf's good friend Sidney Mintz who died a few days before this year 2016 began? Yeah, these thoughts include him and his work because he and Eric were friends and sparks in each other's work.

One of the leading peer-reviewed journals to come out of this brand of thought:

Journal of World-Systems Research (brief explanation)

The Journal's Home:

Journal of World-Systems Research

Just one example that relates to your effort to compare different nations in this system, here's World systems theorists on:

Comparative Social Inequality

There's so much more...

All these thoughts, all this complexity... so much to fill the space in our pretty little heads! Which brings to mind, once again, Joseph Tainter and his Collapse of Complex Societies.

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.ren
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Quote douglaslee:

One possibile view of Nordic justice is educational. https://www.youtube.coOne possible view of Nordic Justice might be that it is educational, or rehab vs revenge (revenge is more profitable).

"revenge is more profitable." Hmmm.

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.ren
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"In the land of the blind..."

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Quote .ren:

Already discussed:

The Eco-Woodstock of America

Post #5

Post #6

The particular study I linked or just the concept? If we are talking 'concepts' most or all of the precepts mentioned in this thread have been discussed numerous times by myself and others. Posts about permaculture , networks of mycorrhizae fungi, and pyscho-babble about 'ecopsychology' abound. Simply dismissing a new study because you had a 'discussion' consisting of two self-generated posts seems a little presumptuous to me.

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Quote mjolnir:
Quote .ren:

Already discussed:

The Eco-Woodstock of America

Post #5

Post #6

The particular study I linked or just the concept? If we are talking 'concepts' most or all of the precepts mentioned in this thread have been discussed numerous times by myself and others. Posts about permaculture , networks of mycorrhizae fungi, and pyscho-babble about 'ecopsychology' abound. Simply dismissing a new study because you had a 'discussion' consisting of two self-generated posts seems a little presumptuous to me.

What does your linked study have to do with this thread? You see, I don't have a clue. I don't wish to presume, nor guess. I merely linked what I consider a similar discussion since I have no idea what is taking place in your mind if you can't be bothered to disclose it.

How did you manage to presume I was dismissing your study? I pointed out where I already took the trouble to discuss these hydrology issues referenced in the abstract. Perhaps you've read the full study? I can't afford it.

The issue of water management is by no means a trivial issue, and not a simple one, as is indicated by the Harvard team in their reports of their studies, also found in Nature Climate Change, that I referenced: Productivity of North American grasslands is increased under future climate scenarios despite rising aridity.

Frankly I don't pay any attention to what you post anywhere in the universe apart from any thread with which I'm involved. If you are on a thread that interest me, I'll likely read your post. You seldom have been. So it's news to me to discover that you have any interest, positve or negative, in any topic that interests me. Consequently, whatever you've said elsewhere would require your linking it here as a reference, as I did for you.

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.ren
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The-best-is-the-last*

is a reference to tech and industry. However, 'S' curve development and progress apply to social entities, (aka civilizations/countries/sovereigns) too.

*best = last means last = best

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douglaslee
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va-governor-restores-voting-rights-to-felons-

a win for civilization.

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In 1972 I bought a Schwinn Paramount P15 tourer 10 speed made with Reynolds 531 aluminum and the famous double butted frame. Loved that bike. Toured all over with it for years. It weighed around 25 lbs. I thought it was much lighter after growing up riding a late depression era 50 lb Schwinn cruiser. Good for leg strength building, however, it turned out. My brothers who grew up riding (and repairing) mini bikes are better small engine mechanics but they've never had my leg strength for bicycling.

In 2000, as I was preparing to scale Mt Shasta, I treated myself to a Litespeed Blue Ridge so I could condition my legs and my lungs. Still looks brand new 16 years later. Gets lots of compliments to turn its pretty head. It's made with Titanium, unpainted, and weighs about 18-19 lbs. The low range with a third cog on the crankset is a nice improvement, with nine gears in the rear instead of five on the old Paramount. The six pounds might make a difference on these mountain roads out here in the west compared to glacial moraine moguls around Ann Arbor, or the Porcupines in the Upper Peninsula. Big improvement is the Shimano Ultegra shifters over the Campagnolo Nuovo Record.

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.ren
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Quote .ren:
Quote mjolnir:
Quote .ren:

Already discussed:

The Eco-Woodstock of America

Post #5

Post #6

The particular study I linked or just the concept? If we are talking 'concepts' most or all of the precepts mentioned in this thread have been discussed numerous times by myself and others. Posts about permaculture , networks of mycorrhizae fungi, and pyscho-babble about 'ecopsychology' abound. Simply dismissing a new study because you had a 'discussion' consisting of two self-generated posts seems a little presumptuous to me.

What does your linked study have to do with this thread? You see, I don't have a clue. I don't wish to presume, nor guess. I merely linked what I consider a similar discussion since I have no idea what is taking place in your mind if you can't be bothered to disclose it.

How did you manage to presume I was dismissing your study? I pointed out where I already took the trouble to discuss these hydrology issues referenced in the abstract. Perhaps you've read the full study? I can't afford it.

The issue of water management is by no means a trivial issue, and not a simple one, as is indicated by the Harvard team in their reports of their studies, also found in Nature Climate Change, that I referenced: Productivity of North American grasslands is increased under future climate scenarios despite rising aridity.

Frankly I don't pay any attention to what you post anywhere in the universe apart from any thread with which I'm involved. If you are on a thread that interest me, I'll likely read your post. You seldom have been. So it's news to me to discover that you have any interest, positve or negative, in any topic that interests me. Consequently, whatever you've said elsewhere would require your linking it here as a reference, as I did for you.

Your allusion to a diversion from the topic of the thread seems to be a little specious. Your first two posts feature a lament by Hedges on his perception of society and links to the "small nuclear reactor" crowd and the last one features bicycles, ...and you want to bitch about 'off topic'?
At post #6 you write: "...Where the humans may differ is something like this: after creating vast areas of low succession monocultures that replace complex climax succession ecosystems for the benefit of rapidly expanding their own species, when those monocultures begin to damage the supporting biosphere and fail to produce the necessary calories to feed the growing human population -- just as the tundra fails to feed the lemmings after they rapidly expand their population -- they will also turn on each other through various institutional strategies."
Like most prognostications by the "doom and gloom" crowd, of which I count you a member, that statement has a nugget of truth surrounded by a sea of supposition. My post and link at #7 was merely a reminder that, within limits, many scientists think that rising CO2 levels and modest temp. increases may actually increase food supplies and decrease water usage no matter how counter-intuitive that seems and was perfectly on-topic for at least SOME of this thread.
Your point about not automatically reading posts from myself or others is a good one and is a process I also follow. Why would I expect to see a 'discussion' about water usage and evapo-transpiration rates in a thread entitled "Eco-Woodstock"?
I wouldn't neccessarily gravitate to that thread simply because I saw that you had posted in it though I may, eventually, have gotten there out of boredom.

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mjolnir
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Quote mjolnir:

[quote=.ren]

[quote=mjolnir]

Your allusion to a diversion from the topic of the thread seems to be a little specious.

There was no such thought in my mind. You generated that idea all on your own.

I am open to discussing all ideas related to anything I've written in a thread. If you were to reread my post with that in mind, you might be able to tease out the idea that I was merely asking you to explain how your bringing those words from that abstract to this thread relates to anything anyone else has written in your mind. That to me is how to go about discussing a topic. Each participant brings their perspective and expresses it.

I realize, as well, that's not how everyone views a discussion. So I don't have many expectations.

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.ren
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Quote .ren:... I was merely asking you to explain how your bringing those words from that abstract to this thread relates to anything anyone else has written in your mind. ...
...which is exactly what I thought I had done here: "At post #6 you write: "...Where the humans may differ is something like this: after creating vast areas of low succession monocultures that replace complex climax succession ecosystems for the benefit of rapidly expanding their own species, when those monocultures begin to damage the supporting biosphere and fail to produce the necessary calories to feed the growing human population -- just as the tundra fails to feed the lemmings after they rapidly expand their population -- they will also turn on each other through various institutional strategies."
Like most prognostications by the "doom and gloom" crowd, of which I count you a member, that statement has a nugget of truth surrounded by a sea of supposition. My post and link at #7 was merely a reminder that, within limits, many scientists think that rising CO2 levels and modest temp. increases may actually increase food supplies and decrease water usage no matter how counter-intuitive that seems and was perfectly on-topic for at least SOME of this thread. "

Whatever, perhaps I expected too much of you.

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mjolnir
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Quote mjolnir:
Quote .ren:

I was merely asking you to explain how your bringing those words from that abstract to this thread relates to anything anyone else has written in your mind. ...

...which is exactly what I thought I had done here: "At post #6 you write: "...Where the humans may differ is something like this: after creating vast areas of low succession monocultures that replace complex climax succession ecosystems for the benefit of rapidly expanding their own species, when those monocultures begin to damage the supporting biosphere and fail to produce the necessary calories to feed the growing human population -- just as the tundra fails to feed the lemmings after they rapidly expand their population -- they will also turn on each other through various institutional strategies."
Like most prognostications by the "doom and gloom" crowd, of which I count you a member, that statement has a nugget of truth surrounded by a sea of supposition. My post and link at #7 was merely a reminder that, within limits, many scientists think that rising CO2 levels and modest temp. increases may actually increase food supplies and decrease water usage no matter how counter-intuitive that seems and was perfectly on-topic for at least SOME of this thread. "

Among other misdirections you've taken, that have resulted from misconstruing what I intend to say, you now appear to be confused about the order in which these responses occurred. If you actually read that quote to which you appear to be responding (why else put it there?), I would expect you to be able to figure out that I was referring to your post #7 where you copied and pasted from a study's abstract without explaining what you think it has to do with this thread when you posted it. Which is apparently the issue that set this tiring interchange off.

In the above, you are referring to what you wrote in your post #22. In the statement I made that you quoted, I'm not disputing that you have made some effort to explain yourself and present your personal opinions in post #22, I'm referring to post #7. Is that clear? Or are you still confused?

I don't see why this interchange had to become this complicated. It appears the wisest way for me to deal with your unexplained posts is to ignore them.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

The only confusion here that I can see is yours. Sure, I posted the abstract at #7 in reply to your post at #6 without expanding on it's intent because, frankly, given it's textual content I didn't think it needed supplementation. Apparently I was wrong. Even so, at #8 you didn't ask for explanation, you simply directed me to an oddly named thread where the 'discussion' to which you alluded had only two posts of substance, both by you, even remotely connected to societal upheaval caused by a failure of agriculture.
Later you questioned the relevance of my second post to the thread which I find quite odd since you and others have opined on everything from social unrest, small nuclear reactors, bicycles and restoration of voting rights to felons.
You can 'ignore' anything you want but it's clear your not interested in dialogue but only affirmation.

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mjolnir
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Quote mjolnir:

The only confusion here that I can see is yours. Sure, I posted the abstract at #7 in reply to your post at #6 without expanding on it's intent because, frankly, given it's textual content I didn't think it needed supplementation. Apparently I was wrong.

There was no indication in your post that you were replying to anything on this thread. I'm looking carefully at it again on another screen as I write, and I see no "reply to" or any other indication of what it was directed at. Since I saw no relationship to anything on this thread, I considered it a random association of sorts, and treated it as such. As I did see a relationship with something I'd discussed on another thread, I simply associated it with that. I will be sure to ignore anything of the sort in the future. If you care to explain yourself and why you post a quote from something, I will give it my careful consideration.

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.ren
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Quote .ren:
Quote mjolnir:

The only confusion here that I can see is yours. Sure, I posted the abstract at #7 in reply to your post at #6 without expanding on it's intent because, frankly, given it's textual content I didn't think it needed supplementation. Apparently I was wrong.

There was no indication in your post that you were replying to anything on this thread. I'm looking carefully at it again on another screen as I write, and I see no "reply to" or any other indication of what it was directed at. Since I saw no relationship to anything on this thread, I considered it a random association of sorts, and treated it as such. As I did see a relationship with something I'd discussed on another thread, I simply associated it with that. I will be sure to ignore anything of the sort in the future. If you care to explain yourself and why you post a quote from something, I will give it my careful consideration.

Seems to be rather bizzare behavior for a person who starts a thread but then can't be bothered to read/digest post 7 of what then was a thread with only 6 posts, especially when post seven was perfectly contextual with the one that preceeded it. Oh well, "C'est la vie", perhaps 'thoroughness' is too much to expect.
Reminds me of a person who now seems to be a former poster here, who couldn't be bothered to read posts even if they were marked:

Quote mjolnir:
Quote ulTRAX:
Quote mjolnir:

You made post# 34 and35, idiot. Did it not cross your pee-wee brain that post #36 which had "Reply to post #35" in it was to you?

The software works fine for me because I read the posts.

Good for you. I do NOT read all the posts in a thread. ...
That's pretty evident.

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mjolnir
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Quote mjolnir:

Seems to be rather bizzare behavior for a person who starts a thread but then can't be bothered to read/digest post 7 of what then was a thread with only 6 posts, especially when post seven was perfectly contextual with the one that preceeded it. Oh well, "C'est la vie", perhaps 'thoroughness' is too much to expect.
Reminds me of a person who now seems to be a former poster here, who couldn't be bothered to read posts even if they were marked:

It's been a rare treat to have this lengthy discussion of your important post #7, which of course I read, which of course I digested (if anyone cares to read my comments that follow it), and regards to which of course I brought in a lengthy two post discussion of my own (via links to another thread) as a potentially discussional environment of equally speculative possibilities of sorts, to the rosy picture of potentially more rainfall and more monocultural production due to global warming.

But now that the subject matter has somehow been shifted to me, I feel a need to move on. I certainly don't see myself or any other individual as any sort of option for civilization should it decline. I could be wrong. But I don't see it.

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.ren
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NELD = Non-Economic Loss and Damage

That's the topic of this study:

Non-Economic Loss and Damage in the Context of Climate Change: Understanding the Challenges

Abstract

The concept of non - economic loss and damage (NELD) captures the impacts of climate change that are hard to quantify and often go unnoticed by the outside world, such as the loss of traditional ways of living, cultural heritage and biodiversity. It also enc apsulates losses whose valuation raises ethical concerns – loss of life and human health. The concept of NELD has recently emerged as a policy issue in the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The goal is to impleme nt or develop approaches that minimise the risk of NELD occurring or that effectively respond to losses. This paper is the first to propose the distinctions between approaches to avoid NELD and approaches responding to unavoidable NELD. It provides a conce ptual framework in which the highly diverse cases of NELD can be categorised. It identifies the main characteristics of NELD items and their associated challenges for policy - making. Building on this conceptual approach, the paper sketches an ideal internat ional policy framework that addresses NELD and provides policy recommendations at the national level.

Download this publication

I believe this is closer to the concept douglaslee was trying to introduce with the Michael Moore rendition of the Norway strategy. But this study is looking at the problem from a global perspective, which was why I brought in that critique from a global systems analytical point of view. I think it's very likely we are all touched now (a reference to an old thread started by Antifascist) by a global economic system.

This study may offer some global options worth looking at.

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A little something for all the "gloom and doomers" out there.

"An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries has just published a study titled "Greening of the Earth and its Drivers" in the journal Nature Climate Change showing significant greening of a quarter to one-half of the Earth's vegetated lands using data from the NASA-MODIS and NOAA-AVHRR satellite sensors of the past 33 years."

'“The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA (18 million km2), and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” says lead author Dr. Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Peking University, China, who did the first-half of this study as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University, USA, together with Prof. Myneni.'

"Greening of the Earth and its drivers"

"Nature Climate Change (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate3004 Received 08 June 2015
Accepted 29 March 2016
Published online 25 April 2016"
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Quote mjolnir:

A little something for all the "gloom and doomers" out there.

"An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries has just published a study titled "Greening of the Earth and its Drivers" in the journal Nature Climate Change showing significant greening of a quarter to one-half of the Earth's vegetated lands using data from the NASA-MODIS and NOAA-AVHRR satellite sensors of the past 33 years."

'“The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA (18 million km2), and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” says lead author Dr. Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Peking University, China, who did the first-half of this study as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University, USA, together with Prof. Myneni.'

Just in case the casual reader is seduced into believing that this report of global greening implies support for the contrarian argument that global warming, as a result of increasing CO2, has now been unequivically proven to be truly beneficial, let us not carefully ignore other paragraph's from the above linked article (CO2 fertilizaton greening the earth):

Quote CO2 fertilization greening the Earth:

The beneficial aspect of CO2 fertilization in promoting plant growth has been used by contrarians, notably Lord Ridley (hereditary peer in the UK House of Lords) and Mr. Rupert Murdoch (owner of several news outlets), to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change, similar to those agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Paris last year under the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "The fallacy of the contrarian argument is two-fold. First, the many negative aspects of climate change, namely global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice, more severe tropical storms, etc. are not acknowledged. Second, studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising CO2 concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time," says co-author Dr. Philippe Ciais, Associate Director of the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, Gif-suvYvette, France and Contributing Lead Author of the Carbon Chapter for the recent IPCC Assessment Report 5.

CO2 fertilization is only one, albeit a predominant, reason why the Earth is greening. The study also identified climate change, nitrogen fertilization and land management as other important reasons. "While the detection of greening is based on measurements, the attribution to various drivers is based on models, and these models have known deficiencies. Future works will undoubtedly question and refine our results," says coauthor Dr. Josep Canadell of the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Division in Canberra, Australia and leader of the Global Carbon Project.

(my bold, .ren)

So, the point is, like all science at this stage of studying what's taking place as the macro phenomenon we are calling global warming, neither Murdock, Ridley nor all the others who see no reason to be concerned, we don't know with any certainty the ultimate consequences of what we've set off.

And yes, the study mentions land management as a factor, so this issue, from another ecological study (Climate-smart soils), that I drew attention to in my post #3 above, is still relevant to all the science taking place, and to whatever steps we may take to deal with the effects of this industrial civilization on the biosphere of this planet:

Quote Tim Radford's Soil could save Earth from overheating:

Climate scientists anxious to find ways to limit atmospheric greenhouse gases have started to look at the ground beneath their feet.

They calculate that although the world’s soils already hold 2.4 trillion tonnes of gases in the form of organic carbon, there’s room for more.

Scientists from the US and Scotland report in Nature journal that with a few changes to agricultural practice, there would be room for another 8 billion tonnes.

“In our fight to avoid dangerous climate change in the 21st century, we need heavyweight allies,” says Dave Reay, a geoscientist and specialist in carbon management at Edinburgh University. “One of the most powerful is right beneath our feet. Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger.

One of the options suggested by this finding is that we humans could collectively do something about the way we now do industrial farming in order to avoid a potential overheating effect which could very well result in unforeseeable consequences beyond a greening. This in my mind is merely a conservative approach to our current industrial revolutionizing practices that have brought about this rise in CO2. Truth be told, when it comes to engineering change in the biosphere, I'm very conservative. That's why I've always been a conservationist.

As another paragraph not cited in the post about the above report about the greening effect of CO2 fertilization cautiously points out:

Quote CO2 fertilization greening the Earth:

"We were able to tie the greening largely to the fertilizing effect of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration by tasking several computer models to mimic plant growth observed in the satellite data," says co-author Prof. Ranga Myneni of the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University, USA. Burning oil, gas, coal and wood for energy releases CO2 in to the air. The amount of CO2 in the air has been increasing since the industrial age and currently stands at a level not seen in at least half-a-million years. It is the chief culprit of climate change.

(again, my bold, .ren)

Whether or not we humans can adapt to whatever systemic changes that may be set off -- as many species are very likely not to, another fact that science has also been tracking as those who study these extinctions note for us (Species Extinction Happening 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans? from Rupert Murdock's own National Geographic although May, 2014 predates his present era of control) -- is one of the serious scientific explorations that I have been following as I report on these ecological issues.

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.ren
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What I envisioned when I introduced this topic was a mixture of issues that, together, create a complexity of problems that are ultimately an overwhelmingly daunting challenge to grasp, let alone address. So far, merely revealing that vision in this very limited discussional environment has proven to be well beyond my very limited capacities as a former systems analyst and strategic planning writer.

I'm now stepping back and trying a different approach. This is integral with my earlier link to an article about the soils and their relationship with the CO2 levels our atmosphere: Soil could save Earth from overheating

At the national level, we do actually have a consortium of interests actively involved behind the national news scene in very serious attempts to come to some sort of combined understanding with hopes of finding agreement that would lead the food production sector (the farmers themselves) in a sustainable direction that will stem the ongoing decline of the environment on many fronts, while at the same time meeting the challenges of civilization's growth and development process. These interested parties -- all institutional in composition -- include, though may not be limited to, academic science departments from various universities, private science foundations, government institutions, and corporate for-profit institutions of various sorts.

A core document that I am working from to try to link together all these integrated aspects of a national system of food production and environmental care is a now much referred to 2010 National Research Council report on the impact of genetically engineered crops on U.S. farm sustainability, which, as a member of The National Academies Press, I can download for free: Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States (2010). I think anyone can become a member, but I'm not sure about that.

One of the key findings in the report has generated a cascade of impacts since 2010 that lead to a 2012 Weeds Summit. Here's a press release that describes it.

That 2010 report, that triggered my own research, revealed a specific finding of the troublesome problem that nature itself presents to our land management institutions, and of course the management class of specialists itself: Namely, nature continues to adapt in unanticipated ways to our human efforts to control it while trying to maintain our high production monocultural crop strategies. These are, it turns out, a kind of singleminded design to feed designer foods (our preferred diet, so to speak) to the human species. This latest civilized iteration has, of course, worked fairly well, up until now, and we have witnessed a huge, geometric expansion of our species on the planet never before recorded in the history of our species. And it's taken place in a relatively short period of time, though long enough for a couple of generations to completely forget what our lives may have been like before.

But, as is not surprising if one troubles to understand ecology and natural systems, that expansion and the food production (essentially the energy, from a physics standpoint) that feeds it is coming to a crisis, resulting from a complexity of challenges from different fronts, many of which are the unintended consequences of the actions that came out of scientific research.

That research was often performed with at least a voiced gesture towards good intentions for all of humanity. That's important to keep in mind because to talk about the unintended downside of those good intentions may look to an outsider to this analysis like gloom and doom prognosis, and, ultimately, may appear as a blame game practiced on those who took part in what has been called a "green revolution."

I have links to many different voices, and many perspectives available for all of us to view on our Internet. I would love to include them all in one post. Hah! to that idea. So, in searching my mind for something that might give a flavor of the problem, from a national institution's perspective, I offer this Executive Summary from Solutions from the Land: a National Dialogue put together as a Forum by the Farm Foundation.

Solutions from the Land: Developing a New Vision for United States Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation

Here's a pdf version of the full report: Solutions from the Land: Developing a New Vision for United States Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation

Here's a quick summary of the Executive Summary:

The SFL report identifies five broad challenges to land management:

  • Loss of working lands.
  • Conflicting policies and inadequate rewards for ecosystem services.
  • Declining investments in research and innovation.
  • The changing climate.
  • Multiple risks, such as volatile global markets, policy uncertainties and unpredictable weather.

The report also identifies potential ways to address these challenges:

  • Implement landscape-scale solutions through coalitions of many stakeholders.
  • Harmonize policy frameworks by reconciling conflicting policies and removing redundant paperwork.
  • Develop a clear system to measure the value of ecosystem services and reward that stewardship accordingly.
  • Energize and coordinate land management research.
  • Transform and modernize networks to share information on sustainable practices.
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.ren
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This post is a follow up to the above points by Solutions From the Land regarding the need for coordinated, global land management practices to address the potential for humans to help the land and forests achieve maximum CO2 absorption, rather than inhibit them, as our sciences show we are doing at an accelerated pace now.

The following are reports of scientific findings on just what types of species mix are best for various types of forests:

Forest species help trees to absorb CO2

"The ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide is strongly affected by the mix of trees and the other creatures that inhabit them."

Here is how to conserve a forest: soak up carbon from the atmosphere and keep the climate cool: make sure your forest is rich in animal and bird species; make sure that it remains a natural mix of saplings, mature trees, shrubs and creepers; and remember to take care of the forest giants. In other words, leave it to Nature.

.

This is the exact opposite of what has taking place with logging practices here on the West Coast of the U.S. I live where I can witness the practice of stripping the land of the trees. And of course with them go the variety of species they harbored, with the assistance of which they also propagated and maintained an ongoing maximum CO2 absorption capacity, Since the first clear cuts began just a relatively short while ago, the regrowth has been managed by human institutions rather than nature. Essentially, for profit corporations now decide what should grow on the land, and manage the species of trees, just as industrial agriculture manages the species of plants into vast, human-oriented monoculture species, in order to grow back carefully controlled, herbicide sprayed, and "weed free" stands of lumber-specific trees, like Douglas furs, that survive maybe forty years before the next harvest.

The result of these practices is reported by a coordinated study put together by fifteen institutions published in the earth study journal: Nature Communications.

Contrasting effects of defaunation on aboveground carbon storage across the global tropics

Anthropocene defaunation is amongst the most pervasive drivers of Earth’s ongoing biodiversity crisis1, 2, 3, 4. The rates at which the tropics are losing vertebrate species are amongst the highest globally, with larger species being particularly vulnerable to population declines and extirpations1, 5, 6, 7. Declines of large vertebrates can have widespread, cascading effects on community- and ecosystem-level processes, because smaller organisms are often unable to perform the ecological roles of larger vertebrates1, 2. In tropical forests, where the majority of tree species depend on vertebrate frugivores for seed dispersal8, theory and empirical evidence indicate that defaunation can substantially alter the composition of tree communities, through effects on seed dispersal processes9, 10, 11 and cause tree recruitment to shift towards smaller-seeded animal-dispersed and abiotically dispersed species12, 13, 14, 15. Declines of large vertebrate frugivores can result in reductions of up to 60% in the abundance of tree species that depend on them for seed dispersal16, with resultant declines of over 25% in average seed sizes of adult tree communities13. With tropical forests representing one of the largest terrestrial carbon pools and playing a critical role in regulating global climate17, 18, understanding whether and how such defaunation-driven declines in large-seeded species can affect carbon storage in tropical forests across the globe is critical19, 20.

Another study, this one closer to my region, from Oregon State:

Spatial models reveal the microclimatic buffering capacity of old-growth forests

From the Abstract:

Old-growth vegetation characteristics, measured using LiDAR (light detection and ranging), appeared to have an insulating effect; maximum spring monthly temperatures decreased by 2.5°C across the observed gradient in old-growth structure. These cooling effects across a gradient in forest structure are of similar magnitude to 50-year forecasts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and therefore have the potential to mitigate climate warming at local scales. Management strategies to conserve old-growth characteristics and to curb current rates of primary forest loss could maintain microrefugia, enhancing biodiversity persistence in mountainous systems under climate warming.

Forest Threats

But the preservation of soaring canopy also promises to be a challenge in a rapidly-changing world. David Lindenmayer of the Australian National University in Canberra and Bill Laurance at James Cook University in Queensland argue in Trends in Ecology and Evolution that prolonged drought, invasive species, new pathogens and habitat destruction compound the problems the forests’ oldest, grandest, tallest giants must face.

They considered the potential plight of the giants, the ancient oaks that reach more than 40 metres in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest, the giant baobabs of Madagascar, the towering gums and mountain ash of Tasmania that grow to 90 metres, and the giant redwoods of California that tip 110 metres, trees that have survived for hundreds and even thousands of years.

And big trees matter: they have a giant part in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but their very height means that they must work harder to haul water to the canopy. And their size and staying power mean they provide food and shelter for wildlife.

“They’re really the breadbaskets, the supermarkets, of the forest,” said Professor Laurance. “This is a very environmentally and ecologically important group of organisms, and they need special care and handling.”

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To tie in the Best is last or last is best post I linked earlier, ren referenced Alice and the rabbit hole w/"do cats eat bats" and "do bats eat cats", or logic and the language involved in it.

gameoflogic#page/2*

The US may be the last of the fascists and obviously the best. With language, fascists can practice fascism unnoticed, especially if everything else that works is labeled socialism (wrongly correlated w/communism), loudly and continuously.

Maybe when the GOP shrivels and withers away, the line will be "The GOP was the best fascist party, and the last fascist party"

btw, I finished Hedges' "Empire of Illusion" on the train and plane sunday, fantastic, finished in one setting (I had scanned for quotes or sources to lift for discussion, but not read the whole thing). Language IS key to his thesis. Chomsky, Nader, Kucinich, and other realists have been hidden in the American basement, with labels and the misunderstanding or promotion of ignorance the fascist supporters regale in.

Language happens to be in humanities, which are discouraged by corporate chieftains and their lackies (aka congress). Marketing requires deceit, fascists market dogshit, the top countries just do what's right and their end product doesn't need marketing, the consumers know it first hand.

*Can a Thing (substantive) exist without any Attributes (adjectives)? Can an Attribute exist with a Thing to which it belongs? From the link to Carrol's Game of Logic.

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.truthdig._book_excerpt_empire_of_illusion-the work mentioned in the previous post.

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I wrote down some interesting statements while reading Hedges' tome-

Positive Psychology is quack science, it gives an academic patina to fantasy. (Tony Robbins?)

Tyranny of harmony leads to a life of fantasy, ignoring reality.

A Berkley anthropologist, Laura Nader, was a contributor of wisdom in one section. I wrote her name down for some reason, ren, have you told me of her before?

Hedges' normal extensive bibliography and index offered

under Nader:

"Harmony Coerced is Freedom Denied"-Chronicle of higher education

"Plunder, When the Rule of Law is Illegal" (Blackwell publishing)"

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Quote douglaslee:

I wrote down some interesting statements while reading Hedges' tome-

Positive Psychology is quack science, it gives an academic patina to fantasy. (Tony Robbins?)

Tyranny of harmony leads to a life of fantasy, ignoring reality.

A Berkley anthropologist, Laura Nader, was a contributor of wisdom in one section. I wrote her name down for some reason, ren, have you told me of her before?

Hedges' normal extensive bibliography and index offered

under Nader:

"Harmony Coerced is Freedom Denied"-Chronicle of higher education

"Plunder, When the Rule of Law is Illegal" (Blackwell publishing)"

I felt persuaded to buy and explore that book when i read this quote Hedges chose to place at the very beginning. It's from one of my favorite writers, James Baldwin:

Quote Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle:

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster. --James Baldwin

Baldwin himself raises perplexing questions with that quote. So many more questions that are necessary to pursue, if any effort is to be made to end a life spent enraptured by illusions one has never ventured to doubt. Like: what actually is reality?

And then this, at the very beginning of Chapter One, on the page that follows Baldwin's,

Now the death of God combined with the perfection of the image has brought us to a whole new state of expectation. We are the image. We are the viewer and the viewed. There is no other distracting presence. And that image has all the Godly powers. It kills at will. Kills effortlessly. Kills beautifully. It dispenses morality. Judges endlessly. The electronic image is man as God and the ritual involved leads us not to a mysterious Holy Trinity but back to ourselves. In the absence of a clear understanding that we are now the only source, these images cannot help but return to the expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies. This in turn facilitates the use of the electronic image as propaganda by whoever can control some part of it. --John Ralston Saul, Voltaire's Bastards, The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.

also led me to explore John Ralston Saul's work. The quote no doubt belongs where Hedges has placed it in the breadcrumbs of his own exploratory process for the reader: at the very beginning. I say that because I found Saul to be another spirit kindred with Hedges'. The whole notion of an empire of illusion is also explored by Saul in a series of works he put forth back in the nineties that led to his short, very readable and seering work: The Unconscious Civilization, where I find many echoes of Hedges' own often quotable lines.

These works of doubt do not happen in a vacuum. But each of us can begin our own at any time without having ever read one word of another's exploration. Like, for instance, the day you get off a bus in a military boot camp, you are eighteen and you are told you are about to begin your ritual of passage to adulthood. But what you see all around you is a prison camp. And that actual message your brain unfolds from all that you see stays with you, haunts you, and all the things you are told eventually lose any sense of reality or substance because what's there in front of you for you to experience moment by moment -- the brutality, the violatons to others and their rights as human beings -- is so real.

But this line from that Saul quote get me to pondering just how an empire so enraptured by itself can come to an awakening about what it is actually doing in the world:

In the absence of a clear understanding that we are now the only source, these images cannot help but return to the expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies.

...why is the expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies? And why do I see so much of it going on all around me in this society where whole wars are pursued out of a mass cultural sense of fear.... here, in our "exceptional" society in which the objectivity scientific and technological reasoning supposedly reigns supreme? And where reason is, of course, controlled and meted out to the masses by experts in the upper echelons of the machinery of our various institutions.

Then you get these bizarre mixtures, like an Ayn Randian "ethical" objectivism, alluded to by certain politicians like Ted Cruz, who in turn can appeal to both a Christian Right grouping and the libertarians who are supposedly all about reason and logic in one area of culture, anyway, the "Free" marketplace, where all our problems can be resolved by an invisible hand. These connections do not make clear and logical linear sense, and so the must be thought about at some length, perhaps even in dreams where the symbols unite in ways our rational minds will never work them. And Hedges does get thoughtful about it in his own study of the Christian Right: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

And I'll leave off with this conundrum quoted at the beginning of that thoughtful exercise:

Quote American Fascists:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal. --Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

Hedges, Chris (2007-01-09). American Fascists (p. 1). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I know of Laura's Nader's work. I was especially interested in how she deals with the problem of perception within a culture, for it is within a cultural mindset that we create our own sometimes bulletproof weltanschauungs. I don't know if I've had any occasion to bring it to the board recently. Here work came up many years ago in my explorations around Thomas Kuhn's peculiar philosophical discursion into the subjective nature of science itself with his: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

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.ren
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I want to share some quotes from Saul's The Unconscious Civilization that I find to bear a resemblance to themes in Hedges work in Empire of Illusion. Bear in mind that Saul was writing in 1997, so one quote below is not referring to the often admitted technocrat's nightmare called Obamacare that actually was passed this time.

Also bear in mind that he's talking about a kind of technology: the technology of organization; and that's why he uses the term technocrat, not bureaucrat, which is an older term going back to the late 19th century, early 20th century era of Taylorism and Weberian management theory, that, I suggest, spawned the creative insights of Kafka, and, even those of Orwell a few years later, as well. Technocrat is a more appropriate description because it applies to the experts and managers in both private and public institutions, and it relates to imagining institution-as-technology, or, as we might call it, civilization's great human engineering project.

The first quote you may recognize as one appropriated by Hedges a few years back; most recently when he was talking with Wolin in that interview about Democracy Incorporated:

Quote The Unconscious Civilization:

It could be argued that we are now in the midst of a coup d'état in slow motion. Democracy is weakening; few people would disagree. Corporatism is strengthening; you only have to look around you. Yet none of us has chosen this route for our society, in spite of which our elites quite happily continue down it.

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1114-1117). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

The slow emergence of strict modern corporatism can be seen in our attempts, over the last half-century, to deal with this issue of obedience. It was given enormous play after World War Two when German officers and officials were tried and convicted at Nuremberg for having obeyed orders. Today we are inundated by trials and official inquiries revolving around this same question of whether or not to obey orders. What if contaminated blood is being used in the health-care system? What if a car or a plane has a faulty part?

We are— almost all of us— employees in some sort of corporation, public or private. Increasingly, those who follow orders are being acquitted. Why? Because increasingly our society does not see social obligation as the primary obligation of the individual. The primary obligation is loyalty to the corporation. It is, as Jung described it, “that gentle and painless slipping back into the kingdom of childhood, into the paradise of parental care.” Why? Because “all mass movements slip with the greatest ease down an inclined plane made up of large numbers. Where the many are, there is security; what the many believe must of course be true.”

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1124-1132). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

None of what I am describing is a simple matter of Left versus Right. Corporatism cuts across political lines. The official voices of reform are as much a part of the structure as are the voices of the Right. Look, for example, at the American liberal attempt to put in place a decent health-care structure. First, an American president was elected by the people with, as his principal platform, health-care reform. Once in power he turned to the relevant elites and they produced a new health-care structure which was a technocrat’s nightmare. Even its supporters couldn’t understand it. The president put this proposal forward for debate and it was flung aside with the flick of a wrist.

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1151-1156). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

They are fixated on the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century idea of growth, which more or less added up to the direct production of goods, in particular of capital goods. However, our society seems unable to go any farther down that road. We have no need of more real production. Our elites have therefore set about inventing a fairy tale imitation of growth. Note that although a corporatist society discourages creativity, it encourages delusion. And on the subject of growth, what we are experiencing is a feeding frenzy of delusion. The money markets are a prime example. But so also are the commercial property booms; the endless investment in management structures; and our embroidering of consumerism which ranges from the highly baroque to the outright lunatic.

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1846-1852). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

That which you are told today is the inevitable product of economic truth and globalization is more accurately the passive assertion of superstitious men waiting for Destiny to fell them. It is an attitude that most sensible men and women can easily reject. But rejection means assuming responsibility. And in our elites there is no desire to initiate changes which would insert the concept of responsibility into that of power. Only a persistent public commitment by the citizenry could bring such a thing about.

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1866-1869). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

And this, in relation to your quotes from Laura Nader:

The citizen’s rights have been buried in law and the citizen’s status in the hierarchy of professionalism.

To the extent that legal and professional organization lacks the emotional power to keep us in cowed, we have added the force of ideology. Who would not be cowed by the “invisible hand” of the marketplace or the “manifest destiny” of technology? But it is law and hierarchy combined which create the form of a controlled society. The reformers saw this control as being exercised in the name of justice, but their approach has left us undefended before the forces of self-interest.

Look at the eagerness with which liberal and social democratic governments are embracing the idea that general schooling should be restructured to act as a direct conduit to the managerial economy. You will find this idea popping up throughout the West. The new Italian centre-left coalition is the latest example. They all say: “We must be practical. We must produce citizens who can find jobs.” But these changes will not help individuals in the work place. They will, however, prepare the young to accept the structures of corporatism.

Saul, John Ralston (2012-11-06). The Unconscious Civilization (Kindle Locations 1973-1981). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Two recent articles that suggest a declining role for the current Oil Order in the future:

Debacle at Doha: The Collapse of the Old Oil Order --April 28, By Michael T. Klare

Oil majors told to adapt or die --May 9, 2016, by Kieran Cooke

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

TRUMPs idea to build a wall along Mexican boarder could be used to solve the nuclear waste issue> Build a DOULBE WALL and FILL the space between with

Nuclear Waste w/the implication that No Body crosses and lives to tell about it

not even IF they were to burrow underneath it, the vertical radiation would block it

Point is, Mexico's Drug Cartels would PAY for a SINGLE wall or lose Drug Trade U$D

but after the SINGLE WALL goes up, its easy to construct an ajacent Double wall

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BoxCar
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May. 16, 2016 11:16 am

Maybe he can figure a way to surround the entire U.S. with such a thing. Since this is now a global problem, take in all the waste from the rest of the world, they'd all appreciate it since none of the countries that went nuclear looked at the long term for safe disposal of their waste. Wall Americans in and everyone else out.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

As a civilization progresses, It's language becomes more advanced and eloquent. We've got Twitter and texting. Decline-you bet!

DynoDon
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Jun. 29, 2012 10:24 am

I think of it as the "pidginization" effect. Pidgin languages form when different cultures come together and have to interact, mostly for trade purposes.

Amusingly, even ironically, this has emerged in chat software: Pidgin (software).

In a way, the pidgin effect is a kind of solution for an increasing complexity in communication that occurs as this form of civilization has grown and expanded around the world. Social complexity gives rise to strategies for efficiency in a variety of different ways, not the least of which would involve communication. Complex and boroque forms of eloquence, that might be found in pockets of culture, break down as the need for a wide variety of differences in cultural forms come together to, shall we say, do business. Part of that doing business is through mass media and advertising, which I find to be incredibly dumbed down.

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.ren
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(Wringing their hands... "What to do? What to do?")

Another dysfunctional civilized effort to deal with an expanding population, a need to own property and be settled somewhere (in complete financial safety), and, well, changes in the biosphere, much the worst of it civilization caused, and related geological change:

Quote US Insurance aid props up climate-risk homes:

According to a report in London’s Financial Times, Lloyd’s says the US government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which subsidises insurance cover for householders in regions vulnerable to floods and storms, encourages irresponsible house building.

Lloyd’s also says the NFIP subsidy regime is financially unsustainable. Because of claims related to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and superstorm Sandy in 2012, the NFIP has now run up debts of more than $24 billion.

Insurance companies have been among those at the forefront of analysing the financial implications of climate change and assessing climate-related risk worldwide.

“Intended as a disaster relief programme,
the federal flood insurance scheme is really
a land development policy”

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.ren
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The industrial ag managers and professionals of the Green Revolution that was intended to bring bountiful harvests to a growing, expanding human population are now struggling to meet the challenge of a warming world. New GMO plants need to be developed, tested and employed, and even doing so may not happen fast enough to keep pace with the global warming that's already taking place. Maybe more importantly, new ways of looking at the soil itself must come about in these complex institutional problem solving technologies.

Race is on to feed warming world

Soil management

But some African farmers understood the principles of soil management long before the scientific revolution in agriculture, according to new research in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

James Fairhead, professor of social anthropology at the University of Sussex, UK, and colleagues report that they analysed a range of sites in West Africa – 150 in northwest Liberia and 27 in Ghana.

They found that leached and nutrient-starved tropical forest soils had been transformed, in some cases almost seven centuries ago, into enduringly fertile loams by the addition of black carbon and kitchen scrap. These cultivated patches contained two to three times as much organic carbon as other soils and were better suited to intensive farming.

Other researchers have identified similar techniques in Amazon soils that date from long before the European discovery of America.

“Mimicking this ancient method has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people living in some of the most poverty-stricken and hunger-stricken regions of Africa,” Professor Fairhead says.

“More work needs to be done, but this simple, effective farming practice could be an answer to major global challenges, such as developing ‘climate-smart’ agricultural systems that can feed growing populations and adapt to climate change.”

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.ren
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Ah, yes, but as the world warms, and weeds proliferate, creating a "welcomed" greening effect in arctic ecosystems (the next phase in the denialist argument), such as the tundra belt, less inviting consequences also arrive:

Warming Arctic creates GHG danger zone

Climate scientists have coolly established the mechanism by which a warming Arctic will accelerate the warming of the whole world. It’s simple: as the permafrost warms and dries, it will release ever greater quantities of carbon dioxide from the Arctic soils.

And those bits of tundra that warm, thaw and become increasingly soggy will release ever greater quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) more short-lived but also a far more potent heat trap than CO2.

The impact of the carbon dioxide, they say, could be dominant in accelerating global climate change. Since the Arctic region is already the fastest-warming place on the planet, and since the soils of the permafrost are calculated to hold twice as much carbon as is already in the atmosphere, the stakes are high – and so is the pressure on climate scientists to get the details right.

And so the scientists are dutifully working on it:

Potential carbon emissions dominated by carbon dioxide from thawed permafrost soils

by:

Increasing temperatures in northern high latitudes are causing permafrost to thaw1, making large amounts of previously frozen organic matter vulnerable to microbial decomposition2. Permafrost thaw also creates a fragmented landscape of drier and wetter soil conditions3, 4 that determine the amount and form (carbon dioxide (CO2), or methane (CH4)) of carbon (C) released to the atmosphere. The rate and form of C release control the magnitude of the permafrost C feedback, so their relative contribution with a warming climate remains unclear5, 6. We quantified the effect of increasing temperature and changes from aerobic to anaerobic soil conditions using 25 soil incubation studies from the permafrost zone. Here we show, using two separate meta-analyses, that a 10 °C increase in incubation temperature increased C release by a factor of 2.0 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.8 to 2.2). Under aerobic incubation conditions, soils released 3.4 (95% CI, 2.2 to 5.2) times more C than under anaerobic conditions. Even when accounting for the higher heat trapping capacity of CH4, soils released 2.3 (95% CI, 1.5 to 3.4) times more C under aerobic conditions. These results imply that permafrost ecosystems thawing under aerobic conditions and releasing CO2 will strengthen the permafrost C feedback more than waterlogged systems releasing CO2 and CH4 for a given amount of C.

Thus, logically, rationally as the scientific method meticulously proceeds, the study focuses on some fine details in the process:

Quote Tim Radford, Climate News Network:

Question of topography

The Nature Climate Change study picks apart the fine detail of the process, and the next step is to establish whether thawing polar soils will become wetter or drier overall. This could boil down to a question of topography.

“A few centimetres can make the difference in whether the ground slumps and becomes wetter or ends up high and dry, by separating more from the water table,” says Colleen Iversen, an ecosystem scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US and a co-author of the report.

“There are also big ponds that might dry out over large areas, as well as soils underlain by a network of ice wedges where warming could lead to a thermokarst, or a slumping, of the land surface as permafrost thaws and the ice wedges melt.

“So the wetting and drying of the Arctic is important to observe and model at scales ranging from a metre to multiple kilometres.”

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.ren
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The Supreme Court Broke Politics - How Do We Now Reform the Supreme Court?

Thom plus logo We complain about the state of American politics; about a mentally ill billionaire in the White House and a Republican Party crawling with hustlers and conmen, and a few in the Democratic Party as well. The complaints are legitimate, but most people don't realize why the situation is as bad as it is.
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