Fever-Stimulated Silhouette

July 20, 2014


(Illustration: ‘The White Tiger of Autumn,’ by Kevin Lee Drum found here).

On this early Sunday, the world is in a fog. Here on California’s north coast, it’s literal — deep, ground fog, a normal, misty part of the local environment. In a couple of hours or so, sunshine and warm breezes.
Out in the rest of the world, however, this morning’s fog is a metaphor: On of the most visible aspects of nonlinear science is the portion of nonlinear dynamics popularly known as “Chaos Theory.” “Chaos” results when a system is nonlinear and “sensitive to initial conditions.”
And no sunshine and warm breezes to follow.

An unending fog of war. Cruelly-odd how in a futuristic-modern world with mind-boggling, near-science-fiction technology, and a supposedly more-humane approach to humanity, there’s an onslaught of slaughter and savagery on such a scale in so many diverse places, connected only by heinous violence, it’s pure, bat-shit crazy.
And due to all types/kinds of links, these nightmarish pings of horror affect/effect — the noun becomes the verb — the entire planet.

Of course, this morning’s top war-zone story is the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, creating some hideous headlines at HuffPost, and this in the New York Times: “I am shocked by the images of completely disrespectful behavior at this tragic place. In defiance of all the rules of proper investigation, people have evidently been picking through the personal and recognizable belongings of the victims. This is appalling.”
Seemingly, the whole world getting ready to throw shit-balls at Putin.
And the second-banana slaughter-topic is the Israel/Palestine blow-out, where after 12 days of rockets and bombs, more than 340 Palestinians are dead, 76 of them children and 28 women, with 2,279 injured; on Saturday, Israeli deaths rose to five, with two civilians and three soldiers killed. This morning, though, the war got serious for Israel: Hamas said it lured Israeli tanks into a Gaza field in which it had hidden improvised explosive devices, and “destroyed the force completely.”
Supposedly, 13 Israeli soldiers killed.
Sense from a guy on a Gaza street: “We have two very stupid leaders,” he says emphatically. “Abu Mazen [the nickname for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas] wants to weaken and humiliate Hamas. [Israeli prime minister] Binyamin Netanyahu is only interested in his own short-term domestic political agenda.”
Reality of the 99 percent.

Meanwhile, in that still-supposedly nation of Iraq, the government suffered another major defeat on Friday — a bad, bad one — which could have a rapid-domino effect on the tittering country. Via McClatchy:

Islamic State gunmen overran a former U.S. military base early Friday and killed or captured hundreds of Iraqi government troops who’d been trying to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, the worst military reversal Iraqi troops have suffered since the Islamist forces captured nearly half the country last month.

There was no comment from the Iraqi government.
On Wednesday, the military had acknowledged that its forces had made what it called a “tactical retreat” to Ajwa, a town about 10 miles south of Tikrit, after the push into the city failed.

In Syria, these ISIS guys have taken a major natural gas field, thus now hold about 35 percent of that country, and reports have surfaced, they “killed and executed” 270 people during the assault late last week. Either, I guess, “killed” in battle action, or “executed” afterwards — these ISIS assholes are well-known to shoot anybody, anytime, anywhere without much reason.
Nothing there but horrible shit still to come.

And the above is just the short-list, top-of-the-news events; in Nigeria, Boko Haram continues to slaughter, killing more than a hundred in taking a town way-near the northeastern state capital of Maiduguri (the Boko boys are like the ISIS crowd — kill anybody, anywhere, etc., etc.); Libya is also disintegrating, three people killed Saturday near Tripoli’s international airport, and in the infamous Benghazi, a couple of military types died in ambushes; and the list goes on and on…

One has to keep in mind all those shit-spots are conventional, historical and most-ordinary. We humans have been doing shit like this to each other since way-before recorded history. And maybe, too, a lot of shit right now all at once. Yet still formed in the conventional mode, though, and comes deeply-imprinted with mankind’s seemingly-normal savage streak.

The big, big bummer this morning, however, is the worst-than-the-above unconventional problem now currently facing the planet  — climate change.

fossil-fuels-skeleton-hand1And what makes climate change nearly unbeatable — via Inside Climate News:

The nation’s oil use rose by 400,000 barrels per day to a daily draw of 18.9 million barrels; China’s oil consumption grew by 390,000 barrels a day, to 10.8 million barrels a day, according to the BP figures released last month.

Those figures are for 2013, but this year, it’s already 1 percent higher.

(Illustration found here).

Crux of the climate-change problem is the severity of mobile life: In addition, California — which by itself accounts for 11 percent of the nation’s gasoline use — has had nine straight months of higher year-over-year gasoline consumption, according to data from the state board of equalization.

Weaning off modern, fossil-fueled transportation is about impossible.
Yet the burning of this item is/will kill us. And it’s already making the world a sick puppy. The “…annual checkup on the planet” reveals our only home is in pretty-bad shape:

Climate data show that global temperatures in 2013 continued their long-term rising trend.
In fact, 2013 was somewhere between the second- and sixth-hottest year on record for the planet since record keeping began in 1880, according to the climate report, released Thursday (July 17) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
(Four groups of scientists, who rely on slightly different methods to calculate global surface temperatures, ranked 2013 slightly differently compared with other years.)

“The climate is changing more rapidly in today’s world than at any time in modern civilization,” said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
“If we look at it like we’re trying to maintain an ideal weight, then we’re continuing to see ourselves put more weight on from year to year,” he said.
Climate scientists blame rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere for the planet’s changing climate.
The levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2013.
The worldwide average reached 395.3 ppm, a 2.8 ppm increase from 2012, NOAA reports. (Parts per million denotes the volume of a gas in the air; in this case, for every 1 million air molecules, 400 are carbon dioxide.)
“The major greenhouse gases all reached new record high values in 2013,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with ERT, Inc., and a NOAA contractor who helped write the report.

And this year, April through June saw the continued CO2 mark of 400 ppm — greenhouse gases (of which CO2 is only but one) hasn’t been this high…in somewhere between 800,000 and 15 million years.
Dude, this is bad.

And here in California, we’re feeling the effects of climate change in the most-severe drought in the state’s history, Last week, the National Weather Service increased the dry: The NWS’ Drought Monitor Update for July 15 shows 81 percent of California in the category of extreme drought or worse, up from 78 percent. Three months ago, it was 68 percent.
And the drought is expected to just get worse.

Drought conditions are also showing up around my local living parts. On California’s north coast, our streams and rivers are turning into nothing more than sand and rock. A way-good, detailed display of this comes from our own Lost Coast Outpost via some graphic, drought photos.
And also our understanding and compliance with the new statewide water rules instigated last week:

On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency, joining dozens of other local governments, and the State Water Resources Control Board voted in emergency regulations, including fines for wasting water.
The new rules, which take effect Aug. 1, allow local governments to levy fines of up to $500 per day.

The regulations from the State Water Resources Control Board slapped new restrictions on ‘water users from using drinkable water to hose off sidewalks and driveways, water lawns or gardens to the point of causing runoff, wash cars without a shutoff nozzle and using potable water in non-circulating fountains.
Our state is also the only western one having no regulations on groundwater extraction and use — California farmers are sucking up groundwater at an incredible high rate: They are projected to pump 13 million acre-feet this year, enough to put Rhode Island 17 feet under.

A bunch of bat-shit crazy, huh?
Are we fucked, or what?
And what price will we pay for ignoring climate change?
In one dismal answer, environmental writer Chris Mooney at Mother Jones examines a book from the new “cli-fi,” genre, or climate science fiction, entitled, “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future,” and is in line with the nowadays.
Written by science historians, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, best known for their classic 2010 book, “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming,” there’s fact in the fiction.
A few snips:

In it, Oreskes and Conway write from the perspective of a historian, living in China (the country that fared the best in facing the ravages of climate change) in the year 2393.
The historian seeks to analyze the biggest paradox imaginable: Why humans who saw the climate disaster coming, who were thoroughly and repeatedly warned, did nothing about it.

The answer couldn’t be more depressing: We got it all wrong. We sacrificed our birthright. We unleashed ravaging heat waves, destabilized ice sheets, shot chemicals into the skies in a failed attempt to fix our mess, then halted that intervention and made everything still worse. (All of these things unfold in the story.)
The consequences were toppled governments, mass migrations, and unimaginable human tragedy from starvation, dehydration, and disease.
Finally came the “collapse” itself, not of Western Civilization at first, but of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which in the late 21st century rapidly disintegrated, driving up sea levels some 5 meters.
Much of Greenland soon followed.
“We were trying to sort of play on this two different senses of ‘collapse,'” explained Oreskes on Inquiring Minds. Summarizing the plot of the book, she elaborated as follows: “The West Antarctic Ice Sheet does collapse, causing massive rapid sea level rise, which then puts into effect a kind of chain of events, which ultimately leads to the collapse of political and cultural institutions as well.”
This is a worst-case scenario, but it is far from crazy in light of our current trajectory.
And we are on this trajectory because we’re ignoring the evidence all around us.
“A shadow of ignorance and denial had fallen over people who considered themselves children of the Enlightenment,” writes Oreskes’ and Conway’s historian, explaining why our present era will later be called the “Period of the Penumbra.”

So can we still prevent ourselves from writing the story of The Collapse of Western Civilization — a story in which the historian narrator repeatedly points out missed opportunities, when something could have been done to prevent the disaster that followed? Oreskes thinks the answer is yes.
“It’s not too late. We do still have opportunities,” she says.
“But if we continue the way we’ve been going, and we continue to miss these opportunities, there is going to become a point of no return.”

The point of no return, people are saying, is still out there in the future, but how far?
Or is it?

(Illustration out front: Leila Bibizadeh’s ‘Sandhill Crane Silhouette,’ found here).).

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