Category Archives: Sustainability

Taiji: An unsustainable and inhumane dolphin hunt

Between September 26 and September 28, in Taiji, Japan, an entire family of pilot whales was eradicated from the face of the planet.

Pilot whales fighting for their lives and losing, in Taiji, Japan.  Photo by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

Pilot whales fighting for their lives and losing, in Taiji, Japan. Photo by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

UnsustainableThis kind of removal of entire components of a gene pool is unsustainable, and is addressed under the laws of certain countries, if not Japan’s.  Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. §1361- 1421 (MMPA), the term “population stock” or “stock” means “a group of marine mammals of the same species or smaller taxa in a common spatial arrangement, that interbreed when mature.”  Under the MMPA, stocks are protected.  The term “strategic stock” means “a marine mammal stock . . . for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level.”  The Taiji hunters exceed this mortality level in nearly every single encounter they have with dolphins during hunt season, because they are the proximate and direct cause of the kill and capture of significant portions of, if not entire, stocks of dolphins, even if some of the cause is less visible.

While the US law, and its notion of “strategic stock,” does not impact how the Taiji hunters conduct the drive hunt, it does impact U.S. aquariums.  The concept of “strategic stock” clearly prevents the importation into the United States of any dolphin captured in Taiji because the capture techniques there violate the concept of “stock”, and no animal so caught may be imported into the United States.  So, it is convenient for a U.S. aquarium that the public is largely unaware that such importation into the United States would never be permitted (assuming the proper decision is rendered by the permitting agency) when it “denounces” such drive hunts.  One wonders how the U.S. aquarium industry would view such hunts if it had a prayer of obtaining a dolphin from one.

Inhumane. For purposes of humaneness, the way in which this family was eradicated fails by any measure:

  • Two of the younger ones were taken for a “life” of captivity in the aquarium/marine park/swim-with industry either in Japan or internationally.  The life of a wild dolphin when it is restricted to a concrete tank or even to an “encounter cove” is so far removed from a natural life – devoid of natural family units, natural hunting behaviors, natural food and water, natural movement in straight lines over many miles and to much more varied (greater) depth – that it would be recognized in any ethics-based evaluation as “inhumane”.
  • Fifteen were killed, and their flesh sold as food. Whether food for humans or for some other, the flesh is recognized to contain toxic levels of contaminants, chiefly mercury and PCBs. The knowing and volitional spread of such contamination within Japan or to citizens of other nations is a reckless endangerment to others, and it must end.
  • Approximately 10 were driven back out, after two days of being traumatized by noise, food and water deprivation, watching family members taken from them and others killed, as the “survivors” watched.  These 10 or more pilot whales, likely the smaller whose bodies wouldn’t fetch poundage sufficient to include in the “kill/capture” quota, are believed to have become trapped in the Taiji harbor nets, having been unseen since they neared the nets. These air-breathing mammals would have then drowned. So killed they were, and should be accounted for in the “kill/capture” quota.

We can hope that the “survivors” will be spotted today, but even if they survive the immediacy of drowning in the nets, their chances for survival, without the matriarch and the other mature members of the family, are significantly diminished. The young have lost their protectors, their mentors, all the members who hold the majority of necessary survival skills. So whether they survive the nets, they have been, at least decimated in the short term, and quite likely eradicated in any meaningful, longer view.

Include all in the kill/capture quotaAn immediate call can and must be made by a decision-maker to include all the casualties, all captures, whether killed or “released” in the quota.

Caroline Kennedy got it right. The U.S. State Department backed her up.  But it's been crickets since then.

Caroline Kennedy got it right. The U.S. State Department backed her up in its January 21, 2014 briefing.  But it’s been crickets since then.

After Ambassador Kennedy made this statement, she was supported by the U.S. State Department.  But there has been no word since the eight months since.

Excerpt from U.S. State Department briefing, January 21, 2014.

Excerpt from U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing, January 21, 2014.

What you can do to end the Taiji drive hunt:

Reach out to the U.S. State Department, requesting that it clarify what it promised on January 21, 2014: to find out at what levels the U.S. government is having discussions with the Japanese government; main phone number (202) 648-4000.

Fax the Japanese embassies and ask if the Prime Minister has been briefed on the faxes, phone calls, letters and emails that the Japanese embassies and consulates around the world are receiving.  Include what you know about the inhumaneness and unsustainability of the drive hunt.  A selection of Japanese Embassy fax numbers:

US: 202-328-2184
Canada: 613-241-4261
Australia: 2 6273 1848
Malaysia: 03-2145 0126
India: 00-91-11-2688-5587 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Philippines: 02 551-5780 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Singapore: 6733-1039 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Solomon Islands: 677 21006
Chile: 2 2232-1812 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Costa Rica: 2231-3140
Trinidad & Tobago: 622-0858
UK: 020 7491 9348
Ireland: 01 283 8726
Germany: 030/21094-222
Russia: 495 229-2555
Denmark: 33 11 33 77
Sri Lanka: 11-2698629 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Thailand: 02-207-8510
Bangladesh: 2-984-1591
Peru: 463-0302 (trouble getting through 9/27)
Venezuala: 0212 262 3484,

All other Embassy and Consular info: http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/mofaserv.html

Fax Service (allows two free faxes per day, with restrictions): https://www.gotfreefax.com/

An excellent summary of what you can do to help end the Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt, including other phone numbers, email addresses, in addition to other actions that you can take: http://www.seashepherd.org/cove-guardians/what-you-can-do.html

Follow the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians on Facebook, Twitter and on their livestream for current and accurate information every day of the six-month Drive Hunt, scheduled to end on February 28.

The warmest year ever recorded, and Sen. Inhofe believes it is a hoax

As Senator Bernie Sanders spoke this week during the Senate confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I found myself once again encouraged by the existence of true leadership in our country.

I have transcribed part of what he says so that I can delight in seeing the words as well as hearing them, and will not further delay your experience, except to say that I thank the stars above for Senator Sanders, his fine mind, and his willingness to share that mind with us in the face of those, like Senator Inhofe, who have none of those qualities, except the sharing part.  Senator Inhofe never ceases to ignore science and to favor the corporate interests who expressly set out to create the sense that there was, in the 21st Century, any controversy among scientists as to the existence of climate change.

Thank you, Senator Sanders.

But really, this is not a debate about Gina McCarthy.  Senator Barrasso makes it very clear what the debate is about.  And it is a debate about global warming and whether or not we are going to listen to the leading scientists of this country, who are telling us that global warming is the most serious planetary crisis that we and the global community face and whether we are going to address that crisis in a serious manner.  In essence, what Senator Barrasso has just said is, no, he does not want the EPA to do that; he does not want the EPA to listen to science.  What he wants is us to continue doing as little as possible as we see extreme weather disturbances: drought, floods, and heat waves all over the world take place.

So, let me go on record as saying, I want EPA to be vigorous in protecting our children and future generations from the horrendous crisis that we face from global warming.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded for the continental United States, and over 24,000 new record highs were set in the U.S. alone.  It was the hottest year in recorded history in New York, Washington D.C., Louisville, Kentucky, even my home city of Burlington, Vermont, and other cities across the country.

Last year’s drought affecting two-thirds of the United States was the worst in half a century, contributing to extraordinary wildfires, burning more than 9,000,000 acres of land, reported the National Interagency Fire Center.

Heat waves and droughts are not limited to the U.S.  Australia, for instance, just experienced a four-month heat wave with severe wild fires, record-setting temperatures, and torrential rains and flooding, causing 2.4 billion dollars in damages, according to the New York Times.

And to conclude:

And what Senator Inhofe has written and talked about is his belief that global warming is one of the major hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people, that it’s a hoax pushed by people like Al Gore, the United Nations and the Hollywood elite.

. . .

So that is the issue.  That is exactly [what] the issue.  Do we agree with Senator Inhofe that global warming is a hoax? And that we do not want the Federal government, the EPA, the Department of Energy, to address that issue because it is a quote, unquote “hoax”, according to Senator Inhofe and others? Or do we believe and agree with the overwhelming majority of scientists who tell us that global warming is the most serious planetary crisis that we face, and that we must act boldly and aggressively to protect the future of this planet?

That is what the issue is.  And that is why I am supporting Gina McCarthy.

Thank you, Senator Sanders, for continuing to be a voice of reason and science in a globally-warmed desert of hoax-criers and corporate sponsors.  I’m with you.

Call to Free Captain Paul Watson

I just realized that the German Consulate General is just down the street from where I work.

Smiles.

Captain Paul Watson arrested and jailed in Germany on Costa Rica warrant

Free the man who will not stand for illegal fishing and whaling

German Consulate General
Marquis Two Tower, Suite 901
285 Peachtree Center Avenue, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303-1221
Phone (404) 659 4760
Fax (404) 659 1280

Hello, I’m here to speak to someone about freeing Captain Paul Watson, on the basis of an arrest warrant from 10 years ago, issued by a State (Costa Rica) that was the flag flying on an illegal fishing vessel in another State’s (Guatemala’s) waters (Captain Watson was asked, by the way, to intervene by that other State and to stop the illegal fishing activity), illegally catching and illegally finning and illegally discarding still-live as well as dead illegally de-finned sharks, a warrant that was not honored or recognized as valid just days ago by Interpol.

To whom may I speak to provide my comment? About illegal fishing that Germany certainly does not want to support?

I expect to say something like that to the Atlanta Consul, or his secretary’s secretary.

I am acting as part of a group that is planning to have call day to German Embassies and Consulates General all around the world.  The link contains links to addresses and phone numbers.

Thursday, May 17.  Call an German Embassy or Consulate General.

And now a song as I unplug and close my eyes.

Do me a favor before I go.

Will you do me a favor?

Stand on up.

Stand on up.

And be counted for protecting marine life.  And speaking out against thinly-veiled, unjust harassment by unknown and unnamed thugs who would kill all marine life for half a buck.

Hold on.  I’m coming.

1945 to 1955 to 1965; two half-generations of change, Part II

From the last episode of this piece, I began my diatribe rather softly, merely suggesting that the “job creators” who hire the rest of us for a mere pittance, make their money by taking all our resources, leaving us, first, sick and, finally, dead, while creating a dependency on the stuff they sell us, and make us have to have.  <Breath>

Yep.  First, they take all our resources, leaving you water you can’t drink, mountains with soil that has no health (so you can’t even grow and can your own beans anymore, without worrying that there might be toxic levels of metals in them beans), and you with a host of health problems.  In toto, they have left you with a once beautiful home, a home to not just you but also millions of other creatures, that is forever (in all human lifetimes) changed. Forever, disturbed.  The Appalachia of your grandparents’ youth?  Of their grandparents?  Well, at the risk of being accused of being nostalgic, and not merely reporting facts about a very old planet and what a few latecomers have wrought, their Appalachia was better.  Objectively better.  Sorry.  There wasn’t a Superfund site because of the reclaiming of mining equipment.  Then there were watersheds that were created naturally.  Now, we have watersheds that we are working to safeguard and restore.  Fishable.  Swimmable.  Those were the days, and can be again.

But now that I’ve pissed off half of my friends and bored the other, with these bright and sunny facts, I’ll get to the point.  That is, to my opinions about a system that would allow some people to do this to our home and the rest of us, under the guise of “giving us jobs.” Sell it down the road.  This sister ain’t buyin’.

Here’s what I’m thinking.  We must be either:

  • not playing with a full deck of cards, to let some people take us to the proverbial cleaners, as they say, and on an ongoing basis, and saying thanks for it,

OR

  • playing a game of cards with our every breath, that we think is a different card game.  That is to say, they have us thinking we’re playing something we’re not.

Because I think we’re a pretty smart lot, being apex scroungers and all, I believe it’s the latter.  I think we have a full deck, but the cards we are holding in our hot little hands aren’t capable of winning, ’cause we don’t know the game we’re playing.  And we don’t know that we don’t know.

Knowing better than to do so, you bite your tongue as you ask, “What is the card game we are playing?”

Well, since you asked, it’s the game of SORUBNED: the Stuff-oriented, Resource-using But Not Equitably Distributed game!  Yay!  And how’s our hand in the game of SORUBNED?

Well, that’s the thing.  Whether you have a good hand or a bad hand in any card game depends on the game.  It also depends on your understanding its rules.  We play SORUBNED, thinking it was like Go Fish, and didn’t realize that it was more like Blackjack.

Picture the game being played.  The card table that everyone in the 1950s had.  A cheap, beige, vinyl-covered one.  A few folks had the nicer ones with the green felt cover, with oaken hinges and sawtooth joinings.

The  ones who think they are playing Go Fish have the vinyl ones.  The group with the felt knows the rules of SOURBNED and knows that we don’t.  That groups’ members know that if they play Blackjack against an opponent who thinks the game is Go Fish, their opponents will giggle gleefully until the winner is announced.  At the end of the game.

During play, he will giggle along with you as you squeal with delight as he hands you over his Sevens and Fours and Sixes and Threes so you can amass a pile of matching cards.  He giggles in the same tone as you pass your Aces and Jacks to him.  So there we are, our scrambling for as many matching cards as we can; their looking for two cards that will seal the deal.

You know it’s true.  We are waking up to this realization.

The problem is, we should have woken up to the rules somewhere around 1965 (back to the theme of this piece – 1945, when we really began stoking the furnace of unsustainability).  But here we are.  Some woke up a bit earlier, some weren’t ever really asleep, and some have managed to sleepwalk through the whole game, having taken the Blue Pill.

Solution?  That’s for another day.  Meanwhile, I’ll exercise my uniquely 1955 expression of the human ability to ignore the oncoming doom, with a song, as I begin to venture beyond the path between this chair and my coffee pot.

Oh, what a beautiful Jackman!

Oh, what a beautiful day!

I got a beautiful feeling

Everythin’s goin’ my way.

Oh, the sounds of the Earth are like music,

Oh, the sounds of the Earth are like music,

The breeze is so busy, it don’t miss a tree,

And an old weepin’ willer is laughin’ at me.

Oh, what a beautiful mornin’!

Michael Jackson’s Earth Song on Earth Day

Earth Song Elephant Michael Jackson

From Earth Song, Michael Jackson video

This morning I was reflecting that I couldn’t really remember the song when Earth Song was first released.  I thought that maybe it was because, in 1995-1996, the time of its release, I wasn’t paying much attention to videos or even music.  True, I didn’t have a TV for most of that time.

This morning I learned that it was not because I was becoming a fogey or even a budding Luddite, but rather, I hadn’t heard it because it was not released as a single in the United States.

Let me repeat that: Michael Jackson’s Earth Song was not released as a single in the U.S. in 1995-1996.  What is his largest-selling single in Britain was not released in the U.S.  Eh?  Not released in the United States.

Say what?

According to an 2009 article in Treehugger via Creative Loafing (I savor my papers), Epic Records apparently didn’t feel that it was a topic/song of interest in the U.S. market, or would have much appeal here.

Hm.  Americans not interested in global environmental or military devastation (also related to environmental exploitation and resource abuse).  Hm.  In 1995, 1996.  Hm.

So, what was going on in the U.S./world during 1995 and 1996 that might have informed Epic’s decision or determination that not releasing this hugely popular song would be more profitable than releasing it?  Someone with better research skills than I could come up with a comprehensive list, but here’s an appetizer of events in 1995 and 1996:

  • According to Encyclopedia Britannica’s The Environment: Year in Review 1995 (you must have a subscription to read the entire article, which I don’t, but here’s an excerpt): ” The threat of global warming continued to dominate environmental concerns in 1995, and for the first time, climatologists were confident they had detected conclusive evidence of it.”
  • The second UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), aka the Earth Summit, had occurred three years previously.  This important conference lead to the development of the Kyoto protocol and focused on reducing greenhouse gases.
  • On January 3, 1995, Republicans gained control over both houses of U.S. legislative government the first time since the 1950s.
  • The 104th Congress supported and ratified the Contract with America – which omitted any reference to addressing American’s innate right to clean air, clean soil and clean water.
  • 1996 – the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act – not suggesting that this has anything topical in common with this subject, but just the nature of control by the Congress over say over our personal and societal destinies.

I must say that I can’t imagine how it became lucrative to Epic not to release this as a single in the U.S.  Hm.  How can that be?

Well, I don’t know the answer to the Epic Records question, nor care I to find out.  That was then; this is now.  Fuck that.  Actually, I’m quite curious.

Come the Divine Wind; the Earth will take care of the rest.  But it would be really nice if humans woke up before that Wind blows, and before more innocent living creatures had to die for human greed and ignorance.

Well done, Michael.  Happy Earth Day to you.

1945 to 1955 to 1965; two half-generations of change, Part I

Ten, eleven years.  A half-generation.  We in our middling age recognize that our lives ten or eleven years ago are a lot like our lives today.  In many ways, it’s very much the same.  How ten years occurred to us in our youth, more than forty years ago, is very different.

Hence my morning musing on something about the ten or so years on either side of my birth.

The beginning is marked by 1945, a year characterized by a sense of shared elation and promise, but also of our first exposure to true, you-can’t-hide-from-it horror.

Cute movie. But then, I was born in 1955.

From 1945 to 1955, we acted out 1945’s promise and tried to forget anything truly horrid, allowing ourselves a let’s-play-pretend version of it regularly at The Bijou.  The campier the better.  It also made for a cool use of the Theremin.  On the big screen, there were always the lucky few who could, until On the Beach, hide under the bed or spray the giant insects with acid and get away.

The PatioBy 1955 there were more brick backyard grill patios constructed than “ever before.”  And now they were modern and hip, a cool place to have a cocktail and a Viceroy. I’m reminded of that scene, at the very end of Blast from the Past, where Christoper Walken begins to pace off the dimensions of the perfect backyard patio.  For the third time.  That we know of.

The PromiseBy 1955, a half-generation (not my half-generation, mind you, but our grownups’ one.  You know, The Greatest one; the one with the martinis and cigarettes and parties out on the patio while we watched through the big sliding glass doors in our jammies and thought that our parents were the coolest!) had plowed that field of elation and promise, with just a dash of ducking and covering and shameful enemy-inventing and scapegoating.

We churned that promise machine, harder, faster, better to make paper to make ads last longer for products that lasted less.  We pumped more and more hydrocarbons into that system to make it work harder, faster, cheaper, glossier.  Making consumable items with a short life span, then shipping them and selling them in containers that had longer life spans than the thing it contained.

Somewhere between 1955 and 1965, it became apparent that the promise wasn’t exactly coming at everyone in the same way.  We, perhaps vaguely, remember – I can still see the images on the news – the barbed wire marking a line that must not be crossed, a line where you could be shot or injured in attempting to cross it.  A line that notwithstanding the grave threat, I remember seeing a woman in a cotton dress, the kind with the self-belt at the waist, a smallish roundish woman, gathering the folds in her dress, so that they didn’t become entangled in that wire, running for it, risking injury and her life to cross it.  A line where, because of the call to freedom that made humans willing to die to cross it, the Berlin Wall would be erected for what seemed to us to be forever, but not to the half-generation before or after us.

The PriceBy 1965, uneven balance between the promise and the price was becoming stronger and more apparent.  The promise had just about hit its peak relative to the price that the planet could pay.

That was the point when we should have realized that we were on a moving sidewalk to unsustainability.  Before then, we and, I think, even many CEOs, didn’t realize that along with what we were manufacturing, we were busy building inequity with and into that promise-manufacturing system.

Investing in inequityBuilding inequity and demanding oil.  Not only oil, it also demanded way more human labor, way more blood, sweat and tears, for an increasingly less equitable portion of the proceeds.

And stuffBut in that trade, we got more stuff.  Lots more cheap stuff.  Stuff that we could hold, plug in, watch, clean, have repaired.  And replaced.  Stuff that we had to have.  And still have to have.  Stuff that must be bought by the cheapest labor that any human can endure and survive.

For some, who can get the stuff, it seems pretty great.  But there are people on this planet who, not only don’t get the stuff, they have their local economies become addicted to a system that will extract all their local resources and leave them, first hungry, then ill and finally dead.  Whether the resource is timber, food, coal, oil, soil/rock, natural gas, or the animals we can grow using those resources, the system is using it up, and belching out, well, to put it politely, poison and death.

(The second half of this oh-so-fascinating and uplifting article will be published as Part II.)

Snakes and bugs define the Human Phenotype

Is it human nature to be compassionate or to kill a snake or bug

Is it in our makeup to be compassionate or to kill stuff willy-nilly

I was reflecting this morning that among humans, there seem to be three kinds, three categories.  Not defined by what is in our veins, but by what is going on in a 2-4 mm-thick layer in our brains and how we use that layer.  But I like this veinal picture, so I’m using it.

At the root of almost every other trait, whether you are compassionate, quick-tempered, arrogant, slutty or bigoted, I think I may have boiled it down to three basic characteristics.

So, to help you find yourself in the breakdown, I’ll ask a question with a three-alternative multiple-choice answer. 

Question:  If you are driving in your car on a roadway, and you see a live snake crossing the road, what do you do?

1.  Navigate the car so as to avoid the snake
2.  Navigate the car so as to hit the snake
3.  Continue on your path without further thought for the snake at all

Now, there are those who, for safety reasons, will not change direction of the car (look out folks, I’m not one of these), and for those, it’s more a question about what thought comes to mind.  So for the careful driver, I’ll revise the answers to be:

1.  I’d like to navigate the car so as to avoid that snake, but safety directs otherwise
2.  I’d like to navigate the car so as to hit that snake, but safety directs otherwise
3.  I think I’m about to get snake goo on my tires

Most people are either 1s or 3s.  I had the experience of being shown property by a young man who was a 2.   One might have thought that 2s were only so in private, but not so.  Decidedly not so.  This young man was somewhere around 30 years of age, and had apparently inherited the realty business from his father, but hopefully (for the father) not his psyche.  I don’t think he much cared for showing property.  Snake-killing with a vehicle on the road appeared to be his forte.  And perhaps only skill.  That was the last time I saw him.

I think people are more subtle than these three categories or the young realtor, so I’ve come up with another question that will add some details around the edges of the first.

A really cool website with printable pages of free pics for kids to color

Click to go to a really cool website with printable pages of free pics for kids to color

Question:  When you find a bug in your house, what do you do?

A:  Kill it reluctantly
B:  Kill it without thinking
C:  Kill it gleefully
D:  Pick it up and move it elsewhere
E:  Say hello

Let’s look at those refinement categories, A through E.  If you are a 2, it is unlikely that you will be anything other than a B or a C.  Any reluctance in the road killer to kill a roach is probably more related to him or herself (“What shall I do with the carcass?” might be a consideration that would make him or her less likely to kill) than to do with anything on the outside of his person.

But just to keep this little exercise objective and so I won’t add my snipey little assessments, let’s break it down objectively and descriptively, without judgment:

Phenotype 1 – The Snake Avoiders

1A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake

In sum, The Snake Avoiders are, I think, a pretty common lot.  Most of us are there.  And I do believe that, while we will generally avoid killing a snake on the road, there are reasons why we would, nonetheless, kill a bug in our house.  I don’t think that there is a moral or ethical dilemma posed by being anywhere in the 1 Phenotype, except maybe Subtype C.  But again, the glee may be related to creating an environment for a toddler that is, perhaps, just a bit over-protective.  Or perhaps he isn’t tending to his diet appropriately, and hence, has lots of allergies, including a bug one, and so kills bugs with a self-preservative glee.  My next book will be, Change Your Diet, Change Your Glee.  Not really.

Phenotype 2 – The Snake Killers

Was Jeffery Dahmer a snake killer

I'm thinking he might have been a Phenotype 2C

2A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake

If you are a 2, I don’t give a crap whether you deliver home meals to the bedridden.  I would say that you’re scum, except that scum is useful in this world.  You?  You’re a weight on the entire system and hurling us toward planetary destruction.  Oh, wait, dangit.  I wasn’t going to inject my views.  Yeah, right.

I know that this is becoming at least slightly annoying.  I know this because this is a pain in the ass to write.  But it seems to me, on this fine Spring morning, that self-examination is often wanting in the arena of our relationship to the rest of the animal kingdom, the non-humanoid part, that huge part that makes up over 99 percent of it.

So on to the last phenotype, the threes, where it gets more like many of us, and is the last bunch.  Hold the applause (for this being nearly over).

Phenotype 3 – The Goo Seers

3A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life

I really think that it is a sad state of affairs that humans really do see the rest of the animal kingdom as so much goo.

Good goo.  Bad goo.  Goo to eat.  Goo to control.  Goo to amuse me.  Goo to love.  Goo to study.  Goo to give a bath to every day and carry with me  wearing its special bow that matches mine to the grocery.

At the risk of a blog riot, it really all boils down to one question:  when will we respect life enough to recognize that it all has a place, it all has dignity, that none of it was put here for us, and that humans are not at the top of some made-up pyramid?

I’m a 1D, working toward 1E.  Who are you?

Namaste.

 

Humans ‘being fruitful’ and abundant can’t mean obliterate the natural system

Humans 'being fruitful' and abundant can't mean obliterate the natural system

No species obliteration in The Garden of Eden. Since they are already wearing the fig leaves, I'm thinking that God is pointing at what his likeness should eat. Just sayin. But that's for another post; this one's about population and extinction.

Does it?  Can it?  Doesn’t “fruitful” sound to you more like living in a green, productive valley, where all of the natural systems flourish? Doesn’t it have to?  I’m not saying that humans can’t build their aqueducts (although I would highly recommend that they not be lined with lead or aluminum or polyethoxylated tallow amine) to bring in or store some extra water.  But if it inflicts significant damage to the ecosystems that depended upon the natural flowing water both up- and downstream, then I’m thinking we may have violated “fruitful”.

Because fruitful can be, as a matter of fact, quantified.  And in an unnatural system, we may have put more on the death side of the scale than we have added on the “life” side.  When we do that, we have added more humans than the system can support.  When you lose habitat for millions of creatures, plant and animal, for the sake of one species, we then lose the creatures;  and when we take away habitat and creatures at a mere fraction of the human numbers, then, well, you do the math.  But only if you want to know.

So, first start dying the animals and plants.  Only later, but inevitably, the human side starts flagging, too.  – The Hot Southern Girl

Scientists have written and will write about this. And although I be/am/is/are/was/were/been/being a geologist, as I’ve said before, I do not hold myself out as anything more than a remarkably bright, and hot, Southern Woman. Okay, unremarkably bright. And the hot? Well, with global warming and my sustainability schtick, and no tree over my house, I’m left with little to do about that one. Hot, I own.

All this yiping just to show you a couple of graphs.  Here’s a link to a graph on human population growth.  You’ll note that there are three projections.  While one might be tempted to get all jiggity with the lower projections, I’ve got news for you.  The correction that will cause that kind of trend reversal will be, shall we say, horrific for our progeny.

But forget about the projections for a moment.  And focus on the actuals.  In the last 200 years, the human population has more than multiplied six-fold.  Thinking that your wee-knee was fruitful?

Well, think again, nimrod, as you take a gander at this graph, which shows species extensions over the same time frame.  Here in the US of A, we had nearly eradicated the black and brown bear and the red wolf east of the Mississippi River and the American bison West of Mississippi before the curve starts its upswing.  “Up to 1870, 10 to 15 million bison had been living in the American West. Less then two decades later, about 100 animals remained.”  But you knew this.  If we use the species alive in 1800 as the baseline, we are “witnessing” an extinction rate, based on a conservative estimate, of 10,000 times the natural, or background, extinction rate.  I’m seeing the number 50,000 as the extinction multiplier that we are “witnessing”, but again, I’m not a scientist.  And need I remind you, just hot.

Witnessing.  Not hardly.  More accurately, causing, but as long as I am witnessing, can I get an “Amen”, brother, and ask you to revisit in your churches the notion of what “fruitful” or “abundant” means.

For even more numbers, here’s a World Clock on Poodwaddle.com, that might also give you a view into the human population/everything else extinction issue.

Water is a greenhouse gas. Thanks, Exxon-Mobil. I feel cooler already.

Just reading this Exxon-Mobil memo from 1998, which points out to us non-scientists (oh, wait, I am a geologist, even though I am now merely an attorney) that water is a greenhouse gas, and that hydrocarbons are being unfairly targeted in the global warming debate.  Joe (the author of the memo), are you kidding me?  You really put that in writing?  You and Exxon-Mobil (oh, and I’m a past Mobil employee with great memories of the pre-merger company) can sleep at night, knowing that your intent to foment uncertainty in the global warming debate ignores scientific quantities, like the heat-trapping capacity of water versus that of hydrocarbons?  The heat-trapping  capacity of fossil fuels greatly exceeds that of water.  They aren’t comparable.  And I’m betting that even you know this.

Little bitty science lesson:   It used to be really, really hot on Earth.  Then water came, formed an atmosphere, which shielded the Earth from a whole bunch of that wicked Sun and heat.  Then, when the temperature was not so hot, plants came.  Plants absorbed a bunch more of the heat.  They also gobbled up carbon dioxide like nobody’s business.  That’s the way they survive.  Gobble up CO2 and give off O2.  Sequester that Carbon.  Give off oxygen.  So, now land plants could begin to thrive.  The Earth became green.  And we came along a lot later.

Then over time, all the decayed plants, both land and ocean, held onto a large part of that carbon.  But now we drill it up, mine it up, burn it up – and return that carbon to the atmosphere.  And bear in mind that oil was discovered in the late 1800s.  When my grandfather was born, there was no petroleum oil lamp.  It was whale oil.   Maybe some other oil.  But not petroleum.  And our hydrocarbon of choice for heat at that time, I repeat, in my grandfather’s time, was either wood, peat or coal.   As luck would have it, in that time frame, the industrial revolution also happened.  And the newly discovered hydrocarbon, oil, was added to coal as the hydrocarbon of choice.  So, it’s not a mystery.  It’s not even hard to imagine.  It’s logical.  It’s predictable.  Since my grandfather’s birth, the Earth has become a lot dirtier and a lot hotter.  I repeat, it’s not a mystery.

But hey.  Who cares about history, or science, or what is predictable?  Not Exxon-Mobil, I guarantee you.  Or they would stop.  It is about the dollar for them.  It’s about survival.  And who can blame them for being terrified.  But, sorry.  They picked an industry that had a fixed life span because it was not rooted in sustainability.  But their clamoring for their last few dollars is shameful.  They figure the future will handle itself.  It’s not their problem.  It’s not their board’s problem.  It’s not their stockholders’ problem.  Let the future executives, boards and stockholders find their own solution.  But the problem is, it’s not their problem alone.  It’s ours.  They created it.  But we live it.

It doesn't really need a caption, does it?

It doesn’t really need a caption, does it?

So, here’s the little internal Exxon-Mobil memo that states that their main goal in the global warming issue is to avoid certainty in the scientific debate.  To delay getting a clear answer for as long as they can.  Keep those pumps pumping and those pipelines flowing for as long as they can.  But, you know?  Scientists don’t seek to encourage uncertainty.  They look for answers.  It might not be the answer that the scientist on the next block or in the next consortium finds.  That’s fine.  That’s the way the scientific process works.  But it does not, never has, and never should encourage uncertainty.  Especially not by proudly proclaiming that water is a greenhouse gas.  Give me a stinking break, Exxon.

For shame, Exxon-Mobil.  Find a real solution.  You have the dollars.  You have the scientists.  You can find a new monopoly.  I promise!  Solar panels don’t grow on trees.