Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Fire!

The images from the Toronto flood are astounding considering it derived purely from a rainstorm - not a huge hurricane like Sandy, or several rivers overflowing with snow melt.
Meanwhile, although no one puts it together, the country is awash in local news stories about trees falling.
These screenshots are from video in Chicago, a spectacle now becoming so familiar and typical that people are inured to the unprecedented damage being done to houses, cars and power lines.
Reporters scurry from neighborhood to neighborhood, showing the destruction without ever noting that the trees are rotten inside.  No doubt they have no idea air pollution is causing it.
The Landslide Blog has up-to-the-minute video and satellite from the latest disasters in India and China.  Of course the precipitation is heavier now - but logging, development, and widespread decline of vegetation from tropospheric ozone are no doubt playing a role as well.
Meanwhile Las Vegas is roasting within easy sight of a wildfire which "is burning through dead trees and dense pinion pine".
 This morning I got a compliment (I think!) from another commenter over at Nature Bats Last:
The main premise of Guy McPherson's blog is that we are headed for near term extinction (NTE) and so the guest essays and much of the discussion that ensures are generally about how it will transpire, and strategies for coping with such terrible knowledge - often alone.
B9K9 Says: 

Gail, you are absolutely on fire. Out of all the great commenters hanging out in this space, you’re the one who’s artfully linking all the pieces together. Perhaps it’s just my analytical background, but I really appreciate an ability to pull together disparate threads of history/facts in order to build a picture of a cohesive whole.
In fact, your recent run of comments appears to have enough substance to run a blog along similar lines as your ‘friend’ Orlov. You’ve got the perspective on all the key inputs to put out fresh material every 3-4 days. If I make one suggestion, just dump the weepy shit about dying trees & leaves falling and move into top level NTE geo-politics that is already in play.
If you can just make the last leap to embrace the notion that there’s a lot of other people who understand perfectly well what is occurring, and have been busy little beavers setting up the infrastructure to support a legal state in which to preserve control during the coming dark ages, I dare say you’d be a major hit.
The beauty of linking the past with the present (and future) is that it gives you ample topical material in which to publish fresh commentary/observations on the ever increasing & obvious movements afoot.
He wrote that in response to what I wrote earlier:

Gail Says: 
Rob said:
“..but extinction of everything is inevitable given a long enough time-line, therefore, our existance has always been meaningless.”
Refreshingly true – but, most people don’t agree that the extinction of everything is inevitable, because it’s antithetical to their belief that that they possess an eternal soul…or if not that precisely, that some sort of unifying cosmic spirit exists beyond the material world.
That is why NTE is so challenging, because it makes it pretty clear that humans invented consciousness for various evolutionarily beneficial purposes – along with pixies and the tooth fairy and unicorns.
So for those people who are educated enough to understand that indeed, extinction is inevitable for us “special” humans, and quite possibly looming in the near term, there appears to be an endless variety of contortions engaged in to reconcile the two – the existence of some kind of “spirituality” or “consciousness” and the pending lack of any more people to speculate on such anthropogenic notions.
Concurrently there is a powerful urge to blame some external influence for this tragic and ignoble end, because apparently, admitting that we are all complicit also makes it difficult to pretend that humans are special and deserving of something better than the unspeakable maurauding that will surely ensue when the grid goes down and the grocery store shelves are empty.
So Mike K can say:
“Now it may be objected that here and there tribes did develop small localized cultures capable of relatively long term sustainability. This may have transpired, although the truth of those ancient days is largely obscured by the passage of time.”
“Largely obscured” is no doubt true in the sense that far more of the past has been obliterated than has been preserved. However, a remarkable amount has been preserved, and it’s really quite enough for the experts who study it to determine that humans have been “unsustainable” all throughout our history, not merely since the advent of agriculture or capitalism. In fact, recent research has revealed that agriculture emerged independently in several different places in the world, at around the same time. So it’s not some aberrant trait humans could have skipped. It is US, it is who we evolved to be.
Chris Hedges is a great writer and a courageous reporter who a greatly admire, but I would not be the first to observe that he is in the sway of magic too (why else would he be proclaiming a dystopian future on an uninhabitable planet and continue to have children?), which is why Rob’s sentence fits so perfectly with the link:
“The deep healing required to recover from this madness is contained in various spiritual paths…”
It’s absurd (and I mean that in a very affectionate way). The very ability of humans to indulge in fantasy – a genetic ability to lie to ourselves and each other in order to obtain that which makes us fat and happy – is what has led us down the path to perdition. Invoking spirituality to save us from what believing in spirituality has led to is not going to produce the desired results – any more than relying on technology to save us from what technology has produced, which is faster rates of extraction and pollution.
Even the most scientifically illuminated are spell-bound by dream solutions. It’s embargoed till tomorrow watch for the Climate News Network to release their analysis of two studies, which begins with the utterly ludicrous assertion:
“Two separate groups of researchers say there are grounds for hope that the world can escape the prospect of a possibly uncontrollable and very damaging level of climate change. But they agree that world governments will have to meet rigorous conditions to make this happen.”
When I read such nonsense I feel like either I am going insane, or the world is insane; or both. Daniel you raised some provocative questions and that is my answer.
Bob S. – yes that’s the same release I was referring to embargoed yesterday that struck me as total insanity – haven’t they heard of Jevon’s paradox? The world is drifting into such delusion and cognitive dissonance, it would be vastly amusing if only I didn’t care. To be perfectly honest, if I didn’t have children I likely wouldn’t care, or at least not nearly so much. It’s getting harder to laugh when every day there are more disasters – floods and landslides and wildfires – and riots in the streets are getting closer as the agricultural failure looms.
Luna – atheism is not a religion. By any metric you choose to define religion, atheism isn’t. That is sort of like what climate deniers say to environmentalists – if you really wanted clean energy you’d be in favor of nuclear power. A little humor on the subject! (and lest anyone feel Bill Maher is offensive, he recently produced a really terrific “climate change for dummies” on HBO Vice called “The World Is Sinking” that is perfect for your Republican brother-in-law, it’s on youtube.)
Like you, I find the universe a vast and mysterious place, so vast and mysterious that I feel no need to imbue it with any more vastly mysterious and wondrous properties than it already physically possesses. If people find they need more than that to get them through the day, or excuse our frequently horrible behavior, it’s certainly a popular choice. But it isn’t based on reality (which I define as testable, empirical scientific facts).
Mike K., I do find many aspects of humanity inspiring and delightful, because I’m human – but “truth, love, giving, beauty, awe” and so forth are not “immaterial” things. Neuroscientists may not know yet precisely how all those human feelings are produced by chemicals or synapses or whatever, but to a growing extent they are finding that they are quantifiable and measurable. People with certain kinds of brain damage or congental defects, for instance, don’t have the same emotional affects depending on which part of the brain is impaired. So there is a source for that, and it is material, not ethereal.
When the last person dies, will there be any more love or awe? Of course not. It will die with the last person, just like Thor died with the last Viking…and so will “spirituality” evaporate, however you prefer to define it for the purposes of living now.
I still kind of think writing about trees dying from pollution has value - for several reasons, the main one being that nobody else is.  I dearly wish someone else would!  Then I could stop and find something more pleasant to do with my remaining days in this life.  I also have a stubborn fondness for the truth, and since the implications of trees dying are huge - for climate, for our food supply, for wildlife - it seems like a worthy subject.  There are so many other catastrophists cataloguing the many paths to ruination, much better than I could.

At least, I'm glad B9K9 confined his description of Wit's End as "weeping" about dying trees, because if he'd said "sniveling" or "whining" that would have been worse, and besides it would have had sexist connotations.  Maybe weeping does too.  B9K9 may be correct that the powers that be are well aware of the imminence of collapse, and are fascistically preparing to survive it by readying the FEMA camps and stocking up on ammunition.  I tend to think they are just as likely to have the denial gene as everyone else but heck, all they'd have to do is watch the video embedded below from the History Channel (which, incredibly, has received only 14,900 views)!

"Prophets of Doom" presents a decent overview of the multitude of converging catastrophes (except trees of course!), well worth the hour and a half to watch, especially for neophytes unfamiliar with the issues.  But I couldn't help being taken aback by the introduction, with the narrator's deep voice intoning ominously that all throughout the history of empires, visionary men have warned of impending collapse and yet been ignored by the public and the leaders of the day.  And then it goes on to interview several men about their vision of apocalyptic collapse.  It was so obviously lacking a female voice that I couldn't help thinking that maybe if I was a man, more people would take seriously the threat to trees - and existence - that is the subject of this blog.  You think?  Should I change my name to William?


  1. "just dump the weepy shit about dying trees & leaves falling and move into top level NTE geo-politics" as if dying trees and leaves falling doesn't effect humans. Like we can just all eat ipod sandwichs.
    Sunshine is the only income we've got and leaves are how it is turned in to food. I know that is just a corney old fashioned idea. We could also eat some of that top level NTE geopolitics stew.
    Keep up the good work, Gail. What's happening to the trees and leaves IS the top level story of today. I've watched the changes on my farm over the last decade and it's turned into a disaster. My main blackberry thats been gang busters for the last six years put on lots of fruit this year but just a few leaves. We've had blackberries here since '78 but never anything like this. No leaves=no sugar.
    With the heat thats here and the heat that's coming I figure that shade will be pretty important so I've been growing vines supported on wires to shade my house. Most of my vines are muscadines with a few wisteria. I was about weeping last Aug. when my vines started to defoliate. By the end of Sept. the vines looked like they normally look in Jan. The leaves looked just like some of the pictures you've shown. We cleaned up about a half of a Oak tree that fell today. It was a good half a cord. The other half the tree is dead and still up there. only the green part came down. Thanks so much for explaining the Ozone thing.
    Solar income is by the square foot. I've got pictures of some of my vine projects that are blocking the solar income on a few square feet of roof and windows at I love my Oak trees but I thought I'd try this vine thing so it won't hurt so bad if it falls on my head. "Weepy shit about dying trees" my ass.

  2. "Weepy Shit My Ass"

    Ah ha now, that DID make me laugh out loud, thank you for that, Aubrey!

    I'll check out your pictures.

  3. Ever since I found your blog, I notice trees more, and I pay attention to their signs of health. I say: carry on.

    Re: Toronto - that's where I live and there is some definite resistance to the idea that Monday's storm has anything to do with climate change. (Not everyone though, there are some hardcore environmentalists here too.)

    Funny how climate scientists predicted more frequent extreme weather events, but whenever one happens, so many people rush to saying 'but not THIS extreme weather event, THIS one doesn't count as climate change".

    I'm beginning to think that humans - well, industrial capitalist humans - are just too stupid to live.

  4. HI .
    Ive beem following your blog for a few years now ......
    I have been a fence sitter about what is going on... but I have been slowly educating myself on all the different theories and have come up with a general idea that we have crossed a line and I think we've ruined the earth ......Now we just wait and see how she will fix it (that is if shes a entity ) or if we have doomed ourselves.

    Having said that there is a definate change to the weather pattern -Im in australia(inland) so its winter, we should have frosts but as of 2 weeks ago I still had zucchinis producing .....THIS SHOULD NOT be happening nor should tomatos /potatos be still growing .(should be dead)

    The paddocks are responding like its spring ,The decidous trees are stuffed up -some throwing out new growth- others dormant .I have in the garden -sproutingtht shouldnt be .

    Very obvious that things are out of kilter ..let alone the weird weird weird weather

    I wonder what summer will bring .
    Interstingly I dont see the type of damage to leaves on the natives.Interested to see what the new foliage shows up .

    melissa ( didnt want to sign in with google -sorry)

  5. Melissa - thank you for your contribution!! I am very curious about what you see - so if you feel so moved please email me? witsendnj at yahoo

    PinkPearl, I have seen myself through my daughter's training as a scientist that they are indoctrinated to

    1. be compartmentalized/specialized

    which means they never see the big picture of ecology


    2. be reticent and cautious, never make a prediction of which they are not 100% certain as that spells ruination to their career if it doesn't come true.

    That's why Hansen who actually has been spot on, is vilified, ridiculed and marginalized:

  6. Please keep it up; you're the only one who is!

    Have you ever seen the movie "The Road?" There's a scene there where trees are falling everywhere and it's never clear why, but of course, we know!

  7. In case the following "disappears" on Daily Impact...

    Taking this opportunity to thank you, Gail, for posting the link to Maher’s “New Rules” atheism clip on NBL recently. Somehow I missed that one as his show is one of very, very few I regard as “must see,” using that term loosely. He was at his best in that one! :) Moreover, while your “take-downs” of the “believers” on NBL have been “pleasant” reading (though I’m finding the threads there more than a little tedious), I hope you realize that such refutations are an exercise in futility. “Believers” are, one and all, regardless of “faith” or doctrine, hopelessly assimilated into their “congregation” and absolutely will not be swayed by any measure of fact or reason. I say that from my experiences of tilting at those windmills for more than 40 yrs. As J. Krishnamurti has said, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” That holds for any size “society” regardless of granularity.

    Additionally, I find your above comment on "education's" compartmentalization and resultant(?) reticence spot-on. However, I am dismayed that you make no mention of "Why?" that is the situation. Regardless, I am not surprised because I find no one who actually asks questions to a "deep enough" level. Of course, that IS a direct product of the [ahem] "qualities" you mention. All of us in the "developed countries," since before you or I were born (BTW, I am 60), have NOT been "educated," we've been "programmed" to be mere expendable cogs in the "great and powerful" machine of capitalism. Unless, of course, one was fortuitously born into a family already in possession of wealth and power. Such "dumb luck" destines said youth to be programmed as "Oz" himself, and how to keep the rest of the cogs from peeking behind the curtain.

  8. Hello Colin, thanks for your observations! You are right of course - it is quite futile to try to change a believer's faith based on facts. I guess, I feel like there's a little bit of a window at NBL - whereas I gave up completely, like you, on out and out climate deniers. They cannot be swayed by data or tricked by more clever messaging, which is why the endless debate in the movement to find better ways to present information is silly. Actually, the enthusiasm with which they jump on every horrible weather disaster - will this be the one to wake people up? how should we frame it? - is nothing less than obscene opportunism taking advantage of catastrophes affecting real people. Okay, it's born of desperation but it is still pathetic.

    I guess I did't get into the "why" of education because it was just a short comment and I've written about it elsewhere. "Whatever Happened to Ecology" is one of my favorite essays. Odd, I have a crazy sister who homeschooled her kids because she thought the system is nothing but propaganda. She got that right.

    Try to remember, the Wizard of Oz was actually a kindly man trying his best to live up to everyone's expectations. A hoax but not evil. Did you see the latest Koch commercial? It's really funny:

  9. michele/montrealJuly 12, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    This has been hitting my cognitive dissonance button very hard today:
    "The problem is we can only predict how many earthquakes will occur but not their size and so with this knowledge then it has to be decided what is an acceptable size and frequency of earthquakes for a particular area," said Brodsky.
    «DECIDE what is an acceptable size and frequency of earthquakes for a particular area?!?!?!»

    it is getting weirder by the hour.

  10. I saw this comment at Kevin Drum and the image is so stark that it must be passed along.

    "Dilbert McSquibby says:

    the planet can't wait to be rid of us. I get the feeling there will be a lot of rivers talking to mountains saying shit like, "Well that was interesting...." once we're dead, gone and forgotten."

    Mountains and rivers might be the only intelligent life left.

  11. Thanks for the response, Gail. Again, you are spot-on vis-a-vis the futility in attempting to "argue" with climate change morons. A huge factor in what has led to the problems facing humanity today are, to which Mr. Maher alluded, the growing hordes of what I call "believers." These [ahem] "people" populate a much greater scope than just religious fanatics. Anyone and everyone who holds views and makes decisions based solely on believing what someone else has said, whether in ancient history or contemporaneously, without some understanding of the basic foundations of that belief is included in my term. Contrary to Maher's piece, with which I mostly concur, I have met more than a few atheists that I would only refer to as "believers." It is about "dogma" and "unquestioning faith" and I have a HUGE problem with anyone having such perspectives. BTW, if you haven't seen the movie, "Dogma," I highly recommend it as it is "funny as hell!"

    Another example I like to use is the Big Bang Theory from cosmology, not the inane TV-series. Einstein has demonstrated, fairly conclusively, that the speed of light in a "vacuum" (dogma-alert, the universe is not a vacuum) is constant and that there can be no "Doppler" shift. Yet those who adhere to the BBT base that on the "red-shift" they perceive in the light from star's indicating that they are ALL traveling AWAY from us and each other. That notwithstanding, many (if not most) of them will contradict even that by showing how the Andromeda galaxy will collide with ours (The Milky Way) at some point in the far-flung future! WTF?!?!? Of course, there is much more abject dogma in this field but will not bore you with that unless you request it.

    Have you seen the movie "Idiocracy"? If not, I can't blame you, I could only stand to watch about 15-20 minutes of it. However, I think the film makes a very valid point in the first 5-10 minutes that are worth anyone's time.

    Lastly, yes, I did not forget that the "Wizard of Oz was actually a kindly man" but only AFTER he was discovered as the puppet-master behind the omnipotent, mechanistic visage first observed by Dorothy and her companions and utterly accepted as "fact" by everyone else in the Emerald city and beyond, base primarily on "faith." I also recall that apparently he did little, as the "great and powerful OZ," to curtail the mischief of the wicked-witch-of-the-west whose shenanigans were only terminated by Dorothy and Toto's arrival over the rainbow. So, how "kindly" was he, really? If you stop to think about it, it is the SOP of all duplicitous manipulators, like priests, politicians and captains of industry. Each and everyone only becomes "kindly" (sometimes) AFTER their deceits have been utterly exposed for such.

    Which reminds me, almost forgot, no, I had not seen that Koch commercial and wish I hadn't followed your link. Nonetheless, I saw an article some months ago on ZeroHedge pretty much saying the same thing, but not with the same apparent intent as this new ad. While the data is absolutely correct, when including the millions starving in Africa and elsewhere, overall it is still a deceit which "believers" will suckle on and drool over like the useless, rabid animals they prefer to be. Alas, it is abject assholes like the Koch's, the Walton's, pretty much every "captain of industry" and certainly every politician and their supplicants that ensure the "human experiment" is knocking on the exit door. Frankly, for more than a decade I've been ashamed to call myself an American and for more than half that time, ashamed to have to call myself "human." If you wish to know more you can use "golfwalker" directed to hotmail. Otherwise, apologies for being "off-topic" and rather too lengthy at that.

  12. Your posts have been fascinating if not horrifying! But as a Science teacher I so see the dogma and compartmentalization in the field...I don't teach Science that way, I guess that makes me suck compared to the other Science Fair/Scientific Method Nazis...I use a holistic approach about concepts. 7th grade is the heavy year; Energy and Matter, that's what it all boils down to.

    By the way "Idiocracy" is one of the funniest most satirical movies I've ever seen...I'd highly recommend it.

  13. I am So Scared. If Global Climate Change is NOT caused by Human Industrial and Agricultural pollution, and all of the changes in the atmosphere and water are merely natural occurrences as "Conservative" speakers tell us, then we are in for some terrible stuff that we cannot control . . .
    I guess it doesn't matter, I mean, the whole world is honeycombed with underwater and underground oil and gas pipes full of dead dinosaur remains necessary to fuel the growing number of cars and military ships and planes, and tanks, and the making of plastic toys and computer keyboards and iPods and everything, and these will all rupture and engulf us in a sea of black ooze unlike mankind has never seen -- oh, but perhaps I am being pessimistic.
    Oil is good for everyone, corporations are good for us, the military keeps freedom free. ( Well, as free as tax dollars can make us.)
    I am certain that the people who run the government and the big corporations and the banks all over the world have our own personal interests at heart. They will not let us be harmed. They will protect us, they will find the evil among us and extract us like surgeons removing cancerous tumors from our society.
    The government knows what is best for us, our
    personal lives, our sex lives, our religion, and our ability to think for ourselves --with the help of the great structure of Higher Ups that all of us support with our votes and our taxes and our political contributions and our buying products, we can be assured that that the future will be as rosy and splendid as the past used to be in that good old Golden Era that is in our minds when Mom made Apple Pie and everyone went to church and Dad went fishing instead of watching the fishing channel.
    Now I must fill out the box below trying to prove to you that I am not a robot. I am flattered, as no one has ever made me prove that before in person.

    (First try I just failed the "Robot Test"--Maybe I AM a robot...)

  14. Well, I guess you don't need to worry then Gatorindo, as Global Climate Change IS most definitely caused by human industrial and agricultural pollution. In fact, if it weren't for AGW, the natural cycle would be sending us into an ice age.

    But oooooooops! We are in for some terrible stuff that we cannot control anyway....

  15. this is Rob from NBL

    I can't get onto NBL today, and, also the NTE space on NING is down.

    I'm lost without them!

    You gave me my fix for today, thank you!


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