Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Dangerous Illusion

The normally circumspect Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media posted an ill-advised link to TVMOB's latest mumbo-jumbo.  With enormous discretion and restraint, I limited my response to the following:  "I waste no time rebutting creationists or alchemists, either.  Monkton’s blather is garbage, not science, and not worthy of my comment – and no more worthy of space than witchcraft or voodoo on this site either."

Other comments that followed protesting his fatuous drivel became so unruly that the thread was closed by the editor.  It caused me to think about the idiocy of the perpetual debate between climate activists and deniers, and compare it to all the palaver and bombast over religion.  Does anybody any longer debate Thor's existence - or that of the many deities of ancient Egypt, or Rome?  Surely there have been a greater number of gods invented than all the myriad tribes which have existed throughout human history...and no doubt the adherents of those hundreds, maybe thousands of obsolete religions believed just as fervently in the omnipotence of their gods as Christians, Muslims, and Jews do today.

Doesn't that mere fact make it beyond obvious that belief in gods is utterly specious, and invented by humans for their own purposes (usually nefarious)?  Frankly, it amazes me that otherwise intelligent, educated contemporaries can profess a belief in any sort of god when it's so abundantly clear that people just make that shit up.

I've been stricken with unwarranted sadness since I got home from Pennsylvania and found an adorable little dead bird on the porch.  I had no luck identifying it myself so finally I sent a photograph of the corpse to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and a helpful person on the other side of the computer screen told me it was an ovenbird.
All About Ovenbirds
What?  I never heard of an ovenbird, but apparently it is so named because it builds its nest on the forest floor.  It's a very pretty, tiny thing, and why it strayed from its habitat and felt like flying head-on into the glass door, no doubt breaking its neck, I don't know.  I feel pretty terrible about it though.  It seems impossible to live anymore without knowing that my very existence is causing other things not to.

So it's been a rough week between that and all the trees that can't manage to leaf out any more (but I'll hold off on pictures), even though I found a terrific blog, 22 billion energy slaves, by a wonderful writer in Denmark that I have enjoyed reading.  The first thing I saw there was this cartoon, which brilliantly encapsulates the blind inanity of what passes for human intelligence, and reminds me that we really, truly, fully deserve the multiple self-induced disasters that are coming our way.

One of the manifestations of the above are those scientists who refuse to be frank about the severity of problems we face, whether it's from climate change or from pollution.  (I don't even expect economists to be honest, why is that?)  Going back in the time machine, a 2005 New Scientist article by Fred Pearce, Climate Change Warning Over Food Production, describes a meeting attended by Steve Long, which is reproduced after the picture.  These photos of the Tar Sands were taken by Robert Johnson from Business Insider, during an unauthorized fly-over of restricted areas.  There are many more at his site, with captions, which are interesting because the size of the equipment is mind-boggling.  I suggest sharing that excellent essay the next time somebody mentions that windmills kill birds, or solar panels spoil the view.  The first step at the Tar Sands is to flatten the forest.  How's that for habitat destruction?
 "'We need to seriously re-examine our predictions of future global food production,' said Steve Long, a crop scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US. Output is 'likely to be far lower than previously estimated'."

"Most researchers believe that higher temperatures and droughts caused by climate change will depress crop yields in many places in the coming decades. But a recent consensus has emerged that rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide could come to the rescue. The gas thought to be behind global warming could also speed up photosynthesis, counteracting the negative effects of warming and even ushering in an era of bumper crops."
"But Long told the two-day meeting on crops and future climate that this conclusion was a dangerous illusion. It was, he said, based on results from tests in gas chambers and small greenhouses known to be unreliable."

"Long reported instead on the findings of four studies in the US, China and Japan that all test crops in open fields. In these Free-Air Concentration Enrichment experiments, gases such as CO2 were piped into the air around plants - a world first."
The FACE experiments showed that for all four of the world's main food crops - maize, rice, soybean and wheat - the real-world fertilization effect was only half as great as predicted by the contained experiments."

"Meanwhile, in some FACE experiments, Long added a new variable not factored into previous studies. He puffed doses of ozone into the fields to simulate the expected rise in ozone smogs due to higher temperatures - and yields crashed. A 20% increase in ozone levels cut yields by 20%, he said."

"Increases in ozone levels of this level are predicted for Europe, the US, China, India and much of the middle east by 2050. If Long's findings prove correct, even CO2 fertilisation will not prevent the world's crop yields from declining by 10% to 15%."
"Profound implications
The implications for some of the world's most populous countries could be profound.  Xiong Wei of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science in Beijing presented data at the meeting suggesting that the country of 1.3 billion people could expect 'more positive than negative impacts on China's food production'."

"He said CO2 fertilisation would more than counteract crop losses from rising temperatures.  But Long said his new findings suggest China's food production might fall rather than rise.  Long's research is partly sponsored by the US government's department of agriculture, which has previously been confident in its predictions of farmers' ability to withstand climate change."

This is the same Steve Long that refuses to answer my letters asking about the study he co-authored with his graduate student, Victoria Wittig, indicating that trees are dying all over the world from ozone.  Why?  Why was he warning of dangerous illusions in 2005 and now he won't answer emails on the topic?  Well, a look at his webpage gives more than one clue.  What's he studying?  "Biomass energy crops including Miscanthus and switchgrass".  What are among his lab's objectives?  "2) Establish the potential of mitigation of atmospheric change through the development of herbaceous energy crops."

I detect a distinct abandonment of concerns about energy emissions causing ozone, to energy production from biofuels - which are quite likely causing more NOx and worse ozone than fossil fuels.  But hey.  Get those research dollars and burn, baby, burn.
Then again, everyone has their comforting - if dangerous - illusions.  Another nice website new to me this week is Deep Green Resistance News Service, where an interesting discussion ensued around the review of a book by the reliably annoying Archdruid, John Michael Greer.  JMG, as he is fondly known to his acolytes, is smugly certain that he has a handle on how to survive peak oil.  Owen Lloyd, the reviewer, pointed out that  "...just as you can’t end rape by not raping anyone, and you can’t end genocide by not killing anyone, you can’t stop global capitalism by simply ending (or more likely, reducing) your participation in it. I find that just another example of magical thinking."

Which I quite liked, and added for my part:

"Owen, thanks for a thoughtful review. JMG has some good points about climate activists and their delusion that we can do anything about it while maintaining industrial civilization. He’s also correct that the big green organizations have largely sold out for funding from foundations sponsored by corporations.

But it’s kind of funny to read his attacks on environmental demagogues when he is kind of a magician himself. He wants to believe that peak oil is going to lead to a gradual winding down of modern society, and people like himself and his followers who have learned to live off the grid will be the survivors. In fact, he moderates out comments on his blog that don’t conform to his view, including suggestions that we are in for a series of abrupt ecological catastrophes, from extreme violent weather due to climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and – my personal favorite – ecosystem collapse from forest deaths due to pollution (which I discuss on this week’s broadcast of Radio Ecoshock)".
"The natural world is far too permanently degraded for anything like the number of people now on earth to survive without industrial agriculture – and that is a fragile trail dependent upon stable supplies of fertilizer, pesticides and oil for transport that is going to end suddenly leading to unpredictable social unrest. JMG doesn’t want to hear about that though…or maybe he just wants to sell books.

It seems like this “wrangling” is an example of the usual rift between groups that have surprisingly little overlap – the environmentalist/ecology types, the peak oil types, the overpopulation types and last but not least the climate change types. I’m leaving out the really fringe conspiracy theorists – you know, contrails, New World Order, and the cultist Mayan prophecy types – and the financial doomers who don’t seem to understand that the economy depends upon the biosphere and the goods and services it provides".
"All the former groups are also divided between those who expect a fast crash and those who are wedded (like JMG) to the notion that it will be gradual and can be prepared for (and even profited from). To me, that underestimates the very real prospects – no, I should say now they are inevitabilities – that disasters will soon ensue that are simply unsurvivable for the vast majority of humanity and the other species who share this Earth, especially when you factor in the likely response people will have to widespread catastrophes, especially violent weather, food shortages and no power. I’m expecting enormous wildfires engulfing towns and cities, for example, which we’ve already had a taste of. There’s a lot of tinder out there, and hot weather coming".

Indeed there were many stories of active fires provoking evacuations in the news this week, one of which predicts a "Summer of Flames", a prospect which, being as how Wit's End is located in the middle of the woods, frankly terrifies me.

"After a year without winter, U.S. forecasters predict an unrelentingly hot summer rampant with wildfires."
"The warmth is expected south of a line stretching from middle New Jersey to southern Idaho. 
Only tiny portions of northwestern U.S. and Alaska are predicted to be cooler than average and that's only for June, not the rest of the summer."

"Last May until April was the hottest 12-month period on record for the nation with records going back to 1895.  This year so far has seen the hottest March, the third warmest April and the fourth warmest January and February in U.S. weather history.  And it was one of the least snowy years on record in the Lower 48. Some people called it the year without winter."

"And the outlook for summer is ‘more of the same,’ said Jon Gottschalck, head of forecast operations at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland."

"One of the reasons is that much of the country's soil is already unusually dry.  So the sun doesn't use as much energy evaporating water in the soil and instead heats up the air near the ground even more, Mr Gottschalck said."
"Forecasters say the combination of the heat and dryness will only make western wildfires worse. 
The fire season has already gotten off to a dramatic start. Wildfires in northern Arizona and northern Colorado forced residents to flee their homes on Thursday.  Fires in those areas could be even worse on Friday, said Greg Carbin, the meteorologist who coordinates warnings at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla."

"‘To see fires to the extent that they are this early isn't a good sign,’ he said.  And the summer forecast is for ‘a pretty significant wildfire season developing across the western United States.’"

It's no surprise to readers of Wit's End that the basic premise of this blog is that rising levels of background tropospheric ozone are killing trees at a rapidly accelerating rate - and a regular feature is stories that once were rare - almost unheard of - but lately are becoming more common, of people sustaining injuries or even dying due to spontaneously falling trees and branches.

Apparently this problem is far worse than previously suspected as the New York Times reveals in a three-part series of articles that the city has been quietly settling lawsuits out of court, spending millions of dollars to placate victims who blame the parks department for not pruning diseased and dying trees.  They even included a helpful slide show of symptoms of decline for people to watch out for, neglecting to mention that now, virtually every single tree exhibits similar indications of deterioration.  It was surprising how many people wrote comments who are furious that the city isn't maintaining the trees, and not one of them questioned why the trees have become so dangerous.  Naturally, I wrote a letter to the editor which will almost certainly never be published, with my usual Ozonista missive, in which I pointed out that trees are rotting because they are damaged from absorbing air pollution, and can no longer fend off lethal attacks from insects, disease and fungus.

In a possibly related story, research has revealed that trees aren't removing as much CO2 as had been projected in climate models, indicating there is two billion metric tons more in the atmosphere than previously assumed.  Imagine that!  This conclusion was derived from studying real trees for the past seven years, and is exactly what has been predicted at Wit's End which, unlike this study, does take into account the well-known fact that ozone interferes with photosynthesis.  Since absorbing ozone compromises the ability of foliage to produce chlorophyll  - which is why all those leaves and needles lose their natural color - you would have to expect that they are retaining less CO2.  As far as I can tell, the scientists attribute the slackening of CO2 absorption to dwindling light after summer solstice, without factoring in cumulative damage to leaves as the season progresses, and the generally higher levels of ozone in higher temperatures:

"A new Colorado State University study of when and how trees absorb carbon could have far-reaching effects on years of previous and current climate change research."

"The culmination of seven years of research has revealed that trees trap in their leaves less carbon dioxide than once thought. This means that there is an estimated 2 billion more metric tons of the greenhouse gas in the air that scientists say has, with others, contributed to a rise in the Earth’s temperature."

“'We’re not taking the CO2 out of the air as fast as we thought we were,' said Bill Bauerle, a CSU ecophysiologist and lead author on a study published Monday in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.'"
"Bauerle and a team of researchers from CSU, Duke University and Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have, since 2005, tested more than 23 species of trees in South Carolina and Colorado to see how much and how often in each type of tree photosynthesis occurred….'

"Scientists previously assumed that as the climate warms, growing seasons would lengthen, more plants would grow and forests would absorb more carbon dioxide, Ram Oren, a professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in the release."

The article says planting trees is still recommended to "clean the air' which elicited the sole comment, by an extremely cantankerous reader:

"Planting trees is not a good thing unless you enjoy paying for 75-250 gallons of water that each tree sucks out of your lawn every day. Many residents have large brown circles in their yards because of a tree. Trees also cost taxpayers more to maintain and repair streets that have been damaged by the winter shade from trees on the south side of a street. And for sewer lines plugged by leaves. And for cleanup after a wet snow or ice storm."

New research as reported in Science Daily has detected the influence of tropospheric ozone on expanding the tropics by warming the midlatitudes, driving precipitation northward"

"...Allen further explained that with an expansion of the tropics, wind patterns also move poleward, dragging other aspects of atmospheric circulation with them, such as precipitation."

"'For example, the southern portions of the United States may get drier if the storm systems move further north than they were 30 years ago,' he said. 'Indeed, some climate models have been showing a steady drying of the subtropics, accompanied by an increase in precipitation in higher mid-latitudes. The expansion of the tropical belt that we attribute to black carbon and tropospheric ozone in our work is consistent with the poleward displacement of precipitation seen in these models.'"

"Allen further explained that with an expansion of the tropics, wind patterns also move poleward, dragging other aspects of atmospheric circulation with them, such as precipitation."

"'Greenhouse gases do contribute to the tropical expansion in the Northern Hemisphere,' Allen said. 'But our work shows that black carbon and tropospheric ozone are the main drivers here. We need to implement more stringent policies to curtail their emissions, which would not only help mitigate global warming and improve human health, but could also lessen the regional impacts of changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.'"
"Thomas Reichler, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah, noted that the new work by the Allen-led team represents a major advance in climate dynamics research.
'For a long time it has been unclear to the research community why climate models were unable to replicate the observed changes in the atmospheric wind structure,' said Reichler, who was not involved in the study. 'This work demonstrates now in very convincing ways that changes in the amount and distribution of tiny absorbing particles in the atmosphere are responsible for the observed changes. Since previous model simulations did not account properly for the effects of these particles on the atmosphere, this work provides a surprisingly simple but effective answer to the original question.'"

"Allen, who conceived the research project and designed the study, was joined in the research by Steven C. Sherwood at the University of New South Wales, Australia; Joel Norris at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego; and Charles S. Zender at UC Irvine."
"Next, the research team will study the implications of the tropical expansion from a predominantly hydrological perspective."

"'The question to ask is how far must the tropics expand before we start to implement policies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, tropospheric ozone and black carbon that are driving the tropical expansion?' said Allen, who joined UCR in 2011."

The tropical belt is the red band.  "...accompanied by an increase in precipitation in higher mid-latitudes."  So can we stop blaming global drought from climate change for dying trees in the northern US, across Canada, Asia and Europe, pleeze?

And in answer to Allen's question - " far must the tropics expand before we implement policies to reduce emissions..."?  I'd say, if the next story is any indication, probably to the poles, wouldn't you?

"China's worsening air pollution, after decades of unbridled economic growth, cost the country $112 billion in 2005 in lost economic productivity, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found.  The figure, which also took into account people's lost leisure time because of illness or death, was $22 billion in 1975, according to researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change."

"The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, measured the harmful effects of two air pollutants: ozone and particulates, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases."

"'The results clearly indicate that ozone and particulate matter have substantially impacted the Chinese economy over the past 30 years,' one of the researchers, Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT, said in a statement."

"Ground-level ozone is produced by chemical plants, gasoline pumps, paint, power plants, motor vehicles and industrial boilers. Inhaling it can result in inflammation of the airways, coughing, throat irritation, discomfort, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath."
A view of downtown Shanghai on a hazy day is seen on May 15, 2012. The U.S. consulate in Shanghai began posting hourly air quality readings for the city this week, with data showing "very unhealthy" conditions Tuesday afternoon. The consulate's classification reflects U.S. pollution standards, but operates on a different scale than the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, which called conditions "slightly polluted". REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The researchers made their calculations using atmospheric modeling tools and global economic modeling, which were useful in assessing the impact of ozone, that China started monitoring only recently. Using this methodology, they were able to simulate historical ozone levels."

"Kelly Sims Gallagher, an associate professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University's Fletcher School, who was not involved in the study, said the findings revealed the problem was even worse than thought."

"'This important study confirms earlier estimates of major damages to the Chinese economy from air pollution, and in fact, finds that the damages are even greater than previously thought,' Gallagher said..."

"This month, authorities announced plans to reduce air pollution by 15 percent in the capital, Beijing, by 2015, and 30 percent by 2020 through phasing out old cars, relocating factories and planting new forests."

Yes!  Plant forests so they can absorb pollution - that's been working out quite well so far!

Who knew that there is an entire independent publication devoted to stalking the EPA?  I discovered it's possible to register and read all the articles at InsideEPA for one month, for free.  My plan is, to get a new subscription under a different email address every single month, because hey, I just can't get enough of these pearls of wisdom.

Take for example this article dated May 14, titled "EPA Tightens Ozone Control Requirements After Scrapping Bush-Era Rule", which begins:

"EPA in a new final rule is tightening requirements for states to impose strict ozone emission controls on industry by scrapping a Bush-era rule that allowed states to impose less-stringent controls, while setting tighter deadlines for states to submit plans for meeting the agency's ozone standard and to achieve attainment than some states support."
"The rule, published in the May 14 Federal Register, addresses several shortcomings identified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with the Bush EPA's rule for implementing the agency's 1997 eight-hour ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), set at 80 parts per billion (ppb). The court in a 2006 ruling in South Coast Air Quality Management District, et al., v. EPA, vacated the rule and remanded it to EPA."

It goes on and on in the same inscrutable vein about all the machinations of states and polluters to evade regulations, and then ends with this:
"In the final rule, the agency says that areas that have met the 1997 ozone standard can pursue re-classification as attainment through regular air act processes, but cannot remove anti-backsliding measures."

"Among the additional measures that Subpart 2 imposes to prevent backsliding are fines on polluters for excess emissions beyond a prescribed baseline, required by section 185 of the Clean Air Act."

"Industry and California air regulators have sought to use alternatives to these fees, but the D.C. Circuit in a ruling last year required that the fees be imposed as specified in the air law. EPA says that in the final rule issued May 14 it is only removing regulatory language from the Bush-era rule that exempts states from the fee requirement and other contingency measures, and will address the section 185 fees in a separate rulemaking."
"EPA in a rule proposed last July sought to allow alternatives to the section 185 fees, provoking opposition from environmentalists who insist the fees must apply even if the one-hour ozone NAAQS they apply to has been revoked. It is unclear when the agency plans to issue a final version of that rule."

That last link refers to a story from last September about legal wrangling between environmental groups such as EarthJustice, and industry groups over EPA fees for non-attainment of ozone standards:

"Industry Backs EPA Plan
Meanwhile, industry groups in the San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere are pushing for EPA's proposed approval of the district's rule. An industry coalition under the banner of the BCCA Appeal Group, and the American Petroleum Institute (API), are backing EPA's decision to approve flexible alternatives to section 185 fees."

"For example, API in Aug. 29 comments says it “endorses the finding that the rule provides an equivalent alternative program for fees” under section 185, and supports EPA's basis for doing so in the proposal."
"The BCCA Appeal Group agrees in its Aug. 29 comments, but calls on EPA to include even more flexibility in the fee alternative programs by allowing revenue-raising initiatives that do not necessarily reduce ozone precursors, but provide other environmental benefits, to count as acceptable alternatives to imposing the section 185 fees."

"Another industry organization, the Regulatory Flexibility Group, says that imposing section 185 fees is unfair to industrial sources in the San Joaquin Valley. In Aug. 29 comments, the group supports EPA's proposed approval of the district's plan and says that as most stationary sources in the Valley have taken steps to curb emissions, 'most sources would be unable to avoid the fee without curtailing operations or ceasing operations altogether.'"

"...most sources would be unable to avoid the fee without curtailing operations or ceasing operations altogether."

EXACTLY!  Did we all catch that?  That emphasis was in the original letter to EPA.  Industrial processes are incompatible with clean air, duh.  But wait!
Who is the Regulatory Flexibility Group?  I looked it up for you:

"...RFG members include numerous essential public services, and a variety of small businesses as well as aerospace and electronics manufacturers, electric utilities and independent electric generating facilities, natural gas utilities, oil and chemical companies, metal finishing operations, and other regulated entities.  RFG members operate major sources in the San Joaquin Valley and would be directly impacted by Rule 3170."

What exactly are they whining about?
"As we have previously stated during proceedings before the EPA and California air districts, we believe that Congress originally enacted section 185 as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments as a backstop to the potential failure of states to adopt and implement stringent stationary source control measures in nonattainment areas.  The $5,000 per ton original fee level was approximately twice the average cost estimated at that time (i.e., during the legislative debates) to be required for areas to attain the ozone standard.  Congress believed that the threat of section 185 fees at that level would ensure that states adopt and sources implemented control strategies sufficient to attain the standards.  There is no evidence, however, that Congress intended to impose fees on stationary sources that already had incurred comparable costs or even higher costs than anticipated.  The program was intended as a backstop to failure, not as a punishment on top of the expected controls."
Allow me to translate, if I may.  Many people in the US are under the impression that the Clean Air Act fixed the pollution problem.  Nobody anticipated how impossible it would be to maintain the American lifestyle of high energy consumption and production of stuff while simultaneously lowering emissions...never mind the transboundary pollutants from fast-developing countries, all around the world but particularly, as far as the US is concerned, in Asia.  All those precursors are blowing across the Pacific and raising the background levels in the western states, which literally can't meet even the overly indulgent regulations currently imposed by the EPA, let alone stricter standards, without as they say, "ceasing operations altogether" and so their solution is to impose fees on "mobile" sources which would be mostly cars and trucks.  The solution promoted by the BCCA Appeal Group is slightly different, as we shall see, while still diverting an emphasis away from reducing the emissions of precursors by regulated industries and utilities.  But first, who is the BCCAAG?

The letter from a law firm with offices in places like Houston, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Moscow and Washington DC says they are "...a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Texas.  Its members include owners and operators of stationary sources, such as refineries and chemical plants, regulated under the federal Clean Air Act and associated State Implementation Plans (SIPs)".
I threw up a little in my mouth when I googled them and found the acronym stands for "Business Coalition for Clean Air" (how stupid do they think we are?) and is composed of members like Reliant Energy, ExxonMobil and Shell. (And by the way, if you're not quite sure how evil, say, ExxonMobile is, you might want to watch this DemocracyNow interview with the author of Private Empire:  ExxonMobil and American Power which demonstrates with documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act how the US government enables the corporation now at the top of Forbes Fortune 500 list to, well, Pillage, Plunder and Pollute, which has these fascinating nuggets:

"But I think, to answer your question about what was surprising, you know, I sort of assumed that the relationship between ExxonMobil and the United States government would be more complicated than I thought or that it wouldn’t be easy to just sort of describe it in one sentence, but what surprised me was the extent to which ExxonMobil really sees itself, proudly, as an independent sovereign, as its own government, in effect, and that it has its own foreign policies, its own economic policies...."
"But the exception to that was the very personal relationship between Lee Raymond, the chairman of ExxonMobil, and Dick Cheney, the vice president. They were friends and neighbors in Dallas before Cheney went to Washington. When Cheney ran Halliburton and Raymond ran ExxonMobil, they were business partners. But more important, they were hunting friends, and they came from a similar background in the Midwest, and they sort of saw the world—they had the same kind of outlook on the world. And so, when Cheney was in Washington, Raymond had his own channel to the U.S. government that was very efficient. He found lobbying at the State Department or going through the bureaucracy very frustrating, and he tried to stay away. And he could afford to stay away, because he had a one-call relationship with the Vice President, where they could exchange views about what was happening in the world. And on occasion, he asked Cheney to intervene to support ExxonMobil’s, you know, oil deal making in the Middle East.")

Getting back to BCCA - What do they say they want in their comments?

"However, EPA's final action should clarity that the field of potential 'not less stringent' programs that could serve as alternativs to section 185 fee programs is not necessarily limited to the types of fee-equivalent, emissions-equivalent, and hybrid programs described above.  For example, a fee program might be 'not less stringent' even if the revenue it raises is devoted to environmentally beneficial purposes other than directly reducing NOx or VOC emissions, or other purposes, because section 185 does not require fees assessed under it to be devoted to any particular purpose."

So that's just...great.  They don't have to directly reduce ozone precursors, they could maybe...I don't know...plant some trees or something instead.
Following is a column published April 28, 2012 in the New York Times by Margaret Atwood.  I include it because it is so grimly droll in it's depiction of these here exceptional United States of America.  And last, there's a short sweet video at the end.  Enjoy them both!

Hello, Martians.  Let Moby-Dick Explain

LAST night the Martians touched down in the backyard. They were oval and bright pink, with two antlike antennae topped by eyes fringed with sea-anemone lashes. They said they’d come to study America.

“Why ask me?” I said. “America is farther south.”

“You are an observer,” they said. “Please tell us: Does America have a different ‘flavor’ from that of other countries? Is it the center of the cultural world? How does it look to outsiders?”

“America has always been different from Europe,” I said, “having begun as a utopian religious community. Some have seen it as a dream world where you can be what you choose, others as a mirage that lures, exploits and disappoints. Some see it as a land of spiritual potential, others as a place of crass and vulgar materialism. Some see it as a mecca for creative entrepreneurs, others as a corporate oligarchy where the big eat the small and inventions helpful to the world are stifled. Some see it as the home of freedom of expression, others as a land of timorous conformity and mob-opinion rule.”

“Thank you,” said the Martians, after looking up “thank you” on™. “How may we best discover the essence of America?”

“Through its literature, would be my choice,” I said, “but I’m biased.”

“O.K.,” said the Martians. “What should we read first? Can we have marshmallows?”

“Let’s start with two stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne,” I said. “ ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount,’ and ‘Young Goodman Brown.’ Here are your marshmallows.”

Their pink antennae waved excitedly. They stored away the marshmallows as rare American artifacts. Then they read the stories, very quickly, as Martians do. “What do these mean to contemporary America?” they asked.

“In ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount,’ ” I said, “some people having a fun party in the woods are disrupted by the Puritans, who consider them immoral. Both groups have come to America in search of ‘freedom.’ The Merry Mounters interpret ‘freedom’ as sexual and individual freedom, the Puritans as freedom to practice their own religion while outlawing the behavior of others. This fight is still going on in America: the same issues come up in every election. In my novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ” I added modestly, “I’ve included them as ‘freedom to’ and ‘freedom from.’ ”

“We took that in high school,” said the Martians. “What about ‘Young Goodman Brown?’ ”

“So, in ‘Young Goodman Brown,’ ” I said, “this Puritan goes for a walk at night and discovers that all his neighbors and relations — including his young wife, Faith — are members of a satanic witchcraft group. He wakes up in the morning wondering if he’s had a bad dream. But ever afterward he distrusts the neighbors; and so do all Americans, because how do you know whether the neighbors are who they claim to be? Every once in a while America has a Salem-style witch hunt, during which hysteria takes over and people are tagged with the satanic label of the moment. Right now it’s mostly ‘terrorism,’ though in some quarters it’s ‘liberalism’ or even ‘evil-green-dragon environmentalism.’ ”

The Martians decided to eat one marshmallow each to see what it tasted like. Their mouths were underneath: they dealt with food by hopping onto it. “Can we have popcorn now? Orville Redenbacher’s?™ they said. “And a Coke?™”

“How do you know about those things?” I said.

“We watch American TV and Internet,” they said, “like everyone else in the universe. Though American cultural hegemony is slipping, we perceive: newly rich countries such as India and Brazil have developed their own mass media. Also, America’s promise of democracy and egalitarianism — the mainstay of its cultural capital, widely understood — is being squandered. America is viewed as riddled with internal contradictions, what with vote suppression, the economic inequality protested by Occupy Wall Street, the impact of the mortgage meltdown, and the public’s loss of confidence in political institutions. So, the popcorn? We can do the microwaving.” They took out their ray guns.

“After you’ve read the next book,” I said. “It’s Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick.’ ”

The Martians riffled through Moby-Dick at top speed. Then they consulted™ for an expression that would best convey their reaction. “Holy crap!” they said. “Does this mean what we think it means?” they said.

“What do you think it means?” I said. “I’ll do the popcorn myself: you might get the wavelength wrong.”

“ ‘Moby-Dick’ is about the oil industry,” they said. “And the Ship of American State. The owners of the Pequod are rapacious and stingy religious hypocrites. The ship’s business is to butcher whales and turn them into an industrial energy product. The mates are the middle management. The harpooners, who are from races colonized by America one way or another, are supplying the expert tech labor. Elijah the prophet — from the American artist caste — foretells the Pequod’s doom, which comes about because the chief executive, Ahab, is a megalomaniac who wants to annihilate nature.

“Nature is symbolized by a big white whale, which has interfered with Ahab’s personal freedom by biting off his leg and refusing to be slaughtered and boiled. The narrator, Ishmael, represents journalists; his job is to warn America that it’s controlled by psychotics who will destroy it, because they hate the natural world and don’t grasp the fact that without it they will die. That’s enough literature for now. Can we have popcorn?”

After inhaling the popcorn, they slurped up their Cokes™, then asked me to take an Instagram™ on their cellphones of them with the bottles.

“Now we are going to Las Vegas to do some gambling,” they said, “because it’s a very American thing. After that we will buzz the Grand Canyon, and then we’ll go to the Boot Hill Museum in Kansas and get pictures of ourselves dressed as Wild West cowboys and honky-tonk floozies.”

“I think you should be careful,” I said.

“Why?” the Martians asked.

“Forgive me for pointing this out, but you look a lot like diagrams of the human female uterus,” I said. “Complete with fallopian tubes and ovaries.”

A human being might be insulted to be told this, but it didn’t seem to bother the Martians. Having looked up “uterus” on™, they said, “Isn’t the uterus a good thing? The life force and so on?”

“In some parts of America,” I said, “the men are obsessed with uteri. They feel that having one is potentially demonic. It’s a hangover from ‘Young Goodman Brown.’ If they saw you hopping around — worse still, eating popcorn — they’d go completely berserk, and pronounce you pregnant, and put you in jail.”

“Maybe we will go to Radio City Music Hall instead,” the Martians said.

“Good choice,” I said. “You won’t stand out in New York, or not much. If anyone bothers you, accuse them of being specist. Throw in that you’re vegans.”

“O.K.,” they said. “When we get back to Mars, we will start an American book club. We wish to read David Foster Wallace, not to mention Edith Wharton and Raymond Carver and tons of others. It is the writers who convey the inner truth about a nation, despite themselves, yes? Will you join us on video?”

“A pleasure,” I said. “Any reader is a friend of mine.”

~ Margaret Atwood

I can't help but wonder what the carbon footprint of this little item is, an exhibition made possible by Bloomberg.  Maybe next time I'm in the city to Occupy, I'll make a detour to the top of the Met, and see how the trees look from the roof.
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  1. the video at the end is a textbook case of deflected sunlight and hazy skies from airplane traffic

    about the trees: trees have mostly been existing in our peripheral vision and city dwellers at least see them as a green mass without looking at each one in detail. I was walking through the park an hour ago and all the people bathing in the sun under the trees did not seem to notice their state of distress

  2. Refusing to debate opposing views does not strike me as a winning strategy. But if your default mode is to go explosive (or shrill) than I guess it might be best to leave the arguing to others.

    The Druid guy ...hmmm

    Actually he is a "Arche" druid implying “prior, original, first” Druid.

    Which I find interesting, since it is unclear to me how he knows that his belief system is even remotely similar to the first, original, previous Druids, who did not leave a lot of records.

    But he is well read, and has some interesting ideas. I think (well actually I am sure) you are missing the point on what he was saying.

    He is simply saying that if you are going to get people to make serious changes, you have to be willing to demonstrate that you will make those changes yourself. Otherwise they will detect that you are a hypocrite. He notes that Al Gore with his huge house, etc. is not likely to convince anyone to change sides. As far as it goes, I agree with his point.

    Of course, because he is who he is, he does state this with an assuredness and certainty that can be aggravating. He is very well read, but you cannot be well read in everything. When he ventures into the areas that I know well, I find that he lacks a necessary humility. This tends to leave some of his grandiose leaking a lot of water.

    I tend toward the thought that we would burn, cut, kill every last everything we can in an effort to support our current economic system, but likely will be stopped because we will blow ourselves up first.

    However, it is only an opinion, and of course I would be more than happy to be wrong.

  3. Thanks, Russell for correcting me on the ARCHE part of Druid - and allowing me to elaborate.

    As far as debating Monkton goes, it is easiest to just refer you to that link. Far better minds than mine protested the airing of his views, the reason being that with some people you will never, ever win the argument no matter how unshrilly or unexplosively you present the facts, because the person you are arguing with is either as deluded as any religious fanatic or else being employed to waste your time arguing with you (or both).

    I did get that point from the archedruid, in fact it's a point I make about climate activists rather often myself, although sometimes, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. By which I mean, if one were to be completely pure about carbon footprints, one would accomplish nothing in the larger world.

    My larger objection to JMG is his hamfisted highandmightiness. Specifically, I no longer make comments at his blog because the last time I did, he wouldn't let me respond to a comment directed at me, saying: "At this point I'm going to draw a line under the debate over whether apocalyptic climate change is or is not going to happen. It's off topic for this post, and there are plenty of other places where people can debate it if they wish. 'Nuf said."

    Which was ridiculous, because the entire topic of the post the HE initially wrote was whether there would be a long slow decline or a more abrupt crash...and, the debate going on in comments was perfectly respectful and polite, you can read it all here:

    except of course my last comment, that he wouldn't let through, which read:

    Gail has left a new comment on your post "Waiting for the Great Pumpkin":

    Bill, you're just plain wrong. In about 20 seconds, you can google "background levels of tropospheric ozone rising" and find any number of sources, here's a random one:

    "In plants, it has been found that damage can occur at concentrations only slightly higher than current background levels. This has a significance on yields from agriculture and forestry, as well as affecting natural ecosystems."

    "Measurements that have been in progress since the 1950s show that the levels of ozone in the air over Europe have risen by an average of 2 per cent a year, and that the background level today is two to four times as high as it was in the 1950s."

    "As with acidification and eutrophication, attempts have been made to estimate nature’s “tolerance level” to ozone exposure. In the case of gaseous substances these tolerance limits are expressed as critical levels."

    "The critical levels, which were presumably only exceeded occasionally at the start of the last century, are now exceeded regularly over almost all of Europe."

    With regard to climate change, the level of CO2 has NEVER increased as rapidly as it has since the industrial revolution began, and this original "forcing" has ALREADY initiated amplifying feedbacks which are far more powerful than any negative feedbacks such as aerosols could counter. So the point is that even if we stopped all emission today, the CO2 we have already added to the atmosphere will remain and continue heating for at least 100 years and according to Susan Solomon of NOAA, for 1000. That and the albedo effect and the permafrost that has begun unstoppable melting will continue to create the insane weather that really kicked in last year, and it will accelerate warming far faster than species can adapt and so the mass extinctions that as you pointed out have begun will also accelerate.

    I really recommend Dr. Fuller's essay
    which explains all of this far better than I could, also Fred Pearce's book about paleoclimatic change "With Speed and Violence".

  4. Something unusual seems to be happening to CO2 levels in recent months; the average increase for the past decade has been around 2 ppm but in recent weeks/months it has been more like double that, over 4 ppm for the latest week and 3 ppm for April:

    I mention this because you mentioned that less CO2 than expected is being absorbed by trees, and if less is being absorbed compared to a year ago, that would explain the abnormally large increase.

  5. Russell said earlier: "of course I would be more than happy to be wrong".

    Although it can't just be trees, because deforestation has been ongoing for centuries. It's all plants. Trees are most visibly in decline, because they live for so long, you can see so many branches are bare, a larger percentage every summer.

    But the phytoplankton are going too:

    How to ruin a perfectly lovely afternoon...

  6. "hamfisted highandmightiness" I don't follow him that closely, but I have always assumed there was an element of sneakiness. What is a good term for pompous + sneaky?

    He controls his message board carefully. It is obvious at times that his responses are eliptical and obfuscating at times. He most definitely would not want secondary conversations that he cannot control. After all, isn't his purpose to sell books? He seems commited to the concept of a slow collapse - even if the historical record is rather mixed in that regard. Discounting blowing ourselves up, I somewat lean in his direction on the issue, I just don't feel as though there is anything to be gained in commiting to an position.

    Thank you for the link. I haven't read it yet but I will

  7. I think you nailed it Russell. He is committed to a position, because that is the basis on which he sells books (and gets "tips" on his website).

    To the extent that I am committed to a position (other than blowing ourselves up, always a distinct possibility I wouldn't rule out) I would prefer that people recognize how quickly the ecosystem is collapsing - trees specifically, but also for instance, life in the sea, because there is some possibility something could be salvaged if we do. If we have to wait until we either wise up and voluntarily stop burning fuel because of climate change (never going to happen) or burn everything we can find (and there's plenty remaining, it's just takes more energy to retrieve it, making things ever worse) we will poison the air and water long before then. And then even if there's a tiny part of the planet that still has a habitable climate, there won't be any trees or fish, never mind butterflies or birds.

  8. "Scientists previously assumed that as the climate warms, growing seasons would lengthen, more plants would grow and forests would absorb more carbon dioxide"

    Gotta love them blanket statements. Do scientists not factor in the reality that we humans have been chopping forests down at a high rate of knots ever since we climbed down out of them?

    PS You spell 'Monckton' wrongly. The correct spelling, in my opinion, is p-r-e-v-a-r-i-c-a-t-i-n-g- -p-e-e-r.

  9. Hi Gail, I noticed your comments on this post regarding "God." Do you still consider yourself to be an atheist and could you tell us more about this? I ask because I was surprised to read that and I'm curious about it. :)

  10. W.Danny - Atheism is obviously a big subject to squeeze into a comment. I think the simplest answer is that I was brought up with no religion and so it's always seemed to me that people invented god(s) and not the other way around. Sure I had some questions and felt some pangs about whether life would be meaningless and empty without believing in a soul or life after death - when I was around 16. So I understand that it's a threatening notion especially for people who have been inculcated since birth with the conviction that there is some sort of immortal spirituality, and that people need a higher authority to be moral, good and worthy. I just don't agree with that and what's more, I see absolutely no evidence of it in contemporary life, history, or science. Feel free to email me if that's easier than going back to comments on old posts! witsendnj at yahoo dot com
    - Gail

  11. Hi Gail, thank you for your response. I prefer to continue this here on the weblog so anyone can see this. Please know that I respect and tolerate your beliefs. If your beliefs are working for you and you're happy, then that's fine.
    I was going to launch into my own ideas and beliefs and stuff about God & death, but for now, your reply begs more questions. Please forgive me if it's a lot at once! You don't have to answer them all unless you want to.

    What do you expect to experience after death? Oblivion? A final eternal termination of your existence? If so, how do you feel about that? How do you feel that you will never see your loved ones or experience joy or love again after death, ever?

    Do you believe that everyone who has ever lived, everyone who now lives and everyone who will ever live is doomed to oblivion after they die? Do you believe your deceased relatives, Mother Teresa, Thomas Jefferson and everyone else really don't exist anymore in any form and never will again?

    What would be the purpose of being born out of nothing, living for awhile in one body and dying back into null oblivion?

    What would be the point of experiencing just one body for seventy to ninety years, in one limited time period, as just a man or a woman, on just one world, as the sum total of one's existence?

    What would be the reason or meaning in just having one chance at life in one body, with no other chances and no other tries even if you mess up? What about all those babies and children who died young? So all the people who messed up their lives on drugs, or perished in poverty, or ended up with lifetime jail sentences, or got handicapped just got that 1chance and that's it? It would suck to be them. (to put it bluntly)

    So do you believe that each of our lives is just one brief little kick at the can and then we're wormfood with no second try?

    So do you believe that when you die you'll be nonexistent forever, that you had your one chance, that's it, end of story and it's game over? We die, you die into an abyss of oblivion and everything you learned that's not recorded is gone, lost? All memory, everyone's memory is extinguished..then you die, I die permanently, then zero, nothing? For what?

    Who or what would get any lasting fulfillment or benefit from that??

    If your body is composed of atoms, which are made of energy with at least 99.999% empty space between each atom, and the space itself is an energy field (the zeropoint field), then what dies? What is it that dies, indeed?

    Keeping in mind that your body's atoms, spaces and everything else are energy, how can energy die if energy can't be destroyed?

    Keeping in mind that all the atoms (fluctuating energy) and the energy of space around you is contiguous with the "outide" of your skin, then where do 'you' end? Where exactly is the boundary of what you are?

    To put it a slightly different way, if your body is mostly empty space which is energy and your atoms (also energy) touch the atoms and space (energies) around you,isn't the 'edge' of your body an illusionary boundary? What are you?

    If your body is just a pattern in a sea of electromagnetic quantum/vacuum energy wave fluctuations, then where exactly is your edge? In light of that reality, how can time or death exist? Do they then have meaning, in truth? Thus, do you really have a limit or edge?

    How can you identify with just your body if it is actually an illusionary pattern of energies that is really an indivisible part of the energy fields of the Universe?

    (see part 2 for more)

  12. If consciousness can't be located in the brain, or the heart or any particular place, then where is it? What is it? Do you know what consciousness is? What created consciousness?

    How do you know that consciousness is inside matter and not the other way around?

    How do you know that matter spawns consciousness and its not the other way around?

    How can a ball of molten rock we now call Earth just happen to somehow spawn its own oceans, make its own atmosphere and grow a living biosphere with millions of different complex species including us humans?

    How could Earth or any other part of this universe have been created without some kind of unseen, undying awareness or intelligences?

    Who or what designed the complicated code (language)of DNA and assembled it into this fantastic, diverse assortment of aware, feeling, interacting biological forms, functions and processes?

    How do you explain the 'Double Slit' experiment?

    What is energy? What is existence?
    How can something "exist" (ie a rock out in space) without itself being conscious or without being observed?

    Suppose your brain was removed and kept alive in an oxygenating nutrient vat with electrodes placed on the optical nerve, auditory nerves and brainstem. Neurological stimulation is performed, which simulates the sensory experiences/data of a virtual world. How could you tell the difference between that virtual world and this "real" world? How do you know this "real" world isn't itself a dream - a mental simulation created in consciousness?

    What is your explanation of the many thousands of cases of Near- Death experiences in dozens of books and sites like NDERF,in which many people exit their bodies in nonmaterial form, see the bodies from outside and experience realities beyond this existence and return?

    How do you explain the thousands of Out of Body Experiences that have been reported in many dozens of books, sites and web forums? How do you explain that some of those experiencers and "remote viewers" found information that would be impossible to have found "in-body"?

    How can the various non-local and mysterious effects of such well-documented and published phenomena as telepathy and precognition be explained?

    If such a thing as "time" exists, then what is before the "beginning"? What is after the end? Isn't time just a relative illusion based on the whirlings of the Earth around the sun, the seasons, biological changes and hands on clocks? If time has no beginning and no end then what does that mean, really?

    If there's no real beginning or end to time, doesn't that mean there's no real past, because there's no beginning to 'start' from? Doesn't this mean there's no real 'future' because there's no 'end' we're moving towards?

    Is time just an illusion then, with no real linear moment to moment to moment? Without real "moments" what is left? Is reality just one infinite Moment in which all the action is going on all at once simultaneously?

    So if time is just an illusion and there's no past or future (as some famous scientists agree) then how could death be real? If past and future are illusions and there is just one multidimensional moment, then how can there be endings?
    How could timeless energy that can't be destroyed die?

    So how could death be a reality if reality is actually timeless?

  13. p.s. Please forgive the typos (such as its instead of it's.) I didn't quite catch them in time but I can correct them later...

  14. WDanny, I appreciate your interest in my opinions but I am not exactly a deep thinker on this topic, for one thing because it doesn't really interest me nearly as much as some other topics. I'm sure there are many books by philosophers from many different cultures that have examined such questions, who have come up with various explanations, that would be much better sources of insight than me.

    Briefly though, I think you should ask those questions in the context of other life forms, say, the millions of years animals roamed the earth BEFORE humans evolved. What meaning would they have had then? It seems to me that humans are simply animals that have evolved to have rather clever brains and an exaggerated sense of our own importance, but we no more have eternal souls or meaning to our lives than crocodiles or butterfies.

    Perhaps if you try to look at it that way you will understand how I am okay with that. Life is a beautiful, fleeting gift for those of us who are lucky enough to not suffer unduly. It's precious because we only get one. If we lived forever, it would be devalued.

    I'm sorry if this isn't the detailed response you wanted after framing so many issues but it's all I have to say on the matter.

  15. Hi Gail, thank you for this new response. It's great that this weblog is a two-way communication, instead of just a one-way bulletin board like many other blogs. I understand where you're coming from on this. Again, I respect your freedom to hold your own beliefs and ideas. I don't mean to threaten your own beliefs. This conversation has certainly helped make sure I always question my own beliefs! So please bear with me instead of refusing further openness about this and shutting the door on it. I won't bite. :)

    There's a reason I'm focusing so much on these things right now and there's a reason I posed so many such questions. The above essay post includes possible solutions which involve important changes of consciousness on humanity's part, in regards to our interaction with the rest of Nature. Consciousness change and beliefs are key.

    To me it's clear (you probably agree) that most of the members of this civilization have apparently lost their respect for the sacredness/value of not only themselves, but of the rest of Nature as well. We need to be certain of the root reasons for this loss of respect. Lack of respect arises from ignorance and misunderstanding and the associated insane fear, hate and mistrust. This would apply both to our attitudes about ourselves and to the rest of Life.

    So the question is, what exactly is being misunderstood & ignored about ourselves, other life forms and our interrelationships. Our concepts of what Life is, the unity of Life, what a creature actually is, whether plants have awareness and whether the Earth itself is a conscious gestalt are relevant. Humanity's beliefs about whether animals are self-conscious and what consciousness **is** are all very important, I think. Our ideas about our place in the Universe(s), the nature of what reality is, what creates reality, our connections with other life forms & the nature of 'death' also have a lot to do with this.

    Humanity's current beliefs or distorted ideas about these issues have direct bearing on our level of ignorance and misunderstanding of ourselves and the rest of Nature. That would of course govern how the members of this civilization treat the rest of Nature wouldn't it? I think this would help explain why this culture is in overshoot and has become so addicted to science & technology so extremely (at the expense of Life and other aspects of ourselves.)

    And yes I think this pertains just as much to prehistoric creatures as it does to us here. Their aware, conscious purpose & meaning in their beautiful lives surely lasts beyond just 1 life and just 1specific form! :) Gail you stated that you find no evidence for 'spirit' or life after 'death'. I ask you, what evidence is there that death is the 'end' and that 'spirituality' is unreal??

    One can't prove a negative. Just because something is unseen or unknown doesn't mean it's unreal. 500 years ago, radio waves, extrasolar planets or electrons wouldn't have even been considered as real by the vast majority. Much of what's in my questions is not even philosophical, but is being studied and proven scientifically (not that science knows all.)

    So my questions to you are relevant to this, which is mainly why I asked them. I also asked them as a sort of mirror or wall to bounce your own beliefs off of. Your replies have given me such a mirror to see & examine my own beliefs as well.
    Like I mentioned, we all need to question our beliefs (and examine them).

    Gail did you read all the questions I asked? You don't have to answer them but did you take a moment to consider each one? (I don't claim to have all the answers and I don't mean to get on your case about this. But again, I feel that these issues are relevant in terms of the changes humanity could be making to solve our planetary emergency. It's also fun to talk about!)
    Sincerely, Danny :)

  16. Danny, it isn't necessary to find anything sacred about life to want to maintain it. I am purely pragmatic. I have children and it pains me to think they will die prematurely in horrifically painful ways - through starvation, disease, or violence. To be perfectly honest, if I had been more aware way back when, I wouldn't have become a mother...and I would now be, if not content, considerably less agonized about what will undoubtedly transpire in the future as we reach bottleneck. In fact I might just sit back as a spectator and observe, or maybe chronicle, the unfolding spectacle of collapse.

    But there it is. I have three daughters I love dearly and I can't protect them - or even convince them to prepare, to the extent that is even possible.

    So I write this blog, but not because I'm interested in debating the existence of god, or immortality, or spirituality. It's out of frustration, and as a legacy for my children, should they ever decide to read it. I apologize, but I'm really don't care about the questions you are examining, about god and so forth, one way or another.

  17. Hi Gail, I'm very grateful that you have kindly kept this civil, even with a hot topic like this.

    Your replies and reactions have helped me understand more about my own beliefs & attitudes. Hopefully you got something out of this as well. I accept your desire to stop talking about this issue, so I'll set it aside for now.

    Before I do so, I have to admit that I'm puzzled about one more thing at the moment. Why would you use the phrase "**God** Bless America" and quote a religious text in the first parts of your last 2 posts?!? I never thought I'd hear 'God Bless' and bible quotes from someone who has atheistic beliefs! Is that just an old habit, or could it be a Freudian Slip or something like that?

    Sincerely, and thank you for reading my ramblings. :)

  18. Oh now I get why you put "God Bless" in your recent blog title - it's the name of a movie. As for the Bible quote, I'm guessing that you read the dusty old tome awhile ago and you lately recalled that it has some decent pithy quotes eh? (even if most of the book is just distorted, censored, self-contradictory, archaic filler dotted with just a few gems of useful wisdom, inspiration and historical info) :)

  19. Wizardly Danny, I'm afraid my worse nightmare will come to pass - Sarah Palin and the fundamentalists have it right. The end of times is upon us, and the residents of Alaska will be the only survivors. Sigh.


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