CO2 levels in the atmosphere

With all the talk, studies, resolutions, solutions, agreements, actions, and rebellions, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to rise.

Weekly average for the week of:

20 October 2019: 408.78 parts for million (ppm)

This time last year: 406.61 ppm

10 years ago: 384.74 ppm

Pre-industrial base: 280

Safe level: 350

Atmospheric CO2 reading from Mauna Loa, Hawaii (part per million). Source: NOAA-ESRL

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450ppm risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. Read more at the Guardian . . .

Rising Seas Could Threaten Three Times More People than Scientists Previously Believed

Ho Chi Minh City, along with the rest of southern Vietnam, “could all but disappear” by 2050.

Bangkok, Thailand, currently home to over eight million people, is under severe threat.

Basra, Iraq, the nation’s second-largest city, “could be mostly underwater” by mid-century.

“Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities.

“The authors of a paper published Tuesday developed a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects of sea level rise over large areas, and found that the previous numbers were far too optimistic. The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by mid century. Read more . . .

On the Under-Estimation of Climate Change

Climate deniers often accuse scientists of exaggerating the threats associated with the climate crisis, but if anything they’re often too conservative . The quote below is from an article in The Guardian by Dale Jamieson, Michael Oppenheimer and Naomi Oreskes.

“For political leaders and business people, we think it is important for you to know that it is extremely unlikely that scientists are exaggerating the threat of the climate crisis. It is far more likely that things are worse than scientists have said. We have already seen that the impacts of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are unfolding more rapidly than scientists predicted. There is a high likelihood that they will continue to do so, and that the IPCC estimates – that emissions must be rapidly reduced, if not entirely eliminated, by 2050 – may well be optimistic. The fact that this conclusion is hard to swallow does not make it untrue.” Read more . . .

The Usual Pattern: Faster than previously thought

“Greenhouse gases are raising the Earth’s temperature faster than previously thought, according to new climate models due to replace those used in current UN projections − meaning a bigger heat rise by 2100 than thought likely.

“Separate models at two French research centres suggest that by then average global temperatures could have risen by 6.5 to 7.0°C above pre-industrial levels if carbon emissions continue at their present rate, the website phys.org reports.” Read More . . .

Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea

Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea, first published as Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, is a book by Mark Kurlansky. It follows the history of nonviolence and nonviolent activism, focusing on religious and political ideals from early history to the present. (Source: Wikipedia)

Kurlansky summarizes the Twenty-Five Lessons as follows:

  1. There is no proactive word for nonviolence [in English].
  2. Nations that build military forces as deterrents will eventually use them.
  3. Practitioners of nonviolence are seen as enemies of the state.
  4. Once a state takes over a religion, the religion loses its nonviolent teachings.
  5. A rebel can be defanged and co-opted by making him a saint after he is dead.
  6. Somewhere behind every war there are always a few founding lies.
  7. A propaganda machine promoting hatred always has a war waiting in the wings.
  8. People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.
  9. A conflict between a violent and a nonviolent force is a moral argument. If the violent side can provoke the nonviolent side into violence, the violent side has won.
  10. The problem lies not in the nature of man, but in the nature of power.
  11. The longer a war lasts, the less popular it becomes.
  12. The state imagines it is impotent without a military because it can not conceive of power without force.
  13. It is often not the largest, but the best organized and most articulate group that prevails.
  14. All debate momentarily ends with an enforced silence once the first shots are fired.
  15. A shooting war is not necessary to overthrow an established power, but is used to consolidate the revolution itself.
  16. Violence does not resolve; it always leads to more violence.
  17. Warfare produces peace activists. A group of veterans is a likely place to find peace activists.
  18. People motivated by fear do not act well.
  19. While it is perfectly feasible to convince a people faced with brutal oppression to rise up in a suicidal attack on their oppressor, it is almost impossible to convince them to meet deadly violence with nonviolent resistance.
  20. Wars do not have to be sold to the general public if they can be carried out by an all-volunteer professional military.
  21. Once you start the business of killing, you just get deeper and deeper without limits.
  22. Violence always comes with a supposedly rational explanation, which is only dismissed as irrational if the violence fails.
  23. Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.
  24. The miracle is that despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values.
  25. The hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already been done.

A Dry Leaf in the Breeze

 Gatherings and agitations, mornings of thin
light-lines trailing behind and running out in front,
ever encompassing, ever dazzling the tender heart,
ever singing the extravagant song of searching rain.
You are the most robust compass, all and all
the wildest grace and delight.
You mark time as a slow dream.
You shelter vultures overhead.
You open doors onto panoramas of telepathic trees.
You are the great-souled one.
You are the translucent touch of night, smell
of dark mountains and burning ash.

So and so and so it is. I accept you
as you accept the storm, as you speak soft
words and hard. Speak! Speak!
Speak again as you pass below the bridge
and above the weary noise. Impelled by the forces
of gravity, matter and light, you trace the sacred arc
and move freely, a dry leaf in the breeze.

Rick Visser
August 12, 2019

“When a race has lived its term, it comes no more again.”

Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Fate.”

“Nature is no sentimentalist,—does not cosset or pamper us. We must see that the world is rough and surly, and will not mind drowning a man or a woman; but swallows your ship like a grain of dust. The cold, inconsiderate of persons, tingles your blood, benumbs your feet, freezes a man like an apple. The diseases, the elements, fortune, gravity, lightning, respect no persons. The way of Providence is a little rude. The habit of snake and spider, the snap of the tiger and other leapers and bloody jumpers, the crackle of the bones of his prey in the coil of the anaconda,—these are in the system, and our habits are like theirs. You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity,—expensive races,—race living at the expense of race. The planet is liable to shocks from comets, perturbations from planets, rendings from earthquake and volcano, alterations of climate, precessions of equinoxes. Rivers dry up by opening of the forest. The sea changes its bed. Towns and counties fall into it. At Lisbon, an earthquake killed men like flies. At Naples, three years ago, ten thousand persons were crushed in a few minutes. The scurvy at sea; the sword of the climate in the west of Africa, at Cayenne, at Panama, at New Orleans, cut off men like a massacre. Our western prairie shakes with fever and ague. The cholera, the small-pox, have proved as mortal to some tribes, as a frost to the crickets, which, having filled the summer with noise, are silenced by a fall of the temperature of one night. Without uncovering what does not concern us, or counting how many species of parasites hang on a bombyx; or groping after intestinal parasites, or infusory biters, or the obscurities of alternate generation;—the forms of the shark, the labrus, the jaw of the sea-wolf paved with crushing teeth, the weapons of the grampus, and other warriors hidden in the sea,—are hints of ferocity in the interiors of nature. Let us not deny it up and down. Providence has a wild, rough, incalculable road to its end, and it is of no use to try to whitewash its huge, mixed instrumentalities, or to dress up that terrific benefactor in a clean shirt and white neckcloth of a student in divinity.”

. . . .

“The book of Nature is the book of Fate. She turns the gigantic pages,—leaf after leaf,—never returning one. One leaf she lays down, a floor of granite; then a thousand ages, and a bed of slate; a thousand ages, and a measure of coal; a thousand ages, and a layer of marl and mud: vegetable forms appear; her first misshapen animals, zoophyte, trilobium, fish; then, saurians,—rude forms, in which she has only blocked her future statue, concealing under these unwieldy monsters the fine type of her coming king. The face of the planet cools and dries, the races meliorate, and man is born. But when a race has lived its term, it comes no more again.”

. . . .

“The truth is in the air, and the most impressionable brain will announce it first, but all will announce it a few minutes later. So women, as most susceptible, are the best index of the coming hour. So the great man, that is, the man most imbued with the spirit of the time, is the impressionable man,—of a fiber irritable and delicate, like iodine to light. He feels the infinitesimal attractions. His mind is righter than others, because he yields to a current so feeble as can be felt only by a needle delicately poised.”

. . . .

“Let us build altars to the Beautiful Necessity, which secures that all is made of one piece; that plaintiff and defendant, friend and enemy, animal and planet, food and eater, are of one kind. In astronomy, is vast space, but no foreign system; in geology, vast time, but the same laws as today. Why should we be afraid of Nature, which is no other than “philosophy and theology embodied?” Why should we fear to be crushed by savage elements, we who are made up of the same elements? Let us build to the Beautiful Necessity, which makes man brave in believing that he cannot shun a danger that is appointed, nor incur one that is not; to the Necessity which rudely or softly educates him to the perception that there are no contingencies; that Law rules throughout existence, a Law which is not intelligent but intelligence,—not personal nor impersonal,—it disdains words and passes understanding; it dissolves persons; it vivifies nature; yet solicits the pure in heart to draw on all its omnipotence.”