Links August 2018

August 11, 2018

Another hastily compiled blog post with hyperlinks plus a few thought splinters and questions. Like for instance:

What shall we do, to save nature and ourselves from ourselves? Shall we fight the system and prevalent paradigms (centralism, capitalism, globalism, speciesism, etc.), or change our own life, develop our personality, learn new skills?

According to left wing theorists, changing ones personal habits, ones lifestyle will not achieve anything, because it’s the social and economic system which matters, not the individual conduct. But isn’t the system essentially the summation of individual dependencies and interactions?

Is “the system” a convenient excuse to avoid personal change?

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

There is no doubt that gathering strengths, improving oneself, thinking about the situation and possible strategies will make us act more effective, but imminent dangers nevertheless demand imminent responses. There is no time to ruminate, meditate, or contemplate, if flames are about to engulf our home, if flood waters rise, if food runs out, or malevolent political leaders are about to start the next war.

In order not to be overwhelmed, shocked, and helpless we have to think through all possible scenarios and prepare for emergencies. Preppers and survivalists are onto something, though their individualistic and militaristic approach is unhelpful.

Lone and isolated actors will not achieve much, so one should go out, join communities, organize, teach, persuade, convince. In order to be convincing one better should be a role model, an example of perfect virtue, a saint. Falling short of this it maybe is sufficient if one is sincere, humble, well intended, and unpretentious.

Feline news:


Hot environmental news:

For three decades climate models have predicted prolonged and intense heat waves and the predictions are coming true this summer across the Northern Hemisphere. According to meteorologists it will get even hotter and todays records will be the future norm. In the past weeks temperatures have soared to unseen highs. Here’s just a small sample:

•Death Valley National Park, California: 52 C (July 8)
• Ouargla, Algeria: The highest reliable recorded temperature of 51 C (July 5)
• Bardufoss, in Norway’s far north, a record was compiled of 33.5 C (July 19)
• Northern Siberia: Consecutive days with forecast above 30 C (July 9–16)
• Chino, Californiaå: Daytime record of 48.9 C (July 7)
• Tajimi, Japan: Record-setting temperature of 40.7 (July 17)
• Kumagaya, Japan reported a temperature of 41.1C (July 23)

Japan has declared a heatwave sweeping the country a natural disaster, with at least 80 deaths recorded. More than 22,000 people have been admitted to hospital with heat stroke, nearly half of them elderly. Parts of Sweden, Norway, and Finland are recording temperatures almost twice the average.

In Sweden at least one person has been killed and dozens more injured by forest fires. More than 40 wildfires were raging from the south as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Neighboring Norway experienced its hottest May temperatures on record and has also suffered forest fires

Parts of the UK are experiencing a prolonged heatwave and the government has issued a “heat-health watch” alert in the east and south-east of England.

Scorching temperatures have devastated crops across Europe, with parts of France and northern Germany showing serious damage to wheat yields. The European Union is ready to disburse funds to help farmers cope. German farmers have asked their government for 1 billion euros in financial aid to help cover losses from this year’s poor harvest.

In Greece more than 90 people have died in wildfires in the Attica region around Athens. Greece, Sweden, and Latvia have requested support from the EU to fight wild fires and neighboring states are sending fire brigades with aircraft, ground forces, and vehicles.

Wildfires burning in Siberia sent smoke plumes across the Arctic all the way to New England.

Reports from Algeria say that Africa’s hottest ever recorded temperature was registered in the northern city of Ouargla with 51.3 C (July 5).

A dry winter has intensified the worst drought in living memory in New South Wales, Australia. The area produces about a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output. Farmers tell harrowing stories of failing crops, severe water shortages, and being unable to feed livestock.

Eastern Canada suffered a deadly heatwave in early July, with at least 70 deaths in Quebec province alone.

A heatwave in Southern California saw record-breaking temperatures in some areas including 48.9 C in Chino, outside Los Angeles. A major wildfire burning on the western edge of the Yosemite National Park has generated so much smoke that air pollution levels in Yosemite Valley are worse than in Beijing. The National Park has since been evacuated.

Fueled by an incendiary combination of scorching temperatures, dry air and unpredictable winds, the deadly Carr Fire has forced thousands to flee, scorched more than 160,000 acres, torched 1000 buildings, and killed seven people until now. Across the western United States, 50 major wildfires are burning in 14 states.

The Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California is even bigger and has burned more than 300,000 acres, making it the largest blaze in the state’s history.

Nobody can complain. Meteorologists and climate scientists have forecast this development since years and all evidence points to the fact, that it is of our own making. Yet authorities around the world are quiet about possible causes of hot weather and persistent drought. The farmers will get additional subsidies and tax relief, the public is being advised to drink plenty of water, to use air conditioning, and to rest often. Nothing else is done. 

Our descendants will hate us.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-44923654 Brown is the new green. The monthlong heat wave is breaking all records and a water shortage has left Britains lush parks and meadows parched and brown.

Other environmental news:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/18/asthma-deaths-rise-25-amid-growing-air-pollution-crisis If you thought, that the problem of air pollution has been solved long time ago by outsourcing all manufacturing to China, you were wrong.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/environmental-defenders-death-report/ R I P.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/tomorrow/fast-food-nation-inside-india-s-growing-crisis-a-1218839.html Western modernization in India.
https://www.dw.com/en/biodiversity-collapse-imminent-in-worlds-tropics-study-says/a-44821288 We will kill it all.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45097490 What kind of article can one expect from the BBC? The rich are supposedly saving a tropical paradise, even as their air travel generates more CO2 than a Bangladeshi farmer will produce in her/his whole lifetime. And exotic species are saved by killing animals which humans themselves brought to the island paradise. Saving the world by killing our fellow animals, how convenient, easy, and gratifying! Because killing other living beings is our true passion – that is what we do best.

Economic news:

http://evonomics.com/how-maximizing-shareholder-value-turns-nice-people-into-psychopaths/?utm Maximizing shareholder value.
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/07/18/pers-j18.html Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made another 50 billion US$ this year.
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/07/can-globalization-reversed.html An article that ends with the phrase “hamper long-term growth” is highly questionable and only useful to prove, that globalization, GDP growth, and environmental destruction are unavoidably linked.

Media and technology news:

https://www.scmp.com/tech/enterprises/article/2155155/chinas-internet-ecosystem-model-increasingly-being-copied-globally When shopping and online surfing becomes the same, and virtual reality shields us from the grim realism of collapsing ecosystems.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180719121803.htm Mobile phone radiation may affect memory.
https://theweek.com/articles/785738/google-not-american-company Must read.
http://www.boundary2.org/2018/08/moravec/ Gender bias in Wikipedia.

Imperial news:

To set things straight: The USA, with the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration on earth, has about 100 times more people per capita in prison than Syria.

Media splinters who give some thought:

Fleeing the Carr Fire, Greg and Terri Hill evacuated their Redding home in the middle of the night with little more than medications, photo albums, clothes, and firearms, assuming they’d be back home in a few days. They returned two days later to find little more than ash. [Now we know, what a mainstream US family regards as the most precious possessions.]

81-year-old contract bulldozer operator Don Ray Smith died, as he was working to clear brush and vegetation to contain the Carr Fire and his position was overtaken by the blaze. [When do US citizens retire?]

The monthly anti-US rant by John Chuckman:

I’ve always regarded American football as resembling imperial Rome’s arena spectacles.

It’s a sports culture designed to reinforce the attitudes and values of American empire.

Marching bands in the full splendor of Ruritanian palace guards, monster flags carried by an obligatory real-soldier color guard with rifles and white shoulder straps, gals in Ruritanian military caps high-stepping with short skirts, sequined panties, and matching booties while twirling batons, the unsingable imperial anthem with a loud-speaker demand for all to rise, not infrequently sung by someone who can’t sing or garbles the words, and the crowds of tens of thousands straining their vocal cords.

A big war parade before armor-clad players come out the field to hit and smash each other

They are very similar types of gatherings to those of Rome with the noise and displays and bloodlust, only football doesn’t kill the players, it just hurts them.

But I’m sure if it were possible America would have a big audience for the exact Roman spectacles.

Maybe it will come to that with all the spirit of killing, from the colonial wars abroad to local cops who kill about three people a day in America, with ignoring great human misery, as in the refugees of the Middle East or in the horrors of Gaza, and with readiness to accept the violation of many traditional laws and ethical principles and agreements that today characterizes America.

After all, in America’s South, well into the 1930s, while FDR was in the White House, lynchings were often treated as family picnic occasions with gatherings on the town square while a man was hanged. Eleanor complained to Franklin about it and asked him to intervene, but he said he could do nothing without losing his support from Southern Democrats.

Ah, yes, America, you do have some proud moments. The rah-rah is good for the guys you send off to places like Vietnam where you managed to kill 3 million souls or Iraq where you killed another million.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/07/19/pove-j19.html There can be no poverty in the words richest country! End of discussion.

Imperial conquest news:

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would impose “the most hard-hitting ever” sanctions, would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to allow the US to withdraw from NATO, and would require the State Department to determine whether Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. Co-sponsor Republican Senator Lindsay Graham: ”“Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyberattacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria.” 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/08/10/pers-a10.html Genocide in Yemen.

Armageddon news:

From a DGR-post:

In my moments of greater clarity, I want to absolve myself of all political inclination. If I ask myself, point blank, “what is it I am most concerned about?” the answer comes quickly: Ecology, the living world. My great worry regarding the world at large centers on the fact that human industrial civilization is every day bringing the web of life closer to the brink of total collapse. Through climate change, extinctions, pollution, the promulgation of invasive species, and the conversion of wild spaces into regions managed and exploited for extraction and production, human civilization is destroying everything upon which it stands. With such an insurmountable threat bearing down, it seems silly to get drawn into conflicts over petty human arguments. Of course, most of what is trumpeted by TV and print news seems to be just this, at least in comparison to the storm looming over us.

https://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/ecocide/habitat-loss/trust-your-senses/?utm Must read. Silent spring? It would be a silent spring, silent summer, silent fall, silent winter, if humans would not substitute the sounds of nature with their mechanical noises.

Uncategorized news:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45079682 The West’s precious ally in the Middle East.
http://wriorg.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/scramble-land-rights.pdf Indigenous Peoples lose their land to global companies.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/07/19/where-do-we-go-from-here-how-do-we-get-there/ Long read. Sometimes incoherent and unsystematic, but contains interesting ideas.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=52&v=VOr2O0FfpT8 Piano music for an old blind elephant.

News from cat land:

Sitting on the computer is an unappealing option if the garden needs tending and fruits need to be harvested. Three weeks of scorching heat were concluded yesterday with a thunderstorm and torrential rain. Which means that for at least three days I don’t have to go up at 4 AM to start irrigating the garden.

The rainwater barrels were nearly empty, after the rain they are full again. Nine of the barrels are directly fed by two downpipe diverters from the house and another two diverters from the big greenhouse, the other 15 barrels have to be filled up by transferring water from the first group with an electric pump. When I see that the directly fed barrels are all full I have to rush out into the rain, putting the pump in one of the full barrels and the hose in one of the empty ones. This is very inconvenient but a fully integrated system would be too complicated and prone to technical defects.

The pouring rain overwhelmed the drainage system and flooded the garage for a few minutes, it took me an hour to clean up the floor with towel and bucket. No damage done fortunately.

The cats are fine, only a bit dazed by the heat. Some of the cats and I slept for a few days in the cellar where it is still pleasantly cool. Gandhi Jr. got his own fan from my collection of industry parts and he really appreciated it.

Since years I have prepared the garden for hot summers with protracted heatwaves. There is no lawn or meadow and at least half of the garden is covered by a tight canopy of leaves. More than 30 fruit trees, 18 grape vines, hundreds of berry bushes, and high growing herbs like mint, lemon balm, nettle, and sage protect the soil from sunlight. The vines climb on trellises, blackberry bushes don’t climb but they are tied to posts or trellises and together with the vines and fruit trees form arcades through which one can walk completely shielded from the sun.

Will this be enough to cope with rising temperatures or will it only delay the ecological collapse for a few years?

It’s Not Climate Change-It’s Everything Change,” as Margaret Atwood wrote 2015 in her notable and widely discussed essay.

I’m worried about mass extinction. There are no bats and only few owls in the forest. A huge hedgehog has discovered the garden but it is the only one I’ve seen for a long time. Bumblebees have disappeared. In March there were a few visiting but now they are gone. They liked the echinacea blooms so much, but at the moment only wild bees and butterflies are enjoying the echinacea.

Bumblebees are one of my favorite insects. I’ve touched them gently and I’ve held them in my hand, they never stung me. Butterflies are more fragile, I seldom touch them. A few days ago I heaved one carefully out of a spider web. It was unharmed and only a bit disoriented, when I sat it down on top of a box. It staggered around a little bit, flapped it’s wings, and flew away unceremoniously. There are many butterflies here, they like the butterfly bushes in the garden.

Will I see a bumblebee again? Will I be able to maintain my little paradise, the “cat paradise” for a few more years?

Will I have to watch powerlessly the ecological collapse?

City dwellers have no idea whats going on, because they are disconnected from nature and experience the world mostly via displays, which they are watching all the time. Country folks see the change, but many are clueless or indifferent. One neighbor just paved over a part of his scorched lawn with artful tiles. He will replant some of the dead bushes, others will be replaced by plastic plants.

Artificial plants will be in high demand in the coming years.

To hinder the forces which destroy nature, to obstruct and sabotage ecological genocide is a criminal offense. It is a crime because it impedes profits. Even suggesting and calling for actions to prevent destructive projects is regarded as criminal.

Such things cannot be discussed publicly. They can though be disguised as fiction. Writing crime stories never was a criminal offense, even if they inspired sinister plots, even if they were used as a template for criminal acts.

So, why not write stories which can be used as a template for ecological resistance?

In winter, when garden work is over, some short tales may appear here and on other blogs.

Beautiful Earth
With my beautiful fellow living beings
Can we protect and shield them
From the charlatans of modernity
Who have a chemical for every chore and a pill for every ill
Poisoning and sickening everything?

Swimming against the tide
How insignificant are we?
How insignificant are humans?
Will they destroy life for a million years?
Or only for a mere thousand years?
Questions that never will be answered

And yet I stubbornly resist