350 is the Number

A report published this week presented the situation. Our excesses today will cause catastrophes that will endure for centuries. Generations to come will revile us if we don’t do the right thing. The right thing is an all-out push to get back to 350 ppm of CO2.
clipped from www.washingtonpost.com

Long Droughts, Rising Seas Predicted Despite Future CO2 Curbs

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 27, 2009;
Page A04

Greenhouse gas levels currently expected by mid-century will produce devastating long-term droughts and a sea-level rise that will persist for 1,000 years regardless of how well the world curbs future emissions of carbon dioxide, an international team of scientists reported yesterday.

“I think you have to think about this stuff as more like nuclear waste than acid rain: The more we add, the worse off we’ll be,” NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon told reporters in a conference call. “The more time that we take to make decisions about carbon dioxide, the more irreversible climate change we’ll be locked into.”

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We Have Entered the Era of Intentional Geo-Engineering

for better or worse, some folks are now experimenting with some ideas to help sequester carbon dioxide. Adding iron to the ocean waters is one such experiment that is going on.

Cane toads and other cautionary stories abound, but there is an argument that it is time to try intentional engineering as the counterweight to all of the unintentional engineering we do on the small blue plane that we have industrialized.

Climate Ark website has been busy trying to rouse opposition to these large scale experiments. I am on the fence at this moment. I don’t like cane toads and I don’t like where we are clearly headed. Something has to be done. It would be good for us if what is done would roll us back toward 350 ppm.

clipped from www.whoi.edu
Oceanus Home

Will Ocean Iron Fertilization Work?

Getting carbon into the ocean is one thing. Keeping it there is another.

In this age of satellites, it’s fairly easy to answer the basic
question of whether adding iron to the ocean can stimulate a plankton
bloom. When storms over land blow iron-rich dust into the sea,
satellite images show marbled swaths of green phytoplankton spinning
across waters previously blue and barren. Satellites also show plankton
blooms near the Gal

The Feedback Loops in Global Warming Are Appearing

The possibility that global warming and climate change will not occur in a gradual and orderly manner is well known to folks who follow climate closely, but is less well-understood for folks who rely on NBC or NPR for their science.

This study indicates that slight warming is increasing the death rate of trees in the old growth forests of the west. As these trees die, they no longer breathe in and hold carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen for us, their function as a carbon scrubbing life-form is over at that point. The long term consequence of less healthy forests spill over into habitat required for many animals, an ecosystem that functions as an amazing aquifer for much of the West and more.

I do wonder when we are going to wake up to the scale of this problem and start making the really large public policy changes to roll the greenhouse gas accumulation back into the range that is associated with a fairly stable and livable global climate. That range is probably 350 ppm and lower.

clipped from www.google.com

Study: Western forests dying at increasing rate

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Trees in old growth forests across the West are dying at a small, but increasing rate that scientists conclude is probably caused by longer and hotter summers from a changing climate.
Old growth forests, particularly those in the Northwest, store large amounts of carbon, making them a resource in combatting global warming, said Jerry Franklin, a professor of forest ecology at the University of Washington. But as trees die, they decompose and give off carbon dioxide, contributing to the amount of greenhouse gases. Young forests store very little carbon, and it takes hundreds of years to replace old growth, he said.
“If it’s a gradual process, we may be fine,” said Mark E. Harmon, professor of forest ecology at Oregon State University. “If it is a real sudden process, it could be problematical.”

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Tibet and China

The situation for the people of Tibet over the past 50 years is really not that different from the plight of the Palestinian people.  The Chinese invasion of Tibet and the subsequent damage and destruction of the Tibetan way of life should be a concern for aKundun, Holinessnyone committed to a just and peaceful planet.  Even at this late date, it might still make sense and be possible for China to release the occupied territories of Tibet and allow the Tibetan culture to once again take up residence in the roof of the world.  The disparity in technological ability to wage war or engage in self-defense make it impossible for Tibet to evict the Chinese.  Like the Palestinian people, the Tibetans wait for justice.  Could it be that cultures that are not at the leading edge of science and technology hold some powerful knowledge about what it means to be human on a small planet?  If you wonder about that, please take an hour or two and listen to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. 

Palestine and Israel

The people who lived in Palestine in 1945 were not very different from the people who lived in Oklahoma at that same time.  It was largely an agrarian culture, but no more backward than say, Oklahoma, Nevada, Idaho or many places on this small blue planet. 

In the aftermath of World War II and the absolute horror of the German attempt to exterminate the jewish population of Europe, many surviving members of the Jewish faith decided the time had come to create the Jewish State.   It’s too bad that those folks didn’t demand that the Jewish State be created in land to be ceded by a defeated and repentant German state.  A Jewish state of Israel established in lands ceded by the people who engaged in the extermination of the Jewish people would have had an element of justice that was missing when the Jewish state took root in the environs of Jerusalem at the cost of the Palestinian people who thought their claim to the lands and way of life was subject to all the protections that they could muster through their self defense and the potential protection of a body like the United Nations. 

I understand that Jewish people had a connection to Jerusalem, but to paraphrase Black Elk when he spoke about the center of the universe in the Black Hills, truly, the center of the universe is in the geography of the heart. 

Sadly, the protections for the indigenous people of Palestine were woefully insufficient and the Palestinian people have been systematically terrorized, killed, and pushed off their lands over the past 60 years.  The  The Palestinian people are now exiles or prisoners in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.  The recent invasion of Gaza by the Israeli military is simply the most recent atrocity committed against the Palestinian people.  The Palestinians have committed their share of crimes and atrocities over the past 60 years in reaction to the loss of their lands and way of life, but to review the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people without considering the Palestinian right of return on an equal basis with Israel’s right of self-defense is to engage in sophistry that only guarantees more violence. 

It is possible to talk about the state of Israel because Israel has the contours of a state, a political and geographic aspect that we can recognize as a state, but it is not possible to speak of Palestine in the same way.  There is no Palestine, there are only the Palestinian people in exile or held captive in dissected lands that do not have the contours of a political or geographic state.  No peace settlement is likely to succeed if it does not address the need of the Palestinian people for a homeland. 

Certainly, the United States with its history of oppression and extermination of the indigenous people of Turtle Island cannot truly claim any moral high ground, but it is a shameful thing to see the US backing the extermination of the Palestinian people and the theft of that people’s land and way of life. 

If Barack Obama wants to see change in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people he is going to have to speak about the Palestinian right of return or compensation for their land and he will have to work with the Palestinian people, and especially the most popular political element of the Palestinian people, Hamas, to help the Palestinian people reclaim an area that can become a viable state to be known as Palestine. 


The Value of Less Industrialized Cultures, Part III

So, today, there are many cultures and peoples who are being oppressed and killed through systematic interactions between more and less industrialized cultures.  A couple of simple examples are the people of Afghanistan and Iraq who are under attack and occupation by armed forces of the United States and any of the “coalition of the willing” who are still engaged in these conflicts. 

And then there is the plight of the Palestinian people. 

The Value of Less Industrialized Cultures, Part II

On the North American continent, aka turtle island, there was a multitude of cultures thriving when Europeans started arriving.  There is little question that the arriving Europeans (illegal aliens?) had significant technological advantages over the resident population and once the Europeans had a foothold on the continent, the less industrialized cultures on the continents of the “New World” were often seen as less-than human, and sometimes simply designated as savages to be exterminated. It seems likely that native people of North America had a different kind of relationship to their environment than industrialized European people experienced.  There is much evidence to suggest that the indigenous people of this continent understood themselves as elements of the natural world, not as stewards of that world.  You can get some inkling of the difference in the cultural attitudes toward the natural world in the early land transactions that took place.  Indigenous people “sold” property to Europeans but they might have thought this was simple stupidity on the part of the Europeans to have the hubris to think they could own the land, to avoid the sobering reality of interment that shows definitively how the land and landscape owns each living thing, not the other way around. 

Still in the long run, the European land model prevailed on Turtle Island and now the remnants of the indigenous people “own” their existence on reservations across the continent or they move among the dominant culture in some way that may or may not carry their cultures forward.  Certainly, the evidence is clear that the government of the United States engaged in the military domination of the indigenous people.  The record of broken treaties and broken promises is clear.  Sand Creek and Wounded Knee were not isolated incidents, but simply egregious examples of existing government policy toward the indigenous people of this land.  If you have doubts about this and want to take part in an exercise, review the record to see how many officers you can identify who were prosecuted for the massacre at Sand Creek.    

The Value of Less Industrialized Cultures

I believe that the prevailing and most common pattern of human behavior and interaction between groups of humans has been that a group of humans with an advantage have used that advantage to disenfranchise any disadvantaged group they interact with. 

I don’t think this has always been the case and I don’t believe it is the best choice, but I think it has been the dominant pattern.  And, I mean dominant pattern in multiple ways, the pattern of using advantage to dominate has been the most common or dominant decision of an advantaged group. 

I think the dominant pattern worked against the interests of neanderthals when they started bumping into cro-magnons a while back and I think the neanderthals largely departed this mortal coil in that process.  The record also suggests that changing global weather greatly changed the terrain where neanderthals lived.  

Brief Detour to Word Press and Widget Land

I have switched to a Word Press template that supports widgets.  I am not certain that I want to support widgets, but I am now able to test the widget waters.  Some graphics were lost in the transition and I am mulling that loss, but for right now, Small Blue Planet is widget capable and time will tell if that is a good idea or not. 

A Long Strange Trip

It’s been a long two plus months since US voters rather narrowly sent the stupidity and meanness of the past administration to the dustbin and it has been excruciating to watch the slow motion transition as Israeli war criminals used the time to really pound the Palestinians of Gaza and create more suffering and rationale for retribution.  The cycle of violence is really not that hard to understand, is it?

But now the US has a new guy in charge.  We wait for him to be the change he has talked about.  Some of his rhetoric suggests that he is refusing to consider the big picture of the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians.  That conflict has roots in the way that more industrialized cultures have treated less industrialized cultures over eons.   Can that change?  Is there a possibility of something new under the sun?  I think the answer is yes.  And I think we create that change by breathing life into a discussion about the danger of intolerant, hierarchical philosophies of being human on a small blue planet. 

Next up, the value of less industrialized cultures.