Facing Extinction, My View

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Facing Extinction, My View

I read Ms. Catherine Ingram’s essay:

Facing Extinction
https://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/

The data she cites seems realistic and reasonable;

the inferences she draws about potential, likely and current forms of consequential social and societal breakdown seem logical;

the observations she makes about the feelings, reactions, sadnesses and denial many people will respond with to the facts about global warming and biodiversity loss — and the dire implications for the long-term health and even survival of the human species — also seem rational and accurate;

and the recommendations she makes for managing one’s own state-of-mind — consciousness, psychology, expectations, mood, calmness — are helpful.

My comments on Ms. Ingram’s essay

You have to remember that (1 to 4):

1. Despite science being able to make credible estimates (from climate and socio-economic models with super-computers) about the pace at which the climate and environment will degrade, nobody really knows how quickly and to what extent society will degenerate. In 10 years time, life might be worse than we would imagine that future now, or it could be better than our fearful projections today. Who knows?

2. Looking back over the history of homo sapiens (200,000+ years), and over the history of homo (2M+ years), one sees a talent for adaptability to difficult circumstances. So, I find it unlikely that homo sapiens will “go extinct” even if social and environmental conditions deteriorate very quickly and very badly. But, those degradations would certainly cause much suffering, much death, and at some point begin reducing the human population. How far a reduction? I don’t know, but certainly not to zero, for a long long time.

3. If I had to throw out a number, I’d say we are good for at least 200 years. Why that number? Because anything less seem improbable to me, based a bit on the physics and a lot on gut feeling; and I can’t really project from any factual basis beyond 200 years, so I don’t know. Even so, I suspect people will continue to exist well beyond 200 years, but a guess without any educated justification.

4. Ingram phrases her recommendations for mentally coping with the facts about global warming climate change in a manner I would characterize as “psychotherapy.” I tend to phrase the same ideas from a perspective I think of as Zen Buddhism, in its most general sense. That is to say (a through g):

a. For each individual: life is always uncertain, life is precarious, death is certain to occur, but when and how are unknown.

b. Life is a gift, don’t waste it by living unaware of it: distracted by the “maya” of all our social fads, obsessions and daily ego dramas, and by all our technological gee-gaws facilitating our entertainment and “games.” You don’t necessarily have to be a Zen monk sitting in Za-Zen all night (kept up by green tea) and with consciousness totally focussed on the breath of the moment, but you definitely should keep very clear awareness of yourself, your body, the environment that surrounds you and beyond that the human network you allow yourself to be “attached” to.

c. The point is to actually experience the awareness — and joy — of being alive, as often as possible. Obviously, sometimes we immerse ourselves in tasks — pleasurable or unpleasurable — that “we lose ourselves in” for a while. For my mother such immersion is gardening, for me it can be working out a differential equation or a new poem. But I “resurface” to enjoy a meal, enjoy listening to the birds on my hillside, to see the changing of the light, to feel the changing of the temperature and the breeze, to inhale the stars at night, to remember many good times of the past, to eat ice cream, and even to watch the Twilight Zone on TV.

d. This clear awareness (c) equates to being grateful for experiencing life, at the very least when the momentary experience is not one of pain. But even so, the best way to live through pain is to not deny it and try to avoid it, thus setting up a conflict with the external reality of pain pushing on you, and which conflict only adds anxiety and more frustration to the pain you already are experiencing — and that means added pain. Every painful experience comes with a minimum level of pain we must experience, like it or not. So facing this fact is the best we can do: suffering through that minimum (which is not to say it is negligible) realistically rather than trying to deny it and thus causing ourselves to suffer more than the minimum. It’s not fair, it just is.

e. This all means that one should engage in their lives with a positive attitude: do what is in you to do, for the good and for a sense of fulfillment. The details of this depend on the individual and their circumstances. I don’t think of this as a mad rush to check off a bucket list of fantasy treats and entertainments, but instead to apply your mind, body and talents to those activities (creative, kind, socially and psychologically positive, at least harmless) that bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment to you. Your life is a gift, a very improbable gift, so use it in a way that does credit to you and justifies the receipt of that gift. For Christians, I refer them to the Parable of the Talents. For folklorists, I remind them of Joseph Campbell’s advice: “Don’t waste time” and “get it done.”

f. My contention is that the more people that live as outlined in “e,” the better the state of the social (and physical) world we all live in at the moment, and therefore that regardless of what happens geophysically and environmentally to that world, we will have a better life than might otherwise be the case under the circumstances. The utopian extreme of this view is that if “everybody” lived the ‘e-life,’ then we would have the best social network for dealing with the physical consequences of global warming climate and environmental degradation, and consequently the best deployment of both warming attenuation responses (e.g., changing our energy systems, that sort of thing) and mitigation strategies (e.g., helping those impacted by droughts, crop losses, inundation, extreme unlivable heat, intelligent applications of technology for social benefit, etc.).

g. Regardless of what everybody else does, or doesn’t do, your life is your responsibility to set right and enjoy as best you can (again, being kind regarding your societal impact). Also, you are just one individual and can hardly take on the whole problem of “fixing the world.” It’s too much, you can’t do it, and trying to will just destroy you. Being the best and happiest “you” (in a clear-eyed knowing way) that you can be is the best contribution you can make to the whole of society, besides being the most personally rewarding way to use the gift of time and consciousness that you have been given by the intriguing randomness of evolution.

So, yes, it is sad that we can see into a future that looks rather grim, and it is difficult to avoid upsetting deniers when we try to speak frankly about the facts we are aware of, and it can be sad to have to “let go” of many youthful illusions about both the continuity of the natural world that hosts us, and about the human networks we are entangled with or which cast us off, but maybe this awareness of and adaptation to reality is not really new. Maybe it has always been true that clear-sighted individuals have always had to navigate their lives through an unstable present and into an uncertain and apparently increasingly hostile future, and that their most honorable and most satisfying course of action was to live up to their potential, as best as they could, for the duration allotted to them.

It should be obvious that all the above is a projection on my part, my “best guess” of how I would like to try to behave if and when I am faced with an existential crisis, a life and death situation. In my own case, the above attitude came to me as a result of dealing with personal crises — which for me were the equivalent to life-and-death — and my application of Zen ideas garnered from much reading. Basically, I extracted ideas from my intellectual storehouse, in times of stress, to find something practical to make passage through hard times bearable.

A person I have corresponded with very recently is an ex-psychotherapist who is dying of cancer, and who wrote: “The only thing that I know is that PEOPLE DONT CHANGE UNTIL THEY FEEL PAIN.”

I agree that people only really question their self-image, and attitudes toward the conduct of their lives, until after having first been gob-smacked by the random and cruel realities of life. One way of rephrasing the above would be:

“Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”
—Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727),

Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, a.k.a. inertia.

So my conclusion is: live confidently, make the best of it and enjoy it; in that way you add goodness to the world. And, yes, we have to accept that there will be pain and suffering for many many others no matter what, and even despite whatever best efforts we put in to relieve and prevent as much of that pain that the rest of the world will be burdened with. And, this has always been true. This is what I want my children to know and apply in their own lives, because I know that then their lives will be as happy as is possible.

Be aware, be intelligent, be confident, be kind. Life is a gift. And, have fun!

I guess this last is my definition of love.

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Eight Lyrics and a Ramble

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You Touched Us Open

A butterfly surprising me
To grace my palm so I could see
The radiance of life’s sweet smile
Burn through the haze of my ennui
And melt my heart so gratefully
In your redeeming love for me

But I know you’re that kind of grace
That weaves through life at your own pace
So I walk on fear’s sharp knife-edge
To dread unknowns perhaps to be
Within love’s glow of openness
And shadows of a heart greedy

To close you in would crush your glee
With open love you’d float away
To keep you here would kill beauty
My heart will break the day you flee
You’ll wander off as sure you will
Into this world with wonder fill
Sweet butterfly to float so free
Through sunbeams of aged memory

A butterfly surprising me
To grace my palm so I could see
The radiance of life’s sweet smile
Burn through the haze of my ennui
And melt my heart so gratefully
In your redeeming love for me.

I’ll think of you in future times,
Rememb’ring such great love was mine
And grateful to recall just how
You helped me flower into now
You flit to find the nectars sweet
Of every heart you grace to meet

You’ll wander off as sure you will
Into this world with wonder fill
Sweet butterfly to float so free
Through sunbeams of aged memory
Forever linking minds ‘cross time
Sweet visions for those left behind
Our souls infused with peace now see
You touched us open to be free

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Forever and a Day

The opposite of death is love.

Come now sweet darling
Don’t be that way
The world may be changing
Fire ’n ice have their way
But don’t you be fretting
For come here what may
I’ll be your lover
Forever and a day

We’ll shiver in winter
We’ll sweat in the heat
We’ll drink the brown water
We’ll live without meat
Your young skin will toughen
Under hot suns
Your young brow will furrow
As years have their run

We’ll find our right living
Beneath ashen skies
We’ll always be yearning
For young dreams’ reprise
The world’s always changing
Uncertain to be, but
With my arms around you
You’ll always be free.

For our world is burning
Its green hopes lost smoke
As our hearts are learning
To hold strong as oak
The wars will be fearsome
And peace will elude
But love for each other
Will give fortitude

So come now sweet darling
Don’t take on so
Though our world is changing
Our love will grow
And we smiling through
Our sweet time alive
For each we’ll be lovers
Till forever dies

And this world will crumble
Freeze, burn away
Our lives flicker out
Must happen one day
The red suns are burning
The grey moon’s cold hope
Lost children are turning
From fear’s lonely yoke

But fret not my darling
For all things must pass
Yet there is one constant
One thing to last
Despite all the grieving
Our love is so brave
The smiles of whose being
Will live past the grave

We are so lucky
Past mere survival
We can both dream
Of nature’s revival
Mourning the children
Lost in the floods
Whose stilled lives are bubbles
Released in the bud

Memories wistful
And not a lament
Hearts filled with love
And spirits unbent
The loss and the lack
Cannot kill the soul
Where love for another
Has once taken hold

We’ve been so lucky
In this life so graced
Though our world is changing
And we’ll be displaced
Amor y candela
La noche nos daré
Corazones contentos
La vida brillaré

So fret not my darling
For come now what may
I’ll be your lover
Forever and a day
Yes, our world is changing
And our time will pass
But through all the dreading
Our love will last

Come now the winter
Come now the drought
Lost is salvation
Of that there’s no doubt
The fire and the ice
Will each have their way
But through all the changes
Love constant will stay

So don’t you be fretting
Come now what may
You’ll fill my tomorrows
Like my yesterdays
Through all of the changes
One constant will be
That I’ll be your lover
And you will live free

Come now my darling
Send fear away
Though our world is changing
Our love will stay
Don’t you be fretting
Your sweet grace away
We will be loving
Forever and a day

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Soar Hawk Soar

I walked beneath a freeing sky
A soaring hawk wings thoughts up high
The calmed remembrance of old dreams
And clouds aglow in silent streams
That drift on by the mountain peaks
Of stories I will never speak
The light of day unfurling space
Illuminates my winding pace
Unshadowed hills of grit and green
The finest landscapes I have seen
A fading wake of memories
That seep out softly as eddies
All so common and all so mine
Connecting ever each ‘cross time
By light on silent distant themes
Adrift alone on warped time’s seas
Beyond horizons of each one
So mind hawklike soars to the sun
To look to where experience ends
Perhaps to catch a glimpse friends
So very long ago with you
When warmth was shared between us two
Till now forgotten urgencies
Cast us adrift to families
That drew our lives out as we’ve seen
Remote from those that now are keen
As my regards go out so fleet
With hope your journey has been sweet
For mine was good despite the storms
And I survived to now inform
This freeing sky with soaring hawk
And see descending light past dark
To bask so warmly as so true
Reflections burnish life anew.

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Teetering on the Edge

The dead that from us borrow
Are buried in their schemes
The children of tomorrow
Are left without their dreams

We see the steaming kisses
Of fire and the sea
The long bleak shoreline hisses
With all that used to be

The victors celebrating
Within their hoards entombed
Tomorrow wander searching
Beyond bunkers of doom

Below a dusty red sky
From waterless burnt hills
We peer far out and ask why
We let your false pride kill

The air now ghosts of flowers
The sea now grains of grit
The green that once was ours
Our dawn that once was lit

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Your Love Is My Challenge

I must say that “I love you” two hundred times a day
And every single one of them is heartfelt and true
I must say that “I want you,” oh a hundred times too
For every minute every day I so yearn for you
There must be other ways I can show you how I feel
Besides bouquets in hungry hands whispering appeal
What more can I you offer, and what else to accept?
How can my art and passion grow much more love for you?
Can I ever open up the mystery of time?
So you can ramble through the weave of your dreaming lives
Can I hope to lead you back into that hidden spring?
Trembling in that flow until we melt into the light
You touched me and I came alive so reborn with you
Now I open up this world so your love flowers through
I rise to meet the challenge of championing your love
With open heart ’n spirit full my vision clears to you

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Looking Back I See

I could’ov lived a poet’s life
And rove throughout my world of dreams
But wives ’n kids would not’ov stood
For unplowed rows ’n nights unseen
Hitched-up horses ’n dogs on leash
Give comfort more than mottled gleams
Of moonlight shadow rippling ‘cross
Wild tomcat’s wandering night screams

My ignorance as longing’s fear
Threw chains o’r artist caperings
With love and safety held so dear
One’s spring and sparkle cooled and stilled
For unburnt candles casts no light
Nor wax-drip sears the hands it’s held
But blaming others I cannot
For all my grasping at the wind
To root unlikely chance to ground
As time invisibly slipped by

When freedom’s moored to throbbing life
It’s owning choices one has made
Both all the triumphs and regrets
The breath and beating heart passed through
That stream of all life’s incidents
Of thoughtless words and wordless thoughts
The rising smoke in nights forgot
The mist burned clears oblivion’s light

Trust can be a rock secure as
Happiness so sweet drifts by
Each man’s an island on his own
Each woman is all hurried seas
The randomness of time and tide
Lap eddies onto shores of mind
A poet’s life must always be
Lost starlight glinting on the sea
Harmonic chaos elegant
Is understanding clarified

Money is all evils’ flower,
And evil is all money’s root
Commodifying, life’s reduced
To lowest cost priced highestmost
In great lovelorn America
Misled by those who’d make you see
The poetry in guillotines
Why weaken truth, dull clarity
Placating insecurity?

Poetic thought dissolves at last
In old hens’ prattling done and drowned,
So Dylan Thomas died one night
From swelling of the brain infused
And so doth booze insight expand
The oft crabbed musing consciousness
A failure I would bound to be
If questing life eternally,
But be assured this won’t be so
For I’ll be free curmudgeonly

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Mister Yes-Know and Mistress No-No

People live, people die
People laugh, people cry
People love, people lie
People lose, people fly

Don’t say what I don’t want to hear
Don’t do what I don’t want to see
Don’t think what I don’t want to know
Don’t feel what I don’t want to be

Passive-aggressive mister co-dependent
Obsessive-compulsive mistress unrepentant
Acute anticipatory anxiety ascendant,
A mystery inevitably uncomprehended

Sometimes my art is of quality high
Sometimes my art is of quality low
However it crosses the public eye
I’m always delighted, I love it so

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Coiling Oak Smoke

Dewdrop jewels on the berries of spring
Golden grain waves in the fresh wind that brings
Crystal fresh rains that wells once again fills
And moistens the fields, the woods and the hills
Vibrant green shoots coat with radiance our land
Nature’s benev’lence again is at hand
Clear light infuses warm breath through the trees
Dispelling the mists by dawning degrees

Our gardens now lush emerge from shadow
Birds rustle and flit by rivulets low
Mayhaps our boatmen will hook us some fish
To grill tonight for a savory dish
Maybe our cider cooled down in the creek
Will loosen spirits to merriment seek
Round the oak fire that pulls us all in
As our tribe of foundlings now becomes kin

Let the young children seek sparkly rocks
Treasures and playthings their dreams to unlock
Delighting in games with imagined friends
Out in the clearings and where the beach ends
Hiding and seeking and scurrying ‘round
Learning each corner of our tribal ground
While we tend to patching houses and clothes
To keep out the rains and cold wintery blows

In afternoon balm I’ll auger flute-holes
And string my guitar to serenade those
Who ring round the fire as dusk closes in
As we rim the warmth that centers our being
And I might think back to times long ago
When my world froze up and melted like snow
And then burnt away in long hopeless wars
When all that I was became nothing more

We each disappeared into private ends
Abandoned alone by fate and by friends
Emerging alive by luck some would say
Finding each other by chance day by day
Intimate strangers now braided as tribe
Castaways now on this earth that abides
Each guarding mem’ries of those that they lost
Each guarding a soul or’whelmed by grief’s cost

Tomorrow I take Young Buck up the hill
To teach him the bow and of deers to kill
We’ll seek cedar stalks to make arrow shafts
Talk about fletching and archery crafts
To ready ourselves for hunting to come
When fall chills the days and fog shrouds the sun
In time he’ll move off with borns of his own
As I once had before being alone

When young Buck’s become the man he must be
I will be feeding my gone away tree
Returning my spirit to these deep woods
Content I suppose I did what I could
We old men and women work so to fill
Young bellies with food and young lives fulfill
With savory scents coiled up in oak smoke
That bind us together as tribal folk.

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Night and Day, Being and Nonbeing

Matter, energy, space and time: the entirety of physical existence. Einstein unravelled their truth: they are all entwined, a four dimensional yin-yang, the image of gravity. But, what gave him pause that he could never fully overcome was the yin-yang of existence and nonexistence: quantum reality. And that is what we live within and are: matter, energy, space and time, existence and nonexistence, flickering on and off in rhythms seen and unseen, known and unknown, felt and unfelt. And consciousness, like gravity, is manifest through that dazzle while itself untouchable — a void — infused deep within us, the motivating core, the suns of our solar systems of individual being: life.

I step outside my warm bubble of house-air into the cool fresh oceanic night, which sucks my awareness out to the farthest reaches of its fathomless inky blue-black vacuum, punctuated by pinpricks of light beyond the frontiers of experience, whose inverted depths are a dark crystalline silence, the infinitely dissolved horizon past the tenuous haze of our shared breaths with green life lush with the fragrance of August flowers eddying through the living tangle of Earth’s surface in my forested canyon laden with ancient expirations cooled and moistened to sparkling renewal.

This velvety opaque transparency pulses with drones by crickets and unfolds unseeable vistas of distant sound whose tides are brought near, washing resonantly through me and absorbing me into the totality of this timeless sequence of unthinking scintillating instants, pinpricks of existence flashing out of an eternal sea of nonexistence like glints of moonlight on ripples of a four-dimensional ocean, the unbounded immersion.

I breathe in my share of this pregnant unconscious and sense the capture of two or three molecules released millennia ago in the funeral pyre of that great poet’s expended form, its brief journey of genetic transport finished as mine will soon enough be, and I embed that molecular poetry into my blood and sinews until its time for release comes with my organic disintegration into pure fleeting memory. Coyotes howl with bell-like clarity through the dark effulgence, and my moments of eternity come to rest for this night. So, I turn into my house-bubble for sleep.

Dawn fog in the canyon: I am looking at the sun just rise over the crest of the ridge, and light pour through the fog into the canyon, making it glow as it flows up the stream-bed and through the trees along the hillsides, with blue sky above, and birds darting through the panorama framed by my vision, the warmth of the rays descending into my body as I face before it, immersed in a cloud of light, evaporating. A bird chirps. Mist rises. The ground of the forest lights up. Leaves emerge glistening green from their silhouettes. The voices of the forest call to each other, silence fades into the light of day. Rebirth. I am who am once again.

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21 December 2019

We Were Young

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We Were Young

We were young when we first met
Many illusions I had then,
Many hopes and many fears
Many hidden lonely tears

We were company back then
While we chased our separate dreams
Vibrant feeling to be alive
Feeling powerful just to strive

After long time separate lives
I find you always on my mind
A true companion for last years
When memory replaces fears

Why so blind in frantic youth
Not to see you’re such a friend?
How could I miss such sterling truth
Even up to the very end?

Why did I fail to realize
What was there before my eyes
And not appreciate that ray
That chance had gifted in my way?

I the fool ran after phantoms
That always vanished from my grasp
Diving through illusions fathoms
Desires fading in my clasp

Looking back now I see the real
The solid and dependable
For an honest soul to feel
For pride subdued, and calm mind humbled

Young eyes dazzled by hope’s desire
Made invisible what I prize now
As rushing by in youthful fire
Through time I ripped, a steely plow

And to what? I must suppose
A mindless life-thrust seeking renewal
Another gamete that to fossil goes
With luck ere dusting to see life’s jewel

Now a spent husk I look back, review
What wisdom gained o’er this interlude
Savoring what from birth imbued:
A life fulfilled feels gratitude

Regrets too ancient to redeem the past,
Leave naught to salvage from but this
Our love and kindness given once may last
In forgotten lives which now we miss

That warmth sustains me and it stays
The sunlight of these dawnings days
It is beyond all I could say,
Sweet thoughts of youth’s unfolding play

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Ashes Stirred Into Light

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Ashes Stirred Into Light

The birds are quiet, where are they?
One small brown oakleaf spins suspended in spider-silk
In the stillness of a dried sage bush.
The rising sunset dawns soft orange splotches
Slanting onto crunchy dun-colored forest ground
Fading into a wider illumination of dead still pale yellow
As the few orphaned drops on the window
From last night’s moment of sparse rain
Evaporate invisibly into the slaty haze,
The cold smell of burnt distance in the air.
There are fires many ridgecrests away
And all are holding their breaths with vacancy
In this dried-out sculpture of a world
With all its filigrees dressed in muted tones
Of green and straw and brown, glintless.

24 August 2020

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Lost World

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Lost World

I was born in a world that was breaking apart
Its binding illusions steamed away in the sun

The cracks in the crumbling clay of its grounding
Widened to powder winds of what had been done

What I can remember is now a lost world
And preventable sorrows must all be rerun

The asking of “why” is from fatuous wisdom
Absorbed incubating enwombed as the one

O’er all I was given the power of suggestion
With never the power to persuade anyone

Humanity unable to think beyond oneself,
The critical nail in our coffined destruction

For not thinking that way lifts you out of your fog
And into the light of a just apprehension

Free of contentment and bared to self-judgment
The breathtaking threshold to fulfillment begun

Queequeg’s coffin buoyed Ishmael orphaned at sea
And saved him from drowning because it was empty

And so all their deaths for the awakened must be
Their lonesome ascensions from ignorance, freed.

21 August 2020

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Artistry

Natural Images of a Partial Annular Eclipse

Natural Images of a Partial Annular Eclipse, 20 May 2012

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Artistry

I am an artist in Karma
Sometimes successful
Often a failure
The canvas of my artistry
Is life itself
A composition
Of timing, thought and serendipity
That streams
Through the chaos and eddies
Of our times
Momentarily seen
Like glints of moonlight
On nighttime ripples of ocean
Otherwise faded into shadows
Of inalert distracted infantile
Naïve societal attention
Particular to my unique experience
Archetypal in its everyman generality
A flicker in human history
Like the flash of a red wing
Penetrating through a forest mist
Out of sight
The briefest part of a second
In one of countless infinite
Pulses of living Earth’s life
The heartbeat of the Universe
As instance of vibrance
In one miniscule organic expression
Of that fathomless total Immensity
A vibration passed among us all
As a sharing of existence

My art is to know that this is so
And to reflect on my immersion
In ripples of consciousness
That recede from my particularity
Crossing other rings of experience
Fanning out
From life-forms seen and unseen
Joys and struggles known and unknown
Awakenings and sleepenings
Scintillating the all-pervading
Field of thought and thoughtlessness
That forms the ocean
On which we each and all journey

This is my art
And I alone as Universe
Am free to behold it.

5 August 2020

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Long Term Worries Are A Luxury

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Long Term Worries Are A Luxury

It is impossible to think about long term problems when you are in the midst of an emergency. Who can worry about the balance of their bank account, or who should get elected, or global warming, when they are in the middle of a medical emergency, or a police nightmare, or a flood, or just the “normal” worries of a homeless person looking for food for themselves or their children, and a safe place to get some badly needed sleep? And this situation is repeated by the billions around the world.

Because so many people are struggling to deal with their basic survival and personal security needs, which are under assault from so many directions by the forces of human malevolence: political, economic and racial, they have no mental capacity nor psychological reserves left to expend on long term worries like global warming. That long term worry is a luxury enjoyed by people who are fortunate in life, secure and safe, and even prosperous. They are also likely to be the kind of people who are in the most anthropogenic greenhouse gas emitting classes on Earth.

I consider global warming to be an emergency, exactly as Greta Thunberg has so brilliantly broadcast to the world. Many professional “Green” activists, bloggers, book writers and internet “influencers” have advanced a variety of social behavioral adaptation schemes, and technical schemes, that governments are urged to mandate and manage in order to “transition” our current profits-above-life-itself economies to a “post carbon” alternative energy mode. In general I agree with such ideas, but I realize they are just fantasies of luxurious long term worries (LLTWs). I suppose my Marxist friends would call LLTWs a class interest.

It has finally dawned on me that the route to real action on global warming climate change is through a complete social revolution that meets the immediate survival and security needs of the great mass of humanity, and which spectrum of aspirations is being vibrantly voiced through the worldwide George Floyd protests. A psychologist might phrase this as the need for a climb up the ladder of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The smaller the fraction of the world’s population that is overwhelmingly taxed by scrambling for their survival and safety needs, the larger the fraction of the world’s population that can begin to enjoy the LLTW of global warming climate change.

Because meeting those many aspirations for societal renewal and social transformation are technically the easiest and quickest remedies to begin addressing the root causes of the LLTW of global warming, they should be pushed for hard by everybody who gives a damn. Thus, the George Floyd protests are really for much more than just their essential and vitally important calls for anti-racist anti-capitalist and public health actions by governments, they are also the trumpet fanfares and bugle calls for a worldwide charge up the hierarchy of popular needs, from physical survival and personal security through societal reconstruction based on indiscriminate human dignity and the wide availability of opportunity that affords achievement of personal fulfillment, and ultimately up to us “all” having the luxury to worry about global warming, and then actually act on it.

I do not think there will ever be useful action on global warming until the social needs of the masses of humanity are vigorously and effectively attended to. This is not a utopian fantasy, this is realistic hard nuts logical thinking. The first and foundation step for everything that should follow is for all of us to actually become “we.”

So, yes, I realize that implies many wished-for political, economic and social revolutions and changes, but there it is. That is what “we” need to do if we want to make “anthropogenic” a positive adjective describing our stewardship of Planet Earth, instead of leaving it with its currently negative connotation regarding our massive fouling of the most beautiful jewel known to exist in the entire Universe.

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Sunshine Girl, and Good People

Nit’s Cafe is a small, wonderful Thai-themed restaurant in Fort Bragg.

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Sunshine Girl

I saw the granddaughter of Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin today —
Beautiful girl —
Lives in Berkeley sometimes
Sometimes in Fort Bragg or Albion
Not sure what she does for a living
Maybe work part-time in Nit’s Cafe
But she’s a good singer
Makes up her own lyrics
Loves animals —
Feeds the hummingbirds
Has a pet skunk —
Not bad at gardening —
Trades with her tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market —
Even knows Spanish!
Said Zapata was an ancestor, it’s likely true
Said Santa Monica is like golf:
A Republican pig playpen
Lights incense to read
Rings a Tibetan bowl-bell when the Moon is full
Does her own math even, I’m impressed
Keeps bees I heard, earns her honey
Hikes the hills to see the hawks
Watches waves from the cliff
A tough cookie with a sweet disposition
Free spirit
Always fun when she’s around
Glad I lived long enough to know her

4 June 2020

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Good People

I do not think it is fair to ridicule people of modest education and sophistication, who are otherwise good-hearted, right-thinking and right-acting. Wisdom is not the same as intelligence, which is not the same as education. Education is the product of opportunity, and thus usually an accident of birth; intelligence is a product of genetics, and thus a blameless accidental attainment; and wisdom is a product of rationality coupled with good character. It is rationality and good character that are essential to the making of a complete person, and to the making of a good society.

4 June 2020

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Global Warming is Nuclear War

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Global Warming is Nuclear War

The average global surface temperature rose by 1°C during the 110 years between 1910 and 2020.

During the 50 years between 1910 and 1960, the average global temperature rose by 0.25°C, an average rate-of-increase of 0.005°C/year. Another 0.25°C of biosphere heating occurred during the 25 years between 1960 and 1985, a rate-of-rise of 0.010°C/year. During the 20 year span between 1985 and 2005 another 0.25°C of temperature was added, a rate-of-rise of 0.0125°C/year. During the 15 year span from 2005 to 2020 another 0.25°C of temperature rise occurred, with an average rate-of-rise of 0.0167°C/year.

While the average temperature rise of 0.25°C was the same for each of the four intervals, the first (between 1910 and 1960) required 45.5% of the 110 years between 1910 and 2020; the second (between 1960 and 1985) only required 22.7% of the 110 years; the third (between 1985 and 2005) required the smaller fraction of 18.2% of the 110 years; and the most recent period (between 2005 and 2020) took the smallest fraction of 13.6% of the 110 years.

Given that a 1°C rise of the temperature of Earth’s Biosphere (EB) is the equivalent of it absorbing, as heat, the energy yield of 109 billion Hiroshima atomic bomb explosions, we could imagine the EB being bombarded by an average of 1 billion Hiroshima bombs per year between 1910 and 2020 (within 109 year-long intervals). If that yearly bombardment were done uniformly, it could represent 2 Hiroshima bomb explosions per square kilometer of the Earth’s surface once during the year; or it could represent one Hiroshima bomb explosion per day in each 186 km^2 patch of the Earth’s surface, for a worldwide bombing rate of 2.74 million/day. Global warming is very serious!

Let’s refine this analogy so it reflects the acceleration of global warming since 1910.

The 27.25 billion Hiroshima bomb equivalents of heating that occurred between 1910 and 1960 would represent a bombing rate of 545 million/year; or 1.5 million/day spaced out at one daily explosion per 342 km^2 patch of the Earth’s surface.

The 27.25 billion Hiroshima bomb equivalents of heating that occurred between 1960 and 1985 would represent a bombing rate of 1.09 billion/year; or 3 million/day spaced out at one daily explosion per 171 km^2 patch of the Earth’s surface.

The 27.25 billion Hiroshima bomb equivalents of heating that occurred between 1985 and 2005 would represent a bombing rate of 1.36 billion/year; or 3.73 million/day spaced out at one daily explosion per 137 km^2 patch of the Earth’s surface.

The 27.25 billion Hiroshima bomb equivalents of heating that occurred between 2005 and 2020 would represent a bombing rate of 1.82 billion/year; or 5 million/day spaced out at one daily explosion per 103 km^2 patch of the Earth’s surface.

The heating rate for the 1°C temperature rise of the EB since 1910, averaged on a yearly basis, was 5.725×10^24 Joules/110years, or 5.2×10^22 Joules/year, or 1.65×10^15 Watts of continuous heating. This rate of heat storage by the EB (into the oceans) is only 0.827% of the continuous “heat glow” given off as infrared radiation by the EB (mainly at the Earth’s surface), which is 1.994×10^17 Watts at a temperature of 288.16°K (Kelvin degrees; an absolute temperature of 288.16°K = 15°C+273.16°C; absolute zero temperature occurs at -273.16°C).

If we were to imagine impulsively infusing the EB with the same amount of energy, by a regular series of “heat explosions” each of energy release equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb, then the 1 billion explosions per year (the 109 year average) would have to occur at a rate of 31.7 per second.

Atomic bombs release their energy explosively within 1 microsecond, representing a radiated power of 5.25×10^19 Watts for an energy release equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb yield (5.25×10^13 Joules). In this hypothetical exercise, I am lumping all the atomic bomb explosive yield into heat, but in real atomic explosions energy is released in a variety of forms: heat, nuclear radiation (gamma rays, energetic neutrons, X-rays, radioactive material) and blast pressure. The energy forms emitted by atomic bomb explosions ultimately heat the materials they impact and migrate through, and this is why I lump all of the bomb yield as heat.

An explosion sphere with a 56.4 centimeter diameter (22.2 inches) radiating heat at 5.25×10^19 Watts during a burst time of 1 microsecond would present a 1m^2 surface area at a temperature of 5,516,325°K = 5,516,051°C. Imagine 32 of these popping into existence at random points around the world during every second of the day and night since 109 years ago. We would certainly consider that form of global warming a crisis deserving our attention.

Because the invisible low temperature heat glow style of global warming that we actually experience does not rudely punctuate our lives with random blasts of such intense X-ray conveyed heat that any human standing nearby would simultaneously be vaporized while the molecules of that vapor were atomized and those atoms stripped of all of their electrons down to the atomic cores, we ignore it. But the heating effect on the biosphere is energetically equivalent to what we are causing with our greenhouse gas and pollution emissions.

Thermodynamically, we have greenhouse gas-bombed out of existence the pristine biosphere and its habitable climate that first cradled and nurtured the infancy of our species 2000 centuries ago, and then fed and protected the development and growth of that fragile chimera we call “civilization,” which our potentates have been proudly boasting about for at least 8,000 years. And we’re still bombing, now at an ever increasing rate.

All of the numbers quoted here come out of the results described in my report “A Simple Model of Global Warming” that I produced to help me understand quantitatively the interplay of the major physical effects that produces global warming. I invite both the scientists and the poets among you to consider it.

Global Warming Model

70% or less of the sunlight shining onto the Earth reaches the surface and is absorbed by the biosphere. From this absorbed energy, in combination with the presence of water and organic material, all life springs. The oceans, which cover 70.2% of the Earth’s surface and comprise 99.4% of the biosphere’s mass, form the great “heat battery” of the planetary surface. All weather and climate are generated from the heat glow of that battery. A portion of that heat glow, equivalent to the solar energy absorbed, must escape into space for the planetary surface to remain in heat balance, at a constant average temperature. For that temperature being 15°C (59°F), 62.31% of the heat glow must escape.

30% or more of the incident solar energy is reflected back into space, with 24% of that reflection by clouds, and 6% of that reflection from land and ocean surfaces. While snow and ice are the most nearly perfect reflective of such surfaces, they only cover 10% to 11% of the planet and that coverage is slowly being reduced by global warming, increasing the solar heating.

Our introduction of greenhouse gases and pollution particles into the atmosphere has added to the already existing load of naturally emitted humidity, organic vapors and grit from volcanic eruptions and windblown dust. These components of the atmosphere absorb and retain heat (infrared radiation), blocking some of the necessary heat glow loss, and thus warming the planet. The increasing accumulation of these components — because a warmer world has higher humidity producing more clouds, and because of our continuing emission of atmospheric pollutants — scatter an increasing portion of the incoming sunlight back into space, which is a cooling effect called “global dimming.” The imbalance of all these effects is dominated by warming and the biosphere’s temperature is rising at an accelerating rate.

My life is a race against the clock of a certain though indeterminate finality. The COVID-19 pandemic has made me very conscious of this inevitability. After seven decades of existence I cannot do everything I want, in terms of living, fast enough. This is not irrational terror, it is awakened appreciation and understanding. There is all of Shelley yet to read, and Keats, and so many more; and so many more birds and flowers, and daylight and nighttime beauties of the Nature to see, and so many more differential equations and physical problems to solve, to not want to go on living. The urge for continuation is innate, genetically programmed, whether in robotic virus particles or in cognitive life forms like cats and human beings. For me, that cognition includes the irrational emotional desire to combat global warming so that future generations of all Earth’s life forms have decent chances of continuing.

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Tsunami, & Pangaea Resurgent

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Tsunami

Does God have an ego?
Does God’s ego need acknowledgement?
Does It have a preference on our form of worship:
— Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, free-thought?
Would not such a needy God be limited?
And if so, from where arise the people and beliefs
— outside God’s limitations?
How could such a God create a nonconforming world?

The water comes in frothing, foaming, white,
Throbbing with agitation,
Pulling out the very roots of ground underfoot,
Suffocating light under a flood of black gravity,
Time compressed to timelessness its heart stops,
Parallels converge, infinity sleeps;
The waters suck back into distant depths
The souls of earlier dreams,
Leaving only the wreckage of their hearts.

Why has God abandoned us?

You have not been abandoned, merely awakened —
Loss of a dream — nothing more.
The life and death themselves are real,
But they were never certain.

Truth is indifferent, I am sorry this is painful.

Release disillusion and tend your proper grief.
May the bitter rain replenish the well of compassion,
For who is untouched?

3 January 2005

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Pangaea Resurgent

The earth quakes
Olympus breaks free
Floating west an island,
The heights rise
The shoreline plunges
The wine-dark sea runs to blood,
Old lands wither unseen
Plato is upended.

I wake cast upon the rocks,
Find the edge of town
Meet the Prophet by the tracks,
Where am I?
Everywhere, he says.
How?
Capitalism is Theft
Suburbia is Segregation
God is Murder.
I have no money to pay him,
Is there no hope?
He smirks:
Blood dries.

20 January 2005

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