Learning What Doesn’t Work

Years ago my father told me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “The secret to happiness in life is to find out what doesn’t work for you, and don’t do that.

In recent months, we’ve learned a big lesson on what doesn’t work. Looking at statistics for the incidence of Covid-19 around the world, two conclusions leap out with crystal clarity:

  1. Viruses thrive in areas of high human population density
  2. Viruses are deadly in humans who have existing health problems

These are two things that obviously don’t work well for humans, so according to Dad’s aphorism, we shouldn’t do dense human populations and poor health.

So, why is it then, in our local community of Santa Cruz County (as well as most of the rest of the world), local government encourages increased population density, and our culture encourages poor public health?

Population Density

The County of Santa Cruz and the incorporated municipalities in our county: Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, all have Economic Development Departments (EDDs), Planning Departments (PDs) and Public Works Departments (PWs), all of which are busily engaged in increasing population densities in our county and communities.

we’re passionate about supporting a flourishing and expansive local economy. Santa Cruz City EDD

One of the greatest challenges of living in Santa Cruz County is the cost of housing, one of the highest in the nation. Because Santa Cruz is a desirable coastal destination, our economy is based on tourism, and our housing stock is largely dedicated to second homes, vacation rentals, B&Bs, hotels and motels. During the Covid-19 shelter in place, many of our homes stand empty, while many of our residents lack sufficient housing. There is no lack of housing in the county, but there is a lack of affordable homes for the people who live here.

Local government responds to this condition by falling back on the age-old economic principle of supply & demand, that is, build more housing to lower the per unit cost. But in a tourist destination, this principle doesn’t work. There are millions of people just over the hill who want a house here to either come to on vacations or to use as an investment to make more money so they can afford to vacation in exotic places.

Since Santa Cruz is largely built out, there is little undeveloped space available to build more single family housing, so the answer is always to build up. This, of course, greatly increases population density in developed areas, thus creating an ideal breeding ground for the transmission of viruses.

In the face of what we’ve learned about spreading viruses, after months of (ineptly named) “social distancing” and mask-wearing, do the people of Santa County really want to risk our health by creating even more high population density? What would it take to not do that?

Human Health

Global Covid-19 statistics clearly show that humans with existing health problems have compromised immune systems that make them more susceptible to the virus and its resultant disease. The majority of deaths of individuals tested positive for the virus have underlying unhealth conditions, such as cardio-pulmonary disease, obesity, and diabetes all of which add to the lethality of the virus-born disease. Whether or not death is caused by the virus, or by other causes exacerbated by the virus, underlying ill health has contributed to the Covid-19 death rate throughout the world.

It obviously doesn’t work to have a large percentage of the population at risk due to general ill health. So, what would it take to not do that?

Lessons to be Learned

As we begin to contemplate an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, and lifting of government edicts on how we live our lives, now would be a good time to pause, contemplate the lessons to be learned from the pandemic, and think about how we want to live from here on out.

  • Would it be wise to continue to increase local population density?
  • Would it be wise to encourage local population growth beyond what can be sustained with local resources (think, water)?
  • Would it be wise to return to “nonessential” business and activities?
  • Would it be wise to continue to live far away from where we work and drive personal automobiles there and back every day?
  • Would it be wise to continue to encourage unhealthy diets, sedentary live styles and frenetic daily activities that interfere with sleep.
  • Wouldn’t it be wiser to encourage eating good, nutritious locally grown food, more local exercise, less travel and more engagement in local, meaningful work that supports the community?

Wouldn’t it be wiser to learn what doesn’t work and don’t do that?

Brave New World Revisited – Revisited

BNWRIn 1931, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, the dystopian novel of an over-populated world dominated by a highly organized state that uses genetic engineering, hypnopaedia, promotion of sexual promiscuity, hallucinogenic drugs and organized entertainment to control and subdue the general population.

In 1948, George Orwell published 1984, the dystopian novel of a Communist inspired totalitarian oligarchy in England that uses information control, fear mongering, intimidation, and total surveillance to control and subdue the general population.

In 1958, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World Revisited, comparing Brave New World and 1984 with each other, and with events and trends from 1948 to 1958.

Let’s compare Orwell’s observations of the social world of 1958 with the world we see around us today some 35 years later.

Part 1 – Over-Population

In 1931, global population was just over 2 billion people. By 1948, population had risen to only 2.5 billion, and to 2.9 billion ten years later in 1958. Today, world population is 7.7 billion and increasing by 1.07% per year. The rate of world population increase peaked at 1.85% in 1987 and has been decreasing since then. Though the rate of increase is decreasing, world population is still growing by some 80,000,000 people per year.

In Brave New World Revisited, Huxley points out that death control has been systematically provided by benevolent societies through increased sanitation and medical intervention, while birth control requires the cooperation of all citizens, and is limited by cultural (mostly religious) sanctions.

In Brave New World, birth control is achieved through state control and management of human breeding, restricting the global human population to around 2 billion people. In this fictional world society, the human population does not threaten natural areas with excess resource exploitation, allowing some areas to return to wild states.

Huxley concludes that, in the real world, absent any form of effective birth control, “... that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse still, it will create conditions in which individual freedom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable.

We see today the outcome of Huxley’s darkest vision: democracy on the block, up for sale to the highest bidder, homeless camps in every city where the mentally handicapped and drug addicted citizens are turned loose among the populace, to support themselves and their habits through petty thievery, murder and general social disruption. Meanwhile, the over-organized and bureaucratized social agencies and local governments tie their own hands with “progressive” rules and regulations that defy any sane and effective solutions to these ubiquitous social ills.

Our Huxleyan problems are compounded by Orwellian despotic and imperialist governments, fomenting invasion and war in sovereign nations that have the misfortune of harboring large oil deposits beneath their sands, while at home graft, corruption, and malfeasance have become the norm and go unpunished, at least for those dispossessed of economic and political influence.

Huxley concludes his chapter on Over-Population with a warning:

But liberty, as we all know, cannot flourish in a county that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government. And permanent crisis is what we have to expect in a world in which over-population is producing a state of things, in which dictatorship … becomes almost inevitable.

Sound familiar?

“O brave new world, That has such people in it!”

 

 

The Madness of Crowds

airport-crowd

“A crowded society is a restrictive society; an overcrowded society becomes an authoritarian, repressive and murderous society.” 

Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

Ed Abbey’s words were prophetic when he wrote them, even more so now than he realized in his too short life.

We live in a world of crowds, everywhere, from the street outside our doors, to our daily work and play, in our parks and “open” spaces, we live in a teeming mass of humanity, an ever-growing technocratic occupation of every square inch of this much abused planet.

One birth every 8 seconds; one death every 12 seconds; one international migrant (net) every 34 seconds; a net gain of one person every 16 seconds. Oops, here comes another one. Scoot over and make room.

Yes, our societies have become more authoritarian, repressive and murderous. In the great bell shaped curve of human behavior, where only a percentage of the population acts badly, more people means more people acting badly. Thus increasing numbers of  laws, regulations and rules, and the accompanying and rapidly proliferating number of lawyers, regulators and rulers.

Impact = Consumption X Population

The impact of the human species on every other species, and their habitats, is a function of per capita consumption multiplied by the number of human beings, both of which are increasing at a prodigious rate. Any reduction in per capita consumption is rapidly overwhelmed by increasing population.

The greatest threat to life on this planet is not climate change, nuclear proliferation or wandering asteroids. Those are distractions, economic opportunities, political footballs. The greatest threat is human growth and profligacy, overweening hubris and inability and unwillingness to consider the consequences of our own actions, and inaction.

Population control is the most defiled of all subjects for cogent deliberation and understanding, and the most urgent. It is socially incorrect, economically unthinkable and political suicide. Population control is the bastard stepchild of the global growth industry, the unquestioned acceptance of the assumption that economic viability necessitates continuous and ever increasing population and economic growth. More than the ideology of the cancer cell, human growth is the evolutionary path of the dinosaur, that had to develop two brains in order to manage their overwhelming bulk. So far, humans have only one brain, and that one only firing on three cylinders.

Homeless camps in every community, out of control crime everywhere, proliferating imperialism internationally and decreasing political capability locally and nationally, all are symptoms of a human population that has outgrown its ability to care for itself, and the biosphere that supports us.

“There is no justice, sense or decency in this mindless global breeding spree, this obscene anthropoid fecundity, this industrialized mass production of babies and bodies, ever more bodies and babies. The man-centered view of the world in anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, antinature, antilife, and–antihuman.” 

Edward Abbey, Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside

The Juvenile Climate Change Feeding Frenzy

studentsIn a disgusting fit of political correctness, Mother Jones, Truthout, National Geographic, NPR, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, LATimes and just about every other media source in the world are falling all over themselves touting “Kids Protest Over Climate Change.” (See my previous post, Student Strike … or Strike Out)

Not one of them has bothered to investigate who is organizing these demonstrations and what is their agenda. Nor is anyone in the global media circus bothering to fact check the claims displayed on posters during these gatherings, and blasted from loudspeakers amidst the giggling gaggle.

“There are two parallel counterrevolutionary confusionist tactics: the partial cooption of new values, and a deliberately anticultural industrially facilitated production, the latter being a natural continuation of the imbecilization of young people begun in their schools and families. We have arrived at a stage of ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor, overriding any preexisting critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere conditioned reflex.” Guy Dubord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

It chills my heart to witness such blatant ignorance and cynical exploitation of impressionable, ignorant and unaware youth, all in the name of capitalism and the economic status quo.

Climate alarmism in all quarters has become increasingly strident as we learn more and more about natural climate variability and the inadequacy of global climate models to account for contemporary observations of existing climate variation around the world. And isn’t it fascinating that climate alarmism reaches a screeching crescendo as we come closer to the next “Climate Summit“, September 23, 2019?

NGOs, Big Greens, the United Nations, major governments, energy corporations, think tanks, and government “leaders” down to thoughtless local governments, and unto the 23 hoodwinked elementary students who played hooky and gathered at the clock tower in Our Fair City on Friday … all of the them are willing and unwitting pawns of a global propaganda and public relations scheme to prop up global capitalism and for-profit corporations, including oil, coal, natural gas, oil shale and tar sands producers, and, let’s not forget, the nuclear power industry.

Yes, the youthful “strikers” are touting so-called “renewable” energy, which by the way they haven’t learned is in reality energy from renewable sources captured by non-renewable technologies. But this is not instead of fossil fuels. Oh no, the corporate oligarchy wants it all, renewable energy AND fossil fuels. Examples-of-renewable-and-nonrenewable-resourcesThey want to  control and profit from all energy required by 7.5 billion people and counting. And the politicians around the world want their share of the filthy lucre from energy production and consumption to fuel their future political campaigns.

Will the students strike again? Will global temperature exceed 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels? And what will happen to Greta Thunberg?

soap-opera

 

Tune in next week for the next exciting episode of

Love of Climate Change.

Student Strike … or Strike Out?

school strike

Today is the day of the much ballyhooed “Student Strike Against Climate Change”.

Well, the name says it all, doesn’t it?

We are told by the Fawning Press and the Big Green Mouthpiece that these children are fed up with government inaction on climate change and they are demanding … what? Stop climate change? Replace fossil fuels with solar and wind? Stop driving cars? Abandon our profligate consumer economy?

Reading mainstream news reports reveals little about specific demands of the stalwart students. All attention is focused on cute little Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who, all by herself, sat outside her school on a Friday to protest climate change inaction. And we’re expected to accept the claim that students all over the world have rallied to her cause, all by themselves, because they too want us to stop causing climate change.

Really?

Enter investigative journalists Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palme, who have written an article series that reveals the players pulling the strings, and the goals they wish to achieve by supporting Greta Thunberg and the young people it is hoped she will inspire.

In The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent, the authors disclose that “Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, We Don’t Have Time,” and “partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Morningstar and Plame disclose that this seemingly youthful grassroots uprising is in reality a cynical exploitation of children to forward a global agenda of support for transnational corporate capitalism and the status quo energy economy, including oil, coal and nuclear interests that would capitalize on $9 trillion that could be invested in NGOs, professional environmental organizations and transnational energy corporations.

I’ve long puzzled over the impetus and incentives for climate alarmism by the United Nations, the global energy industry and corporate media. It just didn’t make sense that the wonky IPCC, a UN funded environmental policy organization, could have so much influence on global politics and popular culture.

Now I understand! Rather than calling for meaningful systems change in the face of global pollution, resource exploitation and habitat destruction, this new “Student Strike” movement is designed and deployed by the very international organizations and corporations that would profit from a change to so-called “renewable energy resources,” not instead of fossil fuels, but in addition to. It’s a whole new economic boom just waiting to be plucked from the hands of naive children and their unwitting proponents.

Read the series. Check out the references. Spread the word.

What Did We Learn From the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?

Photo by LJ Evans

It’s March 24th, again. This time it’s 25 years since the Exxon Valdez ran up on the rocks of Bligh Reef and spread death and destruction throughout Prince William Sound.

The world loves an anniversary, especially big ones such as a quarter of a century. But it doesn’t really mean much. Yes, it happened twenty-five years ago. Yes, those of us who were there remember that Spring and Summer that would never end.

Photo by Michael A. Lewis

Memories are dredged up by the photographs of dying animals, desperate attempts to rescue the few that survived, some only temporarily. It was a horrible experience for those of us who were there.

Did we learn anything from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Depends on what one means by “we.”

Judging by the number of single occupant cars that zoom by my bedroom window of a week day morning commute, I’d say no, “we” didn’t learn much of anything at all.

“We” are still dependent on traveling on our butts in a vehicle fueled by oil drawn from once pristine wild lands, at the expense of all life that once lived there.

Photo by Michael A. Lewis

“We” still make obscene profits from wresting fossil “fuels” from the earth and burning it to produce motion and electricity, while “we” pocket the profits and externalize the environmental costs.

“We” still leave lights on, leave the water running, import exotic food from agribiz farms thousands of miles away, ship materials and products all over the world for the least expense and greatest profit.

What have “we” learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Not a damned thing.

 

Situation Normal

Shell Loses Control Of Arctic Drilling Rig In Alaskan Harbor

The same as it ever was – Shell attempts to scuttle into the Arctic on the cheap, ignorant of conditions to waiting for them in unforgiving northern ice.

Notice in this article that the Coast Guard has refused to certify Shell’s oil-spill response barge, still hunkered down in Washington state, due to inadequacies in fire control equipment, electrical wiring and piping, and overall unsuitability for operation in stormy Arctic seas.

There is no oil spill response technology in the Arctic, where oil on the ice can never be recovered. And yet, we blithely allow an oil spill, uh… er…, drilling industry carte blanche in the most dynamic maritime environment on Earth.

Exxon with all its billions of oily dollars could not clean up Prince William Sound after a spill that happened in the most advantageous weather conditions. They finally slunk away with their tail between their legs, hauling the critically damaged Exxon Valdez behind them to hide in ignominy, ultimately to limp off to anonymous dismantlement on a far away, heavily polluted beach, outside the glaring eye of public scrutiny.

How insane is it to destroy fragile Arctic environments to keep Highway 1 clogged with oil consumers, to keep the commuting public addicted to work far from home, to keep the unending stream of consumption flowing from open pit mines to landfills, to maintain an impossibly growing economy in a world of finite resources.



“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.” Agent Smith, The Matrix

Trust us! We promise we’ll be careful this time.


Gulf Disaster Raises Alarms about Alberta to Texas Pipeline

Where have we heard these promises before. Can you say “Exxon Valdex oil spill?”

When the oil maggots wanted oh so badly to build a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez and ship oil across the stormiest ocean in the world, this is what we heard:

‘We have a very safe system.’

“You’re lucky and you don’t even know it. You have Exxon.”

“The Trans-Alaska Pipeline will be a state-of-the-art system, the very best technology.” Sadly, they were right.

You can always tell when a CEO is going to lie. He opens his mouth.

Pulling hairs over oil

Many stories about People giving hair off their heads for oil cleanup these days.

It was much the same during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There were a dozen new schemes every day to clean up the oil, none of which worked very well. We received semi-loads of terry cloth towels for cleaning otters and birds. After the spill, there were no towels purchased in Alaska for over ten years.

Once the oil is out of the bottle, there’s no cleaning it up. No amount of hair, human or canid, will ever clean up all the oil. All we’ll have is tons of oily hair that will have to be disposed of.

What we found in Valdez is that people who see this from a distance feel a need to do something about it, anything, even if it doesn’t make any difference. It’s the doing of it that’s important.

Now if we could just get them to understand that everyone has a hand in causing these oil spills. Every time we start our cars, eat our fertilized foods transported thousands of miles, fly in our airplanes, heat our homes, we drive the energy industry that destroys habitat, pollutes the shoreline, the air and the water. The fires of the gulf drilling platform were lit in the cylinders of millions of cars, in the furnaces of millions of homes everywhere.

In order to stop the spills we must stop drilling, transporting and consuming oil. This will come, in its own time, but not until much more damage has been done.

Let’s strive for energy independence. We can grow all the horses we need right here.