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EARTH MEANDERS: How Many Times Must a Hurricane Come Ashore, Before You Call it Global Warming? September 23, 2005 11:20 AM

How Many Times Must a Hurricane Come Ashore, Before You Call it Global Warming?
The Answer My Friend Is Blowing in Rita's Wind, The Answer Depends Upon
You and Me

Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
September 23, 2005

How many monster hurricanes does it take before governments and
individuals, as a matter of prudence, start taking precautions in response
to climate change? This essay's title is to be sung to the tune of Bob
Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind". As was the case then, the issue of climate
change is ripe for protest and social change. Anyone who spends time
outdoors and is in touch with nature and ecology can tell the climate is
changing dramatically.

Humanity must embark now upon a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
to be achieved by the year 2050. This is the best scientific estimate of
emission reductions necessary to stabilize the Earth's climatic system in
a condition largely similar to the present, while avoiding the most
egregious catastrophic impacts of abrupt climate change. Individuals must
start changing their lifestyles and governments their policies in order to
limit and adapt to increasingly evident climate change.

As the second human intensified hurricane in a matter of weeks looms over
America's gulf coast, it is readily apparent that humanity is witnessing
climate change of their own making. Melting glaciers and permafrost,
rising seas, deadly heatwaves and scorching droughts apparently were not
enough. More fundamentally, these dual hurricanes and other
demonstrations of climate change herald the beginning of a more systematic
collapse of key regional and global ecosystems and their processes as the
result of humans' overbearing presence upon the Earth.

Those that say these hurricanes are the result of natural variability
point to no scientific studies. All they have to offer is their opinion,
clouded by an inability to accept that humans are capable of transforming
the Earth. On the other hand, there are decades of studies, modeling and
science that predicted stronger hurricanes as a result of global warming.
Frankly, when media ask whether the hurricanes have anything to do with
climate change, I would like more than a shrug and some platitude like "we
are not sure". Media needs to delve more into what we do know, while
indicating where we need to learn more, thus informing the search for

Recently the journal Science published research showing that the number of
Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35
years as global sea surface temperatures increased. Earlier a paper in
Nature revealed that major storms in the Atlantic and Pacific since the
1970s have increased in intensity by about 50 percent. The phenomenon of
warming oceans is well studied, and it is known that in the past 50 years
oceans have on average warmed by one degree Fahrenheit (about 0.5 degrees
Celsius). Indeed, a major study published mid-year in Science by a group
of Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists found clear evidence of
human-produced warming in the world's oceans.

The U.S. with four percent of the world's population is responsible for a
quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and Americans are
laggards in supporting policies to address climate change. As American
citizens are battered by these hurricanes, America has a special
responsibility to determine whether and to what degree these nearly
concurrent catastrophes are human caused. The logical place to start is
investigating further why and how gulf waters are warming.

Katrina and Rita's demonstration of the deadly potential of human
intensified hurricanes needs an urgent response. Their ferocity would
ideally lead to the American government facing up to the threat of climate
change, and acting with strong resolve in response. Whether you accept
the preponderance of climate change evidence or not, the prudent and
responsible thing would be to launch a major scientific investigation
while starting to prepare. What will happen when oceans warm by three or
five degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 - 2.8 degrees Celsius), which is forecasted
by the end of the century? There is no strength in smug, ill-informed

And what if it is proven that human caused climate change has contributed
to these disasters? What then? Will it be life as usual? Or do
Americans in particular have the will to transform themselves? I have
often wondered whether Americans have the strength to fundamentally change
their way of being when they see they must. Somewhat similarly, we have
witnessed Russians adapting to the collapse of empire, and Germany and
Japan rebuilding after disastrous militarism. Can America peacefully
transition to a post-petroleum lifestyle starting now? We shall soon

The primary obstacle remains how to assist people to acknowledge deadly
global warming is happening and begin adjusting their lifestyles
accordingly. Further, a political space must be established that gives
politicians incentives to advocate and implement sufficient responses.
Environmental warnings at this point are more than "I told you so". They
highlight that the impacts of climate change have moved to a new level,
and are still worsening in ways that hurt us all - environmentalists and
non-environmentalists alike.

The necessary changes are significant but not insurmountable. All Earth's  [ send green star]
EARTH MEANDERS: The Earth and I: On Personal and Planetary Redemption September 27, 2005 10:58 AM

The Earth and I: On Personal and Planetary Redemption
Capitalism, Religion and Imperialism; Addiction, Abuse and Anger;
Logging, Climate and Ecological Sustainability

Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
September 27, 2005

The Earth and I have had to deal with a variety of challenges in our
lifetimes. The Earth's natural habitats contain the biodiversity properly
arranged to provide the ecological services upon which all life depends.
This biological fabric of being has been and continues to be ripped
asunder by misinformed and alienated people myself included. Human
sickness leads to societal ills that threaten the Earth's health. The
Earth crisis we now face is caused by humankind's alienation from the
Earth and each other, and refusal to accept limits to human population and
economic production/consumption necessary to sustain the human family's

Modern society's barren and exploitative way of being destroys what is
good, true and natural in us all. At both the societal and personal
levels, human lives bereft of ultimate meaning are failing themselves,
each other and the Earth. Both individuals and societies must face up to
their past shortcomings and embrace our utter dependence upon the Earth in
order to experience a renaissance and a rebirth. And it is way past time
that we got together and embarked upon some worthy global goals,
celebrating nature and the wild in and around us all.

After reviewing society's and humanity's widespread failings (using my own
past forlorn existence for the latter), I suggest: 1) ending ancient
forest logging, 2) starting stabilizing climate now, and each of us 3)
committing to the pursuit of global ecological sustainability, as
ultimate truths to be found in a biosphere home under threat.

Capitalism, Religion and Imperialism

Economic growth can not go on forever and an economic system based upon
this illusion will not last. Capitalism's dirty little secret is that its
devotion to growth means the Earth, her habitats and all her creatures
will be destroyed in order to make more things few will be around to
enjoy. We simply are growing ourselves to death, as human defecation
fills Eden. Capitalism is removed from an understanding of the
fundamentally ecological nature of being - failing to understand economics
are a subset of, and utterly dependent upon, ecological systems.

One can be for local markets and exchange of surplus, while rejecting
economic growth as the measure of human well-being, and turning away from
the excesses of industrial production. Money grubbing industrial
capitalism is not the end all of being, and in order to have an Earth
capable of providing life, its excesses must be substantially restrained
or it must be destroyed. In its place autonomous systems of sustainable
local production and fair exchange must rise.

Personal faith and community rituals are fine. Blind devotion to
antiquated superstitions that hinder progress is bad. Any
institutionalized religious faith and Christianity and Islam in particular
becomes problematic when it destroys biological reality. Making decisions
based upon messianic leaders' teachings may have made sense at one time,
but it does not now. For millennia the natural world has been sacrificed
upon the altar of divinely ordained progress. Recent efforts to reform
religion's environmental impacts are too little too late.

Nearly across the board the policy issues needed to sustain the Earth are
resisted by the superstitions of religious zealots. The 21st century's
environmental problems require reason and logic, not ignorance and
superstition. Those that deny evolution are stupid heathens. It is
criminal that celibate popes prohibit the procreating masses, doing what
all animals do, from using birth control. Out of papal sexual tensions
comes over-population that will kill us all. The criminal acts of war
carried out under the banner of various gods at great expense to the Earth
is another example of blind allegiance to superstition stopping logical,
rationale policies to protect the Earth and all life.

The history of imperialism makes it clear that nothing is sacred. The
disease of industrialization which arose in Europe quickly spread
throughout the world. In the name of Christianity and capitalism much
that is sacred, natural and true has been desecrated. In exchange for the
illusory magic of fleeting resource dependent technologies, we have been
willing to rape, pillage and plunder the Earth and her more ecologically
attuned indigenous inhabitants.

Globalization has become imperialism under a new name; but the gist
remains the same - destroy what is natural to provide luxurious plenty to
the few and misery to the many. Euro-American thug like piracy has
destroyed all in its path. There is little civilization in Western
thought, and the road to equitable, just and sustainable societies is not
to be found in its tawdry teachings.

Addiction, Abuse and Anger

The social diseases of capitalism, institutionalized religion and
imperialism have arisen from an addicted, abused and angry citizenry -
socialized for predatory aggressiveness rather than cooperative sharing.
My own life has not been easy. Being short and smart, gentle and nave, I
never seemed to fit in, and constantly had a chip on my shoulder as I
tried to prove myself. This low self-esteem combined with a super sized
ego has lead to  [ send green star]
 September 27, 2005 10:59 AM

a whole series of bad decisions. Much of my late 20s and
very early 30s were a muddle of smoking too much pot, suffering from
extreme depression and being very angry at the destruction of the natural

I have a tendency to be too hard on myself. During this same period I
helped save huge areas of rainforest, brought a beautiful and much loved
daughter into the World, and completed a Masters degree and started my PhD
- honing skills, developing knowledge and beginning to form ideas which
are my contribution to the world. But clearly I was deeply and profoundly
sick, and until I addressed my own numerous weaknesses, there was no hope
of contributing to something larger than myself. I intend to meander
further on this era and my many personal failings in the future - but
suffice it to say that addiction, abuse and anger ruled my world even as I
worked non-stop to protect the Earth. Many in the over-developed world
experience similar social ills, largely because of their alienation from
the natural world and a true sense of community.

Over the past decade by simplifying my life, working to improve my
physical health, developing a fuller relationship with Gaia and committing
myself completely to the Earth, I have struggled to right myself with some
success. The ills of individuals, societies and the Earth in whole are
quite similar - destructive self-serving ignorance destroying in each what
is beautiful, sacred and necessary for a long, full and fulfilling life.
Restoring the Earth and healing ourselves can be the same thing.
Achieving a state of ecological oneness with Gaia requires valuing what is
natural, living in a way which maintains critical ecosystems like forests
and climate, and committing yourself to a life devoted to ecological
sustainability. The only basis for global ecological sustainability is
widespread personal transformation. There are many that would benefit
personally as I have from a closer relationship with the Earth.

Personal and Planetary Redemption

An essential component of a successful personal transformation based upon
oneness with the Earth is committing to changing society so that the Earth
may be saved. Salvation is to be found in the social struggle to protect
and restore what is natural while developing means to live well within the
limits of the Earth. As with any species, humanity's deepest instinct is
preservation of our species. Ensuring the long-term survival of the
Earth, her humanity and all her life is the calling of our time and we
shall overcome or die. I would suggest the following environmental
imperatives to refocus human aspirations in ways that address the greatest
threats to our existence.

End Ancient Forest Logging - The world's last large and mostly natural
forest landscapes are crucial repositories of biological diversity,
ecosystem services, evolutionary potential and spiritual awe. In order to
feed the throw-away society, the dwindling stock of primary ancient
forests that represent the end point of millions of years of evolutionary
history continue to be harvested for the first time, to meet our wood and
fiber needs. Such behavior is antiquated, barbaric and unnecessary; and
all right thinking free peoples must commit to protecting and restoring
old-growth forests.

Humanity must commit to the complete cessation of industrial development
in the world's remaining primary and old-growth forests, the only
exception being small-scale eco-forestry activities by local peoples
traditionally dependent upon these forest habitats. Establishment and even
some "radical" environmental organizations have entirely sold out on this
issue, suggesting that ancient forests can be harvested in an acceptable
manner. Such groups must stop facilitating ancient forest logging or be
shunned. They miss the point that first time industrial harvest destroys
what is special about an unmanaged, natural ancient primary forest.
Simply it is no longer acceptable to log ancient forests. Reorder your
life to protect these ancient forest cathedrals at all costs and by all
means necessary.

Climate Stabilization Now - Climate Change is an over-riding environmental
threat that impacts most other aspects of environmental sustainability
including forests, water and oceans; and progress towards virtually all
environmental issues requires taking actions now to begin the process of
stabilizing the climate. As a common humanity bent upon our and our
children's survival, we must together start now a 60% reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by the year 2050. This is the best
scientific estimate of emission reductions necessary to stabilize the
Earth's climatic system at a warmer but still livable condition by
avoiding abrupt climate change and/or a runaway greenhouse effect.

Achieving minimal climate disruption is going to require concerted efforts
by virtually all segments of society to reduce their use of energy. We
must all work tirelessly to give our lives meaning by promoting reductions
in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy
conservation and ending deforestation in order to begin the process of
climate stabilization now. Equity and justice concerns mean rich nations
must shoulder a larger responsibility in terms of bearing the costs of
this transition.

Global Ecological Sustainability - We must all commit to achieving the
basis for long-term global ecological sustainability in our lifetime. The
Earth as a global ecosystem is threatened b  [ send green star]
 September 27, 2005 11:00 AM

by the cumulative impacts of a
huge number of environmental challenges including forest loss, climate
change, water scarcity, ocean decline and persistent toxics. As widespread
local ecosystem destruction becomes more evident, regional and even global
ecological ecosystem collapse becomes more likely. Individuals and
societies must commit to simpler lifestyles in terms of consumption in
order to ensure personally, artistically and spiritually rich lifestyles
for generations to come. By definition ecological sustainability includes
working for an equitable and just future for all, forever.

Global ecological sustainability is going to require a vast reworking of
how society produces and allocates resources - with progress required on
diverse fronts ranging from restoring natural capital to developing green
alternative energy to limiting human population. We do not yet know what
will be required to reestablish balance between humans and the Earth. But
this does not mean we can put off starting to find our way. There exist a
myriad of perfectly attainable lifestyle choices in the realm of energy
use, housing, transportation and diet which can tremendously lighten the
load upon the Earth.

There is much personal pain and suffering in a world detached from
ecological understanding. Embracing the Earth and committing yourself to
her protection is an important step in your own personal growth and is a
first step in transforming society for the better. Love the Earth and
yourself in order that you can join the most important movement of all
time - transforming humanity to live in a state of global ecological
sustainability. Start by working to end ancient forest logging and reduce
emissions to begin stabilizing the climate; and then unite with others to
make this green vision the global norm. Start now. Get healthy and
organize, educate and agitate for the Earth.


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