Your editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry welcome you to the cusp of the 2020 Fall seasonal cycle, when wildfire and hurricane season typically peaks in the United States.

Here in Winston Salem, we've had nearly 17 inches more rain than normal in 2020. Farmers slog through muddy fields as fall planting begins. Corn and tomatoes did not fare well so far in this sun deprived, soggy year, but wildflowers have flourished, and flashy red, white and purple crepe myrtles line the streets all over town. 
 
Marigold Patch, Reynolda Garden, Winston Salem, NC, photo by Curtis Lang

The sun is out today, high of 90, but the heat has not been too bad compared to the endless summers we endured in South Florida. By the middle of next week we will have highs in the 70s, and in the mountains will be even cooler, so we will be going for some hikes, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and testing out our new hiking sticks at every opportunity.

Endless South Florida summers began about three years ago, and the beautiful sunny light sweater winters that attract snowbirds by the tens of thousands disappeared. Miami now records 75 more days per year above 90 degrees than it did in the 1970s.  

The long hot Florida summer continues this month as Tampa, Jacksonville and Gainesville recorded their highest August minimum temperatures. So heat never dissipates at night, humidity is high, and the pain index stays elevated.

In a bit of good luck, the Sunshine State dodged a bullet when Hurricane Isais narrowly missed Florida's East Coast at the beginning of August and made landfall in North Carolina, eventually targeting New York and leaving millions without power for up to a week in the suburbs.

Hurricane Laura approaches US Gulf Coast
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. NASA


So far, prior to the hurricane high season, which we are about to enter, 14 tropical depressions, 13 tropical storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane have already developed in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, including this week's Hurricane Laura, the strongest storm ever to hit the Western Louisiana coast.

Starting in May, Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna, Isaias, and Laura hit Texas, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana. Texas has already experienced three named storms. Meteorologists had warned that this year's hurricane season would be more active than what we've known in recent years, and so far their predictions are correct, if somewhat of an understatement.


Now that Hurricane Laura has ripped through Southwestern Louisiana, forecasters are eyeballing two new tropical developments in the Atlantic. 

US Wildfires, August 27, 2020, courtesy of Fire, Weather and Avalanche Center

 

Despite the deluge of bad weather news, in many ways, the East Coast is having a much easier summer than the American West. 

Catastrophic wildfires have created an August Californiapocalypse. 

It's not wildfire season yet in California, but over the last ten days an unseasonable heat wave combined with a rare August storm triggered 10,000 lightning strikes in 72 hours igniting uncontrollable blazes, with the majority in the Northern California region.

More than 1,000,000 acres have already gone up in flames. That's four times more than the total 2019 wildfire burn. At the peak of the unfolding catastrophe, state officials declared that all California residents should be prepared to evacuate


Around noon on August 20, 2020, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 17 (GOES-17) captured a natural-color image of smoke from California wildfires. Image courtesy NASA.


San Francisco and many other NorCal locations are recording the worst air quality in the world, far more dangerous than Beijing or Mumbai at their worst. Smoke from the wildfires spread across the entire Western United States and far out into the Pacific Ocean, visible in the satellite photo above.

Simultaneously, a persistent heatwave accompanied by wildfires in Colorado prompted state public health officials to advise "all residents — not just older people, children and people with asthma — to stay indoors and, if possible, set up safe rooms inside their homes."

Climate scientists had predicted an extremely active and dangerous Western wildfire season. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of California, Los Angeles, told Inside Climate News that few climatologists and fire scientists have been surprised by the severity of the fires across the West.

"Swain was a co-author of a paper published [August 19] that showed a steep increase in extreme fire conditions in California during the fall, the state's most deadly and destructive wildfire season," according to Inside Climate News.

"Our paper says that climate change has already doubled the risk of extreme fire weather conditions in California," Swain explained, "and it will double them again over the next couple of decades...perhaps more than double. That's a big change."

"Other research, led by Park Williams at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and published last year, identified an even steeper increase in summertime wildfires in California, marked by an eight-fold increase in the amount of land burned annually since the 1970s, caused largely, the authors reported, by human-driven climate change."

Redwood Tree at Big Basin State Park, California Terri0907 / CC BY-SA


"'What's so interesting about the fires in Northern California right now is they're burning an incredibly diverse range of ecosystems,' Swain said."

"It's burning in the coast redwoods which have almost no modern fire history," Swain continued. "That's kind of incredible that that's happening at all, but especially in August, in the complete absence of any offshore winds."

"'[Big Basin Redwoods is] a park that has almost continuous old growth redwoods,' Swain explained. Historically, fires in such forests stayed on the ground, rarely burning up the trees. But, Swain said, he was in touch with a firefighting strike team that had to retreat from its attempt to save the park's buildings when crown fires exploded through the tops of the redwoods. 'That is really astonishing to me.'" 

"The fog that rolls off the Pacific to chill the Bay Area in the summer also helps keep redwood forests moist and cool. But research published in 2010 by James Johnstone and Todd Dawson at the University of California, Berkeley, suggested that the fog, known as the 'marine layer', has declined by a third, possibly increasing the drought stress and flammability of the redwoods and other coastal ecosystems."

"Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of California, Merced's Sierra Nevada Institute, noted that the current heat dome has kept that fog away." 

"This heatwave is drying out coastal fuels," she said. "That marine layer, which normally cools off the Bay Area and the coast during the summer, is actually being repelled off the coast."

"So on top of the almost unprecedented heatwave and lightning siege," Kolden said, "California's coasts were unusually dry and ready to burn. Research shows that up to 4 percent of lightning strikes in the region start fires during dry conditions, so the electrical storms alone could have ignited as many as 500 fires in an area that rarely sees such blazes."

"We just don't see very much fire in coastal California that is lightning ignited," she said.

But we do now. We are living in a new normal, and this year's unprecedented catastrophic wildfires in the American West are just a taste of what's to come.

 
 
Wild, crazy, extreme weather events are not just happening in the United States. Worldwide, new evidence of accelerated global climate change accumulates at an unprecedented pace.

This image shown above of Siberian wildfires was captured on Tuesday 23 June 2020 by the Copernicus Sentinel3 mission.

Sea-ice can be seen to the north while smoke dominates the bottom part of the image with some active fires visible in the centre.

In the Arctic and in Siberia, this year's record wildfires herald the onset of a scary new "fire regime" arriving decades earlier than the worst case scenarios of climate scientists. 
 
Fires in Siberia ignited in May, followed by a record setting heat wave that pushed temperatures in northeast Russia to 100 degrees for the first time in recorded history. 
 
This June and July alone, "Arctic fires released 204 megatons of carbon dioxide, far exceeding last year’s 140 megatons and eclipsing the annual emissions of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland combined," according to the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

Peat Fire: Sebangau National Park Central Kalimantan
DenY Krisbiyantoro / CC BY-SA4.0

Satellite imagery of individual fires “strongly suggests that a number of these fires are burning into the peat,” environmental geographer Thomas Smith of the London School of Economics  told Grist in an email. “If the peat fires are widespread, it is likely that the emissions estimates from the satellite products are underestimates.”

Peat fires can burn for months or even longer, releasing vast amounts of carbon and methane, a much more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Peat fires actually burn deep within the soil, sometimes several feet below the surface. Peat fires create huge plumes of smoke and haze, and disperse carbon as particulate matter for wide areas around the site of the blaze. Needless to say fire fighters find peat burns almost impossible to manage.

“Something’s changed in the [Arctic] environment . . .," exclaimed Mark Parrington, senior scientist and wildfire expert at the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

“This is the type of fire event that would be described by worst-case modeling scenarios that were supposed to occur mid-century,” adds Jessica McCarty, a wildfire expert at Miami University of Ohio.

In several different ways, the Arctic fires create a negative feedback loop that increases the rate of glacial meltdown in the region, year after year.

Increased wildfires and exponentially larger releases of greenhouse gases contribute to further global warming around the world, and especially in the sensitive Arctic region, where ice is melting much faster than scientific models had predicted.

Hotter spring and summer seasons increase ice melt and raise average temperatures throughout the region. Peat fires burn far longer than traditional wildfires and are very difficult to control. Peat fires also release previously trapped methane, which acts as a powerful warming accelerant. The release of smoke and soot in the Arctic turbocharges already accelerating climate change. As black carbon particles settle on sea ice, allowing the ice to absorb more of the sun's energy, rates of meltdown increase. 


ARCTIC SEA ICE -- AVERAGE SEPTEMBER EXTENT 
Data source: Satellite observations. Credit: NSIDC/NASA
RATE OF CHANGE -12.85 percent per decade

". . .The current pace of warming in the Arctic has generally been underestimated by climate models," says Xavier Fettweis, a University of Liége climate researcher who focuses on polar regions. "Only the models showing the highest levels of warming of the climate by greenhouse gases match the current rate of warming." 

Fettweis recently posted on Twitter that new record high temperatures may have been recorded near the North Pole on July 5 and July 6. If the current trend in greenhouse gas emissions continues, Fettweiss calculates that the Arctic could heat up by as much as 29 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Needless to say, that would be catastrophic for global civilization.

How much in the way of new green house gases and stored carbon could be released from Arctic permafrost if it thaws over the next few decades?

"Recent studies have begun to address the tons of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses that are buried within permafrost," according to Global Cryosphere Watch.  "The current estimate on the amount of carbon stored in permafrost is around 1,400 gigatons—almost twice what is currently in the earth’s atmosphere (K. Schaefer, NSIDC)."

Unfortunately, our current climate models do not incorporate carbon release from thawing permafrost.

"The permafrost zone is expected to be a substantial carbon source to the atmosphere, yet large-scale models currently only simulate gradual changes in seasonally thawed soil," according to a paper in Nature magazine entitled “Carbon release through abrupt permafrost thaw“. "Abrupt thaw will probably occur in <20% of the permafrost zone but could affect half of permafrost carbon through collapsing ground, rapid erosion and landslides."

Scientists estimate that the most likely scenario is the abrupt release of a small portion of that stored permafrost carbon, which would be "potentially similar in magnitude to carbon release from other environmental fluxes, such as deforestation," as reported in a World Economic Forum paper entitled The irreversible emissions of a permafrost ‘tipping point‘.

What would be the likely impact if abrupt permafrost melt is similar in magnitude to tropical deforestation? 

“Deforestation in the tropics accounts for nearly 20 per cent of carbon emissions due to human activities,” says Dr. Joseph G. Canadell in a 2007 study published in Science Daily. “This will release an estimated 87 to 130 billion tonnes of carbon by 2100, which is greater than the amount of carbon that would be released by 13 years of global fossil fuel combustion.

So abrupt permafrost thaw would add about 13 years of global fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere by the end of the century -- emissions that are not included in current models, adding significantly to the likelihood that our global civilization will trigger runaway climate change and render the Earth's ecosystem inhospitable to human life.

Greenland Ice Sheet: Christine  Zenino from Chicago, US / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is also in the news in 2020. The world's largest island lies between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Melting ice in Greenland ends up in the Atlantic Ocean and is the single biggest contributor to sea level rise on planet Earth.

A scientific study published August 13, in the journal Communications Earth and Environment, shows that Greenland’s glaciers have passed a critical tipping point. Since 1985 the glaciers have retreated so much that the remaining ice sits in much deeper, warmer water. Now, new snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot replace the amount of ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers every year.

This means that even if all carbon emissions were to stop today, and all global warming suddenly ceased to be, the glaciers would continue to meltdown. The end result is that large sea level rise is guaranteed, no matter what actions we take.

"Once ice sheet disintegration begins in earnest, our grandchildren will live the rest of their lives in a chaotic transition period," famed climate scientist James Hansen cautions us in his 2010 book Storms of Our Grandchildren.

"After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently?" Hansen continues.

Over the last few years, each of us has seen how extreme weather events have come to define summer and winter, while diminished fall and spring seasons are shorter and barely seem to exist at all.

Every year we hear about tens of billions of dollars worth of damage caused by these extreme weather events.


Melbourne Global climate strike on Sep 20, 2019 had well over 100,000 people attending in Treasury Gardens and a 1.2km march through the streets of Melbourne, being the largest climate protest in Australia to date, and rivaling the anti-war protests in 2003 and the Vietnam Moratorium in 1970.
Takver from Australia / CC BY-SA 2.0


Here in the United States there are 64,000 climate refugees seeking temporary shelter in California, and tens of thousands more in Louisiana and in Texas just this week.

We don't know how many of these people have lost their homes. It's still too early to tell.

We don't know how many of these people will find out they have inadequate home insurance, or if they will be denied home insurance in the future because their location is so dangerous. But the number will not be insignificant.

The casual consumer of global news could not help but notice this tsunami of extreme weather events, and for tens of millions of people, increasingly extreme weather events are becoming a part of the yearly seasonal cycle. This new normal brings startling implications for individuals across the country and around the world. Global climate change is rapidly accelerating out of control.


Chart courtesy James Hansen. Green triangles denote El Chichón and Pinatubo volcanic eruptions.
Niño 3.4 is the tropical Pacific region 5⁰N-5⁰S, 170-120⁰W.


“Global temperature is clearly running well above the linear trend that existed for decades”, warns climate scientist James Hansen, in his July 2020 global temperature update.

"Humanity treads today on a slippery slope," Hansen contends in his 2010 book Storms of My Grandchildren. "As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the air, we move onto a steeper, even more slippery incline. We seem oblivious to the danger--unaware how close we may be to a situation in which a catastrophic slip becomes practically unavoidable, a slip where we suddenly lose all control and are pulled into a torrential stream that hurls us over a precipice to our demise."

While this global emergency unfolds around us, America's dysfunctional political classes appear totally incapable of understanding the gravity of the situation.

Throughout his first term of office, President Donald Trump has carried out a personal vendetta against environmental rules and regulations, and terminated all efforts to mitigate accelerating climate change with extreme prejudice.


Official Portrait, President Donald Trump, Shealah Craighead / Public domain


Trump repudiated the Paris Accord climate change mitigation agreement in 2017, but the United States cannot officially leave the global treaty until after the November 2020 election. If Trump is defeated, the United States might not leave the Accord.

During President Obama's eight years in office, Congress refused to take action to mitigate climate change or implement new environmental protections and regulations, so Obama used a Supreme Court decision finding that greenhouse gases constitute air pollution under provisions of the Clean Air Act to implement the Clean Power Plan, which regulated carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, essentially prohibiting new coal powered plants without carbon capture and storage facilities.

Trump weakened the provisions of the Clean Power Plan and is in the process of eliminating other regulations restricting the emission of greenhouse gases. Trump also weakened existing automobile fuel economy standards and eliminated California's ability to create its own stricter fuel economy standards, which had previously forced the auto industry to adhere to higher standards than those set by Washington.

Trump also paved the way for increased fossil fuel extraction in a variety of ways.

"President Trump has lifted bans on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and parts of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, in coastal waters around the United States, and in areas formerly protected as National Monuments in Utah," according to a policy paper produced by The Brookings Institution.

"The administration has also intervened in permitting for fossil fuel infrastructure. Best known among these projects is the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to bring oil sands crude oil from Canada. But the administration also intervened in the approval for the Dakota Access pipeline to move oil from North Dakota’s oil fields and in some permits for the Atlantic Coast pipeline, intended to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia," The Brookings Institution report explains.

"While that is difficult to say based on present information, I've come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse," contends climate scientist James Hansen. "If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."



Trump is also conducting attacks on The Clean Air Act and The Clean Water Act. In a second Trump administration these attacks on environmental laws and regulations would no doubt continue. New coal plants, oil and gas exploration on public lands, and new oil and gas pipelines would proliferate. 

Although Democratic Presidential contender Joe Biden claims to be a defender of the environment, and promises to take action to prevent climate change, the Democratic Party in 2019 and 2020 has not done much to inspire confidence in their leadership on environmental issues. 

In 2019 when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a resolution for a Green New Deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made fun of the proposal, saying the deal “will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive.” She added: “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is but they’re for it, right?” The resolution went nowhere and Cortez elected not to sit on Pelosi's panel on climate change, highlighting the conflict in the Democratic Party between a small minority who want to address the planetary emergency with extraordinary measures, and the conservative majority who propose to continue the failed status quo policies of incremental change.

Perhaps more telling is the Democratic Party response to the extreme weather events of 2020.

As the Californiapocalypse unfolded this month, in the midst of a heated Presidential election campaign, while the most active hurricane season in recent memory unfolded, and as an unprecedented inland hurricane, called a derecho devastated 10 million acres of crops in the Midwest, President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel went on national television demanding that a prospective Biden administration make clear from the beginning that it will block a Green New Deal.

Just a few days earlier, the Democratic National Committee changed its campaign platform to eliminate a modest non-binding request to end fossil fuel subsidies that are fueling the climate emergency, despite Joe Biden's emphasis on ending those subsidies in speeches on the campaign trail.

What President Biden would do about climate change is a known unknown at this point in the Presidential race.

In May 2019, Biden received the second lowest environmental rating of any Democratic Presidential candidate according to Greenpeace. 

"We are in a climate emergency. Yet for the last several elections, even the majority of politicians who claim to care about our future have done little more than say they believe the climate crisis is real," Janet Redman, the climate campaign director for Greenpeace USA, told Newsweek in an email. "That doesn't cut it anymore. In 2020, true climate leadership means nothing less than saying 'yes' to a Green New Deal and 'no' to fossil fuels."


Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a town hall hosted by the Iowa Asian and Latino Coalition at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA 2.0

Biden initially received a grade of "F" on the environment from the Sunrise Movement, an activist group composed primarily of young people, many of whom are admirers of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, but Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakesh has since joined the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, designed to harmonize the opposing wings of the Democratic Party, and now believes that Biden has upped his game on the environment dramatically.

"In Joe Biden’s recovery effort plan for the pandemic, he does talk about how he’s moving from a $1.7 trillion green jobs and infrastructure plan over 10 years to a $2 trillion plan over four years, which is significant, and has also committed that 40% of the investment towards green jobs and infrastructure will specifically go towards frontline and environmental justice communities, which is huge," Prakash told Democracy Now! on August 19, 2020.

"When it comes to the climate crisis, I think Kamala Harris has been fairly responsive to activist and movement pressure to make climate change a top priority," Prakash explains. "She took the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge and has sworn off of oil and gas donations as part of her campaign. She did, as you mentioned, run on a Green New Deal as part of her platform, and, I think, you know, mentioned it more than almost any other candidate during the presidential debates. She has worked with Representative Ocasio-Cortez to develop legislation that kind of ensures that investments made around a Green New Deal prioritize frontline communities. So, I think we’ve seen a lot of responsiveness from her."


Pew Research Center Poll Survey of US Adults Based on Registered Voters


Environmental issues are not likely to surface much during this overheated Presidential campaign. Voters are laser focused on the economy, as the poll chart above indicates, and environmental concerns are ranked #11, with fewer than 50% of voters listing the environment as a major concern. 

Jobs, social justice, law and order, health care and immigration issues will most likely dominate candidate's speeches and news cycles going forward, to the extent that any issues intrude on the 24/7 personal attacks and smear campaigns conducted by both sides.

As the campaign intensifies, and civil conflict deepens, environmental issues are no longer sexy. It was only a year ago that Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, The Green New Deal and the Sunrise Movement dominated the news cycle.

When the next President enters the Oval Office in 2021, managing the pandemic, dealing with tens of millions of newly unemployed workers, helping the 12 million people who lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs this year, and dealing with the rapidly escalating partisan political warfare that consumes the vast majority of politicians' time, money and energy in America these days will be top priorities. 

Nevertheless, we are in a global ecological emergency. The planet's ecosystem threatens to evolve into a variant of the Venusian hothouse, which could mean the end of the human experiment.

If Biden is elected there is a dim possibility that the prospect of a flood of new jobs in a watered down version of the Green New Deal may appeal, despite Nancy Pelosi's personal antipathy to the idea.

If Trump is elected, we will have committed America, and probably the entire world, to a future environment inimical to human life in the long term, and increasingly uninhabitable in the near to medium term. 

That is the unpleasant choice that faces us today. 

Full Moon in Pisces, Virgo Solar Festival Cosmic Weather Forecast

The Greeks associated the zodiacal sign of Virgo with Proserpina, the daughter of Zeus and the Earth Goddess Demeter, who was abducted by Hades, aka Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, ending the eternal springtime that had prevailed across the planet. In retaliation, Ceres refused to produce new growth, jeopardizing life on Earth.


The Rape of Proserpine, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622

The Lord of the Underworld rules over fossil fuels and the realm of the dead, and this year, 2020, the ecosystem of planet Earth is being held in thrall by the PLUTO-crats controlling the production of fossil fuels. Our global civilization is addicted to the comforts provided by oil and gas, despite the well known fact that our addiction is destroying our environment, and rendering the planet unlivable for our descendants. 

In the original Greek myth, a deal was brokered by Hermes. Proserpina was eventually allowed to return to the land of the living. But Hades had given Proserpina some pomegranate seeds in Hades, before she left. Having eaten of the fruit of the underworld Proserpina would have to live with Hades forever.

But the Fertility Goddess Rhea brokered another deal, allowing Proserpina to return to Ceres for half of the year, returning to Hades for the other half of the year. This ancient deal with the god of the underworld ushered in the seasonal cycles of cold and heat, plant decay and plant growth that we are familiar with today. This was the origin of the Great Wheel of the Seasonal Cycles.

Proserpina became an itinerant Goddess, an ancient jet setter. Like Hermes, Proserpina traveled between the human realm of the living, the abode of the dead and the palaces of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. 

It is not surprising then, that Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury, the Roman variant of the Greek God Hermes.

The Greeks also associated Virgo with Dike, the goddess of Justice and rights established by custom and moral law.

In Greek tragedy, the mature responsible human being is presented with a seemingly insoluble dilemma, yet is forced to make a choice between two very unpleasant or unacceptable alternatives. The tragic hero must descend into the depths, into the underworld, seeking Dike, for only the Goddess of Justice can provide the soul with the solution to the dilemma, and help the hero make the most acceptable choice between two evils. 


Dike

 When human beings proceed without benefit of the counsel of Dike, death and disaster results. When the counsel of Dike results in deliberation and negotiation among antagonistic parties among humans and gods, as in the case of Proserpina, the consequences, are often unpleasant, bloody and fraught with tragic overtones, but can be seen to be far more palatable than any alternative.

The next few months of 2020 Americans will be faced with a series of unpleasant astrological aspects, an uncontrolled pandemic, more extreme weather events, and a highly polarizing Presidential campaign taking place against a backdrop of increasingly militant confrontations between armed right wing militias and social justice activists.

Both Presidential candidates have said they think the election could be rigged by the other side, and warned their constituents that the other side might not be willing to concede if defeated at the polls.

This is truly a recipe for tragedy, American style.

Most importantly, in the days, months and years to come we must all choose between an extremely painful withdrawal from fossil fuel addiction and the probable destruction of a livable environment. 

It will be important to dive deep within ourselves in search of the counsel of Dike, and then to take action, no matter how difficult or painful the circumstances.

The most important thing is not to act on impulse or raw emotion in reaction to the difficulties and ethical dilemmas we currently face, and to be willing to act in support of the highest expression of our existing customs and social structures, which are threatened with imminent destruction. That may mean acting to defend those ideals and those structures and customs no matter what the cost. 

PISCES ZODIAC and surrounding constellations 
Johannes Hevelius from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia

The Full Moon at 10°12' Pisces occurs on Wednesday September 2 at 1:22 EDT, and on Tuesday September 1 at 10:22 PM Pacific Time.

Potent Zodiacal aspects abound.

Venus trines Uranus at 10/11° Virgo/Taurus. This trine in Earth signs provides supportive energy for all those seeking to break free of burdensome restrictions while harmonizing their quest for individualistic expression with the social structures and collective thought forms characteristic of their chosen community. 

Sun trines Uranus at 10/11° Virgo/Taurus at the same time, and is a favorable energy for manifesting major changes in your life and lifestyle that you have perhaps wanted to implement for some time, all with ease and grace.

Mercury is trine Saturn at 25/26° Virgo/Capricorn. This aspect indicates an ability to channel creative flashes and intuitive insights that will help you stabilize the fundamental structures of your life, your career, family, loved ones and community. 

Venus opposes Saturn at 26º Cancer/Capricorn. Venus in Cancer opposes the Capricorn Stellium of Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto from August 25 through September 4, and also forms a T-square with Mars in Aries. Culturally speaking, these aspects indicate a building tension around social justice issues, and issues involving women in particular. Financial markets may also reach an inflection point, indicating that large moves up or down are imminent.

ARIES ZODIAC and surrounding constellations 
Johannes Hevelius from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia


Speaking of Mars, Mars in Aries turns retrograde September 11, and squares Saturn in Capricorn on September 29th. Mars in Aries goes on to square Pluto in Capricorn October 9, and then squares Jupiter in Capricorn October 18, setting the stage for the most contentious US Presidential election in generations.

Five planets are in retrograde motion from August 15 to September 9, 2020; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. 

The addition of Mars retrograde on September 9 makes it six retrograde planets for four days up to September 12, when Jupiter stations direct. That leaves five planets retrograde until September 29, when Saturn stations direct.

Having so many planets retrograde simultaneously occurs only 1-4% of the time, so this is a rare event. During periods of mass retrogradation, communication is impaired, feelings of alienation proliferate, needless conflicts abound, incidents of violence and abuse can increase, and there is a general feeling that progress is impossible. Reactionary political forces are empowered.

On a spiritual level these Mars retrograde aspects would indicate that the forces of materialism, which seek to impede humanity's spiritual evolution, are increasing in power, so the next few months represent a significant challenge to all of us seeking to advance the spiritual evolution of humanity and raise the energy of our civilization from the third chakra obsessions with power and personal gain to the transpersonal higher chakras where compassion, community and collective evolution can thrive.

Human Energy Body, by Jane Sherry

Mars moves direct in Aries two weeks after the election, eventually squaring Pluto in Capricorn on December 23rd. 

Cosmic Weather patterns the entire last quarter of 2020 are dominated by these extremely turbulent Mars aspects. Mars rules the solar plexus chakra, which is the seat of personal power, our ego personality, will forces and the rational mind. So the expression of our egoistic personalities and our personal power are being challenged by outer planets in Capricorn, representing monolithic social structures. 

These aspects indicate the potential for additional extreme weather events, especially those related to the element of fire.

Social tensions during this time will be highly combustible, and there will be explosive outbreaks of social discontent by all those who feel that current social structures are not serving their best interests. 

It is easy to imagine that the party that loses the Presidential election will not accept defeat gracefully. It is quite possible that conflict surrounding the accuracy and fairness of the vote tabulation process will occur in the streets and in government offices around the country.



Both Democratic and Republican politicians have proclaimed that it is unlikely that there will be a free and fair election this year in what is supposedly the world's greatest democracy.

There are good reasons for that. 

For example, in a pandemic, voting by mail is extremely important. Democrats accuse Donald Trump's administration of defunding and crippling the United States Postal Service as part of a longstanding attempt to force privatization on an unwilling populace, and not coincidentally, to make voting by mail extremely difficult. Democrats say that Republicans cannot win if there is a large voter turnout in November, and on April 10 of this year, President Donald Trump said that if the United States switched to all-mail voting, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

But what is the track record of mail-in voting during the past few years, which have seen Republicans attempt to suppress votes from Democratic constituencies across the country?

"In 2016, 512,696 mail-in ballots—over half a million—were simply rejected, not counted," reports investigative journalist Greg Palast. "That’s official, from the federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC)."

"But that’s just the tip of the ballot-berg of uncounted mail-in votes. A study by MIT, Losing Votes by Mail, puts the total loss of mail-in votes at a breathtaking 22%," Palast continues.


Investigative Journalist Greg Palast

"Move to 80% mail-in voting and 25 million will lose their vote," Palast argues.
"And not just anyone’s mail-in ballots are dumped in the electoral trashcan. Overwhelmingly, those junked are ballots mailed by poorer, younger, non-white Americans."

Nor is the mail-in ballot fiasco an anomaly in the American system of elections. In fact, it's very much par for the course, as the quality of our electoral system has been in deep decline during the 21st century. 

Since 2000 America's track record in conducting free and fair elections has been less than stellar.

Hanging chads in Florida in 2000 delivered a razor thin victory to George W. Bush.

In 2004, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.

And in 2016, voter suppression in Michigan, which was critical to Trump's victory arguably cost Hillary Clinton the election.

"It’s official: 1,913,369 ballots were cast but never counted in the 2016 presidential race. That’s from the US Elections Assistance Commission," reports investigative journalist Greg Palast, author of the new book How Trump Stole 2020.

"And not just anyone’s ballot gets tossed into the electoral dumpster. The US Civil Rights Commission took a look at Florida’s throw-away pile and calculated that your chance of having your vote simply go uncounted, 'spoiled,' is 900% higher if you're Black than if you're white," Palast continues.

"Here’s what you know," Palast charges. "In 2016, Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes. Officially."

"Here’s what you don’t know: 75,355 ballots were never counted. That’s official, too," Palast reports. "Just 'spoilage,' that is, ballots that were, for some technical reason, untallied."

"But not just anyone’s vote 'spoiled.' Most of these vanished votes were cast in Detroit — where only one in ten city residents are white. Motown. Not exactly Trump-ville."

The evidence is clear. The world's self-styled hegemon, which sees itself as history's greatest democracy, is no longer able to hold free and fair elections. Both major parties are in agreement about that.

So it's not surprising that there is a growing sense in America that our government has failed the people. It's no surprise that in the run-up to the most contentious election in recent history there's a widespread incipient panic, and widespread tendencies toward impulsive, confrontational behavior.

When a democracy is unable to hold free and fair elections, that's traditionally seen as evidence of a potentially failing state. And there is so much more evidence that America is taking on some of the characteristics of a banana republic.

The health care system and the federal government have thus far failed to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The health care system cratered under the strain of caring for the victims. The efforts at containment have been politicized and efforts to get at the truth of the situation have been demonized. 

Number of Covid Cases in the United States 8-30-20
Number of Coronavirus Cases Reported Country by Country August 16, 2020
United States Coronavirus Profile: OurWorldInData.org 
Caution! Number of Cases May Be Much Larger Than Reported Number


The chart above shows America has utterly failed to contain the spread of the virus. On August 30, the number of reported cases in the US was 5.96 million, and as I report this on August 31, the total has surpassed 6 million. Of course there are far more actual cases than those that have been reported.
 
Despite the closure of vast swathes of the economy, efforts at containment failed, and the economy crashed.

Congress and the Federal Reserve provided trillions of dollars to banks, investment firms and giant corporations, boosting prices on the stock market and gifting billionaire investors in stocks and bonds with billions of dollars in additional capital gains. 

Simultaneously, more than 50 million people filed for unemployment insurance, and over ten million lost access to health insurance. 

Cities and states are already complaining that they are on the verge of bankruptcy, and the Republicans controlling Washington are telling them to drop dead.

Representatives of both political parties are already accusing one another of preparing to commit voter fraud in a variety of ways throughout the country, creating the appearance of America as a potentially failing democracy.

And as we have noted already, millions are being impacted by extreme weather events, but there is no substantial Federal emergency response to these disasters. People are losing their homes, their belongings, their hope and their livelihoods, living as climate refugees during a runaway pandemic.

We are in a time of unprecedented global turmoil and the American Empire is melting down. The American Dream has turned into a distinctly American Nightmare for the vast majority of people, who are not profiting from the ever expanding Wall Street bubble being inflated by the Federal Reserve's QE Infinity and other programs designed to increase prices of all financial securities.

Tough times, indeed. The results of an extensive mental health survey of Americans in late June, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the depth and pervasiveness of the American social and mental health crisis.

"One question posed by researchers was whether someone has “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days”— not fleetingly considered it as a momentary fantasy nor thought about it ever in their lifetime, but seriously considered suicide at least once in the past 30 days. The results are staggering," reports Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept.

"For Americans between 18-24 years old, 25.5 percent — just over 1 out of every 4 young Americans — said they had," Greenwald explains. "For the much larger group of Americans ages 25-44, the percentage was somewhat lower but still extremely alarming: 16 percent. A total of 18.6 percent of Hispanic Americans and 15 percent of African Americans said they had seriously considered suicide in the past month. The two groups with the largest percentage who said yes: Americans with less than a high school degree and unpaid caregivers, both of whom have 30 percent — or almost 1 out of every 3 — who answered in the affirmative. A full 10 percent of the U.S. population generally had seriously contemplated suicide in the month of June."

What Can Be Done?

Spiritual astrology seeks to provide awareness of probabilities, so that individuals can take steps to optimize their own futures through introspection, self-improvement, foresight and preparedness. 

It is in this spirit that we share these newsletters. If you find them informative or insightful please forward them to all those who might be interested.


There is no doubt we face challenging times now and for the rest of the year. It is up to us to do what we can to maintain our center of balance, remain grounded, exercise our powers of discernment, and connect to our creative intelligence and intuition, which can provide us with the loving wisdom we will need to navigate these troubled waters.

Now is the time for those of us in the spiritual community generally to open our hearts and connect with those in need around us.

Please join us this Full Moon in meditation. We are nearing The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius on the Winter Solstice in December. 

The conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn on December 21 is the defining astrological event of the year, as it will establish an astrological era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in air signs that will continue until 2159.



This is the signal that we are now on the cusp of the pivotal year of 2025, which esoteric astrologers, beginning with Alice Bailey, have long predicted could see the externalization of the spiritual hierarchy, including our beloved Ascended Master Guides and Teachers. The appearance of the spiritual hierarchy on planet Earth in physical bodies has not occurred since the Fall of Atlantis, long before the advent of recorded history.

It is important for all of us to be aware that there is more than one way that the spiritual hierarchy can manifest on Earth in the physical realm. Certainly it is possible for an Avatar or Avatars to appear in physical bodies to guide humanity forward into a New Age. 

What I have been experiencing in meditation tells me that the Spiritual Hierarchy stands ready, at this very moment, to manifest its loving wisdom, its healing power, and its acute intelligence and discernment, through the minds, hearts and physical bodies of the Lightworkers, meditators, and spiritual aspirants of all traditions, East and West, who ask to participate in this monumental undertaking.



It is time to rededicate ourselves to the accomplishment of The Great Work, our Higher Purpose for incarnating in this lifetime on planet Earth. It is time to connect with our Guides and Teachers and the Ascended Master hierarchy, and surrender our fear, anger and doubt. 

This Full Moon, we attune ourselves to the energy and frequency of our beloved Ascended Master Teachers, and to Cosmic Mother/Father Source. The long awaited time is here!

The collective consciousness of all those who aspire to be part of humanity's Ascension Process now is ready to receive an increased flow of loving wisdom, grace and guidance from the Hierarchy, and this flow of new energies will be available to us consciously during our meditations and during the course of our daily lives. All we need do is ask, and it shall be given to us! Let us ask this Full Moon to be prepared to receive this flow in full measure, this month, and in the months to come!

The Ascension Process is accelerating, enabling us to move more rapidly and completely as individuals and as a species from a focus on the third chakra in the abdominal area to a new, heart-centered consciousness, centered in the fourth, heart chakra.

The third chakra is all about personal power, the development of the egoistic personality, and the rational mind as an instrument to dominate one's environment.


The fourth chakra is the first of the trans-personal chakras, where we become aware of our connection to all of humanity, to the web of life on planet Earth, to the Angelic Kingdoms, and to the realms of the devas, elementals and nature spirits.

Our collective Ascension from third to fourth chakra focus will transform human preoccupation with lower chakras issues such as money, sex and power into a collective will to serve humanity and to surrender egoistic desires in favor of intuitive guidance received from Father/Mother Source.

The emergence of heart centered consciousness will awaken the Higher Mind, align our activities with Higher Purpose, and enable us to channel the loving wisdom of the Spiritual Hierarchy in everything we do in our daily lives.

As the collective consciousness of all Lightworkers, meditators, and spiritual aspirants of all traditions, East and West, surrenders to Divine guidance and elevates to new heights, the collective thought forms and enlightened, compassionate daily actions of this group will act as a catalyst in the totality of the collective consciousness of humanity, precipitating a slow, steady but unstoppable transformation. This is the alchemy of the Ascension Process!

Let us all take time this Full Moon week to visualize our connections to one another and to all spiritual aspirants around the world. Let us radiate Love and Light to all those in humanity's diverse spiritual community, and to the totality of suffering humanity.

Tarot Trump XVII, The Star, Crowley/Harris Tarot Deck

Let us pour forth Love and Light and Sacred Fire to all sentient beings, in the physical realms and in the realms of subtle energy. Let us give thanks to those beings of light who reside in Angelic Realms and to the devas, elementals and nature spirits.

We salute the Angels who preside over the seasonal cycles, and the morphogenetic fields that ensoul, inform, structure and sustain the bodies of living creatures on planet Earth. We salute the nature spirits who help to equilibrate and sustain the web of life in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms.

We now join in conscious co-creation with the Angelic Realms and with the Elementals and Nature Spirits to manifest a healthy web of life on planet Earth! 

It is through humanity's conscious participation in the co-creation of life on planet Earth that we can restore the balance of nature, and complete the Great Work that will allow our entire species and Mother Earth herself to Ascend to new heights of consciousness, ushering in a New Age of Love and Light.

Jane and I hold you all in our prayers and during our practices and we affirm that you each will receive the grace and guidance you require to achieve your spiritual and material goals.

Meditation Moment: New Age of Fire

"Each of the major periods in the history of the earth has been marked by the predominance of one of the four elements: earth, water, air, fire. Our present era will be dominated by fire, and humanity will come to know every form that fire can take.

"This is why we should strengthen our relationship with fire and befriend it. By linking ourselves to the sun – true fire – and by contemplating it, we can gradually change the vibrations of our being until we feel we become one with the sun.

Those who love the sun, and who have understood its rightful place in their spiritual life, will not be affected by the negative aspects of fire." -- Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov