Hurricane season has officially started, and that means we have to wrap our heads around Floridians' schizophrenia about science and climate change. People on the peninsula obsess about weather forecasts. I am not unusual in having six weather apps on my phone, including two that provide numerous spaghetti models for tracking tropical storms, and constant hurricane development updates.
Yes, Florida people love weather science when it's all about predicting whether or not they'll be slammed by a tropical storm! We constantly debate which is better -- the European models or the American models for tracking hurricanes. That's really a no-brainer. As we discovered last year, the European models are much more accurate, much better predictors. But still, you want to look at all the information you can get, until you are literally swamped by a tsunami of spaghetti tracks on your phone, and then you head for the dedicated hurricane watcher websites that are usually hours ahead of local news media apps, and give you constant updates, comparing and contrasting the various models in excruciating detail in hour long videos you'll never have the time to watch.
But Florida hates weather science when scientists predict that climate change is triggering sea level rise that will flood Miami Beach and other Florida beach communities in the lifetimes of children born this year. Starting in March 2015, our troglodyte governor, Rick Scott, ordered Department of Evironmental Protection employees, contractors and volunteers not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications.
"Climate expert Harold Wanless, chairman of the University of Miami Department of Geological Sciences, says that if Hurricane Irma had remained a Category 5 and hit the east coast of Florida — instead of veering west — our region would have suffered a devastating, transforming blow from a 20-foot surge that would have pounded us for hours," as reported in South Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
"The destruction would have been 'much worse' than Katrina’s hit on New Orleans. South Beach's famous row of Art Deco hotels, to take one example, would be gone."
By Daderot [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
"As the Union of Concerned Scientists said last year: 'In the future, there may not necessarily be more hurricanes, but there will likely be more intense hurricanes that carry higher wind speeds and more precipitation as a result of global warming. The effects of this trend are likely to be exacerbated by sea level rise and a growing population along coastlines."
"As Wanless explains, half the heat generated by greenhouse gases since 1997 has been stored in the ocean. This means that even if we could halt CO2 pollution immediately, the climate would keep heating up for a long time. Since 1995, the sea level has risen 3 inches in Key West. By 2060, it’s predicted to rise another 2 feet — and to shoot even higher, more quickly, after that."
"An overwhelming 97 percent of climate scientists agree that humans are the primary cause of climate change. But conservative interests have done such a good job of creating a false narrative about divisions in the scientific community that only 42 percent of Republicans 'say most scientists believe global warming is occurring,' according to a recent Gallup poll. In contrast, 65 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats understand that the scientific consensus is definitive."
In May, 2018, at a Miami climate conference, "1,600 people gather[ed] for a week of speeches, workshops, and conversations on almost every conceivable aspect of hurricane preparation and response — everything but the one factor that threatens the region’s ongoing viability more than any other. There’s not one word in the program about climate change or sea-level rise," according to the Sun-Sentinel.
"Not one word about how to mitigate the destructiveness of hurricanes, while we may still have time. Actions like building up shoreline with dunes or mangroves to soften the impact of storm surges. Or constructing more resilient buildings to cope with huge waves. Or updating and improving the region’s aging flood-control system," the Sun-Sentinel reports.
This is not just the fault of Republicans, though. Climate change denial is a bi-partisan position in the Sunshine State, where political power rests in the hands of sugar barons and real estate developers, who are in the midst of a world class development binge, in Miami and along the entire coastline.
With two feet of sea level rise in Miami over the next 40 years baked into scientific forecasts, as mentioned above, Bloomberg News reports that "the nuisance flooding in Miami that periodically comes with high tides will be a daily affair, the storm surge impact of hurricanes will be amplified, and lower-lying areas of the city will be uninhabitable. That’s actually not the worst of it: Under higher sea levels, the Biscayne Aquifer—where southeast Florida draws its drinking water—will increasingly suffer from saltwater intrusion, a problem for which there is no foreseen solution other than the investment of billions of dollars in water treatment facilities."
But how to insure that a steady stream of suckers, I mean, investors, will finance this fever dream? Well, obviously by continuing to foster the illusion that climate change is unreal, or if it is real, will not be as bad as scientists predict.
"South Florida’s best shot at coping with the long-term environmental threat may be a strategy that no doubt seems perverse to environmentalists: aggressively foster a collective belief that sea level rise is not something we urgently need to worry about," according to a Wharton Business School analysis published as a Bloomberg report. "South Florida is potentially facing a huge adaptation bill down the road, and paying for it will require a healthy tax base. Keeping that tax base flush depends on a cooperative equilibrium where buyers and sellers maintain an optimistic view that it’s tomorrow’s problem, one that will be easily tackled when the time comes. This keeps the coffers filled and provides the resources needed to pay for the engineering adaptations required to keep the game going."
Collective denial of climate change reality in South Florida is not driven by partisan politics, ideology, or religious beliefs. Refusal to even publicly discuss scientific findings and forecasts or to make the most rudimentary preparations, as a society, for the fast approaching climate catastrophes to come, is really all about maximizing earnings on real estate development before property values collapse near the shoreline and Floridians have to abandon more than $250 billion of waterfront properties and retreat inland.
Cosmic Weather Forecast
The June Full Moon occurs on Wednesday June 28th at 12:53 AM ET at 6° 28' Capricorn, conjunct retrograde Saturn, which makes this Honeymoon, as the June Moon is called, a somber affair, subject to stress, anxiety, and a sense that forward movement in many areas of life is critical but impossible to achieve. The Sun opposes this Full Moon, at 6° 28' Cancer.
The Sabian Symbol for this Full Moon's Capricorn placement is A Veiled Prophet Speaks, Seized by the Power of a God, indicating that this Full Moon is an ideal time for any spiritual practice that involves prognostication, channeling, forecasting, and accessing messages from Divine Source within, or from Guides, Teachers and Angelic Presences with whom we are connected.
The Sabian Symbol for this Cancer Solar Festival is Two Nature Spirits Dancing Under the Moonlight, indicating that the veils between the worlds are thin and permeable at this time. If you are able to be out in nature during this week's solar festival, be aware of the change of seasons, and the presence of Archangel Uriel, who presides over the summer season of growth and fruition, and oversees the seasonal outpouring of Universal Life Force Energy in all its frequencies and manifestations.
Beginning the day before the Full Moon, June 26, Mars goes into retrograde motion in Aquarius, as perceived by an observer on planet Earth, and stays retrograde until August 27th. With Mars and Saturn both retrograde, you can expect your normal flow of energy to be interrupted periodically and your ability to move forward with your plans can be compromised. Obstructions, delays and setbacks will be the order of the day.
This leads to frustration, followed by anger and the temptation to force one's will upon the unwilling world. You can expect to see a great deal of upset in global financial markets, which will probably exhibit an increase in volatility. Relations between nations will be rocky, as frustrated leaders in many countries look for scapegoats to explain the difficulty they are having in implementing their expansive plans in many social arenas.
This frustrating situation will intensify as the summer progresses. Between now and August 27th we will see up to seven retrograde planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Neptune, Uranus, and Mercury.
Needless to say, this summer is a great time for a spiritual retreat, a general work slowdown, and any activities that involve reviewing plans, schedules, and deadlines we have set for ourselves this year. The Cosmic Weather Pattern supports an inward focus at this time, and will reward those who are willing to objectively scrutinize current means and ends with an eye toward creative revisioning and flexible reformulation of life strategies, to be implemented starting this fall.
Global News Links
We are all inundated these days with news stories about political turmoil, contentious fall US elections, international tensions, racial animosities, and environmental anxieties. This month, rather than trying to give you my overview of all that, I'm going to offer links to a variety of news stories and riveting YouTube Videos that will provide penetrating insights and clarify contentious issues from around the world.
You'll also find some links to good news about people creating innovative responses to climate change and links to scientific studies and news stories that support a view of the Universe that transcends rational materialism.
"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness," declared Nobel prize winning physicist Max Planck in 1931.
For an updated version of this worldview, check out this YouTube video by David Chalmers entitled How Do You Explain Consciousness?
Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe and Everything?,
By Bernardo Kastrup, Adam Crabtree, Edward F. Kelly on June 18, 2018, Scientific American
"A key problem of physicalism. . .is its inability to make sense of how our subjective experience of qualities—what it is like to feel the warmth of fire, the redness of an apple, the bitterness of disappointment and so on—could arise from mere arrangements of physical stuff.
"Physical entities such as subatomic particles possess abstract relational properties, such as mass, spin, momentum and charge. But there is nothing about these properties, or in the way particles are arranged in a brain, in terms of which one could deduce what the warmth of fire, the redness of an apple or the bitterness of disappointment feel like. This is known as the hard problem of consciousness.
"To circumvent this problem, some philosophers have proposed an alternative: that experience is inherent to every fundamental physical entity in nature. Under this view, called “constitutive panpsychism,” matter already has experience from the get-go, not just when it arranges itself in the form of brains. Even subatomic particles possess some very simple form of consciousness. Our own human consciousness is then (allegedly) constituted by a combination of the subjective inner lives of the countless physical particles that make up our nervous system.
"However, constitutive panpsychism has a critical problem of its own: there is arguably no coherent, non-magical way in which lower-level subjective points of view—such as those of subatomic particles or neurons in the brain, if they have these points of view—could combine to form higher-level subjective points of view, such as yours and ours. This is called the combination problem and it appears just as insoluble as the hard problem of consciousness.
"The obvious way around the combination problem is to posit that, although consciousness is indeed fundamental in nature, it isn’t fragmented like matter. The idea is to extend consciousness to the entire fabric of spacetime, as opposed to limiting it to the boundaries of individual subatomic particles. This view—called “cosmopsychism” in modern philosophy, although our preferred formulation of it boils down to what has classically been called “idealism”—is that there is only one, universal, consciousness. The physical universe as a whole is the extrinsic appearance of universal inner life, just as a living brain and body are the extrinsic appearance of a person’s inner life.
"You don’t need to be a philosopher to realize the obvious problem with this idea: people have private, separate fields of experience. We can’t normally read your thoughts and, presumably, neither can you read ours. Moreover, we are not normally aware of what’s going on across the universe and, presumably, neither are you. So, for idealism to be tenable, one must explain—at least in principle—how one universal consciousness gives rise to multiple, private but concurrently conscious centers of cognition, each with a distinct personality and sense of identity.
"And here is where dissociation comes in. We know empirically from Dissociative Identity Disorder that consciousness can give rise to many operationally distinct centers of concurrent experience, each with its own personality and sense of identity. Therefore, if something analogous to DID happens at a universal level, the one universal consciousness could, as a result, give rise to many alters with private inner lives like yours and ours. As such, we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness."
The empty brain: Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer, by Robert Epstein, Aeon.com
"Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.
"But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.
"We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not.
"Computers, quite literally, process information – numbers, letters, words, formulas, images. The information first has to be encoded into a format computers can use, which means patterns of ones and zeroes (‘bits’) organised into small chunks (‘bytes’). On my computer, each byte contains 8 bits, and a certain pattern of those bits stands for the letter d, another for the letter o, and another for the letter g. Side by side, those three bytes form the word dog. One single image – say, the photograph of my cat Henry on my desktop – is represented by a very specific pattern of a million of these bytes (‘one megabyte’), surrounded by some special characters that tell the computer to expect an image, not a word.
"Computers, quite literally, move these patterns from place to place in different physical storage areas etched into electronic components. Sometimes they also copy the patterns, and sometimes they transform them in various ways – say, when we are correcting errors in a manuscript or when we are touching up a photograph. The rules computers follow for moving, copying and operating on these arrays of data are also stored inside the computer. Together, a set of rules is called a ‘program’ or an ‘algorithm’. A group of algorithms that work together to help us do something (like buy stocks or find a date online) is called an ‘application’ – what most people now call an ‘app’.
"Forgive me for this introduction to computing, but I need to be clear: computers really do operate on symbolic representations of the world. They really store and retrieve. They really process. They really have physical memories. They really are guided in everything they do, without exception, by algorithms.
". . .One prediction – made by the futurist Kurzweil, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the neuroscientist Randal Koene, among others – is that, because human consciousness is supposedly like computer software, it will soon be possible to download human minds to a computer, in the circuits of which we will become immensely powerful intellectually and, quite possibly, immortal. This concept drove the plot of the dystopian movie Transcendence (2014) starring Johnny Depp as the Kurzweil-like scientist whose mind was downloaded to the internet – with disastrous results for humanity.
"Fortunately, because the IP metaphor is not even slightly valid, we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace; alas, we will also never achieve immortality through downloading. This is not only because of the absence of consciousness software in the brain; there is a deeper problem here – let’s call it the uniqueness problem – which is both inspirational and depressing.
"Because neither ‘memory banks’ nor ‘representations’ of stimuli exist in the brain, and because all that is required for us to function in the world is for the brain to change in an orderly way as a result of our experiences, there is no reason to believe that any two of us are changed the same way by the same experience. If you and I attend the same concert, the changes that occur in my brain when I listen to Beethoven’s 5th will almost certainly be completely different from the changes that occur in your brain. Those changes, whatever they are, are built on the unique neural structure that already exists, each structure having developed over a lifetime of unique experiences.
"This is why, as Sir Frederic Bartlett demonstrated in his book Remembering (1932), no two people will repeat a story they have heard the same way and why, over time, their recitations of the story will diverge more and more. No ‘copy’ of the story is ever made; rather, each individual, upon hearing the story, changes to some extent – enough so that when asked about the story later (in some cases, days, months or even years after Bartlett first read them the story) – they can re-experience hearing the story to some extent, although not very well.
"This is inspirational, I suppose, because it means that each of us is truly unique, not just in our genetic makeup, but even in the way our brains change over time. It is also depressing, because it makes the task of the neuroscientist daunting almost beyond imagination. For any given experience, orderly change could involve a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain, with the pattern of change different in every brain.
"Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it. This is perhaps the most egregious way in which the IP metaphor has distorted our thinking about human functioning. Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear. What’s more, as the neurobiologist Steven Rose pointed out in The Future of the Brain (2005), a snapshot of the brain’s current state might also be meaningless unless we knew the entire life history of that brain’s owner – perhaps even about the social context in which he or she was raised.
"Think how difficult this problem is. To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. (In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.)
"Meanwhile, vast sums of money are being raised for brain research, based in some cases on faulty ideas and promises that cannot be kept. The most blatant instance of neuroscience gone awry, documented recently in a report in Scientific American, concerns the $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, EU officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down.
"We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key.
How we can turn the cold of outer space into a renewable resource | Aaswath Raman, YouTube Video
What if we could use the cold darkness of outer space to cool buildings on earth? In this mind-blowing talk, physicist Aaswath Raman details the technology he's developing to harness "night-sky cooling" -- a natural phenomenon where infrared light escapes earth and heads to space, carrying heat along with it -- which could dramatically reduce the energy used by our cooling systems (and the pollution they cause). Learn more about how this approach could lead us towards a future where we intelligently tap into the energy of the universe.
How does the Groasis Waterboxx plant cocoon work against desertification?, YouTube Video
The Groasis Waterboxx plant cocoon is a polypropylene tray in the form of a donut. The Waterboxx plant cocoon, or the smart bucket "ensures that trees and shrubs can grow in dry, hot climates without the help of irrigation methods. The advantage of the Waterboxx plant cocoon that they have no energy to plant trees, expensive irrigation methods need to be submitted, 90% less water has compared to traditional planting methods, 90% lower cost compared to traditional planting methods and regardless the environment is guaranteed survival rate of + 90% provided one plant according to the instructions. The Waterboxx plant cocoon can be used ten times. This means that with one Waterboxx cocoon plant can be planted at least 10 trees over a period of 10 years. The cost per tree will then be up to € 2 to € 3.
Planting the desert with Dubai Municipality using Groasis Technology to combat desertification, YouTube Video
Groasis – a high tech agricultural company from Holland - sells the low cost Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology. The Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology helps to plant trees and vegetables with 99% less water use
Can Dirt Save the Earth?, By MOISES VELASQUEZ-MANOFFAPRIL, The New York Times, April 18, 2018
Agriculture could pull carbon out of the air and into the soil — but it would mean a whole new way of thinking about how to tend the land.
Trump’s Carbon Capture Tax Break: Mechanical and Biological Paths, by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism
"A chemical engineering study by Antoine de Ramon N‘Yeurta et.al. titled 'Negative Carbon via Ocean Afforestation' estimated that ocean plants can solve our global climate, energy, and food problems. Micro-algae forest covering 9% of ocean could produce enough bio-methane to replace all fossil fuels while removing 53 gigatons per year of carbon from the atmosphere and restoring preindustrial levels of carbon. The enormous growth of ocean biomass would also increase sustainable fish production sufficient to provide 440 pounds of protein per year for 10 billion people. There are related and enormously promising proposals for fast growing ocean plants like kelp and duckweed."
"This would be an enormous undertaking, but it is driven by the use of the natural processes of plants in the ocean feeding on carbon dioxide and using photosynthesis to create enormous amount of biomass. It should be a matter of immediate attention before we decide the only choice is building millions of machines to attempt to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Let nature do it instead. The biosphere is a co-evolutionary system designed to restore a sustainable balance in the interest of life. Human choices to choose to employ the power of ocean biomass as opposed to legions of machines is another manifestation of sustainability."
Will the Gulf Stream Stall, Freezing Europe?, by Thom Hartman
"Dr. Michael Mann, one of the world’s most respected climate scientists and the founder of the “hockey stick” that Al Gore popularized, told me on my radio/TV program April 24th:
“This is a potential tipping point in the climate system, which is to say it could happen very abruptly once it starts to happen. The danger is that we’ve already seen a substantial slowdown in this ocean circulation pattern, [and that] suggests the possibility that we could be right up against that tipping point where it essentially just shuts down.”
"Mann added that until the recent research came in, pretty much everybody thought we had 100 years or so before we needed to begin to even seriously consider this potentially catastrophic scenario:
“If you talked with climate modelers even 5 or 6 years ago, they would have told you that this scenario isn’t likely to play out for at least another century or so. … So something that we didn’t expect to happen for the better part of a century is happening already.”
And lest Americans think this will only be a European problem, shutting down the AMOC/Gulf Stream, which warms the American northeast, would also have a catastrophic impact on that region of the United States and Canada.
As NASA’s scientists note on one of the few climate-change web pages the Trumpies haven’t yet removed:
“Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver—comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants—Europe's average temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F), and parts of eastern North America would be chilled somewhat less. Such a dip in temperature would be similar to global average temperatures toward the end of the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago.”
Compare that to the damage a mere 1° C drop in the 1816 Year Without a Summer caused to both Europe and the eastern part of North America in 1816. Civilization—and billions of people—probably would simply no longer survive as we know it.
Grantham says capitalism is making this one big global risk to humanity worse, by Ryan Vlastelica, MarketWatch, Published: June 13, 2018 12:20 p.m. ET
“Fossil fuels will either run out, destroy the planet, or both. The only way out is the complete de-carbonization of the economy,” [Jeremy Grantham] said at Morningstar’s annual investment conference, in a presentation entitled “the Race of our Lives.”
“Capitalism and mainstream economics can’t deal with these problems. Given how corporations are driven to maximize profits, it’s nearly impossible for them to give up profits in order to address this” and focus on sustainability.
“Capitalism has a problem with the very long term because of the tyranny of the discount rate,” he added. “Grandchildren have no value.”
Meditation Moment: A Star Without a Name by Rumi
When a baby is taken from the wet nurse,
it easily forgets her
and starts eating solid food.
Seeds feed awhile on ground,
then lift up into the sun.
So you should taste the filtered light
and work your way toward wisdom
with no personal covering.
That's how you came here, like a star
without a name. Move across the night sky
with those anonymous lights.
(Mathnawi III, 1284-1288)