I Still Plant Trees

I planted a tree last summer in the middle of the yard.

It’s a pine that was growing between the flowers near the fence by the Koi pond. The pond has no koi currently as I don’t seem to know how to keep these beautiful fish alive.

My little tree


Anyway, the pine had planted itself and if I had left it alone, it would have grown through and uprooted the fence and looked odd amidst the shrubs. So, I dug it out and replanted it in the middle of the yard.

It took root and this year is looking like it’s growing.

It reminded me of Charlie Browns’s Christmas tree – just a little sprig. But there it is taking root in the shadows of two huge pine trees towering to around 100 feet tall.

I will never see this tree mature as a full pine. I know that. I could have thrown the sprig on the burn pile.

But I couldn’t do it. I had to plant it.

In a way, it makes no sense. If I believe in the way our climate is growing, like I said, I’ll never see it get taller than me.

But I must make a marker for the future. This little pine is a measure of defiance. Life will go on – until it doesn’t. But I want to give it a chance.

All of us deserve a chance.

So, I’ll keep an eye on it.

And celebrate life.

Climate Change Is Having a Major Impact on Global Health – Scientific American

Article here.

From the article:

Adults older than 65 are particularly at risk, as are those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. Places where humans tend to live are exposed to an average temperature change that is more than twice the global average—0.8 versus 0.3 degree Celsius (graphic). There were 157 million more “heat wave exposure events” (one heat wave experienced by one person) in 2017 than in 2000. Compared with 1986 to 2005, each person was exposed to, on average, 1.4 more days of heat wave per year from 2000 to 2017. That may not seem like a lot, but as Watts notes, “someone who is 75 and suffers from kidney disease can probably survive three to four days of heat wave but not five or six.”

Scientific American

Beginning tomorrow, Pittsburgh will be under a heat advisory until the end of Saturday. Heat indices will rise to between 100-105 degrees on both days. Sunday will be no picnic either with a high near 90, high humidity and a good chance of thunderstorms. All it does here is rain.

My thermostat – too low?

My house has air conditioning and I hang out in the basement, the coolest part of the house. The house was built in 1955 so it’s not that insulated. The thing is, I can be in the basement and still not feel quite right. When it’s hot and humid outside, it’s like a get a ‘weather knee’ of sorts that manifests itself as low level anxiety.

For some reason, I don’t get this sensation for cold and snowy times in the winter. To me those are kind of exciting, perhaps because they remind me of getting snow days from school. But the heat – it’s a fearsome thing to me. I can’t be outside exposed to the sun on hot days for more than 20-25 minutes or I will get nauseated and it will last all day. A big hat and plenty of water help, but only so much.

I work at a VA hospital and we take extra precautions for our patients and staff during these times. The Veterans, many of them who love to be outdoors, must be kept in. Landscaping employees observe precautions.

I have a corner office with windows on two sides – large ones from the 1920s when the building was erected. The sun streams through and taxes the air conditioning. I can sit there and feel the battle between the system and the sunlight. Tomorrow will be a struggle. I will dress in the lightest clothes.

My wife works for a bank in the near downtown area. Their air condition is in full failure mode. The bank has brought in an army of fans and portable air conditioning units but they’re fighting a losing battle. Temps in the office have been into the upper 80s. Management has taken the unprecedented step of letting employees wear shorts. They have also instituted alternative work schedules to allow employees to avoid the worst of the heat. Nevertheless, my wife has been miserable.

It was Europe’s turn three weeks ago and The East Coast’s turn last week. So far these hot spells have been moderately severe, but fairly short lived. Scientists say that will change in the coming years.

What we are experiencing here are mild annoyances for relatively healthy people. The elderly and other affected by the heat will have cooling shelters to go to in the area.

And yet, the effects are noticeable and worrying. What will happen to us when the heat waves last for weeks rather than days? Will the electric systems keep up? Will there be more deaths because of the lack of A/C in people homes? The Scientific American article goes into good detail of all of the possible impacts on daily life.

How does one get mentally prepared for the future heat waves? I’m giving that a lot of thought tonight.

You and your society are doomed! Or, my cynical self

The one part of me that has never changed, even since childhood, is my deep and abiding cynicism; mostly concerning human nature.

– Me
Me, 4th grade. Already deeply cyncical

I tend to lean toward catastrophic thinking and I think part of that is my Borderline Personality Disorder. Add in a fair dose of leaned mistrust and paranoia and you have a big part of my personality.

So it’s probably no surprise that, when it comes to climate prediction, I tend to lean toward the doomsayers like Dr. Guy McPherson. Not McPherson specifically, but doomsayers like him. I have looked at his stats and justification and continue to look at those of other climate scientists and, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, I think it will be amazing if civilization, as we currently experience it, still functions at 2050.

There are middle position people like Dr. Rupert Read and his defense of Extinction Rebellion (UK). Dr. Read believes that society “will go to shit” and its too late to mitigate the damage from climate change. He talks about transforming society into something different but I can never quite put my finger on what ‘transformative adaptation’ will look like. He mentions creating natural wetlands or mangrove swamps as a flood defense rather than constructing seawalls.

This is where my cynicism comes in. Such things are simply not going to happen. I do not share any of Dr. Read’s hopefulness in the ability of human society to adapt. A ‘mass transformation of consciousness’ is not in the cards. Perhaps in the UK where Extinction Rebellion operates but not in the United States where I live. Americans don’t give a flying fuck about creating swamps where development cannot occur and money cannot be made.

Look at the government. Look at what people are driving, living. We are locked in to a fossil fuel society an it’s the only thing we’ve known; the only way of living. Not to mention that a large percentage of Americans believe the whole thing is a hoax.

Americans are emphatically NOT into sacrifice. I would also mention I don’t think most of the Western world, despite protestations to the contrary in the European Parliament, is ready for this as well. France without air conditioning is bad enough but France having to pay more for petrol sends mobs into the streets for weeks.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

I’m going to make a number of predictions in the course of the next few years here on the blog and on my upcoming podcast but this one you can take to the bank: when the shit really hits the fan, Americans will not turn into community organizing altruists. They will go for their guns.

As many as 15 years ago when people would ask me what I envisioned the future of America I would say, “imagine a world where you shoot your neighbor for the food left in their refrigerator.”

I would then offer to put money down (in a safety deposit box) with people who doubted this could ever happen. You will never lose money betting against the baser instincts of human nature especially in times of crisis. The nicer version of what I said above is the adage that we are three meals away from anarchy.

So there you have a bit of my philosophy, dark as it is. I will leave you with one more example of my ability to predict the future. The day Donald Trump came down the escalator to announce his candidacy for President, I listened to him and told my wife “if he’s serious, he’s the next President.”

Why? he was the right person at the right time for all the disaffected in America. Also: I know my people (Americans). I know what they say when they are among a small group of friends. I know what they tell each other when they think no one is listening. I know what they think in private is much different than what they will say in public.

I know my people. And I am terrified.

Ever notice the women at Trump rallies look like they all sell Arbonne or Lularoe. But be not deceived: if provoked, they will rip you to bloody shreds.