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IV. Eyes Shut, Ears Blocked


unconscious reality

This web site was originally inanothershoes.com in response to the rash of gun violence, racism and multitudes of other sins happening in America. Then global warming came to the top of my list as I became aware of how little the public knew, how great was the danger and how little we were doing, and the site became caringfortheearth.com.

Except that, on the scale necessary, caring never happened. Fossil fuel barons simply ignored the evidence and continued to burn, and around the world more coal was being burned. Where in hell were we going to end up. My own assessment is that the Paris Accords are a futility. We pump more and more carbon dioxide, the developing countries burn more coal and the developed countries ignore the agreements, as in the United States, or ask for concessions. When the risk is an uninhabitable planet that we have already ravaged, this seems inconceivable. But there is a back story.

Ironically I have taken joy in this being the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and listened to new and inspired performances of familiar music. But it is another anniversary (plus one year) that could not be further from the joy of Beethoven and that has an amazingly fundamental role in virtually every aspect of American life as well as in global warming. The anniversary is 400 years (in 2019) of bringing slaves to America.

The New York Times, which I have often criticized for its dismal coverage of global warming has created Project 1619, the story of slavery in America. Its impact on me has been profound. In reading just a small part I came to know America far more than I had wished because slavery was not just enslavement, it was an industry. It’s free labor built America into the financial colossus it became. The United States supplied 60% of the worlds cotton, slaves were treated as property to a degree I never imagined, and with great irony, the blindness to everything but money that is still driving global warming is simply an extension of the slavery industry, a utterly crushing realization and somewhat of an explanation of where America’s soul lies. It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson, the man behind “we are all created equal,” morgaged his 150 slaves to build Monticello. But it doesn’t end there.

America is the worst of all industrialized nations in income inequality, in the treatment of is people and especially of its workers without college degrees resulting in an enormous surge in suicides, drug and alcohol abuse. Then we add to this Donald Trump who has exacerbated every problem we face. In my mind, reading of all his machinations about his election and his behavior of hiding everything he possibly can about himself, he is if not legally, then in principle a fake, abusive president.

V. Reciprocity


The missing link

In Sunday school, many decades ago I learned of the golden rule. More recently I learned of the philosophical term, reciprocity that carries the same meaning. In this Wikipedia link, the Japanese philosopher Fukuyama maintains that human culture is not possible without reciprocity, yet all the problems America is facing can be traced to a failure to accept that we are all of the same species, all carry essentially the same genome, all feel more or less the same joy and pain, but that America is, contrary to what I was taught in grade school, a society that does not recognize reciprocity as a value. In all the presidential debates I have heard nothing about what it should mean to be a human being in the United States. We are as a nation and as a planet on the brink of catastrophe. We may continue to exist, but it will be an existence that denies what it should mean to be human. Humans like you and me are homo sapiens. We are of the genus homo and the species sapiens. The ancesters of all of us, blacks and whites, and all in between, are Africans. Yes, you heard me correctly you and I (I am of Polish descent) are Africans. Its recorded in every cell in our bodies.

Here is the map. And here is the experience by someone who lived the life. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, in her wonderful book, The Old Way, tells what it was like to live among the bushmen of the Kalahari, probably as close as we could get to knowing how our original ancestors lived.

But being black has a whole other connection that it seems to make me an ignoramous that I learned of it today reading the New York Times.For the last decade or so I have slowly tuned into shortcomings of our democracy, and then felt body blows from Mr. Trump. However, 2019 was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first sales to America. I had known that American textbooks downplayed the story and some in the south gave it a positive spin. But I did not know the role it played in global warming, although that may be the least of slavery’s sins.

ABOVE: A map of the migrations of homo sapiens that began about 100,000 years ago. (Credit: National Geographic)

VI. It Takes Cotton To Mine Coal

It took slaves to grow the cotten that built capitalism

How much of the story of slavery has not been told. From my perspective, hardly any until I began reading the New York Times 1619 Project.

“Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.”

“...it economic might...” is what burned coal and later oil and pumped gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the air and continues to do so, and I expect is responsible for American industry’s inability to stop. Once slavery became a money machine all else followed and American democracy became a joke, but a joke that hardly any got. We rank at the bottom and I mean bottom of industrialized nations in the way we treat those not wealthy. The wealthy own our govenment to and have guided it to an obscene distribution of wealth at the top.

ABOVE: A map of the migrations of homo sapiens that began about 100,000 years ago. (Credit: National Geographic)

VI. It Takes Cotton To Mine Coal

It took slaves to grow the cotten that built capitalism

How much of the story of slavery has not been told. From my perspective, hardly any until I began reading the New York Times 1619 Project.

“Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.”

“...it economic might...” is what burned coal and later oil and pumped gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the air and continues to do so, and I expect is responsible for American industry’s inability to stop. Once slavery became a money machine all else followed and American democracy became a joke, but a joke that hardly any got. We rank at the bottom and I mean bottom of industrialized nations in the way we treat those not wealthy. The wealthy own our govenment to and have guided it to an obscene distribution of wealth at the top.

Despite knowing full well that burning fossil fuels puts the earth in danger, fossil fuel producers continue to produce and market as much as they can. Accumulating wealth rules.

As of three years ago LiveScience wrote:
“Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and,
in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth.”

Attempts to reduce CO2 emissions to meet the Paris accords have failed.
Then Donald Trump arrived and poured gasoline on the fire. A more uninformed, ignorant, corrupt person I find hard to imagine.

As an engineer I feel an almost overwhelming compulsion to solve problems but after two years and two months attempting to teach, to create something that would inform, advocate and convince anyone of the seriousness of our situation I believe it is too late to turn things around and I am spent.

Now Donald Trump has shifted his attention to creating a corona virus vaccine or the wealthy.

Is there any hope? Perhaps a miracle.

I have written on many topics relating to global warming including trying to teach what science is. You will find them in two tables of contents.

The site is pretty much still a draft, not spell checked, and needs rewriting. But I believe there is some good thinking here and I will slowly try to clean things up. In the meantime I am trying to cool off and get on with other work.

VI. Thought


an overview

THE PROBLEM OF NOT UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

Our place in life is determined by what and how we think. That, of course, is determined by the circumstances of our birth: where, when, in what environment, religion or philosophy. Or possibly none of these for many children. Many will not survive, receive little or no education or learn only how to cause harm.

In the face of threats civilization provides anything from an idylic, idealistic, informed life, to a hateful, violent need to kill and dominate. Or it provides nothing at all.

America has seen itself as the ideal, yet in early 2020 it is failing further and in more ways than most of us could have imagined. These failures are exacerbating the effects of global warming, the worst crisis the planet has ever faced. Thought, that which we do all day every day, is so uninformed, so twisted and illogical, so lacking in compassion as to defey finding appropriate words.

Science and truth are virtual twins, each enhanses the other and we cannot function or ultimately exist without both. Yet we find, particularly on the conservative side of the asile, stunning ignorance including a president who causes despair and even contributes to the rate of suicide.

Many citizens of intelligence fight for truth and compassion, but pitifully corrupt power blocks the way. And now a pandemic, a bodily sickness in a terrifying way appears seemingly out of nowhere and our president blames his political enemies, and minimizes its danger and then hints at a vaceen that will be only for the wealthly. Another day, another eye-opening evil.

In ths website I try to expand on those needing more explanation while searching for thoughts that are missing, which had we a Roosevelt, Lincoln or Churchill might be inspiring and teaching us.

above: two year old pictures of the beginnings of climate change


N E X T

The Beginning

Note:

At this point I have paused, or possibly stopped, working on this web site essentially since I have lost hope, that anything I say will ever be read by anyone who can do more than is being done. However, I will make it as available as I can.

I think the following contains useful thoughts although it may take some effort to extract them. I will do my best to clean things up. Also, the Table of Contents contains many links to drafts of various essays, some more or less complete, others in early draft stage. However, after two years and two months I am returning to my photography for this story is more than I can bear.

Hope

When I read of the various conferences of the IPCC my reaction is "you've got to be kidding." What needs to be done will need a strong central authority. This will not be done by committee, especially a committee of such varied cultures, scientific knowledge, etc.

The I recall stories I have read. Donald Trump is a classic. His response when first asked about climate change: "I don't believe it." Of course not. He doesn't have a prayer of understanding it, so he puts it down. Otherwise it would destroy his ego to ask for an explanation.

India has just installed and enormous solar facility. Its 2.5 GW capacity approaches that of three large nuclear facilities. Yet there will be no reduction in emissions for the extra power is to accommodate growth.

Donald Trump has relaxed EPA regulations to the point of meaninglessness.

There is little time left. The IPCC will hold more meetings, but they should be with leaders, not representatives or at least a plenary session of the UN where someone drives home what is really going on and the very life of the planet depends upon them. But then they will go home and fight for their political lives.

However...

I have had two fathers. My biological father died at age 59. He expressed a faith in me beyond what I knew was possible.

Seven years before my father died I joined Dr. Bose's group at MIT. He became my faculty advisor and three years later I joined the nascent Bose Corporation. As its 5th employee. I was with Bose Corporation for 23 years and then set out on my own as a fine art landscape photographer. Dr. Bose and I remained friends until he died.

From the time I joined his group I had the privilege of working with him one on one for many hours, alone in his office and talking about anything and everything. His attitude was much like my father's. Anything can be done. He certainly did it.

Coincidently as I was in the midst of writing this section I received an e-mail from my very good friend and fabulous photographer, Joseph Holmes. He told me of a company: https://www.xyleco.com that had made a very important breakthrough in the use of biofuels. (He must be right. The former head of MIT's chemical engineering department has just joined their board.)

There are hundreds of other companies working on all aspects of the climate problem. The only one left is faith in humanity. It always beats pessimism.

Home

Earth

Almost every day I read a story of collateral damage, as in the scars left by fracking, or ongoing changes in the climate. This morning it was a heat wave in Antartica with nine days of record temperature near 70°F and the melting of a large area of snow that would not be replaced.

My feelings for the earth are profound, grounded in a sacred place in the time-line of the universe. For most of my life I believed in it being essentially unchanged for another billion years out of the five billion that the sun would continue to shine at the right brightness. Stories of ozone holes and silent springs I assumed would pass and despite nearly 10 billion people the earth would take care of itself. I suspect that this naviate contributed to the shock of first reading about global warming and the positive feedbacks such as the melting of the tundra that caused my reaction “we're screwed.”

It is not that all engineers (MIT '63, '65, '67) react this way but I don’t think so.

I began reading astronomy around age eleven and was drawn into the magnificance of what was known of the universe at that time. My first elective course at MIT was astronomy. I remember the arguments of George Gamov about the “steady-state” universe versus a beginning creation. I could not accept the steady state idea. Everything had to have a beginning.

Decades later, in my early thirities I started serious photographing of the landscape. By serious I mean 4" x 5" sheets of film and a view camera plus all accesories in a sturdy case mounted on a pack frame I carried on my back. Eventually I exposed 20,000 sheets of film and somewhat without realizing it fell further in love with the earth for now I had become intimate with many new parts. Two books with text by Henry David Thoreau were part of the outcome. Now, 44 years after begging the photo work I am still sorting through the films finding many I had overlooked that were worthy of printing.

After first learning of global warming I was depressed for two years before I could resign myself to the warming being part of life. However, I could not resign myself to humanity’s tepid reaction to the warming. It was not that there was a lack of warning. That began in my assessment in 1959 when Edward Teller, the reknowned physisist addressed the 100th anniversary of the oil industry. (I reproduce his remarks below.) But perhaps the most astonishing part was that the oil industry was doing its own researh on the climate. Serious research from all accounts and finding that the carbon dioxide released by burning its fuel was a potentially cataclismic danger to the earth. Some of their results became public, but they burried any further release and just kept on drilling and mining. This seemed to me to be unconsciousable, something like selling cigarettes knowing they cause cancer. I still cannot accept it.

The conclusion I have come to, after years of study and writing on this website was that money tops everything. There is this picture in my mind of an oil baron doing no more than glancing out a window before going back to planning more profits.

I cannot say I am angry, for the reaction until recently has been almost universal, but I am horrified and saddened to the point that it has taken over my life. I know well how special the earth is in the new context of cosmology, how many elements, characteristics, properties, etc. and etc. the earth has that make it suitable for its giving birth to us and being our home for a billion years or so. And most of us don’t have a clue. We keep on burning with the liklihood that seas will rise 100 to 200 feet without collosal intervention, an intervention made impossible by a ferocious greed and incompetance of our president, the one person who could lead a turnaround.

You need to know, as I recount below, the parts of our place in the solar system and the Milky Way that are necessary, such as a moon of the right size and position, that are essential to our lives. My first calculation of just seven elements put the likelyhood of such a planet as one part in 100 trillion trillion. Dwell on that as I hope you read further. Perhaps your awareness will become less casual than I find in virtually everyone I meet.

Purpose

Joy

The earth is a product of the creation. The creation happened 10.8 billion years ago. The time and history that followed are well-established science.

The universe evolved step by step, from energy to fundamental particles to stars and eventually to planets. The solar system brought us the earth and the earth eventually brought us life.

Many people believe this was all a product of god’s will, but I think of god as the name of a cause rather than the cause. So why did it all happen? Why do we care?

My view is that it all happened so we could attain sentience, the ability to experience and the most important experience is joy. However, it is left up to us to recognize this and to achieve this and the most important task for us is to recognize and practice reciprocity.

Reciprocity

Responsibility

Joy is supremely easy and supremely difficult to achieve. It is often confused with pleasure or happiness. It is neither of these. However, pursuing joy causes no harm. Pleasure and happiness can reflect deep satisfaction and contentment or cause harm. The destruction happening to the earth is a prime example.

Acquiring large amounts of money or power can bring pleasure, but can be harmful. Pumping and selling oil can bring untold riches but is finishing off the earth. Taking advantage of another person can bring a kind of pleasure or happiness, but often at a terrible cost. Walmart pays approximately the average minimum wage to starting employees. On the other hand the Walmart family is worth about $191 billion, the most of any family. My view is that this was stolen from employees that required food stamps to survive, food stamps that we paid for to the tune of one million dollars per store per year.

Knowledge of the differences between joy and all the other parts of life is not a part of our normal education. Examples can be difficult to come by because joy requires an awareness that may or may not be natural. We may love to raise children or we may resent them. We may listen to music and not hear it. We may view beauty and not see it. In our presidential debates there is no reference to the purpose of life, only to policies and the faults of other candidates. The outcome will likely be tragic.

Humanity has not faced the challenges and the consequences. Death, destruction and suffering are the outcome. It is inconcievable that homo sapiens, of for all intents and purposes of the same evolution and genetic makeup, need to emphasize differences through religion, ideology, politics or a hundred other reasons resulting in tribalism. Tribes give idendity and reasons to feel superior. Tribes may be violent or peaceful, often selfish, occasionally generous but always creating separation. Ocasionally they create joy.

Joy comes from connections, cooperation but above all understanding. Putting yourself in the others shoes but especially of creating beauty together. It is unity and communicaation usually by hard to define and most unexpected means. Singing or playing music together may be worth more than the greatest fortune. But a primitive view of life may make us fail to recognize this. When I hear and see a symphony being played superbly I think of the thousands of hours and hundreds of people involved in perfect synchronization. And the sound of the music thrills me to the center of my being.

The Earth

A Precious Gift To Us

I have spent countless hours reading, writing, revising and terrified by how we treat each other, but particularly how we treat the earth. Our president is hell-bent to extract all the wealth possible from it and give it too the already mega-wealthy. His lack of understanding, his inability to learn, his total absence of compassion, and his inability to communicate except by calling people names is incomprehensible. The prospect of another term would make me consider suicide, were it not for my family. For over two years I have tried to explain what is happening to the earth. However, every day and sometimes every minute something new would come by email, occasionally on just the topic I was writing about. Slowly I realized that money was the central problem. Any person, business or tribe that could extract profit would do so with no concern with the consequences. Look below at the photographs of strip mining or fracking. Reading of the destruction of the land the policies of the European Union have caused. But above all, dwell on the question: Why is it like this? Why are we oblivious to destroying a most special part of the universe? Why does the biblical command to be stewards of the earth not motivate those who call themselves Christians to face up to their responsibilities.

I have given up. A few minutes ago I read of the precipitious decline in insect population. The food chain of the earth cannot exist without insects. The cause: insectides, over-building and climate change. And now the Mississippi valley is flooding again.

The latest (95th anniversary issue) of The New Yorker has a long article about the book Sapiens, which is a brief history of humankind. Read it.

The author, Yavel Harari predicts the end of humanity because of artificial human beings. I predict the end of mankind due to dead insects, or one of many other causes (like methane from the tundra) that will make the earth unlivable.

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