melting glaciers

nothing can stop you now
nothing had stopped you before
your push towards the sea
towards some lower position
to a natural state called “rest”

that is your unrest
but no one noticed
life death existence non
they are all the same thing
indifferent before now ever

What does the underside of the Arctic ice look like?

What an amazing expedition.

I just finished watching Under the Pole. It’s about an expedition to trek from the North Pole towards land all the while doing dives (51 to be exact) to film the little seen underside of the Arctic Ice. Some fantiastic footage of unusual ice formations and creatures (arctic shrimp, sea angels and more) in their habitat. The ability of man to take on and survive in such an inhospitable environment is truly amazing.

Definitely worth watching if you get a chance.

Official homepage here.
Trailer on YouTube here.

Good news … animals flee faster than we think

It is good to hear that animals know when to run and that when they do run they do it fast.

The shifts of habitat due to climate change has been worrying for the biodiversity of the planet. So this study is a welcome finding. But should we continue to live the way we have because of this? For me we should learn to live less damaging lifestyles even though it is in our “nature” to live the way we do. We have the ability to do so much harm but also it is this ability which could allow us to so much good.

The choice is ours.

Snow in March?

Something is seriously wrong with the climate.

On my walk this afternoon all of the sudden began to snow. This is March, the end of March at that! This is not supposed to happen in late March.

Colourful and confusing

My mother is retired. She surfs the net daily for things to read. Before the advent of the internet she would read from the “dead tree media”. Her favourite magazines were Time and Fortune. While these two magazines had some worthwhile things to say they were somewhat biased and popular in their opinion. And being young and stupid back then (instead of now being old and stupid) I read them and was persuaded by their arguments. We all have a time or an age when we do not question.

Recently she sent me this article. In it the author had wanted to point out that there are other arguments for the cause of global warming. One of these arguments is that the sun’s natural fluctuation is the main cause of our present situation. She had wanted me to read this and be convinced by its argument. But as a son who knows his parents all too well I understood her agenda.

Sure, the IPCC has made some pretty “solid” claims, and that the article I have mentioned here points out its decision making and presentation of the report have been somewhat unorthodox. The article continues by presenting a number of scientists whose views differ from the mainstream sustainability critics.

It has a point, but I do not completely agree.

I have no doubt that the sun’s natural fluctuation can be a cause of global warming. But in all probability it may not be the only cause. This argument again works exactly the same way as in the opponent’s argument. To say that our own actions are the only cause to global warming may be as shortsighted as saying the sun is the only cause. So, to me, both camps are in the wrong.

I can understand why the “blame human activity” camp feel they need to make it so black and white – to make the problem seem more urgent. But also the “it could be the sun” camp may want to highlight that its cause may be elsewhere.

Coming back to my mother’s agenda I mentioned earlier, I have to say that she has never been very green. She brought me up to be also not very green. But as I began to live my own life I realized just what and how exactly the non-green crowd works. In taking up this article my mother had wanted me to believe that it really all the sun’s fault, that the IPCC are lying, hiding an agenda of their own. But need it be this black and white?

Sure the IPCC may have failed in taking into account of the sun, and that they may have deceived us in believing it is all us. But equally people who think they can (mis)quote the article to absolve themselves of responsibility are wrong. That is not to say my mother was irresponsible. She and most of her generation had been persuaded to believe that they were doing right by progress. They use the argument to convince themselves their actions had nothing to do the problem, by becoming sceptical optimists or do-nothing optimists.

Personally, I think the article is a good reminder of the types of hidden agendas each group puts forward to “defend the utter fragility of [their] delicately constituted fiction” as Earnest Becker put it. And because we live in an age of information overload learning to filter and make sense of it all is not quite so easy. And that sometimes living away from loved ones and seeing them or talking to them again after a break may help us see the real picture which may be not be black and white at all but colourful and confusing.

An Inconvenient Attitude

This month David Suzuki has kicked off a year’s schedule of talks across Canada. If you are fortunate enough to be able to get to one of the venues and hear him talk it is well worth the while. I saw a televised speech of his in Australia and I was changed by it. It is statements like this following one by him that made me understand what is wrong with the way we are living:

The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity – then we will treat each one with greater respect. That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective. (From A David Suzuki Collection)

I think respect is the key word here. We simply do not treat the world with respect. He mentioned earlier in the same piece I quoted from that if we could see how the world has changed in four billion years to become a life sustaining planet for all life including ours then we will be humbled by what we have, and understand that is not for us to indiscriminately take as though we own it, but to share with all other life.

This week I also saw An Inconvenient Truth. It was a little late in coming to Japan (early this month, to my neck of the woods). I was also too busy with final reports to make the seventy minute drive to see it in town.

The film had stated much of what I already knew. So I do not think the film is there to convince people like me. But rather it was a film to preach to those yet to be convinced or have not heard the message yet. In that sense it is a necessary film. But why does it have to be from a former politician before we will listen? Anyone could have said it with the same evidence in hand. People are already saying it. People like David Suzuki have already said it. So it must necessarily say something about the culture of America, to whom much of it was aimed, that they will only listen if it is from someone important.

Mr Gore did make one point which I have always harped about here – that disinformation and deliberately confusing the public by false talk has prolonged the problem. We have not been playing on a level field when it comes to information dissemination. By scare tactics and other means the public has been split into two or more minds. And it comes back to the concepts of propaganda, advertising and commercialism.

So how do we deal with the agenda of others which are not the best for sustainability? In the West that is dominated by advertising, a kind of capitalist propaganda if you will, the highest bidder gets to persuade us that buying is good, not just their product but any product. This idea is therefore not about just one producer but about producers as a collective. I don’t want to sound Marxist but Karl Marx had a point. What scares me is not the fact we don’t have choices, but that we are only seemingly making free choices when we are not. So Capitalism is no better than Communism, if you look at it this way. Personally both systems fail. There are only two choices in our current paradigm so we must only choose between the two evils.

The pseudo-choice concept isn’t new of course, but it needs to be remembered or recalled. Those studies of the 1970s and 1980s on advertising have all but been forgotten. My favourite books from that period have to be Ways of Seeing by John Berger and On Photography by Susan Sontag. It has a lot to say about our use of images and imagery still relevant (if not more) to today’s advertising-polluted world.

And just a final note: the strategies used in Mr Gore’s “award winning” documentary also come from this same well-honed philosophical logo-technology (as in “logos” or “word”). It is slick, almost too slick, but you can notice its agenda if you look hard enough.

Don’t get confused

My wife wrote my mother, who lives in Australia, a letter. She wrote about how warm it has been in Japan this winter, about how glad she is it hadn’t been too cold. I asked her if she knew just how bad a sign that is for our future. She said she knew but she still preferred warm weather.

I told her we could move to Malaysia but then, eventually, we would have to move back here to the mountains of Japan because the weather in a half century’s time would be what Malaysia is like now.

“I still prefer the warm weather,” she insisted.

You really can’t argue with logic like that.

Arctic ice shelf breaks off

Relating to my recent post on polar bears an ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has broken off the Canadian Arctic. Let’s just hope it doesn’t drift too far south or we might be watching Day After Tomorrow live from our living rooms.

Floods in Aceh kill 120

In “lesser” news (those that are not reported as much because other “more important things” are in the news) floods in Indonesia’s Aceh Tamiang district have killed over 120 people. Neighbouring Malaysia’s Meteorological Department has labeled it as “extreme” weather phenomenon and has issued warnings as already 90,000 people in the country’s south as been displaced.

Polar bears and skiing

What a week for global warming.

The Bush Administration has finally agreed to look into protecting polar bears. This move only came after much pressure from a lawsuit which found the polar bears were not adequately protected by government policy from the effects of global warming on their habitat. All the while groups from within the Bush Camp still believe that greenhouse gas emissions is not the cause of the rapid lost of Arctic ice threatening the bears’ way of life. Gas and oil drilling in Alaska will continiue until a clear picture comes from a 12 month study.

So, tell me Mr. Bush, how many signs do we need before you realise that global warming is actually happening? And how deeply we have to get before you – the leader of the nation with the greatest output of greenhouse gases, as well as, the leader of the nation which exercises such power only because of “economic” wealth – will listen to the drowning cries of the bear (and perhaps the people whose houses will be below the sea level)?

I just hope you, Mr President, are not going to the skiing World Cup this week. In case you haven’t heard they haven’t had much snow in Europe. Bormio, Italy, where one of the events is being held, had to bring in forty-seven (yes, 47) snow cannons to produce 100,000 cubic metres of artificial snow due to the lack of real snow.

Do we need any more signs before we realise global warming is here?