Though it’s an evergreen, in the painted fall White pine’s two-year-old needles come drifting down Through slanting sun in the tall trunk’s hall And turn the forest floor a foxy brown. Softest of needles, they pillow my feet And silence my tread; charge the atmosphere With an incense that is wondrously sweet; And let me feel I’m but halfway here As my mind is enchanted far away To a place I don’t really remember But which I recall each year, on a day Of gold at the tail end of September. It’s a place I’ve never found, as I roam, But know when I get there I’ll truly be home.
The Pole is bipolar (what we used to call manic-depressive). The heaven of a day six months long gives way to the hell of a night six months long. The wonderfully mad people who wander about in such extremes are wonderfully swayed, and even the primmest scientists, who like to fool themselves into believing they are objective and rational and unaffected, are prone to showing signs of being moody like the rest of us.
The moodiness leaks into the writing and postings of those who sail icy waters or attempt to trek across the ice. In the brilliance of July we used to get glimpses of their manic ecstasy: Odd pictures of nudists on sea-ice. There was little of that last summer, with the world derailed with the coronavirus nonsense. But the Pole ignored us, and went about it’s business of thawing and then refreezing more or less as usual.
There were of course the slight variations which fanatics like myself like to focus on, and make a big deal about. The thaw started a little earlier and lasted a little longer than usual.
This interested me, as the exact opposite was true down at latitude 42 degrees, where I live in New Hampshire. We had a late frost in the spring and an early freeze in the fall, which made our growing season one of the shortest I can remember. Was the cold air displaced from the Pole to more southerly latitudes? I have not the time to do such research, so I just cast the idea out there, in a sense delegating the work to young whippersnappers who have the time and inclination.
I once was such a young person, and in fact one reason I have no pension and must work in my old age is because I took my retirement when young. I did a ton of research when young, rather than getting a Real Job. Surely there are still youths such as I once was, able to study obscure stuff (other than how to win video games).
This past coronavirus summer I could find no crazy whippersnappers attempting to sail the Northwest Passage, or trek across the ice, or set a new record and achieve a new first, such as making it to the Pole on pogo-sticks, but the dearth was redeemed by the MOSAiC Expedition. This bunch of crazies consisted of scientists copying Nansen, and drifting across the Pole in a ship frozen into the ice. They did all sorts of stuff I have been delegating to others, over the past decade. For example, where I said we should take temperatures, they took temperatures. And where I said we should put cameras, they put cameras. If our planet was sane, we would already have heaps of wonderful data made clear in well-written articles, rather than long lists of numbers.
But our world isn’t sane, so besides walking on dangerous sea-ice, the scientists had to, and have to, walk on eggs, in terms of politics. Some of the international team were from China, and one needs to have care about speaking the Truth when one’s leaders are not fond of the Truth. Also one must be careful about denying the theory of Global Warming, for political reasons, no matter what the data says. To top it off, the Coronavirus panic hit the world when the scientists were far from the maddening crowds, snug aboard a warm ship in the deep dark of a frozen arctic winter, and they had to be careful about commenting about how the rest of us panicking people looked, from afar. Yet, despite the fact they had to so careful about ludicrous things, they still gathered wonderful reams of information we never knew before. Their eyes sparkle, as they know more than they are allowed to say. I look forward to their discoveries leaking out.
To return to the above graph, one can see that the temperatures were actually below normal, by a hair, through much of the summer. In my eyes they were not below normal enough. Why? Because the sun has been very “quiet”, and the Pole is a place where low energy from the sun should be especially obvious. The Pole “should” be colder, whereas other places “should” be warmer, as I see things.
It is counter-intuitive that less energy from the sun should make the world warmer, but that is only because we tend to think less energy must be measured by thermometers. It is also measured by oedometers, for less energy from the sun makes less wind. Less wind makes for less up-welling of cold water where winds are offshore. Less cold water makes for more warm water at the surface of our oceans, and a warmer planet.
The only exception to this “rule” (actually a theory) is the Pole, where the sea is covered in ice and upwellings are not brought about by wind, especially when the sun first rises in late March, and sea-ice is at its maximum and the Arctic Ocean is totally covered. Therefore, because the Arctic Ocean is the one place on earth where wind has little influence, it should be the one place on earth where we see the sunshine of a “quiet” sun make things colder (during the summer when the sun shines). And this is exactly what we have seen, in recent years……until last summer.
I have the sense a change is in the wings. The counter-intuitive situation was a temporary adjustment, but now will become more intuitive. After all, the very word “counter-intuitive” means something is violating our common sense. And it goes against our common sense that less energy from the sun should make us warmer.
In a sense the planet has been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, using warm surface waters to pay a debt created by the “quiet” sun. This can only go on so long before the debt catches up with the bank account. The surface waters use up whatever surplus heat they had to spare, and things return to a new normal where once again upwelling of cold water can occur. And so it is that, after a long lapse, we are again seeing the periodic upwelling called “La Nina”.
It should take a while for this sudden appearance of colder-than-normal water on the equator in the Pacific to work north to the Pole. The north Pacific still remembers the kinder times. And the Pole is still under the influence of kinder times, so we should expect low levels of sea-ice at the minimum. But, though the levels were indeed low, we are faced with a disconcerting problem.
What is the problem? Well, first let me show levels are low, (but up from 2012).
What is puzzling is that, though the sea-ice covers a low area of “extent”, the sea-ice that remains is surprisingly thick. Usually much of the remaining “volume” of sea-ice is piled up against the north coast of Greenland, in a narrow strip, but this year that thick ice is absent, yet “volume” does not show a down-tick, for the sea-ice between Canada and the Pole is quite thick.
In essence what we have seen over the past year is the sea-ice be pushed from the Eurasian side of the Pole to the Canadian side, creating more open water than we are used to on the Eurasian side, and ice thicker than we are used to on the Canadian side. This polarizes Alarmists and Skeptics (ha ha) because the Alarmists can make a big deal about the open water as the Skeptics make a big deal about the thicker ice.
The only thing I am certain about is that the good ship “Arctic Death Spiral” has taken another torpedo. It actually keeps sinking like the Titanic each year, but some people make a boat be a basketball, and it bounces back up to a yearly resurrection, only to be sunk yet again.
This year the torpedo involves all the thicker ice between Canada and the Pole being so-called “multiyear-ice”, which, as I hope you remember, we were suppose to see less and less of, according to the Arctic Death Spiral theory. But reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, and this year multi-year has made a come-back. Unless some sort of major flushing of sea-ice south through Fram Strait occurs during the winter, by next spring there will be a solid core of sea-ice between nine and twelve feet thick between Canada and the Pole, which will make it all the harder for the ice to melt away next summer. (It may even represent the core of the beginning of a so-called “recovery” back to cold AMO ice-extent-levels such as we saw in 1979).
Not that my original objections to the Arctic Death Spiral theory needed to be validated by increases in sea-ice. Originally my focus was Greenland Vikings, and certain evidence that Greenland was much warmer in the Medieval Warm Period, and the idea the Arctic Sea may even have been wide open during some summers, back then. It took the dread out of the “Death” in “Arctic Death Cycle” if we’d already been there and done that, and hadn’t become extinct. In fact it made an ice-free Arctic Sea look like a good thing, and part of a kinder and gentler climate.
The backlash I earned simply by talking about Vikings tanning in the sun of a warmer Greenland came as a shock, for I discovered I was a “denier” and “wingnut”. It awoke me from my naïve innocence to the fact I was not dealing with science, but the dogma of radical politics.
It did not take me long to suspect the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Mark Serreze, was promoting not science, but rather a “narrative”, and that someone behind the scenes was forking out big money and a cushy position to make it worth Mark’s while. He was apparently paid to generate hoop-la about an Arctic Death Spiral. That hoop-la, and not science, became his job. Of course, if you pointed out any science which countered the hoop-la, they needed to make a racket to drown out your calm and rational voice. They also often labeled you in some way that allowed them to escape the fact they couldn’t debate worth a damn. One magic phrase they use was “conspiracy theory”, and to this day they continue to whip that accusation out, if you so much as question. Whenever you hear that phrase, and especially when you are accused of it, you should be alerted to the fact you are dealing with a mind that doesn’t want to debate. It is tantamount to muttering, “balderdash”, (which may express honest emotion, but scores no points, in a true debate).
As far as I can tell, the purpose behind preferring hoop-la to truth is money, which gains power, which gains more money, which gains more power, on and on with the money and power gathered in the same insane manner some women collect thousands of shoes in their closet. The besotted have more than they need or know what to do with, and, because such hoarding is disconnected from Truth and in fact opposes Truth, it degrades the quality of their life. They become pitiful.
However before I become too haughty I should fully disclose I’ve never really been tempted by large amounts of money and a cushy position. Would I myself pass such a test? There is only one way to find out. Drop by tomorrow and offer me a large amount of money and a cushy position.
In actual fact I have quibbled about ice cubes bobbing about in the Arctic Ocean for nigh on two decades, without pay. It makes me wonder: What’s in it for me?
Initially I liked the beauty of the sweeping views, and my pay was the same pay I get from watching clouds cruise across the sky. Added to that was the sense of adventure I got, never leaving my armchair, as I read about Vikings and explorers like Nansen. Also, back when science was actually discussed, I derived a sense of wonder as I learned how harmonious chaotic systems can be; it is hard to call chaos chaotic when looking at the sweeping swirls of a cyclone.
However increasingly I ran into the iceberg called “the narrative”, which is quite effective when it comes to sinking a buoyant mood. An Arctic sunset is beautiful, lasts two weeks, and is uplifting. I can’t say the same about Mark Serreze.
In my gloomier moods I tend to think I have wasted a lot of time, arguing about sea-ice. I likely would have been better off doing something more constructive, such as knitting. But in another sense perhaps this all has been practice for the battle of our lives.
One thing I have noticed over the past twenty years, both in terms of discussions about sea-ice and in terms of politics in general, is that the besotted have become increasingly besotted. The appetite for money and power seems insatiable, when not governed by Truth. The bribe which once seemed enough to diminish craving instead feeds a increase of craving, and one wants to double the dose. One wants more and more money and power, until one starts to want more than a sane person wants, at which point one starts to desire other people’s money and other people’s power. One wants to tax others and take away their liberty, which increasingly violates a certain component of Truth we don’t understand scientifically, called “Love”. In essence as soon as one steps into the webs of deceit they sell their soul to the devil, and become involved in a death spiral having nothing to do with ice.
Over the past twenty years I’ve watched certain scientists battle this insidious trap, which usually begins with a harmless-seeming compromise. Scientists need funding, and to gain it some will exaggerate a little, telling a little white lie for the sake of supporting their family and their staff. In some cases they are aglow when they first get the grant, and gain the power to go to the arctic landscape they adore, but that glow fades. I’ve watched them over the years. Their faces harden and become cynical, and in some cases they start to look ill. The compromise eats away at them, and in a few glorious cases they can’t abide the dishonesty and eventually blow a gasket, and go from being spokesmen of the Global Warming narrative to people you never hear about any more, unless you look very hard, whereupon you discover them posting on an obscure blog from a remote location in Siberia. It does not pay to bite the hand that feeds you, (especially when it’s a Stalin’s. Few return from Siberia like Solzhenitsyn did).
What is fascinating to me is how much of this suffering can be avoided when people, risking being called naïve chumps and suckers, simply stand by the Truth. They are neither tempted by money and power, nor bullied by belittling, and stand their ground. It is especially odd that standing still seemingly gets them somewhere. Truth seems inanimate and cold to some, but, perhaps because It includes Love, Truth seems to have a way of guiding and even protecting people who make It their guru.
Truth also has the benefit of obeying certain laws, such as the law of gravity, which it pays to attend to, and which you violate running the risk of crashing. Engineers who ignore the Truth will build stuff that crashes, and the same holds true for people who ignore the Truth in areas where the eventual crash is not so obvious, such as politics.
In any case, over the past twenty years I’ve watched things slowly build towards a crisis. On one side are those who stand by Truth, and on the other are those willing to disregard Truth for money and power. To think I originally turned to the topic of sea-ice as a way of escaping all the woes of the world!
I still turn to sea-ice for escape, for there is always much to wonder about. This year the refreeze of the huge area of open water along the entire Eurasian coast, nearly to the Pole and across Bering Strait, will be chance to see a situation which likely resembles the Medieval Warm Period in some respects. Having so much water open will allow upwellings which don’t usually occur, and changes to the stratification of the water. Even if the water freezes over by mid November, the usual “fresh water lens” atop saltier water will likely have been churned right out of existence. I delegate a great deal of study to whippersnappers, who must investigate how this reshuffling effects the various currents meandering under the growing sea-ice.
The MOSAiC expedition is doing exactly this. After the Transpolar Flow ejected them where the sea-ice breaks up south of Fram Strait, they powered up their good ship Polarstern and motored back north, sticking to the more open waters of the Eurasian side, and then planted themselves back in the sea-ice to enjoy the ride down towards Fram Strait a second time, and also to take careful observations of what actually happens when the ocean refreezes. They have all sorts of good gadgets, which enables them to measure salinity and temperature and which-way-and-how-fast-the-water-is-flowing at various levels under the ice. Their data will be freely displayed as long lists, and hopefully I’ll eventually learn how to read it; (currently I can’t make heads nor tails of it). But what is most wonderful is that they gather actual data, which on many occasions has surprised them, as it differed from what they expected, which is the theory which is entered into computers and is called “modeled data.”
I am not as surprised as they seem that the “modeled data” is proven wrong. The people programing the computer are paid by benefactors who desire a certain “narrative”, and it is hard to not display a sort of bias when you might get fired if the computer model disagrees with the boss. Computers tend to agree with the boss paying for the electricity, but the actual North Pole works for a different boss, called Truth. It doesn’t care a fig for any mortal’s money or power. It does what it does, and usually what it does is beautiful.
One thing the MOSAiC scientists uncovered was that the air right next to the sea-ice is colder than modeled, which likely explains why (back when we could watch with the O-buoy cameras) we saw meltwater pools freezing over when our satelite-and-computer-generated maps showed temperatures above freezing. But they also have been discovering stuff hidden from our prying eyes, in the waters under the ice. Besides all the critters and festoons of algae I mentioned in earlier posts, they are discovering unexpected turbulence.
As I understand it, nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water, so than when you see a pressure ridge six feet high wandering across the top of the ice, it is matched by a sort of keel sticking down fifty-four feet under the ice. When this keel is pushed through the water as the ice is moved by wind, it acts like a spoon stirring the sea. Apparently this was not considered when the modeling was done for waters under the ice.
This seems to suggest that perhaps those who fund scientists should stop telling the scientists what they are expected to find, and instead to allow them to discover the Truth. For the Truth is something very nice to chance upon, in this rough old world: It is true.
My clutching mind can’t get fingers around Infinity. September’s dry, brown sedge Rustles as I wander. No birds sing. No sound But whispering wind joins my stroll to the edge Of my lifetime. My mind can grasp that verge, But Infinity keeps going. Tree’s red leaves fly Against bright blue sky, and I want to merge With that heaven; to sigh as breezes sigh And soar to a space where nothing is lacking, But I have no wings. Down here I am stuck. High in the sky mergansers are quacking But I am more finite than even a duck. God is too big. My hugs can’t surround Infinite embracing that makes my heart pound.
I never thought I’d be attracted To a breastbone. When younger my eyes strayed To either side. Now I blush. The fact is My eyes derived comfort. I am dismayed Such a worldly, boney place can bring out The lecher in me. Yet bone soothes the hurt In me, like desert’s sunrise. All about Are cactus. I thirst for some small comfort, And under that breastbone beats a warm heart. I look at that breastbone seized by envy For a cross dangles there. Crosses impart Breastbones protection from the likes of me. So I take it to God. God, did you intend That old men like me be alone at their end?
It is a valuable thing to fail. I know this seems an absurd statement to some, but it is Truth. In Truth there is no success which was not proceeded by many failures. For example, watch a superb dancer, and then then ask that dancer’s parents to see family video’s of that dancer’s first attempt to walk. If such videos exist, you will see that elegant dancer’s first attempt to toddle landed the child flat on the squishy diaper protecting their posterior. They were a failure.
As soon as you recognize that failure is a step on the path towards success, failure becomes in some ways desirable. It is a “learning experience”, and is part and parcel to growth. Furthermore, once you understand this process, those who dread failure seem silly. How can you dread that which helps you grow?
It is amazing how many dread that which helps them. For example, imagine a person who has rocketed upwards to the status of a rock star, or Hollywood film idol, or professional athlete, at a young age. Raw talent, work, compromise, and also good luck has allowed them to succeed, in terms of money and fame, at levels far, far beyond the scope of most of us. They have reached a worldly pinnacle, a happy place for a while, but they teeter on that pinnacle, with no place to go but down. To such people “failure” is to go back to the level you and I call “everyday”.
If that fate was a “failure”, for a star, I assert such failure would be a good learning experience, and uplift the star’s level of consciousness, for they would learn there is happiness in being ordinary and everyday, like you and I. In fact one may become happier, driving a battered pick-up truck, than one formerly was whizzing about in a Maserati.
To some what I have just suggested is blasphemy. How dare I suggest one may be happier in a pick-up truck than a Maserati? But I dare, for it is the Truth.
This is not to suggest that an athlete striving to improve should settle for less than the best he or she can be. Rather it suggests most athletes will not become world champions, and will therefore need to accept some sort of failure, in their efforts to be best. Such failure feels bad, but does not make one a loser. Properly accepted and absorbed, failure is part of a process that makes all of us winners.
How so? It involves the fact the purpose of life is not to own a Maserati. A Maserati is just a vehicle to drive you further. But ask yourself, “What is the goal?”
In like manner, becoming a star and success in any worldly field is not the goal, but rather is (theoretically) the vehicle that will drive one to a higher aim.
In like manner, even becoming President, or King of the World, is not the goal, but rather is the vehicle that will drive one (and ones underlings and followers) to a higher goal.
But what is that higher aim? What is that higher goal?
It is surprising to me how few seem to ask such questions. They desire a Maserati, suffer and strive for a Maserati, and finally get a Maserati, and then are astounded they are still unfufilled.
They will never be fulfilled, and will be perpetually unhappy, unless they understand what the real goal we all hunger for is. And what is that?
At this point I must stress an unfortunate aspect of happiness: You have a hard time enjoying your particular gratification of desire if others lack it. You may get a cheap thrill over purring past in your Maserati as others wobble on second-hand bicycles, but on some level of the mortal psyche this feels like feasting as others starve, and rather than happiness one feels guilt. One may fight this guilt, avoiding poverty as Buddha’s childhood did, or hardening ones heart, or even becoming angry at the unfortunate for spoiling ones pleasure, but all such activity only proves ones conscience has been pricked, and one has failed at achieving true, lasting happiness. This in turn underscores the most crucial component of happiness. And what is that?
Love is the secret, unconscious desire behind all human endeavor. Some men strive to get Maserati’s because think they will be loved if they get one. Then they experience failure, for the people they attract love their Maserati, and not them. This failure’s disillusionment should be a good thing, and broaden their minds, and teach them love is greater than Maserati’s, and even that there is life after Maserati’s.
In conclusion failure is a good thing, in that it prods us away from false infatuations towards deeper appreciations of love.
I would like to say that as a poet I renounced money and took a sort of vow of poverty, and deserved credit for being spiritual, but in my honest hours of reflection I must confess that such self aggrandizement is bunkum. Poets are as likely as anyone else to desire things which prove to be empty.
Poets are like many so-called “sheeple”, in that they hide in a sort of refuge and view life through a limiting peephole. For the “sheeple” the peephole tends to be a video screen, wherein they see what is advertised as desirable and what is not. Poets have a different peephole, for they turn off the video screen (often due to some painful disillusionment) and instead go to a blank piece of paper. Paper may not have an on-off switch, but poets know how to turn it on, so that it shows things called “poems”, which advertise some things as desirable and some as not.
I got to thinking about it, and decided poets are like a Sherlock Holmes studying evidence of happiness with a magnifying glass. Often they experienced some rich happiness in youth, and then experienced the pain of losing it. So they know happiness exists, but has been lost, and they want to solve the mystery of where it went. So they wander about looking puzzled, and here and there find fingerprints.
What are the fingerprints of happiness? They are the fingerprints of love, and, if God is love, they are the fingerprints of God. It is for this reason poets sometimes have deranged expressions.
At some point it occurs to poets they are not actually looking at the print of a finger, but the print belonging to the paw of a massive lion. They become excited, and crouch closer to the earth to study the print with their magnifying glass. A deep rumbling voice speaks from just behind them, asking, “What are you looking at?” The poet responds, “Go away! Can’t you see I’m busy?”
And indeed that is the plight of the world. Whether people pursue fame, power, money, gloriously attractive individuals, the beauty of nature, victory in battle or sports, or what-have-you, all tend to pursue the impressions left by love, and not love itself. We would never find love at all, were it not for our failures. Heartaches awaken us to the fact we have one.
Our skies were smoky due to fires out west, and the high haze had none of the beauty of high clouds. There were no high sky rainbows, no sun-dogs or halos. It was just a gray smudge that robbed sunlight of its vividness. I found it depressing. It seemed symbolic of the political gloom robbing our nation of its beauty.
What is beautiful about the United States? I think it is that we are all equal; a poor man has the same single vote as a billionaire, in theory at least. In theory we respect differing views, which involves the quality of our character and not the color of our skin. We love our neighbors and even our enemies, which allows conservatives and liberals to co-exist, and supreme court justices as opposed as Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to develop deep friendships. This can only occur when there is a sense that we are all looking at a single Truth, albeit from differing angles. We are one people and one nation “indivisible”. United we stand; divided we fall.
What seems so gloomy about the current political situation in the United States is that we are seemingly being successfully divided by those who dislike our foundational ideas, (basically an utopian hypothesis), as laid out by our Founding Fathers. This attack utilizes the ancient concept of “divide and conquer” seen as far back as the Assyrian conquest of Babylonia, and verbalized by Julius Caesar, and codified in its most insidious form in the writings of Karl Marx. In essence our ideals, based on unity, are facing ideals based on division.
One thing I have noticed among the “politically correct” is that they have a hard time hearing differences of opinion. They like to use the word “polarizing”, as if you are attacking unity by simply pointing out things look differently from a different angle. In effect they at times use a mere slight as “grounds for divorce.” One needs to walk on eggs when bringing up even the slightest disagreement, and at some point one starts to wonder who is the divisive one. Is it the one supplying the “grounds for divorce”, or is it the one ignoring the marriage vow to stick together “for better or worse”? Such wondering results in confusion and skies of gray. We are confronted by a divided reality that challenges our pledge to be “Indivisible.” When faced with the discouraging frailty of humanity, I try to look above the gray sky and to turn to the only One worthy of trust.
You alone can cleanse our befouled heavens For You alone are perfect purity. No rot rots; no rust rusts; no yeast leavens; No shade shades; nothing tops Infinity. We roll snake eyes; You roll sevens, so we Turn to You each time we make a great mess Because You alone have eyes able to see Our way out. To be honest, I confess We make You the whole wide world’s janitor. (Hell of a way to treat the Almighty!) We are feeble; to make us be fitter Perhaps You drill us, school us, make us see We wouldn’t be losers, and might be winning If we obeyed You from the beginning.
A rather cool coincidence occurred just after I wrote the above sonnet. A blast of clean Canadian air came south and swept the smoke from our skies.
To be honest, satellite imagery showed the entire west was still smoky, and the smoke in the east was only driven south to North Carolina. Also the air that came south was bitterly cold and held a killing frost weeks before we usually get one. The wind was a scouring wind, wiping out my vegetable garden. However, to continue being honest, I didn’t care about cucumbers as much as I was glad the sky was clean. Sometimes a scouring is worth it.
The fumes of Mordor are swept from high sky By a great blast of Canadian chill, Bringing the first cruel frost, but I won’t cry Though tomatoes die and icy spears kill My cantaloupes. I’m done with gardening And tire of weeding. I need a long break From everyone needing my pardoning. Just what sort of harvest is it to ache Every day, rolling pumpkins punks will smash? What sort of gratitude is it to gain Sisyphus’s heights? Thirty bits of cash Is poor pay, but such slim harvests of grain Is all punks get paid for betraying Christ. Fresh breeze is better, as I see things sliced.
Here in New Hampshire we are getting many messages about the forest fires out west, including, most recently, even the smoke and ash itself, brought via jet stream to our upper atmosphere.
At first, before the smoke got here, the news from out west largely was pictures of blazing fires, and skies so smoky the sun didn’t shine. Many pictures and videos showed a sky made orange by the thick smoke.
Then the news started to become as lurid as the sky, and take on the quality of “Fake News.” For example, the picture below was taken at roughly the same time as the one above, but when the smoke was either thicker or mixed with fog, and the decreased visibility makes the electric lights and headlights the same orange color as fire, so one gets the the incorrect sense the entire Bay Area itself is on fire.
It was hard to sift the news and determine what was accurate, especially because even the cause of the fires was seen through the filter of political narratives. The Democrats blamed Global Warming while the Republicans blamed “poor forest management”.
I tended to be inclined to think the change in how forests were managed had to have had an effect, especially as the fires stopped so nicely on the Canadian and Mexican borders. The build-up of deadwood on forest floors, and piled-up in ravines, and existing as standing dead trees, in the United States, reached levels unseen in history, creating “fire tornadoes” that involved the tops of trees and so-called “crown fires” which were “unprecedented”, which of course involves the study of history. But apparently reporters lack the time to do that sort of “fact checking”, which makes more work, for poor you and poor me.
Doing my own “fact checking” can actually be great fun, but tends to get me in trouble with my wife, as there are other things I ought be doing, in her humble opinion. Therefore, back in the old days, I appreciated the reporters of the old school, who did a lot of that sort of work for me. Modern reporters, not so much. Now the work is often done by the commenters on various blogs, who in some cases supply links to fascinating studies, or merely pictures, and in other cases supply links to balderdash.
One interesting theory I heard discussed, in an on-line “chat room”, was this: One reason the dead trees were left standing was because eagles prefer nesting in them, for apparently dead trees are better than living trees because there is less trouble with “wind resistance”, or so stated one “authority”. Then ten skeptical commenters supplied pictures of ten eagles nesting in ten different living trees, (and an eleventh supplied a picture of an endangered owl nesting in a traffic light). There was a brief skirmish about whether golden eagles needed dead trees and bald eagles didn’t. A picture was then supplied of a golden eagle nesting on a ledge of a towering cliff of stone, without a tree in sight. Then another skeptic stated eagles only require a single dead tree every twenty-five acres, not entire stands of dead trees, fifty to an acre. A money-minded person then added that the lumber in dead trees was initially good, and could earn the state good money if cut down and sawn up, which would lower taxes, but the eagle-saving law was written in such a way that not a single tree could be cut, with the result being that entire stands of bone-dry dead trees stood useless, until they fed the giant fires.
This represents the tip of an iceberg in the amount of fact-checking which should have been done, both by the politicians hammering out the legislation, and by the free press, yet which seems to have never been done. There seems to have been a singular lack of the in-depth analysis that sane conservation entails, and instead a myopic environmentalism based on a single idea, dreamed up by a person (perhaps while smoking pot) sixty years ago. Someone said, “Eagles prefer dead trees”, and the idea struck like a blinding revelation, seeming so excellent that it became the end of thinking. So dead wood piled up, in some places for a century.
Environmentalist should have studied the environment, for wood seldom piles up to such a degree naturally. Fires, started by lightning during storms when the rain evaporates before it hits the ground, formerly started natural fires nearly every year, out west. Without people to put them out, such fires are in effect a “controlled burn” which burns up the dead wood on the forest floor of western forests. Usually (but not always) natural fires stayed down low and did not become the spectacular “crown fires” that involve the tops of trees. Once an area’s dead wood was consumed, that area could serve as a “fire break” because, when the next fire came along, there was nothing left to burn. So natural was this process that some western pines do not release the seeds from their cones until stimulated by fire, whereupon the seeds fall into soil enriched by ash and cleared of competitive underbrush. However, as odd as it sounds, environmentalists apparently didn’t study the environment, and (both in the United States and in Australia) made it illegal for man to copy both nature’s “controlled burns” and nature’s “firebreaks”.
Environmentalists even made it illegal to clear underbrush, although nature, with fire, had been doing so for millennium. Underbrush not only expected, but also sometimes required, such burns. Rather than evolving into species harmed by fire, species evolved which work with fire. Sequoia and Douglas Fir developed thick, nonflammable bark which allows them to endure fire, while the cones of Lodgepole and Jack pines are “serotinous”, which means the seeds are trapped in the cones by a wax which must be melted by fire before the seeds can be released. “Protecting underbrush” even endangered some plants which depend on fire. Some plants promote fire: their shed leaves and dead branches contain resins which are not merely flammable; in the case of Eucalyptus and Gum in Australia they are nigh explosive. Therefore fire prevention in some cases endangered species, rather than helping them.
This is not to say that the environmentalists were not responding to a need. The clear-cutting lumberjacks that created the environmentalist’s overreaction were too greedy. When they looked at a tree they only saw board-feet and profit, and in their own way raped the landscape. However two wrongs don’t make a right, or, in the case of profiteering lumberjacks and inane environmentalists, two rapes do not make a right.
For, when you look at how the underbrush and dead wood piled up, the simple-mindedness of environmentalists is tantamount to a rape. Personally I love trees, and am angry about how environmentalists made being a “tree hugger” become a bad thing to be. However that is what they did. In their horror over the clear-cutting of lumberjacks they created a clear-cutting all their own, a clear-cutting of a scorched-earth sort.
The fires which environmentalists have unwittingly fed are so huge and so hot they kill every tree, in places. Temperatures reach 1500 degrees, which is a heat which does what lumberjacks couldn’t; it sterilizes the very soil. When lumberjacks cut down a Redwood the stump would produce suckers and new trees, but the hottest fires kill even the stumps.
The difference between my personal definition of a “environmentalist” and my personal definition of a “conservationist” is that the first tends to seize upon a single good thought and make it a dogma, whereas the second can broaden his mind and entertain many good thoughts, even when some thoughts clash.
In some ways this is merely the difference between youth and age. It is a repetition of the old and yet still ignored maxim of Churchill (and many before him):
Now, as an oldster I am conservative, and you might suggest that is why I prefer the word “conservationist” to “environmentalist.” However the environmentalists on the left coast of the United States are not young; many are old but seemed to never learn. How else can you explain these fires?
The only way one can fail to learn is to suffer a failure of memory. Something (perhaps something one smokes) results in an inability to learn from one’s mistakes, for even if one has an amazing insight, the next morning one can not remember what it was. A great deal of such amnesia must have occurred on the the left coast of the United States, to explain these colossal fires.
This difference, the difference between passionate adherence to inane dogma, and the more meticulous and intellectual wisdom we call “experience”, seems to also be playing out in our current presidential election. It seems a national turning point. Either we remain a nation where many views work together to search for an “indivisible” wisdom, or we succumb to the “my way or the highway” view of those who cannot abide differing views.
One sign that a person cannot abide differing views is that they are extremely irritated by “fact checking”. If you, for example, attempt to suggest something besides Global Warming might be behind the enormous fires on the west coast, they refuse to entertain the idea, even for a moment. Instead they attack your character. They call you a racist or a fink or say your mother wears army boots. They take what should be an interesting discussion and try to make a war out of it.
One aspect of a war is that people resort to desperate deeds. Some felt suspicious about the fires out west, wondering if the fires might be unnatural, and actually be sparked by desperate deeds.
This suspicion was rooted in the fact the fires were so numerous. It was suggested there were more fires than could be explained by bolts of lightning, and far too many were near highways and far too few were in places arsons would have to hike many miles to reach. An rumor arose that the fires were an act of terrorism, and “Antifa” was to blame. This suspicion did not appear in the mainstream media, but was persistently murmured behind the scenes.
I immediately sought all sorses of information I could find, and immediately found pictures such as this one:
This picture set off my “Fake News” alarms. It fit too perfectly into the narrative that Antifa was setting fires. (Note the firefighter to the right has what apparently is a jug of gasoline on his back.) I doubted even such morons as Antifa would advertise such arson with pictures on line. Also the face-masks, to my inexperienced eyes, looked photo-shopped. To be honest, I thought the picture was likely a gag-picture created by firefighters, to make friends chuckle. It seemed upsetting to me that some deemed the picture a veritable declaration of war.
More believable was a video of a woman catching and confronting a young man in the act of setting her property ablaze.
Yet here again my Fake News alarm was wondering if the video was staged.
At this point one needs to dig deeper, and seek small town papers and other small sites, doing the work the so-called “mainstream media” fails to do, and indeed may have even forgotten how to do. One then starts to appreciate the magnitude of these fires. In Oregon hundreds of thousands fled their homes in smoky air:
They chose physical life over all their material posessions, for they were told their neighborhoods would soon look like this:
However some refused to evacuate. They took the time to fact-check the danger, and, because they saw the fires did not immediately threaten their homes, they chose the risk of defending their homes from a danger other than fire.
What was the other danger? As one man explained it, he noted that, when listening to the bands of a radio ordinarily reserved for policemen and firemen, he heard no police and no firemen, but rather the palaver of arsonists and looters. Therefore he did not defend his home with water.
A sort of so-called “push back” was starting to occur, wherein people did not abandon their material possessions, but stood their ground.
Nor are such signs mere bluster. Fact-checking small sites discovers plenty of examples of actual confrontations between property owners and would-be looters. Fortunately usually the looters (so far) merely got a good scare, and no blood was shed, though I worry we may soon see a fire worse than a wildfire.
One event I read about involved the police absorbed in the evacuation of a “threatened” community, at its front exit, even as two teenagers snuck in the back. We will never know what they planned, for they ( a young man and young woman) met a property-owner with a gun who made them grovel, before allowing them to flee.
Meanwhile the mainstream media gabs away flippantly on morning talk-shows, as if they live somewhere just south of oblivion. (I’d know nothing about such gabbing, but am caring for my elderly mother-in-law, who keeps her TV turned up too loudly, so I can’t help overhearing stuff that rolls my eyes so severely they nearly fall out.) There seems to be no fact-checking, or even mere curiosity, regarding their narratives. The fires are always due to “Global Warming” and Antifa’s actions are always “peaceful protests”.
Long ago, during my study of arctic sea-ice, I became aware such reporters seldom actually went out and walked on the ice itself. Even some scientists sometimes never visited the ice. They preferred a virtual world, and trusted “computer models” more than the actual eyes of actual witnesses. This tendency repeated during the corona virus scare. Computer models were deemed more trustworthy than the first-hand experience of actual doctors and nurses, even to the degree where doctors and nurses were censored on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in favor of a “narrative” put out by bureaucrats who had no first-hand experience. Journalism sank to a new low, wherein all one needed to report the news was a flashy smile, and no true journalistic integrity nor even curiosity.
When the media becomes a mere parrot of a certain narrative, it soon lacks any sort of peripheral vision and has the depth perception of a cyclops. The consequence to such limited vision is that reporters (and the people they inform) become so narrow minded they fail to see certain options and dangers, which results in people being blind-sided by events they had no clue were coming. Even when such events occur, there is often a stubborn refusal to admit they are occurring. That is when the reporting and fact-checking is done by the people themselves, and the media becomes increasingly inconsequential.
In the worst cases the media has decided its duty is not to inform the public, but rather to indoctrinate the public. However as Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. Furthermore people do no take kindly being lied to, and there is a murmuring discontent when people suspect brainwashing.
When the possibility some of the wildfires out west were caused by arson, and that Antifa might be involved, was first mentioned the rumors spread like a wildfire all its own. The authorities had to quell a sort of panic, and stepped forward to soothe the public. My search of the web came upon some such efforts on the part of local sheriffs. The problem was that such reassurance seemed it might be brainwashing misinformation when, (on one occasion in the same newspaper), there was also a story of an arsonist who was released after setting a first fire with a Molotov cocktail and who promptly went on to start five or six more fires with matches. The sense of distrust is furthered when any reports of arson are suppressed in the mainstream press, as Global Warming is blamed, but mentions of arson can be found in the newspapers of other lands.
Eventually the news gets out. Even the silent smoke can travel coast to coast, and smudge my east-coast sunrise.
With the sun reduced to a smudge, the sunshine lost its ability to make scenery sharp and clear. Even the first bright dabs of fall foliage, flaming crimson the day before, became faded and muted.
Even more dulling than the faded sunshine was a sense all was not right with the World. The media’s attempt to portray the riots in Portland, Oregon as good news, as being spiritual “peaceful protests”, was failing. As night fell a gloom fell on me, as I felt tired of being lied to, and worried about the rioting youth of Antifa being lied to, and longed for good news that is Truth and is capitalized.
I can’t sleep. I know too well that out there The dark’s not the soft silk that night should be. In flame’s mad shadows spastic rioters swear And hurl hurt’s hatred, unable to see They are puppets provoked by the long strings Of devious devils. Preachers of peace Are mocked; soothing’s laughed-at, as the bee-stings Of hate are nurtured: An itch that won’t cease Until men stop scratching. Coolness can’t come Through lighting fires, nor comes warmth through ice. What use is this poetic harp I strum? Mad dogs foam at feeding hands being nice, And so I look beyond earth, look above To the Maker of light and Ruler of love.
Sleep does wonders, when it comes to restoring battered faith. Also, even when we ourselves can’t see the answers, help comes from unexpected places.
In my curiosity, as I sought to fact-check the Fake News, one unlikely source was the rioters themselves. They liked to post on social media, perhaps thinking people admired what daring revolutionaries they were, (but in fact often repelling the public). With them, night after night, was a brave, true journalist named Andy Ngo.
Despite being on one occasion assaulted and badly beaten by rioters, Andy has steadfastly reported the riots in Portland for over a hundred nights, and dug in the manner old-school journalists dug, for facts and details. One of his better scoops was to identify people in the Kenosha riots as the same people who rioted in Portland, and to expose their so-called “riot kitchen” as being more than a goodly group that fed peaceful protesters, and instead a group that supplied rioters with shields and even Molotov cocktails. As he became able to identify and name certain rioters, many no longer wanted to be filmed, and the strategy of the rioters altered to a degree where they sent people ahead as they marched to strike the cell-phones from the hands of people filming them. Finally he began posting the mug shots of people arrested for starting fires or assaulting the police.
Once the rioters were identified they no longer were mysterious, masked people in the night. They began to experience push-back on the street, at their jobs, and on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Some experienced harassment, and did not like it one bit. Not that they hadn’t been harassing others night after night, week after week, but they did not think turnabout was fair play. They were the only saints in the situation, they seemed to assume.
Perhaps it is coincidence, but the Portland protests seem to be tapering off. Some say word has come from on high that the protests are not working; rather than decreasing support for President Trump they are increasing it; others say the air quality has gotten so bad in Portland, due to the wildfires, that protesters can’t breathe. Some say protesters simply don’t want to face pushback they are starting to see.
In my eyes Andy Ngo has done what reporters are suppose to do, so our form of government can work as it suppose to work. There may only be one Truth, but there is a nearly infinite variety of views of that one Truth, and that Truth needs to be seen from all sides if we are to arrive at decisions which are remotely sane.
Andy Ngo is the sort of help which you never expect, but which appears out of the blue as an answer to a prayer. So I am going to keep praying, under smoky skies
September’s vibrant azure’s made dingy By a high sky grayed by forest fires In far California. Coast to coast we see The bright sunshine which joyous love inspires Made dim by veils of gross ignorance. What could have been may never be, for fools Can never know: What water on the plants Of freedom’s thirst could grow. How can jewels Sparkle without sunshine? The high sky pales But without sundogs, or the big halo Around the sun. I half expect the shrill wails Of Mordor’s horsemen to quail what I know: Though small as a Hobbit, the fact I trudge on Will lead my long trek to a silvery dawn.
The current wildfires on the pacific coast are severe, but there seems to be differing ideas about the cause. Some say it is poor forest management, which allowed large amounts of dead wood to accumulate on the forest floor which made the normal fires of the ecosystem become larger. Some say this was helped along, especially in Oregon, by arsonists from Antifa, after one such moron (who had been arrested and released a few days earlier in Portland), was arrested by an interstate for starting a fire which swiftly became uncontrollable. And lastly, there is the old standby, “Global Warming.”
My usual response to the claims of Global Warming Alarmists is to look back through history for occasions where the same thing happened before. It is unlikely I can do so in this case, for it is unlikely small fires were put out before for a half century, allowing wood to accumulate to such a degree. Also it is unlikely fires were started to such a degree in the past by arsonists.
Usually such fires are started by thunderstorms with rain which evaporates before it hits the ground. The Navajo called such rain “lady rain”, and when I lived in Arizona I used to watch the lightning travel down the edge of such rain-stripes and then continue down to the ground which the rain never reached. Also I experienced that being directly under such a evaporating band of rain can create an impressive downburst of wind, and that you’d better have a heavy rock on the pages of the novel you are working on, if you type in a campground as morning clouds build.
The trees and plants of the west had evolved and adapted to such wildfires, and some pines require fires, to drop the seeds from their cones. Also Indians refused to settle in certain locations, well aware of the fire hazards during dry years.
In natural conditions the forest burned up the litter at low levels, and often the fires didn’t reach the tree tops. But then man created “Smokey The Bear” and put out the smaller fires. Men who cut down the forests had the presence of mind to burn up the slash, and to create fire-break roads to protect the young trees springing up in the clear-cut areas, but in areas where the woodlands were “protected” a dangerous situation developed, resulting in the tremendous fires in Yellowstone Park in 1988. I lived down in the Four Corners area back then, and even hundreds of miles away the sky grew brassy, you couldn’t see the mountains, and the air smelled of smoke.
The fires lasted for weeks, and blazes grew so hot that in places the soil was sterilized, making the natural recovery slower. The fires were largely “crown fires”, not remaining on the forest floor but burning trees right to their tops.
This resulted in greatly changed forest management at Yellowstone, but for some reason the left coast did not get the memo, and if anything has been even more stubborn about cleaning up dead wood, building fire-breaks and access roads, and allowing people to clear brush away from houses. Now perhaps they are learning, though the people most adamant about Global Warming seem to have a strange reaction to history, and to learning from history. In my experience they get mad at you, when you bring up the past.
Going further back history, to my puritan ancestors, and to times before anyone had migrated west of the Appalachian Mountains, there were so-called “dark days”. These are noted in the history of New England, especially as they tended to scare people, and people would all drop what they were doing and scurry to church, because the Bible states one sign of the apocalypse will be that the sun will refuse to shine. There are several historical occasions when the sun grew dim, or became blue in the sky, and all of these recorded events intrigue modern scientists, who seek the causes.
One of the darkest days occurred in 1780, which was a hard time in New England. Though the British had been kicked from the land, they ruled the seas, and their blockade was causing hardship. The war was not going well in the south, as Cornwallis was kicking butt, and also Puritan Christian consciences were troubled by the fact the revolution was in many ways a civil war, and brothers were fighting brothers and neighbor were not loving neighbors. The loyalists had their time in the sun, but after Washington drove the British from Boston they were treated abysmally, and many thousands trekked up to Canada stripped of all their wealth and status. Many good rebels helped them as they emigrated, but it did not sit well in the guts of many to exile people they had grown up with, and psychologists, (had they existed), might have noted guilt complexes. Then, in May, the bright spring sunshine grew duller and more brassy for several days, and then, on the morning of May 19, 1780, the dull dawn did not brighten at all, and in fact grew darker. People had relight candles at noon, and the spring peepers and owls began to sing and hoot as if were night, as the chickens went back to their roosts.
And did people turn to God? You can bet your sweet bippy they did. They say there are no Atheist’s in the foxholes, and apparently the same is true when it gets dark at noon.
The air grew musty, and was described by one person as “smelling like a coal bin”. To the north fine ash fell from the sky, and there was even a report from a wilderness area of New Hampshire that the ash accumulated six inches.
The fall of ash caused many later scientists to wonder if a volcano was involved, however geologists could find no source-volcano.
It was so dark business could not be conducted in the Connecticut legislature, and one member made a motion to adjourn. This resulted in this wonderful statement by Abraham Davenport:
“I am against an adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause of an adjournment: if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.“
I think it was not until the 1970’s that scientists studying tree-rings in Ontario, Canada, noted that not only was 1780 a year of drought, but many trees showed fire scars that year. So it seems likely there was a colossal fire up in the unsettled taiga of Ontario.
All I can say is: Yowza! That fire must’ve been a humdinger! (Also that Alarmists will chose to turn a blind eye to such history, and Antifa will want to topple statues of Abraham Davenport.)
Sometimes my thinking is led, or perhaps bungles, into the Light.
I was despairing the other day, upset about the polarized nature of American politics, pained by how divided my homeland seems to be, and my mind thought how ironic it is that within the United States “Pledge of Allegiance” we state that, (even if you remove the “under God” added in 1954), we are one nation, indivisible.
I got to thinking about the concept. What is actually indivisible? In an age when people vow to remain married “until death do we part”, and then divorce so swiftly they make romance resemble the play-acting of children, it is hard to escape cynicism. Some treat a vow as a meaningless genuflection, committing terrible hypocrisy. For example, some politicians place their hands on the Bible and pledge to serve their fellow citizens, when they are in fact Atheist’s and the pledge has no meaning to them. It is gesture done by rote, devoid of earnestness and honesty.
But times seem so dark I decided to be earnest and honest with myself, and to take a hard look at the concept of “indivisible.” I was surprised by the Light which flooded into my thinking.
It involves a Simplicity which is ambiguously difficult to explain, perhaps because It is outside our everyday experience. Ordinarily we divide things into good and evil, and that which attracts and that which repels. We live within limitations, but indivisibility involves an Infinity.
Tolkien symbolizes this difference when, in his creation “Lord Of The Rings“, he has the fallen wizard Saruman brag to the good wizard Gandalf, while showing off his new cloak, that he is no longer Saruman-the-White but rather is Saruman-the-Many-Colored. Gandalf states he preferred white. Saruman sneers white light can be broken (as by a prism). Gandalf’s simple reply is, “In which case it is no longer white.”
My own meditation pondered whether infinity can be really be broken. By definition infinity is limitlessness, and therefore, if you cut it in half, each half would theoretically also be limitlessness. You cannot have such a thing as half of infinity. Infinity is indivisible.
If this is true of even the mathematical concept of infinity, think how powerful the spiritual concept of infinity is. It is a power which cannot be diminished, or “shared”, for it is truly omnipotent, and cannot be cut in half. Likewise it is omnipresence which cannot be cut in half. It is indivisible. Most wonderful of all, it is Love which cannot be cut in half, can never know divorce, or even be parted by death, existing beyond time from everlasting to everlasting, “indivisible”.
I likely have failed to describe the Light which came into my dark mood, contemplating the word “indivisible.” It seems one of those things which prove words are fairly useless. Silence is golden, and I glimpsed the gold of a single candle more powerful than a vast cave of political darkness. I became aware there is hope.
Here are a couple of sonnets I wrote trying to find words for the yoyo of my heartaches.
Sometimes honesty commands I crumple In some corner where I won’t upset the kids And bawl to God. I’m s’pose to be thankful, But, to be honest, I’m brought to the skids. I can’t believe the level of the lies This election’s manufacturing. O God, you are the fairest of blue skies And You supply the real reason to sing. You bubble joy, and make us want to dance, But politicians depress. Things they’ve said Prove they’re desperate gamblers, seizing a chance To make feathery light of dark, dense lead. O lord, they bray on and on, non-stop, Till I stagger away and before You I drop.
In the ruins of myself lies a treasure You will never find in great palaces. It’s not found in work, nor in leisure, But within a wonderland like Alice’s. My gold is glimpsed by a penniless child While a billionaire cannot afford it. My riches make sanest bankers get wild For they cannot see how to aim toward it. Seek ye my ruins; my sad, toppled stones; Cross dusty streets that have gone uncrossed For centuries; see life come to old bones; Hear echoes of music which shut taverns lost, For, within ruins which poetry’s chosen Dwells warmth for the hearts this cruel world has frozen.
My computer froze up. I haven’t been able to post. So I’m borrowing a computer, because this site’s chief geologist Stewart has been pestering me to post about the current sea-ice situation. But, as this computer is on loan, I’ll have to be somewhat brief (if that is possible, for an old, garrulous coot.).
It has been a good summer for Alarmists, as the sea-ice is lower than last year.
Good news for Alarmists only encourages them, which is sort of sad to see. After all, though the “extent” graph is very low this year, it is not as low as in 2007 or 2012, and that presents a problem to Alarmists, namely: If I create a graph with two points, 2007 and 2020, the graph does not head downwards, as the “Death Spiral” predicted, but rather heads upwards very slightly. This torpedoes the so-called “narrative”, which is that sea-ice will vanish and have terrible repercussions effecting all of mankind, and also affecting cute and cuddly 1500-pound polar bears.
Truth has a habit of torpedoing our preconceptions, which is what makes the study of chaotic systems so fascinating. Meteorology is inexplicable, but some of us love to study the skies and try to figure out what the clouds are up to. I see no harm in this, as long as one stays humble, and is willing to accept correction from Reality. I may stand tall and bravely say I think the day will be sunny and we can safely cut hay, but when a thunderstorm blooms in the sky in the afternoon I stand corrected. It better to stand corrected than to have the pride that comes before a fall.
True scientists love to come up with honest theories to float as trial balloons, and see how they stand up to the flak of Reality. They are like engineers facing Murphy’s Law; anything that can go wrong will go wrong, in which case they need to go back and correct their theory.
Sadly, there is a difference between a theory and a “narrative”. A “narrative” thinks it is able to overpower Reality. Absurd! Yet some with names like Gates and Zuckerberg think their pet theories are so wise, so awesome, so clever, and such amazing strokes of genius that they can’t stand even the slightest criticism. If you dare say, “Ummm, I’m sorry, but you are dead wrong about that,” they roll about on the floor kicking and thrashing like two-year-olds having a tantrum. However, being billionaires, they are able to silence Reality. (Not really, but they think they can.)
For example, in 2013, if you typed “Arctic Sea Ice” into the Google Search engine, my posts sometimes appeared on the first page, and always by the third page. Not that they were particularly brilliant, but they were humorous and brought up wonders to puzzle about. However my wondering often challenged and even mocked the “narrative”, which caused the powers-that-be at Google to have a tantrum and roll about kicking and spazzing like two-year-olds, and now I am “disappeared.” If you type in “Arctic Sea Ice”, the Google Search engine will not mention my posts in the first twenty pages, (I’ve looked no further), although some of my posts have thousands of “views”.
In essence some billionaires are great big babies. They have a sort of “my way or the highway” attitude. They are so certain that they, and they alone, see the truth, that they ignore the advice of really sweet fellows like myself. All I am saying is, “although the water is smooth and the current is steady here, just ahead, around a curve in the river, is a five-hundred-foot waterfall.” They then rage, “How dare you criticize! Off with your head!” Then I am unheard, and they smugly cruise towards disaster.
I am reminded of a tale I heard when young that troubled me deeply. (I may have heard it from my grandfather). It involved wild plants you can eat, and plants that are deadly poisons. In this tale a hale and hearty Italian immigrant was digging ditches beside a puny failure, a “Wasp” (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) who had been to college but was unable to figure out how to make his degree in botany pay. The Italian was a bit contemptuous of the botany-major, not only because the botany-major could barely peck at the dirt the Italian could shovel like a backhoe, but also because “Wasps” had silly ideas about foods Italian’s ate. For example, in my grandfather’s time tomatoes were grown in Wasp gardens because the fruit was pretty, but “poisonous”. Victorian “Wasps” believed eating tomatoes made your sex drive go wild. (After all, Italians ate tomatoes). This nonsense made the Italian doubt the botany major knew anything worthy. Then, as they dug a ditch, they unearthed roots that smelled exactly like parsnips. The botany-major knew it was hemlock (not the tree) that Socrates used to end his life with, but the Italian wouldn’t listen, and went to eat the “parsnip”. The puny botany-major flung himself at the hefty Italian, but it was like a rat attacking a lion. The burly Italian flung the intellectual aside, and ate the “parsnip”. Twenty minutes later, as he started to die, he started to value the loving advice of the wimpy Wasp, but alas, it was too late.
In like manner the great-big-baby billionaires who expend time and effort to ignore my advise will someday be sorry, as they go over the waterfall.
Which is not to say I won’t “go over the verge” before them. I treated my lungs very badly, by chain-smoking, often fifty cigarettes a day, for four decades, and now I am seeing “the wages of sin are death”, in a way. I’m not complaining, as I can still split wood, but after splitting three logs I huff and puff in a most embarrassing way, and have to use the handle of my maul as a prop, like a cane. It wouldn’t take the coronavirus to topple me. A frigging common cold could finish off my pathetic lungs. But the good thing is that I no longer am bothered with long-term plans. I live in the Now.
What has this to do with arctic sea-ice? Well, if you live in the Now you sense some really unusual stuff is happening. We need to not see in terms of any “narrative”, but to just see. For example, the DMI temperature-north-of-80-degrees latitude is warmer than I have ever seen, this late in the summer.
If you insist upon living within the confines of your Alarmist “narrative” this graph is a reassuring confirmation of your cult, but, if you see with open eyes, this is a bit bizarre. It does not compute. Something is occurring which, as usual, is embarrassing our forecasts.
I could go on at great length, but the owner of the computer I use might object. So let me give you my “short version”.
The “Quiet Sun” has been a cooler sun which made the world warmer. How so? I think less energy from the sun meant there was less energy in the winds, and one thing energetic winds do is drag up cold-waters along shorelines with offshore winds. Lacking such cold-upwellings, warmer waters were able to spread out and make our planet kinder and gentler. However this has happened at a great expense to our warmer waters. They are expending their heat, and the Quiet Sun has not the energy to fully replenish them. Therefore we are reaching a tipping point, wherein the warm waters will have not the heat to perpetuate the current balance, and will be in a sense become bankrupt. At this point the counter-intuitive reality, wherein less energy from the sun makes the world warmer, may very well abruptly shift to a more intuitive reality, wherein less energy from the sun makes our world a colder and more unpleasant place, where “Global Warming” will be wistfully remembered.
In the past “Tipping points” were discussed a lot by Alarmists, as they needed some way to make the very slight increase in temperatures caused by CO2 be much bigger. They dreamed up various “positive feedbacks” which would magnify the slight increase in temperature and make it apocalyptic. In order to prove such things occurred in the past they searched through old records kept by sediments in the bottoms of lakes and stalactites and tree rings and ice-cores, so-called “proxies”, and discovered that indeed there were some quite startling shifts of temperature in the past. The problem is that they go from warm to cold as often as they go from cold to warm, and they tend to balance each other out. Even ice ages are balanced out by milder interims.
What was fascinating to me was how sudden these “shifts” could be. I originally blundered into the subject when poking my nose into the Vikings in Greenland. Things apparently got bad fast, as a single “bad year”, whereupon the farmers hoped the next year would be better. The bad year became a bad decade, and they had to alter their way of life. There were shifts back to warm, and better decades, but the general trend was towards colder, and it was never again as mild as it was when they first settled Greenland, and were able to herd 100,000 sheep and goats and 3,000 cows on hillsides which now can’t support a thing, (without imported fodder from Europe). Yet what I noticed when I studied the “proxies” was that it wasn’t a slow decline of a tenth of a degree every three years, but a very zig-zaggy graph with fairly dramatic ups and downs. For this reason I am always on guard, watching modern weather.
One oddity of the last month was that the first sub-freezing air did not appear up at the Pole, but as a sort of doughnut around the Pole, largely between 70 degrees and 80 degrees north, (which means the sub-freezing does not appear in the above graph, which derives a mean from areas north of 80 degrees.)
There were also no big ice-smashing August gale this year, and in fact the weather was fairly dull.
I can’t say exactly what this means, only that it is very different, as is the distribution of the sea-ice. Usually the transpolar flow crunches the sea-ice against the north coast of Greenland, but there is far less of that this year, with the area of very-thick-ice against Greenland (red in map below) smaller, but the area of thick-ice (green in map below) greatly expanded north of the Canadian Archipelago.
If my computer gets fixed I’ll compare a map from 2017 with the above map, and you’ll be surprised by the expansion of thick-ice. The sea-ice may be covering less area, but it is thicker in the central arctic. It is for this reason that, though the “extent” is less than 2016, the “volume” is greater than 2016.
In late July the Pole ends its roughly 60 day time of receiving more energy via sunlight than it loses through radiation to outer space, and we return to the arctic being a sort of ventilator for the planet’s excess heat. The great deal of open water on the Eurasian side means a great deal of heat is able to depart from the water.
The amount of open water on the Eurasian side is truly remarkable. It must be a great year for Russian shipping on the Northeast passage route. The retreat of the sea-ice from to the south of Svalbard in June, to well to its north in August, has been amazing. It is a pity the Jeanette sailed in 1879 rather than on a year such as this one. For a while I thought the northern Northwest Passage might open to the degree Parry found in 1819, but it never quite got there.
Back in June there was still ice in Barents Sea though it was gone from the Kara Sea. I like to compare modern conditions with the past, so I was comparing the route taken by the ship “America” in 1903, on its way to being crushed by sea-ice up in Frans Josef Land. You can see the water was open enough for a non-icebreaker to make it pretty far north.
Here is a picture of the America before it sunk in January.
Despite being stranded, the expedition made three attempts to march to the Pole over the next 17 months. They were able to survive two winters because they mined coal. (!!!) They ate a lot of walrus. Amazingly, only one member of the crew died. Of interest to me was a note I found, suggesting that their attempts to reach the Pole (during late spring and summer) were halted by areas of “open water”. So the arctic was not solid ice back then, as some like to suggest.
The leader of the expedition, Anthony Fiala, deserves a lot of credit. He was basically an artist like me, an illustrator, photographer and one of the first film-makers, who somehow wound up in a position of great responsibility. The fact so much data was gathered as so few died indicates genius.
Earlier, among other things, Anthony Fiala took some of the first movies we have of sea-ice, during an 1902 expedition to the same area which was deemed a failure due to “lack of proper management” (which he himself didn’t manage, but seems to have documented, in a sort of funny film, which demonstrates men were hams in front of a camera 130 years ago, just as they are today).
As a final note, the second expedition was rescued in 1905 by the same ship that brought Scott to his doom in Antarctica in 1910, the “Terra Nova”.
As you can see, history is full of stuff that strays from the “narrative”. This is likely why certain billionaires support “cancel culture”, and wink at the destruction of statues commemorating the past. However just because Google’s search engines are designed not to see blogs such as this one, the things I document do not cease to exist. All censorship truly does is increase the likelihood billionaires will get blindsided by something they don’t want to see.
Having my computer freeze up has given me a lovely break. It reminds me of when school let out for summer and its doors closed, and suddenly the whole world of grades and scoldings and peer pressure ended, and I left the town behind with the ocean ahead.
In some ways we live in a society engrossed by screens, watching a Punch and Judy show (Trump and Pelosi) and oblivious of the world outside the theatre. Sometimes it is good to shut the video off and go outside to see what Reality is actually up to.
In terms of the Arctic, the Reality is that there is a great deal of open water, and a great deal of heat will be lost over the next two months, until the waters freeze over and a lid is put on such speedy loss. At the same time it seems the planet has adjusted to the Quiet Sun, and the trade winds are picking back up and again upwelling colder water, creating the first true La Nina we’ve seen in years. This will mean there is less warm water to make warmer and moister air, and things will be changing.