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Ignoring Reality   Leave a comment

This is Brad. Lela will be back, I promise.

So Sunday was Earth Day and I hardly noticed, but my lovely wife started this post and then asked me if I would finish it for her.

Do you remember all the apocalyptic predictions from the 1970s? They were the reasons given for a day of the year to worship nature as a pagan goddess.

During the first Earth Day observance (that actually lasted for a couple of months:

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15-30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

“Man must stop polluting and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possibly extinction” New York Times editorial

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

Texas University professor, Peter Gunter wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

National Academy of Sciences Harrison Brown published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Wow, lots of fear-mongering. Have any of those predictions come true?

As the opening chart shows, the United States has “decarbonized” over the last decade or two. CO2 emissions have risen throughout most of the rest of the world, but the US’s emissions have fallen dramatically. Did the Earth Day movement have anything to do with that? Not really. It’s mostly because of hydraulic fracking and substitution of natural gas for coal as a electric generation fuel source.

Ronald Baily of Reason Magazine (who pulled together much of this awesome list) asked in on Earth Day 2000 (Earth Day 30):

“What will the Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030?”

He predicted a much cleaner, much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty and longer life spans, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he also warned:

“There will be a disportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future – and the present — never looked so bleak.”

The hype and hysteria over these spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, because it’s been such a wonderful con and has reaped such lovely benefits for the environmentalists. Why would they want the gravy train to end by acknowledging reality?

Trump Isn’t Important   8 comments

I know there are a lot of people who believe that Trump is going to end the world as we know it, while there are also a lot of people who believe he’s going to make everything better.
Image result for image of a crisis tsunamiI don’t. Trump is irrelevant.
I said last year during the run up to the election that I didn’t think it would matter who won the election because we were headed for rough times regardless. Hillary couldn’t fix it. Trump can’t fix it. Gary Johnson couldn’t have fixed it. The United States is headed into a series of problems from which there is no avoidance.
The government is $20 trillion in debt, but the American people are also deeply in debt on a personal and corporate level. The population is aging. There are all sorts of stresses on the social contract. The political elite no longer represent the people.
Those are just a few examples of the stresses that are forming successive tidal waves aimed right at the country. It really doesn’t matter who the president is. We’re going to go through rough times because the structural deficits of our current society are starting to reach a critical point.
The government(s) at all level of American society made promises during economic good times, back when debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force greatly outnumbered the dependent classes. Unfortunately, as the work force shrinks and the dependent class grows, those promises cannot no longer be sustained. Ronald Reagan warned us about this the year I turned 21. It’s now 36 years later and we’ve not really addressed that crisis. We’ve just added more to it.
For the last 10 years, the economy has been producing tepid growth, warning us that the underlying structure is become fragile. Timothy Geithner of all people conceded this in a recent Foreign Affairs article. The central banks and governments have employed all their resources toward propping up shaky markets, borrowing extraordinary sums to prop up government spending and have now stretched themselves to the point where they cannot address the next crisis.
You could have an actual miracle worker in the White House and he/she would be unable to forestall the next crisis with the resources left to them. They could try to lower expectations and prepare people for the inevitable crash while also trying to bolster hope that their sacrifices in this generation will be for the good of the future, which is what leaders in the past have done. Historically, great leaders who have dealt with successive crisis trains have not overcome the crises. They managed the edges of them and called upon citizens to make sacrifices for a better future.
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not lead the country out of Depression. Eight years into his presidency (11 years after it started), the country was still deeply mired in the Depression in 1940. It took the wartime rationing and government spending on an unimaginable level combined with a post-war economic boom to return the nation to prosperity.
So focusing on President Trump’s admirable qualities or his major deficits is really a distraction. The economic crises that are coming our way cannot be won like a war might be. All the policy tweaks and grand pronouncements in the world won’t avoid the inevitable. There’s a reckoning coming that no leader can reverse. No one president can extinguish $20 trillion in debt, exacerbated by imperial overreach and political disunity. He or she could make a dent, but the real “solution” is to let it play out and hope there are pieces to be salvaged when the meatgrinder gets done with us.
In the meantime, you can do a lot for yourselves by eliminating personal debt, stocking up on food and learning employment skills that don’t rely so much on a global market and government licensing. Maybe things will be better for our kids, but $20 trillion in debt means it’s more likely things will be better for our grandkids … if we and our children are willing to make the necessary sacrifices over the next several decades.

Serenity Courage Wisdom   5 comments

Change – how do you feel about it, what are some big changes you’ve undergone, what are some changes you’d like to make or that you see coming?

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Change is a big issue with a lot of moving parts. It’s “change” after all. It moves, it shifts, it is in flux.

This was a perfect topic for the week after a national election because “change” is on parade and being rioted against in the streets. Since I didn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump, I get to stand above the fray without ownership in the outcome and note the irony that those who demanded that the rest of the country accept their version of change in 2008 are now faced with the other half of the country’s version of change. The difference is that the Teaparty peacefully protested the actual policies of Barack Obama and the impacts they were having on them personally while the current “protesters” are rioting in the streets against the outcome of a constitutionally-provided democratic process.

I didn’t want Trump either, but I don’t think the world ended. The ill-conceived idea of granting one person power over 350 million people for four years took place and this is the outcome. It may represent a change of direction for the country. To quote the progressives in 2008 “Elections have consequences.” The electorate has chosen a different direction. They rejected the status quo candidate (Hillary Clinton) and selected … the Donald. Will anything actually be different? I don’t know. I’m not sure it matter.Just because the voters opt for change does not mean the deep state will allow it to happen.

Image result for god grant me the patienceReinhold Niebuhr lived in a time when the world was being torn apart by the evil of Naziism. As a Christian opposed to Naziism, he looked at the world around him, and penned that prayer. Notice that he didn’t pray “Lord, let me change the world, destroy Naziism and change human nature.” His ambitions were lower. “Lord, let me be able to accept the things I cannot change and have the courage to change the things I can,” but more, he asked for the wisdom to understand that there is a difference. Reinhold spent the rest of his life trying to teach people why God was a better choice than Adolf Hitler. It didn’t stop the murder of 10 million people (I don’t just count the Jews), but it perhap changed the hearts and minds of millions, so Niebuhr may have had a greater reach than those who died trying to kill Hitler in the early part of his reign of tyranny. We remember him. We chant his prayer at 12-Step meetings. We whisper it quietly in our hearts as we watch yet another change election.

Like Niebuhr, I can’t control people who are outside of my sphere of influence. I certainly can’t control the electorate. If I could, neither Clinton or Trump would be the president-elect. But here’s something for all the rock-throwing election-outcome deniers trying to set aside this election result to understand. YOU can’t control the electorate either. You’ve got one vote. For everyone of you who showed up at the polls and voted for the status quo, another someone showed up a the polls and voted for change. I voted for change that was very different from the change half the country voted for. My ideal change will not be represented in the White House for the next four years and I have the serenity to accept that outcome because I recognize when I can’t win a battle, so it’s better not to fight it. I cast my vote. My ideal lost in the court of popular opinion and I’m moving on … not to change my ideology, but to continue to influence people in the way that I have the courage to act.

Instead of investing my change ideology in an election that I can’t control, I choose to show up here on my blog to advocate for change in a different way … by educating people on their choices. I can’t change the world. I might be able to change one or two or a few dozen minds and maybe those changed worldviews can influence one or two or a few dozen minds each who can influence ….

Image result for image of libertarian not allowed to driveYou get the picture.

Wisdom teaches me to not fight battles I can’t win, but courage teaches me to continue to act where I have hope of making progress and to have serenity about those things that are out of my control. I trust that God has a plan and that He’ll let me in on the details in His good time … if He needs my help.

 

Elections often are about change. If people like the status quo, they choose to keep the incumbent. If people are angry about the condition that they’re living in, they choose the challenger. In 2012, the encumbant and the challenger both represnted the status quo. In 2008 and in 2016, there was no encumbent, but there were candidates who represented the status quo of the outgoing administration and candidates who represented change. Change can be a good thing. If the ideology in charge is providing evidence that it isn’t working, then selecting another path is a good thing. It’s rejecting misery for the hope of something better.

Image result for image of change for change sake

So, Hillary Clinton (status quo candidate) lost the election because people want change. They want change because they’re tired of being mserable and from their perspective the policies of Barack Obama have increased their misery. Donald Trump, who was promising change, won because the electorate wants change and they think that what he is offering represeents change they want to see. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re wrong. They made their choice.

The world didn’t end. Power transferred peacefully … as it does every four to eight years in this country. This is no different than when Barack Obama was elected, promising change that half the country did not want. Sometimes your version of change is selected and sometimes it’s not. That’s how democracy works. Sometimes the change that is selected scares the hell out of you, but if your alternative is violent protests in the street, then maybe you’re actually the scary one.

 

Image result for image of being torn apart by change

There are those who are determined to reject the change that this election represents. They’re tearing up cities around the nation, threatening physical violence on those they disagree with, destroying private property, trying to force a rejection of the constitutional election of a change agent they voted against. Apparently, they were happy with the mounting debt, growing welfare system and diminishing incomes of the Obama administration. What’s not to love about increasing medical insurance premiums and reduced access to care? They were happy with the election process so long as it favored THEIR ideology. They voted to reject change and embrace the status quo and, DAMN IT, their way is the only right way. Change is GREAT only when the bore tide flows in their direction. If it goes in another direction, violent revolution is allowable.

So, here we stand on the cusp of another change era. Hopefully, things will move in a better direction this time. Maybe this time, the “winners” will listen to the “losers” a bit and we can direct the change toward something that is good for all of us.

Hopefully … doubtfully … hopefully … doubtfully ….

“God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the DIFFERENCE.”

 

Posted November 14, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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