THE ARRIVAL AND IMMINENT DEPARTURE OF A SINGULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #47

A provocative question today that I think currently means very little. It probably meant something 200-years ago, but now? I doubt it.

Here’s the question:

Technological singularity?

Personally? I think we reached it years ago — probably at least 50 years ago — and we are already in the throes of it. It did not need to become a net negative, but because of other issues — politics being the obvious one but also human greed, corporate greed, and a refusal to believe that the world was not made to accommodate us and when we push its boundaries hard enough, it will, in its own way, push back.

We have a dying world. We have a horribly over-inflated belief in humanity’s place in this world. And it will come to pass — is already coming to pass — that we shall discover how unimportant we really are. We are mosquitoes sitting on the back of a world that is getting ready to take a dip in waters lethal to our kind.

We shall be cleaned out and slowly but surely vanish. The planet will survive and recover in its own way. Whether or not that recovery leaves room for our kind? I’m not overly optimistic about it. While we are making enormous progress on one level, we are destroying what needs to be saved at the same time. It won’t do us any good to create a green world when we have already destroyed the greenery.

We can try, but we’d better start trying a whole lot harder than we currently are. Because I don’t think we can call a time out on the changes we have created and the desolation it is likely to bring.

Sorry for not sounding more chipper and cheery. If someone has something chipper and cheery to add that is based on science and not a personal opinion, shout it out.

OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong

NOTE: I’m not putting in any pictures of dead creatures, malls, or rivers the color of fire. These are too depressing. There are plenty of pictures of slaughtered animals, poisonous rivers, dead malls.

If you have the stomach for it, look them up. 


Forty years ago, I was the English-language editor at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. I worked there for almost five years during which we addressed issues of wastewater, air and soil management.

The country was still quite small. I think we had maybe 7 million people at that point. The scientific staff traveled from kibbutz to kibbutz, then to any other area that was under cultivation. The goal was trying to explain why it was so critical we stop using nitrogen-enriched fertilizer and start managing wastewater while finding ways to use it.

No one listened. My boss predicted we’d lose our aquifer by 1985. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983.

The point to this is not that I knew something secret and important about our climate before most people were really up to speed on the subject. The point is that we have known about the danger to our environment for at least 100 years. We have had better science and statistics about it for at least the past fifty.

We can loathe Trump for taking a desperately bad situation and making it worse at every possible opportunity. But the reality is that with or without Trump, the planetary climate madness we are seeing was going to happen anyway, no matter who was in office. Because we didn’t do nearly enough. This issue did not begin in 2016. Much of the worst damage was done in 1916 when we casually and carelessly dumped poison into our air, water, and land.

Since the 1970s when we declared “Earth Day,” we’ve done some good stuff. We didn’t do nothing, but we didn’t do enough. Not here. Not in China. Not in Europe. Not in South America or Africa or Australia.

We improved car emissions. We knocked out the smog in some major cities. We cleaned up some horribly polluted rivers. Some of us did our best to manage recyclables. Some places did better than others. We didn’t build enough plants to deal with the plastic and paper and we charged extra for products made from recycled materials — which was not what people expected. Reality notwithstanding, we didn’t expect to be charged a premium for recycled goods. A lot of places — like where we live — do not have “real” recycling. We don’t even have a dump much less a recycling plant.


Despite all arguments anyone cares to make, WE DID NOT DO ENOUGH. If we had done enough, we would not be where we currently are. 

The world’s population has grown exponentially everywhere. For every little green area we plow so we can build a condo or mall we don’t need, birds and other small animals die, often forever. In poor countries, you can’t blame them for trying to create farms to feed their people. Large mammals — like elephants — are antithetical to local farming.

Of course, most of the large mammals are murdered for worse reasons: fun. I have a venal hatred of “sport” killing. There’s nothing sporting about it and I think everyone who slaughters an animal that is disappearing deserves to die a similar death, but slower including a full understanding of why he is dying.

Then there’s all the drilling for oil — and the massive spillage in the arctic and the Gulf of Mexico — and add to that fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I spent five years surrounded by nothing but environmental scientists. I edited their material, sent it to magazines for publication. Read the papers. Understood how important it was.

And for all of that, I didn’t understand. I didn’t imagine it would happen to me. That my world would change. That my birds would die. That insects that aren’t supposed to live in this climate would move in bringing with them diseases that would kill us. And our way of stopping the insects –which are the direct result of the climate change we’ve been denying or worse, ignoring — is poisoning everything.


It’s a planetary problem and it needs a planetary solution. It needs us to do the single thing we never successfully do. Work together for a common cause, even if we hate each other. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what our political system is. This is a planetary issue and we need a planet-size solution.

For all I know, we are beyond fixing it. Maybe we can ameliorate the process. Maybe we can stop building on every piece of ground we find. Maybe we can do something to create food for more people with less destruction to the earth. I don’t really have answers. I just know we are in serious trouble and aren’t addressing it.

AN OPEN E-MAIL TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY

This last weekend millions of people all over the world went on strike for awareness about Climate Change and that we REALLY have to do something about it. There was lots of talk about how we are destroying the planet.  They mean well, but they are missing a really really huge point.  I tried to point this out before. I’m pointing it out again.

Original Post

Hello humanity, this is Earth. The planet Earth. You’ve called me by different names like Gaia, Mother Earth, Terra, etc.

It really doesn’t matter what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for dinner. To be honest, I never got that joke. I’m not sure exactly what “dinner” is., but I’ve noticed it’s a popular joke with you folks.

Anyway, I’m writing this open letter because I’ve noticed a lot of you have been concerned with what you call “climate change.”  You seem to be concerned about “saving the planet.”

I’m flattered that so many of you are concerned about me. I mean, the dinosaurs were living on me for almost a billion years and never once did one of them even notice I existed. Now that I think about it, the fact they had brains the size of a walnut might have had something to do with that.

“How do you expect me to remember birthdays? You know my brain is the size of a walnut!”

But I digress. Sorry. I do that a lot. I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years. Cut me some slack.

Be that as it may, the reason I’m writing this letter to you is though I appreciate your concern about my welfare, you need to know you don’t need to save me.  I’m doing just fine.

I’ll continue to do just fine. Like I said, I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years and my surface is constantly changing.  When I started out, I was basically a really hot rock. The only thing I had to do was make volcanoes.

Granted, at first, it was interesting, but I got to tell you, after the first billion years or so, it got a little old.

Then it started raining. It rained for a long time, even by my standards.  All of a sudden almost three-quarters of my surface was covered in water.

That was cool.  I had clouds and snow and much better sunrises and sunsets.

Then the oddest thing happened. I’m not really sure how, but life formed. At first, it was pretty boring. Single-celled organisms that pretty much ate stuff and reproduced.

But then they got bigger and more complex. First small fish, then bigger fish. That was neat. Then a few of them left the water and started walking around on land.  That was weird.

Hey Phil! You got to come up here and see this!

The next time I took a look (you have to realize that your perception of time is different when you’ve been around for billions of years) I was covered in plants and trees and there were insects and dinosaurs everywhere. They were interesting but all they really did was wander around and eat each other.

Get in my belly!

Again, cool at first, but trust me, anything gets boring after the first hundred million years or so. Things were going fine until this big asteroid crashed into me. I gotta tell you, that one hurt. I remember thinking “Oww! That’s going to leave a mark!”

And it did. After that, the climate on my surface changed and all the dinosaurs disappeared.

Then you guys came along. Now realize, that by my standards you’ve only been around for about a year or so. Even so, I’ve been fascinated by watching you.

You guys actually figured out how to use fire.

You invented the wheel. You created civilization. You created beer! Not one dinosaur in over 500 million years ever came close to doing anything like that. You guys did it after being around for only a few hundred thousand years.

I was impressed. Lately, and by lately I mean for maybe the last 40-thousand years or so, you’ve been inventing all sorts of really interesting things. I have to confess, I’ve really gotten into Netflix.

But I have noticed that you’ve been changing my surface environment lately.

Yes, it’s definitely you folks doing it. It took me hundreds of millions of years to turn hundreds of millions of years of dead dinosaurs and plant life into coal and oil and you’ve managed to burn most of it and dump trillions of tons of CO2 into my atmosphere in a few minutes by my time frame.

Impressive.

You might want to stop doing that. After the asteroid hit, my surface changed so much that the dinosaurs died out. All of them.

It happens. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to have a harder and harder time living on me. Trust me, you’re not the first living things that have come and gone, and you won’t be the last.

I have to admit, I’ll miss you guys. Like I said, I’m really into Netflix and again, you invented beer!

So basically, what I’m trying to tell you is even if you keep doing what you’re doing, I’m going to be just fine. You don’t need to worry about me.

You need to worry about you.

Sincerely yours,

According to Terry Pratchett

Earth

SAFELY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Middle

So. Here we are again. Back in the middle of the middle. Afraid to proffer a candidate who might actually have relevant and new ideas, looking for ways to “make things like they used to be.” Except that no matter who we elect, it isn’t going to be like it used to be. It will never be that way again and no matter how much we try and fix it, it won’t be back to “the old days.”

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

We destroyed the old days and they aren’t coming back. The seniors won’t have to live through the destruction on the horizon, but our children and grand-children will. We won’t even adopt a plan for change that might accomplish something if not everything.

Earth’s day in court

Nice idea to take away guns. 50 years late — assuming we can even do it — but I suppose late is better than never. People still wonder if we can handle a woman at the helm of the nation. How pathetic is that?

The world — the physical earth — has changed and continues to change. Dramatically in some places, slower in others. Ultimately it will encompass the entire planet. Earth — the spinning blue ball — will survive. The question is not whether or not the planet will make it. The question is, will we make it?

Call it my “happy anniversary greetings” from my little damaged house to the rest of the world. I don’t see us doing what needs doing. I don’t see international cooperation. I don’t even see all 50 of our states agreeing to anything together. I don’t see anyone going for a green electric source even though the difference is likely to be less than $10 a month to make the switchover. I think even we can handle that amount — and we are kind of poor.

So on this 29th anniversary of our marriage, I look out into the world and all I can do is hope and wonder that we all understand this isn’t a normal election. It’s not like “Oh well, we’ll get through the four or eight years and then we can get someone we like better.”

We are on the edge of the edge and we put ourselves here, mostly by paying no attention at all to the constant warnings of science what would become of us if we didn’t deal with our world.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

Not only did we ignore it in the U.S. EVERYONE ignored it. Universally. Now, suddenly, there’s a terrifying rush to fix it, but we want to go at it gently. Not upset too many people. Find a nice guy in the middle of the road who will eject the squatter from the White House and that we’ll set up a few more agencies to “investigate” the issue. Not like we already have the answers. We need more of the same answers.

Isn’t it a little late? Where was the urgency in all the years since we “invented” Earth Day? That was more than 40 years ago … and things are not better. Oh, there are cleaner skies over a few big American cities, but we didn’t do anything about carbon emission or CO2. Or drilling. We actually created an even more destructive drilling technique — fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

As a matter of fact, what could possibly go wrong at all? We’re all here for the ride. Wheeee!

THEY DON’T CALL THEM FILTHY RICH FOR NOTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Guileless but white

For all the right-wing evangelists, have any of you noticed that at no point in the Torah or the Gospels is there any mention of race or skin color? Nor any mention of superiority based on color, either.

It’s not that there was no such thing as color. Some people were dark, others much lighter. Especially in the Mediterranean area, colors vary quite a lot and no one seems to care.

Why do we care? What makes us so special? What makes white people superior? We aren’t better farmers or better people. We are cruel, vicious, and willing to destroy the world while guilelessly sitting on a fence saying “who me?”

Why is it important to be “white?” Were the Sphinxes built by “white people?” Not unless the Eqyptians have done some serious color shifting. How about the great Mayan and Aztec pyramids? They weren’t white either.  All the palaces and temples in India were built by brown people as were those in Tibet and other areas of Asia. No white folks there, either.

How about the Great Wall of China? A lot of white people building that one?

So other than our greed and cruelty to those who are different than us, what makes white people special? As far as I can tell, nothing. We invented a lot of technology which hasn’t done the world any good and is in the process of doing it permanent harm.

So as we sit around, guilelessly acting as if we are the world’s great innocents, ponder who has done the worst things to most people. Who has done the most slaughtering? Who has the biggest butcher bill to pay?

You guessed it. White people. Now we want to take over the world because we haven’t done enough damage.

Why not? We’ve been trying to do that for hundreds of years. We might get there yet. I’m not sure what kind of world we will be taking over or if there will even be a part of it that remains safe for humans to live.

We can be proudly white in a world of horror.

SHARING THE WORLD AND AUGUST ENDS WITH A WHIMPER – Marilyn Armstrong

Another person died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis today. And they did not spray last night because it was too cold. Swell. Maybe it’ll be warmer tonight. We can hope.

Not that the spraying is going to fully solve the problem. We are still advised to wear long everything and a lot of DEET. Doubly swell.

And now to the sharing.

Share Your World 8-26-19

If you had to sum up the whole human species in 3 words, what would those words be?

Always too late.

Where is the strangest place you’ve relieved yourself?  Obviously in an emergency situation.

In the woods in Sinai. There weren’t any bathrooms.

1989 shot of earth’s arctic ice

What is the worst smelling place you’ve ever been?

Sitting next to Duke when he let one go. Lord almighty! He left the room and shortly thereafter, the other two left also.

I’m glad it’s not a nightly event!

How drunk is drunk enough?

For me, at all is too drunk. I don’t handle booze well and never did.

If you’d like, please list five things that are priceless to you.

I bet you could take bets on this and probably get it right. But I’m not sure priceless is really the word for it.

Times have changed and what I might have viewed as priceless 30 years ago — or even 20 or 10 — doesn’t carry the same weight it once did. I’m torn between the people I love who are priceless to me — and the world in which I live which is beyond price for the humans who live here.

If we change the wording to “things I couldn’t live without,” it would be easier. My friends and family are priceless to me, but our world is beyond any price.

HOMINID OVERVIEW OF LOST ARTS: WELCOME TO HOLA! – Marilyn Armstrong

The horrors of the late 21st century were — as we all know — at the root of the collapse of hominids as Earth’s dominant species. It is a cautionary tale for every species — two, four, six, or eight-legged.

Insults to Earth had accumulated over many centuries. It would be unfair — and inaccurate — to lay the entire blame for the disaster on earth’s twenty-first-century humans. Nonetheless, it is equally impossible to excuse their failure to take measures that could have short-circuited the holocaust. To this day, their silence in the face of their dying planet is impenetrable to us.

what the frackThe final breach of the planet’s integrity was the corporate sponsorship of “fracking.” Cracking the earth’s core caused major instability everywhere it was practiced. History tells of the violent earthquakes which destroyed entire regions. The loss of North America’s West Coast and the formation of the Kansas seacoast are permanent reminders.

One of our most popular exhibits is a virtual trip through the submerged cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you are interested in this tour, please sign up at the Activities desk in the lobby. Participation is by appointment only.

The birth of active and highly destructive volcanoes was another direct result of fracking. Newly born volcanoes burst from the ground in regions like New England and the Midwest. The desolation of cities and farmland, the concomitant poisoning of aquifers, wholesale elimination of other species, the demise of bees and other pollinators resulted in global defoliation and total crop failure.

Most noteworthy, the loss of the life-giving Amazon rain forests made it impossible for humankind to make a comeback as a species. I know there are those among you — especially our canine citizens — who mourn the loss of humans. We share your pain. We believe other cross-species relationships will fill that gap. Apes, monkeys, elephants and other creatures stand ready to help you through this difficult time.

Some progress has been achieved by reinventing tennis balls. Please note the big green ball bins located throughout this building. You are free to grab as many balls as you can carry in your jaws and are welcome keep them as souvenirs on your departure.

Despite the evidence before their eyes, human beings remained absorbed by their petty concerns. Hooked to devices and mobile gadgets, they ignored the world around them until the world was no longer there.

Plastic oceans

These artifacts from the peak of human inventiveness are a poignant reminder of what can happen to a dominant civilization. The banning of electronic communication (2074 and afterward) was insufficient to restore human culture. Even the replacement of internal combustion engines with vehicles powered by sun, wind –and in the case of dirigibles, hot air — were not nearly enough.

Too little, too late. How sad the community of nations failed to act in coördination until the glaciers had already eliminated so much that can never be restored.

We at the Hominid Overview of Lost Arts (HOLA) work to uncover remnants of human civilization wherever it lies buried. Whether under the glacial plains of Europe and North America or in the rubble pits of the Indian Subcontinent, our army of archeologists is ever-busy. Someday, we hope to understand the entirety of the calamity.

Welcome to our exhibit. Please remove your shoes at the door. Our rugs are soft and comfortable. Sound boosting equipment is available free from the Courtesy Desk.

Please remember your company manners. Rude, annoying, loud, or obnoxious individuals will be forcibly ejected without warning.

Thank you, and welcome to HOLA!