Sunday, 26 May 2019
Humans inhabited planet Earth for a very long time before the taming of fire. It was a cold dark existence, similar to that of other animals, and fear of fire was strong. Someone dared to take fire and use it and our civilization was born. Fire proved to be our best friend and worst enemy, depending upon how we handled it. Like most of the material things on Earth, it is a gift which requires proper handling by human intellect. Now fire is beneficial in huge nuclear reactors and in tiny one stroke engines. It provides us with easy safe lives such as never even imagined not that long ago. The benefits are tremendous but the dangers persist.
We live on the surface of a fireball spinning through space and we are fully dependent on radiation from a burning star. We use stored sun energy with fires of all kinds and we can use the radiation as it comes without burning. Solar, wind, gravity and nuclear power that doesn’t produce weapons-grade fuel are all available with more being discovered every day. Our most knowledgeable people have determined that we achieved a breaking point now, where using stored energy by means of fire harms our planet’s atmosphere and will make life impossible. The process has begun and there is only one solution available and only for a short time.
It is time again for humans to fear fire or, sadly for us, perish. The old people I knew in my childhood are all gone but I can tell you what they had in common. It was a fear of fire. For thousands of generations, our best friend fire was also our ultimate destroyer.
Just a few years ago, when I moved to a forested spot in a mountain town, my main joy was the wilderness feeling and the ability to have a fire outside. Now it has all turned around. We had a devastating fire in the Crowsnest Pass, the moisture in the ground disappeared and I am afraid of summers.
The big indicators of a climate catastrophe are, not the weather we experience, but moisture content in the soil and sea level all over the world. We now have documents showing that as far back as 1977 the biggest oil company Exon Mobile did extensive research on the greenhouse effect. They determined that a danger exists and buried the knowledge. Instead, they began to contribute to the elections of climate-denying politicians and continue to operate without ecological conscience. Their investors are suing them for hiding the real value of the company.
I was watching a video titled: America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation's Wildfire Crisis, about the 19 firefighters who perished in Arizona in 2013. A young mother was describing her husband kissing her and the 3- and 5-year-old kids goodbye before going to fight fires. He, and another 18 like him, never came back. I stopped watching to pay attention to our new Premier talking about the ongoing early fires here in Northern Alberta, on Global News Calgary.
Our Premier stated that most fires are caused by human carelessness in throwing cigarettes from vehicles. Wrong Sir! It is human carelessness of creating climate change by burning oil. What starts the majority of fires are lightening striking overly dry forests. He announced a reduction of taxes and elimination of regulations which will increase the fires and floods plaguing our planet.
Premier Kenney talked about hundreds of families safely evacuated. Does he know how it is to leave your home and be evacuated? We the people of Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, and Waterton know all about it. He mentioned “resources” being brought in to fight fires. Does he know the pain and sacrifice made by the “people” he calls resources? I wonder. I also question why we taxpayers have to foot the bill for fighting the well-predicted fires and the rebuilding after. I can see my insurance going sky high while oil companies profits are taxed less. I am no longer a Conservative but I know how to calculate costs.
In defense of the premier, we must recognize that there is another side to the argument. There are folks who believe that if we cut all the trees around human settlements, build many highways into forested areas, and somehow get rid of “lefties” and environmentalists, there will be no fires. The leader is obligated to listen and judge. I am afraid that my leader is not paying attention to the educated but to the greedy.
I love sitting by a campfire on a starry summer night with family and friends. Lately, my firewood is unused black with mold and the stars are invisible behind the smoke. It is a new reality I don’t enjoy. It bothers me that we were told that it will happen when I was still a young student and I and so many more, didn’t take action in time. Our small portion of our oil revenues intoxicated us and we chose to believe that all will be good.
In prehistory, we left the stone tools in favor of bronze and iron. We changed from sailing ships to steam and ditched horses for automobiles. Why is my generation so ignorant and use selective blindness when the situation is so critical? Fire served us well but its time to use energy in new ways.
at May 26, 2019
Monday, 20 May 2019
Is Canada at war?
In 1955 I was a little kid on an isolated farm in Israel. From the farm, we could see a mountain called Har Megiddo or as we know it here Armageddon. It was a different world comparing to “reality” these days. Aside from perhaps my mom’s nylons, there was no plastic. All of what we use today without even realizing, bags, straws, cups, computers or vehicle interiors were made from materials other than plastic. In grade three I received a plastic ballpoint pen as a gift and cherished it as the most valuable possession.
Plastic is amazing since it changed our world. Every year there are new ways to use it and it replaced just about all the other materials which we had in our homes. It is so cheap that there is no need to worry about using it for a brief moment and discarding it in the trash. Above all, it can be recycled and used again in a different form, but recycling may be more expensive than manufacturing new plastic. The problem is that left alone it fills up spaces and doesn’t decompose as natural materials do.
As the world was getting crowded with plastic garbage, wise nations such as Canada began to allocate money towards getting rid of plastic junk and poor countries agreed to do the dirty work of recycling, for a price.
The Philippines which is an example of a poor nation exploited by colonial powers agreed to take Canadian plastic but ended up cheated by one of our businesses (Chronic Plastics) who shipped a hundred containers full of garbage, probably financed by our tax dollars, and left them with the rotting mess.
The Philippines are home to some very intelligent often attractive very hard working people. We know it in Canada since we “import” many of their people often to do low paying jobs that we can’t find anyone else to do. I know many very good Filipino people. Some second-generation Filipino people are now well educated and amalgamated into the fabric of Canadian society seamlessly.
The Philippines are geographically close to Japan. In the second World War, the Phillippines fought on the American side against the Japanese Empire. Many thousands perished. After Japan’s defeat, the US invested in Japan making the country into an economic powerhouse while American territories like Puerto Rico and the Philippines were exploited by business interests. Gaining independence didn’t help them much either.
Canadians see on the news that the Philippines have one bad government after another and that the islands are plagued with natural disasters. We also know that there are many dissenting groups and guerrilla fighters who kidnap business people and execute them. Now we are faced with a war against them over garbage.
When I was a kid on the farm I saw a movie called The Mouse that Roared. A poor tiny nation declared war on the US and sent 20 soldiers with bows and arrows against America. They expected the US to win the war and give them aid as they did with Germany and Japan. Unfortunately, the little country wins the war and the US surrenders to them. I am wondering if the Philippines don’t want a war with us expecting help. Recalling the ambassador is a serious diplomatic step and they just did it.
Our government presently is swamped with trying to fix messes they inherited from the previous government. There is the Phoenix Payroll System that Harper purchased without paying for training. There is the scandal over Vice Admiral Norman who was disgraced by actions that the past Minister of Defence Jason Kenney took bypassing government purchasing regulations. Now there is a looming war against a poor nation half a world away. All of those issues could harm innocent people or already do.
The Philippines could send our garbage back to us escorted by a warship and create a global awareness of the fact that our unregulated businesses and unrestricted production of polluting waste are a huge problem. Provinces like Alberta that is trying to remove more environmental regulations will be caught in the middle. Even some of our major industries that produce plastics may be hurt. We have a good image around the world, but you and I know that we are not saints.
Canada is a major polluter while it is a small nation. We hear that China or India pollute more but we stay away from calculating how much pollution per capita we create. The official line is that we live in a cold climate and must create a mess to survive, but it is not true. We have buildings that sustain us without carbon emissions. All we really need is leadership and the will to convert our energy intake to clean energy. It will not be popular with those who invest in oil and gas, but it will work and supply us with many jobs.
Over a long time, Canadians built oil dependency and made a living in unsustainable ways. Now the faraway nation that sends us workers is calling our bluff. A comical leader is telling us on the world stage to take our garbage and eat it. As much as we like to avoid a confrontation, we will have to listen. We can’t just blame one of our political parties or another, we are forced to suffer humiliation and repair damages that we have caused.
Armageddon is a mountain in Israel that symbolizes the end of the world. It existed long before oil and plastics and it will after. The question is, will we survive the outcome of our own actions.
at May 20, 2019
Sunday, 12 May 2019
Religion and earthly politics.
People all around me debate about the benefits and drawbacks of reading the Bible. Some read the holy book every day and learn lessons they apply to life, while others object. It is a book written by nomad desert people and it talks about an imaginary God, they say. Both sides can prove or disprove their arguments with some good evidence. What’s left is faith. I am asked to believe or choose not to believe.
I was reading in 1 Kings 17:7-16 the story of Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath. The Prophet told a widow to give him water and bread. She said that all she had was a little flour and some olive oil. She was going to make bread for herself and her son, eat it and die after. Prophet Elijah said that if she feeds him first, the jar of flour and the jug of oil will remain full and it happened. The widow and her baby took care of the man of God and all lived until the next crop. A biblical story and you can, believe it or not, your choice.
Last week our new Premier announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon advisory board, and began the process of making our province “more efficient.” He told us earlier that he will reduce taxes on Corporations and expect them to revive our economy. This is much like the story about Elijah and the widow. Only Premier Kenney is not a biblical prophet and Corporations may legally be persons but they are not God. I am just a little bit afraid that they will take the money and we will be forced to make the sacrifice and live without the tax revenue.
If the price of heavy crude will not increase, there is very little chance of Alberta making the money we used to make. Right now the USA is the number one oil exporter and the world is not using all the available oil. Why should we get more money for our oil? The main markets are China and India and they are working hard to reduce their dependency on oil. I wish we did the same.
So far I see us making a feeble attempt to reduce oil consumption with Carbon Pricing and some vague regulations but it's not much and there is great opposition. The solution to our problems is not going to come from trying to sell more oil but from designing and building ways to live with energy which doesn’t kill us.
Over here in southwest Alberta, we have abundant energy even if we only use solar and wind. The problem is storing that energy and there are a number of ways to do that. We have an expert in town who builds energy storage systems. He uses clean power, when available, to pump water to reservoirs up the mountain and releases the water when there is no sun and wind to produce clean power. All that’s needed is some initiative and work by our leaders and we can have, jobs, income, and pride in doing the right thing.
Another biblical story that I love is the story of Moses freeing the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh. Pharaoh led a modern efficient country at his time, built cities and controlled people with a great modern chariot army. The Hebrew economic migrants provided labor in exchange for sustenance and presumed safety. Today we call their kind working or lower class while in the past they were called slaves. Moses the son of slaves excelled in learning, as happens nowadays also, and led his people out of Egypt. In the process he discovers spirituality and a mighty God called “I am.”
My mind runs up in history from Moses to our time and I stop for a look. I see a modern industrial highly technological world in which billions of people are busy conquering nature and converting the natural order into man-made systems. There is little or no concern about the fact that men are incapable of successfully replacing what we call God’s natural laws. Gone are the laws of Moses and even the teachings of the one we call Son of God. Again there is a ruling class protected by modern armies using the labor of the numerous disadvantaged people. They control the people with money, credit, and laws enforced by uniformed fighters and a threat of jail.
Zooming in I go to May 8th, 2019 and see thousands of Uber drivers in major cities around the world going on strike. They are the equals of the Hebrew slaves in our generation. Some are telling how they work all of their waking hours and aren’t able to feed their families. The great American dream exploded in their faces but there is nothing else for them to do. Uber is just one example. Many millions of people in the “free world” remember how their parents had a good life, with regular jobs, but they have not the slightest hope for the same.
Have we reached the point in which God will have to intervene and free the slaves from oppression, or are we doing alright?
In the Bible, there are many stories which are meant to teach wisdom. Some people take it to be ordained by God while others believe that the wisdom of humanity has been condensed into the biblical stories. To me, it doesn’t matter. Wisdom should be considered in every decision regardless of where it comes from.
It perhaps is wise to help a guy who does miracles. Not so with corporations who make money on our resources but will go unless we let them take more. Is it wise to work for a miserable existence and not demand more? Again no, if a company makes billions from our labor we should force them to share some with us.
Call it wisdom, call it justice, I am a believer in the main principle of the Bible. Do on to others as you would like done to you.
at May 12, 2019
Sunday, 5 May 2019
The Party is Over!
I am considered old now and the people of my generation don’t envy me. We live a long life but being old is not popular. My generation, which we shaped ourselves, idolizes youth. We wanted to change what was wrong with the world, and the change had to be done by young people. The others called us the Baby Boomers and we overwhelmed them by numbers. A whole lot of us became teenagers around the same time, and we did what teens normally do, namely rebel against everything. Our generation had lofty ideas, like ending wars, eliminating racial segregation, equalizing the genders and escaping the hold of the old churches over our souls. Out in the streets, we went singing “we shall overcome” and look at what we have done.
In the process, we worshiped youth and threw away the traditional belief that old people have experience and sometimes wisdom. Our old people were the people of the great wars. Folks who survived, often by obeying horrible dictators like Stalin, Hitler, and others. They wore formal clothes, cut their hair short, religiously shaved and believed in maintaining discipline by force. They hung on to the little they had and didn’t believe in creativity and risk-taking. Life was regimented and people knew their place.
A period of affluence followed the war and a large middle-class grew, with baby boomers riding the wave. We arrived upon the earth when the Great Depression effects were still fresh on people’s minds and horrible wars were a reality not a chapter in history books. Our parents had been through it. There were so many of us and most were heading towards becoming the envied middle class that lived in relative prosperity and peace, such as never existed before. We rode on the coat tales of FD Roosevelts “New Deal” which made not just America but most of the world great.
It was my generation that broke through the stratosphere and sent people to space. We were the people who first used the birth control pill and made music in the park all night long, marched on Washington demanding voting rights, eliminated the draft, death penalties (in most places) and successfully implemented Health Care everywhere but in the United States. Our girls invented and used modern makeup, cosmetic surgeries, proper dental care, exercise for the masses and feminism as a human right.
Now the party is over and the cleanup crew has not arrived yet. I and the rest of the BabyBoomers, Hippies that turned Yappies are still alive. Some have pacemakers and others need hip replacements or dialysis but we are still alive. Eyes fixed by laser surgeries shed a tear when we think about missed opportunities and building up a culture where youth and wealth determine success. We may still have the home in the suburbs and drive a fancy SUV, but our kids unsuccessfully pursue our old goals of getting ahead and left us hanging out to dry or placed us in a lodge to be attended by newcomers also striving for Yappy ideals.
When we removed our Hippy hair and hand embroidered or tie-died shirts in favor of business suits and traded singing We Shall Overcome for airplane vacations, credit cards, and framed certificates, the world changed. Our generations cheated and bullied its way to fake prosperity leaving mountains of garbage and scorched earth in its wake. Our attitude of “fly now and pay later” was good for a short while but now is later, and we are still around wrinkled, bald and gray hiding behind manufactured rock facades and wrinkle reducing creams on our faces. The children we raised to believe they own the world with no need to pay with the hardships that our parents faced are trying not to miss their chance and destroying what's left of the world even faster.
I was watching a popular political commentary this morning telling about oil companies that are moving out since we have regulations demanding a clean up after drilling. The new government apparently is going to change it. They believe that economics is more important than ecology. Great, I murmured, since my people, the baby boomers will get the benefits while the millennials will figure out who will pay for the cleanup.
Our forefathers came to this land wild and harsh as it was. They cleared the natives, animals, forests, and insects and raised us to do the same. We were on a mission to conquer nature and make it efficiently produce wealth for us. We got rid of the people who built and served and replaced them with automation fueled by oil and gas. Our mega-corporations and banks that are too big to fail were able to control governments and take advantage of the planet's resources and most of its population, but now the party is over.
We taxed everything to pay for our pleasure. Freshwater is disappearing and the air is no longer cleaning the pollution or acting as it should, or regulating the weather. Floods, fires, droughts, and hurricanes became common and millions of people are adversely affected but the majority of Albertans I normally meet say it's not so. Seeking the comforts and pleasures we used to have, they declare “false news” and walk away in order not to argue. If the news bothers them, they choose not to watch the news.
Now it is too late for me to demonstrate or march against governments which may ruin my grandkids lives. I am old and being old is not fashionable. I fought for justice, I worked for my home and pension, and all I can hope for is that they don’t take my health care away, or I will fight. I sit and patiently wait for my kids to visit and write about what I have learned. Perhaps some young people will revive the old tradition. The tradition of appreciating old people for their experience and wisdom.
Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/ Feel free to check other articles and comment.
at May 05, 2019
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