“Some people see things as they are and ask ‘why?’ I dream of things that never were, and ask ‘why not?’
I have had something of a romantic attraction to the order of the Templar Knights. The Red Cross on a white tunic was the symbol of this noble Middle Ages’ organisation. These gallant demi gods were the guardians of the roads from Britain to the Holy Land to ensure the safe travel of the pilgrims. Rescuing people from life threatening situations was the life calling of these knights in shining armour. But along the journey their marketing director got the idea to extend their ‘security’ services into the financial marketplace. They developed their system whereby, in order to protect pilgrims from robbery, the travellers could hand over their gold and silver to the office of the Knights Templar in England or France in return for a Templar Note that they could redeem once they reached their Holy Land destination, minus a small handling fee of course. Those Templar Notes were Europe’s first travelers’ cheques and so the noble Templar Knights became the Bank of the Red Cross, Europe’s first bank.
This was only 900 years ago, modern times in the greater history of mankind and I wonder how someone in that organisation first came up with the idea. I have no reason to think they exploited it, but from a cynic’s viewpoint, and experience has taught me it is always prudent to at least consider a cynic’s viewpoint, there was an inherent conflict of interest when it became obvious that the Bank of the Red Cross could profit handsomely if they were not always quite so diligent in ensuring that the pilgrims, whose gold and silver was in their safekeeping, actually did arrive safe and sound at their destination to present their Note and collect their gold. Again, I have no reason to believe they were anything less than diligent in their moral duty, still they did become a very wealthy institution and human nature is fickle thing. But could they ever have imagined the banking industry that would mushroom over the centuries following the launch of their enterprise? The gold standard has long since disappeared in the banking world to be replaced by the US dollar and it is estimated that there are about 40 trillion US dollar equivalents in ‘cash’ flowing around through the cyberspace that is the banking world of today.
So where did an idea for a sophisticated, currency-based solution to a possible robbery during a potentially dangerous journey while on a religious quest come from? We are an evolved ape, but our other ape cousins do not yearn to travel the globe by horseback, sailing ship or motor. Other apes have never developed currencies or insurance schemes; other apes do not have religions over which they are prepared to fight foreign wars. To kill and be killed over a belief in what may or may not happen after our death and about whose God of their imagination is really in charge of everything .
Seventy thousand years ago, give or take, we acquired the problem-solving gene that defines modern Homo sapiens sapiens and which pre-empted our setting off, or being sent off, from our garden of Eden in Africa to migrate into the wilderness that was the rest of the world. Now upgraded from intelligent man to really intelligent man, archeologists refer to this as the ‘Cognitive Revolution”. The Hebrew Bible poetically refers to it as eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. And, in order to achieve dominion over all the beasts of the land and birds of the air, homo sapiens sapiens required strategic planning, co-operation, idea sharing and, most importantly, imagination. We required language, very sophisticated language.
My interest in the power of language was piqued by a Ted X lecture from a Vietnamese migrant in the USA, Phuc Tran, talking about the subjunctive tense. Probably like you, I could not recall back through my youthful education when the intrigue of the subjunctive mood was explained by my English teacher. But to recap, the subjunctive mood is used in English to explore imaginary or conditional situations.
Subjunctive forms of verbs are typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, obligation, or action that has not yet occurred. And as such the subjunctive mood is critical to the fundamental point of language for homo sapiens sapiens, that is to problem-solve. For the most creative problem-solving occurs in the language of imagination. The imagination of something that you have never before seen or experienced. The imagination of something that is not yet in existence.
Which is why Phuc Tran’s talk was so interesting. He was raised from a child in the USA and so was very familiar with the subjunctive mood in English. Phuc Tran has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College’s Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland. But his parents were raised in Vietnam and although his father was a lawyer and politician with the expected skills in the Vietnamese language, he had no comprehension of the subjunctive mood in that language.
That came to light in a very poignant way. When they were escaping during the fall of Saigon, the Tran family was about to board a bus to the airport when young Phuc became hysterical. In calming him down they missed the first bus and caught the second. That first bus was hit by artillery and all on board were killed. The second bus made it safely. So today Phuc ponders the ‘what ifs’. His father cannot comprehend this line of thought. His father does not do “what ifs”. His father says “Why on earth do you waste time talking about what did not happen?”
His father has a point. And in that point, we can also see that the subjunctive tense has two very distinctive moods. On the positive side it is the pathway to discovery, to problem solving, to inventiveness, to progress. On the dark side it can spiral down into fear, anxiety, depression. Sometimes through history some of our greatest geniuses were also among our most troubled minds. Soaring with the positive possibilities, then spiralling down into the negative fears of failure. The subjunctive mood is a wild horse that should not be ridden bareback; it needs reins, saddle and stirrups.
The right hemisphere of the human brain allows our creativity to explore the unknown and it is the left side that exercises the controls of calculation and logic. It is notable that the new wave of human distress, widespread social anxiety, has arisen at the same time that society has become increasingly reliant on technology to replace the left-brain functions of calculation and logic, which are the reins on the subjunctive mood of the right hemisphere. Only two generations ago emphasis in classrooms was on developing ‘mental arithmetic’, the ability of students to carry out calculations using only the left hemisphere of their brain. This practice stimulated the electrical activity of that left hemisphere. When desk calculators first came onto the market in the 1970’s it was forbidden to use them in the classroom but as their use gradually infiltrated classrooms, followed by laptop computers, the activity of the left hemisphere of young brains has weakened as the right hemisphere’s imaginations have progressively dominated reality. Anxiety is the inevitable outcome of a dominant right hemisphere of the brain when outcomes that we only imagine begin to present themselves as reality that will inevitably happen. Perhaps mental calculations should be included in our daily gym programme to compensate for the role of calculation technology in the same way that stationary bikes and treadmills compensate physically for the motorised technology.
Phuc speculates that absence of the subjunctive mood may be the reason for the stoic resilience of the Vietnamese people. The question arises whether it is language that creates a personality or, as my daughter who is a linguistics graduate believes, the other way round. That naturally stoic people probably have no interest in the subjunctive mood whereas excitable, ambitious people actively seek to express themselves in the language of the imagination. I tend to agree with the latter and speculate that when the balance of a group of tribes swings more towards stoicism or imaginative ambition then that swing will have a huge impact on the evolution of our species. Stoicism limits co-operation to just the immediate knowns and facts and is a very tribal mentality. Trust no one outside the tribe. The ability to mutually adopt an imagined goal has the potential to unify hundreds, thousands or even millions of people who otherwise would never dream of co-operating with each other. From such imaginative ambition the concepts of nations and religions is born along with great armies to enforce their imaginative aspirations. It is the imagination of a heavenly existence after death that unites millions, even billions, of people around the globe to unite under the banner of an imagined concept and an imagined God.
But if there is any true evidence of the power of the imagination. It has occurred over the last 50 years more than the previous five thousand. I saw on some Facebook page a bit of a self-indulgent reminiscence by one of my generation recalling the good old days when we had face-to-face friends not face-book friends; when we built go-carts to race downhill against our mates rather than played X Box games against avatars. When someone else took photos of us if the occasion was significant and we kept those photo prints in a private album. There is nothing new in the older generation despairing for the younger generation, that has been going on since at least the time of Socrates, but the difference today is not so much attitudinal as it is technological. Today’s technology has had an influence on the behaviour of youth that Socrates could never imagine in his wildest philosophies.
The Facebook post put the timing of this quantum shift in normality at the mid 1980’s. Those of us born before that time had real lives, but the post 80’s generation are now living a fake online life and they seem to be really struggling, emotionally, to adapt their natural human psyche to this self-created virtual world.
Computers in primitive form had been around well before the 1980’s but they were just big, cumbersome calculating machines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to speak to one of these great machines when I studied (although that is probably overstating the effort I put in) accounting at university in the early 1970’s. The computer then needed its own room, actually it was the size of a small room itself. It spake strange tongues of Portran and Fortran. It told me, numerically speaking, that it was in control of me, not the other way around. If what I put in did not compute, it spat it back out. Start again human. IBM was the driving force of the computer world and seemed focused on keeping it within the corporate and political world, well above the lives of ordinary folk.
It was in the late 1970’s that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started a business to bring these giant computing machines down to size. They wanted computers to be fun for all. They named the company Apple. In his biography Steve Jobs said that it was just a serendipitous choice; that he was on a fruitarian diet at the time and had just returned from an apple farm and thought the fresh, fun name suited his company’s vibe. If so, the coincidence is uncanny. The apple has an established historical connection with a quantum leap in mankind’s knowledge of universal law; Isaac Newton said he had his ‘eureka’ moment about gravity when he watched an apple fall from a tree.
The apple also has a prehistorical connection with man’s quest for knowledge and even immortality. In Norse mythology the goddess Idun was the keeper of the apples of the tree of knowledge and life and is known as the goddess of eternal youth. In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, ruled the Garden of the Hesperides (nymphs) where there was an orchard in which trees bearing golden apples had the power to heal and renew. And the bible relates that Lucifer gave Eve the fruit, usually depicted as an apple, from the tree of knowledge
And by the mid-later 20th century the two Steve’s had brought the Apple computer into our homes. Well they did not immediately arrive into our homes; in the 1970’s and 80’s they were still a geeky, impractical and expensive machine that most homes could happily live without. But while Wozniak was the brains behind the machine itself, he would never have taken it beyond the techno geek market and as such would not have survived commercially. His Apple would have withered on the branch. Jobs was most certainly the man (the Lucifer, the enlightened one) responsible for tempting mankind with the Apple of knowledge. And in a very strategic move, he first took it into the classroom, actually donating the original Apple 1 to some schools just to whet the appetite. He was less interested in wasting the fruits of the Apple on the elders of humankind, he wanted to give it to the children. In 1978 he won a contract to supply 500 Apple II computers to schools in Minnesota. In 1983 he sold a computer package (including floppy disc) to over 9,000 schools in California at a cost per package then for what you would now get a decent I-Mac. The Macintosh (an actual variety of apple) was launched in 1984 and the flood gates started to open.
One generation after the Apple from the tree of knowledge was fed to our children, we could no longer imagine education without computers. We could not imagine homes without computers, or people without smartphones. My little granddaughter was just two years old when her innate demand for language, knowledge and technology led us to the conclusion that we had no option but to provide her own personal connection into the universal consciousness. Her very own Apple i-pad. She took to it like a duck to water. Her knowledge, understanding and communication skills have taken quantum leaps; she swipes through the icons as though she invented them.
So once again an apple from the tree of knowledge is the means by which knowledge and imagination is being spread throughout humanity. It is the means by which we have built our rocket propelled towers with which to explore the heavens. In ancient history, Babel was the place where many voices come to speak together. Could the modern-day Babel be the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA and Spacex? Or is 21st century Babel located in the cloud and refers to the inanity of Twitter? The fake lives of Instagram? The pretend friends of Facebook? Interestingly while the Bible’s Genesis tells us that is was man’s corruption and evil that caused the great flood, the pre-dated original Sumerian clay texts said it was the noise and unending chatter of humans that caused the Gods to bring the great flood.
The changes in our lifestyle are, in reality, just as dramatic as noted in the Facebook post I referred to earlier. The irony being that he used Facebook to express his concerns; he did not call around to voice his concerns to me in person over a cup of coffee.
As much as computers have changed our way of life, in the greater picture they have been the most important tool we have developed to enable us to pursue the greatest challenge to our sense of imagination. That is imagining the heavens. Looking into the night sky and imagining what is out there. Whether there are other life forms, more evolved technology, black holes and a never ending universe full of possibilities. And it is that this is such a challenge to our imagination that we dedicate resources of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of highly skilled humans to enable us to develop the technology to physically explore the space beyond our planet.
While the modern exploration of the heavens was initiated as part of the USA/USSR cold war, it is today very much a global mission. USA launched the space station Freedom in 1987 with support from the European Space Agency (Columbus Laboratory) and Japan (Japan Experimental Laboratory). In 1990 NASA launched the Hubble space telescope into low earth orbit. Russia then abandoned its plans for a successor to the Mir space station and in 1993, after the collpase of the Soviet Union, Russia became a partner of the International Space Station (ISS). Without Russian support, the Western partners probably would have had to give up the Freedom Space Station. Today astronauts from around the world, including Japan, Canada, Europe in addition to Russia and the United States, travel to the ISS. Several languages are spoken on board. This communication challenge is assisted by the spoken dialogue computer on the ISS, named Clarissa, which is programmed to understand both English and Russian. But future NASA astronauts will be required to learn Russian before they go into space. Because the Russian Federal Space Agency is facilitating the space flight to and from the ISS, it makes sense that the NASA wants astronauts to be able to correspond with their fellow space travelers. For over ten years all European astronaut activities are conducted at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. In fact, all the other astronauts on the ISS: Americans, Russians, Japanese and Canadians are also trained with European laboratory equipment. And European astronauts receive training in either Houston, USA, Star City in Russia, Tsukuba in Japan or Montreal, Canada to learn to operate the systems and components of the partners. The arrangement between the international partners is that any partner who owns a laboratory or another infrastructure element on the station trains the astronauts of all partners for it. China is also developing its heavenly ambitions but is doing so quite independently of the ISS partners.
To seriously explore the heavens, we need international financial and intellectual co-operation and we really do need a common language. The English language has been on a colonising mission for hundreds of years and while, at 370 million, it is only the third most common first language of the world, a long way behind Mandarin at 1.3 billion and well below Spanish at 470 million, English is by far the most common second-spoken language on earth at just under a billion people against Mandarin at 200 million. Mandarin matches English in its population size if not in its geopolitical breadth and this difference makes English the likely contender as the one language that will rule them all in our goal of reaching the heavens. But even if one language is not agreed, technology, driven by our imagination, will be able to instantly translate different languages to create a virtual common language to all men.
If Steve Jobs was the 21st century Lucifer then let us hope that humanity is ready for such knowledge this time around. Embracing the computer technology pioneered by Jobs in order to elevate humanity to new levels is Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, who has now announced that the final goal of “Neuralink”, his brain-machine interface development, is to allow humans to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence. Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain-computer interfaces in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.
This is all developing at a time when the US government is finally admitting that alien craft, with vastly advanced technology, are entering our skies at will. The Bible’s Book of Genesis, the beginning of mankind, tells us that the reaction of God, having discovered that Adam had eaten the apple from the tree of knowledge, was to expel man from Eden to forage like the beasts in the wild lest they then seek to eat from the tree of life and live forever. Further on in the same Book we read that the astronomers of Mesopotamia were planning to reach the heavens from the tower of Babel, and so the Gods confused their language so as to defeat their plan. Interfacing human consciousness with artificial robotics as a means of living forever and exploring distant galaxies in the heavens is actually now a very real prospect within the next century. So, will the Gods and angels intervene once more to deny our attempts to reach the heavens? Will they decide that our species is not yet mature enough to be allowed into the heavens? That we are just too volatile and dangerous. To borrow from Colonel Jessup “You want the subjunctive mood? you can’t handle the subjunctive mood!
I have contemplated, of late, that we are watching the decline of the American Empire. I say ’empire’ but America’s empire is not a legal/political entity in the sense of declaring it’s president an emperor like Julius Caesar, Suleiman the magnificent, or Napoleon. Even Britain, prior to Elizabeth 2nd, declared it’s sovereign to be King/Queen of Britain and its colonies and the Emperor/Empress of India. In the modern context I refer to ’empire’ in the sense of dominating global currencies. By that criterion, America ascended the imperial throne at the end of World War 2 deposing England. The English had been poking their noses around the world as far back as the 17th century and by the late 18th and 19th centuries their manufacturing technology and their formidable navy led to domination of global trade through colonies in South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, the South Pacific and the Americas.
All was going well for the Brits during the 19th century but, by the early 20th century, America was starting to get the better of their balance of trade. The USA now had their own cotton gins. However, Britain remained the centre of world commerce and much of the global trade was conducted in British pounds and all major currencies were pegged to gold bars.
Then came World War 1. That conflict was such an expensive war that many European countries, beginning with Germany, had to abandon the gold standard to pay military expenses; their currencies devalued rapidly. Three years into the war and even Britain needed to borrow money to keep going and the Yanks were there to help. Eventually even Britain was forced to abandon the gold standard as the valuation of their currency and the British international merchants who traded in pounds found their bank accounts severely depleted. The greenback $US was now the leading reserve currency.
When World War 2 broke out only twenty years later, the US stayed out of the conflict for a long time but nonetheless profited from the war as the preferred supplier of weapons, ammunition and supplies to the allied forces. They required payment for most of it in gold and by the end of the war they held most of the gold on earth in Fort Knox. The Americans only entered the war after they were personally attacked at Pearl Harbour by Japan, an ally of Germany. I say personally but the main island of Maui is over 2,000 nautical miles off the coast of California. Playing a major role in ending the war in Europe gave the Americans the opportunity to claim ‘top of the table’ seat on the global international stage. In 1944, delegates from forty-four Allied countries met in Bretton Wood, New Hampshire, to come up with a system to manage foreign exchange that would not put any country at a disadvantage. It was decided that the world’s currencies could never again be linked to gold, but they could be linked to the U.S. dollar, which in turn was linked to gold. The agreement was that the central banks would maintain fixed exchange rates between their currencies and the U.S. dollar. The United States would then guarantee to redeem U.S. dollars for gold on demand.
So now, instead of gold reserves, other countries accumulated reserves of U.S. dollars. Needing a place to store their dollars, countries began buying U.S. Treasury securities, which they considered to be a safe store of money. Now the US currency virtually replaced the international currency of gold. How would that work out? All went jolly well during the relatively peaceful decade of the 1950’s. America was Camelot and Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy were the three great emperors of America. I say peaceful, but WW2 had delivered two contenders for world domination, the USA and the USSR. The allies tried to buy a compromise, splitting both Germany and Korea into Russian/American zones of control. Russia tagged China to support the North Korean communists in their war against South Korea and USA and that war ground to an unresolved stalemate. And then came Vietnam. Russia had shown no interest in Vietnam until USA decided to throw bags full of money to support the French attempt to suppress communism in North Vietnam. That is when the Russian bear began to feel poked and in 1954, the kitchen got too hot, and the French pulled out. That was the start of a very expensive war with the USA that, in my opinion, began the collapse of the American empire. Kennedy, elected in 1960, recognised the disaster that was Vietnam and committed to a withdrawal of all troops by 1965. This plan ended with an apparent palace assassination in Dallas Texas, Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, recommitted to Vietnam and at the same time launched an ambitious and expensive “Great Society” social programme intended to end poverty and racial discrimination in America. Or, in other words, to try to hide what was now becoming a very obvious cultural divide in America. Much of the proposed funding, however, went into the increasingly expensive war in Vietnam and the late 60’s exploded in violent cultural riots highlighted by the continued political assassinations of Martin Luthor King in April 1968 and Robert Kennedy in June 1968. In a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare, America lost it’s soul in the five years between the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers 1963-1968.
The collapse of the empire manifested itself, as it’s creation had done, with the greenback. The Vietnam war costs, in addition to the “Great Society” domestic programme budget, had become so expensive that in 1971 Richard Nixon had to abandon the gold standard for the US dollar and flood the banks with paper money. This created the floating exchange rates that we have today. However, despite large deficit spending, trillions of dollars in foreign debt and unlimited printing of US Dollars (the last incidence was the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8) the U.S. Treasury remains the world’s reserve currency because the world trusts that the US will always remain solvent. The US gross domestic product as at 2016 was way ahead of anyone else at over $US18 trillion. That is bigger than the whole BRICS (China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa) trading bloc combined. But everything balances tentatively on the tightrope of trust and confidence. The trust and confidence that the US is politically stable enough to maintain its dominant economy. What could possibly shake that trust and confidence?
His name is Donald Trump. He did not cause a cultural divide in the USA, but he is the highest profile manifestation of it. There is a cultural chasm in America that the rest of the civilised world did not really understand. Not until the good old boys motivated themselves to get sufficient numbers to the polls to elect Donald Trump in 2016, and he has shown us all very clearly what a problem it is for them. It appears that the Civil War never ended because, although they were militarily defeated and subjected to new laws, the hearts and minds of the South were never changed. The cultural difference is as entrenched as any tribal conflict in the middle east. It may have been suppressed by the force of law, but mainly it was suppressed through lack of leadership from the south to stand up and raise the Confederate flag once again. Donald Trump was seen as that man. He talked the Confederate talk. He promised brick walls against the Mexicans, he promised the drawbridge pulled up against Muslims.
The first English settlement in America was from the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom who settled in Virginia in the early 1600’s, but the larger migration came with two distinct groups in the 17th century. First were the Puritans, following the path of the Pilgrims, escaping religious persecution in their home county of East Anglia. They settled in Massachusetts and brought their distinctive East Anglia twang with them, which was the root of the general American accent, albeit modified by other European groups that migrated to America, especially New York and Boston.
But it was the Royalists (Cavaliers) who left south and southwest England in the mid seventeenth century to the safety of America when the civil war in England broke out. These aristocrats left because they opposed the “Parliamentarians” wanting more power over governance. They brought a completely different culture of royalist aristocracy opposing ‘government by the people’ to America and with it they brought the distinctive South England drawl. They settled further south in Virginia and the Carolinas. They bought vast tracts of land and grew tobacco and cotton crops. They imported slaves on British slave boats and exported their cotton and tobacco to England. They established a social hierarchy where even the serfs were happy for their aristocracy to run the politics and businesses and for the slaves to be lower on the social structure than them. And that formed the basis of the southern lifestyle that the Confederates went to civil war to protect.
Political factionalism in teh USA was originally created by the Federalists wanting big government and the Democratic-Republicans favouring decentralised government. The dominant Democratic Republicans split in the early-mid 19th century over the question of slavery. It was in 1854 that the Liberals formed the Republican Party in Wisconsin to oppose slavery and led to the Civil War against the Southern Democrats.
The Charlottesville riot in August 2017 demonstrated that the surrender in 1865 was only a cease fire, not a capitulation. The month after Trump was sworn in, the Charlottesville Council voted 3-2 to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. A riot broke out as the good old boys of the traditional south marched opposing the removal. The confederates had declared war. The ghost of General Robert E Lee had risen. The Liberals also turned up ready for the fight. One man drove a car into a crowd; a woman was killed and 19 people injured. Trump appeared unconcerned. Confederates celebrated US President Donald Trump’s remarks about the protests when, after being pushed persistently to make a stance, he denounced violence “on all sides” rather than explicitly condemning white supremacists. After two days, following massive pressure from his own camp, Trump added “including KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.” No one believed him. Racism is alive and strong in the USA, it has Trump as a sympathiser and is the basis of the great cultural divide.
Washington DC made life very difficult for Trump. Even Trump would agree that being president with so many enemies is no fun. He knows who likes him, those good old boys down south and the mid-western solid rural folk. Significantly, after Charlottesville, polls showed Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Dakota: North and South, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia were all in the 50-60% Trump approval rating. Florida and Georgia were close at 48%. Suddenly the states don’t look quite so united. The irony being that the political party philosophies had reversed and it was now the Republicans who supported the traditional southern confederates and the Democrats who were dominated by Liberals.
The 2020 election saw Trump removed as president and replaced by Joe Biden. Biden was elected President even though Trump won more votes than when he had been elected in 2016 and even though Biden was clearly suffering from age-related cognitive failure. On Trump’s departure he rallied a small army of ‘good old boys’ looking very much like a confederate reincarnation to march on the Capitol Hill building right in the heart of Washington DC and put terror into the heart of the Yankees although now . They were demanding a divorce and they meant business. This was an unprecedented response to an election result.
Divorce means division of property and the geo-political split was clear. This was a renewed battle between the Confederates and the Yankees, albeit under different banners to the original war. The Cavaliers and the Puritans. It is tribal, it is primal, it is never going to go away. Trump left the office in Washington DC with his army and returned to his home in Florida. Would he be the sort of guy that would see himself as general Robert E Lee reincarnated? Would he like a general’s uniform with medals and would he like to establish a royal, ruling Trump family dynasty? Yes, I do think he might like all that. Would he relitigate the South’s old claims? Would they follow him? Especially the strategically vital and lucrative marginal state of Florida?
If he declared Florida as the capital of a new country with his Mar a Lago palace becoming the presidential palace then I think Florida would lap that up with Georgia following like a lamb. Finally has the Mid-West/ South got enough money to fight a war with the Yankees? Did you think they were just chicken farmers and moonshine bootleggers after the civil war? If so, you were wrong.
Texas is the second largest economy after California. Apart from the bigger than anywhere farms bringing in huge agricultural revenues and ten billion barrels of oil, they have NASA there and all the spinoff aero-tech businesses that brings. North Dakota is the next largest oil producer with a very respectable 5.7 billion barrels of oil. Mississippi is full of huge hi-tech, high-wage factories including the $1,4 billion Russian owned Severstal steel mill producing steel for cars. The Yokohama tyre factory, Nissan factory at Jackson, GE Aviation at Hattiesburg, Hybrid Plastics, one of the top ten nanotechnology producers in the US. They have a Rolls Royce engine building plant, a navy shipbuilding plant and a plant building unmanned helicopters for the navy. Mississippi is a busy little state. Tennessee has GM and Nissan car plants, 142 solar power companies, manufacturing plants for Whirlpool and Electrolux, Eastern Chemical and Delta faucet companies. Tennessee has won economic “State of the Year” award in 2009, 2013 and 2014. And Florida does more than a bit of orange juice too. It has the fourth largest economy in the US behind California, Texas and New York. Florida produces over $100 billion worth of food; 70% of the country’s citrus and in the winter months supplying 80% of the country’s fresh fruit and veg. It’s aerospace and aviation businesses contribute over $140 billion. The Florida tourism industry employs a million people, 10% of the workforce, and earns $US54 billion pa. Allied to tourism is that Florida is also full of wealthy retirees and the flow on bio-tech research and Life Sciences industry is substantial. If the secret to eternal youth is going to be discovered, it will probably happen in Florida. Bundle up the smaller states’ rural economies with these and you have a combined GDP of $US 6-7 Trillion. It would be the third biggest GDP in the world. It would be bigger than Japan and Germany and bigger than the UK and Russia combined. It would not be an insignificant little country for Trump to preside over.
The east coast would be completely cut off from the west coast so maybe California will expand its borders to include Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii and declare itself the independent country of OprahLand? Montana becomes an isolated state so may choose to just get right out and join Canada? Maybe the remaining 19 states of the USA: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, will just then rename itself Massachusetts the Nation in respect for the tribe that occupied the Boston region when Puritan settlers from England first arrived there.
But divorce in the 21st century is somewhat more complicated than it was when the confederates first demanded it in the 19th century. Now there are two really big issues, the nukes and the dollar. Much of the nuke hardware is bunkered in the deserts of TrumpLand, but the software and the launch codes are in Yankee territory. The rest of their weapons of mass destruction are on warships, submarines and in the skies. What port do all those military assets call home? And the dollar? TrumpLand would want its own currency. He would probably approach bitcoin or one of the others with a request to ‘give me a couple of trillion dollars of your finest crypto currency my good man’ which, although not a currency trader, I would suspect might have a very destabilising effect on the greenback, the foundation stone of the American Empire. The lawyers will be able to retire in luxury off this divorce settlement. Meanwhile what an ideal time for China to put up a toll gate on the South China seas to keep the world in passive resistance while it performs a classical siege of Taiwan to starve them into submission.
When Trump left the Whitehouse, America and the world were still dealing with the Covid crisis, and the new wave of the delta variant was taking hold. The Climate Change politics were becoming a greater challenge and the internet was now established as a major political tool and social threat.
In respect to the clear message of the spread of the Covid-19 virus through humans around the globe from late 2019, there had two distinctly different responses by nations. In general terms these align with the political bias of the country, taking their lead from the different political structures of the two economic giants of the world, USA and China. China is a social democracy where the government, while allowing what they see as a necessary capitalist ‘virus’ to exist, keeps it firmly under control. The USA is a liberal democracy where huge corporate ‘donations’ to political candidates, give the corporate donors significant leverage over the decisions of government. China went into immediate and severe lockdown particularly at the epicentre. Business simply shut down. Health was more important than wealth. The USA stayed open for business, saying it was not serious, it was more important to keep trading than to take a day off. Until so many workers got sick and unproductive that the “Boss” ungraciously accepted the ‘sick leave’ disruption but warned he wants them back at work very quickly. The billionaires’ club need their businesses to keep running. Both the Democrats and Republicans rely on the billionaires to stay in power.
At the same time there are other social and political issues causing much angst in the western world. These issues have the hand-wringing western countries hell-bent on ridding themselves of fossil fueled energy within thirty years; hell-bent on self-flagellating for the colonisation sins of their forefathers of 6+ generations ago and hell-bent on making gender a matter of personal choice rather than of nature. Such a state is simply a natural progression of liberalism spinning out of control with abuse of the social media platforms of the internet. The outcomes of all these trends are beyond rational comprehension.
On the other hand, China is the worlds largest consumer of fossil fuels and, despite rhetoric, is continuing to build coal-powered factories. Modern China evolved from the austerity of hard-line communism under Mao Zedong to the social democratic system of China’s Government today. You certainly cannot argue with the economic success of that system as we have seen China emerge over the last four decades from an impoverished nation to an economic powerhouse now seriously challenging the USA.
China recognises the threat of social media as a political tool to destabilise a nation and undermine its government and accordingly maintains strict control on the intrusion of social media into the lives of its citizens. It has also just announced a ban on under 18-year-olds from playing video games for more than three hours a week. 8-9pm Friday, Saturday & Sunday. The market for video games in China alone is $US45 billion; globally it is estimated today at $US140 billion. When the stock market reacted sharply to this decision from China, the wealth of the tech giants controlling this industry was massively impacted. The industry’s unwitting spokespeople, the social liberals, will probably be marshalled to the online frontline for damage-control protests. Well-meaning social liberals have always been easy recruits for corporate agendas. Protecting this $140 billion (and growing} industry is a very big corporate agenda.
Chinese authorities describe these games as spiritual opium. I think that would have made a lot of politically centrist western parents sit up and blink. Those millions of parents who are coping with the addiction of their children to virtual worlds. Those parents who are watching their previously bright young children morph into sleep-deprived zombies with the consequential impact on their social behaviour and mental well-being. Those parents who have had the right to make their own disciplining decisions legally taken from them by liberal extremists infiltrating bureaucracy, thereby giving the video gaming industry unregulated access to the children, even legally by-passing parental control.
On the gender issue China accepts the rights (even obligation) of trans gender people to employment and education but is balancing that with active support for masculinity in boys. China is also acting decisively to curb the right of individuals either in commerce or in celebrity status, to become excessively wealthy and through this wealth to consider themselves as mass influencers of the population’s culture. In the West, the liberal extremists in bureaucracy are denying parents any level of parental control on children’s gender identity decisions. Make no mistake, Xi Jinping has sent a very strategic message to a middle America that is already worried about the moral and political bankruptcy of their own country.
Today the whole world is being tested on which system, social democracy or liberal democracy will emerge as the dominant global policy. We don’t like having our personal freedom restrained for social good but on the other hand, personal freedom is inevitably abused by self-interested individuals to the great cost of society. Can the Liberalism of the West survive the bleak freezing winters, transport chaos and industry shutdowns as they transfer from fossil fuels to wind and solar power? Can they survive the ecological impact of mining rare earth minerals to support green energy? Can they resolve the social problems of traumatised and roboticised youth from 24/7 exposure to manipulation by social media corporates? For Liberalism today faces the same challenge that Communism faced in the 20th century: economic poverty as the price of ideological inflexibility.
Can the current American President keep the United States united with Trump bunkered down in Florida and rallying his troops? Can America survive as the dominant economic and military empire of the world? Biden is clearly losing control of his mind but then he also has begun losing control of bodily functions and, when engaged in conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall at the Glasgow Climate summit in 2121, he broke wind without breaking conversation. A loud and long fart that was reported as having been impossible for the Duchess to ignore. It was a metaphorical gesture at a summit where he had just rebuked world leaders for their failure to control their methane emissions. Somehow, he was an epitome of the state of the nation in America. It was as if it was a cosmic sign that the American nation had given up the fight for global alpha status.
Is a new star rising in the East? The Star of Bethlehem, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, occurred in December 2020. Auspiciously it occurred on the solstice date of 21-12-2020. Three months later, wise men from Persia (Iran) arrived in China bearing gifts in the form of a 25-year multi-level co-operation agreement. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 appeared to signal the complete global domination of the West, but that was just an illusion as, behind the scenes of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, China had politically emerged from the poverty trauma of its own recent history and began building an economic and military powerhouse that would match the USA within a generation. And with an ever more powerful ally in China, the imperialist ambitions of Vladimir Putin were dusted off.
As I write this, in March 2022, Russia has recently invaded Ukraine in response to a perceived threat from the armies of the west under the Nato alliance established after World War Two. Having progressively moved their armies eastwards ever closer to Russia , particularly since 1997, Russia decided to make a counter attack to Ukraine’s desire to join the Nato alliance. The response began seven years ago, 20-02-2014 with the sudden annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Putin may have wished to celebrate this anniversary date with his invasion of the rest of Ukraine, but Xi Jinping already had his dance card full for the 20th of February as host of the closing celebrations of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. But the fireworks were barely extinguished from Beijing before they started in Russia. On Monday the 21st of February Putin declared Russian recognition of two independent states that were part of Eastern Ukraine on Russia’s border. These regions had been in a state of civil war for several years between the army of Ukraine and the Russian separatists living there. On Tuesday 22nd of February 2022 the Russian Parliament authorised Putin to send the army into those regions on a ‘peacekeeping mission.’
This Ukraine invasion was a military challenge to the USA and its allies in Western Europe. The USA, or at least its President Biden, declared that the USA, while supporting Ukraine, would not engage in direct military action against Russia over this invasion. The invasion progressed south and west. The UN called for a show of hands on where everyone stood regarding Russia’s invasion. Four countries stood behind Russia; Belarus, Syria, North Korea, possibly as a China proxy vote and Eritrea. Ominously 35 countries abstained, refusing the motion to condemn Russia. These included the big nations of China and India, along with supporters Vietnam and Sri Lanka, a few ‘stans” including Pakistan and Kazakhstan, both Iraq and Iran from the middle east and a large number of African nations including South Africa. Of the BRICS trading bloc, only Brazil voted against Russia at the UN but that was in direct contradiction to the publicly stated position of President Bolsonaro. Another 12 countries, mainly African, simply did not vote at all. Biden’s reason for not engaging Russia on Ukraine soil or in Ukraine airspace was to avoid World War Three. But I think the date 22-02-2022 will be remembered in history as the date of the Russian declaration of the start of World War Three and that this will be a world war between the old world and the new world, the East against the West.
The great civilisations within our knowledge, going back 5000 years, emerged out of Africa, migrating North to the increasingly temperate zones of Central Europe then orbited east-south to encompass Asia, India and Arabia. In the millennia before this common era, this was the known world, the civilised world, and the the birthplace of all the major religions. It was only during the common era of the last 2,000+ years did the standards of civilisations of the East come to the West. This began with Julius Caesar conquering westwards towards Gaul and Britannia and bringing advances in science and technology to the West. The Romans were accomplished architects and engineers, building roads, aqueducts and grand civic public buildings and amenities. In later centuries the Christian religion followed this trail west from Rome becoming the dominant religion of Western Europe. Around 1500ce a sailing adventurer, Columbus, sailed into the unknown western ocean on behalf of the Spanish Queen and so began the transfer of this Western European civilisation into what became known as the New World; the world of the Americas. Within a relatively short time the native populations of the Americas were overrun and overwhelmed by the disease and the violence of the expats from Western Europe. The countries of origin of these expats is identified by the languages now spoken in the New World; Portuguese in Brazil, French in French Guiana, Spanish in the rest of South America, French in Canada and English in the USA.
This is, in a sense, a remake of the ancient Greek myth of the wars between the Titans and the Olympians, the old rulers and the new rulers and in 1776 the USA became the new world Olympus, the land of liberty, free from the shackles of the old world. The second world war resulted in the New World emperors, Franklin D Roosevelt and his post-war successors Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower and John F Kennedy, dominating the politics of Western Europe, Japan and South Korea.
The Nato allies responded to the Ukrainian invasion with economic sanctions including the denial of Russian access to western banking systems. Putin has, at time of writing, held well back from launching his full nuclear military might onto Ukraine. From this restraint, western media have proclaimed the invasion has stalled and Putin has miscalculated. But Russians, from all walks of life, are experts in chess. Russians embrace chess as Europeans embrace football; as though it is in their DNA. The soldiers are Putin’s pawns, he opened with a Queen’s gambit and the Queen is the currency. Biden brought his black queen, the US Dollar, into play. US banks denied Russian access, Visa and Mastercard closed down operations in Russia. The Russian white queen immediately accessed the E-Yuan, the Chinese crypto currency that had been made globally available during the Olympics only days before; the Chinese Credit Card UnionPay also seamlessly picked up the Visa and Mastercard business. Putin has used his bishop, Kirill the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, to persuade the Russian flock that this is a holy war, the West’s bishop, Pope Francis, has countered on behalf of the western faithful; the Rooks, carefully protected, house the two essential components in a war, grain and fuel. Between them, Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and 50% of its sunflower oil. Much of their exports are to the desert lands on the Arabian peninsula and to the impoverished, but well resourced, countries of Africa. Flour and cooking oil are essential to the daily survival of people in these countries. And according to Eurostat figures of 2017, 30% of the EU’s petroleum oil imports and 39% of total gas imports came from Russia. In some eastern European countries between 75% and 100% of gas supplies come from Russia. The West is urgently trying to diminish its vulnerable reliance of fossil fuels from Russia and its Middle East allies by faking a ‘war on climate change’ and swinging technology towards battery sourced energy, but that comes with its own formidable challenges, both logistical and environmental.
The Russian nuclear knights remain, as I write, safely positioned guarding the Rooks and the King. The western media are quick to claim that Putin has blundered into an unwinnable conflict, but it remains to be seen. At this stage Russia and Ukraine are trading pawns, this is may just be the very early stage of the war as Russia is shifting attack positions. But while the West cointers moves on Putin’s chessboard, the thought in everyone’s mind is whether Ukraine is a dress rehearsal for Taiwan. If the West cannot win against Putin in chess, it most certainly will not beat Xi Jinping at Weiqi. Ukraine is officially neutral ground. In Taiwan the US does have a military presence, albeit an unofficial one, but like Ukraine, no formal mutual defence alliance. Apart from China’s historic nationalist claims, from a strategic viewpoint Taiwan manufactures 92% of the world’s semi-conductors, with South Korea the other 8%. Any Chinese military blockade disrupting the supply chain of semi-conductors would wreak havoc on western countries as well as Taiwan’s economy.
Apart from being an amusing palindrome, there is a cosmic significance to the 22-02-2022 date as the start of World War Three. It is the date that the planet Pluto “returned” in the United States. This means it is seen 27 degrees Capricorn, as it was on its last return which was 246 years ago. This is an astrologically significant event as the Pluto Return is historically connected with events of great upheaval and change. You may think that is astrological hogwash until you note that the previous date of the Pluto Return in the USA was on 6-07-1776; and if that date rings a bell it is because it was the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A Pluto Return also heralded the start of the Roman Empire in 27bce; the next Return of Pluto around 200ce heralded the split of the Roman Empire into the East and West Roman Empires, the East ruled from Constantinople and the West from Rome. The next Pluto Return in the late 460’s brought in the final years of the Roman Empire officially ending 476ce. The Pluto Return in the USA around 1528 marked the early years of the establishment of Spanish settlements in America after Columbus’ return to Spain. The Pluto Return in 1776 heralded the birth of the United States and effectively the American Empire that dominated the world after WW2. So does this Pluto Return on 22-02-2022 signal the start of the military withdrawal of the USA from the old world and announce the world now has a new sheriff in town?
The year 2021 was a cosmically significant year for our planet and our species. In strict calendar terms 2021 Anno Domini means two thousand and twenty one years since the birth of Jesus the Christ. The AD/BC calendar only came into being in 525 AD. It was calculated by a monk, Dionysius Exiguus, so that everyone in Christendom could align their calendars and celebrate Easter on the same day. At the time there was a schism between the Orthodox Christians of the East and the Roman Christians of the West and Pope John 1 felt the need to synchronise Easter globally. The Pope adopted Dionysius’ calendar for all nations under his control. Historians have now concurred that Dionysius was out by a few years in his calculation. From the gospels we read that Jesus’ family fled to Egypt to avoid Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, but historians know that Herod died in 4BC. The Gospel also said the family went to Bethlehem to register for the Census of Quirinius, Governor of Syria. But Quirinius was appointed to that post in 6AD. My identification in a previous essay of the triple conjunction of Saturn/ Jupiter as the likely star of Bethlehem would put the journey of the Magi at 6-7 bc. The inability to reliably use BC/AD to align with historical events is why modern historians now refer to CE (Common Era) and BCE.
But, in the great cosmic picture, the importance of 2021 is that is is officially the first year of the Age of Aquarius. In ancient Indian astrology, the Great Year is the time frame by which whereby the earth moves around each of the twelve houses of the Zodiac over a period of 25,920 years; and just as the twelve months of our year are not equal in number of days so too our twelve Ages are not necessarily equal. There are various methods of calculating the boundaries of the Ages, but they are generally accepted as 2000 years +/- . But according to this cosmic observation, based on the location of the sun at the March equinox of the year, we have been in the house of Pisces for the past 2,000+ years. Depending on which astrologer you follow, the age of Pisces ended either at the December solstice 2020 or on the vernal equinox in March 2021. Of interest is that the constellation of Jupiter and Saturn, which I believe was the star of Bethlehem, occurred in December 2020 and appeared just as the vernal equinox had just moved out of the last degree of Capricorn and into the first degree of the constellation of Aquarius. As we welcome in the Age of Aquarius, it is appropriate to review our 2,000 years in Pisces.
Whatever precise year it began, the birth in Galilee of Yeshua has undoubtedly been the defining event to introduce the Age of Pisces. Yeshua was born to Myriam, by way of a visitation by non-earthly beings and consequential artificial conception, and was the adopted son of Yasaf. The constellation name ‘Pisces’ means the fish. The symbol of Christianity is also a fish and had been adopted as such by the Greeks about two hundred years prior to Dionysius. Jesus first recruited fishermen as his disciples and told them they would become ‘fishers of men’. The miracle of the multiplication of the fishes and loaves features as a significant event in the Bible and the ‘153 fish miracle’ was the demonstration of the miraculous powers of the resurrected Jesus.
Pisces is ruled by the planet Neptune which is known as the water planet; the mission of Jesus was first announced with Jesus’ baptism in the waters of the Jordan River and to this day adoption into the Christian faith is done by baptism with water. The health of those born under the star sign of Pisces is characterised by issues with the feet (fish were never meant to walk). It is a practice of the leaders of Christianity, beginning with Jesus himself and continuing to the Popes of today, to ceremonially wash the feet of the common people.
Pisces is also characterised by the creative arts. Indeed, the last few hundred years of the age presented the greatest surge of artistic creativity in humanity’s known history. From the artistic renaissance period of Da Vinci and Michelangelo through the phases of impressionism of Monet and Van Gogh to the cubism of Braque and Picasso. The Renaissance also saw the invention of the printing press and thus the emergence of great writers of the era such as Shakespeare and Chaucer.
That is not to say the age of Pisces was without war and conflict; far, far from it. But for most of this Age of Pisces war took on a totally different guise. While war before the common era, before Pisces, was characterised by the blunt, transparent ambition of military leaders, Pisces by contrast was a wolf in a sheep’s clothing or in Piscean terminology, a shark in a dolphin suit. It started with Emperor Constantine absorbing the established Christian Church under his control and from then using the Christian Church as Rome’s divinely authorised cover for it’s political, military and economic control of Europe throughout the middle ages of Pisces. This included the Crusades against Islam in Spain, Africa and the Middle east, the Inquisitions against Protestants and the sending of Christian missionaries to conquer the souls of South Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Filipinos. Conquest in the Age of Pisces was done in the name of a patriarchal religion and its higher authority. It conquered by the terror of damnation to eternal hell and it was, commercially, very successful. The Church of Rome which dates back to Emperor Constantine of Rome became the wealthiest institution on the planet.
The final decades of Pisces had witnessed an alarming surge in population growth which was resulting in equally alarming consumption of earths resources and consequential pollution of the land, sky and seas of the earth. This last century of Pisces also coincided with a return to brutal tribal warfare within Europe and state brutality in the anti-religion countries of Russia and China, as well as a global pandemic, the Spanish Flu, all of which in combination accounted for the cruel and untimely deaths of hundreds of millions of people, more than 10% of the total population.
That the departure from Pisces was accompanied by a global pandemic was ominous. In 2020, the last year of the Age of Pisces, a highly dangerous virus spread from Wuhan, central China across the entire planet. A global pandemic was declared and we were all part of a global lockdown. That was huge; humans had never before experienced a global and domestic travel lockdown. Life as we knew it changed dramatically. Confined to our own home-bubble except for highly regulated essential movement. This virus appeared to primarily attack the oldest of our population, the last of the Pisceans.
The virus has been analysed and found to have come from bats. Initial blame for the virus is that bats may have infected some other mammal that somehow found its way into a seafood marketplace in Wuhan, Central China. Further analysis of the situation is emerging to suggest that the virus released in the Wuhan seafood market may well have been a human-to-human transmission and so focus then went onto the nearby biosecurity laboratory that studies bat sourced viruses. It may very well have been human curiosity opening Pandora’s box of infectious diseases that has caused this pandemic.
If you are looking for any cosmic link to Wuhan being fated to be the spark to launch this pandemic, there are two. In the 1858 Treaty of Tianjin, ending the second Opium war that Britain waged on China, Britain demanded access to Wuhan, right in the heart of China, for trading purposes. Wuhan is strategically located at the confluence of the Han and Yangtze rivers and provided access to all the products and industry in central China. The weakened Qing dynasty had no choice but to agree and Wuhan became known as the Chicago of China as a vital trading post where several Western trading countries had land concessions and consulates. What the West finally imported from Wuhan 160 years later is a lesson for all bullies to be careful what you demand.
The second connection to Wuhan is that in 1911 the republican revolution of China was launched there. This liberal revolution led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, the last Imperial dynasty of China that had begun in 1644. That capitalist-based system was subsequently seen by Mao Zedong and his followers as a political virus and ridding the country of it resulted in a death toll in the tens of millions, many from starvation, before it was quarantined to the island of Taiwan. In the history of virus release, it seems Wuhan has history.
But from 2021, as we start to adjust to life with an out of control virus, earth has officially moved into the age of Aquarius. Aquarius is ruled by the planet Uranus; the planet that governs innovation, technology, and surprising events. Indeed, I must concede that our new religion appears to be technology. Today our people increasingly consult Google, rather than the priest of a patriarchal religious corporation, to seek the answers to life’s mysteries. Increasingly we are using machines to do much more of the work from factories to hospitals while humans travel from one conference to the next to have intellectual conversations about the state of the world and humanity.
The last generation of Pisces began to foresee and prepare for the Age of Aquarius. This preparation for Aquarius first emerged in the 1960’s in San Francisco, rose to the big stage in New York’s production of Hair the Musical in 1967, was worshipped in Bethel N.Y.’s Woodstock in 1969 and welcomed to the world by “Blue Mink” proclaiming that ‘what we need is a great big melting pot.’ This counterculture was singing out for a world of coffee-coloured people. We wanted to travel; to experience other cultures; create fair trade to share the wealth of the first world with the third world. We were rebelling against greed and selfishness, against hate and prejudice. It all seemed so idealistic, we were so ‘woke’ to injustice, but it ended up with a McDonalds photo-bombing the Giza Pyramid. Where did it all go so wrong?
This movement began promisingly bringing with it both jet travel and the internet to help make the global village vision a reality. But the word of warning to humankind is the power of the mathematical phenomenon called exponential growth. Start with you as one person infecting just two people who each infect two people, who each infect two more people and you now have eight people infected; three further steps take it to 64. Three further steps take it to over 500; and just three more steps and you are over 4,000. And that is with each person only infecting two others. Our civilisation moved from being a boutique world 50 years ago to being a hyper-store world today. Air travel has accelerated exponentially by 80% from 2004 to 2012. With the power of technology, flight data companies like FlightAware can tell us that on any average day last year there were around 10,000 aircraft in the sky at any one time. Jets consume 150,000 litres of jet fuel on a 10-hour flight. We became a world focused on globalisation and perpetual population expansion, economic expansion and mass consumerism.
It was jet travel that spread the Covid-19 virus from Wuhan to almost every geographic cell on the planet; follow the pattern of a computer simulated 24-hour pattern of global flight and you will essentially be watching the transmission of this virus. But it was the internet that spread the panic.
We have a perception that viruses are malevolent. In fact, many are simply benign, and some are an essential part of life, performing vital functions. But all life forms live with the reality of viruses. In many cases they form a natural culling process; and being natural this is for the greater good. And it is not only nature that culls life forms. We humans, who were given reign of all the birds and beasts, will regularly cull wild animals when they are becoming so numerous as to cause ecological damage. Whether it is shooting goats from a helicopter or releasing the cruel rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) virus to cull the rabbit population in New Zealand, humans do what must be done to control animal populations that get out of control.
The earth is a living organism and has strong immunity, but it still needs to take appropriate measures to maintain its good health. When humans become the problem for the health of the earth then it is nature which is called on to resolve the problem. While records were not accurately taken, analysed and shared globally a hundred years ago, our best estimates today are that the 1918-8 Spanish flu killed about 2% of the world population. Initial data from China suggested that was similar to the Covid-19 impact. 2% does not sound a lot but that was approximately forty million people worldwide a hundred years ago. If this Covid-19 virus cannot be contained and has the same impact as the Spanish flu, that would equate to a culling of 150 million people off today’s global population of 7.5 billion. Pro rata, the 150 million death toll would be: 28 million in China, another 26 million in India, 6.5 million in the USA, 1.5 million in Germany, 1.3 million in the UK and 100,000 in New Zealand. On the plus side 1.3 billion of the healthiest people in China would survive, over 320 million of the healthiest Americans and 4.9 million of the healthiest kiwis would also survive. The ‘median human’ on the planet would be slightly younger and notably healthier than now. Natural selection is about the survival of the species, not the individual; it has always been thus.
In the late 19th century Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest spawned a social movement which was coined by Sir Francis Galton, an English scholar, as ‘eugenics’. Early in the 20th century the concept was picked up by American John Kellogg who, with his brother Will developed the process of flaked corn which Will subsequently turned into the Kelloggs company. Walt Disney is reputed to also have had such a eugenics philosophy and, of interest, in 2001 Disney/Kelloggs established a joint business venture with a Disney themed cereal. Eugenics became a popular social movement in the United States that peaked in the 1920s and 1930s. Books and films promoted eugenics, while local fairs and exhibitions held “fitter family” and “better baby” competitions around the country. The eugenics movement in the United States proposed the elimination of undesirable traits from the population. Proponents of this movement reasoned the best way to do this was by preventing certain individuals from having children. During the first part of the twentieth century, thirty-two States passed laws that resulted in the forced sterilisation of more than 64,000 Americans including immigrants, people of colour, unmarried mothers and the mentally ill. But this movement of applying animal husbandry logic to humans soon morphed into barbaric, inhumane, racial genocide with the emergence of Germany’s Nazi Party.
This eugenics movement was soundly defeated in WW2 by the humanitarians. Although ironically it was the ruthless and horrific use of indiscriminatingly dropped bombs from the sky on hundreds of thousands of non-combatant citizens of all ages that brought an end to the war on eugenics and ‘victory’ for humanitarianism. And that included the development and use of the atomic bomb which also ironically created the current humanitarian peace model of ‘mutually assured destruction’, with the appropriate acronym of ‘mad’. Today the outcome of our liberal humanitarianism is a population that is escalating exponentially out of control.
The phenomenon of exponential growth shows in the human population reaching 1 billion around 1800 a.d. rising to 2 billion less than 100 years ago then escalating exponentially to 4 billion only 40 years ago and about to reach 8 billion any day now. The progression takes us to 10 billion in a matter of a couple of decades, if not controlled. The damage that such exponential growth does to our planetary body is the same as a virus does to our own body or an infected body does to an entire community. It is not so much the actual resources of coal and oil that is causing the present environmental impact of the planet, it is the sheer volume of the use to keep this huge and growing population alive that is causing the destruction of our environment.
We had failed to address the fundamental issues of exponential population growth by ourselves; the gift of technology was being corrupted and abused. During the last year of the old Age, the skies were almost clear of jet planes; the polluted air over congested cities had cleared to show the colour of the sky and heavens; the flood of waste into our oceans had slowed to a trickle; huge amounts of the oil extracted from the bowels of the earth sat stored and unburned. All due solely to a virus that can defy our technology.
Almost two years after the original creation of this SARS COV 2 virus we are facing the wrath of its Delta and Omnicom variants and it appears the world is adjusting to the prospect of having to ‘live with Covid’, which of course means accepting whatever level of dying this virus intends. The global death toll by 2022 exceeds 6 million, if we reach the estimated 2% death toll of the Spanish flu, we, globally, have 140 million deaths yet to face. That will mean many fewer aged and seriously ill people on a forced life extension in hospital beds and many fewer people filling the chairs in aged-care lounges around the world, being deprived of the one thing they prized most in life, their dignity. The global total of age 80+ was 15 million in 1950, 0.6% of the population. By 2011 it was 110 million, 1.6%, by 2050 it was projected to be 400 million at 4% of the population. Keeping old people on life support is a big industry and this trend defies nature’s ‘three score years and ten” rule as a natural life span or as the Jewish Bible quotes in Psalm 90 10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.“
I am a thoroughbred Pisces; born in the age of Pisces, during the March equinox under the star sign of Pisces, on the night of the new moon and with the ruling planet of Neptune in retrograde. In 2021 I feel like a fish out of water, but I have no doubt that the Universe knows what it is doing. Aquarius, I think this is your time.
In days of yore, young farming men were lured from the hills and valleys of Britain to join the Crusades against the Muslim armies of the Holy Lands. No doubt some had a belief in the mission of waging bloody war in the name of enforcing a Christian belief of goodwill and peace to all, but others were lured, as young soldiers often were, simply by the experience of free travel for an adventure to foreign lands with a bit of sex and plunder along the way. Crusaders in the 21st century have similar motivations of travel and adventure.
Some time ago I had a Greenpeace crusader knock on my door. A pleasant enough young lady who had flown in from Canada to warn me about the devious way my government had conspired to expose me to the risks of deep-sea oil drilling off the South Island coast. A nice but not a memorable graphic presentation on a smart new iPad apparently explained why I should be demanding the Government choose the alternative of wind power development rather than drilling for oil which she claimed would quite possibly destroy life as we know it.
Perhaps, being from Canada, she was not up with the fact that New Zealand had been investing in renewable hydro power for 90 years and now, like many other countries, we have been investing in wind-power generation for a few years now to supplement that energy source. Wind power supplements existing renewable hydro-sourced energy for domestic electricity in this part of the world but the Greenpeace concept being that wind generated electricity would be stored in batteries to power electric motor vehicles. Sounds ideal.
However, more to the point, wind turbine power generation stored in batteries, as with solar powered energy, comes with its own environmental price tag due to the need for mining of rare earth elements. Ironically the smart new i-pad that she was using to prick my conscience had its own human rights price tag being reliant on the ongoing slave labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo to mine 60% of the world’s cobalt, essential for powering that i-pad’s battery. But that is another story for another time.
But aside from that, looking at the alternatives as a global rather than local issue, by promoting wind turbines and battery power this Greenpeace representative is effectively promoting exploration for rare earth elements, such as Neodymium, essential in the manufacture of the powerful electro-magnets for the wind turbines’ magnets and lithium & cobalt for lithium batteries, as a preference to exploring for oil.
There are serious and considerable environmental concerns connected with sourcing rare earth elements. Extracting rare earth elements begins with mining, followed by the refining process and then disposal. All of the stages of mining, refining and disposal come with unique issues. Most rare earth elements are mined through open pit mining, which involves heavy equipment and machinery. This disruption on the surface of the earth disrupts ecosystems. Furthermore, mines are the point source of release for very serious contaminants. Rare earth elements contain radionuclides (radioactive isotypes), Once radionuclides are in an ecosystem, they accumulate in plants, where the higher concentrations are ingested and ascend the levels of the food chain (Paul & Campbell, 2011). Radioactive contamination has become such a problem that monazite mining has now been banned by China.
The other major contaminant is dust and metal. When mining operations break up materials, the dust can release a variety of heavy metals commonly associated with health problems. As dust, these minerals (such as the asbestos-like mineral riebeckite) can be absorbed into lung tissue, causing problems like pneumoconiosis and silicosis, commonly known as “Black Lung” (Paul & Campbell, 2011). Another example of harmful dust generated is flue dust, a by-product of mining fluorine. According to the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, every ton of rare earth element produced generates 8.5 kilograms of fluorine and 13 kilograms of flue dust, waste materials which contain the heavy metals discussed above (Schuler et al, 2011).
The goal of mining is to end up with a mostly pure and usable element that can be utilised in whatever way necessary. However, the ore that is extracted from the earth does not come out pure, instead they need to undergo a refining process. This refining process introduces another set of environmental concerns, mostly revolving around the release of metal by-products into the environment. It is very easy for metals to enter the air, ground or waters in an environment, and once there it is nearly impossible to remove them.
The metals in an environment can also prove devastating to organisms. The by-product of mining rare earth elements is usually waste that is full of further threats to the environment. Generally, waste is categorised into two different types: tailings and waste rock stockpiles. It is the tailings that are of particular concern as they are full of small, fine particles that can be absorbed into the water and ground surrounding a particular mine. Regardless of whether a contaminant is deemed tailings or waste rock stockpiles, the contamination of the water is the main concern. Water can be contaminated in three ways: sedimentation, acid drainage and metals deposition, and once contaminated is difficult to restore to its original quality.
While most of the Neodymium is currently mined in China, it is readily available elsewhere on the planet and very possibly available in economic quantities in New Zealand. Areas in New Zealand that have been identified as possibly containing mineable quantities of rare earth elements are in Northwest Nelson, Westland, Fiordland, and Rakiura/Stewart Island. Fortunately, many of these places are off-limits to such mining under schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (when, incidentally, the National Government held 70% of the seats in Parliament) or because they are in World Heritage areas.
However, Greenpeace, in spite of these environmental issues, are asking for my financial support to pressurise the Government to develop this wind-turbine industry as their alternative to oil exploration. The Greenpeace young lady then presented me with a very legal-looking direct debit form that apparently gave Greenpeace the right to dip into my bank account every month and extract the agreed amount to help them put this pressure on the government to cease and desist from oil as an energy source and invest instead in the business of wind turbines.
When I raised my concerns over the problems in extracting rare earth elements, I was surprised to be told by the young Canadian lady that she had absolutely no knowledge that there even was such a problem. She did not even know what Neodymium was. Given that she also did not even seem to realise that windfarms were already existing and expanding rapidly in NZ it was a little alarming that a front-of-house representative of Greenpeace, sent all the way from Canada on a jet plane which would have consumed around 200,000 litres of jet fuel each way, to inform me about the benefits of wind turbine energy, knew so little about them. There ended that discussion. So, short story even shorter, she didn’t get my signature on the direct debit form.
That however did not discourage Greenpeace from a follow up attempt at getting access into my bank account to help halt this oil exploration, this time from an English-accented young lady. I tried the amicable fob-off: “haven’t you got big enough environmental issues closer to England?” I don’t look for confrontation, but there seems to have been a lot of oil drilling underway in the seas around Europe, but she insisted she was actually calling from Auckland, as if that made any difference; as if flying halfway around the world to make a phone call was something with which Greenpeace was ecologically comfortable. She really did want me to contribute to the Greenpeace funding campaign.
I explained that I know full-well that oil drilling companies are primarily interested in profits, and I have no doubt they are negotiating with a government that is equally keen on making our country a profitable economic entity, and yes I am aware what happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and have some idea of the risks of a worst case scenario in NZ. I assured her that if there was a viable alternative, I would endorse it. But so, I believed, would the corporates and Governments which are also very averse to risk taking. The corporates for the impact on their profits, the governments for the impact on their next election.
But the massive and growing demand for energy sources including oil, wind, solar, hydro, gas, coal and nuclear means that we still need to keep sourcing new deposits of oil in addition to developing alternatives if the rapidly growing world population is to be fed, provided with homes and hospitals, schools and libraries, offices and factories and with a transport infrastructure to connect everything.
And frighteningly the earth’s population grows exponentially. While it took over 150,000 years for the earth’s human population to reach its first billion, it took only another 150 years to reach its second billion and now, in less than a further 100 years, it is moving quickly towards eight billion. I am not surprised if the earth is complaining loudly.
So, I pointed out that increased drilling for oil with the consequential increase in CO2 levels in our atmosphere is actually a symptom of our problem, not the problem itself. The core problem is that our population is rapidly expanding out of control. If Greenpeace were somehow successful in significantly reducing oil drilling, then that would be a solution of sorts, but only because it would lead to global economic collapse, massive unemployment, starvation, disease and would put the human species on the path back to the stone age and possibly beyond.
I wondered aloud whether the Greenpeace organisation might wish to focus its resources on humanely resolving the crisis of over-population as a means of reducing the human impact on the environment rather than asking me for money to travel around the world fundraising and sailing protest banners to oil rigs. For if we do not resolve the population explosion problem then, sooner or later, mother nature will develop an unbeatable virus and do the job for us. For while they are so convinced that we are the species in control of the planet, consider this: we were created by the earth, we are raised and nourished by the earth and when we die the earth consumes us, flesh and bones. The earth is really just farming us for its own survival. When she needs to cull the herd, she will do so.
A pause and then an exasperated young English lady told me that she was just wasting her time with me and so she hung up. I guess you can’t travel all over the globe on Greenpeace donations if you are only coming to tell us about birth control. The dire threat of offshore drilling is a much easier sell.
But we need to also challenge the ‘scientific’ basis for their concern about global warming. Is the average temperature on earth higher today than it was a century ago when industrialisation expanded throughout the globe to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population? It is actually not as easy as you might expect to find the answer to that obvious question amongst the plethora of years of press releases from the climate alarmists. From all the micro data that the climate alarmists are extracting, analysing and dispensing, why is it so hard to find a simple list of actual seasonal temperature recordings over the last one-hundred-year period in any given location? Instead, we get charts of variations of temperature from the norm (although rationalising what ‘the norm’ is and when the norm supposedly happened seems to be just ignored). They provide charts of ‘moving averages over years’ with the years selected to ‘prove’ a trend entirely at the writer’s discretion. And while the internet is absolutely overwhelmed with alarmist headlines, actual temperature data over 100 years, separated by season is very, very hard to find. But I eventually did find one. It was from Britain. Have a look at these actual temperature recordings below, over the last hundred years in the country that birthed and led the coal-powered industrial revolution and tell me where you see any temperature trends that would alarm you.
So as a brief scan, in Central England in 1912, the year the Titanic sank and the coal miners went on strike, the average winter temperature was 5.36, spring 8.53, summer 17.55 and autumn 10.39.
At the start of the ‘Boomer’ generation in 1948, winter was 5.13, spring 8.75, summer 17.5 and autumn 11.15.
In swinging 1965, the year Gen. X was born, winter was 3.28, spring 8.43, summer 15.71 and autumn 10.40
In 1981 the year the ‘Millennials’ arrived on earth, winter was 4.33, spring 9.17, summer 15.0nand autumn 10.12
And at the dawn of the 21st century winter was 5.35, spring 9.49, summer 16.45 and autumn 11.57.
|100 years of Central England temperatures by season|
|Source: Met Office|
I could look at the average summer temperature of 1912 at 17.55 degrees and compare it with 100 years later at 16.68 and tell you that the summers are cooling in central England. I could even take three summers spread over this period of 2000, 1948 and 1912, draw a connecting line and claim that the climate has since cooled by 1 degree over the century. I would not do that of course, two or three points over a 100 year span does not make a valid data base. Yet the alarmists fill the media and internet with no more than micro data snippets to make their claims. So just look over the above 100 year chart as a total group or a random handful and just ask yourself, do these temperatures alarm me?
According to the best astrophysics information we have, our temperatures are, unsurprisingly, linked with the natural orbit of the earth around the sun, which is a changing environment and by no means a perfect circle as we might have assumed. Militutan Milankovic, a contemporary of other mathematics and physics geniuses Einstein, Minkowski and Tesla, demonstrated the way our solar system works.
In brief, Milankovic identified that there are three cycles contained in the way earth orbits the sun: elliptic, tilt and precession. The elliptical plane changes shape quite dramatically every 100,000 years. It moves from an orbit of being more round to becoming more elliptical. In its more elliptical phase earth spends a longer time further away from the sun. Unsurprisingly the cycles of glaciation of the planet also have a 100,000-year cycle, or at least have done so over the past 600,000 years that Milankovic was able to include in his calculations.
Milankovic’s calculations connecting solar radiation levels with glaciation, even in temperate climate zones, remain valid today having been constantly reviewed with all the computing support to which modern astrophysicists have access. According to NASA’s earth observatory, Earth’s orbit changes its eccentricity over the course of 100,000 years from nearly 0 to 0.07 and back again.
When the Earth’s orbit has a higher eccentricity, the planet’s surface receives 20 to 30 percent more solar radiation when it’s closest to the sun than when it is furthest. During a glacial period, the planet cools as the earth spends less time closer to the sun and more time further away from it; so the air dries out and water levels fall as liquid is transformed to ice. Land bridges start to become available, and islands appear where before they were part of the seabed. If the cycle repeats the pattern of the the past 600,000 years, then we are now at the peak of the warming cycle and will, over the next few thousand years begin the cooling slide back to glaciation when in 90,000 years’ time, ice sheets will again cover North Europe and North America,
The second change is in the tilt of earth. This moves between 22.1 degrees and 24.5 degrees over a period of 41,000 years and this tilt effects the severity of the seasons. Earth is currently in the middle of this range.
The third cycle is the precession of Earth caused by a slight wobble similar to that of a spinning top. Currently Earth’s axis has been pointed north towards Polaris, also known as the North Star. But Earth’s gradual processional wobble means that in approximately 2,000 years the north star will be a dimmer star called Errai. As the Earth progresses through its a precession cycle, the orientation of the planet is altered. This wobble also effects the level of solar radiation striking different hemispheres of earth as it proceeds around the 360 degrees.
In the chart comparing C02 levels and temperature we can see there is a connection between the two, but what we cannot see is whether it is changing temperature that causes changing C02 levels or the other way around. Nor can we see such a precise correlation as the alarmists are claiming over the past 100 years. What is also obvious is that high levels of C02 have been reached regularly in the past, long before the industrial age of humans. The last time C02 levels were the same as today was 125,000 years ago which natural state then, when humans were only a minority hunter-gatherer species, precipitated the falling of the temperature cycle back to an ice age 25,000 years later. This cycle had repeated in 250,000 BC and 325,000 BC. Peak Carbon levels preceding a falling temperature towards an ice age.
This scientific graph clearly demonstrateds that the warming and cooling of the planet is cyclical which tends to confirm it is a result of the cyclical relationship between the earth and sun as Milankovic demonstrated. The other obvious point is that such movements occur over thousands of years not over dozens of years.
The reason for the heightened anxiety of the alarmists is that today our scientists are micromanaging data and constantly tweeting bite size doomsday headlines that simply are not supported by the bigger picture trends. The climate works in tens of thousands of years, not in months. The last time humans went through this climate cycle they were blissfully unaware of the fact that there even was a cycle; it was a pleasant and warm time and they probably just enjoyed it; a few hundred generations later the climate was comparatively much colder, but they did not know it was colder because they had no records to analyse; it just was what it was. Too much micro analysis of climate data on a month-by-month basis is just creating hyper anxiety and panic.
The problem with such micro analysis is that, even as they march on their Friday strikes and fly around the globe in their thousands to attend conferences in order to draft resolutions, they are just plucking temperature levels and deadlines out of the air about when we may reach the point of no return, which target seems to be a shifting landscape. In 2008 the tipping point was predicted to be 1 August 2016; in 2016, following the Paris Agreement which set 2 degrees as the tipping point, IIASA (science institute) policy brief said we had until to Dec 31, 2020, to keep warming under 2 degrees. As that date approached the 2018 climate summit in September they said we could still get under the 2-degree tipping point within 12 years so that takes us out to 2030. Prince Charles is a little more optimistic and thinks we have until 2050 and he has a feel for these things. But with the doomsday event being a moving feast the alarmist movement decided to up the ante. Now the tipping point was reduced to 1.5 degrees and target dates had to be agreed.
Fossil fuel over-use is not a problem of climate, it is a problem of health. Instead of talking about the ‘Mad Max’ scenario, all because of the industrial sins of our grandfathers, we need to be talking about investing in better technology to reduce lung-damaging air pollution in our larger industrial cities. But the ‘green energy’ options being demanded at these summits only result in air pollution being replaced by the toxic pollution of our farming soils and our water table that poison our food and water sources. When we get rid of the climate doomsday message and focus on health solutions then we might start making some progress. Right now, the climate alarmists are only creating a climate of doom and hopelessness. And that carries the risk of being a self-fulfilling prophesy.
They also cause significant alarm that the global warming is causing catastrophic sea rise which also is unsupported by science. Changing weather and wind patterns will change how and where the oceans encroach on the land, but satellite imagery is showing as many Pacific Islands growing in size as opposed to shrinking. The major ocean rise occurred in the few thousand years immediately ending the last ice age, and for many thousand years the oceans have been stable.
Incidentally, in 2017 climate alarmists claimed that the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia was on its deathbed because of our carbon emissions. But, with no reduction in atmospheric carbon, the reef has since returned to full health and is now happily running half marathons on the weekends. It must have been just a bit of a bug.
The very first Climate Change Summit (Conference of Parties COP 01) was held in Berlin in 1995 and was a relativity modest sombre affair consisting of 800 delegates, 1000 observer organisations and 2000 media. This was to start the bureaucratic ball rolling and by COP15, held in China, it had built to an impressive 27,000 attendees. Numbers slumped to about half that in subsequent events which was disappointing and so the push to recover popularity of the event focused on the 21st COP, Paris 2015. And they did it as a record breaking 28,000 bureaucratic delegates and media representatives descended on the city of love just before Christmas with their employers’ credit cards loaded and unlocked. And this summit to beat all summits culminated in the celebration dinner at which the Grand Poohbah of climate high priests could announce that sacrifices have been made and the gods of the climate have been appeased, for now.
The latest updated version of these ‘save the planet’ summits (COP26) has just finished in Glasgow, so they can tidy up a few details left as ‘matters pending’ from the last conference, COP25 in Madrid. Before Madrid it was Poland, of all places, that had won the bid to host the global bureaucratic Christmas party, COP24. Never mind the carbon footprint of the twenty plus thousand plus people who travelled from all over the globe to have a ‘conversation about climate change’. Never mind the irony that it was being held in the heartland of Europe’s largest coal-producing region. The important question is ‘was it a bigger and better Christmas party than Francois Hollande’s in Paris?’ And the victory of the Polish-hosted battle in the war against climate change was declared by Michal Kurtyka in his staged jump for joy.
By contrast the Madrid conference in December 2019 was a bit of a disaster from the climate alarmists’ viewpoint despite the attendance of Saint Greta of Funberg, arriving on her magic yacht. The Christmas party had originally been intended for Brazil but was changed to Chile due to the unfriendly change in the political situation in Brazil. It was then changed again from Chile to Madrid, again because of ‘political’ issues. However the average Jose Spaniard on the street was not buying it and major protests really spoiled the party atmosphere of COP25. Discouraged and unable to reach any consensus they pushed pledges into the next conference as ‘matters carried forward’.
So, Glasgow 2021 was under enormous pressure to deliver a new “greenpeace in our time” resolution. They had to re-kick the party and ensure that an even better signed charter would be presented as our upgraded covenant with the climate gods to be stored in an ark and carried to the next pre-Christmas conference. This despite the position that on the street there are two camps of thought: those who believe climate change is a process of nature, and the hand wringers who say it is far too little, far too late, we are all going to fry.
But within the bureaucracy who attend such summits, the irony and hypocrisy is astounding. As an embarrassing start to Glasgow, the luxury Jaguar electric cars supplied to ferry the high priests around Glasgow were powered by oil-fired generators as there were insufficient electric charging points in Glasgow. On the airfields around Glasgow there were 140 private jets parked up that had been used to fly VIP delegates from around the world, the least energy-efficient means possible of attending. A minor detail let’s party on! And so at a conference denouncing the methane that is produced by raising cattle, delegates were filmed dining out at the Knightsbridge Steakhouse that serves beef steaks cooked in gold foil and costing between 850 and 1450 pounds sterling. No scientists presented a paper calculating the carbon footprint of that meal.
But like Madrid, Glasgow again ended in failure as it attempted to increase the targets that, in Paris, had been calculated by the leading members of our scientific community as the targets that would save the planet. Alok Sharma, the President at the Glasgow conference was not dancing on the table. This summit, living up to it’s cities reputation, was a dour and sombre affair.
I am not a ‘climate change denier’. Indeed I would be alarmed if the climate did not change because that would indicate natural cycles had ceased which would certainly be the end of times. Why would scientists ever think that climate change, the warming and cooling of the planet and the raising and lowering of C02 levels, is anything other than the normal natural process that has continued throughout the eons.
Our ancestor, homo erectus, evolved about two million years ago and survived until just 120,000 years ago so they lived through several cycles where both temperature and C02 levels have been at least as high as they are today. Even our sapiens species at only 200,000 years young lived through the cycle 120,000 years ago when C02 was as high as today and temperature was even higher, without a factory or car on the planet. So, let’s not be bullied into accepting a doomsday panic and giving the ‘end of the world is nigh’ high priests a blank chequebook to fund global pre Christmas conferences for their ‘conversations’. Let us only consider what impact the current climate observations and speculations might practically have on the lifestyle of our ice age species. The climate summits are no more nor less than arrogant humans believing we are rulers of nature. That humans caused the climate to change with our burning of fossil fuels and that we can again change the climate back again by our use of electric and solar powered batteries. Such simplistic, arrogant folly. How the Gods laughed.
When I say temperature change, what do you think that means? The scientists work, of course, off average mean temperatures when they get into this global warming issue. You might be surprised to know (I was) that the global mean temperature today is about 14-15 degrees Celsius. That, for reference, is also the average mean temperature of Milan, Italy. When they talk about the global warming over the past 30-40 years, they are talking about a rise of 1 degree Celsius. Back in the Miocene epoch at the last major global warming spike, the global mean temperature was another 4-5 degrees Celsius higher than today, or an average of around 20 degrees C (or the current mean temperature of Brisbane Australia, but much cooler than Montego Bay, Jamaica which now averages 27 C).
And there is the misleading result of talking about ‘averages.’ A region that has a summer average of 40 degrees followed by an autumn average of 15 degrees, a winter average of minus 10 degrees and Spring of 15 degrees then has an annual average of 15 degrees which sounds pleasant enough but in reality has 3 months of blistering heatwaves and 3 months of sub-zero conditions which is a dreadful climate. And while our climate scientists at Paris and Poland went on about the C02 emissions creating a greenhouse warming across the whole planet, the reality is quite different. We have regions experiencing exceptionally hot summers at the same time some are experiencing record breaking cold temperatures in winter across Europe, Asia and the USA. What we are experiencing is not a gradual warming from a high level of C02 gas in the atmosphere as though we are living in a glasshouse, but in fact the weather is becoming more extreme at both ends of the temperature gauge. And those extremes are not explained by a greenhouse effect.
It just puts a little perspective into the debate and perspective is what the current climate handwringers seem to be ignoring. Man has been through these climate changes before. Life goes on in those climates. Yes we would probably want to improve our air conditioning systems and some of us may end up with a beachfront property where once we had a main road between us and the sea, but we can adapt.
Having emerged from the forests 200,000 years ago, we have built our great cities and civilisations because of the ‘sapiens’ gene. We have done so through notable periods of climate change with ice caps expanding and retracting, sea levels rising and falling. We have had the imagination to adapt to our ever-changing conditions and challenges to improve our experience of life on earth.
We now need to focus our energies on more intelligent and imaginative use of resources, recycling, and re-engineering to meet the climate challenges that nature and our own activities present us today. Yes we need less air-polluting sources of power than fossil fuels and less ground-polluting sources than nuclear power or battery-stored energy. Yes we need to regenerate forests and natural habitats. Yes we need to prepare for higher seas and more extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. So let’s get on with it and stop wasting time with King Canute conferences that just clog up the process with hand-wringing, progress-stalling bureaucracy, forever adjusting the narrative and setting new targets to ensure that the conversation never ends. And stop blaming humans as though we created carbon dioxide. For whatever caused the high levels of C02 in the atmosphere in the eons before 1800 ad, we are reasonably sure it wasn’t humans and engines.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that right after Christmas 2018 an urgent meeting of geophysicists gathered to update the World Magnetic Model. As you no doubt know, the magnetic North Pole is not located at the same place as the geographic North Pole, or true north, so navigation systems need to know exactly how far apart the two points are. As it turns out, the magnetic North Pole had moved further away from where we thought it was and that is no small matter for navigators and so the urgent meeting was called in January 2019 to correct our calculation model. They expected to get five years life from the 2015 magnetic model, but it was realised that the geomagnetic north pole location was experiencing an unpredicted erratic change and the revised model was launched under urgency in 2019.
The unpredictable wandering of the North Pole has occupied the imaginations of scientists and explorers ever since it was first accurately located in 1831 by James Clark Ross in the Canadian Arctic. But in the mid-1990s it’s speed accelerated from around 15 kilometres per year to around 55 kilometres per year. By 2001, it was in the Arctic Ocean. It is currently on track for Siberia. Likewise in our part of the planet the magnetic south pole has now moved off the coast of Antarctica and is now even outside the Antarctic circle.
The iron core in the centre of the earth generates our planet’s magnetic field; if the inner earth motion changes, it affects the direction of the magnetic field. In 2016, Satellites tracked an acceleration of the magnetic field beneath South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Scientists are trying to understand just what is going on deep inside our planet and what affect various scenarios might have on earth’s magnetic field. It may be a result of geomagnetic pulses, like the one that happened in 2016, or it might be a result of hydromagnetic waves deep within earth’s core. But what scientists can tell us, from study of magnetic minerals in the ice core, is that it is all quite natural. Over the eons the poles have completely reversed on average every 2-300,000 years; the last reversal was nearly 800,000 years ago so they are saying we are actually well overdue for another switch. They also calculate that the process of reversal took over 20,000 years to complete so we do get time to change the order of the N-E-W-S letters on our compasses.
The earth’s magnetic field is one of the two powerful forces in our atmosphere, the other being gravity. In theory gravity is over 100 times stronger than magnetism but, for my money, if you pick a nail up from the floor using a magnet and it stays stuck to the magnet you would have to think that magnetism has won that arm wrestle. That’s all by the by; the main job of the magnetic field is to shield our planet from excessive galactic cosmic rays. So, the real question is, could a shifting magnetic field have an effect on climate and weather patterns? Heatwaves, winds, storms, deluges, tidal surges, arctic ice-shelf calving; that sort of thing? It’s worth thinking about. Certainly, there are some Danish scientists giving it very serious thought. Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark, professor in the Division of Solar System Physics at the Danish National Space Institute in Copenhagen, has been researching the link between galactic cosmic rays and earth warming for decades. In 1997 his study was published with the conclusion that: During the last solar cycle, Earth’s cloud cover underwent a modulation more closely in phase with the galactic cosmic ray flux than with other solar activity parameters. Further it is found that Earth’s temperature follows more closely variations in galactic cosmic ray flux and solar cycle length, than other solar activity parameters. The main conclusion is that the average state of the heliosphere affects Earth’s climate. More recently this claim has been supported by two Danish geophysicists, Mads Faurschou Knudsen and Peter Riisager using data drawn from stalagmites and stalactites found in China and Oman to compare our magnetic field with that of 5,000 years ago. The results of the study have been peer reviewed and published in the U.S. scientific journal ‘Geology’.
Anyway, the increasingly unpredictable shift of the North Pole is a geological fact that nobody can deny and so there will have to be far more regular meetings of the people who are required to keep our navigational systems in working order. They will, of course, have to meet pre-Christmas just so Santa can set the auto pilot control and get home to the North Pole quickly after a busy night. As it happens the ‘human-caused’ climate change zealots also favour pre-Christmas conferences, so maybe the geomagnetic mob can make a big annual conference-style event of this and the two groups can join forces. The additional numbers might increase the incentives that big cities are prepared to offer to get an economic injection of 30,000 people, all on expense accounts and looking for a $1,500 gold-foiled steak, turning up a few weeks before Christmas.
Maybe they will argue over bragging rights as to whether man’s industrialisation or earth’s magnetic field is having the greatest impact on the climate or maybe they will collaborate and decide that man is somehow affecting the earth’s inner iron core by mining coal and drilling for oil. Who knows? Not me, I am not a scientist I am just a Joe Blogger, and I am hoping Santa will bring me both an Akubra hat and a pair of Redband gumboots. Adapting to the natural ebb and flow of the climate environment has been the sapiens mantra for 200,000 years and so I will be tending my carrots and lettuces while the Court of Canute is ordaining Greta Thunberg, their reincarnated Joan of Arc, to lead us against the forces of nature.
The Climate change industry, on the face of it, is a scientific movement that is ostensibly quoting science as the reason for the hysteria. But in truth it is not a battle of the scientific theories, it is a new religious war. Christianity is the religion of the 2000-year cycle of Pisces. Christianity is the religion of the Europeans who conquered the world and brought industrialisation to the world beyond Europe. But the age of Pisces is over. The Age of Aquarius has arrived. And with it a new religion and a new maiden saint to lead this religion.
This religious revival for the new Age ostensibly worships Gaia, the mother earth god, rich with the traditional religious zealot placards of ‘the end is nigh’ and the incessant mantra chanting, but with a modern age twist. This new worshipper of Gaia takes its pick from the inventions of the Pisces generation: jet travel, luxury hotels, computers, smart phones, modern clothing, but chooses to dispense with the established source of that wealth, fossil fuels. That is their sole point of distinction for their religion of Aquarius. The impending environmental and social catastrophe, resulting from the mass extraction of the rare earth minerals required to partially replace fossil fuels as an energy source, is tomorrow’s problem and this generation does not do tomorrows. The surfboard of common sense has never withstood the surging wave of religious fervor and is not doing any better today.
I recall having watched Greta Thunberg, millennial poster child for the climate alarmists, speaking at the United Nations Climate Action summit in 2019. What venom was in that face and in the words she spoke? And she set the stage by so publicly promoting that she sailed to this UN Conference on a multi-million-dollar yacht so that she did not make a carbon contribution to the climate before returning to the Climate summit in Spain the same way to be received like a victorious Joan of Arc. Oh, how the UN delegates cheered, the irony lost on the adoring audience that they, in contrast, had all flown first class from around the globe to listen to her live, in person. And many of them possibly also numbered among the 22,000, the equivalent of 60 jumbo jets, who had travelled to the Poland climate alarmist conference the previous year and also among the 28,000 who had travelled to the earlier Paris alarmist conference. But they applauded the example that this child showed us by travelling on a yacht that not even the reasonably wealthy boomer, whose ‘capitalist excesses’ she despises, could ever hope to afford.
The most despicable tactic of the climate alarmists is their recruiting of schoolchildren such as Greta as their foot soldiers by instilling absolute terror in their young minds of the horrific apocalyptic death of all humans from the climate. It has become a religious revival movement determined to replace Christianity as manifested in the white European male. Greta has been anointed as their virgin child goddess. As a quick fact check, the climate has always been a cause of death in the world, particularly as it swings towards the extremes of heat or cold on its natural cycle. But climate as a cause of death has never been as low as it is today after a century of advanced technology, climate protection and humanitarian aid. In the 1920-30 decade, climate related deaths were recorded as 4- 500,000. By 1980 they were down to 50,000.
I have also noticed that these protestors have used as a strategy the apportioning of blame for the polluted state of our planet solely on the selfish excesses of the oldest generation still alive. ‘Ok boomers’, is now a common catch-cry which they see as a condescending patting of grandad on his deluded head. I don’t want to take the bait, wade in and fuel the animosity, but we do need to do a bit of a fact check on the charges made by these alarmists against us as ‘boomers’. It seems such a silly attack because generations are not fixed date separations. The generational transfer is quite fluid and while there will be evolving cultural footprints, exactly when they started and when they ended is very difficult to define. But let us look at a few key trends over the relevant decades:
Coal burning, one of the big contributors to C02 in the atmosphere, accelerated most dramatically in the decade 2000 to 2010, and primarily in China. This was entirely a result of China becoming an economic ‘powerhouse’, building massive coal-powered factories to feed the millennial driven breed of “hyperstores”. The boomers were the ’boutique’ generation and the millennials have become the ‘hyperstore’ generation. Boomers considered a phone a purchase for life and repaired appliances when they failed; in the millennial era we discard quickly and buy new, mostly with a made in China tag attached. And the flow on effect are the landfills and oceans clogged with discarded waste.
Jet air travel is a massive contributor to C02 but, before the Covid-19 pandemic forced it, there was no sign of the millennial generation trimming down on demand for air travel. Scheduled services had in fact accelerated 80% in just 8 years from 2004 to 2012. The Travel industry had their business antennae set for the millennial market. A report by industry giant by Travelport said young people ages 18 to 34 were most likely to spend more money on vacations than other age groups. An Expedia poll showed also millennials travelled the most; 35 days each year to be precise.
But it is not just the airline industry that the millennials consume with voracious appetites. By 2010 the average boomer was 50-60 years old and their contribution to mobile phone use was relatively modest. Apple i-phone sales in 2010 were less than 40 million, but by 2017 it was well over 200 million. The massive growth in smart-phone consumption is fueled by the millennials and their social media addiction. Every smartphone is a handful of rare earth elements (as are the mechanisms of wind power generators and electric motors, but that’s another story for another time). Rare earth elements are separated from the rest of the earth by a highly toxic chemical process. The millennials consider mobile phones to be disposable items to be discarded and replaced every time someone tweaks a camera setting in a new model. One very visible and tangible consequence of this vast consumption of mobile devices as well as other high tech devices and green energy systems is, in a word, Baotou. That is a city in Mongolia that has grown to a population from under 100,000 when the boomers were born, to 2.5 million today; that population boom is based on the mining and processing of rare earth elements to satisfy the digital and green energy demands of the millennial consumers. Batou is now a seething toxic lake that is seeping into the subsoils and water table throughout northern Asia.
Baotou is one of the major sources today of these rare earth minerals and Batou by 2013 supplied 70% of the world’s use of these REE. But as demand has grown massively since then, other countries are getting in on the market. India, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Russia, and Brazil are all now mining rare earth elements. What started hidden away in ‘out of sight out of mind’ Mongolia and Northern China is now coming to a country near you, and all to satisfy the insatiable demand of the millennials to discard a 12-month-old phone for the latest model and to ‘go green’.
The millennials are also the generation that has brought in the Uber Eats mentality because they do not think they should have to cook their own meals. Paying for cars to drive around and around the block, pouring emissions into the atmosphere so that a car is always on hand to pick them up a plant-based burger when they feel the whim.
The alarmist millennials are spreading anxiety around the world like a virus all because the ‘average’ temperature has warmed by 0.8 degrees C since 1880 and the seas are rising at 1 – 2 mm pa. The reality is that the planet has been warming annually, and sea levels rising, consistently since the last ice age ended. In fact, scientific ice core analysis shows that Antarctica warmed about 20 degrees in the years from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago (while the rest of the planet warmed only 4 degrees over that period), the ice age was coming to its natural end. That was a process of nature and processes of nature extend over tens of thousands of years, not over decades. Of course, no alarmist is still reading because the official stance of millennial-controlled media is now to refuse to debate the issue. That decision exposes them as propagandists rather than journalists.
If you want to know how to handle global anxiety, you could do worse than talk to a boomer. We boomers grew up knowing that two men who represented two superpowers that lived in constant paranoid fear of each other, each carried a suitcase around with him everywhere he went in which was a button that could launch enough nuclear rockets to destroy the planet several times over in a matter of hours. When I was twelve we had the Cuba standoff crisis between these two nations that had us all just waiting for the minute that life-ending nuclear war started. Technology development in the previous generation had introduced nuclear power. Nuclear power was seen as a clean and highly effective alternative to fossil-burning coal power. As indeed it is, in theory. The phallic atomic bomb came as a very unwelcome side product driven by the ambitions of Hitler, just as Viagra was initially developed as a medicinal treatment for high blood pressure.
So, in our youth we protested to our elders, as youth will always do. We were the “Make love not war” generation and when we achieved our own democratic influence on the world, we did something about the situation, and we made the changes. This boomer generation built social bridges and healed the deep rifts of generations past. Racially bigoted laws in the USA were overturned as were laws against same-sex relationships. Racial slurs were replaced in common speech with respectful racial distinctions; ‘queers’ of previous generations became gays. Tolerance was the byword of boomers.
But too many of the current protest generation just want to fly around the globe from one conference junket to the next ‘having conversations’ to relitigate the actions of the boomer and earlier generations rather than actually contributing to life in a positive way. And they skulk in the background, grooming their “Gen. Z’ children, like Greta, to demand that their grandparents start doling out their life savings, as they believe is their entitlement. If these millennial alarmists just keep playing the blame game as their only contribution to humanity and if life on earth does get less pleasant in coming decades, it won’t be the boomers that Gen. 20/20 will be pointing the finger of shame at, it will be the self-indulgence of the millennial generation and the lazy, impotence of their alarmist sub-category.
On reflection, I believe the first generation of humans to be born into the social media environment are a very troubled generation, psychologically. Society was simply not prepared for that degree of personal intrusion which has resulted in a highly anxious and paranoid generation. The boomers faced similar cataclysmic threats but, in general terms, were emotionally more capable of living with the threat of nuclear holocaust and getting on with life. We just had to have faith in the survival instinct of humanity.
But yet even today when ecological fear permeates the environment and creates a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ generation, there is a beacon of hope; and hope brings faith. We have a young man who is as fearless and creative as Greta Thunberg is frightened and helpless. His name is Boyan Slat. As a teenager, this young Dutch engineering student witnessed the state of the sea while diving in Greece and decided to do something about it. Today, still in his twenties, he is CEO of an organisation called Ocean Clean-up that has attracted over $30 million in funding from Silicon Valley and European corporations to develop the technology to both extract plastic from the ocean and to intercept plastic waste at their river sources. The challenges were huge but after six years of research, development and trialing, in late 2019, when Greta was sailing on her luxury yacht to New York and back to Madrid to talk, Boyan was also on the ocean, but he was collecting plastic waste from it. One thousand riverways have been identified as contributing 80% of the ocean junk clutter. In 2021 Coca Cola have become a global partner to help rollout the ‘interceptor’ programme to catch the rubbish before it reaches the oceans. Their next stage is the development of products made from this recycled plastic. His is a story we all should follow closely. He is the Steve Jobs of this young generation, with the intelligence and attitude to create real life solutions to, and opportunities from, our economic and environmental challenges. What a pity Greta Thunberg did not talk about Boyan Slat when she got the chance at the UN. Greta Thunberg’s speechwriters, who made such a big point about her sailing to that conference across the ocean as her ‘save the planet’ contribution, did not once promote Boyan Slat’s impressive entrepreneurial work to clean up the ocean that she had just sailed on. On the contrary she proclaimed, on behalf of the millennial generation, that solutions were nowhere in sight.
Boyan Slat is the beacon offering the alternative path. He offers faith in the survival instinct and creativity of home sapiens to do what homo sapiens have done for 200,000 years. Use our imagination to solve the problem we face, clean up the oceans, clean up the rivers.
Boyan, from an old boomer, ‘I love you, man.’