Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Great Pause, Week Two

"Speculation, geomancy, and fantastical myth-making need to step aside for the moment, please. Systems thinkers please stand up."


Lately, I have been recalling the concept of fault tolerance in engineering.
Fault tolerance is the property that enables a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of (or one or more faults within) some of its components. If its operating quality decreases at all, the decrease is proportional to the severity of the failure, as compared to a naively designed system, in which even a small failure can cause total breakdown. Fault tolerance is particularly sought after in high-availability or life-critical systems. 
Within the scope of an individual system, fault tolerance can be achieved by anticipating exceptional conditions and building the system to cope with them, and, in general, aiming for self-stabilization so that the system converges towards an error-free state. 
 — Wikipedia 

The human body‘s fault-tolerant design allows for novel coronavirus cells to invade our airways and capture lung cells and then blood phages respond to kill the threat. The viral material is removed from the cytoplasm by forming enclosed autophagosomes and then fused with lysosomes to be degraded. Unfortunately, this CoV, as was predicted by virologists ten months ago, induces and exploits autophagy for the purpose of viral propagation. 

Schoeman, D., & Fielding, B. C. (2019). Coronavirus envelope protein: current knowledge. Virology journal, 16(1), 69.

Engineering has designed us to have a second lung in case we should lose the first, but in this case, the virus attacks both at the outset, as well as the other parts of the respiratory tract. We have many redundant lung cells, but the virus multiplies rapidly once it’s hit its target. The body’s only defense, unless aided by an externally introduced serum designed to hunt and kill infected cells, is to wait for our immune system computer to correctly identify, by trial and error, the virus-infected cells and then to neutralize them. Older model biocomputers (to use John Lilly’s term) and those already tasked with other work may find they lack sufficient available computing power to perform this chore before the lungs are compromised beyond recovery. Pumping oxygen with a ventilator can sometimes extend the time to complete the task and thereby permit survival and recovery. Sometimes, though, you can recover from the virus but not from the ventilator.

Dorothy R. Bates 1920-2004
I pause here, struck by the memory of my mother, in the hospital ICU, and in her final days with pneumonia. She had grown very tired of the intubated ventilator and then the doctor told her that having been on the device this long, any chance of her getting off was pretty unrealistic. She made a hand motion, extended arm, palm down, then a swoop up. We knew what she meant. She was ready to die. With tears, we gave that permission.

When Death Comes

by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Society can engineer better systems of medical care to have enough ventilators and protect its ICU staff to successfully defend against pandemic attacks, or it can rely upon social engineerings, such as quarantines, stay-at-home orders, distancing, and hand-washing to flatten the curve and reduce the damage in an epidemic. It seldom anticipates, however, “multiple fault” scenarios, whereupon other events choose this inopportune moment to arise.

So, for instance, in the midst of the pandemic response, a natural disaster such as wildfire, flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake or volcanic eruption occurs. It can lay waste or further overburden hospitals and caregivers. It can completely disrupt any social distancing and hand-washing strategy. It becomes a force multiplier for the virus.

We have been lucky so far with respect to these multiple faults, apart from the obvious political ones, but the longer the pandemic lasts, the more likely we will witness such intervening cascades.

Today a lady iguana showed up in my yard. Sandra tells me she is pregnant. I have not seen iguanas here for more than a decade, although they were once common. They make the effort of gardening more challenging, but I welcome their return and hope her pregnancy carries well. Now I want to see the return of soft shell blue crabs that used to build holes under the foundations of my palapa.


In fact, it’s Dougie’s growing conviction that the greatest flaw of the species is its overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth. Single biggest influence on what a body will or will not believe is what nearby bodies broadcast over the public band. Get three people in the room and they will decide that the law of gravity is evil and should be rescinded because one of their uncles got shit-faced and fell off the roof. 
 — The Overstory

My holistic goal is to live long and prosper.
That means not catching this killer flu.
“Wash your hands. Don’t be complacent. This will be going on for a while. You have to be disciplined.” 
 — Andrew Cuomo.

I created a Coggle chart to show three scenarios for the island in the months to come, once the shit really hits the fan in Mexico.

Mexico, like Russia, Brazil, or the US, really got caught napping back in January when China first alerted WHO to the power of this novel coronavirus. At the risk of overreaching with a Hitler analogy, most war college historians would agree that Hitler lost a war that was Germany’s to win because of ideology, not available military skill and resources. There are many examples of Hitlerian intervention to the detriment of generalship — his reckless invasion of Russia, his “no retreat” orders, taking Churchill’s bait to blitz London while sparing RAF air bases, and more.

I say this because it should by now be obvious that like emperors who surrounded themselves with astrologers and soothsayers, the POTUS has a pathological tropism to place cultish ideology above scientific realities. Call it Murdochracy. But physics is real.
The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, is the only world leader widely believed not only to have Covid-19 and to have lied about it but to have knowingly spread it to untold numbers of his followers…. Under quarantine after his return from the US — 25 members of his entourage have been infected with coronavirus, making Bolsonaro the center of the largest initial cluster in Brazil — the president broke out of his motorcade to shake hands and high five those calling for the government buildings to be burnt to the ground.
Bolsonaro’s approach to Trump is monkey see, monkey do, so the day after Trump floated the idea of an early return to work, against the advice of leading military figures, Bolsonaro went on national television to announce that (in his experience?) coronavirus was just ‘a little flu’, and that since old people rather than children were dying in other countries, Brazilian children should return to school and young people should return to work. Businesses were to reopen, since the politics of quarantine was ‘a thing for cowards.’ According to the speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, Bolsonaro was under pressure from investors after the market in São Paulo crashed, losing 52 percent of its total value between 17 January 17 and 20 March — the biggest drop in the world, according to Goldman Sachs.
In addition to the number of coronavirus cases and deaths (as of 26 March, 2915 and 77 respectively), Brazil is also leading Latin America in capital flight: Mexico has lost $2 billion in foreign investment; Brazil has lost $12 billion. The real, meanwhile, has dropped to a new low of $5.02 to the dollar. The economy minister, Paulo Guedes, who studied under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago and at the University of Chile under Pinochet, warned Bolsonaro that Brazil could not afford to quarantine beyond 7 April; the country was already in recession before Covid-19 arrived. To informal workers, who make up four-fifths of the economically active population in urban settlements (favelas), where at least 13.6 million people live, Guedes is offering 200 reals in vouchers, which will not be enough to keep them from having to work to survive.
 — Forrest Hylton, “Brazil Undone,” London Review of Books, March 27, 2020.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on day 6 of his fever and is in quarantine at 10 Downing St. His chief medical advisor is also in self-imposed quarantine. Same kind of thing as Bolsonaro: Lots of back-pounding and hand-shaking, taking his cabinent, staff, and advisors with him on his jet, etc. 
As yet there are no cases on my island but the CoV-19 can incubate in carriers and be spread for 2 weeks before the carriers show symptoms. This is why it can be more dangerous than Ebola or SARS. There are cases in Cancun and there is daily traffic of food suppliers and others between the island and there, so we cannot say it is not already actively spreading here. We have to regard each personal encounter with utmost care, touching nothing, breathing no-one else’s air, social distancing. I’ve learned to squint and regard everyone as a White Walker. I have been masking for two weeks.


I never used to lock my doors and windows here. Where would you go if you stole from me? But things have changed. I have to step up my vigilance. Many who were in tourism-related jobs are now out of work. There is no money coming in but it leaves here with every trip to the grocer or utility bill. Desperation will grow. I can teach permaculture and organic gardening, but these things take time. So I have reluctantly begun to lock up when I go out. I’ll also need to vary the pattern of my comings and goings to be less predictable.

I really have very little to steal, but losing this laptop for me would be catastrophic. 

My friend Danny Manicolo wrote a nice song for #stayhome’rs, “I know I am safe and protected. Bob is safe and protected. We are safe and protected. Living out here free.”

Another friend, Bobby Klein, threw the ‘ching: 
Your action in the situation at hand
Must be accomplished with mindfulness
And a gentle hand;
Any other way misses the point.
This time is well represented by the Hermit card in the tarot, which signifies that there is a guiding light on your path, but you are walking it alone. It is a time to be solitary, to meditate, organize, and find the truth in your heart. During this time of solitude, feelings of agitation or frustration will arise. No worries, no blame. These feelings will pass as you deconstruct them and shift the fear to love. Clarity, understanding, and enlightenment await you on the journey. Give your mind a break and relax into this in-between state. 
On the bright side, the coronavirus has proved that very large movements by the entire global society are not impossible — that people can act with uncommon courage in an emergency when they understand that it threatens their lives. What we have seen defies the usual excuses for climate inaction. Huge government, academic, and corporate offices completely modified the ways they operated, overnight. It suddenly became socially acceptable to shame people into changing their habits. The economy, for once, took the back seat. Jamie Margolin, an 18-year-old Colombian-American climate justice activist, wrote:
[T]he way the coronavirus disproportionately affects older people is the exact way the climate crisis disproportionately affects young people. … This pandemic has brought business as usual to an official halt. When the worst of the illness has passed, instead of rushing to return to “normal” — the old, comfortable pattern of destroying the planet — we can take this opportunity to restructure our economy and society in a way that will ensure today’s children can live.


Prepping for pandemic goes on even while the pandemic spreads. At its full extent it requires complete lockdown, so if you aren’t in that yet, you can still be making preparations. I am buying more than I need this week on each trip to the grocery or pharmacy but not making a big stockpile, just gradually extending my margin of safety.

I went some distance away to a hot spot for a YouTube Local Futures interview then went to bike home and had a flat rear tire so I pushed it to the bike shop. That was closed but I passed by the home of another bike repair guy and he agreed to help. He and his son put on their aprons and took half an hour to find and patch the leak then only wanted 20 pesos (90 cents US). I gave them 50 pesos and my gratitude. Good people. Then I saw some friends who said the fresh vege markets were all going to close tomorrow so on the way home I stopped and loaded up on potatoes, tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Willy’s is changing to only allow one shopper through the door at a time, or you can come to the door, give your list, and they will bring stuff out to you. That is better for the elderly. The aisles there are very narrow and it is difficult to social distance. Still, some people don’t respect distance in the queue at the door.

 The checkpoint at the port of Chiquila has been taken down and the one in the nearby town of Solferino has been strengthened. Some Holbox government authorities were not allowed to pass without better reasons than to visit family or shop in Cancun. The region is now blocked at the Solferino frontier, but we should be able to resupply with fresh produce from within this foodshed. You cannot take the ferry to this island unless you are a resident. I hear they will still try to expel some foreign tourists who are hiding here but I do not feel threatened. When I was at the outdoor market I heard an old woman say she was grateful for the blockade because it will keep out robbers and drunks.


I first visited this place November 8, 2004. I had been scouting locations somewhere midway between Argentina and Alberta where our 20 ecovillage regional delegates could meet for a week. Maria Ros told me her permaculture center in Solferino would be willing to host, so at her urging, I went there for a look around. At that time her village of 200 had only one phone, and if you called Maria, they would send a child to look for her. I could see this place lacked any of the amenities required for an international business meeting, but Maria was not giving up. “There is a place down that road,” she said, pointing. “It has hotels. You have to take a ferry to get there.”

So began my love affair with Isla Holbox. Stepping to the dock from the ferry after a 45-minute crossing, I discovered streets of sand, a total absence of cars and motorcycles, and the charm of brightly muraled tiendas, hoteles, and comidas. Some of the restaurants were such gastronomic attractions that they had led truly world-class chefs to depart Italy, Sweden, Argentina, Switzerland, or France to come open informal, cozy spaces where the seafood came fresh from the beach. I struck up a chat with the owners of an off-grid eco-hotel and they immediately wanted me to come teach permaculture and solar power systems. I was smitten. My overnight stay lasted a week.

We decided not to host the meeting there but I returned for a two-week stay in December, and then visited again and did some house hunting in January/February ahead of a Global Village Institute board meeting in Mazatlan. A full season of workshops, apprenticeships, and lectures on four continents took up the rest of my year, but in August, Maria Ros came to visit me in Tennessee. We spoke of my love of Holbox, and when I returned there a few weeks later she bought Casa Coco for $25,000. At that time it was ejido land and I was not permitted to own, being a foreigner, but she could, and I had a standing invitation to stay whenever I wished.

Since then I have made it my winter home. Over the past 15 winters I have written ten books there, 6 for print and 4 more digital. It is my Hemingway machine.

In late October of that first year, the island was visited by Wilma, the most intense tropical hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, and the second-most intense tropical cyclone recorded in the Western Hemisphere (after Hurricane Patricia in 2015).
Wilma … escalated from a tropical storm to a category five hurricane in 24 hours — the strongest hurricane ever to have gestated in the Atlantic. It passed over the island of Cozumel and moved north, taking with it most of Cancun’s 24,000 hotel rooms and almost all of its beach. A hurricane like this would typically be expected to last around four hours. Wilma lasted 64.
And yet there was not a single death. This is the most important point about Wilma’s assault on Mexico: though 62 deaths were reported after Wilma in Cuba and Florida, none were reported here. In a country whose pride is often wounded by the superiority complex of its northern neighbor, the response to Wilma stands in crucially stark contrast to that of the US government to Katrina, which caused almost 2,000 fatalities.
Although Wilma gathered strength with unprecedented speed, the Mexican government was prepared. Everyone in the region was evacuated; shelters were ready; President Fox ordered the military to be on hand with helicopters and food. The Red Cross was there with first aid. The electrical company was sent down in advance in order to repair the damage as quickly as possible once Wilma was over.
 — Gaby Woods, Cancun gets back on its feet after Wilma (25 Jun 2006)

Maria and her partner Hector sheltered from the storm in the upstairs room of their house in Solferino. The downstairs was completely flooded and she would lie awake at night listening to the screams of animals being washed out to sea. People later spoke of the darkness day and night, of putting headphones on their children to silence the ‘devilish roar’, and the scene ‘like a war zone’ when it was over. Eighty thousand hectares (309 square miles) of jungle was leveled and would later burn away in wildfire.

I returned to Holbox on November 21 to find the island already recovering very rapidly. There was still no power and the Navy had to bring food and water, but in the evenings people gathered in the town center to play guitars and sing. Casa Coco had lost one wall and everything in its yard. There was a waterline mark three feet above the floor inside. There was a diagonal stripe on the refrigerator to mark the angle it had assumed as it floated around the room. Three coconut trees had bent over backwards and protected the thatch roof, the same one still on the house today. Plugging my iBook into a portable solar array, I wrote The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (New Society Publishers 2006), using illustrations from Dr. Strange comic books and photos of local kite-surfers.

My daily routine these days is not very different from then. Like Hemingway, I write best in the morning, so I may take a spin on the bike for 30 minutes then come back for coffee and sit down to write. Later I will bike to the beach for a sunset swim, usually getting a quarter to a half-mile of open ocean workout, depending on wave height. If I need to shop for anything, or visit with friends, I may do that on the way home. In the evening I will dose myself with current news such as the excellent March 29 Crazy Town podcast with Nafeez Ahmed.

Writing for The Atlantic on March 24, Zeynep Tufekci observed: 
Many will be tempted to see the tragic coronavirus pandemic through a solely partisan lens: The Trump administration spectacularly failed in its response, by cutting funding from essential health services and research before the crisis, and later by denying its existence and its severity. Those are both true, but they don’t fully explain the current global crisis that has engulfed countries of varying political persuasions.
As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. We faltered because of our failure to consider risk in its full context, especially when dealing with coupled risk — when multiple things can go wrong together. We were hampered by our inability to think about second- and third-order effects and by our susceptibility to scientism — the false comfort of assuming that numbers and percentages give us a solid empirical basis. We failed to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism.
Widespread asystemic thinking may have cost America the entire month of February, and much of what we’d normally consider credible media were part of that failure.
I am biking to the beach for my sunset swim when I stop at Veronica’s house and she has a look like she has seen Mictecacihuatl. She says, “You need to get off the street.” She goes and gets her phone and reads me the notice from the Director of Health. All foreigners with tourist visas are herewith expelled from the island. I am here on a tourist visa.

Shit just got real. My position here in Mexico has suddenly become quite tenuous. If I close Maria’s house and pack a jump bag, there are only limited ways to get to Cancun. Borders are closed, even around towns, most hotels and hostels are closed, and Cancun and Merida are hellholes of people camping at the airports, there are almost no flights, and no assistance from US consulates. I am very worried for my health if I venture out into that, as I have, at 73, issues of heart and lung that predispose me to the worst effects of this virus. 

I skip my swim and bike home, taking only the back streets. As I pass people they turn and look at me differently than they normally do. They are not smiling.


First day in hiding.

I spoke with a friend who owns a hotel here and we had a frank discussion. Late last night he posted this to the Yo Amo Holbox facebook group:
Holbox y los extranjeros…. 
Holbox and foreigners …. it is in conditions like these where you can show the best or the worst of yourselves. While Cuba sends doctors to Italy and receives foreign patients with Covid 19, the United States refuses them entry and tries to steal the development of German vaccines for their exclusive use. In this crisis you decide if you are proud of having been supportive or selfish without empathy. On the island there is not a single type of foreigners; there are those who have been working here for years, those who have been here several months, and the gigantic majority have been here for more than 15 days, so they are not a contagion factor. We have known that medical services have been deficient on the island for years, but no population in the world has the number of respirators necessary for a possible pandemic. It is not something specific to the island. The 10% with serious symptoms should go to Cancun, whether foreign or national. There are almost no flights and many borders are closed when someone is expelled from the island they are unnecessarily exposing them. It is likely that a year from now a large majority will have had the virus, some without realizing it. Protect your loved ones at risk, take responsibility for your own health with better food and exercise, and we will come out with our heads held high. Come on Holbox, don’t let fear stain your essence.
The post had 53 comments and 344 likes before the site removed it. All of the comments were supportive.


After a town meeting to hear the protests, and some trending social media with hashtags like #holboxhuman and #holboxsolidario, the Secretary-General of the Municipality of Lazaro Cardenas issued a new directive. Instead of expelling foreigners from Holbox, they were merely “advised to leave.”

Masked as usual, I biked over to the ocean and had a swim and then a cup of coffee with Sandra and another chat with Veronica. Then I stopped for groceries on the way home. For the time being, we are almost back to “normal.”

Thomas Friedman had an interesting Op-Ed in The New York Times. He wrote: 
“…it is vital that we keep in mind just how much more destructive climate change could be for all of us…. Because there is one huge difference between the coronavirus and climate change: Climate change doesn’t “peak” — and then flatten out and then maybe dissipate or be permanently prevented by vaccine — so normal life resumes…. There is no herd immunity to climate change. There are only endless impacts on the herd.”

I recognize that my situation here is better than that of many. I can barely imagine what it must be like to be confined in a cell with a number of other prisoners who are coughing, sneezing, fevered, and unattended. I would dread being in a squalid refugee camp somewhere and hearing those same sounds coming from everyone around me, and not even having soap to wash my hands. And yet, that is the kind of world we find ourselves in. 

This has been a very long post, and for that, I apologize to diligent readers who have come this far with me. The theme this week, if we can discern one now, seems to be that system design thinking could have been applied long ago and would have likely avoided much of the suffering now being experienced and still expanding exponentially. Preparation is everything. Speculation, geomancy, and fantastical myth-making need to step aside for the moment, please. Science-based design and antifragile, regenerative, healing approaches need to step forward.

Back from my morning swim and bike on the beach. Smiles all around. Nobody is leaving.

Be safe out there, y’all. Wear a mask. I protect you, you protect me, and together we are both safe.


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Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Great Pause Week One

"A pod of dolphins rose and dove, then in pairs leaped high in the air, or walked on water with tailfin, or leaped and rotated. We applauded and cheered."


It is all too easy to die. I want to survive.

That’s my goal, but I grok the hurdles. You see a neighbor and you think, well, if I have a moment with them, it will be okay. But you don’t know who they have been in contact with, or where they might have been. You have to hold that 2-meter distance. You have to if you really want to survive. Even if what you both most need, really need, is a hug and a moment together, and maybe to pass a joint.

Today the dolphins were putting on a show. I went for my daily swim at sunset and some friends also in their 70s were having chilled white wine on the beach. I sat with them after the swim. With appropriate social distancing and no greeting hugs we agreed we are going to be making this a regular thing.

I noticed a fin break the surface out about 100 yards and pointed. We were treated to a great display. It must have lasted 15 or 20 minutes. A pod of dolphins rose and dove, then in pairs leaped high in the air, or walked on water with tailfin, or leaped and rotated. We applauded and cheered.

Nearby, a man cast his net for fish. I told Sandra I thought the dolphins were driving the fish for him but she called bullshit on that. They were too far away to see him, she said, and probably just fishing for themselves.


Spring Breakers oblivious to social distancing
Last of the regular blogs posted today. It will be a while until I can bring myself to write in that style again. There is no doubt Trump is still worth bashing, and I may not be able to resist piling on, but the climate emergency and my biochar solution now seem all too remote.

Of course, the climate emergency continues grinding on in the background, even if humans have a different kind of crisis occupying their minds. The pandemic will make the world warmer by global brightening, but not by very much or very soon. Air travel was 10% of GDP and 8% of GHG. Climate scientist Paul Beckwith is reassuring that the pandemic dimming bump will be minimal — 0.03°C — but I would not take any prediction to the bank. 

Speaking of which, the ATM by the mayor’s office still works so I took out the limit — 8000 pesos, which will last me a month, maybe two if I spend carefully.


Learning to social distance
The real demon in the room is not the virus. You will get it or you won’t. You will die or you won’t. The real demon is your mind. Yesterday I smoked some reefer and it thrust me into the local telepathy bubble. There is a lot of fear there. The antidote is to radiate happiness and tranquility even if you feel the grip of another’s angst in the pit of your stomach.

At sunset today Sandra was right to chastise me for gallows humor. Also, I need to limit my news downloads. WHO has recommended only twice a day on the mass media for the sake of mental health. That is good advice. I have the Beatles channel on Sirius. And Elvis.

I put out a couple Instagram stories about making sauerkraut at home. They were well received, more because they were upbeat, I suspect, than because they were particularly useful as how-to videos. 



Trying to Suspend my Verizon Account

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Taking temp and BP daily now. I need to work more to bring my BP down. It seems good after workouts but elevates when I am reading. I checked the supply of prescriptions and will visit the pharmacy today or tomorrow to see if I can get a renewal of each for up to 2 months. Not sure that will be possible but worth the try. I don’t want to give up reading.

Yesterday I improved my spreadsheet on virus case projections for Mexico and Tennessee, which are both on a similar datapoint in the exponential curve, just past the bottom of the J. While global doubling time is approximately 5 days, both Mex and Tenn have established 2-day doublings for the past 10 days. My new spreadsheet projects that trend out a few months.

This produced an interesting discovery for me. While the public health professionals are all asking us to flatten the curve, the lax control attitude that places the economy over ecology will spike the curve in red states. South Korea, with active suppression, is the world model for a flat curve, Italy, with slow mitigation, is the model for a spike. What I saw in that data is that S. Korea will have the virus at a semi-epidemic stage for a very long time — likely until there is a vaccine. Italy, and by extension red states and countries like Mexico, will have more rapid and extensive deaths in their populations (in the red states denialist Republicans are more likely to die than Democrats), but it will saturate the entire population faster and be “over” quicker. How fast? My estimate is that Tennessee, for instance (and Mexico by extension), will peak their cases by the end of April and peak their deaths by May or June. They simply cannot keep doubling beyond the size of their population.

I am not saying the do-nothing approach is kind and compassionate, but that “strategy” (if it is one) does get survivors back to work sooner and gets the economy restarted, so there is a certain logic to it, even if the optics are horrendous and hence untouchable, even by Fox, although apparently not for the Lt. Governor of Texas.

Turns out this discovery was also made by Tomas Pueyo and reported in an essay for Medium called “The Hammer and the Dance” on March 19. That post has received more than 9 million views and been translated into 29 languages. Pueyo wrote:
Presented like these, the two options of Mitigation and Suppression, side by side, don’t look very appealing. Either a lot of people die soon and we don’t hurt the economy today, or we hurt the economy today, just to postpone the deaths.

This ignores the value of time…. Every day, every hour we waited to take measures, this exponential threat continued spreading. We saw how a single day could reduce the total cases by 40% and the death toll by even more.

But time is even more valuable than that.
We’re about to face the biggest wave of pressure on the healthcare system ever seen in history. We are completely unprepared, facing an enemy we don’t know. That is not a good position for war.
What if you were about to face your worst enemy, of which you knew very little, and you had two options: Either you run towards it, or you escape to buy yourself a bit of time to prepare. Which one would you choose?

This is what we need to do today. The world has awakened. Every single day we delay the coronavirus, we can get better prepared.

For the countries where the coronavirus is already here, the options are clear.

On one side, countries can go the mitigation route: create a massive epidemic, overwhelm the healthcare system, drive the death of millions of people, and release new mutations of this virus in the wild.
On the other, countries can fight. They can lockdown for a few weeks to buy us time, create an educated action plan, and control this virus until we have a vaccine.
Governments around the world today, including some such as the US, the UK or Switzerland have so far chosen the mitigation path.

That means they’re giving up without a fight. They see other countries having successfully fought this, but they say: “We can’t do that!”
One irony of this pandemic’s history is that the heroes may wind up being doctors and geneticists from Cuba and China. That does not square with US propaganda casting those countries, along with Russia, into the role of Eastasia in Orwell’s 1984, always the enemy. This meme is taught rote to schoolchildren after they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But as Orwell pointed out, it is easy to rewrite history. Once Germany, Italy, and Japan were our enemies and Russia, Cuba, and Mexico were our friends. Tomorrow Canada may have always been our enemy.

Why do socialist countries have an edge? Jem Bendell says:
…the impact of this pandemic is far greater on society than it needed to be, because of the nature of our economic system, which is dependent on financiers’ confidence of an increasing volume of trade, transactions and debts. In a world where disease and other disruptions are likely to increase, we need a different economic model which does not multiply and prolong the harm.
We have learned that smoking and alcohol both place you in a higher risk category for Covid. Word on the street was that alcohol would no longer be sold on the island after today. I went to the store and got a bottle each of good tequila and vodka and some Pinot Grigio to contribute to the Sunset support group. Then I saw the rotgut vodka (Sisi) selling for 85 pesos a liter ($4) so got some of that for homebrew hand sanitizer and surface sterilizer.


Listening to The Overstory on Audible while biking the empty beach in the cool morning hours.
“That’s when Adam realizes: humankind is deeply ill. The species won’t last long. It was an aberrant experiment. Soon the world will be returned to the healthy intelligences: the collective ones; colonies and hives.”
As I passed homes, old men sat in doorways mending old fishing nets. It has been a while since they fed themselves this way, but they still know how and can teach grandchildren eager for something to do. We are on an island in a constant current that directs fish from the Caribbean into the Gulf. It is the same blue current that Hemingway called his “stream.” Fish will always be plentiful and now, more than ever, as the restaurants in the hotels no longer need to be supplied.

When I waded out for my swim I surprised a sting ray no more than 12 feet from the shore. She turned and scurried away so I wouldn’t step on her. I saw schools of long silver fish. I had to dodge diving pelicans to get to deep water. Glinting bodies leapt into the air to eyeball me as I swam. They followed and nipped at my heels. “Better swim faster, friend, our time is returning.”


South of the small town on the mainland where tourist buses disgorge their cargos to ferry the last 8 miles, our islanders and their local allies decided to erect a barricade. Frustrated by the slow action of government, which has ignored our petitions, they turned out in numbers at 4 AM to put tires across the road.

Eventually the federal police — the military — were called out and they erected their own, more elaborate checkpoint. Tourist vehicles are turned back. Residents must show ID and have their temperature taken to proceed farther. Your papers must be in order.

There is a steady rain of requests for me to join online conversations of various ilk and I have to decide which and how many I want to join. I am quite productive just being a hermit and don’t really need to give advice when I don’t even know myself where all this is going.

That’s really the thing. Some people think that the pandemic will issue in the Age of Aquarius. Others think we will just go back to normal, probably before much longer. It is a Wizard and Prophet tribal divide, to borrow from Charles Mann. The wizards reckon there will be a cure, soon. The prophets, clad in Mr. Natural gowns and sandwich boards, say we have brought the wrath of the gods and a sacrifice is required, to wit, consumer culture hence and forthwith. As usual, they are both speaking past each other.

Our 3000 to 5000 new tourists per day are now gone.
I suspect it is neither. There will be some lessons learned in this, such as the importance of preparation for the unknown knowns. Eighteen percent of the US GDP is devoted to health care (previously thought “the best in the world,” an expectation soon to be revised downward). There were not enough N95 masks, gowns for personnel, or ventilators. There was nobody coordinating preparation and implementation at the national level. Wall Street had collateralized the sick and dying in order to issue corporate and municipal bonds for the rentiers, rather than prepare for what epidemiologists told them was coming. Central planning is communist, right? The market will fix everything.

Perhaps a few more people will have learned to garden and be exploring the possibility of joining an ecovillage. More likely, when this is over, they will have to go back to work in the same, familiar, coal mine economy to try to dig their way out of the collapse of their own personal finances, pay off student loans and buy health insurance.

Perhaps we can have a discussion about that when we get to those times. For now, just #stayhome.

You encourage me to do more and then tell you about it. Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed, especially at this time when I am quarantined far from home. You are how we make this happen. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. My latest book, The Dark Side of the Ocean, is nearing that moment. Please help if you can.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Great Pause

"While we can never fully go back, with enough people trying, something approaching normalcy will return... until we summit the roller-coaster track and plummet again."

Fifteen years ago, when I began blogging, I called my page “The Great Change.” My premise was that the world was at the cusp of a phase shift in civilization. The era of cheap oil had passed, and with it was gone the abundant energy that had created the growth-imperative economics everyone was so accustomed to. Homo sapiens was going to be graduating, after a rite of passage, from an adolescent species, ever-expanding its niche by out-competing all others, to a mature adult species engaged in complex relationships to build a more stable steady-state within which to gracefully inhabit Earth. What is coming will be wonderful, I said.

The manipulation of the price of energy — essentially issuing future government debt (to nature) to hide the real price of a commodity (shale, tar sands, or deep offshore crude oil, and fracked gas), using unbelievably expensive and wasteful corporate, military and clandestine means — fascism by definition — allowed our happy-go-lucky, motoring, consumerist society to keep on its merry way until dramatically catastrophic climate alteration began forcing us to notice what we were doing. By then, we had overdrafted accounts with the planet to such an extent that foreclosures were cascading — floods, hurricanes, droughts, climate refugees, biodiversity crashes, fracking Ponzi busts, reactionary governments, and Coronageddon, to name a few. 

The Great Change, over the course of all those years, gradually migrated from giving advice about prepping for the coming economic hardship (including recipes for tasty meals from your organic garden) to tracking changes in the weather, and then proposing solutions (biochar) that could increase the nutrient density of those homecooked meals while turning down the atmospheric thermostat over the course of the next century, employing a novel curative program we called the Cool Lab.

Enter Covid-19. Those who have been following our recommended steps and have full pantries of canned goods, know where their water and power comes from and their sewage and plastics go, tend gardens even in winter, and have stockpiled books, DVDs, and a good assortment of sharp and well-oiled tools, will have little difficulty now sheltering in place, homeschooling their children, and caring for elderly relatives. For sure, the pandemic will be an emotional roller coaster for the next few years, and then we will all be trying to return to some semblance of normalcy. And, while we can never fully go back, with enough people trying, something approaching normalcy will return. Until we summit the coaster track and it plummets again.

It will be a roller-coaster if for no other reason than that it is now evident that full-on lockdowns, envisioned by government emergency committees as lasting a few weeks, or maybe a month, cannot realistically be extended for a year and beyond. That strategy is neither socially nor economically viable, even if it may be pandemic-control-appropriate from a medical standpoint. What may happen instead is that regional lockdowns will open and close as Covid cases rise and fall. 

One bright spot: the discovery that smart thermometers build big datasets that allow rapid medical intervention, hotspot to hotspot, days or weeks before hospital admissions spike enough to advise CDC, WHO, or others attempting to monitor the outbreak. That technology is a real blessing. Smart thermometers should be distributed free-of-charge to every family and used daily. They can be uploading their data to number-crunching epidemiology centers that can dispatch health workers to the right places at just the right moments. Lockdowns, if needed, can follow in those discrete areas.

There is an assumption that immunity is conferred upon those who survive this disease. This has not been proven and nor has the notion that the disease cannot be spread by those who had the disease and then got well again. Because of this uncertainty, we don’t know whether Covid-19 is a passing virus or one that will be with us until such time as an effective vaccine can be developed and tested, and hopefully, also, safe and effective treatments emerge. That will be at least a year from now and possibly much longer.

Anthropogenic aerosols in the atmosphere — the products of our industry that we exhaust to the air— bounce sunlight back to space. It is generally thought by science that this effect contributes a net cooling of between two-tenths and one-and-a-half degrees centigrade to the world’s average surface temperature.

In this video, Paul Beckwith provides some calculations for the temperature impact of the coronavirus closures as aerosol pollution is reduced.

Beckwith explains that the most widely cited estimates for the global dimming effect are between 0.25 and 0.5°C. Because coronavirus closures do not completely remove dimming (air traffic is reduced but coal plants still run), the reduction might be something like 0.03°C. According to
There is also some question as to how long regional impacts might take to show up in the average global temperature (AGT) data. In any case, it is not likely that the temperature increase would be as much as 1.0°C. This is the number often given by those who exaggerate this effect. Paul Beckwith has called this a “completely absurd number.” further cautions against putting too much faith in the 9/11 effect:
A US study by Dr Gang Hong of Texas A&M University has found that daily temperature range (DTR) variations of 1.0°C during September aren’t all that unusual and that the change in 2001 was probably attributable to low cloud cover.
Whether the virus affects the temperature or not, we are due for more extreme weather, and we could well see new high temperatures this summer and more global weirding next winter.

After sending my latest book, The Dark Side of the Ocean, off to my publisher, I had gone to Belize at the beginning of March to run a 2-week permaculture design course and continue work on the Cool Lab prototype planned for a small Mayan village there. When borders started closing, particularly singling out USAnians in the case of Guatemala and Mexico, I became concerned and cut my intended stay short.

Masked and gloved, I crossed the border into Mexico and retreated to my winter office off the north coast of the Yucatan. From this location I had authored The Post Petroleum Survival Guide in 2005 and thus it has always been well stocked with my prepper supplies, medicines, books and DVDs, and is a relatively secure place to self-quarantine for the next little while. Who knows? I may even write another book now.

In Albert Camus’ The Plague, written in 1947, Camus describes life under quarantine in a small village. With a well-founded fabric of trust, life was manageable, even joyful. What we should not lose under any circumstances, he said, is the decency that binds us. Many unscrupulous officials will try to use this moment to stir passions against foreigners — Chinese and Europeans this month, USAnians next month, if you find yourself abroad like me. Camus said that after observing the misery, generosity, fear and nobility that people experience during quarantine, that “in the midst of so many afflictions” what one learns is that “in man there are more things worthy of admiration than of contempt.”

On January first, just as the virus was enveloping Wuhan, I reached the end of my 73rd year and embarked upon year 74. They say it is not the years that get you but the miles, and in my case I have no shortage of scars and pains gathered from an active life, among them 3 of the 5 conditions that signal an elevated risk of mortality should a Covid cell lodge in one of my lungs. 

Because of that, my intention now is to #StayHome and self-quarantine as best I can. If the internet gods smile upon this small thatched palapa, I should be able to keep posting from here, otherwise the blog may go silent for a spell. In either event, I wish everyone good luck, safe shelter, and all the benefits of this pause for reflection and renewal.

You encourage me to do more and then tell you about it. Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. Those are how we make this happen. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

We Need a Manhattan Project for the Climate

"We could call the IPCC reports our modern Einstein letters. They are arriving to the Resolute Desk with greater frequency and urgency. Sadly, the occupant of the oval office is curled up with a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Teller drives Szilard to see Einstein
With a viral plague descending on the world now, I am struck by how similar this century’s 20’s are to the last century’s. The plague then, following the Spanish flu pandemic, was political. In 1921, a piece of fake news caught the attention of a young house painter named Adolph Hitler. In its earliest editions, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion had nothing whatever to do with either Jews or anti-Semites. It was a literary parody propaganda written in the 1860s to rally popular opinion against Napoleon III. Around 1895, the pamphlet was modified by the czarist Russian secret police stationed in Paris to portray anti-monarchists as part of a global Zionist conspiracy. 

Alfred Rosenberg introduced Adolf Hitler to the Protocols with an edition printed by automobile magnate Henry Ford under the title The Jewish Peril. It came at a pivotal time when Hitler was still developing his worldview, pre-Mein Kampf. He referred to the Protocols frequently with approval in political speeches throughout his career, despite having been told that they were faked. So, too, did Joseph Goebbels. To them, the notion of Russian secret police fake news was hogwash. The Protocols were gospel. 

When Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, people already knew how he felt about Jews. Black shirt fascists were publicly beating up Jews all over Germany, burning and looting shops, and arresting many on false charges. Most Germans realized it would get worse, but like all political tides, people assumed Hitler wouldn’t last beyond one term and that the Reichstadt’s old line politicians — the deep state — would shake off its lethargy and step up to control the damage. They were wrong.

By March, parliamentary vote was replaced by executive orders. An order for the reconstruction of the civil service issued on April 7. Reconstruction was a euphemism for dismissing Jews from state appointments, including university faculties. 

Germany fired 27 Jewish scientists who had won, or would later win, Nobel prizes. Among these were several important physicists who would geopolitically shape the remainder of the 20th century. Now they became concerned about whether they would even be able to leave Germany.

Fortunately for those scholars, brave men outside Germany saw what was going on and stepped into the fray, quickly, before travel barriers were erected. In April 1933, British economist William Beveridge founded the Academic Assistance Council, later renamed the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, that rescued more than 2500 scientists from Germany and occupied countries, including Hans Bethe, Felix Bloch, Max Born, Albert Einstein, James Franck, Otto Frisch, Fritz London, Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Victor Weisskopf, and Eugene Wigner. 

Hitler’s anti-Jewish executive order disrupted theoretical physics at a key moment. The scientific frontier was just pushing into the realm of quantum mechanics, the description of the atom, and an understanding of the curve of binding energy derived from Einstein’s formula, E = mc2. So it was that the rescued Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard found himself crossing a London street when he suddenly grasped that atomic fission could be sustained in a chain reaction of energetic subatomic particles. 

Szilard, later soaking in his bath in the Strand Palace Hotel near Covent Garden, realized that these fission reactions could be chained together to release unfathomable energy to power, or destroy, whole cities with a mere teacup of isotopes. He also knew that this sort of physics was not unknown to the non-Jewish scientists still at work within the Third Reich, or to their counterparts in universities in Russia and Japan. So it came to be that Szilard, urged by Wigner, went to visit Einstein to implore him to author a letter to alert President Franklin Roosevelt to the danger. A young Edward Teller drove Szilard out from New York City to Long Island to take that meeting.

Szilard persuades Einstein to write Roosevelt
By the time Einstein’s letter reached Roosevelt, Germany had invaded Poland and the United States was moving, slowly, to war footing. Despite being very busy, the significance of atomic fission was instantly grasped by Roosevelt and within hours of receiving the letter, a committee had formed at the White House to bring key scientists into communication with the military echelon and civilian war planners. From that emerged the secretive Manhattan Project, jointly headed by Robert Oppenheimer for the scientists and General Leslie Groves for the Pentagon. Oppenheimer pulled together in one place the best minds of the world to solve this one problem. 

Later testifying before Congress, Oppenheimer recalled:
“I became convinced, as did others, that a major change was called for on the work of the bomb itself. We needed a central laboratory, devoted wholly to this purpose; where people could talk freely with each other; where theoretical ideas and experimental findings could affect each other; where the waste and frustration and error of the many compartmentalized studies could be eliminated; where we could begin to come to grips with chemical, metallurgical and ordinance problems that had so far received no consideration.”
“The Japanese assessment was essentially technological. Like Bohr’s assessment in 1939, it overestimated the difficulty of isotope separation and underestimated US industrial capacity. It also, as the Japanese government had before Pearl Harbor, underestimated American dedication. Collective dedication was a pattern of Japanese culture more than of American, but Americans could summon it when challenged and coven it with resources of talent and capital unmatched anywhere else in the world.” 
— Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Germans had no paucity of resources and talent in 1940. Despite the purges of Jewish scientists, they still possessed some of the foremost nuclear physicists of the era. Pause here and take a moment to picture a world in which Adolph Hitler possessed the atomic bomb, long before any of his adversaries. 

From 1941 to 1944, after suffering a crushing defeat in the blitzkrieg along the Eastern Front, ultimately costing 48 to 49 million Soviet lives, Stalin stood up an industrialized war machine that expelled the Wehrmacht invaders, killing 4.3 million stormtroopers in battle, and then wheeled and defeated the 1-million-man Japanese army in Mongolia in just 8 days. 

Now, suppose instead of watching his battered army retreating across the Russian steppes to the fatherland, dogged all the way to Berlin by incomprehensibility vast legions of pursuing Red Army tanks, Hitler had turned to his attache holding the football and simply released launch codes. Imagine what this past 80 years would have then become. Imagine, as Hitler did, a one thousand year Reich.
“Hitler had some time spoken to me about the possibility of an atom bomb, but the idea quite obviously strained his intellectual capacity. He was also unable to grasp the revolutionary nature of nuclear physics.” — Albert Speer
Consider the existential threat we presently face. Our international conferences have failed us. The pledges and pacts — Stockholm, Rio, Kyoto, Paris — stand revealed as false promises, filled with wiggle room and prevarications. We could call the IPCC reports our modern Einstein letters. They are arriving to the Resolute Desk with greater frequency and urgency. Sadly, the occupant of the oval office is curled up with a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

There are, outside the USA, the modern equivalents of Manhattan projects underway. In 2016 Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland convened a brain trust to advise her on Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change, eventually forming an initiative called Common Earth. Next May, top climate-reversing scientists reconvene in Stockholm to examine Negative Emissions Technologies (NET) and compare progress. The Stockholm Resilience Centre has become this century’s Los Alamos, Johan Rockström and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in the role of Oppenheimer and Groves, headhunting any who might make significant contribution to reversing climate change, and obtaining the needed funding.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Johan Rockström, Steffen Kallbekken, Kevin Anderson, and Joeri Rogelj in Paris, image by Peter Buchert

Unless we can lower atmospheric concentrations (and oceanic concentrations since they are in equilibrium) of heat-trapping carbon by hundreds of billions of tons within mere decades, the global thermometer will inexorably rise into territory uninhabitable by mammals and you and I will go extinct. At present rates of increase that event will likely occur before the end of this century. It is possible we could find ways to delay our death sentence — such as by relocating to undersea bubble cities — but in the end the oceans too will heat beyond human survivability. We need to remove 800 billion tons of CO2 from the existing global carbon cycle, extremely fast, or we perish.

By 1939, a few of the world’s brightest physicists had grasped that the way to make an atom bomb would not involve slow neutron bombardment of the heavy isotope Uranium-238, as generally assumed, but might be found in fast neutron bombardment of the rarer isotope Uranium-235 or a yet-to-be-discovered transuranic fission product. Relatively few physicists working on this problem had this insight in those years, and those in the dark outer circle included the atomic scientists laboring for the Third Reich and Japan. They imagined that with the right moderator, such as deuterium (heavy water), U-238 or Thorium could be made to sustain a chain reaction. Fortunately for the world’s Jews, Gypsies, and everyone else, they were wrong. They were still futilely pursuing heavy water atom bombs when the war ended.

By analogy, the NET Manhattan Project now seems fixated on a dead-end path called BECCS, or Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage. This is the Deuterium bomb of our time. BECCS won’t succeed because both parts of its formula are fatally flawed. It imagines biomass energy in the form of vast plantations of monocultured tree row crops, such as willow in temperate climates and eucalyptus in the tropics, feeding gargantuan centralized biomass steam plants to make district heating and air conditioning or generate electricity. This model of feedstock production and use is doomed to fail because it is non-ecological (the antithesis of a functioning ecosystem); capital intensive (perpetuating unstable wealth inequality); carbon-emitting (in its transportation profile); and vulnerable to market shifts for its products (such as we are now seeing in response to the coronavirus or to Saudi Arabia’s fire sale of crude oil). It fails a second time because it is carbon-releasing in its liquid-CO2 production and transportation pathway; capital intensive in its requirement for pipelines and deep-injection wells (perpetuating unstable wealth inequality); and unstable in its geological repositories (or, in the case of ocean disposal, because it is acidifying and de-oxygenating). 

Other options, like DACCS (Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage) or Enhanced Weathering, show considerable promise from a technological standpoint but fail by any economic analysis because they are very costly with only meager financial returns, if any. Of course, in a global emergency, profitability does not matter. The electricity produced in 1943 by Portsmouth, Oak Ridge and Hanford engineers drawing from coal plants and dams on the Ohio, Tennessee and Columbia rivers in order to refine plutonium and U-235 for the first atomic bombs was more than the entire electric capacity of Australia at the time. All that power went to make the two bombs that were used on Japan. 
“At one point in the negotiations,” said Groves, “Nichols said they would need between five and ten thousand tons of silver.” This led to the icey reply, ”Colonel, in the Treasury we do not speak of tons of silver, our unit is the Troy ounce.” Eventually 395 million Troy ounces of silver, 13540 short tons, went off from the West Point Depository to be cast into cylindrical billets, rolled into 40-foot strips, and wound onto iron cores at Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee. Solid silver bus bars a square foot in cross-section crowned each racetrack’s oval. The silver was worth more than $300 million dollars.” 
— Richard Rhodes
As Roosevelt well understood, cost is no consideration when our very existence is at stake. 
Agroforestry and carbon farming have excellent returns on investment and also work well to pull carbon, but are difficult to scale to the level of the present threat. They also reach a saturation point for carbon beyond which they are only C-neutral, not C-negative. Had we slowed our emissions at the time of the first warnings, more than 30 years ago, we might have been able to withdraw carbon just by planting trees and switching to conservation grazing methods and that might have been adequate. We didn’t, so now we need reach for stronger medicine. 

The aunt in the attic is an option that just a few clever physicists are exploring while all the others are consumed by shiny DACCS toys or equations for land-use conversions to feed BECCS behemoths. Its caretakers at the Ithaka Institut in Switzerland, Cornell University, and elsewhere call it PyCCS, for Pyrolysis with Carbon Capture and Storage, and hopefully they will in the end be shown to have demonstrated the correct way forward, and we will all realize that and commit to it before it is too late to matter. 

When the Allies finally had the capacity to drop the bomb, after Germany had surrendered, Szilard, Einstein and most of other the scientists who had contributed to the Manhattan Project were horrified. Knowing game theory well, understanding the power of deterrence and the impotence of targeting civilians to end hostilities, and also grasping by their knowledge of physics and biology the devastating inhumanity of nuclear radiation, they tried to exert their influence. They had long labored under the expectation that Franklin Roosevelt would stand by his moral rhetoric and never inflict such an atrocity on non-combatant civilians. 

But by then Roosevelt was dead. Szilard tried to reach President Harry Truman to persuade him not to use the bomb. He was intercepted by General Groves, who had Szilard tailed by the FBI and wanted him imprisoned. In the end, Groves did keep Szilard and the others from communicating with Truman, the bomb was used, and eventually its production fell into the hands of many, including, today, some very unstable personalities.

The race to save the climate need not end this way. The Cool Lab PyCCS system we have described often in these pages can change our otherwise certain fate, and along the way could birth a far more democratic, egalitarian, secure, and anti-fragile future for humanity and all our relations — a circular economy in harmony with our mother’s needs. The only lurking horror is in a failure to comprehend the real danger, and to act.

You encourage me to do more and then tell you about it. Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. Those are how we make this happen. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.




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