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According to the United Nations, desertification and drought affected one third of the planet surface and over 1.5 billion people globally in 2012. In the following post, Ellen Moyer writes about the California drought. (Rolly Montpellier ~ Editor for BoomerWarrior).

California - Drought Fixes or Race to the Bottom, boomer warrior
Dry fields and bare trees stand at Panoche Road, looking west, on Wednesday February 5, 2014, near San Joaquin, CA.

Drought Fixes or Race to the Bottom

The drought in California is now in its fourth year and the worst on record. All Americans should be concerned, because California produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Furthermore, 40 states in the U.S. are expected to experience water shortages within the coming decade. The crisis in California serves as an example of common agricultural policies and practices that damage our water supplies.

The threat of water shortages will increase as climate change progresses, for example, by shrinking snowpack. Snowpack is vital to ecosystems and more than half of the world’s population. Snowpack provides about a third of California’s water supply when it melts in late spring and summer and replenishes reservoirs. California’s snowpack is at its lowest level on record.

I can tell you from California that climate change is not a hoax. We’re dealing with it, and it’s damned serious ~ Governor Jerry Brown

California water supplies rely on both surface water and groundwater, water located underground. In an average year, groundwater contributes 38 percent of California’s total water supply. During dry years, groundwater contributes 46 percent or more of the total.

Widespread Inefficiencies

As elsewhere, California water use is inefficient in many respects. Underground pipes in water distribution systems in the state lose enough water to supply the entire city of Los Angeles. Water is too cheap, and some pricing policies discourage conservation. For example, half the homes in Sacramento lack water meters (to measure water use), and residents pay a flat fee no matter how much they use. Other water utilities perversely provide a volume discount, charging lower rates for consuming more. Increased clear-cutting of forests — which play a vital role in water supply — exacerbates water shortages.

While agriculture accounts for only 2 percent of California’s economy, as much as 80 percent of California’s water for human use goes to agriculture. Surface water is allocated according to a system of senior and junior water rights based on “first come, first served” and “use it or lose it” principles. The first farm that drew water can take what it needs forever, while farms arriving later must stand in line. Farms risk forfeiting part of their water allotments if they use less than allotted. On the other hand, there are no restrictions on tapping groundwater.

In their defense, California farmers have improved irrigation efficiency in the past several decades, spending billions on improvements and increasing crop production per unit of water by 43 percent over the last 40 years. As of 2010, low-volume methods such as drip irrigation were used on 38 percent of California farmland, and California leads the U.S. in the use of low-volume methods. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the roots of the plants, with almost no evaporation or surface runoff. However, gravity irrigation was still used on 43 percent of farmland. Gravity irrigation involves moving water across farm fields, either in broad sheets or via a grid of ditches. As much as half of gravity irrigation water does not reach the crops. Sprinklers, which lose water to evaporation, were used to irrigate 15 percent of farmland.

Drill, Baby, Drill

California - Drought Fixes or Race to the Bottom, boomer warrior
Image Credit: NY Times

The California drought is devastating vegetation and wildlife, and people throughout the state have been forced to make do with less water. On April 1, Governor Jerry Brown imposed the first statewide mandatory restrictions on water use in California history, ordering Californians to reduce urban water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels. Lawn watering is the primary target.

The mandatory water use restrictions do not include agriculture — for now. Agricultural users have already suffered cutbacks in surface water allotments, and as a result 400,000 acres of agricultural land were left fallow last year, at a loss of $1.5 billion. Even more land will be pulled out of production this summer.

In addition to leaving fields fallow, farmers are also drilling more wells, since groundwater is up for grabs. Water table elevations in some locations have dropped 200 feet in the last few years. Many farmers have continued to produce lucrative water-intensive crops — such as nuts — or have even expanded production. However, production of other less lucrative water-intensive crops, such as rice and corn, has decreased.

Governor Brown mandated that irrigation districts develop drought-management plans and directed the State Water Resource Control Board to accelerate efforts to curtail wasteful water practices in agricultural fields. Governor Brown also signed what may be the most significant legislative water initiative in California in 50 years, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The Act requires the development and implementation of plans to achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040. Unfortunately, scientists aren’t sure groundwater supplies will last that long.

By depleting aquifers, we remove our reserves for future droughts. Building back reserves requires reducing withdrawals enough to give aquifers a chance to replenish. While shallow aquifers can replenish relatively quickly, deep aquifers in California can take hundreds of years to replenish. The deeper wells being drilled now are accessing older groundwater.

Aquifer depletion also causes land to subside — as much as a foot per year in some locations in California — causing damage to structures, surface water conveyance, utilities, and transportation infrastructure. Aquifer depletion dries up nearby shallower farm and residential wells; robs nearby surface water bodies of their water, hurting vegetation and wildlife; and causes conflicts among people.

We also need to protect groundwater quality so water can be used without requiring expensive treatment to remove contaminants. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used in industrial agriculture and hydraulic fracturing wastes generated in natural gas production degrade water quality. Governor Brown did not include the oil industry, with its 84,000 hydraulic fracturing wells throughout California, in the new water use restrictions. Although thousands of such wells were recently found to be in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act by illegally injecting toxic fluids into aquifers, Governor Brown ordered only twelve of them to be shut down.

Worldwide Race to the Bottom

The problem of groundwater depletion is not limited to California. Humans are rapidly depleting one third of Earth’s largest aquifers, and scientists do not have good estimates of how much water remains in them. The most “overstressed” aquifers in the world are in the Middle East, northwestern India and Pakistan, and northern Africa. California’s Central Valley is slightly better off but is still classified as “highly stressed.”

California is not the only region of the U.S. depleting its groundwater. For example, the High Plains aquifer — underlying parts of eight states — is intensively used for irrigation; water levels have fallen more than 100 feet in some areas.

We Have Answers – Drought Fixes

A United Nations report states that the only way we will be able to feed the world is with organic farming. Organic farming uses less water than industrial farming by enhancing soil’s water-holding capacity and reducing surface water runoff. Organic farming prevents groundwater contamination by synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, prevents soil erosion, protects pollinators and other wildlife, and improves consumer and farm worker health. California is a leader in organic agriculture.

Agriculture is the fourth largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Because organic farming emits less carbon dioxide than industrial agriculture, it could help prevent water shortages from occurring in the first place. A United Nations report states that agriculture could become carbon neutral in two decades by moving to organic practices worldwide. In 2012, U.S. organic food sales were less than 5 percent of total at-home food sales. With organic agriculture producing more profits per acre than industrial agriculture, and steadily increasing demand for organic food, hopefully this percentage will increase.

Preventing water shortages requires using water resources more judiciously. We can reduce waste by metering, regulating, intelligently pricing, recycling, and conserving water.

Of all the world’s freshwater removed from its sources worldwide, almost 60 percent is used to irrigate crops. Agriculture is the second largest water user in the U.S., after thermoelectric power plants and before public supply. Agriculture should top the priority list for water use reduction. Organic growing practices, low-volume irrigation, and less growing of water-intensive crops in deserts would reduce water use while producing an abundance of environmental benefits.

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  1. Sadly, Ellen, the world will not listen to the ominous warnings until the aquifers run dry, the taps stop flowing, and the last crops shrivel. It is like the problems in Greece – no-one believes they are nearing the end of the road, until they run off it! That is a country destined for poverty and hardship on a worse scale than any before they joined the European Union.

    On most issues, I look at the general comments – I cannot believe how many people still don’t realise that time is running out to make changes as to how we humans live. We are the only ones who can find a solution to our man-made problems, yet we still continue to “fiddle while Rome burns.”

  2. How can we talk about a California Drought and not mention Oil, and Fracking ?

    Fracking Poisons Water

    Fracking Causes Earth Quakes

    Fracking in the State last year used 70 million Gallons of Drinkable Water

    Fracking Releases Huge amounts of Methane, a Green House Gas, that is Warming our Earth. along with another Green House Gas Carbon

    “California is the third largest refiner of oil in the nation, after Texas and North Dakota, and the state doesn’t keep stats on how much water the refineries use.

    Mother Jones investigated, asking the six companies that make up 90 percent of the state’s refining capacity, to share their figures.

    Although three declined to comment, the data released by the other three provided enough of a baseline to extrapolate that, at full capacity, oil refineries use 94 million gallons of water per day in California.

    As Mother Jones reports, that’s more than twice as much as the daily water use of San Francisco homes. Just let that sink in for a while.” Cat Di Stasio

    In California, Fossil Fuels Poisons 94 million Gallons of Drinkable Water a Day !

    The 70 million a year from Fracking + the 94 million Gallons a Day, of Drinkable Water, Poisoned by Fossil Fuel, to generate Electricity.

    That we could generate with a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff

    Time to change our Global Warming, Sea Level Rising, Fossil Fuel Energy Policies of Burning Oil. Coal, and Natural Gas.

    There is No Carbon Budget, each Toxic Ton we emit, is Warming the Planet.

    California emitted 459 Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014.

    Gov Browns call to reduce this to 1990 levels so we can continue to emit over 400 million Toxic Tons a year, will not help us stop or slow down Global Warming and Sea Levels Rising.

    “Updates to the 2020 Limit.
    Calculation of the original 1990 limit approved in 2007 was revised using the scientifically updated IPCC 2007 fourth assessment report (AR4) global warming potentials, to 431 MMTCO2e. Thus the 2020 GHG emissions limit established in response to AB 32 is now slightly higher than the 427 MMTCO2e in the initial Scoping Plan.” Ca. Gov. Data

    We Need 100% Renewable Energies .

    Implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff.

    California Residential Feed in Tariff would allow homeowners to sell their Renewable Energy to the utility, protecting our communities from Poison Water, Grid Failures, Natural Disasters, Toxic Natural Gas and Oil Fracking.

  3. Daniel,

    With regard to earthquakes being caused by fracking, please understand that it is the existing naturally-occurring stress being applied to the rocks that induces displacement along faults, and it is that displacement that is responsible for the earthquakes. If there were no such stress there would be no rock displacement and, consequently, no earthquakes.

    Fracking involves the injection of fluid into the rock to break the rock. That fluid serves as a lubricant which allows blocks of rock that would eventually become displaced along a fault, or faults, to overcome the frictional resistance to movement much earlier than if that lubricant were not added. Reservoirs experience the same fate because the water ponded in the reservoir sinks down into the bedrock and lubricates the fractures, or faults, thereby facilitating rock displacement.

    • So Joe, if I understand correctly, what you’re saying is that the lubrication from fracking is a good thing since it allows rock formations to glide more easily over one another thereby mitigating against more serious earthquakes. Are you trying to put a positive spin on earthquakes caused by fracking?

      Please tell us you’re not doing that.

      • Rolly,

        Please read and understand what I am writing. Do not twist it!

        Fracking does NOT cause earthquakes. Stress applied by natural processes, such as those associated with plate tectonics, or even uplift by hot springs or magma, cause earthquakes. IF there were no such stress, there would be no earthquakes.

        As I already wrote, and which you seem to have skipped, is that earthquakes also occur beneath reservoirs, for exactly the same reason as they do when any fluid, such as that associated with hydrofracking is injected. The fluid is a lubricant that makes it easier for one mass of rock to slide past another. The frictional resistance to movement between two rock masses beneath the surface is tremendous. Once the frictional resistance is overcome by unrelenting differential stress, such that the shear stress exceeds the resistance to shear movement, the rock masses move past one another. They do not, however, move gradually and gently, like a train that begins its journey by leaving a railroad station. Instead the movement is sudden and generates seismic waves (the earthquake).

        Think of a box of rocks weighing at least 45 kg on a nice, smooth desk top. Push gently on that box. Most likely it will not move, but you will want it to move so you push harder. It may still not move, but you are determined so you push even harder. Eventually the energy that you supply will exceed the frictional resistance between the heavy, rock-laden box and the desk top, and the box will move. BUT, the initial movement will not be smooth and gradual, as already noted. The box will lurch forward. If, however, the desk top were lubricated with a coat of oil, or water, the movement, or displacement, will occur with far less effort. That is, hopefully, a simplified enough analogy, without a full-blown course on seismotectonics, to explain that fracking does NOT cause earthquakes, but it can facilitate their occurring.

  4. So Fracking, just makes earthquakes happen sooner than they normally would do so. It still doesn’t refute the fact that fracking for gas is an “old” fossil fuel technology that has actually been around since the 1930’s, but stepped up in production recently as a somewhat cleaner alternative to burning coal.

    I think that we have to jump on some cleaner alternatives to all of these misguided attempts at “keeping the lights on.” We have to find better means of using naturally created energy – (water mills in the 18th century did just that for most little factories). We have to find better ways to store energy for later use and we must start thinking outside of the “fossil fuel box” if we are to make any headway at all.

    We have had our good times with fossil fuel burning (and yes, oil is in so many products it makes the head spin), but we know it has come at a huge price to the environment that gives us life support systems. To ignore the droughts, the floods, the other signals that our environment is wobbling out of that support mode, is sheer folly.

  5. Collette – I totally agree we need to change our approach from remediation to prevention, and so far, we’ve sucked at this. Will we do it? I think maybe – the urge to survive built into us over eons of evolution may ultimately prevail. We need to evolve to the next level of intelligence – and fast.

    Daniel – Perhaps you did not see that I did mention fracking in the article. However, my main focus was agriculture. I tried to make the point that there are many sectors where change is needed – not JUST agriculture. It’s impossible to cover all the aspects of a complex situation in depth in one article.

    I appreciate everyone’s comments.

  6. The greatest danger with water is the human mind and its inability to recognized imminent threats. It is completely normal to deny that the water tables are falling, that desertification is running rampant, that arable land is vastly diminishing, that we are literally running out of fresh water. Our minds tell us that this cannot happen, that it is not allowed. We we choose to believe these messages coming from our heads. That choice is normal, it is “normal” to make that choice. No one is wrong and no one is to blame, it is simply human nature doing its functions normally. So, how does one fight human nature acting normally?

  7. “So how does one fight human nature acting normally?” Difficult question to answer Danny.

    Convincing people that this time, there won’t be an adequate replenishment of depleted aquifers, that the rains will not be consistent, that the water tables will remain as polluted as we have made them, is an uphill battle.

    We are at a new threshold in humanity. Perhaps comparisons can be made with previous fallen empires… The Maya, The Inca, The Babylonians, The Egyptians and other advanced civilisations that disappeared leaving only traces of their former glory. Their fall came during cataclysmic earth changes, despite offerings to their Gods to quell the rains or stop the droughts, pestilences and wars.

    Modern Humanity seems to be under the impression that Nature will fix herself. What they don’t understand, is that if we allow that to happen without some sort of effort to help her, our civilisation will join the ranks of the vanquished. We will drop like flies and wonder where our salvation is? There won’t be any.

    We have to somehow change thinking…that water is more valuable than gold, that clean air is more valuable than diamonds, and that healthy food is more valuable than any material item we might have in our life. The basic tennents in life are security (a roof over our heads to protect us), love (our family and friends), warmth, (adequate clothing), air, water and food (basic sustenance) and reproduction (continuation of species). In human society, every single one of those basic tennents is under extreme threat because they are all out of balance. All we are doing at the moment is widening the gaps in the balance…the cracks are appearing and the first peoples are dying (Ebola, Syrian conflict, ISIS). Drought and flood victims will be the next…starting with animals, but humans shortly thereafter. Will humanity make the same mistakes of old? Or can we begin to shake off the old paradigms and embrace a better, cleaner and more caring relationship with Nature and her bountiful (free) gifts, rather than raping her and leaving her bruised and broken unable to support life itself?

    Normal thinking is not allowed – It will kill us!

    • You hit the nail on the head Colette . “Normal thinking is not allowed – It will kill us!” The fact is it’s already killing us. Your short essay (and I mean that in a complimentary way) about human nature resonates with me. Lately I’ve been thinking that climate change is not the problem. Climate change is only the symptom, albeit a damn serious symptom, of our lifestyles choices or human nature as you point out.

      It’s a lot easier to deal with a problem which is measurable and tangible like carbon emissions. But how do you change cultural behavior quickly enough to avert global-scale disaster? Well you can’t is the short answer. It’s the only answer actually.

      I hope I’m wrong. Maybe Ellen Moyer has it right when she says that “increased consciousness, increased intelligence, and a higher degree of caring.” But I wonder if Ellen really believes that. Do you Ellen?

  8. Collette – I agree with you and would add that humanity is on a knife edge, where we cannot remain. We’ll either evolve or collapse, depending on how people who are alive today decide to act. It’s common to believe that evolution occurs gradually. But actually, evolution involves major jumps – from non-life to life, from life in the oceans to life on land, etc. Social change also – suddenly the Berlin Wall falls, suddenly gay marriage is widely accepted, etc. Technological change also – suddenly we all walk around with computers in our pockets. Now is actually the best time to be alive – because we can choose to jump. We can take in all the bad news and jump anyway because we love life. Crisis is opportunity to make big changes.

    • I guess the question now Ellen, is are we all going to jump together? Or, will it be little pockets of people who make that jump as in past civilisations? I think this is a major question, because time is short to decide on a plan.

      Back in 1999, (when I lived in Canada) I was aware that a few groups were trying to set up sustainable living communities where people from different professions were being invited to participate. The whole idea was to become self-sufficient, to barter for food or services as a way of sharing resources within the community… I. E. If I need a shed built, I could contract with a carpenter or builder and pay in kind, with my garden produce – say a constant supply of winter vegetables. Some plans saw a plan for housing but were hampered by the very expensive buy-in price to own one of the properties, plus the scale was too small to work. But, I think those plans are still alive…

      If more people could think in these terms, do you think we might see some change? Or do you think it is going to take a stronger commitment from everyone for anyone to survive in the future?

    • Ellen – I’m glad you spent some time and words here to expand on a phrase used in a previous response about “increased consciousness, increased intelligence, and a higher degree of caring.” We have passed the point where evolution, happening gradually, will help save humanity. The social and economic changes that are needed must all be “Berlin Walls”. Forget about baby steps.

      You’re so right. I’m ready to jump anyway, anytime, bad news and all, because I love live and I love my family and grandchildren.

      Thank you for following your article with dialogue with the readers. Much appreciated.

  9. I honestly don’t know how we’ll jump. It definitely won’t be everyone – there are too many people who have just checked out and are cocooning, trying to take care of their own immediate and tiny worlds. I read that it takes about 10% of the people to make wholesale change.

    How did the Berlin Wall come down? How did the Arab Spring start? I just don’t know enough about it. With the internet and cell phones, it’s easier for things to go viral. There are also other examples of change that took much longer – for example, women seizing the right to vote in the U.S. and civil rights.

    In some countries, people still have the ultimate power – of the vote. Change could come in the form of a viral internet campaign getting people to refuse to vote for any politician who is not committed to things like: amending the constitution to say corporations are not persons; mending the climate and transitioning to clean energy; removing subsidies to corporate; and other sustainability initiatives. Obviously, more than 10% of the population would be needed for this to succeed. However, in the U.S., the majority of citizens think the government should take action to address climate change. Even the majority of Republican citizens think so (of course, the Republican politicians ignore this and kowtow to corporate, resisting action on climate change).

    A root cause of our problems is corruption of our political system. In the U.S., municipalities are increasingly adopting laws that say “corporations are not persons in my town.” The trend is gaining momentum. President Obama and other prominent politicians are saying the Citizens United Supreme Court decision – allowing corporations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns, and secretly – should be overturned.

    It seems that jumping occurs over a period of time, but a short period of time that looks almost instantaneous when looking back on it with a historical perspective.

    Sustainable living, such in as in the communities you mention, helps. And people voting with their dollar every day – for example, with the food they buy – contributes significantly. Other technological change – like computers and cells phones – just seems to happen with a life of its own. But I think political action is also necessary to make large change happen faster – change that takes power from one powerful group that has an iron grip on government (like fossil fuel companies or industrial agriculture companies) and giving it to another less powerful groups (like clean energy companies or organic agriculture companies).

    People need to remember that we have ultimate power, and not believe messages that try to tells us we don’t.

    These are some thoughts. It’s a big question you ask, and I’m not sure of the answer.

  10. Hi Rolly – In response to your comments from yesterday, yes, I believe we can successfully make the transition to a sustainable and happy way of life through increased consciousness, increased intelligence, and a higher degree of caring. And I would characterize our ways and our bad thinking these days as abnormal, not normal. The ugly behavior we’re seeing today is cultural, not human nature, in my opinion. Let me explain.

    I studied anthropology as an undergrad to see how people in other times and places live sustainably – or not – and how they compare with our current mode of operation. I came to believe that many peoples have lived well, in harmony with the Earth and with each other (more or less) and not full of greed, fear, and irresponsibility, as so many of us are today. I don’t want to go overboard and glamorize other cultures as perfect, but many (not all!) were and are more or less on the right track, it seems to me. Today, the Maori people in New Zealand, for example feel they have a duty to the Earth and seem to act responsibly. Other indigenous people today in other parts of the world – who are mostly in the process of being wiped out – are similar. Until White people inflicted genocide on Native Americans – and quite recently in the scheme of things and still ongoing in many ways – many Native American cultures lived well and responsibly. Even within our abnormal culture, enlightened people exist, so we know it is possible to be conscious, intelligent, and caring. (As someone once said, “It exists, therefore it is possible!”) Some famous examples are Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, and the Dalai Lama. I think we all also know examples who are not famous – I know many. So we have proof that humans can be more highly evolved – we just need more of us to be this way.

    The unique thing about our situation, in the scheme of evolution of life on this planet, is that we are the only species (to our knowledge) with the capacity to know we might go extinct. We face a CONSCIOUS choice of whether to evolve or go extinct. I believe the urge to survive is so strong, selected for through millions of years of evolution, that we will decide to try to evolve ourselves rather than go extinct.
    As you point out, climate change is feedback from the universe saying we are on the wrong track. So climate change in a way a very good thing, because it forces us to look at our situation and choose a better way. Without challenges like climate change, we’d just remain comfy with our current ways rather than improve them and evolve.

    I don’t know how this will turn out. It’s dicey. Many humans have their capacities diminished by stress, disconnection from nature and other humans, negative self-talk, toxins (for example, industrial “food,” heavy metals, pesticides, other organic pollutants), and fear. We have to consciously evolve ourselves. Will we? Will we act early enough and fast enough?

    The situation is so dire that we should put all our attention into making change rather than expending energy on predictions. Just like in an emergency – you just act rather than contemplate if you’ll succeed. Maybe this is an overused example, but if there is a child in a burning building, you just run in and do your best to rescue the child – motivated by consciousness, intelligence, and caring – rather than waste time evaluating whether a rescue attempt will succeed.

    • So it boils down to Evolution or Extinction. I will reflect on your last 3 paragraphs today. I agree that we are likely the only species that knows it might go extinct. That should be the overriding thought. There can be no stronger motivation for drastic change than the fear of extinction and the drive for survival.

      Much food for reflection. Thank you.

  11. Ellen, I really like your ‘increased conciousness’ ideas for changing human attitudes to the planet. Increased awareness works on an intuitive level. I once got a definition of how intuition works… Take knowledge, apply experience and multiply with intelligence and intuition or ‘a knowing’ is the result. The answer is more than the sum of the parts.

    I have listed a couple of websites here:

    The first site is connected with the global coherence initiative. It is a site that people from anywhere in the world can join to promote harmony, peace and ‘conciousness’ in the world through love and the CGI care focus – basically a group that can connect and meditate together, putting a single focus on any situation that requires resolution in a caring harmonious manner.
    As part of this, electromagnetic sensors placed in different locations across the globe are measuring how the Earth’s magnetic field resonates with our own conciousness’ state.

    Now to many, this might sound like ‘woo, woo’ silly stuff brought up by alternate practitioners (as Professor Brian Cox might put it), but I think it has merit.

    While I cannot find an internet connection everywhere to be part of each CGI monthly focus, I did connect with one that brought a lot of focus for peace in Korea when North Korea was threatening South Korea with Military attack (including Nuclear weapons). In that instance, the next day, Kim Jong Un did a complete about-face and the threat dissolved for no apparent reason. There were only about 600 people on that conciousness’ focus, so I would really be interested to see what could happen with 600 million people.

    If people projected conciously what they wish to happen, it can happen! I have no doubt in it.

    I use this method with animals…I look after peoples pets when they go away and cannot leave them with just anyone because of behaviour problems. It takes communication with the animal and an understanding formed for trust to occur. It takes intuition and a range of non-verbal cues. It takes a ‘conciousness’ of what all life is about.

    Rolly, you are right of course. Climate change is only a symptom of how human activity has changed the conciousness’ of the planet itself.
    It is time for us all to reconnect with all life forms as all native communities used to do. They listened to the trees, to the birds. They watched the signs in the skies and they were aware of everything. Modern society is aware of very little right now and they are not seeing any signs at all…it is a bad state but I do see signs of a reawakening. I truly hope humans recover their concious-knowing…it is one of the most beautiful gifts we have.

  12. I have decided, based on this thread and the ideas put forward, that I am going to change my own behaviour. I will no longer focus on the negatives of what is happening to the climate and the earth itself (all very scary), but instead focus only on the positive behaviours I can employ to influence change in our society and its effect on life itself.

    Sorry, Joe, but this means I will not be constantly defending my position against your ‘denial’ position. It leads to negative behaviour and thinking (on my part). One thing I have noticed about all deniers, is that they seem to relish the ‘argument’ more than any outcome of the discussion. They put forward static information based on static positions. They delight in wearing down their opponents. In the world of us as ‘energy beings,’ they would be classified as energy vampires…sucking the life out of caring, energy rich people.

    So, I am jumping… Whatever I can do, I will. If I am alone, my effect will be tiny, but I will meditate on the idea that the many will jump with me!

    • Colette – I agree that trying to convince deniers that they are wrong is hugely unproductive. When I did the Denial101x course, that was highly emphasized. We all have a finite amount of energy. It’s better to focus on solutions rather than the negative. That said, it’s a mistake to ignore the negative. It’s all about climate reality. Yes humanity is in peril but it also has the power and the knowledge to raise itself to a higher level.

      My recent post – Global Warming on Steroids – shows that extreme weather is with us and will be our reality from now on. The need for an international agreement to reduce emissions is paramount as we head into the Paris2015 Summit.

      • True – and I won’t bury my head in the sand against the negatives of what climate change is doing to our environment. But, it isn’t productive to let the negative overwhelm me (or anyone else). It is so easy to throw up the hands in defeat and despair at the enormity of the change needed. We mustn’t stop trying to make that difference, no matter how small.

        The meeting of scientists in Paris this last weekend seemed to be looking at how the COP21 can look at more flexible options, so everyone can do their bit to meet the 2°c target. While this might appear to be a weaker position than enforcing greenhouse gas reduction targets, it is better than forcing countries away from the negotiations as occurred in the past summits.

        • COP21 must indeed involve all countries to do what they can. I worry though that without some form of legal commitment many will just return home to a business as usual approach. I think the leadership will come from the US, China and Europe and perhaps to a lesser extent, India. There will be a lot more rhetoric between now and December. The United Nations climate talks will happen again this September and of course Pope Francis is attempting to convince world leaders to deal with climate change as an existential threat.

          All of this is fine but how can we guarantee success without a legal compliance mechanism?

          • Well, yes, legal commitments have more strength than promises. I wonder though about our whole approach on this level. History is littered with broken promises, pacts, alliances and legal compliances…most have resulted in war.

            Looking now at Greece and its broken spirit in the face of the European Union constraints in pulling Greece ‘into line,’ for fiscal responsibility, one could think one of two things: a) Europe will finally build Greece back up again or b) Greece will continue to struggle even with this third huge bailout. The trouble with both scenarios is that the Greek people feel that something has disappeared – their freedom to decide for themselves.

            This is troublesome. Whenever a people are unhappy, they will become aggressive towards those that they see as oppressors (right or wrong). On the climate action level, we cannot afford to to create discord that may create this sort of feeling. Any resistance or discontent with how climate action is put in place, must be dealt with carefully. It isn’t really useful to say that rich countries will pay for poor countries (although this is a logical conclusion), as eventually, poor countries will take advantage and create discord amongst richer countries. I.e. Many EU poorer countries do not comply with the rules, while richer one’s do. The discord it creates, leaves Germany holding the tab, France making soothing noises, and Britain wanting to pull out altogether. This cannot be seen as a successful model.

            I am not sure what a good model for climate action will look like, but Ellen has definitely hit on one aspect…Humans require a new ‘concious’ model that hits people squarely with a new awareness that it is not ‘us’ vs ‘them’ but rather a complete wholeness of all things, people, animals, plants and all life living in harmony. Humans have never lived according to this model and it is the only model that is going to work. Legislation will not create this. Only a self-realisation will work, and suddenly the whole picture will change. I believe that the COP21 could, potentially be the jumping off platform for a whole new approach to life, to government, to cooperation as we have never seen before. Some maverick thinking is needed now.

  13. Collette – If more people share your attitude, the world will be a lot better off, and we may succeed in coming out the other side of our crises to a much better way of life…

  14. Collette – In response to your 7/14 5:41 comment: I like what you’re saying except for one thing. You say “Humans have never lived according to this model…” referring to awareness of a complete wholeness of all things, people, animals, plants and all life living in harmony. This is not true. From studying anthropology, harmonious living was the norm until very recently, i.e., about 10,000 years ago when we invented agriculture. As I commented earlier, our current behavior is abnormal and aberrant, NOT intrinsic human nature. This is great news, suggesting we can get back to our normal behavior. We’ve behaved well before, so maybe we can do it again….

    • Ah yes Ellen, you are right. I guess I was thinking more in terms of recorded modern history, but badly worded on my part. Do you think that prior to agricultural development, we were more in balance because we also did not rely on the extensive cooperation required in larger groups than was necessary in a normal extended family group? Or could it be that populations were lower and more in balance with the resources available? Perhaps a bit of both?

      I am considering this, because I see great strains between different cultures in the modern world. Finding common ground seems to be showing fewer opportunities than I saw of thirty years ago. (My Personal opinion and not necessarily reflected in reality).

      I know that there is common ground of course…it just seems to have been masked and altered by abberant thinking and behaviour as you point out. Is overpopulation a cause of abberant behaviour? In over populated animal groups, the herd may be weakened by disease, overgrazing meagre resources and socially abnormal aggressions due to lack of space. It is difficult to find answers to such ponderous and unpopular questions.

  15. Conciousness’ thinking has triumphed in Britain today. While this isn’t a climate change example, it is an example of how people can change governments and negative events through a conciousness’decision to act.

    Fox hunting with hounds and horses was banned in England and Wales some years ago. After our Tory Government won the election back on the 7th May, they quietly wrote up legislation to revert much of the ban so large packs of dogs would again be allowed, not only to run down foxes, but stags, and our endangered British Hare. A vote was to be held tomorrow in Parliament. With a majority government, David Cameron was confident that at least 60% of his party and all of the majority Scottish National party would vote in its favour.

    Yesterday, I saw a call for a 2-hr twitter storm for people to contact their local MP and ask them to vote ‘No’ to the plan. Two hours grew into all day, with many people joining in, and a march in London organised. Dr. Brian May (of Freddy Mercury’s band, Queen, fame), got in touch with many of his political contacts too. Brian May is very much a proponent of a new ‘conciousness’ coming to everyone, and he used his influence in very good ways.

    In Scotland, hunting with packs of dogs is legal, so David Cameron thought he had the automatic support of Nicola Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party. Last night I saw Brian May bring Nicola Sturgeon into his twitter feed and ask her personally to help. Today, Nicola announced that all SNP votes would be no. Labour also indicated they would vote no. As the giant march in London protested outside of Parliament this morning, David Cameron withdrew the proposal and there will not be any vote tomorrow on bringing back this horrific practice.

    I thanked my own MP who had given up her time to join the twitter storm as many MP’s did publically. This is quite new really. It is rare for MP’s to divulge how they will vote before it occurs…and to go public can be political suicide within their own party so I was surprised to see many Tory MP’s going public on how they were being asked by constituents to vote against their own legislation.

    Conciousness’ wins!

      • There is a real movement here in Britain to restore environment and it is gathering momentum in the ordinary ranks of people… A new website has just gone live to support the rewinding of Britain
        The more ordinary people I talk with, the more I realise that they are where I was (in thinking) about 10 years ago… It is quite positive how they talk about preserving nature, eating healthier, and living more economically and sustainably. They haven’t quite got to the point where climate issues are truly setting off alarm bells, but it won’t be long.
        Eventually, the politicians will catch up with the rest of us.

  16. Sorry, that should read ‘Rewilding’ not rewinding, although, the predictive text mistake is sort of appropriate…we are trying to wind back the clock to more sustainable ways of living in many respects.

    • My hope is that more and more people will get on board, realizing we are headed for extinction and have the power to turn our situation around. Then things will tip, like historical examples (the Berlin Wall crumbling down) and jump to a new level. It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy realizes there is no place like home (analogous to a healthy Earth) and it’s not hard to get there (just click your heels). And the wizard (roughly analogous to corporate and a corrupt political system) is really not as formidable as he appears – just a guy, like corporations are just a couple of guys doing things their way… (I may have the wizard wrong – I never really got the wizard.)

      In some countries, people are murdered for speaking out. Countless environmental activists have been murdered. And plants and animals have no voice anywhere. In our countries, we can speak out relatively safely, and we have the power of the vote, which is the ultimate power that can trump corporate power. We not only have the tools. I believe we also have the duty to try – plants and animals everywhere and people in the countries where it is not safe to speak are counting on us. We also have a duty to people who came before us – and fought and died for our right to vote and for our ability to even be here at all – to keep the chain alive.

      We’re in the midst of the ultimate test of the human species.

      I see more and more people getting on board and find that encouraging.


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