Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's About The Carbon In The Atmosphere! Let's Get Our Priorities Straight!

When we put everything in the balance, the bottom line on climate change, global warming, sea level rise, ice sheet melting, literally everything, is carbon in the atmosphere. There is literally no value to arguing about what caused it, or who. We're still getting our arms around the fine details of that, but the science is in and thousands of scientists around the world agree that there is significant anthropogenic impact in the global warming scenario.

The basic story goes like this: We live in a closed loop environment with the singular exception of energy being injected into our system 24/7 by our Sun. That closed loop has X amount of Carbon in it. For purposes of our discussion, this doesn't change (Conservation of Mass - What does change is where the carbon is at any given time. When it's "out of the way" meaning someplace where it isn't a problem we say it's "sequestered". Sequestration can take the form of plant life, animal life, hydrocarbons (coal, oil, gas), and  non-organic carbon compounds in the earth, carbon dissolved in water, and so on. Usually it refers to anyplace other than in the air. When it is in the air, primarily in the form of gaseous compounds such as carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, propane, or any other gaseous hydrocarbon, it acts to reflect and absorb heat radiated back out toward space by the earth's surface, to varying degrees, depending upon the specific compound (Green House Gas effect). Methane for instance is about 25 times as potent at this function as carbon dioxide. This whole process that defines where the carbon is at any given moment is called the carbon cycle. We have seriously disturbed the "balance" of the carbon cycle, and the carbon cycle is what regulates the "just right" conditions of the Earth's atmosphere, supporting life on Earth.

An excellent illustration of the anthropogenic (human originated) activities that impact the carbon cycle and are at the heart of global warming and climate change is presented in this diagram from the World Resource Institute (

The essence of the situation is that we are approaching a super saturated carbon condition in the atmosphere, with serious environmental tipping points. This will maximize the trapping of converted solar energy, that would otherwise escape into space. Passing the tipping points will mean we have gone so far in a particular direction that we can't go back in a functional time scale (many human life times) - if at all! The science is in, the situation is real. There is no point in arguing it because we have very little time to do something about it, and arguing will just waste more precious time. The question NOW is, what can we do about it?

The linked article gives a very coherent view of the issue with regard to certain aspects and increasing carbon dioxide ( The article, in turn provides a link to Lester Brown's Plan B summary ( with a free downloadable PDF of the summary for you consideration. This is NOT the only thinking going on but if you have not considered a focused plan for attacking this problem comprehensively, this is a good place to start. First and last - it's about the carbon, folks! If you want to know more about potential tipping points and their significance, read

If not us, who? If not now, when? Thanks for being there and being you!

The Smokemaster

That Was Then, And This Is Now: The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum And What It Means To Us!

The Paleocene Epoch was the first epoch in the Cenozoic Era, which is the period including everything from the end of the Cretacious (extinction of the dinosaurs) to the present. As a point of note, this period includes the Tertiary and Quaternary. These two sub-periods of the Cenozoic are distinguished in time by the sequences of fossils present in rocks from these periods. There is further subdivision of the Tertiary into the Paleocene, the Eocene, the Oligocene, the Miocene, and the Pliocene, which  were distinguished by an even finer grading of the fossils present. The first epoch coming at the end of the Cretaceous Era was the Paleocene Epoch, followed by the Eocene, and then the Oligocene. These three make up the Paleogene, or the “old” period of the Cenozoic. (1)  The subject of this post is that period transitioning from the Paleocene to the Eocene during which an event referred to as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum occurred (sometime referred to by its acronym, PETM – also known in some literature as the LPTM for Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum).

The PETM event is significant because it was the last significant instance of serious global warming before what we are now experiencing. During this period the mean temperature of Earth’s oceans are estimated to have risen as much as 41 degrees Fahrenheit over a 20,000 year period. (2) As noted by the researchers in this study, pinpointing the cause of the PETM requires extremely accurate dating of the event so that it can be correlated or disassociated from other precisely calculated events of Earth’s past such as the peak of a Milankovitch Cycle or other known events. Based on their research, the most exact date span to date has been generated - between 55.728 and 55.964 million years ago. The significance of this is that it places the event outside the timing of a Milankovitch cycle and reinforces the notion that what we know as greenhouse gases were probably the root cause. 

                We all know about CO2 and its effect as a greenhouse gas (GHG). People frequently overlook, or are simply unaware, of the significance of methane as a GHG. Methane is estimated to be 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 and there are huge quantities of it naturally sequestered on the ocean floor and the continental shelves facing the North Pole in the form of methane hydrate (note the red dots not on land in the Arctic region - basically ALL of the Arctic).(3)

The map shown above indicates where known deep sea and continental shelf deposits are located. Red dots indicate areas where it is considered highly likely that methane hydrate will be found in large quantities, yellow dots indicate areas that have proven to have large quantities.  Note a number of locations in the Arctic continental shelf areas, with more having been discovered since this map was generated. Virtually every red dot on this map has been proven to have large methane hydrate reserves in the period since 2005, when the data for this map was published.

                Methane hydrate is basically a pentagonal ice crystal with a methane molecule trapped in the middle. It is stable as a result of pressure and/or temperature – high pressure and/or low temperature. It would take a serious change in the processes that we are familiar with today in terms of ocean cycles, and the hydrologic cycle in general, to disturb most of those methane hydrate deposits… except for the methane hydrate on the Arctic continental shelves.(4) The methane trapped there (900+ gigatons) is not in deep ocean so the only thing that keeps it  stable as methane hydrate is temperature.(5) The cold necessary for hydrate stability was routinely a function of a thick covering of arctic sea ice, which is now gone.  Original predictions associated with global warming had complete disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice occurring by mid century. The latest estimates have it occurring by the summer of 2015.(6,9)  The MOST recent reporting indicates a massive melt off has occurred early this year. (7) 

            The significance of all this is relatively straight forward. Based on careful work done by scientists studying the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum they have been able to model an effective cause for the PETM event – the abrupt release of methane into the atmosphere, probably from methane hydrate in the ocean, due to a sudden shift in ocean warming. (8) Any number of things could cause a sudden shift in ocean warming, but their notions of the time frame for the PETM event are around ten thousand years, and the abrupt release could have been over tens of years. 

            We have a scenario where we are on the doorstep of several significant factors in oceanic warming in the Arctic colliding in space and time – loss of sea ice in the summer, significantly increased absorption of sunlight by the Arctic ocean, general conditions of global warming and significant increases of methane release already documented in the Arctic. Is there any reason to think that these combined conditions won’t change any number of other things related to global warming and climate change? No. Is there any reason to think that the aggregate set of conditions won’t create sudden and serious changes in lower depth water temperatures? No. 

             Welcome to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum - Take 2… only this time it won’t take thousands  of years to peak because we face the probability of the abrupt release of 900+ gigatons of methane hydrate into the atmosphere of the Arctic over a matter of months and years, not decades and centuries… which (if you’ll pardon the pun) has, quite literally, explosive potential for harm. Imagine something that gets out of control in a few years and takes a hundred thousand years to rebalance, something that is SO sudden that nothing has time to adapt...

  1.     The Cenozoic Era
  2. Charles, A. J., Condon, D. J., Harding, I. C., Pälike, H., Marshall, J. E. A., Cui, Y. & Kump, L. Constraints on the Numerical Age of the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 12, Q0AA17, doi:10.1029/2010GC003426
  3. Hester, K.C. Brewer, P.G., Clathrate Hydrates In Nature, 2009, Annual Review Of Marine Science
  8. Gerald R. Dickens, Maria M. Castillo and James C. G. Walker, A Blast of Gas in the Late Paleocene: Simulating First Order effects of Massive Dissociation of Oceanic Methane Hydrate; Geology 1997;25;259-262
  9.   Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When We Lose The Capacity To Appreciate Beauty, We Lose Everything That Matters

This is reposted from a Facebook post 

"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"

By: Josh Nonnenmoc

Thanks for being there and being you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Crisis-hit Communities Around The World Are Trading Time For Food

This is a repost of a piece from QUARTZ a while ago - the focus is alternatives to national currencies for survival

With unemployment at a 20-year high in Italy and up to one-quarter of Italian families now falling below the poverty line, according to recent government statistics, putting food on the table has become increasingly difficult. One bright spot has emerged in the city of Modena, where the local social services authority, working together with the city’s volunteer services body, has opened a “social” grocery market called Portobello.

A cross between a time bank and cooperative, Portobello offers the opportunity for families in the community that have been means tested to swap points for groceries. These points are initially allocated by the local social services authority, but can be topped up as customers volunteer time to help run the market, and are stored on a payment card. Others can donate time, money and products to the market to help keep it running, Portobello says, but only those screened by social services can take part as customers. The market is also offering mortgage renegotiation help, budgeting assistance and other services to get cash-strapped residents back on their feet. It provides services for a maximum of two years.

Portobello’s creators are quick to stress the transactional nature of the market, which they view as different than a normal food voucher scheme. Speaking recently to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (Italian), project founder Luigi Zeroni said Portobello’s goal was to “produce solidarity, not consume it.” Modena sits in the middle of Italy’s industrial food production belt, with major pasta, cheese, wine and meat producers based in surrounding Emilia-Romagna, and perhaps because of this tradition of production, the region also generates between one-third and almost half of its GDP from cooperative businesses, among the highest in Europe.

Turning on the time banks
Stressed communities throughout Europe have turned to similar schemes in recent years to deal with being caught between contracting economies and slashed social safety nets, and are creating time banks as a way to engage labor in return for a non-monetary compensation in the form of services. This is being done in some cases for no other reason than to keep services flowing in local communities and keep skills of the unemployed sharp.

While the concept of time banking, or reciprocal service exchange, isn’t new, these areas have seen a resurgence in the use of time banks, with new ones spawning on the US coasts, in distressed cities like Detroit, Michigan, in harder hit parts of the UK, and across the Mediterranean, as capital flows in these areas become tight. Trading an hour of work, for a service such as childcare, home repair or accounting, for a tradable token or points (typically not converted to an actual currency, to keep the tax authorities from eating into the systems’ effectiveness) creates a form of local liquidity that, while not likely to scale, works well for the immediate community involved.

According to a count done in early 2012, there were as many as 300 time banks running in Spain alone, where some of the most acute pain from the euro zone crisis has been felt. Add this to rapid growth of consumption co-ops and other types of local exchanges emerging in Spain, Greece, and across Southern Europe, and it becomes clear that citizens have taken reconstructing economic systems into their own hands, not waiting for European central bankers to float a life preserver from above.

You can follow Scott Smith on Twitter at @changeist. They welcome your comments at

and I thank you for being there and being you.
Smokemaster John

The Morphic/Morphogenetic Field and Resonance

Morphogenesis (from the Greek morphê - shape and genesis - creation, literally, "beginning of the shape") is the function of influence that determines the way that something develops. In its common use in biology, it is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its form. When it comes to conscious evolution we talk of the morphic field as that aspect or condition of vibrational energy, as an element of the evolutionary impulse, that defines us all and that we control through the alignment and resonance of our own vibrational energy “contribution” to the total field.

Core Concept: There are invisible energetic fields that influence behavior.

Rupert Sheldrake offers a hypothesis of formative causation that involves "morphic fields," which provide the pattern for both physical objects and living beings. Morphogenetic fields are defined by Sheldrake as the subset of morphic fields which influence, and are influenced by, living things. The term morphogenetic field generally referred to a "collection of cells by whose interactions a particular organ formed" in 1920s and 1930s experimental embryology. "The genetics program of biology was originally in direct opposition to the concept of morphogenetic fields... an alternative to the gene as the unit of ontogeny." Due to the success of genetics, the term fell into widespread disfavor in the 1960s, although it could be still be found in developmental biology literature regarding limb and heart fields. 

"In such instances, no claims are usually made other than that these areas of mesoderm are destined to form these particular structures". Sheldrake commented on the distinction between his usage and that of the biologist, whom he said uses the term "morphic field" as a heuristic device, which is conceptually distinct from his own use of the term. He says that most biologists regard morphogenetic fields as "a way of thinking about morphogenesis rather than something that really exists."

“The term [morphic fields] is more general in its meaning than morphogenetic fields, and includes other kinds of organizing fields in addition to those of morphogenesis; the organizing fields of animal and human behaviour, of social and cultural systems, and of mental activity can all be regarded as morphic fields which contain an inherent memory.”                       
—Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past (Chapter 6, page 112)

In the context of morphic fields and conscious evolution, resonance is the function of synchronous or “harmonic” vibrational energy that is manifested by people in mutual states of attunement and alignment. Attunement and alignment have a variety of contexts most often associated with love, respect, gratitude, graciousness, and thankfulness but can extend to any aspect of significant human focus. These feelings CAN have discrete manifestations, such as two people being deeply in love with each other, or be a shared general manifestation, such as a broad appreciation of a beautiful day in nature by everyone who has the opportunity to experience it. This link exemplifies the concept -

Thus, as we gain facility with the “tuning” and “play” of the instrument that is ourself, we can appropriately align to contribute our output to the greater whole of the assembled group. This “group” may be family, community, neighborhood, church community, or an ad hoc gathering of people in some location. When we “play” with the larger group it is incumbent upon us to be aware not just of our own internal tune, but of how we combine with the tone and timber of the rest of the group. What is the TOTAL output of sound and how does my contribution affect that? These very real attributes of resonance, in the classic sense of the word, are vitally important in that we can adjust our own tone, volume, or timber (generally the way we play), without changing our “tune”, to produce a richer, more resonant total vibrational result.

The importance of this concept for Conscious Evolution is that if a certain critical mass of people behave and think in a certain way (ethical, loving, creative) a morphic field is created which makes it easier for others to experience that conditional state. Every one of us who experiences an awakening, a sense of comprehensive compassion for the whole is helping to build and to share the morphic field. The hypothesis here is that when the field is sufficiently infused, it becomes a new morphic seed/unit available to all.

Thanks for being there and reading this - may you have a good day :-)

Smokemaster John