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After eating dinner at Arizona’s historic La Posada hotel in Winslow, I walked around the building and discovered a large section of the second floor filled with paintings by artist Tina Mion. I wondered why such interesting and subversive paintings would be featured in a touristy establishment. Ah, she owns the place with her husband. One particular painting struck me as emblematic of the eco-apocalyptic times we are living in. Of course if you simply watched the mainstream news and listened to their talking heads, then you really have no idea what I’m writing about. For you, the most earth-shattering news as of late is the Armageddon of the Carnival cruise ship, the Triumph, and its horror of “no working toilets, limited power and scarce food.” Ironically, this scenario is what the human race will have to look forward to in the larger context of modern man’s ecological overshoot; the Earth’s life-support systems continue to degrade and collapse from the weight of industrial civilization’s ravenous over-exploitation and consumption. Meanwhile, the masses are shocked and dismayed at the breakdown of a luxury liner. Nevermind that such cruise ships, packed with party-going consumers, sail across dying oceans that have been trawled clean of most fish species. Such is the ‘selective awareness’ of industrial capitalist carbon man.

Getting back to Tina Minion’s painting which I took a picture of because I think it’s so symbolic of the present day:


What are the latest headlines which have grabbed my attention?…

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Warming is particularly problematic for moose in northern Minnesota. The moose population in the northwestern part of the state plummeted from about 4,000 animals in the mid-1980s to less than 100 animals by the mid-2000s.

Biologists attribute most of this decline to increasing temperatures: when it gets too warm moose typically seek shelter rather than foraging for nutritious foods needed to keep them healthy. They become more vulnerable to tick infestations, which have proliferated as the region has warmed.

Ticks leave moose weakened from blood loss and with hairless patches where they tried to rub off the ticks. Without protective hair, these animals can die from cold exposure in the winter. Individual moose infested with 50,000 to 70,000 ticks — ten to twenty times more than normal — have been documented…

As you might expect, moose are also in trouble in the few other portions of the U.S. where any are left at all, including some areas where moose were essentially gone until fairly recent, still tenuous recoveries. NWF’s Wildlife Promise blog offered this observation yesterday:

Moose were once found as far south as Pennsylvania before over-hunting and habitat destruction wiped them out from much of the eastern United States. Populations in places like Massachusetts are still re-establishing a foothold.

But in New Hampshire, the impact of warmer temperatures on moose are clear and dire. Researchers say New Hampshire moose are literally being eaten alive by ticks. Moose there have to deal with 30,000 ticks at a time in a normal year, but in recent warm years, moose carry as many as 150,000 ticks.

The moose die of anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells. After the unseasonably warm winter in 2011, they think that it’s likely that all calves born the previous year were killed along with 40 percent of adults.

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Being the apex predator won’t save us from the same fate of other large mammals that our currently dropping like flies all around us in what one reader has called “The First Mass Murder of Life on the Planet”. Seeing how extensively we have disassociated ourselves from the natural world, i.e. the foundation for our existence, I would wager that man is probably the only living creature on the face of the earth that cannot innately sense that its time is up. Elaborate and contorted twisting of reality is a special talent of the human species.

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…It turns out that aspens generally use shallow soil moisture, which evaporated quickly with increased temperatures during the summer drought of 2002. They then looked at climate data finding that these high temperatures were part of a long-term increasing trend, likely linked with climate change, a unique feature of this drought that separates it from earlier less damaging droughts.

“Forests store about 45 percent of the carbon found on land,” remarked William. “Widespread tree death can radically transform ecosystems, affecting biodiversity, posing fire risks, and even harming local economies. Rapid shifts in ecosystems, particularly through vegetation die-offs could be among the most striking impacts of increased drought and climate change around the globe.”…

…This study pinpoints the trigger of this loss — summer temperature was the most important climate variable for explaining aspen death by drying out surface soil and stressing the trees’ water-transport system. Joe Berry, a co-author and Carnegie staff scientist, noted that understanding how and where the trees get their water was key to unraveling cause and effect in this study. “Since there is a very strong upward trend in Colorado summer temperatures, they could link tree death to climate change,” said Chris Field, director of the Carnegie department. This study is a milestone in linking plant-level physiology measurements with large-scale climate to predict vulnerability to climate change in these forests.

Interestingly, this type of climate-change hot summer drought actually occurred again in 2012, which could indicate more tree die-offs are in the pipeline for the near future.

No, we won’t survive the global die-off of forests. Fake plastic trees and monoculture forests won’t help.

And about that methane clathrate gun:

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Thawing permafrost is emitting more climate-heating carbon faster than previously realised. Scientists have now learned that when the ancient carbon locked in the ice thaws and is exposed to sunlight, it turns into carbon dioxide 40 percent faster.

“This really changes the trajectory of the debate” over when and how much carbon will be released as permafrost thaws due to ever warmer temperatures in the Arctic, says researcher Rose Cory of the University of North Carolina…

…“All the evidence, in my opinion, suggests we’re on our way to a three to five degree C world,” Watson told participants at the symposium.

When Watson was chair of the IPCC from 1997 to 2002, optimism was high there’d be a global agreement to limit emissions. “We were hopeful that emissions would not go up at the tremendous rate they are rising now,” he told the Climate News Network, a UK journalism news service.

“(Now) all the promises in the world, which we’re not likely to realise anyway, will not give us a world with only a two degree C rise.

Well, at least we’ll be able to feed ourselves, or maybe not…

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To make the future even more brutish and short for any survivors, pathogens once thought to be conquered are building resistance to all antibiotics:

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A successful book in the genre of science fiction or horror is said to have effectively created the “suspension of disbelief” in the reader. I say that industrial civilization uses this same tactic to make you, one of its countless minions, believe that all is well under the dominant socio-economic system, that human progress will continue, that nature is an intrinsically worthless entity unless it’s dominated and rapaciously exploited by man, and that the accumulation of material wealth is the end-all and be-all of life. If you reject these precepts of our current social paradigm, then you quickly realize how empty and doomed the system is that we currently live and toil under. Paradoxically, my stress level has been reduced after I came to the conclusion that most everything valued and sought after in the proverbial “Rat Race” of global capitalism is an absolute fraud and joke. Once you realize we’re being lead to a smoking pile of ruin, most things you thought were important suddenly lose all value and significance.

Somehow I just don’t think anyone will be selling T-shirts that say, “I survived climate change and the eco-apocalypse.”