Friday, September 25, 2009

Autumnal Dance

I have always loved Autumn best.

One friend/mentor/teacher summed it up perfectly saying, "It's that delicious feeling of impending doom."

Northerners get it. I lived in Northern Alberta. Pretty way north. Autumn, like spring, was nearly - but not quite - instant. Palpable and ephemeral. As soon as the first hard frost happened Mom & Dad would plan our annual "leaf drive". It was an afternoon excursion into the hills and valleys (coolies) of the Peace Country in northern Alberta. A constantly undulating low-level flight that shifted from golden-gray harvested fields to riotously glowing stands of poplar, birch, willow and aspen shot through with the eternal green of conifers grown black-green with summer sun.

The trees either stood in tight copses on hills and along windbreaks or else filled the steep-sided ravines and coolies. The gravel roads we traveled would pitch and weave through this landscape as we "ooed" and "ahhed" when each new splash of defiant color hove into view. The Sun, now becoming perpetually low in the sky, would dazzle our eyes and make them water through our gleeful grins. Moments of peace, joy, unity and love in our family now flash frozen in my memory and gently cooled by the passage of time.

No music accompanied these trips - "AM radio only, please" in my parent's frugal cars. Just the soundtrack of gravel crunching and rapping under our car and our endless exclamations and comments.

"Oh, look there!"

"Nice reds!"

"It's a sea of gold."

We will go out for our new "leaf drive" soon. Our "version 1.2" of this family tradition incorporated music. I'd usually try to choose evocative favorites. We'd still comment - like we did on those "Christmas Light" drives, too. "Leaf drives" are better. We'd bask in awe of the handiwork of God, reminded of the gentle, powerful, creative and wise hand that shapes everything we experience. Even the agnostic and the atheist must respond with some sense of wonder, I suspect, when faced with such naked beauty and divine radiance.

This year will be different though, perhaps it's now "version 1.3". No children in the backseat. No warm family babble before, during or after. Like the leaves drifting from the trees, our children are dancing ever farther from our reach.

The delicious feeling of impending doom rises.

I will program some music for our drive though. Some companions are constant. Surely some Jack Semple from his wonderful instrumental album "Qu'Appelle" - one place we will surely drive to and through.

New Dala will be played from their summer 2009 release "Everyone Is Someone". Their fourth original CD and my second acquisition - better than the last one, which was better than most anything else I've heard in a very long time.

I'll choose some Mark Knopfler from his wide catalog and especially his new release "Get Lucky".

And there will be new and old favorites too. Some Joshua Radin, some Willie Nile, some Jerry Proppe, some Dixie Chicks, some Ian Hunter, some Emmylou Harris, some Robert Plant with Alison Krauss, some Jon Bauer, a smidgen of Tinted Windows and some John Fogerty.

And we'll dance the Autumnal Dance in a brand-new old-fashioned way.

Why don't you make your own playlist and join us? Can't you feel it rising - that feeling? Don't you want to dance too?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Change to Climate Change Strategy

"When I use a word I choose it to mean exactly what I want it to." - the hookah smoking Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland

About two years ago the term 'global warming' was struck from the environmentalists' lexicon. The reality was that it has ceased to be a useful pseudo-scientific/political term and actually had become a liability because evidence was already mounting that 'warming' wasn't what was happening. Instead those in charge of shaping the message began employing the term "climate change".


Thankfully, a few scientists had staunchly adhered to the scientific principle of rigorous observation as a means to develop a theory regarding what was actually taking place. They had remembered that science is never complete or finished with a subject - it is always seeking a deeper understanding and to create a more accurate model. And what these scientists were discovering was coming into direct conflict with the "global warming" descriptor so the name was changed to try to duck the inevitable questions that their findings would raise.

I initially became aware of these changes through a number of articles that were placed in inconspicuous locations in newspapers and magazines by editorial choice and a then by more articles which could not be so easily relegated to the lower left corner of page 6. In particular it was the excellent journalism of Lorne Gunter that brought together for me several of the disparate threads of this emerging story and began to give it a fuller shape and treatment. Beginning in 2008 he wrote a number of articles including the four linked here (one; two; three; four). Read them. Go ahead. I've got time - even if you want to read the comments - it's cool. I'll be here when you get back. The only thing you have to lose is your media-induced ignorance about this subject.

Well, now that you're semi-up-to-speed let me preface the next portion of this blog by saying that I'm an ecologist, too. I recycle - very thoroughly. My wife and I have been purchasing energy efficient appliances and making upgrades to our homes to reduce our use of energy since our first home almost 25 years ago. I am a supporter of efficient and appropriate use of our wealth and resources and I take personal responsibility for the part of creation I am able to influence and steward. That being said, I also do not support public policy and the spending of our tax dollars on initiatives that are useless.

And that is where we are today. It is part of the obvious passion Mr. Gunter has for the truth that he has published his latest article on climate issues now - when nationally and internationally we are engaged in the process of discussing and shaping policy to address these challenges. As you will undoubtedly know the leaders of the industrialized world are currently meeting to discuss a new initiative to replace the ill-conceived, poorly-implemented and ultimately failed Kyoto Accord. But the rhetoric, the science and most importantly, the political perspective at the discussion table has not changed to properly recognize and deal with the truth.

I know the pollsters will say that a majority of North Americans are concerned about the climate and ecology of the Earth, but the polls that have been taken have been constructed to create data that seems to support the view that the majority of people believe the scientists and their reigning theory. This, I believe is far from the truth.

As an example - if someone who believes wholeheartedly that 'global warming' is the greatest threat we face and that the theory that it is largely (if not entirely) the fault of human activity, especially free-market industrialism and life-style - and someone like myself, who does not believe such things, were both asked-

"How concerned are you with climate-based issues?",

-we would both answer that we are and rate our concern at the top of whatever scale we were given by the pollster. But our real underlying concerns and our convictions as to what solutions might be the best to employ would likely be radically different in important ways.

Still, the politicians would see the results of such a poll and conclude that this issue must be addressed and that the advice they have been receiving to attack CO2 emissions must still be a valid strategy to employ. The media, the scientific community, politicians and business have all aligned themselves along this policy vector because they all will benefit in some way through pursuing it. Largely, it will ensure political power and control for the politicians while it will ensure economic power and control for everyone else.

Frighteningly, it is becoming more and more evident that the strategies and initiatives we have been pursuing will NOT result in the Earth's climate becoming a New Age 'Garden of Eden' as so many advertisements for consumer products promise. This is not to say that every initiative and policy has been so flawed that no good at all has come of them. Some good has been done. Certainly public awareness of ecological issues is much more prevalent than over three decades ago when I was in high school. But awareness is not the same as true and useful knowledge - and is almost useless (maybe even dangerous) without it.

What shocks me the most is how the media, the scientific community and the political parties have either ignored or willfully limited free and open debate on these issues. If we all were generally appalled but the discovery that there were no "WMDs" in Iraq to truly give impetus to the US-led invasion of that country, how much more should we be appalled to learn that scientists have known for years that their climate prediction models were not working and that new empirical data was invalidating their predictions of our climate future? How appalled should we be when we realize that billions of tax dollars have been already spent and are yet committed to policies shaped by this erroneous information? How appalled should we be that business, the media and academic institutions have been willing to literally sell us all a "bill of goods" for their own benefit - ignoring the truth and the mounting evidence?

I don't want to be in opposition to those who claim to be concerned about global climate issues, but the leaders of the "global warming" - now the politically correct "climate change" - movement used fascist strategies to vilify and censure those who were as equally concerned for the planet and its future but who questioned the science and its conclusions. I say "fascist" not for its shock value but because it most accurately describes what has obviously been at the heart of this debate - a consuming desire for control, even if motivated by noble intentions. At the heart of all fascism is the desire to control and limit freedom and choice. And the first casualty in the pursuit of that desire is always the truth.

Not once in the last decade have I, or thousands and thousands of others like me, said, "There is no problem". What we have said is, "The problem is NOT as you describe it to be." But our overtures to discuss this and find common ground were drown out beneath the angry rhetoric that labeled those with doubts as "heretics", "immoral" and "evil". We should all remember that the weakness of any position or argument can easily be measured by how low those who support it must stoop to defend it.

Today - this very day - your political representatives are engaged in negotiations that will decide how billions of our tax dollars will be allocated now, and in the future, to deal with global climate issues. I am not here calling for those dollars to not be spent. I am calling for them to be spent wisely and well!

You can have an influence in this issue by writing letters and sending then to your MP, MLA, the Premier of your Province, the Prime Minister, the Leaders of the political parties or whoever your political representatives might be - and to international representatives as well. Ask them to answer - or even if they are aware of - the questions raised by people like Lorne Gunter and others who are speaking out on this topic. Demonstrate that you ARE concerned, but that you no longer want a public opinion polling company with a built-in political agenda to do your talking for you. And keep reading, keep learning and stay engaged.

It's our planet.

This issue affects us all.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweet Pea & Shadoe - 1994-2009

This is my facebook tribute to our family pets.

I can't believe it but I'm still crying.

Vaya con Dios to our lovable little furballs.