Saturday, August 6, 2016

A little "social media" request........

As a few old-timers here may know, I spend just a little time "commenting" on news stories in the major media; The New York Times, The Washington Post, sometimes Huffpo and others.

If, and when, I have something to say, and if and when I think someone might actually listen.

I have a little request for you - which might make a difference.  We all know that "economists" couldn't predict their way out of a wet paper bag - but people still keep asking them what to think.  Mind boggling.

Right this very minute - the New York Times has a nice feature pointing out that the entire world has entered a "slow growth" phase.  And that the "forecasters" once again didn't see it coming; and still persist in saying growth will resume very soon.  We base our fiscal "policy" on these fantasies.

I made a comment.  At the moment, to my surprise, it's running high in the readers "Readers' Picks"; about 6th in the list.

Basically it says "this is what ecologists have always predicted - and here we are."

The vast majority of the commenters add ideas and theories from "economics".  All beautifully explanatory and contradictory - and authoritative.  Despite never having accurately predicted anything.

You know - I think it just MIGHT make a difference if a bunch of the readers here added their recommendations - and bumped that comment up in the list.  Perhaps a few more people might notice "- hm - economists' predictions never work out - ecologists' predictions usually do..."

I think that would actually be progress.  Give it a try!  Can't hurt - might help.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Ice Wall? Phase 2

Entire post from NHK below- with not one single mention of the ice wall.  Instead- the regulators think TEPCO really should DO something about the problem - since - they haven't.  They are doing a study, though!  Thank goodness.  Oh, and this press release points out they are still pumping water into the melted down reactors to cool them.  And the water then goes - where?  They're not sure.

"TEPCO urged to cut risk of radioactive water leak

"Japan's nuclear regulator has urged the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to reduce the risk of leaking of highly radioactive water from the facility into the sea, in case of another tsunami.

"About 60,000 tons of such water is believed to have pooled in reactor buildings at the plant. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is injecting water into the buildings to cool melted nuclear fuel, and groundwater is flowing into their basements.

"The Nuclear Regulation Authority instructed TEPCO at a meeting on Tuesday to urgently study measures to lower the amount and radiation levels of the water.

"The authority proposed 2 measures to TEPCO. One is building more tanks to store the water, even though the plant has about one thousand tanks. The other is treating the water using a system designed to filter out radioactive material, and circulating the water in a cooling system.

"NRA member Toyoshi Fuketa said the utility cannot keep the water in the buildings forever. He said TEPCO should handle the water problem either along with that of other radioactive water or first of all.

"Following the NRA's instruction, TEPCO is to report the results of its study at a meeting next month or later."

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Whole Truth About "Economics".

Buckle up.  Exactly how often these days do you have a chance at "the whole truth"??  But here it is.

A couple days ago, Ilargi over at The Automatic Earth posted a cartooned short lecture from "legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang" on - Economics.

Back in the dark ages of blogging, around 2008-2010, when I was posting frequently, I tracked the "rank" of my blog using the now extinct Technorati statistics.  I was pleased when I eventually ranked up in the top 4% (as high as I got, but darn good) - but surprised to find that their measure of my "authority"; a statistic I don't understand at all, had me ranked pretty high for ecology - but higher for economics.  What? A surprise to me; though both fields have the same Greek root in oikos, house, they notoriously don't talk much.

Apparently though, if you are trained in the study of resources, their uses, values, and flows - it becomes easy to notice when Economists are talking total nonsense.  Which is often/always; as every study has always shown.  Look up 'monkeys are smarter than investors" if you want to get into that topic.  Ha-Joon Chang has noticed the nonsense from inside the field - a considerable recommendation.  Take a look; not while you're distracted, because between the ironic narration and the double-entendre animations, this is packed tight:

Then; if you have the urge; take the time to search this blog right here for the simple word "economics".  You'll find I made many of the exact same statements about economics and economists, years ago.  Alas that I can't claim to be a legendary economist, though.  (No disparagement of Chang intended, I actually think he is truly brilliant - and speaks the truth.)

And the Moral Of The Story: according to both a legendary economist and Greenpa; Economics is a meaningless field of study.  Really.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Way Forward

At the moment, everyone on the planet is greatly afraid that we have no way forward.

I certainly don't know what will happen; but I do know these things: time will pass, we will change, and it is possible to try to find a "better way."

It would be good to remember at this point that History does have examples of times when we found a better way.  The abolition of slavery, for example and women's suffrage.  It would also be good to remember that both those events were painful; and neither resulted in completely solving the problems; slavery most certainly still exists, and many situations exist where great chunks of the populace have no say whatever in their governance.

But the effort was made; by millions of us, and the outcome was better.  Hang on to that.

A few more things we know.  In all cases where we found better ways, the truth, and fairness (not quite the same thing as justice) played major roles.  Truth, because any path based on untruth must fail by the laws of physics; and fairness - because somehow, we creatures of Earth are built to expect it.  Not only humans, but most species ever tested—primates, dogs, horses, crows, ravens— expect fairness, and resent its absence - sometimes violently.  (Google 'sense of fairness in ... ' if you want to check.)

Right now, our major social battles seem to be very short on truth, and very short on fairness.

There are some major truths we all know- which are not allowed to be uttered publicly.  Like.  Some police are racist.  All of them?  No.  But some, yes.  And the cops are not doing anything about it.

512 people have been killed in the USA by police so far this year; 990 were killed last year.  How do we know?  The Washington Post decided someone should look into the matter- since no federal agency keeps statistics on police related killings; nor do local police report them.  Here is the WaPo database.  59 police officers have died in the line of duty this year; 29 by gunfire.

Just so we know.

And - people, and parties, on all sides of everything — are afraid.  And fear makes us blind and foolish — and dangerous; to others and to ourselves.  Also untruthful; and unfair.

Just saying those things out loud, as part of the conversation, is a first step.  What to do about it can come later.

Speak truth.  Work for fairness.  I'm afraid.

If you're looking for common ground- there it is.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Oh, you mean THAT ice wall. Well..."

"Since the ice isn't stopping the water, now we're going to pump cement into the leaks."

Um.  Hey, if cement was going to work, wouldn't it have been cheaper to just pump cement in the first place?

Nope, not going to work, either.  If water flow is reduced here- the pressure, and flow rate, will go up there- making a new leak in a place where the ice was - sort of- working.

Which is why they didn't try cement in the first place.  It's a game of whack-a-mole; where the moles dig new holes as fast as you whack.  But hey- we're doing something!

"TEPCO expands ice wall operations at Fukushima

"Tokyo Electric Power Company has expanded operations to create an underground ice wall at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to stop the volume of contaminated groundwater from increasing.

"TEPCO on Monday began injecting a liquid refrigerant into more pipes that make up the 1,500-meter wall surrounding 4 damaged reactor buildings. The operation now covers 95 percent of the wall.

"Groundwater flows into the buildings and becomes tainted with radioactive substances. Reducing its volume is a key to decommissioning the reactors.

"The operation started in March on the downstream side of the wall because lowering the water levels too much could cause tainted water to leak from the buildings.

"Workers began freezing the upstream side after making sure there were no leaks.

"The ice wall project still faces challenges. Ground temperatures have not fallen in some places, and groundwater levels outside the wall have not gone down.

"Also on Monday, workers began injecting cement into the ground where temperatures have not fallen."


Particularly fun is this bit:

"Workers began freezing the upstream side after making sure there were no leaks.

"The ice wall project still faces challenges. Ground temperatures have not fallen in some places, and groundwater levels outside the wall have not gone down."

Translation: They started freezing the other side after making sure there were no leaks.  But there are leaks - with no measurable effect on water levels anywhere.................

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Ice wall? What ice wall?"

You can learn a huge amount about how to obfuscate everything using Public Relations, just by reading, sequentially, the press releases about the Fukushima "incident".

Today, from NHK (as usual, copied in toto here)  "They believe that water is leaking from a hole near the cooling system. .. Water injected to cool the melted nuclear fuel continues to leak into the reactor building."

And there is not a peep here, in this article about water leaking, about any ice wall, intended to stop water from leaking...

What they are not explicit about is that they are still pumping water directly on to the melted reactor core; in order to keep it from reaching "prompt criticality" - as soon as it's hot enough.  That's a little mini-nuclear explosion; not a bomb, but an actual chain reaction fission event powerful enough to blow the melted core all over the prefecture (and into the ocean).

So, we don't want that, do we, so, we keep pumping water in- and it keeps disappearing somewhere (i.e. leaking out- after having been in the reactor core... and not just "into the reactor building".

Oh, and, in the following story they neatly avoid mentioning that THREE reactor cores melted down entirely- they just want to talk about #2 here.  Oh, and, it wasn't really their fault; the reactor, and all its safety devices, didn't work right.  Can't blame us for a bad machine, now really.

TEPCO:Cooling water leakage likely caused meltdown

"The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a water leak in the number 2 reactor emergency cooling system may have contributed to its meltdown.

"The plant lost power following a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011.

"The emergency cooling system began operating right away, driven by steam generated in the reactors. The system's pumps were designed to inject coolant into the reactors during an emergency.

"The number 2 reactor's emergency cooling equipment lost its function on March 14th, 3 days after the disaster.

"The exact cause of the failure remains unknown more than 5 years after the accident.

"Workers tried to inject water from outside, but were unsuccessful in cooling it down. This led to the nuclear fuel meltdown and release of radioactive substances into the air that spread across the region.

"Experts at Tokyo Electric Power Company analyzed the level of contaminated water inside the number 2 reactor, as well as the amount of leaked water.

"They believe that water is leaking from a hole near the cooling system.

"The experts suspect that cooling water began leaking from the system after the pumps had operated beyond the 8 hours for which they were designed.

"They believe the water leakage was the major cause of the reactor heating up.

"Water injected to cool the melted nuclear fuel continues to leak into the reactor building. This contaminated water is hampering decommissioning work at the plant."


We can all be grateful they continue to work so diligently on the "problems".

And actually; if you read the above in one particular way, what it says is: "The meltdown caused the emergency cooling system to break down, which caused the meltdown."   Yeah, it can be read differently; but.

The experts suspect.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

It's Official. The Ice Wall Isn't Working.

I'm going to just paste the entire article from NHK below, since they disappear so regularly and the links expire.

There was another TEPCO press release a week ago, which I did not repeat here; with the (approximate) headline "Ice Wall Is Proving Effective".  Actually, nothing in the article supported that headline; they were reporting that around 80% of measurements showed soil now at 0° C - ignoring all kinds of stuff like - 20% unfrozen is equal to - total failure.

"More measures needed for Fukushima ice wall

"The operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is considering conducting additional work to help freeze the ground around the crippled reactors.

"Tokyo Electric Power Company began freezing the soil in late March to build a 1.5-kilometer underground ice wall around the 4 reactors. The utility wants to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings, because it becomes contaminated with radioactive substances.

"TEPCO says the ground at multiple locations along the barrier has yet to reach below zero degree Celsius and one checkpoint remain at around 10 degrees.

"It says those areas contain more gravel and that the accumulated groundwater may be hampering the freezing process.

"It is studying additional measures, such as pouring chemical compounds to solidify the ground, and will discuss its ideas with Nuclear Regulation Authority.

"TEPCO had hoped to expand by this month the areas to be frozen but say it will examine the timing carefully, taking into consideration the problem facing the project."


One specific point: "TEPCO says the ground at multiple locations along the barrier has yet to reach below zero degree Celsius and one checkpoint remain at around 10 degrees."

That would be where water is running fast through gravel, keeping the temp high- inevitable, as I predicted.  The more the water is constricted elsewhere; the faster this water will flow.  And there are multiple other factors that also still make this pointless.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ice wall won't work- will anything?

This post updated next day:

Comment on the last post:

 Lynx said...
I am wondering, do you have any thoughts or ideas about what CAN be done to fix/take care of the radiation problem in Japan? Things that will actually work.
April 30, 2016 at 6:11 PM

The answers are no fun; and scientifically "not established" - which is why they just gave up on Chernobyl and have tried to bury it in concrete; and keep people out of the contaminated areas.

General consensus among those who know is that Fukushima is at least as "dirty" as Chernobyl; it's just that the Japanese government spends most of its disaster funds denying that, so tourists won't disappear.  It's really bad.

Here are 3 really good links for you to dig in to- with the caveat that they all have unstated biases, and you need, always, to be reading between the lines.  But- here is very good information; like the actual cost of the ice wall, just the construction?  Around $330 Million.  Oh; and- to run the refrigeration machinery; for the next 200 years, at least- the wall uses enough electricity to power 13,000 Japanese homes.  Every day.

This is the Japan Times, Japan's largest English language newspaper, owned by a company that manufactures "automotive fasteners"...

That article was cited here: "Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years",,, —   in an online source that struck me as maybe a bit fanatical - until I saw their major supporting testimonial  comes from this guy:

Arnie Gundersen - a real, live, certified nuclear power engineer and past nuclear industry executive- who was the only one speaking up and speaking the truth during the primary Fukushima events.  He does tend to speak mostly technical answers- really technical. But he also does not speak with a forked tongue.  How do I know?  He pretty much always agrees with my own analyses from the data.  (That's supposed to be a joke; but it's also true.)

Quick bottom line?  The stuff in nuclear reactors is just way too dangerous for humans to ever deal with.  Do humans make mistakes?  The entire nuclear power industry is predicated on the idea that we can operate insanely complex machines - perfectly.  Forever.  The radioactive stuff inside will get out in time- and it has more time than we do- and then it's unbelievably dangerous.  Humans simply do not have ANY way to cope with it.  Japan is busy pretending to be busy- because they have no idea what to do.  Nor does anyone else.  Should have thought of this stuff before building all those reactors?  Nah.  "Trust us, we can make this work just fine."  According to the engineers hired by the guys making all the profits- which are huge for those doing the construction.

My solution?  Start shutting the power plants down, as fast as we can (just like Germany) - hopefully before the stuff comes out, via terrorist bombs, computer hacking, or stupidity- and then what can we do with it?

Not a single "repository" in use or planned is vaguely functional or adequate; it has to be "kept secure" - for 10,000 years.  Yeah really.

Here's the ONLY place I think we should put it: continental plate subduction trenches.  You put the waste into a scrap submarine (for example) - fill the sub half full of radioactives in sealed casks, the other half of the sub filled with lead - guide it into the deepest ocean trench you can find -which is also a subduction trench - and sink it as deep as it's possible to go.  A) terrorists can't reach it.  B) it's all so heavy, lead and uranium; that if it starts to leak, it's not coming out of the trench anyway, and C) geology will carry it, about 8 centimeters a year, down into the Earth's mantle; below the crust.  It won't be coming back to the surface for a billion years or so; if ever.  Guaranteed by physics.  Even the half-lives of that crud will be expired by then.

Why aren't we doing this?  Money.  This would actually be incredibly CHEAPER than anything else; but doesn't involve $Billions/year in very reliable income for the companies currently babysitting all the nuclear waste.  They love their jobs - put up a fence and watch.  And it's SO easy to scare folks with "oh, gosh, no, we should NEVER put it into our sacred OCEAN!!  Horrors!"

Not a great solution. But- probably better than anything else.  And not my idea- it's been kicked around for decades- and discussion is always quietly squashed.

Tripped on this today; the evidence for the "money" connection to bad nuclear waste storage:

Newsweek - an article on "The American Fukushima?" - by which they mean the old Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington; where plutonium for bombs was produced:

   "The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away."

Italics mine.  Really good profit margins; and zero risk, the taxpayers will pay for any cost overruns, delays, etc.  My off the top of my head cost for constructing guidable barges, loading the waste on them, and sinking it in the nearest deep subduction zone - a paltry $10 billon, perhaps.  Oh, and it could all be done in maybe 20 years; not 50, for another temporary "solution".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prediction: The Ice Wall Won't Work.

Today several years after announcing the wonderful concept of freezing the soil around the core-breached reactors at Fukushima, "officials" announce they are going to actually start freezing soil today.  The point to which is - it turns out the natural groundwater in the area flows (underground) through serious contamination, and then both comes up into the broken cellars of the nuclear plant, and oh, incidentally, flows right out into the sea.  (They know that, but the "official" announcement that contamination has been leaking into the sea constantly is probably 2 years away.)

Here is link and text; and my detailed prediction below it:

"TEPCO to start freezing wall at Fukushima plant

"The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has gained approval from the regulator to start freezing soil around its reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO plans to create an ice wall that will reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the 4 reactor buildings and thereby limit the buildup of radioactive water.

"The utility got the go-ahead on Wednesday from the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA, to begin the underground freezing. It is expected to start the work as early as Thursday. The volume of contaminated water at the plant is increasing due to inflowing groundwater.

"Once the freezing process is complete, together with other measures, the daily accumulation of underground water is expected to fall from 400 tons to about 50 tons. The wall is expected to start restricting the inflow of groundwater about 45 days after the freezing starts.

"TEPCO finished building the underground freezing systems last month, after 2 years of work.

"But the regulator did not immediately give the greenlight to its freezing plans. It was concerned the wall could lower the groundwater level too much and cause radioactive water pooled in the reactor buildings to leak out.

"TEPCO submitted a revised plan to do the freezing work in stages. Under the new plan, it will first freeze soil at the downstream side of the buildings to prevent water leaking there.

"NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the operation will be a major challenge. He said it is important to carefully monitor the freezing process with adequate data."


My prediction; based not on rancor or ill wishes but on Physics, Chemistry, and Hydrology: the ice wall will not work.  Will never work, can not ever be made to work, and is quite likely to cause new and possibly worse problems with contaminated water at the site.

"Why" it won't work requires long discussion, which perhaps we will do after it is announced that it isn't working; my guess will that announcement will happen within the next two months.  Hard to cover up 200 tons of new water every day.

So why did they build it, if common science says it can't work?  Several reasons, none good- A) they don't know how to do anything that might be effective, B) They have to appear to be doing something, and C) There is a huge amount of money to be made, from public funds, building something so wacky.  When it fails, they'll just wring their hands and walk away- the executives with fat bank accounts, and the public reputation of saints struggling with evil.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Recommended book: At The Mercy Of Nature

Tools are what we need, to survive what is coming.  Humans are tool users, tool makers - an aspect of our species that is largely responsible for climate change, the population explosion, and pretty much everything else we can point fingers at "that's the problem, right there!"  Our tools (I'm including things like antibiotics) gave humans the power to expand; so we did; and here we are.

My fingers are trying to trick me into writing a whole long essay on "tools"; but that will have to wait...

What tools do you, do we, need going into this unknown future?  We really don't know; that's a big part of our worries.  An ever-increasing number of charlatans are willing to sell you magic survival tools; be very wary.  

When we “don’t know” something- how do we, human tool users, tackle that? In this era, "Science" is our standard answer; wave the Magic Wand Of Science, and Answers will appear.

Not going into that right now, either.  What I have to offer you here is something unique, so far as I know- a fully competent practitioner of Science has waved his highly trained Wand - appropriately - and come up not with all the Answers; but with clear vision, the necessary precursor to finding our way.

I’m going to invoke a couple of Holy Names here: who says you should read this book, besides me?  E. O. Wilson.  Bill McKibben.  Both put their stamp of approval on the back cover, very official.

Ecologist Carl McDaniel has done something beautifully Scientific in his book At The Mercy Of Nature: Shackleton’s Survival Saga Gives Promise For Our Future.  

He set out to methodically search for the right question, then see what he could pull out of History that might refine the question further.  Many great scientists have stated some version of "First find the right question."  McDaniel's methods here are in the best scientific tradition.

"Do we have historical examples of humans in groups surviving against unknown challenges, and extreme trials?" - is my own phrasing of how this investigation was launched.  Because that is what ecologists know our species is facing - extreme conditions and unknown problems.

Ernest Shackleton's expedition's survival of Antarctic shipwreck in 1914 is an astonishing story which was copiously documented by photographs and daily journals.  The basics- their ship, a 3 masted sailing vessel with an early coal fueled engine, became locked in ice far from land, and the crew of 28 picked men found themselves trapped, their ship crushed and sunk.  In the era before radio, let alone GPS.  No one knew where they were, no rescuers would come.  Their story has been made into many books and multiple movies, and the storytellers are not done with it yet, I'm sure.  I won't be spoiling anything by telling you - all 28 men survived- and they finally managed their own rescue in 1917 - after years utterly alone in the Antarctic.

McDaniel re-tells the story as part of his analysis, it's mind-boggling.  You only have to get a few months into the events after the Endurance became caught in the ice to realize- people in this expedition should have started dying immediately.  Catastrophe after deadly catastrophe caught them- in my own reading, it's amazing any of them survived more than 6 months.  But they all survived.

Unlike the many re-tellings that are purely hero-worship (quite deserved); McDaniel asks "How?  Why"  and "What/"  and manages to pull multiple answers no one else has ever extracted from the story.  And convinces, with evidence.

You need to have the list of factors that allowed Shackleton's crew to survive - in your back pocket.  Look at it often.  Use it.  They survived, when they should not have.

Of course- you have to read the book, to get the list.  If you don't have McDaniel's accompanying commentary, the list will mean nothing to you.

Read it.  Pass it on.  It's a tool; one you'll need.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

For example-

I'm going to paste in the entire text of a post on the Japanese news feed I've mentioned before.  It's a perfect example of the excellent studies they continue to publish - which will rapidly disappear.

There's a good chance this will never appear in international news sources; and I'd predict with near certainty that it will not reappear in Japanese internal news; past today.  The controllers can't pretend it never was published; but they can enforce "oh, it's trivial; drop it."

Summary; 3,400 people who survived the tsunami and nuclear meltdown - are now dead; from "prolonged upheaval."  They're just reporting the facts.  Lots of facts here; but you have to put them together yourself.  The link is likely to stop working today- but it works right now.


3,400 survivors of 2011 disaster have since died

The Japanese government says more than 3,400 survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami have subsequently died due to health problems caused by prolonged upheaval.

The Reconstruction Agency compiles data every 6 months on deaths related to the disaster and the ensuing nuclear accident in northeastern Japan.

Agency officials say that by the end of last September, 4-and-a-half years after the disaster, they had documented 3,407 deaths.

The largest number was in Fukushima Prefecture, where the damaged nuclear plant is based -- 1,979 residents, representing 58 percent of the total.

The officials say 1,876 people or 55 percent died within 3 months of the disaster.

Since March 2014, 156 people have died, most of them in Fukushima Prefecture.

The officials say that as of February 12th, as many as 174,471 people are still in temporary housing or living in relatives' homes. The figure is down 50,706 from last March.

156,234 people are living in prefabricated housing or apartments rented by central and local governments. 18,237 people live with their relatives and acquaintances, down 316 from last year.

43,139 people originally from Fukushima Prefecture are living different prefectures.

Local governments have completed only half the planned public housing for people affected by the disaster, and just 30 percent of residential developments on land lots in higher locations.

Some communities continue to suffer from declining populations.

In Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, 12 communities have reported population declines of more than 10 percent. More than half said their numbers are down by 20 percent or greater.


End quote.  Disasters cause long, slow declines - in civilization itself, now.  The entire story of the Fukushima disaster is incredibly complex; but included the immediate descent of sophisticated vultures anxious to steal public disaster relief funds.  And they have.

This is not fun to watch; but is incredibly educational; and could save your family's life someday.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Keep your eyes on Japan

Hi folks- I'm still here, and still very much want this blog to keep going.  I appreciate your sticking with me.

As I've mentioned in the past couple years, it has become a problem for me to find a topic I can write about without being depressing- when I don't think either you or I need that.

But now that it's no longer a question of "is climate change happening", nor "are world politics getting entirely out of hand" - I find it's actually a little easier to focus on what to say.

I want - if possible - to be one of those who survive.  As a lifelong student of evolution, opting out of survival is how you certainly "lose the game."  If there's a game.  If you can win or lose.

And I hope to bring family and community through, too.  Now the question is "how?"  Because there are no roadmaps; our species and planet are moving into completely unknown territory; we truly do not know what happens next.

One thing I know for certain today (I know something for certain!  How cool is that!) is that most of the world events generating headlines do not come from "new" phenomena, though they are virtually always spun that way by the sophomores in charge of the press.  Income disparity?  Has existed in all societies, in all eras back to Babylon and Sumer - literally.  And has always caused injustice, pain, and slaughter.  Slavery?  Same.  Corrupt officials/police?  Same.  Schools not teaching what students need?  You can find that complaint on clay tablets in cuneiform - really.  Unwelcome, unstoppable, migrants?  Ever heard of Romans?  Hittites/ Mongols/ Europeans? War/ Genocide?  It goes on.  Even climate change and sea level rise; take a look at Doggerland, called "Britain's Atlantis" in the popular press.  That happened so far back we remember as myth- although Australian Aborigines have re-told the story for 10,000 years without losing accuracy.

The point.  The point is that history, available to us all, contains myriad examples we should be learning from.  Mostly, of course humans refuse to learn from history.  I have 2 favorite quotes on that point, the first from Aldous Huxley, "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach."  Stolen from many sources, usually less wordy, into antiquity.  And a currently popular version, cheerfully sent to me via Facebook, from Spice: "Some of us can learn from other people's mistakes; but most of us just have to piss on the electric fence."  That was stolen from Will Rogers, the earliest wise man with electric fence available for metaphors.

All of history, now that "the google" is here, is at your fingertips.  It's fascinating, highly educational, and tremendously entertaining.  Particularly all the mutually incompossible versions.  I recommend it.

Which finally brings us to Japan.

Japan is unique among "developed" nations, in many ways; but most importantly: A) It is an island- which I pointed out years back would be the first places to be forced to change.  B) It was the top economy on the planet- 20 years ago, and is in decline now.  C) Achieved the highest "standard of living" for the largest percentage of population ever.  D) Is losing population, around 1 million in the past 5 years.  And E) Emerged so recently and directly from feudalism that the people still actively remember most of their pre-industrial culture.  Oh, and lived through "The Atomic Age" - and are now struggling to leave it behind.

Japan is 10-30 years ahead of the curve for the rest of the industrialized countries, in politics and economics and every other aspect of our species I can identify.  They've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and have worn the t-shirt into rags.

The populace is still stunningly wealthy by world standards; but the future is frightening, downhill tracks are everywhere.  Old and young are worried and depressed to the point of suicide and craziness.

We can see all those problems and tendencies in our own backyards.  But Japan is out in front.  If you want some hint of what is likely coming to the communities near you - watch Japan.

Remember it is what is written between the lines that is most important.  Always.

And keep the incredible variety of wildly enthusiastic Japanese festivals in mind.  They don't know what the future holds - so -

I do like the metaphors available in that photo.  It's dark, and it's cold.  But there are lights, with some warmth.  And people - tending them.  And these lights are facing in all different directions.