Category: My Musings

You See, I See

In the spring most see hope, new flowers, fresh new leaves, and bright colors.  In the morning mist I see harbingers of storms, flooding, tornadoes, drought, failed crops, hungry homeless migrants, and a hot ravaged earth.

Some think that I am depressed and depressing.  I think that I realistically look further and deeper into the future.  I also tend to think in terms of processes, not objects.

Food Emissions

Most of the attention given to reducing global heating of the earth has dealt with limiting the greenhouse gases from our energy and transportation systems.  So far these efforts have not significantly changed the continued release of such pollution in terms of decreasing or stopping the future heating of the atmosphere.

Even if such energy pollution was eliminated entirely from our energy systems, there are other systems releasing such gases into the atmosphere.  The amounts and sources of such gases vary by country and location, but the only way to look at the situation is to look at the overall global releases since the problem is a global one.  We only have one atmosphere for earth.

“Even if we stopped emissions from fossil fuels right now, emissions from food production alone would take us well beyond the carbon budget for 1.5°C, and leave little room to reach our 2°C target.”  This statement came from “Our World in Data”.

How much thought have you given to reducing emissions from our food production?  Very little if any.

If we are to reduce our emissions and slow down the rate of year after year increases in the heating of our atmosphere, we need to be reducing a lot more than from just our energy systems.  And, changing over to all electric vehicles will be of little help unless we produce the electricity without generating greenhouse gases.

If you want to know about ways to reduce emissions from our food production you need to read the article and make other changes.  Basically we would need to convert all food production to growing plants to feed us directly rather than animals such as cows, chickens, etc.  Within the U.S. the bulk of our food production goes to feeding animals.  That would have to stop.  “It takes about 100 calories of grain to produce just 12 calories of chicken or 3 calories worth of beef, for instance.” That is a luxury we can’t afford from the standpoint of wasted food, water uses, and greenhouse gas emissions.

100% reduction in greenhouse gases from both our energy sources and our food production would be a major step in reducing the production of greenhouse gases to within the range of making a significant difference in global heating.  What do you think the chances of doing that are?

The damage to the atmosphere has already been done and there is little chance of us slowing down the rate of additional heating, but we must do all that we can.  Learning how to survive in the heat as we reduce the rate of increase is crucial to future life on earth.

The Path is Clear

Projections of the world-wide population for future years are based on the current estimate and the projected difference between the number of births and the number of deaths that are expected.  The last numbers I saw were that the current population is around 7.7 billion.  In 2015 around 55 million died while there were approximately 140 million births.  My concerns are, how accurate are the projections for births and deaths and thus the future population?

Estimates for deaths are dependent upon the trends as the population ages.  Past projections were not based on “black swan” effects (non forecasted effects such as pandemics and global heating).  I wonder what affect global heating, pandemics, etc. will have on the future numbers.

One article titled “The Age of the Great Dying is Beginning” makes some dire statements.  It claims that around 4 million are now dead of Covid and that extreme temperatures kill more than 5 million people a year.  The article projects that the total recent yearly number is probably around a total of 10 million killed by heat and Covid.  That amounts to 10 million more than the approximately 55 million deaths in 2015.  The plots in the article also show that the trends are increasing.

It is impossible to project the future number of deaths due to pandemics, but it is easy to project that the number of deaths going up due to global heating will continue to rise since the heating of the earth is “locked in” for the future just based on the amount of greenhouse gases already released.  The heating of the earth has just begun, as are the problems with living on a hotter earth.

I also expect that the number of births will go down due to global heating.  I have neither seen nor can I think of any reasons otherwise.  We are approaching peak population levels, just due to global heating.

With the number of deaths increasing and the number of births decreasing, it seems to be a sure thing that past projections for the earth’s future projections are way high.  If we have more deaths due to pandemics and global heating, they will have a major impact on population levels.  

The results of global heating will have a major impact on not only population levels but on everything .… the things you probably haven’t considered.  I hope to write more later about the likely future impacts of global heating, and the impacts on water, food production, migrations, deaths, wars, energy, etc.

Complaints, but little Action

People like to complain about everything except what matters.  They complain about migrations.  They complain about floods.  They complain about droughts.  They complain about the increased damage from major storms.  They complain about wildfires.  They complain about the remediation costs for all of these things.

Far too few people understand and address the root cause for ALL of the above changing, worsening symptoms. The primary factor causing all of those issues is, and will increasing be, people.  People and their way of life are the fundamental causes of climate change.  We need to stop collectively destroying our environment.  It is too late for sticking our heads in the sand and avoiding the root cause for these things.  We must make major changes now or forever be faced with higher and higher costs as we only see symptoms and not the big picture.  We are the problem.  We must change.

No wall can be built high enough and no degree of isolation or avoidance of the global conditions can save us.  Unless we recognize this, and take action to reverse climate changes now, we are doomed.

The Amazon Region I Love

210110-202634-JEH21I have been fond of the Amazon region for a long time.  Marcia and I first visited Peru and rafted on a short section of the Urubamba  River in 2001.  It is a partially navigable feeder river of the Amazon.  When we were there the Shining Path was somewhat active and there were armed guards on the streets around our hotel in Lima and at the restaurants we ate in.  Our tour director pointed out the head of the Shining Path when he walked down the street in front of the restaurant … same person described by Darcy in her book.  He was staring right at me on the other side of the window as he walked by. 

In 2003 we traveled into the Amazon jungle region in Ecuador.  We spent time traveling the narrow channels within the jungle in a wooden dugout canoe.  We were in the area, not terribly far from where Darcy had owned a kayak tour business further upstream along the whitewater region of the river.  Our tour was downriver in the flat brown water area.  The company we traveled with stopped taking tours there later due to the drug trade, etc.

In 2006 we returned to Peru and cruised on the Amazon River upstream of Iquitos.  Hmmm, when I looked into the boat pilots station I noticed a rifle leaning against the wall in the corner.  I assumed it was for wildlife.  Heat, humidity, bugs and all, it is still a trip that I would like to repeat with a better waterproof camera this time.

Even before traveling in the Amazon region, I liked to read about it, and I still rarely pass up a good book about what others found and did while traveling there.  The book Amazon Woman is one of the better ones and if you are interested I encourage you to read it.  She kayaked it from source to mouth after we had been on the river, and I was surprised at the state of life along the river, even in the areas we had visited.  When she traveled the river in 2013, it was still just as rustic, dangerous, and difficult than when we were there, but then again, we were only in the safer regions. 

I had other thoughts as I read this book.  Long distance hikes, like along the Appalachian Trail, are very different from her 4000 mile kayak trip down the Amazon.  Hikes along the Appalachian Trail are very social where you have many interactions with fellow hikers along the way.  Kayaking down the Amazon is a very lonely trip, even with two fellow travelers.  Her Amazon trip comes closer to being similar to quarantine for the same length of time.  Her loneliness and thoughts are more like some of us have been having as we stayed isolated for the last 10 plus months.

These Times

I’m not looking back to the way things used to be since that is not the way of the future.  Time moves on like a river, until it dries up.  We have to live in the present and anticipate changes.  Those changes will be different, some good and some not so good.  All we can do with photography is capture the present that we saw as time flowed past, which isn’t much these days.

Depressing Times

200708-153850-JEH20The times are looking pretty dark.  Coronavirus is still spreading wildly across our nation under the lack of leadership and no unified plan of action.  The U.S.’s response to the pandemic makes us no better than a third world country when compared with what other countries have accomplished.  Even in Pennsylvania where the Governor has done a creditable job in managing the situation he has had to fight ignorant Republicans to keep them from throwing out the plan.  I wonder if they have looked at what that has accomplished in other states?

Even if we get the local situation under control and work to keep it that way, it is still going to be painful for us as long as parts of the country are wildly out of control since people travel.  It also is going to keep the pressure on our economy and prevent us from getting production, etc. back on track.  We are fighting a global war and it won’t be won under the lack of leadership from stupid “carrot-top.”

The debts built up under the current administration have now doomed us for all time, at least during my lifetime as well as my grandchildren’s lifetimes.  Most taxes will need to go up and most of the money will go to paying interest, replenishing stockpiles, etc.  That means less funds available for maintaining the infrastructure.  Forget about funds for building new capabilities.  Any other schemes for handling the debt will most likely destroy the value of the dollar and increase the cost of everything.  There is no free lunch.

And while we are at it, don’t forget about the looming costs associated with adapting to the effects of climate changes.  The future costs are staggering.  And don’t forget the likely costs of wildfires and potential hurricane damages this year.

Personally, I find all of this to be quite depressing and I have lost interest in photography, especially with nothing of interest or new to be photographed.  For these reasons, I sold off cameras and lenses, etc., recovered what I could from them financially, and went into a lower phase of retirement as I hunker down with a lot less photography.

Looking Forward


Many of us, myself included, are looking forward to changes as the state & county governments as well as Homewood approaches opening up.

Me, I’m going to enjoy my new haircut, done by yours truly.  I’m also thinking about not going back to the old ways.

For those who haven’t listened to David duChemin, they should.  Take a listen to his latest podcast about gargoyles.  I’m thinking that there are a lot of changes that need to be made to our politics, to our way of life,  to my photography, and to my blog.

Gloomy Morning

It is a gloomy morning as I write this.  I had planned to take the week off from posting anything or making any pictures as I thought about some major changes with my photography.  My thinking hasn’t been going well since my changes are dependent upon going off campus and finding other things to photograph.

With the very slow, extremely cautiously slow release of the constraints on my coming and goings, I can’t make any changes until it is all over and I go out and try some different things.  Unfortunately, the economic and social aftermath of the pandemic in conjunction with the demonstrations and the woeful response of the government to all of the above, I am so depressed that my photography might dry up to nothing.  To counter these feelings I decided that I had to get a camera out and make something … anything to counter my depressing thoughts.

With that in mind, I decided to do some more experimenting with a style of B&W that I had been considering for the possible printing of a small book or magazine.  That is what I did with these pictures that I made while looking out the window.

PS, WordPress is changing the editor and I need to learn how to utilize it properly; i.e. to make things look like my previous posts. I don’t like it so far.

We are Responsible

200526-060314-JEH20The image is no accident.  It was deliberate as I try to figure out where my photography is going.  It is all a blur these days and I am responsible for its future.

Life is no accident.  Nature is evolving continuously; but isn’t it true that all now is the result of man.  Man has been changing nature day by day, altering what happens at each step now.  Everything is changed by everything else.  All things, all actions, are connected and man has disrupted the natural ecosystems.   

Covid-19 as we know it and its impacts are an example. The output of its actions are all strongly influenced by man, whether we wear our masks and physically distance ourselves, etc. 

Man now affects everything that happens.  Man, and what was done, or not done, is now responsible for our future.  Collectively, and individually, we are all responsible.  We control everything, to varying degrees, through our words, our votes, and actions, or lack of actions.