Filtration Friday: Kelp farms reduce water pollution

I’m not certain, but it’s likely that my favorite climate solution is covering everything in plants. In additional to mental health, they can improve our health in various ways, help guard against the harms of air pollution, and help mitigate that pollution. This isn’t just because I spent a good chunk of my childhood in the woods, either. I honestly love living in cities, I just want that life to be healthier and more pleasant for everyone.

Given all of that, I think it makes perfect sense that similar benefits would apply to plant life in the oceans. Water is, after all, another sort of “atmosphere”, for the organisms that inhabit it, and we’ve been polluting that as well. Researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been studying kelp, and have found that depending on the species used, kelp farms could make a big difference in coastal pollution:

The paper, published in the January issue of Aquaculture Journal, analyzed carbon and nitrogen levels at two mixed-species kelp farms in southcentral and southeast Alaska during the 2020-21 growing season. Tissue and seawater samples showed that seaweed species may have different capabilities to remove nutrients from their surroundings.

“Some seaweeds are literally like sponges — they suck and suck and never saturate,” said Schery Umanzor, an assistant professor at UAF’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the lead author of the study.

“Although carbon and carbon sequestration by kelp received most of the attention, kelp is actually much better at mitigating excessive amounts of nitrogen than carbon,” Umanzor said. “I think that’s a story that’s really underlooked.”

Nitrogen pollution is caused in coastal areas by factors such as urban sewage, domestic water runoff or fisheries waste disposal. It can lead to a variety of potential threats in marine environments, including toxic algae blooms, higher bacterial activity and depleted oxygen levels. Kelp grown in polluted waters shouldn’t be used for food but could still be a promising tool for cleaning such areas.

Kelp farming is an emerging industry in Alaska, touted to improve food security and create new job opportunities. It’s also been considered as a global-scale method for storing carbon, which could be a way to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon that contribute to climate change.

Analysis of kelp tissue samples from the farms determined that ribbon kelp was more effective than sugar kelp at absorbing both nitrogen and carbon, although that difference was somewhat offset by the higher density of farmed sugar kelp forests.

Umanzor cautioned that the study was limited to two sites during a single growing season. She is currently processing a larger collection of samples collected from six Alaska kelp farms for the subsequent season.

“Maybe it’s a function of species, maybe it’s the site, maybe it’s the type of carbon and nitrogen out there,” Umanzor said. “There’s a lot to know in a follow-up study.”

Personally, I’d want to know more about what else the kelp is absorbing, before I commit to it as a food source, but I’m in favor of using kelp farming and things like it to mitigate water pollution, whether or not it helps feed people. I do wonder to what degree it’ll turn out that efforts to reduce water pollution upstream will end up leaving kelp nitrogen-starved the way reductions in air pollution have led farmers to use more sulfur fertilizers. I also wonder how these results would compare to similar studies for species on the Atlantic side of the continent, since we wouldn’t want to just introduce a new species. After all, it wouldn’t do to create a new invasive species problem in the name of fighting pollution.

I look forward to hearing about future research on this subject, but I kinda feel like I’ve heard enough – every offshore turbine should have a seaweed farm built into it, for starters. I think we should largely leave the sea floor alone, pending a better understanding of how to help that ecosystem recover, but floating structures seem to be a different matter, to me. I’ll admit I know far less about oceanic ecosystem dynamics than terrestrial ones, but I’m excited to see where this goes.


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Massachusetts lawmakers propose prison organ-harvesting scheme

What would you give for your life?

What would you give for your freedom?

I periodically talk about the ways in which our society coerces people into accepting circumstances that they wouldn’t otherwise. Bad working conditions, insufficient pay, extortionate rent, little time in which to actually live – that’s the default for a growing number of people. The problem is that it gets so much worse.

The U.S. carceral system is rife with abuse, torture, rape, and murder, from inmates, sometimes, but from guards often. I don’t know what proportion of the U.S. public actively likes that our prisons are such horrific places, but there’s always a pretense that justice is somehow involved. After all, we don’t explicitly sentence anyone to rape or torture, right? We just sentence them to spend months, years, or their entire lives in a place where we know, for certain, that that happens.

And at the same time, prisoners are still expected to enrich the ruling class, through charging extortionate rates for booksfood, necessities, and even contact with family and loved ones. How much would you pay to talk to your spouse after a year apart? How much to talk to your children? How much to see the face of someone who you know – or at least hope – still loves you? What if you had the option to be tortured, for someone else’s benefit, to get your freedom a little bit faster?

Would you let the government take your organs for a shorter sentence?

SECTION 1. Chapter 127 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following text after the word “petition”:-

Section 170. (a) The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections shall establish a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program within the Department of Correction and a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee. The Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program shall allow eligible incarcerated individuals to gain not less than 60 and not more than 365 day reduction in the length of their committed sentence in Department of Corrections facilities, or House of Correction facilities if they are serving a Department of Correction sentence in a House of Corrections facility, on the condition that the incarcerated individual has donated bone marrow or organ(s).

(b) The Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee shall consist of five members: The Commissioner of the Department of Correction or their designee who will act as chair of the committee; the Medical Director of the Department of Corrections or their designee; a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Specialist from a hospital within the Commonwealth or their designee; a representative of an organization advocating for bone marrow donations within the Commonwealth or their designee; and two appointments shall be made by the Governor to serve three-year terms and one of whom shall be a board member of an advocacy group advocating for the rights of incarcerated individuals, and one of whom shall be from the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association. The Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee shall be responsible for the effective implementation and ongoing administration of the incarcerated individual Bone Marrow and Organ Donation program. The Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee shall also be responsible for promulgating standards of eligibility for incarcerated individuals to participate and the amount of bone marrow and organ(s) donated to earn one’s sentence to be commuted. Annual reports including actual amounts of bone marrow and organ(s) donated, and the estimated life-savings associated with said donations, are to be filed with the Executive and Legislative branches of the Commonwealth. All costs associated with the Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program will be done by the benefiting institutions of the program and their affiliates-not by the Department of Correction. There shall be no commissions or monetary payments to be made to the Department of Correction for bone marrow donated by incarcerated individuals.

This bill has been sponsored by two Democrats from my former home state of Massachusetts – Carlos Gonsález and Judith A. Garcia, and personally I think support for it should immediately disqualify anyone from holding any power. If inmates want to donate organs, marrow, or blood, they should absolutely be able to, but tying it to a reduced sentence means that we’re now viewing organ harvesting as an acceptable punishment within our so-called justice system, same as prison time (no less than two months and no more than one year), or the fines some people are able to pay in lieu of prison time.

This is the kind of shit I’ve seen in dystopian, gritty scifi shows like Killjoys or Lexx. It’s the kind of stuff people say China does, when they want to wave away the fact that the “Land of the Free” locks up a much larger proportion of its population. I’m not sure there’s really much more to say about this. U.S. prisons are traumatic hellholes as a matter of policy, and both major parties have played a huge role not just in locking up so many people, but in ensuring that prison conditions stay horrific. They much prefer spending money on armed goons to punish you for speaking or acting out.

So I ask again? What would you give for your freedom?

The image shows Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean, with a neon glowing hat brim, a popped collar with neon light bars on the inside, and a glowing VR-lookin visor thing. The text reads, “You best start believing in cyberpunk dystopias – you’re in one”

Hat tip to @NoCopsNoMasters for putting me onto this.

Let There Be Elephants.

The science is in, and we need more ginormous critters. Well, ok, not exactly, but this research does remind me a bit of the ecosystem benefits of whales that I’ve mentioned before. The idea that elephants are good for the ecosystems in which they live is not at all new. When it comes to the forest elephants, it has long been clear that, as with whales, the ecosystem seems likely to collapse if they go extinct. With that as context, it makes sense that the presence or absence of elephants can have pretty big implications for the global climate:

In findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Saint Louis University researchers and colleagues report that elephants play a key role in creating forests which store more atmospheric carbon and maintaining the biodiversity of forests in Africa. If the already critically endangered elephants become extinct, rainforest of central and west Africa, the second largest rainforest on earth, would gradually lose between six and nine percent of their ability to capture atmospheric carbon, amplifying planetary warming.[…]

An elephant looks into the camera as it moves through the rainforest. Photo by Stephen Blake, Ph.D. The elephant’s face forms a gray, wrinkled wall in the background of the picture. Out-of focus leaves in the foreground give a sense of depth. The elephant’s eye is visible just above the middle of the right half of the picture. It’s facing to the right, and you can see that the eye is turned forward, off-camera. The iris looks to be a light gold or yellow with a dark ring around it, and the eye’s white has a tinge of pink to it. The trunk is off-screen to the right, and you can see its ear extending off screen to the left.

“Elephants have been hunted by humans for millennia,” Blake said. “As a result, African forest elephants are critically endangered. The argument that everybody loves elephants hasn’t raised sufficient support to stop the killing. Shifting the argument for elephant conservation toward the role forest elephants play in maintaining the biodiversity of the forest, that losing elephants would mean losing forest biodiversity, hasn’t worked either, as numbers continue to fall. We can now add the robust conclusion that if we lose forest elephants, we will be doing a global disservice to climate change mitigation. The importance of forest elephants for climate mitigation must be taken seriously by policy makers to generate the support needed for elephant conservation. The role of forest elephants in our global environment is too important to ignore.”

Elephants play multiple roles in protecting the global environment. Within the forest, some trees have light wood (low carbon density trees) while others make heavy wood (high carbon density trees). Low carbon density trees grow quickly, rising above other plants and trees to get to the sunlight. Meanwhile, high carbon density trees grow slowly, needing less sunlight and able to grow in shade. Elephants and other megaherbivores affect the abundance of these trees by feeding more heavily on the low carbon density trees, which are more palatable and nutritious than the high carbon density species. This “thins” the forest, much like a forester would do to promote growth of their preferred species. This thinning reduces competition among trees and provides more light, space and soil nutrients to help the high carbon trees to flourish.

“Elephants eat lots of leaves from lots of trees, and they do a lot of damage when they eat,” Blake said. “They’ll strip leaves from trees, rip off a whole branch or uproot a sapling when eating, and our data shows most of this damage occurs to low carbon density trees. If there are a lot of high carbon density trees around, that’s one less competitor, eliminated by the elephants.”

Elephants are also excellent dispersers of the seeds of high carbon density trees. These trees often produce large nutritious fruits which elephants eat. Those seeds pass through the elephants’ gut undamaged and when released through dung, they are primed to germinate and grow into some of the largest trees in the forest.

“Elephants are the gardeners of the forest,” Blake said. “They plant the forest with high carbon density trees and they get rid of the ‘weeds,’ which are the low carbon density trees. They do a tremendous amount of work maintaining the diversity of the forest.”

This kind of thinking is part of the ecosystem management that I think we should be doing. This doesn’t mean that we should try to introduce elephants (or mastodons, or wooly mammoths) to areas that haven’t had them in recent centuries, but it does mean that our conservation efforts, even those focused on getting plants to absorb carbon, need to include the various big mammals that we’ve pushed to the brink of extinction. Once again, this isn’t particularly new information. In addition to what we already knew about elephants, there’s also plenty of evidence that restoring bison herds also dramatically helps prairie ecosystems, and moose play a big role farther north.

This is also why I like the notion of local organizing with global networking and a global perspective. Different regions will have different needs, from a social perspective, from an engineering perspective, and from an ecological perspective. Folks on the left talk about the intersection between social dynamics like race, sex, gender, class, and so on, and bringing environmental justice into that has brought us to the point where it’s pretty clear that the social, engineering, and ecological perspectives aren’t really different things at all. They’re just different parts of the same big, complex system. The bad news, as always, is that we’re headed in the wrong direction. The good news, as always, is that we’ve got a pretty good map showing us where we need to go.

Some More News: Why Is Housing So Expensive

Everyone should have a guarantee of quality housing. There’s no question that we have the resources to do it, but there’s currently a huge, politically entrenched parasitic class of people who make money off of owning other people’s homes. I’ll put in the obligatory “not all landlords” here – I believe a majority of landlords are “small”, just renting out part of the home they themselves live in, and things like that. The problem is that a majority of renters have to deal with the big landlords – the ones who own dozens or even hundreds of homes. Having a housing market of the kind that we do means that landlords’ right to profit is treated as more important than anyone’s right to shelter. When you include homes that are kept deliberately vacant, the wealth of landlords comes at the cost of the death of poor people. The presence of good landlords who do their best by their tenants doesn’t change that broader dynamic.

This is also an entirely solvable problem. We could make high-quality public housing that doesn’t have a stigma attached to it, but the people in power would rather have people die on the street. That is not an exaggeration, it is the literal truth. Multimillionaires and multibillionaires actively want people dying on the streets. They generally won’t say it directly, but that is the intended outcome of their efforts to use austerity to curb inflation – they want more poverty and desperation, because it makes people easier to control.

And they know that that means more people dying on the street. That’s an intended outcome.

As usual, Cody’s Showdy does a good job digging into this subject, as well as the extremely racist history of housing and home ownership in the United States. He also goes more into solutions, like the public housing I said we could be doing, so here – have Some More News!

Children are collateral damage in Tim Pool’s anti-LGBTQIA hate campaign

Right now, the American conservative movement is trying to erase LGBTQIA people from society. As with past genocidal projects, all of the “justifications” are bullshit, but that doesn’t stop bigoted grifters from spreading that manure around. You see, they want to destroy queer people, and they’re happy to lie to get their way. This is not a new project, but it has gotten new life in recent years, as part of a larger fascist movement and conservative backlash against the progress we’ve made on trans rights in particular, and LGBTQIA rights in general, over the last four decades or so.

This post is inspired and partially informed by a video by Lance, from The Serfs, but I dig into the subject below. I find this video useful because it shows how Pool weaves anti-queer propaganda in and around an unrelated story, to give shallow thinkers the impression that the movements for gay and trans rights, and the push for comprehensive sex education, are leading to child sexual abuse. In trying to give that impression, Pool lies, misleads, and literally cites the opinions of someone with close ties to the NXIVM sex cult, which actually did groom and abuse a great many children and adults. It’s worth keeping in mind, if you’re not already, that all of these lies and implications about Queer people serve to cover up and enable real abuse, by misdirecting people’s attention. For some, that might just be acceptable collateral damage, and for others, that is almost certainly the point. I think that going through how Pool’s video is set up, similar to what Lance does below, is useful in seeing how he furthers this agenda by association and implication.

So, to begin with, let’s look at the news from Chicago. Tim Pool builds his case around a real report of hundreds of cases of grooming, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape by teachers and staff in the Chicago public school system, during the 2021-2022 school year. This is a horrifying report, and I think it does demonstrate a need for real change. I also suspect that this is more widespread than just Chicago. Schools, like churches, give a number of adults a huge amount of power over children, and while most may gravitate to those lines of work for good reasons, others do it for that access. This seems to be the case within pretty much any hierarchical institution, but children are uniquely vulnerable because they have neither the knowledge nor the power to defend themselves, within society as it exists today. There are annual reports on this in CPS, and if the one from 2019 is anything to judge by, this is a long-standing problem, and as I said I doubt it’s limited to Chicago. I don’t recommend it as a news site, but I’m going to use the Daily Caller article Pool is using in the video above. Content warning for child sexual abuse, in case that wasn’t clear:

The Chicago Board of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) annual report found hundreds of Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers were accused of adult-to-student sexual misconduct in the 2021-2022 school year.

The OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU) opened 447 cases investigating teachers for allegedly grooming, sexually assaulting, or raping CPS students last school year, following the 325 opened in 2021. Of the open cases, the SAU closed 600 over the past 12 months, according to the OIG annual report, reported ChicagoCityWire.

SAU investigated a Chicago high school substitute teacher for grooming several students for sex and engaging in sexual acts with at least one student on school property, the OIG found.

The CPS teacher allegedly talked to students about their sex lives in person and through social media, cell phones, and “other common grooming techniques,” according to the OIG. The report stated the teacher gave the “student unnecessary passes to exclude her from class, and encouraging students to confide in him about personal problems.”

SAU claims he made “intimate physical contact with students (including kisses, sexual hugs, and back-rubs), openly solicited sexual acts (such as asking a student to recruit another student for a ‘threesome’).”

A separate SAU investigation into a former JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) staff member found he allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old female high school student. SAU found that for 12 months, he threatened to kill the student and her family if she reported the sexual abuse.

SAU reported that the JROTC staff member and the student exchanged hundreds of text messages that “were overtly sexual, including ‘I’m ready to f*** right now … I’m not gonna be gentle either.’”

Chicago Police Department arrested the JROTC staff member and charged him with eight counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the report.

She noted that the district has taken action against those engaged in wrongdoing.

Several of the open cases involved CPS-affiliated adults exposing students to pornographic images, including one high school teacher who accessed porn while he was sharing his screen with minor students.

The report applauded the OIG’s SAU’s ability to “manage its extraordinarily high case volume without compromising the quality of its investigations.”

“Over the past four years, the SAU’s accomplishments have been significant. It has opened 1,735 cases following allegations reported by students, alumni, parents, staff, and others. Of those, it has closed a total of 1,384 cases raising concerns of adult-on-student sexual misconduct, and substantiated policy violations in 302 investigations,” the report stated.

The OIG added that of the over 1,700 cases of alleged sexual misconduct between CPS-affiliated adults and students, sixteen criminal charges have been filed.

So, that’s the situation. Because of the nature of the misinformation surrounding this issue, I think I need to emphasize that the vast majority of perpetrators of this stuff are straight, cis men. That is the over-represented demographic here, not queer people of any stripe. Likewise, none of this has anything to do with drag queen anything. I also want to draw attention to the JROTC staff member, because when I wrote about schools forcing children to participate, I linked but didn’t go into that organization’s history of this exact problem.

JROTC programs are promoted not as a pipeline to active duty but as a valuable source of adult mentoring, exposure to military discipline, and inculcation of civic values. Cadets get to drill in uniform, handle weapons, learn military ranks and history, and stand at attention when visitors come to their classes. Their instructors are military veterans certified by the DOD, but many states don’t require them to have either teaching certificates or a college degree. In addition, the DOD leaves day-to-day monitoring of their performance to school administrators busy with many other responsibilities.

That lax oversight has had calamitous results. As the New York Times recently revealed in a major investigative piece, at least thirty-three JROTC instructors have engaged in sexual misbehavior with young women in the program during the last five years. And that JROTC rap sheet does not even include the “many others who have been accused of misconduct but [were] never charged” or the inappropriate behavior that went unreported because cadets were afraid of jeopardizing their potential military careers.

JROTC accounts for a minority of students (a minority of whom go on to join the armed forces), but note again the dynamic described here – it’s adults who are put in positions of authority over children. Similar power dynamics are often part of the sexual assault of adults in the U.S. military, which is also a huge problem, church abuse, workplace abuse, and familial abuse, which seems to be the most common.

Tim Pool starts his video talking about the the systematic grooming and abuse of children, while his background was a completely unrelated article about a trans activist supposedly getting someone fired from their job at a video game company for following Libs of Tiktok (a well-known stochastic terrorist), and Ian Myles Cheong, a bizarre far-right twitter activist. I looked up the Post Millennial article Pool put up there, and it’s pretty transphobic. It also ignores the fact that the firing wasn’t just about who the employee followed, but also about at least one tweet spreading the bigoted lie that trans rights are a threat to cis women’s safety. The company, Limited Run Games, felt that this public bigotry from a community manager was harmful to their brand an image, and so they fired her.

But whether or not you think that was justified, I have to ask – why announce the headline of the article about Chicago Public Schools, over an image of a headline about a trans activist, and saying, “Now the story that is on the screen is not that story. I want to give you a few moments before we get into the darker element of what’s been going on and what’s being exposed, and I want to just briefly highlight the cultural elements that are allowing such a thing to occur.”

This has nothing to do with Chicago Public Schools. As we’ve covered, most child abuse in general is by cis people. Not trans people. Trans people have nothing to do with this, but Pool brings up the abuse headline, and then immediately switches to talking about trans people. He insist that he is “Quite literally only referring to people who are targeting children in order to groom them”, and not LGBTQ+ people. As Lance points out, Tim is pretty vague about what grooming means, and he’s called things like Drag Queen Story Time, which is literally just people in colorful costumes reading stories to children. This is the same absurd fudging of definitions that has Republicans in Oklahoma trying to outlaw all “flamboyant makeup” around children. I guess they hate clowns, too?

The article describes “grooming behavior” that includes, among other things, personal conversations with children about their sex lives. His interpretation of that is that any discussion of sex or sexuality in the presence of children is “grooming”, which allows him to segue into attacking materials designed for sex ed. He literally says, “I was told that’s just claiming that gay people exist!”, without any acknowledgement of the context in which the conversations are being discussed – sexual text conversations, adults showing pornography to children, in-person sexual activity, and so on. Again, gay people haven’t come up so far, except when Pool has interjected them. The article has, so far, only described abuse by straight cis people.

He then brings out a book called Gender Queer, which is an autobiographical book targeted at older teens and adults.

When I was a teen, I did not want to actually talk about that stuff with my parents, or with anyone. Still, it was important stuff to learn, so my parents got me a book called It’s Perfectly Normal. It’s an illustrated primer on puberty, sex, and sexuality. The version I had didn’t include any mention of trans people that I can recall, but I believe it has been updated since then, following advances in general understanding of the issue, and the social change that the current conservative backlash is angry about. The book goes out of its way to be friendly and positive, including working against the various sorts of body-shaming that exist in our society. It’s illustrated, including drawings of a diversity of nude body types, as well as some depictions of sexual acts, drawings and diagrams of genitals, and so on. That’s the topic of the book. Some of the drawings may be arousing, and some may not be, and which is which will be different for different people. The whole point of the book is to teach about this stuff that’s necessary to learn as part of growing up. Consequently, this is one of those books that is banned pretty often, because conservatives think it’s “pornographic”.

The book Pool complains about is also illustrated – it’s a “graphic memoir”, but it’s a story about a young person discovering their asexuality, and that they don’t fit the gender “binary”. I’m willing to bet that it’s less explicit than my “puberty textbook”, but that hasn’t stopped people from banning it. Why is he bringing out this book? Because the religious right has been freaking out about it, and Tim Pool, despite his pretense to centrism, is a right-wing extremist.

So, he has started out this story about abuse in Chicago Public Schools by pointing to an unrelated story involving a trans activist, and then after reading a bit of the Daily Caller article out loud, he holds up this book called Gender Queer, and says “No, I got no issue with the Queer people involved in that book. I have an issue with the behaviors they’ve engaged in, such as the pushing of this book to children, which includes pornographic images”.

And then he switches to praising Dave Rubin, a gay conservative pundit, apparently to say that Rubin’s “one of the good ones”? He says that he’s fine with Rubin being “gay married”, and having kids, because he’s teaching good values, and it’s up to parents whether their kids are raised around “this stuff”. But the schools? The schools are hiding it from parents, and grooming kids by showing them porn.

You can see what’s going on here, right? So far the only actual harm to children we’ve talked about has been done by straight, cis men, preying on girls. There was one example of a teacher showing children literal pornography, and Pool is equating that to the book Gender Queer, and the LGBTQIA movement in general. This is nothing new. It’s the same bullshit propaganda used to demonize Queer people for longer than I’ve been alive. It’s the same old insistence that anything outside of cis, straight relationships is inherently more sexual, and that any discussion of can only ever be sexual.

This is a weapon that conservatives love to use. It’s not that long ago that they were working to create a moral panic about Muslims, by declaring that they made up a disproportionate majority of “grooming gangs” in the UK. That narrative conveniently left out the definition of “grooming gang” being used by pundits – localized, in-person, grooming activities on the street that targeted white girls. You may note that this definition excludes everyone abused by churches, all online activity, all abuse by families, all abuse of boys, and all abuse of non-white children, all so that they can spin the narrative that Islam somehow uniquely encourages child abuse. You can check out this Lonerbox video for more on that particular thing.

What Pool is doing seems even more dishonest than that, though, given that he’s just choosing random stories and anecdotes relating to LGBTQIA people to associate with the CPS report, so he can say that “putting these books in school and not telling parents” is the line which must not be crossed. Pool has also called a family-friendly drag show “a grooming event”.

And then Pool cites James Lindsay to justify this leap. Lindsay has made something of a career out of accusing people of being pedophiles with no evidence. Lindsay himself, on the other hand, has (or had) a long-standing friendship with Nicki Clyne, who was part of the inner circle of the NXIVM (generally pronounced “nexium”) pyramid scheme/sex cult, which engaged in actual grooming of girls. I know it’s beyond cliché at this point, but Lindsay seems to be the epitome of “every accusation by a conservative is actually a confession”.

This is the person on whose authority Tim wants us to believe that all things rainbow are part of a vast conspiracy to groom children. This person who made accusations like that while being, at best, very close to someone involved in an actual conspiracy to groom children.

And he goes back to ranting about the Limited Run Games story, calls the LGBTQIA movement a cult (having just cited someone who was friendly with an actual cult), throws in the odd concept of “political grooming”, whatever that is, and then proceeds to lie about the concept of child liberation.

So, as I understand it, “child liberation” means giving children more autonomy in their lives, rather than treating them like they aren’t people. This means letting education be more self-directed, and it means helping them figure out how to make decisions for themselves. This is an approach that would give adults less power over children. Less power to do things like grade kids worse if they don’t like them, affecting their future, and less power to abuse them, because part of the point of child liberation is teaching children that their personal autonomy matters. Andrewism has a good video on the subject if you want to dig into it. If you prefer to read articles on the subject, Andrewism links to a number of articles on the Anarchist Free Library, digging into the age-based power dynamics in our society, and the similarities between the current default schooling system, and prison. It’s an interesting subject, and not one you’re likely to encounter much outside of anarchist circles, which makes it perfect for bigoted grifters to lie to the general public about it.

I’m assuming that most of my readers are on board with comprehensive sex ed, and early teaching of consent. In the case of the former, it’s important for children to know about their bodies – including their reproductive systems – for a couple main reasons. The first is health – knowing how their bodies look and feel normally, and knowing what “normal function” is supposed to look like, gives them the tools to know when something’s wrong, and to express that more clearly. On that same note, as they age and go through puberty, their “normal function” is going to change, and it’s generally a good idea to give them warning about this so that they’re not freaked out by it. The second is safety from other people – teaching them how all the basic physiological stuff interacts with society, and what constitutes sexual activity. This is important, among other reasons, because if you don’t do that, you’ll get ignorant twits like Tim Pool who apparently can’t tell the difference between teaching someone about sex, and actually engaging or trying to engage in sexual activity with that someone.

When it comes to teaching consent, there’s little reason for sex to come up at all. At the earliest ages, it’s all stuff like whether or not they want to hug someone, whether they’re OK with a particular game or activity – it’s about teaching that they have a right to autonomy. You may note that we’re back to language from a couple paragraphs ago. Child/youth liberation is an extension of the same principle. It’s a bit contradictory to tell children that they have a right to not participate in activities that make them uncomfortable, while also telling them that they have no right to refuse to go to school when they’re told, for how long they’re told, no matter what they’re suffering while they’re there. The current system, as a default, trains children to just accept what adults tell them – of course abuse will come out of that!

But conservatives don’t actually like autonomy, in children or in adults. They want people who will be good, obedient cogs in the machine, but they know that just saying that doesn’t look great, so they have to lie, and create scapegoats for the very real problems in our society. Teachers are abusing children? Must be the gays. Oh, the vast majority of abusers are heterosexual? It’s gay culture that’s somehow infecting everyone.

This isn’t stuff that should be taken seriously, but the unfortunate fact is that Pool has a vast audience on Youtube and other platforms, and the same narrative is being pushed by the fantatical bigot who is the most watched cable news host in the United States, not to mention the entire GOP. A couple months ago, I wrote about the absurdity that always seems to lie at the core of fascist movements, and this is no exception. These people actually are the monstrous clowns that they accuse drag queens of being. They’re loud, gaudy, ridiculous, and they are committed to destroying countless lives in pursuit of their bizarre notions about how the world should work. Pool’s video ends with him telling his viewers that these horrors are happening because they, the viewers, didn’t speak up, and didn’t act. I feel a need to say something similar, but actually grounded in history – there is a fascist movement in the U.S. right now that is working hard to bring about the extermination of anyone who doesn’t fit the roles society has assigned to them. They are coming for our Queer siblings, and it is our responsibility to speak up, and to stand up in opposition to this hate, wherever we can, and however we can.


Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Diversity is our strength: Planting a mixture of crops can benefit the surrounding ecosystem

Insects are in trouble. That doesn’t make them special, or anything (they were always special to me), but they play a vast number of important roles in our various ecosystems, including the pollination of certain plants. Knowing the people who read this blog, I’m sure you find this information to be shocking and new, especially as I’ve never written about it before.

Jokes aside, though, this is an issue that has had a lot of people worried for a long time now. A lot of blame has been placed on the heavy use of pesticides required to keep our current monoculture farming regime from completely collapsing, plus those used in more residential and recreational settings. I think that’s certainly a reasonable thing to look at, but it’s also reasonable to look at habitat destruction, as well as the just-mentioned use of monoculture farming. Poison obviously affects one’s ability to live and thrive, but so to does having one’s ecosystem fall apart (something to which we should probably pay attention).

A German research team has now provided us with yet another reason to change how we do agriculture, because it turns out that the lack of diversity that characterizes modern food production is bad for bees and other insects.

There are often too few flowering plants in agricultural landscapes, which is one reason for the decline of pollinating insects. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have now investigated how a mixture of crops of faba beans (broad beans) and wheat affects the number of pollinating insects. They found that areas of mixed crops compared with areas of single crops are visited equally often by foraging bees. Their results were published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.

The researchers observed and counted foraging honeybees and wild bees in mixtures of wheat and faba bean and in pure cultures that only contained faba beans. “We had expected that the mixed crops with fewer flowers would be visited less frequently by bees for foraging than single crops,” says PhD student Felix Kirsch from the Functional Agrobiodiversity research group, University of Göttingen. “To our surprise, this was not the case.”

This could be due to several reasons. “Our mixed cultures were less dense than pure cultures, which possibly increased the visibility of the flowers. This might have attracted the similarly large number of bees to the mixed cultures,” suggests Dr Annika Haß, postdoctoral researcher in the Functional Agrobiodiversity research group. “In addition, reduced competition between the faba bean plants in mixed cultures could mean that they can invest more resources in the production of nectar and pollen to increase their attractiveness to bees,” adds Professor Wolfgang Link, head of the group for Breeding Research Faba Bean.

“Mixed cultivation of wheat and faba bean has also other advantages for crop production,” says Professor Catrin Westphal, Head of Functional Agrobiodiversity. For instance, yields per bean plant were higher in mixed crops than in pure cultures. “Cereal crops can be ecologically enhanced by adding legumes such as beans or lentils. This can make a valuable contribution to increasing the abundance of flowers on the arable land and thus counteracting pollinator decline,” concludes Haß.

Truly, it is one of the great burdens of our time that in order to save ourselves, we must make the world a better place to live in. We hear over and over again about the “Insect Apocalypse”, and now it turns out that part of changing course, means making the landscape more interesting? What’s next, cleaner air? No danger of being unhoused? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I’m kinda worn out from working on a much less pleasant post, so I’ll just leave you with my regular reminder: Our problem is not a lack of solutions, it’s a political and economic hierarchy that actively hates the solutions that we do have. Obviously if you have the means to directly change or improve the landscape around you, then I heartily recommend doing so, but that will never be enough without real, dramatic political change.

Video: Let’s talk about Pink Floyd, rainbows, and social media…

Nothing too heavy today – I needed time for other pursuits. As some of you are no doubt aware, it was recently the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and the fact that the album art has always had a rainbow in it has some “fans” upset. I suspect it’s the same fans who get upset periodically when they find out that Rage Against the Machine “gets political”, because they apparently never know the lyrics?

I honestly don’t get how some people go through life so utterly oblivious to so much of what’s happening around them, but I guess that’s the point of all the indoctrination, propaganda, and systems of control. As Beau says, when someone’s so afraid of what’s different that they can’t stand to see a rainbow, well…

All in all, they’re just

Solidarity with the Movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest

Defend The Atlanta Forest is circulating this statement of solidarity, and asking people to sign on. I’ve already done so, and I’d encourage you to read the statement, and do so yourself:

We call on all people of good conscience to stand in solidarity with the movement to stop Cop City and defend the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.

On January 18, in the course of their latest militarized raid on the forest, police in Atlanta shot and killed a person. This is only the most recent of a series of violent police retaliations against the movement. The official narrative is that Cop City is necessary to make Atlanta “safe,” but this brutal killing reveals what they mean when they use that word.

Forests are the lungs of planet Earth. The destruction of forests affects all of us. So do the gentrification and police violence that the bulldozing of Weelaunee Forest would facilitate. What is happening in Atlanta is not a local issue.

Politicians who support Cop City have attempted to discredit forest defenders as “outside agitators.” This smear has a disgraceful history in the South, where authorities have used it against abolitionists, labor organizers, and the Civil Rights Movement, among others. The goal of those who spread this narrative is to discourage solidarity and isolate communities from each other while offering a pretext to bring in state and federal forces, who are the actual “outside agitators.” The consequence of that strategy is on full display in the tragedy of January 18.

Replacing a forest with a police training center will only create a more violently policed society, in which taxpayer resources enrich police and weapons companies rather than addressing social needs. Mass incarceration and police militarization have failed to bring down crime or improve conditions for poor and working-class communities.

In Atlanta and across the US, investment in police budgets comes at the expense of access to food, education, childcare, and healthcare, of affordable and stable housing, of parks and public spaces, of transit and the free movement of people, of economic stability for the many. Concentrating resources in the hands of police serves to defend the extreme accumulation of wealth and power by corporations and the very rich.

What do cops do with their increased budgets and their carte blanche from politicians? They kill people, every single day. They incarcerate and traumatize schoolchildren, parents, loved ones who are simply struggling to survive. We must not settle for a society organized recklessly upon the values of violence, racism, greed, and careless indifference to life.

The struggle that is playing out in Atlanta is a contest for the future. As the catastrophic effects of climate change hammer our communities with hurricanes, heat waves, and forest fires, the stakes of this contest are clearer than ever. It will determine whether those who come after us inherit an inhabitable Earth or a police state nightmare. It is up to us to create a peaceful society that does not treat human life as expendable.

The forest defenders are trying to create a better world for all of us. We owe it to the people of Atlanta and to future generations everywhere to support them.

Here are some ways to support the defense of the forest in Atlanta:

  • Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support legal costs for arrested protestors and ongoing legal action.
  • Call on investors in the project to divest from Cop City (list of APF investors). Call on builders of the project to drop their construction contracts.
  • Organize political solidarity bail funds, forest defense funds, and forest defense committees where you live.
  • Organize or participate in local solidarity actions.
  • Endorse and circulate this statement of solidarity.

Head over to their page to sign on, and to see the long list of people and organizations who have already done so. You can also find more information about what’s going on there, as well as by following It’s Going Down. I’ve also written one or three posts relating to the subject, if that interests you.

And if you have a platform, as stated above, consider circulating the statement of solidarity.

Daring to assert sovereignty: Zimbabwe bans all exports of raw lithium

As the colonial era “ended”, and the various colonies in Africa, the Americas, and Asia gained their independence, the various imperial powers of the world forced those colonies to take on the debts of their former conquerors. This, combined with a combination of financial control and brute military force, maintained the dynamic that had made the colonies so profitable for the U.S. and western Europe: the colonies were forced to produce one or two significant resources to the exclusion of all else, exporting raw ingredients, and depending on imports from their rulers to survive. Basically, any time one of these countries tries to attain some degree of self-sufficiency, or to assert their own economic plans that class with global capitalism, they mysteriously suffer from a coup, or assassinations, or death squads, or sanctions to punish them for stepping out of line. If you want a deeper dive into that subject, check out this video from Renegade Cut:

This is the setting in which Zimbabwe has banned all exports of raw lithium, in favor of making its own lithium-based products, and selling those, which is considerably more profitable.

Zimbabwe has banned all lithium exports after the government said it was losing 1.7 billion euros from exporting it as a raw mineral and not processing it into batteries in-country.

Lithium is so valuable as a component of electronic batteries – mostly for cars mobile phones and computers – that it’s known as “white gold.” The price has gone up by 1,100 percent in the past two years alone.

Zimbabwe has the largest amount of the mineral in Africa and has enough of it to supply a fifth of the world’s needs, the government says.

Whilst it’s on track to become one of the world’s largest lithium exporters, the government says it should start its own battery industry rather than allow foreign companies to dominate battery production.

If it succeeds it will mark a sea change for Zimbabwe’s economy.

Like many other mineral-rich African states, it has allowed its raw minerals to be extracted by multinationals for decades without developing local industries that could process them, and create many jobs.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines and Mining Development said it would also clamp down on the artisanal miners digging up lithium and smuggling the mineral across borders.

Bolivia, to remind you, made a similar decision shortly before the failed 2019 coup in that country. With the MAS party back in charge, hopefully those plans will go ahead. Zimbabwe is an independent nation, with the right to govern itself, but history has shown that that “independence” only goes so far when it comes to decisions that might hurt the bottom line of the capitalist elite. I want to be clear – this is not a blanket defense of all the governments and politicians in these various countries. Dostoevsky said that power is only given to those who dare to lower themselves to pick it up. I think that’s often true of any hierarchical institution, and in general, where there is power, you will find those who seek to abuse it. I do not doubt that most poor countries have corruption, because that is the nature of power. That does not justify these crimes of empire. It does not justify constant interference with and imposition upon countries that are still trying to recover from centuries of horrific oppression. It’s unfortunate that this needs to be pointed out every time the subject comes up, but that’s the world we live in, and the reliable presence of shitty people in power has allowed the shitty people running places like the U.S. to justify their international abuses to their own subjects.

So, Zimbabwe, whatever its faults, has made the decision to use some its natural resources for the benefit of that nation, rather than the enrichment of foreign capitalists. I think it’s fair to assume that if they are able to pull this off, most of the proceeds will go to the upper class of that country, as is the current default all over the world. Some of it will also go to improving life for the average Zimbabwean, if only because they’ve been facing unrest over economic conditions for a while now, and improving people’s lives is a great way to deal with that. The current government was elected following the removal of Mugabe from power by the Zimbabwean military, and there have been accusations that the election was unfairly managed (Wikipedia). I don’t know enough to have any clear opinion of the country’s current leaders, but this particular policy decision makes a lot of sense to me, and it should be well within the rights of any nation.

Unfortunately, the rich (white) nations of the world have never acted as though Zimbabwe has any right to determine its own course whatsoever:

In a study titled; “Politics of sanctions: Impact of US and EU sanctions on the rights and well-being of Zimbabweans”, published in 2015, Chidiebere C. Ogbonna, an academic, researcher, writer and peace facilitator, observes that Zimbabwe has “been sanctioned in six sanction episodes: 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009.”

The 1966 episode followed Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1965, which led to the isolation of Rhodesia from the international community.

This makes the Southern African nation “one of the most sanctioned countries in the world,” hence, scuppering economic growth, and consequently, threatening the overall welfare of Zimbabweans, and impinging on their rights.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, amended in 2018, led to the imposition of economic sanctions on the seemingly small and insignificant Southern African country due to its stance on the land issue.

Highlighting that the Zimbabwean economic landscape is “tragic”, Ogbonna avers: “Consequently, the situation threatens human security and also denies Zimbabweans the capabilities to live in dignity as prescribed in the universal declaration of human rights.”

“I agree that they are instruments permitted by the UN Charter; however, the use of economic sanctions contradicts the UN declaration of human rights, which emphasises the “right to live in dignity.”

Scholars agree that economic sanctions, which the United Nations has referred to as a “tool for all seasons,” lead to terrible humanitarian concerns.

They argue that economic sanctions rob citizens of a target State the right to live in dignity.

Ogbonna maintains that, although there may be other issues on which economic decline could be blamed, sanctions contributed “immensely in setting the economic clock of Zimbabwe backwards.”

Worry-warts may go to town about “bad politics”, governance matters and corruption, which in all fairness cannot be ignored, but as the study observes, no nation state can go it alone.

“The world system is interrelated, and States are embedded in the system. Therefore, it is inappropriate to argue that sanctions have no effects on the economy of a sanctioned State,” Ogbonna points out.

Even at the communal level none is an island. Africans believe in communal ownership of amenities — they share — that is what makes them one.

They believe that no man is an island, therefore, they share salt, maize meal, wells, boreholes, grazing land, sorrows, joys and other such facilities that keep them going.

So, when they hear that one of their own has been targeted not to use such amenities key to his family’s well-being, it is not lost on them that his children suffer more.

Collective wisdom informs Africans that a villager’s children are theirs too.

As an African, Ogbonna is conscious of that shared wisdom. Hence, he explores the impacts of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s economy, and consequently, on the country’s ordinary citizens, especially “the most vulnerable, such as the sick, disabled, elderly and pregnant women.”

He examines the direct impact of sanctions on human rights and well-being of Zimbabweans, as well as their bearing on socio-economic progress.

Concerning human rights, he attests that sanctions impact on the rights to healthcare, education and quality standard of living, which, on the overall, affects social welfare.

Key economic factors like inflation, access to foreign currency and foreign direct investment (FDI), are impacted negatively by the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries, claiming them to be targeted.

The social impact of sanctions on ordinary citizens, whose only crime is being Zimbabwean — a sovereign people — cannot be overemphasised. Like everyone else, they are citizens of a country inhabited by fellow human beings with dreams and aspirations.

In many ways, I think that economic sanctions should be viewed as a version of strategic bombing, also known as “terror bombing” or “morale bombing”. The basic premise of this bombing “tactic” was that by making life intolerable for the people of the authoritarian government we’re attacking (because, of course, we wouldn’t be attacking them if they weren’t evil), we would cause them to replace their rulers with someone better. As far as I am aware, this has never worked. The same is true of sanctions, including the ones that have recently been placed on Afghanistan. In reality what they do is destroy lives. More than that, sanctions tend to do the most harm to those with the least power, without hurting the rulers at all.

I don’t think this history bodes well for Zimbabwe’s effort to improve its situation, but it’s worth noting that they are not alone in this. In addition to Bolivia, which I already mentioned, Mexico is also nationalizing its lithium industry for similar reasons, and I think that the more other countries do the same, the harder it will be to justify action against any one. I hope so, anyway. I’d like to have some good news that sticks around for a while, you know?

Hat tip to Ben Norton for making me aware of this story, and of the bit about Mexico, which I had missed at the time. I hope, as I always do with this sort of thing, that Zimbabwe is allowed to chart its own course. I hope that this policy is carried through, and that “Made in Zimbabwe” becomes a mark of a good, ethically produced battery. Even if the results aren’t all I hope for, it will be an improvement over the extortionate arrangement they’ve decided to abandon. Until this kind of national policy is allowed to play out without interference from imperial powers, we cannot say that the colonial era has truly ended.


Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Global warming reached central Greenland (over a decade ago)

Even with all of our fancy technology, fieldwork in places like central Greenland remains difficult and dangerous. The conditions are unforgiving, and the ground is treacherous. That’s why, despite the global importance of studying the ice sheet, expeditions into the heart of that island aren’t particularly common. A recently published study shows the results of an effort to update our ice core data. Previous cores from the 1990s didn’t show clear evidence of warming, but the new data, extending to 2011, is very different:

“The time series we recovered from ice cores now continuously covers more than 1,000 years, from year 1000 to 2011. This data shows that the warming in 2001 to 2011 clearly differs from natural variations during the past 1,000 years. Although grimly expected in the light of global warming, we were surprised by how evident this difference really was,” says AWI glaciologist Dr Maria Hörhold, lead author of the study. Together with colleagues from AWI and the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, she analysed the isotope composition in shallow ice cores gathered in central-north Greenland during dedicated AWI expeditions.

[…]

The AWI researchers have now extended the previous datasets up to winter 2011/2012 by a dedicated redrilling effort, recovering time series unprecedented length and quality. The temperatures were reconstructed by using consistently one single method for the entire record in the lab: measuring concentrations of stable oxygen isotopes within the ice, which vary with the temperatures prevailing at times of ice formation. Previous studies had to draw on a range of different climate archives and combine results to reconstruct temperature, introducing much larger uncertainties in the assessment of natural variability.

In addition to the temperature, the team reconstructed the melt production of the ice sheet. Melting has increased substantially in Greenland since the 2000s and now significantly contributes to global sea-level rise. “We were amazed to see how closely temperatures inland are connected to Greenland-wide meltwater drainage – which, after all, occurs in low-elevation areas along the rim of the ice sheet near the coast,” says Maria Hörhold.

As Dr. Hörhold stated, this result was, to some degree, expected. The planet has warmed so much, and has been reacting to that warming so much, that there was very little chance that it wouldn’t be detectable by 2011. It’s nice that scientific understanding of the climate is good enough that expectations more or less match reality, but obviously it’d be nice if things were moving a bit more slowly. These data don’t change what needs to be done, and they don’t really change the urgency. It’s certainly frightening to hear that one of the coldest places of the earth is warming so dramatically, but I think it’s good to remember that our need for swift action is not driven by models or ice cores, but by the effects that the tiny amount of warming we’ve seen so far is already having on humanity.

I recently had a bit of a discussion with a longtime reader about the eugenicist history of the environmental movement, and it’s a good reminder of the importance of centering humanity as a whole in how we respond to environmental crises and injustices. A lot of environmentalism over the last century has followed the notion that humanity is somehow separate from the rest of this planet’s biosphere, and that advances in technology are some level of “unnatural”. This has been used, at times, as a justification for the under-development of the so-called Global South. Efforts to stop deforestation, for example, put the focus on the people doing it, rather than the systemic factors that made put them in that position in the first place.

The first example of a better approach that I personally saw was at the Kakamega Rainforest in Kenya. During the Moi regime, someone lower down in the government came up with the idea of putting a tea plantation around the rainforest, and employing the locals to work there. The basic idea was to provide them with a means of survival other than hunting in the forest. I’m sure it’s far from a perfect solution, but it was the first time I’d seen an environmental project that focused on the factors that caused people to do “bad” things.

That arrangement, however, still relies on the notion that keeping people out of “nature” is the best way to safeguard that nature from “human nature” as defined by a colonialist, capitalist society. The modern movement for environmental justice is trying to be something different, centering humanity’s right to personal autonomy and self-governance as inseparable from the environmental issues facing us. It aims its ire not at the people who are actually doing the clear-cutting, but on the global capitalist system its endless drive for ever-increasing profit, humanity and nature be damned. We’re trying to build something new, informed by science like this Greenland study, as well as science surrounding humans and our history. That’s why it’s good to know about this research, even though I honestly think that it should not affect your day to day life much if at all. This stuff informs me, but it’s not what drives me, if that makes sense.

And on that note, this study gave us another interesting finding – it turns out Greenland sort of has its own microclimate, separate from the rest of the Arctic:

Another exciting finding from the study: the climate of the Greenland Ice Sheet is largely decoupled from the rest of the Arctic. This could be shown in comparison with the Arctic-wide temperature reconstruction ‘Arctic 2k’. Although ‘Arctic 2k’ is an accurate representation of the circumpolar region, it does not reflect the conditions in central Greenland. “Our reconstruction now offers a robust representation of temperature evolution in central Greenland, which has proven to have a dynamic of its own,” says Prof. Thomas Laepple, AWI climate researcher and co-author of the study. “Actually, we had expected the time series to strongly covary with the warming of the Arctic region,” Laepple reports. But the authors have an explanation for these differences: the ice sheet is several kilometres thick; because of its height, Greenland is more affected by atmospheric circulation patterns than other parts of the Arctic. Temperature time series on the Arctic with regional resolution are needed, says Laepple, in order to reliably describe climate change in the Arctic.

I periodically run into people on Twitter and such places who insist that the world is too complex for us to ever understand or influence, and I honestly find that to be a bit of a depressing outlook. The last person that told me that had also openly said that he doesn’t need to know what climate scientists have to say about all this. That seems like a very self-limiting approach to life. It’s like he’s in Plato’s cave, and someone went out, saw the rest of the world, came back and told him about it, and he just dismissed them without even turning his head.

The world is complex – wonderfully so. It sometimes feels as though most of our problems come from people who desperately want that to not be the case. Personally, I love finding out that the Greenland ice sheet is such a massive chunk of ice that it stands out from the rest of the Arctic, a place that’s rather well known for having a lot of ice. Maybe I’ve just achieved some level of enlightened detachment, but stories like this give me just a glimpse of what it might be like to watch this incredible, planet-spanning change take place from the point of view of a scientist who is somehow not emotionally invested in the outcome.

It’s just a glimpse, because I am emotionally invested, but it’s still there. Nothing like this has ever happened in human history, and it’s teaching us all sorts of things about how the many interlocking systems of this planet function. We’re seeing how it affects migratory species that don’t rely on weather for migration cues. We’re seeing how it affects animals’ body sizes, and plants’ toxicity. We’re seeing how changes in the Arctic affect life thousands of miles away. We’re seeing what happens when a species creates chemical compounds that never existed before, and spreads them across the planet.

It often sucks to be a part of it, but it is absolutely fascinating to watch. I think it helps that I feel like I’m more or less doing what I’m able to at this point in time. I’d like to do more, but I’ve come to accept that I have limits on what I’m can to do, and when can do it. All of that buys me enough space to be able to appreciate how cool it is that people were able to go drill a few holes in the ice in north-central Greenland, and get so much intelligible information about the world’s past and present from that. For all the man-made horrors beyond our comprehension, it’s still a strange and wonderful world.


Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!