Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

Published on Friday, August 13, 2021

A slow-motion apocalypse

Sunday August 8, 2021

 

Seventy-six years ago yesterday, the world’s first atomic bomb seared the city of Hiroshima in Japan. A blast of heat erased buildings, much like the forest fire that burned the village of Lytton to its foundations earlier this summer.

            The atomic bomb turned concrete into powder. It carbonized a child’s lunchbox. It reduced living humans to permanently imprinted shadows on walls.

            There is no accurate count of the deaths caused by the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wikipedia estimates between 129,000 and 226,000.

            I have no trouble remembering Hiroshima because of my son’s death, 38 years later, on August 6, 1983. A single death makes the statistics personal.

            Writer Tom Englehart makes Hiroshima personal in a different way.

            In a column in TomDispatch, he described a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which, he says, “can obviously offer a visitor only a hint of what it was actually like to experience the end of the world, thanks to a single bomb. And yet I found the experience so deeply unsettling that, when I returned home to New York City, I could barely talk about it.

            “While it’s seldom thought of that way, climate change should really be reimagined as the equivalent of a slow-motion nuclear holocaust. Hiroshima took place in seconds, a single blinding flash of heat. Global warming will prove to be a matter of years, decades, even centuries of heat.”

 

Unprecedented pace

            “Slow-motion” in human terms, perhaps. I certainly won’t live long enough to see world temperatures rise two degrees Celsius, let alone four or more.

            But not slow in planetary terms.

            The Earth has gone through huge temperature variations in the past, from ice ages the covered much of the planet in glaciers to heat waves that had tropical ferns growing in the high Arctic.

            Those changes took thousands, even millions, of years. The present charges are like moving from a baby carriage to a Lamborghini.

            Englehart calls it an “apocalyptic phenomenon, set off in the nineteenth century via the coal-burning that accompanied the industrial revolution, first in Great Britain and then elsewhere across the planet.”

 

No room for doubt

            I can no longer be skeptical about climate change.

            In June, before Lytton was wiped out by fire, it recorded the highest temperature ever in Canada -- 49.6 C. That’s just a fraction lower than the temperature at which biological and medical researchers say human life becomes untenable.

            Similar temperature records were set all across western Canada.

            B.C. currently has 300 active fires. Over 1200 so far this year. Smoke from our fires, added to those from the western U.S. states, has drifted as far as Europe, which has its own fires to contend with.

            Over the last two weeks, I vacationed in Vancouver Island.

            For years, I thought of Vancouver Island as paradise here on earth. Vast sandy beaches. Clear rivers rushing down from mountains. A perfectly blended climate of sunshine and rain.

            Maybe not.

            Along the island highways, deciduous trees are drying out. Their leaves are turning color. Their leaves are falling. Autumn arrived during August.

            I asked if the trees would survive the drought.

            “All deciduous trees go through a period of dormancy,” I was assured. “They’ll come back again next spring.”

            My informant paused. “If we get enough rain,” he added.

            Along the coast, tiny crabs still scuttle in tidal pools, and starfish still cling to rocks. But biologists now estimate that a billion or more of these sea creatures died during the heat wave. The rocks, the tidal pools, became too warm for them to survive.

            Like Lytton again, but in a marine mode.

 

Accelerating rate of change

            During my time away, I took four hikes in old-growth forests. Superficially, at least, those ancient trees look fine. The mighty pillars of their trunks soar to the vault of interlaced branches so far above me that I get a crick in my neck staring upwards.

            In the shadowy silence of one of those old growth forests, I sat on a moss-covered rock. Moss is supposed to be moist and cool. Not a single drop of moisture penetrated the seat of my pants. When I stood up, the dried moss had been crushed to powder.

            That’s how dry the forests are this summer.

            According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth's temperature has risen by a little under a tenth of a degree per decade since the start of the Industrial Revolution. And the rate of warming over the past 40 years twice that high.

            It may be a slow-motion apocalypse. But it’s speeding up.

*****************************************

Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

            To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

*****************************************

 

Your turn

 

The rest of this column should include letters of response, but they have vanished somewhere. If you find them, please let me know. 

 

*****************************************

TECHNICAL STUFF

 

If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

            To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to jimt@quixotic.ca. Or you can subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message or subject line) to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at softedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

            I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

            And for those of you who like poetry, please check my webpage .https://quixotic.ca/My-Poetry I posted several new poetic works there a few weeks ago. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca (If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)

 

********************************************

 

PROMOTION STUFF

 

To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have blocked my posts because they’re suspicious of the web links.

            Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca He’s also relatively inexpensive!

            I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos. Especially of birds.

            Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)

 

ALVA WOOD’S ARCHIVE

            I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge. (Although maybe if I charged a fee, more people would find the archive worth visiting.)

 


Comments (0)Number of views (48)
Print

Tags

"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1950s 1954 1972 1984 215 3G 9/11 A God That Could Be Real abduction abortion Abrams abuse achievement Adam addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging agnostics Ahriman Ahura Mazda airlines airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations allies Almighty Almighty God alone ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Gorman Amanda Todd Amazon American empire Amerika Amherst amnesia analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anger animals anniversaries Anthropocene antidote Ants aphrodisiac Apologies apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern Aristotle armistice Armstrong Army and Navy stores Art artifacts artists ashes Asian assisted death astronomy atheists atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits Aunt Jemima authorities authorities. Bible autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbed wire barbers barriers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs belonging benefits Bernardo Berners-Lee berries Bible biblical sex Biden Bill C-6 billboards billionaire BioScience birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Black history Blackmore blessings blockades blood blood donations blood donors Bloomberg Blue Christmas boar body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women BOMBHEAD bombing bombings bombs books border patrol borrowing both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brain development brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken Bruce McLeod bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying burials bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras campfire Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats cancer Canute Capitol Capp caregivers Caribbean caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cash cats cave CBC CD Cecil the lion. Zanda CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Chesterton Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking children Chile Chile. Allende China chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christian Christianity Christians Christina Rossetti Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas Eve Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas tree Christmas trees Christopher Plummer church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes clouds Coastal GasLink coastal tribes coffee coincidence collaboration collective work colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty comfort communication Communion community compassion complexity composers composting computer processes conception conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confessions confidence Confirmation confusion Congo Congress Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party conspiracies conspiracy constitution contraception contrasts Conversations conversion therapy copyright coral Cornwallis corona virus coronavirus corporations corruption Corrymeela Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents couple courtesy courts Covenant Coventry Cathedral COVID-19 CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes Crawford Bay creation creche credit credit cards creeds cremation crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing Crows crucifixion Cruelty crypto-currencies Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cutbacks cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather dancing Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Scott David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death death survival deaths debt decision decisions decorations deficit Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy Democratic denial Denny's departure Depression Derek Chauvin Descartes Desiderata despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs discontinuities discussion dissent distancing diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Don Cherry Donald Trump donkey Donna Sinclair doorways Doug Ford Doug Martindale Dr. Keith Roach Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs ducks Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola e-cigarettes eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky ego Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or election Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergent emotions Empire encryption Englehart English Entropy environment epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy eunuchs evacuation evacuation orders Evangelical Fellowship Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played everything evil Evolution Exodus expectations experience experiment exploring explosions extinction extinctions extradition extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook fairness faith falling leaves False Creek Farmworkers fascist fate Father Knows Best fatherless Fathers Father's Day Fathers'Day fear Fearless Fosdick feathers Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Ferrier Fibonacci Field figure skating
Copyright 2021 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada