Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Dual View Of No Mind

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Each second is a universe of time.

---Henry Miller

Modern civilization is largely devoted to the pursuit of the cult of delusion. There is no general information about the nature of mind. It is hardly ever written about by writers or intellectuals; modern philosophers do not speak of it directly; the majority of scientists deny it could possibly be there at all. It plays no part in popular culture: no one sings about it, no one talks about it in plays, and it's not on TV. We are actually educated into believing that nothing is real beyond what we can perceive with our ordinary senses.

---Sogyal Rinpoche

A trout leaps;
clouds are moving
in the bed of the stream.


The photograph is of Earth's Shrinking Antarctic Ice Sheet and was featured yesterday as NASA's photo of the day. The explanation asks, "Is the continent at the end of the Earth slowly melting? For millions of years, Antarctica, the frozen continent at the southern end of planet Earth, has been encased in a gigantic sheet of ice. Recently, the orbiting robotic GRACE satellite has been taking sensitive measurements of the gravity for the entire Earth, including Antarctica. Recent analysis of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data indicate that the Antarctic ice sheet might have lost enough mass to cause the worlds' oceans to rise about 1.2 millimeters, on the average, from between 2002 and 2005. Although this may not seem like much, the equivalent amount of water is about 150 trillion liters, equivalent to the amount of water used by US residents in three months. Uncertainties in the measurement make the mass loss uncertain by about 80 trillion liters. Pictured above is an iceberg that is a small part of the Antarctic ice sheet. Future research will likely focus on trying to better understand the data, take more data, predict future trends, and understand possible effects of these trends on the future climate of our entire home planet."

This article was in yesterday's Washington Post, and is by David Ignatius. His bio is down at the bottom~~~

The Planet Can't Wait
Climate Change Is Real and Must Be Addressed Now
By David Ignatius
Wednesday, March 8, 2006; A19

The warnings are coming from frogs and beetles, from melting ice and changing ocean currents, and from scientists and responsible politicians around the world. And yet what is the U.S. government doing about global warming? Nothing. That should shock the conscience of Americans.

Actually, the Bush administration's policy is worse than doing nothing. It has resisted efforts by other nations to discuss new actions that could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide before the global climate reaches a disastrous tipping point. And it muzzles administration scientists to keep them from warning about the seriousness of the issue. The administration's position is that more research is needed -- and then, as evidence grows that humans are adding to global warming, it calls for still more research.

Congress is no better. Most members apparently are waiting for permission from lobbyists and campaign contributors before getting serious about climate change. The McCain-Lieberman bill to cap emissions languishes in the Senate; Pete Domenici, the powerful chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, has issued a white paper calling for ideas for legislation, but there's no word when a bill might emerge from his committee. Meanwhile, the Senate environment committee is also claiming jurisdiction. So what we have in the Senate is a turf fight. And don't even talk about the House. Maybe members would get interested if they thought Dubai was behind global warming.

Giant corporations such as General Electric and Citigroup have concluded that global warming is real, and they are beginning to mobilize their resources to do something about it. This business activism may offer the best hope of moving government off its duff. I asked Tom Donohue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of Washington's savviest political operators, when he might commit his organization's considerable clout to taking action on this issue. He's still in the "needs more study" mode, but he added, "When the time is right, we'll be as helpful as we can." Hey, Tom, the time is right.

Every week brings new evidence that global climate change is real and that it's advancing more rapidly than scientists had expected. This past week brought a report in Science that the Antarctic is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year. Last month researchers reported that glaciers in Greenland are melting twice as fast as previously estimated. One normally cautious scientist, Richard Alley, told The Post's Juliet Eilperin he was concerned about the Antarctic findings, since just five years ago scientists had been expecting more ice. "That's a wake-up call," he said. "We better figure out what's going on."

Animals don't have the luxury of ordering up more studies of global warming. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times reported in January that colorful harlequin frogs found in Latin America are dying at alarming rates because of a fungus that seems to be linked to global warming. Doug Struck explained last week in The Post that climate change is helping the ravenous mountain pine beetle devour forests in British Columbia, killing more trees than wildfires or logging. Similar findings are stacked in a depressing pile in my study that keeps getting taller.

And now we come to the Bush administration -- the folks who once warned that it would be folly to wait so long for evidence that the "smoking gun" might be a mushroom cloud. Their spirit of vigilance was applied to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to exist -- but not to climate change, which does. In a meeting in Montreal last December, the chief American delegate, Harlan L. Watson, got so peeved about a proposal for new global "mechanisms" to carry out the 1992 Kyoto Protocol that he walked out. The American side relented after the wording was softened to "opportunities," and there's now at least a hope for future talks about talks about global warming.

But woe unto any administration official who becomes so concerned about global warming that he actually tries to sound the alarm. James E. Hansen, the top climate scientist at NASA, found that political minders at NASA headquarters had ordered a review of his lectures, papers, interviews and Internet postings after he called for quick reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to ease global warming. A 24-year-old former Bush campaign worker who allegedly had been involved in efforts to muzzle Hansen later resigned -- after reports surfaced that he had fudged his résumé.

Usually, America's political antics are forgivable, but not on this issue. As evidence grows that human activity is accelerating dangerous changes in the world's climate, the Bush administration's excuses for inaction are running out. History will not forgive political leaders who failed to act on this issue, and neither should voters.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

David Ignatius came to The Washington Post in January 1986 after spending ten years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He started with the Journal in Pittsburgh, where he covered the United Steelworkers Union and the steel industry; David then moved to Washington, where he covered the Justice Department and the CIA and, briefly, the U.S. Senate; then overseas as the Journal's Middle East Correspondent; then back to Washington as chief diplomatic correspondent. While serving in this last job in 1985, David won the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting.

David came to The Washington Post as editor of the Sunday Outlook section and stayed in that job for four years before becoming Foreign Editor in June 1990, just before Iraq invaded Kuwait. He became the Assistant Managing Editor of Business in January, 1993.

Born in Cambridge, MA in 1950 but raised mostly in Washington. Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1973, then received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard and went to King's College, Cambridge, where he received a diploma in economics in 1975. First job after school was as an editor of The Washington Monthly magazine, and has written extensively for magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, and The New Republic.

Has written five novels: Agents of Innocence, published in 1987 by W.W. Norton, SIRO, published in 1991 by Farrar Strauss & Giroux, The Bank of Fear, published in 1994 by William Morrow, A Firing Offense, published in 1997 by Random House, and The Sun King, published in 1999 by Random House. Lives in Washington with wife and three daughters.

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