The New Normal

Of course fires have happened before, but Dr Bradstock said the 2019-20 fire season in New South Wales had already exceeded the infamous major fire periods of January 1994 and Christmas 2001.

With summer still to come, and given the current forecast and outlook, things aren’t looking good.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-13/fire-and-climate-change-what-do-experts-have-to-say/11696586

Another interesting article here.

Speaking of Which,

Today turned out to be the scorcher they predicted. 27 degrees already and I’m in an all- over sweat. I shall be in the camp pool later for sure. Soon. The pool is beside the laundry, so I can kill two birds.

After my swim this morning I pedalled to Aldi for eggs, chorizo and a baguette. There, in the new Wednesday specials , I spotted a plastic laurel leaf trellis with solar powered LED lights. Just the sort of cheap but reasonable quality thing Aldi is famous for. It was too big for the bike, so I went back for it in the cruiser. On the way home I called in to the bottle store for an icy cold bottle of Coopers Best Extra Stout, a drink good enough to rival Speights Old Dark. I’m drinking it now. I have just put the trellis up, and I’m drenched.

This is my home, where I live.
That’s my herb garden in the green bucket, above turkey height.

The idea of the trellis was to allow me to leave my door open and roam the caravan in my underwear on a hot day without offending anyone who glanced in. I couldn’t care less about the LED lights, but my neighbour two doors down was very enthusiastic about them. Christmassy. They won’t cost me anything to run, and if they break, who cares?

My neighbours have all fired up their air-con units. Yes I chose that word deliberately. They are perplexed that I haven’t installed one. They tell me I won’t survive without it. I managed last year well enough, but this year may indeed be different. We shall see.

Observations

A change of routine today. Since I am up early I decided that now the weather is seriously hotting up, I’d go to the pool first thing in the morning from now on. I set off at 7:30 for an 8 o’clock start. It turns out to be the best time of day to go. The early lane swimmers have just left to start work. The youngsters haven’t arrived yet. I’m pretty much assured of a lane to myself. Best of all the water is cooler by a couple of degrees and very much clearer than it is towards the end of the day.

I had completed 90 minutes of my own peculiar stealth style of breast stroke and was out and showered well before the first droves of youth arrived.

I think the cooler water is better by far, this morning was really refreshing, but I heard people complaining that it “could be a bit warmer”. I’ve noticed this all over Australia. Despite their carefully promoted reputation as hardy rugged individuals, most Aussies are a bunch of wusses. They won’t swim if the water temperature drops below 24, some have an even higher minimum, and they can’t survive a warm day without air-con. Not that I haven’t been glad of air con, on occasion. I suspect I may be wishing for it myself, soon. It is really getting hot, and it’s only November.

There were police and a rapid response vehicle all over the place this morning. I don’t know what that was about, though no doubt it will come out. It wasn’t fire, at least.

Smoke is everywhere again. The winds must have shifted. The fires have shaken a lot of people’s complacency at last. They are suddenly the topic of conversation everywhere I go. An older couple were expounding on the value of steel or aluminium shutters today. Houses can be saved from destruction by using them. Most homes burn down because radiant heat from bushfires shatters the windows, allowing flying sparks to enter and ignite the furnishings. This should be a well known fact here in Australia, but apparently it is not. I have a shutter on the window facing the bush behind the caravan, but I doubt it will help much. The roof is plastic.

There is a new turkey staking out territory in the bush along the path I ride. That makes three that I pass each day, now. I must take them some food and try to make friends. Two new bird calls for me to try to identify, and I caught a brief glimpse of a kookaburra this morning. There are plenty around. I hear them, but don’t often see them. Ibis are poking around everywhere, earning their pejorative epithet “bin chicken”. I must be the only person around that likes them. Any bird that learns to exploit us as we exploit them is ok by me.

Small Significant Steps

My weight has plateaued again. Despite daily exercise and (mostly) healthy meals. On the other hand I have lowered the saddle on the bicycle a few finger widths. Chubby finger widths.

This is particularly significant because apart from meaning I can put my feet down properly, increasing my safety when I am stopped at an intersection, it is a very encouraging indication that my knees are improving. Also that I’m lighter. My riding posture seems more comfortable too.

Best of all, I pedalled home this afternoon against a steady strong wind that proved I was contributing a significant effort to my progress. Enough to break out in a sweat despite the cool of the evening.

The pool is getting a lot of use these days. I am sharing a lane most of the time. Sometimes we triple up which involves some accommodations, since I am invariably the slowest swimmer. I am also the only one who does not stop unless I’m waiting my turn for half a lane. The others swim intermittently for a fixed number of lengths or a short time such as half an hour, then leave.

What I find particularly irksome is the couple of old codgers standing still at the shallow end of a lane talking for half an hour and not using the lane while others are triple sharing. If they just want to talk in a moist environment they should go sit in the paddling pool. I’m becoming a grumpy curmudgeon.

I don’t like to feel I’m hogging a lane so when there is a crowd like today I quit after only 90 minutes. That’s a good 4,000 kJ burned at least by my calculation. Another thousand minimum on the bike and a couple of hundred on my daily limp around the camp mean that I can be completely guilt-free however I choose to spend the six to seven thousand kilojoule daily food and beverage budget I allow myself.

Then the black dog reminds me that I’m doing all this just to be fit and well at the Apocalypse. And I pour a couple of gins and tonic. Bombay Sapphire was on special on Saturday.

I had started stocking up for Christmas, but what the hell. Christmas is when you feel.

Warning.

It is a crisis.

Source: The Guardian, 6/11/2019.

Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’
Statement sets out ‘vital signs’ as indicators of magnitude of the climate emergency
Most countries’ climate plans ‘totally inadequate’ – experts

The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists.

“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. [This] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.”

There is no time to lose, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”

The statement is published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, which was held in Geneva in 1979. The statement was a collaboration of dozens of scientists and endorsed by further 11,000 from 153 nations. The scientists say the urgent changes needed include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating.

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University and the lead author of the statement, said he was driven to initiate it by the increase in extreme weather he was seeing. A key aim of the warning is to set out a full range of “vital sign” indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown, rather than only carbon emissions and surface temperature rise.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to look at the graphs and know things are going wrong,” said Newsome. “But it is not too late.” The scientists identify some encouraging signs, including decreasing global birth rates, increasing solar and wind power and fossil fuel divestment. Rates of forest destruction in the Amazon had also been falling until a recent increase under new president Jair Bolsonaro.

They set out a series of urgently needed actions:

Use energy far more efficiently and apply strong carbon taxes to cut fossil fuel use
Stabilise global population – currently growing by 200,000 people a day – using ethical approaches such as longer education for girls
End the destruction of nature and restore forests and mangroves to absorb CO2
Eat mostly plants and less meat, and reduce food waste
Shift economic goals away from GDP growth
“The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual,” the scientists said. The recent surge of concern was encouraging, they added, from the global school strikes to lawsuits against polluters and some nations and businesses starting to respond.

A warning of the dangers of pollution and a looming mass extinction of wildlife on Earth, also led by Ripple, was published in 2017. It was supported by more than 15,000 scientists and read out in parliaments from Canada to Israel. It came 25 years after the original “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in 1992, which said: “A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”

Ripple said scientists have a moral obligation to issue warnings of catastrophic threats: “It is more important than ever that we speak out, based on evidence. It is time to go beyond just research and publishing, and to go directly to the citizens and policymakers.”



Buoyancy

I’m not doing nearly as well as I expected, despite some positive signs. In the pool yesterday, I spotted something someone had dropped in the deep end and dived to retrieve it. Successfully. That may not seem much of an accomplishment but not so long ago I was so buoyant with adiposity that I could not sink no matter how I tried. Though I could float on my back and snooze without fear of drowning, I could not reach the bottom of the pool no matter how hard I tried. Now, I can swim down.

This positive sign perhaps explains why my weight loss graph has plateaued in the last couple of weeks. I’m developing muscle, which is denser than fat. I am still incrementally tightening the drawstring in my waistband, so something positive is happening.

The best time of day is when I am weightless in the pool. I am virtually pain and discomfort free . I feel as fit as I was when I made my marathon swim around Mayor Island over 47 years ago. But climbing out and returning to the gravity of the world leaves me limping and hobbling like the old man I have become. Riding the bicycle is my second pleasure. Seated, so my knees bear no weight, and with my feet positioned properly on the pedals, the discomfort in my knees is minimal, and the ache in the muscles of my calves and thighs is an acceptable sign of effort being rewarded. Climbing off the bike at the end of my journey is a painful return to reality. I have to take care not to fall over. I believe it is time to talk to the doc about new knees, and get onto that waiting list.

My mental buoyancy is better. Despite occasional bouts of loneliness when I am acutely aware that I am far away from my family and closest friends, I am coming to embrace solitude, and the self-awareness that comes with it. I have left so much behind. Lost so much. I am not, and never was, the person I wanted to be. Perhaps I am where I am now because it is where I deserve to be. That is not self-pity, it is self-appraisal.

Part of me wants to return to New Zealand, but why? My family don’t need me. I actually have fewer friends there than I do in Western Australia – and the weather is worse. I’d be financially worse off. Plus there is the inertia that seems to come with old age. I find it difficult to even contemplate moving on from the camp I am in.

One of my neighbours has a sign on his cabin “Der Komandant, Stalag Luft 13”. The old chap has a sense of humour like mine. Despite the title he has given himself, he knows he is a prisoner, like the rest of us.

Timeline

I’ve posted this before, but it is worth repeating. Maybe some people will take it more seriously 3 years later.

Permanent link to this comic: https://xkcd.com/1732/

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