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Apr 23 2006

I Have To Admit It’s Getting Worser


The Ankle-Sprainer relaxes with his Puffy Ball

When last you saw Bertie, my golden retriever puppy, he was deeply immersed in his public art project. This project involved excavating my back yard, at irregular intervals, to a depth of about one foot, and festooning the resulting holes with found objects (shoes, newspapers, CDs, electric bills, checkbooks, autographed copies of “Meet the Beatles” on the Capitol label, etc) that he had personally ripped apart with his bare teeth into tiny, unrecognizable fragments. The piece is, he says, a commentary on the myth of sustainability (completion of the piece is currently on hold until his grant money comes through; Bertie now spends his free time digging holes and ripping shit up for personal pleasure).

Anyway, so my yard is fuller of holes than Blackburn Lancashire, and last night, as I was out there cavorting around (ill-advisedly, it would turn out) in the dark with the aforementioned pooch, into one of these holes went my foot. Ordinarily I would not have given this a second thought, except that the thing that appeared when I pulled the foot out again was not quite a foot, but rather a tangled, swollen mass of tendons and ligaments dangling feebly from what had once been quite a nice leg. I could not fail to notice, also, that I seemed to be prostrate on the ground, writhing and shrieking in pain, and that Bert, about whose continued existence, I confess, I was beginning to entertain grave doubts, had seized the opportunity to commence humping the crumpled master enthusiastically.

I supply you with this intelligence, not to extort your sympathy (however well-deserved it is), but to explain why I was up at 3 in the morning watching a Nova re-run (the intense pain was by way of inhibiting my beauty sleep). Why mention this Nova re-run? Because none of you smug nu-agers will cop to watching television, and my suspicion is that if this is true, and that if you don’t subscribe to professional science journals, many of you may be in the dark about the topic of last night’s show. I allude to a recently discovered and properly horrific climatological phenomenon called “global dimming,” the ghastly consequences of which are supposedly extraordinarily imminent. Like, 15 years from now imminent. Or worse.

What’s global dimming? As I understand it, it’s the evil twin of global warming. Both are the result of the same post-industrial excess. Whereas the latter is caused by greenhouse gases trapping the sun’s energy in the atmosphere, global dimming is the result of particulate matter from air pollution suspended in the atmosphere, where it keeps anywhere from 3% to 30% of the sun’s energy from reaching the earth’s surface. According to Nova, global dimming, which has the effect of lowering the earth’s temperature, has been masking the true horror of global warming, and we are all well and truly in for it. Ironically, if the sources of global dimming are addressed and removed, the full fury of global warming will be unleashed. Greenland will melt. New York and Florida will disappear into the ocean, which will be on fire. The Amazon rain forest will dry up and burn away. Then, famine and disease. Everything—trees, flowers, puppies, my cute niece—will die, because this could all conceivably happen before the middle of the century.

In other words, reducing those auto emissions will only hasten disaster!

Why are we only just now hearing about this? Because for 20 years nobody wanted to listen to the nerdy scientists who figured it out. But I mean, come on, people! Haven’t we all seen enough disaster movies to know that dire predictions from nerdy scientists always come true?

47 comments

2 pings

  1. MzNicky

    Oh Twisty, No! No!!

    Not an autographed “Meet the Beatles”!

    Does Bertie still live?

    Well, coulda been even worser. Coulda been the “Butcher”-cover of “Yesterday and Today.” Four thousand holes in Twisty’s ecosphere.

    Please say this mangled foot isn’t at the end of the same leg whose knee was fucked up a while back.

  2. VMC

    Not to worry, then. If the particulates somehow start to dissipate, all I have to do is turn on my compressor and blow the dust out of the corners of our garage. I think I could personally save Greenland.

    Bertie’s a handsome guy, btw. Sorry about your ankle. Did you ice it up?

  3. aldahlia

    Wow, whenever I’m feeling particulary good about anything, all I have to do is check Casa de la Twisty to come crashing back down.

    THE SKY IS FALLING! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! AND, SOMETHINGAWFUL.COM ACTUALLY POSTED A SCREENSHOT FROM A FORUM ASKING IF MEN WOULD ANALLY PENETRATE THAT BRITNEY SPEARS SCULPTURE!

    Read it and chuck:

    http://i.somethingawful.com/mjolnir/images/docevil~04-23-06_20.gif

  4. Betsy

    Whoa. Did you break your leg/ankle? I broke mine while walking around on a lawn in the dark.

    It didn’t seem broken at first. I mean, I walked like a hundred yards on it because I had to to get help. I hope your foot/ankle/leg is OK. Please get it checked out. (As if you needed urging about the whole subject of medical intervention)

  5. Pony

    I suppose we should take this seriously. The sun. Definitely we should take the ankle seriously and ice it like mad.

    But the planet: Could we all just quit pretending that recyling our milk cartons is going to save us while we raze the planet to get the fuel we need to run this war that is about getting more fuel?

  6. schatze

    I remember the dire warnings a couple of decades ago about the second Ice Age coming. I wish the alarmists would at least stick to one story. On the other hand,I hope Bertie isn’t on to something and really trying to dig a shelter. My four month old has been digging less, but I’ve had Goldens before and I suspect he’s not really over it. Personally, I would rather know how many Goldens it would take to fill the Albert Hall. Or maybe long it would take with four dilligent Goldens digging 24/7 to fill the Albert Hall with dirt. Of course it would be faster if they can also toss in everything they destroyed with their teeth. This week it was one shoe, a couple of hand towels innumerous sticks and a squeaky toy. Oh and Cayenne has tried to hump his big sister Golden from the get go. She humps her bed and smaller dogs. Go figure.

  7. SimoneDB

    Hope your ankle is feeling better soon, and that Bertie is a little more thoughtful in the future. Not much we can do about global warming/global dimming except to try to leave as small an “eco-footprint” as possible and influence others to do the same.

    A true story of kitty karma (for Bert): In February 2005, I was jolted awake rather rudely at about 6:10 a.m. by a kitty foot (not declawed) IN MY EYE. After determining that I could see (!) and the blood I could not staunch was gushing from my eyelid fold a centimeter or so above the actual eyeball, I drove myself to the ER holding washcloth to my left eye. Nine stitches on the left eyelid later, I was given very strong antibiotics to ward off infection and ready to resume my life. Because the eye injury was a result of my passive participation in a little game called “kitty witching hour” in which my cats race each other and wrestle maniacally, I instituted a short-lived attempt to keep the cats out of the bedroom when I slept. I gave up this experiment after the little monsters destroyed the carpet outside my bedroom door. (the experiment lasted about six weeks; the carpet will need to be replaced when I move).

    Fast forward to last Sunday, when I noticed my kitty Paprika squinting at me. I brief examination of the left eye suggested that it was badly infected. The vet said that it was an ulcerated eye, most likely caused by … a kitty foot in the face. Antibiotic-laced eyedrops administered twice daily have improved Paprika’s eye immensely, but I can’t help but wonder whether his brother Saffron’s inadvertant foot-in-eye while wrestling may actually be kitty karma.

    I cannot bear to ponder what global warming/global dimming says about cosmic karma, so today I limit my karma musings to things feline.

  8. Puffin

    The grass in Austin is really green.

  9. saltyC

    Those nerdy scientists just need attention. Haven’t they cried wolf enough? Like for years, they were all crying about how a hurricane was gonna cause mayhem, death and destruction in my home town of New Orleans. Oh.

  10. rumblelizard

    If you want some really depressing end-of-the-world, hoo-lord the sh*t-is-going-to-hit-the-fan reading, check out Life After the Oil Crash. Must be how the fundies feel when they read the Book of Revelations—only this is as real as a heart attack.

    And people wonder why I have no interest in having children.

  11. Ron Sullivan

    Heh. Paging Chris Clarke. (He’s having too much fun this week.)

  12. Sara

    I love Bert. I do not know Bert, and I’m sure my cat would despise him. But he is very, very handsome.

  13. Kate

    I received a compound fracture a few years back in my ankle from falling on an icy driveway. My foot was turned askew from my ankle, looking something like a handle and not a foot.

    I have read the Peak Oil sites before and it is more depressing than I can even say. I often wonder about when the end will come and Armegeddon will become reality. I don’t think enough people think about oil as a truly finite resource and what that means for us.

    Someone will come up with a scheme to defraud millions by ‘inventing’ an ozone dust blower machine and a ozone hole closing machine. There is someone out there now, some heartless, self centered, simple minded godbag in his basement tinkering with duct tape and craftsman tools on this very problem right now. On his opposite end is a banker, equally as narcisstic talking at length with geologists and scientists and preparing for his eminent control of oil and other energy resources.

    Oh yeah, we all know him, he’s el presidente.

  14. Mandos

    On The Other Hand,

    http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/

    Yours,

    The Supreme High Avatar of Patriarchy

  15. Annie

    Katie, my puppy, finds Bert most aesthetically pleasing…or maybe she just wants him for his toys…and his yard. Katie has drilled a few good holes in the Florida landscape. And a good bit of that landscape has been brought into my house, tracked across the tile, and washed down the drain in my bathtub! Note from Katie to Bert: Underwear from the laundry pile tastes better than the Beatles. Pebbles from the water garden make great chew toys and provide endless entertainment. Try it and see how funny it is to watch your people chase you and try to get it out of your mouth!

  16. jennifer

    My dad and I joked about the “methane burp” over the weekend. He thinks it’s stupendously funny, and he’s a biology teacher. I think the likelihood that I’m going to be able to grow tomatoes in February by the end of my life is looking better all the time.

  17. KMTBERRY

    Somehow in the Art Bell Movie THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW the global warming caused a sudden total ice age……? I have also heard (NOT from big oil) that we mere humans are only infintessimally helping the global warming that is ACTUALLY a result of the INTENSE solar flares we have been having this decade. And what we are supposed to do about the sun, I cannot imagine. Is anyone hoarding canned food out there? I intermittently think about it and then decide I don’t want to act like a Mormon under ANY circumstances.

  18. thebewilderness

    Mandos, Mandos, Mandos,
    You are adorable.
    Everyone knows that there will be plenty of oil to last until either the atmosphere becomes so clogged with particles we die of asphyxiation or we pollute the waters to the point where we all die of thirst. Peak Oil? faugh.

  19. KMTBERRY

    Just read the NOVA article. SO…..in order to stop global warming, all we have to do is switch to Coal and pollute MORE ? This sounds like a problem with a built-in solution that Bushco is already implementing, bless their little hearts! Or the G*O*D of the Patriarchy could just blow up some volcanoes, which, you know, He is planning to do anyway. Everything is going to be JUST FINE.

  20. Kate

    KMTBerry: Well said, they are just wunnerful eh?

  21. Twisty

    I must have slept through the part of the show where they suggested burning coal as a pollution-solution. Although in one forum I checked out, exploding a few H-bombs in the Sahara was given as a possible out.

  22. Pony

    I’m very suspicious of Nova as a Bush platform. There was a program earlier this year referring to the Northwest Passage (which is Canadian territory) as the “Arctic Passage” and the whole schtick was that it was not part of any “other”country. This came as a rude shock to Canada. The Nova program followed on the heels of Bush being told any American ships in there had to have Canadian permission, with a lot of flack bluster and threats from him to our prime minister over that. He’s determined to have warheads in the Arctic, and going to plant the American flag somewhere there to do it.

  23. B. Dagger Lee

    There was a young H-Bomb from Texas;
    Whose views Earthwise could vex us;
    But nuking Iran,
    was part of the plan
    So Global Warming no longer affects us.

    yrs with B. Daggeral doggerel

  24. Cass

    I’m a little suspicious of this also. In any case, though, if we weren’t destroying our futures on our own, we’d be just about due for another ice age anyway. So we learn again what wise humans have always known: that our lives are precarious and quite temporary, and Change is the one ruling Goddess of the universe.

  25. Cass

    Perhaps, come to think of it, Bert’s little performance piece last night (if not his entire hole-digging project) was an attempt to dramatize the indifference of Nature to human suffering.

  26. B. Dagger Lee

    I had to come back for a second because I feel compelled to add that I find Tivo Girl to be incredibly beautiful and I cannot stop talking about her to the point where Miss Patsy is feeling a little irritated. However, even she realizes how great it is to have Tivo Girl doing all the dirty work and handling unpleasant duties like watching the Dimming of the Earth, and that other one on global warming that ran like a one-two punch the other night. Miss Patsy will say, “We should probably watch that thing on Hair Raising Scientific Probability. Also that thing on Hair-Raising Political Probability.” And then I say, “I’ll have Tivo Girl record it.” And then we settle down to watch Law and Order as usual, or Dr. Who. And when Tivo’s little red light winks on, in the middle of the night, I know she’s watching something really unpleasant, so that we don’t have to. She’s like J.C. that way. Or Mom. But without all the eye rolling and groaning agonies. Yrs, BDL

  27. Pony

    I feel like I’ve failed a test. Worse, I care.

  28. ozma

    Damn Twisty our imminent demise would have comforted me a few years ago but now I want us all to live. I wish our species could go slowly and undramatically–like with a sudden strike of infertility on all. Why does it have to be famine all the time? Famine, plague, famine, plague, drought. I want a nice apocalypse.

  29. Mandos

    Mass infertility would involve several years of handmaidtaleism until people figured it out, and it wouldn’t be pretty. It would also mean that since there is no future to worry about, people might be very well more likely to fire their nukular weppons.

  30. Sylvanite

    I see that the peakoildebunked site is done by an economist. I’m not an economist, so I can’t really comment on the arguments presented. As a geologist, I understand the arguments that the oil geologists are making, though I’m not a petroleum geologist myself, and don’t have their ready access to the data. I haven’t really hung out at the Oil Drum. I’ve read Kenneth Deffeyes’ book on peak oil, though, and he doesn’t strike me as hysterical. He mostly figures we’ll just have to learn to love rutabagas until an alternate source of energy for vehicles comes on-line. Deffeyes wrote a follow-up to his peak-oil book on other sources of energy. It was pretty good. If the Hubbert’s equations for world oil turn out to be as accurate as the calculation for U.S. oil production was, we’d all better come to love nuclear energy. And rutabagas.

  31. Mandos

    Uhm, where does JD say that he’s an economist? He might be, but I’ve missed that. Anyway part of JD’s claim is that the oil/rutabaga dichotomy is a false one because the technologies already exist to avoid a return to a subsistence economy. However, JD is not claiming that it will be 100% easy or that there won’t be sacrifices or adjustment costs.

    I was caught up in the Peak Oil thing for a while after encountering LATOC and dieoff.org, but some of it didn’t entirely ring true as I was reading it, and I find JD to be a refreshing counterbalance without being a libertarian nutjob. For instance, he’s anti-car and believes that Peak Oil will bring the car culture eventually to an end…but that it doesn’t mean the end of long-distance travel, except for commuting daily from exurbia.

  32. Pinko Punko

    Hey kiddos,

    Although it is techinal at times, the real deal climate scientists, not the cobag munchwagon deniers, have extensively covered Global Dimming at Real Climate. I know they dealt with a BBC program, which may very well be what played on NOVA, or certainly covered similar topics. For your perusal.

  33. Pinko Punko

    Oh I went and got the linky for you!

    To wit:

    On April 18th PBS will air the NOVA documentary “Dimming the Sun” which stirred up lively discussions among scientists and non-scientists when originally shown by BBC in the UK (under the name ‘Global Dimming’ – see our previous posts). The NOVA version has been thoroughly re-edited and some of the more controversial claims have apparently been excised or better put into context [and we look forward to seeing it! - Ed.].

    Therein follows a nice discussion of the whole shebang.

  34. Sylvanite

    I guess I assumed JD was an economist because that was the thrust of the first couple of posts I read. Mine was a shallow skimming. It sounds as if he’s pretty much in line with Deffeyes’ view (Kenneth Deffeyes is a prof emeritus of geology from Princeton who used to work under M. King Hubbert, he of the famous Hubbert’s Peak, at Shell).

  35. saltyC

    I liked their post on why massive populations are agood thing.
    You don’t often hear that, there are benefits to living in a world with a huge population. We wouldn’t have things like washing machines, for instance, if the population were at 19th-century numbers. Also, try living in a town where the population is shrinking, pretty sad.

    Of course the negatives exist, such as, where are the butterflies? But it’s interesting to see someone say Yay people!

  36. Charles

    Everyone, all together now: “get-ting so much worser all the time!”

    Anyway, I have my own sprained-ankle-dog story. Last winter, I was in the yard, getting ready to do a little tree trimming. I had with me my 24-inch very sharp tree saw, and it was very snowy and slippery, so it seemed like a good time to play tag with Coalie, one of our two German Shepherds. (He loves to play tag — it’s probably what caused his back to go out last summer and us to fork over $2500 to have two of his vertebrae fused.) So as I was straining to tag the speeding dog, I slipped. My right ankle drastically exceeded design tolerances: My toes nearly touched my shin bone and I heard (or rather felt) a most unpleasant “crunch” sound, after which I, too, could not fail to notice I seemed to be prostrate on the ground, writhing and shrieking in pain. Meanwhile, she who shall not be referred to in this blog comment with the w-word had leapt to the conclusion that I had sawed my leg off, or at least severed an artery, and was wholly unsympathetic when she found out that it was “just” my ankle.

  37. Charles

    Mandos, I looked briefly at that peak oil debunked website and I didn’t see much debunking going on. He seems to agree that oil production will peak and that life will be difficult afterwards. He seems to disagree about the degree of difficulty, but that seems kind of pointless because if there are any judges they’re going to give us a pretty crappy score no matter what the degree of difficulty.

  38. Mandos

    No he’s not debunking the actual basic point about oil extraction. He has a post on his index sidebar about why he called it “peak oil debunked”. Basically JD claims that the word Peak Oil has become a label for the the cultural phenomenon of people seizing this fact about extraction and then extrapolating a scenario of the destruction of civilization, thereby masking what are to him rather unsavory agendas. Consequently, this cultural “Peak Oil” is what he wants to debunk.

    He believes that the “doomerism” (another term he uses for it) becomes an excuse for quietism—rather than a productive look at the positive opportunities for change that are present in the end of extraction that don’t entail rutabagas or mass death.

    The reason why I find him so refreshing is that he’s different from many of the other environmental-denialists out there. He isn’t beholden to some naive-right-libertarian view. He believes that part of progress is collective action and regulation. He does in fact think that America, at least, is going to have to jettison certain cultural shibboleths in order to make the best of change. He also presents some evidence to show that it is possible.

    He also has a few IMO wacky beliefs, and like everyone else on this subject he has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  39. rumblelizard

    When I first obtained my beloved miniature pinscher Chip, she had a disconcerting habit of jumping beneath my feet as I descended staircases. This, of course, would lead to massive global instability and more than one very painful splat. I started calling her a “stairrorist.”

    Fortunately, she seems to have grown out of that behavior.

  40. Betsy

    Some economists have argued that peak oil is simply a substitution and adaptation problem.

    The denial we’re in is that there is an adequate substitute when our average work commute is more than 30 minutes each way and our food comes from 3000 miles away or more and supply chains are global. With such a system, adaptation will be difficult, if not convulsive.

    Saying that peak oil is a substitution and adaptation problem doesn’t necessarily mean that there IS an adequate substitute or that adaptation will be easier rather than more difficult.

    Heck, a famine is a substitution and adaptation problem. The substitution doesn’t occur and the adaptation is that people die.

  41. Pony

    A reality check for those who still don’t think armeggedon is coming:

    Today, in the heart of the largest oil and gas reserves on the planet I paid $5 a gallon for gas.

  42. ae

    Were we not discussing the lovely Bert, I would offer that many male mammals think the answer to everything, sprained ankles included, is humping. Sorry, Twisty!

    Re: global dimming, I don’t care what anybody says, my considered opinion is aaaaiiiiyyyyy!!!

  43. Annie

    Buck up ae. I have a family of Muscovy ducks nesting in the mulch-covered alcove between my place and the neighbors. From the look of things, including the two eggs that have finally appeared in the nest and the “I need a drink” look in the females’ eyes, Muscovy ducks consider humping an appropriate answer to most everything too. For the past few mornings I’ve walked out the front door with the puppy and into a feathered porn show.

  44. Ron Sullivan

    Annie, they’re ducks. Keep a sharp eye on that puppy; a duck will fuck anything.

  45. Annie

    Ron! Really? Honestly, I have enough exposed vacant moments around here that I don’t know who’s ribbing me and who’s trying to nuke me.

    BTW, your feminist alphabet was magnificent. Incidentally, I visited your site a few days ago, and a few others from here. I enjoyed yours and the others. I’d tried a lame hand at a blog of my own while I was really depressed and procrastinating in the most loser ways. My blog didn’t even qualify under the label of “Sucks.” It was just hastily written, unedited complaining so I deleted all the content. I did (finally) submit another chapter for review, though. One more to go and I’ll have a working draft of the whole project. Maybe then I can get a life and get outside and shut up on the blaming for awhile.

    OK, well my kid just told me that we now only have one egg on the Muscovy nest, where once there were two. Guess we have a poacher. Anyway, thanks again for the a,b,c list!

  46. Ron Sullivan

    Annie, really, well almost really. Look at all the hybrid ducks that show up in the real world and the old fieldguides. Apparently they’ve kept the gene pool of their several genera stirred up enough that the only duck that can’t hybridize easily with other ducks is the mandarin duck. Plus, rare among birds, ducks got dicks.

    There was a hooded merganser X goldeneye (common or Barrow’s, I forget) hybrid drake hanging around Oakland the past two winters, and he was one snappy looker too.

    Glad you like Toad. I have Rurality on my blogroll; she has at least one Muscovy. Go have a look at her archives when you get a chance. She has a couple of gorgeous shots of a local snake poaching her duck’s eggs. (Why am I seeing a snake with an apron?)

    And you’ll be better able to do your own blog when you’re not depressed (that’s sure been my experience) and when you’re not neck-deep in academic writing. I mean, you manage here well enough.

  47. Annie

    Good info, Ron! Ducks with Dicks, eh? Sounds like a good name for a band. And yeah, I had a similar Gary Larson-like vision of the snake “poaching” eggs. Well, we’ll see what becomes of our little nest. I found out that they don’t incubate them until all eggs are laid, but there’s something awry out there.

    Thanks for linking Rurality’s site. It’s lovely and her images look a fair bit like some of mine when there were delightful hours available for digi-clicking everything in sight. You wouldn’t believe how many cds are floating around here filled up with macros of flowers and butterflies. Sadly, here in the ruralest part of non-rural West Boca, I seem to spend more time helping my garden recover from hurricanes than almost any other outdoor activity. The makers of Organicide have made a killing on me and my fungus ridden greenery! Anyway, thanks, Ron. I’m clicking my little ruby slippers like crazy to get my ass outta this funk I’ve been in, but so far no puff of pink smoke. I’ve got a few Peroni’s in the fridge. Sending you one. Cheers!

  1. at I Blame The Patriarchy

    [...] Regular readers will recognize the foul countenance of Bert, my 1-year-old golden retriever, and his puffy ball, also 1 year old. Bert, as I may have mentioned once or twice, is singlehandedly responsible for having dug the hole into which I innocently plummeted a few months ago, reducing what had once been an award-winning ankle to a mangled tangle of torn and bruised sinew. [...]

  2. plexus

    plexus…

    Of plexus and more…

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