20 November 2011


Four weeks after my laptop's hard drive crashed, sufficient repair and software replacement has taken place that I can return to regular posts in this forum. I'll be hampered, though, since I'm not yet able to recover the backed up data from the old hard drive ~ including a library of photos, legions of weblinks carefully organized into folders, and a variety of desktop links to potential subjects for commentary. So it's a little like walking on one leg, waiting for the other leg to regenerate. But we shall prevail.

During the interim I created a list of items I would have posted on. They include ~

~ October 28 ~ the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. You can see the views from several live webcams here.

~ October 31 ~ the date on which the global human population surpassed 7 billion. Various population clocks are available online, and I'd hoped to be able to mark the precise time of the event, but alas, no computer. The 7 billion milestone is monumental. For most of human history, our numbers could be expressed in mere millions. A burst of exponential growth (see image above) which started 200 years ago. We reached 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999, and 7 billion in 2011. Note that the times between mileposts keep shrinking ~ 123 years, then 33, 14, 13, and 13.

What's troubling is that the planet's carrying capacity (the maximum population which the environment can sustain indefinitely) was probably surpassed when our numbers were one-tenth what they are now. Yes, that's right, if global human population were 700 million, we wouldn't be driving species to extinction, decimating entire ecosystems, or accelerating global warming. Nearly every human form of suffering or injustice can be traced ultimately to our own overpopulation. Like a cancer we've spread, and like a cancer we are devouring the very host which sustains us. The PBS Newshour aired a segment on the strain we place on the planet and on each other, broken down by global region and by demographics.

If you are curious to learn approximately what your birth order is among our species, here is a dandy little tool for learning where you fit (I was the 2.453,616,641-st person alive on Earth at the time of my birth). You can also learn the current population of your nation (the U.S. has roughly 311 million), and your life expectancy by gender (in the U.S., 80.5 for females, 75.4 for males on average).

~ November 1 ~ winter's first snowfall in the Missoula Valley. Each successive winter finds me yearning for a milder, sunnier climate. Someplace where the temperature rarely got below 40 dF or above 75 dF would be ideal. As I type this it is 24 dF outside, with snow on the ground. It will be much colder over the next three months. I know I'll adjust as the season progresses, however reluctantly.

~ November 11 ~ Veterans Day. Before I retired, I always took this day off from work to spend time in reflection and remembrance. I'm a veteran of the Vietnam War (I was in country from March 1968 to March 1969), and like most who served there, came home conflicted and psychologically scarred by the experience. Healing remains incomplete ~ this past 4th of July I experienced a panic attack when nearby fireworks and explosions became too close and too relentless. This is one form my PTSD takes, and the reason I try to insulate myself from outside sounds each year on the night of the holiday.

Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I when the peace treaty was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. This year being 2011, the holiday fell on 11-11-11. I'd planned to hit the "publish post" prompt on that day's blog entry when the clock reached 11:11:11 ~ but again, no computer. Ah well.

There've been other possible blog topics, of course ~ the developments within the Occupy movement, news in science and the arts, and the revolving 15-minutes-of-fame followed by an-eternity-of-humiliation which rotates among the stampede of incompetents who are running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. All in good time. For now, it feels good to be actively writing again. I had no idea how much I would miss it. Welcome back, everyone.

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