Jungle Talk

Are we hard wired to run a sustainable planet? And are we accountable to the entire world that we live in? For me the Jungle is something made up of so many fascinating elements; a journey of intriguing possibilities. That kind of sounds like "life" on planet-johnson.

Can I travel with a presence that allows my footprint to add value to the world that you live in while "capturing moments" that tell a compelling story? Karma is a belief that all of your actions will have equal reprecussions, affecting you and I. This journey is a search for some balance, a little discovery and hopefully some visual poetry?

This blog will humbly attempt to see my world through the experience of TRAVEL, photos and sincere examination of an experential and visual karma. And I will find a way to incorporate some positive travel experience into that karma with the perspective of a Digital Camera. Photography and writing have become my "love affair" with life on planet-johnson. Hopefully I can share my passions for the best of this crazy world!

Please join in and welcome to the jungle! 

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Solar on the Cheap, Almost!


"The sun has not yet set for all time." Titus Livius

Last night I was debating the necessary advantages of Ontario`s new renewable energy feed-in tarrif as a neccesary first step in saving ourselves from, well ourselves!? You may know my rant, "man-made global warming" solved with man-made global solutions! My debating friends were loud and skeptical and seemed to have no use for higher hydro rates as an acceptable adversary for Global Warming. I guess they`re worried that without cheap coal powered hydro that we won`t be able to afford our next 100 inch flat screen TV. But how much will that TV really cost? How much black carbon can your lungs manage and how many billions in storm damage from "climate change" can we wager on the stuff we want more than we need?

The jury is in and the credible scientific community doesn`t dispute the problem so now it`s fast time to solutions. I wrote previously about Ray Kurzweil`s predictions of 16 years to cheap and abundant solar power but now a Nobel prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, is talking cheap solar. Krugman measures everything that he predicts or recommends and the future is looking pretty clear if we can bear a short term cost for an alternative infrastructure? Here comes the Sun! X



Travel Notes from a Journey to the Sun

" All human beings are dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together"     Jack Kerouac


My dream was inspired by a couple of books. Funny how that happens? I read James Mitchener`s "Drifters" and Jacques Cousteau`s "Silent World" and my feet hit the ground running. And this I think I`ve learned. Travel resets your mindset worldview, your self confidence and redefines your personal cultural static. It`s a little like losing your mind, deleting the cache and thumbing your nose at the daily economania. It`s pretty cathartic.  And in the end maybe it can truly help save this crazy little planet as one of the more positive forces of change?  Yeah, what a dreamer?

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish”   Jacques Cousteau

Cousteau helped us understand a world. A supreme karma model for anyone to appreciate. He travelled where no man had ever travelled before and connected the dots between us and creatures of the sea world. I think travel can connect the dots between all people and their environment. And "the best way to observe Bali is to become Balinese". So the journey and the dream begins.

I have seen things that I would not have believed without travel and I only wish that anyone who cares could share the wealth. Yeah, wealth is not measured in dollars alone, grasshopper. And true travel, not tourism, can be done in this day and age without a lot of cost. My journey started on a motorcycle crossing the western heartland of America. We rode through the Badlands of South Dakota , over the Continental Divide of Idaho and through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. A graceful revelation for anyone for anyone lucky enough to live a moment on this flying rock of ours. And a hell of a catalyst for adventure. My passions were lit!

 Next came Costa Rica. We stayed in a San Jose whorehouse (by chance) and met characters (fellow travellers)  too interesting to mention here. We trekked to Manuel Antonio on their Pacific coast and watched hordes of birds attacking newly hatched turtles trying to escape to the sea in a real life National Geographic moment. (My wife couldn`t accept the needs of this cosmos and fought off some birds, probably saving a few turtles and upsetting the balance of nature) And then we hiked the Monteverde Cloud Forest when it was still a Cloud Forest. Global Warming strikes again!

I climbed a Mayan Ruin in Tikal Guatemala and wondered about great civilizations lost. And then realizing how high we were I nearly cried like a baby thinking about coming back down. Vertigo sucks. Then Asia called and we headed for Buddha Land. After experiencing as many Buddhist Wats as I could stand and eating the best curries on the planet I woke up on the beach in Phuket to discover that a military Coup had taken place the night before. "Don`t worry this happens all the time" was my reassurance from the locals. So now we`re off to the Philippines before Buddha shoots our dream.

We spent a week on Surigao Island in southern Philippines and experienced culture chaos, near shipwreck, surfcamp in offseason and  learned to shower on our knees. During the day I would struggle to order breakfast through a language breakdown, but at night, in the kereoke next door, locals would sing Beatles and Neil Young tunes in near perfect English. Such is the universal power of music in any remote corner of the world? Maybe we should harness that power?

I snorkelled with a giant Eagle Ray and Barracudas as large as my wife off the San Blas islands of Panama and I`ve dived with enormous ancient Sea Turtles off the coast of Kauai. Then we hiked the Waimea Canyon of Kauai where "dazed and confused" by this cosmic beauty, we knew that the accident called "earth" might be worth saving.

Then moving from awe to angst I tour the Genocide Museum of Cambodia`s "Killing Fields" and really distress at the shite that man can do to man. Time spent in Cambodia shows how man can overcome their history. Sometimes I think history only exists to remind us how fracking stupid we can be, but maybe our future can truly value our history! Yeah, what a dreamer!

Wonder at the commitment of Kuna women of Panama as they carry very heavy weights of life giving drinking water from their docks to their village. Spend a day with the spiritually rich people of Bali and know that your stuff and "easy come shite" really isn`t worth so much.  A World Vision TV video can`t compare to watching (or helping) kids of Bali catching dragon flies for dinner or knowing the generosity of a very poor Belizean family offering me more helpings of food they can barely afford.

Finally we came to Fiji, the land of "bula". Greetings everywhere from poor people who can`t really be this friendly? And Fiji is so remote. I`m incommunicado and wondering what`s going on on planet Gaia while I`m away? This part of the Yasawa Islands seems oblivious to time.  What`s the price of oil and gold today? What`s George W (he`s gone but they`re all the same?) fracking up this week? How`s the war news and green movement? Fiji doesn`t seem to care and after a dozen bowls of Kava I settle into Fiji time. Bula baby! I need to take this spirit home with me.

So from all this I`ve come to believe that I need to be a "global citizen".  I need to live in a world that tries to appreciate it`s neighbors as partners and co-pilots on this crazy, beautiful, planetary accident of nature. A world less about greed and me, and at least a little more about sharing the wealth? And defining wealth in a whole new light? This is my delusion of a spiritual  liberation that I`ve found through my travels. I think I`ve discovered traction for a "global village".

But maybe it is all truly an illusion and a little shock therapy or modern civilized pharmaceuticals will put me right.  Then I can focus on my stock portfolio and buy some Gucci socks. I can vote Conservative and demand that I pay less tax and have homeless people arrested and moved out of sight. And I can blame Africa for its own troubles and talk about how the world is overpopulated and maybe death and mayhem is ok as long as it doesn`t affect me?

Jesus, I`d better book another trip before they convince me that life is really all about me and my stuff. Or they come to take me away, ha, ha. Yeah, I think I`ll try Koh Phi Phi. Chill by day and journey to the stars at night. And then maybe off to Myanmar. Travel till I drop!




Green House Gases and the Future of Dinosaurs





"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof."  Barbara Kingsolver


I just hope that the largest part of that sinking sun holds the power of Gaian potential. I`m a hope guy and my passion for the best of our "Blue Planet" is kindled every day, but sometimes I step back and wonder? I`ve just watched a movie, "The Road" (I know its just a movie but?), and it pushed some buttons like a great movie tends to do. The Road is a soulfull and emotionally brutal meditation of existence on a dying planet. They never really explain what killed the planet so I can just imagine?  It shows as a journey of hardcore survival, powered by the love of a father for his son, that only endures the horrors with a tantalizing notion of a faint hope?  But this didn`t start as a movie review. This really is about hope wrapped in the science of probability, overcoming the neglect of anti-science and Climate Dinosaurs. It is about a different ending for our movie.

So this movie made me wonder about the future. A bleak moment layered in hope. Go figure. And that inspired my lament on apathy for environmental consequences. Yeah I know here he goes with Scientists again, but they are sounding the alarm. I reason that if you need plumbing then go to a plumber; if you need surgery then go to a Doctor and I guess if we need analysis of Climate consequences then we should consider Climate Scientists? They deserve our attention?

"Every climate scientist has his or her own views on some issues that differ from the mainstream in detail. But the broad findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have general support amongst scientists with relevant specialist expertise. The broad wisdom of the IPCC is strongly contested by a small number, and a small minority, of reputed climate scientists. It is not contested by the large majority of specialists, and by the leaders of the relevant learned academies in the countries of great scientific accomplishment."    Ross Garnault

I`m interested in real Climate Science but there is an anti-science story that borrows a lot of our time and spends a lot of someone`s money. These are the Climate Dinosaurs. They are usually conservative, they are Republican, they are in denial and they are very much a fringe minority in the scientific community, but they wield large Political and financial power. And unfortunately they have influenced the thinking of too many of us who don`t have the time to know or care about "hypothesis and probability" and dire possibilities. I`m interested in the Karma Dawgs who spell out "pier reviewed" Climate Science in study after study? Let`s go looking for those studies. Lets hear these Dawgs howl!

In 2007, an IPCC Study (again the truth that Climate Dinosaurs try to ignore) showed that, at the rate of rising carbon emissions projected forward, our atmospheric levels of CO2 would reach 1000 ppm by the end of this century!? Holy frack! Even the GreenLand Ice mass likely disappears before we hit 600 ppm, with rising sea level consequences that deserve more time than I have here? Where was the mainstream media when this report came out? 1000 ppm! And it takes a book from noted Climate Blogger Joe Romm to highlight this nightmare. Too much of our Media is worried about Lohan`s jail time and Charlie Sheen`s next party? Poor planet!?

This scientific body further suggests that at those levels of CO2 emissions the average global temperatures could rise 10-14 degrees C. That kind of hothouse spells catastophe.  Imagine an iceless world with crazy, lifeless high sea levels and deserts spanning the planet. Luckily you and I won`t see that but what about the kids, and their kids?  But hey, who can believe the IPCC? I need to dig deeper into this?

I find an April 2009 report by Scientists of the National Council for Atmospheric Research (verify their unique and staid credibility here NCAR) that states that the "threat of Global Warming" would deminish if this world`s nations cut emissions of "heat-trapping Green House Gases" by 70% this century. The report says that if we don`t comply then we are on track for CO2 atmospheric levels of 750 ppm. That`s a little better, just short of Apocalypse, but lets dig deeper again?

In 2008, NASA, Yale, Sheffield and other Science bodies contributed a study indicating that if we rise above 450 ppm CO2 in atmosphere, (as it is headed at the present rate of emissions), then we risk returning the planet to an ice free state with sea levels 200ft higher? More risk for the Dinosaurs? There must be profit somewhere in this?

Then I stumble on another 2009 study from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) which models a temp rise of 5.1 degrees C by 2100. Their projection is for CO2 content in atmosphere of, a slightly mind numbing, 866 ppm by 2095. Great, that spells more of that havoc on storm volatility, rising sea levels and desperate drought. The search goes on but trust me it`s more and more of the same!

It`s not rocket science to wonder how we can possibly ignore the building and alarming evidence for a future Climate Storm? Yet we (Developed Economies) continue our usual gorge at the casino-capitalist trough while China, India, Brazil, Korea and others grow at the rate that stock markets fantacize for?  Will we follow the Oil and Coal money to a carbon emission fever?  

This can`t end well without a dramatic historic effort at controlling the Political consequences of our future economies. We need to coral the "Dinosaurs" in their extinction box, let loose the reasoning of Scientists (IPCC and so many others) and consider the next wave of economists (Raj Patel and others)  who value the future social-eco consequences of our progress. There are key Political moments on the horizon, i,e, COP17 in South Africa, and there is still hope that leadership from Obama (he`s the key) can pull China into a Climate Agreement that "walks the talk", unlike Kyoto which was all talk. And now a Storm Clock is ticking!

This should lead down a different "Road" than that movie. Let those "Dawgs" out and maybe we`ll feel a crazy, "Egyptian like Freedom",  that passions Climate Change with a future. The Truth is in the Scientific details and the hope is that Obama and Friends see a  "Road" to Blue Skies and 350 ppm CO2! We can`t risk anything less.

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true"  Carl Sagan




Storm Warning: The Truth is still out there!


"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money"  Cree Indian Proverb

Don`t get me wrong I place high value on money, but maybe, just maybe, there is something "greener than money" that ought to fuel a passion for existence and our possibilities? Hence, I`m trying to understand why the Climate events of 2010 haven`t raised the sphincter alert to levels that make us want to cry like babies? That "storm photo" above is the real thing but it doesn`t show everyone hiding behind their stuff as if Climate Change is a virtual fantasy that won`t affect me, or you?


Consider this litany of 2010 Climate events? Devastating Pakistan floods, Niger`s drought, Australia`s horrible flooding after 9 years of drought, the hottest Jan-May temps ever recorded in human history says NASA, people freezing to death in Poland, New Zealand suffers its third consecutive year of drought, catastrophic floods in Venezuela, death from heavy rains in Tamil Nadu, and Atlantic Hurricance rates well above average in 2010. Add this to the food riots we are witnessing in early 2011 and I`m hearing the call of a radical "Climate change in your face" that needs our consideration yesterday? But hey that`s me, I`m the sensitive type. Maybe I need to reason this out?

Instinct says that recent Climate events are screaming "Storm Warning" but my friends are ranting "normal Climate cycles"! Wherein lies the truth? Well, my gut says approach the question from the angle of "hypothesis and probability", (hey that sounds like Science 101) so I search for some logical basis for karmic action.

Search, of course, starts with Google and ends with pier reviewed sources (thats how Science works if someone could tell Fox News or CBC`s Rex Murphy all about it?) . The information is gathered by the World`s most credible Scientific organizations, i.e. IPCC, NASA, USC (union of concerned scientists), American Association for Advancement on Climate Change, NAS (US National Academy of Sciences) etc. Their webpages are adamant in their concerns about human made "Global Warming". Check it out if you care?

Consider this statement from the IPCC. "The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years". This organization is the leading International body for assessment of Climate Change. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. They are beholden to zero Corporate interests and their assessments provide no financial gain. Their credibility is only questioned by the "all mighty dollar" and perhaps the "root of modern evil". Karma talk for Greedy Bastards!

A recent finding, co-sponsored by Richard Zeebe from the University of Hawaii, reports that human activities are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 14,000 times as fast as natural processes do. The report suggests that nature has never seen this CO2 acceleration in 600,000 years? It can only adapt to emissions at this rate over thousands of years which reinforces the Global Warming distress of the IPCC, NASA and too many others. This kind of talk has me a little worried? Its got the smell of extinction.

I could go on with endless Climate Science references from the noted groups but I`m trying to convey a condensed version of my Climate thought, so I`ll refocus on a "recent report to the US Congress" from the NAS (the NAS has an unparalled International reputation for integrity). The NAS Report states: "Climate change is occuring and is largely caused by human activities...and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems". In a follow up letter, to each member of Congress, a group of their distinguished scientists wrote: "Climate Change poses unique challenges to human health...There are direct impacts from heat waves and severe storms, ailments caused and exacerbated by air pollution and air born alergens, and many climate sensitive infectious deseases".

I`m feeling  the love for some heavyweight backing to my notion that 2010 was a "Storm Warning". This planet needs help (right now!) before we (you and I) frack it up? I`m thinking that we need to get involved or bend over and get ready to ride a future storm of food riots and "Water World"! The best of our Science Community believes that there still is time to make this right, but the Gaian clock is ticking for an International ClimateFest in Durban South Africa later this year! Hopefully, the World`s developed Countries feel a karmic pressure, at this COP17 event, to do the right thing on reversing CO2 emissions asap?

Maybe we can take some time to convince a Politician, write a Blog, or talk to a friend about considering this Planet`s future? The future is now and it`s too precious to waste!

"If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed and if we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect"     Jacques Cousteau



Yellow Brick Road


"The value of a man resides in what he gives not in what he is capable of receiving"  Albert Einstein 

Some people are discovering meaning through others and their needs. And in this sorry ass world that we`re enduring, till the coming of hope and reason that will rise from its shite, there is a whole lot of inspiration coming from them that gives. They aren`t in power, i.e. yech, government, but their actions are so powerful. This is a vivid and musical declaration of that power. Kudos to "Raine Maida" and "The Yellow Brick Road".  Save the world through building lives in the African Congo and appreciate a musician "making a real difference".


Peacemaker: Hope for a Holiday Season

"Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace"   Buddha


As usual, my fuzzy thinking is often inspired by the rants of a friend. This friend was adamant that Canada is pretty much an embarrassment in the world theatre and that the US role is misunderstood and unappreciated? Whew! That lights my fire though its riddled with some truth and some not! And then I settle into my own disappointment in Canada`s lack of direction in helping to solve the world`s peace problems. We need to do so much more. Or at least something.

My friend continues that I`m a dreamer, Canada is insignificant and that the only hope for the free world is the greatest nation on earth. Guess who? But I struggle with the fact that the US has been the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world since 1991. Sure I wouldn`t choose China, Russia or Iran to lead this world, that would be nuttier than Cheney. But is the planet a safer place for this 16 years of leadership?

I love their movie industry and geography but their foreign policy just plain sucks the life out of too many vulnerable people in the world. And too often it carries the faint odor of self interest. Consider the histories of US involvement in Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Palestine, Afghanistan (when they supported Bin Laden), Iraq (when they supported Saddam), Africa, and Iraq post 9/11. Then there`s the embarrassment of Guantanamo Bay contravention of the Geneva Convention and my personal disappointment at lack of support for a Kyoto process.

A little reading and research on this brief list is not really inspiring as a basis of consideration for a vision of Canadian foreign policy. So what can little old Canada really do? How about if we look to our history and traditions to find someone who shook the world in a fit of peace. Someone who found a way to make the world safer without waving bombs and sabre rattling. What if we consider Mike Pearson?

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson  in his short tenure as government leader implemented the Canada Pension Plan, Universal Heath Care and refused to join the US in Vietnam war effort. But his best may have come in 1950`s when (while Canadian Minister of External Affairs) he served as president of the United Nations General Assembly.  This guy was a giant in International diplomacy with the heart of a "peacemaker". 

When an Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal threatened to boil over into a world war (Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt for control of the canal) Pearson proposed and sponsored the resolution which created a United Nations Emergency Force to police that area, thus permitting the invading nations to withdraw with a minimum loss of face.  Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 for his persistence and vision. He tamed the beast with a diplomacy that the usual idiots in places like Iran, Britain, Israel and the US could stand a little taste of right now. 

So I would like to tell my friend,that this is the kind of non violent pro active diplomacy that I would like to see Canada (and hopefully many others) use as a force for world peace. Winning peace rather than the war means stepping boldly around the shite and into the hard work of building rather than bombing. As the brilliant American economist, Jeffrey Sachs, would say: "military occupation without withdrawal saps dignity while grinding poverty and economic disarray saps hope" and where there`s no dignity or hope there is little chance for victory.  I`m going to go out on the limb here and suggest that the "world is not a safer place" than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Its pretty damned good here in Ontario but I think I hear the world knocking at our door. And fresh thinking based on "peacemaking" tradition is long overdue.