Sunday, July 14, 2019

If Everyone Tripped on Psychedelics, We’d Do More About Climate Change

You have to be out of your brain to believe in global warming?  Sounds right

Anyone who has tripped—especially outdoors—knows that psychedelics, like LSD, mushrooms, DMT, or mescaline, can provoke sensations of awe and wonder at the natural world. This has been replicated in more formal settings too—in January 2018, scientists from Imperial College London found that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, led to a significant increase in feelings of connection to nature after just one dose. Seven to 12 months later, that increase persisted.

“Before I enjoyed nature, now I feel part of it. Before I was looking at it as a thing, like TV or a painting…” one person in the study said. “[But now I see] there’s no separation or distinction, you are it.”

Psychedelics have been shown to help with addiction, anxiety, and depression. But outside the scope of mental illness, researchers are also asking how they can change personality traits and beliefs. An increase in nature-relatedness has been shown to be a unique predictor of happiness. But it is also associated with the planet’s well-being: There's a demonstrated link between having a relationship to nature and pro-environmental behavior.

Researchers find that bombarding people with facts about climate isn't the best tactic. Dissecting the psychedelic experience could help policy makers, scientists, and journalists attempt to recreate the core feeling of relatedness that the drugs bring about: the sense that nature is a part of us, our bodies, our lives, and that we are a part of it. Capturing that might lead people to act to protect the planet, since the planet is an extension of themselves.

Ecologist Aldo Leopold wrote back in 1949, that “we abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Since then, many other ecologists and social psychologists have proposed that a disconnection from nature is partly to blame for our inertia in responding to the climate crisis.

“The ecological devastation we are experiencing now is a side effect of a nature disconnection,” said Sam Gandy, an ecologist and scientific assistant at the Beckley Foundation, a psychedelic research group in the U.K. “Reconnecting us to nature is something I see as one of the most important things we can be working towards right now as a species.”

Of all the factors that predict for pro-environmental behavior, nature-relatedness and connectedness are the most important, Gandy said. And people who use psychedelics not only report more connectedness, but are also more concerned about the environment than those who use other types of drugs.

We’ve seen this before: In the 1960s and 1970s, frequent use of psychedelic drugs coincided with widespread environmental movements. Some propose that it’s not a coincidence that these things came about together. But proving that the drugs cause environmentalism is a tough claim to make, since perhaps the type of people who take psychedelics also happen to care about the environment.

Matthias Forstmann, a social psychologist and post-doctoral fellow at Yale University, tried to solidify the association in a study from 2017 that surveyed nearly 1,500 people about drug experiences, nature-relatedness, and pro-environmental behaviors, like recycling or saving water. The research controlled for other substances, personality traits, and demographic factors (like age) "and interestingly, then we only found psychedelics to be predictive of nature-relatedness,” Forstmann said.

Forstmann believes that psychedelics promote this connectedness (and subsequent pro-environmental activity) via a much-discussed phenomenon in the drug research world: ego dissolution. Normally, we have a clear understanding of where we stop and the outside world begins, but psychedelics blur that line.

Gandy agreed that ego dissolution is likely a key mechanism. Psychedelics are thought to affect the default mode network, a cluster of interconnected regions of the brain that are most active when the brain is at rest or focused on the inner self.


David Attenborough says crusade against plastic pollution is like the final days before abolition of slavery

Matt Kilcoyne comments: Attenborough and his ilk give a reasonable veneer to authoritarian and impractical ideas

For someone who purports to be a national treasure, Sir David Attenborough’s select committee performance yesterday was more of a national disgrace. He should be applauded for educating millions about the natural world, yet he now wants to control our lives, cut down our choices, and shut us out from experiencing these same wonders.

The broadcaster said that he wants people to pay more for airfares - removing the newly found opportunity to travel from millions of lower income families - and warned that other parts of life would have to be cut back for environmental reasons too

Sir David Attenborough has compared changing attitudes over plastic to the abolition of slavery, as he claimed 20 years of warnings about the issue had gone unheard.

The veteran presenter likened the current groundswell of concern over plastic at sea to the rapid hardening of attitudes against the slave trade in the 19th Century.

He told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee public perception has “been transformed” such that people now believe that “to chuck plastic into the ocean is an insult”.

Sir David said he had been warning about the dangers of plastic pollution in his documentaries for two decades, but that it was only a 90-second sequence in the 2017 Blue Planet 2 sequence that finally resonated widely.

He credited concern among young people for stimulating the change.

“There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being as a slave,” he told MPs.

“Somehow or other in the space of I suppose 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed.

“Now there’s a huge change in the public perception [of plastic] - and if you like in the public perception of moralities - and I suspect that we are right now in the beginning of a big change.”

The naturalist also criticised the practice of paying other countries, mainly those in the far east, to take plastic waste from Britain.

It follows a Telegraph investigation last year which revealed widespread illegal dumping in Malaysia.

Meanwhile in May the country’s environment minister Yeo Bin Yin singled out the UK for criticism while threatening to return up to 3,000 tonnes of low-quality plastic to at least 14 countries.

Sir David also used his Parliamentary appearance to warn that failing to tackle climate change will bring great “social unrest” in the form of pressure from immigration, food availability and the availability of cheap travel.

He said the most vivid example he had witnessed of the changing climate was revisiting the Great Barrier Reef and seeing how it had been bleached because of rising temperatures. [It was bleached because of a fluctution in sea levels in the area.  Unusually low levels killed a lot of coral]

Sir David said that upon visiting the Australian landmark in the 1950s he had "the extraordinary experience of diving on the reef and suddenly seeing this multitude of fantastic, beautiful forms of life".

But upon his return 10 years ago, he said: "Instead of multitudes of wonderful forms of life, I was struck by how it was bleached white because of the rising temperatures and increasing acidity of the seas."

Despite criticising climate change deniers, including “people in power” in the US and Australia, he said environmentalists should not “stamp on” skeptical voices.

“From all ages and all points of view, everybody needs to be convinced by this,” he said.

Sir David backed the target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050, which the UK has now set in law, saying it was a "tough target", but he hoped it could be achieved.

Asked if he was optimistic about the future, he said: "I feel an obligation - the only way you can get up in the morning is to believe we can do something about it, and I think we can."

He said the growing voice of youngsters on environmental issues was a source of hope, and referring to the young people who had come to the committee hearing to hear him speak, he said: "It's their futures that are in our hands."


AOC chief of staff confirms: Green New Deal was not really about the climate

The chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that her signature Green New Deal was not really about saving the planet after all.

In a report by the Washington Post, Saikat Chakrabarti revealed that "it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all ... we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing."

The revelation came during a conversation with Sam Ricketts, climate director for presidential candidate Jay Inslee. Chakrabarti further told Ricketts of the Green New Deal, "I think ... it’s dual. It is both rising to the challenge that is existential around climate and it is building an economy that contains more prosperity. More sustainability in that prosperity — and more broadly shared prosperity, equitability and justice throughout."

Chakrabarti further said of Ricketts' climate plans with Inslee, who has campaigned almost exclusively on environmental issues, "I’ll be honest, my view is I still think you guys aren’t going big enough."

AOC had previously tweeted that "@JayInslee’s climate plan is the most serious + comprehensive one to address our crisis in the 2020 field."

The Green New Deal itself was fraught with complications in its February roll-out, which included confusing language and contradictions in the "Frequently Asked Question" section. Now-withdrawn statements that were widely shared with media and posted online claimed the Green New Deal would provide "economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work" and called for “a full transition off fossil fuels and zero greenhouse gases."

The FAQ also claimed, "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast."

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is a lead co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, said of the roll-out fumble, "I’m familiar with the fact sheet. But again, it’s separate from the resolution, all right? The resolution is really what the document is that I was speaking to today … That’s the key document. That’s what you should focus on. Focus on the resolution." AOC later blamed the FAQ on an unnamed aide, saying "I definitely had a staffer that had a really bad day at work."

The Green New Deal, which some estimated could cost upwards of $93 trillion to enact, also promised "economic prosperity for all." The resolution was soundly defeated in the Senate in March.

In a video from 2018, Chakrabarti promoted his recently elected boss' agenda in Congress while wearing a T-shirt that featured the face of Subhas Chandra Bose, who collaborated with both Hitler and Imperial Japan during World War II.


Heritage Experts Attend Environmental Speech at the White House

President Donald Trump invited several Heritage Foundation leaders to the White House this week for a major policy address on America’s environmental leadership. Trump spoke about his administration’s accomplishments and environmental concerns facing the United States.

He also spoke about the intersection of free markets, economic growth, and environmental protection—principles shared by Heritage Foundation policy experts.

“As the Cabinet secretaries will tell you, from the very beginning, I have given them clear direction to focus on addressing environmental challenges so we can provide the highest quality of life to all Americans,” stated Trump during his introduction. “That means … implementing pro-growth policies to unlock innovation and new technologies, which will improve American life and America’s environment.”

Trump cast aside the idea that government “fix-all” solutions proposed by the left, such as the Green New Deal, would help the environment. Those proposals would massively expand Washington’s control of Americans’ lives. Trump stated that big government policies and heavy-handed regulation from the federal government would kill the economy without making a dent in averting global temperatures.

Heritage research advocates for environmental policies that “achieve meaningful environmental benefits and unleash human ingenuity to be good stewards of our planet,” says Nick Loris, was invited to the White House event. Loris is deputy director of Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow in environmental policy.

For decades, Heritage has worked to advocate for free-market energy solutions for America through congressional testimonies, policy research, published commentaries, media appearances, and more.

Loris testimony

“Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington, Heritage advances policies that empower state and local governments and the private sector to solve environmental challenges,” Loris said.

Loris’ research has influenced multiple Trump administration policy decisions.

Loris praised the president’s assurance to respect the sovereignty of Americans while advocating for free enterprise and limited government that will yield strong environmental returns.

“Economic freedom and higher levels of prosperity equips people with the necessary resources to protect the environment,” said Loris. “Countries with greater economic freedoms have cleaner environments and greater environmental sustainability.”


Revealed: The bizarre plan to spend $400million of taxpayer  money on 'fake clouds' to save the Great Barrier Reef

It's most unlikely to happen but would be a disaster if it did.  That pesky sunlight makes plants grow.  So cutting it back would also cut bank plant growrth, leadingto crop failures. But it's crops that provide our food.  Good for our waistlines, I guess

A bizarre $400million tax-payer funded rescue plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef from being destroyed by climate change has been revealed.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is expected to publish a 113-page plan on Friday, which details how it plans to spend a $444million federal grant to save the reef.

Man-made clouds, mist and bio-degradable surface films were all revealed to be the 'best option' to fend off solar radiation and protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change, The Courier Mail reported.

While coral replanting and seeding to restore lost cover has been considered, experts have argued the exercise is not only costly but also labour intensive. 

The foundation realised it needed to think outside of the box, so it partnered with a consortium of experts and devised the forward-thinking reef restoration plan.   

The report concluded the best option for reef-wide protection lies in large scale solar radiation management, which led it to considering the radical approaches.

'The concept of creating shade through clouds, mist, fog, or surface films assumes that decreased solar radiation protects corals from bleaching,' the report stated.

The GRBF report also found with the proper research and development effort, the goal of recovering the reef from the effects of climate change is possible.

The foundation drew emphasis to the hefty costs to replace heat-resistant coral in the reef, saying it would take as many as 700,000 divers working around the clock.

The report comes as the latest Australian Institute of Marine Science data found there has been a general decline in coral cover over the last five years. 

According to the latest AIMS report, crown-of-thorn starfish outbreaks, cyclones and coral bleaching events have been the most detrimental to the reef in recent years.

The AIM research also showed while healthy coral reefs had cover of up to 50 per cent, others areas were barren with sparse skeletons covered in turf algae.



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