War or Peace – why isn’t our path obvious?

If asked the simple question, do you want war or peace, most of us know which we’d plump for: the nice little white dove. Of course.

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But the fact remains that we, the most sophisticated species ever to have walked the earth, remain stubbornly wedded to blunt old warfare as a means to resolve issues. Not all of us, of course, and certainly not a majority, but a significant enough proportion of the global population to make for uncomfortable dreams on a bad night.

Why is this? I have plenty of thoughts, but no real idea, and it weren’t the hugely complex conundrum that it is we’d surely have solved it long ago. It’s not as if peace, decades after the end of the second world war, is not a worthwhile goal – just think what could be done with the money spent on weapons!

If you’d like to read some really informed comment on the subject, and how the threat to peace is inextricably entangled with world population growth, cultural and bio-diversity, and various environmental issues, I would recommend this website:

http://www.ecology.com/2014/09/17/ecology-peace/

 

Planet Earth Really Is In Our Hands

We kind of knew it already, didn’t we, but it’s sobering nonetheless to have the bare facts confirmed in perhaps the most convincing way imaginable.

The geological history of the planet’s 4.6 billion year history is divided into units called epochs, passages of time characterised by whatever the dominant forces are deemed to have been during the period in question. The 10,000 years since the last ice age are known as the the Holocene epoch, but now a working group of researchers have put forward a compelling case for its successor, the  Anthropocene epoch.

If ratified by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the body responsible for such matters, this will mean that we have finally entered a brand new geological age – one fashioned primarily by us .

And ‘finally’ does seem the most apt word to describe this change – both in the sense that it’s happening after a long period of time, but also, more chillingly, that unless we’re very careful indeed it could be the last epoch we’re around to witness.

A recent article by the BBC’s science correspondent, Jonathan Amos, covers  the emergence of this new geological age, when it seems likely to be confirmed that we, Homo sapiens, have become the dominant influence on the environment and climate.

He also refers to an interesting new book on the topic by Gaia Vince, called  Adventures In the Anthropocene.

Mother Earth Giveaway

I was delighted with the response to my Goodreads promotion in November, when five lucky readers won free signed copies of the paperback version of Mother Earth. Thanks to all of you who entered, and especially to those who also downloaded the e-book version. Here are a few extracts from what some Amazon readers have kindly said:

A good read… worth downloading…

Definitely worth a read… instantly absorbing…

A very well researched first novel… certainly worth the read – you may well be surprised!

Do try this book. I am enjoying it, and want to pick it up to see what happens next.

Contrary to what most people think, there’s very little money in novel writing these days – unless you’re a J.K.Rowling! – so the main reward for the majority of us is from such readers who are interested in and enjoy our work. Thank you all!

And since the first promotion generated such a lot of interest, I’ve decided to run it again. To reiterate what I said last time, “The novel deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time. 

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment.” 

Entries cost nothing and run until midnight on January 31st 2016. You can apply now by clicking here:  Mother Earth Goodreads January Promotion.

If you’ve never entered one of these promotions before, it’s dead simple. All you do is apply to “win” one of the five free copies, which are then selected at random by Goodreads.

Good luck! This is to win one of five paperback versions. If you’d like to download the e-book, it’s available by clicking on this Amazon link.

Is Climate Change Happening?

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Severe weather in the UK, the USA and other places recently has brought two key questions around climate change to the forefront again: Is it happening? And if it is, are we responsible?

The daffodil above, flowering today in my garden in the south of England, is clearly out of sync with its usual cycle, which normally sees the first blooms appearing in mid February. Not only has December been unusually warm, the arrival of the remnants of tropical storms ‘Desmond’, ‘Eva’ and ‘Frank’ has brought very high winds and, in Wales and Scotland, rainfall at levels not seen since the 1920’s. See this link for more: Record Rainfall In Dec.

So what is going on? There’s little doubt in my mind that, as the scientific consensus tells us, the climate is changing. But are we really responsible? I don’t know the answer to that, but suspect that we are, at the least, accentuating a natural trend.

It’s as well to remember that the climate has always changed. As recently as 10,000 years ago we were just emerging from the last ice age. The ice was tens of feet thick over most of the UK, as far south as Oxford. The land is still rising as a result of the removal of all that weight, but I’ve yet to see a clear explanation of exactly why the ice melted, nor any claims that the activities of our ancestors were responsible.

Since we now live in a highly industrialised world, over seven billion of us compared to a few million then, it would not seem unreasonable to expect that our actions – especially the burning of fossil fuels – could make a difference. If the earth is visualised as the size of a football, the atmosphere becomes less than a millimetre thick. It’s little more than a thin, precious skin, without which life on the planet would be impossible. Clearly we need to take very good care of it.

El Nino, the periodic warming of the Pacific, has a major impact on the weather – see this link for more detail: BBC El Nino Article 30.12.15 .

Then there is the activity of the sun, which is also said to have a major impact, dependent on whether we’re in a time of high or low sunspot activity. That’s a topic I’ll return to soon, because it seems under-reported compared to all the usual stuff about carbon emissions and so forth.

Could it even be the most important factor of all?

Mother Earth Goodreads Giveaway

My recently published novel Mother Earth deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time.

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment. The process for those not familiar with Goodreads is that you apply to win one of the free copies, which are then selected at random.

It costs nothing to enter and runs until midnight on the 30th November. You can apply now by clicking here:

Book giveaway for Mother Earth by A.P. Jessett Nov 01-Nov …

Good luck! If you don’t win a copy it’s available on Amazon in e-book and paperbook versions.

 

Humpback Whales – Conservation Success

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I took this picture of a breaching humpback whale last week, from the cliff top at Cape Naturaliste, West Australia. We were fortunate during our time there to sight regular small groups of these huge and mysterious creatures, passing by on their annual migration. We’d had the same experience from Sydney’s North Head two weeks earlier, and what struck me most on both occasions was that it was not so much us as the whales themselves who were truly blessed.

Their good fortune was that enough people around the world cared sufficiently to prevent them joining the dodo, the passenger pigeon and too many other creatures on the list of animals no longer here due directly to our actions. The humpback may truly be said to be back from the brink.

During the last century humpbacks were hunted to the very edge of extinction. A global population estimated at well over a hundred thousand was reduced by over 90%, as the result of inadequately controlled commercial cropping of what turned out to be a very finite natural resource. It was, if not unthinking, supremely misguided, and in the North Atlantic just a few hundred individuals remained by the time a hunting moratorium was introduced by the International Whaling Commission, in 1966.

The good news is that stocks have recovered significantly in the decades since, to the point that numbers have returned to, by some estimates, 75% of their former levels. There are still dangers of course, from collisions with ships, entanglement in netting, pollution of the seas, and perhaps also changes in the availability of food species such as krill, due to over-harvesting and a possible rise in sea temperatures.

Nevertheless, I’d say it’s a conservation success story to know that the enigmatic song of the male humpback may still be heard in the oceans of the world. It could so easily have turned out otherwise, and our planet would have been a quieter and sadder place.

Picture copyright A.P.Jessett

 

Mother Earth now published

It’s been a while in the making, but my first published novel is now up and running. Hooray!

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I won’t repeat all the stuff on my Mother Earth and About The Writer pages, which you can read if you’re interested, and I don’t want to add much more and spoil the plot for those of you who do decide to get the book. Suffice to say that it examines the topics that are central to this blog, some in more depth than others, and is the kind of story I myself like to read. If some of you enjoy it too, that will be great, and reward enough for the years that have gone into the writing!

Please let me know what you think, dear reader, either here or on the Amazon page. Especially the latter, where comments can be very helpful to potential new readers.

Thanks!