Category Archives: Technology & Gear

John Whitehead: What I Don’t Like About Life In Post-9/11 America

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

Edward Abbey, American author

Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.

We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.

We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state.

Osama Bin Laden right warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”

These past 17 years have proven Bin Laden right in his prediction.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

This is not freedom.

This is a jail cell.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.

Our losses are mounting with every passing day.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people, a war that has grown more pronounced since 9/11.

Since the towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.

In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, underwear bombers and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the true enemy to freedom was lurking among us all the while.

The U.S. government now poses a greater threat to our freedoms than any terrorist, extremist or foreign entity ever could.

While nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and its agents have easily killed at least ten times that number of civilians in the U.S. and abroad since 9/11 through its police shootings, SWAT team raids, drone strikes and profit-driven efforts to police the globe, sell weapons to foreign nations, and foment civil unrest in order to keep the military industrial complex gainfully employed.

No, the U.S. government is not the citizenry’s friend, nor is it our protector, and life in the United States of America post-9/11 is no picnic.

In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of the things I don’t like about life in a post-9/11 America:

  • I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds.
  • I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data.
  • I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.
  • I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.
  • I don’t like being bullied by government bureaucrats, vigilantes masquerading as cops, or faceless technicians.
  • I don’t like being railroaded into financing government programs whose only purpose is to increase the power and wealth of the corporate elite.
  • I don’t like being forced to pay for wars abroad that serve no other purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.
  • I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA.
  • I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.
  • I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.
  • I don’t like being treated like an underling by government agents who are supposed to be working for me. I don’t like being threatened, intimidated, bribed, beaten and robbed by individuals entrusted with safeguarding my rights. I don’t like being silenced, censored and marginalized. I don’t like my movements being tracked, my conversations being recorded, and my transactions being catalogued.
  • I don’t like free speech zones, roving bubble zones and trespass laws that restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights.
  • I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater.
  • I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely.
  • I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.
  • I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country.
  • I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens.
  • I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.
  • I don’t like the fact that police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”
  • I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for non-violent crimes. There are thousands of people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check.
  • I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.
  • I don’t like having my hard-earned taxpayer dollars used against me.
  • I don’t like the partisan nature of politics today, which has so polarized Americans that they are incapable of standing in unity against the government’s abuses.
  • I don’t like the entertainment drivel that passes for news coverage today.
  • I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant.
  • I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.
  • I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose—whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras—is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.
  • I don’t like Department of Defense and DHS programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police. I don’t like local police dressing and acting as if they were the military while viewing me as an enemy combatant.
  • I don’t like government programs that reward cops for raiding homes and terrorizing homeowners.
  • I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.
  • I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90% occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for Corporate America.
  • I don’t like answering to an imperial president who operates above the law.
  • I don’t like the injustice that passes for justice in the courts.
  • I don’t like prosecutors so hell bent on winning that they allow innocent people to suffer for crimes they didn’t commit.
  • I don’t like the double standards that allow government officials to break laws with immunity, while average Americans get the book thrown at them.
  • I don’t like cops who shoot first and ask questions later.
  • I don’t like police dogs being treated with more respect and afforded more rights than American citizens.
  • I don’t like living in a suspect society.
  • I don’t like Americans being assumed guilty until they prove their innocence.
  • I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us.
  • Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.

Now there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. Certainly, there are those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores.

However, I’m not giving up on this country without a fight.

I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

Our country may be in deep trouble, but all is not yet lost.

The first step begins with you.

  1. Get educated. Know your rights. Take time to read the Constitution. Study and understand history because the tales of those who seek power and those who resist them is an age-old one. The Declaration of Independence is a testament to this struggle and the revolutionary spirit that overcame tyranny. Understand the vital issues of the day so that you can be cognizant of the threats to freedom. Stay informed about current events and legislation.
  2. Get involved. Become actively involved in local community affairs, politics and legal battles. As the adage goes, “Think nationally, act locally.” America was meant to be primarily a system of local governments, which is a far cry from the colossal federal bureaucracy we have today. Yet if our freedoms are to be restored, understanding what is transpiring practically in your own backyard—in one’s home, neighborhood, school district, town council—and taking action at that local level must be the starting point. Responding to unmet local needs and reacting to injustices is what grassroots activism is all about. Getting involved in local politics is one way to bring about change.
  3. Get organized. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and tap into your resources. Play to your strengths and assets. Conduct strategy sessions to develop both the methods and ways to attack the problem. Prioritize your issues and battles. Don’t limit yourself to protests and paper petitions. Think outside the box. Time is short, and resources are limited, so use your resources in the way they count the most.
  4. Be creative. Be bold and imaginative, for this is guerilla warfare—not to be fought with tanks and guns but through creative methods of dissent and resistance. Creatively responding to circumstances will often be one of your few resources if you are to be an effective agent of change. Every creative effort, no matter how small, is significant.
  5. Use the media. Effective use of the media is essential. Attracting media coverage not only enhances and magnifies your efforts, it is also a valuable education tool. It publicizes your message to a much wider audience.
  6. Start brushfires for freedom. Take heart that you are not alone. You come from a long, historic line of individuals who have put their beliefs and lives on the line to keep freedom alive. Engage those around you in discussions about issues of importance. Challenge them to be part of a national dialogue. As I have often said, one person at a city planning meeting with a protest sign is an irritant. Three individuals at the same meeting with the same sign are a movement. You will find that those in power fear and respect numbers. This is not to say that lone crusaders are not important. There are times when you will find yourself totally alone in the stand you take. However, there is power in numbers. Politicians understand this. So get out there and start drumming up support for your cause.
  7. Take action. Be prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re located or what resources are at your disposal. What matters is that you recognize the problems and care enough to do something about them. Whether you’re 8, 28 or 88 years old, you have something unique to contribute. You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to show up and be ready to take action.
  8. Be forward-looking. Beware of being so “in the moment” that you neglect to think of the bigger picture. Develop a vision for the future. Is what you’re hoping to achieve enduring? Have you developed a plan to continue to educate others about the problems you’re hoping to tackle and ensure that others will continue in your stead? Take the time to impart the value of freedom to younger generations, for they will be at the vanguard of these battles someday.
  9. Develop fortitude. What is it that led to the successful protest movements of the past headed by people such as Martin Luther King Jr.? Resolve. King refused to be put off. And when the time came, he was willing to take to the streets for what he believed and even go to jail if necessary. King risked having an arrest record by committing acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. A caveat is appropriate here. Before resorting to nonviolent civil disobedience, all reasonable alternatives should be exhausted. If there is an opportunity to alter the course of events through normal channels (for example, negotiation, legal action or legislation), they should be attempted.
  10. Be selfless and sacrificial. Freedom is not free—there is always a price to be paid and a sacrifice to be made. If any movement is to be truly successful, it must be manned by individuals who seek a greater good and do not waver from their purposes. It will take boldness, courage and great sacrifice. Rarely will fame, power and riches be found at the end of this particular road. Those who travel it inevitably find the way marked by hardship, persecution and strife. Yet there is no easy way.
  11. Remain optimistic and keep hope alive. Although our rights are increasingly coming under attack, we still have certain freedoms. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we can still fight back. We have the right to dissent, to protest and even to vigorously criticize or oppose the government and its laws. The Constitution guarantees us these rights. In a country such as the United States, a citizen armed with a knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the fortitude to stand and fight can still be a force to be reckoned with, but it will mean speaking out when others are silent.

Practice persistence, along with perseverance, and the possibilities are endless. You can be the voice of reason. Use your voice to encourage others. Much can be accomplished by merely speaking out. Oftentimes, all it takes is one lone voice to get things started. So if you really care and you’re serious and want to help change things for the better, dust off your First Amendment tools and take a stand – even if it means being ostracized by those who would otherwise support you.

It won’t be easy, but take heart. And don’t give up.

Original article: John Whitehead: What I Don’t Like About Life In Post-9/11 America


I know a lot of people who simply cannot believe what is happening to our Republic. They stand slack-jacked, constantly saying “Don’t they know where these abuses lead?”

My friends, “they” know exactly where such abuses lead.

These are not mistakes or accidental overreaches.

This is well planned.

The Devil wants his day.

And he’s going to get it.

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A Brief History of Repressive Regimes and Their Gun Laws

Arguably one of the rights that has seen less government encroachment in the US — in contrast to other activities such as commerce — gun rights are now witnessing unprecedented attacks at the state level and even from politically-connected corporate entities.

Although gun control laws are not created equally in terms of overall impact, gun confiscation holds a special place in the halls of political repression. A trip down memory lane will give us a refresher of how gun confiscation has helped consolidate government power.

The Soviet Union and Its Satellite States

The Soviet Union left its mark as one of the deadliest political regimes in the history of mankind. However, it could not get away with such atrocities without having a complete monopoly on the use of force.

Ironically, the famous Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin called for a proletarian militia in his essay Letters From Afar. Lenin charted out his vision in the following passage:

What kind of militia do we need, the proletariat, all the toiling people? A genuine people’s militia, i.e., one that, first, consists of the entire population, of all adult citizens of both sexes; and, second, one that combines the functions of a people’s army with police functions, with the functions of the chief and fundamental organ of public order and public administration.

Lenin’s ideas manifested themselves in military form once the Military Revolutionary Committee was created in late 1917. Despite the ostensive revolutionary nature, these military forces morphed into another enforcement arm of the State.

To maintain its iron grip, the Soviet Union had to turn to the most proven form of suppression — gun confiscation. On December 10, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissar mandated that Soviet citizens turn in their firearms. Failure to do so, led to criminal prosecution.

Soviet gun control laws remained tight in the following decades, although the government did go out of its way to give Communist Party affiliates privileged access to firearms.

Once World War II came to an end, Eastern European countries took after their Soviet overlords and started implementing gun confiscation, as detailed in Firearms Possession by ‘Non-State Actors’: The Question of Sovereignty. Several countries stood out during this time period:

  • Bulgaria: Once Communists took power in 1944, they confiscated privately owned firearms.
  • East Germany: Private gun ownership was banned, even though the government did allow for agricultural collectives to possess hunting weapons while taking part in government-supervised hunts.
  • Hungary: Communist Minister of the Interior, Lazlo Rajk dissolved all pistol and hunting clubs, while also dismantling other organizations that potentially posed a threat to government power.

Although the numbers are highly disputed, Robert Conquest contends in his book The Great Terror that at least 15 million people perished under Soviet rule.

Nazi Germany

These days the word Nazi is tossed around liberally, almost rendering its definition meaningless. Regardless, the history of Nazi Germany should never be forgotten. Interestingly, both sides of the gun debate make mistakes when discussing gun control policy in Nazi Germany.

The pro-gun control side claims that gun rights were actually expanded under Nazi rule, but there is more to this story. The marginal liberalization in gun laws specifically favored the German populace. Independent Institute Senior Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook gives a nuanced account of the Nazi’s gun policy:

In 1938, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act. Now that many “enemies of the state” had been removed from society, some restrictions could be slightly liberalized, especially for Nazi Party members. But Jews were prohibited from working in the firearms industry, and .22 caliber hollow-point ammunition was banned.

In sum, the Jewish populace was disarmed and had no way of defending itself against the increasingly militant Nazi political operatives.

But pro-gun advocates aren’t exempt from making mistakes in their analysis either.

Second Amendment supporters often attribute gun control’s passage exclusively to Adolf Hitler’s government. However, a more thorough review of history demonstrates that the preceding Weimar government was responsible for passing gun registration. Weimar officials rationalized the passage of gun control in the name of public order, for fear of Nazis and Communists coming to blows on the street.

Unbeknownst to the Weimar government, their gun control framework would later be exploited by the Nazis to disarm the Jews and subject them to one of the most horrific cases of genocide in human history.

Cuba

Once one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries, Cuba succumbed to the siren song of socialism when Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

Similar to the Nazi case, Castro took advantage of firearm registration lists established by the previous government. Once the dictator Fulgencio Batista was deposed, Castro’s tyrannical instincts kicked in. In a speech at the Maestre Barracks of San Ambrosio, Castro exclaimed:

Guns, for what? To fight against whom? Against the Revolutionary government that has the support of the people?

Following this speech, gun confiscation slowly commenced. The Castro government started by targeting rival revolutionary groups, who fought the Batista government but were not Communist affiliates. Then, the Castro government broadened the definition of “rival revolutionaries” to disarm more of the populace.

To this day, Cuba has strict firearms regulations. Government entities like the National Revolutionary Police, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces are in charge of regulating firearms.

Like other socialist programs, the Cuban experience has been filled with death and economic destruction. Estimates point to 141,000 Cubans murdered at the hands of the Castro regime, with millions of Cubans fleeing to the United States in search of greener pastures.

Venezuela

It’s no secret that the Venezuelan government has eviscerated property rights and fundamental civil liberties in the crisis beleaguered country. But how has the Venezuelan government been able to stay in power? The Venezuelan government’s civilian disarmament campaign is an oft-ignored abuse of human rights in discussions concerning Venezuela’s political crisis.

The Venezuelan government started by passing the original version of the Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law. Since then, the law has been modified to broaden the scope of the firearms regulated by the Venezuelan Armed forces, who have the power to register, control, and confiscate firearms.

The day of reckoning came when Venezuela banned the sale of firearms and ammo in 2012, under the guise of fighting crime. Despite the gun ban in place, crime rates continue to skyrocket.

Now Venezuelans have no way of defending themselves against a government that is free to muzzle their speech, expropriate their wealth, debase their currency, and starve them to death. And if that weren’t enough, the average Venezuelan must contend with the constant threat of common criminals and colectivos, Venezuela’s infamous pro-government paramilitary units.

Even in the 21st century, the nasty effects of gun confiscation are still being felt.

Is South Africa Next?

South Africa has recently embraced gun confiscation. According to The Citizen, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ordered the confiscation of about 300,000 firearms on June 7, 2018. To say political tension in South Africa is mounting would be an understatement.

Since ending apartheid, South Africa has embarked on a troubling route of economic statism. To make matters worse, the South African government is currently pursuing land redistribution in order to address so-called racial injustices.

Although politicians from the African National Congress (ANC) party have recently backed down from ramming land confiscation legislation into law, there is no telling what could be in store for South Africans now that gun confiscation has been activated.

It would be a mistake to believe South Africa’s gun confiscation ordinance was a random occurrence; it’s the logical conclusion of South Africa’s current gun control framework. The genesis of this troubling development began with the passage of the Firearms Control Act of 2000, which features an extensive system of gun registration.

It’s easy for anti-gun entities to identify gun owners and confiscate their firearms in the long-run when they have their information on the books. With the wrong political actors in power, yesterday’s “common-sense” gun control could be tomorrow’s vehicle for gun confiscation.

Time will tell if South Africa will descend down the path of tyranny, but its gun control experiment may prove to be fatal should the country take a turn for the worse.

Gun control may not have a path dependency toward tyranny. However, gun confiscation is an egregious form of gun control that allows authoritarians to steamroll their subjects at will. The way gun confiscation enhances the consolidation of state power is undeniable. A disarmed populace is simply no match for a repressive apparatus that has a monopoly on the use of force.

Gun rights might not guarantee victory against tyrants, but being deprived of them all but guarantees submission.

Original article: A Brief History of Repressive Regimes and Their Gun Laws


I was just telling a friend a week ago, that in 2018 we know most of the answers.

Not all the scientific answers (not yet) but we know pretty much all the social issues.

We have 6,000 years of history that prove which laws are good and which are bad, what governments enrich a people and which ones impoverish them, and all the rest.

In the most meaningful sense, Conservatism and real Liberalism are way out ahead…

We are standing in the future.

Everybody else (Leftists, Marxists, communists, hard socialists, theocrats, imperialists, fascists, fanatics, terrorists, predator capitalists, those who steal, those who murder and justify it as progress, those who envy anyone more successful than they are)….

Are still in the distant past.

Where they belong.

Atmospheric Pressure and the Possibility of Life

In mountain climbing, the death zone refers to altitudes above 26,000 feet (7,900 meters). At that height, the atmospheric pressure is only 35 percent of what it is at sea level. Irrespective of physical conditioning or acclimatization, it is not possible for any human at that altitude to breathe in enough oxygen to prevent widespread cell death in the body’s vital organs, and especially in the brain. Above 26,000 feet it becomes very difficult to sleep and near impossible to digest food. Any climber that spends more than about 12 hours above 26,000 feet without supplemental oxygen will experience permanent brain damage, increasing risk of loss of consciousness, and ultimately death.1

Among all Earth’s terrestrial life, animals that use lungs for respiration are the most sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. Lungs cease to mechanically function at air pressures three times greater or three times lower than the air pressure at sea level.

Effect of Atmospheric Pressure on Surface Temperature

In 2009, a team of four geologists and planetary astronomers published a paper in which they explained the impact atmospheric pressure has on the surface temperature of a planet.2 They showed how the atmospheric pressure plays a critical role in determining the magnitude of the greenhouse effect of a planet’s atmosphere. Atmospheric pressure affects the broadening of infrared spectral absorption lines, especially the spectral absorption lines of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. In the words of the four geologists and planetary astronomers, “If the total atmospheric pressure were lower, the climate forcing of greenhouse gases would be smaller, the magnitude of the greenhouse effect would be less, and the global mean temperature would drop.”3

In their paper, the team pointed out how the apparently imminent extinction of all life on Earth—as a consequence of the ongoing brightening of the Sun—might be significantly delayed if Earth’s atmospheric pressure were to decrease at a rate that near perfectly compensates for the brightening of the Sun. Other astronomers published papers in which they showed how different levels of atmospheric pressure on an extrasolar planet could provide more possible options for the planet’s habitability.4

Effect of Atmospheric Pressure on Life

As noted already, atmospheric pressure must be fine-tuned for lungs to be able to mechanically function. Therefore, lowering Earth’s atmospheric pressure to compensate for the future brightening of the Sun has a limit for animals dependent on lungs.

Lowering Earth’s atmospheric pressure also has a limit for life dependent on atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen. Together, oxygen and nitrogen comprise 99.03 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. A significant lowering of Earth’s atmospheric pressure, therefore, requires a substantial removal of oxygen and/or nitrogen.

Lowering the oxygen content would lower the elevation at which land animals could survive. Lowering it to less than half its present level would bring about the extinction of not only most land animals, but also most marine animals as well. A lower atmospheric oxygen content would also weaken Earth’s ozone shield. Such weakening would lower plant productivity in addition to impacting all land animals.

Lowering the nitrogen content would lower the amount of nitrogen fixation from the atmosphere. Less nitrogen fixation means less of an important nutrient critical for all plants, but especially for vascular plants. Lowering the ratio of nitrogen to oxygen in the atmosphere would seriously degrade the respiration of animals.

As the team of four geologists and planetary astronomers pointed out in their paper, any reasonable scenario that lowers Earth’s atmospheric pressure would also lower the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While carbon dioxide is the fourth most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere (after nitrogen, oxygen, and argon), it is only slightly above the minimum level needed for unimpeded photosynthesis. As I wrote in a previous blog,5 during the last ice age the carbon dioxide level in Earth’s atmosphere dropped down to 180–190 parts per million. The minimum for C3 photosynthesis at sea level = 150 parts per million, at 3,000 feet elevation it = 167 parts per million, at 6,000 feet elevation it = 187 parts per million, and at 9,000 feet it = 210 parts per million. Thus, any significant lowering of Earth’s atmospheric pressure will greatly reduce or eliminate C3 photosynthesis productivity. Currently, C3 photosynthesis plants comprise about 95 percent of Earth’s total plant biomass and 100 percent of the plant biomass used to feed humans and their domesticated animals.

Any reduction of Earth’s atmospheric pressure will lower the boiling point of water. For example, if Earth’s atmospheric pressure were lowered to half its present value, the boiling point of water at sea level would be 178° Fahrenheit (81° Centigrade) and at 9,000 feet elevation it would be 164° Fahrenheit (73° Centigrade). Water boiling points this low would dramatically alter the precipitation of rain and snow. Some regions on Earth would experience much greater precipitation rates. Others would experience much lower precipitation rates. This greater precipitation variability combined with the much higher wind velocities generated by lower atmospheric pressure would dramatically increase weather disasters worldwide.

Fine-Tuned Air Pressure

Recent research studies on the impact of atmospheric pressure for life on Earth and the possibility of life on extrasolar planets reveals that we should not take the atmospheric pressure of our planet for granted. While unicellular life-forms can tolerate a comparatively wide range of sea level atmospheric pressures, complex life, and especially human life, cannot. That the sea level air pressure on Earth is precisely at the best possible value for humans beings and global human civilization adds to the growing list of fingerprints that a supernatural, super-intelligent Being purposely designed Earth for the specific benefit of humans and their civilization.

Original article: Atmospheric Pressure and the Possibility for Life

The End of Civilization As We Know It? Part 2

ice

If an ice age is coming soon, how will our lives be affected? In my first blog post in this series, I described the latest scientific research that demonstrates how continued global warming will bring on the next ice age and approximately when we can expect its onset. In this post I will describe the consequences the onset of the next ice age will create for modern civilization. In the final post in this series I will briefly summarize our options for delaying the dawn of the next ice age and review what preparations we should make ahead of its arrival.

Ice Age Consequence #1: Too Much Ice

Right now, only about 10 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by ice. At the height of the last ice age, about 23 percent of Earth’s surface was covered by ice. Figure 1 shows the regions of the northern hemisphere that were covered by at least 3 kilometers’ thickness of ice. In the southern hemisphere, New Zealand, Tasmania, and the southern part of Chile were covered with similarly thick layers of ice.

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Figure 1: Maximum Extent of Thick Ice Cover of the Northern Hemisphere during the Last Ice Age. The turquoise-colored parts of the map indicate those regions covered by at least a 3-kilometer (2-mile) thickness of ice. Winter sea ice extended as far south as Mexico in the Pacific and North Carolina and Spain in the Atlantic. Image credit: John S. Schlee, United States Geological Survey and Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

In addition to those parts of Earth covered by ice 3 kilometers thick, there were many other regions covered by tens or hundreds of meters of ice. For example, in North America ice cover sufficient to prevent agriculture and the building of cities and transportation arteries extended south to Southern California.

Ice Age Consequence #2: Too Little River Water Flow

Regions of the world not covered by ice fields also would suffer. People there would find the water flow from rivers that they depend on to grow food largely locked up in ice that is not melting.

Ice Age Consequence #3: Depletion of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Growing food would be a huge challenge for another reason—the depletion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The greater the percentage of Earth’s surface covered by ice, the less concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

This consequence occurs because greater ice coverage and lower global mean temperatures alter ocean currents. As a carbon isotope study revealed, these altered ocean currents remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transport it to the deep ocean where it remains stored until ice coverage recedes and global mean temperatures rise.1

During the last ice age, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration dropped down to 180–190 parts per million.2 The minimum requirement for plants to make any food at all through photosynthesis is 150 parts per million at sea level, 167 parts per million at 3,000 feet elevation, 187 parts per million at 6,000 feet elevation, and 210 parts per million at 9,000 feet elevation.3 At levels of 150–500 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there is a direct correlation between that CO2 level in the atmosphere and the amount of food plants can produce through photosynthesis. Thus, it would be impossible to grow enough food to feed more than a billion humans under ice age conditions.

Ice Age Consequence #4: Extreme Climate Instability

It would be impossible to feed that many humans under ice age conditions for yet another reason. Only for the last 2.59 million years of Earth’s 4.566-billion-year history has there been an ice age cycle. Except for the past 0.009 million years, the ice age cycle has been characterized by extreme climate instability (see figure 2).

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Figure 2: Temperature Variability during the Last Ice Age. The blue and purple tracings portray the global mean temperature indicated by the GRIP and NGRIP Greenland ice cores, respectively. Image credit: Leland McInnes/Wikipedia Commons, CC-by-3.0.

This climate instability was characterized by unpredictable global mean temperature swings of up to 20°Fahrenheit (11°Celsius) on time scales of 2–3 centuries. Such radical climate instability explains why humans living during the last ice age were unable to launch and sustain any kind of large-scale civilization or sustain a large population.

Ice Age Consequence #5: Species Extinction

Because the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau are continuing to rise to higher elevations as a consequence of the ongoing tectonic collision between the Indian subcontinent and Asia, geophysicists confidently predict that the next ice age will be more catastrophic to life than the previous one. Specifically, they demonstrate that very likely the next ice age will result in even greater ice coverage, lower global mean temperatures, and lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than the previous ice age.

Most species of life presently on Earth, with appropriate human assistance, are capable of surviving these more dire consequences. However, many are not. The probable extinction of hundreds, if not thousands, of species of life will inevitably disturb ecosystems and eco-balances. Such disturbances will then impact human civilization.

Technological Fixes?

Today, we possess the technology to ameliorate some of the more dire consequences brought on by the next ice age. For example, we could build glass-enclosed greenhouses on top of the more stable ice fields. We could heat these greenhouses and, at appropriate time intervals, augment the carbon dioxide concentration inside them. Since soil would be in much shorter supply and difficult to transport, we could employ hydroponic technology to grow crops inside greenhouses. Since fresh liquid water also would be in short supply, we could use a variety of energy sources to melt the abundant ice. However, no matter how much technology we marshal toward food production, it is highly unlikely that we could produce as much food as we do today.

In my third blog post, I will discuss other possible technological fixes aimed at ameliorating the consequences the next ice age is bound to bring. I will also briefly summarize to what degree we can use technology to delay its onset and review the preparations we should undertake right now in anticipation of the arrival of the life-altering event.

Original article: The End of Civilization As We Know It? Part 2