The Industrial Age Ended Between 1970 and 2000 #economy #economics #environment

Mr Spock action figure

I bet he’s made of plastic. Thanks to JD Hancock

Humans will consume more and more until we destroy the planet – common wisdom that is all wrong. This fascinating article documents a turning point in the United States and United Kingdom. There is:

Substantial evidence not only that Americans were consuming fewer resources per capita but also that they were consuming less in total of some of the most important building blocks of an economy: things such as steel, copper, fertilizer, timber, and paper. Total annual U.S. consumption of all of these had been increasing rapidly prior to 1970. But since then, consumption had reached a peak and then declined.
Of 72 resources tracked by the USGS, from aluminum and antimony through vermiculite and zinc, only six are not yet post-peak.

Graph - USA use of metals and GDP, 1900-2015America has reduced its consumption in absolute terms, not just per capita, and not just in the aftermath of the Great Recession. “Dematerialization” doesn’t mean some kind of scifi technology. It’s our future.

Steel, copper, aluminum, timber, paper, fertilizer, water, cropland – America’s use of these and more has peaked and now trends downward. Growth in the use of plastics is tapering off – won’t it be great if plastics follow the same trend?

Just as we’re learning to produce renewable energy more economically, our total energy use is leveling off.

All this while GDP continues to grow.

A great reversal of our Industrial Age habits is taking place.
Eurostat data show that countries including Germany, France, and Italy have generally seen flat or declining total consumption of metals, chemicals, and fertilizer in recent years.
India and China are probably not yet dematerializing. But I predict that they will start getting more from less of at least some resources in the not-too-distant future.

Add  birth-rate declines in the wealthiest and most industrialized countries, and our stewardship of the Earth seems poised to change for the better.

Throughout my life, it seemed that humanity was on an irresistible path to destruction. Self-interest is built into our DNA, so sacrifices for the public good seemed impossible. Perhaps the answer isn’t to go backward, but to go forward. A brighter day is dawning.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need to protect the environment, our fellow species, and our fellow humans. There are ecosystems in danger that require action. Doing the right thing is still, well, the right thing to do. But if you ever felt despair sapping your determination, now you can take heart. The future may be more like Star Trek and less like the Walking Dead. Tomorrow is coming.

Read the whole article. It’s worth your time.


Walk an Autumn Trail #haiku #poem #poetry #nature #autumn

Nose runs, ears are numb,
Fingers curl to hide in sleeves
As mist claims the trees

trail through misty pinesI’m visiting my brother in southern New York. Autumn is a wonderful season and there are many trails over State land in the area. My poetry shifts to nature.

Australian Competition for the Whole World – Year of the Periodic Table – Vote for Your Favorite Science-Poem #poetrycommunity #chemistry #poem #poetry

Classical Japanese Poet

Poet of a classical Japanese style

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night and feel them. Why do poets not speak of science? paraphrased from Richard Feynman

These poets do! Science isn’t the realm of robots, but of vibrant human beings, and therefore, of poets.

Celebrate The International Year of the Periodic Table with a poem about all 118 chemical elements (entitled ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’). It got an honorable mention from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s (RACI’s) Stories from the Periodic Table Competition. Today it’s part of an audience poll to determine the people’s favorite elemental story.

Read ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’ by my friend-in-poetry, Michael Leach, and find more science poetry at (The links are in the survey.)

Be sure to vote for your favorite.

Electron shell blocks on Periodic Table

Shape of electron shells as designated on the Periodic Table

Why is the periodic table worth a celebration? Because it’s laid out to show you how atoms are structured, how the shape of electrons’ probabilities lets you predict how chemistry will happen! When I realized this chemistry-stuff wasn’t just rules some grumpy, old teacher insisted I memorize – it was the shape and structure of reality – that’s the moment I groked chemistry. I hope you do, too.

UPDATE: the votes are in and ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’ won first runner-up. View the results with links to the winners here.

If Your Teeth Need Braces, It’s Worse Than You Know! #evolution #humans #skulls

Iconic March of Human Evolution

The iconic “March of Progress” from Time-Life’s 1965 book Early Man by Rudolph Zallinger. What are we about to step in?

Your skull is shrinking! Okay, not the particular skull you keep your own, personal brain in, but human skulls. This is happening over a remarkably short period of time – only 300 years – and your children are suffering.

Your brain has been shrinking for a longer period, maybe 10,000 to 20,000 years. Partly, this is because our modern body size is less than our ancestors during the last Ice Age. It seems funny, because we Americans are used to thinking of ourselves as taller (and fatter! despite the comment below about body weight) than our ancestors thanks to better public health and food availability. But we’re less robust than Cro-Magnons.

The way we live has generally become less physically demanding, which overall serves to drive down body weights… The fact that we increasingly store and process information externally—in books, computers and online—means that many of us can probably get by with smaller brains.

Generally, domestic animals tend to have weaker muscles and smaller brains than their wild relatives. Maybe they don’t require extra brainpower to evade predators or hunt for food. And humans are the most domesticated animal around.

So smaller brains must mean smaller skulls… but it’s much worse than that!

Science suggests that crooked teeth, overbites, narrow jaws, and crimped nasal airways are a modern phenomenon. Skeletal remains show that just 300 years ago, humans commonly displayed straight, perfectly aligned teeth, wide jaws, flat palates and the large nasal passages that signal habitual, healthy breathing.

Do you think orthodontists are a small price to pay for modern conveniences?

Our faces have begun to deform. Today, our skulls are marked by high, narrow palates, and short lower jaws.. When children drop their baby teeth, there’s typically inadequate room for the adult teeth, which leads to crowding and misaligned teeth.

Worst of all, this anatomy encourages mouth-breathing, which can, in turn, lead to under-the-radar sleep difficulties and a whole array of problems ranging from behavioral challenges, anxiety, and depression to cognitive issues.

If your baby or child snores, it could be a sign of troubles to come.

Jaw pain, headaches, asthma, chronic sleep deprivation, cranky children, wild behavior, failure in school! Gack!! Add all those problems to diabetes and heart disease as the price of modern living.

Why did the shrinking skull start 300 years ago? Here’s what ties it to our modern lifestyle.

Industrialization interrupted the ancestral patterns of weaning and feeding, with babies nursing on demand for years while also trying solid foods under adults’ watchful eyes… The widespread adoption of bottle feeding, pacifiers and soft processed food deprived toddlers of practice chewing and distorted the shapes of their mouths.

There are procedures to correct teeth and jaws, and ultimately breathing, and the earlier you start the better the results. “Nose-breathers are always healthier than mouth-breathers.”

Nature and nurture are conspiring against us. To paraphrase an excellent quote, genes are the piano keys and the environment plays the tune. What have we done?



Looking for Science Fiction? Download One or All of These Before Oct 9th #sciencefiction #ebook

Story Origin eBook Giveaway - science fictionIf you’re looking for science fiction – short stories, previews, and full novels – here are 45 stories to download for free. Lots of different authors – maybe your new favorite is right here 😊
I haven’t posted one of these giveaways in a while, so it’s about time. Check these out and find a good read.

Cosmic Event Coming Soon… Maybe – there’s always a maybe! #astronomy #stars #space #telescope

Constellation Cygnus outlined as Northern Cross


KIC 9832227 is a binary star in the constellation Cygnus, and it’s about to explode.

Most statements like that about cosmic events then go on to say “in a billion years” or something similar. Time is different for you and me versus the universe.

Not KIC 9832227! The two stars are:

likely to merge into a single star in the year 2022 and create an explosive event called a red nova that should be visible to the naked eye.

The stars are currently orbiting so close to one another that they’re actually touching and sharing a single atmosphere. They’re spinning faster and faster and getting closer together.

We should see KIC 9832227 brighten to a magnitude 2 (about as bright as Polaris) for about six months. The exact timing is projected to be 2022.2 ±.6. From Brian Dunn,

Sigh. There’s a “maybe.” Wikipedia, those spoilsports, say this date is unlikely because of some variations in stellar movements that we don’t understand well.

It seems that I’ll find out who’s right soon enough.

NASA’s Dragonfly to Explore Titan, a Really Weird Moon #NASA #dragonfly #Saturn #explore

NASA's Dragonfly spacecraft, composit artist's image

Artist’s image of Dragonfly as it lands and explores Titan

If you’re a fan of exploring the solar system, you’ve heard of the nuclear powered, $1 billion dollar spacecraft, Dragonfly.

Elizabeth Turtle, the mission’s principle investigator at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, insists that this is actually a pretty tame space probe, as these things go. “There’s not a lot of new technology.”

If Dragonfly sounds like a crazy spacecraft, consider that Titan is a crazy moon, unlike any other moon or planet in the solar system. Though a little bit like Earth. It has lakes and rain.

The largest moon of Saturn, it has dunes, mountains, gullies and even rivers and lakes — though on Titan, it’s so cold the lakes are filled with liquid methane, not water.

Titan has one more feature that’s worth noting: Although its mainly nitrogen atmosphere is denser than Earth’s, its gravity is far lower. That makes it the perfect place to take to the skies.

Launch is still years away, but you can travel to Titan today, in scifi. I couldn’t resist sending a colony to the cold, deadly moon. But Fynn’s fellow colonists may be the greatest danger. Read it today.

Titan scifi book covers, ebook and paperback

Fynn learns the Kin’s secret when he’s shoved into a stasis pod. He’s going to colonize Titan with his father’s cult. Can they build a paradise? Not likely! Click now to find the book at Amazon. Kindle Unlimited too!