Posts Tagged ‘Hubris’

Sapiens, Master Of The Universe, Best When Mountains Fall

May 14, 2021

Climbing Is About Nothing And Everything, Just As Life Itself, Or Climbing can be viewed as an adventure in mastery between oneself and fate. 

Climbing, well done, is experiencing an entire life, in one, or a few days. Climbing, well done, does not murder the emotional lives of those who love us, by killing whom they love. Any climber of some experience had close calls. Reinhold Mesner, the first to climb all 14 8000 meter peaks, had many close calls (for example falling inside a crevice on Everest while completely alone). He climbed them without oxygen. Sometimes by new routes (Broad Peak, Annapurna, Everest), sometimes solo, even making probably what is, to this day, the only real solo climb of Everest without assistance whatsoever (it was August, during the warm and wet monsoon, nobody else was on the mountain besides a photographer girlfriend in base camp). 

Mesner was lucky: he made much of his own luck, sometimes (Nanga Parbat) waiting patiently for a slope to avalanche away before climbing it when it had been scoured clean. He knows luck was on his side, he wrote about it. 

Some love to compare today’s exploits with those of the past. In the past the equipment was not what it has become, and not what it will be some day. One can’t compare yesterday’s achievements with today’s, or tomorrow. A few months ago, in the solo sailboat race around the world, a rogue wave broke the boat of a famous sailor in two, in the middle of the southern ocean, far from any shore. He had the time to inform a satellite of what had happened, and got into a rescue device. The race center in France was then able to vector several other competitors to the area. With more electronic and human feat, the sailor in his shelter was localized and recovered by a competitor who then transferred him to a French warship. 

All the part delimited by the white line avalanched off 2006. A few years earlier, my partner and I, leading across a giant ice gully, a hundred meters below point C, below the picture. That’s when and where the huge rock avalanche struck, at the worst possible moment. It hit the ropes, when I was twenty meters out of a very bad belay (it was bad, because there was nothing else and I had set it up myself. It is extremely rare that I could not make a belay good by wedging various devices in cracks… Then, having miraculously survived the rockfall, I went straight up, a bit right of the Bonatti Pillar route, and more on the pillar than Bonatti. I had cams, which Europeans did not have at the time, so I could protect cracks, and also crack practice, from Yosemite… Amusingly the near death below propelled me to great heights (generally I am a very cautious climber… but not that day… because of the hubris effect I describe below…)

Someday, maybe everybody will be climbing solo with anti-gravity devices… Or some other way to prevent falls…

In the mountains what we are, and what nature is, is revealed. Including morally. 

Climbing can also be an adventure between oneself and companions who keep us alive. In any case, climbing, optimally done, should be about life. However, some went to the mountains as an alternative to suicide… As when Bonatti climbed the south west pillar of the Dru. 

I made a first ascent of a route on this one, after getting nearly killed partway up it, in a massive rock avalanche caused by the greenhouse heating most severe in the mountains and polar regions [1]. I was climbing extremely well that day, because I had just died, I could not believe I was still perhaps alive, and my miraculous survival made me believe God, or the effective equivalent of God) was on my side (or something like that). I took more risks that day than I ever had lead climbing. I would make enormous runouts, ignoring my bleeding arms. Pulled off the mountain by the avalanche, I had succeeded to wedge myself in a rock ice chimney as I fell into the half a mile high ice gully below. It was the most unlikely piece of mountain luck/exploit I had ever heard about. To this day, I can’t believe what happened.

Not that I could gloat about my route. There were other collapses in the same area. A few years after this astounding success, the entire part of this mountain collapsed (the entire Bonatti pillar). 

Avalanches teach in mysterious ways. There was justice in all this: the mountain does not matter, the exploit doesn’t matter. What matters is knowing better this life we are lucky to have. We climb the mountains to get to know ourselves better. Another gift is that we show fate, that we too can play with, and master, the universe, as if there were values greater than life itself.

It is not that we are control freaks, it is that, sometimes, we human brains need to express ourselves fully the way we are: masters of our own fates, awed by none, imposing our own values to all and sundry [2]. 

And did I learn something directly from my quasi-death on the Drus? Yes, I learned how (much of) the hubris mechanism works. When one looks at history on the largest scale, one often sees leaders taking crazy, very dangerous decisions, as if they were invincible gods. Stalin and Hitler are examples, but also Castro, Che Guevara, the Khmer Rouge, or various juntas all over, Maduro, numerous fundamentalist religious groups, Saddam Hussein, etc. Many of these leaders have this in common: they were nearly killed at some point prior. But they survived. Yet, as survivors, they probably felt like cats with many lives. Lethal risk taking is habit forming, and a drug.  

It is not just that those who nearly died think they can get away with it one more time, or that the life they are presently enjoying is an after death experience. It is also that human neurology is made to take lethal risks, and fully expresses itself only when it does.

And this has a very practical consequence that strategists should keep in mind, when they ponder the possibility of war on a small planet.

War is not just the continuation of politics by other means, it is the continuation of domineering metaphysics by other means.    

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Why more heating in glaciated mountains and regions? Because as the ice and snow decreases, the heat augments in the summer months, gets stored, released in winter, while the heating effect is augmented considerably by albedo decrease (if Greenland had no ice right now, it would not grow back). 

Tall mountains above the permafrost are cathedrals of ice. As the ice enters a cycle of thaw and freeze, not being permanently ice-strong all the time anymore, the cracks are continually pried ever more open, and the rock fails. The specialist Ludovic Ravanel, high Mountain Guide, Hut Guardian, and geomorphology researcher at CNRS says:

From 1855 until 1950, the situation stayed stable. Then in the second half of the XXth century the rock falls continually increased. During the two decades of 1990 and 2000, the warmest, “they exploded in frequency and volume”.

“The falls occur during the warmest periods or at the end of them”. 

“The permafrost is the triggering factor”. 

“The global warming +2 degrees Celsius in Chamonix since 1936 will increase the phenomenon”. 

“Most probably rock falls high in our mountains will occur more frequently and be bigger according to the increase of temperatures, even during the colder seasons”.

***

[2] All and sundry: This phrase dates from the 1300s and meant ‘one and all’, in the sense of both collectively and individually. The word ‘sundry‘ derives from the Old English syndrig, meaning ‘separate, exceptional or special’.

When Did Nazi Commanders Realize The War Was Lost? September 3, 1939!

March 23, 2021

September 3, 1939 is the day the Nazis understood they were going to lose the war. Before that fatidic day, the Nazis always got their way. That fatidic day in 1939, they saw they would have to fight the world’s most extended empires, that is, to fight the world: all of Africa, most of Eurasia, Canada, Australia.

The Nazis should, and some did, at least subconsciously notice a crucial historical ingredient. Any sane person would have noticed that France and Britain had a child, the United States of America, an obstreperous child… But their child nevertheless, quite healthy, of gigantic proportions, and even greater ambition… The Nazis also knew, because they tried to duplicate them, that the USA had, when need be, genocidal capabilities.

In spite of their alliances with Stalin, Mussolini and Hirohito, how could the Nazis win the triple alliance of France, Britain and the USA? The disaster was obvious, and even inside their puny brains, they perceived it.

Top German generals themselves had arrived to the same conclusion two years before, when they realized that the Nazis really intended to take so many risks that war was unavoidable… And the generals knew that Germany was obviously not ready to fight France and Czechoslovakia.

A problem in stopping the march to war had been that the Nazi leadership believed that racist and class-ridden Britain and America were not going to follow the multi racial, colored, Africanized, socialistic and Jewish led French Republic in unhinged hatred of the Nazis (the socialist Jew Léon Blum was Prime Minister of France twice… while Hitler ruled…)

Thus, the top German generals and admiral reasoned, if Britain and the USA declared that they stood with France, and would go to war, should the Nazis attack, they, the top German military command could make a coup against the Nazis. An admiral actually told casually US diplomatic personnel the plotters were ready to kill Hitler if need be. However the crafty Anglo-Saxon leaders informed Hitler of the plot. Paradoxically, this reinforced Hitler’s belief that the Anglo-Saxon leadership was on his side, the racist, anti-French, anti-Semite, anti-Bolshevik front…

***

After the fall of the Spanish Republic to the fascists, with the crucial help of Mussolini and Hitler’s Luftwaffe, on April 1, 1939, British leadership finally decided to remove the gloves, and discreetly joined the Polish-French defense Treaty, in the addendum. At that point, the Nazis were stuck, they got the impression it was too late to back off, and they decided to scare France and Britain some more, by making their alliance with dictator Stalin official.

It did not work. But the Nazis could not stop themselves, from the considerable inertia of all the forces they had launched, including their own mindset. They could only feel that they were doomed.

I am not trying to be cute. The Nazis were at a loss about what to do.

On September 3, 1939, Hitler was in the Reich Chancellery. 48 hours earlier, Great Britain and the French Republic had given the German-Austrian dictator 48 hours to get out of Poland. More than nervously, a crowd of the entire German Nazi government was milling around Hitler’s gigantic office, and the hallways leading to it.

First came the British declaration of war. Then the French one, a few minutes later. Hitler said nothing. He went to a gigantic window and looked at Berlin. Von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister, who had insured Hitler for years, that Britain would not join France, was aghast, but silent. Nobody said anything. The minutes went by, Hitler still watching Berlin. Eight minutes elapsed, said some witnesses. The crowd was silent.

Then Hitler turned around, and with an anger none of those present had ever seen before, said in the loudest and most savage voice:”NOW, WHAT!!!???

Nobody said anything. The Nazi elite was obviously crestfallen.

The lessons of the past were obvious to them, and staring them in the face. They were gripped by fear. In 1914, Germany felt ready to attack the world… and attacked. In 1939, Germany was obvioulsy much less ready than in 1914, and her adversaries were stronger.

***

Starting in 1912, the so-called “Second Reich” had meticulously prepared a surprise attack to annihilate the French Republic (the “First Reich” had been founded by the Frank Charlemagne).

In August 1914, the entire German army, but for eight divisions protecting Eastern Prussia, attacked France. Germany had twice the population of France, and had been preparing its world war attack for twenty months. The French resistance was ferocious: day after day of butchery. Just on August 22, three weeks in the German all-out attack, furious French counterattacks cost the French 27,000 soldiers killed in action, all wearing red pants. German losses are unknown, but they were so serious that, in their rage, the Germans committed well-documented atrocities. Worse was to come: a monster counterattack by the French armies on September 6, using thousands of motor vehicles, even taxis, nearly destroyed the German armies which had to promptly retreat and entrench themselves.

In 1914, the German army was ready to fight a world war, even though the timing was everything: first France had to be defeated before the British army could be created and intervene in significant numbers. Then Russia, known to be slow to mobilize, had to be defeated thoroughly, and Britain somehow to be persuaded to make peace. US and Dutch “neutrality” would enable to break the British blockade. But then, of course, the French nearly destroyed the German army, so the entire plan collapsed.

In 1939, Germany was absolutely not prepared to fight a world war. When it dawned on German generals that Hitler was using tactics so dangerous that he was going to cause a world war, they decided to organize a coup, as early as 1937. But Britain and the US told Hitler, of the preparations the German generals had naively informed them of, so the coup petered out.

***

Now, on September 3, 1939, what the German generals had feared, happened: war with the two superpowers, the world empires of France and Britain… With America waiting in the wings. Germany was allied with… its natural enemy, Stalin. The entire German army was invading Poland. 110 French divisions were mobilizing in the west. French tanks forces were much larger than the German ones, and with better tanks. Together, the French and Royal air forces were larger… navies did not compare; the two democratic allies had a much larger fleet, with aircraft carriers… The Nazis had only two modern battleships, no aircraft carrier. The blockade had strangled Germany in World War One… even though the US and the Netherlands had enabled to evade it for a while. But now the Netherlands had to be invaded to fight Britain. Obviously, for the Nazis, the situation was grim. They had persuaded themselves, for years, that Britain would never side with France in opposition to Nazism, that the two allies would never declare war… that the Nazis would be free to attack in the east (that was made explicit with Britain during the negotiations leading to the British-Nazi Naval Treaty). And now what?

Finally, after a silent disarray caused by Hitler’s savage outburst, Hermann Goering, second in power in the Nazi regime, head of the Luftwaffe, among other things, calmly, and sorrowfully, declared:”If we lose this war, God help us all.

Throughout the Second World War, Germany was horse-drawn. Why? Not enough oil, to start with. Also, hard to believe, blinded by their hubris, Hitler and his idiotic colleagues in the National-Socialist Party had not anticipated war against highly mechanized France (and soon the highly mechanized British, Russian and US!) Yes ten Nazi Panzer divisions, and a few other units, were highly mechanized, but that was it.

It looked completely impossible, even to Hitler and his second in command, Goering, that Nazi Germany could defeat France and Britain… even to the Nazis. Britain had not much of an army, as usual, but a formidable Navy. France had the world’s strongest land army, and a significant navy. Together the French and British air forces were superior to the Luftwaffe. Even the Nazis, in spite of their colossal stupidity, could see this.

France had a gigantic empire spanning the globe. Britain had an even bigger and wealthier empire, spanning the globe. British empire forces and French empire forces provided enormous manpower, from all over, many of them expert at war.

As in World War One, the French and British navies stood ready to strangle Germany, by cutting off vital supplies. High explosives and food in World War One. In World War Two, high quality iron came from northern Sweden, transited through Norway, and sailed down the coast, facing the main Royal Navy gigantic basis at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

If anything, the situation was worse in World War Two: Britain and France had access to world oil. They could blockade Germany. And the strangulation did happen: Nazi Germany would run out of oil so much it could not train air crews, and had to drag jets with oxen. Said jets had aluminum engines that would burn up in a few hours because the rare elements needed to make high temperature steel alloys were not available anymore, after declaring war to everybody, etc.

Britain and France had also access to world finance, and could make deals with US companies to manufacture whatever they needed. This is actually how the superlative fighter of World War Two was created: France and Britain made a contract with a little known US manufacturer, with tougher requirements than for any other aircraft prior. Thus the “Mustang” was born, as a Franco-British aircraft (later the US Army discovered it was superlative and ordered it in great quantities to escort bomber streams over Germany)

***

So why did the Nazis persist in a war they were sure to lose? Mental inertia, hubris… To avoid disaster, the Nazis had to give up on Nazism, surrender, or trust in God.  “Gott mit Uns!”, God With Us, proclaimed their belts. In the first ten months of the war, a perverse God sided with Nazism, indeed, from a whole succession of unlikely events, several miracles, the incompetency (at best!), if not betrayal, of the French top commander, Gamelin, and the betrayal of France and Britain by their ungrateful American child (and apparent correspondence between Hitler and the top inspector of the British armed forces, the pro-Nazi ex-king…) 

***

History does not just repeat, it repeats mental behaviors.

So when looking at Chinese dictator Xi, or the Russian czar, please do not underestimate their mental inertia and hubris. They could well ride, of their own volition and hubristic stupidity, a world war they would be bound to lose.

It is not because one is an anachronism, and feels like one, that one does not ride history to one’s doom! It is precisely the opposite! Xi and Putin are anachronisms, enraged tyrannosauruses snarling furiously at forces which spell their worlds’ doom. This is precisely their anachronistic despair which make tyrants so dangerous.

Twice Germany’s leadership fell into the trap of mental fascism in the Twentieth century, and US bait and switch. Once should have been enough: the lesson is apparently hard to learn.

Why France and Britain did not fall in the same fascist trap is simple: they had been the European superpowers, 14 centuries in the case of France, eight in the case of Britain, even before Germany was created as a state. That’s a total of 22 centuries in which to make mistakes, but never mistakes so bad as to terminate the state. Thus French and British leaderships had plenty of time to learn about the pitfalls of mental inertia and hubris, and learn to avoid their exaggerated expressions. France was pretty much continuously at war… But never so seriously as to compromise the state: it took two centuries to defeat fascist all too Catholic Spain, for example… Never fighting too hard in southern Italy or northern Europe… But still hard enough to create the Netherlands on the way…

To help Russia, China, and the world, then, one must do what was not done in the 1910s, or 1930s. What we need now is a united democratic front, ready for anything. The US now cannot anymore hold back, let other democrats struggle, while favoring dictators in the hope they would overstretch themselves. If the USA had told racist German fascists clearly that it would side with its parents in the end…. Neither World War One, nor World War Two would have happened. Reason would have prevailed. It did not, because misinformation and disinformation was rife.

Patrice Ayme

Warning: War Can Be Very Surprising. The Case of the Battle Of France, May-June 1940

August 27, 2019

This is my answer to the following question: “Why didn’t Britain and France throw their full force at the western German pincer instead of evacuating at Dunkirk?”

At first sight, on paper, the French army had plenty enough power to cut the Von Manstein/Guderian “Sickle Cut” (an expression invented later by Churchill, apparently), just after it happened. It was tried and nearly worked (from the north, and from the south).

However, the nine French armored division north of the Sickle Cut couldn’t move (their supply lines were cut, inter alia). Actually they couldn’t move enough: they attempted to move from the north, but a British failure prevented them to go all the way. Immediately north of the Cut the formidable Third Heavy Armored French division had its fuel cut off.

French Tank B Which Held the fortress at Dunkirk. Nazi picture

One of the reasons the Nazis succeeded to pierce at Sedan is that only one, just one, French Reserve infantry B division faced four elite Nazi formations, including three Panzer Divisions and the superlative Gross Deutschland regiment. Plus the entire Luftwaffe. Weirdly (Guderian marvelled), long range guns from the Maginot line south didn’t engage. Worse: the Second Armored British division was supposed to be there, behind the French B division, but was not. Overall strategy assumed it was there… but it was not. Had it been there, with its superior Mathilda tanks, the Sickle Cut would not have happened.

The other reason, of course was surprise, Pearl Harbor style. A high German officer with the earlier German attack plan was in a plane that landed in Belgium (which was secret and implicit ally to France and Britain, but not officially so). He tried to burn the plan. The captured documents confirmed the correctness of the French strategy. However, the Nazi High Command, supposing (correctly) that the plans had been captured, was then forced into preparing a completely different plan, which was highly unlikely.

The Belgians had evacuated the Ardennes to the point they barely opposed any resistance, so little resistance that the extent of the enormous size of the Nazi attack through the Ardennes went undetected for several days. The French had assumed the Belgians could and would, have told them, had an enormous thrust happen through the Ardennes. The Belgians didn’t. “Neutral” small powers such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, were crucially helpful to the Nazis in various ways: the Belgian and Luxembourgian incapacity to detect two-third of the German army passing through their territory or their unwillingness to warn the French High Command of the presence of millions of Germans, and dozens of thousands of vehicles in southern Belgium, was a necessary condition for the Nazi victory of May-June 1940.

At Sedan in 1940, ONE French B Reserve Division got attacked by the Second, First and Tenth Panzer (left to right), plus other elite formations and the entire Luftwaffe… An enormous, nearly unbelievable concentration of force. The Nazis were fighting with the energy of despair, because they felt that, barring a miracle, they had already lost the war. In contrast, the French and British fought with the over-confidence of those who are sure to win: they didn’t bother looking fot the worst possible case.

When Commander in Chief Maurice Gamelin decided to send general Henri Girauld’s mobile reserve of seven armored divisions (7th army) to the Netherlands, north of Nazi general Bock’s army groups pushing through Belgium (!), Gamelin’s adjoint, and second in command of the French army, general Alphonse Georges, vigorously protested as he pointed out to Gamelin that this exposed the entire French defense system to exactly what happened: a Sickle Cut out of Sedan. Maybe Gamelin thought there would be time to react, he was not just an arrogant idiot full of himself. Nobody thought an entire army, let alone a motorized one, could sneak through the Ardennes. As the entire Nazi army went undetected (except by one Spitfire pilot, who was not believed), for many days, the surprise was total, and it was not all Gamelin’s fault.

Next, the Nazis, full of amphetamines, didn’t sleep for ten days or so. surprising Gamelin with what he called “torrents of tanks, which had to be stopped”.

At some point heavy French tanks, in the night, arrived well within shooting distance of the top Nazi generals (including Guderian, who was heading the entire armored thrust, on the battlefield)… but they didn’t detect them.

Had the French kept the mobile reserve in reserve, by the Maginot line, the “Sickle Cut would have turned into a crushing defeat for the Nazis and probably a coup against Hitler…

Nazi Panzer Korps invading France, 1940

But just one man, general Gamelin, took all the foolhardy decisions… And one man can be very wrong. As soon as Nazi engineers made successful kamikaze charges, exploding themselves against French fortifications at Sedan, the Battle of France was lost, because of the disposition of the French (and British) armored formations.

The ceasefire occurred at the end of June because France had little taste for waging war further against Japan, Germany, Italy, the USSR and, implicitly, the USA. (The gigantic losses of World War One, when France fought Germany basically alone for a year, were fresh in memory).

Roosevelt was first to recognize the Vichy Coup and sent his right hand man, four star admiral Leahy as ambassador. In Roosevelt’s view, dismantling the French empire and making (say) New Caledonia into a new Hawai’i, was Hitler’s main function… The rest was details. 

Conscious that the White House and the US Deep State had instrumentalized Hitler,to wrestle their empires from the Europeans, the US press stayed mum about the Holocaust of Poles and Jews which the Nazis had started, in 1939… for all to see. Shocking truth, but truth nevertheless. A (still) uncomprehending New York Times (they should read me more!) now bemoans that fact: that they knew, and didn’t tell.

If it had been told to the American people that an holocaust was ongoing, and the president was willing (he was not, as he only obsessed about new Caledonia), the US would have engaged in the war early in 1940, and the war would have turned against the Nazis right away… Also France would have kept fighting. France ceased fire at the end of June 1940, mostly because the US refused to open fireFrance refused to play the little US game leveraging Hitler, any longer, now that it was so clear. (That decision may have been subconscious, but it’s what happened, because, in retrospect, it was the most obvious reason on which to act…) 

Had France persisted to fight into July 1940, it could have held North Africa indefinitely… As it turned out, French Africa was back in the war, two years later. The French victory at Bir Hakeim, a modern Thermopylae on a grander scale May-June 1942) , crucially saved the British Eighth Army from annihilation, said Churchill, and evidence shows. Had the Eighth been annihilated, all the Jews in Israel, and all the oil in Iraq, would have been in Nazi hands…

A Nazi victory in 1940 was extremely unlikely, hence the overconfidence of the French and British High Command, and thus, paradoxically, their inattention to detail, or low probability, but extremely dangerous events… And overlooked the despair of the Nazi High Command, which led it to desperate, risky innovation. Thus the fact it was so unlikely for all to see, made it more probable, in the end.

The Sickle Cut through the Ardennes should have failed… And would have, had the British Second Armor Division been there, or the French Reserve been in reserve, or had simply the 200 kilometers of jammed Nazi troops and armor on three little roads been detected.

The one advantage the Nazis had on the French and British is that they had waged war for more than three years in Spain. So crucial little details worked perfectly on the Nazi side in 1940, like radios in tanks and ground to planes communications. Although the French and British and the Foreign Legion had just beaten elite Nazi units in Norway, that was not involving armored thrusts… The French and British learned, in a week, but by then the battle of France was lost. It was the most crucial battle of WW2, as it made the Nazi occupation of Europe possible: roughly 200,000 killed, including 50,000 elite Nazis, never to be seen again, 4,000 planes destroyed, half of them Nazis (and sorely missed during the air Battle of Britain, a few weeks later…[1]

In a drawn out war, the Franco-British naval blockade would have made Nazi Germany even more dependent upon Stalin than it already was…

Fighting a war is rolling the dice. The most unlikely events can occur. They did, in May 1940, when God was Nazi… And Roosevelt smiling. The USA just had to bark in 1940, to stop the Nazi charade, but didn’t. While the Canadians courageously landed in Brittany to stop the Nazi tide, the US, propagandized, dominated and perfused by base plutocrats, refused to help France, its parent…

The defeat of France in 1940 was nearly as surprising as if Russia and China pulled off a successful surprise attack on the USA, right now. Yes, French hubris played a role, as did Nazi despair. One may want to keep this in mind

Not to repeat history the same way, one should learn it, right. But be careful what you learn. The most significant history is not the history of art, or pretty princesses. The most significant history is that of military history, and holocausts. It’s surprising how much it repeats itself helped by astounding twists and turns in what initially looked like details.

Patrice Ayme

***

***

[1] Far from being a walk in the park, the Battle of France cost the Luftwaffe 36 percent of its front line strength, some 1,236–1,428 aircraft were destroyed. A further 323–488 were damaged. Luftwaffe casualties amounted to 6,653 men, including 4,417 aircrew (1,129 were killed and 1,930 were reported missing). No wonder the Luftwaffe lost next the (aerial) Battle of Britain, over Britain…

85,000 French soldiers died in combat (in 6 weeks; considering the size of the populations concerned, that would be as if 700,000 US soldiers died in combat in 6 weeks, nowadays). 3,000 Senegalese Tirailleurs were murdered after being taken prisoner (as the racial Nazis viewed them as dangerous half apes)… Britain had fewer than 10,000 killed in action (extending the atrocities visited even on some French officers, not just French troops, the Nazis cold blooded assassinated dozens of British prisoners who had surrendered)

 

Antarctica Heat Records. A Consequence Of Hubris?

April 1, 2015

WE KNEW OF NUCLEAR MELT-DOWNS. WHAT ABOUT HUBRIS MELT-DOWNS?

Hubris melting down world security, including Antarctica. Five national heat records were beaten since the start of 2015.

Including the one in Antarctica, last week.

The poles are where heat records are going to be achieved the most.

Why?

Planetary warming is concentrated there. If the temperature goes up two degrees Celsius overall, it will get up TEN degrees Celsius at the Poles. Or so I claim. (Right now we are up officially only .8 degree Celsius, in the global average.)

NASA explains why climate change is warming the poles of our planet faster than the rest this way: “energy in the atmosphere that is carried to the poles through large weather systems.”

That is true, but does not explain the big picture.

500 Kilometers South Of Esperanza Base, Lemaire Channel.

500 Kilometers South Of Esperanza Base, Lemaire Channel.

[Antarctica has 70% of the World’s sweet water.]

The big picture of why the poles are warming up so fast is proven by history, and explained by simple physics. The history of the last five million years, basic thermodynamics, biology and celestial mechanics. It’s etched in stone.

Five millions years ago, the planet was warm. The global CO2 level was the same as now. The global sea level was much higher (30 to 40 meters higher). Then the Central America isthmus closed down, thanks to all its volcanoes. This modified currents worldwide. Or, at least, so went the theory that reigned for thirty years. But now doubts have surfaced; the isthmus between the Americas may be much older than previously thought.

In any case, a few million years ago, Earth’s orbital parameters changed: the inclination of the Earth on the ecliptic (the plane in which its rotation occurs) diminished. That implied colder summers, hence the persistence, thus built-up, of ice at the poles.

Glaciations are all about the peak temperatures, in summer (the rest of the year does not count: ice melts mostly in the warmest two months).

The Arctic became colder, as it got colder in summer. Ice gained, shutting down the CO2 within the ocean with a cold water lid. So CO2 levels in the lower atmosphere collapsed… Down to about 280 ppm. That increased the cooling down. The ice gained further… Until it went so south that it melted in summer.

The planet ended up with two very white, snowy and icy poles, reflecting a lot of light back to space. Earth got equipped with two immense refrigerators. This is the environment in which our species evolved (although there were a few transient spikes even warmer than today, for as inclination over the ecliptic became momentarily pronounced, with torrid summers that made ice melt; the present warming is different, as it is Anthropogenic Green House Gases driven; particularly nasty volcanism could drive the CO2 up, but did not happen in the last five million years.)

Now we are back to Pliocene CO2 levels, 5 million years ago. With these levels of CO2, so much infrared radiation gets trapped close the ground, that the refrigerators are bound to melt. Another reason is that the warm CO2 blanket tends to unify the temperature.

Another way to look at it is that the temperature of the equatorial regions is an average of 25C. The average temperature of the planet is 15C. The average temperature within Antarctica goes from -10C (Coast) to -60C (Interior). Say it’s minus 45C (the official estimate).

If the CO2 blanket is thick enough, the poles will roughly get as warm as the rest.

There will be a lot of inertia: when an ice cube melts in water, the water stays around freezing during the process.

The warmest temperature recorded on the continent of Antarctica occurred on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Shown below:

Esperanza Base, Antarctica: the Glaciers Even Appear To Be Melting

Esperanza Base, Antarctica: the Glaciers Even Appear To Be Melting

[Glaciers that are melting are thin at the margins, and convex… Just as above on the left and center.]

The previous record was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina’s Marambio Base, an island just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

I am warming up to this subject. (And I did not even mention the relationship between obesity and rising CO2 that some researchers have recently suggested. C02 rose around 30% in 60 years…)

According to satellite data, researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK, found that sea level rise around the coast of Antarctica over the past 19 years was 8 centimeters (3.15 inches).

Average sea level rise was 6 centimeters (2.36 inches).

Why the difference?

Last summer, in Nature Geoscience, the specialists explained that melting glaciers create an outflow of sweet water. As it is less dense, it floats above the salted water, according to Archimedes Principle.

This will only accelerate melting.

Up north, on February 25, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent reached its annual maximum extent. It was the lowest, and earliest, ever.

Humanity would seem to be in a fascinating state of denial. But not really. After all, maybe only 2,000 individuals lead the world.

Those individuals, who Obama calls the “leaders” (what else?) can only adopt Louis XV of France’s utterance: ”Après moi, le déluge”. (After me, the flood.)

Indeed those leaders are different creatures. Those who are so much greedier for personal power that they end up dominating billions, can only be blinded by it. They have more power than anybody before. More power than any tyrant ever had before.

Contemplate Benjamin Netanyahu: he could fry Iran, with Israeli H bombs. That has got to make him dizzy. And he leads only six million Israeli Jews (who make 75% of Israel’s 8 million).

Now think of Putin, with 24 times more subjects, and more than 8,000 nukes.

Then contemplate the senseless wars the Greek city-states were making to each other. Everybody was allied, and enemy, of everybody else, and often in very short order (weeks). Meanwhile the “King”, namely the emperor of Persia, was busy making the mess messier, with the tremendous money, power and influence at his disposal.

This fibrillating, bellicose frenzy went on and on. Until the plutocrats from the north, the Macedonians, whose wealth rested on horses and gold mines, swooped down.

We could easily fall back in a similar state.

It was the inability of Athens to impose a sustainable empire that caused the war panic in Greece. The war itself was launched by Sparta’s anxiety for the rise of Athenian power (said Thucydides, 24 centuries ago). Sparta’s socio-economic model, ferocious racist exploitation (of the Helots) was failing. Athens’ global trade was winning.

But, too sure of her strength, Athens mismanaged the war (in several dimensions: ethically, strategically, tactically, diplomatically, epidemiologically, etc.).

Result? 23 centuries of eclipse of direct democracy. And counting. Direct Democracy has been re-installed only in Switzerland. Now the stakes are higher. Western Europe is at peace… All too much.

The Main Stream Media have put everybody to sleep. Regularly the media, in turn, publish articles of Matt Ridley. An excellent writer, with a PhD in biology, author of many best sellers in life sciences, Matt Ridley returns to the Wall Street Journal to to argue against clean energy rapidly scaling up, and the science linking the year 2014’s record heat, widespread extreme weather with carbon pollution.

Lord Ridley is a parody of plutocrat. Not only he sieges at the Chamber of Lords, he is a “coal baron” with a revenue from a coal mine on his family estate of six million dollars a year. Yes, he is a major corrupt banker too.

Such people mold world public opinion, as their friends in the MSM give them the means for propaganda. See Lord Ridley’s Rule.

Because they did not have even enough elements to get angry, let alone fight our corrupt leaders, and take over their so-called leadership, our supine populations will soon have to fight the flood. And a real one.

And that will come with a Greek situation, the war of all against all (whom Xenophon related in his Hellenica, the primary source for Greek history from 411 BCE to 362 BCE, the explicit continuation of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides).

The war of all against all may have already started. See Obama desperate to strike a deal with his friends of the instant, in Iran and Russia, while others (notably France) want an exemplary accord, and hang tough. Well, France is right. The last thing we need is nuclear weapons all over, while the global flooding accelerates.

Patrice Ayme’

Hubris As Laziness, Economy Of Intelligence.

October 10, 2009

HUBRIS, OLIGARCHY, AND LACK OF INTELLIGENCE & EDUCATION ALL RELATE, OR WHY THE USA IS GOING DOWN.

***

Abstract: The USA used to be proud, independent, self reliant. For example, 100% of US planes flying in the USA used to be made in the USA. But now only fast shrinking small portions of new planes are. Even getting to space is becoming a problem, for the USA. The proverbial ‘rocket scientist’ is becoming an endangered species, at least in the USA (not so in Russia, Europe, China, India).

Why is this diminution of American technological expertise happening? Some will say: not so, look at all the American Nobel Prizes! But a closer inspection shows that many came from overseas, and have dual citizenships: long ago, they followed the gold, and went where the labs were.

All serious objectives criterions show a serious devaluation of education, both in money circulating through it (too much going to private bankers instead), and in the regard the society has for mental achievements. How did this happen? Well, the simultaneous rise of hubris in the oligarchy is related to the decay of intelligence and education. (This hubris is expressed by far flung wars through false reasons, as if having a war for breakfast goes well with croissants, and as if having too much money for the oligarchy was a sustainable feat.)

I explain the strange decay of education, while the oligarchy rose, and the explanation exhibits a mental complex that played in other times and places (the educational decay of the USA also shows up in other advanced large economies, such as France, although not to the same extent; conversely many small economies with big ambition, such as Finland, have done extremely well, by throwing money and consideration at the problem.)

***

Education in the USA used to be one of the best in the world, and the superiority of the USA rested on it. Nowadays, though, it is approaching gravitational collapse. Although Obama made a very laudable effort, the collapse of the states’ educational budgets has made matter worse, overall.

The word "collapse" is not an exaggeration. An example: the budget of the University of California, once the world’s top public educational institution, was cut by more than 800 million out of a total of 3.2 billion (a cut of 25% qualifies as a collapse, in my opinion). Now, sure, California is led by an Austrian born body builder, whose father was a Nazi and SA: thus one may suspect that Californian leaders are not selected for a propensity to high mental achievements. In the last year, at least 40,000 teachers’ jobs were cut in the USA (some say up to 143,000). What is clear is that a few top traders at Goldman Sachs, a government bank, privately managed, will share 20 billion dollars in bonuses of public, taxpayer money, while teachers working at some prestigious universities cannot afford a home on their salaries alone.

Now, of course, for saving Goldman-Sachs and allowing the top traders there to pursue their notion of happiness, same as they did before, his greatest achievement so far, Barack Obama amply deserves the Nobel prize in economics, but that’s another story…

The decay of education in the USA is directly related to the rise of hubris of its exaggerated oligarchy. In three ways:

First, the more uneducated the oligarchy, the more hubristic it gets. Second, the more uneducated the People, the easier the rise and reign of the oligarchy. Third, and more subtle of them all, hubris is fundamentally a form of mental laziness. Hubris displaces the intelligent, adapted answer, the expression of a fresh brain, and replaces it by rote and trying to violently force through what has worked before… even when it does not work anymore.

Intelligent creatures, when they got safe, comfortable and lazy long enough to forget the advantages intelligence provides with, prefer this, being mentally lazy, because the brain devours more than 20% of the body’s energy. Thus few things are more tiring than re-arranging one’s brain. Hence it is understandable, and usual, that particularly successful societies tend to suffer mental collapses into hubris. Not just this, but the very attraction of mental laziness, drawing the People towards the bovine, is best realized by putting an oligarchy in increasing charge. So the People is accomplice in its own future oppression, and finds bovine comfort in it. This is the mental phenomenon that led the Roman empire to decay, and actually one of the main reasons for the rise of empires.

A really sustainable society is therefore organized so as to provide with a minimum of internal strife, be it only of a mental character. Bovine contemplation does not sit well with a healthy human society. The USA has to learn that arguing -presenting arguments- is not just healthy in all ways, but also a life saver, especially at the civilizational level.

The concept of "transformation" is brandished a lot in the USA these days. Positive transformation, progress, means applying more intelligence and that can only rise through more education. Education means a huge societal effort, led by the government. It cannot be led privately alone. Anti-government propaganda in the USA, on the very merit of the concept of government of the People by the People, prevents this, though. education is the first victim.

Patrice Ayme

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

****


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