Friday, October 26, 2012

Nice Weather For Ducks

Well, that's 16 stone o'snails consumed, and now we're back on the seas of ether!
Oh yes mates, that was a tough week.
Sheephouse is still sorting out his negatives, but in the meantime, he found time to write a little ditty about a Capn's favourite subject - Weather!
It's been bad, but it's going to get worse.
He's a sage old soak is Sheephouse, but me and Mog like him . . .
Even though he eats snails.


You know what - this FB has nothing to do with photography.
I know, I know, but get over it.
I have been conducting many amusing and interesting photographic exploits for your edification, but they will appear later.
I just had to get this off my chest.

The title of this week's FB alludes to the marvellous track by Lemon Jelly - you should listen to it - it has a jolly sound and a good beat, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
But in typical FB offroadness, here we go in another direction.
The baldy (but excellent drummer) Phil Collins once, in solo guise, intoned the following lyrics:

Though your hurt is gone, mine's hanging on, inside
And I know, it's eating me through every night and day
I'm just waiting on your sign
Now I, Now I wish it would rain down, down on me
Yes I wish it would rain, rain down on me now
Yes I wish it would rain down, down on me
Yes I wish it would rain on me

Well Phil, it did and it does and it will.
I don't know about you lot, but I am looking at a future of wellies and ponchos, of web-feet and oily feathers.
If I were of a scientific bent, I would say that yes indeed, the sheer amount of water vapour in the air and a warmer planet can only mean one thing - more rain.
But as a man from a Darker Age (and I do count myself amongst these out-of-time individuals) I will say that the planet is angry. Very angry.
Whichever way you look at it, I think we're pretty fcecked.
But then again what do I know? I'm just a pleb at a keyboard who thinks a lot about things.
I do know one thing though, and that is that British infrastructure is entirely unprepared for the levels of rainfall we are experiencing.
So, apart from questionable flood defences is anything really being done?
Is it going to take armageddon-style rain, a spring tide with higher sea levels and the failure of the Thames Barrier to make people realise that this is serious?
Will people start to think when 20 million litres of backed-up sewage explode out of the manholes of the Capital?
Instead of mucking around with millions and millions of pounds of public money for this and that questionable social cause, why not direct it into a mass culvertisation of the parts of the country that need it most?
Massive unemployment?
Do a Roosevelt and bring in the likes of the PWA (Public Works Administration) ** and get these works moving . . and fast.
(I know that all sounds dreadfully un-environmentally friendly, but drastic times call for dreastic measures sometimes and to be honest it could be done properly.)
Back in the day when people in this wonderful old land lived closer to nature, it was entirely obvious that a flood plain was there for a reason. In Winter or Autumn when heavy rain upland loaded the river systems, the plains took the brunt of that water, flooding over and providing a valuable resource and fertile land. People didn't live on them because to do so would have been stupid.
But the world has changed again.
The almighty monetary unit has, I am afraid, greased more palms and lined more pockets. Despite seemingly draconian planning regulations, we've built on flood plains, shoved housing estates in where there should never have been any, grossly underestimated drainage capacity, ignored all the warnings from old guys leaning on gates saying:
"You don't want to build that there . . ."
In other words there never has  been much in the way of 'joined-up' (how I hate that expression, but it fits) thinking about anything that might happen in the future. And actually there probably never will be.
Yes we build next to rivers . . . it's a mankind thing, but the river is your friend and should never be your enemy.
Unfortunately though, most rivers are now unable to cope with their original vocation, and they are starting to flood. Regularly.
And what can we do, because we've melted the ice caps; we pump gallons of water vapour into the air from our reliance on condensing boilers; we've built on land that should never have been built on; we've paved over gardens; concretised green spaces; relied way too much on the benevolence of Victorian waste water systems; we've built and demanded and raped and dug and scarred and disrespected the one thing that we need to take care of - this land.
The bones of old Albion are in a sorry state these days because few care.
Instead of looking after that which gives us our everything (and remember this is a Prehistoric Man speaking, so I mean everything, place and soul too) we've become destructive and intransigent, which is a dangerous and self-fulfilling way to be.
We actually hold our own destruction in our own two hands. We are lifting that handful of earth which we've formed into our own god-like shape into the air, and we're passing it onto our children with no thought for them.
A recent holiday helped me experience the sheer change in the weather in a very obvious manner.
We've caravan holidayed for years and yes it has always rained - that is part of the fun. But these new-style pulsing tropical showers that the West of Britain now gets in off the Atlantic (we're sort of unused to them over here in the East of Scotland - though we certainly do get incredible rain at times)  were so intense and so sharp (rather like someone turning on a tap full blast for a short period of time and then turning it off quickly) that they were actually frightening in their severity.
The Prehistoric Man that is me, felt himself cowering against the wrath that the planet was unleashing.
And curiously it did feel like wrath.
They stopped as quickly as they started, and then started again. They were relentless and unforgiving. 
So can I only assume that these will get worse?
Planetary science is a complex and interlinked subject, but as far as I can tell, more ice melt, means more fresh water in the sea and higher sea levels. A warmer planet means greater evaporation  from that engorged sea. Greater evaporation means more water vapour in the atmosphere. Water vapour creates clouds. More clouds with more water vapour, generally means more rain.
If I have been too simple about this, then please feel free to tell me - I am an everyman science person. I was rubbish at the sciences at school, but I am still interested, and I walk around with an open mind and open eyes and ears.
Whichever way we look at it though, it doesn't look very bright does it?
Of course it is more than likely a natural cycle, but an accelerated natural cycle. There was a period in the Dark Ages when crops failed on a massive basis, leading to famine and war. This was possibly a consequence of the mass destruction of the forests and burning of wood (and they got through a lot of wood then - I know . . I was there!) combined with undocumented volcanic activity. I don't know, but what I do know is that the consequences of vast cloud cover were devestating.
Actually though, we are possibly in a worse position than our ancestors - for a start there's a hell of a lot  more of us with a greater demand on dwindling resources.
And secondly, here in the West we're also utterly useless when it comes to self-suffiency.
What was the old adage about society . . that it was three square meals short of anarchy? ***
It's not quite that bad, but it certainly isn't rosy. All this rain. All that cloud cover. Not enough sunshine.
Can you imagine the consequences of food shortages?
I mean proper food shortages - rationing, maybe even worse. Civil intervention to prevent looting?
I stood aghast in Tescos last night - I genuinly saw a squeezy bottle of Manuka honey for £13.99! Even ordinary honey has tripled in price in the last 8 years, simply because there are no bees. ****
Prices are increasing on everything because the crops have failed in such a way this year that it is frightening.
And what are you going to eat when the crops fail?
Are you stockpiling now?
Would you be prepared to defend yourself if someone found out about your horde and they were starving?
Could you kill to defend your collection of tins?
This does seem to be getting out of hand, but I am typing and thinking and musing so bear with me - I know a lot of you are probably sniggering into your mugs, but honest, society is that fragile.
And you there, whipping through pages on your phone or your iPad, don't even get me going upon the reliance on communications systems that can be destroyed by electromagnetic pulses . . is it any wonder the Russians relied on vacuum tubes for their Cold War communications? Can you imagine a failure of even one communications network?
There was a fantastic book written in the 1970's by the Italian sociologist Roberto Vacca, called 'The Coming Dark Age'. It should have been required reading in schools, but like most education, we're (to quote Ian Anderson) skating away on the thin ice of a new day . .
It provided a number of scenarios where parts of society collapsed , and I found it chilling and thoughtful and actually, very factually written . .
And that was back in the 1970's.
Imagine the consequences nowadays.

The Portent Of Doom
Roberto Vacca's Masterwork

The whole downfall of society was touched upon by Terry Nation in his book 'Survivors' and the subsequent TV Series (and forget about the remake from a couple of years back . . what's that smell? Phwoeargh - utter drivel!). In it a virus is spread around earth with remarkable ease leaving small pockets of survivors who end up at war with each other.
There are two other books I can recommend on this subject:
First (obviously) 'The Day Of The Triffids' by John Wyndham - arguably the greatest survival book ever written.
And then a lesser-known but still incredible book 'All Fool's Day' by Edmund Cooper.
Both deal with this theme beautifully.
There were many other books which also ploughed this furrow back then (in particular John Christopher's 'The Death Of Grass') but if you are interested in that style of book I would say go with Wyndham and Cooper.

The Trimvirat Of Doom
Epic In Scale - The Chill Voices Of Seers

Anyway, as usual this is digression, but it is founded.
You know you sometimes sense there's things going on, but you're not sure what?
That visceral instinct of intuition?
Well I feel it, but I can't put my finger on it. It isn't a positive feeling though.
I feel something cataclysmic and dreadful is lurching into life like never before.
Our planet is angry with us. And that might be the Prehistoric Me speaking, but it is also the rational 21st Century man too. Hard to know where it is going to go really. We've been here before, and personally I have weathered the naysayers and doom-merchants till I am sick of it, and haven't said a thing, but now, this time, I think we're just over the crest of the hill and are picking up speed, heading downhill without any brakes.
I'm sorry that the tone of this FB is so negative, but I worry about things. I worry how my wife and son and neices and nephews would cope in a world where the worst has happened. You have to think about these things - they aren't just going to go away!
Anyway, just to cheer you up, here's a short film I made - I think it sums things up quite nicely.

Enough. Rant over.
You know I was just going to leave it at that and sign off, but somehow it didn't feel right.
The world is in big trouble, but it can be benevolent if you are open-minded and respect it.
I felt I was a tad critical of everything in today's FB - my rant had taken me along negative roads (can you see where I am going yet?) . . s'cuse the pun, but this is FB - it has to be negative, and sure enough just when I thought it didn't feel quite right this week, I thought and thought and realised that I could shoehorn in some photography. So here it is.

Ilford Delta 400 in HC 110

The above just shows what opportunities for photos turn up at the most unexpected times.
There I was wandering along enjoying a stroll, when I rounded a corner and came face to face with nature's bounty.
Storms and worsening weather can generally mean one thing in a forest - - upended trees. And sure enough here one is, but look at the naturalistic form that has been given to the roots.
I beat my chest and worshipped and gave thanks.
Prehistoric Man will always find gods in anything natural, and here was this wonderful profile just sitting at the edge of the path.
It was made on my newly acquired Leica with the 1934 50mm uncoated Elmar. It isn't a particularly sharp lens (despite what you might read elsewhere) but boy has it captured the spirit of this form.
As I move further along my photographic journey I realise that contrast is often overdone. Coating lenses might well have helped in colour transmission, but it somehow made B&W a bit too contrasty.
One thing you won't read about the Elmar is that it is better as a people lens. In other words it seems to work a lot better in the 3 to 10 feet sector. In that range it renders things deliciously smoothly.
As a landscape lens, it can be a bit difficult to use, as a lot of variables start to come in, like lighting and contrast.
But close-up, I think it is beautiful. And stunning.
And I don't know, but it felt right to render something like this with a lens that is that old.
The negative was made on Ilford Delta 400 rated at EI 320. It was developed in HC110 Dilution G for 20 minutes at 21 C.
It might well have been sharper had I used a more concentrated dilution, but there were a lot of differing scenes on the roll, and Dilution G it was.
So that's it.
Be open to the natural scene, listen to your inner Prehistoric Man and
Respect nature, please.
Remember, we've spent a lot longer living close to our earthly Mother than we have in our concrete and stone boxes.
Until next time - take care, God bless, and keep taking the tablets.


*** This appears to have been a bit of an urban myth being attributed to either Larry Niven (the SF writer), or Grant and Naylor the writers of Red Dwarf.

**** Possible solutions to the future of bees here:
I personally feel that the abundance of so many telecommunications masts has something to do with it too.

1 comment:

  1. There is no debate about the earth's mean average temperature rising - that is an indisputable fact. The debate comes as to why. In oil and resource rich areas of the world, where work is centred around these resources, there is massive pushback against the "man-made pollution cause" in all its forms because livelihoods depend on them. In regions where there is little to be gained from resource jobs, there is suddenly great hues and cries about having to stop cars, oil production and industry. In the end, we are survivors that will do anything to protect our families, our properties, our food supplies, regardless of whether or not we believe we are doing wrong. Recycle? Sure, as long as it doesn't cost me personally. Cut down on car use? Sure, as long as I can still keep two vehicles. Wind or solar power? Sure as long as it doesn't raise my utility bill. With China and India and Indonesia all coming into their own and demanding what the West has had for more than a century, we are definitely on the downward side of the slope. Sadly, in most cases, the people in the West that are trying to do something about the world's environmental situation are those that have nothing to lose or haven't had to face losing what they have....yet.