Pining for the Neolithic

Water's edge - Lexey Swall, NYT.jpg

The New York Times is again up to its old apocalyptic tricks. Today it has published yet another in a long, hot summer's worth of climate-hysteria screeds, this one by journalist Roy Scranton, who gives every appearance of wishing to forego his computer, flush toilet and AC (amenities he claims to value) in order to go Full Neolithic. Says Scranton:

The paucity of historical evidence and the eradication of native peoples’ culture by European colonizers make it difficult to reconstruct precontact indigenous life in all its detail. What evidence there is, combined with anthropological insights into similarly premodern cultures, strongly suggests that despite having to persevere without the miraculous comforts, devices and potions upon which we thoughtlessly depend, they almost certainly lived lives at least as meaningful, complex, rich and joyful as our own.

As for benighted, progress-obsessed Westerners like Scranton and presumably at least some readers of the New York Times:

We humans of the Anthropocene Era, inhabitants of a global capitalist civilization built on fossil fuels, slavery and genocide, are used to living with the fruits of that civilization.

At least two questions arise. 

Why is Roy Scranton frittering away his summer in the lap of luxury on Maryland's Delmarva Peninsula, where, he tells us, he penned this most recent lament? And if the lives of those in premodern cultures are “at least as meaningful, complex, rich and joyful” as ours in the capitalist West, why does global mass-migration move only in one direction—towards the Delmarva Peninsula?

On Butterfly Derangement Syndrome™

Butterfly - R. Weihrauch, Picture-Alliance.jpg

The European variant of Butterfly Derangement Syndrome™ appears to have passed another critical threshold this summer.

Deutsche Welle (DW) yesterday reported that butterflies are "flourishing" in Europe. "With a cold winter behind us and a hot, dry summer that is still playing out in Europe now, there are more butterflies, which are able to fly around longer and feed on lots of nectar."


Exactly one year ago, the same publication asked, "Where have all the butterflies gone?" Answer: "Everyone likes butterflies. They're beautiful and they don't sting or bite us. But these colorful insects have seen a dramatic decline in the past few decades. And the reason why is even more alarming."

Here are the even-more-alarming causes of catastrophic butterfly decline cited by DW  last summer:

Plant diversity is dwindling, particularly in regions where intensive monoculture agriculture dominates, which leaves little choice for our beloved butterflies.

Crop protection products like herbicides and pesticides destroy biodiversity. Wild herbs, plants or flowers can't survive in areas with monoculture farming.

So there you have it. This year's robust seasonal temperature variations have allowed butterflies to proliferate copiously and in their fullest splendor. But a year ago industrial farming techniques had brought them to the brink of extinction—mass casualties at "the frontlines of humans' war with nature," as DW put it so memorably. Conclusion: it's not easy being green. But it's even harder keeping these competing eco-alarmist narratives churning concurrently. First the pikas, then the penguins and the polar bears, now the butterflies—who'd have thought it would be such a challenge coming up with a durable poster species for the climate apocalypse?

But not to worry. In keeping with Butterfly Derangement Syndrome™—a form of mass-psychosis characterized by the anxiety of knowing that what we see plainly before us cannot be true—the gossamer-winged beauties of Europe may yet face imminent doom, according to DW:

Sadly, due to the extreme heat, there could be problems down the line for the tiny beauties.... While many plants butterflies usually lay their eggs in have died from the heat, fewer plants means fewer eggs, fewer caterpillars—and eventually, fewer butterflies. So next summer, you might not see that many butterflies around anymore.

It's always something. If it's not monoculture farming and pesticides, it's extreme heat. Either way, according to DW, the butterflies that are thick on the ground and "flourishing" in balmy Europe this summer are looking down the barrel of a grim future, starting as early as this autumn.

Best to get out and enjoy them while you can.

Year Zero in Victoria, B.C.

JAM truck - Megan Thomas, CBC.jpg
Erasure - Megan Thomas, CBC.jpg

These two photos have accompanied this morning's CBC coverage of the removal of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from Victoria City Hall.

A plaque will be erected to replace the statue. It reads:

We will keep the public informed as the Witness Reconciliation Program unfolds, and as we find a way to recontextualize Macdonald in an appropriate way.

That this act of erasure has been spearheaded by a trained historian makes it all the more Orwellian.

Welcome to the New Victoria, Year Zero.