July 25, 2012

Climate Science and Solutions

Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation


Observations


Almost all of Australia has warmed over the 50 years since 1960. …
The long-term trend in Australia-wide average temperature … is clear and distinct [against] the observed background variability.
(p 3)

It is extremely unlikely that the observed global-scale warming is due to natural variability.
(p 6)


Greenhouse Gases


Climate change is a risk management issue — the longer we take to act and the weaker our actions, the greater the risk of dangerous outcomes.
(p 15)


Response

  • Action within the next decade to lower greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the probability and severity of climate change impacts.
  • Agriculture and forestry hold great potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through afforestation, soil carbon management, and better management of livestock and cropping emissions.
  • Making the right energy choices for Australia’s future from among our abundant options will often be a matter of choosing the energy source, or combination of sources, for a particular context.
  • Practical and sometimes beneficial low cost actions can make significant progress in tackling climate change.

[Proactive] adaptation to these challenges can create future opportunities for growth, development, and sustainability.
(p 135)


CONTENTS


Introduction

Science
Impacts

Adaptation
Mitigation
Response

July 21, 2012

Late Night Live

ABC Radio National

Peter Kuznick:
[During the Cuban missile crisis] US boats were dropping depth charges on the Soviet sub that was … accompanying the ships that were moving toward … the quarantine line.
And we'd knocked out the power systems, the carbon dioxide is rising, the Soviet sailors are … passing out, and the commander says:
War must have started already, let's fire our nuclear torpedo!
— and gave the order to fire.
[Vasili] Arkhipov, who was a sub-commander on the ship, talked him out of it.
Had Arkhipov not talked him out of it, then the Soviets were going to fire their nuclear torpedo, nuclear war would have begun in 1962 and much of the world as we know it would have been wiped out.

Tony Windsor:
I've always been a fan of having a price of carbon …
Even John Howard, and Malcolm Turnbull, and Tony Abbott supported it back in [the day.]
They proposed to have an emissions trading scheme, but to get the institutional framework in place, you've really got to have a fixed price for a certain period of time.
[For Howard and Turnbull that was 1-2 years.]
[Under the current scheme it's] only a fixed price, or a tax, until 2014 when it becomes an emissions trading scheme. …
It is the cheapest way of trying to deal with the risks that are out there.

CONTENTS


The Indispensable Nation

Tony Windsor

Buying Politicians

Money Talks

The Philosopher's Zone

ABC Radio National


CONTENTS


The Philosophical Baby

Among the Dead Cities

Human Consciousness and Free Will

Extreme Events and Disasters

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Impacts of Heat Waves in Urban Areas in Europe


Factors affecting exposure and vulnerability include
  • age,
  • pre-existing health status,
  • level of outdoor activity,
  • socioeconomic factors including poverty and social isolation,
  • access to and use of cooling,
  • physiological and behavioral adaptation of the population, and
  • urban infrastructure.

Options for risk management and adaptation …

Low-regrets options …
  • Early warning systems that reach particularly vulnerable groups (eg, the elderly)
  • Vulnerability mapping and corresponding measures
  • Public information on what to do during heat waves, including behavioral advice
  • Use of social care networks to reach vulnerable groups

Specific adjustments in strategies, policies, and measures informed by trends in heat waves include
  • awareness raising of heat waves as a public health concern;
  • changes in urban infrastructure and land use planning, for example, increasing urban green space;
  • changes in approaches to cooling for public facilities; and
  • adjustments in energy generation and transmission infrastructure.

Increasing Losses from Hurricanes in the USA and the Caribbean


Exposure and vulnerability are increasing due to growth in population and increase in property values, particularly along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States.
Some of this increase has been offset by improved building codes.


Options for risk management and adaptation …

Low-regrets options …
  • Adoption and enforcement of improved building codes
  • Improved forecasting capacity and implementation of improved early warning systems (including evacuation plans and infrastructures)
  • Regional risk pooling

In the context of high underlying variability and uncertainty regarding trends, options can include emphasizing adaptive management involving learning and flexibility (eg, Cayman Islands National Hurricane Committee).
(Table SPM.1, p 17)


Confidence, Evidence, Agreement and Probability


Based on the Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties, this Summary for Policymakers relies on two metrics for communicating the degree of certainty in key findings …
  • Confidence in the validity of a finding, based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence … and the degree of agreement.
    Confidence is expressed qualitatively.
  • Quantified measures of uncertainty in a finding expressed probabilistically (based on statistical analysis of observations or model results, or expert judgment). …

Direct comparisons between assessment of uncertainties in findings in this report and those in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report are difficult if not impossible, because of
  • the application of the revised guidance note on uncertainties …
  • the availability of new information, improved scientific understanding, continued analyses of data and models, and
  • specific differences in methodologies applied in the assessed studies. …

The following summary terms are used to describe
  • the available EVIDENCE: limited, medium, or robust; [and]
  • the degree of AGREEMENT: low, medium, or high.
A level of CONFIDENCE is expressed using five qualifiers: very low [low agreement, limited evidence], low, medium, high, and very high [high agreement, robust evidence].

Unless otherwise indicated, high or very high confidence is associated with findings for which an author team has assigned a likelihood term.

TermLikelihood of the Outcome
Virtually certain99–100% probability
Very Likely90–100% probability
Likely66–100% probability
About as likely as not33–66% probability
Unlikely0–33% probability
Very unlikely0–10% probability
Exceptionally unlikely0–1% probability



CONTENTS


Context

Observations

Past Experience

Future Changes

Managing Changing Risks

July 15, 2012

Saturday Extra

ABC Radio National


The Second Gilded Age


Geraldine Doogue:
The three richest Australians now own more than the million poorest Australians.
That's pretty amazing, isn't it?!
(Making sense of 2016, 13 February 2016)


Simon Marginson: Professor of International Higher Education, University College London

I suspect the eye of the needle has closed a bit, when you're trying to enter the upper echelons of society.
And that's the result of this massive shift of inequality: when you look at the figures it's quite staggering when you look at the top 1% of the top 1% [ie the top 1 in 10,000] taking nearly all the fruits of economic growth. …
[So, when you] look at the position of the top 1% in incomes:
  • in the US they've got 20% of all income,
  • in the UK they've got about 16%, and
  • in Australia they've got 10 to 11%. …

If a child is from a very wealthy family, they really aren't going to need to go to university to have a successful life, because they're going to inherit from this generation of super-managers with super salaries.
And you're going to see a build up of old style wealth in the next generation — people who are living on capital income and property. …

Education is still very important for the lower middle-class family. …
[But if] the rich are exiting the tax system [and] aren't really sharing the benefits of a common approach to education or health or any other … public service, then they're [unlikely] to pay for it either.
[In] that situation, those who are benefiting [from the common project] are also carrying the cost as well, so their net position is reduced. …

The working of the market doesn't create the inequality that's now quite extreme by international and historical standards — it's the tax and transfer and public spending side of the United States that turns market inequality of a moderate level into extreme inequality in terms of final incomes.

(Education and social mobility, 25 July 2015)


Wealth is always much more concentrated than labor incomes. …

There has been an explosive growth of managerial salaries in the US and UK …
Highly paid managers often set their own remuneration, including bonuses, or negotiate their remuneration with boards of like-minded folk on which they themselves sit. …
[Between] 1980 and 2010 the share [of income in the US] held by the top 0.1% rose from 2% to nearly 10%.
[And, by 2030, it is anticipated that] the top 1% in the US will receive 25% of all income …
In the UK between 1980 and 2010, the income share of the top 1% moved from 6 to 15%, reaching the highest level since the 1930s.
(pp 12-13)

In the next generation, when today’s super manager salary is tomorrow’s inheritance, society will become more closed at the top, reducing meritocratic mobility into and within the elite, while at the same time income shares will continue to decline at the middle and bottom of the pyramid.

In the US the top 1% recovered quickly [following the 2008 recession,] securing 93% of all additional income in 2009-2010 while the average homeowner lost more than a third in property value.
In both the US and UK the shares of the top 1%, 0.1% and the top 0.01% are now climbing above pre-recession levels.
[The financial industry captured] more than 40% of all US profits prior to the recession …
After triggering the crisis, the … sector has been able to use the crisis to further expand its share of wealth.
… AIG alone received more $180 billion in the federal government’s recession bailout, more than was spent on the welfare of the poor in the US for the whole of the period 1990-2006.
(p 14)

The lesson of the last fifty years is that higher education does not [create] egalitarian societies on its own, though it can facilitate them. …
In aggregate, what happens with incomes, wealth, labour markets, taxation, government spending, social programmes, and urban development, are overwhelmingly more important.
(p 20)

[The University of California has] a more egalitarian entry policy than Oxford and Cambridge …
[It has] as many low-income students, and students from under-represented minorities, as the whole Ivy League.
Under the progressive tuition policy, 40% of undergraduates at Berkeley are subsidized by other students and pay no tuition, and two thirds of all students receive at least some financial aid.
Half of all of Berkeley’s students graduate with no debt.
(p 21)

(Valuing Research into Higher Education, Keynote Address: 50th Anniversary Colloquium, Institute of Education, University College London, 26 June 2015)

Would you like to know more?


CONTENTS


The New Gilded Age

Who pays for solar?

Heads I win. Tails you lose.

Religious Fascism

Anywhere but here

Malaysian refugee policy

Counting the Dead: Sri Lanka

Clean energy subsidies

Taking Responsibility

Land of the Free

The Ethics of Incentives

July 7, 2012

Technology, Entertainment and Design

Green Army: Communications

Paul Bloom (1963):
[Reason] helps us to create a better world.
(Why Do We Create Stereotypes?, TED Radio Hour, NPR, 14 November 2014)

Michael Sandel


In 2009, Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, distributed free curricular materials about the energy industry to sixty-six thousand fourth-grade teachers.
The curriculum, called the “United States of Energy,” was funded by the American Coal Foundation.
The industry-sponsored lesson plan highlighted the benefits of coal but made no mention of mining accidents, toxic waste, greenhouse gases, or other environmental effects.
(p 198)

In 1983, US companies spent $100 million advertising to children.
In 2005, they spent $16.8 billion.
(p 199)

Advertising encourages people to want things and to satisfy their desires.
Education encourages people to reflect critically on their desires, to restrain or to elevate them.
The purpose of advertising is to recruit consumers; the purpose of public schools is to cultivate citizens.

It isn’t easy to teach students to be citizens, capable of thinking critically about the world around them, when so much of childhood consists of basic training for a consumer society.
(p 200)

(What Money Can't Buy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)

Would you like to know more?





Frans De Waal


Professor of Primate Behaviour, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta

[Humanity is] much more cooperative and empathic than given credit for. …
[There are two] pillars of morality. …
  • One is reciprocity [coupled with] a sense of justice [and] fairness.
  • And the other … empathy and compassion.
[Human] morality is more than this [but these are] absolutely essential.

(Moral behavior in animals, 26 October 2011)

Would you like to know more?


CONTENTS


Pillars of Morality

Political and Economic Democracy

The Spirit Level

July 6, 2012

Australian Academy of Science

Green Army: Research and Development

Australian Academy of Science:
If emissions continue unabated, current mid-range estimates are for 4-5°C higher global average temperatures by 2100, which would mean that the world would be hotter than at any time in the last few million years. …
The further climate is pushed beyond the envelope of relative stability [the greater] the risk of passing tipping points that will result in profound changes in climate, vegetation, ocean circulation [and/or] ice sheet stability.
(The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers, 2010, p 15)

CONTENTS


What is climate change?

How has the climate changed in the distant past?

How has the climate changed in the recent past?

Are human activities causing climate change?

How do we expect climate to evolve in the future?

What are the consequences of climate change?

How do we deal with the uncertainty in the science?

Would you like to know more?

July 2, 2012

Matthieu Ricard

Green Army: Persons of Interest


PoisonAntidote
EgoismAltruism
Caring for oneselfCaring for others
EnvyJoy
FearTrust
AngerPatience
CrueltyKindness
PrideHumility
GreedGenerosity
EntitlementGratitude


The Eight Worldly Conditions
GainLoss
FameNotoriety
PraiseBlame
HappinessSuffering

Bhagavad Gita:
Dwelling on sense-objects gives birth to attachment, attachment gives birth to desire.
Desire (unfulfilled) brings into existence the life of anger.
From anger delusions springs up, from delusion the confusion of memory.
In the confusion of memory the reasoning the reasoning wisdom is lost.
When wisdom is nowhere, destruction.

Heraclitus (535~475 BCE):
No man ever steps in the same river twice.
For it is not the same river.
And he is not the same man.

Michel Eyquem (1533–1592) [Lord of Montaigne]:
[There] is no permanent existence, either in our being, or, in that of objects.
We ourselves, our faculty of judgement and all mortal things are flowing and rolling ceaselessly; nothing certain can be established about one from the other, since both judge and judging are ever shifting and changing. …
And if you should … try to grasp what Man's being is, it would be exactly like trying to hold a fisful of water …
[Because] all things are subject to … change, Reason is baffled if it looks for a substantial existence in them, since it cannot apprehend a single thing which subsists permanently [—] everything is either coming into existence … or, if it has been born, is beginning to die.
(An apology for Raymond Sebond, The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, M A Screech, Translator, Penguin, 1991, p 680)

George Orwell (1903–1950):
[The] main motive for 'nonattachment' is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work.
(Reflections on Gandhi, 1949)

Siddhartha Gotama (c563/480–c483/400 BCE)


Diamond Sutra

One who gives rise to the awakened mind does not deny objects or say that they are nonexistent. …
As stars, a lamp, a fault of vision.
As dewdrops or a bubble.
A dream, a lightning flash, a cloud.
So one should see conditioned things.
(p 14)

[If] you are caught up in ideas, then you will he caught up in the self.
And even if you are caught up in ideas about nothingness, you will still be caught up in the self.
That's why we should not get attached to the belief that things either exist or do not exist.
(p 124)


Sutta Nipata

All the delightful things of the world — sweet sounds, lovely forms, all the pleasant tastes and touches and thoughts — these are all agreed to bring happiness if they are not grasped and possessed.
But if you regard them merely as pleasures for your own use and satisfaction and do not see them as passing wonders, they will bring suffering.
(p 109)


Prajnaparamita

[People] live within complex sets of religious or worldly ideas and emotions that they believe to be final, established, and therefore real.
They project this [static] self-created world onto their ideas of past and future and the present moment.
They try to crystallize reality into permanent shapes and categories.
(p 100)


Majjhima Nikaya

[The] teaching is like a raft that carries you across the water to the farther shore but is then to be put down and not clung to.
(p 107)

Those who only have faith in me … will not find the final freedom.
But those who have faith in the … path, they will find awakening.
(p 120)

Apart from consciousness … no absolute truths exist.
(p 125)

Whether the world is eternal or transient, there is suffering, and I teach the way to understand it.
My teaching does not depend on whether I exist after death or not, because I am concerned with suffering here and now.
(p 130-1)

When an eye and a shape are there, then the consciousness of seeing arises.
From this consciousness comes sensation; that which is sensed is thought over; that which is thought over is projected outward as the external world.
(p 169)


Visuddhi Magga

When a lute is played, there is no previous store of playing that it comes from.
When the music stops, it does not go anywhere else.
It came into existence by way of the structure of the lute and the playing of the performer.
When the playing ceases, the music goes out of existence.

In the same way all the components of being, both material and nonmaterial, come into existence, play their part, and pass away. …
(p 72)

There are actions but there is no actor.
The air moves but there is no wind.
The idea of a specific self is a mistake.
Existence is clarity and emptiness.
(p 73)

[The] words living entity and person are but ways of expressing the relationship [between:] body, feeling, and consciousness …
[When] we come to examine the elements of being one by one, we find [that, in an absolute sense,] there is no entity there.
(p 119)


Dhammapada

There is freedom from desire and sorrow at the end of the way.
The awakened one is free from all fetters and goes beyond life and death.
Like a swan that rises from the lake, with his thoughts at peace he moves onward, never looking back.
The one who understands the [emptiness] of all things, and who has laid up no store — that one's track is unseen, as of birds in the air.
Like a bird in the air, he takes an invisible course, wanting nothing, storing nothing, knowing the emptiness of all things. …
(p 12)

To travel with fools makes the journey long and hard and is as painful as travelling with an enemy.
But the company of the wise is as pleasant as meeting with friends.
(p 98)

Empty your boat … and you will travel more swiftly.
Lighten the load of craving and opinions and you will reach nirvana sooner.
(p 123)

[We are what we think.]
All that we are [arises with] our thoughts …
With our thoughts we make the world.
(p 157)


Digha Nikaya

Secrecy is the mark of false doctrine.
(p 46)

… I detest and will not undertake the so-called miracles of magic power and divination.
I and my followers attract nonbelievers only by the miracle of truth.
(p 119)


Surangama Sutra

You should inquire deeply and directly into the distress of the mind and find out
  • what has been created and
  • who is the self that is suffering.
(p 111)


Itivuttaka Sutta

[Life is to be] lived for the sake of seeing into things and understanding them.
(p 124)


Anguttara Nikaya

All conditioned things are impermanent.
(p 133)


Bhaddekaralta Sutra

Do not go after the past.
Nor lose yourself in the future.
For the past no longer exists,
And the future is not yet here.
(p 140)


Mahaparinirvana Sutra

I have shown that the self is not as people think of it …
But that does not mean that there is no self. …
If something
  • is true,
  • is real,
  • is constant,
  • is a foundation of a nature that is unchanging,
this can be called the self.
(p 196)

(Anne Bancroft, Editor, The Pocket Buddha Reader, Shambhala, 2001, emphasis added)


Matthieu Ricard


Meditating on the Nature of the Mind

Few of us would regret the years it takes to complete an education or master a crucial skill.
So why complain about the perseverance needed to become a well-balanced and truly passionate human being?
(p 136)

An ethic that is built exclusively on intellectual ideas and that is not buttressed at every point by virtue, genuine wisdom, and compassion has no solid foundation.
(p 250)

When the mind examines itself, what can it learn about its own nature?
The first thing it notices is the endless series of thoughts that pass through it.
These feed our sensations, our imagination, our memories and our projections about the future.
Do we also find a 'luminous' quality in the mind that illuminates our experience, no matter what its content?
This luminous quality is the fundamental cognitive faculty that underlies all thought.
It is that which, when we are angry, sees the anger without letting itself be drawn into it.
This simple, pure awareness can be called pure consciousness, because it can be perceived even in the absence of concepts and mental constructs.
(p 168)
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche:
Just by sitting quietly and observing how rapidly, and in many ways illogically, my thoughts and emotions came and went, I began to recognize in a direct way that they weren't nearly as solid or real as they appeared to be.
And once I began to let go of my belief in the story they seemed to tell.
I began to see the 'author' beyond them — the infinitely vast, infinitely open awareness that is the nature of mind itself.

Any attempt to capture the direct experience of the nature of mind in words is impossible.
The best that can be said is that the experience is immeasurably peaceful, and, once stabilized through repeated experience, virtually unshakable.
(pp 173-174)

(The Art of Meditation, 2010)


Yuval Noah Harari


The Law of Nature

{The first principle of monotheist religions is
God exists.
What does He want from me?
The first principle of Buddhism is
Suffering exists.
How do I escape it? …}

Gautama’s insight was that no matter what the mind experiences, it usually reacts with craving, and craving always involves dissatisfaction.
When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves to be rid of the irritation. …
As long as the pain continues, we are dissatisfied and do all we can to [resist or] avoid it.
Yet even when we experience pleasant things we are never content.
We either fear that the pleasure might disappear, or we hope that it will intensify. …

Gautama found that there was a way to exit this vicious circle.
If, when the mind experiences something pleasant or unpleasant, it simply understands things as they are, then there is no suffering.
If you experience sadness without craving that the sadness go away, you continue to feel sadness but you do not suffer from it.
There can actually be richness in the sadness.
If you experience joy without craving that the joy linger and intensify, you continue to feel joy without losing your peace of mind.

But how do you get the mind to accept things as they are, without craving?
To accept sadness as sadness, joy as joy, pain as pain?
Gautama developed a set of meditation techniques that train the mind to experience reality as it is, without craving.
These practices train the mind to focus all its attention on the question,
What am I experiencing now?
rather than on
What would I rather be experiencing? …

Gautama grounded these meditation techniques in a set of ethical rules meant to make it easier for people to focus on actual experience and to avoid falling into cravings and fantasies.
He instructed his followers to avoid killing, promiscuous sex and theft, since such acts necessarily stoke the fire of craving (for power, for sensual pleasure, or for wealth).
When the flames are completely extinguished, craving is replaced by a state of perfect contentment and serenity, known as nirvana (the literal meaning of which is ‘extinguishing the fire’).
Those who have attained nirvana are fully liberated from all suffering.
They experience reality with the utmost clarity, free of fantasies and delusions.
While they will most likely still encounter unpleasantness and pain, such experiences cause them no misery.
A person who does not crave cannot suffer. …

He encapsulated his teachings in a single law:
  • suffering arises from craving;
  • the only way to be fully liberated from suffering is to be fully liberated from craving; and
  • the only way to be liberated from craving is to train the mind to experience reality as it is.


Know Thyself

According to Buddhism, most people identify happiness with pleasant feelings, while identifying suffering with unpleasant feelings. …
The problem, according to Buddhism, is that our feelings are no more than fleeting vibrations, changing every moment, like the ocean waves. …

Why struggle so hard to achieve something that disappears almost as soon as it arises?
According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness.
Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction.
Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. …

People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them.
This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices.
In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them.
When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied.
All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing — joy, anger, boredom, lust — but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are.
You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been.

The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it.
It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him.
Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise.
Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please.
How peaceful! …

Buddha agreed with modern biology and New Age movements that happiness is independent of external conditions.
Yet his more important and far more profound insight was that true happiness is also independent of our inner feelings.
Indeed, the more significance we give our feelings, the more we crave them, and the more we suffer.
Buddha’s recommendation was to stop not only the pursuit of external achievements, but also the pursuit of inner feelings.

(Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 2014)


Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman


Finding Serenity

Reflections on the Meditation, Relaxation and Consciousness

[If] you want to reach enlightenment, or feel a unity with God [you'll] need to meditate … for at least thirty minutes [a day.]
Of course, there's no guarantee that you'll have a unitary or mystical experience …

Advanced meditators can achieve deep states of unity and connectedness through intensive practice …
(p 210)

If parietal activity declines, you alter your sense of self …
[And if done often enough, this] may permanently alter the structure of [the thalamus — a] part of the reality-processing circuit in the brain. …

When you consciously direct your [attention toward] a particular object, the brain blocks out sensory and neural information that does not pertain to the object of contemplation [— screening] out anything it considers irrelevant.
As your meditation progresses, this blocking becomes more intense.
The end result is intense awareness of the object, and a loss of awareness of [everything else.]
If the object of meditation disappears, as sometimes happens in the most intense mystical states, you [may] become aware that "you" are not your thoughts [— raising] the paradoxical question of what "you" may actually be.
[This typically occurs] after many months of intense meditation.

Focused awareness sometimes sometimes creates the uncanny sensation of losing your sense of self.
As you begin to realize that "you" is a rather arbitrary neural construction, activity in the parietal area of the brain decreases, and [the] sense of self begins to dissolve.
Most practitioners describe this states as being simultaneously enlightening and disturbing, because a core sense of self is one of the earliest neural constructs [to develop] in the brain. …
[However, the only people at significant risk from this] are those with serious underlying personality disorders.
(p 211)

[The] mind produces an endless stream of … feelings and thoughts.
By simply becoming more aware of what you think, feel, say, and do, you train your brain to become more organized, [orderly,] and calm.
[Mindfulness diminishes stress and enriches life.]


The Illusion of the Universe

[While having] a conscious intention or goal underlies [almost all forms] of meditation and prayer … there is one style [that] involves the conscious pursuit of … no goal at all.
[It seeks] to achieve absolute inner silence.
No emotions or thoughts — just pure awareness or consciousness …

Many people have had spontaneous, momentary experiences of emptiness, but deliberately evoking such a state for more than a few seconds often takes years of practice. …
[This state] has been variously defined as pure consciousness, nonduality, the negation of physical reality, seeing the world or the mind as an illusion, pure Godness, supreme spirit, or nothingness. …
(p 212)

[This resembles] the state reached through intense meditation on a single object when the [distinction between the subject and object disappears entirely.]
(p 213)


Becoming One with God, The Universe, and Ourselves

… Nearly every spritual experience, in some small way, changes our sense of reality and the relationship we have with the world.
Generally, it increases our sense of unity and wholeness … in the way we conduct our lives.
[Almost] three-quarters of our respondents [reported] a sense of oneness with the universe or a unity with all of life …
[Such] feelings are … associated with a greater sense of purpose and meaning … a degree of self-transcendence and a suspension of personal egotism.
[One] no longer leels the need to control the external environment …
Past and future are suspended, and [an awareness of] the present pervades one's consciousness.
[Some felt they were] in the presence of God, while others [simply experienced] the suspension of negative moods.


What makes a person more tolerant of other religions?

People who score higher on our belief acceptance scale have less religious prejudice than those who score lower.
Those engaged in eastern spiritual practices were more accepting … than those who adhered to Western monotheistic traditions.
Women were more comfortable with other belief systems and … religious practices [than men].
High socioeconomic status … predicts greater tolerance [while] level of education was the greatest predictor [of a readiness to accept others.]
[People] who had unity experiences [too, were] more accepting of other people's beliefs.
(p 81)

(How God Changes Your Brain, 2009)


CONTENTS


The Nature of the Mind

Transformation

Being

Attention

Happiness

Suffering

Thoughts

Self

Emotions

Freedom

Sociology

Science

Ethics

Death

Path

Climate Change 2007

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Evidence, Agreement, Confidence and Likelihood


Where uncertainty is assessed qualitatively, it is characterised by … the amount and quality of EVIDENCE [eg "limited", "medium", "robust"] and the degree of AGREEMENT [eg "low", "medium", "high"] in the literature on a particular finding …
This approach is used by [Working Group III (Mitigation of Climate Change)] …

Where uncertainty is assessed more quantitatively using expert judgement of the correctness of underlying data, models or analyses, then the following scale of CONFIDENCE levels is used[:]
  • very high confidence at least 9 out of 10;
  • high confidence about 8 out of 10;
  • medium confidence about 5 out of 10;
  • low confidence about 2 out of 10; and
  • very low confidence less than 1 out of 10.

Where uncertainty in specific outcomes is assessed using expert judgment and statistical analysis of a body of evidence (eg observations or model results), then the following LIKELIHOOD ranges are use …

Virtually certain>99%
Extremely Likely>95%
Very Likely>90%
Likely>66%
More likely than not>50%
About as likely as not33% to 66%
Unlikely<33%
Very unlikely<10%
Extremely unlikely<5%
Exceptionally unlikely<1%

[Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability)] has used a combination of confidence and likelihood assessments …
[Working Group I (The Physical Science Basis)] has predominantly used likelihood assessments.

(Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, p 27)


CONTENTS


Observed Changes

Causes of Changes

Impacts

Adaptation and Mitigation Options

The Long Term Perspective

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