THE BOOK REVIEW PODCAST Michael Pollan on Drugs ~ NYT

Michael Pollan on His Acid Test



Tune in, turn on: This week on the podcast, Michael Pollan talks about his new book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.” Pollan is best known these days as a food writer, but he reminds listeners that his chief interest has always been the natural world and the ways it intersects with human culture — so psychedelics were a logical next step. “Most of the people listening to this podcast have probably used a plant to change consciousness today,” he says, “whether it was smoking a cigarette or having a coffee or eating a bite of chocolate. Or something more serious. I’ve always found that to be a very interesting and universal human desire worthy of explanation. So when I heard about this research going on using psilocybin, the chemical in magic mushrooms, to treat people and to induce so-called mystical experiences, I thought, Well it’s really time to get back and to get a harder look at that whole subject.”

Among other things, Pollan discusses the ways that psychedelics dissolve our sense of self, and the potential mental health benefits they bestow as a result. “Psilocybin gives you such a powerful psychological experience that it kind of reboots your brain, your mind,” he says. “A lot of depression is a sort of self-punishment, as even Freud understood. We get trapped in these loops of rumination that are very destructive, and the stories that we tell ourselves: you know, that we’re unworthy of love, that we can’t get through the next hour with a cigarette, whatever it is. And these deep, deep grooves of thought are very hard to get out of. They disconnect us from other people, from nature, from an earlier idea of who we are. The mystical experience, as it’s sometimes called, or the experience of the dissolution of the ego, gets us out of those grooves and gives us a break from the tyranny of the ego, which can be a very harsh ruler.”

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Bud in southern Baja ~ Sea of Cortez

just reporting in from a wet and windy southern baja. rains started about 3 am last night and the winds started in earnest this morning shortly after dawn and have been increasing thru the day – i think they are calling it steady 45-50 with gusts, seems about right.
hope you get some moisture out of this system – sounds like its on track for that.
here’s a couple of photos from this morning. this is what the ‘beaches’ are looking like
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Antarctica Is Melting More Than Twice as Fast as in 2012 ~ NYT

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Between 60 and 90 percent of the world’s fresh water is frozen in the ice sheets of Antarctica, a continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined. If all that ice melted, it would be enough to raise the world’s sea levels by roughly 200 feet.

While that won’t happen overnight, Antarctica is indeed melting, and a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that the melting is speeding up.


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The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has more than doubled since 2012, according to the latest available data. The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimeters) to sea-level rise by 2100. That is at the upper end of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated Antarctica alone could contribute to sea level rise this century.


“Around Brooklyn you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters then that’s going to happen 20 times a year,” said Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study.

Even under ordinary conditions, Antarctica’s landscape is perpetually changing as icebergs calve, snow falls and ice melts on the surface, forming glacial sinkholes known as moulins. But what concerns scientists is the balance of how much snow and ice accumulates in a given year versus the amount that is lost.

Between 1992 and 2017, Antarctica shed three trillion tons of ice. This has led to an increase in sea levels of roughly three-tenths of an inch, which doesn’t seem like much. But 40 percent of that increase came from the last five years of the study period, from 2012 to 2017, when the ice-loss rate accelerated by 165 percent.

Antarctica is not the only contributor to sea level rise. Greenland lost an estimated 1 trillion tons of ice between 2011 and 2014. And as oceans warm, their waters expand and occupy more space, also raising sea levels. The melting ice and warming waters have all been primarily driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

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Early Monsoon? Joe Ramey, Mountain Weather Master



I didn’t send out a climate outlook at the beginning of June, basically because nothing had changed. La Nina is dead (no grieving for that no-winter bitch from me). Snowpack and mud season are gone except up near Wyoming way. The CPC were stuck on hot and mostly dry for their outlook.

Well there are now some developments. Tropical Storm Bud is spinning south of the Baja and heading north.  The latest forecast brings deep moisture from this system into Arizona and vicinity by mid week next.

Could this be the beginning of the monsoon?  Of course the onset of the monsoon is a dangerous time with lightning often preceding the rains. Let’s hope we get some nice female rains.

Do whatever you as Masters need to do to make it happen. Ellen and I will deploy our garden prayer flags.



Joe riding monsoon season in Grand Junction



National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton called for several more dry, hot days across Southwest Colorado. The soonest possibility for rain will be Wednesday.  Summer monsoons typically begin mid-July but could begin sooner this summer, perhaps the last week of June, based on La Niña weather patterns, he said.

Forced Out Of Yellowstone/Mountain Journal ~ muy típico


Against his will, in violation of an informal “gentleman’s agreement,” and amid public outrage, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk has received notification from the U.S. Interior Department informing him that he is being forcibly re-assigned to a regional director post with the National Park Service in Washington D.C.

In the order issued Monday, June 4 by acting National Park Service Director Danny Smith and approved by David L. Bernhardt, second in command to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Wenk was told he must vacate Yellowstone and re-report to the nation’s capital by early August. Read all of the memos at the bottom of this story.
Wenk told Mountain Journal Thursday he finds the actions heavy-handed and untenable. Instead, he will step down from government service in the coming weeks.
“It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the Park Service and places like Yellowstone but that’s how these guys are,” Wenk said, referring to Zinke’s Interior Department. “Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.”

“It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the Park Service and places like Yellowstone but that’s how these guys are,” Wenk said, referring to Zinke’s Interior Department. “Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.”

Last week in an attempt to forestall the unwelcomed transfer after spending 42.5 years with the Park Service, Wenk make a counterproposal to retire from the top job in Yellowstone next March, providing a period of transition for both he and his successor. That proposal was rejected.
The events bring a startling end to a long and distinguished career for Wenk, who is 66.
Never in the modern history of America’s oldest national park has a Yellowstone superintendent essentially been forced out at the climax of a brilliant career. Most of Wenk’s recent predecessors voluntarily retired from Yellowstone because it is considered the premiere field position in the Park Service and a job of high honor.
Wenk’s compromise offer was seen as a gambit, a test of Zinke’s Interior Department. Would it allow a widely-respected public servant like Wenk to retire with dignity and complete the key tasks he was assigned by Zinke himself?
Or would Zinke and his political appointees, as a demonstration of their unchecked power, punish Wenk ostensibly because of his outspoken support for conservation that riled some in Republican circles?
Since late winter, Wenk has known that he was the target of a forced transfer, though no one at Interior offered him a rationale for it, he said. Initially, it came to him only as a rumor.
Soon after Zinke’s appointment to his cabinet post was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2017, he moved forward with nearly three dozen controversial transfers of top executive level civil servants, vowing that it would result in better management.
Critics claimed it was a thinly-veiled attempt to undermine a number of agencies that have a mission of environmental protection at their core.
Acting Park Service Director Danny Smith, a subject in two Inspector General investigations, promised Wenk he had his back covered, but didn't, Wenk says.
Acting Park Service Director Danny Smith, a subject in two Inspector General investigations, promised Wenk he had his back covered, but didn’t, Wenk says.


This move, insiders say, appears to have been spearheaded by Smith and Bernhardt, the latter who, through his role with the Executive Resources Board, oversees all high-ranking career employees who are part of the Senior Executive Service. Wenk is at the highest level of the SES and while the classification allows Interior Secretaries to move elite managers around with only a 60-day notice, it is seldom done in a punitive way.

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General found that the proposed moves had no obvious justification or rationale and that they were made merely at the whim of Zinke and staff. Here is what investigators with the Inspector General concluded:
“The Executive Resources Board reassigned 27 senior executives without a written plan or clear criteria, and without consulting with the departmental leadership who oversaw the affected senior executives or with the affected SES members. With no documented action plan for the reassignments and inconsistent statements from the ERB regarding its rationale, we were prevented from making a clear determination whether or not the DOI met the legal requirements. The [board’s] failure to document its decisions and to adhere to [government code] guidance…resulted in the perception by a majority of the affected SES members that the reassignments were prompted by political or punitive reasons, or were related to their proximity to retirement.”

Colorado utility plans to retire coal plants, add renewables ~ The Durango Herald

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DENVER – Colorado’s largest electricity provider said Wednesday it wants to retire two coal-fired units a decade early and nearly double the share of power it gets from renewable sources.

Xcel Energy said the changes would reduce its carbon pollution in the state by 60 percent and increase its share of renewable energy to almost 55 percent, up from about 28 percent now.

Xcel said the plan would save consumers $215 million by 2054, citing the “historically low” cost of renewables.

Colorado regulators would have to approve the proposals before they go into effect.

“Our recommended plan secures long-term and low-cost renewable power, stimulates economic development in rural Colorado and substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions – all at a savings to customers,” said Alice Jackson, Xcel’s president for Colorado operations.

Excel, based in Minneapolis, provides electricity to 1.5 million customers in Colorado.

The coal-fired units affected are at Xcel’s Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo. One would be retired in 2022, 11 years early, and the other in 2025, 10 years ahead of schedule. A third would remain in operation.

Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said the retirements would eliminate about 80 jobs. Some of those workers are expected to retire before the shutdowns, and Xcel would try to find new jobs within the company for the others, he said.

Some of the new solar farms would be built in Pueblo County, which includes the city of Pueblo, but it wasn’t immediately known how many jobs they would provide.

Xcel’s plan calls for purchasing two existing gas-fired generating plants in Colorado and adding five solar farms and three wind farms. Xcel would also renew its contract to buy power from an existing solar farm.

Three of the new solar farms would include battery storage.

The company said building and buying the natural gas plants and solar and wind farms will cost $2.5 billion. The facilities would be located in Adams, Baca, Boulder, Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Morgan, Park, Pueblo and Weld counties.

The plan calls for adding 1,100 megawatts of generating capacity to Xcel’s system from wind, 700 from solar, 380 from natural gas and 275 from batteries. One megawatt can power 1,100 typical Colorado homes, Xcel said.

Environmental groups praised the proposal but said they need to analyze the details.

“Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan is a true testament to how fast the cost of clean energy is dropping,” said Zach Pierce of the Sierra Club. “This plan makes clear that we can power our communities with reliable, affordable, and clean power made in Colorado for Colorado.”

Erin Overturf of Western Resource Advocates called the plan encouraging.

“Xcel’s plan would significantly reduce air pollution in our state, save customers hundreds of millions of dollars and create clean renewable energy jobs in Colorado communities,” she said.

The U.S. just had its warmest May in history, blowing past 1934 Dust Bowl record ~ The Washington Post


Almost every tract of land in the contiguous United States was warmer than normal in May, helping to break a Dust Bowl-era record.

The month’s average temperature 0f 65.4 degrees swept by the previous high mark of 64.7 degrees set in 1934. Temperatures were more than 5 degrees above normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which published a May U.S. climate assessment Wednesday.

The 1934 record was impressive, enduring for decades even as the climate has warmed because of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. One of the main reasons May 1934 was so hot was because it was so dry, posting the least precipitation for the month on record. When the land surface is dry, it heats up faster.

A combination of drought and farming practices had left fields bare of vegetation in 1934, resulting in “an estimated 35 million acres of formerly cultivated land had been rendered useless for farming,” according to

The parched conditions were so severe that on May 11 “a massive dust storm two miles high traveled 2,000 miles to the East Coast, blotting out monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol,” wrote.

In May 2018, temperatures soared to record levels even without as much help from dry soils. Precipitation was a hair above normal averaged over the nation. Maryland, hit by major floods in Frederick and Ellicott City, had its wettest May on record. So did Florida. Asheville, N.C., posted 14.68 inches of rain, its wettest month in history.

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Can the world’s largest rewilding project restore Patagonia’s beauty?

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Can the world’s largest rewilding project restore Patagonia’s beauty?

Purchasing huge tracts of land in Chile and Argentina, former clothing tycoons Doug and Kristine Tompkins have led a quarter century-long effort to reintroduce threatened and locally extinct species to the wilds of South America

by in Valle Chacabuco, Chile

During an elegant dinner in the wilds of Patagonia, Kris Tompkins suddenly remembered the fresh guanaco carcass down the road. She rose from the table and drove us to the nearby grasslands of Patagonia national park, gushing about the possibility of staying up all night with a torch in hope of spying a mountain lion come to feast on the dead llama-like creature.

As she drove, Tompkins narrated her quarter century-long effort to reintroduce threatened and locally extinct species to the wilds of South America – ranging from giant anteaters and jaguars in northern Argentina to Darwin’s rhea, a species of ostrich native to southern Patagonia. When Conservación Patagónica – the NGO she helped found – bought the land that became this park, the guanaco population was struggling to compete for food and space with an estimated 25,000 sheep. But since the sheep were sold and the fences removed, native guanaco herds have flourished from an unsustainable population of several hundred to an estimated 3,000.

After purchasing a 222,000-acre property in 2004, Tompkins and her partner Doug, who died in a kayak accident in 2015, dedicated the following years to their conservation effort. Using hundreds of volunteers, Conservación Patagónica has converted these overgrazed sheep ranchlands into a world-renowned example of ecological restoration by reintroducing and breeding native species as part of a comprehensive rewilding programme.

First coined in the 1990s by environmental activist Dave Foreman, rewilding– large-scale wilderness recovery that allows natural processes and native wildlife to flourish – has migrated from fringe fantasy to the mainstream of conservation biology. Scientists increasingly believe the complex web of life thrives in the absence of human intervention and is often heavily influenced by mountain lions, wolves and other “apex predators”.

“I am a big non-human advocate. I get along better with the non-human world probably than the human world,” said Tompkins. “I would like to change the way national parks look at rewilding everywhere in the world where there are extirpated species, [and to] make it one of the goals of national parks everywhere. As they say, landscape without wildlife is just scenery.”

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In a Warming West, the Rio Grande is Drying Up. NYT


Even in a good year, much of the Rio Grande
is diverted for irrigation. But it’s only May,
and the river is already turning to sand.

LEMITAR, N.M. — Mario Rosales, who farms 365 acres along the Rio Grande, knows the river is in bad shape this year. It has already dried to a dusty ribbon of sand in some parts, and most of the water that does flow is diverted to irrigate crops, including Mr. Rosales’s fields of wheat, oats, alfalfa and New Mexico’s beloved chiles.

Because last winter’s mountain snowpack was the second-lowest on record, even that irrigation water may run out at the end of July, three months earlier than usual. But Mr. Rosales isn’t worried. He is sure that the summer thunderstorms, known here as the monsoon, will come.

“Sooner or later, we’ll get the water,” he said.

Mario Rosales in one of his chile fields in Lemitar, N.M. The plastic pipes are used for irrigation.

The monsoon rains he is counting on are notoriously unpredictable, however. So he and many of the other farmers who work 62,000 acres along 140 miles of the Rio Grande in central New Mexico may get by — or they may not.

“Nobody’s got a whole lot of water,” said David Gensler, the hydrologist for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, whose job is to manage the river water that is delivered to Mr. Rosales and the others through diversion dams, canals and ditches. “If we use it up early in the season and don’t get any rain further on, the whole thing’s going to crash.”

Parts of the state got some much-needed rain this week, which may help Mr. Gensler extend his irrigation water a bit. But whatever happens this spring and summer, the long-term outlook for the river is clouded by climate change.

As the river dries, crews rescue endangered minnows from remaining pools of water.

Drainage ditches carry water that has seeped out of the riverbed.

The Rio Grande is a classic “feast or famine” river, with a dry year or two typically followed by a couple of wet years that allow for recovery. If warming temperatures brought on by greenhouse gas emissions make wet years less wet and dry years even drier, as scientists anticipate, year-to-year recovery will become more difficult.

“The effect of long-term warming is to make it harder to count on snowmelt runoff in wet times,” said David S. Gutzler, a climate scientist at the University of New Mexico. “And it makes the dry times much harder than they used to be.”

With spring runoff about one-sixth of average and more than 90 percent of New Mexico in severe to exceptional drought, conditions here are extreme. Even in wetter years long stretches of the riverbed eventually dry as water is diverted to farmers, but this year the drying began a couple of months earlier than usual. Some people are concerned that it may dry as far as Albuquerque, 75 miles north.

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