The MacCready Explosion

Written by Harold McNeill on May 8th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


The MacCready Explosion

Each day as I read, write, and listen to podcasts and debates, I came across this idea on Ted Talks, The MacCready Explosion. It came up when researching a Green Party article, and it struck me as having considerable potential when assessing what is happening on our planet.

Many have heard the dire reports about species extinction and of the perma-frost being in serious decay, but have you thought about livestock and how that species affects global warming?  The idea, of course, relates to the title of this post and is embedded in the following short introduction.

Culture as a Major Transition in Evolution
D.C. Dennett
Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155

Excerpt:

According to calculations by Paul MacCready (1999), at the dawn of human agriculture 10,000 years ago, the worldwide human population plus their livestock and pets was ~0.1% of the terrestrial vertebrate biomass. Today, he calculates, it is 98%! (Most of that is cattle.) His reflections on this amazing development are worth quoting:

Over billions of years, on a unique sphere, chance has painted a thin covering of life—complex, improbable, wonderful and fragile. Suddenly we humans . . . have grown in population, technology, and intelligence to a position of terrible power: we now wield the paintbrush. (MacCready 1999, p.19).

Some biologists are convinced that we are now living in the early days of a sixth great mass extinction event (the “Holocene”), to rival the Permian–Triassic extinction ~250 million years ago and the Cretacious–Tertiary extinction ~65 million years ago. And because, as MacCready puts it so vividly, we wield the paintbrush, this mass extinction, if it occurs, would go down in evolutionary history as the first to be triggered by the innovations in a single species.

Compared to the biologically “sudden” Cambrian explosion, which occurred over several million years ~530 million years ago, what we may call the MacCready explosion has occurred in ~10,000 years, or ~500 human generations (of course, thousands of prior generations were required to set up many of the conditions that made this possible).

There is really no doubt, then, that it has been the rapidly accumulating products of cultural evolution—technology and intelligence, as MacCready says that account for these unprecedented transformations of the biosphere. So Maynard Smith and Szathmary (1995) are right to put language and culture as the most recent of the “major transitions of evolution.”

This is a most astounding revelation that likely accounts for much of that which we now call “climate change” or “global warming”.   We strongly suspect these changes are related to human activity, yet we don’t know to what extent we can mitigate the outcomes. To this point, we seem focussed on fossil fuels as a major culprit, yet I don’t know how much we have considered other sources.

That being stated, if climate change is largely caused by human activity, and I’m certain it is, I choose to believe we can at least try to do something to change the outcome. To not even try seems crazy.

I think we can and it comes in the form of another paper, one by Nathan Daly, a software engineer, titled “Digging into the disappearance of nature’s land-living vertebrates.”  It’s not a long read and you can skip the data contained with each of the several charts. You will see that simply reducing the number of livestock, and therefore our consumption of meat is likely to produce significant results. Given that livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gas, that step provides a double win.

Comparing the introductory chart for his post with the one above, reveals the biggest single reduction can be made in the area of livestock. It’s somewhat harder to get rid of humans although we are well along the path of reducing our rate of growth.

Presented as ‘food’ for thought.

Cheers,

Harold

Note:  I have not found any information that outlines how the author developed the data that support his conclusions so, at present, it is just another theory that seems worthwhile pursuing.

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To South American by Linear Accelerator

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Uber has the above Molecular Transporter located in the Best Western in Richmond.  A neat machine that not only transports but can also do DNA sequencing as well as give you a complete medical assessment while en route. You simply fill out a checklist.  Photos in FB Post

Heading to South America

This is the first time we have traveled using a Molecular Transporter, a system developed by UBER with one unit situated just outside the Vancouver Aiport. The neat thing about this type of transportation is the ability to experience all the real-time activities you might see and feel when travelling in one of those outdated stretch bodied commercial jets. I have highlighted a few of our experiences while en route to Buenos Aires via Houston and Miami.

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Canada: That Which Makes us One

Written by Harold McNeill on January 7th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


Diversity in Canada Has The Capacity to Inspire The World

Celebrating at a Ukrainian Christmas (1) dinner gave me pause to think about how these cultural
celebrations help to define Canada – that which makes us one. One dinner you ask? Well, it goes much deeper as it also includes coffee breaks at Tim Hortons, restaurants and the Canadian Soccer teams. It all fits into the fabric of our national identity.

1. A Ukrainian Dinner Celebration

On Sunday, January 6, 2019, Lynn and I went to dinner on the eve of Ukrainian Christmas at the home of one of my former police partners. We both retired twenty-five years ago and for years our families lived a stone’s throw from one another in West Saanich. Ukrainian Christmas was, and is, always a big celebration in their home (1). In addition to Al and Mary and their immediate family, three other couples, also long retired police members and their wives, were at the table of eighteen.

As we dined, surrounded by that uniquely Ukrainian bounty, we were not just celebrating a special event in the Gregorian calendar year, we were celebrating what it means to be Canadian. That feast and those friends served to remind us of how fortunate we are to live at peace in a mix of cultures, languages, traditions, religions, and varieties of food types that is unprecedented in the world. It is a mix that accompanies us every day, not just on special occasions.

Photo (Web source).  This table represents about half the set for our special meal. All items were prepared at home and served piping hot. 

2. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s:  The coffee crowd

Earlier in the day (Sunday), I made a couple of visits to Tim Hortons at the Royal Oak Shopping Centre (2). It was, as usual, overflowing. I grabbed a seat beside an acquaintance from Syria. He and his delightful family are making their way in a new country they now call home. When he left for an appointment, I struck up a conversation with the man on my right, a person I did not know.

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Civilian Oversight and Unionization of the RCMP

Written by Harold McNeill on January 1st, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


December 31, 2018.  RCMP: Civilian Oversight and Unionization take centre stage.

It has taken decades, however, it seems possible the changes announced for 2019 may assist this storied force to adopt the ideals first annunciated by Sir Robert Peel. While the imposition of civilian oversight and the unionization of the rank and file is only a first step in what will surely be a slow and painful process, it may be enough to break the rigid command and control structure that has stifled initiative and rewarded compliance.

In modern times, rank and file members have been caught between the demands of policing in the 21st century and an administrative structure with one foot firmly planted in the 19th. In the process of advocating for change, many promising careers were destroyed by bullying tactics used against members in general and sexual abuse against female members in particular. Such changes began in other city and municipal forces back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

For the RCMP, “These changes are coming in response to years of complaints that the force has a broken workplace culture, as well as repeated calls from outside inquiries for civilian oversight of management functions that are still under the purview of uniformed officers.”

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Garage Sale Items – McTavish Academy of Art

Written by Harold McNeill on January 11th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


GIANT GARAGE SALE OF ALL ITEMS NOT YET SOLD, PLUS DOZENS OF OTHER ITEMS WILL GO ON SALE AT THE MCTAVISH ACADEMY, 1720 MCTAVISH ROAD, NORTH SAANICH (TAKE AIRPORT CUTOFF TO MCTAVISH ROAD AND TRAVEL FOUR BLOCKS WEST.

DATE:  SATURDAY 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM    May 4, 2019
SUNDAY,  NOON – 5:00 PM    APRIL 5, 2019

 

FEATURED ITEM:     13. Fluorescent Light Tracks (SOLD)
(Added, March 13, 2019)

Fluorescent Light Tracks (SOLD)   These tracks are fully functional having just been removed.   While the lights are currently attached in 18 and 24-foot lengths, they can be easily reconfigured.  They are perfect for any large space such as a shop or some other workspace needing excellent lighting.   They are not free, but at $1.00 per foot, they are good as free.

Please message or phone Harold, 250-889-1033, or by email at lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca

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The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on August 24th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 8.14.26 PM

The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada:

August 24, 2018: With the bombshell just dropped by Maxime Bernier, this post, which I began researching and writing a couple of months back, has taken on new significance.  There seems little doubt that at least some of the unseemly tactics that plagued the recent Ontario election will also mark the next federal election.  The question asked, and which I try to answer is, “to what extent will the effective use of social media define the winners and losers?”

And, this post will also outline why I think, in a four-party system, it is possible that 65% of Canadians who split the vote between three parties, could hand a majority to 35% who didn’t vote for one of those three.  It is also a process by which a man such as Doug Ford could, in the federal election following the next, become the Prime Minister of Canada.  (2008 Federal election split)  (2011 Federal election split)

1. Party Platforms, where did they go?

In the past, party platforms were meant to draw voters to a particular set of principles developed by a party over months and years (1). They were the centrepiece of every election campaign and, there was plenty of room for debate at all candidate meetings from the party leaders to grassroots.  However, in this new age, winning or losing seems to be based more on who best controls the message and who owns the most effective means of smearing an opponent or idea (2). If you followed the leadup to the Brexit vote or the last US election, the winning sides resorted almost exclusively to messages of fear and hate, mixed with a good measure of fake news.

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The Protection of Life and Property

Written by Harold McNeill on February 11th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Colton Boushie

Rest in Peace Colton Boushie.
You certainly didn’t deserve to die because of any mistake you may have made, but sometimes life is not equal or fair, particularly if you are from a visible minority.  In my life, I’ve made several mistakes that could easily have ended just as bad but didn’t, partly because I’m white, but also because I was just plain lucky at that particular moment.

Gerald Stanley

Gerald Stanley

I also wish peace for Gerald Stanley and his family.

While I may wish that to be the case, as the man who pulled the trigger, I fear your life and that of your family is forever changed. The spotlight will be on you and your family for months and years to come.  I don’t know your state of mind at the time of the shooting and don’t know if you are a racist, but it makes little difference now. Did you have the law on your side when you fired the fatal shot? The jury said “yes”, but the law states differently, even if that law was not applied as it should have. That will be explored in this post.

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Are insurance rates soaring across BC?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


Car Crash

Scenes like this are all too common in BC and take a tragic toll in lives lost and families destroyed. The cost is high and we all pay but are Insurance Rates out of control in B.C.? Check out this article, as you may be surprised to see where British Columbia sits in relation to other Provinces.

This article is brought forward following an article in the Saanich News stating ICBC rates for some classes of vehicles are grossly inflated as compared to Alberta. Also included are recent updates.

Updated:  February 10, 2020

Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim.   (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

Updated:  February 7, 2020

It is reported ICBC is heading for a 20% rate reduction and largely cutting out lawyers in a change to No-Fault insurance.  This will be the largest change to ICBC in several years and will hopefully place the Crown Corporation back on an even keel.

It will be interesting to see how trial-lawyers who earn a large part of their income from ICBC, and the Conservative (aka Liberals) opposition in the Legislature, respond to these changes.

That being said, a February 1, 2020 article by Robert Mulligan, an experienced trial-lawyer, suggested implementing several of the changes currently being proposed by the government.

This will be explored more fully over the next few days.

Read more at CBC Major Overhall of ICBC

Also, a Times Colonist report:   Major overhaul at ICBC would limit the ability to sue, cut rates by 20%

Update: February 1, 2020

For an interesting update of the challenges facing ICBC, read a CFAX interview with Robert A. Mulligan titled, “Extinguishing the ICBC Dumpster Fire“.   You should disregard the title of the article as it was prepared by a media outlet and does not reflect the considered opinion of a respected, practicing lawyer here in Victoria.

Update: August 20, 2019.

A further article debunks the statement that ICBC rates are soaring and that they are among the highest in Canada:  BC News Outlets Exaggerated the Costs of ICBC Insurance

Update: August 13, 2019.

A Global News broadcast this afternoon quoted heavily from an article prepared by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, an Ontario based private enterprise organization that promotes private insurance, which states BC has the highest auto insurance rates in Canada and that rates could be lowered through ‘competition’.  There was also an article in the Saanich News which similarily quoted the IBC information and also indicated ICBC is facing a huge deficit. The article made no mention of the considerable sums of money the government has removed from Crown Corporations such as ICBC and BC Hydro.

I just re-read the article the original article (below) and was again astounded at how high Ontario is compared to the rest of Canada. While that province has a population density far greater than BC, it is also a province in which auto insurance is managed entirely by the private enterprise system.
 
No wonder the Insurance Bureau of Canada, has made such a finding, as one might suspect they are acting on behalf of the private insurers in Ontario, Alberta, and other areas, and might prefer to destroy the public-private system as it tends to expose the excesses of system base solely on private enterprise.
If we had the proper means of checks and balances in our system, the Ontario and Alberta private system might now be under investigation for fraud. I think it unconscionable to first make insurance mandatory and then to then allow private-enterprise to charge exorbitant rates, particularly as they do in Ontario.

I have reached out to friends in the Auto Insurance industry to have them fact check the calculations I quote in order to ensure they have legitimacy.  (Updated August 14, 2019 – hit the continue reading below for the original article and other updates)

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    October 18, 2021 |

    This email from Pal Slavid in Norway received October 10

    I simply must tell the following story; before a flight from Aberdeen to Bergen/Norway (it must have been around 2005), I had purchased a couple of “Pilot’s Notes” in a bookshop in Aberdeen. Among these one for the Mosquito. At the flight I was reading some pages in the biography of Douglas Bader (Reach for the Sky), and suddenly this elderly gentleman sitting beside me points to the book and says: “I knew this guy”. This gentleman turned out to be Mr. Bert Ramsden, and I was fortunate enough that he shared some of his story with me on this flight. And when I was able to pick up from my bag, a copy of the Pilot Notes which he had used during his training, we read it more or less together, and he commented with great knowledge. As an WWII aviator geek, this flight became a great memory for me, and I even got his signature on the Pilot Notes.
    With great respect,
    Pål

  • McNeill Life Stories Protecting Canada's Health Care - McNeill Life Stories

    September 20, 2021 |

    […] One of the many defining features of Canada is our Public Health Care system. While the system continues to provide high-quality care to a broad cross-section of Canadians (rich and poor), funding cuts have led to longer wait times and other shortfalls in service. This has become particularly evident during the current pandemic as Covid19 patients fill beds normally be set aside for ongoing treatments. (What is happening in our hospitals) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.