Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Looking At The Future With Iben Browning

The continuing Arab Spring, coming collapses/changes in governments, and worldwide weather changes were predicted decades ago by a genius whom the media dismissed wrongly. As of August 21, 2012, there are many active volcanoes (Tungurahua, Cleveland, El Hierro, Popocat├ępetl, Fuego, Turrialba, Batu Tara, Sakurajima, Kamchatka) that will have a real impact on our future. In general, there has definitely been increased volcanic activity in Italy and Mexico, as noted during August 2012.

The link between the resulting global food shortages and the collapse of poorer world governments is certainly not new thinking. Lester R. Brown writing in Scientific American Magazine on April 22, 2009, entitled the article, "Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?"

In the January 8, 2011, Economic Forecast 2011 by John Mauldin, widely reproduced on the interweb, his "Russia and the Roots of World Inflation" reinforced the growing concerns. Of course, by that date, governments were already changing (although, of course, he was mentioning previous predictions that had come to pass).

The one man who is often forgotten in what we are seeing unfold on our cable news channels nightly is Iben Browning. Some of us have been students of his work for decades. He was a futurist. He predicted many things that have come to pass. He is credited with predicting a massive Hubble Space Telescope, for example. But those are just the trinkets.

Few today know Browning is the man that invented systems (e.g. Foresight's Summa Vision) that were able to speed along the development of the currently widely available HDTVs. Browning predicted what we are seeing on the sets in the democratic media-driven revolutions, and he was behind how we are viewing these events in high definition. Remarkable, actually, when you think about it.

(Browning's February 26, 1991 presentation of his decades' long inventive work on HDTV appeared as an August 1991 paper, "High-definition projection television," which was published by SPIE, NASA and others after Browning's death.)

When Iben Browning died, I wrote one of the first obituaries in the Fortean literature. As the New York Times obituary noted upon Iben Browning's death from a heart attack on July 18, 1991, he was then recently remembered for his 50/50 prediction of the New Madrid earthquake in 1990.
World attention focused on the tiny Missouri town of New Madrid after Dr. Browning said in August that his calculations showed that on Dec. 3, plus or minus 48 hours, the area had a 50-50 chance of being the center of a destructive earthquake.

His projection was based on studying tidal patterns and gravity. Although geologists said his calculations lacked a scientific basis, many residents along the fault line fled the area beginning in late November. In the early 19th century, on Dec. 16, 1811, New Madrid had been near the epicenter of one of the most devastating earthquakes ever recorded in North America.

While Dr. Browning's standing in the scientific community suffered, it was recalled that he had warned of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake a week in advance and had predicted the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Dr. Browning, who was born in Edna, Tex., graduated from Southwest Texas Teachers College and earned a master's degree and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas. He was a biophysicist by training who worked in varied scientific fields, including artificial intelligence and bioengineering. He applied his studies of climate patterns to offer predictions of world food production, demographic changes and other socioeconomic matters.

Browning was recalled favorably, however, by the local New Madrid residents for heightening their awareness and that of others. My previous article about Iben Browning was a long and positive overview of his life. I felt his genius, as is often the case, was misunderstood and dismissed because a disaster did not happen. But his "prediction" was a myth, a media-driven hope that even one critical journal discussion notes was written by journalists who were into fostering on Americans their belief the "big one" would happen at New Madrid.

In the last two years, the Arab Spring revolutions sweeping the Middle East have a foundation cause in the worldwide shortage of food and the resulting poverty. The doughts around the globe do too. Browning predicted all of this. Furthermore, because Americans and other developed countries are isolated from food shortages, the effect is somewhat lessened. But the USA is not without its troubles, its recession and its mass protests in reaction to how to deal with these problems. This is overtly visible as can be seen from the public employee demonstrations last year that began in Wisconsin and have spread to Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. Now we are seeing it happen in micro-conflicts and mass shootings. The political landscape has shifted but still is reflective of the macro dramas. What lies ahead?

Stepping back from the food shortages, Browning warned of the precursors too, higher levels of volcanic activity, often ignored by intelligence agencies who are suppose to be predicting government changes. The CIA seems to have been caught off-guard by the impact of the first self-immolation and the resulting success of the Facebook revolution in Tunisia. Those events would easily, through copycat immolations, soon set fire to Algeria, then Egypt. Now it has come to so many other countries in the area, with violent reactions from repressive regimes, also predictable. Immolations, the copycat effect, and twitter/Facebook have ignited like a wildfire the call for change in these nations.

Behind it all are the volcanoes, weather pattern disruptions, food shortages, poverty, feelings of discontent, and wars. Iben Browning and I might disagree about the significant role of global warming, but I certainly acknowledge and agree with him that there has been a lack of recognition of the role of volcanoes by most modern politicians.

As John Mauldin, another who appreciates Browning, has written, in part:
I hinted at something in Russia that threatens to cause inflation. No, it is not some nefarious scheme by Putin or Medvedev. It is Kamchatka, or more specifically volcanic activity in the Kamchatka Peninsula. There is a reason the weather is so harsh this winter, and a big part of that is Kamchatka.

I am a voracious consumer of information from a wide variety of sources....One of those “Outside the Box” sources is the Browning Newsletter on climatology, a completely different look at weather from the normal meteorological view we get in newspapers and on TV. Started some 36 years ago by Ibn Browning, famed and (then somewhat) controversial climatologist, it is continued today by his daughter Evelyn Browning Gariss. As an aside, I met Ibn many years ago, when he would regularly speak at the New Orleans conference. He was fascinating and brilliant.

Climate as a whole goes through cycles. If we look to the past, we can better understand the future. Evelyn Browning Garriss has succeeded with this idea for 20+ years. Each month, I get her letter on weather patterns. It is somewhat technical, and admittedly will take a few issues and some study to get your head around, but once you do, oh my. There is a reason Australia is undergoing severe rains and that the north of the US and Europe are experiencing serious winters.

First, the Pacific is going through a cooler period, called La Nina (with this one being particularly strong), and the Atlantic is going through a warmer period. This would normally change weather patterns in rather predictable ways. But then throw in the Kamchatka volcanoes, which are throwing massive amounts of dust into the air, causing the Arctic to be even colder and Arctic winds to push farther south, and you get a very drastic change in patterns.

Australia’s wheat crop is down by 10%, but the bulk of it has been so damaged by the worst rain in a hundred years (by far) that it is no good as human food and can only be used to feed animals. Throw in drought in Russia, severe drought in Argentina, floods in Brazil and Venezuela, odd weather in the agricultural parts of China, and you get rising food costs all over the world – all because Putin cannot keep his volcanoes under control. (But hey, he’s controlling everything else!)

If those volcanoes don’t back down, there is the real possibility that this year’s bad weather could repeat.

As Evelyn writes...[in January 2011]:
“Basically, both the Pacific and Bering plates are subducting (sliding beneath) under [the Kamchatka Peninsula] and each other. Just as fenders crumple during a car wreck, so the Kamchatka Peninsula surface is buckling with mountain ranges. When the ocean plates sink deep enough, portions are melted by the intense heat generated within the mantle, turning the solid rock into molten magma. The magma bubbles up through the crust, ultimately bursting to the surface and forming volcanic eruptions.

“As a result of all this geological activity, Kamchatka tends to be somewhat active – but recently it has been ridiculous! Since late November, Kizimen, Sheveluch, Karymsky, and Kliuchevskoi have been erupting almost constantly. Most of the eruptions have ranged from 2-10 km (1.2-6.2 miles) high. While the smallest eruptions have caused only minor local disruptions, the larger ones have entered passing fronts, cooling temperatures, altering air pressure, and increasing precipitation.

“Volcanic ash screens out incoming temperature, cooling the air below. This lowers air pressures which, in turn, changes wind patterns. In particular, in polar regions it appears to weaken the Arctic Oscillation winds. When the Arctic Oscillation turns negative, that is, when the winds weaken, the cold air normally trapped around the North Pole surges south.”

She was writing months ago about the weather that we see today, so when she tells us that it’s possible we’ll see a repeat next year, I pay attention. This could further exacerbate food costs and force emerging-market central bankers to fight inflation by allowing their currencies to rise.

Weather makes a difference.
Look for the doughts in North America to be difficult throughout the summer of 2012 (until the hurricanes cause some relief), the corn, fruit, and other produce prices to increase, the resulting US's ability to help out with the global food shortages decrease, leading to more turmoil, and more governments will then be in distress. Immigrant stress, governmental distress, and other internal/external distrust tends to result in regional conflicts, like the coming war between Israel and Iran, say, beginning in mid-September or mid-October 2012. Concurrently, the USA is in the midst of the longest war in its history, in the country where empires go to die, Afghanistan.

Whatever "domestic issues" you think are driving the American Election campaign today, forget about those for September and October. The election will revolve around global international conflicts and stressors.

We are hardly out of the woods yet.


Red Pill Junkie said...

The reserves of white maize in Mexico (the one we use to make tortillas, the very cornerstone of Mexican diet) are at an all-time low, due to the frozen weather in the northern states.

This will force the government to secure futures from other nations, like South Africa, which will inevitably raise the costs of tortillas.

Add to that the massive amounts of money that the parties are preparing to spend in the upcoming 2012 elections, and the fact that the economy is still stagnant --even though our great leaders ask us to quit whining, because anyone can comfortably live with a salary of 500 dollars a month, or so they say-- and you see why Mexico is quickly becoming a powder keg.

To me it's not a question of whether we'll get to see massive riots erupting in Mexico this year or not. It's just a question of when exactly in the year.

Bill Lohmeier said...

I met Dr. Browning when he was speaking at an Emergency Management conference in Arizona, shortly before his death.

At this conference he accurately predicted coming global climatic side-effects of the major volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

Twenty years later, the recent earthquakes and tsunami hitting Japan near the time of lunar perigee show that his tidal forces earthquake theory is also sound.

When asked about the new media fad of global warming, he said,

"I wish global warming was true. For every degree increase in temperature, crops can be grown a degree higher in latitude, and there would be no food shortages on the planet. But, unfortunately, global warming is just not true."

His predictions of break-ups of governments included the United States, following that of Canada. And Canada would've broke up, had they not launched a massive, "We love you Quebec" ad campaign.

His example of inviting family to live on land together in a rural area, like New Mexico, is still a great idea ahead of its time.

Anonymous said...

Great article & obit on Dr. Browning, Mr.Coleman!
Never knew many of the things you wrote.

An article on the 'uprisings' in Egypt that might be on interest to you.

Enjoy your blog immensely as it is making me take a look at events from new angles.

SJ Reidhead said...

Thank you for recognizing the fact that volcanism is a much bigger deal than science today seems to credit it.

I think you are right about an uptick. Then again, I may just be trying to live out my life-time fantasy of photographing an exploding volcano.

Seriously, i do think you are on to something. Something that is not receiving any attention is the fact that there was some sort of a minor eruption in the Carrizozo lava beds, here in Lincoln County, NM, a couple months ago. Naturally, I missed the blasted ash plume. I'm still trying to locate more information on it. Just think - a volcanic event less than an hour away from me!

The Pink Flamingo