Suggested Discussion Outline

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Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Bcc: The Approximately 150 Recipients of Our Weekly E-mail
Subject: Meeting THIS Wed Evening – Suggested Discussion Outline for The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Date: Sat, January 9, 2016
Time: 2:45 am MST – 3:49 am MST (due to 100/hour limit)
Attachment: RL-bc25-SuggestedAnswersToTheShortQuiz (which is also posted in the 1/13/2016 Participants Comments section of

Dear Friends,

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESday evening, January 13th, at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South) in our regular Conference Room C which is on the lower level and accessible by the SPECIAL elevator just inside the EAST entrance.

Please join us for socializing from 6:15 pm > 7:00 pm or, if you prefer, come only from 7:00 pm > 8:55 pm for our formal discussion. We provide coffee/decaf and chocolate-chunk cookies and peanut-butter cookies. Or you could bring your own snack from home or the Salt Lake Roasting Co. branch on the first floor of the library.

[Everyone is welcome to join us afterwards half a block south at Cannella's for drinks to socialize and/or continue the discussion -- everyone is welcome but Dutch treat.]

OUR FOCUS BOOK (Proposed by Utah Owl - aka, June Taylor, U/U Radiology Research Professor and Long-Time RL Regular) =

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert ($11.40 + shipping or $9.99 eTextbook from - 269 pages sans notes and index). Elizabeth Kolbert is Williams College’s Class of 1946 Environmental Fellow-In-Residence, and a prolific author. Among her many awards, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for The Sixth Extinction.

However, our policy has always been that first-time attendees are not expected to have read the materials.


Although we have enough RSVP’s to satisfy our quorum, please RSVP if you haven’t done so already and you plan to attend in case it is necessary to contact you for any reason.


Non-Utah-residents (and residents who are out of town) are invited to participate in our meeting via Skype.

If you would like to do so, please press your reply button and type “request participation via Skype” and we will contact you to make appropriate arrangements.


A. Elizabeth Kolbert provides 13 chapters of examples illustrating how the earth is in the middle of the Sixth Extinction in the last 500 million years.

A-1. As many as 50% of the world’s species will have become extinct.
A-2. This extinction is caused almost wholly by human activity.

B. Proximate causes:

B-1. Greenhouse-gas (carbon) emissions.
B-2. Transporting species, whether intentionally or inadvertently, to new locations where they have no natural enemies and where they can then multiply uncontrollably at the expense of other species.
B-3. Destroying a species’ habitat.
B-4. Other?

C. Implications

C-1. Yours Truly was struck by Elizabeth Kolbert’s failure to spell out any adverse effects of the extinction.
C-2. Please note that in last week’s Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz (a copy of which is attached for your convenience), Yours Truly suggested (Q&A-10 through Q&A-20) that most medical cures are discovered by ascertaining the natural enemies of the species causing the disease.
C-3. And that the loss of 50% of the earth’s species means that cures for 50% of human diseases will probably never be discovered, because they will no longer exist.

D. Digression

Although June Taylor (who recommended the book and who is the U/U Radiology Research Professor) will NOT be participating because she will be airborne and is averse to Skyping from aloft, Yours Truly would welcome a thorough discussion of whether C-2 and C-3 are correct –- especially from the following who are among the 10 positive RSVP’s so far:

Two retired U/U Biology Professors;

The recently-retired Assistant Utah Attorney General for Environmental Matters; and

A recently-retired U.S. Air Force doctor who, inter alia, headed the medical staff at the U.S. Defense Department’s Regional Medical Center at Landstuhl Germany, the first hospital to which wounded American service personnel in the Middle East have been taken since Gulf War I (1990-91).

E. Action

E-1. Yours Truly was struck by Elizabeth Kolbert’s failure to make any recommendations for combatting the extinction.

E-2: Perhaps she thought the answers were obvious, or perhaps she didn’t want to have to double or triple the size of her book.

E-3. But oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface and only 2 of her 13 chapters deal with why virtually all aquatic species except jelly fish are becoming extinct. And she only addresses increased carbon in the earth’s atmosphere (it combines spontaneously with water to create carbonic acid which is toxic to most marine life).

E-3-a. Illegal ocean trawling is the second-greatest threat to marine life and we already have a Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail Campaign to enforce the U.N. Law of the Sea which prohibits the miles-wide trawling nets which feature rollers that can safely take the nets over obstacles as tall as 10-story buildings and which annually destroy 160 times as much ocean-bottom as the annual area of rain forests destroyed.

E-3-b. And we already have three Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail Campaigns to bring on line thorium fission, which we have agreed all three times -- (1) will halt the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions 100% (vs. insignificant chipping away à la Kyoto, Paris, etc.), (2) will halt the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions immediately, (3) will, because it is so much cheaper than any other energy source, make it unnecessary to, inter alia, invade China to force it to stop bringing on stream a new monster-size coal-fired electric-generation plant EVERY WEEK, and (4) is so safe that it is INCAPABLE of exploding (the reason why the U.S., following the SUCCESSFUL 18-month continuous-demonstration thorium-fission project conducted by the U.S. National Nuclear Research Laboratory at Oak Ridge TN in the mid-1960’s, turned instead to uranium and plutonium).

E-4. Other action we should be taking?


We hope to see all of you on January 13th.

Your friend,

John K.

PS -- To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."

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Ignoring Utah Owl’s Q&A-13 Comment In The Discussion Outline

Post by solutions »

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Ignoring Utah Owl’s Q&A-13 Comment In The Discussion Outline
From: Solutions
Date: Sat, January 9, 2016 2:17 pm - MST

Dear John,

Why did you ignore Utah Owl’s Q&A-13 Comment in composing the Suggested Discussion Outline?

Your friend,


---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Ignoring Utah Owl’s Q&A-13 Comment In The Discussion Outline
Date: Sun, January 9, 2016 3:41 am - MST
To: Solutions

Dear Solutions,

Thank you very much for your e-mail. BTW, we now have 16 positive RSVP’s, and counting.

Preliminary Comment

As mentioned several times over the years, each month’s Short Quiz typically has to be formulated before I have even obtained my copy of the focus book from

Accordingly, the Quiz comprises questions that I think the book will address based on personal knowledge and based on information contained in on-line book reviews.

[And quite often, the focus book will fail to address an issue raised in the Short Quiz, which then usually requires considerable research in order to provide a Suggested Answer!!!]

As can be seen from the Suggested Discussion Outline, I was very surprised that The Sixth Extinction did not spell out any adverse effects of the extinction (as well as not making any recommendations for how to combat the extinction).

But Dumb Old Me, I had already devoted Q&A-10 through Q&A-20 to what I had assumed in advance, The Sixth Extinction would offer as a reason for combatting Greenhouse-Gas (Carbon) Emissions.

[In addition to assuming that GHG emissions would be the central issue from personal knowledge acquired during the focus of our 9/11/2013 meeting 2.5 years ago on ocean conservation.]

Our Mushrooming Positive RSVP’s

Perhaps it is just as well that Dumb Old Me scratched his head and tried to conjure what would be the significance of the extinction of as many as 50% of the world’s species.

First, because it looked like we were not going to make our minimum quorum of 6 as of the deadline of the second weekly e-mail in the monthly cycle.

And presumably, due to conjuring what appears to be the most-important consequence of such a massive extinction, and what appears to be the most-important consequence of GHG emissions, we suddenly had 10 positive RSVP’s and then 6 more following our fourth weekly e-mail of yesterday.

[Which is a bit mind-boggling that 6 people would order the book for overnight delivery so that they could read it by Wednesday evening!!!]

The second reason why it may have been just as well to conjure???

I’ve always been amazed at how ineffectual the global-warming Cassandras have been because, contrary to the President Putin’s of the world who see benefits from global warming, the global-warming Cassandras only seem to be able to cite consequences that do not affect the overwhelming majority of human beings in general, or Americans in particular.

When, if my conjuring is correct (we’ll see what our 4 biology/environmental/medical experts think Wednesday evening), GHG emissions are a matter of life-and-death for every human being.

The Function of Q&A-13

The purpose of Q&A-13 was to dramatize how the loss of a single species could condemn vast numbers of human beings to death.

Indeed, as increasingly more diseases become treatable so that, using the Q&A-13 example, a brain tumor comprising melanoma cells becomes one of the leading causes of death (simply because such a tumor is one of the few remaining causes of death), we would regret that the herpes species had become extinct if we were omniscient -- which (omniscience) is what would be required to appreciate that herpes would have solved the problem if herpes hadn’t become extinct.

The Second Dimension of Q&A-13 On Which Utah Owl Commented

June Taylor (aka Utah Owl) is the U/Utah’s Radiology Research Professor.

And since the U/U’s Huntsman Cancer Institute is one of the nation’s leading cancer-research institutions, June is certainly on the cutting edge of cancer research, because deciding what radiology-research projects are merited depends upon what non-radiology treatments are available in a particular situation.

[BTW, the Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon Huntsman Sr., whose Huntsman Chemical Corp. is, inter alia, the largest manufacturer of polystyrene, and whose son Jon Huntsman Jr. served as Utah Governor 2005-2009 before resigning to become President Obama’s Ambassador to China 2009-2011, for which Huntsman was tapped because of his outstanding service as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (1992-1993) -- Singapore, per, is 74.2% ethnically Chinese (Huntsman speaks Chinese fluently as the result of serving as a Mormon missionary to Taipei for two years, and as a result of returning to Taipei to work for two years after graduating from college) -- he, in turn, resigned in 2011 as U.S. Ambassador to China to challenge Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.]

However, June and I have been close friends for 8 years, so I am sure that she would cheerfully admit that she was playing the role of upholding the law while I, as an attorney for the first half of my career, was playing the typical attorney role of trying to find a way around the law.

Which, in the case described in Q&A-13, was a matter of life and death!!!

The law involved???

The U.S. approval process of the FDA (the U.S. Food & Drug Administration) for new medicines.

The problem???

Cognoscenti around the world know that the FDA’s approval process is cumbersome and consumes considerable time.

So that if a loved one is facing a life-threatening illness, you immediately research what cures are available in various countries.

And cognoscenti take the proper view that doctors are merely the hired help who can assist in determining what treatment(s) are available in their country.

But cognoscenti would never consider for a moment sacrificing the life of their loved one on the altar of the FDA approval process!!!

Instead, you are going to see what is available elsewhere in the world and, for superior treatment, you will travel!!!

And if the superior treatment is only available in the U.S., but it is still in the FDA approval process, you will Move Heaven And Earth to obtain that treatment in any way possible!!!

June’s position???

[As I understand it, which may not be accurate, but the exploration of which would comprise one of the wonderful conversations we have had over the years.]

First, that herpes has not been proven to cure melanoma.

Which a trained attorney immediately recognizes as employing a legalistic definition of “proven.”

In other words, that it is not “proven” until the FDA sprinkles Holy Water on it!!!

So the return Q for June would be whether she believes in gravity!!!

Because when I was young, anyone who had broken a femur had to spend weeks “in traction” – which was lying on a hospital bed with a weight and pulley system attached to the lower femur fragment so that the weight could exactly counter-balance the massive strength of your thigh muscles so that they don’t constantly pull the opposing ends of the two femur fragments past each other.

But did the FDA ever conduct tests to confirm that gravity exists???

[I’m assuming that the FDA didn’t bother, but I’ll let you “chase that rabbit” if you’re interested.]

If my assumption is correct, then June has to admit that gravity does NOT exist!!!

Or, hopefully, June would be willing to admit that scientific facts are true whether or not they have ever been “discovered” by human beings, much less affirmed by the FDA.

And, also hopefully, June would be willing to admit that a particular medical cure does NOT enter the FDA testing process UNLESS it is virtually certain to be confirmed as a cure.

After all, drug companies presumably aren’t going to waste resources trying to prove something that their own research has demonstrated is NOT true.

Relevance Of The Second Dimension of Q&A-13

I can understand why June feels compelled to say a kind word for the FDA!!!

But the purpose of the Short Quiz and Suggested Answers was to dramatize how losing as many as 50% of the world’s species probably means losing forever the ability to cure 50% of human diseases.

Because, after all, there is a DOUBLE-BARRELED EFFECT!!!

If we lose the world’s only species that combats another species that causes a human disease -- (1) not only do we lose the possibility of a cure, (2) but also the species that causes the human disease no longer has any check and can run rampant.

The First Dimension of Q&A-13 (reprise)???

To illustrate the tragedy of losing ANY of the world’s species, since any one of them might be holding in check another species that can cause a human disease and might be the only hope of a cure for that disease.

The Relevance of the Second Dimension of Q&A-13???

Quibbling over whether the FDA is a worthwhile protection (which I cheerfully concede that it is in ordinary circumstances), or an obstacle if you are facing a life-and-death situation -- is NOT relevant to the issue of why it is so important to preserve all of the world’s species.

That is why it was ignored in the Suggested Discussion Outline.

Thank you again for your inquiry.

Your friend,

John K.

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More On Ignoring Utah Owl's Q&A-13 Comment

Post by solutions »

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Re: Ignoring Utah Owl’s Q&A-13 Comment In The Discussion Outline
Date: Mon, January 11, 2016 11:37 pm - MST
To: Solutions

Dear Solutions,

Our weekly Skype gabfest this afternoon produced some comments on the referenced subject that seemed to be worth recording, at least for purposes of Wednesday evening’s discussion.

You were skeptical of my argument that losing even a single species might unleash a plague that could wipe out the human race.

And further cited The Sixth Extinction as authority that after each of the five earlier extinctions, subsequent evolution always produced more species than had existed before the extinction.


I tried to put the issue in concrete terms for you.

By citing HIV/AIDS and also citing the recent Ebola crisis.

For at least a decade after its discovery in the 1984 (and for who knows how long before 1984), the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was a death sentence, because there was no cure.

And even today, my impression is that there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS but the survival rate has now risen above ZERO because of a combination of (1) what is often called a “cocktail” of various retardants which have been available since 1995, coupled with (2) close regulation of diet, exercise, sleep, etc., etc.

Vis-à-vis Ebola which has been on the radar screen for many decades, the 2014 outbreak in West Africa was widely reported in the media to be unstoppable because there was/is no cure, and that the death toll around the world would total in the zillions.

And even today, my impression is that even though Ebola has been around for decades, there is still no cure.

Now ask yourself the Q why the human race wasn’t wiped out 1,000 years ago by HIV/AIDS. Or wiped out 1,000 years ago by Ebola.

Intuitively the answer must be that there was some species that kept the HIV virus (and yes, I realize the V in HIV and virus are redundant) in check.

Ditto the Ebola virus.

ALSO INTUITIVELY, whatever species was keeping HIV in check lo these many centuries, must now be extinct or our researchers could have found it by this time!!!

Ditto whatever species was keeping Ebola in check lo these many centuries!!!


Like so many things she does not spell out, Kolbert (our author) does not explicitly address how this happens.

But I would call your attention to Chapter 8 (pp. 148-172) where she is discussing the rain forests in the High Andes of Peru.

You have heard me talk, I’m sure more times than you would care to remember since this is a favorite topic of skiers and you don’t ski, about how under normal conditions, the temperature drops about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for each 1,000 feet of altitude -- which you can easily calculate for yourself while flying any commercial aircraft that still displays such information as altitude and outside temperature, and then contrasting that with altitude and outside temperature at the departure airport.

Which, of course, is why many mountains have snow-capped peaks, even in the tropics. And when the normal temperature drop with increased altitude is temporarily disrupted, we have what is called an “inversion” but could just as easily be called a “toilet.”

With that background, back to Kolbert’s chapter on the High Andes of Peru.

And her description of a long-standing study of the tree species that existed at various altitudes over time.

You will recall that the study showed that because of global warming, the trees were migrating at an average rate of 8 feet/year (older trees dying off and only their progeny at higher altitudes surviving).

[BTW, query how many readers of The Sixth Extinction appreciate that Kolbert’s reference to Birnam Woods (p. 158) is a reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth -- I really enjoyed her obscure references but Kolbert probably expects too much of her average reader -- after all, only 3 of the 37 operas composed by Joe Green (aka Giuseppe Verdi), Otello (spelled without an H), Macbeth and Falstaff (The Merry Wives of Windsor) were based on Shakespeare.]

Now the crucial detail!!!

Whose significance Kolbert does NOT spell out, vis-à-vis my argument!!!

Although she says that the study showed that the trees are migrating upwards at an average rate of 8 feet/year because of global warming, she states that the study showed that some trees had not migrated at all and died out, while others had migrated as far as 100 feet/year.

Obviously, the tree species that were able to migrate at least 8 feet/year WERE LOSING COMPETITION from those that weren’t.

And yes, I realize that trees don’t cause human epidemics, and that only a small minority are even poisonous for human beings.

In other words, I am only citing the study of Peru’s High Andes forests to illustrate how species can die out while their competitors then flourish.



I’m sorry that you raised the issue that following each extinction, subsequent evolution has always produced more species than had existed before the extinction (according to Kolbert).

Because, as the old saying goes -- "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China???"

So there are more species afterwards.

The Q is whether any of them will restore the balance with HIV 1.0 or Ebola 1.0 or HIV 2.0 or Ebola 2.0 or NPV 1.0.

Because if none of them do, you could easily have the end of the human race.

Whereupon the human race will join the long list of species that became extinct.

If, of course, there is any species then left on earth that is capable of keeping such a list!!!

Enough already until Wed evening.

Your friend,

John K.

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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Special Meeting Procedures Dictated By Exigencies

Post by johnkarls »

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Heads Up – Three Matters For Our Meeting – Important
Date: Tue, January 12, 2016 6:07 pm - MST
Attachment: RL-c109-SuggestedDiscussionOutline

To the 17 RSVP’s for Tomorrow Evening’s Meeting

Dear Friends,

I’m very sorry to be bothering all of you yet again.

But the extraordinary number of RSVP’s appears to make three special items

First, from talking to several of you, it appears that some of you
mistakenly thought that you had read the Suggested Discussion Outline
included in last Saturday morning’s weekly e-mail.

[Dumb Old Me, the outline was included in the body of the e-mail and,
since it referenced the Suggested Q&A’s from the previous week, the old
Q&A’s were attached to the e-mail for everyone’s convenience. Many of you
simply assumed that the attachment contained the outline and apparently
did not realize that you were reading the Q&A’s sent a week earlier.]

Accordingly, attached hereto is the outline itself (together with two
subsequent “replies” that were posted on

Second, the explosion of late RSVP’s (4 after the circulation of the Short
Quiz and 7 more after last Saturday’s Outline) implies that there was/is
an incredible interest in Items C-2, C-3 and D of the Outline which
summarize Q&A-10 through Q&A-20.

Accordingly, since our meeting time is short and I wouldn’t want anyone
who did indeed RSVP because of those items to feel cheated, I will begin
the discussion with those items.

In addition, since Ted and Tucker Gurney, our two retired U/U biology
professors, are experts vis-à-vis those items, I will start the discussion
by asking them to comment on Items C-2, C-3 and D (rather than, this once,
following our tradition of asking Thomas Chancellor to start us off).

Third, so that Ted and Tucker don’t have to bother with a lot of
background information, it is requested that you read Items C-2, C-3 and D
of the Outline, and both subsequent “reply” postings that complete the
balance of the attachment to this e-mail.

Thank you all very much for your cooperation.

Looking forward to seeing you all on tomorrow evening (Wed Jan 13),

Your friend,

John K.

Blind File Notes:

The attachment comprised the three postings that appear above.

June Taylor (aka Utah Owl) was forwarded a copy of this e-mail at 6:08 pm MST.

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