Thursday, June 30, 2022
What this elucidates is the sheer inadequacy of the German artillary train and this continued throughout the whole war. Understand that artillary was responsible for over seventy percent of casulties..
Retaining any aspect of the horse system was a grave error as well. Just fixing that after France in 41 while holding the allies at bay was completely within German capability then.
Yet it is obvious Hitler never thought that way and it was easier to go with tradition even when no one spent a dime on cavalry.
We can presume that the French and English were doing the same thing in 1941 and USA truck production changed all that up...
How good was German artillery in World War II?
An average plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tommorow.Jun 11
At the beginning of the war it was recognized as the best in the world. The artillery corps was highly trained and equipped with excellent equipment. Their sound ranging at night was awe-inspiring.
But most of their artillery was horse drawn. A single battery could required up to 100 horses and that mean vets and farriers and hostlers and harnessmakers and leather workers and so on. The amount of extraneous waste was horrific. And they could only travel in a day what a tank could do in an hour.
And an enormous tactical mistake was made to use trained, skilled artillery troops as auxiliary infantry in battle. So these men would go into combat as infanrty and get killed and then they would be replaced by some green soldier who knew very little about artillery.
As time went on, more of the artillery was motorized but much of it was stop-gap: some even included WW1 field artillery on captured gun tractors.
By and large, German artillery lacked the range of the Russian artillery but they captured so many Russian 76mm artillery pieces that German manufacturing made shells for them.
Over time, the Germans could only replace one gun with every two lost so the Germans were always on the losing end. In addition, the older a gun gets, the more its barrel has to be replaced or it is no longer accurate. The Germans called it “cow tails” - the shells would fly out of worn barrels like flapping cow tails and never get anywhere near the target.
As the war was being lost, Hitler demanded that the 88mm flak guns be used as long range artillery and General Hienrici got into a screaming fight with him over it because using an AA gun as field artillery destroys the barrel quickly, making it useless for its real job of fighting planes or targeting tanks. Of course Hitler won that battle.
To increase range of their artillery the Germans developed the first rocket-assisted artillery rounds. This made a huge difference on the battlefield.
Much has been written about the Nebelwerfer and the Sturmgeseutz 3, both of which were real “wunderwaffen” so I will not write about them here.
The German 75mm antitank gun was considered the best weapon of its type of the war. With it’s low profile and wide traverse, it was deadly to enemy tanks at high ranges. Many nations used captured examples after the war.
Note the rubber wheels.
Towards the end, the Germans experimented with cheap, throw-away rockets as artillery where range was added by adding stages. It has some success bombing Antwerp but never really reached a stage where it was successful.
No one really gets it yet. GOD is Logic. The problem is that we have messed up our understanding of Logic itself by ignoring the natural sixth logic operator. We constructed it all using the five operators we all know and left out the sixth operator.
That operator accomadates TIME and the idea of truth and falsehood across the pages of TIME.
GOD is literally the consciousness of the Universe (our galaxy) our planet (Gaia) The Sun (Sol) or anywhere else for that matter and it reacts across TIME. It is not neutral.
A God beyond logic
The history of natural theology shows that Intelligent Design and New Atheism both got it wrong, in strangely similar ways
Spirit of the mountains. A bearded vulture unsettles a flock of Alpine choughs in the Aosta Valley, Italy. Photo by Stefano Unterthiner
is a historian of science and religion. He is the author of Trying Biology: The Scopes Trial, Textbooks, and the Antievolution Movement in American Schools (2013) and co-author with Thomas Dixon of Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (2022). He lives in Lancaster, PA.
The first thing I learned about natural theology was that it was wrong. The idea that God’s existence could be proven by simply observing life on Earth – that divine presence could be found in human eyes, the wings of bees, the order of orchids or the movements of the planets – seemed archaic in a secular world where science reigned. And by the late 20th century, even those who rejected this secular world had started to turn away from natural theology: in the United States, evangelical Christians and other groups looked to the Bible, not nature, to justify their values. The very grounds of natural theology became something worthy of parody. I remember the British author Douglas Adams’s depiction of the Babel fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). This improbable living creature could provide instant universal translation to anyone who placed it inside their ear canal. For Adams, its existence served as the definitive disproof of a deity:
The argument goes something like this: ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’
‘But,’ says Man, ‘the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.’
‘Oh dear,’ says God, ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
Adams’s fantastical parody of the design argument came at a time when natural theology was increasingly regarded as both obsolete and absurd. Just under a decade later, Richard Dawkins wrote The Blind Watchmaker (1986), which also took aim at arguments that God was revealed through the natural world. Dawkins wrote that there was compelling evidence and logic behind the natural theology arguments of previous centuries – particularly those made popular by the British clergyman and philosopher William Paley in 1802 – but that these arguments had been rendered obsolete by Charles Darwin’s accounts of living creatures that were not designed. Instead, they had ‘evolved by chance’. By the early 1990s, even antievolutionists were latching on to a version of this argument. These groups, including evangelical Christians in the US, claimed that the fault was not in natural theology’s inherent logic, but in the out-of-date scientific examples that informed its argument. All of this came to a head in 2005, during the Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District court case in the US, which determined whether intelligent design could be taught in a Pennsylvania school’s biology classes. The opposing sides in the courtroom could agree on only one thing. The central question of natural theology, they affirmed, was this: Can a God, creator, or ‘Intelligence’ be proven to exist? This is the version of natural theology we inherit today. The problem is, reducing natural theology to a question of proof loses much of what it stood for. If the first thing you learned about natural theology was that it was wrong, the second should be that you didn’t really learn about natural theology – you learned a truncated version rooted in historical misunderstanding.
During the past millennium, the arguments for natural theology were about much more than proving God’s existence. Natural theology advocates were not writing to merely dissuade atheists; their foils were other religious believers whose doctrinal or denominational differences might be arbitrated by the public evidence of empirical science. Natural theology was never about ‘proof’ as we have come to understand it. We see this in the writings of the Italian friar Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century; in the works of the English naturalist John Ray and the clergyman Paley in the 17th and 18th centuries; and among myriad other texts, including the eight Bridgewater Treatises, commissioned in 19th-century England to document the ‘goodness of God as manifested in Creation’. For natural theologians, the specific line of reasoning used to arrive at a ‘proof’ of God determined the kind of answers one could reach about moral and political questions, about the nature of salvation, the toleration of other faiths, and the validity and interpretation of scripture. Natural theology was never exclusively about proving God’s existence through the complexity of the natural world. And yet, our contemporary rejections of natural theology have focused almost exclusively on this argument. Natural theologians and philosophers were instead motivated by a search for answers to the pressing moral and political questions of their day, and their arguments were as much about considering the epistemological grounds of proof, as they were about finding God in nature.
To understand how the natural theologians made their arguments requires us to understand the purpose of ‘proof’ differently. Many of the arguments put forward by Aquinas, Ray, Paley and others follow specific rules of reasoning. They also follow commonly accepted rules of logical inference and conventions of citing publicly observable matters of fact. And yet, the demonstrations of ‘proof’ made by these writers – that is, descriptions of the natural world – also served as a literary genre through which rhetorical and emotional appeals could be made that go beyond logic. At the time when they were published, these appeals to rhetoric and emotion would not just have been seen as displays of wit or cleverness. They also showed an understanding of how humans think: an expression of how nature and divinity can open one’s mind and spirit to be moved and persuaded. Perhaps anticipating what scholars of psychology and communication would only conclude centuries later, natural theologians knew that people are rarely persuaded by reason alone.
Although Paley is less well known than the two other scholars he is most often contrasted with, David Hume and Darwin, his examples of natural theology remain ubiquitous today – and, for that reason, also distorted. Paley’s book Natural Theology: Or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802) begins with perhaps the most misinterpreted discussion in the entire history of theology: the analogy of the watch. Should a person happen to come across a stone, Paley argued, one would not draw grand conclusions from it. But upon stumbling across a watch, a reasonable observer would quickly grasp that its many parts had been assembled for a purpose. There must be, he wrote, a kind of watchmaker. Paley later shows that the interpretation of the watch as something that has a purpose logically parallels how we might interpret various animal organs (eyes, ears, wings and more) and other natural systems as demonstrating purpose, too.
This ‘watchmaker argument’ is commonly described as an argument about origins and complexity. In calling his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins argued that both watches and complex living things could have, in the terms of the Babel fish argument, ‘evolved by chance’. By this logic, if things such as body parts and living systems didn’t require an interventionist creator, then Paley’s argument crumbles. No creator? No purpose.
Except that Paley wasn’t writing in total ignorance of the theological arguments that had come before him.
Think of the argument about the initial creation of the observable world: the argument of the ‘first cause’. This is sometimes posed as a question, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’, which has taken on various forms since it was included in Aquinas’s Summa Theologica (written c1265-73). Hume, writing about a quarter-century before Paley, offered an incisive criticism of the first-cause argument, claiming that it was an error to presume that a deity or creative designer would have purposes akin to human ones, or that the analogy between human intentions and nonhuman ones could be justified through anything other than circular arguments.
Paley would have been familiar with these ideas, and his Natural Theology is partially an attempt to offer answers to the logical criticisms that Hume raised decades earlier. Paley’s opening comparison of the stone with the watch is one such answer – a response to Hume’s argument about first causes. By rejecting the idea that the stone provides useful evidence of a creator, Paley avoids the oversimplified argument that the existence of anything proves God’s existence. But the watch provides something different: evidence of purpose. That’s not the same thing as evidence of a creator. In a later chapter of the book, Paley considers the possibility of a mechanical watch-like object that creates a replica of itself. Logically, these self-replicating watches were directly created by their predecessors, and the watch could have been the most recent generation of an infinite cycle of reproducing watches that exist eternally. Paley avoids discussion of first causes to sidestep, rather than refute, Hume’s criticism, and focus his logic instead on the question of purpose.
For Hume, purpose could not be proven without presupposing that God had an anthropomorphic nature, with desires, goals and plans like our own. We can’t assume, he argued, that a God has the same purposes as human artisans. Paley’s argument took a different direction. His view that nature has purposes is based on observations that objects seem adapted to make use of natural laws even when those laws did not play a direct role in fabricating them. A watch uses its springs, chains and other mechanical laws in a way that coincides with astronomical laws that define the day. Observing this, we may infer that there is a purpose found in the ability of the material world to make use of natural laws. Paley is suggesting that Hume’s argument can be cleaved in two: whether purposes can be revealed by objects in nature is a separate question to understanding exactly what those purposes are. For Paley, we observe this through the parts of the eye that seem arranged to make use of the laws of optics, or through birds’ wings that make use of aerodynamics, or through an ear’s expression of acoustic principles. We can observe this adaptation even if we don’t understand sight or flight.
This argument was intended as a logical response to Hume. But, more importantly, it unveils an expanded view of Paley’s beliefs. This version of natural theology reveals a deity who is known not by the instances where science fails, but at the moments when it most elegantly works. The reductive ‘argument from design’ so often faulted by atheists and praised by antievolutionists suggests God is the best explanation remaining whenever we can’t account for why things came to be as they are. It’s based on a thin process of elimination – with a vision of a creator that the Scottish theologian Henry Drummond derided as the ‘God of the Gaps’ – and it can testify to nothing other than mere existence. By contrast, and design, Paley’s arguments are focused on getting beyond existence to questions of the attributes of the designer. In his view, because natural laws are found universally on Earth and beyond, then surely the author of those laws is both singular and omnipresent. More debatably, Paley’s writing indicates that the world seems to minimise purposeless suffering and permits creatures to experience pleasure without any apparent ulterior purpose – a suggestion that there is goodness in the governance of the world.
To understand Paley’s argument, readers had to exist in a society that built, sold, regulated and consumed watches
This latter point gets at the heart of ethics and politics in Paley’s day. In The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), Paley responds to the question of whether (and by what means) a well-ordered society would prove naturally beneficial to its inhabitants. The reason for his affirmative answer was the chaos and suffering caused by the French Revolution, which he abhorred. He cautioned against the possibility of a similar uprising in Britain. Paley’s views were in conversation with those of the English economist Thomas Malthus, whose primary aim in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) was not simply to demonstrate that societies naturally and inevitably outgrow their resources, but that the suffering caused by population growth was neither inherently the result of failed governance nor incompatible with the moral edicts prescribed by a good and caring God.
Paley’s awareness of and conversation with the political and economic order of the day plays a key role in his arguments for natural theology, in particular his example of the watch. In his day, the people who fabricated individual parts of timepieces – chains, gears, dials and faces – were not considered ‘watchmakers’ (nor were those who assembled those pieces). That title was accorded only to those who supervised and managed such people. When Paley’s Natural Theology was published in 1802, he understood that English watchmaking was a geographically and financially complex industry that had as many moving parts as individual watches themselves. This context changes the nature of the watchmaker argument considerably. To fully understand Paley’s argument, readers of his Natural Theology had to exist in a society that built, sold, regulated and consumed watches, a society in which timepieces had become objects of form and fashion. To even consider the argument’s merits, one must already be part of a complex human mechanism that relied on the adaptation of human parts to a unified purpose. In this way, the argument is self-confirming in a more convincing way than any argument that God exists because existence is a necessary attribute of God – the ontological argument for a ‘God of the Gaps’.
In October 1802, weeks after Natural Theology was published, Paley received a letter from Bishop John Law, his close friend, former schoolmate and intellectual confidant. Paley had dedicated his first major work, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, to Law’s father, who was the Bishop of Carlisle and a patron and supporter of Paley. Having just read Natural Theology, Law told Paley that his ‘arguments for the divine goodness are so strong, that not only our reason is convinced, but as Barrow would say, “we even touch and feel it with our senses.”’
Law quotes from a published sermon by the 17th-century English mathematician and theologian Isaac Barrow, perhaps best known as Isaac Newton’s mathematics teacher at Cambridge. Barrow draws from both the Book of Psalms and from the evidence of nature to explain ‘the Goodness of God’:
The Earth is full of the goodness of the Lord: The Earth, O Lord, is full of thy Mercy. Thy Mercy is great unto the Heavens; thy Mercy is great above the Heavens. ’Tis indeed because Divine Goodness is freely diffusive and communicative of it self …
For Barrow, the goodness of God, which is attested to throughout the Psalms, is also demonstrated to us by the sensual ways in which it is experienced:
Every pleasant object we view, every sweet and savoury morsel we taste, every fragrancy we smell, every harmony we hear; the wholesome, the cheering, the useful, yea, the innocent and inoffensive qualities of every thing we do use and enjoy, are so many perspicuous arguments of divine goodness; we may not only by our reason collect it, but we even touch and feel it with all our senses.
Barrow’s sermon remained topical enough 125 years after his death that Law would quote it in a personal letter to his old friend. This says much about the long tradition of natural theology as an engagement of embodiment and emotion, through touching, feeling and sensing in ways that are separate from, though perhaps complementary to, our faculties of logic and reason.
That history extends from Barrow through other natural theologians such as John Ray, whose book The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691) provides an account of awe-inspiring contrivances of nature, and suggests that humanity was created with both the mental and physical abilities to perceive God’s wisdom. This synthesis of knowledge as both thinking and sensing was key to the emergence of empiricism, as exemplified by Barrow and Ray’s contemporary John Locke, and was deeply influential on both the theological and political thought of Edmund Law and Paley. Both believed that religious truths could be accessed through universally available human experience, making them staunch defenders of religious toleration. Unlike private revelation or doctrinally demanded interpretations of scripture, the evidence of religious empiricism – sensing and feeling God – could arbitrate the long history of religious disputes in England. For Law, Paley and others, religious toleration took the form of rejecting the mandatory oath-taking required in England to hold office or access society. They argued that the moral harm from swearing false oaths caused greater spiritual damage than believing in the wrong doctrine.
Paley’s appeal to readers’ sensations as a form of argument is a practical application of his view of how the mind processes the emotions that come from sensory experience. He discusses this early in The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, which leads him to navigate a morally conservative tightrope, insisting that experiences of pleasure and happiness were necessary to understanding God, but also that overindulgence in pleasurable experience for its own sake makes divine knowledge harder to grasp. Paley notes that over time and through repetition the emotional force of a sensation becomes ‘blunted’. Paley suggests that this blunting of the emotional response to certain sensations comes from the strengthening or relaxation of the fibres of the nervous system. Much later in his same work, he suggests that the biblical injunction against taking the name of God in vain may be understood as a caution against ‘that familiar levity with which some learn to speak of the Deity’ – a deity who should evoke feelings of awe and reverence. This injunction, which is at the heart of Paley’s concern about false oaths, is not merely about moral harm; it’s also about one’s easily blunted ability to grasp an embodied knowledge of God.
And yet, upon opening Natural Theology in 1802, Paley’s first readers did not engage with his new book with all their senses directly. The texture of cut quarto pages, the smell of leather binding and the visual contrast of ink on paper are not what revealed God to them. Rather it was a remembered sensory experience, built upon Paley’s expectation that his readers have been in the world, observed birds in flight and caught the scent of flowers in bloom. They’ve looked at the lights in the night-time skies and they’ve heard the ticking of their watches. Paley relies upon that shared context of observing, sensing and knowing. His words contrive to evoke memories of moments of awe, experiences of beauty and wonder. However, this was often done with such skill that Paley was later dismissed as a populariser or educator rather than a theologian engaged in original argument and analysis.
They saw evolution not as a logical disproof of God, but as a tangible demonstration of divine power
In truth, natural theologians such as Paley and his successors were often doing both, and finding success in doing so for a variety of reasons. Their writing was not just a pragmatic marriage of natural philosophy and religious pluralism; nor was it a simple rejection of either the a priori rationalism that so often characterised continental European philosophy or the mystical-revelatory religious knowledge that took hold in some evangelical Christian movements in the 19th century. The English-language religious tradition of that period did not reject Darwin’s theory of evolution as incompatible with a Genesis account of creation or as a rejection of theism. This was not merely an attempt to broker a ceasefire between the opposing forces of science and religion. And it was not simply a compromise of compatibility. Rather, it was born out of a strong sense that the natural world revealed divine knowledge in a way that could be expressed logically and appeal extra-logically to emotion and sentiment. Many readers of Natural Theology have understood that a deity must be known not only through reason, but also sensed and felt.
This commitment to logic and feeling remained, even as new scientific discoveries compelled revisions to some of the naturalistic explanations that prior natural theologians had pointed to. By the 1830s, some editions of Paley’s Natural Theology contained a footnote stating that it was now possible to explain not just the watch but also how the stone came to be. Paley’s own writing, which Law had praised for its ability to evoke sensory memory, helped natural theology inspire a subgenre that gradually became what we call ‘popular science’ or ‘nature writing’.
The union of logic and feeling reveals itself through theologian-scholars such as the US botanist Asa Gray and the English historian Charles Kingsley, who embraced Darwin’s theory of evolution in the 1860s. These same scholars also embraced the idea of a deity who could have enabled the living world to evolve into complex life, which they saw as testament to the wisdom, power and benevolence of a creator (one who hadn’t simply created each species on an ad hoc basis). They saw evolution not as a logical disproof of God, but as an evocative and tangible demonstration of divine power, one that was felt every day in their own bodies.
However, efforts to promote more secular versions of science and less politically pluralistic interpretations of Christianity eventually came to dominate not just the debate over evolution, but the broader discussion of ‘science and religion’. To some concerned Christians, natural theology became associated with efforts to analyse the Bible through scientific tools and was subsequently derided as anti-Biblical. For them, biblical authority, not natural theology, was at the root of science-religion conflicts in the early 1900s. After the Second World War, English-language scientists tried to distinguish themselves from the militant atheism of their Soviet rivals, while also distancing themselves from caricatures of creationist fundamentalism. The compatibility of science and religion took hold as a logical possibility: one could now be both scientist and Christian. And so, over time, the work of Paley, Ray, William Buckland and many others was thinned out, and relegated to a mere God-proof that could, at best, be mounted as a defence against scientific debunking.
By the mid-20th century, natural theology was dying of the slow strangulation of faint praise. It was nothing more than a misguided – if clever and well-intended – attempt to prove that God exists without any recourse to scripture or revelation. The US scholar Ian Barbour, widely recognised as one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of ‘science and religion’, rejected the fundamental premise of natural theology when he wrote in 1966 that ‘theology should not be based primarily on nature’. Instead, Barbour suggested doing ‘theology of nature’ – something that was not natural theology. The primary difference seemed to be that one would do theology of nature from within a religious tradition, that is, after one was already convinced (by other means than nature) that there was a God worth doing theology about.
By the end of the century, this caricature of natural theology as a vaguely Christian effort to use nature to prove that God is real had taken root among both outspoken atheists and antievolutionists who had been compelled by American court rulings to demonstrate that they had an alternative to natural selection that was ‘scientific’. This version of natural theology’s aims and origins became a rare point of consensus between those who wanted to prove that God didn’t exist (thanks to Darwin) and those who wanted to prove that something exists (even if they couldn’t say exactly what). It was further abetted by acolytes of Barbour and those of the science-religion ‘dialogue’ whose positions rarely moved beyond statements that science and religion were logically or technically compatible. Mere existence, therefore, became the minimal and ultimate stakes for the argument from design – a profoundly reductive vision of natural theology.
Intelligent Design and New Atheism converge on questions about the ethical and political nature of science
The erasure of the psychological and rhetorical complexity of natural theology – that is, its recourse to embodied knowledge – has had a damaging effect on religious philosophy in recent decades. It’s contributed to the persistence of a so-called Intelligent Design movement, which, for years, has focused on trying to prove the existence of an intelligent agent without fully acknowledging or seeming to care that specific approaches to such proofs have implications for theology, politics or ethics. At the same time, the reduction of natural theology into a kind of logical proposition has allowed those who reject its repackaged proposition – such as the ‘New Atheists’ – to assert that the disproofs of God and the secular science that they claim to be doing are value-neutral, apolitical and objective.
On the surface, it appears that Intelligent Design and New Atheism fundamentally disagree about the nature of biological evolution. However, the erasure of their shared intellectual history has allowed both movements to converge on more fundamental questions about the ethical and political nature of science. And often, they’ve done this without acknowledging either their own biases or the ways that these arguments are inseparable from the cultural uses to which they are put. To get past the senseless duality that these two movements offer us, we may have to follow Law and Barrow, recalling that, in the synthesis of religion and science, ‘we even touch and feel it with our senses’.
When i was fourteen or so, one of the first books I ever bought was a simple paperback on Yoga. It introduced me to using my diphrame for breathing. Once I started, it became automatic and I do suggest that everyone contemplates the material here to practise it.
Then let your body take over.
There is a lot more here and advanced work likely takes a coach. Chase it. It all helps our health..
How to breathe
Whether your aim is improved health, mental calm or achieving transcendence, breathing techniques can help you get there
by Martin Petrus
Cold water swimmer in Cumbria, England. Photo by Getty
Martin Petrusis a breathwork and meditation teacher. His main interests are in integrative breathwork, classic yogic practices of India and Tibetan Buddhist meditation, with a secondary focus on science-based methods from the fields of freediving and altitude training. He lives in London.
Edited by Christian Jarrett
You never know when you’re going to meet someone who will change the course of your life. For me, it happened about five years ago when, without knowing what I was getting myself into, I signed up to a course in the Netherlands run by Wim Hof – the legendary master of cold exposure.
Hof is an extraordinary teacher, best known for his world records and other endurance feats, such as previously holding the title for completing the longest-ever ice bath, running a barefoot half-marathon in the Arctic Circle and climbing most of Mount Everest dressed in shorts. One of the most important elements of his method for making people fall in love with low temperatures is what he calls ‘conscious breathing’. By controlling the breath, he turns the experience of being in freezing water, which would normally be a fight for survival, into something profoundly meditative.
Back when I met Hof, my life was a constant struggle – I was always getting ill, feeling depressed and generally unhappy. I was looking for ways to improve my immune system and increase my energy levels. I didn’t know then that the answer to many of my questions would be this obvious: just breathe.
Breathing is one of the most important factors for your health
Respiration influences many of the processes in our body that have a direct impact on our physical and mental health. Each day, we take around 20,000 breaths, so over the years it adds up. With every inhalation, our heart rate speeds up and with every exhalation, it slows down. The nervous system is especially sensitive to changes in breathing rate. Through our breath, we can change our state from stress to relaxation, or from feeling dull to being energised. Longer term, through being more attentive to the way we breathe, we can benefit our health and longevity. In short, we can change our breathing on demand, which can be a hack to accessing the rest of our physiology.
I was so inspired and transformed by what I learned from Hof and others that I felt I had no choice but to pass it on to others and, today, I work as a breathwork coach. What is breathwork? It can be described as ‘breath consciousness’ and ‘conscious breathing’. Every time we notice our breath or change our breathing pattern to achieve a specific outcome, we are practising breathwork.
Breathwork has ancient roots
Today, breathwork is the new yoga. It can be found everywhere from therapy sessions to gym classes, but, while it’s currently in vogue, it’s far from new. It’s hard to pinpoint the first moment when humans decided to use breathing intentionally, but you can find early indications of conscious breathing in Hindu scriptures dating back hundreds of years, for instance in the Bhagavadgita, composed sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE:
Still others, who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, practise by offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Others, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.
The Tibetan teachings of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche that form the basis of the Bon tradition, which considers the breath to be important, are even older, dating back 18,000 years. Breathing techniques have also been used in yoga for more than 2,000 years. In fact, breathwork has been present in nearly all traditions and cultures: in mythology, philosophy, various rituals, rites of passage, healing methods, spiritual and religious practices, martial arts and meditation.
For many people, the breath is something much more than just the purely physical movement of air. It is often described as the energy, life force, cosmic essence, the vital principle that permeates reality on all levels including inanimate objects. It is the spirit or the soul. Different cultures refer to the same phenomenon but by different names, such as: prana, qi, ki, lung, ruach, spiritus, mana, rouh and pneuma.
In yoga, the breath is considered not only the path of spiritual development, but also as a simple way of staying in good health. In the yogic breathing pranayama, the practices are well described, each with its own purpose – including energising, cleansing or relaxing. For a long time, most mainstream medical practitioners had no interest in breathwork, but that began to change in the 1950s. For instance, following his research into the ways that breathing rate impacts health, Konstantin Buteyko, a Ukrainian-born doctor, created a technique for dealing with breathing disorders such as asthma, general breathlessness and rhinitis, and also as a treatment for hypertension. His method was used in hospitals across Russia. Now the ‘Buteyko method’, although it’s considered a form of alternative medicine, is used across the globe to treat breathing-pattern disorders. Overall, I believe our modern understanding of the nervous system and scientific studies are confirming that the yogic breathing practices have their intended effect. We’re rediscovering what the yogis knew a long time ago.
These days, athletes are also taking an interest in breathwork. In sports, it’s always an arms race. Whoever finds a new way of improving by a minuscule margin can have a huge advantage over their competition. Athletes are turning to traditional yogic breath-control practices as a means for conditioning the body and strengthening the respiratory system – certain breathing exercises can improve how efficiently the body uses oxygen. Breathwork is especially pertinent to endurance sports. The Buteyko method suggests that nasal breathing and breath-flow restriction can help to raise the body’s tolerance to carbon dioxide (CO2). Breath-holding methods have also been tested widely as a way of increasing the load on the body and creating beneficial long-term adaptations similar to altitude training.
Yet, despite the importance of the breath and the rising popularity of breathwork, so many people never give any consideration to this fundamental aspect of life. If it weren’t for our autonomic nervous system, I bet many of us would probably die by just forgetting to breathe while reading an email. In this Guide, I will show you some basic breathwork techniques. Whether you’re an Olympic-level athlete looking to gain an edge, you’re struggling to cope with chronic anxiety or you’re just curious, you’re breathing anyway, so why not start to use your breath to your benefit? Even after having worked with so many people, the potential of breathwork – a tool that’s available to all of us – still blows my mind. It could be as simple as learning a three-minute relaxation routine, or it could be the start of a lifetime journey into self-development – either way, welcome to breathwork.
What to do
Practise nasal breathing
If you’re extremely busy and don’t feel that you have much time for breathwork, but you’d like to work on your breathing to improve health and wellbeing, I suggest that you try implementing one of the most basic of principles: practise breathing through your nose rather than through your mouth. This is something that you can do throughout the whole day… and night.
Here are some benefits of nasal breathing: It slows the incoming airflow, which has a calming effect on the nervous system (specifically, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps promote calm and relaxation).
The air is travelling slower and stays longer in the alveoli, where gas exchange happens. This gives oxygen more time to diffuse in the bloodstream, which can result in 10-20 per cent greater oxygen uptake.
Your nose acts as a filter for pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses.
The air going into the lungs is conditioned to better suit the body – warmed up or cooled down, depending on the external environment.
By breathing through your nose, you expel up to 40 per cent less water (meaning you’re less prone to dehydration).
It avoids the problems associated with long-term excessive mouth breathing, such as dental problems, inflammation of the upper airways, forward head posture and even changes in the shape of the jaw.
What if your nose is blocked? You should try to do everything you can to unblock it. Sometimes it’s just a case of overcoming the discomfort of the feeling of a shortness of breath. You might be so used to mouth breathing that nasal breathing will feel unnatural at first. But the more you breathe through your nose, the easier it’s going to be. If you’re really struggling, nose dilators, plasters or sprays (to clear the nostrils) will help you in the early days and weeks. If you have a deviated septum (a misalignment of the bone and cartilage that separates the nostrils), which interferes with nasal breathing, you might consider speaking to your doctor about having a corrective operation.
If your nasal passages are just lightly blocked, you can help to clear them using a simple exercise: perform a small exhale, pinch your nose and hold your breath. During the peak of your breath-hold, CO2 and nitric oxide will accumulate, both of which are vasodilators, which will help the passages to unblock.
When should you be breathing through your nose? A good instruction is to think about it in three phases:
Total nose breathing
Inhale nose, exhale mouth
Total mouth breathing
At rest and low intensity, you can be in phase 1 the entire time. When you start moving or even lifting heavy things, you can try to stay in this phase as long as possible. At a point where the effort becomes too hard, then move to phase 2. If you increase the load even more, getting closer to your maximum capacity, then phase 3 will be necessary. Once the effort decreases, you can go back to phase 2 and 1, respectively.
Practise diaphragmatic breathing
Another basic step that you can take in life to improve your breathing is to consider your posture. It works both ways – bad posture will restrict your breathing, and disrupted breathing patterns can negatively influence your muscular system. To better manage our posture, we need to take a closer look at the diaphragm, which plays a key role in core stabilisation. It’s a big, dome-shaped muscle situated under our ribs that divides the thoracic and the abdominal cavities. When you inhale, the diaphragm moves down creating the difference in pressure in your lungs and pulling in air. When you relax, the diaphragm moves up and the air goes out. Here lies the guidance to natural breathing – the inhalation is active, drawing the air in and the exhalation is passive, as you just relax and don’t have to push the air out.
To develop a healthy diaphragmatic breathing pattern try the following exercise:Lie down on your back or sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair. You can place your hands on your body for tactile feedback.
Bring your attention to the inhale, observing your belly expanding while the air is being pulled into your lungs. While this happens, your upper chest and shoulders should remain still.
Each exhalation is passive – just relax and the air goes out; there’s no need to push.
Go into a steady rhythm of active inhalation and relaxing exhalation.
After a short while, once it becomes effortless, move your attention to the sides of the abdominal area around the lower ribs. Try to engage the lower ribs – with every inhalation they should be expanding slightly to the sides. This will be a more subtle movement than in the front.
After spending another few minutes in this area, focus on your lower back. Imagine that, with every inhalation, the lower back is gently activated, and with every exhalation it relaxes.
With time, you will be able to effortlessly combine these three areas (front, sides and back) so that the expansion during inhalation is felt not only in the front of the belly, but 360 degrees around your body.
If at first you don’t feel any activation of your ribs or your lower back, don’t worry, give it some time.
Spend a few minutes each day practising this and just breathe normally for the rest of the time. Even when you’re not focused on your breathing, with time you’ll find that it becomes fuller and more relaxed.
Compared with shallow chest-breathing, diaphragmatic breathing has various benefits. It’s more relaxing and it makes the process of gas exchange more efficient. The oxidative stress caused by mental or physical exhaustion can be mitigated by diaphragmatic breathing. We often hear that breathing can improve our immune system, and there’s some truth to this. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to move the lymph (the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system), therefore moving pathogens through the lymph nodes where they can be treated with specific lymphocytes. Another benefit is the increased blood flow to the heart. Finally, if you strengthen the diaphragm as a muscle (through regular diaphragmatic breathing), you’ll increase your physical endurance.
Practise rhythmic breathing
With practice, breathwork can help give you a degree of control over your stress response, one of the most important superpowers you can imagine. Since your body is governed by rhythms – your nervous system picks up the steady flow of air as a cue for safety and adjusts other bodily processes accordingly – you can use this to your advantage.
One way is via a common practice in yoga, in which we breathe in and out to a count. The aim is to find a comfortable length of the breath and, once it becomes easy, the rhythm can be slowed down. Usually, after a few minutes of rhythmic breathing, you will feel the shift to your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, the branch of the autonomic nervous system that not only helps our bodies repair and recover, but also improves our social engagement. Rhythmic breathing has also shown promise in helping to treat depression and anxiety. Here’s how to give it a go:Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down. Close your eyes and breathe through your nose.
Focus on diaphragmatic breathing.
Slow your breath down so that you follow a pattern of inhaling for 6 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds.
If this is too hard, pick a shorter count such as 3 or 4 seconds in, and the same out.
Keep this rhythm for a few minutes, staying relaxed and focused.
When the 6-seconds rhythm becomes easy, you can try to extend the length to 8 seconds, 10 seconds, or even longer. Also, for a greater relaxation effect, you could try breathing out for twice as long as you breath in.
If you spend time practising this form of breathing when all is well, you will find it more effective when you use it to calm yourself during moments of unease.
Build your carbon dioxide tolerance
One of the most significant things that you can do for your mental processes is to get the right amount of oxygen into your brain and vital organs. The rate of your breath holds the key to that. What you’re looking for is slow and gentle breathing. When our breathing is fast and shallow, we’re mostly moving the air in the ‘dead space’, which is the volume of air that doesn’t take part in the gas exchange (it isn’t utilised by the body). This is why we want slow and deep breathing, which gives us a much better gas exchange.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the gas in air that triggers a faster breathing rate – we have a natural instinct to expel it from our system – so one key to slowing our breath down is to get more accustomed to CO2. We often think of CO2 as something negative, a by-product that we have to get rid of. However, CO2 plays a very important role in our body as a vasodilator. It also helps to release oxygen from the blood, which is known as the Bohr effect. This is why increasing your body’s tolerance to CO2 can be beneficial, helping your cells’ uptake of oxygen.
When you exhale through your nose, you keep more CO2 than when exhaling through your mouth, so practising nasal breathing as often as possible is the first step. Beyond that, to be more in control of your breath, whether you’re dealing with asthma or improving your sports performance, you should focus on improving your tolerance to CO2. The ‘breathe light’ exercise from the Buteyko method that I mentioned earlier is perfect for this (to ensure your safety, check with your doctor before trying this exercise):Start in a comfortable seated position. Keep your eyes open or, if it helps you to focus more on the breath, then keep them closed.
While breathing lightly through your nose, observe the volume of air that you’re breathing in and out.
Start to reduce the depth of your breath by about 20-30 per cent, to the point where you start to feel a slight air hunger but not panic (your breathing rate should stay the same, at its usual resting level). If you reduce the depth of breath too much, to the point of strong discomfort, go back to normal breathing, reset and start to reduce again.
Find a balance where you can feel a slight air hunger, but can continue breathing like this for 5-10 minutes.
Always, when practising, make sure that your whole body is relaxed. If you’re new to breathwork, start slowly and gently, and progress only when you feel comfortable. Once you get the hang of this, you can practise this daily.
According to the Buteyko method, as you raise your tolerance to CO2, your breathing becomes lighter and more effortless, and your average breathing rate slows down. Practitioners also suggest that this process facilitates the release of oxygen from haemoglobin into the cells, as well as helping to improve your blood circulation. If you have an active lifestyle, it’s a great way to increase your endurance and delay the moment of fatigue.
Practise breath-holding (with a qualified teacher)
In yoga, the practice of breath retention called kumbhaka has been used for hundreds of years. Many masters have pointed to the fact that practising regular breath retention can result not only in greater health but also in enhanced stamina. Modern scientific findings are providing tentative support for this, showing that a few breath-holds can trigger several mechanisms that help us to stay without air for longer. During breath retention, our spleen contracts, releasing blood that’s very rich in oxygen-carrying red blood cells. We also experience a release of the hormone erythropoietin, which not only further increases the red blood-cell count, but increases the efficiency of mitochondria.
When working with active people, many times I’m asked the question: ‘How can I increase my physical performance through breathing?’ It turns out that a conscious breath-hold can be one of the most powerful tools available for this purpose. Athletic performance correlates with the amount of oxygen that can be transported and utilised, and training in breath-holding can build this capacity.
The use of altitude training in sports to improve physical performance is based on similar principles. Being in a low-oxygen zone (or ‘hypoxia’) forces our body to adapt, so that, after returning to sea level, we can enjoy the benefits of increased performance. Breath-holding effectively simulates this kind of environment. The ‘exhale-hold’ or ‘altitude-simulation’ technique can be used to drop the oxygen saturation in your body, if only for a brief moment. As part of a training programme, even these short moments in hypoxia can build up to a meaningful advantage. Since breath retention is a complex technique, I always recommend that you should learn it with a qualified teacher. Your teacher will show you how to perform a maximum breath-hold after a light exhalation (leaving about 30-40 per cent of the air in your lungs). For safe and effective training, your teacher should use a pulse oximeter to monitor your oxygen levels.
Key points – How to breathe
Breathing is one of the most important factors for your health. Through our breath, we can change our state from stress to relaxation, or from feeling dull to being energised. Longer term, through being more attentive to the way we breathe, we can benefit our health and longevity.
Breathwork – noticing or deliberately changing the breath – has ancient roots. In all cultures, it has been used for centuries in various rituals, healing and spiritual practices. Many recent breathing techniques, used therapeutically or in sports, have their origins in traditional practices such as yoga.
Practise nasal breathing. This is a simple first step you can take that will improve your breathing habits and bring you health benefits.
Practise diaphragmatic breathing. This is the key to improving your posture and core stabilisation.
Practise rhythmic breathing. This is the simplest way of reducing stress, regulating mood and alleviating depression. When using this technique, you’re activating the rest, digest and repair mode of your nervous system.
Build your carbon dioxide tolerance. By learning to slow down your breath, you can improve your circulation and increase oxygen delivery to the brain, thus benefiting your cognition and ability to focus.
Practise breath-holding. This simple practice can give similar benefits to altitude training, including improving your physical performance, but you’ll need to work with a qualified teacher.
Using breathwork for mental health and even transcendence
Working with your breath on the physical level can give enormous health benefits, but this is only the beginning. More and more therapists point to the fact that many physical problems have their origins in mental states, such as chronic stress or trauma. Our bodies aren’t just a collection of systems working independently but a complex network of interlinked processes. A single thought can trigger various hormones and neurotransmitters, changing our biochemistry, heart rate and muscle tension. Breathwork can be one of the most effective ways of working with emotions and mental states to bring in wholeness and wellbeing.
Integrative breathwork therapy is a domain of breathing practices that originated from a major therapeutic movement in the United States in the 1970s. During this time, many communities of practice were formed: ‘rebirthing’, which was influential, although now largely discredited, was founded by the author and New Age pioneer Leonard Orr; ‘holotropic breathwork’ was developed by the early psychedelics researcher and psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and the psychotherapist Christina Grof; and Judith Kravitz established ‘transformational breath’ shortly after. All of those techniques are unique, but what they have in common is that they recognise the link between one’s breathing and one’s emotional state. Although more empirical research is needed, the logic of their approach is as follows: suppressed emotions or trauma can create tension in the body. This blockage in the tissue, whether muscles, ligaments or fascia, has a direct impact on respiration. By simply observing your breathing, the facilitator can trace the root cause of the imbalance. Then, by changing your breathing pattern and directing attention to the right place, the emotional blockage or trauma can be released and integrated.
Integrative breathwork sessions look a little different from breathwork in yoga (yogic pranayama). They usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours and can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. Participants usually breathe deeply in a steady rhythm without any pauses between the inhale and the exhale. The facilitator directs the whole process by giving instructions on how to change the depth or speed of the breath. Sometimes the facilitators will use ‘bodywork’ (including massage) or they’ll encourage participants to follow their body’s spontaneous movement, to aid the release of tension stored in their muscles.
When working with clients using this approach, many times I’ve noticed how quick and effective it can be. Many participants describe this as one of the most transformative experiences they’ve ever had. If you’re curious to give this kind of therapy a go, I suggest that you start by speaking to your family doctor to ensure that you have no physical or other issues that might raise concerns, and then find a recommended and accredited practitioner of holotropic breathwork, transformational breath or biodynamic breathwork and trauma release.
During integrative breathwork sessions, especially long ones, participants will often describe unusual feelings and changes in perception. Often it could be just a gentle tingling in the arms or legs, but sometimes it can feel like an out-of-body experience. It’s thought that these non-ordinary states of consciousness can play an important role in the whole healing process. Typically, altered states of consciousness can be generated by things such as sensory deprivation, hypnosis, high temperature, fasting, sleep deprivation, substances (such as plants, drugs or alcohol), but also by physical changes in the brain. To that list, we can add certain breathing techniques.
Indeed, Stanislav Grof proposed a specific category of non-ordinary states related to the practice of what he and Christina Grof called ‘holotropic breathwork’. Stanislav Grof was a founder of ‘transpersonal psychology’ and had been studying altered states of consciousness since 1954 using LSD. Following the ban on LSD research in the 1960s, he and Christina Grof looked for a way to induce non-ordinary states and, furthermore, to test if they could be used therapeutically in psychiatry. It was during this period that they discovered breathwork as a gateway to access non-ordinary conscious states safely and in a controlled way.
The Grofs created the term ‘holotropic states’ to capture what happens during extended breathwork sessions, where holos means ‘whole’ and trepein means ‘moving towards’. They argued that holotropic states aren’t just examples of numbing the senses, but moments that can lead to profound changes in consciousness, emotional development, healing, transcending the ego or even feeling a cosmic unity with all sentient beings. I’ve seen first-hand that these states can be extremely beneficial to us, providing insights into our own psyche and even the nature of reality. This isn’t a revelation, of course. Pre-industrial native cultures have used non-ordinary states in various religious practices, rituals, healing methods, rites of passage and shamanic procedures, but also for receiving inspirations and insights. It’s modern Western society that has pathologised these states, labelling them as primitive and insignificant. But without understanding non-ordinary states, we can’t fully discover the therapeutic potential of the breath.
Many times during breathwork sessions, I’ve had a totally transcendental experience. There were moments when I’ve felt boundless bliss and unconditional joy. This has often been combined with a deep understanding of where I am now and where I am going next, including finding answers to questions that were bothering me for a long time. After some sessions, I would feel calmer, and at peace with whatever situation I was in. Colours and textures seemed more vivid and my hearing picked up more frequencies than usual. I consider breathwork to be one of the most effective therapies, because you’re able to not only work out your issues as concepts, but actually feel and experience the change.
Breathwork is often thought of as a means of relieving discomfort and feeling better – physically, emotionally or mentally. But I believe that it’s so much more than just a ‘happy pill’. It’s the gateway to a deep enquiry into your own nature and into your consciousness. It gives you the possibility to explore and therefore understand the areas of the mind that are not available to others. No doctor, therapist or scientist can reach where you can through this introspective enquiry. If this Guide has whet your appetite, then, whether you decide to explore the simplest breathing exercises or more advanced methods, I would say it’s always preferable to find a good teacher. Many of the gentle practices can be learned in a yoga class, or even through an online course. For some of the deeper experiences, such as integrative breathwork, you’ll need a facilitator to guide you through the session.
NEED TO KNOWWHAT TO DOKEY POINTSLEARN MORELINKS & BOOKS
Links & books
In his TEDx talk ‘Breathe to Heal’ (2015), the experienced breathwork practitioner Max Strom explains the benefits of more intentional breathing.
If I could recommend only one book about breathwork for people who don’t know anything about this subject, it would be Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (2020) by James Nestor. He investigates all types of breathwork, giving an objective view of the field.
You can hear from Nestor first-hand in a 2020 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, in which he featured as a guest.
I also recommend Breath Mastery, a genuinely inspirational blog by one of the pioneers of modern breathwork, Dan Brulé.
To read more about breathwork within the context of non-ordinary states of consciousness, you’ll find great insight into its healing and transformative potential in the book Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy (2010) by Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof.
To learn more about how breathing exercises can help with asthma, go to the website of the Buteyko Clinic International, which has an extensive library of medical studies.
This isn’t an easy read, but a great guide to the traditional pranayama techniques is the book Light on Pranayama: The Definitive Guide to the Art of Breathing (2013), from one of the most respected yoga teachers in the world, B K S Iyengar.
This should be obvious of course, but it also takes time for the numbers to emerge. Understand about 5,000,000 Teslas are about to hit thge market over a twelve month span and then continue at that rate forever..
The fact is that car accidents will now essentially decline over a decade to almost Zero.
Tesla batteries are now good enough to take over urban transit under an uber style protocol. With automatic driving, gasoline based cars and trucks can handle long haul travel.
Driving has always been risky and has been handled with a high level of driver skills. Most of us have driven out of accidents several times. Now that risk is soon about to go away.
Teslas Are Safer and Here is Proof
June 24, 2022 by Brian Wang
I did some research on Tesla safety using non-Tesla data to address the issue from the AI experts. Some AI experts criticized FSD. I used US, UK government and insurance data to show Tesla is already safer and why we should expect more safety from Autopilot and FSD. I also provided context about where and how accidents and deaths occur with cars.
Are Tesla cars safer and have they saved lives? Spoiler Yes.
All Tesla’s come with safety features expected to reduce accidents by 30-50% (NHTSA analysis of those features). Keeping lanes, no rear-ending and avoiding pedestrians can prevent 60% (20k+ deaths in the US alone) of driving-related deaths. 800k deaths globally and 30M injuries per yr if all cars just prevented those 3 things. All Tesla 2014+ have basic ADAS (advanced driver assist) features to vastly reduce those types of problems.
Has Tesla Autopilot saved lives? Again Yes. but I will provide data.
Is FSD beta safe? Yes. It is being used by over 100,000 people for the past 6+ months and there are no reports of deaths or major injuries. This level of usage would expect to see 1-2 major accidents per month. This has not happened, therefore safety is well above average US driving.
Is Autopilot safe? How many lives would you expect to save by superior automatic lane-keeping? 20-30% of traffic deaths. This automatic lane-keeping is even better than lane warning and blindspot warning systems.
Will Full FSD (Tesla Full Self Driving) be safer? Yes, and a safety score with real time insurance can help ensure it will be.
NOTE: when Tesla FSD is currently in beta and is driving city streets under required driver supervision. People say that supervising the system reduces the stress of driving by more than half. Supervising the system still means looking at traffic and being ready to take over. Tesla FSD will likely go into wide release at the end of this year in the US. Drivers will still be required to pay attention just in case. It will not be perfect.
Youtube videos by FSD beta users show large improvement over last 8 months. Again there have been no major accidents or deaths using FSD beta with 100k users for 8 months. The occasional multi-hour no intervention drive will become the normal situation. Drivers will know situations that could become problematic. Just like drivers in shotgun can backseat drive a human driver.
Can Safety Scoring, Insurance and FSD get more optimal usage of FSD? Yes.
Insurance and government statistics in US and UK show Tesla’s are among the safest cars involved in the fewest accidents. About 40% below average in US. Very Low accidents involvement in UK (10 times less than Toyota, Ford and several others of number per 10,000 cars).
UK Car Statistics
Tesls is among the manufacturers with the least number of accidents per 10,000 models?
Morris – 16
Austin – 26
Tesla – 28
Ferrari – 39
Aston Martin – 40
Lotus – 55
Bentley – 75
This is ten times less than the rate of accident involvement for Ford, Toyota and Mercedes cars in the UK.
Tesla is willing to charge 30-60% less for those with good Tesla Safety Scores. Can motivate 60% safer driving and lower accidents. Safety Scores with Real Time Insurance pricing can motivate safer driving.
Safety Scoring could be adjusted to ensure FSD monitoring behavior after FSD is fully released for general usage.
US National Highway statistics and crash test analysis all also confirm higher levels of safety with Tesla. This data is reviewed in my youtube video. Insurance Industry data that also confirms higher safety is also reviewed.
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
this just tells us how successful the earthworm is. And yes, it quickly knocks down all that leaf waste then it is over. What is left is carbon rich soils. This is not bad news and different species are not too important.
Recall the americas were largely a worm free world on contact. The other bugs handled it all.Now they are fully integrated and twenty years of cattle rotation with worms will bring the soils back to their original carbon content and general health.
]That is very good and will ultimately recover all our soils while kaing the forest far more amenable to improved husbandry. A foot of rottying leaves is not your freind for plantings..
Revenge of the Earthworms
A gardener’s best friend? Think again. How invasive earthworms are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems
Published 14:02, Jun. 13, 2022
IN AUGUST 2021, Michael McTavish received an unexpected Facebook message: in some Toronto and Hamilton neighbourhoods, gardeners were reporting an unusual presence in the soil. McTavish is an expert in earthworms and conducts postdoctoral research at the University of Toronto. Soon, he found himself standing in one of those gardeners’ yard with an unusually energetic worm in his hand and a sinking feeling in his heart.
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Though McTavish had previously seen this specimen only in videos and pictures, it was immediately clear what it was: a jumping worm, so named because of their startling tendency to thrash around, as if electrocuted, when disturbed. “They are just kind of upsetting,” says McTavish.
And jumping worms aren’t only upsetting for this creepy behaviour. Since one species was first recorded in North America, in the 1930s—one theory posits that they were introduced via some cherry trees Japan donated to Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland, in the 1910s—these creatures have wriggled their way across at least thirty-eight states and now appeared to have moved to Canada too. The Toronto reports were among the first confirmed sightings of jumping worms in the country; they’d previously been found only once before, close to the American border in Windsor. Not long after McTavish received his message, the worms were detected in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well.How Do You Kill an Invasive Species? Bring In a Bigger, Meaner Species to Eat It
Wherever they land, jumping worms, whose roughly palm-length bodies have a distinctive pale band encircling one end, have made their presence known. They can congregate in densities as high as 200 worms per square metre and chew through the top layer of organic matter in the soil, leaving behind a loose, easily eroded dirt that resembles coffee grounds. Forests, which seem to be particularly appealing environments for jumping worms, can lose as much as 95 percent of their layer of fallen leaves in a four-month period due to these infestations, according to one study in Wisconsin. This means that the green carpet of forest understory, which includes tree seedlings and wildflowers such as trilliums and lady’s slippers, is quickly transformed into bare dirt.
Carly Ziter, an assistant professor in the department of biology at Concordia University, started studying jumping worms a few years ago, while completing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She says that, in places where jumping worms are found—including, incidentally, in the university’s arboretum in 2013—they can leave a notable impact. They break down nutrients in the soil faster than plants can absorb them. “We often hear that earthworms are like a gardener’s best friend.” says Ziter. “But these jumping worms are doing their job a little too well.”
For scientists, the discovery of jumping worms in Toronto is distressing though unsurprising based on the worms’ growing territory. It has also drawn attention to a troubling truth about our relationship with worms in general: though we’ve gotten used to these slimy critters appearing on our sidewalks after a rainstorm or speared on the ends of fishing hooks, most species of earthworm found in Canada are non-native, and many are invasive. As recent arrivals, they’ve been quietly and slowly reshaping our ecosystems—though the extent of their damage may soon become all too clear. The arrival of jumping worms is just the latest reminder of the many ways earthworms are threatening to exacerbate environmental change and reshape our natural world.
SCIENTISTS USE A refrain to sum up in the impact of earthworms in ten pithy syllables: “Good in your garden, bad in the forest.” It’s a quip that can sometimes come as a surprise to people used to thinking of earthworms as symptoms of healthy soil.
In Canada’s northern forests, there’s increasing evidence of a worm problem. According to research from 2013, tiny soil invertebrates, like mites and springtails, decrease in abundance by more than 50 percent when earthworms are present. These minute creatures play an important role in the decomposition and nutrient-cycling of plants, and their decline can likely be attributed to the rapid way earthworms devour leaf litter. Earthworms may also be associated with above-ground changes to biodiversity: in northern Alberta, the distribution of American robins—a generalist species that adapts well to disturbed habitats—may be, in this case, the proverbial early bird. Their growing range throughout the province mirrors the spread of earthworms, a favoured prey. And earthworms, it seems, are spreading everywhere. Research on their presence in northern US forests, where invasions are more advanced, suggests that they could have cascading effects including everything from more severe drought to greater human allergies.
According to one paper, the full monetary cost of earthworm invasions in North America has not been quantified because of the wigglers’ “social standing” as a normal and even healthy part of every ecosystem—a standing that can be traced, to a significant degree, to one figure. When Charles Darwin published his first paper looking at earthworms in sediment displacement, in 1838, his fellow geologists were nonplussed. Few believed the humble worm capable of the earth-moving capacity Darwin attributed to it.
But Darwin was convinced of these creatures’ significant abilities. Unfazed by his colleagues’ skepticism, he spent subsequent years subjecting earthworms to a barrage of experiments to discover their qualities. He tested everything from their sensory capabilities (“indifferent to shouts,” he concluded, but responsive to vibration when plunked on top of a piano) to assessing their dietary preferences (raw fat was a particular favourite).
Yet Darwin’s most extensive examinations concerned how earthworms shape soil. Darwin hypothesized that earthworm activity was what caused stones and even the foundations of buildings to sink into the ground. Many structures simply weren’t safe from these tiny engineers, he cautioned. To study his hypothesis, he enlisted family members to assess how much dirt worms could move. For a full year, a niece collected all the castings (otherwise known as worm poop) from sections of a family estate. Based on this data, Darwin estimated that worms brought about 7.6 tons of soil per acre to the surface annually. In other estimates, he concluded that figure could be as much as fifteen tons.
Descriptions of these experiments were assembled into an 1881 book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits. It became Darwin’s bestselling title in his own lifetime and helped entrench the public perception of worms as agents of healthy ecosystems. “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures,” Darwin wrote.
But that book was written about English fields and gardens, in which many earthworms are native. By contrast, nearly all native species of earthworms in Canada were wiped out over 12,000 years ago, during the last period of glaciation.
Earthworms, we now know, have been present in southern Canada for only a few short centuries, the first having hitched a ride with colonizing Europeans, either in the soil used as ship ballast or tucked into the roots of transported plants. These earthworms flourished in, and supported the flourishing of, many gardens and farms, which, incidentally, were in turn modified and began to look a lot like Europe. While worms have been welcomed as industrious partners in southern agricultural environments—where their feeding and burrowing adds nutrients and improves soil drainage—until recently, less thought has been given to whether earthworms were making their way farther north and what their spread would mean.
This is why, on a trip to the boreal forest about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, University of Alberta biologist Erin Bayne was surprised when the log he was sitting on rolled out from under him and he found earthworms wriggling away underneath.
This was in the early 2000s. At that time, there had been research on earthworms in North America’s temperate forests—moderate-climate ecosystems made up mostly of hardwood species—but little work on earthworms in the Canadian boreal, that northern sweep of coniferous trees recognized as one of the largest stretches of intact forest left on the planet. Historically, when Bayne spoke to fellow researchers about his worm discovery, they were skeptical that the presence of earthworms could be significant—at the time, it was seen as less significant than other shifts being observed in the region, like declines in the caribou population.
But Bayne suspected that earthworms, which are part of a group of species known as “ecosystem engineers” due to their ability to restructure entire environments, could significantly change the boreal forest. His graduate student Erin Cameron set out to investigate.
Cameron, who is now an assistant professor at Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax, says part of the challenge was figuring out how the worms had arrived in northern Alberta. She found that earthworms were most common near established roads and at boat launches, which suggested that they were being introduced by vehicle traffic—potentially by cocoons getting stuck in tire treads and even by anglers dumping unused bait at the ends of fishing trips.
This second hypothesis seems to be key in understanding the spread. While fishers may believe they are doing good by sparing a few unused worms, they’ve actually hastened the spread of a slow-motion invasion that may be impossible to turn back.
AS EFFECTIVE AS earthworms are at changing ecosystems, they can’t get to new territories on their own. They’re slow, and they like to stay put. Cameron’s research has found that worms, on their own power, are wiggling through the boreal at a rate of approximately seventeen metres each year. But, if people are constantly sprinkling more earthworms throughout the landscape, the territory covered can become vast, making the earthworm-human relationship a particularly significant one.
Joshua Steckley first witnessed this relationship as a teenager. Driving through rural southwestern Ontario one night, he noticed lights flashing in a farmer’s field and assumed that the shadowy figures were up to no good, possibly digging up illicit money. “I told one of my friends the next day at the school, and he was a farm kid. He’s like, ‘Oh, no, there’s no money. It’s just worm pickers.”
Lumbricus terrestris—the common earthworms people find in their gardens, which are often called dew worms or Canadian nightcrawlers in fishing circles—are one of the worm species that were transported from Europe and have settled into their new home so successfully that they’ve emerged as a valuable commodity. According to Steckley’s later research on the subject, demand for these worms as fishing bait exploded as recreational fishing became popular in the wake of the Second World War. But earthworms defy attempts at commercial cultivation and have to be plucked from the wild. In the 1980s, southwestern Ontario, with its rich soil, abundant volume of introduced nightcrawlers, and steady supply of immigrant labour, quickly eclipsed the other worm-producing regions of North America. By the time Steckley drove past the worm pickers, Ontario had become the epicentre of global nightcrawler production, with an estimated 500 million to 700 million worms picked and shipped across North America every year.
Steckley, who is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto researching Ontario’s bait-worm industry, says that he was actually right about his initial impression: there were bags of money in that farmer’s field, at least in the figurative sense. Worm pickers usually make around $30 per 1,000 worms, and a picker in the right conditions can scoop up to 20,000 worms a night.
“Farmers who rent their land [for an entire year] can make more from worm pickers than any other crop that they feasibly plant,” says Steckley, who’s heard of rents of up to $1,500 an acre. The industry is worth around $230 million today, Steckley estimates.
Despite the spread, Steckley says there have been few efforts to regulate its downstream environmental effects—in fact, most people he’s encountered have been unaware that earthworms are invasive. “This is really an underground economy in kind of all senses of the word,” he says.
The impact of these worms is not confined to southern Ontario. Nightcrawlers are sold across North America, where they’re taken into the woods by anglers and introduced into the wild. When Cameron was conducting her graduate research, she occasionally came across people fishing and warned them that using worms had consequences. “A lot of anglers would say that they did dump their bait because they thought that was the nice thing to do,” she says.
The extent of our earthworm invasion’s risk to the ecosystem if it continues unabated is not yet known. But, in the boreal forest, most of the carbon is stored in organic matter—that thick layer of fallen leaves, roots, moss, and rotting wood that, under normal conditions, decomposes slowly. But deep-burrowing earthworms feed on this material and mix it with the mineral layer underneath. In some cases, carbon is released, contributing to climate change. Justine Lejoly, who is conducting doctoral work with the University of Alberta and the Canadian Forest Service, found that, in some invaded parts of the Canadian boreal, 96 percent of this layer has disappeared. “Most of the forest floor is gone, so that means a lot of carbon is gone,” she says. This finding, which Lejoly made alongside her supervisor Sylvie Quideau is striking because 28 percent of the boreal forest is found in Canada and as much as one-third of terrestrial carbon is stored in the boreal worldwide.
Research now suggests that almost 50 percent of the boreal in northeastern Alberta could eventually be invaded by earthworms as temperatures rise and their territory spreads. (Most species of earthworm die in subzero winters, therefore our warming climate only exacerbates the problem.) As earthworms continue their spread, their effects on our climate arithmetic could be staggering.
“Canada’s entire carbon budget, in the way that we calculate it for boreal forests, could be messed up by earthworms,” says Bayne. “That’s how big an effect they theoretically can have.”
Luckily, the spread is still slow, and in the meantime, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate earthworms’ effects. Warning labels can be introduced on bait containers, or non-artificial bait can be banned entirely. We can limit the number of new roads built in the boreal or require vehicles and equipment travelling deep into the northern forest to be thoroughly cleaned first. Either way, researchers say, the first step may be getting people to recognize that our relationship with worms is a lot more complicated than it may appear.
To raise this awareness, jumping worms may have an important role to play. The discovery of this new arrival has travelled far in the media and among backyard gardeners, with many being rightfully concerned. Given that there is little hope of eradicating jumping worms from an area they’ve already invaded—pesticides are not an effective solution, as their use would harm too many other species—it’s likely that we’ll be stuck with these worms in our suburbs and cities, similar to how earthworms took root before them. But, since they’re here—and since they’re so viscerally upsetting—researchers say the public concern is an opportunity to educate people about the problems with worms more generally. After all, they have the power to remake the world, for better and for worse.