Arctic Amplification, Arctic Ice Melt, Climate Change, Corporate State, Environmentalist Michael McCarthy, Extinction of Man, Geoengineering, James Hansen, Methane Clathrate Gun, Robert Scribbler
I have finally come to the conclusion without a shadow of a doubt that humanity is irredeemable. People are repulsed by my belief that our fate of extinction has been sealed. I no longer even use the caveat of “with business as usual” because business as usual always persists, no matter how dire the empirical evidence of global environmental collapse. No amount of anoxic dead zones, extinguished species, or toxic groundwater will curtail business as usual. In fact, humans spin off new business ventures like fish farming, animal cloning, and water purification in lieu of changing the status quo. A recent headline proves my point:
It’s not just bad news for the polar bear,” said Gail Whiteman, a researcher at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and a co-author on the paper, published in Nature. “It’s a global economic time bomb.
The obliteration of the Arctic is just another milepost in mankind’s headlong race down the one-way road to oblivion. Notice that the above quote implies the economy is the primary yardstick for measuring human well-being. Everything is modeled into Dollar$ and Cents and nothing holds any intrinsic value except what humans, particularly those at the top of the exploitation pyramid, can extract from it. Don’t you think the economy should be re-examined for its supposed function as a “wealth-building” system if it’s killing the planet as well as the human species. But no, this sort of introspection will never take place; instead capitalist industrial civilization will roll onward crushing and pulverizing everything in its path until it runs out of energy and crosses a critical threshold without notice.
…Still, the situation is not hopeless, the authors said. Abating global warming buys time for intensive geo-engineering research into strategies for dealing with methane release, noted Dr. Wadhams…
Of course geo-engineering is the expected response when your economic system of eternal growth and expansion hits a little snag like planetary tipping points. In today’s disposable society, humans build and price things to be thrown away when they break; but since spare planets are hard to come by, out comes the box of amazing techno-gadgetry fixes to save the day. We’ve already terraformed and geo-engineered the Earth into a planet which looks to be transforming itself into a place inhospitable for most lifeforms. And we think we can unravel this Gordian knot? Are they going to geo-engineer a solution for the accompanying problem of ocean acidification as well? These sorts of schemes are always billed as “buying us time”, but buying time is simply a euphemism for delaying the executioner. Christ, humans really are eternal optimists! I think that a future headline from some alien race would be the following (just replace Mars with Earth):
Yeah, that catastrophic event would not be an asteroid, but a bipedal organism called Homo economicus. So what are the options for humans domesticated into the life of industrial civilization? According to famed climate scientist James Hansen, we’re between a nuke and a hard place. He says nuclear energy is the best way to go to “preserve our lifestyles” while reducing carbon, and he gives his view on people who think “renewable” energy can fill the hole of our fossil-fueled civilization:
Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewable will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
~ James Hansen
So people like blogger Robert Scribbler can go pound sand when they accuse me of propagandizing for the fossil fuel industry. I’m just being realistic. People misinterpret my worldview as overly pessimistic, but Big-Busine$$ interests control the corrupt political machine, the jaded masses, and the corporate media shills; therefore, no solution can come from something so rotten. I’d love to be proven wrong. I’d love for nothing more than to wake up from what seems like a nightmare, but it looks like the fat lady is already starting to sing:
I’m reminded of the recent farewell note by environmentalist Michael McCarthy who saw the endgame:
…People are doing this(ecocide). Let’s be clear about it. It’s not some natural phenomenon, like an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. It’s the actions of Homo sapiens. What we are witnessing is a fundamental clash between the species, and the planet on which he lives, which is going to worsen steadily, and the more closely you observe it – or at least, the more closely I have observed it, over the past 15 years – the more I have thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with Homo sapiens himself. Man seems to be Earth’s problem child. We humans have always thought ourselves different in kind from other creatures, principally for our use of language and our possession of consciousness, but there is another reason for our uniqueness, which is becoming ever clearer: we are the only species capable of destroying our own home. And it looks like we will…
Kevin Moore said:
It started to get really shitty once corporations were given more rights than humans.
The subtheme of the first Alien movie: Crew expendable.
Paul Chefurka said:
Yes, this is the same conclusion I came to a while ago as well. Now that the denouement is in sight I’ve turned my efforts to asking why this happened with such apparent inevitability.
I don’t buy the “moral failure” or “genetic flaw” arguments. We do tell ourselves bad cultural narratives, but the interesting question to me now is, why? Why do we behave as we do? I don’t think it’s just a mistake on our part or a bug in the program – it appears to be a part of the program of life itself.
All the “human course correction” proposals I’ve seen appear to run counter to some very deep-seated aspects of human behavior and decision-making. They assume that human intelligence and analytical ability control our behavior, and from what I’ve seen, that’s simply not true. In fact it’s untrue to such an extent that I don’t even think it’s a “human” issue per se.
I have come to think that most of our collective choices and actions are shaped by physical forces so deep that they can’t even be called “genetic”. I haven’t written anything about this on my web site yet, but the conclusion I have come to in the last six months is that a principle called the “Maximum Entropy Production Principle”, which is closely related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, actually underlies the structure of life itself. Its operation has shaped the energy-seeking, replicative behavior of everything from bacteria to humans. All our intelligence does is makes its operation more effective.
The evolutionary role of human intelligence is to act as a limit-removal mechanism, in order to make our growth in terms of energy use and reproduction more effective. It’s why we are blind to the need for limits both as individuals (in general) and culturally. We acknowledge limits only when they are so close as to present an immediate existential threat, as in hunter-gatherer societies. As a result we tend to make hard changes only in response to a crisis, not in advance of it. Basically, the goal of life is to live rather than die, and to do this it must grow rather than shrink. This imperative governs everything we think and do.
It’s a complex and non-obvious chain of logic, but it explains why we’re in this mess better than anything else I’ve come across. I’m hoping to write an introduction to the idea over the next few months.
As a result, I don’t think humanity in general will adopt any kind of remediation practices until long after they are actually needed (i.e. after the population and consumption rates have begun to crash). I don’t think it is possible for a a group as large as 7 billion people to agree that such proactive measures is necessary. After the crisis has begun, yes we’ll do all kinds of things, but remember that by then we will be hampered by the climate crisis and severe shortages of both resources and the technology needed to use them. I have given up speculating on possible outcomes, because they are so inherently unpredictable. But what I’m discovering about the way life works at a deep level makes me continually less optimistic. I now think near-term human extinction (say within the next thousand years) has a non-zero probability as a result.
We are approaching a Kardashev Type 0/1 boundary, and I don’t think we can make the jump to Type 1. Like most other observers and speculators, Kardashev misunderstood the underlying drivers of human behavior, assuming them to be a combination of ingenuity and free will. We have ingenuity, but only in the direction of growth (and damn the entropic consequences). We can’t manage de-growth, the recognition of limits, or even the application of the Precautionary Principle, because as a collective organism humanity doesn’t have free will. Instead we have an emergent behavior that is entirely oriented towards growth.
The game is pretty well over.
Interesting comment which I’d like to get back to, but I must go “work in the coal mines” at the moment. Thanks for commenting Paul.
Good day, Paul. Good day, xraymike79.
Paul’s comment is indeed interesting. I have a few remarks which might be of interest to you, guys.
1. Indeed, there are complex and not-readily-obvious logic chains which link many types of behaviours, both personal and also collective (on all levels – from family to whole mankind) to the laws of physics. There are other people, Paul, who see it – in many ways and facets of men and mankind – for example, one of hasty discussions with fair number of typos and rather unoptimized thoughts, which i did recently, touches the subject – 3rd paragraph of this message in particular (you may need earlier context though): http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/what-on-earth-are-we-doing/#comment-8757 . I’ve been recently reading James Lovelock’s book “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” – in which the author clearly demonstrates numerous strong dependancies between men’s and mankind’s actions and laws of physics and chemistry.
2. One very important conclusion which Lovelock does in said book – is that mankind, as one, is not guilty; we were built to hunt, to expand, to multiply – by nature (natural selection, blind process of survival of the fittest). Nearly inevitable collapse of industrial civilization is what i expect – xraymike79, term “nearly” here accounts for my hope for a “miracle”; you know, super-wise alien race coming to save our butts in the last moment, or perhaps the God getting back from some vacation of couple thousands years and saving us, etc – besides, we definitely are not wise enough to exactly know the future anyways, there is always at least some uncertainty. I was very pleased to see that JAmes Lovelock is actually thinking quite very same, – he uses different ideas and other words to desribe the same thing, and it is extremely very satisfying to me to find myself in agreement with one of the most able independant researchers of the world. Practically important conclusions from this – to me, at least, are: first, it’s irrational to become hopeless (xraymike79, you hear me?), and second, since there is no guilt, the danger of collapse of industrial civilization and the danger of human species extinction, – both are not “punishments”, not “payback”, not any sort of “inevitable fate” for mankind – but merely just danger. Akin to a danger of large asteroid hit, or nearby supernovae. Grave dangers, yes, – but nonetheless, just dangers, ones which those few of humans who are indeed intelligent and at least a bit wise – must try to survive when hit by it.
3. Paul, you might be quite right about inability of mankind – _whole_ mankind, – to act preemptively. However, who said _whole_ mankind has to act? Stanislav Lem, legendary Polish writer, philosopher and scientist, in one of his “Diaries of Ion Tihiy” shorts describe a situation where hundreds of adults were unable to fix a spacecraft, – arguing, fighting, consulting endlessly, – despite the grave danger posed by the damage to the craft. But two boys managed to fix the damage while nobody else was looking. Same thing, perhaps, can be one of tiny sparks of hope for the mankind; in fact, there are signs that some massive work is already being done for a few decades to practically slow/halt the worst of the imminent thermal maximum – namely, massive injection of artificial aerosols (aluminium oxides – few times more efficient than sulphur oxides, plus some silver compounds and stroncium) into our stratosphere. We talk billions of tons total up to date already injected. There is very much noise about this in “chemtrail” hysteria, however, careful listener and skilled internet user can quickly find very sound reports and matherials on the subject. Besides, i’m 30+ years old, and i lived in USSR till its collapse – so i remember contrails of soviet jet passenger planes, and indeed they were disappearing in a few minutes, times and times faster than “contrails” of planes i see flying over my head nowadays.
4. James Lovelock ideas about “what to do” – are appealing. Indeed, it’ll be isolated regions and “oases” in which human life, and if we’re really lucky, some form of civilization (hopefully the best sides of it) could survive through. Up to date, i spent quite large amount of time thinking _how_ needed people, resources, information and needed infrastructure may all be in proper places by the time it’s needed to switch from global mode of functioning to local, self-support mode. So far, not even a hint of any possible solution. I fail to see how security and, most importantly, required features of regional “islands” of civilization may be achieved. Starting from what we have today (at least, what i see, that is). One of key difficulties is enabling effective large-scale (at least hundreds of thousands people per unit, if we talk about any able civilization node) cooperation. I know there are millions of people who either think like we do already, or will be thinking like we (Paul, Mike, me, many others here) if/when presented with all the facts they need to know but do not know yet. Yet, those millions, those people who can be the seed of new era, difficult, hot, but still survivavble (if civilized enough) era – those “good folks” are “dissolved” in the sea of billions of “usual folks”, who are either too silly, or too brain-washed, or too greedy, or too dependant on current business-as-usual, or otherwise for any serious reason unable to see that proper course of action now – is what can be summed up as “brace for impact, people!!!”. Even if somehow proper resources and people could be concentrated in most promising areas, and all the critically important works for regional self-viability be done in time, – i still fail to see how those islands of lower-tech (in compare to modern global, inevitably) could survive the pressure of billions who’d be seeking tolerable temperatures to live in, water, food, roof over their head, and working society to integrate with. Indeed like Lovelock says it’s like a lifeboat; yet a fail to see how to prevent hordes of passengers from massively overburdening lifeboats – causing them to sink. As such, at present, i am trying to investigate another possibility: to prepare some sort of communications which would be 1) long-distance enough (many hundreds, preferably thousands kilometers) and 2) cheap and simple enough for millions of properly aware citizens to buy, maintain, and reliably use. Ham-radio, short-wave radio, and surviving landlines are things i currently consider. You see, it’s quite likely that extremely globalized, much “delivered just in time” global industrial complex – will only resist deteriorating conditions until certain point, at which it’d collapse extremely very quickly. If so, then we can be quite sure billions will die few months afterwards. And, if significant fraction of few millions who were aware and trying to prepare well before the catastrophe would survive for much longer on a personal, family, and very small-community levels – which i deem quite possible, – then _after_ most of “dead weight” part of mankind dies, they could try to start building those oases, those islands of remaining civilization Lovelock is talking about. But, again, they’d need quite long-distance, reliable communications to coordinate, gather up, cooperate on required scale. Good thing is, it’s very likely that old-world (err, i mean “present-day” by that) equipment would work for at least a couple years after the catastrophe – obviously i mean devices and machinery specifically designed to function without any power grids, external (globalized or nationlized) fuel supplies, etc. Bad thing is, i am quite unable to foresee any reliably how efficient will be inevitable robbery, looting, local crime and small-scale warfare – all of which seem to be inevitable, at least to some extent, after any serious catastrophe which left significant percentage of a population surviving for anything longer than a few days _on their own_. Will well-prepared, Gaia-minded people be able to hide well enough and/or defend themselves and theirs well enough for most of them to survive the agony of the “big mankind”? I am not sure. I keep trying to find better solutions. Paul, Mike, you please do so too.
P.S. Having places like this to talk is one big thing done already. Just keep going, Mike. Like Queen was singing, “we’ll keep on fighting till the end”. Take some rest if you need, night, week, month, heck, a year if needed, and get back to fight the death of our species when you feel you have some power to do it. If not this, then there is no sense in life whatsoever, anyways. So it’s the only proper thing to do; shame so few are able to understand it – perhaps that’s why most of them will die, eh.
Mark Kowal said:
A very insightful point of view. I agree with you.
XRayMike–I just discovered your blog (and Scribbler’s) as I start re-looking at climate due to the weird summer we are having. Reading the two blogs separately, I thought they were both pretty much on the same page so I was surprised to see your reference to Scribbler in this post and the exchange in the link. I don’t understand the animosity. He is pointing out what is going on climate-wise (I haven’t seen any posts of his on energy) and you are pointing out what the ultimate result of that climate change will be. I have to agree with your ‘doomerism’ (or realism) since BAU is not going to change and people are not going to give up their ipods and flat-screens for something as minor as not condemning their children or grandchildren to miserable lives and very unpleasant deaths. But both blogs are helpful as I read them to understand what is happening and where we are ultimately going to prepare both physically as much as possible and psychologically.
I was nice to him, but he takes offense at what he calls “doomerism”. The falling-out occurred in the last post. I think Robert got offended in the comments section, but we were just pointing out the same thing James Hansen knows – renewable energy does not scale up to the current demands of countries like America, China, or India. Robert is a good guy, but he gets offended too easily and refuses to see the other side of the coin – mankind’s irredeemable nature and the wholesale corruption of a system that prevents meaningful change of any kind. He’s also overly paranoid about the fossil fuel industry. Knowing how anti-corporate I am, it’s pure insanity to say I am wittingly or unwittingly aiding the fossil fuel companies.
I was surprised by that also. From your posts which I have had time to read, I cannot see how anyone could call you a shill for the fossil fuel industry. I also have a problem with complaints about doomerism. While true doomerism (there can never be any kind of solution) doesn’t help, doomerism of the ‘let’s really recognize the problem” variety allows us to avoid pretending half-solutions will help in any manner. Solar and wind cannot scale up to allow us to maintain the lifestyle we are used to and nuclear, as we see in Fukushima, will kill us on its own. At most, their use delays the problems so our grandchildren curse us rather than our children. But claiming that energy conservation or alternatives can solve problems they really cannot merely allows people to waste additional resources on non-solutions and to maintain hope for extra time. Such claims prevent people from facing the harsh realities of where we are and ultimately prevent them from solving the problem and therefore are dangerous in their own right.
Rick, what about those of us who kept an open mind until we finally concluded that all the solutions are half-solutions (or worse)?
If anyone wants to label me as a “doomer” for reaching that conclusion, they are quite welcome to do so. A label is just a word, after all.
Michael Sosebee said:
Misanthropy-Redux meet “Great Misanthropes”
Immanuel Kant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&list=PLH4wg4E5BTNJsvN8-d6KUkFdgb8xip1oL&v=hSkGdiKFN7Y
Arthur Schopenhauer http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLH4wg4E5BTNJsvN8-d6KUkFdgb8xip1oL&feature=player_detailpage&v=hK2rGDwwK5U
The music is Henry Mancini from the “Touch Of Evil” Score.
I wanted to continue the series but I started running out of Great Misanthropes. Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind of course.
The swarming behavior of locusts is linked to crowding and subsequent serotonin production, one of the same feel good chemicals in human brains. Once competition becomes too intense, the locusts begin to look for greener pastures. They most certainly cannot be reasoned with, they’re in competition with all the other locusts and must grow eggs, fertilize and deposit them in the ground. Humans too must get a giddy feeling when removing themselves from geographical areas where populations are too high and resources too scarce. It is thought that a primary impulse for swarming and spreading out by locusts is to avoid being eaten by other locusts. What happens when immigration and growth are not possible? It seems the banking, government and utility locusts are eating me now. Sometimes you just want to fly away.
With growth humans can compete and differentiate themselves with material accumulation. Without growth we will not tolerate a sustainable communism where all share equally in the product of civilization, and even today in communist and capitalist nations, there is prolific corruption and cheating to get ahead. Eventually we will compete through destruction. If you have more than I do, and it seems you will win the mating and ego contest, I will simply tear down and destroy what you have, and so it will go until the destruction is complete. There will not be a state of equilibrium when all men are contented with their lot in life. Often religions try to bring these unsavory behaviors to light, from the limbic to the prefrontal cortex, but those that are dedicated to controlling man’s beastly impulses often fall victim themselves to an impulse for religious competition and warfare.
Paul F Getty said:
Look what happens when a Senatorial candidate actually comes out and tells the truth about global warming. Poor guy is a physicist and probably can’t hold back the truth:
‘MILLIONS WILL DIE’ without a carbon tax to fix global warming, says a New Jersey U.S. Senate candidate in hysterical online campaign ad
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2376971/MILLIONS-WILL-DIE-carbon-tax-fix-global-warming-says-New-Jersey-U-S-Senate-candidate-online-campaign-ad.html#ixzz2a3t1XT5i
Paul F Getty said:
And no reason to put bad news like this on the mass media. Should be kept in obscure Internet sites.
Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought
Paul F Getty said:
PS: Mike, I’m not getting email notifications of your posts or any replies anymore. Others having that problem?
That’s interesting. Glitch or nefarious censorship – who knows.
Michael Sosebee said:
As a critic of electronic propaganda, I saw this piece this morning, The Secret Of Trees:
You have to marvel at the sophistication of this piece. A bright young man filled with the wonder of the universe and “what is possible”. Hey we don’t need trees. We have technology. The purpose is to keep everyone on a slow drip of hopium.
I guess from a Darwinian perspective we have been selected for optimism.
Here is the PR line from the above video: “We really do have the power to change the world.”
Which reflects: “G.E. We bring good things to life.” “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” “At Boeing we’re…”
I call this the rise of ridiculous optimism. This POV is a by-product of cheap fossil fuels & propaganda.
The Old optimism was quite different: “A stitch in time saves nine.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.”, “Measure twice, cut once.”, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.”
The difference is the old optimism invited introspection. It reflected a self-deprecating caution and thrift. A lot of individuals imagine that once industrial civilization begins it’s long inexorable decline that we’ll magically re-discover these older values. More empty optimism?
Despair and cynicism may become quite popular. Optimism may not survive the fight over food and water.
I come here to find information supporting my particular cause or solution and I always find it. I have also thought I might find others who are interested in actually doing something to address these issues. Now you might immediately suppose that I only want those who see the same solution and while that is true to the extent that some degree of unity is always required for action; I perfectly understand and am respectful of others opinions regarding their “seeing” as to what the answer or solutions might be. But it would be nice to see other suggestions at solutions not just simple fatalism and resignation.
Well, I’m not very hopeful about finding collaborators here and I’m used to that. But as this is a blog and invites comments I feel a certain compulsion to say that I don’t understand why the seemingly total absence of solutions.
This resignation that nothing can be done or should be done seems, again, fatalistic. I understand that that is a perspective that one has the right to take. Nevertheless, while this blog and comments reflect an important awareness, I would argue that it also reflects a certain unawareness of what the true problems are (global warming is a symptom not THE DISEASE) and the possibilities of fixing them. Chalking things up to (human nature) seems awfully simplistic to me, as well as an easy out.
I mean by this is, yes, there’s a lot of accurate and important information here, but, truly, how much history, social analysis, spirituality and psychology has really been studied here. I can’t help but think if there was more, then answers would be seen. Even a different perspective about human nature. In particularly, it would be seen that these answers start with ourselves doing something and showing the way through action and example.
It is everyone’s free will and right to give up, I certainly wouldn’t deny that to another. But I have to say the causes and reasons for changing the “system” modus operandi have been there for a very long time. And not only that, the personal suffering. In short, I’m guilty too of being too comfortable, getting sidetracked, forgetting and so on. I guess the problem is I feel an ethical imperative, but also have a personal discomfort and discontent with the way things are with my life personally. So, I guess I have incentive of discontent and motivation in the present.
You’ve made a lot of assumption, the largest being that there “is” a solution, and the second being, that this has not been fully examined by others.
Some of us have been doing this for several decades. Examining the problems, wrestling with the proposed “solutions”, putting them into actual practice, and then after much time, labor and expense, realizing that our “village” did nothing to change the world or the root causes.
You can change yourself (and everyone should), but this is not the solution you’re looking for. I suspect you’re looking at how can humanity save itself. If this is correct, then read on.
How do you propose that humanity save itself? Capitalism is the bane of sustainability. With the vast majority of the world deeply embedded to the luster of endless growth and connedsumption, how does capitalism get replaced? In time? With what? What other form of civilization is actually sustainable?
Or is it really already too late for that? I strongly suspect that it is. Personally, I believe we are already in runaway climate change and nothing will stop it now. But assuming that we could – we’d have to dismantle capitalism. We’d also have to dismantle industrial civilization.
Anything ripped out of the ground is not renewable. Sustainable really means what can be replaced naturally, locally. Anything else is not sustainable and eventually, inevitability, leads to the conditions we have today.
Can we agree that sustainable is the only real hope humanity ever had? That is to say, that any mode of civilization / existence would ultimately lead to population overshoot / resource collapse / civilization collapse, once the resources were fully plundered, and massive populations were no longer possible?
We all exist because IT all exists (capitalism / non-sustainable civilization). To continue to exist, we must take that all away (somehow). This means massive population reductions on an unprecedented scale (98% of humanity). Returning once again to local sustainable practices would support a fraction of the population we have today. It is a pure myth, from personal experience by me and many others, that we can “go local” and be “sustainable” while supporting existing populations. This is a fact and is widely ignored.
No matter how you choose to dice it all up, massive die-off is inevitable now. We should be encouraging this by the way, through birth-control and population limits. This would ease our future transition to a smaller humanity immensely and help towards a solution. But this is a taboo topic and is vehemently opposed by nearly everyone.
So, there is a “root problem”. Too many people consuming too many resources from too far away. You want to try and fix that? Then try it. Live local. See what you can do without. I did. Many other tried too. And we’ve all come to realize that we are deeply embedded within our interconnected, just-in-time delivery system that imports resources from very far away. We all still very much dependent upon imported resources in order to stay alive.
Communities are not even remotely organized around the true definition of sustainable. NONE of them are, except a tiny few indigenous tribal groups. All other humans globally are very dependent upon resource inputs (food, water, materials, fuel, energy, resources). To prevent collapse (resource depletion / destruction), you have to return humanity back to the true meaning of sustainable. As a side note, I’m the only person that seems to know what true sustainability means, and I’m not touting my own horn, just making a point that what you read about “sustainable” really isn’t, not even close.
So here we have a global civilization that is completely unsustainable, polluting, destroying, extracting and consuming irreplaceable resources faster and faster while populations continue to expand, tipping the climate into runaway conditions that will make it impossible to survive. To “fix this”, you have to stop virtually “everything”. Industry. Business. Connedsumption (my only hint on who the real author of this comment is). War. Transportation. Economy. Shut it ALL down and allow the Earth to heal itself (this will take several hundred thousand years now).
Meanwhile, humanity starves. Very, very quickly. Billions dead within two weeks. Since most don’t know or can’t grow their own food, it’s game over for them. The rest will have to duke it out with the other survivors, who won’t go down quietly. Meanwhile, the climate continues to worsen, with decades long “in-the-pipeline” effects known still to come. The ice continues to melt, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat, flooding, drought play havoc on the remaining crops. Wet-bulb temperatures make most the surface of the Earth uninhabitable.
Eventually, a new plateau is reached where the climate stabilizes. But what will remain alive on the surface of the Earth? Nobody really knows, but many studies have been conducted. Not much. No humans. No mammals. Nothing much larger then mice. More likely, underground insects and a few grubs. Oceans dead. Oxygen levels make life very difficult.
And it all happened because we chose a path of “unsustainable”, which lead to unlimited growth and connedsumption, pollution and carbon. The warning signs were there, but we chose to ignore them. We kept taking, taking, taking, always assuming that we could find the wherewithal within ourselves to “stop”. But then we found out that even with dire warnings, we could not stop. To stop would have meant billions had to die, and we could not do that. So we tried everything else BUT sustainable. We tried to control population growth. We tried to limit connedsumption. We tried to abolish capitalism. Hell, we even outlawed war. None of it worked. There was too many of us connedsuming too much. We had built our entire future on the promise of “more for everyone” and nobody would let us forget that promise. We simply refused to go “backwards” – even if it meant we would destroy ourselves.
Of course, it was all a gigantic lie, because more only came to those that were lucky enough to be born in the right time and place. The rich. The developed countries. The fortunate ones embraced this paradigm with a viscous abandon. The rest scrambled to catch up, but laws were passed to make it nearly impossible to do so. Competition at every level of society bred endless conflict, debt and wars. We looked the other way, knowing deep down inside that what we’d done was failing miserably, but not finding the same solution you are seeking.
Indeed, there IS a solution. But even if YOU find it as others have (I did for example), it will NOT change the outcome, because the WORLD refuses it and it is the world and all the greedy, rapacious, ungrateful bastards within it that will continue us all down this path of destruction.
You’re not going to legislate a “fix”. That’s been tried, repeatedly, with dismal failure. You’re not going to create the “village” or “community” as a fix either. That too has been tried with only meager, non-sustainable success. You have to be brutally honest about this, or you will get led astray into self-delusion.
You’re not going to get a state, county or country to embrace sustainable either, as it refutes everything they are. How they were built. What they do. Even the very reason for their existence. We would have no need at all for “nations”, “States”, or even “government” if we were truly sustainable (beyond a tribe level). These things exist to simply divide up resources for the rich and to control the flow of labor and money.
The solutions exists, but the willingness to dismantle even a SMALL part of the “problem” simply doesn’t. And a small solution found / lived does nothing in reality. It doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t save the world from itself. It tries to lead by example, but it is ignored. It won’t prevent collapse, or die-off, or continued resource destruction. It won’t stop capitalism, greed or connedsumption. It will be ignored.
So YES, we are going to go down with the ship. Inevitable, because we can’t get off. Choosing the non-sustainable path forever changed humanity and how we exist. We’re simply not willing to sacrifice billions upon billions to “change our ways”. We’ll do it anyway of course, as die-off begins in earnest, but we’re just not willing to do it conscientiously, in advance. So we’ll try everything else, and we will fail. Nature doesn’t take orders from us and never will.
We’ve not given up by the way. Some of us have simply come to realize that without these essential changes on a global scale, then it is simply an illusion to “believe” that we can “fix this”. Acceptance isn’t easy, but acceptance is reality.
Thank you for one of the best comments this site has received.
Thank you John for such a long and thoughtful reply to my comment. I can see that you too care, though in the end perhaps we just see different possibilities. Rather than respond in kind, I shall keep working on our proposal which I keep being unsatisfied with and so keep starting over. It’s not the basic idea that changes, it’s just how to put it so that it might be understood as something that might work and that might be desirable to others.
We’re so used to “proposals” as being something that is taken to mean as a thing for everyone; when in fact, it is just the starting point for the few (hundreds) who happen to see things the same way. Of course, ideas like this are crafted to be desirable solutions and so some sort of affirmation is always nice.
I don’t disagree with much of what you have to say, my response would be however that these things are or this thing is fraught with incredible nuance. I’ve just about finished this book titled “The Modern Predicament” by George Scialabba and it is excellent and details the long history of this human quest for sanity, unity or meaning. Most everything were talking about is affect and not cause as you too are basically saying, but it’s very subtle. I guess even if the world is ending, this answer and more particularly its physical manifestation would continue to interest me.
Perhaps too, it is because for myself and millions if not billions of others I see the world ending much much sooner than the effects of global warming. I’m just not set up that “comfortably” or securely so to speak. I have a whole other situation going on here, very personal, dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Nationstates have not only been slaughtering others in other nationstates, they slaughter their own whether in property-based capitalistic nationstates through neglect or tyrannical socialist states through firing squads and both end up in more or less suicidal directions.
For perhaps a little humor I’ll leave you with this quote by Bertrand Russell
“Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality”……and continuing he says further..…
”When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others.”
Which of course, you could just as easily sent to me to make your case.
Go to my website (if you’re interested in a detailed response) in a few weeks, hopefully I’ll have something substantial there by then.
For some reason I’ve been thinking what I said. Perhaps I can say it more succinctly and less melodramatically, ha ha! My interest in something other (other way of living) than what our society or culture is offering predates this global warming thing by a very long time for me. Perhaps you have found something satisfactory, that’s good. I have not been able to and so the quest continues.
Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead, nevertheless I can’t resist saying one more thing. I will never understand how critics of capitalism can simply critique and not actually live in some other way. It occurs to me that to join the club of capitalism critics is to join a rather exclusive club of the best minds there have ever been, and herein lies perhaps part of the answer and I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I’m just saying for the sake of argument and trying to figure out why things are the way they are. But to criticize capitalism and not actually live in some other way is also to join the long club of critics who have done nothing and I would theorize this is partly why things stay the same.
Being in the “critical of capitalism club” also seems attractive, as well, from an ego point of view. It’s almost unavoidable for any of us, this stroking of one’s ego when it’s only expressing oneself in terms of ideas on paper or web screens, but the striving for unity is a totally different undertaking. Unity always strives to understand the other and seek common ground. This isn’t to say that we can unify about anything or with anyone as it relates to actually actual collaboration in action.
To criticize capitalism and carry on as an individual seems more libertarian. Now maybe that’s what most everyone is and I am a fan of Stephan Molineux myself (however you spell it), regarding some of what he says, but nevertheless I don’t think he gets it all. Libertarians and capitalists, in my opinion, just don’t get to the degree, we depend on one another and to the degree we all depend on (the land). Human survival and particularly thriving depends on some sort of collaboration, either by default or intentionally.
You said: “… to join the long club of critics who have done nothing and I would theorize this is partly why things stay the same”. Two facts for you to consider:
1st, this club of critics is divided: while many in it indeed have done nothing, some others actually did some things to weaken capitalism. I know this because i am one of those some others. I have a job which pays in cash, i have never, even once, took a credit (thus i never paid any interest to capitalists), i don’t make bank desposits, nor i use any financial instruments. To capitalism, i am a ghost. In financial terms, i do not exist. I don’t feed the system, even when it’s against my own desires and needs – i still stay away from it.
2nd, it’s true that i still use money, pay taxes, and both feed capitalistic system. Howerver, if _everyone_ would do what i do – just earn some money for one’s fair job and spend it to buy essentials for one’s life, – then thing would definitely be not the same. And when i say _everyone_, i mean indeed everyone, including bankers, governments, corporations, and all rich people. See my point? If there is noone who’d be willing to speculate, capitalism itself couldn’t even be born in the 1st place. By the way, in the past, multiple cultures were implementing extremely very harsh punishments to anyone who was caught doing speculations. Qur’an, Roman laws, even much of midieval period had this, among other old cultures. Then, in Europe, some folks who were big people in Church decided that they are special… I guess that’s where modern capitalism started: few hundreds years ago, as a means to support, or protect, or perhaps even save from disappearance what many were seeing as good: christian churches. Thing is, human civilizations have lived for much, much more longer without capitalism than with it. It was done in the past, it can be done again when global capitalism dies (along with GIC). Few interesting historical details and references about what i just said can be found, for example, here: http://books.google.ru/books?id=GTDUdVXjNHsC&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=usury+punishment+rome&source=bl&ots=GEaVigtK8Q&sig=IxFkltibHiiBvyDVTDUja-on-bo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NDz5Ue6DKcev4QSZrYCgCQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=usury%20punishment%20rome&f=false .
To F. Tnioli.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and link. I’m aware of the long history of usury prohibition including present-day Islam. And certainly people, as individuals, can behave more ethically than not. And too, I am aware of the differences in perspective amongst “anti-capitalists”. To go much beyond this, to make the case for something more, I guess I’ll save that argument, time and energy for our website and a more permanent presentation. Perhaps in a month or so I’ll have something more concrete there.
This one is glad to be of service.
If you will be doing a good represenatation of the case, then here’s one additional suggestion from me: please always remember that fighting modern global capitalism is, in the end, suicidal – for any potent project, person, group. For any, because modern global capitalism is, by far, the greatest force mankind is wielding. Large investments are protected by all sorts of agencies and services, which have access to cutting-edge technologies and methods. Corporate forces are directly dictating politics, major education systems, majority of large media; they make their own high-tech research, they have their own security, including “cyber-space” branches of it, etc. Thus, attacking it, by any significantly damaging (to it) means, is an act similar to a couple hundreds mediaval knights attacking whole modern-day US army. I hope your site won’t suffer a fate similar to a fate of medieval knights who would by some sort of time machine would be able and willing to attack modern-day US army (whole of it); i hope your site will be much significant, and i hope it will not cause corporations and states to see it as a threat.
I wish you best of luck with building your site.
Yes, we now know the fate of global industrial civilization is to perish this century (me personally, i bet it’ll happen some time during 2030s, even). Yes, we know billions will perish with it, as their existance is only possible within it. However, when you say that “we” will go down with the ship, it’s (hopefully) not entirely correct. Most of us will? Yes. Perhaps vast majority like 98% you mention, or even 99.8% or even higher, will? Yes, possible. But, hopefully, not all. And in my book, it’s not those who will perish who matter now; it’s those who will make it through who matter.
In the past, human species were reduced to as few as ~2 thousands individuals at a given moment in time. Yet, species survived. Today, for me, the goal is not to save billions. The goal is to save those few millions, perhaps even thousands, of humans who have a chance to live through, make kids who’d live through, and so on. Prevent extinction of sapiense on this planet, so to say.
I hear you when you talk that so-called “sustainable” villages and projects are in fact not so. Most of them are indeed pure failures. However, some have developed methods and infrastructure which can be of great help to a few (hopefully) long-term surviving places (in terms of at least a bit of human population). Then there are old-style societies. You mentioned “tiny few indigenous tribal groups”. Perhaps you would be surprised, but there are still much more than “tiny few groups” of old-style – significantly pre-industrial – societies. Much of countryside of Mary-el is so, for example (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mari_El) – and that’s at least dozens of thousands people, many being descendants of families who lived in there for more than a thousand years.
Useful bits and pieces of “know how” developed by newly born “would-be sustainable” projects won’t be enough to survive; nor indigenous societies will suffice – in a harsh world of 6+ degrees C higher global average, much of old ways to live will stop to work. To have any hope, it is required to “melt” indigenous societies with what useful can be taken from modern-day efforts for sustainability, plus what useful can be taken from the vast seas of modern science knowledge (some things are useful even without any technology – like knowledge how to properly handle airborne diseases, properly quarantine, prevent epidemy).
It would also be very required to carefully pick places and communities which have best chances to survive through, and to try to think through all possible rational criterias while picking. I mean, for example, what good it’d do to try and save any community in, say, Italy, if we are fairly sure that in not too distant future – a couple decades tops, – Italy will become a very deadly desert (PDSI forecast of professor Dai)?
And about your questions. I can answer them.
Q: How do you propose that humanity save itself?
A: if “humanity” is large part of now alive 7+ billions of humans – then indeed there is no way to save it. Most of it will die unnatural death. However, if “humanity” equals “at least few thousands people as a community, able to survive long-term (dozens generations at very least) – then i propose to help, however we can, to prepare a number of societies around the globe. Relatively low-tech (local resources only, little metal works fully locally organized), high-latitude, preferably high-elevation, preferably moderately far from any ocean coast (couple hundreds kilometers at least), with ample access to stable water sources (more than one). It will have to have non-mechanized agriculture (without agriculture, it’ll be DARN much more difficult). It will have to be a size from couple dozens thousands to a few millions people living in relatively geographically small area (Mary-El is good example in this regard too; except, forget living most of ’em cities though once GIC shuts down). Before GIC dies, such regions are to be prepared in any ways possible for shutdown of GIC. Including security and protection for early stages of collapse (unlike James Lovelock, i believe it’d be BAD idea to accept in any many of refugees from other regions, if any at all). As for capitalism, yes, it won’t do. However, environment will become so much more hostile and survival (even with all possible preparation) so difficult even in those “most lucky and most prepared” bits of the world, that i don’t expect capitalism to hold on. What would there be instead? For at least a number of decades, military folks will rule. So i guess it’ll end up in some form of feodalism – much different from old-time, mediaval form, though, and probably much better form with that – because in much more harsh conditions, it won’t be much room to be fooling around. I could go on and on, but i think you get my general idea by now. Oh, and one more thing. Certain level of secrecy about such preparations are most likely to be maintained before and even well after GICC, if any good result to be achieved. Thus, it’s possible such efforts are already well underway yet we just do not know about ’em. I pray it’d be true. There are some signs which might be a part of such projects: Svalbard seed vault, underground cities of mount Yamantau, and in Ozark Mountains, to name a few. Note, i said “might” be. I have no proof, only hope.
Q: With the vast majority of the world deeply embedded to the luster of endless growth and connedsumption, how does capitalism get replaced?
Luckily, those few who will survive GICC for long-term will not have to replace capitalism: with GICC, capitalism itself will die. If you noticed, towns and whole regions are not able to remain capitalistic on their own anymore: capitalism went globalized, and just like they can’t make many, if not most, of industrial goods in their own county/region/state/etc anymore, – they also can’t locally make many, if not most, funcitons which are required for capitalism to go on. Plus, nowadays it went all electronic – so its very element base will cease to exist couple years after GICC tops (modern semi-conductors are not very durable, being to thin – even if not used, will be rendered unusable after some 12…20 years i suspect). So, with GICC, capitalism will die. Vacuum will be left – new system of economic relations will be needed. What could it be? Well, there are some projects in practice which might be the answer. Local money systems which function without any interest (as a principle) are working, some poorly some a bit better, some tiny some just small, in dozens locations around the world now. Eventually, though, i suspect it’s some very unusual form of Feodalism which will form up (see previous answer).
Q: In time? With what? What other form of civilization is actually sustainable?
Doesn’t matter if we actually can do it in time or not: even if not, we have to try. Thing is, we can’t say if we can prepare those “oases” where societies will hopefully survive in time and well enough. Plus, most likely some of those will still die no matter how well prepared and located. Lots of things can go wrong. So we need many, not just one or two. How sustainable those could be? Well, we at least know our own ancestors lived in similar way for many centuries, in a few cases more than a millenium, without rendering environment too unproductive, relying on local resources, keeping most land covered by forests. If it was done before, heck, we gotta try our best to do it again even in much, much more deadly world, no?
Q: Or is it really already too late for that? I strongly suspect that it is.
Again, yes, it may be too late even for my “humble” plan of helping few relatively small regions/societies to survive – but, it doesn’t matter. We gotta try. And to save as much as possible of worthy knowledge so hardly found by all our ancestors, too – if we don’t try to do it, then we betrayed them. And to save as much as possible of lifeforms, if we at all can – otherwise we betray Gaia, the mother of our species.
Of course, just my 2 cents, all that was. I hope some of this is useful to you, John.
P.S. By biggest worry is forest and grassland fires, by the way. In much hotter world, those ecosystems may well be too damaged by increasing scale/frequency of fires, and if the region depends on those… Not good. Thus it’s very very important to chose regions which are most likely to retain the same or even increased precipitation levels. A task for good climate scientists. Another reason i value works of professor Dai so much.
If you are not already aware of them, Mike, there are two studies in psychology that are disturbing in the extreme. One is the Milgram experiment, and the other is the Stanford Prison experiment.
Essentially both of these experiments, especially Milgram, seem to indicate that human empathy and conscience, like human intelligence, track a bell curve. I have a degree in this field and have also looked at a lot of other information. The wholesale dismissal of religion in today’s academic world, particularly in the hard sciences is more than unfortunate. We went from burning Galileo to witch hunting Francis of Assisi and Teilhard de Chardin because they and Torquemada were all religious. Our fundamentalism has shifted from the Bible, which used to be the material measure of everything (good grief) because that was all that was “true,” to other books and all the measurements upon which they are based. We believe ours is a material, physical perspective based on “rationality.” We are confused. We really mean “rulers.” Our physical perspective is based on rulers and measures. We are mechanical in our thinking and our reverence, not only material, because we don’t understand materiality yet. We can measure the hell out of it, but the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts and we can’t get to the level where reality does that with our science yet, where we put the parts back together and Frankenstein rises from the operating table like he always does in our imaginations.
This is because the living world is not static in its measures. We crave truth. We get facts. The facts, undeniable as they stand, like Frankenstein, even when all sewn together in their proper parts, just don’t rise up off the table like we want. We add it up and add it up and end up with the Big Bang and horror that somehow isn’t reduced by understanding that it is “evolution.”
But the religions of the world and humans who operated within those religious constructs have given a great deal of thought to human suffering and human psychology, behaviors and limitations. Everyone who ever used a technological tool is not a fascist, and everyone who ever wrote about the human condition using religious cosmologies was not a vicious and intellectually limited person. Many people from those traditions have given us marvelous insights over many millennia that are as true as they were when we still lived in caves.
I am one of the few people I’ve ever seen write comments that questioned the great James Hansen’s overall respectability. I’ve known since I was a teenager that plundering and demolishing the earth to build rocket ships to go to Mars and Venus to study them is not all that bright, or nice.
It really doesn’t matter if you plunder and kill the earth to build big mansions as monuments to your ego, or if you plunder and kill it to study the universe to build big publications and titles as monuments to your ego – it’s all plundering and destroying the earth. All of it.
Humans are not satisfying, as far as I can tell, nor are they ever satisfied. We are selfish, destructive, and we live in our heads, completely enthralled with our own judgments about the world around us, willing to trash it completely to hang onto some abstraction in our minds that makes us God because we have judged and evaluated everything. As Proverbs says in the writer’s cry to God, “I am weak and needy.” Got that right. Gonna kill everything I see until I don’t feel that way anymore, too.
Unfortunately, nothing ever fills the hairless monkey up.
This cartoon is hilarious!!!!
For the record, it is a parody and parallel of the story in Genesis where God returns to the garden and confronts Adam and Eve, only this time instead of transgressing with a single “tree,” humans have trashed the planet. Louis uses the exact same style of relentless questioning on the part of God that is used in Genesis.
Why have they done it? “I wanted to go faster.” This is a great example of a situation where religion ends up being truer than science. Something written thousands and thousands of years ago accurately captures the human condition better than all the psychology I’ve read over the course of nearly half a century.
What thephuc can one possibly do with such a creature as “man.”
Paul F Getty said:
I agree with much of what you say, but please don’t believe we have all gone from fundamentalism to science. Come to eastern NC and you will marvel at the anti-science here, minds of pure evangelical mush.
I know. I ran screaming from the Baptists at age seven. They are terrifying. All fundamentalism is terrifying. But in all honesty, the new god looks a lot like the old god to me. We just expanded the book.
All life is a constantly changing reality. Only dead things are static. There is a process by which we lift up some dead measurement, and compare it to the living reality around us. We then begin to attempt to force all that we see through this paradigm of dead, static measurements.
We used to have one book. Now we have a collection of books that we call “science.” But we’re still doing the same thing. We’ve used science to torture the world, just like we used to use religion to torture people, and we’ve done both through what is essentially a fundamentalist psychological lens.
Trish House said:
Damn good thinking and damn good writing. Bravo.
Thanks. That’s nice of you to say. I appreciate it.
That was wonderful.
When presented with an undeniable fact pattern and its myriad follow-on interpretations, one can arrive at many possible opinions as to how to respond. That you (xraymike) have finally concluded humanity is irredeemable and admitted your misanthropy puts you ahead of the curve, I think, but you actually have a fair bit of company stretching back at least a few centuries.
Discussions and sniping over the past couple of blog posts and comments threads reveal different approaches to the horrific prognosis still just dawning on many people (still few, though). The sequence seems to be ignorance, denial, solution seeking, mitigation, and finally admission that nothing will stop the disease from running its course. I’ve been in the admission phase for some time, and a few like-minded comments at this blog have attacked solution-seekers for their wild optimism and refusal to accept certain defeat. Specifically, even if we miraculously obtained a perfect alignment of recognition of the problems, technical know-how to address them (as if technofixes were solutions), motivation and willpower to get it all done, and refusal to game activities for profit or position, it would still not forestall the conclusion.
I’ve been seeing multiple comments to the effect that all of this came fully into view back in the 1970s with the energy crisis, population explosion, ecology movement, etc. but was happily swept under a rug (thanks, Ronny!). I’ve been saying that for some time already, so it’s hard to tell whether I’m repeating what I’ve read or made the assessment myself. Doesn’t matter. Either way, the truth is that those having any conscience and meaningful engagement in the world knew these things four decades ago, and the utter failure to take effective action then only means that we knew it and chose to do something else. That’s why misanthropy is an apt conclusion.
I think the utter failure to take effective action occurred because no effective action existed. The effectiveness was all on the other side, tragically. Misanthropy is apt not because good people don’t try hard enough to find the holy grail process that controls everyone else, because such a process does not exist. Misanthropy is apt because there really are not that many good people.
At the height of the Iraq war frenzy a solid 20% of the people remained against the war. That’s how many genuinely good, genuinely decent non-destructive people I think there are in the world – about 20% of the population. That’s about how many very, very bad people I think there are too. And the rest tend to not think. Unfortunately, bad people (sociopaths) tend to be more extroverted than good people, and they like to socialize, see and be seen. They also need prey. Therefore they always cultivate the people around them in order to meet their own selfish needs.
Good people are nurturers, and not exploitive. They support life, instead of consuming it. They aren’t so interfering. They tend to mind their own business more. Ordinary people don’t like good people anywhere near as much as they like the more flamboyant, courageous, daring and charming sociopaths and narcissists among us.
So you’re a selective misanthrope, dividing people into categories rather than lumping them together, species-wide?
I’m not sure what you mean.
Kevin Moore said:
1. Regarding Robert Scribbler: He made the ridiculous statement that ‘renewable energy systems are not dependent on fossil fuels’;.
I pointed out that mining of minerals, processing, transport, installation and maintenance are all dependent on fossil fuels, as is the food supply of people living in industrial societies..
It seems that he did not like being proven wrong, and became offensive and belligerent.
I have found anger to be a common response when I have challenged people’s false beliefs. According to psychologists, belief systems are closely bound up with status, ego and even purpose in life. Undermining just one aspect of a belief system can have devastating consequences and bring down an entire belief system, so adherents defend false notions in order to maintain the integrity of their overriding belief system.
2. It has been my experience that it is often those who know the least who argue the most. The Earth (incorporating all its natural systems) is a complex physical-chemical system, The proportion of the population of western nations with a good understanding of chemistry and physics is below the 0.1%.level.
3. With respect to the nature of humans: Humans are the product of 3 billion years of evolution in which production of successful genes via mutation,and replication of those successful genes has been the ‘only game in town’. As far as genes are concerned, greater numbers equates with success (though they do need to co-operate with one another, and frequently co-operate at the organism level. Co-operative hunting, using weapons that were the product of increased intelligence, provided access to high-energy food supplies and facilitated an increase in numbers. The shift to farming provided a similar increase in food supply; the degradation of general health of grain=eaters was more than compensated for by the increase in numbers. Access to fossil fuels facilitated a ‘quantum leap’ in the number of humans (and hence the success of the genes they carry).
4. Genes have no capacity to foretell the future, though it is clear that a portion of humanity (gene replicators) does possess the capacity to interpret trends and draw conclusions, especially if they have scientific training. A tiny portion of humanity can work out that continuing with present economic-financial-environmental policies will eventually terminate their gene line. It seem that the vast majority of humans are not capable of drawing such a conclusion.
5. With respect to the nature of human societies: Those who shared common genes (tribes) tended to act co-operatively to protect those within the tribe, and to exterminate those (competing tribes) who did not carry as many common genes. Within a tribe natural selection promulgates genes that promote behaviours that provide biological advantage; that may on occasion be deceit, betrayal, bullying etc. Until very recent times, it was normal for a chief to father far more children than a low member of the tribe. Most tribes have vanished, but the tribal nature of humans is exploited by politicians and corporations, generally resulting in highly undesirable outcomes.
6. In medieval Europe the notion of ascribing value to e piece of paper and charge interest enable a small group within society to prosper and replicate their genes. The development of heat engines allowed another group to prosper and replicate their genes successfully.
7. In the sixteenth century corporations were given the power to loot, to create armies, to enslave and execute, to create currencies, to trade, to claim land. This enabled those within the upper echelons of the corporation to replicate their genes.
8. By the end of the twentieth century corporations had been elevated to positions of supreme power over the vast majority of humans on this planet. A corporation is a soulless entity which has one primary goal: to expand and become more powerful. Persons in the upper echelons of modern corporations acquire personal power and reproductive benefits from promoting the goals of corporations.
9. Since ALL economic activity within modern industrial societies is dependent on the utilisation of fossil fuels, and is therefore dependent on increasing consumption of finite resources and increasing levels of pollution of land, air and water, it is difficult to envision the present system ending other than extremely badly for humanity (and very badly for most other vertebrate species)..
Nice summation. I can see why you come to this blog. Much of your thinking is in alignment with mine.
Reblogged this on Gaia will prevail.
In response to Kevin Moore and few others above.
There is one thing which is forgotten too easily and too often: humans differ dramatically from person to person, from culture to culture, from corporation to corporation. It’s often too wrong to see “every one” being the same to “some”. Concrete examples:
– p.9 of Kevin’s message just above: is it true in case of, say, France? I mean, France is definitely a modern industrial society. However, having majority of their electricity generated by nuclear (fission) reactors, they definitely have at least _some_ economic activities being independant from fossil fuels. Not that it’s a panacea, it isn’t, – it’s just a large-scale example how _some_ entities may differ dramatically from most others;
– p.8: corporations, like individual humans, sometimes are very different from your “average &Co”. Some are very, very “evil”. Monsanto comes to mind as one – those folks probably killed more plant varieties (indirectly, – by enforcing their GMO products) than some mid-size ice age would. Yet others are, on the opposite, unusually “kind”. Samsung, for one, amazed me with much of what they do – and especially with more than decade-long good features of their products such as durability and reliability for a more than competitive price – which was quite rare combination even 15 years ago, when i first realized how reliable Samsung Syncmaster 550 series of computer displays were;
– p.3: incomplete, incomplete! See, replication of genes was the _only_ game in town, yes, but ONLY before humans learned how to pass important (read – significantly behaviour-changing) information to next generations without direct use of genes. Language and spoken legends plus various primitive rock graphics were very simple, but already powerful enough to create new classes of people such as shamans. Since then, till now, and (i hope) well into the future, there is another channel through which an individual may influence his “tribe” (in global civilization, “tribe” can be as large as whole mankind, if idea(s) are powerful enough). Because, you see, in the end, the game is not survival of “everyone’s genes”; in the end, the game is survival of the species (in ur case, that is; don’t see around any other intelligent folks but humans, and this is unique and special enough to be worth saving per se). So, if a human can influence the future of entire mankind countless times stronger through words and/or actions which will be remembered and passed along to next generations, – then why exactly should he/she _need_ to spend time having/raising kids? I don’t really know if Jesus Christ existed for real (agnostic here), but if he existed, then i wonder if he was aware of this. I’d almost bet he was!
– p.1: anger when proven wrong is indeed a _common_ reaction. However, unlike you, Kevin, i do not care about it whatsoever. Very simple reason to it: see, this is one of those dangerous, unproductive, silly and useless attitudes which need to die in order for our species to survive through the incoming thermal maximum and all related catastrophies. We can’t afford to remain half-ape in our judgement and attitudes. So, such people, they are a dead ends of so-far-so-bumpy biological-as-well-as-cultural evolution which shapes our, human, species. Sure, it takes lots of time to get through the “jungles” of hypocricy, anger, stupidity and other “modern feats” before one can find a person or few with whom one can indeed practice desired cooperation; indeed it may be as rare as 1 in 1000 or even less. The skill to find people who are ones you actually need to talk to is one of most important skills to develop: because always, always, there are at least few folks somewhere out there who are NOT common at all, who don’t go all bully when you show ’em how wrong they happened to be in some or other judgment of theirs, who actually LOVE it instead. World chess champion Garry Kasparov once said that he values a loss 10 times higher than a win for a simple reason: every loss teaches him important new strategies, but most wins don’t.
It’s just that it is indeed very difficult for “capable and proper” people to group up and actually do big things, – considering all the vulnerabilities for skillful scum, manipulation, exploitation, political control (our of fear etc) which oh so many indeed greedy and/or power-hungry (for any reason) entities would do. I feel than most “green” things (companies, societies, groups, etc) are in fact corroded and corrupted several times through – the bigger, the worse it is. I made another (relatively) big message here today, well above, where i put a few thoughts about how and why proper coordination of indeed worthy (of survival) people may happen in likely future.
Perhaps it is also my personal experience which makes me so aware about extremely very varying nature of people and companies. See, until i was 6, i lived in a city almost a million souls large. Then i moved to a town 45000 souls large (in fact, i should say “45000 souls small”, really), lived there for 9 years, then moved to a city ~300000 souls large, and after 2 more years, into a megapolis some 18 millions people large, and spent next 6 years of my life in it. See, i learned one simple thing: the smaller the city/town is, the more kind people there is. The difference between 45000 souls town and megapolis is staggering in oh so many ways in which people react _commonly_: in a small town, it’s generally times more trust, mutual help and cooperation than in a megapolis. Yet still, it’s basically the _same_ people! Move one from huge city into small town, and it won’t take too long before he/she will learn to trust and accept trust, and enjoy it; move him/her back, and it won’t be long until it gets back to “man to man is what wolf to wolf” as it is with most denizens.
Even though most of humans now alive indeed seem to be needin’ to die – perhaps genetically but most importantly, culturally, – i’d still would not condemn _everybody_. I met or at least talked with enough great people to clearly know: even if it is a really small fraction of 0.1%, it’s still large number of people (7 millions) who are WORTH surviving, – genetically for sure, but most importantly, culturally as well. There are wonders of civilization on one side of the road, so to speak, – while on the other side there are atrocities of it. It may be that atrocities are hundreds, perhaps millions times larger in size and mass; but still this does not dimish the worth of wonders, – which if summed up to date is already very large to say the least.
All this is just my opinion, though. Not a dime more. Sorry for typos and non-native english, too. Good luck, people!
This is not my experience at all. Everybody (minus a very very small percentage) wants a car, wants to travel by plane and would love to be rich. People are most generally sooo alike that is is extremely boring to be in their company. They could not live without their dishwasher, or whatever it is represents status. Everywhere, everybody, almost. There is no more wonders, because all the trees/vegetation/food/species/etc, EVERYTHING is dying without any possible come back. It is happening NOW for anyone who has eyes/ears to see/hear. But humans are going to endlessly blabber until the last second. They so love their ability to talk, talk, talk…
This thread has some comments that I already read 3 times.
Thanks for saying this, Michele. I typically don’t comment anything along the lines of “you’re wrong/I’m right,” but I’ll chime in to reinforce things I find convincing. Your remairk about endless blabber and talk, however, seems to me uncharitable. Humans are, after all, an eminentlly social species. Plus, for us doomers, it gives new meaning perhaps to the phrase “it’s all over but the shouting.”
Michele, i was talking exactly about “very small percentage”. My point was not that there are large percentage of non-greedy, intelligent, wise people – my point was that despite they are relatively very few (“1 in a thousands or even less” i said) – it’s still millions of them globally, at least, and also my point was that these people are worth surviving on this planet. I do not see where you disagree with me. You said, “everywhere, everybody, almost”. It’s true. This “almost” word – this is the part to get busy about, in my humble opinion.
As for “talk, talk, talk” – some people can do little but talk, such as paralized people, for example. Me, i am not paralized, but there are other reasons in my case, ones perhaps just as disabling as being paralized. I just hope my messages do not do harm, i just hope nobody will die nor get critically hurt (physically or psychologically) as a result of my words. And, i am convinced that
– without thought, there is no action;
– without large-scale cooperation, there is no significant human achievement;
– re-shaping civilization from global industrial to regional self-sustaining mode – is extremely huge achievement, one impossible to be done by any individual nor any small group.
This is why i sometimes write in here and in some other places; if any places of the world are to survive long-term, they will only survive as large enough societies of at least dozens of thousands people. Isolated individuals and small groups will perish, given enough time – just like Lykov’s family did: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/For-40-Years-This-Russian-Family-Was-Cut-Off-From-Human-Contact-Unaware-of-World-War-II-188843001.html . This family is an excellent example for the fact that like it or not, but any non-fatal long-term future every one of us can have – as an individual, – is to be a part of large enough society. As individuals, we will have to either learn to cooperate with many, many others – to cooperate much more than in so-frogiving modern global civilization, – or to eventually die, just like Lykovs.
Never seen this site before. Took all of two minutes to understand that Scribbler is an arrogant prick. He refuses, like most sites, to publish any of my comments (today being the one and only time I tried). It’s a pathetic way to create an illusion of approval.
Nothing more needs to be said to identify the arrogant and the ignorant who remain self-assured that their view alone is the right one.
Science remains hopelessly entrenched on just how fast and how bad it will get. They’re constantly having to reassess their worst-case scenarios, a sure sign that what understanding they have is incomplete and does not accurately reflect what is being measured on the ground.
I read your Silence of Extinction, move your dates up by at least 50 years. I already wrote an essay similar to this, but it’s based on the latest scientific assessments. We have very little time left. Accelerating events are now being recorded all over the world, it’s stunning how few people are assembling this data into a cohesive picture and what it means in just a few more years. Despite the media blackout, this information can be found.
Can you give a link to your site?