Addiction to Fossil Fuels, Capitalism, Climate Change, Climate Chaos, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Desertification, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Empire, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Inverted Totalitarianism, Militarism, Military Industrial Complex, Overpopulation, Peak Oil, Peak Water, Police State, Resource Wars, Security and Surveillance State, Social Unrest, War for Profit, War on Terror
The Middle East is on the frontline of the multi-pronged crisis of overpopulation, resource depletion, and climate change. Fault lines in that region are widening as climate change exacerbates crop-destroying droughts, peak oil starves economies, and stressed populations scramble to survive. Advanced industrialized countries are buffered from the same fate only temporarily by their military and economic might. The oil-cursed Middle East also suffers from being in the crosshairs of industrial civilization’s insatiable appetite for the black stuff. Since the peak of conventional oil in 2005, the industrial world has not only turned to harder to extract and environmentally damaging unconventional sources of oil, but has also ramped up military intervention in order to keep the energy flowing. Access to resources has always been an underlying factor in all wars, but as climate change, resource depletion, and social disintegration escalate, the grip on foreign energy deposits by western powers becomes increasingly tenuous. Climate Change multiplies threats. Militarism and climate change feed off and drive each other:
The war machine of the American Empire is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet.
Our priorities are overwhelmingly skewed toward militarism in order to maintain the unsustainable, while the real threat of climate change grows ever stronger:
(BLUE=Military Spending; GREEN=Climate Change Spending)
In the meantime, the false hope of technology maintains the illusion that our current way of life is inalienable. The industrialized monoculture farming that feeds the masses will quickly fade as synthetic fertilizers become too expensive to artificially replenish nutrient-depleted soils. Pesticides and antibiotics are losing their effectiveness as natural selection breeds super weeds and drug-resistant pathogens. Fresh water is also being sacrificed for fracking, tar sands production, and mountaintop mining. We appear to be systematically destroying any basis for future civilizations as we burn through what is left. “Forests precede mankind; deserts follow.”
Severe land degradation is now affecting 168 countries across the world, according to new research released by the UN Desertification Convention (UNCCD).
The figure, based on submissions from countries to the UN, is a marked increase on the last analysis in the mid-1990s, which estimated 110 states were at risk.
In an economic analysis published last week the Convention also warns land degradation is now costing US$490 billion per year and wiping out an area three times the size of Switzerland on an annual basis. – link
No techno-fix chicanery will bring back the melting polar caps or stop the series of runaway feedbacks loops unleashed from industrial civilization’s fatal attraction to fossil fuels. Our eyes simply don’t appreciate the full scale of climatic change now underway, eroding mankind’s food production, infrastructure, and socio-economic stability, in addition to degrading nature’s ecological resilience and biological diversity, both of which underpin all of mankind’s activities. The megatons of greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere by industrial activity everyday are as invisible to humans as the mountains of toxic plastic waste filling up the world’s oceans. Out of sight, out of mind until the effects become too obvious to ignore and too late to change. Overpopulation continues unabated and is in fact encouraged by the imperatives of economic growth; the environmental pressures are ignored as resources are methodically stripped and depleted to unrecoverable levels.
Despite the ingenuity and intelligence of the human race, we appear subject to the same rudimentary biological urges of the lowest single-celled organism which, if given favorable conditions, will uncontrollably multiply its numbers deep into overshoot territory until its food source is exhausted, finally extinguishing itself in a mass die-off. Environmental laws and initiatives appear to be no more than slight speed bumps in our one-way road to extinction. All this talk about curbing GHG’s, “going green”, and “saving the planet” are mere window dressings for our motorized hearse. Nice accoutrements, but the destination is still a grave.
Energy. It all about energy. When I say to people I read about and research energy they say it’s boring. I am witnessing the downfall of mankind before my very eyes and energy is the epicentre. It has driven our growth, driven climate change, driven wars and finally driving our collapse. Energy gives money it’s value as the FED will find out soon enough when it realises it can print as much money as it likes but can’t print extra oil reserves. How can energy be boring?
Exactly right… Have you read ‘End of More’ ?
Virtual Recluse said:
Another brilliant post, Mike. What I admire most about your blog is its concise synthesis of the situation. You pull no punches, get at the underlying root of many things happening in the world and cover all the bases without ever straying off-topic, getting lost in verbosity or carried away with your own opinions. If I had to do away with all but a select few of the blogs I read weekly, rest assured yours would be one of them.
I hope your readership is expanding. Deep respect.
Thanks for the kind words.
And the coming desertification of our oceans:
Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem.
Thanks for posting Mike! Of late the Syrian conflict had sucked most of the oxygen out of the room. I did spot a post linking the civil war in Syria with Climate Change but mostly a lot of hyperbole over Obama and his imperial instincts. I think the US of A is addicted to war. With the unwinding of the “War On Drugs” the prison industrial complex is worried about where they’re going to get the bodies for the beds. They don’t need to worry about that. Las Vegas is rounding up their deadbeats and giving them one way tickets to California and Texas. They don’t call this the “Haiti of America” for nothin’.
Don’t forget the immigrant riffraff – a new source of incarceration for profit…
Today’s News bites:
and they need to spread around some money to maintain political stability. Their energy use is out of control, as is their water consumption. And for those segments of Saudi society into which much of the oil revenue flows, consumption is a happening thing. And nobody really knows where the all money goes.
Some ends up in London, where some Saudi tourists spend the entire summer. Of course, this was true in 2002 (and oil was $26/barrel then).
But they do seem to have money to throw around to garner political influence (note that the US does the same with money that it doesn’t have). And they have grand plans for looking beyond their petro-heritage:
Best hopes for wise spending.
This new research is consistent with other studies. One such study also found that here in the U.S., your carbon footprint can be hugely influenced by where you live: In California, where clean energy is abundant, one uses significantly less carbon than in the Midwest, which relies more heavily on fossil fuels. It also underlines the idea that the wealthiest are the biggest carbon emitters.
What’s worse, the draft National Climate Assessment predicts that the number of extreme weather events will continue to grow and that our communities face grow- ing risks because they were not built for an unstable climate:
Extreme weather continues in 2013 …
“Contrary to popular perception, desertification is not the loss of land to desert or through sand-dune movement. It refers to land degradation resulting from climatic variations and human activities.
It is not a natural process; it is the result of mankind’s actions.
Today, a third of land is threatened by desertification.”
Calculating the True Cost of a Ton of Mountaintop Coal
Sep. 11, 2013 — To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area of the Central Appalachians the size of Washington, D.C., would need to be mined every 81 days.
That’s about 68 square miles — or roughly an area equal to 10 city blocks mined every hour.
A one-year supply of coal would require converting about 310 square miles of the region’s mountains into surface mines, according to a new analysis by scientists at Duke University, Kent State University and the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies.
Creating 310 square miles of mountaintop mine would pollute about 2,300 kilometers of Appalachian streams and cause the loss of carbon sequestration by trees and soils equal to the greenhouse gases produced in a year by 33,600 average U.S. single-family homes, the study found…
…”Given 11,500 tons of coal was produced for every hectare of land disturbed, we estimate 0.25 centimeters of stream length was impaired and 193 grams of potential carbon sequestration was lost for every ton of coal extracted,” said Emily S. Bernhardt, associate professor of biogeochemistry at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
That doesn’t sound like much until you put it in perspective, she stressed.
“Based on the average carbon sequestration potential of formerly forested mine sites that have been reclaimed into predominantly grassland ecosystems, we calculate it would take around 5,000 years for any given hectare of reclaimed mine land to capture the same amount of carbon that is released when the coal extracted from it is burned for energy,” she said.
“Even on those rare former surface mines where forest regrowth is achieved, it would still take about 2,150 years for the carbon sequestration deficit to be erased,” said Lutz, who earned his PhD from Duke in 2011.
“This analysis shows that the extent of environmental impacts of surface mining practices is staggering, particularly in terms of the relatively small amount of coal that is produced,” said William H. Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Schlesinger is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Biogeochemistry and former dean of Duke’s Nicholas School.
“Tremendous environmental capital costs are being incurred for only modest energy gains,” he said…
Kevin Moore said:
We live in a society that puts a dollar value on everything and knows the value of nothing.
NSA disguised itself as Google to spy, say reports