6th Mass Extinction, Capitalism, Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Economic Growth, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Gaia, Lord Byron's 'Darkness', Mass Die Off, Massive Attack - Teardrop, Overpopulation, Techno-Optimists
In his hubris, mankind went about subduing, indexing, commodifing, and exploiting all of Earth. He paid very little heed to the consequences of the shrinking richness that once characterized the natural world. Everything had a price since money had become the sole criteria by which all things, animate and inanimate, were valued. From the anthropocentric perspective, if it didn’t serve people in some way or another, what good was it? If need be, man could use his superior intellect to fix or outright replace what he had permanently destroyed. “A better life through technology” became the law of the land. Just as with the accepted tenet of never-ending economic growth, there was the unquestioned belief of technological solutions for all manmade problems brought on by industrial civilization. Hence, bees dying from a chemically saturated environment could be genetically modified to survive in our toxic soup. Extinct flora and fauna could be brought back to life with bioengineering. Where we would put such resurrected organisms in a world overloaded with humans, other than in zoos or other tiny cutouts of artificial habitat, was a question never answered.
Man became so assured of himself and his technological abilities that he began to lose track of the steadily mounting environmental assaults promising to make Earth uninhabitable for all but a few heat-loving bacteria like thermophiles. In fact many denied outright that such dangers even existed. And those whose livelihood depended on maintaining business-as-usual were more than willing to pay public relations experts who could mold popular thought in favor of such a suicidal path. Most of the truly eco-aware humans, whose numbers were so small as to be inconsequential, spent all their time refuting the ignorance and propaganda of the masses, but to no avail. How could any root causes and solutions ever really be identified if the vast majority were kept at each other’s throats? The climate change deniers fought with the scientists; the capitalists fought with the environmentalists and steady state/degrowth alternative economists, the conspiracy theorists fought with the realists, and ad infinitum. Thus consumed with dissension the human species raced over the cliff of eco-apocalypse and human extinction.
She does not measure time in years, decades, or even centuries, but in millennia. She watches unamused by the tragicomedy of humankind. She is unmoved by the self-inflicted suffering and death that is and will be wrought by our own self-serving behavior. Gaia patiently awaits the extinction of man.
…The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.”
~ Lord Byron, excerpt from ‘Darkness‘
Jacob Horner said:
Really love this post…thanks.
Great song (teardrop by massive attack, 1998) …far far too many stumbling in the dark.
Video source, s’il vous plait?
I made the video from several dozen clips from youtube.
The aging woman was made by Anthony Cerniello:
“Native New Yorker Anthony Cerniello said that his experience of the September 11 attacks made him think deeply about life, death, and all the time in between. He directed ‘Danielle,’ a short piece that examines how people age.”
I sped up his video clip quite a bit.
Kevin Moore said:
It’s called ‘sustainable development’.
It is worth mentioning that there was a movement towards sane economic, social, environmental and population policies in the 1960s to 1970s which was deliberately sabotaged by bankers and economists because limiting economic growth would have derailed their financial Ponzi scheme.
The bankers’ and economists’ Ponzi scheme has sabotaged humanity. And their Ponzi scheme is going to collapse anyway, but not until after there have been a few more rounds of money-printing and propaganda..
…Yes, heavy rainfall can always cause flash flooding, but according to local meteorologists, what happened in Colorado was made worse by climate change. How? To find the connection, we have to look back at the opposite of wet — the very, very dry weather that’s become all too common in the Centennial State.
“[O]ne factor has made the flooding considerably worse: the wildfires that have stricken the forests in the region in the past few years,” Kari Bowen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Boulder, told NBC. When almost all of the trees and vegetation in an area are wiped out by fire, the planet’s normal tools for fighting erosion are erased as well.
Okay, so wildfires set the stage for devastating floods, but what’s behind the fires?
“Huge, explosive fires are becoming commonplace, say many experts, because climate change is setting the stage — bringing higher temperatures, widespread drought, earlier snowmelt and spring vegetation growth, and expanded insect and disease infestations,” reported Climate Progress just last month.
What’s causing such persistent drought, which creates the perfect conditions for out of control fires?
You and me. Our cars, houses, companies, food choices and travel plans have resulted in the highest atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide in recorded human history. We’re well over the tipping point that climate scientists warn us to avoid. Unsurprisingly, this is altering the planet’s normally efficient systems in negative ways.
In 2012, a 594-page report prepared by scientists from 62 countries concluded that global warming over the past half-century has indeed led to “changes in climate extremes,” such as heat waves, record high temperatures and, in many regions, heavy precipitation. As IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri says in the Voice of America, we should expect more heat waves and longer ones as well as more “extreme precipitation events.”
That’s bad news, but this is worse: last month researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, found that extreme weather events prompted by too much C02 also result in the release of more CO2. In the study led by Markus Reichstein, “researchers found ecosystems absorb 11 billion tonnes less CO2 every year because of extreme weather events – equivalent to a third of the total global CO2 emissions each year.” Essentially, our addition to fossil fuels has set in motion a dangerous reciprocal cycle of pollution and extreme weather that we can’t stop.
That’s pretty terrifying when you consider that it only took a few days of rain to bring the entire state of Colorado to its knees. What if next year, it lasts for a week?
The problems that man brings to himself and Mother Earth are increasing exponentially, because every solution he comes up with to solve a problem usually creates several more problems…..
– pfgetty’s first law of impending collapse.
John Christian said:
This movie called “Home” has some brilliant imagery and really shows how humanity has transformed the planet in just a few thousand years. The impact to ecosystems is already devastating and its really odd that people so openly ignore this on daily basis. Although the movie ends on a optimistic tone about being able to change our ways – its all too little too late…
No doubt the earth will, given time, reclaim the stuff we shaped into what we called our industrial civilization. Something these haunting pictures also show its already busy doing:
Kevin Moore said:
‘really odd that people so openly ignore this on daily basis’
Emeritus professor Albert Bartlett hit the nail on the head when he demonstrated [in ‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy] that ‘bacteria in a bottle don’t recognise their dire predicament until 4 minutes to 12 because ‘there is ‘all that empty space’.
And, in his scenario, finding another 4 empty bottles only allows growth to continue until 2 minutes past 12!
What a fine gentleman Al was. He was genius, and was surrounded by fools who wouldn’t listen.
I believe he first gave that APE lecture in 1969. And 40 years later the ‘idiots’ were still ravaging the planet, gobbling up fossil fuels and poisoning everyone and everything.
A few days ago I had an ‘interesting’ conversation at the local environment centre: the person I spoke with (who works there) had never heard of Albert Bartlett.
Further evidence there is no hope, I’m afraid.
Oh, Al died this year I see – I just learned that. 😦 – He was a fantastic man and I believe many professors should take up his lecture all over the world so that mankind can be more educated about our inability to understand the exponential function. Rest in Peace Al – your lecture is really the first that got me thinking…
I do believe many environmental movements are caught up in the romantic idea of growing your own salad and potatoes and riding a bike to work. While the real problem is way more serious and at a fundamental incomprehension of the consequences of exponential growth. Surely many environmental movements strive toward preservation, but trying to live off the land by giving back as much as you take out of it is a wholly different ballpark.
Al’s lecture as well as Limits to Growth really tries to teach us the true limits that the planet is facing, and that its quite clear we cant engineer ourselves out of this. So the video I linked has a bit of that “we can make it” feeling about it even though it doesn’t say that the average person should basically start living like the poorest people on the planet. I doubt anyone would subscribe to that kind of policy, not even 99% of the environmentalists.
Personally I feel we have set in motion enough changes that even if all stopped doing anything and just lie down to die the planet will go through some massive ecosystem disasters. So in that sense I subscribe to what Dan Miller is saying – we need to do all of it at once – right now! As in we need to invent stuff that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, reflect sunlight on the northern hemisphere somehow, and clean up the oceans… even if it costs all the money in the world. Its really a quest to save our own species from extinction and hopefully save as many of the other species on the planet as well.
I’ve been paying attention to our slo-mo collapse for some years now but my discovery of Al Bartlett was only happenstance. There’s no formal course of study of which I know, so it’s unsurprising to me that others who might ought to know of him do not and continue to drink the growth and innovation Kool-Aid.
jcl64 sez: “… many environmental movements are caught up in the romantic idea of growing your own salad and potatoes and riding a bike to work. While the real problem is way more serious and at a fundamental [level of] incomprehension of the consequences of exponential growth.”
Hey, I (try to) bike to work!
I agree with most of what you’ve said, though I find none of it incomprehensible. However, you sound like a latecomer to the entire issue of collapse and still gravitate to a solutionist agenda (i.e., Dan Miller’s do it all at once). I don’t mean to completely disparage your recommendation because this is the most natural thing to do (fight or flight), and I tend to agree that if we’re going to do anything at all, we may as well get serious about it with no delay. Yet my sense is exactly what you said: no one is ready to subscribe to that agenda. Nor will we ever be ready because we wouldn’t be fighting for our own skins but those few of our progeny who manage to survive beyond the bottleneck. Those of us already over the age of, say, 40 are already doomed.
In my darker moods, I suspect that regional and global conflicts in which the U.S. and others are continuously engaged are expressly designed to purge populations, since that fixes a few things handily, like so many genocides the 20th century has inspired. The problem is that such a solution is simultaneously in conflict with economic incentives toward insanely infinite growth, manifested in one Ponzi scheme after another but given a multitude of different names, e.g., Social Security. It’s all still grasping at straws.
I think capitalist carbon man has decided that the planet and its biosphere must be shoehorned into the human economy. That’s why geoengineering is becoming more accepted by the day. I referenced this trend in my last blog entry under the comments section:
Getty’s first law of impending collapse
Ted Howard said:
Still all-pervasive talk here about ‘man, ‘humanity’, ‘human species’….
The real issue is the all encompassing dominant culture we “civilised” live in. And that’s the real issue. It’s insane, pathological and suicidal. And it’s not who we are as human animals, that need clean air, clean water, clean food, healty ecosystems, and functional community
Just start this article with “civilised” mankind, and me and most remnant indigenous folks will be a lot happier!
For more on this, read the books by Daniel Quinn: “Ishmael”, “My Ishmael”, “The Story of B” …and Derrick Jensen’s books “A language Older Than Words”, “Culture of Make-Believe”, and “End Game”
I actually make the distinction when I say “industrial civilization”:
“Just as with the accepted tenet of never-ending economic growth, there was the unquestioned belief of technological solutions for all manmade problems brought on by industrial civilization.”
With the problems increasing exponentially, ever since the first wheat seed was sown.
Another great post xraymike. Loved the reference to the abandoned places.
We’re just going to keep documenting the fall of humanity via economics, resource depletion and climate change (with all its attendant results like ocean acidification, sea level rise, inability to grow food, aquifers depleting due to persistent drought, flooding and other storms, pestilence and insect inundation, tree die-off, and on and on) until no one is left. i’m sure war and geo-engineering are in the offing, as that will just make things worse – which is the normal way humans operate (even if meaning well).
Hey kevin; yeah, I read about Al’s passing and recommended his video to many of my students, many of whom still don’t “get it.” Between clueless governmental leaders and power-people unwilling to change their (successful) ways, it’s just a matter of time before it all cascades to zero. Enjoy the ride.
It will be many years before there is a significant political will to do anything worthwhile about climate change, thanks to the massive media campaign taking advantage of an apparent slowdown in global temperatures lately.
For instance, this article in The Daily Mail, just one of lots many that will comfort Americans and others that there is no real threat, and that scientists are simply too alarmist:
“Global warming is just HALF what we said: World’s top climate scientists admit computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong
Leaked report reveals the world is warming at half the rate claimed by IPCC in 2007
Scientists accept their computers ‘may have exaggerated’ ”
By DAVID ROSE
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/Global-warming-just-HALF-said-Worlds-climate-scientists-admit-computers-got-effects-greenhouse-gases-wrong.html#ixzz2exnHUS3d
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Yes I guess this active campaign to mis-educate about the real situation is really the last nail in the coffin for the human species (and many more). You see Daily Mail even quotes its own misleading article about the Arctic even though it has been corrected many places and quite well by The Guardian:
Unfortunately several other newspapers (including here in Norway) has replicated the Daily Mail version of this science, so no doubt a lot of people just got their denial strengthened recently. Fortunately one of the Norwegian news sites, storm.no (a popular weather reporting page) has picked up Guardians “debunking” article instead.
No doubt they are very busy now in the denial-camp conjuring up all sorts of new science that is supposed to be in contrast to the IPCC laste AR5 so they can get a spot on television as the “alternative view” in “balanced” news coverage… The stupidity of mankind doesnt really deserve better than to be wiped out. It will in the long run be better for the remainder of life on this planet after we are gone.
I saw those articles and just rolled my eyes. No need to waste anymore precious energy trying to convince people who refuse to look at the science. The corrupt corporate media will continue to manufacture controversy where there really is none, and the gullible public will eat it up.
Reblogged this on Gaia will prevail.
Donald Campbell said:
Truth is told. To reinforce your argument, Mike, I suggest the following link for a partial history of the science of CO2 as it relates to environment:
by The Conservation Foundation in March 1963.
Although evidence and warnings of the potential of irreparable environmental damage were published in the scientific literature, it was given little recognition elsewhere, illustrating the general distrust of such reports by the those who thought they knew better. Now we have to restructure our understanding of survival in ways that will be foreign to business-as-usual. Carbon tax, adapt as much as possible, and rebuild our infrastructure. It will not be a walk in the park.
Last year I asked what large bank funded a study decades ago which revealed how catastrophic fossil fuels would be, but I was unable to get the answer from anyone. This may be what I was looking for. Thanks!
Recent News Bites:
This first story is from Forbes and illustrates the maxim that if Big Oil can extract it, the happy American consumer will burn it with no recollection of the past or forethought of the future…
Nothing tells me it hopeless like this does: the most respected newspapers still telling us not to do anything about climate change, 30 years after it was made clear what is going on:
“In a collective act of media irresponsibility, the New York Times and Washington Post have joined the Wall Street Journal in publishing “don’t worry, be happy” articles days before the big UN climate science report will say quite the opposite.
We expect the WSJ to be a haven for disinformation, and as I discussed Sunday, Matt Ridley didn’t disappoint. But it’s sad when we see at the very same time
The Washington Post publish a piece downplaying the climate threat from the well-known and well-debunked confusionist Bjorn Lomborg, and
The NY Times run a Pollyannish piece, “Overpopulation Is Not the Problem” which asserts, contrary to much recent science, that, “There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity.””