Arctic Ice Melt, Capitalism, Charlie Smith, Climate Tipping Points, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Environmental Collapse, Eric Schlosser, Extinction of Man, Financial Elite, Geoengineering, Gross Inequality, Inverted Totalitarianism, Mass Die Off, Natalia Shakhova, Normalcy Bias, Overpopulation, Peak Oil, Peter Wadhams, Regulatory Capture, Resource Wars, Robert Callaghan, Runaway Climate Change, Simon Hasleton, Sunken Costs, Techno-Optimists, The Convergence of Crisis
In spite of their own economic and scientific data overwhelmingly pointing towards a very bleak future, the experts in their various chosen fields appear to be happy-faced optimists about the world our descendants will inherit. So says columnist Charlie Smith:
He concludes his essay with the following remarks:
“…I confess that I’m troubled by all the optimism I encounter from leading thinkers on inequality, climate change, overpopulation, and oil depletion.
Adding up all the variables, I’ve concluded that more global food shortages and increased famine are inevitable. Despite this, our premier plans to build a new bridge to Delta that will result in the loss of some of Canada’s finest farmland.
Having a cheery disposition may make someone sound more pleasant in radio and television interviews.
It might even enhance a person’s likelihood of obtaining book contracts, becoming a media or entertainment executive, or getting elected to high public office.
But it has a way of sugar-coating problems, diminishing the sense of urgency that we should all be feeling about these crises.”
The apocalypse has been commodified as a Hollywood thriller to be viewed in the comfort of a movie theater or living room sofa. Faith in technology, normalcy bias, sunken costs, and the mass propaganda of vested interests are just a few of the human blinders preventing any change from the status quo. To say that there is no future for the human species would be to admit that we are all living in a fictitious construct whose time is quickly running out. Who openly discusses such things in their place of work? I would wager to say that the answer is zero. In his essay ‘The Convergence of Crisis‘, Simon Hasleton writes:
“…There is, also, a sense in which denial should be seen as a psychological defense operating on the personal level. AGW presents an immense challenge to our lives: to our health and safety and the survival of our grandchildren, and their grandchildren. How will we handle it, when the water fails or the crops fail and the food reserves are empty as the population passes the nine million mark? When when Amsterdam or Kolkata are inundated? When (as in Texas) temperature pushes into the high 30s, for weeks on end? This is the future AGW promises. And there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it, so we blank it out, or prefer the trivia of the tabloids, or retreat into a blinkered concentration on the immediacy of everyday concerns….”
There is no escaping the capitalist system which now encompasses the entire world. Who is stopping the Brazilians from clearing the Amazon just as America and Europe slashed and burned their own virgin forests to make way for cities, highways, railroads, farms, etc.? Who is stopping China from burning through the world’s remaining fossil fuel? This is how industrial civilization defines “progress”. Our next step is to try to control the climate through seeding the atmosphere and other geoengineering experiments. Aside from nuclear weapons and their evil counterpart, nuclear energy, I can’t imagine a more dangerous and hubristic scheme. Charlie Smith has an article on that subject as well, entitled ‘Eric Schlosser raises alarm in Vancouver about nuclear weapons and nuclear power‘:
“…Schlosser also told the audience that his research into nuclear weapons has strengthened his opposition to nuclear energy. He cited the research of Charles Perrow, who examined the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear-power plant in 1979.
This helped Schlosser understand how a seemingly minor event—a dropped socket in a missile silo in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980—nearly caused an explosion that could have killed millions of people.
“These are complex technological systems,” Schlosser said. “Again and again, we find ourselves inadequate to manage them.“
His biggest concern is that the waste from nuclear reactors remains deadly for tens of thousands of years. He said that it’s “highly irresponsible for us to be creating poisons that future generations might suffer from“.
There has never been a central storage facility created in the United States, which means that the waste remains at the nuclear-reactor sites.
“And these reactor sites were never designed to store nuclear waste in the way it’s being stored,” he said. “They are huge targets, potential targets, for terrorists. But they are also at enormous risk in a natural disaster, in earthquakes, things like that. And a lot of these nuclear reactors are near large urban areas…”
He didn’t mention that all nuclear plants are built on the shores of lakes, rivers, and oceans in order to satisfy their cooling water needs. Not such a great idea in a future that includes the ravages of climate chaos – sea level rise, shrinking and flooding rivers, and violent storms. Sea level rise will also increase the damage from earthquakes as this 2014 study for the city of Berkley, CA mentions:
“…Like regions across the globe, the San Francisco Bay Area is experiencing and will continue to increasingly experience the impacts of the changing climate. By 2100, average temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area will increase up to 11° F. In 2100, Berkeley will have 6-10 additional heat waves each year, which will disproportionately impact the elderly, children under five, and the low-income community members.
Climate change will also cause additional extreme rainfall events, which will lead to more flooding. San Francisco Bay sea-levels will rise up to 55” by 2100, impacting infrastructure and community members in west Berkeley. Climate change impacts will also exacerbate the natural hazards of concern outlined in this plan. Rising sea levels will increase Berkeley’s exposure to earthquake liquefaction, tsunami inundation, and flooding. Increases in precipitation and severe storms will make flooding more frequent, and will increase the landslide risk in the hills. California’s water security will be reduced, and drought will become a more persistent issue….”
How does San Francisco adapt to an 11°F increase in average temperature? It doesn’t. It will be a ghost city by then; the human population will have crashed and be well on its way to the black void of extinction. The city officials of Berkley have not figured that out yet since climate change is a newly added threat to their plans:
“…Climate change is a newly-introduced hazard of concern for the 2014 plan. The climate change section describes the anticipated impacts to Berkeley from climate change. It also outlines how climate change exacerbates other hazards identified in this plan. The City discusses potential impacts from sea-level rise on Berkeley’s western coast, and maps areas in Berkeley that are vulnerable in 55-inch sea-level rise…”
Modern industrial civilization with its exploding human population is protected from the laws of nature only for as long as resources are plentiful and the climate remains stable. Technology cannot be created and supported without inexpensive and highly concentrated energy. Technology is simply a byproduct of human ingenuity and energy expenditure. For over four billion years everything on Earth has evolved and adapted, most recently under the benevolence of the Holocene climate. The current climate catastrophe is a manmade disruption that is several orders of magnitude greater than the average rate of change over the last 300 millenia.
The primary problem with most ‘news’ today is that its filtered through corporate gatekeepers. Another problem with the ‘news’ is that its fragmented and does not connect all the dots to give a person the full picture. As Neil Postman said, “The whole problem with news on television comes down to this: all the words uttered in an hour of news coverage could be printed on a page of a newspaper. And the world cannot be understood in one page.” So let’s connect some dots, courtesy of Robert Callaghan:
FUN WITH NUMBERS:
The acidity of the oceans will more than double in the next 40 years. This rate is 10 times faster than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine life occurred. It is also faster than during 4 of earth’s biggest mass extinction events during the last 300 hundred million years — faster than even the great Permian mass extinction event where 95% of life on earth vanished 250 million years ago. The oceans are now 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times. In less than 40 years they will be 60% more acidic than then.
When ice ages come and go the planet can change temperature 5°C in as little as 5,000 years. 50 times slower than what we are doing to earth now. In the past, a 5°C change normally takes 20,000 years, we are going to do 5°C in 50-100 years, 200 times faster.
Climate change is happening 100 times faster than in the past.
By 2025, humans will impact 50% of earth’s biosphere. This will cause a planetary ecological state shift leading to a mass extinction event that is unstoppable and irreversible once started.
Why does nobody talk about the thousands of 1-kilometer wide bubbling methane seabeds recorded in 2011.
Only 1% of methane needs to be released to cause total disaster.
Peter Wadhams interview.
Natalia Shakhova interview:
Do you believe scientists
who spent 30 years in the arctic,
or do you believe scientists
who spent 30 years at their computer?
And the latest on the methane monster:
Extinction is a taboo word – bad for busine$$ and a real downer for everyone involved. Best to keep to the cultural storyline that such horrible things only happen on the silver screen with the aid of expensive CGI effects.