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The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction

Sun, Apr 28, 2013

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by Daniel A. Drumright, a lifelong radical environmentalist who has followed climate science for the last 24 years, and has been a feral “collapse theorist” for the last 12 years

Considering this very long essay attempts to address what is without a doubt, the greatest phenomenal event in the recorded history of our species, I will definitely fall quite short in the endeavor. And this would still be true even if this essay were a hundred times in length.

This essay is written in acceptance that humanity has now crossed numerous irreversible climatic thresholds. It is also written from the perspective that by so doing, we have ushered in intractable near term extinction (NTE) of most of life within the next several decades. (If nature fails to bat last, nuclear containment pool fallout from grid collapse surely will.)

I have absolutely no interest in attempting to persuade anyone of this conjecture being either true or false. No one should allow themselves to be persuaded by anyone regarding this subject matter. The decision to accept this, is ours and ours alone. Anyone who is putting the onus of NTE on Guy’s shoulders, or anyone else for that matter, is doing a great disservice to both Guy and themselves. The available evidence is easily accessible, the writing on the wall doesn’t need to be deciphered. The theory of runaway climate change has been around for decades, and now the whole world is able to watch this catastrophe unfold in real-time. But this by no means implies the world is watching.

This essay is SOLELY written for those who are already familiar with a majority of the available evidence, and who’ve subsequently come to a similar conclusion for themselves. As such, this essay is not intended to be informative, but rather entirely commiserative.

I am of the opinion that all dialog post-acceptance of NTE is manifestly commiserative. Post-acceptance of NTE, as opposed to our pre-vacillating acceptance, logically equates to defeatism, plain and simple. This is a critical distinction, and probably represents a primary schism within this new body of awareness. The post aspect of acceptance could be consider THE critical distinction, for it’s the difference between the sublimation of having come to terms with what we consider to be inevitable, compared to our wavering refutation of such inevitability, which still affords us a great many fantasies. It’s the acceptance of the inevitability of NTE which lays waste to all else, which is why this is a key factor in determining how we live our lives from here on out.

What is the meaning of NTE? Literally, we all know what those three words connote when strung together. But we don’t live in a literal reality, we live in a wholly subjective interpretive culture, where the red pill literalism of something like NTE rarely sees the light of day. This disparity obviously has a massive influence on our bias as to how we interpret everything, including the science contributing to our understanding of the significance of tipping points.

I suspect most criticism of this essay will come from those who have yet to fully accept NTE … and rightly so! But please be mindful, the following is written from a post-acceptance perspective. If this is a judgment you do not share, then the commiserative intent within this essay will simply elude you.

As of right now, the entire concept of NTE is still the most profound abstract concept the human race has ever been confronted with. Even though the signs are everywhere one decides to look, the totality of its cumulative impact is still enough off in the distance for entrenched self-preservation to render it an abstraction in our daily lives. So again, the following is written from the viewpoint as to when this is no longer true, when NTE breaks through abstraction, and detonates in full acceptance of the most profoundly devastating reality we’ve ever had to both live with and through.

(Disclaimer: I no more want to be writing this, than you probably want to be reading it, however, as curious disciples of ferocious truth, here we are … where none of us ever expected or wanted to be.)

*

I may be wrong about this, and as with almost everything concerning NTE, I very much wish I am, but as far as I’m able to discern, the comment threads on Nature Bats Last (NBL) might be the only place within the English language that are rationally and emphatically discussing the near term extinction of most of life on earth — at least in the public domain. What a dubious and overwhelming prospect that truly is, if it is in fact the case, or for that matter anywhere close to it.

It is not surprising that Guy’s blog, which has for years been dedicated to collapse preparedness, would eventually serve as the springboard into the deep end of the recognition of NTE, given we’ve already done our share of quantifying the minutia of contributing factors to the collapse of industrial civilization.

However, NTE is a classic example of emergence, where something becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It has now become an event unto itself, irrespective of its causation. I believe this is just one of the many aspects that makes this new reality difficult for us to fully comprehend, because our past precedence is, and has been, completely focused on the individual linear contributing factors, which have now compounded in creating this emergent nonlinear post threshold paradigm. The amalgam of discoveries leading up to this moment in time, are now effectively immaterial, which is the actual consequence of tipping points.

Hence, it’s not the potential of extinction that is foreign to us, but rather the “acceptance” of the near term timing of it. In my opinion, it is our highly subjective and indeterminate acceptance of NTE, which again, is the crucial distinction of how we frame our responsiveness to the ominous implications.

This dire acquiescence has now effectively catapulted “us” even further out unto the barren wastelands of the radical fringe. But for many, this has been our masochistic stomping grounds for quite some time, whereby we are most likely the first embattled assemblage of like minds in the history of our species to seriously attempt to elucidate the meaning of life amidst the ever-increasing probability of our pending disappearance.

If this is indeed so, it only stands to reason that we are as well, the first to propose what might be considered the greatest conundrum in history: How do we live out the rest of our lives in light of such acceptance? Especially, when it undermines every aspect of our future-oriented culture, as well as our private life.

While many of us here have written extensively in attempting to accurately describe the sheer scale of the dilemma we’re facing, the staggering severity of the circumstances before us has made this nearly impossible for us to accurately surmise. Its inference is so emotionally ruinous, with the precise timing being impossible to predict — thus making it highly suspect — our sense of uncertainty can’t help but override our better judgment, in demanding a degree of assurance that we rationally know doesn’t exist.

However, we’re all too aware that the evidence is quite explicit in detailing that the Holocene is exponentially drawing to a close. The geological epoch which has housed the entire history of civilization … is ending, if it hasn’t ended already. We are literally looking at losing the entire arctic ice cover — one of our planet’s primary thermal regulators — during the melting season, within only a few years … if not this year!

We could write similar words to those above a thousand times, and still be suspended in utter disbelief, for we are attempting to detail an event that is so remarkably outside any form of past human awareness, it’s either just a passing idea that flies through our minds like a frightened bird, or it levels everything like a daisy cutter. There is no in-between, it’s either a fleeting thought or it’s absolutely devastating.

Every single story we’ve ever been told, in effect, just careened into the underworld. Everyone’s Rube Goldberg collapse preparedness scheme, just theoretically failed right out of the gate. What part of our lives didn’t just suffer a massive body blow from which we will honestly never recover?

Nonetheless, our desire for doubt still rages against the evidence. Our past moral imperatives still rile against corporatism’s fait accompli in spite of ourselves. But it’s not as if we’re fabricating either the facts or the science. It’s not as if we’ve unknowingly cloistered ourselves in solipsistic groupthink. It’s not as if we’re not all desperate to have someone/something prove us wrong. I mean who in the hell wants to be right about near term extinction!?! It’s just that the degree of acceptance, which we are being forced to bear, completely undermines the very act of acceptance itself. If this isn’t the greatest cause of universal cognitive dissonance, then I don’t know what could be.

The less-than-subtle shift in our thinking on a subject we’ve all thought very long on, has had an enormous — albeit understated — side effect on our past “ecological moral imperatives.” Deliberating on the inevitability of collapse, has for many of us, strangely been the force that has given us meaning in life over the last decade(s). But now having to accept that the rates of climatic change have greatly superseded even the most dire predictions of only a few years ago has effectively dissolved the impetus of our past imperatives, mutated all sense of urgency and completely redefined the very concept of time itself.

*

It’s a self-determined path that leads one to the comprehension that our culture is addicted to hopium. It’s a path that also continues to lead us far from almost everything in our culture. But it’s quite a different course to attempt to live outside the garden of anticipation, where hopium has flowered for all of our lives.

As with most addictions, it’s seldom the drug itself that’s the cause of our dependence, but rather any number of undisclosed societal factors that drove us to it in the first place. This is what makes kicking the habit incredibly difficult, for once our system is “clean,” all the reasons for having been under the influence to begin with come rushing back with a vengeance.

Kicking the drug is the comparatively easy part, kicking the habit of dependence is far more challenging. And the same is to be said about hopium. Knowing our culture is addicted is one thing, living without it, just might prove to be impossible … even for a motley crew of cynics such as ourselves.

Curiosity could easily be considered one of our species’ greatest traits, but in many ways, acceptance of NTE with its relentless correlation to every aspect of our lives could be considered anathema to the very driving force behind our desire to be informed. And it is this unfolding psychological dilemma that I believe is quite new to many of us, for how could it not be?

Sometimes even the slightest hope can be enough to sustain us, but once even the dimmest light has been statistically snuffed out, we suddenly find ourselves in an exceptional kind of darkness, unlike anything even us denizens have ever experienced. NTE is the antithesis of Plato’s cave. It’s as if we stumbled out of the shadows, only to blindly stare directly into the sun. I wonder how long it will take for the long-term consequences of such overwhelming contrarian awareness to eventually take its pound of flesh?

Therein lies another unbelievable fact, that “we” here, at the dawn of the greatest transgressive discovery ever made, might represent the first generation in the history of our species who have ever attempted to reconcile such irreconcilable academic despair.

No, we aren’t being tortured, nor put to death. We aren’t imprisoned in some hellish hole. We aren’t starving in a refugee camp. We aren’t having to kill our children to end their suffering. We’re not being ganged raped or hounded in a genocidal “cleanse.” No, we are “currently” living out none of these brutal existences, which have always been a facet of civilization. We’re on the other end of the disparate spectrum; we’re the terribly privileged folk, still basking in the relative afterglow of global empires, who have had the opportunity to know more than most of the people who have ever inhabited this planet. We have had the wealth and time to build our own cerebral constructs/prisons.

The precipice before “us” today, is but the ledge of the idiosyncratic ivory towers we’ve constructed for ourselves. It has allowed us to see further than anyone has ever seen before. However, the universe has an inherent equilibrium to it, and as with most things, there is a price to be paid for such excessive and fruitless erudition. We are in the throes of a superlative first-world cultural dilemma, of what it truly means to know too much. The tsunami we can clearly see rushing toward us from our lofty perspectives might as well be a raindrop in a puddle as far as our dominant culture is concerned. Therein lies the root of most of our frustration and our ever-ascendant alienation.

*

I don’t believe anyone here, including myself, is honestly capable of accurately framing the very ethos we’ve created at NBL, given it is unconscionably unprecedented to the very letter of the word. This becomes painfully obvious, every time, anyone of us finds ourselves in any group of people. For there is only one thing that is more maddening than NTE, which is that for whatever reason, the vast majority of our fellow citizens just aren’t capable of caring beyond their immediate needs, which is probably why we find such solace at NBL — even if it’s a remorseful succor.

This is why I suspect that probably no one here would respond well to someone telling you/us to be careful, that maybe we’re wrestling with a deceptive awareness, which very well could prove to be beyond all of us. There must be any number of unidentified limits to what our tribal minds can endure, and we here, are surely in the process of testing those boundaries, without having much of a clue as to its intuitive repercussions.

I often now have the sense of receiving some subliminal transmission with my daily dose of disaster, as if “we” are now playing with an extraordinary internal bonfire, which could have within its conflagration, a latency that’s keeping us from realizing we’re being burned alive.

I suspect that for many of us, through all our past tribulations, activism, adversity and endless cultural negation, see ourselves as possessing some kind of hard-bitten warrior spirit. Call it the environmentalist’s thousand-yard stare. We are all too aware that the path of a self-anointed “truth seeker” — that trespassing inclination that has consequently led us here — isn’t a gentle winding path through a spring meadow. It isn’t the road less traveled. It’s not a revolutionary act. It’s not measured by greatness. It’s just a cruel bottomless hole that once ventured into, eventually leaves the light of modernity, but a pinprick in the night sky for anyone hoping to return to the complicity of our dominant cultural pretense.

Truth is a life sentence for anyone who values it, and this was self-evident, well before we happened upon nonlinear rates of climatic change. Now, we are being challenged in a way that no minority faction has ever been before.

Again, the shift in our thinking has been profoundly acute: Being aware of the potential of an unprecedented future reality is one story. Living in full acceptance that the unprecedented has come to pass is poles apart from anything that came before. It’s the difference between objectively analyzing lab rats as they run through a maze, and running either to or from what remains of our life in an inescapable labyrinth.

There are thousands of literary quotes, which either exalt or disparage our perception of TRUTH, yet not one infamous citation was ever written in context to the Gordian knot of existing empirical evidence of our species near term extinction. We are truly in a place, where literally no one has ever been before.

But the more we reflect on this demoralizing reality, the worse it gets. And yes, this has always been the case with political realism, but never to the degree it is now — not even close, not even remotely close. No, we’re initiating a diabolic consciousness to which no living human being has ever had to bear witness. It is an awareness which requires a degree of emotional maturity that’s almost indistinguishable from insanity within western culture.

It truly does seem like we’ve finally dug deep enough to crawl through the center of the world like inquisitive children, only to come out on the other side to discover everything is actually upside down. Where past concepts of truth play out like every other figment of our imagination. Where knowledge becomes but a fetish. Where denial comes to sublimely make sense. Where apathy and hedonism now vie for ethical stakes. Where somewhere along the way, our moral imperatives just became another hit of hopium.

Dig for the truth long enough, and one becomes a miner. And now, decades down the mine, here we all are, like virtual grave diggers at the bottom of a hole we’ve dug through the world, gathered around a cage of canary bones, guessing how long it’s been dead.

*

It’s as if decades ago we formed an old-fashioned bucket brigade to douse our burning house. However, all the buckets have always had holes in them, and they are empty by the time they reach the end of the line. But, since we’ve no other recourse other than continuing to reinvent our past theoretical civic daydreams, we just keep passing the buckets along, while patting ourselves on the back for having done our little part, pretending that it somehow matters because … we imagine we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t act as moral agents in a game we fully know we’ve no agency. Truth no longer sets us free, and it’s highly debatable if it ever has, or what from.

The whole history of social activism has been along for the ride right into the abyss. While there have always been competing theories as to “our” underlying nature, there has never been a parallel terrestrial reality, which civilization has played out. We’ve never been anything other than violent, avarice primates. Game theory was probably a dilemma even for Neanderthals. The totality of humanities generosity, empathy and compassion has already been collectively factored into our ecological dilemma. Societal capacity to be sympathetic, curious, informed, proactive and sacrificial has played alongside all the ruling elites’ abuse, corruption, subterfuge, violence and death in collectively depositing us pass the thresholds we’re at today.

*

What else is NTE other than the final acceptance of the consequences of our species’ fundamental inability to live in balance with our environment? The answer to virtually every question we are ever going to ask, from here on out — post acceptance — can’t honestly be anything other than: “It no longer matters.”

We are currently attempting to live through the overlying of two completely opposing paradigms. The entirety of all our past lived experiences, identities and vested interests are hopelessly ensnared in a recalcitrant culture that very much exists, but wholly and erroneously on borrowed time. All our past wisdom now exists in a state of unending irrelevancy. Our sense of self, our perception of reality is entirely deceptive, and this was true long before any of us were ever born. And now even this fraudulence is flowing away from us. The observable physical universe is literally passing us by within our lifetime!

NTE is a complete intellectual dead end unless we are able to somehow attempt to creatively manifest this awareness in the time we have left. Such awareness will most likely come at a great cost to our existing means … but more about that later.

*

Think of all our countless past endeavors and harebrained dreams throughout our lives that we no longer support or believe in for whatever reason. Think about the source of what originally birthed whatever moral imperatives we have been compelled by over the years. Then ask yourself, how does the acceptance of NTE not completely undermine the basis of that imperative? What becomes of a moral necessity, if the essence, prospect or vitality that spurs its urgency has been lost completely? What exactly are we doing, in still attempting to fight “the good fight,” if we fully accept all has been lost?

And now, we’re ruminating on the essence of our ethical obligations, in full acceptance that the whole concept of anthropocentric morality will soon be completely erased?

All the lights behind our cultural projectors have burned out, all our stories will soon be lost. Time to put our sacred cows out to pasture, for how can our continued belief in the urgency of our past imperatives — post acceptance of NTE — be considered anything other than anachronistic?

We were too late in discovering our species had been unknowingly charged with the stewardship of maintaining a precious equilibrium, and due to the absence of our collective wisdom, our remaining time is now beyond this natural world, where we are but subjects to the wrath of thermodynamics.

I’m coming to suspect that the cognitive dilemma of NTE might merit an entirely new branch of ontology. What does it mean to be present with NTE? How does one reckon the end of everything? The science has delivered us, but unto what … other than our knees?

NTE is a cultural event horizon, that once we allow ourselves to fully accept it, nothing else in this life will be able to escape its ruthless draw. From a macro perspective, nonlinear rates of climatic change, as it applies to humanity, is a Singularity. It will in all probability be the first and last the human race will ever experience. We are both observers and participants in a game of incalculable factors against impossible odds with an inescapable blunt ending. And this is what we’re attempting to make sense of?

This is not a truth that comes to reveal any hidden sacred bond. It is the obliteration of all social bonds. It is not just more of the same, but worse. It is not the past made present, but unprecedented. It is an acceptance, which is a wholesale life-changing event on an unfathomable scale that will eventually lead us to ruin, starting with severe ostracization from everything and everyone within our culture … as many here can already attest.

The fumes from our vested interests and our past ethical bearing can sustain us for only so long, until the very fabric of our presumed consciousness starts to unravel in light of such disquieting imminence. The entire conversation on NBL in regard to NTE is an evolutionary process in reverse. We will not continue to evolve under its appalling shroud, but digress over time into incomprehensible states of being.

We can only contemplate such staggering amounts of present and future death up to a point, until we start to thoroughly emulate it in our private lives. But this isn’t necessarily something we should avoid. It might just be a step within a process that leads us to a degree of equanimity we can’t yet perceive. But then again, it could easily lead us in the opposite direction.

Either way, the time before us now will soon be considered the halcyon days of sweet objective conjecture, where we “the randomly statistical chosen few” deliberate on the greatest catastrophic event in human history while we still have the luxury and methodology to do so. Not unlike some virtual reenactment of Boccaccio’s The Decameron, where instead of waiting out a medieval plague, which is ravaging the masses, we are prognosticating our encroaching demise from a virtual safe distance.

This moment, right now, is but a very short window in time. There isn’t a soul here who hasn’t battled a legion of closed minds by now. All of our backs are against the same damn immovable wall, and no matter how informed we are, or imagine ourselves to be, that entrenched wall is tumbling us off the cliff along with everything and everyone else.

*

But even as the endless futility mounts, where some of us are still imagining “resistance to be fertile,” there is a growing concern in the back of my mind, that by way of our compulsive truth seeking, we are closing in on upending our ability to continue to function in this world for whatever amount of time we have left. And I suspect that it is the psychosomatic blowback — for lack of a better term — from having become aware of NTE, that is coming to primarily occupy our thoughts as we reluctantly settle into the surreal parameters of this new paradigm.

Without a doubt, there is no going back. The clichés are running rampant, a parade of metaphors is spilling out of our collective imagination in attempting to make sense of what is otherwise unfathomable. No, we can’t un-see what has been seen. We can’t undo what has been done. All we can do is attempt to live with knowing that we will not live through it. But I’m not convinced this is even possible, unless one is already well advanced in age.

Concerning NTE, what wisdom can an old rich white man possibly have for a young mother of three? While NTE is universal, how it personally manifests in each of our lives is anything but.

The understanding we are attempting to ascertain will make it absurd for having sought it out, the moment we find “it.” We might as well be nakedly roaming the quarantined grounds of Chernobyl with Geiger counters looking for the hottest spots.

We’re currently inhabiting a state of theoretical prospective famine, which will seem serene once civil chaos and genocide resulting from both starvation, and just the threat of it, starts to eventually decimate our world city by county, state by region, country by continent.

NTE is an cerebral journey into a vacuum. The surreality is replete with epic vistas and abysmal depths, but how can the final destination be anything other than an indescribable black hole of resignation that will eventually steal all meaning from our lips?

*

A part of me almost feels obligated to re-frame any conversation about NTE as an impossible warning for anyone to heed, but one I believe must be acknowledged nonetheless. The forewarning would read as an epitaph over the entrance to a tomb: “The analysis of NTE is the path to your eventual suicide.” For I would wager that anyone who bears the cognizance capable of accepting NTE, today, is seriously undermining their self-preservation in ways not yet known to us. As Montaigne figured out centuries ago, all philosophy does is prepared one for death … and we’re all reluctant philosophers now.

We have inoculated our hearts with an insidious realization, that will eventually devour everything we hold dear … even our children. How long will it be before the ethical dilemma of infanticide starts being seriously discussed, given it’s already on our minds?

We have inadvertently and figuratively stumbled into our own La Brea Tar Pit. Our prescience of the full scale of the dilemma we’re in will not serve us well if it has no passage. I wonder if it will serve us at all as the news only continues to confirm our greatest fears. Knowing both the short and longer term consequences, eventually will become an insufferable burden to carry. I suspect that for many, it already is.

We’re dealing with a discovery of such epic proportion that it simply reduces EVERYTHING in existence to nothing. It is literally impossible to overstate what we’re currently in the process of attempting to delineate.

*

Aside from perennial Malthusianism, our awareness that we have the potential of self-extinction has only been with us for about a half century, give or take. It’s hypothetically the default bases of the entire environmental movement. All that’s effectively changed over these last fifty years, is that we’ve watched in horror that potential become an ever increasing reality. And where starting around thirty years ago, we discovered the ultimate cause of our extinction would be climatic. Around twelve years ago, we realized the climate Leviathan would most likely rise out of the Arctic. Around 3-6 years ago, we discovered that it had already awakened. And only about 9 or 10 months ago did it become empirically probable that our extinction could transpire within our lifetimes. (And again, that’s not even talking about nuclear containment pools.)

We have witnessed over just the last three years, hypothetical Abrupt Climate Change become empirical, where the evidence is so overwhelming, it barely has anything to do with actual observable science anymore, and has everything to do with human psychology, or rather, our shared pathology in the hopium of indefinite growth and progress. And this is why the whole concept of climate change will be, very soon, completely refashioned in context to geo-engineering, if for no other reason, than it sadly now has both the logical and moral high ground compared to doing nothing. Amazing!

Though it seems as if 2,500 years of pessimism has finally come home to roost, nothing could have prepared us for this! While to some degree, the concept of NTE is nothing new for many of us — it now has its own wiki page — this however, is a false sense of familiarity. Our entire framing of this approaching cataclysm has always been couched in a degree of emotional immunity, simply because none of us ever thought we would actually live to see it, not alone, have to live through it. Of the parade of elephants in the climate change room, this one just spit in our face.

It’s as if some apparition has just passed through our soul, and has left us but a shell of our former selves. Though we are all still acting as if NTE is just another sad fact to be compartmentalized amidst the litany of dismal daily news, we are in fact dealing with a monstrous cultural disconnect, which is wholly impossible for any of us to either resist or rise above, although this is exactly what we are all desperately attempting to do.

*

What difference exists between a known end, and it’s ending, but time? But what is the value of such time? The momentary appreciation as to our fortune of being able to die, because we were fortuitous enough in beating the incomprehensible odds in having existed? That is a degree of philosophical reflection that eventually leads to economic destitution in this culture. Fully live with that realization for too long, and one will end up quoting Diogenes while sleeping with dogs under an overpass, or find ourselves on an unsolicited express elevator to Sannyasa.

The irony of honest living is it rarely pays the bills. A fairly high level of self-deception has always been required for Homo economicus to make ends meet. It is not by accident that the majority of contributors to NBL are the equivalent to retired landed gentry, which affords some of us the relative detachment from the daily mind numbing demands of capitalism. This seriously taints any presumed wisdom we might be projecting. In our culture, destitution is a fate almost worse than death, and often it is far more terrifying.

We obviously are all in different living arrangements with entirely different responsibilities. We all have different coping mechanism that unconsciously keep us persevering in this life, even while we seek to prove its utter meaninglessness. We are all trapped by any number of demands, limitations as well as illusions.

The financial stress of staying in the rat race is easy to rebuke, if we’ve now a large enough nest egg as a buffer. However, the crucible of NTE makes playing the game nearly impossible, and this is the reality for the vast majority of humanity.

Plant the seed of NTE in the mind of someone who is economically under the thumb of the system, and it could very easily grow to poison them. What “we” often fail to acknowledge is that over the years of our Mithridatic pre-TSD and depression, we’ve unknowingly developed a certain immunity to otherwise fatal truth.

As we continue to role-play our past imperatives in holding the notion of brutal truth above all else, I suspect that we will soon discover acceptance of NTE to be a proxy to mental illness, for it is without a doubt the epitome of inconsolable despair. It is barely a topic that can be shared among those who even accept it. At some point, something must succumb in such an incredible conflict of competing daily interests.

*

I’m not sure who or what we have a responsibility towards anymore. I can’t even argue if we have a responsibility to ourselves or the rest of life at this point. So I write this today as a cautionary tale for those who may still be circling the rim of the abyss that is NTE, and only occasionally looking down, while still entertaining the prospect of more hopeful alternative outcomes.

Acceptance of NTE is a massively limiting undertaking. It has zero compensation, unless the acceptance of our inevitable predation, starvation or suicide (and, my friends, that is all we’re actually enlightening) can be considered either an interim survivalist fantasy, or a means to peaceful quite resignation … for there are no other outcomes.

“All ye who enter this ethos, will most likely, eventually take their own life.” If this account can in some way be considered offensive, then in my opinion “you” most likely have no business being “here.” Especially those with youth still on their side. In fact, “you” should take what love you have, and run as far from here as you can … and learn from the error of Lot’s wife and never look back.

For this is a place, whether we’re conscious of it or not, that’s engaged in meticulously eroding the very essence of our Being, no matter how we choose to define it.

*

Again, I am of the opinion that all future discussion post-acceptance of NTE, is now an inherently commiserative experience for no other reason than it’s inevitability.

The moment we truly accept NTE is not the overwhelming sensation of excruciating sadness, but the eventual release that comes after. Acceptance of NTE is nothing but surrender. A surrendering of our life force. We are now speaking of two entirely different world views. Our pre-acceptance arguments are non-transferable, they do not translate. Everything post-acceptance becomes meta-physical. It’s all mysticism from here on out, and I say this as a staunch atheist.

But old habits are hard to break, our combative intellects probably make for much of our identities after years of needless acrimony and cultural resistance. But because “our acceptance” is totally subjective, in a collective forum such as this (NBL), our collective understanding of NTE will probably be kept in a permanent embryonic state, as a constant stream of new adherents reluctantly, haphazardly and gradually come to terms at whatever pace our individual acceptance takes to run its grieving course.

Whereby, as everyone’s mind implodes at different times and at varying degrees, it will effectively keep the conversation in a nascent stage of maturation. Our shared patterned behavior will repeat again and again, as we all jump back and forth between the oscillating highs and lows, where some days we achieve a peak of lucidity, only to lose ourselves in a trough of despair as we attempt to wrestle with the unfolding magnitude of the discovery we’ve unearthed.

But I suspect a time will eventually arrive, where the totality of NTE will have finally worn through all of our emotional defenses, washed away all anticipation, utterly crushed our egos, rendered our past intellects redundant and finally deposited us unto an alluvial plan of resignation of there being no way of escaping a brutal end, once global famine is set upon us. There truly is no preparing for what is coming.

But today, we are still recoiling, we need to catalog the destruction, we still bear enough incredulity that we need support, validation, confirmation and commiseration as our past paradigm continues to play scrimmage with all of this unprecedence. It’s still enough of a novelty for disbelief to keep a foothold. Even as we attempt to wrap our minds around this, I suspect we are still far from grasping “it.”

I like to imagine that when that time finally arrives, when all hope truly fades, when even the remote prospect of rural tranquility is lost, we will have come to terms with our personal ending and see the concept of suicide, not as a stigma of cowardice, or a failure of character, but as altruism in the last ethical act left us.

*

Carpe diem sounds exquisite — it always has — but it’s just another illusion, especially in a world of debt. We can pretend that we are living in the moment, all the while worrying how we will continue to afford the roofs over our heads, but honestly, we know deep down that carpe diem demands wild abandon and mindfulness that there may be no tomorrow. Carpe diem does not facilitate mortgage payments.

If we are to truthfully “seize” the time we have left, from the clutches of what now appears to be a hopelessly inane future, this will be, as it has always been, impossible to achieve while being overly concerned with the future of money. This is just a ubiquitous fact that most us try to ignore the best we can, because the only alternative, is the risk of destitution. This dilemma has always been present in a culture dominated by capitalism, it’s just more apparent now as we come to terms with the fact that every narrative has ended, and regardless of our means, they no longer justify any end.

Money is still the force that gives us shelter. It is what keeps us fed and warm at night, regardless of who we are, or where we live. Therefore, for us to embrace our inner Epicurean, truly, we must first come to terms with our inevitable destitution, or rather, we must overcome our fear of destitution, if we’re to grasp whatever “meaning” there is to be had in the face of NTE, beyond just writing about it today.

In our hyper-monetized culture, this is obviously easier said than done, but this is where the perception of suicide can, once again, eventually come to be seen as an elemental gift from the universe. NTE is unprecedented in every sense. It completely alters our opinion of everything, including the end of our life. It’s highly debatable whether there has ever been “meaning.” Many would argue, there is nothing but what IS, completely indifferent to any human moral valuation.

So, what becomes of the meaning of suicide in the face of NTE? As with everything else, it clearly isn’t what it was before. It too has been altered. I believe the concept of suicide — a chosen death — will over time, prove to be one of the only fertile grounds of self-discovery still open to us. As Vaclav Havel said, “Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren’t in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.”

Of course, I’m not speaking of how we’ve come to frame this exceptionally taboo subject in the past, but how — in light of our incredibly recent acceptance of brutal extinction — there will be a considerable semantic shift in the very meaning of the word/act.

In light of NTE, think of suicide as a double negative.

I believe that this acceptance will not only become the gateway that we must all one day pass through to fully live with the recognition of NTE, but where ultimately it will be seen as our last chance at some semblance of salvation amidst the ensuing chaos. Or rather, NTE is what frees us completely from the concept of salvation. In the words of E.M. Cioran, “The certitude that there is no salvation, is a form of salvation, in fact, it is salvation ….”

There is an emergent ethical imperative surrounding suicide in context to NTE that can’t be denied, no matter how disreputable we still considered it be. Its importance will only continue to grow as society slowly comes to terms with the incredibly limited choices within the dilemma now before us. Again, NTE ends in only one of three ways for everyone: predation, starvation or suicide.

The Absolute-ism of humanity’s collective ecological destruction has always been a bur under the saddle of moral philosophy. Those who are inclined towards biophilia sadly understand that it is simply a value/desire that is not universally shared within western culture … by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn’t something you can teach someone. It’s a “value set” that might as well be considered a talent; something inherited by chance. One either possesses it, or they don’t. After decades of being in the ideological trenches of radical environmentalism, I have finally lost all faith that the essence of biophilia is something that can either be taught or learned, and the few exceptions that exist, are just that: exceptional.

So, now here we biophiliacs are, having to finally accept what we’ve probably long suspected to be true, that the human race has so run amok through the vertical ascension of exponential growth that we’ve irreversibly destroyed our planet’s habitable biosphere. Yes, it took us 200, 5,000, 12,000, or 300,000 years to finally achieve it, but whether or not this is something “we” could have avoided, is beside the point … at least at this point. Damage long done, the latest web of life has been broken yet again.

Lamenting as to the cause is irrelevant as well, other than attempting to personally alleviate our sense of culpability in choosing to believe it was inevitable one way or the other. Attempting to deduce exactly when Homo sapiens fell from earth’s grace has the familiar stench of original sin. And given that many, if not most, here are more driven by fiery belief in morality, rather than cool apathetic indifference, the emergent ethical imperative of suicide, is going to gain ever greater currency over the coming years for anyone who has been burdened with having once cared about wilderness. In fact, it’s impossible for it not to. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.”

It might sound strange — how could it not — but I believe the question of what suicide becomes, is what circuitously guides us through the cacophony of dead and dying dreams and leads us to whatever “magic” is left to be found in this disintegrating world. The cultural emancipation that comes from overcoming our fear of death, in accepting that we will eventually choose our death, is what ultimately frees us from all attachment, particularly, the fear of destitution and the tyranny of what we consider NOW constitutes our immediate needs.

We must remember that every single vested interest we possess was formed prior to acceptance of NTE. The entirety of our physical existence exists in opposition of the acceptance we’ve now initiated … and it is far from its finality.

In knowing that whatever may come, that it simply doesn’t matter, is the freedom that will allow us to truly leave everything behind, which is what we all must eventually do. Frankly, I don’t believe it’s actually possible to “let go” without having done this.

There is a significant difference between knowing that tomorrow could be our last, and living in full acceptance that if tomorrow is indeed our end, that we know we are ready to go. That knowing is what will allow us to live without fear and truly be present in whatever amount of time we do have left, whether it be a few weeks or a few decades. Once the undulating emotional trauma of NTE runs its acidic course, we begin to glimpse that such forced perverse acceptance, remarkably has within it, the capacity to become the most profound numinous/existential experience the human race has ever “produced.”

*

What makes something tragic? Isn’t the whole notion of tragedy an anthropocentric cultural construct?

Could the past five extinction events be considered a tragedy? Is the cycle of life a tragedy?

What separates expected loss from unexpected loss, other than what we’ve been conditioned to expect?

How do we reconcile our sense of the tragic loss of life, resulting from human activity, with the fact that the vast majority of life on earth has already succumbed to extinction, and where if it hadn’t, we most likely wouldn’t exist?

Are other life forms blameworthy for having driven their competitors into extinction, or do we somehow morally hold our selves apart/above, in believing “we” had a choice, due to our higher cognitive faculty?

Is NTE only a tragedy, because we’re aware of our culpability?

And exactly, who is “we”? What evidence is there of our species possessing the necessary collective wisdom capable of overcoming our collective destruction of the natural world? Is there any evidence that our species possesses collective wisdom at all?

Or more importantly, when has the ruling elite ever acted altruistically, since the entire history of civilization has always been controlled by a ruling class? Whatever exceptions may have existed for a brief time, there’s an obvious reason they are statistically irrelevant.

Therefore, is NTE only a tragedy, because “we” presume it could have been prevented? This is a crucial question in regard to our acceptance of NTE, for if it couldn’t have been prevented, can it still be considered tragic? Because how much does our sense/belief that it could have somehow been averted, still affect our sense of culpability in dictating our moral imperatives? And if we do believe it could have been prevented, how is this anything other than just a fantastic article of faith in Utopianism? And how could such a utopian society been effective without becoming an oppressive totalitarian State?

I ask these questions having spent decades foolishly projecting my ecological values unto an utterly indifferent citizenry. It is all too easy for us to isolate ourselves in minority enclaves and overlook that the vast majority of our species has, nor will they ever, possess the macro ecological values capable of overriding our biological imperative.

In my opinion, the degree we continue to measure NTE in preventable-tragic terms, will mostly likely determine our sense of moral imperative vs. hedonic resignation.

As radicals, at what point does our sense of culpability as to the crimes of empire just become a shell game because our past identity/vested interests can’t let go of what we know is completely lost, or that regardless of our morality, it couldn’t have been prevented?

*

But hold on, what of our personal responsibility to the natural world, whose destruction we’ve all profited from? What right do any of us first-worlders have in being able to seek enjoyment, in light of an extinction event we’ve all done more than our share in creating? What of all the life under our collective industrial thumb, still struggling to exist? What right do we thieves have to go quietly into that good night? Can’t the remnants of our past imperatives still find more proactive forms of dissent, civil disobedience and rebellion even in acceptance of NTE? Wouldn’t the most ethical choice be to dedicate our lives in helping ease the suffering of the less fortunate? As moral agents, are we not obligated to swim upstream to the bitter end, regardless? Isn’t “secular morality” solely based on the righteousness of the act itself, despite its outcome?

Are the answers to these questions obvious to anyone who considers themselves to be driven by a moral imperative that is rooted in a sense of culpability? It has been the driving force in my life, for my entire adult life. I have by no means painlessly come to the acceptance I can no longer deny.

The driving wedge of course is NTE, which completely flips the script as to the “meaning” of everything, including what is and isn’t an ethical act. For how ethical is it, for us privileged few to actually continue to live, full well knowing that it is our relatively obese existences that are the ultimate causality of the degradation of the natural world? As ecologically minded moral agents, what right do we have to continue to consume … anything, in full acknowledgment that we’ve already consumed far too much? In a world of permanent scarcity, what isn’t stolen from someone who has been victimized by our empire? How much more energy will all of us consume from here on out, in spite of how we live? How much basic material goods will we continue to plunder while we breath, regardless of the morality of our behavior?

From a purely logical point of view, in a reality of gross ecological overshoot, isn’t altruistic suicide actually the most ethical act any of us first-worlders can now affect, or rather, impart? If living by example is our moral goal, couldn’t it be argued that whatever ends our continued consumption of the natural world, is actually the highest ethical objective?

Clearly, there is no one way of answering any of these questions. Again, even before the advent of NTE, resolution as to “meaning” itself was philosophically unquantifiable. What is or isn’t considered anthropocentric truth has been literally debated for thousands of years. Hume’s “is, ought” conundrum has never been resolved, nor will it ever be, and this was true even when humanity at least had the illusion of “progress.” What physical act, or belief system regardless of its morality, isn’t hopelessly anthropocentric?

As breeding, consuming, polluting animals on a planet choking to death from our affluence, wouldn’t it be considered the highest display of human consciousness, to willfully end our self-destructive lives as a testament to the highest level of anthropocentric conscientiousness?

*

At least for me, there is only one question we need to ask ourselves in attempting to reconcile our past-present-future perspectives: In a post-acceptance reality of NTE, what doesn’t become relative?

For me, nothing … anymore. NTE is an astonishing equalizer. Everything, all of life in existence, just became relative to everything else, including all the life that has already passed into extinction. Our presumed disconnect between life today, and the 98% of life that no longer exists, has ended.

Those who still continue to hold onto their past sense/construct/modality/illusion of morality, again, probably have no business contemplating NTE. All of our past ethical dilemmas were involuntarily reconciled the moment we accepted it, which is why “our acceptance” of such an utterly demoralizing event, is/was the unconscious fulcrum point which leads to the ethical downfall of every thought here, or thereafter.

*

Once we begin to frame the meaning of NTE in context to our personal life choices, it instantly stops being an abstract concept, which again, is all it’s been up to this point, and we’re forced to seriously confront the single greatest dilemma in the history of humanity, whereby face up to the reality that we simply haven’t much longer to live.
How do we draw the ultimate conclusion of our life, while we’re still filled with vitality? When we all still have so much life to live and share, how do we come to terms with the unprecedented reality that we will most likely soon be forced to take our life, for the sole reason of avoiding needless suffering?

Obviously, it is only natural that we avoid this dreadful conclusion for as long as we possibly can, which is what most of us are probably going to do, especially those who haven’t the freedom to act otherwise. We will all most likely play the waiting game, especially young parents, and continue on with our lives pretty much as we have up to this point, for as long as we can, and decide how we’ll roll with the punches as they come.

When in doubt, play it safe. Slow and steady wins the race. No point in making any brash decisions, while there’s still so much room for doubt. Right?

BUT, we can only continue to skirt around the issue of what NTE actually means to us personally for so long. I would suppose that for almost everyone here, our lives are basically still the same as they were prior to this dire sublimation. Little has probably physically changed as a result, yet, we all know that this will only be true for so long.

The remainder of this essay is a little more opinionated. It is written for those of us who have decided to be brash in our acceptance that we simply haven’t much time left to experience however much time remains. I have finally left my past moral imperatives to wither in the solar winds, and have now come down on the side of ethical hedonism as being the only way “I” can truly be present with NTE.

*

There is no right or wrong way of attempting to live through what simply can’t be. It is impossible for our individual sense of morality, to not be rife with false analogy in context to the incomparable unprecedence now upon us. We will all be victims of either deliberate or unintended consequence, some sooner, others slightly later, but there is no getting out of harm’s way. There’s no there, there.

Again, for those who consider there “might” still be a chance to turn this bloody ship around, then it logically makes no sense for those to even be considering NTE, for not only is it a false pretense, but its utterly self-defeating. Personally, I would rather the next cadre of activist know nothing of NTE, where they battled against themselves to the bitter end, completely blind of the insurmountable odds. What a far more preferable and enviable way to be alive.

But those of us who have spent far too much time down the rabbit hole, where are we in practical terms as to “now what?” If you’re either physically infirmed, too old to desire making any drastic changes, or you’ve either young children or elderly dependents in your care, or for that matter, you’re more than content wherever you’re at right now, then there really isn’t much left to be said, other than sit back or stand up, and watch the whole shithouse go up in flames in whatever manner you choose.

But I am none of the above, I have no dependents. I’ve seen collapse coming for a long time, and I have centered my life around it. I have almost no responsibilities I can’t walk away from. Some might consider me fortunate, but it’s been quite intentional and it’s definitely come at a high price. So how I or any of us come to frame Ragnarok, it’s going to be subjectively unique to our circumstances. But I suspect my circumstances are also shared by many here as well.

So, all things considered, I would suggest we start making plans to sell off everything we have while we still can, and roam this world and experience the natural wonder it still possesses, while our existing civility and privilege still affords us this last opportunity.

The most essential aspect behind this most unreal understanding, is for it to be done in full acceptance that when either time, money, or our Will simply runs out, we’ll have acceded we’ve reached the end of our personal journey, and it will be time to exercise the only free will we’ve probably ever had, in choosing whatever exit strategy we’re most comfortable with. A chosen death is a uniquely vague timeline for each of us, but one with a very common end.

In other words, start contemplating your eventual suicide today, so when the time finally does come, we’ll be able to fearlessly embrace the moment with open arms, and just maybe, before that day arrives, we will be able to live with a degree of ontological presence, literally never experienced across the entire arc of humanity.

For if we don’t, very soon, we will wish we had.

Here is why I think this is true.

My long definition of NTE is both descriptive yet hopelessly indistinct: It will eventually arise from a sequence of catastrophic global civic failure stemming from permanent food scarcity, as a consequence of ever-increasing extreme weather events, due to both the collapse and predictability of the Northern Hemispheric jet stream, as the temperature and pressure gradients continue to weaken in the Arctic. And lest we forget, NTE will be greatly aided and preceded by humanity’s murderous forte. It can also effectively be summed up in two words: Permanent drought! And again, I’m intentionally avoiding the subject of containment pools, which easily merits its own essay.

At least for me, the meaning of life is completely determined by the quality of life, which is why I’ve always considered life imprisonment to be far worse than a death sentence. I have always known that if the quality of my life was degraded to a point that it lost all meaning, then life would no longer be worth living.

Enter NTE. Ergo, enter the almost impenetrable awareness that it’s only a question of time, before each of us consider life to no longer be worth living. Aside from that being nearly an impossible acceptance to attempt to live with, it has become sine qua non from which every thought I now have must pass through. Therefore, all the remaining meaning in my life only has a limited amount of time between now, and some indeterminate point in the very near future for me to consider life worth living. This novel reality is the actual crux of this entire essay.

As cognitive filters go, NTE doesn’t let too much through. In fact, only one idea as how best to spend my remaining time has made it pass this mind-boggling juggernaut: Peacefully and quietly leave this world as a completely carefree drug-addled impoverished vagabond, who eventually takes a lovely one-way walk into the woods.

I have already accepted that today is as good as life on earth will ever be, it’s all downhill from here, the extinction event that is already terribly advanced can’t be stalled, so the clock as to my remaining time is already ticking along with all the rest of life.

And yes, that mortal coil started unraveling at my conception, and this is why age, will most likely be the greatest factor in determining the choices we make from here on out. If we feel we’ve plenty of life still in us, we’ll most likely feel inclined to stuff as many new experiences in the time we have left, compared to those who are well pass their prime, and naturally see ease and comfort as their best available option.

I am someone who would much rather die from a rattlesnake bite, after days of hallucinating on mushrooms in the desert, than sit behind my computer and continue to alphabetize the apocalypse until the power goes out, as I’ve done for far, far too long already.

All that is left is for me to discover the courage to truly live with this morbid conviction, but to be completely honestly, I haven’t mustered the nerve yet. My behavior is still one of passive deference, for reasons still unknown to me, but most likely it’s just a jumble of distraction, guilt, fear, melancholy and a little laziness thrown in for safe measure.

I’m still telling myself that I need two more years of trending data sets to feel confident NTE will transpire much sooner than any of us ever imagined. Logically, I have accepted it, but I have yet to emotionally resolve my manifold hypocrisy.

Finding the courage to willingly embrace our inevitable destitution unto death is the only purpose of accepting NTE in my opinion. If this is not our objective, then I can see very little reason for even taking it into consideration. Why initiate such a ruinous acceptance into our existing lives, if we’re not going to allow our past lives to actually be ruined?

I am not old enough to die of natural causes before global famine descends across the globe, given it is probably only a few years away at this point anyhow. Whether or not most of us die as a direct result of famine or genocide is a question that simply no longer interests me. At this stage of the game, it’s all equally horrific. So what’s the point in continuing to waste our precious time even thinking about the millennial pernicious power plays of hairless apes?

For not unlike our current gross inequality, as long as capitalism rues the day, and I fear it wretchedly will until the very end, food stuff will flow in only one direction, towards those who can afford it. Those who can’t, will either quietly starve, riot or be killed.

Governments will have only two options in addressing this, either disintegrate and schism into temporary competing factions, or become brutal oppressive genocidal police states of in-groups and out-groups, thus postponing complete civic collapse by a number of years, through vicious demand destruction.

Governments with large securities apparatuses will most likely become police states, while governments without advanced security forces will most likely collapse. Endless war between competing police states will be the only perceived surrogate for hope in a world of permanent famine. The global citizenry will willfully welcome tyranny, much in the same way we always have. And as many of us have already accredited, “what’s past is prologue” … it’s just going to be unbelievably atrocious for the world’s poor in the beginning, again, much as it is already.

We live in a hyper-interdependent global market place, completely irrespective of its sustainability. State currency valuation and exchange through central banking is the sum total of what our speculative civilization now reflexively strives to protect. Whatever means keeps liquidity in the markets and power in the State, will be kept in play for as long as humanly possible.

Entire nations will be sacrificed upon the altar of maintaining capital flow and investment, it’s just a question of trickling economies of scale on the way down. We inhabit an utterly amoral economic system that will sacrifice all of life to sustain itself. Capitalism will double down until it, or we, cease to be. As long as there is enough energy to allow capitalists to cannibalize all perceived assets in an indebted world, then even famine on a global scale will just be a game of attrition controlled by the world’s ruling elite, in a continuous charade of paying a well-armed Peter to murder an ever-starving Paul.

It dawned on me a few years back that after over a decade of intensely attempting to collectively network with others through a myriad of preparedness schemes that I had just lost the will to survive in the collapsing world I was proselytizing. This is quite different from no longer wanting to live, for I very much love life, and have no desire to needlessly cut it short. I have just always seen living and surviving as to two separate entities. I am also at an age where I feel I’ve already taken more than my share.

I have decided after decades of feral study, without any sense of certainty, and based only on my opinion as to what is and isn’t probable, that when the Arctic sea ice is completely gone during the summer, when the earth’s Holocene epoch completely loses one of its primary thermal regulators, we are probably only a few years at best, before the ruling classes of the world realize global agriculture is untenable, and at that point, the lack of alternatives will be rather self-evident. And I simply have no desire to live through that deleterious fallout, nor do I even feel I have a right to.

What an endless perverse decay of ideas we now embark, where NTE can be seen as a bizarre new lease on life for those who are in a position to access it.

I can’t yet claim I’ve achieved this, for I’m still terribly conflicted and immersed in a lifetime of despondent culpability, but I can see an entirely new transgressive identity rising out of the ashes of this phenomenal and ominous acceptance.

Only a few years ago, I would be the first to lead the charge in attacking the very perspective I now possess. But necessity dictates my moral imperative, and it requires at least some belief of a viable future for the remaining life on earth. But I am now without this belief, and it seems my long personal sense of insignificance, has finally caught up to my actions. I was weary long before there was no point.

So, I am not one for skulking through what remains of this life, only to carefully arrive at extinction. I am going out on my terms, no one else’s. But until that day comes, I’m going to embrace this endless redefining of life for as long as I desire, as I hysterically fall out of this world.

If NTE is a tsunami, I’m sure in the hell not going to wait for it to arrive, I’m going to swim out to it across the desert night sky.
________________

Whistle-blower extraordinare Sibel Edmonds connects the dots brilliantly with respect to Boston and Syria. This essay is well worth reading, especially if you don’t believe in government-inspired conspiracies.

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369 Responses to “The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction”

  1. cuntagious Says:

    A little long winded for me — alas, I have the attention span of the average American!– but I made it threw 2/3 of the essay and can say that the author’s assesment of our situation is spot on.

    I’ve known for a while now that human extinction was imminent. But I figured that it was 200-300 years down the road, i.e., something that’d transpire after our natural life spans. But recent developments, and explosure to Guy’s blog, point toward extinction withing the next 30 years or so. In a way, this is appropriate. It’s only just that those of us who are directly responsible for the mess we’re in experience the horror first hand. It’s this sort of cosmic justice to NTE that I take solace in. It’s a pity though, about all the others life forms we’re taking with us.

  2. Gary Says:

    Factually right on the money, but don’t try so hard to make it sound “educated”. Write the way you talk, not the way you think a college professor would write. Don’t be “quantifying the minutia of contributing factors”, or using the opaque “its relentless correlation to every aspect of our lives”. Phrases like “exponentially drawing to a close” don’t even make sense, mathematically. Use ordinary 50-cent words and don’t make it so heavily overloaded with 5-dollar words. If you want to say “We should do it now.” say “We should do it now.”, but don’t say “It is urgently advisable that we should elect to proceed with the specified activity at this point in time.” Hack out all the excess verbiage and needless repetition and trim it down to about 1/3 its present size.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make a lot of very good points.

  3. jld Says:

    The proper answer to everyone anguish is:
    1) Find out if NTE will plausibly occur before or after your own natural death.
    2) If not find a good shrink and enjoy the rest of our life.
    3) If so, remember the Dalai Lama joke:
    Asked why he was always smiling despite the dire situation of Tibet he said:
    – If I have a serious problem and there is a solution I don’t need to worry because I will work on this solution.
    – If I have a serious problem and there is NO solution I don’t need to worry because worrying will NOT change this state of affairs.
    then find a good shrink and enjoy the rest of our life.

  4. JavaK Says:

    Daniel,

    I havent commented on this site before, but have read it for quite some time. Never have I read anything on the internet word for word. It took me a couple hours to read your essay…. permeated with a couple of coffee breaks.

    You have absolutely nailed it… at least the way I have been thinking about this. How do I play it, what should I do, how much should I talk about it? Should I be traveling? We only have so much time left, but should I try and get a few more years of wealth out of the system, or should I be living as full a life as possible?

    All rhetorical questions of course.

    Thank you for this. Somehow I feel more content knowing that others are experiencing exactly the same frustrations of seeing the brick wall exponentially accelerating towards us.

  5. izzy Says:

    If there is an antithesis to “hopium”, the author has apparently spared no effort in finding that particular grail. An old saw has it that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Actually, the only two certainties are birth and death, usually with some sort of experience in between. And having reached the middle of my seventh decade, I freely admit age (another unavoidable development) can, and likely will, shape perception.

    Death by snakebite after a heavy diet of mushrooms sounds a lot better than slowly wasting away, whether it be in a hospital bed or under a bush. Best of luck with the endeavor.

    P.S. The Dali Lama, titular head of a tradition that has reincarnation as one of its principal tenets – thereby neatly leapfrogging a whole host of fatalistic concerns – has often described himself as a simple monk. I take him at his word.

  6. Tom Says:

    Now there’s a response to NTE. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. i came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter anymore (and probably never really did) what i do or why i do it, and that i should just keep doing what i’m doing because even if NTE isn’t true, i realize that the perspective of the universe from here is going to change to that of where “i” originated.

    i had a dream when i was a young teen that i was falling, with all the panic, grasping, writhing in the air and screaming as i rapidly reached terminal velocity and i was “zooming in” at a ridiculous speed to the ground below. When i hit i was stunned – it woke me up! i felt around and couldn’t believe i was still here. i had somehow slipped out of bed and that long fall was an actual real fall through space, but the height wasn’t right so i just lightly hit the floor (comparatively speaking). Falling from some great height is a real fear, yet i don’t mind tall ladder work, tree climbing was never a problem, i’m not afraid of heights (as in being way up off the ground) and i don’t have any trouble with flying, so it’s weird.

    i think it’s about seeing the end coming, faster and faster with ever more clarity, that bugs me. i just want it to be quick with no suffering. When i was 7 while riding a bike i was hit by a speeding car. i don’t remember feeling a thing until i woke up from the coma, then everything hurt. So that’s twice in my life i was shown how easily it ends – i’ll just be whisked off the planet in some sense.

    So don’t worry about it, it’s going to end anyway. Just keep following your heart and head, put one foot in front of the other and go about your life until it’s over. Feel all the emotions, don’t shy away from any of it – be the experience. (What am i Ty Webb here? Sheesh.)

  7. Dave Says:

    It may be that the collapse of civilization will be a near extinction event, with actual extinction occurring several generations later. While it may be an exercise in futility, I like to ponder what these survivors need to know in order to avoid making the same mistakes all over again. If my words could hold some sway over them, what would I tell them? What are the rules of life we missed?

    Remember – predictions are tricky. Especially when they’re about the future.

  8. Kathy C Says:

    Whew Daniel, quite an exposition. Can’t say I disagree with anything you wrote.

    First, I am grateful that I started volunteering in nursing homes at age 16. I learned that death can be a deliverance from a life that no longer has purpose and only has pain.

    Second, there is one moral choice left – if you are still fertile get yourself sterile before that option vanishes. Women can be raped, men may loose their partner and wish for the solace of a new partner. I suppose getting all your pets fixed too would fall under that, but I am not going to get our chickens neutered.

    Third there is another moral choice – if you have dependents – children or people you are emotionally attached to – you do not have the same freedom of options. You have created others who are dependent on you or allowed people into you life who are dependent on you. You have more to consider facing NTE than those who don’t have such dependents. What moral choices you have will be unique and I can’t say what anyone should do, only that these choices would seem to fit the concept of moral choices.

    If anyone wants to learn to cope with death I would suggest volunteering in a cancer ward, doing hospice volunteering etc. Remember the gay community went through what seemed like the end of their world when AIDS hit, some who weathered that may have words of wisdom. Even us older folks went through the nuclear bomb scare and the Cuban missile crisis complete with duck and cover. It was a sort of mind preparation.

    When I went to Haiti I saw what an environmentally devastated country looked like, and I knew then that the cancer that created that would spread to the whole world. I also knew that the life style that the humans alive then would have to adopt to prevent this was lower than I myself was willing to adopt, even though I have lived simply. I think I knew it was over then. Peak Oil told me it was over for most of humanity pretty soon, so here 10 years later its not so hard to accept. It just sooner and more complete than I thought 10 years ago. But it has always been our individual fate.

    “While man is growing, life is in decrease;
    And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
    Our birth is nothing but our death begun.”
    Edward Young

    And it has always been the fate of species to go extinct but yep, we really weren’t expecting it now eh?

    In the meantime I suggest the following for folks having a hard time with this. Read The Last Postman. Read Everything Matters. Watch the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Read some Kurt Vonegut. So it goes………

  9. kevin moore Says:

    I agree with the other commenters; rather difficult to read. But some excellent points worth thinking further about.

    The farcical public comment process for local government is underway. This time I am throwing everything at the criminally inept and corrupt local officials, particularly the mayor, the CEO, the senior council officers and ‘the gang’ of councillors who promote dysfunction on a continuous basis.

    I have included an alphabet of collapse, starting with Acidification of the Oceans, Arctic Meltdown and Anthropocentrism etc., and working through the letters to They’ll-just-keep-doing-it-till-they-can’t, Titanic and ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policies).

    I have included plenty of graphics, including a copy of a Dali painting featuring elephants on matchstick legs……..somehow they haven’t collapsed yet. But we know they will.

    In the middle of my list is Near Term Extinction, which I point out will almost certainly occur between 2030 and 2080.

    And my comments point out that my local authority, by promoting the policies it does, is eagerly working to bring forward NTE.

    I included a few quotes, including: “The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking –not needing to think.” -George Orwell, 1984

    It is now abundantly clear that the lower ranks of government are staffed with people who are paid not to think (or paid to not think), whereas the higher ranks of government consist of sociopaths working on behalf of corporations, money-lenders and opportunists.

    As for responses to NTE and the completely mad system that is bringing it forward, I am still attempting to create a fruit-filled paradise, and am succeeding for the moment. (Unlike in the US, the NZ drought has ended and we are back to alternating days of sunshine and rain, for now.) I suspect where I am living will be one of the last places to ‘go under’.

  10. ravendcr Says:

    jld: dead on right re: #3. I sometimes wish I was one of the masses who moved through this last scene of this particular incarnation of the biosphere in blissful ignorance of the impending end.

    But the I think of that line from the Color Purple:“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it….Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved. Look at them trees. Notice how the trees do everything people do to get attention… except walk?”

    I don’t believe in god, but I do think the ability to bear witness to the beauty of it all, including its apparent cruelty and indifference as defined by human sensibilities, is a great gift of nature to us and we should embrace it more so now than at any other time in human history.

  11. Grant Schreiber Says:

    The method of suicide — solo, family, group — will take on a greater portion of conversation as NTE becomes more and more apparent.
    Certainly starving to death lacks any hint of romance and charm and that is the death most of the human race faces.

    At this point, I’m still sadly stuck as an observer, a witness, to events. I still might hit the occasional protest for social justice and I will fuss and fume because that’s what I like to do best, but having an escape plan is certainly worth thinking about. A half pint of whiskey and a long slow swim across Lake Michigan at night during a full moon is filled with romance and charm.

  12. OzMan Says:

    From the previous post…

    “….but having an escape plan is certainly worth thinking about.”

    Kathy C says look after your dependents….

    Attempts were made, with some success to smash the common good, through depriving union based labour bargaining in Britain and the USA and Australia during the Reagan, Thatcher, Frazer/Howard years. This succeeded in large measure.

    Question:

    Can we ordinary/extraordinary everyday folk collectivise and reengage each other, sans the alienation of Industrial Civilisation’s illusory ‘uber independence’, in local authoritative community to address the massive problems freight training our way? In time?

    Looing after each other, and our wilds, would only work in the triage section of NTS – Near Term Survival, if we regain authority, and act from a position of strength.

    Guy has moved in that direction, not really knowing if his wife would even go along, (reasoned conjecture on my part), so he risked the ‘all’ of the benefits of Industrial Civilisation, and an important personal relationship. But he ‘regained’ the ‘authority’ to teach ‘in the round’, he sacrificed, (and got pushed ?),when he left Academic Life.

    That ‘authority’ of which I write is the sovereignty to be oneself, ‘no less than the trees and the stars’, and to me it is reclaiming the relationship to the ‘Self’ that experiences the world -as opposed to the ‘self’ that constructs the world, or has it constructed for us by the masters.

    Let not the brief window of democratic freedom pass without grabbing it and growing beyond these limited cultures we are now straight jacketed in.

    I have to dive in, and in doing so, am preparing a life raft, and from that ‘position of strength’ (ha ?) will respond to the changes.

    Follow whatever frees you, and it may be that others follow you, but don’t be surprised to find others are ahead of you, now out of sight from the fog of history, and there is a path you walk, each after the other, to freedom, with eyes wide open.

    Can’t say I read all this essay, but it has cured me of ever writing long comments ever again.

    Coming to Australia Guy? I’m still working on that, keep you ‘posted’.

  13. Tony Weddle Says:

    I haven’t read the essay yet, but intend to do so.

    On the point of NTE, I have trouble embracing it and would like Guy (or someone else) to take a stab at how it would unfold (apologies to Daniel if he has done so in this essay). I can certainly accept that humans, by their own actions, are intent on making this planet unliveable. I can certainly accept that environmental degradation, including climate change, could make this planet unliveable. But the time-scale seems far too short. Yes, extremes will become more frequent and more extreme. Yes, species of all kinds will find it hard or impossible to adapt. Yes, evolution works too slowly to have an effect on this. But will 4 degrees ring the death knell for humans that quickly? 20-30 years may well be enough time for extinction creating conditions to be set in, becoming irrevocable, but will humans (and a few other species – including plant species in artificial environments) really not be able to hang on beyond 30 years? I just don’t think so.

    This isn’t a “get out of jail free” card, mind you. Extinction this century is still within believable bounds but 20-30 years less so, even if conditions will become almost intolerable for the survivors. Almost, but not quite.

  14. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Tony Weddle

    But will 4 degrees ring the death knell for humans that quickly? 20-30 years may well be enough time for extinction creating conditions to be set in, becoming irrevocable, but will humans (and a few other species – including plant species in artificial environments) really not be able to hang on beyond 30 years? I just don’t think so.

    But do you, or anyone else, really want to be around, to check and find out ? This below, is from Mark Lynas well known book, which is now out of date. Thing is, we don’t stay at 4 degrees. If we get 4 degrees, that means it’ll keep on going up, 5 deg, 6 deg,

    As I see it, the only real argument left, is WHEN. That probably depends on the methane. If the methane turns really really ugly, I’d say, a guestimate, we could get 4 deg C REALLY quickly, maybe a 10 deg C spike over a decade, i think Prof Wadham said, which, work it out, could happen, starting N O W….. or, maybe a bit later…
    Methane is coming out of the Antarctic now, i don’t think that was ever seen before.

    At 4° temperature rise sea level changes would be irreversible.
    There is uncertainty as regards the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet. If there were to
    be an invasion of sea water, rapid melting would result leading to a 5 metre rise in sea
    levels.
    There would be international decline in agricultural production due to reduced
    river flows and desertification.
    v Australia will support almost no agriculture
    v Much of the Indian sub-continent will be arid
    v Hotspots for drought will include SW North America, Central America,
    Mediterranean, South Africa, Australia
    v In the Mediterranean countries 70% of summer rains would fail, heat-
    waves would last on average 65 days longer than presently, wildfires
    would occur as far north as the Alps.
    v In the UK summer temperatures could reach 45° and droughts would be
    common-place.
    v In Europe there would be 80% less snowfall leading to water shortages.
    v The water level in the Caspian Sea would drop by 10 metres.
    v Some extra production in Canada and Russia
    A 4° temperature rise would see a collapse of civilisation, leading to conflicts world-
    wide.
    The climate models become a little less certain at a predicted 4° temperature rise but:-
    The Greenland ice sheet would be melting fast
    Antarctic melt as well, might lead to

  15. Gail Says:

    Others can reply to you Tony but for me, the “tell” for NTE is the exponentially accelerating, amplifying feedbacks that have crossed tipping points. Guy has written about them numerous times. Many scientists write about them, but shy away from the implications.

    Also for me personally is simply what I observe. On the last thread I listened to Guy and Derrick on the radio interview and noted that one of Derrick’s first moments of awakening was seeing a development being built leading directly to a diminished population of fauna…duh! The more of us there are, the less of every other species – and unfortunately, we depend upon those species (whether we realize it or not).

    Anyway, this post of Daniel’s (okay could have used an editor) still was very thought-provoking about meaning – and the point of it all – and what to do. So I appriciate that, since those questions plague me constantly.

    And so, I offer I poem I saw in the New Yorker years ago, which I’ve always liked:

    Mars as Bright as Venus

    O brown star burning in the east,
    elliptic orbits bring you close;
    as close as this no eye has seen
    since sixty thousand years ago.

    Men saw, but did not understand,
    the sky a depthless spatter then;
    goddess of love and god of war
    were inklings in the gut for them.

    Small dry red planet, when you loom
    again, this world will be much changed:
    our loves and wars, at rest, as one,
    and all our atoms rearranged.

    ~ John Updike

  16. Guy McPherson Says:

    Tony Weddle, this is largely a matter of decreasing habitat for humans, to the vanishing point. It’s not the physical environment so much as the biological environment.

    Imagine conditions similar to the 1930s dustbowl in the central United States. Forever. Thousands of people died in interior North America during the 1930s. At the time, there was plenty of water flowing through the taps. In this region, I foresee a two-day temperature spike killing all plants. A few weeks or months later, the relentless wind removes the soil. Not longer after, all humans are dead. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happens this summer, and I seriously doubt we have five years here in the southwestern interior of North America.

    Temperature extremes will go the other way, too, killing plants. Without land plants, we die.

    At 4 C warmer, I doubt the world’s oceans will support any phytoplankton. There goes the base of the marine food web.

    No plants on land. No phytoplankton in the ocean. Sounds as if we’re out of food. Never mind the planet’s air-conditioning system (i.e., Arctic ice). The temperature swings are lethal.

    I could go on (and on, as you know). Many other forces point toward a dead or dying planet, including ionizing radiation, soil loss, and an unsurpassed rate of planetary extinction. As nearly as I can distinguish, none of these favor continued habitat for humans.

  17. ulvfugl Says:

    Antarctic melt as well, might lead to interruption of the Atlantic Circulation which would temporarily cool western Europe but lead to wild storms.
    The permafrost in Siberia would melt, lakes disappear and there woulod be a
    massive release of methane which could result in a 700% increase in carbon
    release. Even if just 1% of the permafrost disappears in it will be equivalent to
    doubling our global emmissions.

  18. ogardener Says:

    Thanks Daniel for your essay. Loved the metaphors.

    On another note: Methane Outbreak Alert!

  19. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Daniel, this is simply brilliant! And comprehensive! There’s such an overwhelming amount of material here! I’m completely floored! Outstanding! Stunning! A magnificent achievement! Congratulations!

    Where to even begin?
    Daniel says: We’ve never been anything other than violent, avarice primates.

    One look at the trouble we’re in,
    And our view of the world starts to spin;
    Much to our chagrin,
    We see, under our skin,
    What we are, and always have been.
    ==

    Daniel A. Drumright says: The answer to virtually every question we are ever going to ask, from here on out — post acceptance — can’t honestly be anything other than: “It no longer matters.”

    In the previous thread, Tom says: Can i send that around (with your name on it of course)?

    Thanks, Tom! Absolutely, I’m tickled pink if you—or anybody else, BTW—sends my limericks around.

    Print the message on wall and fridge door,
    Hand releases out to the press corps;
    The news sure will delight
    Folks at every web site:
    Nothing matters anymore.
    ==

    Tom also says there: San Onofre

    Special instructions for Southern California

    As soon as you see the glow, flee—
    Don’t even stop to go pee;
    You may even pray,
    But you won’t get away
    Far enough from San Onofre.

  20. Carmen Says:

    @Daniel

    Thank you for taking the time to share your essay! I resonated with much of your story. Nice to know I’m not alone! I loved the following excerpt from your story as NBL has provided me exactly what you describe.

    “I don’t believe anyone here, including myself, is honestly capable of accurately framing the very ethos we’ve created at NBL, given it is unconscionably unprecedented to the very letter of the word. This becomes painfully obvious, every time, anyone of us finds ourselves in any group of people. For there is only one thing that is more maddening than NTE, which is that for whatever reason, the vast majority of our fellow citizens just aren’t capable of caring beyond their immediate needs, which is probably why we find such solace at NBL — even if it’s a remorseful succor.”

    @ogardner

    Thanks for the Methane Emergency article!

  21. the virgin terry Says:

    btd, are u surreally 70? i guess my agism is showing here. i had u figured for a much younger sherson. love just about everything u write. such quantity and quality of limerick poetry must come from an agile, gifted mind, an artist in his/her prime.? how long have u been writing? if u wrote decades ago, how would u compare your current abilities to your younger self? it’s hard to imagine u’ve lost much. perhaps, with age comes wisdom and greater artistry.? perhaps, the topic of ‘doom’ is uniquely compelling/inspiring to write/rhyme about.?

    i skipped a day reading nbl a couple days ago and now i’m way behind. haven’t listened to any of guy’s talks posted a couple of days ago yet. curious to discover what he and mike ruppert have to say together. i’ve just read less than 1/4 of daniel’s (i wonder if it’s the same ‘daniel’ who has been a regular commenter to this blog for quite a while now) guest essay, along with some of the comments it’s already generated. i’m finding the essay quite engaging thus far. not as obtuse as some previous comments suggested. highly relevant topic.

    the main way i cope with knowledge of the likelihood of nte is not to think about it for probably at least 95% of the time i’m conscious. but being addicted to intelligent, sane, and relevant subject matter, i appreciate the hell out of getting my (almost) daily fix of that here. dealing with surreality regularly, rather than fleeing from it, however daunting it may be, must be done to maintain sanity. there’s always solace in detached scientific facts; if nothing else, the knowledge that the bastards or ptb are just as mortal as all of us. nature, indeed, bats last.

  22. Jeff S. Says:

    I’m curious why Drumright conveys this message of suicide to a forum in which the participants actually do get just how the present course is rapidly driving us towards NTE, and doesn’t post this at mainstream “progressive” and “environmentalist” forums where most people haven’t a clue how serious the situation is. What would be the effect except to get the most radically-aware people out of the loop?

  23. Lidia Says:

    Jeff S., I don’t get that message at all from this piece. I think what Daniel is saying is that once one is completely aware and reconciled to NTE as unavoidable, then suicide is a rational means of dealing with the situation. By comparison, if one is not reconciled to NTE, then suicide is not a rational choice, all else being equal..

    And even if all the “aware” people were to commit suicide within the next year, say, what difference would that make? None. Nor would the suicides of everyone to have read this essay were it printed in the New York Times. That’s the whole point of the essay. Whether you or anyone else is “in the loop” or ” out of the loop” is no longer materially relevant.

  24. Robin Datta Says:

    At last a no-holds-barred handling of NTE. Of course, each person will put their own english on the ball. Thanks, Daniel.

    Post-acceptance of NTE, as opposed to our pre-vacillating acceptance, logically equates to defeatism, plain and simple.

    Realism can be defeatism when viewed through the lens of surrealism.

    As of right now, the entire concept of NTE is still the most profound abstract concept the human race has ever been confronted with.

    Actually there is another concept that is so abstract that it has always been under one’s perceptual horizon. It is the concept of death. I believe that even Kathy C pointed out that we cannot conceive of our non-existence. Even when imagining what it would be like to be dead, one builds a scenario in which one is oneself present in camera. The “Near” in NTE hauls something that is beyond societal perceptual horizons well into the scope of what the individual is personally compelled to address. This is different from the usual case of individual death, where almost to a person everyone exercises the option of looking away as long as the occasion can be kept close to or under the perceptual horizon.

    Hence, it’s not the potential of extinction that is foreign to us, but rather the “acceptance” of the near term timing of it.

    Acceptance is loaded with baggage, as is rejection. They are the alter egos of attraction and aversion.

    How do we live out the rest of our lives in light of such acceptance?

    Anticipation is an intellectual process necessary to formulate appropriate action. Expectation is an emotional process, manifest as attraction and aversion, with less than ideal outcomes clothed in acceptance or rejection. Sans expectation, there is no occasion for acceptance or rejection: all is “Thusness”/”Suchness”.

    Truth is a life sentence for anyone who values it,

    In the Sanskritic languages, “Truth” is the same as “Existing/Existence”. Another category is “Untruth”/”Non-existing”/Non- existence”, such as a square circle. The third category is conditional or apparent truths, such as the physical universe and all its phenomena. The Self belongs to the first category: not so much valuing truth as Being Truth.

    we’re initiating a diabolic consciousness

    It might have a salutary effect in the long run. There was a celestial being who fell from grace on account of an indiscretion and was offered two alternatives: fourteen reincarnations as a devotee of the Divine, or seven as an adversary. Choosing the latter, in his last reincarnation he was the king of the demons.

    a degree of emotional maturity that’s almost indistinguishable from insanity within western culture.

    Dig for the truth long enough, and one becomes a miner.

    The mine holds an infinitude of conditional truths.

    All our past wisdom now exists in a state of unending irrelevancy.

    To the extent that it is founded on conditional truth, it is the case with ALL wisdom in the long term.

    What exactly are we doing, in still attempting to fight “the good fight,” if we fully accept all has been lost?

    Chopping wood, and carrying water.

    I’m not sure who or what we have a responsibility towards anymore.

    “I am different from Washington; I have a higher, grander standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won’t.”
    - quoted in Mark Twain, Archibald Henderson

    The need for a standard or principle lowers him below those who are in no need of such standard or principle.

    “All ye who enter this ethos, will most likely, eventually take their own life.”

    The exceptions will be those who have reached the end to the “I”, the Great Death. To them, it is the meat robot’s life.

    “The certitude that there is no salvation, is a form of salvation, in fact, it is salvation ….”

    It lies in grokking that there is neither need nor scope not possibility of it, somewhat akin to trying to wet water.

    And exactly, who is “we”?

    Each is an apparition, a phantasm, a roll of labels with nothing at the core.

    Wouldn’t the most ethical choice be to dedicate our lives in helping ease the suffering of the less fortunate?

    Yes indeed! With the hubris of ethics oozing out all over it. A passable substitute when compassion, which needs no ethics, has gone AWOL.

    to willfully end our self-destructive lives as a testament to the highest level of anthropocentric conscientiousness?

    Better still, recognising that they are the self-destructive meat-robot’s lives.

    In a post-acceptance reality of NTE, what doesn’t become relative?

    Incest?

    roam this world and experience the natural wonder

    Having spent my first twenty-four years in the third would, a year overseas with the Army and half a year overseas in Bushdaddy’s war, I have zero hankerings for travel. Some folks spent more than a decade in a cave. Abraham. Bodhidharma.

    to exercise the only free will we’ve probably ever had

    The idea that the phantasm called the “I” has a free will is one of the delusions that sustains the “I”. The only free will is attained when it is grokked that the meat-robot is a meat-robot, and that there is no “I”.

    I am going out on my terms, no one else’s.

    Actually, on the meat-robot’s terms.

  25. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    tvt, thank you so very much! Yes, I am indeed 70, but I didn’t live the artist’s life or write rhymes until a limerick writing contest at LATOC several years ago. Since then, I elected to have writing limericks provide me the illusion of meaning in a meaningless universe. Aging brings the notion of near term death, so some NTE wisdom arises sort of automatically. And I couldn’t do it if I weren’t retired. As Daniel says in his essay above,
    “It is not by accident that the majority of contributors to NBL are the equivalent to retired landed gentry, which affords some of us the relative detachment from the daily mind numbing demands of capitalism.”

  26. Robin Datta Says:

    kevin moore Says:
    This time I am throwing everything at the criminally inept and corrupt local officials,

    Good. Let off the steam. Better than blowing a gasket. Knowing full well that it ain’t gonna do diddly-squat.

    Tony Weddle Says
    On the point of NTE, I have trouble embracing it and would like Guy (or someone else) to take a stab at how it would unfold

    Praise the Lawd! – And EFFIT! No need to “embrace” NTE. Plenty of others are doing plenty fine! If what has been said in the posts (and comments!) to date ain’t enough, nothin’ short of a chomp from the croc’s gonna do it.

  27. Anthony Says:

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the all the time and effort that went into the writing of that essay.

  28. Ripley Says:

    With the exception of Guy and a few others, I doubt that knowledge of NTE has resulted in dramatic changes in the the living arrangements of most the people who have this knowledge. So, with this in mind, what would you expect would happen if all people were forced to listen to nothing but Guy’s NTE message? Assume that his message was broadcast on all media outlets with no competing or contradictory messages, and that it was completely accepted and pushed as absolute fact by all media, political, religious, etc. figures. What would you expect that people would do? What would you like to see happen?

  29. kevin moore Says:

    Robin Datta.

    Yes, you are quite right. the mob that currently rule will do nothing to minimise the suffering. Indeed, they will continue to implement polices that will maximise the suffering. That is why I opened my ‘assault’ on the local council with:

    ‘Even as I write this, I already know that the mayor, the CEO and senior council officers will not take a scrap of notice of anything I write in their ‘planning’. I doubt very much that anyone among the council staff will even respond to the points I make, despite the fact that they are life-threatening for everyone in the district except the very aged and the terminally ill. It is the council’s way to completely ignore reality, to completely ignore global trends as though they are no significance whatsoever, and go its own way in some kind of fantasy world, in the face of mounting opposition, both from the people of the district and from Nature.

    Many people now say that making submissions to NPDC is a complete waste of time, and that I should not waste mine. On the other hand:

    ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.’ -Edmund Burke.

    And we must do our best to defend the weakest and most vulnerable members of our community, the children and the yet-to-be-born, who cannot defend themselves and whom the council incessantly attack: it is the children and the yet-to-be-born who will bear the brunt of the consequences of the dysfunctional policies that NPDC has promoted over many years, and continues to promote. As I pointed out to the mayor, the CEO and the elected council in November 2012, if the mayor and the CEO choose to destroy their own progeny’s futures that is their choice: if they want to sacrifice their progeny’s futures on the altar of their dysfunctional ideology, that is up to them. When the mayor and CEO choose to destroy my progeny’s futures it is an outrage.’

    Apart from the moral imperative, there is the aspect that the council will photocopy and distribute what I have written and the graphs I have copied (all 121 pages of it) and will be forced to acknowledge its existence, even though they will do their best to ignore the content.

    Another important aspect is that there are local elections in a few months and a prominent candidate for the position of mayor has read ‘The Easy Way’ and is as up to speed as a non-scientist can be. He has children and is appalled by the squandering of energy and resources, and the corruption that characterises central and local government. It would certainly be a lot better to have a moral person who is seeking truth leading the community during the coming chaos rather than a bought-and-paid-for covert fascist who wants to silence all dissenters as quickly as possible (which we have at the moment).

  30. Tony Weddle Says:

    Robin,

    I’m not sure about the usefulness of your reply, “… nothin’ short of a chomp from the croc’s gonna do it”. However, let me clarify some more. I fully accept that if climate change unfolds the way Guy has characterised it, NTHE is the likely (even certain) outcome. I’ve stated before, however, that the future is not known and so there could be some twist that avoids NTHE (though I’ve no doubt not without pain). That, of course, is wishful thinking, and so falls into the “fingers crossed” category. However, my previous comment didn’t concern this unknowable unknown. It concerns how N, the N in NTHE is. Perhaps that’s a minor quibble but the longer humans (and some other species) can remain viable (in whatever numbers and wherever) the more time for some black swan event to prolong the stay of those species. So the question is how the extinctions will unfold. What I have real trouble with is that the environment could become so intolerable within 20-30 years (depending on the hemisphere) that humans simply can’t survive at all, in that time frame. Guy quotes Oliver Tickell’s Guardian article from 5 years ago, for example, but that article mentions the total melting of the Antarctic ice. That ice is kilometres thick and will take at least centuries, if not millennia, to melt (in contrast to Arctic sea ice).

    So a plausible story of how total extinction will unfold would be helpful.

  31. Tony Weddle Says:

    Sorry, Guy, I missed your response before reading Robin’s. Thanks for that. However, do you think that sort of scenario could (likely) be echoed across the globe in every niche that humans have carved out, in short order? I take your point about phytoplankton but do you really not think that small groups of humans (and other species) could be eking out an existence in odd areas of the planet for several more decades?

    Yeah, this is rather academic but that’s all we have left, eh?

  32. Tom Says:

    Hi Tony. A very learned systems-science person named George Mobus is of the same mind as you are on this subject. i’ll put a link to his site below and you can read about his (and his commenters, some of whom are here too) ideas regarding a new humanity that will be born of the remains of our civilization in evolution’s next iteration. He posits that a super-sapient or eusapient humanity is the only one that could possibly “make it” and live in harmony/stewardship to the planet, as opposed to what we have now – our own misnamed species that’s trashing the place.

    i don’t think anyone will survive because all the systems we depend on – a moderate climate, arable land, balanced rainfall, potable water, clean air, and an ocean that can support marine life (among many others) – will all be missing, or degraded to the point of being impossible to “work with.”

    The interacting and reacting biological, environmental and chemical systems (i’ll just stick to the big three here) are all “going the wrong way,” as it were, via our meddling, and becoming toxic/extinct.
    We’re losing species we rely on for food, oxygen, pollination, and the like. We probably won’t have decommissioned all the nuke plants (and spent fuel) in the world before we can’t (due to economic, social, and other problems preventing it), so we can probably look forward to a radiated environment far different from the one we’re in now (which is only the radiation from Fukushima being spread all over slowly, combined with the background radiation of all the nuke tests over the years, Chernobyl, and the vast supply of spent fuel that’s sitting around, and that of the sun getting through our diminished earth’s magnetic field). The methane problem is probably the one that’s going to hit us before we have a chance to think about it and could come at any moment because it’s already happening and we’re powerless to stop it. Catastrophic sea level rise also is in the cards from a paper Guy referenced (i think) stating that though the seas only rise in millimeters per year to date, nothing is preventing a huge sudden increase in sea level rise sometime in the near future (years to decades, as opposed to the commonly thought, centuries).

    In short, there’s so much going wrong all at the same time and all “feeding off each other” that there may be only a few years to possibly a decade left to “enjoy life” before food shortages become critical and the environment becomes harder to live in for humans (via radiation, civil unrest, lack of clean water, diseases, sinkholes, earthquakes, volcanic activity, super storms, tree and vegetation death from tropospheric ozone saturation, etc.).

    And we humans triggered it via overpopulation and industrial civilization.

  33. Tom Says:

    So, of course i forgot the link. It’s Question Everything and his latest essay is the one below:

    http://questioneverything.typepad.com/

    Can We Envision Future Homo eusapiens?

  34. Tony Weddle Says:

    Daniel,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. I agree with others about the need for some editing but it certainly raises many thoughtful points. I have a few comments but will limit it to a couple.

    Though it’s a post-acceptance article, the first part (and a small later part) still seems to be wrestling with a fragment of doubt. Of course, just about everything in this culture is bearing down on us to reject such silly notions as NTE, so complete acceptance for any member of homo sapiens may be well nigh impossible.

    Spot on with this, “This becomes painfully obvious, every time, anyone of us finds ourselves in any group of people.” This might even be the defining point of our awareness.

    ulvfugl and Gail,

    Thanks for the responses. I’m reasonably aware of the data and of models and projections though, as others have said, predictions are difficult, especially about the future. I’ve read some climate scientists, well versed in Arctic methane, who aren’t too concerned about it (yet) and others who are very concerned about it. I’ve seen the spikes in the data, later removed after review and I see that methane concentrations are on the rise after stagnating mid decade but I don’t see the rapid rise that has been predicted since before Semiletov’s expedition near the end of 2011, at least not in the station data (which are way behind now, unfortunately). So, whilst I’m not optimistic about the future climate, I still think there is room for doubt about the timeline. However, my original question wasn’t about that but about the notion of all the dominoes tumbling in quick succession to culminate in NTE within 20-30 years.

    “Fortunately”, I’m in the southern hemisphere (like Kevin) and may have a further decade to ruminate about our ultimate demise.

  35. Kathy C Says:

    BtD – awesome.

  36. Bernhard Says:

    http://bloggamy.com/drop-bras-not-bombs-2/

    Well some days ago I said am gonna have some fun, there you go.

    Peace now.

  37. Gail Says:

    Tony, the way I look at it, most people, even people who are very concerned about climate, peak oil, and other calamities, are blindly wandering through a graveyard. When I was last in St. John’s, for the second time in my life, a decade apart, I mentioned to our boat skipper that even though I still saw some colorful fish when snorkling, it was quite obvious to me that in the ten years since I had last visited all the coral had died. Yes, he said, it’s amazing. So many tourists come and rave about how beautiful it is, and they have no idea that they are swimming in a graveyard.

    The exact parallel is happening on the land. All, and I do mean all, of the trees are dying. They aren’t all completely dead, they store a huge amount of energy to tide them over shifts in weather, since they can’t move. But the TREND is there. And almost nobody sees it, even though it’s quite obvious is you look at them.

    So unless we stop burning fuel, which is what is killing them – at an exponentially accelerating rate – we are all going to die, because we simply can’t live without them for a whole host of reasons that I won’t bother to go into. It’s that “exponentially accelerating rate” that means near-term extinction. The trees have been stunted in growth – roots and rings – for decades, but they didn’t start visibly exibiting symptoms on their leaves, and dying off in swathes, until a few years ago.

    If everyone decided it was worth preserving life on earth, we could just stop burning fuel for anything other than absolutely essential purposes and a lot of species would rebound. We could turn the pools into fish ponds and the lawns into gardens. We would still have a disrupted climate, which will by itself drive extinctions, because the CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for a very long time. But the ozone and methane break down fairly quickly. Plants could grow.

    But of course, we’re not going to do that. In the last thread, in the radio interview with both Guy and Derrick, Derrick holds up as many do the comforting notion that humans could live sustainably, by pointing to earlier tribes. One that he mentioned, he said lasted for 10,000 years, “…and that’s a long time”. Leaving aside whether that particular tribe really was genuinely sustainable, because it’s hard to know, I woke up this morning with the thought that 10,000 years is NOT a long time. It’s a blip. A sustainable species living in harmony with its evolutionary partners could last a million years or more. Now, that’s a long time. I just don’t believe any longer that humans are anything but a random fuckup of nature.

    Along those lines, I really enjoyed Dave Forman’s latest which I just read this morning, about evolution and the sheer randomness of our existence – and the difficulty most people have in accepting it:

    http://rewilding.org/rewildit/images/Campfire-47-S.pdf

    Also I want to thank Daniel again because his essay is pushing me closer to accepting NTE – which as he correctly notes, is almost impossible – but I think maybe if I do I’ll be able to prevent it from controling my every thought. It’s kind of like when my daughter was being treated for cancer. For a few minutes I might be okay and then a fresh wave of disbelief and grief would wash over me, not the least bit lessened from the first horrible moment she was diagnosed.

  38. OzMan Says:

    Out of left field…

    So a greenhouse will only be necessary in a winter whiteout ?…or a whiteout no matter what season it was once according to the old calendar ?…

    Does it follow then that in what was once a Summer season, a cool-house may keep plants alive, assuming adequate water, and microorganisms can keep their decomposing chugging along too ?…

    Could this work on a small local scale, like deep pipes into the earth several meters drawing up cooler air and releasing the hotter air through vents ?…

    I told my 13 y/o son some months ago that I will give him a big apology, and he can kick me in the rear, if these next summers do not show the world what is in store. All my ‘letting go’ of the ordinary cycles of industrial life were leading to a lot of domestic friction, and still do. Poor kid, but as I tell him, at least he has two parents that love him to bits.

    Luckily I have not been too over-dependent on the stock in trade of industrial civilisation. I realise that is easy to say, but in my case it is true. A certain type of poverty and family instability at the crucial early age lead me to take a different path.

    I recommend Mark Boyle on what we may have to get familiar with.

    Mark Boyle

    Who knows how all this will pan out…? Best just keep adapting to less and less of what Industrial Civilisation offers. In all cases it will always behove us to be practical, and in any transition, swift of otherwise, one foot, one day and one conversation at a time. So too with getting to know the plants you may successfully grow until you cant.

    It is going to be one hell of a ride, and with sharp spikes on all sides for the foreseeable future.

    Question:

    At what point do we disregard laws – by this I mean those silly statutes about what where and when – not the ones about hurting people and others life forms ?

    I have reached my limit, and life begins again at 50.

    BTW – I did a lot of bushwalking as a boy in this area, and although I was not so at peace with the bush then – I was alienated from the trees, seems so tragic now – and recently doing so reckys in the local bushland. I can see some of the effects of tree degradation that Gail points out at his witsend site. A lot of heat stressed and to my eyes dying trees, especially up on the high ridges.

    It is hard to imagine that over the evolution of Eucalypts,(as well as Wattles and Banksias) in this big brown land have not adapted to dry periods. It looks like it is the perfect storm hitting them – Dry, Hot and increased Ozone to boot.

    Regards to all with your local situations, and local solutions, (if any for now).

  39. JavaK Says:

    Guy, you should consider placing a link at the top of the page with:

    “Overview of the Climate Future & why Near Term Extinction is a certainty” with the link:

    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

    People who head to your site for the first time are often confused about the message of the link content, and need some context.

  40. pat Says:

    Tom,

    The “Question Everything” website that you linked to has been referenced here many times, and, yes, “HERE IS THE SOLUTION” is the answer. The problem is how to make it happen – because:

    1) if Collapse happens in a SHTF rapid chaotic nightmare, then the only survivors will not be “The Best of Us.” Also, with the toxic infrastructure going untended, we will be counting days, not decades.

    2) if Collapse happens slowly, then TPTB will be in control and, again, the only survivors will not be “The Best of Us.”

    I dream about how we could get some agreement from the Earth’s general population on the 500,000 people that should be allowed to survive, while the rest of the people basically commit suicide (just when the work of dismantling industrial civilization’s infrastructure is complete). And then I wake up and realize that’s not going to happen.

    I’m no fan of Daniel, but this essay (although wordy to the extreme) expresses exactly how I have come to feel since tuning into NBL some 5 years ago.

  41. OzMan Says:

    Sorry, that should have read:

    “… Poor kid, but as I tell him, at least he has two parents ‘who’ love him to bits.”

  42. ulvfugl Says:

    Thanks, Daniel. Bit like walking into a cathedral. Nothing to say. Silence.

    We’ve often discussed here where ‘the problem’ began, e.g. the steam engine, capitalism, agriculture, etc.

    Here’s another interesting theory. We’re all brain damaged. I’ve often mentioned the left brain/right brain division, for which there is no explanation, so it’s a question that needs an answer. Maybe it’s found an answer.

    This fellow, Tony Wright, sees us as having evolved in symbiosis with the tropical forest. The complex chemistry of tropical fruits are what produced our complex brains, and were a necessary part of our development in the womb. Ever since, our diet has deteriorated, becoming less suited to brain development and functioning, hence the left hemisphere dominance and the psychopathology we see all around us.

  43. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Tony Weddle

    I’ve read some climate scientists, well versed in Arctic methane, who aren’t too concerned about it (yet) and others who are very concerned about it. I’ve seen the spikes in the data, later removed after review and I see that methane concentrations are on the rise after stagnating mid decade but I don’t see the rapid rise that has been predicted since before Semiletov’s expedition near the end of 2011, at least not in the station data (which are way behind now, unfortunately).

    Are you aware of this, scroll down to comments, April 11

    http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/methane-hydrates.html?showComment=1366144380428

  44. Guy McPherson Says:

    JavaK, thanks for your suggestion. I’ve implemented your idea.

  45. Frog Counter Says:

    I’m too dumb to give in to despair just yet :-) Isn’t there still a chance?:

  46. Gail Says:

    From Wiki:

    “Wright claimed the world sleep deprivation record in May 2007.”

    “Wright claims that by reverting to a biochemically complex diet of raw foods approximating that eaten by our forest dwelling ancestors, he is able to perform such feats of deliberate insomnia.[3] He also asserts that his motivation for breaking the world sleep deprivation record was neither fame nor fortune. Rather, he claims his intention was to promote his radical theories of human neurological degeneration that are proposed in his self-published book, Left In The Dark, which he says are revolutionising mankind’s ability to comprehend its own largely dysfunctional behaviour.”

    “Furthermore, Wright claims that, through the use of specific techniques, it may be possible to transcend the dysfunction of the left hemisphere and access more of our superior right hemisphere function. Some of these claimed functions include, but are not limited to, pseudoscientific concepts such as remote viewing,[4] spiritual healing,[5] and telepathy.”

    This is another attempt to postulate that humans are innately good and that the evil things we do are attributable to some sort of dysfunction imposed by some externality, in this case, diet. I see that his theory is supposedly endorsed by Richard Heinberg, who like his fellow peak-oiler JM Greer, has an idealized view of our ability to live sustainably. In the article referenced at wiki (link below), he writes:

    “If we want peace, democracy, and human rights, we must work to create the ecological condition essential for these things to exist: i.e., a stable human population at—or slightly less than—the environment’s long-term carrying capacity. This is a lesson that ancient humans internalized, to one degree or another. But during the first half of the fossil-fuel era we could afford to forget it: we were creating new temporary carrying capacity left and right.”

    So he’s blaming overshoot on fossil-fuels, however, he adds:

    “But it is important to remember that the real “cave men”—our hunter-gatherer ancestors—lived by sharing and enjoyed a gift economy. Our modern “sentimentality,” in the form of concerns for equity and the welfare of those who would otherwise be left behind, is rooted in ancient sensibilities.”

    Even assuming that hunter-gatherers were all about sharing and gifting and not fighting and stealing (to the extent they were, it may have been due to the incredible cornucopia of nature at the time) there were quite a few generations in between hunter-gatherers and the discovery of fossil fuels. What explains the human sacrifice practiced by the Mayans, the slavery of Egypt, the expansion of Rome, the piracy of the Vikings, the torture by the Mandarins?

    Well that’s my second link of the day and it’s not yet noon, thank goodness. I can stop wondering which side of the brain makes people so willfully ignorant of our propensity towards violence and ecodide.

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2006-04-30/population-resources-and-human-idealism

  47. Richard Davies Says:

    Amusingly enough, I wrote a blog entry about NTE April 25th. As someone who lives in Kansas, I feel as though I’m on the edge of the most dangerous zone in the coming wave of climatological destruction. Nebraska and the Dakotas will likely lead the pack. The signs of shifting zones are everywhere and when. The winter was extremely mild. We are in a cool patch, but will likely start to heat up soon. I fear that our near record number of plus one hundred degree days from last year will be surpassed this year.

    Around 36% of the wheat crop has been damaged by the drought. Late freezes have further damaged much of the remaining wheat. I tell my students that we are unlikely to be producing commercial grains in five years. They scoff, of course. To them, what is going on today is likely to go on tomorrow.

    Water scarcity is just starting to officially worry city officials in the largest city in Kansas. They are a day late and dollar short, as usual, due to their failing to listen to the activists who have stated the obvious for decades.

    I suspect that we will see food shortages in this country by November, or even earlier, that will manifest for us in increasing prices. Because we are the very rich and powerful US of A, we will likely buy food from other countries who will gladly starve their own people to maintain a rich lifestyle as resource exporters. In other words, we will out-source our famine.

    My feeling is that the tipping points are near. Minutes, days, months, but not years. One gets the feeling that we are on a bus with the front half levered over a thousand foot cliff. It rocks to and fro. A gaggle of birds prance about the top of the bus. Individually, no one of them has the weight to send the bus over, but collectively their weight is just enough to send the bus into free-fall. The birds skitter back and forth across the roof. Some lifting up occasionally then settling. Statistically, the chances that all the birds will be on the front half of the bus at any one time is small, but certain. We await that first creaking groan of the bus as it slips over. As we tip, the birds will chatter, annoyed at the inconvenience. How sad.

  48. Town Destroyer Says:

    I live in Joshua Tree, California where climate change has accelerated rapidly this spring. Two years of heat stress have pushed the Joshua Trees into a doom bloom. They are a keystone species here in the mojave desert and they will be gone soon. I’m sure examples can be found across a vast array of ecosystems. Only when the grid goes off and people are forced to go outside will they notice the dying planet and the wreckage that industrial civilization has left behind.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/joshua-trees-bloom-video_n_3070822.html

  49. Diane Says:

    Do you think there’s a difference between believing that humanity will go extinct and thinking that your society will go extinct?

    Humans are adaptable, and someone, somewhere might survive the combination of famine and global unrest. E.g. there are people living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

    Thinking “everyone dies” may still be part of moralistic thinking. Since our species lacks the self control to limit the damage we inflict on everything else, at least we will be collectively punished for our sins.

  50. Lidia Says:

    @Gail, thanks for that Heinberg link. I like the guy, but there’s always been something very “Californian” about him. And you are right about Greer, as well. It’s ironic since JMG has lately been writing on the “religion of progress” but is blind to his own religious prejudices. His faith seems to lie in what I’ll call “Goldilocks” triangulation; he’s always encouraging people that things are neither A nor B but an as-yet-underappreciated-or-unseen C. I think that’s one interesting mental tool, but sometimes an exploding cigar is just exactly that. As someone who makes a living by telling stories, as and a chief representative of a religion largely invented a couple of generations ago—where the cut-and-paste marks are still fresh—he can hardly go about telling people that we’ve also passed the point of Peak Story and that the future holds no more hope for stories of any kind.

  51. Lidia Says:

    @Richard Davies, the birds on the bus is a great metaphor. Thanks for your report from the US front lines. Here in VT, there have been brushfires, and this is APRIL. Fire dep’t.s reporting v. dry conditions out there.

  52. pat Says:

    Diane,

    If you agree with the conclusions reached here:

    The planet will be uninhabitable, period. This is the premise of NBL. There is no stopping NTE. We are doomed.

    Now, will this happen tomorrow? No. But it IS going to happen. This blog is about dealing with NTE.

    I mean, seriously, it is already happening – people ARE dying of starvation right NOW!

    TPTB are gearing up to “impose order” when the SHTF, believe it, and, I guess you have to decide if you would rather:

    1) die a slave in a FEMA camp
    or
    2) die in your neighbor’s stew pot.

  53. Redreamer Says:

    Daniel thank you so much for the essay, I can imagine how much time and effort went into it. I read it all. Twice.Much of it was useful to read from the point of view of someone who IS on the post acceptance stage of understanding the NTE facing earth and all it’s creatures.

  54. Josef Theisen Says:

    As long as a single cell of plant life remains alive on earth I will maintain hope for our future.

  55. Carolyn Baker Says:

    I have never commented on this site, but this article made it impossible to remain silent. I could not agree more with Daniel. I too long ago dispensed with hopium. The operative and only word here is ACCEPTANCE. On that, Daniel nailed it.

    At the same time, I believe it is important to remember that NTE or not, and even if as a species we were guaranteed several more millennia on this planet, a fact of life is the inevitability of our death. In this case, it is now in our face in a way that it has never been.

    Daniel mentions the meaning of life several times, but he implies that meaning is about quality of life. With this I agree, but I believe there is much more. I concur with him that we are now all in hospice, but I believe that we must be hospice workers for each other as well as ourselves.

    Hospice is a time to not just wait to die, but to reflect upon one’s life. What gave it meaning and purpose, and how do we want to spend the rest of our days? Hopefully, not JUST crafting our suicide or waiting to die. For me, the meaning of life, collapse, and NTE are all about what they are here to teach me as a human being whose core essence is something greater than the rational mind and the human ego. Yes, I will use the words “sacred” and “divine,” and they have nothing to do with religion. They do have to do with a part of me and you that is more than our greedy, grasping, murderous, planet-annihilating tendencies. “Who are you really, wanderer?” said the poet William Stafford.

    What gifts do I have to offer others in hospice? Who do I want to be in the final days of my life on this planet? What is this extinction event here to teach me? More importantly, what does it want from me?

    If ever there were a time to deeply, and I mean deeply, explore these questions, it is now. In fact, I have dedicated what remains of my life to them, not only to explore them for myself, but to assist others in exploring them.

    And finally, since we are in the midst of a funeral procession—our funeral and that of several billion others, the only sane, appropriate response is deep, deep, deep grief. If we continue to stuff it and keep that stiff upper lip and dry cheeks that industrial civilization has demanded of us, we will horribly, tragically miss what may be the most profound lesson of our demise.

  56. rob Says:

    Josef,

    You may maintain hope all you want, fine. It’s a normal response. There were probably a few hopeful people left on the Titanic as the last bit of the ship slipped under the waves. It didn’t change a thing, didn’t mean a thing, and the water still felt very, very cold.

    Look, if you want to have any hope, you need to get out of the USA. We will become the greatest militarized regime the world has ever seen and “we the people” will become slaves. Our guns and ammo will be confiscated – and you can resist if you want and you will be the first to be shot. We will be stripped bare and sent to die in the FEMA camps. It is coming.

  57. Luna Says:

    Sleeping In The Forest
    by Mary Oliver

    I thought the earth remembered me,
    she took me back so tenderly,
    arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
    full of lichens and seeds.
    I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
    nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
    but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
    among the branches of the perfect trees.
    All night I heard the small kingdoms
    breathing around me, the insects,
    and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
    All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
    grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
    I had vanished at least a dozen times
    into something better.

  58. kevin moore Says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/29/carbon-dioxide-concentration-record-levels

    Most of us know the shape of an exponential function.

    The CO2 level is rising faster than exponentially, i.e. a lot steeper than a hockey stick. (I have thrown that at the local Orc clan, NPDC).

    The approximately 1ppm per annum rise when I was born has now increased to around 3ppm per annum (one recent month’s year-on-year was 3.3ppm).

    Everything I see indicates the annual CO2 rise will be around 5ppm per annum by 2020.

    Can any of you see anything different?

  59. B9K9 Says:

    Three comments in one:

    1. Daniel, I wish I could write like that;
    2. Dammit, I wish I could write like that; and

    3. Richard, you wrote “They are a day late and dollar short, as usual, due to their failing to listen to the activists who have stated the obvious for decades.”

    First, your bird metaphor is quite excellent. I’m sure it will start showing up as an unattributed analogy elsewhere on the net. However, that being said, my personal pet peeve are those who assume others in power & influence “don’t get it”.

    Au contraire, mon dieu, they more than get it; in fact, they have profited quite handsomely during this entire sordid episode from “not getting it”. You name it, they’ve got it: salaries, no stress/low hour jobs, pensions, health care, etc.

    Kunstler, Dennniger and many others are masters of accusing others of not getting it, while elevating their own intellect & petting their egos as “the world’s smartest people”. The problem is, the laugh is collectively on them, as it appears both are beginning to wake up to what is really happening.

    As to the coming police state, I say embrace rather than fight. Apparently, there are very real differences to how one comes to accept NTE. Traditional leftists seem to get depressed, while traditional right wingers see more of a game that is to be won. (Of course, once you reach the end-point, previous labels, beliefs & philosophies are all moot.)

    Daniel mentions quality of life. If you’re “into” competition, into “winning”, then quality of life means playing to win and enjoying the game itself. (Former) right wingers are hard-wired to analyze facts and project outcomes. If you understand history, industry, science & math, the outcome is inevitable. Since it’s inevitable, why not play it as it lies?

  60. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    @ Kathy, thanks! :)
    ==

    Daniel says: And now, we’re ruminating on the essence of our ethical obligations, in full acceptance that the whole concept of anthropocentric morality will soon be completely erased?

    Folks’ justifications are based
    On laws which get changed and replaced;
    What they call wrong or right
    (At least in their sight)
    Will soon be completely erased.

  61. Rob Says:

    Wow, this post is getting a lot of buzz!

    The usual voices from the usual camps are all chiming in!

    The bottom line is that THERE IS AN ANSWER! THERE IS A SOLUTION!

    However, the solution is so outrageous that it cannot be implemented. This is the tragedy of NTE. Hell, this is the tragedy of most societies that have collapsed – we are just seeing it on a global scale this time.

    The solution is for the world to come together, admit the reality, and work towards the orderly dismantling of the toxic infrastructure of industrial civilization while reducing the population by 90%. Now!

    I’ll have some t-shirts printed and we can start a grass roots campaign:

    “Kill Yourself for the Good of Humanity, but first, please help us dismantle the infrastructure and then bury all these dead people.”

  62. Tom Says:

    pat: thanks, i agree, but i was simply pointing it out for someone else to explore, as i’m a regular there.

    All great comments today. We can only get so close over the intertubes, which will fail eventually, but i’m with you all in spirit in the long descent.

    Keep in touch.

  63. ~mike~ Says:

    Ya, I reckon so. Very good in my opinion.

    A few things, however…

    First, it would be interesting to hear an informed contemplation of those few souls who have intellectually come to understand and accept the plausibility of the collapse of industrial human society and NTE but who cannot shake the irrational, palpable belief in their own longer term survival.

    Second, this essay would have been acutely more interesting if you could have written it without referencing “truth” and “reality” as if they are somehow knowable. But that is one of the ubiquitous human frailties, this often repeated overwhelming conviction that our opinion is a truth, and so, your self-indulgence is easy to overlook.

    Lastly, I would take a wild shot in the dark here and voice a feeling I’ve been getting from those few folks who I have heard speak out about their belief in NTE. I hear a resonant chord in the background of their voices expressing their fear, lack of desire, and lack of confidence in the prospect of living a life of deprivation. It sounds like a refusal to give up this comfy life style with the logical conclusion being to go quietly away. Just speculating…

    ~mike~

  64. Stephen Says:

    The way I see it, all of this convinces me that, before I go out, I get to see Dick Cheney’s head in s wicker basket. Oh, and Lloyd Blankfein’s.

  65. Bailey Says:

    When I see stuff like what is happening with the slaughter of elephants, I cheer for our soon extinction. We are sick beyond measure as a species such that we could cut the face off of an animal as it still lives, and mow down entire herd with many pregnant (warning, very graphic, but this illustrates why I think the time for our extinction is long overdue)..

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lz61hsHHKn1rnxgyjo1_500.jpg

  66. OzMan Says:

    If Daniel’s long essay is a kind of turning point, or is otherwise coincident with, (rather than causal), a point in time of acceptance of NTE, by many who were hitherto denying it to themselves, or to the many on their own Blogs, I have a few comments.

    1. Guy has got the golden goose essentially because he has spoken loudly of the prevailing Scientific Data sets in a rational context – far more honestly than a lot of in-industry folk with barrows to push – pointing to the ‘clear under-estimating’ of bodies like the IPCC in successive yearly reports, and he has presciently pointed to those all important ‘non-linear feedbacks in the biosphere’ not included in those reports. I am not surprised the attention is finally coming to him for that stance;

    2. As I have pointed to in previous comments on earlier threads, I use the metaphor of stages of growth for our world predicament, and I have said all the hallmarks for this being our ‘Adolescent’ stage are there. But what is quite pressing is what happens when adolescents really contemplate ‘Death’, up close.

    They either drop all the pretence of ‘live forever’ and ‘invulnerability’ and such to become mature, living in direct relations with a real world, or they regress, perhaps presaged by some depression or ‘questing doubt’ phase.

    That regression will mean a variety of things to different cultures and different situations. Religious Fundamentalism is one modern sign that came from the failure of the bigger world religions to come up to the ‘demand for conscious realisation’ that was the ‘post modern moment’, two decades ago. That failure, and the trumping of the post modern moment’s underlying drive, with the Jack of Diamonds of consumerism and carpet laying suburbia – ‘en grosse’- by the corporations was, IMO a point of no return. Small wonder Post-

    Modernism was thus confined in most Western intelligentsia’s mind to Art Theory and Philosophy – but it was essentially about culture and world-view, and growing beyond that conceit.

    In community the regression can be a reversion to tribe -
    (G.W. Bush: “you are either with us or against us”)The youth will gather, and some will be inclined to jettison common good for the band of ‘known brothers and sisters’ – when culture abandons your cohort to poverty, drugs and corrupt policing the impulse for the rise of ‘gangs’ will be strong. For older folk it may be a regression of listening to the silverbacks and we are down to serving the ‘strong’, but nevertheless organised into ‘tribalism’.

    3. When it is Death that faces the adolescent, who wants more answers now that ‘the worm has turned’, there is no bargaining, and eventually one just accepts the day for what it is, brings and can be.

    But to get to that ‘eventual’ situation of mind and maturity the existential angst must be encountered, however, there must be a will to persist, and keep growing beyond the local fear and anger and disruption. I mentioned the Post Modern Moment, and it is the direct failure to see beyond, casting aside ideology and all the false masks of Empire, and dare I say civilisation, and glimpse ‘free action, in response to the world’. Yes a type of anarchy of spoken of here, but rooted in the necessity to be human, compassionate and awake to the world.

    The inevitable is here ! Going to die! The ‘freak out, flail and fury’ is likely, and in terms of militaristic societies, like the USA at present, it is a real danger for everyone, as many can see.

    4. No one really has ever matured through this difficult phase without mature guidance. The Aboriginal Elders consider this phase to be the ‘long beginning’ to adulthood, to the real mysteries of this world. I agree! Thus they guide and mentor each other, and rely on the wisdom coming through their older ones. (No old book is sufficient!)

    How do you live with the day to day acceptance of Death ? The optimal is to ‘die consciously’ and go with what remains. Although Hamlet is a dramatic character, his demonstration of what happens to an introvert when Death is accepted, is both noteworthy and instructive.

    His first response is – ‘ to be or not to be…. if it be not now and ’tis not to come, the readiness is all’ shows openhearted acceptance of the all important moment – now!… which embraces real experience, unmediated by childish ideas and the arbitrage of cultural biases. His other response, somewhat more troubling is to be the agent for natural justice in his local circumstance. I will draw a long bow here and match this to how hunter/gatherers don’t tarry with natural justice…. if it is so, then action follows.

    I offer the caution of needing to recognise the process of regression, because it is ever likely, that violence and self serving tribal survival tendencies will overwhelm, but if ever there was the need to hear clear, mature voices on how to manage living on after ‘death’ comes knocking, it is now.

    If anyone can help, by speaking calmly, and to the depth of our humanity, now is the time to step forward folks.

    I wonder how MSN will want to contextualise NTE as a 20 second grab?

    It is times like these, (when did we last have such a time…?) that the authentic Shamans do their work, and culturally earn their keep – so to speak, still with respect.

    Hello…. ????

    Ah, there!

  67. Daniel Says:

    @ Gary

    You state: “Write the way you talk, not the way you think a college professor would write.”

    Here’s the problem, much to the chagrin of everyone around me, I just so happen to talk this way, I’m really that dull and boring, though I did leave out the usual heavy dosage of my favorite four letter word.

    @ Jeff S.

    You stated:

    “I’m curious why Drumright conveys this message of suicide to a forum in which the participants actually do get just how the present course is rapidly driving us towards NTE, and doesn’t post this at mainstream “progressive” and “environmentalist” forums where most people haven’t a clue how serious the situation is. What would be the effect except to get the most radically-aware people out of the loop?”

    “…where most people haven’t a clue….”

    Hence the repetitive use of the word commiseration. You can’t commiserate with “people who haven’t a clue”.

    @ JavaK

    You stated:

    “…Somehow I feel more content knowing that others are experiencing exactly the same frustrations of seeing the brick wall exponentially accelerating towards us.”

    No JavaK, thank you for taking the time to read something I myself would have a hard time getting through. Maybe it’s just the distant flicker of our genetic social wiring, but I agree with you, it does make a difference knowing we’re not completely out of our minds, as is so easy to feel whenever we step out our front door.

    @ Tom

    You stated a dream: “screaming as i rapidly reached terminal velocity ”

    Odd that you would mention this, because it reminds me of an amazing scene in a not so amazing movie called “The Grey”. There is this plane crash sequence that I found to be so disturbingly realistic, that I later would find myself replaying it over and over in mind as I contemplated NTE.

    One minute we’re all laughing, then a few turbulent bumps quiets everyone down, and then all hell breaks loose, and as we reach terminal velocity, we almost black out by the sheer g-force, but either fortunately or unfortunately…..not quite. Sometimes the weight of the grief is utterly crushing.

    BTW, thanks for what you do, your constant scanning of relevant information helps put everything in perspective, and helps fill in the holes of my own obsession.

    @ Dave

    You state: “Remember – predictions are tricky. Especially when they’re about the future”.

    There’s a little caveat in that one in regards to the climate…….all our predictions, in fact every one up to this point, has been woefully optimistic!

    @ Kathy C

    As always…..thanks! As with many here, your writing is an inspiration, if one can call it that, and I definitely have you to thank for making me aware of the nuclear containment pools, which when taken in concert with NTE, honestly, just makes me laugh in absence of not knowing what to think. I mean climatic induced NTE is one thing, but fuck me, when you throw in the containment pool dilemma……I never really thought that such an impossibly horrific situation, could actually get soooooo much worse.

    @ Grant Schreiber

    You state:

    “The method of suicide — solo, family, group — will take on a greater portion of conversation as NTE becomes more and more apparent.”

    I bet you never imagined having to write those words, as I’m sure none of us ever imagined we would be agreeing with you.

    I see this as some subsequent chapter of this unfolding story. Don’t know if, when or how it will manifest, especially at a family level, I know I wouldn’t be thinking along these lines, if I had children in my care…….

    @ Ozman

    You state:

    “Can’t say I read all this essay…..”

    Well, in case you didn’t here is a part of it, that especially applies to you:

    “Again, for those who consider there “might” still be a chance to turn this bloody ship around, then it logically makes no sense for those to even be considering NTE, for not only is it a false pretense, but its utterly self-defeating.”

    And while you clearly take offense with either my position or just me, I mean you no offense.

    @ Gail

    You state:

    “Anyway, this post of Daniel’s (okay could have used an editor) still was very thought-provoking about meaning – and the point of it all – and what to do. So I appriciate that, since those questions plague me constantly.”

    You think the final draft was long, you should see the unabridged version.

    You have become a staple here at NBL and your opinion is important to me. I hope you and I, as well as many others here, can over time, begin to shape the conversations that we know are headed our way, but where we are all still too fragile to seriously take them on.

    @ Ogardener

    Thanks!

    @ Benjamin the donkey

    I don’t know what to say, but thank you so very much for your gracious praise, even though we all know you’re the one who is putting in the most time, in attempting to creatively work through this shit. I’ll be honest, at first, I didn’t pay all that much attention to your prose, but damn it if you don’t constantly just hit it right out of the park. I completely agree with Kathy C, TVT and many others, you have a gift……even if it’s an old one. Please keep at it. I think I can speak for many, you are very much needed here.

    @ Robin Data

    You state:

    “Of course, each person will put their own english on the ball.”

    Isn’t that the truth. Thanks for the line-by-line repartee. Often times, I can’t figure out whether you’re far more robot than meat, or you’re just a genius and I’m too stupid to follow half of what you post. But, either way, thanks for putting in the time to get through that ridiculously long essay.

    And this: “Praise the Lawd! – And EFFIT! No need to “embrace” NTE. Plenty of others are doing plenty fine! If what has been said in the posts (and comments!) to date ain’t enough, nothin’ short of a chomp from the croc’s gonna do it.”

    I actually laugh out so loud I woke my partner up on the other side of the house.

    @ Lidia

    You stated:

    “I think what Daniel is saying is that once one is completely aware and reconciled to NTE as unavoidable, then suicide is a rational means of dealing with the situation. By comparison, if one is not reconciled to NTE, then suicide is not a rational choice, all else being equal..”

    Spot on, thanks for the counter point.

    @ Anthony

    Thanks for taking the time to read it, I know it was a lot to ask of others. Thanks again! Are you still somewhere in the middle of central Asia?

    @Tony Weddle

    You state/ask:

    “Though it’s a post-acceptance article, the first part (and a small later part) still seems to be wrestling with a fragment of doubt……”

    You’re absolutely right, I am rife with doubt, my opinion of certainty is limited only to life and death. But doubt is not just a cornerstone in my life, it is the basis of science itself. And where my life and science almost completely merge, is in the laws of probability. The probability of humanity maintaining agriculture in a post-Holocene epoch is so low, my presumed sense of certainty, is actually just my acceptance of this high/low probability.

    @ Redreamer

    Don’t know what to say, we put so much time in just thinking about NTE, no less attempting to put it into words, never quite knowing if by writing about it, we’re only facilitating the madness, or we’re in some way aiding its passing. But the fact that you sat down and read that terribly haunting twenty page essay twice, means a lot, it truly does.

    @ Carolyn Baker

    Well, since I’ve a copy of your amazing book “Sacred Demise” and you have been a stalwart of the collapse community for a very long time, I am obviously deeply honored that you would feel so inclined to drop in on us denizens at NBL, and share your thoughts in regards to near term extinction. Looking at the world as a hospice ward, is something Kathy C has often mentioned, and think it’s quite apropos.

    Isn’t it strange what resonates with some, while deeply offending others.

    Keep up your amazing work. Over the years, I have often times quoted you to those I thought needed to hear your message. I would usually say, take care, but actually, thanks for taking such good care of the rest of us over the years.

    @ BK9k

    You stated:

    “…1. Daniel, I wish I could write like that;
    2. Dammit, I wish I could write like that…”

    Well god damn!BK Since I have ruthlessly attacked your character in the past, to a point I would at least consider to be beyond redemption, consider my petty hatchet buried. Thanks for being a better man than I.

    @ Ulvfugl

    “Bit like walking into a cathedral. Nothing to say. Silence.”

    I often like to imagine two people who haven’t ever met, but somehow know one another, being able to walk up to each other for the first time, where they have no need to speak, or express themselves, they just silently look each other in the eye in some knowing way, and through all the pain and heartbreak, they both just understand there is nothing left to be said. I don’t know why I consider silence to be the highest form of communication, but at least from my end, I like to imagine that is something you and I could achieve. Thanks for the kind words brother!

  68. the virgin terry Says:

    “It no longer matters.”

    if it ever mattered, it still does. as kathy has repeatedly pointed out, death and extinction are unavoidable facts of life. nothing’s surreally changed but expectations of timing (and the profound disenchantment/alienation that comes with the surrealization that our species is so pathetic). but shit still matters, until u’re dead. shit like the quality of each moment, including the moment of death. it matters if anything does, or ever did. and if not? fuck it!!! try to live your best and die your best. fuck it.

  69. Debbie Flynn Says:

    I read this essay over a couple of days and can relate to it very well. About a year ago I sold my apartment, I have just quit my job and am travelling this year to the Arctic to see it for myself before it all melts away. I have not travelled overseas for many many years because I have wanted to reduce my carbon footprint but as Guy says, flying will help to speed up collapse of industrial civilisation and with NTE coming soon anyway, nothing matters anymore. In many ways I act like a person who has been told they have a terminal illness i.e. living with a sense of urgency. No family, friends or acquaintences are aware of NTE or my real reasons for my actions. These are things that cannot be spoken of. I have tried in the past but have now given up.

    OzMan, I hope you can get Guy to come to Australia.

  70. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    @ Daniel: Thanks! It’s true, I can’t come up with anything better to do with my life than wallow around in this. I’ve never done much creative writing before, and it doesn’t feel to me like I have a gift, but when I get all this head-swelling praise, why, I just have to write some more: :D
    ==

    Daniel says: a post-acceptance perspective

    Your know preps will prove ineffective,
    And also, that lots of invective
    Will be coming your way
    If you choose to display
    A post-acceptance perspective.
    ==

    Daniel says: I am of the opinion that all dialog post-acceptance of NTE is manifestly commiserative.

    It turns out the future is not-so-great,
    But we can’t do a thing at this late date;
    We must meet our fate
    And there’s not long to wait:
    The best we can do is commiserate.

  71. Robin Datta Says:

    B9K9 says: Since it’s inevitable, why not play it as it lies?

    Actually that is what is happening all the time, even when someone moves the ball: the lie of the whole includes that someone and the moving of the ball.

    The bottom line is that THERE IS AN ANSWER! THERE IS A SOLUTION!

    Depends on what one means by “SOLUTION”. From one viewpoint NTE is the solution. Especially so if you ain’t Homo sapiens.

    it would be interesting to hear an informed contemplation of those few souls who have intellectually come to understand and accept the plausibility of the collapse of industrial human society and NTE but who cannot shake the irrational, palpable belief in their own longer term survival.

    To the extent that mind + body survival = own survival, it is a delusion. Tradition has it that there is an exception that has to do with “enlightenment” and the “Akashic record”, but is of zero significance to those to whom the exception would apply, and so does not merit consideration.

    OzMan: But what is quite pressing is what happens when adolescents really contemplate ‘Death’, up close.

    A notable – rare, but possible – outcome: if Ramana, they become a Maharishi.

    whether you’re far more robot than meat, or you’re just a genius

    Remember, the “meat robot” includes the “meat”, the robotic algorithms that play out as the “mind”, and in those instances where algorithms might be good enough, “genius”. Confusion starts when awareness is stirred into the mix. Awareness is a different “matter?”

    I consider silence to be the highest form of communication

    Little truths like little waves sparkle and glisten on the surface; the great truth, like the great ocean deep, is dark and silent. – Sanskrit saying.

  72. Daniel Says:

    @ Ripley

    You ask/state:

    “With the exception of Guy and a few others, I doubt that knowledge of NTE has resulted in dramatic changes in the the living arrangements of most the people who have this knowledge. So, with this in mind, what would you expect would happen if all people were forced to listen to nothing but Guy’s NTE message? Assume that his message was broadcast on all media outlets with no competing or contradictory messages, and that it was completely accepted and pushed as absolute fact by all media, political, religious, etc. figures. What would you expect that people would do? What would you like to see happen?”

    Let us not forget “this knowledge” you speak of, hasn’t been around all that long. Empirically, I would put it at less than a year old, so I don’t think anyone as of yet, has made any serious lifestyle changes. But I do believe this is what we’re attempting to get at.

    So, you posed a rather odd and coercive hypothetical, since it would/could never happen. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if anyone here has ever even thought about it, or for that matter, even think along those lines. We are ALL very aware as to just how small of a minority of opinion we are.

    “forced to listen to nothing but Guy’s NTE message”

    “completely accepted and pushed as absolute fact”

    Are you sure you’re asking questions here, or are you attempting to make a backhanded statement?

    I’m not quite sure why you are still putting such a heavy emphasis of NTE, as somehow being “his message”. NTE has absolutely nothing to do with Guy. I mean anyone, who has seriously been following climate science, has been reading all the same research over the last three decades as everyone else. All Guy has done, is cogently put the research in an accessible format. He also happens to be incredibly honest.

    All that’s left for any of us, at this point, is a series of personal choices: You either believe in science or you don’t. You either extend that “belief” to climate science or you don’t. You either accept non-linear rates of climate change, or you don’t. You either extrapolate the probability of current trends into the near term future, or you don’t.

    If you don’t, then so be it. That is obviously your choice to make. But many of us here, do.

    Again, all of these are just personal choices, for each of us to come to terms with, however we can.

    We accept we’ve crossed numerous tipping points, or we don’t. We’re either aware the jet stream is slowing with greater oscillation, or we’re not. Absolutely none of this has anything to do with any of “our” opinion, it just simply is what it is. And all “we” are attempting to do, is wrap our heads around this moment in time, which is incredibly and practically impossible to fully comprehend given its implications.

    Personally, I can’t begrudge anyone for choosing to not accept NTE, in fact, I’m rather envious of those who can.

    But Ripley, something tells me, you’re actually not at all interested in having anyone answer your rather nonsensical question……….are you?

  73. Daniel Says:

    @ Carmen

    Thanks for the comments…..it truly does mean a lot to me. Whether all this reaching out to each other, is just our little way of countering the pool of bullshit we have to swim in each day, or it’s something else, I suppose is anyone’s guess. But even in a world where nothing matters, your kind comments still matter to me, even in spite of myself. Thanks!

  74. Anthony Says:

    This is a as good an analogy for our predicament called civilization as I can find:

    At what point in the flight of the space shuttle do you suppose we are in right now? Seems to me that the systems we rely on for life are already coming apart. . . the explosion has already happened. Only a few of us see the debris raining down and feel the change in trajectory. The crowd is still cheering.

    Daniel,

    I’m in central Asia for a few more weeks. Then back to work on our place in AK, then moving to a new school in India.

  75. Daniel Says:

    @ TVT

    You stated:

    “if it ever mattered, it still does.”

    I like that….for no other reason than it sounds like something I could get behind. However, I’m not sure I believe it, but it does make one think.

    You see, once upon a time, preventing civilization from crossing just one tipping point, definitely mattered. But that was then, having already crossed a multitude, is now!

  76. Rod Cloutier Says:

    Guy,

    I just finished reading your book, and then I read this article. A few thoughts come to mind immediatly:

    1) You are beyond right about yourself, myself, and others coming up against ‘closed minds’ at every turn. My own family tells me I’m a conspiracy theorist, but actually I’m just searching for the truth. I can read, study and understand truths that others can’t bear to look at or ponder.

    2) You mentioned in your book that your wife lives in an apartment now and doesn’t share the demonostration farm you’re living on. You need to fix this fast. You can turn the demonstration farm over to your graduate students to manage; you should go back to your wife. If not for your sanity, then for hers!

    3) You mentioned suicide in your essay far too many times. If you are suicidal, even with valid reason, you should seek help. No there’s no pancea solution awaiting at the door, but taking the whole world’s problems onto your own shoulders is too hard to bear. Those in the know share your despair for the end of civilization that we all face; YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS! Please seek suicide councilling immediatly. Your suicide would be tragic, no one would benifit from this.

    4) I disagree partially that these concepts have never been contemplated before. Surely it has. When in dispair I turn and read Ecclesiasties, which I consider the greatest book ever written. Vanity, hopeless, meaninglessness are all addressed. Please consider:

    http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/kjv/kjv-idx?type=DIV1&byte=2546945

    It’s a short book that can be read in a single session. Please read it if only to confirm that events of meaninglessness of life have been contempated before.

    5) I’ve personally had a NDE in the past. (This is not me), but here is a link to a very powerful story that should bring you some joy in this moment of sorrow for you. A ten part series that won’t take more than about 1 hour of your time:

    Please watch this! And please take care of yourself. You are loved!

  77. BadlandsAK Says:

    Wow, Daniel, you have truly left no stone unturned in attempting to reconcile and make sense of the irreconcilable and senseless beast that is NTE, and I thank you for it. You must feel a great sense of relief in articulating your thoughts, even if only momentary.

    Though NTE is always on my mind to some degree, when I think about it directly, I find my mind racing in circles, and I usually come to the same conclusion every time.
    That this knowledge changes everything, yet changes nothing. It is still difficult to find/keep the balance at any given time, on any given day, and it can feel hopeless, which must be bad, but wait, maybe hope has always been the poison? I am very familiar with the “cruel bottomless hole” you describe, but have come to understand it, not so much as a cruel place, but as a misunderstood place, a place yet to be mapped. And I have no interest in mapping it, as I feel responsible to let it be, as an ever-searching human belonging to a family of creatures unable to live and let live, I just want to let things be now.
    You used the word ‘emergence’, and it is perfect, in that whatever comes from this, we, all of us standing here, must be left behind. We are simply the catalyst, good or bad, for what is to come, and I think that is where my own panic lies. The great weight of responsibility, not just to my own children, but to my own life, I so fear that I have squandered everything. I have been close to death many times, and it is not what I fear, in fact it is so seductive, that if I didn’t have small children constantly jolting me awake and pulling me out of my mental traps, I could easily slip into such a state. It’s too easy.

    Looking life in the eye is hard, especially when each day is a small series of compromises and contradictions, unable to walk away due to mouths to feed and rent to pay, a little too entrenched in the system, not knowing what the signs will be that it is time to break free. And of course, I feel rather silly getting so entwined in the “what ifs” that I become careless, and do things like almost falling down the stairs, a good reminder that “I” am not in control, and though falling down the stairs is not how I want to go, it is possible, and then I won’t get to find out what happens next. Like you said, knowledge has become a fetish, and we will all soon be in detox.
    No matter your drug of choice, NTE is going to rip it out of your hands, and stark reality of all feelings left unfelt, all promises broken, all harms done, are going to be laid bare. As well, all of the immense beauty kept at arms length will come rushing in to be experienced and mourned. I want to do this as a whole person, and any healing I can facilitate in myself or others is all I can find left worth doing, so that the precious life that remains to be lived won’t be wasted, and so that it can be recognized as precious, even if it’s but one pure moment.

    @Carolyn Baker
    “Who are you really, wanderer?”
    “Maybe I’m a king.”

  78. Laura Mae Says:

    I agree with the essay concepts explored and appreciate the writer ‘telling the truth and shaming the devil’. In coming to terms with my own mortality I find that Carolyn Bakers points are the ones that fit best with me. When talking to my family and friends about our NTE I often draw on 2 scenario questions:
    1. ‘if you were told you had 6 months to live, how would you want to spend it’.
    2. ‘Would you want to know?’
    …answering these helps each of us process the stages of grief because we realize that 1. allows us time to settle up any regrets and love on into the sunset as long as the answer to 2, is yes. So, for the first time in human history we have collectively been given the gift of possibly ‘knowing about our death sentences’. Some of us will not want to know and will deny the truth to their graves, and that’s there choice and I want to respect their last wishes.
    As for me and mine, we’re cherishing each day and each other for how ever long we have…we were never going to get out of this life alive anyway, just didn’t expect to have so much company. Honesly, the world will be better off without us, I am ashamed of most of my species, with the exception of the

  79. Frank Furcsa Says:

    Well the human mind was a out of this world phenomena no wonder it could only coexist briefly (and when that also only with tremendous irreconcilable conflict) with the natural physical order of things. Now it is being forced to take up shape in lack of the liveable planet in some kind of a superspace i guess more fitting with its nature . Its all good . I know it is a scary prospect since it is an alien domain but this human physical enterprise became such a messy thing and it is quite cumbersome and who would want to go back to some substinece level of existence . I welcome it !

  80. Laura Mae Says:

    …few indigenous societies around the globe that lived in balance and with reverence, respect and love for nature as the true of the this plant and were mostly laid to waste by perpetrators of an insane culture hell bent to DIE…aka Domination, Individualism and Exclusion. Capitalism has always been legalize financial cannibalism and will go down in history (not that there will be anyone around to read it, let alone learn anything from it) as the Supreme road to our ultimate distruction.
    I sometimes wish it would just get over with… or as the writer suggested, suicide, but then I remember that what matters most in my life is being with my family and friends through the thick and think, better or for worse and I am determined to be there when my people need me the most…to hold there hands and anything else I can do in the end to be there for them while they go through their hospice experience, I refuse to abandon any one of them…maybe we will opt for euthanasia in the end, but we will leave no behind. In the mean time, we’re taking it one day at a time and living and laughing at what we can through it all.

  81. Laura Mae Says:

    …few indigenous societies around the globe that lived in balance and with reverence, respect and love for nature as the true of the this plant and were mostly laid to waste by perpetrators of an insane culture hell bent to DIE…aka Domination, Individualism and Exclusion. Capitalism has always been legalize financial cannibalism and will go down in history (not that there will be anyone around to read it, let alone learn anything from it) as the Supreme road to our ultimate distruction.
    I sometimes wish it would just get over with… or as the writer suggested, suicide, but then I remember that what matters most in my life is being with my family and friends through the thick and think, better or for worse and I am determined to be there when my people need me the most…to hold there hands and anything else I can do in the end to be there for them while they go through their hospice experience, I refuse to abandon any one of them…maybe we will opt for euthanasia in the end, but we will leave no behind and no one is dying alone. In the mean time, we’re taking it one day at a time and living, crying, ranting, grieving and laughing at what we can through it all.
    I’ve been hosting every new moon, what I refer to as my ‘End of the World’ support group potluck since the Dec 21, 2012. Lots of friends and family get together for ‘group therapy’ to share their feelings about the NTE and to have somewhere they can be safe to talk about the truth and to be reminded that they are not going through this alone…
    It’s easier burden to bare when you can talk about the elephant in the room and not be shot down…just getting the words out of your head and into the open room is helpful to me. So far the largest crowd has been about 20 people including a few youngsters and different people come every time. The first hour we eat and share permaculture skills and news and the last hour we have the therapy session…people are encouraged to attend either hour or both and stay as long after as they want.
    Peace, Love & Light to you and yours

  82. Daniel Says:

    @ Badlands

    I’m going to think long on that……but that just might be my favorite post of all time! You my dear, are a true inspiration.

  83. Ripley Says:

    Daniel Says:

    But Ripley, something tells me, you’re actually not at all interested in having anyone answer your rather nonsensical question………are you?

    I’d love to hear an answer. Yes it’s hypothetical and perhaps nonsensical. Maybe Guy would have thought more about it since it assumes that Guy is traveling around because he really does want the message of NTE to get out to as many people as possible. That he wouldn’t turn down a chance to speak to the UN with every head of state on Earth attending. So let us imagine that the message has gone out and been accepted by everyone. Everyone accepts and agrees with you and Guy that we have as little as 10 and maybe at most 30 years left. What then? What would you hope that people would to do? Do you think people should have a duty to do anything in particular either as individuals or as a group?

  84. Tony Weddle Says:

    I think most here, even Daniel, have some doubt, however slight, that NTE is a certainty. I’m glad that I have that doubt, I’m glad that the future is unknowable. If I were absolutely certain of NTE, particularly NTHE, I think I might just give up resistance. I think I might, though I don’t know. Even though it’s desperately hard to be (almost) the sole resister, it still seems right. It still seems right to try to live differently to the way I had done for 55 years, contributing to the mess we’ve made.

    If, through my actions, I can give some member of a future generation (of whatever species) a better chance of a half decent life, then I should take those actions. But knowing that those actions would be of no avail, I might take up one of Daniel’s suggestions and just live for the moment until the money runs out (or until environmental catastrophe overtakes me). Perhaps it’s that possible reaction to acceptance which keeps me from accepting.

  85. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Daniel

    I often like to imagine two people who haven’t ever met, but somehow know one another, being able to walk up to each other for the first time, where they have no need to speak, or express themselves, they just silently look each other in the eye in some knowing way, and through all the pain and heartbreak, they both just understand there is nothing left to be said. I don’t know why I consider silence to be the highest form of communication, but at least from my end, I like to imagine that is something you and I could achieve. Thanks for the kind words brother!

    Yeah. Done. Nod and a grin. All a bit too sad for words.

    @ Gail

    This is another attempt to postulate that humans are innately good and that the evil things we do are attributable to some sort of dysfunction imposed by some externality, in this case, diet.

    Not so. Afaik, it’s the first plausible explanation offered for the mysterious incompatibility between the left and right hemispheres. It’s biology, not morality.

    What explains the human sacrifice practiced by the Mayans, the slavery of Egypt, the expansion of Rome, the piracy of the Vikings, the torture by the Mandarins?

    Culture, domestication and civilisation.

    I can stop wondering which side of the brain makes people so willfully ignorant of our propensity towards violence and ecodide.

    Left side is the analytical side. The side which, when dominant, denies the existence of every characteristic of experience generally listed under the rubric ‘spiritual’, because for people, ( such as yourself ), such experience simply does not exist, and they get quite annoyed when it is mentioned or taken seriously.

    However, for countless millions of people, where the right hemisphere is operational, spiritual experience is self-evident and they find the denial of its existence incomprehensible and get annoyed by the apparent bigotry and blindness of those who refuse to acknowledge what, for them, is obvious and real.

    Iain Mcgilchrist, who wrote the authoritative work on this subject, could offer no explanation for how the human brain had evolved this peculiar conflicted incompatible structure.

    Tony Wright has offered an interesting and plausible theory as to how this could be the result of our evolution, which is why I mentioned it. It would be of only academic interest, except that this problem crops up on blogs and forums, and in soceity more generally, on a daily basis.

    It’s rather like people who have no sense of taste, getting angry when other people say how wonderful a food tastes, and vice versa. There’s a fundamental communication problem, because there’s a fundamental absence of shared common experience.

    http://www.iainmcgilchrist.com/

    @ Lidia

    ….a religion largely invented a couple of generations ago—where the cut-and-paste marks are still fresh

    It’s about the same sort of vintage and authenticity as, say, the American Constitution, another cut-and-paste job, and opera, and the novel, and many similar cultural artefacts, that some people cherish and try to maintain, for one reason or another.

  86. Lidia Says:

    @u, indeed they are elite artifacts, born of their societies’ economic extraction. Maintaining them as cultural curios in a “cabinet of wonders” will not be possible in a severely constrained energy future (NTE notwithstanding).

    Clearing out my mother’s house, I had occasion to ponder the many artifacts of civilization/oppression she had accumulated, mostly by dint of being the granddaughter of an ambassador. Victorian stereo cards brought the conquest of far-off lands to the parlors of the bourgeoisie. Crystal punchbowls not used since the 1920s and sets of silverware of specialized, elaborate and often incomprehensible function (some left oxidizing and corroding in piles in the damp basement). Beside the functional silver, hers was a family which collected souvenir spoons, which seems charming but when you get down to it this was just a most pointless form of conspicuous consumption: not only did each represent an expensive trip, but you also had to be able to afford buying silver, unlike even the olive fork or the jelly spoon, with no practical use whatsoever. The piano, a fixture in every ” better” home pre-electricity, was a concentrated accumulation of industrial know-how and costly materials obtained through global looting (ivory, mahogany). Despite the intrinsic “worth” or “value” of this item (it could never be reproduced today), it was feared to become the white elephant of the estate sale. The cleaning lady bought it, probably for $50 or $100; asking the manager of the sale what price she had put on it would have been too demoralizing.

    And this is what was interesting about the process, from the p.o.v. of catabolic collapse or of NTE: to the people who made the ponderous onyx clock, or the elaborate needlepoint footstools, these objects really mattered to them and were important ballast for the progress of their social voyage. But we’re not on that voyage any longer, and whether people admit that to themselves or not, it’s clear that these items will continue to lose value to the point where they can’t even be given away. I just don’t think stories that are predicated on “order” are going to work, going forward to whatever extent we do, and this is a new factor for humanity to assimilate: that there will be chaos followed by more chaos and never to be normalcy again. This is where Greer is climbing an uphill battle against the same entropic forces which he explicates so adeptly: I think he imagines plateaus where “society” can re-group, engage in democracy(!) and politics(!) which, I would argue, are as equally products of surplus energy as the mahogany piano.

  87. Lidia Says:

    And the Constitution (alrady a document by the elite for the elite) is not holding up so well, either. Bit of a white elephant itself which we can’t seem to afford to maintain. It’s already been left at the curb, as far as I can see.

  88. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Lidia

    Yes, indeed Lidia. ALL the stories get broken, NTE, and we, who see this, must face this existential, well, whatever it is. I don’t know any adequate term. Daniel used many words to try and depict this something that nobody has ever had to face before.

    I once knew a young man, who had the job, a bit like yours, sorting through heirlooms. He was a scion of a family, the grandfather, or maybe it was the great grandfather, best not mention the name, built a whole town, now a small city, to house his workers. He inherited so many weird accumulated objet d’art. What was the point ? All that wealth and hoarded junk, so much that nobody even knew what there was, took months to sort and sell it, all off the labour of poor people who were given just enough to stay alive.

    All the stories get broken.

    I just read this ancient Chinese text, old wisdom, called The Book of Secret Blessings.

    He who wants to expand the field of happiness, let him lay the foundation of it on the bottom of his heart.
    Practise benevolence wherever you find an opportunity, and let your deeds of merit be unheeded .
    Benefit all creatures ; benefit the people.
    Practise goodness: acquire merit.
    Be honest like Heaven in conducting your affairs.
    Compassionate and auspicious, the state government must be devoted to the salvation of the people.
    Let your heart be impartial and wide of range.
    Fulfil the four obligations ; impartially observe the three doctrines.
    Be faithful and reverential to the ruler. Be filial and obedient to parents. Be congenial and friendly to brothers. Be sincere in your intercourse with friends.
    Let some worship the Truthful One, and revere the Northern Constellation, while others bow before the Buddha and recite sutras.
    By discoursing on morality and righteousness, convert both the cunning and the dull. By preaching on the canonical books and histories, enlighten the ignorant and the benighted.
    Relieve people in distress as speedily as you must release a fish from a dry rill [lest he die].
    Deliver people from danger as quickly as you must free a sparrow from a tight noose.
    Be compassionate to orphans and relieve widows. Respect the old and help the poor.
    Promote the good and recommend the wise. Be lenient with others and exacting with yourself.
    Save your clothing and provisions that ye may befriend the hungry and cold on the road.
    Give away coffins and cases lest the dead of the poor be exposed.
    Build charitable graveyards for unclaimed corpses.
    Establish philanthropic institutions for the education of children.
    If your own family is well provided, extend a helping hand to your relatives. If the harvest fails, provide for and relieve your neighbors and friends.
    Let measures and scales be accurate; and be neither chary in selling nor exacting in buying.
    Treat your servants with generosity and consideration. Do not expect perfection nor be too strict in your demands.
    Publish and make known sutras and tracts. Build and repair temples and shrines.
    Distribute medicine to alleviate the suffering of the sick. With tea or water relieve the distress of the thirsty.
    Light lanterns in the night to illuminate where people walk. Keep boats on rivers to ferry people across.
    Buy captive animals and give them freedom.
    How commendable is abstinence that dispenses with the butcher!
    While walking be mindful of worms and ants.
    Be cautious with fire and do not set mountain woods or forests ablaze.
    Do not go into the mountain to catch birds in nets, nor to the water to poison fishes and minnows.
    Do not butcher the ox that plows thy field.
    Do not throw away paper that is written on.
    Do not scheme for others’ property.
    Do not envy others’ accomplishments.
    Do not approach thy neighbor’s wife or maids.
    Do not stir thy neighbors to litigation.
    Do not injure thy neighbor’s reputation or interest.
    Do not meddle with thy neighbor’s conjugal affairs.
    Set not, for personal malice, brothers at variance with one another.
    Set not father and son at variance for trifles.
    Never take advantage of your power, nor disgrace the good and law-abiding.
    Presume not, ye that are rich; nor deceive the needy and suffering.
    While attending to your duty, be humble and modest.
    Live in concord with your relatives and clansmen.
    Let go hatred and forgive malice.
    Those that are good, seek ye for friends; that will help you to practise virtue with body and soul.
    Those that are wicked, keep at a distance; it will prevent evil from approaching you.
    Pass in silence over things wicked, but promulgate all that is good.
    Do not assert with your mouth what your heart denies.
    Always have in mind helpful sayings.
    Do not use improper language.
    Cut the brambles and thorns that obstruct the highway. Remove bricks and stones that lie in the path.
    Repair the defiles though for many hundred years they have remained unimproved.
    Build bridges to be traversed by thousands and ten thousands of people.
    Expound moral maxims to correct the people’s faults.
    Supply the means to give instruction to people of talent.
    Let your work conform to Heaven’s reason, and let your speech express humaneness.
    Keep the ancient sages before your eyes even when at supper or while looking over the fence.
    Be mindful when you are alone in the shadow of your coverlet.
    Anything evil refrain ye from doing; all good deeds do! So will you be released forever from the influence of evil stars, and always be encompassed by good guardian angels.
    Rewards may be immediate, and you will receive them in person, or rewards may be remote, and will devolve upon your posterity.
    Blessings come a hundredfold in loads as if drawn by horses; good fortune is piled up a thousandfold like a mass of clouds.
    Do not all these things accrue to the heart of the quiet way ?

    Some music, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder

  89. B9K9 Says:

    @Daniel says “Since I have ruthlessly attacked your character in the past, to a point I would at least consider to be beyond redemption.”

    Daniel, you’re getting there; in fact, maybe you’ve finally arrived. Once one sheds the vestiges of their journey, does it really matter by which route they got there?

    Imagine me, you, Gail and a few others I would characterize as (former) progressives having a few drinks at a cocktail mixer. Would you really disagree that the only bulwark against state tyranny is equality of force? Would I be offended that unbridled individualism invariably results in a tragedy of commons? (One in which we see has manifested itself into the ultimate tragedy?)

    When I browsed your previous remarks, rather than take offense, I could detect someone who still “believed”. Once you drop all pretenses of righteousness – from either direction – then you’re able to reflect on what silly dupes we’ve all been, being played from the start.

  90. B9K9 Says:

    @Ripley says “So let us imagine that the message has gone out and been accepted by everyone. Everyone accepts and agrees with you and Guy that we have as little as 10 and maybe at most 30 years left. What then?”

    Ripley, while Ozman wonders if Daniel’s essay is a turning point @ NBL, I think your comment suggests that there are indeed many more turns of the worm to come.

    What then, indeed. Personally, I’m stoked not many others get NTE – or, to an extent that they don’t admit such knowledge in public. The Titanic analogy is perfect in so many ways – what happened when steerage found out the truth? If you were first class, wouldn’t you be thankful that you had a 10-15 minute heads-up to get on the life boats before all hell broke loose?

    Once you accept NTE (and, for the record, while I retain some belief in the earth’s ability to counteract/balance certain conditions, I have absolutely **no doubt** about the effect of population overshoot & peak oil), then it no longer becomes an issue to be contemplated.

    Again, consider the Titanic: once the issue of the very ship is resolved, the next challenge is surviving in your little boat. At that point, what you really want is for all the straglers to quickly die off (ie freeze to death) so as not to put your own neck @ risk.

    I, for one, am damn glad the PTB are lying through their teeth. For those who have a clue, it provides ample time to live-in-the-moment for one last hurrah. You want to go see the last of the Arctic ice? What if, all of a sudden, 1m others wanted to do the same thing? Do you see what an advantage it is to have advance notice?

    Carpe diem, baby, carpe diem. But make sure everyone else is still trying to keep up with the Jones so that they don’t interfere with your own enjoyment.

  91. pat Says:

    B9K9

    yes, there is no good that can come from EVERYONE on the planet understanding and embracing NTE. Can you imagine?

    Still, it seems to me that sooner or later the masses are going to start putting two and two together and then the mass riots and gang violence and martial law and etc, etc, etc will begin.

    As soon as SHTF, it will spiral down quickly, be careful you don’t find yourself as “Today’s Mystery Meat” at the FEMA camp.

    The recent famine in Somalia is estimated to have killed over 250,000 people, mostly children. Lots of people throughout history have starved to death but, apparently, not enough.

    Lots of people throughout history have committed suicide but, apparently, not enough.

    Lots of people throughout history have committed murder but, apparently, not enough.

  92. Gary Stamper Says:

    “They are playing a game. They are playing at not
    playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
    shall break the rules and they will punish me.
    I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.” – RD LANG, “Knots”

    As I sit the with impact of this article, I remember this feeling before: That November morning in 1963 as a freshman in college, stunned at learning of JFK’s assassination; MLK, RFK in 1968, September 11, 2001…I’ll remember for the rest of my days exactly where I was when I first read this article…and like the author, will, for a while, sit and contemplate about what really matters from here on out, knowing that the great grief must be met, acknowledged, and experienced.

    When I moved to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina five years ago, I had several visions through future life progressions. Three have come true, and two have not yet been fulfilled: One was that that my beloved and I chose a peaceful suicide in our bed together instead of facing what was coming, and the other was in a new life some years in the future as a child in an agrarian community. One of those visions may not come to be. Find your community. Find others you can grieve and celebrate with. Plant a tree.

  93. grochef Says:

    NTE is a scary topic. I thought of it in terms of my own extinction, though. I will be extinct within my own lifetime as well. After which, it won’t matter any more. I agree with one of the comments stating that it is a shame that we humans are taking every other living thing to its own extinction as well. Not due to those life forms’ imperfections, but because of our recklessness.

  94. Diane Says:

    @pat

    So, I’m not sure about your specific variant of imminent doom.

    We’ve found a bacteria species that lived two miles below the surface without any other organisms to cooperate with [1], theres the various species living in the deep sea volcanic vents, and there’s bacteria growing in nuclear waste [2].

    Based on stories like that I came to the conclusion that we don’t actually have the capability to kill all bacterial life. Even if humanity was deliberately trying to sterilize the planet we wouldn’t be able to kill all the bacteria.

    We’re facing the planets 6th extinction event, so though climate change and the probable resource wars/civil unrest are bad news for humans and all the “charismatic mega-fauna” we seem to like, there are organisms that will happily move in to those empty niches.

    (Think of all those robust invasive species, if we’re already trying to kill them and failing, we’re unlikely to succeed by accident.)

    [1] http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/2124/golden-bacteria
    [2] http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Bacteria-found-in-Hanford-waste-1145677.php

  95. Ken Barrows Says:

    Reading this article and its comments, I find NTE has become less scary. Although I worry about nieces and nephews, I have no children. So, at 47, when the end comes, it comes.

  96. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Dr. Charles Fowler is a recently retired American scientist who worked for NOAA at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. He has a strong interest in human sustainability, and has published a number of papers looking at the human presence on the planet from an ecological and biodiversity point of view.

    In 2008 he wrote a paper entitled Maximizing biodiversity, information and sustainability. In it he looks for quantitative answers to the question “How much would human numbers and activity need to be reduced in order to maximize the biodiversity of the planetary system?” He did it by looking at 96 other mammalian species of similar body weights to humans, and analyzing their ranges of population, consumption, and CO2 emission levels. He then compared the numbers for humans to the statistical range of results in each category.

    His numbers are truly shocking, even for a hardcore sustainability realist like me. According to Dr. Fowler’s calculations, in order to maximize the biodiversity of the planet we would need to reduce human population to about 1/700, overall energy use to 1/6000, CO2 emissions to about 1/8000, consumption of the planet’s primary production to 1/13,000, and our water consumption to 1/267,000.

    To put it another way, a sustainable humanity that maximizes the biodiversity of the planet would consist of 10 million people, each of whom use 12% of today’s average energy, produce 8% of the CO2, use 5% of the planet’s productivity and consume just 0.3% of the fresh water we each feel is our birthright.

    Basically we’re looking at a sustainable planetary population of about 10 million, each with a standard of living of less than 10% of what the “world average” person enjoys today.

    This is about half the lower-bound number I arrived at in my recent article Thermodynamic Footprints and Sustainability, of 20 million people all living a strict hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    Thee intention with this analysis was to look at what it would take to maximize planetary biodiversity. Humanity decided that rule didn’t apply to us, so we were able to do a little better for ourselves … for a while.

    With the rush of information about climate change and other tipping points in the last year, it’s now well past time to give up the delusion that we can manage ourselves out of this mess. Perhaps its time we began to make peace with ourselves and our loved ones, and started getting our affairs in order.

  97. Jeff S. Says:

    Daniel: the way i understood Guy’s take, and it is my take as well, resistance is a moral imperative, even if the odds of success are little to none. In fact, especially if that’s the case. But here comes this,
    Tony Weddle Says:
    April 30th, 2013 at 12:47 am

    “If, through my actions, I can give some member of a future generation (of whatever species) a better chance of a half decent life, then I should take those actions. But knowing that those actions would be of no avail, I might take up one of Daniel’s suggestions and just live for the moment until the money runs out (or until environmental catastrophe overtakes me). Perhaps it’s that possible reaction to acceptance which keeps me from accepting.”

    Which certainly sounds like giving up. Living for the moment is exactly what consumer society is all about, regardless of messages about saving for future needs, planning for kids’ college, life insurance,… Is that the kind of effect you desire to come out of your words?

  98. Paul Chefurka Says:

    @Jeff S.

    When you say “resistance is a moral imperative,” how do you understand that phrase? Does the morality just apply to you, the person making the moral choice, or do you feel it’s a moral imperative for everyone else? What if I choose (as I do) to be “immoral” and not fight? Do I lose status in your eyes? Why do you feel resistance is a moral imperative?

    I know I’m not alone in rejecting resistance. I see a lot of grounds for doing so – resistance is futile because I always fight on terms chosen by my “enemy”; it robs energy from other activities that might be more personally beneficial; we may not understand the situation, so our resistance may be misplaced; the people or events that we are resisting may not in fact be “at fault”; resistance simply binds me tighter to that which I resist, and keeps me from “letting go of the shore”.

    For me the right path involves recognizing exactly what’s going on, working to deepen my understanding of the situation and my response to it, letting go of preconceptions and the personal reactivity that accompanies them, helping instead of fighting, acting from joy and compassion rather than anger, and simply going on with my life as mindfully as I can. It makes me a bit sad to think that such a position could be construed as immoral simply because I don’t resist.


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] F. Getty brought to my attention a new essay written by environmentalist Daniel A. Drumright. I featured his writing in a prior post entitled [...]

  2. [...] F. Getty brought to my attention a new essay written by environmentalist Daniel A. Drumright. I featured his writing in a prior post entitled [...]

  3. [...] bodies do, but at some point there’s little else to do but fall into quiet acceptance of what’s so.  [...]

  4. [...] But we live in a world where the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology feel as implacable as that hawk’s talons. That, at least, is the collective belief, and that collective belief might actually be a driving force here, and it may be exactly why we came here in the first place. There are so many of us now. Resources™ are tight and getting tighter. Money is disappearing into ravenous maws and gaping pits and hidden vaults as the Natural™ world crumbles underfoot. Jobs are drying up and markets are wavering and competition is increasing and each piece of pie gets smaller and smaller and the ice is melting so quickly now. And there doesn’t seem to be much of anything, in this physical realm, that will interrupt the perfect storm now hitting us. We can cry and flail when it feels like there’s a chance of escape, because that’s what living bodies do, but at some point there’s little else to do but fall into quiet acceptance of what’s so. Fuck. [...]

  5. [...] an interesting phenomena of a lot of the comments on Guy McPherson’s website, Nature Bats Last, where Daniel’s article was originally posted, isn’t about what we need to do to change [...]

  6. [...] “The Irreconcilable Acceptance Of Near-Term Extinction,” posted last week on Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last blog. The timing of its arrival in my awareness was completely synchronistic with my friend’s [...]

  7. [...] “The Irreconcilable Acceptance Of Near-Term Extinction,” posted last week on Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last blog. The timing of its arrival in my awareness was completely synchronistic with my friend’s [...]

  8. [...] della nostra specie, il punto di vista di chi ha maturato la convinzione e di conseguenza “l’accettazione, che l’umanità abbia ormai superato numerose soglie climatiche irreversi…” e “che, così facendo, abbia dato inizio ad una problematica estinzione a breve termine della [...]

  9. [...] Paul B. suggested this at Nature Bats Last: The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction [...]

  10. [...] della nostra specie, il punto di vista di chi ha maturato la convinzione e di conseguenza “l’accettazione, che l’umanità abbia ormai superato numerose soglie climatiche irr…” e “che, così facendo, abbia dato inizio ad una problematica estinzione a breve [...]

  11. [...] Paul B. suggested this at Nature Bats Last: The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction [...]

  12. [...] della nostra specie, il punto di vista di chi ha maturato la convinzione e di conseguenza “l’accettazione, che l’umanità abbia ormai superato numerose soglie climatiche irreversibili” e “che, così facendo, abbia dato inizio ad una problematica estinzione a breve termine della [...]

  13. [...] about in the video conversation Living with the Predicament. Reverberating in our thoughts was this essay by David Drumright about a possible near-term outcome. I closed by reading heartful reminders from Anne Herbert, [...]

  14. [...] about in the video conversation Living with the Predicament. Reverberating in our thoughts was this essay by David Drumright about a possible near-term outcome. I closed by reading heartful reminders from Anne Herbert, [...]

  15. [...] it in full detail here, I’ll provide you a link to Daniel Drumright’s essay, “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction.” Once you’ve read it, you can come back to this article with a deeper understanding of [...]

  16. [...] than going into it in full detail here, I’ll provide you a link to Daniel Drumright’s essay, “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction.” Once you’ve read it, you can come back to this article with a deeper understanding of where [...]

  17. [...] going into it in full detail here, I’ll provide you a link to Daniel Drumright’s essay The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction. Once you’ve read it, you can come back to this article with a deeper understanding of where [...]

  18. [...] the latest trend doing the rounds is Near-Term Extinction (NTE), sparked off by a long essay, The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction by Daniel Drumright. On his reading of the evidence, we are now committed to the destruction of a [...]

  19. [...] The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction, by Daniel A. Drumright [...]

  20. […] his lengthy essay, The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction, Daniel A. Drumright […]

  21. […] his lengthy essay, The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction, Daniel A. Drumright […]

  22. […] his lengthy essay, The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction, Daniel A. Drumright […]

  23. […] The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction […]

  24. […] read recently Daniel Drumright’s The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction which presents an series of reflections of mostly a philosophical nature to “near term […]

  25. […] his lengthy essay, The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction, Daniel A. Drumright […]

  26. […] depressed environmentalist,” Bell says he and others like him did have their views shaken by a recent essay titled “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction” by Daniel Drumright of Portland, […]

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  28. […] there was one other reference in the article – an essay by Daniel Drumright, described as “a lifelong radical environmentalist who has followed climate science for the last […]