If You Want to Know What Came Before Infinity, Then You Don’t Understand Infinity

There is a wide yawning black infinity. In every direction the extension is endless, the sensation of depth is overwhelming. And the darkness is immortal. Where light exists, it is pure, blazing, fierce; but light exists almost nowhere, and the blackness itself is also pure and blazing and fierce. But most of all, there is very nearly nothing in the dark; except for little bits here and there, often associated with the light, this infinite receptacle is empty.

This picture is strangely frightening. It should be familiar. It is our universe.

Even these stars, which seem so numerous, are, as sand, as dust, or less than dust, in the enormity of the space in which there is nothing. Nothing! We are not without empathetic terror when we open Pascal’s Pensées and read, “I am the great silent spaces between worlds.”

The words above are credited to Carl Sagan when he was an undergraduate student in the early 1950s at the University of Chicago. They seem a fitting introduction to the essay I’ve pasted below, which is copied verbatim from one I posted in this space on 1 January 2008. Yes, it’s naive. But it was written a long time ago. I’ve added the song embedded directly below.

Not so long ago, humans believed the watershed was everything. Their world was restricted to a tiny area, and traveling beyond the area was undesirable — even dangerous. But some daring traveler took the leap and discovered a world beyond the watershed.

Rinse and repeat, from the watershed to the continent, from the continent to the world, from the world to the solar system, from the solar system to the galaxy, from the galaxy to the universe. If the Church hadn’t killed a few daring travelers along the way, we’d have discovered a lot more a lot sooner. Call it the collateral damage of controlling the empire.

Human discovery represents a continuum, with our part diminishing along the way. The world was large, but we were large, too. Discoveries and our ability to travel made the world smaller. And then the solar system, and so on, so that now we’ve explained the universe in physical terms and we understand our inconsequential role (and our hubris, which is quite consequential).

Religious believers like to believe we’re special, that Somebody is watching over us. And they use the most stunning logic to explain the notion of Somebody: Science only explains our universe back to the Big Bang. What about before then? And what caused the Bang, and all the matter associated with it? It must have come from something. By which they mean Somebody.

As if pointing to Somebody explains it all.

Stephen B. Hawking tried to explain the idea of a singularity to the lay public in his dreadfully incomprehensible 1988 book, A Brief History of Time. I suspect this was one of the most-purchased, least-read books of all time. Needless to say, Hawking’s prose failed to provide an explanation convincing to the masses. But here’s the bottom line: Universes come and go, and they collapse and arise in events called singularities.

Fast-forward to the Russian physicist Alex Vilenkin and his 2006 book, Many Worlds in One. Vilenkin explains that ours is one of many universes — an infinite number, in fact. If you buy the evidence behind an expanding universe (which is overwhelming), then it’s a short, simple, and logical step to ours being one of an infinite number of universes. We’re part of the multiverse. The continuum rolls on.

Most universes likely blink out as quickly as they arise. They persist only a few nanoseconds, and fail to produce even a single flower. Some of these universes, such as ours, are relatively stable. They persist long enough, and have sufficient initial conditions, that life arises. Eventually, intelligent life arises, if you’re willing to stretch the definition far enough. Count up all these universes, come to terms with the concept of infinity, and you’ve got an infinite number of Guy McPhersons typing these words now.

This explanation accounts for all matter, and all energy, for all universes, for all time. Thus, it explains our universe, and the universes that preceded ours, and so on, back to infinity ago (and also from now until infinity).

Many of you are thinking, “Yeah, but what about before that?” If you want to know what came before infinity, then you don’t understand infinity.

Since the brains of most of us are somewhat smaller than infinity, religious believers will never admit that physical processes might explain more about the universe — or even the multiverse — than that “explanation” to trump all explanations, “Somebody did it. Somebody big and mysterious that we’ll never understand.” Somebody like Gawd, Yahweh, the Great Spirit, or the unicorn on the dark side of the moon. But invoking Somebody is choosing to remain ignorant. That’s a personal choice, of course, and I’m happy to let religious believers keep believing instead of thinking. Especially if they let me think. It’d be even better if they encouraged their children to think, but apparently that’s asking too much.

It’s pretty demoralizing to think there are an infinite number of Earths dealing with peak oil and runaway greenhouse by promoting destruction and ignorance. But it’s pretty cool to think that there are an infinite number of planet Earths that produced humans with empathy, compassion, and creativity. On these Earths, humans persist a very long time and humbly share the planet with many other species. On these Earths, there is no runaway greenhouse. Passing the planetary oil peak is a cause for celebration because, on these Earths, the demise of cheap oil doesn’t spell the end of civilization and the likely demise of four-fifths of the humans on Earth.

Comments 138

  • COP21 ¿

    More like COPOUT21

    No where in the current COP21 news is planetwide overpopulation mentioned.

    Must be a non-issue.

  • .
    COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman who slit the throats of her three children and left their bodies on her bed was convicted Monday of first-degree murder.

    Prosecutors say Coronado killed her 2-month-old daughter, Xenia; her 16-month-old daughter, Yazmine; and 2-year-old Sophia by cutting their throats and then stabbing them in the heart. Prosecutors alleged that she also had planned to kill her husband, but her mother interrupted her by discovering the children’s bodies and grabbing a butcher knife from her hand.

    In closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Emily Spear said that Coronado killed the children to get back at her husband, who wanted a divorce, and because she was overwhelmed by taking care of the children without his help, the Daily Breeze of Torrance reported (http://bit.ly/1jvE5hE ).

  • pat, as gruesome & ugly as it gets.

    What conditions our behavior is the question.

    … ” overwhelmed by taking care of the children without his help.”

    Barbara Ehrenreich gives a wise & deeper answer.


  • Paris climate summit: Survey reveals ‘greenwash’ of corporate sponsors


    COP21 advertisers criticised for lack of transparency, monitoring and emissions reduction as series of spoof adverts appear across Paris

    A survey of 10 sponsors of the Paris climate summit has found that most do not publish data on their CO2 emissions, half don’t track their lifetime carbon footprint, and only one is reducing its emissions in line with the EU’s targets.

    Full details of the summit’s sponsorship deals will not be made public until after its close, although campaigners say that the €16.9m raised so far represents barely 10% of overall costs, and half of what was expected.

    But for an average €547,000 payment, multinationals such as Renault, L’Oreal and Engie can buy themselves valuable publicity that disguises their true emissions record, according to the study by Observatoire des Multinationales.

    “There is no denying that a lot of people in these companies are making efforts, but it is shocking that only one of them is reducing its emissions in line with the EU’s long-term plans,” said Olivier Petitkean, one of the report’s authors.

    “A lot of them are continuing to increase their greenhouse gas emissions, which suggests that they are more concerned with publicity than their carbon footprint,” he added. “This is also called greenwash.”

    The climate summit is intended to deliver a pact keeping global warming below a rise of 2C on pre-industrial levels, but many of its sponsors hold big fossil fuel stakes.

    GDF Suez, which recently rebranded itself as Engie, currently invests €6-7bn a year in oil and gas exploration. Seventy per cent of the €74bn firm’s energy output comes from natural gas and coal.

    BNP Paribas contributed €15.5bn for French coal ventures between 2005 and 2014, half the industry’s total financial support.

    Paris summit organisers say that focusing on these activities diverts from the crucial business of nailing down a global climate deal.

    The French ambassador Philippe Delacroix, a deputy secretary–general in charge of public-private partnerships, told the Guardian that the cross-sectoral survey was unrepresentative as its sample was small, and many of the summit’s 50 patrons were small enterprises.

    “We have been fairly selective in choosing sponsors,” he said. “We didn’t approach partners we considered incompatible with the spirit of the COP [Conference of the Parties, the summit]. But if you want to organise a conference with 40,000 people, you’d better have some people able to provide services which are indispensable.”

    Europe has pledged an 80% emissions cut by 2050, measured against 1990 levels, which should give it a 50-50 chance of keeping within the 2C envelope.

    EDF was found to be reducing its emissions in step with this target, thanks to its holdings in nuclear and renewables, a closure of coal plants for modernisation, and recent mild winters.

    Four of the 10 companies surveyed did provide transparent data on their greenhouse gas emissions: BNP Paribas, Carrefour, Kering and LVMH. None, however, considered full lifecycle emissions for their products, or appeared capable of synching their behaviour with EU plans.

    Of the five firms which did commission full assessments of their greenhouse gas footprints – Accor, Kering, L’Oréal, Michelin and Renault – none were able to demonstrate emissions cuts of the scale needed to avoid dangerous global warming.

    Separately, a series of fake adverts have appeared across Paris, designed to parody and highlight what campaigners say is the “hypocrisy” of the summit’s corporate sponsors.

    “Tackling climate change? Of course not, we’re an airline,” reads the spoof of Air France. “We’re sorry we got caught,” apologises the parody of Volkswagen, the car manufacturer at the forefront of the diesel emissions scandal.

    Other designs satirise Engie and ExxonMobil, as well as Dow Chemicals, known for a lethal accident at a pesticide plant in Bhopal 30 years ago. Politicians at the landmark talks are also targeted. David Cameron is pictured dressed as a racing car driver and Barack Obama is depicted swimming in the sea with his daughter as an oil rig burns behind them.

    The 600 unauthorised adverts were designed by 80 artists including many of those who contributed to Bansky’s Dismaland project that opened in the UK in August – such as Neta Harari, Jimmy Cauty, Paul Insect, Escif and Kennard Phillips.

    In a statement, Joe Elan from the campaign group Brandalism said, “By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem. We are taking their spaces back because we want to challenge the role advertising plays in promoting unsustainable consumerism.

    “Because the advertising industry force feeds our desires for products created from fossil fuels, they are intimately connected to causing climate change.”

    The adverts were placed at bus stops in spaces owned by JC Decaux, one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising firms and an official sponsor of COP21.

    The “subvertising” campaign was executed amid a ban by French authorities on public mobilisations around the talks in the wake of terrorism attacks two weeks ago. Although some activists have defied the ban, many groups have found creative ways around it, such as the placement of 10,000 pairs of shoes on Place de la Republique on Sunday where a largescale march would have started.

    JC Decaux declined to commment.

    Artwork on a city billboard denouncing the multinational corporate control of climate negotiations for the COP 21 climate summit, part of an installation of more than 600 pieces through the city of Paris by Climate Games art-activists.

  • Posted this to the latest Casandra’s Legacy – awaits moderation.

    50% of Forest Bird species will go extinct in 50 years.

    60% of Flower species will go extinct in 50 years.

    50% of Mega Cities will go extinct in 50 years.

    90% of Soil will go extinct in 50 years.

    40% of Humanis will not have enough water in 15 years.

    100% – Ocean Acidification doubles by 2050,

    200% – Ocean Acidification triples by 2100.

    99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.

    97% of Tigers gone since 1914.

    90% of Lions gone since 1993.

    90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.

    90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.

    90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.

    80% of Antarctic Krill gone since 1975.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.

    50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.

    40% of ocean phytoplankton gone since 1950.

    30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.

    70% of Marine Birds gone since 1950.

    28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.

    28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

    97% – Humans & Livestock are 97% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    0.01% – 10,000 years ago we were 0.01% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    1,000,000 humans, net, are added to earth every 4½ days.

    Other than that everything is fine.


  • A whole lot of t

    If you are not a fan of String theory and multiverses – you might enjoy the site “Not Even Wrong”


    Yes, often a kilometer over my head, but still a good read.

    In re cremation, I just did about 2000 km via car round trip for the “one” of 22 cousins. I had to go to hers. I was so happy to see her cremated, she was a very conservative Lutheran Christian but a true gem. Any person of any belief who has a core of personal healing coupled with a life of helping is my brother or sister.

    In the example against cremation I see a good breakdown of environmental costs of cremation, however I do not see a corresponding breakdown of the environmental costs of a traditional casket funeral. My quick rule of thumb is that if it costs less and involves fewer chemicals and less material, it is better environmentally.

    Yes, my preference would be for a sky burial, but that is rather difficult to make happen in most parts of the world.

  • Yoh, NTE on the way- but anyway, “If you’re doomed when you do and if you’re doomed when you don’t, then DO” (Doctor Guy McPherson). A cool statement I think:

    Trudeau says Indigenous people can teach the world how to care for the planet

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a speech in Paris that Indigenous people can teach the world how to care for the planet…


    I never heard such an enlightening statement from any politician so far^^

    Dedicated to Paris:

  • Along the same lines as pat’s deadly mommy, here’s the world of the ecologically clueless, reproducing without a thought for the future (and I’ve seen this sentiment in action way too often):

    Confession #877785: “I love my kids, I just hate looking after them”


  • I spend most of my computer reading time on reddit in order to experience more of the younger crowd’s opinions about our collapse.

    This young guy may not have the finesse of a Barbara Ehrenreich, but he certainly has the same passion of awareness:

    “They don’t have to kill you if they can get you to kill yourself.”





  • .
    @Nemesis posted that …

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a speech in Paris that Indigenous people can teach the world how to care for the planet…”

    And commented …

    I never heard such an enlightening statement from any politician so far^^

    I don’t buy it. I’m too cynical to not see through his feel good shtick. He’s making good on his couple of election promises, that’s all, and putting on a good face while he does it. He’s putting on a good show, it all sounds so great, doesn’t it.

    However …

    Has he repealed bill C51, which criminalizes natives for standing in peaceful protest against Chevron who is putting a pipeline across their un-ceded territory in northern BC?

    No, he is not. Bill C51 stands, his party isn’t striking it down, and the pipeline is still a go.

    Is he giving the natives back any of their disputed lands?

    No, he is not.

    Has he immediately canceled our arms dealings with Saudi Arabia?

    No, he has not.

    Has he denounced Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinians and the theft of their lands?

    No, he has not.

    Business as usual.

    His carbon tax will funnel money to the rich, and the costs of the taxes will be pushed onto the poor.

    The oilsands will expand.

    He believes in a growth economy. How can he not?

    It’s all just politicking and feel-good talk. He’s a politician for Christ sakes, like any of them. He serves a master far, far more powerful than him, whether he’s figured that out yet or not. It’s all just fucking talk, even if he means well somewhere in his inexperienced imagination.

    You can say anything you want, JT, but until you back up your talk with actions, you’re just a bunch of feel good slogans and nicey, nicey comments with pacifying rhetoric.

    It’s business as usual in Canada, trust me. This new PM just doesn’t laugh at you while he fucks you, that’s all. The new puppet is just taking the stance of pretending to be in solidarity with the commoner. There’s really very little difference behind his party and the party that just left office. This guy just talks a good game, that’s all. He dreams and talks, and I’m sure the powers that be love that about him. I’m sure they are grinning from ear to ear at his ‘sunny talk.’

    The natives are still being marginalized, and not much is going to be different here in igloo land just because a different actor became the mouthpiece.

    If what I’ve said here is false, then let’s see it JT. Get the exploiters out of BC. Make them pay more than a measly $1 per barrel for the oil the foreigners steal out of Alberta. Ban arms dealing with brutal countries. Repeal bill C51. Pull the police back from the brink of fascism.

    Talk is cheap; it’s business as usual here in Canada, trust me. Very little is going to change. Economy and growth is king, and nothing but extinction is ever going to change that.

    Politicians don’t decide these things. They are just the smoke and mirrors people, even when they don’t know it … like poor old naïve Justin will eventually find out.

  • @LWA

    I don’t buy it.

    Well, might be that Trudeau is just selling blabla, I don’t know that guy. I just said:

    I never heard such a cool statement from any politician so far, that’s for shure.

  • ogardner, Robert C. (and all who find overpopulation to be ‘problematic’)

    China ‘clone factory’ scientist eyes human replication



    Beijing (AFP) – The Chinese scientist behind the world’s biggest cloning factory has technology advanced enough to replicate humans, he told AFP, and is only holding off for fear of the public reaction.

    Boyalife Group and its partners are building the giant plant in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, where it is due to go into production within the next seven months and aims for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020.

    But cattle are only the beginning of chief executive Xu Xiaochun’s ambitions.

    In the factory pipeline are also thoroughbred racehorses, as well as pet and police dogs, specialised in searching and sniffing.

    Boyalife is already working with its South Korean partner Sooam and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to improve primate cloning capacity to create better test animals for disease research.

    And it is a short biological step from monkeys to humans — potentially raising a host of moral and ethical controversies. [more]

    [from Blade Runner: “You Nexus, huh? I design your eyes.”]

  • .

    Well, I meant no disrespect to you Nemesis. I just bristle a little when a government official hijacks the symbolism of indigenousness, while those people in actuality are marginalized, impoverished, maligned, and exploited by the very system the PM presumes to represent. It’s the height of vile hypocrisy.

    The worst part is, I honestly think Trudeau actually believes his own bullshit. That’s why his party stuck him up there as a leader in the first place. I feel sort of sorry for him.

    One on one, on a personal level, I’d actually probably blow a doob with the guy. What a world.

    Peace Nemesis. I have no quarrel with you.

  • @LWA

    No, no, I didn’t have any impression that there was any disrespect in your comment, no way. I got great respect for you^^

    Politics isn’t made by politicians, but by money, by the economy. Therefore I don’t have any illusions about Paris ect. No matter, if Trudeaud believes in what he says or not, it doesn’t matter what kind of blabla is going on in Paris. The problem is the whole fuckin system, the problem is the Empire. There is some global, epic fight goin on. It is about decentralized energy, it is about the monopoly of the big oil- and energy companies, it is about Justice, it is about the whole military-industrial complex, it is about Empire and they will fight until the bitter end, I have not the slightest doubt here. I give a shit about Paris. Nevertheless:

    We COULD learn a whole lot from the indigenous people, who are suffering much from Empire, but do always live in harmony with Mother Earth. They are our elder brothers, we in the wealty, western world are just kids.

    Peace and Namaste

  • Not the indigineos people or who knows will lead the fight against Empire, but MOTHER EARTH will for shure and I really like that, muhahaha :-D

    Get prepared, caders of Empire, Mama will kick arses 8-)

  • LWA, I’m a Canadian and all the women folk in my family think Justin is Dreamy. I’m a hetrosexual man and even I think he is kinda cute although he a little on the skinny side for my tastes.

    Like Obama, he makes them feel hopeful and that is all that matters to 99.99% of the emotional apes.

  • It doesn’t matter in any way if there is clown Trudeaud or clown Obama or clown Bush or clown funny Trump or anyone else, it is NTE Time:

    Politics, economy, military-industrial complex, Empire is already a Zombie, already dead– thing is:

    They didn’t realize it… yet, harr harr, but they will soon, whouuuuu 3:-)

    Game over.

  • Today in the upper Midwest there are huge patches of skunk cabbages emerging in the wetlands. It looks/feels like March instead of December. Chipmunks stuffing their cheeks like it’s September. Seasons are gone forever. “Normal” only a setting on a washing machine.

    And here we have the endearing, ever hopeful Paul Beckwith (couldn’t resist posting this because it made me think of Pat—-the cat on lap thing and all):

    Milendia: (cat on lap thing made me think of you, too)—-looking forward to your next post. Do you think life is better in Canada than the U.S.? If any of those certifiably crazy repubs or Hillary C. is appointed president that might finally push me to go full tilt Morris Berman. And then there’s ACA/healthcare in the good ole U.S.A.——-has anyone ever tried to go to healthcare.gov? Talk about depressing: rabbit hole,1984 rolled into one bizarro thing called Obamacare.
    Yes Henry it’s a relief to see the stars (for those who can see the stars) and to think about the day when humans are not here hurting, killing . . . and I will add endlessly pontificating anymore.

  • 1984 rolled into one bizarro thing called Obamacare.

    “1984” is a communist, postcapitalist horrorvision (btw, Orwell never imagened climate change, atom bomb, Fuklushima ect), but Obama is a capitalist^^ Orwell once was a communist who fought in the spanish citizen war, but then he saw what Stalin did and therefore he wrote “1984”.

  • Global warming disaster could suffocate life on planet Earth, research shows

    “Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 1 December 2015

    Falling oxygen levels caused by global warming could be a greater threat to the survival of life on planet Earth than flooding, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.”


  • Some quick comments…

    Bryan and david higham, your links look intriguing…

    I just bought “Every Cradle Is a Grave” (thanks, cuntagious) and “Better Never to Have Been” (thanks, david higham).

    Good article with Benatar:


    I also follow reddit collapse for a larger cross section of opinions to keep my blood pressure elevated (I’m a big fan of Capn_Underpants):

    Are you planning on having kids? from collapse

  • From the article at http://www.thecritique.com/interviews/why-we-should-stop-reproducing-an-interview-with-david-benatar-on-anti-natalism/ :

    Those who do not exist have no interest in coming into existence…

    How does he know that? And if so, why then come people to existence, if they didn’t want to come to existence before they came to existence? Any animal on the Planet, any plant, any tree comes to existence because it want’s to come to existence- no?

  • When a being comes to existence, there is a hunger for existence, a hunger for food, a hunger for breathing, a hunger for growing towards the light, the sun (not only plants have that hunger for light)… this I call “wanting to come to existence”.

  • If you really want to convince people not to come to existence, not to procreate, you have to give them a perspective that might be better for them, ypu have to give them better sweets, otherwise they will never listen to you. Sexuality, procreation, coming to existence on Planet Earth is one of the strongest forces of Life. There would be no Life without wanting to come to Life, wanting to existence.

    You have to give people a perspective that reaches beyond their small, worldly “I”, their small worldy individuum. They need a perspective that goes beyond this momentary, physical Life in time and space. Behind the hunger for procreation their is a very strong longing to reach Life that goes beyond one own, personal, individual Death. Give those people a spiritual perspective that goes beyond their personal, individual, momentary Life and Death and they will maybe start to see things diferently, more relaxed. Also the massive hunger for consumption would rapidly decrease. The hunger for consumption of modern man lies in his fear of Death. Fear of Death and no perspective beyond Death is one, if not The main reason of the crisis and suffering of modern man. He lost the spiritual connection to Mother Earth, to the Planet, to the Komsos, to himself.

  • Science can truely free our intellect, our ratio. I love science. It gave me the ability to look at the Kosmos, Nature, but also to look at religion and spirituality in a scientific way. Science does always explore Reality from outside. Science weighs and gauges things. But it can’t tell you, how to manage your INNER Life, your experience of Life and Death WITHIN. Science can’t tell you that.

    Science can explore a dead dog, but it can’t tell you how to handle the facts of Life ad Death that you feel and experience WITHIN yourself. There you are alone, a breathing and suffering human animal, a living, suffering Being within the Kosmos. Science can only give you the answers of Life and Death physically, but never psychologically, EXISTENTIALLY, spiritually. You have to find those answers within yourself. The answers are there, you just have to go the path and find them, experience them.

    I say it again:

    Modern man lost his spiritual connection to Mother Earth, to the Kosmos, to himself.

    The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning “breath”, but also “spirit, soul, courage, vigor”, ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European *(s)peis. It is distinguished from Latin anima, “soul” (which nonetheless also derives from an Indo-European root meaning “to breathe”, earliest form *h2enh1-). In Greek, this distinction exists between pneuma (πνεῦμα), “breath, motile air, spirit,” and psykhē (ψυχή), “soul” (even though the latter term, ψῡχή = psykhē/psūkhē, is also from an Indo-European root meaning “to breathe”: *bhes-, zero grade *bhs- devoicing in proto-Greek to *phs-, resulting in historical-period Greek ps- in psūkhein, “to breathe”, whence psūkhē, “spirit”, “soul”.


  • Shep,

    I drive people crazy because my land use interests are not down to earth, practical or focused. For me, it’s like an art project, where I can’t foresee the outcome, but hope something will click that makes sense.

    So, no, I hadn’t read the Randy Shaw article (and only read counterpunch articles that you post). Shaw has been amazingly effective, from what I read here about him.


    I trust Shaw more than I do Krugman. I know enough to recognize real commitment when I see it. Land use restrictions to prevent the conversion of existing housing to the demands of gentrification make perfect sense.

    But to give him the benefit of the doubt, I don’t know what Krugman has in mind. He was not specific. Land use is a very loose and slippery term. It provides such a huge envelop for everything to do with planning, that it could well be more meaningless than helpful.

    I think “Zoning” is a part of land use–what can go where, what kinds of uses go where. And confusingly, I hear them talk about zoning and “design” in the same breath. Planning is such a mess partly because the language is so unclear.

    Shaw is talking about using (zoning?) to control the price of existing housing stock. It wasn’t too clear from the article, but maybe he wants government to pay for new affordable housing stock. One problem I see with that is that what politicians give politicians can take away.

    So, could Krugman have an alternative recommendation? He didn’t have one other than to reduce “regulation.” Were these the same regulations that Shaw depends on and wants to maintain? We don’t know. I wouldn’t even bet that Krugman knows what he wants. But if, not ruling out Shaw’s controls, Krugman is talking about loosening zoning/design standards, he could have a point.

    I believe that we in the first world (facing NTE) need to build shantytowns as a way to house everyone, including the homeless. I believe that these should be as free as favelas in Mexico or Brazil. But that can’t be done because of first world regulations. If Krugman wants to reduce regulations that prohibit shantytowns, I’m all for that.

    In the light of looming economic collapse, depending on government to fund affordable housing (at first world standards) doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Shantytowns don’t have to be unaesthetic or unhealthy.

  • I first read this Jared Diamond piece twenty years ago, when it was first published.
    I copied & circulated it in my social sphere before the net
    I’ve read it thoroughly at least twice since 1995.

    It is in-your-face predictive.
    A must read.
    As well as I knew it, it is a much worse bummer now than in 1995.


  • Apneaman – Guy said something to that effect years ago and was roundly criticized for it if I remember correctly. Looks like he was correct once again.

    Just to show you how fucked up the Republicans are:

    In slap at Obama, GOP-led House moves to block climate rule
    As Obama pushes climate deal in Paris, Congress tries to stop carbon limits on US power plants


    WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama worked to hammer out a global climate agreement in Paris, Republicans in Congress moved to block his plan to force steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.

    The House passed two resolutions Tuesday disapproving Obama’s power-plant rules and rendering them inoperative. A measure blocking an Environmental Protection Agency rule for existing power plants was approved 242-180, while a measure blocking a rule on future power plants was approved 235-188.

    The votes come after the Senate approved identical motions last month under a little-used law that allows Congress to block executive actions it considers onerous. The measures now go to the White House, where they face almost-certain vetoes. Just four Democrats sided with Republicans to support the measures, which fell far short of the numbers needed to override a veto in both the House and Senate.

    Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said GOP lawmakers were forcing a vote on the climate rule to “send a message to the climate conference in Paris that in America, there’s serious disagreement with the policies of this president.” [if you can stomach it, read the rest]

    [I no fan of Obama, but these people are crazy.]

  • As if we don’t have enough to deal with already…

    According to Margaret Chan,1 Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is now a global health crisis. In a recent telebriefing she said the problem is “reaching dangerously high levels” in all parts of the world and may lead to “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

    Already, multi-drug-resistant typhoid, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. And it looks like it’s only going to get worse, until or unless dramatic and rapid changes in policy and public awareness about antibiotics occur.

    Scientists have been warning about this for a number of years already, but now it seems the “antibiotic apocalypse” is really close at hand.

    Researchers recently discovered a new gene, called mcr-1, in pigs and people in China2,3,4 — a gene mutation that makes bacteria resistant to our last-resort class of antibiotics. Moreover, the resistance has “epidemic potential,” as the rate of transfer between bacteria is exceptionally high.


  • Many pro-life mass murderers are frustrated by how far they have to drive to reach a planned parenthood centre.

    Nerd turds Gates, Zuckerberg and Branson circle jerk to Save The World fantasies.

    337 whales wash up ashore in largest stranding ever.

    Only 166 environmental activists killed last year showing a lack of resolve for the status quo.

    40% of humanity will be short of water in 10 years. Why so long?

    100% solar and wind energy is possible in 5 years says solar salesman.

    Like negative interest rates, solar panels are so cheap that they’ll pay you to take them away. Installation costs still rising.

    $29 billion bucks disappear as Spain’s largest solar operator goes bust. The fact that solar power can’t make it in sunny Spain does not alter the narrative for green talking heads.

    Bio-energy will save earth if only 6 billion people will stop eating and thinking of themselves.

    Horrifying numbers fail to impress crowd that confuses skepticism with mental retardation.

    For some reason the following numbers cannot ad up to less than 100%.

    50% of Forest Bird species will go extinct in 50 years.

    60% of Flower species will go extinct in 50 years.

    50% of Mega Cities will go extinct in 50 years.

    90% of Soil will go extinct in 50 years.

    40% of Humanis will not have enough water in 15 years.

    100% – Ocean Acidification doubles by 2050,

    200% – Ocean Acidification triples by 2100.

    99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.

    97% of Tigers gone since 1914.

    90% of Lions gone since 1993.

    90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.

    90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.

    90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.

    80% of Antarctic Krill gone since 1975.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.

    50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.

    40% of ocean phytoplankton gone since 1950.

    30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.

    70% of Marine Birds gone since 1950.

    28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.

    28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

    97% – Humans & Livestock are 97% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    0.01% – 10,000 years ago we were 0.01% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    1,000,000 humans, net, are added to earth every 4½ days.

  • I’ve posted anew. There’s a link to new writing and also information about this weekend’s adventure in Miami Beach. Catch it all here.

  • .
    Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak radioactive isotopes more than four years after its meltdown, said Ken Buesseler, marine radiochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    Trace amounts of cesium-134 have been detected within several hundred miles (km) of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts in recent months, as well as offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island.

    Another isotope, cesium-137, a radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons tests conducted from the 1950s through the 1970s, was found at low levels in nearly every seawater sample tested by Woods Hole, a nonprofit research institution.

  • i hope some peace finds you all today. roll a joint. take the dog for a walk.