Apocalypse or extinction?

Your medical doctor informs you: “You need to stop all industrial activities immediately, or you’ll be dead in twenty years. And so will your five-year-old child. You might die anyway — after all, nobody gets out alive — but your death is guaranteed if you do not stop relying on fossil fuels for travel, heating and cooling, water from the tap, and food from the grocery store.”
Naturally, you go straight from the clinic to the nearest store. You need liquor, and time to ponder whether the trade-off is worth it.

About two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced we were committed to warming the planet by about 1 C by the end of this century. Never mind that we were almost there when they reached this profound conclusion. Simply for elucidating the obvious, the IPCC was granted a share of the Nobel Peace Prize (climate crusader Al Gore received the other half).
About a year ago, the Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research provided an update, indicating that, in the absence of complete economic collapse, we’re committed to a global average temperature increase of 2 C. Considering the associated feedbacks, such an increase likely spells extinction of the “wise” ape.
Last month, the United Nations Environment Programme concluded we’re committed to an increase of 3.5 C by 2100, thus leaving little doubt about human extinction by then.
Last week, Chris West of the University of Oxford’s UK Climate Impacts Programme indicated we can kiss goodbye 2 C as a target: four is the new two, and it’s coming by mid-century. In a typical disconnect from reality, the latest scenarios do not include potential tipping points such as the release of carbon from northern permafrost or the melting of undersea methane hydrates. But even the mainstream media know a 4 C increase spells the end of the line for our species. Giving the response I’ve come to expect from politicians, the Obama administration calls any attempt to reduce emissions “not grounded in political reality.”
Have you noticed a set of patterns? Each assessment is quickly eclipsed by another, fundamentally more dire set of scenarios. Every scenario is far too optimistic because each is based on conservative approaches to scenario development. And every bit of dire news is met by the same political response.
Is there any doubt we will try to kill every species on the planet, including our own, by the middle of this century? At this point, it is absolutely necessary, but probably not sufficient, to bring down the industrial economy. It’s no longer merely the lives of your grandchildren we’re talking about. Depending on your age, it’s the lives of your children or you. If you’re 60 or younger, it’s you.
In 2002, as I edited a book about global climate change, I concluded we had set events in motion that would cause our own extinction, probably by 2030. I mourned for months, to the bewilderment of the three people who noticed. About five years ago, I was elated to learn about a hail-Mary pass that just might allow our persistence for a few more generations: Peak oil and its economic consequences might bring the industrial economy to an overdue close, just in time.
If we abandon the industrial culture of death, we might persist until your children are old enough to die a “normal” death. But the odds are long and the time short. Barack Obama epitomizes the actions of every politician in the world by ensuring, with every political act, a miserable future and insufferable death for his wife and children.
Now I mourn because the solution is right in front of us, yet we run from it. We fail to recognize our salvation for what it is, believing it to be dystopia instead of utopia. Are we waiting for the last human on the planet to start the crusade?
This post is permalinked at Energy Bulletin, Counter Currents, mostly water, the localizer blog, reflections on the transition, Island Breath, International Movement for a Just World, Lost Threads, okulo news, USA Today, page 4 of the November 2009 issue of Just Commentary, and several other places.

Comments 55

  • Well as I see the official population of the U.S. excluding illegals reach 310 million and the future prediction of 400-450 by 2050 I realize that insanity has triumphed. If the environmental lifeboat is sinking pulling in more people just makes it sink faster and seals everyones fate. You are right Guy that nothing will be done since our economic model is built on endless growth in a world that cannot survive it.

  • I remember Dr Paul Erlichs book the “Population Bomb” when I was in high school and his appearances on TV. I never thought it would result in events unfolding quite like this.

  • A man goes to the doctor for his annual checkup. Blood is drawn, xrays are taken, tests are performed. He returns with his wife for a followup to learn the results. The doctor asks to speak with the wife privately. He tells the Mrs that her husband has serious heart disease and a very poor prognosis. Only if the wife is willing to minimize her husband’s stress by constant care, physical attention and even lovemaking will the husband survive. The doctor tells the wife that her husband’s only chance for prolonged life is if she is willing to make great and prolonged sacrifice on his behalf. She comes out of the meeting with a grave look on her face. Her husband comes up to her to confer: “What did the doctor say”. She replies: “You are going to die.”
    We could have saved our civilization at one point, but it was too much trouble. Unthinkable.

  • Guy – thank you for your cogent outline of our predicament and, particularly, for putting in text the perspective of Peak Oil as an Hail Mary Pass option for the desirable termination of industrial civilization.
    I note that in the Cuban simily event, with the benefits of a pragmatic command economy and enough old boys surviving who’d plowed with oxen, the rapid involuntary switch to largely non-fossil farming was acheived without famine, but with the average Cuban losing a stone in weight (i.e. about 6 kilos).
    Writing as a hill farmer and forester I observe a second, equally relevant complementary option for the transition we face, namely Afforestation for Biochar (which could achieve about ten times the carbon recovery p.a. of the Farm-wastes for Biochar option).
    In terms of recovering airborne carbon to avoid the present load driving the feedbacks into untenable outputs, Biochar is the only self-funding option, the only globally decentralized option, the only option multiplying farm yields, and the only option supplying liquid fuels for minimal essential services in nations simply unable to afford coming world oil prices.
    As a means of restoring climatic stability, on which feeding even a remnant of the present population wholly depends, I’ve not seen anything remotely near to the potential of Afforestation for Biochar.
    Yet to be effective, it must be applied worldwide on a very large scale of perhaps a giga-hectare of non-farm land, and it must employ sustainable silvicultural regimes that also serve local social wellbeing. Anything less would face intractable resistance to development and would anyway not endure over decades.
    Therefore, just like the global co-operative effort needed to ensure a managed decline of oil-usage (rather than the mutually assured destruction of the military option) Afforestation for Biochar will also require a global regulatory effort if it is to fulfil its potential.
    I wonder to what extent you may be interested in helping to advance these essential co-operative endeavours ?

  • Lewis, if the biochar alternative represents a viable approach, I’m all ears. Will you please post some links so readers here can weigh its merits? How do we get involved? Thanks.

  • Fear not:
    The Apocalypse is the Revelation of the Ultimate Divine Intent,coming at the end of the world.

  • I’ve come to the same conclusion myself regarding the need to eliminate industrial society. I simply don’t think it’s possible to run such a society without fossil fuels, as the EROEI on most “alternative” energy sources is too low.
    I’ve been working steadily to reduce my own footprint. I relocated so that I can heat my house with wood, grow much of our own food, and am running most of my farm with horse power. I’m no longer using a whole lot of fossil fuels directly, but my footprint is still not small enough. I still buy metal roofing, farm implements, and such — all made with fossil fuels. Most of our footprint is industrial, not direct use. Still own a car, although I’m seriously considering eliminating that as well.
    The only truly sustainable lifestyle is that of a hunter gatherer, but I fear we’ll have to go through a major die-off before such a lifestyle is again viable. So for now I’m aiming for what I see as the only viable lifestyle which has the lowest footprint, something similar to the 1800’s lifestyle.

  • Lewis — interesting observations.
    I’m also a forester (or at least was a few years back). In my soils classes I remember seeing frequently burned grassland soils (a mollisol in this case) which were very black from all of the carbon they’d incorporated over the centuries — a result of frequent burning.
    The idea that we need to spend the energy to create biochar seems a little questionable to me, but that just got me thinking… Our current wildland fire suppression activities around the world could very well be significant contributors to atmospheric carbon. Forest fires do generate a significant amount of charcoal, much of which lasts decades if not centuries. Though the fire may not be quite as efficient at converting woody material to charcoal (much of it is completely burned), the vast areas covered by most fires would certainly generate significant amounts. This seems to me like yet another argument to let wildfires burn as they would naturally. No energy on our part is required to achieve this.

  • Thanks to the many first-time commentators.
    David Veale, you have quite an operation with your farm. I’m posting a link to your blog here so others can see the impressive arrangements you’re making.

  • Here are pertinent links on biochar aka charcoal. http://openintelligence.amplify.com/?s=charcoal It is also worth looking up ‘climate change’ and ‘extinction’ on this our Open Intelligence amplify site.
    The worldwide wood’s branches are potentially everywhere. We are actually doing it.

  • Great article but I’m afraid you and the other commentators have ‘missed’ an important connection which was hinted at in your ‘Tarnished Gold’ post. Moreover, I’ve become convinced by the news and science from around the globe that the drought-&-flood conditions that are affecting South Central and Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East have become the ‘immediate’ concern. As I see it, the ‘climate’ has already permanently relocated weather patterns leading to rapidly increasing food and water scarcity in those regions. What happens when a half-billion ‘climate refugees,’ starving and thirsty, try to migrate to (or from?) countries that already possess nuclear weapons? Similarly, in case you hadn’t heard, Mexico City and much of the surrounding area is already rationing water severely. What happens here, in our ‘perfect country’ (to quote that pinhead Palin), when there are 100 million ‘refugees’ from the south trying to cross the Rio Grande instead of a few thousand? The ‘mushroom forests’ ARE going to grow, perhaps not by 12/21/2012, but all too soon. That cuts the global population in sufficient numbers and in ‘critical’ locations that that ‘event’ will be followed closely by the failures of many power generating stations (some nuclear), refineries, and many other production facilities of lethally toxic compounds. None of that will benefit the survivors. Of course, the ‘nuclear winter’ will counteract ‘global warming’ for a decade or so but when the ‘soot’ from the fires has settled back to terra firma, the greenhouse effect will be like a bonfire. By 2050, perhaps much sooner, there will be far less than 1 billion ‘humans’ on planet earth. I don’t think they will be the ‘lucky’ ones.

  • I was just sent this…!
    ‘The Message’
    Watch the Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-7CHlPOPaM
    “If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.”
    social philosopher Murray Bookchin
    “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
    Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates, US movie actor, comedian, & director

  • David Veale, et al. –
    I noticed that you were a forester so maybe you can help answer a forest related question I’ve been thinking about. Guy, please forgive me if this is the wrong forum.
    Anyway, in the Southwest forests there is currently a movement underway to prevent wildfires via aggressive thinning of small diameter trees. The thinking centers around the idea that it’s these smaller trees that stoke the fires and leads to the super hot catastrophic wildfires that leave nothing but blackened moonscapes behind. The small trees end up chipped and made into pellets for stoves, plywood, etc, which seems like a good idea if it will stop the horrible fires. In practice it appears to be just another way to get the loggers back into the woods as in addition to the small trees they take a lot of older growth trees, too. At least that’s what I’ve observed from hiking through where they’ve “thinned” around where I live.
    I’m no forester, but it seems to me that by removing felled small (and large) trees from the woods entirely and trying to prevent fire altogether we are robbing the future forest of the recycled nutrients it will need to grow large, healthy trees and undergrowth to support wildlife. Sort of like if you were to keep farming a plot of land over and over and not add fertilizer or plow the chaff under after each harvest. By thinning and preventing fires now are we just setting ourselves up for an even larger problem in the future as the forest soils lose the ability to sustain the trees? Wouldn’t that eventually lead to a total loss of the forest carbon-sink to help mitigate climate change?
    This seems like more short-sighted thinking on the part of the Forest Service, but as I said, I’m no forester. Any thoughts?

  • Technological civilization is a lost cause. Humankind is a lost cause.
    Nature will survive, though, and the Earth will remain a living planet. This is important. The sun keeps shining and the Earth keeps spinning. The Universe isn’t about humankind. There is a life after humankind.
    I mourn every day for the tragedy which is humankind. Humankind has chosen to live in the worst possible manner and our species will suffer the worst possible consequences. There is no will in humankind to avoid these consequences because the allure of wealth draws humankind to the fire just as surely as a moth flies into the flame.
    I don’t even see it as significant to warn humankind any longer. While there was still hope for a cure it was worthwhile to work but once the illness becomes terminal and death becomes inevitable it is time to accept extinction as humankind’s self-selected future.
    The only solace is knowing that Nature won’t preserve any memory of humankind’s existence nor will any future intelligent species ever investigate the history of the Earth and discover how horrifically humankind chose to live and die. Nature’s greatest virtue is that Nature forgets.

  • To quote the late great George Carlin “the human game was up a long time ago, when high priests and bankers took over”.

  • re: Apocalypse or Extinction?
    Our planet is only doing what the other planets are also doing….’consciously’ transforming itself!…Pollution is not the main driver…it’s all about ‘ascension’….it’s metaphysics….Our planet is as alive and conscious as we are….start thinking ‘outside the box’…..
    3 part investigative report
    > http://www.enterprisemission.com/_articles/05-14-2004_Interplanetary_P

  • Like, I’m just so tired of listening to survivalists.
    What special right or import exists for humans’ continued parasitic existence?
    The absolution of their existence is coming, very soon! All the planet shall be wiped clean of the human filth, the parasitic, polluting, amoral animals who have trashed the globe and its vast expanses of other species.
    So yeah, extinction’s the new black. dude.

  • Mankind will not go extinct, no matter how bad the climate gets. However, there may well be a lot fewer of us. Oil depletion will reduce the amount of food available, and what remains will be much more expensive.
    Remember, it is the normal order of things for man to exist without fossil fuels, and it will be again. What’s not normal is having 7 billion of us on a planet that can only support 1 or 2 billion without oil and coal.

  • What’s the point of even having 1 to 2 billion left when the majority of them will still be capitalists. Back to square one to repeat the process.

  • woops sorry! my last comment meant to include capitalists and socialists.

  • this is addressed to your future, Darwinian theory tells us that by nature all species on the planet are survivalists. to resist this notion is suicidal.

  • The absolute best thing, from an ecological perspective on forest health, is for a forest to burn about as often as it naturally would. Where I was a forester on the west slope of the Cascades, that was typically every 500 years or so, but on the drier east side of the mountains, it would be closer to every 5 years. I don’t know what the typical fire interval would be in the SE.
    Setting fires is fraught with legal issues, as they tend to get away and burn down houses and such, so the USFS doesn’t do it a whole lot. Short of fires, thinning is probably a good thing, as it can definitely mimic some of the aspects of fire. The thinned forests I worked in tended to have a lot more wildlife use.
    But with that said, I’m sure lots of folks would like to use it as an excuse to go and cut stuff down. As far as nutrient cycling goes, cutting down trees does certainly have some effect, although the tops with all the leaves/needles are typically left behind, and those contain most of the valuable nutrients. Many private companies will do aerial fertilization with chemical fertilizers or groud based fertilization with sludge, but I’m not sure if the USFS does this or not.

  • David – thanks, most interesting. I wasn’t aware that most of the nutrients in trees were contained in the needles and tops.

  • Sometimes, in all of this, I wonder when the killer bees will come to carry us all off, or if we’ve reached January 1, 2000 yet.
    At what point does all this doom-loving tip from an interest in a “return of/to nature” to something more sinister like deep-seated misanthropy?
    I think this is my stop, I’ll be getting out here. Have a nice trip.

  • Seems I have journalistic company: See the latest from Chris Hedges here.

  • Charlene, I don’t know what I’ve written, here or elsewhere, to make you believe I’m a misanthrope. While it’s true that I value all life as much as I value human life, it’s also true that I value Homo sapiens as much as other species. I don’t think that makes me misanthropic but, if it does, I can live with the label.

  • well all very nice so i’ll say what none of you will

  • If anyone should be labelled a misanthrope, it would be Mr. Your Future. What puzzles me is when people like him advocate the total extinction of “the human parasite” and yet I don’t see him volunteering to go first. Seems a little hypocritical to me.

  • Well Guy do we have any volunteers to live on less than $2.00 a day like those people in China,India,Africa,Brazil ect. No we do not. The official population of the U.S. is currently 310 million and China/India are 1.3 billion each. That is four and a half times ours for each of them. I agree 100% that overpopulation has cut down our options for dealing with peak oil and the damage we do to the world as a whole. The fact that others wish to live like us and not dig through a garbage dump to survive or live with open sewers should not come as a revelation.

  • Almost everyone in the first world is praying for an economic recovery. Why? So that they can consume more. This notion is preposterous. Maybe more of you should read “Carolyn Baker:ECONOMIC RECOVERY?NO THANK YOU.” Guy, Chris Hedges is a renowned Socialist and major proponent of human rights issues. I beleive if you investigate his main motivation for writing his recent article you propably find it is highly anthropocentric in nature.

  • Greg and craig (and others): Think nuance and complexity. I’m not suggesting we will voluntarily give up our hyper-indulgent way of life (it’s non-negotiable, after all). And that’s why people in this country will have such a difficult time in a world where money doesn’t matter, which is where we’re headed. Nor do I believe the ideology of Chris Hedges makes him less anthropocentric than the typical industrial human. But calling every commentator on this blog an asshole — in uppercase letters no less — is exactly the kind of juvenile behavior I’d expect from somebody with the simplistic, one-dimensional solution suggested by winston smith. Not only is this behavior racist and short-sighted, it lacks the nuance and recognition of complexity we need, as human animals, to get us through the dark days ahead. It’s long past time to move beyond self-absorbed, one-dimensional thinking. It’s time to enter the 21st century with courage, compassion, and creativity. We’ll need them all, in large quantities, if we are to avoid rapid descent into chaos.

  • I have to admit you are right about the asshole comment and the lack of a need for the uppercase letters. I do not want this to become a youtube flame blog either.

  • Guy, The main reason I pointed out Chris Hedges political/economic leaning is because I believe it is important to analyse the reasons how we managed as humans to find ourself in this predicament and also to reveal that through thousands of years conditioning it an impossible task to change the mindset of the vast majority of humanity. I have personally given up trying to convince others of the pending crisis and redirected my focus, selfish as it may seem, towards my families survival. We are in the process of relocating to a game farm in a remote part of Botswana near the Okavango Delta, a harsh but truly spectacular part of the planet. We chose Botswana because of political stability and people already live a relatively subsistence life with none of this sense of entitlement most “first worlder’s have. Another benefit is, the population of the country is only 1,6 million and a more laid back group you could’nt ask for. The task ahead is quite daunting as I have no farming experience, however am relishing the challenge. I guess I am fortunate my family supports me in this endeavour, as this will be quite a culture shock for all of us. At least both my sons share my passion for the african bush. Anyway I just thought I would share this to give an Africans survivalists perspective.

  • ‘The doctor tells the wife that her husband’s only chance for prolonged life is if she is willing to make great and prolonged sacrifice on his behalf. She comes out of the meeting with a grave look on her face. Her husband comes up to her to confer: “What did the doctor say”. She replies: “You are going to die.”
    There are many rational, thoughtful and seemingly responsible people posting on this sight who appear nevertheless to be behaving exactly as the wife above.
    The predictions outlined in Guy’s article are dire, and credible, but not unstoppable – as with the wife and husband’s case our salvation lies in acknowledging and enacting our responsibility to care and nurture the life around us as we NEVER have before. What every single poster so far has failed to mention is the overwhelmingly powerful role radical diet change would play in solving the problems we face.
    Scientifically speaking eliminating animal products from our consumption immediately would radically reduce methane, 72 times more powerful as a GHG than CO2, and allow rapid cooling to begin – methane breaks down from the atmosphere in 8 to 12 years as apposed to over 100 yrs for CO2. This would buy critical time for other crucial changes to be made in human operations as we have known them. Dire climate instabilities would still be expected as global temperatures would likely still not fall enough to return everything to normal. However it would certainly enable a transition time for humans and other life to find survivable niches, and potentially prevent the worst of the tipping points being triggered.
    Politically speaking, imagine the power of a movement based on radical personal change, expressed through commitment to compassionate living and protection of all life. People finally open to their deepened sense of connection, rather than their fear and guilt. And not as a result of any cheaply bought rituals, but by simply living the commitment in their everyday choices at the most basic level.
    This is undoubtedly what Einstein had in mind when he said “Nothing will benefit human health or increase the chances for survival of life on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
    Most of the world lives without meat in their diet, except rarely. The solidarity reflected in such a shift would be powerful, and the personal, and global benefits immense.
    Environmentally the elimination of energy intensive industrialised food production of all kinds (reminiscent of the Cuban experience) but also eliminating all animal food production would free up enormous quantities of grain and water. It would shore up food and water availability and alleviate the most immediate pressures on the largest populations, since those are the ones with nuclear weapons, thereby reducing the risk of the ‘mushroom forest’. Those largest populations are currently most at risk of imminent food and water shortages. We certainly would not be able to save all of those effected but to be seen to be doing everything in ones power is the only compassionate and genuine defence against the blame such starving populations might legitimately lay against those deemed responsible for their suffering.
    Finally, but most importantly, ethically, morally and spiritually surely we must accept the duty of care we have to cherish ALL LIFE by no longer treating animals or the wider world around us simply as goods and consumables. Now is the time humanity truly, desperately needs a miracle, and whether you are a believer or not the answer has been offered to us by every single great spiritual teacher this Earth has produced, and most of the greatest thinkers – show mercy to all things. Do Not Kill. When we embrace a wholey compassionate lifestyle only then will we be living humanely within our means on this planet. How else will we possibly create the potential for a miracle?
    By not embracing the principle of compassion and care, as the wife in the story did not, then not only are we certainly condemning our own loved ones to an early grave, but we are choosing suffering and painful extinction for ourselves and much of the rest of the life on this planet. By living animal product free you have chosen to ensure a far better outcome.
    Citizens of the high consumption world currently have access to an unprecedented range of plant food seed sources, and the technology to grow them in completely sustainable ways, even in the harshest climates. We no longer need to be dependent on animal suffering for our survival. We now have the ability to completely rejuvenate our food production to provide the most life affirming, sustainable and compassionate lifestyles, a choice that will radically alter the future we are racing towards, the more people adopt it.
    So please stop behaving like the wife, and mourning your not-yet-dead future. That is too easy, and the outcome by no means a fait accompli. You still have a choice. Please use your position to catalyze those around you by directing your energy and foresight into facilitating this change as fast and as widely as possible. For all our sakes

  • I think that Jenny has an interesting view of world history and perhaps evolutionary history suited to a philosophy that I do not personally espouse.
    I think a reason that the reduction of methane from ungulates is not a priority in terms of climate change management is that during human evolutionary history there were and have been huge herds of wild ungulates, such as American bison that were methane producers, and so this sort of methane is part and parcel of the baseline planetary system. White Europeans wasted and almost drove wild bison to extinction and brought in domesticated beef. The huge difference in planetary climate gases is related more to industrial activities related to fossil fuels used in transportation, production of electrical power, etc.
    I am sure there are those who are against all forms of perceived cruelty and feel that killing domestic livestock for food is cruel. If so, I suggest enacting legislation to make the act of killing animals as painless as possible. Housing domestic animals can also be very cruel, and so the solution is not to stop eating meat (because that does not ever stop meat production) but to require that domestic livestock be housed humanely with appropriate care and husbandry.
    I have come to believe that vegans are in denial about several things, including the fact that their “feel good” posture does not actually benefit animals. It is like saying that if I don’t murder a human that all humans are safe from murder. It sounds good but really does not solve the problem of human murder.
    I do not happen to believe that eating animals is philosphically bad any more than I believe that uprooting carrots is bad philosophically or pulling helpless berries from vines is an affront to the reproduction of healthy berry vines. I am more inclined to respectful taking of life and trying not to be wasteful.
    So, I had no problem eating a grilled chicken breast last night for dinner, and I intend to have another tonight. Maybe a small portion of beefsteak for lunch will do fine. I am an omnivore and I think that the earth can support omnivores by the millions, but not by the billions and billions.
    That being said, I do not support Amazon deforestation through slash and burn agriculture to produce hamburger meat. Nor do I support the dewatering of rivers in the Arid West to grow alfalfa for hay for livestock. I am in favor of husbandry practices that would drive up the cost of meat in the marketplace to relieve suffering during the lives of the animals before they are slaughtered humanely and eaten with gusto.
    Coincidentally, a few years ago I was raptor nest surveying in Olema, CA and encountered an organic vegetable farm. The owner kicked me off his land because he associated me with “environmentalists”, even though his office employee had given me permission to search for (and I did find) the local redtail hawk nest. I learned from local environmentalists that this organic farmer had dammed the local salmon/trout stream to impound water to grow his organic vegetables and bring them to market, thus imperiling endangered fish. Interestingly, a few years later, when Prince Charles and Lady Camilla came to the area they received a tour of the organic farm, which by then was said to be a model of environmentalism. I wonder if the salmon thought so…
    Stan Moore

  • This may be of interest
    Went to a ‘transition town’ get together for my suburb and surrounds
    on Saturday night. We made a 350 sign!
    I was in charge of the pizza oven! 30 people were present, incidentally it was at my neighbour’s house, there were many black mercs in the driveway.
    (a lot of concerned wealthy people out there :)).
    There was a slide presentation about peak oil, climate charge etc, we had break out sessions where post it notes were being posted with abandon – concerns, aspirations, hopes etc.
    Our local councillor was feeling very optimistic about the future and how technology could/will play a major role in mitigating the perils of peak oil.
    I piped in with ‘we cannot create energy etc and that it is a cornucopian myth that technology will save us’ – I was shut down! I am even a ratbag amongst ‘friends’!
    People generally grossly underestimate how huge a role energy plays
    throughout the whole economy.
    Peak oil = peak industrialisation – very important realisation
    = peak in complexity
    = peak travel
    = peak money
    = peak growth
    = peak debt
    = peak food
    = peak population
    Anyway, the TT convenor asked me to be apart of the initiating group, I said
    to her as I grimaced you know I am cynic, she said she knows but we need people like me to keep them honest. I did not have the heart to tell her that ‘group think’ invariably evolves when you put a committee together. They are not particularly good at self criticism, its basically small scale politics. ‘Beige’
    is always the outcome.
    Preparations? – this may be a little repetitive to some, nothing new here.
    *Psychological prep is the most important – if you want to thrive you will.
    *Know your local landscape.
    *Food and water storage.
    *Develop skills with hand tools.
    *Get out of debt – fast!
    *Read some decent books – Guy has posted stuff on this.
    *Learn how to hunt. For me its bow hunting bunnies with blunts! (soon – travel via m.bike – hunting is far humane than industrial food production)
    *Purchase some quality tools.
    *Fix things and make do.
    *Grow you own food, eat wild and eat well.
    *Spend less, reconsider some purchases
    *Be generous to your neighbours
    *Last but not least – try and get your wife on board!
    Problems are of course we can only guess what the other side of the bell curve will be like.
    Don’t ask me what you should do with the surplus cash. I still
    have not figured this one out. You guys should buy aussie fed bonds
    @ 5.5% tax free, the AUD is running at a yearly high it will invariably fall
    in value.
    There is a Chinese proverb which goes something like
    ‘if you want to live a long life, at least once in your life you
    have to be prepared to abandon all your possessions.’
    My comments on the real estate situation were an indication of the insanity
    of the market here, there are lot of incidental millionaires here.
    My house may be worth something, but I cannot eat it nor does it provide me with an income. I live on the equivalent of a part time teacher’s salary. I could
    not afford to live in Melbourne if I was a new graduate. I feel that it is grossly
    overvalued, but obviously I am the only one that thinks so. :)
    ps any advice on USA made ‘take down recurves’, much appreciated.

  • After reading on all of this, and from someone who has looked into the environmental issue extensively for over a decade, and from someone who in no way doubts the science behind the issue, or the possible and very likely consequences of the issue, I can only say this.
    Lets look at some figures, (All freely available to verify via Wikipedia),and use some common sense.
    About 7 billion people on the planet.
    Approximately 1 third of them believe in human induced climate change.
    Another 1 third (2.3 billion roughly) believe in climate change, but doubt humans are responsible.
    Another third are not even aware of the subject.
    So let’s use some more common sense.
    If one third of the world believes in climate change, ask yourself how many are taking the necessary steps to prevent climate change personally? I do not know this figure, but let’s say half (knowing human nature that is generous) are actually recycling, shopping local, etc. That’s only about 1.15 billion that are “toning it down”, the rest incidentally are “stepping it up” (India/China,etc) or “dying off” (Africa, etc).
    Throw in the fact that every year another 80 million people are born onto this planet, that’s an increase of about Germany, every year.
    Throw in the fact that there are 195 countries (if one counts Taiwan), all with separate ruling governments and different laws, cultures, attitudes, societal issues, and beliefs.
    Throw in the fact that the world has about 5000 to 10000 different languages, about ten or so of them which are widely (and exclusively by region) spoken.
    Throw in the fact that about one third of the world is functionally illiterate.
    Throw in the fact that issues just as far reaching, devastating, and consequential (nuclear war, conventional war, poverty, human rights and liberty, religious freedom and conflict, and a dozen others) are also at the forefront of human affairs.
    The world is a complicated and ever growing place.
    Common sense would lead you to one conclusion after knowing just those basic facts about the world.
    You can’t change it, not through talk and dialogue.
    It’s too big and complicated, too uneven (if you think your “message” for example is being spread via the net to everyone, well… 1.67 billion people with internet access as of now, that means about 5.33 billion… without), and too faced paced for anyone to make a difference. True some can make somewhat of a difference, but policy wise it is not you, the little guy. Even the president (Obama or anyone) cannot change the policy decisions of say… China, or Russia, or India.
    And knowing all this, and the coming effects of climate change, which are real, common sense would tell you the only thing any individual can do is devise a plan to survive.
    That’s easy, provided the problem does not get so bad as to cause a total global wipe out of life. Move north (it won’t be as hot), stay by available water (so you can drink), learn how to grow your own food and hunt (so you can eat), and build and repair your home (so you have shelter).
    Common sense would also tell you that you can either wait for the full effects of the crisis to be felt, or get a jump start.
    Common sense… the world is changing, globally it is changing, and to think you can change people, especially -everyone- is not only naive, it is both stupid and insane, and very egotistical. Even if you could somehow “make the world listen” on some emotional and intellectual level, the number of those people you could effectively communicate with is very limited. It is more naive to assume that you could change the world’s people… in time.
    But you can try to save yourself. I am…
    *Written from the interior of the Yukon, Canada, very… north.

  • Oh and by the way… some more facts to consider.
    There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas in the Pacific, 60 years ago, it wasn’t there, how big will it be in another 50 years? Four times… eight times the size of Texas?
    There are still over 20,000 nuclear warheads in this world, 184 of which were “lost” with the fall of Russia. The total amount is enough firepower to kill of all the world’s population a few times over, and only one of the “lost ones” is enough to incite the global war that would cause that.
    Tobacco is the world’s largest industry via sold and packaged product, I am not kidding, it is worth over 400 billion a year, and accounts for about 20% of all international trade. About 20% of the world smokes believe it or not (even today), and every single cigarette smoked, pollutes the atmosphere.
    Buildings… cause more amounts of pollution then cars in Co2 emissions.
    And lastly, (and if this does not get the idea of what I am conveying to you through your head nothing will) ocean acidification is a far greater danger then global warming, and is caused by the same method (Co2 emissions), and is impossible to reverse.
    I hope you see what I am conveying now, and why I “gave up” environmentalism?
    There are still more global facts, that when looked at give anyone a clear idea of just how dramatically and fast-paced our world is changing, and will change.
    What i ask of you reading this, is consider the fact that by trying to “change the world for the better” you are very well damning yourself to being one of the billions that will never see that “changed world”.
    Humanity’s only hope now, is that a few survive, and they only way to accomplish that, is on a person to person basis of individual choice, and a lot of personal hardship. You are trying to fight the planet wrapped up in a resource war, and 7 billion other people at the same time wrapped up in an ideological one, use your head…
    Save yourself.

  • Well we could do a few things to stem the tide and possibly get out of this situation. Unfortunately I do not see any of them happening until it is too late.The solutions I propose are just my thoughts and are listed in the following paragraphs.
    The food issue could be solved by large scale hydroponic growing. this would turn every acre into several as you can just stack buildings. this change will have to be proceeded by a more efficient water recycling program using some sort of organic purification method. also some sort of water conservation program would have to be put into action and enforced to ensure the success of this endeavor. These actions could allow for our current population as well as providing a ‘cushion’ for future population growth.
    The overpopulation issue could be solved by strict regulation of childbirth. The regulations should include licencing. These licences should only be issued after a series of physical, intellectual, genetic and psychological tests have been passed satisfactorily. The child-birthing regulations would have to be harshly enforced to make this work. Also there would have to be some sort of entity/group/organization that is responsible for the regulation of how many licences are able to be acquired in any given period. This entity will also be responsible for regulating the population growth in the country by determining how many offspring any licensed individuals may have both in a given time period and a lifetime. I also believe that the licencing process should also serve as a eugenic pairing program to ensure the best traits can be passed to future generations (I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to date/marry who they want but childbirth/rearing have nothing to do with either of those really). In my opinion the medical community already has the technology to easily insure that these series of programs can be made into a reality.
    The Energy crisis is a harder fix. It requires technology we either have not developed or have refused to develop. My proposed solution is not to focus on the one clean renuable energy source that we feel is out savior but to implement all of them strategically. Then after we implement them all we keep developing them and other energy solutions to try to ensure we can continue providing for out energy needs while maintain a surplus. We would also have to delve deeply into new energy storage devices that are reusable and environmentally safe. We would have to make it less favorable to use the outmoded fossil fuels by way of stiff penalties and meticulous regulatory methods.
    I believe that if all of the above methods are undertaken in by the entire population we have a hope of getting through this crisis. If we do not a species adopt these or similar steps to ensure our own survival well I hope the next dominant species takes better care of themselves. Although I could be wrong, hopefully I am, I do not think so.

  • Apocalypse *and* extinction. I intend to Lift the Veil, which elicits the evolution – and hence end – of Homo sapiens.



  • Dear Fellow Humans,
    Have any of you heard of the Dr. Nate Lewis Group out of Cal Tech? He has a very interesting presentation he has been doing for about 8 years on energy and his answer, with alot of information, evidence, and support, of how to stop the present energy situation that is causing or will cause, according to some predictions, some enormous environmental problems. He spoke at the University of Arizona and I believe it was in the fall of 2008. The presentation can be found at: http://nsl.caltech.edu/energy. The title is Global Energy Perspective.
    Thank you for your time.

    Todd D.