Infallible, unsinkable, inconceivable: a bell curve in three parts

by John Stassek

Infallible

A
sliver
of green
and fertile
earth, far from
other lands. Poly-
nesians settled long
ago, and came to under-
stand. Three days of labor,
tilling the soil, could feed them-
selves all year. Easter Island was
paradise. They found a good life here.

Time was abundant, since food was so easy,
to grow in the rich fertile soil. Idle minds couldn’t
be controlled, thought the leaders, royal. Something was
needed to occupy and otherwise engage, by sweat. Good
stone was there, to offer the gods; all their requirements met.

Statues were carved, fierce images in stone, most weighing dozens of
tons. Trees by the thousands were cut for roads; down to the coast they run.
Infallible gods watch as the clans compete: Who will the winner be? Thousands
more fell, for levers and rolls, to move those blocks down to the sea.

The work went on, for years and years, till finally there was only one tree. Soil
depleted by overuse; no trees meant the rain could run free. Obsession
continued, all was neglected, faster and faster they hauled. Food became
scarce, their hunger burned as they watched the last tree fall.

Oh, my god! What have we done? How come we never
knew? I must be asleep. This must be a dream.
There’s no way that this can be true. We
trusted those people, and thought
they knew best. And no
one disputed their
view. My family!
My kids! I can’t
let them die!
But what
am I going
to do?

Unsinkable

She
was the
most luxurious
ship that ever sailed,
a testament to man’s imagination.
Water-tight compartments, she could
not sink; appointments that met high expectations.
Fifty two thousand tons, built by the best of Belfast.
Her master, Captain, E. J. Smith, had experience deep and vast.

Sailed from Southampton, on April Tenth, Nineteen Twelve, AD. More
passengers boarded, at Cherbourg and Queenstown; then Titanic steamed out to sea.
On the eve of the fifteenth, she was making good time, on a moonless night, calm and cold. She’d arrive in New York, much sooner than thought, for the White Star Lines worth more than gold.

Just past eleven, the lookouts were perched, high above the deck. Iceberg warnings had come and gone; her speed hadn’t been held in check. Binoculars forgotten, just one of those things, as they tried hard to see in starlight. At eleven-forty, a dark mass ahead; they’d failed in
their duty that night.

The watch-crew tried to turn the ship, but her rudder was built much too
small. With twenty life boats stored on deck, too few by half for
all. Ice opened her keel, the North Atlantic poured in; Captain
Smith awakened from dreaming. Turned out, the pumps
could have held thru that night, if Ismay hadn’t ordered,
Resume Steaming!

Oh, my god! What have we done? How come we never
knew? I must be asleep. This must be a dream.
There’s no way that this can be true. We
trusted those people, and thought
they knew best. And no
one disputed their
view. My family!
My kids! I can’t
let them die!
But what
am I going
to do?

Inconceivable

A
way of
life inconceivable
to those from not long ago.
That it was all taken for granted,
made it seem doubly so. For thousands
of years, muscle and sweat was the currency
of power. Then something magical came along,
and all the old ways were scoured.

Those in the late industrial age, those of at least modest means,
could travel at thirty-thousand feet, and eat food from three thousand miles.
Clean fresh water on tap at every temp. from icy cold to hot; central heating and
air, and so much more, common in most domiciles. Travel was fast and comfortable,
but still thought of as a chore. The Green Revolution increased food supply by a
hundred-fold or more. Advances up and down the line in every part of their lives, added to their life spans as their living standards soared.

Few realized all this came from something buried deep below. Fossil fuels were ancient plants; Sun’s energy made them grow. Extracted and consumed by fire, this energy released; creating never-ending power, at least that’s how it seemed. Seventy-six cubic miles of oil, just about the total; when half was gone by two thousand five, loomed the ending to their dream.

Fossil fuels had enabled them to draw-down and deplete, the resources they relied upon for
all their basic needs. Using these resources, more quickly than they formed, meant each
day two hundred and five thousand more mouths to feed. Financial systems crumbled as energy supplies fell short. The climate grew much more severe, reducing earth’s
support. This gigantic house of cards was built because of closed eyes. The
ending when it finally came caught most of them by surprise.

Oh, my god! What have we done? How come we never
knew? I must be asleep. This must be a dream.
There’s no way that this can be true. We
trusted those people, and thought
they knew best. And no
one disputed their
view. My family!
My kids! I can’t
let them die!
But what
am I going
to do?

______________________

John Stassek used to help run his family’s small farm and feed businesses, until they failed in 2009. He is now semi-retired, driving a school bus part-time. He enjoys interacting with the kids and finds it’s much less stressful than farming. He is a member of the Lions Club and is also a member of Transition Van Buren-Allegan, trying to help create transition towns in southwestern Michigan. He keeps busy by working on his home to make it more energy efficient, gardening, and now, writing poetry. His librarian wife brought him a copy of Poetry for Dummies, two pages of which he read before composing this work. His long term plans are to finish reading the book. They have two happy and well adjusted children, and a fabulous new daughter-in-law, living on the West Coast in Seattle and Portland. He lives with his loving and patient wife, Debby, and their spoiled German Shepherd, Annie.

Comments 52

  • Well done. Good read as I listen to Guy!

  • Wonderful John.
    (listening to Guy too =)

  • My friends, it’s true that we are facing a serious energy crisis in our future, but it has nothing to do with “peak oil”. You see, if we maintain 2% annual growth in global power consumption, we will exhaust the solar energy received by Earth in about 400 years (a level of civilization known as Kardashev type one, or KT-I). Fortunately, this problem can be solved by building solar collectors around the sun, a process which can continue for thousands of years until we have completely enclosed our star in a Dyson sphere (KT-II). Since the solar energy received by Earth is only about one 2 billionth of the total solar output, you can see that there is significant room for growth well into the future.

    However, at some point we will have yet another energy crisis, which will require us to move to other star systems to maintain our growth. Fortunately by then interstellar travel should not present a serious problem, which means that we will have 100 billion more stars at our disposal. This means we can continue to maintain 2% growth in our power consumption for millions of years into the future. And if we should exhaust every star in our galaxy (KT-III), there are another 100 billion galaxies we can expand to. If we exhaust all those, we will, for all intents and purposes, be gods of the universe (KT-IV), so I’m sure we’ll think of something! Personally I’m hoping that by then we’ll have found a way to travel to one of the infinity of other universes postulated by cosmologists, which would pretty much put the notion of “limits to growth” to rest for all time.

    So while I agree with many in the Peak Oil community that we will have energy crises in our future, as you can see I disagree strongly on the details. As I hope I have shown, and in light of matter-energy equivalence (E=mc^2), there are in fact no “limits to growth” of any kind in the foreseeable future for life in this universe.

  • John, well done! Don’t read anything more about writing poetry, just keep writing. You have a the gift.

  • To Privileged, Sue and Kathy,

    Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. It is a great honor for me. I’ve come to regard this site as the best source of logical, enlightening, inspiring and incredibly insightful writings I have ever found, from Guy and from all of you. I am very happy to be
    a small part of that.

    To The Cosmist,
    I once believed much of what you said. I wish I still did. My life has divided itself into two parts: Before I knew, and after I found out,
    and I just can’t seem to be able to find my way back to that earlier,
    blissfully ignorant, period.

  • John, excellent piece. Thanks for sharing it. I hadn’t thought of Easter Island and what an excellent model it is of the current world situation.

    The Cosmist: magical thinking – keep the illusion alive! 🙂

    Ok. Completely off-topic but thought I would share it anyway. One night a week I work in the ER of a small rural community. Just got home and am relaxing a bit before I head into my own clinic. It’s dreary and rainy here today as we are on the “warm” side of the massive storm moving through the central U.S. Of late, I’ve been using a candle when I can as a way of readjusting to a simpler way of life. So, here I am sitting at my computer in a dark room, with the space heater at my feet, the central heat running, . . . and a candle so I can see the keyboard better. Ah the irony.

    Have a great day everybody!

  • We
    are
    not a
    Stone Age
    tribe living
    on Easter Island;
    we are a global scientific
    civilization. Believe
    it or not, this
    matters a
    lot!

  • Not as much as you think, Cosmist.
    All civilizations decline and fall.
    This one’s already in decline.
    Some say, because of the decreasing marginal utility of complexity.

  • Vera, that captures it in a nutshell

    Dr. House, here is a similar image from my past. When I was in Haiti we charged a battery to run the computer because the electric current (when on) was so variable. I left the day the oil embargo of 1993 was to take effect. I had been working on a spread sheet for my friend and wanted to finish it for her before I left. However in anticipation of the oil embargo no power came on that night before I left. So using a kerosene lamp I worked on the spreadsheet with the computer powered by that battery. I always wished I could have had a picture of that incongruity of computing by kerosene lamp. But I have the picture in my mind (which is where we will once again be storing pictures after the crash)

  • Love creative work like this, especially when it just flows right out of a person. Beautiful John!

    And Cosmist ~ your poem might actually matter if the “global scientific civilization” you speak of was doing less damage than a stone age tribe. Instead of Easter Island were destroying the entire planet. You are obviously still in the “before I knew” phase of learning.

  • Everyone.

    On numerous occasion we have put forward logical arguments based on irrefutable facts to help Cosmist see the light. It is now abundantly clear he is a deranged and unreachable time waster, and perhaps also an attention seeker. Do not forget he told us not long ago that he has an ‘undergraduate degree’ and that he has ‘officially blown his mind’.

    I suggest the best approach is to totally ignore any comments he makes on NBL and spend time discussing reality. The savings in time and electricity achieved by not responding to the nonsense Cosmist writes would be a tiny step towards saving what remains of the planet.

  • My friends, I’m not sure what is magical about my analysis; I have simply stated the broad facts of our cosmic condition from the point of view of a physicist. It’s true that the devil is in the details, but there is nothing magical in the assertion that our universe contains no practical limits to growth of any kind. The only real limits are our ambition, intelligence and imagination — a point I feel compelled to keep making here over and over again despite its apparent futility.

    If anyone is thinking magically, it is the neo-druids, neolithic romanticists and other irrational reactionaries who have a *prior agenda* when they claim that we are living on global Easter Island and that modern civilization is doomed. My point is that this claim is scientifically unsound, and that we are quite capable of continuing our growth indefinitely *provided* we have the will to do what is necessary.

    Unfortunately, given the general stupidity and lack of cosmic vision of homo sapiens, I will grant that we may not make the necessary adaptations and the future may involve goat farming and clubbing each other with femur bones in the new stone age instead of exploring the Cosmos. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and almost certainly won’t be that way unless there is a mass outbreak of the kind of insanity that prevails in the darker corners of the doomosphere.

  • Well ~ at first, I was all about Kevin Moore’s suggestion, but after reading Cosmist’s response, I have to agree that the human mind probably does indeed have an “unlimited” capacity to evolve into a more advanced form of consciousness. And I also agree that the “cosmos” could bring a new twist to the situation we face on this planet that we are incapable of even imagining. But I also believe that accepting the fact we cannot continue on the path we are on without some kind of catastrophic change is a necessary first step to any kind of human survival – or conscious awakening. Indeed, even without humans – or our beautiful planet, the cosmos will continue, hopefully having learned an evolutionary lesson from how we destroyed our Garden of Eden.

  • Louis Sarno is a man who joined and married into a Jungle Pygmy stone age tribe. He recorded their music and it is available with a short book called Bayaka: The Extraordinary Music of the Babenzele Pygmies and Sounds of Their Forest Home. Compared to the frantic music our young people so often listen to it is beautiful, calming, peaceful, happy. I wish I had been born to this stone age tribe in an era in which they were not surrounded and encroached upon by “civilized man”. I would far rather be a Babenzele Pygmy by birth than a space explorer, detached from my roots to the earth. We have truly gone insane as citizens of an industrial civilization, unconnected to the soil that nourishes us. We call it dirt now, something to get off your hands, something that must not stain your clothes. But it is our lifeblood. Eons ago I worked in a pet store – I remember the little monkeys in cages, their actions repetitive, masturbating, peeing on anyone who went by, sad beyond measure. We have caged ourselves in cities and high rises, malls and endless roads. Yet we find pleasure and peace in pictures of forests and plains, in music that mimics nature. What would we do caged up in spacecraft for all of our lives or transported to planets unlike our own. We can only hope that the crash comes soon enough to save some of the planet in a form that will still provide a home for some of our species.
    Listen at:
    http://www.baka.co.uk/baka/
    Sounds like a good life to me.

    Cosmos your exhortations sound more like “Do you believe in fairies? … If you believe,” he shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.”
    Peter Pan

    Do you really think that if we all here on NBL believe that humans will reach the stars? What a powerful bunch of people we must be. Our thoughts and beliefs hold in them the future, we can will space travel or bring back the stone age. Wow we are super powerful! I think you need to go back to your Comic Cosmos character at http://comicscosmos.blogspot.com/. You are much better able to carry that off than your wise Cosmist character.

  • John and Kevin,

    @ John: Great job and thanks for that. The poet’s path can be rich and rewarding and it can be difficult. It lets you see the world from a different vantage point. Sometimes it can be an expansive view from a high hill. Sometimes you’ll be looking up from a ditch. Always you’ll be seeing things in a new way. You seem to be well on your way down poetry’s path already. Have a good journey.

    @Kevin: Thanks for reminding me about feeding the trolls. I was about to note that Cosmist’s comment, mirroring John’s, reaches a peak with the idea “global scientific” and then collapses completely on a much steeper slope than John’s Easter Island. I think Cosmist may be on to something. This does matter a lot. It is the hubris of techno-cornucopia that has led us to this peak and has assures the coming uncontrolled descent. Hopefully the extreme right side of the graph stays above the zero line. In other news, political power centers of the eastern US are getting hammered by winter again thus reinforcing the idea that global climate change is a hoax and we can all go on living in techno-cornucopialand. (Nothing to see here folks, don’t pay any attention to what’s going on in the Canadian Arctic).

    Michael Irving

  • Being a scifi buff, I’ve long been on the fence about space travel. I think we DO have the intelligence and creativity to solve the problems needed to do it, and think we could learn a lot from it (as we already have on small scale). But our overall attitude at present is not one I feel we should be taking into the universe, and some of Cosmist’s statements make that quite clear.

    Yes, from a strictly universal POV, there are no ultimate limits to technology… but the PRACTICAL limits are quite obvious. I think solar satellites could go a long way to giving us a power source that enables us to eliminate the wasteful, polluting systems we now have, but I don’t see corporations investing, nor governments planning, long-term enough to create them with the economic system we have. Further, the attitude that says we have the right to expand without limit and even consider we might be justified in “exhaust[ing] every star in our galaxy (KT-III), [because] there are another 100 billion galaxies we can expand to” does not sound like civilization — it sounds like viral infection.

    Clearly, you have familiarity with scifi, Cosmist, so how could you have missed the countless references to OTHER LIFE out there? Sure, it’s fiction, but to imagine Earth is the ONLY living world is profoundly ignorant of statistical probability. Even if 95% of other worlds have no more than bacteria, that still leaves millions with some form of higher life our crass behavior would destroy. We need to learn respect for and repair our relationship with the millions of other species HERE before we even consider going elsewhere.

    I think one of the things that bothers me most about our current situation is that humanity has so much potential. The greed and arrogance of a relative few (and the brainwashing of many) is severely endangering our chance to be trailblazers for future generations — not just humans, but intelligent species now existing and whatever species evolve intelligence in the coming eons. I like to imagine some future creature finding evidence of our existence and thanking us for stepping back from the brink and leaving them a chance to prosper. That can only happen if we get our heads out of our keisters and reject the attitude that we “rule the world.”

  • Floods Australia‘s ‘Katrina’ Moment http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27389.htm
    By John Pilger
    excerpt: “Since the 1980s, Australia has become the model of a social democracy where the cult of the “market” has diminished public services and infrastructure budgets and divided by wealth a society that once boasted the most equitable spread of personal income in the world.

    Little of this is discussed in a media of which Rupert Murdoch owns 70% of the capital city press. When the leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, dared suggest that the Queensland flood was due in part to “the burning of fossil fuels [causing] the hottest oceans we’ve ever seen off Australia”, he was abused as “insensitive “ and told to apologise to the mining industry.

    In the decade to 2005, says the Wilderness Society, “the amount of land clearing in Australia was so extensive that the greenhouse gases produced rivaled the amount produced by cars and trucks”.”

    To echo John S, “Oh, my god! What have we done? How come we never
    knew?”

  • Michael.

    ‘Global scientific civilisation’.

    Now that WOULD be a good idea.

    (Pesumably trolls would not be permitted to breed, otherwise they’d take over again.)

  • Kathy.

    If you include the activities carried out in China converting resources into waste, Australians have by far the biggest per capita carbon footprint on the planet.

    Like the monkey with his hand in the jar, they will not let go of the ‘food’.

  • Cosmist, I have no trouble with you having a vision and a dream. But you are dismissive and even abusive of those who do not share it.

    I am among those who are quite comfortable with the idea (and even the practice) of “goat farming,” although I never intend to club someone with a femur, and I resent the implication that the two are necessarily linked.

    As many point out, your antagonistic comments here are neither welcome by those who want to contribute positively to this blog’s topic, nor do they further your own purpose and vision. So why bother?

    So why don’t you go find a nice blog somewhere populated by people who think like you, so you can all make your grand plans together? Surely, that will be more productive, if you really do want to see that happen. I really do respect your vision of expansion to the stars! (Except that part where you blow up the sacred tree in Avatar because their Unobtanium is necessary to your plans… 🙂

    The Fermi Paradox says either that it is not possible for intelligent life to do what you envision (or they would have done so already), or that there are no others like us out there, and we are free to consume all. So go chase your dreams… elsewhere!

  • I do have to make one very important correction to my original post: to maintain 2% growth in power consumption means that we would consume all the sun’s power in 1560 years, all visible mass-energy in our galaxy in 5282 years, and all visible mass-energy in the observable universe in 6561 years. I didn’t include dark matter or energy in these calculations, but that doesn’t change the situation significantly. So clearly we will have to set our sights lower than 2% per year annual growth within the next ten thousand years. But like I said, I’m hopeful that at that point we will find more universes in which to expand and continue our growth.

    Say what you will about it, you have to admit this Kardashev level 4 future I’m describing sounds a little more interesting than herding goats and hoeing potatoes down on the farm in your Kardashev level zero civilization…

  • john stassek, i may have come across your name in nbl’s archives, i think i have, but u haven’t been posting for a while, if that’s the case. whatever, i’ve enjoyed your recent posts. i’m not surreally a big poetry fan, but i surreally liked yours. clever format. reminds me of other guest artist posts quality wise. well done.

    ‘There’s no way that this can be true. We
    trusted those people, and thought
    they knew best. And no
    one disputed their
    view.’

    the problem with disputing established dogma is with pointing out to people how full of shit they are in placing trust in any dogmatic liars. the problem is that most people surreally appear to be hopelessly full of shit! the establishment and sheeple are tangoing together over this cliff… as the saying goes, it takes 2 to tango. well, it takes 2 to deceive and be deceived as consistently (dogmatically) as deception occurs. here in the u.s., all one ever hears in corporate owned ‘mainstream’ media is propaganda and surreally silly drivel, yet how many people go to the bother of trying to point this out to the sheeple? what’s the use? they just go baaaa!!! and resume grazing!

    lol now, for tears are to come.

  • OK I’ll leave you folks alone now, as I really have nothing more to say on these topics. Good luck all, and remember when you see those contrails shooting up into the sky some day while you are bent over your rows of potatoes, that those are the rockets of visionaries who refused to be tied to the Earth or to accept limits to growth, and it is they who will carry the seeds of life up into the Cosmos and save the children of Gaia from certain doom.

  • @Cosmist…enjoy your flight.

  • kevin and kathy, i agree with u re. cosmist. he’s totally bought into the myth of omnipotence, and for some reason is trying awfully hard to sell it to us. whatever, it’s a distraction. i especially appreciated kathy’s critique of technophilian derangement/detachment from gaian origins, and thanks for the baka link. enjoyed the pictures and music, and reading of their culture. good antidote to complete jadedness. at least somewhere still people live in harmony with gaia, and in this case quite happily.

  • To The Real Dr. House, Cindy, Michael and The Virgin Terry,
    Thank you for your many nice comments. Once again, I am honored. This is doing wonders for my ego! I may have to continue writing!

    To The Cosmist,and everyone who responded to him,
    I think we are looking at this from two separate viewpoints-The Cosmist seems to be considering only the positive attributes of humanity, from a physicist’s perspective, and taken as such, I guess there really is no limit to our potential. I’m afraid I spend too much of my time considering the negative aspects, from an ecologist’s or historian’s point of view. I guess I’ve read too much history. Six months at this site, and a few years at LATOC may not have helped, either! I have not been able to find evidence that indicates we could set aside or somehow undo these negative traits. Someday, perhaps. But we are going to have to really, really want to change. I’m not sure what we will need to go through to get to that point, but I don’t believe it will be easy, or pretty.

  • John.

    So busy ‘fighting fires; amd trying to make sense of things I didn’t fully appreciate your clever use of words. 🙂

    Cosmist was not considering the universe from a physicists prerspective. The physics is quite clear: long distance space travel is not possible within the bounds of any known physics. It was all a fantasy, a product of NOT understanding physics.

    Indeed, all the evidence points to peak space travel having occured in the 1970s.

    Potentially we can develop a few more gadgets and play god with biochemistry a bit longer, but we are not going to circumvent the basic laws of chemistry and physics, which are telling us that as far as current arrangements are concerned our time is nealy up.

    Australia’s Katrina moment looks mighty close now.

  • “Say what you will about it, you have to admit this Kardashev level 4 future I’m describing sounds a little more interesting than herding goats and hoeing potatoes down on the farm in your Kardashev level zero civilization…”

    Actually, no, I do not “have to admit” that. And I can tell you’ve never spent much time with goats.

    Having backgrounds in both engineering and ecology, I find the latter very much more interesting. If I somehow found myself in your K-4 future, I’d mourn the homogeneity of it all, and long for something beyond my control to observe and take delight in.

  • Cosmist has obviously never tasted a home grown potato. much less had the joy of relating to farm animals, or just the pleasure of physical work that produces or obtains something (as opposed to exercise).

    Terry, so glad you checked out the link. The Baka people’s music is truly amazing. Their culture will fade if the dominant culture of industrial civilization does not fall soon.

  • John

    Let me add my sincere compliments to those preceding me. Your poetry is insightful and a delight to read. I, too, was captured by the words

    “Oh, my god! What have we done?
    How come we never knew?
    I must be asleep. This must be a dream.
    There’s no way that this can be true.”

    My view is similar in that as Jesus taught, we have eyes, but we see not, ears but we hear not. For the sake of the economy we have stolen and consumed our children’s inheritance and denied the consequences of our actions. We will not be remembered with fondness or respect.

    Thanks again for your words.

  • Victor.

    I have now seen Zeitgeist III.

    There is a lot of very good stuff in it that makes the connection between the activities of the empire and the generally miserable state of the world. What a pity Peter Joseph is still hooked into the ‘technology will save us’ model and still does not make any connections between industrial activity and collapse of the environment particularly the carbon dioxide emissions that result from ANY industrial activity. He does seem to be rather energy illiterate too.

    I fund it quite surreal that he persists with fantasies centred on the Venus Project, which would obviously require a stupendous amount of energy and resources to complete, while at the same time ( amd for the first time) acknowledging Peak Oil via Mike Ruppert and Colin Campbell. A step in the right direction, I suppose.

    The Venus Project may have even worked if it had been impelemented in the 1950s, when most nations were broke and the technology wasn’t available. 🙂

    If things hold together long enough maybe he will put together Zeitgeist IV, in which industrial activity is seen as the problem, bot the solution.

  • John, your poetry has power.

    … well on our way to the last tree standing

    … conceivable, 500 sq km of amazon rain forest is sinkable

    … “Roberto Messias, head of Brazil’s environmental agency Ibama, said that around 12,000 people were likely to be affected by the construction but that many of them currently lived in wooden riverside shacks and were likely to benefit from the dam’s constructions.

    ‘Our studies show that today the population does not have adequate sanitation or healthcare. The conditions outlined in the licence are designed so that the local population have a superior quality of life … at the end of the construction,’ he said, according to the Amazon paper Diario do Para.”

    … let’s see, does the statement above meet the definition of fallible?

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/feb/02/brazil-amazon-rainforest-hydroelectric-dam

  • There’s no way that this can be true. We
    trusted those people, and thought
    they knew best. And no
    one disputed their
    view. My family!
    My kids! I can’t
    let them die!
    But what
    am I going
    to do?

    http://dailyhurricane.com/2011/02/source-epa-will-agree-to-cut-bp-oil-spill-estimate.html
    Per Bob Cavnar
    “I know I keep saying it, but I told you so. The Observer is reporting that, according to its sources, the EPA is likely to agree to cut its current estimate of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico by BP’s Macondo well that blew out on April 20. BP has officially disputed the government’s estimate, saying that it could be half of the official estimate, citing multiple estimates and lack of actual measurement of the flow. The Observer is reporting that the EPA agrees that estimates are not 100% accurate, signalling the weakness of the government’s position.”

    More at the link

  • Kevin, the Venus Project is something of a cult, with acolytes not realizing that this is the daydreams of a man stuck in high-modern fantasies of mid century last. Most of the money raised by the non-profit goes to his model building, I hear. 😉 There are also some hidden for-profits in the background… a strange outfit.

    They say that after the films (they intend to wrap up with a blockbuster), they will build a model city. Holding yer breath? Heh.

  • As soon as they started talking about a fully automatic global resource-based-supply/production/distribution environment, I knew they were either seriously deluded or simply blowing smoke out their arses…

  • Venus Project and other techno-salvation enthusiasts take note:

    http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/2011/02/01/endangered-elements-pose-threat-to-green-energy/

    Green energy projects not only rely upon substantial fossil fuel support, they also rely heavily upon rare earth elements which

    1) China controls some 90% of production currently
    2) May not be present in quantities that will support even currently planned projects, much less support the complete conversion from fossil fuels (at least for electricity).

    It must also be noted that there are many other critical uses of fossil fuels which cannot be met by green energy sources – like plastics…..

    The article advocates conservation and recycling to solve our problems, but this only extends the inevitable.

    We have about 7 billion people on this planet to support. With these numbers, nothing is sustainable.

    And without these numbers modern technology is not sustainable.

    Catch 22…..again…

  • I strongly reccomend Bill Still’s ‘The Secret of Oz’, which I have watched several times recently; it’s packed with information and quotes.

  • Kevin

    I concur. ‘The Secret of OZ’ is an excellent movie and can be seen here:

  • Victor, makes sense. After all it is likely that the Ark of the Covenant is down below the Temple Dome in the Stables of Solomon. This is actually a communication device to contact the Niburu folk who are on their way on Planet X. (reference the Nephilim of the bible https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephilim ) At any rate they would like our gold to moderate their planet’s atmosphere http://www.darkstar1.co.uk/gold.html (no doubt the missing gold in the underground levels of the World Trade Centers has been secreted away to use for trade with the Niburu folk) “Missing Gold A King’s Ransom in Precious Metals Seems to Have Disappeared” http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/gold.html

    In other words when I find it hard to deal with the shape the planet is in I spend too much time surfing the web….

    Who knows….

  • On a more serious vein –
    Unfortunately if Egyptians get their democracy they may have a more equal distribution, but Egypt is set to go down the tubes anyway. I hope they have a few years to enjoy winning…

    The Great Unravelling: Tunisia, Egypt and the Protracted Collapse of the American Empire by Nafeez Ahmed
    full article that is well worth reading at http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Great-Unravelling-Tun-by-Nafeez-Ahmed-110201-923.html

    “Indeed, Egypt is particularly vulnerable. Its oil production peaked in 1996, and since then has declined by around 26 per cent. Since the 1960s, Egypt has moved from complete food self-sufficiency to excessive dependence on imports, subsidized by oil revenues. But as Egypt’s oil revenues have steadily declined due to increasing domestic consumption of steadily declining oil, so have food subsidies, leading to surging food prices. Simultaneously, Egypt’s debt levels are horrendous — about 80.5 per cent of its GDP, far higher than most other countries in the region. “

  • Let’s not be too quick to assign Egypt to the shrinking list of democracies. You must keep in mind that they have never had a true democracy, being a military dictatorship under the covers since 1952. They have what appear to be elections, and civilian leaders, but all the shots are called by the military. And with global economics the way they are, I don’t really see that changing in the near future.

  • Victor,

    Regarding your linked Forbes article by Chris Rhodes, I would like to note the ending paragraph:

    “If even “renewables” cannot save us from waning fossil fuel depletion, the only solution is to begin seriously the deceleration of consumption to a lower-energy society based around local communities immediately, with vastly reduced inputs of energy and all kinds of “mined” resources. Recycling must be key to this most difficult transitional step, in hand with a new concept of a “circular economy,” that aims to model nature where nothing is wasted.”

    Yes, even Forbes is beginning to quake a little. If only thirty or forty years ago the Forbians had thought about the future as anything other than a great money pit from which they could just grab enough wealth and power to rival Ozymandias. Now they talk of beginning “seriously the deceleration of consumption…” But it’s too late Chris Rhodes, too late Forbians. And now (stealing from Shelly) mankind can only ‘Look on their works and despair!’

    Michael Irving

  • I have not had the time to read the WWF article, but at least at first glance it sounds like they have lost their minds (posted at Energy Bulletin).

    “From the WWF website:
    Our new Energy Report confirms that all the world’s energy needs could be provided cleanly, sustainably and economically by the year 2050. Renewable energy is the way ahead. Fossil fuels like oil and coal could become relics of the past. And the sooner we start planning for that cleaner, greener world, the sooner it can be a reality.

    The new Energy Report we’ve launched today shows that turning the world’s energy supplies green is not only possible, it’s absolutely essential.

    Our report makes it clear that by 2050 the world’s power, transport, industrial and domestic energy needs could potentially be met entirely from renewable sources…”

  • From an article by Fidel Castro at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27404.htm

    He notes:
    Several political leaders at the Davos Economic Forum called for a change of the growth model.”

    “The current model of economic growth, based on consumerism and a disregard of environmental consequences, can no longer be sustained because the planet’s survival is at risk, several political leaders warned today in Davos.”

    “‘The current model is global suicide. We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action,’ warned Ban Ki-moon. ‘Natural resources are becoming more and more scarce,” he added, during a debate on how to redefine sustainable growth at the World Economic Forum.”

    “‘Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete,’ said the head of the UN.

    “The UN secretary general added that in addition to basic survival resources such as food and water, ‘one resource is the scarcest of all: Time, We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change.’”

    He concludes:
    As you can see, for the first time the world is simultaneously facing three problems:
    Climate crises, food crises and political crises.
    And we can add other serious dangers to them.
    The risk of increasingly destructive war is very real.
    Will the political leaders have sufficient serenity and equanimity to successfully face them?
    Our species’ fate depends on it.

    Fidel Castro Ruz – February 01, 2011

    Are the guys at Davos getting worried? Whatever they do will be too little too late. Just as well for the quick collapse of civilization is necessary to save a planet hospitable for humans.

  • Katy.

    ‘Whatever they do will be too little too late.’

    TOO LITTLE TOO LATE The headline on the Independent UK this morning (NZ time)

    Special report: Catastrophic drought in the Amazon

    Region set to outstrip US as CO2 emitter

    By Steve Connor, Science Editor

    Friday, 4 February 2011

    A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the “lungs of the world” to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the “one-in-100-year” drought of 2005.

    They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth’s greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died.

  • thanks for the movie reference, kevin, and the link, victor. i’m also looking forward to kathy’s article from op-ed news. my gift to u in return is this link (sorry for the need to copy/paste) to a derrek jensen article published in orion, whose website boasts that it’s the best of the environmental genre. i highly doubt it, judging from a perfunctory examination of the site, and the ignorance of it’s blogosphere. but i digress. jensen, as i’m sure many of u are aware, is an enormously gifted writer/spirit. perhaps better than anyone, he succinctly sums up what economic growth is about: turning a living planet into dead products:

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6052

  • Heck Kevin, I’ve been so busy checking out Australia and the Midwest I just forgot about the Amazon. The link is https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/special-report-catastrophic-drought-in-the-amazon-2203892.html

    It was a nice world wasn’t it…..

  • This article indicates that we may very well have passed another tipping point of positive feedback systems relating to global warming. There are 4 huge ones we are approaching or have already passed: the melting of the Greenland Ice Cap, the melting of the Arctic Ice, the warming of Arctic Tundra, and now the reversal of the rainforest carbon sink to a net carbon emitter.

    Another big one we yet await is the reversal of the oceanic carbon sink to a net carbon emitter, a process already under-way.

    I think it very probable that we are now witnessing the passing of the global warming baton from human induced carbon forcing to that of the earth itself. In other words, climate change might well be now beyond human control.

    Truly sad. Absolutely dangerous – not only to human life, but to the entire ecological structure.

    We have become as gods – dangerous and incompetent gods.

  • Victor.

    I cannot disagree with anything you have written, but would like to add Global Dimming, or rather lack of Global Dimming, to your list.

    As I understand it, particulate matter and aerosols derived from industrial activity and high-flying aircraft are currrently reflecting a significant portion of incoming radiation back into space. The reduction in industrial activity anticipated when we fall further down the oil depletion curve would be expected to reduce these particulate and aerosol reflectors and lead to a surge in temperature which could well amplify the positive feedbacks you mentioned.

    One technical fix that could be of assistance in maintaining (or even increasing) the Global Dimming effect in the short term would be to burn more coal in inadequate air. 🙂

  • Kevin, dimming may well be holding back warming and as I understand it the particles causing dimming will drop out of the atmosphere quite quickly. Thus when civilization collapses and the coal burning stops and the jets no longer create contrails we may begin to truly fry. But the less CO2 we put into the air before that happens the less we fry so it makes the quick end to industrial civilization even more essential.

    Terry, thanks for the Jensen article – I can never disagree with Jensen but Jensen concludes “The only way to stop them is to make it so they have no other choice.” How that is to be done he fails to say. Perhaps Orion wouldn’t print that part.

  • Kathy

    Jensen always must walk a very politically narrow path, especially when he expresses his views on accelerating collapse. He must not be seen (at this point) to be advocating violence or terrorism to accomplish this end.

    Kevin

    Indeed, global dimming is a black swan in all this. If we cut back our emissions, we might well significantly increase warming. O what a tangled web we weave…..