The Cost of Affluence

In a letter to Ernest de Chabrol dated 9 June 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”

Nearly two hundred years later, de Tocqueville has been vindicated not only as a superb social critic but also as a forecaster. Knowing nothing about de Tocqueville, the ten-year-old son of a friend put his own spin on recent history: “Mom, I think people value Father Time more than they value Mother Earth.” His words sting me like freezing rain, squeezing tears from the corners of my eyes. There’s nothing new there for me, except the perspective of youth: I often weep when I think about the hellishly overheated world we’re leaving him and his young friends. We’re destroying this world in large part because we care more about chasing fiat currency than we care about the living planet and its occupants.

Although it seems unlikely they met, de Tocqueville was writing during the time of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. As if he, too, could see the future, Kierkegaard was plagued with anxiety. However, Kierkegaard didn’t call anxiety a plague: As he pointed out, anxiety is fundamental to our sense of humanity. Although I’m tempted to discard Kierkegaard’s every thought based simply on his ludicrous leap of faith, I can’t convince myself to disagree with him about anxiety. His writings about anxiety resonate with me as strongly as anything I’ve read by Lao Tzu, Schopenhauer, or Leopold.

It’s small wonder I’ve slept so poorly since August of 1979, when I reached a vague, subconscious understanding of the dire straits in which humanity is immersed. More than three decades after that summer of my nineteenth year, “my distress is enormous, boundless,” and growing by the day. I envy those who know about ongoing climate change and yet can remain comfortable with that knowledge. If you’re among them, perhaps this essay will drag you with me, into the abyss of despair. If so, I encourage you to abide the prescient words of Edward Abbey: “Action is the antidote to despair.”

According to NASA, anthropogenic climate change is primarily due to human actions. The ongoing crisis is intensifying, and much of North America is experiencing summer in March. Ninety degrees in winter is not normal, climate-change deniers notwithstanding. Ditto for this year’s Silent Spring.

If you’re under the age of 35, you’ve never experienced “normal” temperatures despite a weakening sun. In fact, February 1985 was the last time global mean monthly average was below the twentieth-century average. Already, climate has shifted to a new state. That state can only be described as dire. And yet because Earth’s climate system behaves in a nonlinear manner, future changes could occur very rapidly, making it seem as if more than three decades without a below-normal temperature reading were the good ol’ days.

What does the future hold? First, a warning: Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

A global average rise in temperature of 2 C is now optimistic, according to French scientists. Climatologist Matthew Huber agrees. But even that seemingly modest increase in temperature raises sea level 40 to 70 feet. In fact, an increase in global average temperature of 1 C is potentially catastrophic, as pointed out by the United Nations in 1990. Meanwhile, the OECD concludes we’re headed for an average temperature increase of 3-6 degrees Celsius by 2050 (full original report is here). Supporting documentation is far more abundant than revealed by these recent headlines:

Climate change is shaking the world, literally

Global warming borders is close to being irreversible, according to conservative scientists

Greenland’s ice will melt at a much lower temperature than previously estimated

It might be irreversible already

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu claims to be suprised

The Arctic death spiral continues unabated

After all, a carbon time bomb has been dropped in the Arctic

At the other pole, an iceberg the size of New York state is about to break away from Antarctica

For many years, people have been metaphorically stealing glaciers to put into cocktails. Now they’re literally doing it.

Habitat for millions of people will disappear with flooding from the oceans

Water, water, everywhere, but the world’s rivers are failing to make it all the way to the oceans

Oceans are acidifying at an ‘unparalleled’ rate, and will not survive business-as-usual disaster-as-usual

Conveyor belt tipping point has been reached, as I pointed out in this space more than a year ago

As I also pointed out, at the same time under slightly different name, ‘Compost bomb’ is latest climate change ‘tipping point’

Meanwhile, drought in the southwestern United States is intensifying even as U.S. heat waves are set to intensify from New York to Los Angeles

According to tables of flowering dates in 1840s Massachusetts, average temperature already has risen 2.4 C in Concord since the industrial revolution began

Elsewhere in the United States, the heat is unprecedented, with 7,000 record high temperatures so far this year

A vital species of tree killed by climate change brings to mind one my favorite lines from one of my least-favorite people, Derrick Jensen: “Forests greet us and deserts dog our heels”

The abundance of dire information and a slow news days causes even ABC “News” to point out the weather weirding

How bad is the situation? Desperation is leading to long-shot technical “fixes.” Naturally, these do not include changing the behavior of people in the industrialized world. As usual, Americans, still affluent relative to people in other nations, can’t be bothered because they’re too concerned about the industrial economy to worry about persistence of Homo sapiens. The occasional thoughtful American writes a letter of apology to his grandchildren, preferring the ease of an apology over the difficulty of action. On the other hand, President Obama continues to ignore the issue, even though he certainly knows he is committing his family and young children to hell on Earth.

If we didn’t already have enough reason to terminate this absurd set of living arrangements, human extinction might do the trick. It might be too late, of course: More than two years ago Tim Garrett pointed out that only collapse of the industrial economy prevents runaway greenhouse. In those two years, we’ve set records for carbon emissions on this overheated planet. But if we act as if it’s too late, our actions become self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the spirit of Edward Abbey, let’s channel some Kierkegaard-inspired anxiety to act as if the future matters. Let’s act as if we have a future. Let’s act now, while the idea of a future still persists. Before it’s too late. Before there’s no tomorrow for our entire species.


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath.


My latest piece for Transition Voice is here. It’s also linked, along with several other articles I’ve not pointed out, on the “Selected articles” tab.

Comments 133

  • Some of you will be interested in the irony of this.

    In my state the head Republican budget hawk in the Senate is working to pass legislation to cut disability payments to thousands of mentally and physically challenged people. At the same time he draws $601 each month in disability payments from the Federal government.

    He says his is legitimate because sometimes when he’s golfing, hiking, fishing, or working on his 6-acre property his back will hurt. All those other people are just trying to get a free hand out, and besides their all drunks or drug addicts.

    This is the same guy who was drawing unemployment in 2002 while drawing his salary as a state legislator.

    I know, I know, you’ve heard this story before.

    Michael Irving

  • Brutus – You are just making simple living into another stupid status thing if you feel ashamed about your lifestyle. Everyone has many reasons why they live as they do. And who knows what is best anyway?My reasons are:
    I like it. Always have.
    I don’t want to work a job.
    I want to own almost nothing in case I want to leave the country.
    I’m allergic to most jobs. Like in offices.
    (My back is too bad to do landscape or house cleaning anymore.)
    I eat better if I don’t make too much money.

    However, sometimes I wonder. You know how when the price of gas goes up, people cut back on driving? Then it comes down. And the speculators make a killing. We should have a horse in that race. Like stocks in Exxon.

    Maybe we are like an alcoholic with a little left in the bottle – might as well finish it off and get it over with. Maybe we should all use as much fossil fuel as we possibly can. I think we are getting really tired of waiting for the crash. Let’s just get on with it already. I say – if we want to get this show on the road – let’s vote for Romney!! What the Hey!

  • Michael Irving – I don’t know if that is ironic or more typical than we know. Sometimes I wonder how people can do stuff like that, but the answer is – because they can get away with it.

  • Short of water in London but the Olympics will still have pools for the swim events.

    The city of London has an undeserved reputation as a rainy city, with “things to do” when the U.K. capital is wet a popular topic of conversation among tourists. But this year could see that image shattered in dramatic fashion, with much of southeast England gripped by a serious drought currently affecting about 20 million people. Restrictions on the use of water were imposed Thursday from the southeast coast to the River Humber in the north and almost as far west as Wales. By the time the Olympics comes to London in July, further controls could be introduced that will prevent aircraft, London’s famous double-decker buses and other vehicles from being washed. Other restrictions are also likely. Those arriving for the greatest show on Earth, may find a parched, somewhat grubby city. The event itself, however, will be exempt, so rest assured there will be water in the diving pool, the rowers will not in find themselves marooned and the smiles of the synchronized swimmers will remain fixed. “We have now received below-average rainfall across our region for 20 of the past 25 months, making it the driest two-year period since records began in 1884,” Martin Baggs, chief executive of Thames Water, said in a statement.

  • Brutus,

    No damn wonder you’re burnt out reading all this stuff. I know I am. And every time I point a finger at some segment of empire I see myself in a mirror pointing right back. It’s like trying to grab Jell-O. The people we really need to feel sorry for are Guy and the others you referenced. How can they keep thinking and writing about this stuff every day without some serious consequences.

    Back in December Guy said this:
    “I recognize the necessity of total revolution, but I don’t yet see it. The wisdom of activist spiritual teacher Vimala Thakar surfaces in my mind: “In a time when the survival of the human race is in question, to continue with the status quo is to cooperate with insanity, to contribute to chaos. When darkness engulfs the spirit of the people, it is urgent for concerned people to awaken, to rise to revolution.”
    Obviously, Thakar was an optimist. I love her inclusive approach. And although darkness has engulfed the spirit of the people, I fail to see the awakening at a scale relevant to the task at hand. Impatience grows within me.”
    So, it’s revolution then. We should each strike out against the evil. But where do we find that evil? Example; if the answer is the stockholders that keep pumping money into corporate ______ (insert country name) what if your folks have retired on a 401K or own stock in a company and are living off the dividends? Do we strike out against our parents for following cultural norms? As Steven says in the comment above yours in the queue we need to act. But how? Against whom? I can’t figure how talking about it on the internet will turn the tide. But then I guess no one saw the Arab Spring coming either. The French Resistance had the Nazis or French collaborators to strike out against. But where’s the Gestapo now? Is it Turboguy? Or are the police just shills. Of course it’s the 1% and the MIC but they seem untouchable.

    Maybe the answer’s in Thomas Paine. “Common Sense” went viral in 1776, not unlike the galvanizing force of social media during the Arab Spring.

    Hang in there.

    Michael Irving

  • Rita,

    Yes, because they can get away with it. It also means the voters condone such behavior and their moral compass is seriously out of whack. Or else they are just dumber than a box of rocks. Either way there seems little chance for the change Steven Earl Salmony was discussing.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael:

    Re: Victor’s Guardian report.

    Take it in the speculative light in which it’s intended. The authors make some valid points, but then they make several assumptions which are easily questioned or otherwise negated by other findings.

    If you’re interested in a graph based on current data (not models or projections), check out the following:

    From the home page, click on “CO2 and global monthly surface temperature estimates.” Recent C02 levels are plotted against recent global temperatures from GISS, HADCRUT3, and NCDC. Note the apparent downward trend in global temperature over the last decade for all three datasets, as well as the apparent negative correlation between CO2 and temperature in two extended timeframes. Obviously other factors are at play; CO2 and temperature are not a simple 1:1 relationship as suggested.

    BTW: The site also provides the path for downloading the original datasets yourself if you don’t trust the site’s output and would prefer to run your own calculations.

    One item to note: HADCRUT3 is used rather than HADCRUT4 because HADCRUT4 is not yet available for public download. HADCRUT4 was released by the Hadley Center (a pro-warming site) a couple of weeks ago. Some temperatures were adjusted, most notably the 2010 reading which now marginally elevates 2010 over 1998 by 5/100ths of a degree (HADCRUT3 reversed these).

    Stay flexible wherever you live. What’s being forecast may not be what happens in your neck of the woods. I’m going into my fifth sucky Spring (damn La Nina and that Pacific Decadal Oscillation and whatever else is flooding us with yuck weather). Last year everything bloomed two weeks late. This year it’s going to be touch and go whether we do better than that.

  • At the moment many too many elders are remaining electively mute and appear unwilling to confront ‘the powers that be’ with the best science available.

    The elders are part of the system. Their jobs and their research grants are dependent upon appropriate behaviour. 

    Such willful refusals by so many knowledgeable elders to assume their individual responsiblities to science and fulfill their well-established, collective duties to humanity are indefensible.

    When they stray from the expected norms of behaviour they are done for. Examples include president Carter and general McChrystal. 

    perhaps enough people will speak out loudly and clearly in ‘one voice’ about what they believe to be real

    They certainly do. The occupy folks. They believe in not letting their slice of the pie shrink any further. So do the elites. In a hierarchical system with a shrinking pie, it is the elites who can effectively tweak the system: their own slices continue to grow while all other slices shrink at an even faster rate. 

    After all, there have got to be limits to the insanity of constructing any unsustainable human world by a species calling itself Homo sapiens sapiens.

    What a species calls itself does not affect its biological drives. If they could, the microbes in a vat might also have given themselves fancy designations before overshoot and dieback/dieoff. 

    Somehow, somewhere, at some moment the leading elders in the human community must agree to limit something, some human activity. Any activity at all will work well.

    They have often done so. They kept from the command at Pearl Harbor the information on the imminence of an attack by Japanese. They kept the CIA and the FBI from investigating terrorist threats before 9/11 and they kept the 9/11 commission from doing its job. 

    And every time I point a finger at some segment of empire I see myself in a mirror pointing right back

    A mirror is not needed. In the Indian tradition all one has to do is to look at one’s hand while pointing with one finger to see three fingers pointing at oneself. 

    But where’s the Gestapo now?

    The word Gestapo is an acronym for State Security Police. The trend towards increasing acceptability of hypocrisy allows substitution of the word “State” with “Homeland” although the folks whose homwland it once was were mostly exterminated through biowarfare and their remnants confined to reservations. To the present inhabitants it is in no way a homeland: preserving it for posterity is of no concern. And considering the modus operandi of today’s state, the sending out of the goons is just an auxiliary to Big Brother’s Watching activities, so the word “Police” could be conveniently dropped. The Soviets encourages ratting on your fellow citizens. It is now American policy. 

  • That’s “Soviets encouraged”.

  • Regarding practical things we’ve worked on, that Michael asked Robin about, I put up some youtube videos awhile ago. 5 of them now, but I have a bunch more more things I could make videos of, and plan to do it as I get time and energy. Nothing very remarkable, just variations on established designs. They might be useful, though.

  • Michael, you mention Arab Spring. Are the Egyptians better off now that they kicked Mubarak out? Hardly, they still have the military and not only that they have the reality (that the military has probably not told them) that they are about to become a net importer rather than exporter of oil, thus the country cannot maintain the level of lifestyle that oil gave them for the number of people oil allowed them to support even if the generals step down.

    Basically the US has co-opted the rest of Arab Spring for their own purposes and were behind the Libyan uprising and are behind the Syrian uprising. The people will NOT be free or better off, they will be worse off.

    Common Sense went viral because those pushing the revolution could use it. How many of his other writings went viral? The Age of Reason certainly did not. Reading his other writings makes it clear that TPTB had to dump him after they used him. They couldn’t risk him starting a REAL revolution. per wiki Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.

    With his help a new country was founded that allowed slavery, gave no voting rights to women or the landless. This new country was actually an imperial take over of the lands of the native Americans, and their subjugation continued after it was founded. And then went to new heights of oppression around the world while convincing the citizens they were exceptional, good, decent, virtuous, and successful because of hard work rather than stealing other people’s land and resources.

    Where is the revolution, the cause that could save us from ourselves. Crashing Industrial Civilization might work, but how do you align people to a cause that will make them poorer. Neither the Egyptians nor the OWS are fighting so they can become poorer and a large percentage die early, the a fighting and risking imprisonment and even death to IMPROVE their lifestyle and that is no longer possible.

    But Zero Hedge says a second housing crisis is coming so maybe we will see the crash soon enough to save something of a livable planet.

    I plan to just try to be as decent as I can to others when it comes.

  • How’s this for an elder (perhaps not leading, though he should be) stepping forward to speak the truth?

    Bhutan rails against world’s “suicidal path”

    I think he hits all the key points.

  • Arthur,

    Thanks for the link to the shaving horse. I’ve been meaning to make one. Yours is perfect, unlike many some I’ve seen that seem way more complicated than they need to be.

    Most of my shaving to date has been big stuff (all the logs for the original house and the posts and beams for the big addition) so sitting on top of a log works okay. However, without fail, I need to shave a small piece and end up doing it with a machete because a drawknife just needs greater control. Your shaving horse would be great.

    Michael Irving

  • Glad you like it, Michael. I’ve recently made a simple addition to it for holding even smaller pieces. I added two pivoting arms to the head, and a crosspiece between the arms. This gets pushed forward with the foot lever, to clamp the small piece against a removable stop at the end of the long support. When I don’t want it, I just swing it up and over to rest on the back side, out of the way. It works very good to clamp small pieces of wood and work the whole top of that small piece with plane, spokeshave, or drawknife, similar to the vise on a woodworking bench. Adds a lot more versatility to it. This addition is on the list of videos to make…

  • Resa,

    I know you want to be fair and balanced in this issue of climate change. As such you have grabbed on to the idea that rising temperatures trigger an increase in CO2 rather than the other way around, which is the understanding of at least 9/10ths of the climate scientists today. It is a fact that greenhouse gasses allow sunlight to pass through the earth’s atmosphere in short wavelengths but that they are relatively opaque to the long wave heat energy that is re-radiated after the earth is warmed by that sunlight (home gardeners with a greenhouse will tell you the same thing, substituting glass for CO2). The study in nature is not speculative, any more than any paleo-study is. If you choose to reject any pure scientific findings because they are not 100% provable then you don’t have a clear understanding of the workings of the scientific method. Anyway, the peer-reviewed study shows that 55 million years ago, as the earth was coming out of (warming up from–because of earth orbital changes and a slowdown of ocean current circulation) an ice age, there were large releases (a big increase) of CO2 from a melting Arctic, which in turn led to a 5°C spike in temperature. The driver of the big spike was the increased level of CO2.

    And that is where we find ourselves today. We’ve release copious amounts of CO2, the Arctic is melting, and now there is a likelihood that as the permafrost melts there will be a burst of CO2 release (thousands of years of plant remains rotting all at once), and as the oceans warm we risk a big dump of the methane (presently frozen in sediments on the ocean bottom) into the atmosphere (20+ times stronger greenhouse effect than CO2).

    The frustration I feel about your analysis of the situation rises from my amazement that you understand how a greenhouse works (I guess) and you know that atmospheric CO2 works just like a greenhouse (I guess) and you can’t connect the dots.

    As for trends I think NOAA puts that to rest as evidenced by the videos Guy has supplied in his post.

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy C,

    I would not argue either of your points (1. Where is the Arab Spring now? 2. Tom Paine was rejected by TPTB). I assumed you were not taking me to task but were just adding to my thoughts. I do have a comment, however.

    My point was that there are certain galvanizing events that trigger a revolution. Last year certain local events were amplified by the fact that the events were photographed and shared through social media (they went viral) and then the revolution commenced. In Egypt the people stopped short of demanding that the military step down too—big mistake! Tomas Paine (wikipedia)(came from England in1775—after the war had started) voiced some sentiments that resonated with the people. His ideas went viral, with 100,000 copies in sold during the first three months (1 for every 20 free citizens of the colonies—one in four by the end of the war). It is speculated that his ideas galvanized the populous to seek independence rather than just having their grievances redressed. In both these cases a single (or a few) discrete event(s) set off a mass uprising of the population. Supporters of the Occupy Movement are hoping that what they are doing will lead to the same kind of revolutionary support.

    As is usually the case, where the revolutionary pulse leads is anybody’s guess, e.g., Russia, China, and Nigeria…

    Michael Irving

  • Arthur Noll,


    Michael Irving

  • Robin Datta,

    Good points. I could not agree more.

    Michael Irving

  • Justin Nigh,

    Excellent article, thanks for that. It is good to hear that they continue to call a spade a spade and to explain the value of the GDH over the GDP. Yes, he hits it all.

    Michael Irving

  • This is interesting:

    It tells us that Australian Graham Turner, reported in Smithsonian magazine, has run new models against the “Limit to Growth” projections of 1972 and finds we are still on the business as usual path. This is nothing new for most who read NBL but the graphs are interesting and show that we might well expect an economic collapse (food, industrial output, services per capita) beginning within the next couple of years. It also shows that we are right on track to have used half of all our non-renewable resources by about April 6, 2012 (more or less).

    Michael Irving

  • Michael, you are right I was not intending to take you to task, but rather to put some caution to hope that these events might raise. I fail sometimes to re-read my posts before clicking submit to check and see if my intent is clearly stated.

    I would add tho that I think the US was willing to see Mubarak go as long as the military stayed in control and thus events were fixed more from the outside (military feels strong with US backing) than by the will and actions of the people.

    I would also submit that 100,000 copies in 3 months in 1776 indicates to me that there was probably someone backing the publishing of Common Sense and thus helping it go viral.

    For example:

    Of late the Kony 2012 went viral, not because it represented a real cause that people suddenly became aware of but because there is oil in Uganda and other parts of Africa and the US wants to justify its increasing presence there. Joseph Kony hasn’t been in Uganda for 6 years. The fact that the filmmaker has had a semi naked meltdown and is now hospitalized has helped dim the viral nature of the video.
    The Kony 2012 campaign represents a cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion in the interests of US intervention. It seeks to exploit the idealism of young people in order to distract them from the fundamental source of the tragic conditions facing masses of people in Africa—the heritage of colonial oppression and continued imperialist domination. And it proposes the US government and the US military as the solution to human rights abuses, as if the war crimes from Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya had never happened.

    I know I am cynical. One gets that way after a lifetime of lies and deceit by parents, schools, churches, and our government. Thomas Paine was used by American PTB to transfer power from one set of elites to another, and he helped in the end get a lot of people killed in the Revolutionary War. Not his intent but that is what happened. When he ceased to be useless they forgot or disdained him. Our revolution and democracy are highly touted but just north of us is Canada who got something at least as good as we did without all the carnage eh?

  • Michael:

    I haven’t “grabbed” on to anything as you suggest. If anything, I’m open to all speculation, and have indicated such many times. That doesn’t mean I accept all speculation as valid. That just means I listen and question. Some things add up. Others don’t.

    If anyone is “stuck” on a single path, it’s most definitely the NBL crowd.

    And that’s sad to watch.

    But it’s your life. It’s your self-direction. We all have our paths to follow.

    My point is: atmospheric CO2 is one variable among many variables. Latching onto a single factor at the expense of the rest seldom leads to the desired conclusion. We’re starting to see some of that happening now where projections aren’t panning out, regardless of which came first, CO2 or temperature.

    That’s not wishful thinking. That’s simply the reality of a complex system.

    In ten years, let’s check back in.

    (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, everything’ll be toast.)

    (Perhaps …)

    BTW: That Nature article has already been torn apart, mainly because once the original raw temperature proxies were plotted out, the resulting spread in time couldn’t substantiate either claim of what preceded what. And so the mystery continues.

    Not that I’m “locked” into either notion. But it does provide for interesting bedtime reading once the day’s work is done.

  • Resa, in the About Section for this blog it says
    This blog focuses on the natural world, with a particular emphasis on the twin sides of our fossil-fuel addiction: (1) global climate change and (2) energy decline. Because these phenomena impact every aspect of life on Earth, specific topics range widely, and include philosophy, evolution, economics, humanity, politics, current events, and many aspects of the human condition.”

    Perhaps that is why the majority of posters here are “stuck” on the idea that global warming is real and dire.

    I think most posters on Organic Growing sites are “stuck” on growing food organically. I think most of the posters on Tea Party sites are “stuck” on the principles of the Tea Party. You will note the “About” does not say this is a homesteading site that might consider if global warming and peak oil exist and could impact future homesteading. Given the description of what the site is about it is natural that most regular posters would agree that there is global warming and peak oil and that they will effect all aspects of human life.

    Maybe you forgot to read the About section before beginning to post comments?

  • ‘death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.’

    very moving and informative as is typical of your posts, kathy, sister in cynicism. love ya. hope it doesn’t freak u out. if it makes u feel any better, my love may well be a curse. rest assured, my dear, our world is DOOMED! (mad cackling laughter) (smiley face).

  • That Nature article has already been torn apart, mainly because once the original raw temperature proxies were plotted out, the resulting spread in time couldn’t substantiate either claim of what preceded what.


    Reference please?

  • Ah VT, given the links Guy has given in his essay, we are all cursed. Thanks for the compliments.

    The passage on Paine’s death was from wiki and was from the writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll – Evermindful of the only one link or you have to wait for moderator comment and realizing my post was getting long I didn’t do the passage due credit. I admit to occasional eloquence :) but that passage wasn’t mine. So I get credit only for finding it.

  • VT I think you would find moving and thought provoking the movie we watched last night (The Ledge – ) Its main themes are religion, faith, love, sex, suicide, and betrayal. Very thought provoking and moving movie.

  • After reading about a half of the comments below Guys article I was reminded of a news story I heard last year some time . I can’t provide the reference though, perhaps somone else knows of it and can, that would be great.
    Well, apparrently the US congress passed an ammendment of the secret servise act, such that the CIA, and perhaps other agencies, are subsequently empowered to allot any real Agent, that is as apposed to an operative, to utilise up to 6 false social media profiles. These profiles will appear absolutely authentic, to the degree that any other agency attempting to remotely find out the real user will find the same level of consistent situational information about the user. Complete fabricated web histories, other geographical tell tales to build a coherent picture. Comment at the time was minimal, but one of the main uses was said to be that there was the strategic capability now to attempt to steer the discourse on fringe sites, blog chatter, and social networks away from sensitive evidence, opinion and conclusions that may result in collective action. Also there is the real
    possibility for influencing, by disuasion and other prestadigitation methods, the formation of organised movements of protest, that could lead to actually doing somthing.

    I urge people on blogs like this one to be mindful of the long con.

    The long con, is aimed at making loose social alliances with targets by going through minor innitiation events, like sharing information that helps another, being sympathetic, in order to gain trust. That is all preparitory to the primary role of semi-insider, someone people, bloggers and contributors feel they ‘know’ and ‘trust’, or at least feel familiar with.

    The use of lived in humour is crucial to make the profile real. Some scepticism of authority, maybe defiance of even, but the willingness to listen and respond to the minor criticisms of other contributors is also key. Very one sided contributors usually don’t grab the most support. But they can set the scene for ‘the reasonable debator’.

    To laugh at this prospect once I immagined two fake Agents influencing each other, via a blog, in order to gain an ally they deem will gain them wider approval with regulars over time. They both don’t know the other is an Agent. That made me laugh, but it led me to considder the next possibility which is not so funny, that suppose they do know the other is and Agent?

    This is another strategy that can effectively hijack the discourse away from other bona fide regular, and new users. The Chineese government has thousands of Winston Smiths scouring the blogowebosphere both monitoring and steering discourse.

    One key element of this situation is that the timing of these comments is crucial. I look at the date/time postings of these entries above and there is not a lot of time to get to the top of the list.
    For example, the first post is at 9:04am March 30th 1012, and the first 23 posts were in the first day.

    The important thing for these Agents is to get in very early, to be involved in the discourse.

    One way they communicate their status to other Agents is to drop some key spelling mistakes into their type. No more that four to five in a long entry. That tells the other Agents that this blogger is either an Agent for someone,( some secret services really do act out of their own self interests sometimes),or they type too fast to be accurate and dont spend the time to read over and correct their own entries,(like I’m doing now)

    I also read on a website,(Ha HA), that the first supercomputer chips manufactured in near Earth orbit on the ISS have gone into the making of the first gen of Terrabit computers for each of the G20 countries secret sevice groups to use. They dont plan on releasing any more.

    These newest computers are parrallel processors and have the abillity to sift web data in close to real time with the view to intercepting nodes of information where they set the criteria. We have known about FBI webcrawler programs that flag ‘only terrorist references’,(really?)but come on, these super duper computers aren’t being used to monitor just the rise and fall in the foreign exchange markets, and they are used for that too.

    So there is a lot going on in this blog that is of interst, both in the natural flow of ideas, contributions and advice. However, like the early spoiler dicourse regarding Climate Change; is it real?… no its just scientists putting Climate Change in the title of their research proposal to get grant money approved, one can be fooled into sitting back and watching two politicians debate opposite arguments on an issue.
    The point is that you watch. But as George Orwell portrayed defianltly the ways of the elites are no longer the ways of the French Monarchy, because when things go bad it is better to have another guy to blame.

    Orwell pointed out that the two opposing politicians are on the same side in a game,(to them), of watch the bunny. Things have developed in social media now that means previous non players also contribute to a now more open discourse. People, or should I correctly write, entities, now contribute via twitter comments in close to real time on debate panel shows aired live on national TV. I say entities because to me that is their status.

    If you can get at least two, a few extras works well too, commentators posting somewhat countervaling views, but are also reasonable in their respect for others, then they can dominate, or significantly influence the debate.
    But for what real purpose one might ask?

    It does catch my eye though when a major theme in a series of postings, like this one, arises that revolves about a debate on the merits of, DOING SOMETHING, versus DOING NOTHING, about an issue such as radiation and climate change CO2, and collapse of the industrial economy.

    That seems awfully a lot like following the bunny to me.

    A whole swathe of concerned and tuning-in web viewers, coming to a site via a link, or a web seach on a word or a topic can get disuaded from doing anything. I mean doing anything at all.

    With a critical issue someone in the Agent Supervisor role has options when monitoring, and instructing Agents to insert entries. They can choose to moderate, to diffuse or to inflame.
    We all do these things as a natural part of life. Go to a party, have a few drinks, talk about politics or religion, or radiation and chose one of thes options. Sometimes efven get in a bit of biffo, especially if its religion.

    Agents are intellegent. Not everyone who applies to be an Agent in a secret service gets to be one. But the intellegent ones are good at this stuff.
    If anyone gets to read this blog entry, then perhaps they are not as intellegent as I thought.

    I never advise people; Don’t believe what you read in the papers/hear or see on the TV/ see on the web; I advise them to reflect regularly on what they have believed up till now, and why.

    When voluntarily entered into, deconstucting one’s belief system is usually only a necessary component of esoteric and authentic spiritual practice. Usually it is too hard and requires too much self honesty, and hard research. One needs to have a strong motivation to even attempt it.

    Witness a whole generation of Woody Allen and MIA Farrow types, and their resort to Analysis. When you have the ‘Obewan Effect’ of the blind being led by the relatively blind, then true self awareness, and the freedom and authenticity of self knowlegde falls by the wayside as an objective and is substituted with superficial reinternalisations of ordinary character shortcomings, with some medication, and perhaps some well meaning, empathetic Giggy-Gigg from the therapist.

    If one doesn’t start off very intelligent, by one’s own rekonning, the committed inquirer will end up knowing oneself, and freeing oneself from the habit of desiring to believe at all. That is not a path to dispair. Dispair is no longer knowing what to believe, and therefore,how to live, what to DO.

    This stage is still located in belief. It is halfway from childhood to adulthood. Adolescent. That is the current problem.

    In the very long run that self reflection will bring one closer to Reality, and the Truth, than many lifetimes pondering whom, or what to believe. That is when one is an adult. Able to know the reality of oneself, and living directly, present without belief or dispair.

    Then one can be of far greater use to fellow sentient beings.

    Like Hamlet finally realises, “…if it is not now, and it is not to come, the readiness is all.”

    Very soon after Hamlet utters these words he dies.

    Afterthought- let it be known that today, here I,Ozman, was the first to write and, therefore, define the term, ‘Obewan Effect’.

    Obewan Effect: the relatively blind leading the blind. Rationale: (for non Star Wars fans), Obewan took on Anekin Skywalker as a Padewan Jedi Apprentice without Jedi Counsel approval, and at the same time as he was not finnished his own training. And look who that helped mentor into existance. I think its really all on Yoda. However, the Obewan Effect is all abot Authority gone bad. That’s why i think that George
    Lucas wrote the stoy,togive some dramatic exposition on the holocost and the utter corruption of Christianity in that place and time. Lucas denied and analogy and connection in interviews after the first movie came out, but the essential struggle of Dearth Vader to be compassionate to Luke, as opposed to obeying the Emperor, and doing as commanded, is clearly the modern persons dilemna. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, who was , for a time , Lucas’s lecturer at University, on the conflict in Dearth Vader: Anekin Skywalker is an example of what happens when the machine of the industrialised world, of mind without heart, catches the individual in its cogs and chews it and the individual conforms to the machine. Campbell points out that of all the players, Luke is the only one who senses that Aniken is not gone, by vertue of his unique heart relationship. So not Obewan, not even Yoda thinks Dearth Vader is redeemable. Only Luke. And Campbell asserts that that is what makes Luke the true hero, not just that he can use the firce to his a small wamprat sized target to blow up a deathstar, without a targetting computer. The Love that Anekin still has in his heart, because remember, he is not the Emperor, who is Archetypal evil. No story is offered of his humanity, and how it went wrong. But Anekin is a real person, and his intent was not to gain a social or political tyranical power, it was the power to obviate suffering – namely his own. He wanted the power to bring life back to the dead. To be sure, the Emperor pulled a swifty on him, but only because of the depth of the guys suffering and the resonance that played on his memory of the death of his mother, her brutal suffering and the fact that he was too late to help her recover.

    It is the depth of Aniken’s suffering that makes him have the capacity for so much ruthlessness and cruelty. I think there is enough significant elements in the story to assert there is a useful parrallel to the Rise of Nazism, and the eventual horror of the Holocost. Dearth Vader is not motivated by Hate, as Luke is tempted to be. He is motivated by Fear. In translation this means that if the individual resorts to fear as the underlying motivation in the real reasons for social conformity, then that fear can be used to dupe them into marginalising and oppressing and eventually exterminating any group.

    What was it that Admiral Tarkin, played by Peter Cushing, said when just about to destroy Alderan with the Death Star: “No that is too far out, near the galactic rim to be of use. No I think Alderan will be a much better demonstration of the destructive power of this now operational battle station. FEAR will keep the smallersystems in line.”

    The central role of fear and love in the main theme for Luke and Aniken brings the possibility of redemption to Aniken, and a reprieve for the Empire. Love will always conquer fear, but an individual and a society must find a way to choose the Love and not be brutallised by the machine of the industrialised collective to respond with fear. Because fear leads to the Dark Side.
    I think this comments section revolves around how do we respond to the now emerging threats to all life of these huge problems of Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Nuclear death. I suggest we dont get corralled into the pathways to fear.

    In order to pass the repressive laws in the Wiermar Republic the close circle of powerful needed an event to bring fear to the people and eventually anger, so they organised to have the German parliament firebiombed and brought it out as perpetrated by dissedent activists. The sight of their own place of government being attacked did the trick. The laws were passed and the slide into repressive far came crashing down. If you stood up the Machine just ran you over.
    Does anyone else see a similar event that shocked away any legal right to Democratic freedoms in the recent past? Detention without trial, Gone, Habius Corpus, Gone, right to know the offence one is accused of, Gone.
    Something very dark, very machine-like is approaching, and isnt death.

    Luke was able to redeem his father, a father that he never knew, by not only refusing to relinquish that deep bond of Love, that could only be spiritual because it wasn’t social and experience based, but also by using the force, not the ego. The force is Love. In that case Luke and Aniken’s personal alienation and struggle was resolved. The greater problems of the Empire and the previous Republic were also neatly resolved too. We are not going to fix anything that easily. We are all going to have to not only be Jedi, but we are going to have to reconcile the same dilemna that all the classics expose in the sphere of men. Dhoose power or choose Love.
    In a japanese movie I once viewed an old woman once said to a confused heroine: “war surrounds the human Heart, but ther is no war in the human Heart.” That is a very profound distinction. Some popular cultur scenarios would have us believ, there is that word again, that the heart is in a conflictt; good versus evil. The old woman knows the real situation.
    People with massive debt to banks have the state laws to fear. Dne by stealth, and now for many it appears too late.
    I say it is never too late to resort to Love as a principal to live by.Love will motivate you to care when your neighbour has their home repossesed, when an indian doctor visiting australia is used as an example of what the new aniterrorist laws can do to an innocent man. These unjust powers are not intended to be used on guilty people, even though they will be on some. They are intended to be used i=on marginal, ‘others’ that are obviously innocent. sothe long and protracted public debate and abuse of innocent individuls is a demonstration of what the powers can now do to anyone. There is no lesson for the public to fear if the laws convict guilty people. The fact that they can openly oppress innocent people is a much more frieghtening, and even teerifying reality for the public to witness.
    Fear will keep the smaller systems in line.
    We are not talking about Kafka, although the mention of Fredrick Bonhoffer by Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia at the same time that 9/11 commisshion whitwashes began to have traction was too much for mee. For those who dont know Bonhoffer was a strident objector to Nazism, ( if the history I’ve read is correct on that), and was made an example of and executed by the Nazis for it. Few doubted Bonhoffer was guilty of anthing but refusing to give in to the machine, and they executed him as a way of showing what happens to dissenters.
    In the future we face the only way we are going to get past these juggenaugts is to choose love, not fear. But what do you do if you are afraid? Or Angry? Dont give in to the Dark Side.
    I do not accept the marginalisation of poor people, or uneployed people, or give in to class warfare, even though there is the beginnings of massive economic discrimination now in Australia towards these groups.
    Always choose love, and the lasting suffering you experience will be the feeling of aspects of your limited ego beginning to die. If those choices are public displays of defiance a certain amont of social and physical pain may also be suffered.

    In the Heart there is no war.
    Find your own way to chose that state of being, and if not act as though it were a reality when you have to choose.

    The true path we must all individualy and collectively must follow if we are to avert these real threats to life on Earth will come, and it will become clearer tous as those initial choices are made.
    I know this in my own life. Trust the Force.
    In the heart there is no war.

    Ghandi was an advocate of non-violence to overthrow the Brittish oppression. The lack of resistance to the brutality served to only demonstrate the corruption of the Brittish Colonialist oppression, and they left. Nelson Mandela advocated armed and violent resistence to the Apartheit regime. He reasoned that what is the point of winning if you are dead. Ghandi was a lawyer, born in South Africa, Mandela was the son of a tribal Chief.
    Perhaps their approaches come from these different backgrounds.
    True freedom does involve a struggle, but it is up to each individual to make their own path.
    There is no war in the human Heart.
    The path will become cleareras we resort to Love, not fear, Love not hate, and community, not isolation.
    The Obewan Effect squarely puts a high degree of responsibility for the destruction of the Republic on the shoulders of the Jedi. They are the equivelant of the religeous leaders of out time. They really dont know shit.