Seizing the day

by Jennifer Hartley

About a month ago, Guy wrote an essay, Let go, or be dragged. His essay spurred some more personal reflection on my part about letting go. I’ve made reference in my last essay on Nature Bats Last on ways that I’m letting go, such as relinquishing conventional ideas of “achievement” or the hubristic concept of “saving the world.” But I’m releasing more than that, in ways that are both painful and full of vitality.

The most painful thing to relinquish is the hope that my five-year-old daughter might live a long, peaceful life, on a planet not being actively murdered. I can’t maintain that hope in the face of compelling evidence, and it’s devastating. At the same time, I have not given up hope that her life, whatever its length, might be full of as much joy and meaning as possible. The tension between that anticipatory grief and the quest for joy and meaning is often complicated. Nevertheless, knowing that her life will likely be much shorter than that of her ancestors, I feel much more free to offer her an unfettered childhood. We don’t put off small pleasures. We don’t waste time with jumping through hoops of others’ expectations. There is ample time for frolicking outdoors and seeking out friends. I try to say “yes” to as many of her requests as possible (although there are some limits). We have time for reading lots of books. We have time for philosophical discussions. (If you haven’t had a philosophical discussion with a young child in a while, I strongly recommend it. It will be time well spent.)

Meanwhile, I’m also aware that I won’t have a long life either; longer than my child’s, most likely (I’m 40), but almost certainly not as long as my parents’, grandparents’, or great-grandparents’ lives. Sometimes this prospect is horribly depressing, and I think to myself, I’m not ready for this! I need more time to make something of myself. I want to leave my imprint on the world. But what kind of imprint can be left in a world without people, without memory? There’s still so much I want to write, so many more projects I want to take on, so much to learn, so much self-actualizing that I want to do. And I wanted to be the most splendid mom ever.

Now I must confront the door of the hospice where dreams go to die. My hand is on the doorknob. And I’m in charge of populating that hospice with my own appointed caregivers that I seek out in places both mundane and surprising, and also responsible for being one of those caregivers myself, to everyone I love and those I encounter who are in need.

Unsurprisingly, I’m also letting go of the prospect of having any more children. I have no doubt this is the right decision, and yet there’s a part of me that mourns my potential child(ren).

I’m letting go of the idea that I will somehow perfect myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Strangely, this seems like a great opportunity for me to go to self-acceptance boot camp. I will not have the perfect body. I will not be brilliant and famous and dripping with accolades. I will not be brimming with confidence and finally grow a thicker skin. I will not gain the wisdom that only comes with old age. None of that will happen. It would make sense, wouldn’t it, for me to arrive at some sort of peace with that, sooner rather than later?

I’m letting go of the idea that my demeanor and actions don’t matter. Extinction might suggest that we should just behave any way we want, no matter how thoughtlessly or callously, because what does it matter if we’re all dead in the end? I can’t subscribe to this. I believe that acting with love and kindness is all that matters.

I’m letting go, gradually, of the elaborate coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years to maintain illusions of control. In reality, almost everything is out of my control. Cultivating love and patience in my own heart seem to be the main tasks that remain. No doubt I won’t be free of anxiety, and I will still circle back to old habits: intermittent denial; believing I could solve intractable problems if I could just think hard enough about them; believing I could cause people to care if I could just be persuasive enough. I will try to treat myself with kindness when I recognize that I’m still clinging to those illusions. I’ll be kind to others who cling to those illusions with all their might, with no sign of unclenching their fists.

I’m letting go, too, of the illusion that any day is ordinary. From here on out, I will ask, what extraordinary things are to be learned today? What adventures will transpire? What will my daughter do, or what will I do, that will be new, delightful, important, thought-provoking, odd, “crazy,” or even earth-shattering? I will stay awake and not take any event for granted.

I’m letting go of the notion that there is still plenty of time to make all the apologies I want to make for long-ago mistakes, for finding and reconnecting with long-lost friends, for speaking the truth to people in my life in possibly dangerous ways. There is not plenty of time. The truths need to be spoken now. The risks need to be taken now.

One small example: not long ago, I found the blog and email address of an ex-boyfriend, with whom I hadn’t been in contact for over 20 years. I had always felt regret about some of the things I had said to him. So, I took a deep breath and wrote to him, telling him I hoped he was having a good life, and that I was sorry. He wrote back, astonished, glad to hear from me—he was having a good life as a writer, thousands of miles away, happily married. He didn’t have the faintest idea why I would be sorry and said it was simply not necessary for me to apologize. No matter. My conscience was eased.

I’m also developing a list of the people throughout my life who have profoundly affected me but disappeared, and I’m planning to find their addresses if I can, and write letters or emails to them.

I’m letting go of the idea that if I can just practice restraint and self-abnegation, I can somehow keep the boat from rocking and keep others around me happy. I’m letting go of being a “good girl.” I realized very recently that it serves no one’s interest for me to squelch my own genuine needs and desires. It’s common for women in particular to do such squelching, and mothers even more so. There is a high cost to be paid: the experience of being fully free and alive. I want my daughter to have a model of womanhood that is not about repression, conformity, and taking care of everyone’s needs but one’s own, but about living at full throttle (with respect and kindness for others, still, and shouldering responsibility appropriately). My own mother, who I think is brilliant and gorgeous, always maintained that she was unattractive, not smart enough, and not good enough. She had many ambitions that were never realized; as a child and as an adult, I remember many times when I would strenuously attempt to help her pursue her interests, only to be told, “It’s too late for me. But you — you will go ahead and do great things.” I think she truly believed that her self-effacement was somehow serving the interests of others, that in the long run, it would be for the best.

But now there is no long run left. And if part of my task is to compress as much full-throttle living into the time that’s left, for both me and my daughter, then I owe it to us to heed the words of poet Mary Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Carpe diem, friends. May you be fully alive every day of your life.


Jennifer Hartley is a homeschooling mother, radical homemaker, permaculturally inspired gardener, and local food activist. She was a founding board member of the non-profit Grow Food Northampton, and lives on a budding, quarter-acre homestead with her family in western Massachusetts. She is also a former reference librarian and still gets excited about connecting people with resources and ideas, helping people evaluate information, and collecting scads of books. These days she and her daughter can be found reading books, making art, singing a lot, harvesting and preserving food, playing with numbers, and having deep conversations. Jennifer loves sharp hand tools, mows with a scythe, and splits wood with an axe.

McPherson has been blocked from commenting at ThinkProgress after pointing out Joe Romm’s latest essay in that space, although relatively comprehensive, is too conservative. I pointed to evidence and, in return, I’ve been precluded from further commentary. I sent email messages to the publisher, so far without a response, and to the writer. Romm responded by telling me I am ignorant, and he is saving me embarrassment by blocking my comments. Thanks, Joe!

McPherson’s responses to the YouTube video embedded below, from somebody who did not contact me for clarification (the limited length of comments necessitated multiple comments):

“Thanks for the introduction, asshole. I’m professor emeritus at the University of Arizona. I left that institution and the city of Tucson for ethical reasons several years ago. A quick little math check: 2031 is NOT 13 years from now! Several of those 80 people missed their predictions, some of them many times, but ALL have made predictions consistent with global economic collapse (e.g., Kunstler and Dow 4,000 = capitulation, Soros directly in January 2012, Max Keiser changed his forecast).”

“I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea. Without bothering to contact me, you’re questioning my credibility. No, it’s much worse than that: You’re claiming I’m not credible. Do a little research, or check with me so I can point you to the claims, and you’ll see each name on my list has made a claim consistent with complete collapse of the world’s industrial economy by the end of 2012.”

I regret the name-calling. It was quite uncivil of me, as pointed out by one of my Facebook contacts, to call somebody an asshole in the first sentence ever written to a person.

Comments 214

  • Very nice, wise, essay. Yes, I let go of everything. It was very refreshing, energising, therapeutic. So much energy gets used up, mentally, dealing with all that old stuff that haunts one’s life, as it keeps popping into consciousness, demanding attention.

    I’m not sure that contacting people from long ago is such a good idea. I can see why one might want to clear one’s conscience, but that could be done, perhaps, with careful reappraisal from the present perspective, and some self-forgiveness.

    Re-entering other people’s lives, uninvited, might be stirring up who knows what sort of turmoil… I mean, people do this a lot re adopted children, etc, and it does not always lead to happy positive outcomes… just sayin’

    May you be fully alive every day of your life.

    Or, even better, every minute. Because each one is unique, and never returns ;-)

  • Hey Jennifer – thanks for openning up and sharing that. i too have left go, but in terms of worrying about anything too much (like the election, and other things i’ve brought up on this site in various commentary). i had a similar experience, but in reverse a long time ago when my ex-wife surprised me by showing up at my place of work and asking for my forgiveness. i replied in basically the same way your ex-flame had because i was as much at fault as she was for our falling out of love and the relationship of marriage. i didn’t hate her, i was disappointed in myself for my part and forgave her for hers long before she showed up, years later, to ask me this. Life goes on. We’re both remarried with kids (we never had any ourselves).

    Guy: This person needs deliberate, thorough explanation (connecting the dots) and it’s a shame he won’t accept it. i’m really surprised at Romm, who i read daily and respect (but know from being here that he’s somewhat less dire than you – in that he still believes there’s a future). i was similarly surprised at your comment about the whole apparatus and outlook. These people mean well, Guy, but can’t let go of the “hope.” It’s not like you’re making any of this up. Anyone can check for themselves. i suspect people only go as far as they can handle “mentally” before turning away.

  • Posted at the end of the last essay –

    David Wasdell – beware, be aware, you have been warned

    Too bad you have been blocked by Romm – otherwise this video essay would be worth sending him :)

    Over on Alas Babylon we have been having an argument about renewables. One person there is good on climate change but can’t see that renewables are not going to save our way of life. He posted “You may be right, but as I said I believe that we have the tools and resources to make the transition from a fossil based civilization to a renewable based civilization intact( but changed) but we lack the foresight and
    will to do so. I think that by bashing renewables unfairly you and Jay are
    feeding a self-fulling prophecy and distracting the world from the task at hand.”

    Interesting how people get their backs up over being shown just how bad it is….

  • Jennifer, your essay looks good. Just printed it so I can digest it slowly as I take a break from turning 3 roosters into meat.

  • Guy, I’m sorry to hear that you were blocked at ThinkProgress to “save you from embarrassment.” Seems like a lot of folks have some misdirected “saving” fixations (e.g. “saving the world”). Now you have to be “saved” too?

    I think you are right to apologize to Dude on a Rock, too, even if he comes to some pretty distorted conclusions and doesn’t follow up on his claims.

  • Our feats won’t show in a museum,
    Or even a mausoleum;
    Nothing will last,
    It’s all going fast,
    So we focus on carpe diem.

  • I’m also aware that I won’t have a long life either; longer than my child’s, most likely (I’m 40)

    Frédéric François Chopin (the composer), Henry Gray (the author of Gray’s Anatomy – he died of smallpox), Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Gershwin, Alexander the Great, and others were among the famous that did not live to see their fortieth birthdays.

    Yet in the context of Deep Time, this holds true for everyone and everything:

    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away

    I’m letting go

    Each of them carries with it yet another identifying label for the “I”. There are a plethora of such labels. Some are extremely subtle and well-nigh impossible to recognise. Yet as long as even one of those labels stays in place, the apparition of “I” will persist.

    In reality, almost everything is out of my control.

    When one becomes fully/b> cognisant of it (without the “almost”), it is one of the characteristics of the enlightened. The body-mind continues to proceed under its own momentum, without an “I”. Consciousness, always the Witness to everything, continues making the body-mind appear to others as a person.

  • Ulvfugl: true, I may be stirring the pot with people from my past. I’m willing to take that risk. It’s not just to apologize and clear my conscience; there’s also a lot of gratitude to express. I think it may be more challenging to write certain letters to my former therapists- I want to thank them for their efforts, but I’m afraid I’m also going to skewer their profession and explain why they have done me more damage than good, despite their good intentions. I will try to honor them as fallible human beings and keep the focus on the monstrous systemic assumptions that they are embedded within.

    Kathy C: love the image of you reading, processing a rooster, reading some more, processing another rooster. Sounds like my kind of life.

  • HTML tag corrected on last paragraph:

    When one becomes fully cognisant of it (without the “almost”), it is one of the characteristics of the enlightened. The body-mind continues to proceed under its own momentum, without an “I”. Consciousness, always the Witness to everything, continues making the body-mind appear to others as a person.

  • Robin: you caught me clinging to that “almost”, didn’t you. :)

    BtD: love me a good limerick.

  • A fine essay, Jennifer. Thank you.

    This is from Neil Young’s Natural Beauty:

    You had so much/
    and now so much is gone/
    What are you gonna do/
    With your life?/

  • Jen, thanks for a lovely, provocative and nourishing essay.

    Robin Datta, thanks for quoting one of my favorite poems, which I had not thought of in far too long.

  • thank you Jennifer.
    some thoughts:

    1) the brother of one of my good friends had his asshole closed last week because of cancer. I do not think that asshole should be used as an insult because it is one of the most important part of a healthy body and a livable life. I appreciate mine a lot and cannot imagine how I would do without. Prefer to use “full of shit”. But I know, it does not have the same oumfp.

    2) I have severe genital herpes since 1978 and I know that the virus resides at the very tiny tiny edge of the nerves and is thus inaccessible to any medication. I figure that (for me, at least) hope lives in a similarly remote place and I have to give up hope to get rid of hope. I am so profoundly, it seems inherently, incredulous of what is going on in front of my own eyes. Deep inside, my core cells absolutely refuse to believe what they see. The scale of what is happening is simply inaccessible to my intellect. I am trying to find something to do with myself and the time I have left, but I am hypnotised and mesmerized with the ever incoming flow of shit. The closest manifestation for me being the thousands and thousands of trees dying, dying really, every minute in front my own eyes, in the middle of the almost totally blind crowd. So, I sit and stare at them and at the sky that is permanently veiled by the exhaust of planes and fog. I stay inside, the air outside being unbreathable most of the time (and a discal hernia making walking extremely difficult anyway).

    3) The father of my ex father in law owned the general store in a small city. The First nations people living in the area would regularly come visit him in their very old age to repay any debts contracted many years before and forgotten. They had to do it before they died. Many cultures suggest that you solve your “debts”/close your files and not carry them in the afterworld. It is for each person to determine what has to be done.

    4 and last) like all the list of persons (but one) named in the rant against Guy, like in this list «Frédéric François Chopin (the composer), Henry Gray (the author of Gray’s Anatomy – he died of smallpox), Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Gershwin, Alexander the Great, and others were among the famous that did not live to see their fortieth birthdays.», and like most posters on this blog, and so on, these are all men. I would not dare affirm this has any meaning at all. What can we do if when the verb became flesh it had a penis?

  • Jennifer, while taking a break and reading your essay I had an image. While a good novel is a joy, a short story that is well crafted is in many ways a greater joy. I am reminded of The Pearl by John Steinbeck which well rivals his longer works. I think you are crafting a very well written short story for you and your daughter. To put a long lifetime into a shorter lifetime takes a lot of attention to just what is important and what is unnecessary to the message.

    In a clip I listened to recently we humans were described as meaning hungry beings in a meaningless world. We have to craft new meanings now in the face of human extinction and I think that the meaning left for us to find is in the daily love we show to those we care about. Nothing more, but in fact all there ever was.

  • An imagery similar to this in modern cultures of male dominance might be helpful:

    Ardhanarishvara (Sanskrit: अर्धनारीश्वर, Ardhanārīśvara), is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati (also known as Devi, Shakti and Uma in this icon).

    Ardhanarishvara represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe (Purusha and Prakriti) and illustrates how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from (or the same as, according to some interpretations) Shiva, the male principle of God. The union of these principles is exalted as the root of all creation. Another view is that Ardhanarishvara as a symbol of Shiva’s all-pervasive nature.”

  • michele asks: What can we do if when the verb [word] became flesh it had a penis?

    The standard answer is Paul’s assertion, as usual backed up by nothing, that:

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • The corollary to letting go: encompassing everything.

    The Populations Problem
    by Herman Daly

    “All of these organs are capital equipment that support our lives. The endosomatic equipment — heart, lungs, kidneys — support our lives quite directly. The exosomatic organs — farms, factories, electric grids, transportation networks — support our lives indirectly. One should also add “natural capital” (e.g., the hydrologic cycle, carbon cycle, etc.) which is exosomatic capital comprised of structures complementary to endosomatic organs, but not made by humans (forests, rivers, soil, atmosphere).”

  • I’m drawn to this blog and the comments because I think people coping with the medium term extinction of humanity is fascinating, though after reviewing the evidence I think Guy is overestimating the chances of this happening.

    This essay gets alot right, mainly that the biggest impact is that nothing one person does will affect more than one or two generations in the future. This is a huge motivator for much of human actions and morality, even if often left unsaid. A world without this is almost inconceivable, and its why the topic has been explored by sci-fi writers. The second big impact is the shortened lives of children born recently or in the near future.

    One mild criticism is that the time frame that Guy has laid out is within twenty years (and his framework is much shorter than most of the doomsday predictions). This is a fairly substantial chunk of time to live out your lives, and much of it will be living out your lives surrounded by people who think that things will keep chugging along somehow as before.

    Incidentally, I think the weak point in Guy’s argument is the positive feedback mechanisms. The world has never been in this situation in terms of climate fluctuations since the ice ages, and have never been in this situation in terms of anthrogentically-affected climate fluctuations, so there is considerable uncertainty about how the positive and negative feedbacks play out. Its like being in the midst of a vast, dangerous, and fairly pointless science experiment. Now the human brain tends to convert probabilities to either 0% to 100%, but there is still room for pleasant shocks and surprises.

  • Ed, on the way to extinction, whether in 20 years or 40 years the climate will get increasingly more erratic, there will be more strong climate events that impact humans strongly, and agriculture which has adapted to a certain range of conditions in each part of the world will find it increasingly hard to feed the population of the world. Its not like we have 20 or 40 years and then suddenly we all die. People are dying now from starvation, more people will die next year from starvation due to the bad crop this year. When people have nothing left to loose but their life they are more willing to loose their life to protest or revolt. We can see this happening already.

    The feedback mechanisms are already in play and already they are proving stronger than predicted which is why some are predicting human extinction near term – the Arctic News people have hope that geo-engineering can save the day, but that seems wrought with it own dangers.

    What supports Guy’s dismal projections is the fact that the dismal projections made by others have not been dire enough. The facts on the ground are proof of that.

  • there is still room for pleasant shocks and surprises.

    We’re all for “pleasant shocks and surprises”. That is one of the few things every reader, commenter and poster at NBL can agree on. We all would prefer them. But estimations of how much room – that might be a point of contention.

  • How amusing (Guy, you should be laughing too) that Guy is labelled a fearmonger for stating that our rabidly fear-based culture is about to collapse! Then, despite using the f word innumerable times in his aptly titled rant, Joe focuses entirely on your list of people who predict economic collapse before the end of 2012. I guess that shows what pushes his fear button all right – loss of stuff!

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your beautiful essay, and let me add one more thing that I’m joyfully letting go – Politics! Instead of desperately trying to choose the lesser of two evils and feeling sick about it, I have enjoyed the lying contest, and cheerfully written in the name of a candidate whose(plain truth)statements I wholly endorse (we vote by mail here – posted our ballots yesterday) and who is, imho, a true patriot. I’ll go to bed early on November 6. To me, the significance of the day is that it means the end of robo-calling.

  • 20 years? someone think they are going to survive the trees? really?

    what used to be fall is now free fall.

    it is 5 p.m. here and as usual, the sky is completely covered in contrails. like e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.

  • Another Jean says: “let me add one more thing that I’m joyfully letting go – Politics!”

    Me, too, Jean. What a liberating experience. Perhaps you are having the same reactions I am: when I tell people I’m not voting for the entrenched system we have, they are incredulous. How could I possibly give up my “right” to vote in this “rigged system” (my interpretation)?

    Unlike you, however, I have not enjoyed the lying contest. I cannot stand to watch the clowns.

  • Here is one more reason to give up politics. Anyone decent in politics can be killed or silenced in some other way
    In two days it will be the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Paul Wellstone. A review of the book American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone by James Fetzer is given here by David Ray Griffin

  • It’s odd that Joe Romm would ban Guy from ThinkProgress, given the breathless, dire tone of his own article, and his own conclusion that “inaction means humanity’s self-destruction”, by 2100 or soon thereafter.

    Humanity’s self-destruction = humanity’s extinction

    Guy’s and Joe’s perspectives are actually not all that far apart.

    Jennifer’s essay is excellent. We have a serious beginning here to developing an “ethics of extinction”.

  • I did it. I apologized to him on YouTube. It hurt but, thanks to your comments here, I did it.

  • “I have not given up hope that her life, whatever its length, might be full of as much joy and meaning as possible.”

    Instead of giving up hope for yr daughter, how about giving up that car?

    90% of the world’s economic, resource and climate ‘problems’ feature the automobile as the prime actor. The entire American Way of everything is built around jumping into the car as ‘step one’. The ‘sustainable path’ starts with throwing away the television, getting out of debt (by any means necessary) and getting rid of the car.

    That step is going to be hard, getting to- and from stores and whatnot on foot will be inconvenient but there is really no other choice. How nature deals with cars on its own terms can be seen in Greece, which is rapidly becoming car-free.

  • Ok, I gotta ask the dumb question. What exactly does “letting go” look like?

  • Jen – As a teacher (“do what you are”), I have a hard time letting go of this particular one that you mentioned:

    “believing I could cause people to care if I could just be persuasive enough.”

    I tell myself I am planting seeds, but I am not sure I really believe this.

    Our coping strategies, and the things we tell and convince ourselves of, are pretty amazing.

  • wildwoman, I think letting go looks different for everybody. I’ve written and spoken about letting go, and it’s different from the version described here. Your mileage may vary.

  • Jennifer, thank you for a thoughtful essay. You sounds like a terrific mom – your daughter is lucky to have you.

    Meanwhile, I’m also aware that I won’t have a long life either

    Over the last few years, I’ve become much more aware of my own mortality; partly due to my age and the physical processes which accompany that, partly due to the things we discuss here, partly due to the death of my father. With that awareness, the importance of living each day as if it were the last becomes ever more real to me. As you say, “carpe diem”.

  • The hullabaloo over extinction stems from loss of the prospect of vicarious immortality.

    The continued survival of progeny/community/society, substituted for person, bestowing on it an equivalence. The others survival past one’s end is likewise projected so far out as to equate it with the desired immortality. Confronting imminent extinction allows of no such comforts.

  • We’ve both seen the latest presentation, and to be really honest, I don’t understand all of the climate formulas. What I do grasp is that industrial civilization is going to collapse, probably in our lifetimes, and when that goes, so too do the nukes (timing may vary).

    What that looks like here, is long silences. More quibbling than usual. I wouldnt describe it as peaceful at all…….so what I’m trying to figure out is, is that part of letting go or something else again? My interactions with family is getting kinda painful. Is that part of this?

    Just trying to figure out what is happening.

  • I tell myself I am planting seeds, but I am not sure I really believe this.

    Sowing seeds is a good idea. Particularly so if one takes care in where one sows them:

    Matthew 13: 3-11

    3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

    4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

    5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

    6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

    7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

    8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

    9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

    11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

  • I just want to follow up on Kathy’s point about giving up politics.

    As far as I’m concerned, politics is the last illusion to go in the industrialized world. The belief that the very political and economic systems that depend on carbon fuels and the ever increasing destruction of nature could transform themselves and willingly undermine the power of the elites that run these systems is a secular fantasy.

    I’m always amazed when I see intelligent people, who have some awareness of the multiple crises that are leading us off a cliff, still treat US elections as if they represent some meaningful shift in power. The dark forces that are calling the shots and who are capable of murdering a senator (without any threat of exposure because the meat puppets will never question anything outside the coordinates of officially sanctioned thought) do not seem to care about the destruction of the biosphere.

    The question I have been pondering lately is, why don’t they seem to care? When the planet goes down the toilet, they’re going to die off along with the rest of us. One would think that the greedy bastards would want to save their own skin. Yet, they spend their money funding climate change denial gimmicks and having candidates hustle for Big Carbon.

    Are the powers that be in denial, like most people? This seems unlikely since they have been worried about over population for decades and even the Pentagon and the IEA have issued drastic warnings about where we are headed.

    Have they come to the realization that it’s too late to change course?

    Or, do they have something more sinister up their sleeve?

    From paranoia to metanoia.

  • Well said Arthur Johnson
    The ethics of extinction……………absolutely spot on!
    I would beseech those on this blog, to seriously consider Arthur’s suggestion, because this is what we’re basically attempting to do now isn’t it?
    How do we re-frame our intent?
    The largest mind bomb in human history, just went off in heads of last generation of Cassandras. As the dust settles, we find ourselves standing on the craters rim, staring off into the hole where all our dreams, history and identities once were.
    Now, we’re more or less, being forced to question the same diminishing list of personal options. Stoicism or Epicureanism? Homesteading or Mobility? Employment or Vagabond? Survival or Resignation? Starvation or Suicide? Open doors or shoot on sight? Travel the world until the money runs out, or play it safe? Heroin or Vodka?

  • What exactly does “letting go” look like?

    Letting go can be of personal feelings of being wronged:

    Forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

    It can be of giving up pomp and privilege when they are felt to be less than ethically grounded, as in Walking away from Empire.

    It can be the recognition of one’s identifying labels as different from oneself, and dissociating from them as, and to the extent appropriate. (A generalisation from Walking away from Empire).

    My interactions with family is getting kinda painful.

    Pain associated with love is from attachment overlaying and masquerading as love. Sans attachment, no pain letting go.

  • How do we re-frame our intent?

    When informed that the sun would incinerate the earth a few billion years hence, there was no reframing needed: it was “somebody else’s” problem – even though we derived vicarious comfort from living on through those postulated somebodies. In common parlance, it is “kicking the can down the road”. The need to reframe comes from finding ourselves in a blind alley: no more road left. What would those somebodies do if it was their problem?

    Biologically, given those few billion years, there well could be a different set of somebodies. Perhaps our message to them, if we could leave one should be to “Seize the Day!”

  • Politics is the means to get the apparatus of the state to point the gun at someone else. Once the gun is seen, it cannot be unseen. A vote is one’s sanction to continue the mischief.

  • Kathy C, I love that image of crafting a well-written short story, a little sparkling gem of a story.

    Robin Datta, you wrote: The corollary to letting go: encompassing everything. Is this why I feel this expansive sense of oneness with the universe lately?

    I let go of politics a while ago. I pay a small amount of attention to what happens at the municipal level. But I try not to feed it too much with my attention.

    We have a serious beginning here to developing an ethics of extinction. Alrighty then, roll up your sleeves.

    I did it. I apologized to him on YouTube. It hurt but, thanks to your comments here, I did it. Bravo, Guy.

    Instead of giving up hope for yr daughter, how about giving up that car? Well, if I thought for a second that giving up the car would magically restore hope for my daughter, wouldn’t that be lovely. But you’ll be glad to know that I chose my current home based on its close proximity to a walkable town center and a bike path. This won’t prevent us all from dying, though. If my car blew up tomorrow (and sometimes I think I will just blow it up myself) I would still be able to get around without too much problem. I don’t trust that stores would be around, though. The community farm that I helped establish, in easy biking/walking distance, might last a while. Who knows. I’m all for getting rid of cars, but I don’t think it will ultimately solve our predicament.

    What exactly does “letting go” look like? I’ve tried to describe that from my own perspective, wildwoman, but I wouldn’t presume it would apply to anyone else. Right now, though, “letting go” for me looks like a lot of tears, followed by radical truth-telling, dying my hair red (for idiosyncratic reasons), and unreasonable happiness.

    KKlein: you are planting seeds, no doubt. But I don’t think you can really know what kind of seeds they are, or where they are ending up and taking root. Keep planting.

    wildwoman: not peaceful at all, painful interactions- It might be part of letting go, it might not. For me letting go hasn’t been exactly peaceful. There have been years of struggle and suffering to get to this point. I’m starting to feel periods of exhilaration, though.

    depressive lucidity: I think the powers that be are in denial like most other people. They are still caught up in all their stupid intricate games and power plays. They’re addicted to their own stories about their own importance.

  • Is this why I feel this expansive sense of oneness with the universe lately?

    The sense of “I” is not just content with plastering itself with innumerable identifying labels: it stakes out its claim in the “not-I”: “mine” versus “not-mine”, and at a further remove to “us” and “them”. Taking down those fences can be difficult and painful, creating great vulnerability for the “I”. Yet when the fences come down, one is no longer bounded by them.

    Yet some fences also have appropriate roles. Without cell membranes separating cells from the exterior, we would still be one primordial soup. Without cell membranes separating cells from each other, we would with all other cells be one gargantuan slime mold.

  • depressive you wrote “The question I have been pondering lately is, why don’t they seem to care? When the planet goes down the toilet, they’re going to die off along with the rest of us. ”

    Some don’t care because they really believe they are going to heaven

    As for the rest – two possibilities. One is that they are in serious denial and the other is that they have a deal with the aliens to go off planet.

    My opinion, they are in serious denial facilitated by their power.

  • wildwoman – you wrote “My interactions with family is getting kinda painful. Is that part of this?”

    Yep that is part of it. Letting go for me means no longer trying to tell my family or friends (most of the time). You might find Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr and interesting read. If you like quirky writers that is. I liked it more a few days after I finished it than when I finished it. Liking it more all the time on reflection.

    For a view of a world where everyone knows it is going to end by asteroid try The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. Basically an exploration into the different responses people would have.

    I knew I had crossed some point of acceptance that the world was going to end when Amazon sent me an e-mail offering the latest in apocalyptic literature. :)

  • Leaving it all behind, I think it means, Occupy Your Mind, pay attention to fragments of old stories that pop up, that are no longer appropriate, when so much has changed, os changing, review them, adjust them, let them go…

    The egg is left behind by the caterpillar, the caterpillar is left behind by the chrysalis, the chrysalis is left behind by the butterfly…

    Metamorphose. A new self for a new time.

  • With respect to family, I guess I’m lucky? Growing up in a home with a baptist preacher for a father and a mother who would have been one if women had been allowed in that role, the apocalypse was never far from our minds. So when I talk about the end of the world, whether from climate change, nuclear meltdown, war, famine, etc., with my mother and sisters, for the most part I get understanding looks and nodding agreement. They just see it as part of God’s greater plan. Either way, it doesn’t really matter, I guess. Funny, growing up, I never accepted the whole “god is going to destroy the world” manifesto.

  • My guess is that Guy is more a Systemizer than an Empathizer, as measured by the Empathizer-Systemizer scale (Baron-Cohen, 2004), just like Libertarians have tested.

    The scale measures the tendency to empathize, defined as “the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion,” and to systemize, or “the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system.” Libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than on empathizing—and they scored a lot higher. The authors go on to suggest that systemizing is “characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism.” They then add, “We might say that liberals have the most ‘feminine’ cognitive style, and libertarians the most ‘masculine.’” They speculate that the “feminizing” of the Democratic Party in the 1970s may thus explain why libertarians moved into the Republican Party in the 1980s.

    Which leads to a speculation: Are environmentalists associated with the wrong party?

  • Dr House “Funny, growing up, I never accepted the whole “god is going to destroy the world” manifesto.” And you were right. It appears the man is going to destroy the world at least as a liveable place. Of course maybe those guys at CERN will create a black hole that drops to the center of the planet and eats it up. We have become “destroyer of world”

  • Really great essay Jennifer.

    Two points:

    1. The system selects for sociopaths to rise to power. Never forget that, for it explains much.

    2. Extinction Ethics? You must be kidding. What were the ethics of the passenger pigeon going extinct, siberian tigers and gobi bears going over into the abyss? Of the 200 or so species we are driving to extinction every day? Killing the oceans? The ethics of human extinction framed as “our extinction” as a society? It isn’t even worthy of discussion. A discussion of how each of us can choose to be and how we choose to act, what we choose to own up to. . . now that is worthy. Think about it.

  • “Which leads to a speculation: Are environmentalists associated with the wrong party?”

    Way the wrong question.

  • Guy,

    I got through about half of Romm’s recent article and didn’t bother with the rest.

    To the poster who said the something along the lines of “the evidence doesn’t support Guy’s timeline etc. . .” Stop and consider the effect of publishing the computer runs that include all the feedbacks showing a total clusterF for the majority of life on the planet by 2050. The reaction from peers, editors, the public, your boss, funding sources, your friends, your dog, your goldfish. . . No one talks about this stuff, much less is going to bring to the light of day in professional circls. I would suggest working on the blinders of cultural programming that we all struggle with. Two places to start are “What a Way To Go: Life at The End of Empire” a documentary, and “Endgame” by Derrick Jensen. Good luck.

  • “Way the wrong question.”

    Way way sorry, Anthony, I didn’t check the Verboten Question list. Where is it posted?

  • depressive lucidity : As far as I’m concerned, politics is the last illusion to go in the industrialized world. The belief that the very political and economic systems that depend on carbon fuels and the ever increasing destruction of nature could transform themselves and willingly undermine the power of the elites that run these systems is a secular fantasy.

    I think most are probably locked into their stories and unable to comprehend any other story. But even if they agreed with everything said here, that the ‘solution’ is the dismantling of industrial system, it’s impossible.

    In the industrialised countries, and indeed most of the rest, the power elite at the top of the pyramid, depend upon industry to pay taxes, employ workers, supply their military machine. All the systems, the bureaucracies, financial and banking, academia, trade and transport, etc, etc, are all intricately interwoven and interdependent. And ultimately, all dependent upon oil. Ask them to dismantle all that, and lose their power-base, the thing that has motivated them all of their lives ?

    All the individuals working in the system, perhaps 90% of the population, have their stories in their heads, of social advancement, of better houses and cars, longer holidays, opportunities for their children, etc. All the people in the media, advertising and academia, are hooked in to the broader cultural narrative. That professor of climate at the Indian conference, from Arizona Uni, must know all the data that Guy and Joe Romm know, yet he’s cheerfully talking about stuff in ‘a hundred years time’, as if there’ll be no great problem between now and then. All those guys, from the elite, fading down to the working class, all have their futures and pensions to worry about, have all been programmed by tv and ‘education’ to expect a particular story to play out.

    Then we’ve got international competition. BP’s biggest customer is the US military, the world’s biggest single polluter. And who owns BP ? Mostly UK pension funds and the Queen, isn’t it ? Maybe some big banks too. All those retired bureaucrats and upper class private pension holders, living comfortably. Whose going to tell them they have to drop down to the standard of living of the average Joe on a State pension ? And if the US military were to pull back, stop feeding taxes to Bechtel, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, would Russia and China do the same ? They are pretty much the mirror image of USA, with minor differences.

    We’re locked into this mega-machine that took a couple of centuries to grow, and is now in a death spiral, and nobody knows how to fix it, do they ?

    Whose going to tell the people, ‘Hey, this train doesn’t go to Disneyland, after all. A Mr Pol Pot here says we’ve all been re-routed to somewhere called Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Fukashima…

    The question I have been pondering lately is, why don’t they seem to care? When the planet goes down the toilet, they’re going to die off along with the rest of us. One would think that the greedy bastards would want to save their own skin. Yet, they spend their money funding climate change denial gimmicks and having candidates hustle for Big Carbon.

    Are the powers that be in denial, like most people? This seems unlikely since they have been worried about over population for decades and even the Pentagon and the IEA have issued drastic warnings about where we are headed.

    Have they come to the realization that it’s too late to change course?

    Or, do they have something more sinister up their sleeve?

    From paranoia to metanoia.

    Well, if I was the Classic Rothschild Bond Villain, sitting on my heap of gold in my bunker, inside the hollowed out tropical island paradise, ‘Ah, so it’s over-population that is the problem ! Simple. Reduce the numbers ! We don’t need workers. Only just enough to design the robots to do the work. All the rest can be dispensed with. See to it.’

    Regarding the ‘new ethics of extinction’. Eschatological and Apocalyptic movements have been a regular feature over the last 2 or 3 thousand years. The only real difference between earlier versions and the folk on this blog, is the connection to the science. Smart people who can see where the patterns in the data are leading us. Earth systems, palaeontology, climatology, marine biology, ecology, etc, all pointing in one direction. Perhaps something can be learned from the ethical and unethical responses of previous examples.

    Once things begin to get really nasty, and the general population catches on, they’ll want someone to blame. I wouldn’t mind some retribution and bodies swinging from scaffolds myself, already, if they were the right culprits, charged with ecocide, but unfortunately, the right culprits are very good at preserving their skins and putting the blame onto others.

  • Mike,

    Is choosing the right political party going to change the outcome? How has that worked so far? “So Far” being for the last 8-10,000 years or so.

    I do mean to be abrupt, time is too short. Do feel free to respond in kind whenever I’m laboring under a cultural delusion.

  • Anthony : A discussion of how each of us can choose to be and how we choose to act, what we choose to own up to. . . now that is worthy. Think about it.

    I assumed that that was what was meant here by ‘ethics of extinction’.

  • I take “extinction” to be at the species level.

  • Anthony : I take “extinction” to be at the species level

    Sure, Anthony. Technically. But as I understood it, from early in the thread ( and I think Arthur J.’s mention in previous thread ? ) I’m reading ‘ethics of extinction’ as shorthand for,
    ‘Now that we have established that extinction of most species, including humans, is on the horizon, then how does that bear upon our personal ethics ?’

    I take it for granted that extinction of any species ( other than humans ? ) is about as unethical as it gets… a crime against the Universe…

  • …the right political party…
    Eschatological and Apocalyptic movements have been a regular feature over the last 2 or 3 thousand years.

    Nobody has the ability to put an end to the horrors of Civilization like Christian Zealots. They already did it once to the Roman Empire; Europe enjoyed a 1000 year environmentally-friendly “Dark Age” of simple agrarian near-anarchy. So, why are left/liberals/atheists such enthusiastic supporters of brutal Civilization?

  • So, why are left/liberals/atheists such enthusiastic supporters…

    Good question, Ivy Mike.

    I don’t know the answer, but I’ll throw something at it. The Lugal on his throne, or the slightly more modern version, a Politburo, a Queen and Privy Council, Icke’s Reptilian Illuminati, whatever the heart of Leviathan is named, is essentially fascist, in the sense of enforcing it’s Will by brute violence, torture, assassination, military supremacy. So the inner ring of defense is hardline right wing. You oppose us, you die.

    But they learned, over the millennia, sending in the dragoons to lop off the heads of peasants and mowing down rioters with machine guns makes for bad publicity. They need the good newspaper headlines, to endorse their right to rule.

    So then you have the second ring of defense, a sort of Bouncy Castle covered in treacle, where insurgents can get tangled up in progressive left and liberal political discourse, which saps all their energy and keeps them harmlessly distracted for a lifetime… and meanwhile they draw their salaries and their pensions from the Lugal’s treasury, just like all the rest… they know that if they were to really storm the barricades, as their starving brothers and sisters suggest, then what ? No more career prospects, no more company car, no more holidays on palmy beaches, no more private medical plan…

    But still they can dream, eh… oh, they could have, would have, been Che, if only….

  • Academics, gotta earn a living, putting out controversial stories to grab some media space and justify their existence..

    War, what is it good for? A lot, it could turn out.

    Lethal warfare drove the evolution of altruistic behaviour among ancient humans, claims a new study based on archaeological records and mathematical simulations.

    If correct, the new model solves a long-standing puzzle in human evolution: how did our species transition from creatures interested in little more than passing down their own genes to societies of (generally) law-abiding (mostly) monogamists?

    No one knows for sure when these changes happened, but climactic swings that occurred between approximately 10,000 to 150,000 years ago in the late Pleistocene period may have pushed once-isolated bands of hunter-gatherers into more frequent contact with one another, says Samuel Bowles, an evolutionary biologist at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and the University of Siena, Italy, who led the study. “I think that’s just a recipe for high-level conflict.”

  • Extinction – it is what species do. No crime involved. “A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance,”

    From time to time the planet extincts almost all of its species, such as at the end Permian extinction. Until now all mass extinctions, as well as run of the mill ordinary extinctions occurred without help of man. We are late comers in the extinction game.

    per wiki
    It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species[4] and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct.[5] It is the only known mass extinction of insects.[6][7] Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event,[4] possibly up to 10 million years.[8] This event has been described as the “mother of all mass extinctions.”[9]
    The culprit is probably the gasses from the Siberian Traps again per wiki
    Suggested mechanisms for the latter include large or multiple bolide impact events, increased volcanism, coal/gas fires and explosions from the Siberian Traps,[13] and sudden release of methane clathrate from the sea floor; gradual changes include sea-level change, anoxia, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.[14]

    Hubris to think that our self caused coming extinction is anything other than part of what the Universe does on a regular basis – this time through species evolution…..

  • Damn, MB, books are my monkish fetish! I’m one of these guys:

    “It is too late to save this culture…Therefore we must now prepare the monasteries for the coming Dark Age. Electronic records are too fragile; we must again have books, of stable inks and resistant paper.” ~Robert Heinlein (Friday, 1982)

    Hopefully the environmental inquisition won’t be hanging me for dangerous knowledge unsuitable to Gaia. I think future wars will be fought between factions, one whom communicates by shortwave transmitters and no-battery “foxhole” crystal receivers, the others who think radiomen are the evil disciples of HellBringer, the Demon of Drought. Should I quit advertising the fact that I’m an Amateur Extra, the highest class operator? LOL!

  • Kathy C. Hubris to think that our self caused coming extinction is anything other than part of what the Universe does on a regular basis – this time through species evolution…..

    I know all that. But this time it is the direct result of human actions. I don’t see it as hubris at all. Humans are creatures with an innate sense of morality. Even tiny children know when the cake is shared out fairly or unfairly.

    Without a sense of ethics and morality, I could pillage the neighbourhood. I’m not particularly constrained by respect for or the fear of the law, because so much of the law is absurd, and only serves the interests of a powerful elite. I’m restrained by a sense of what is right and just. I want to be on good terms with my neighbours, it makes life more pleasant.

    All other species are my neighbours too.

  • Hubris to think that our self caused coming extinction is anything other than part of what the Universe does on a regular basis – this time through species evolution…..

    To think that somehow the Universe desires or intends to wipe most living things away into extinction, and is using humans as its tool, so to speak, I find very dubious and somewhat perverse.

    I think it far more likely that the Universe, if it can will anything at all ( which is questionable ) intended life on Earth, as we found it millennia ago, to flourish.

    It was humans that couldn’t see that, thought they knew better, and could ‘make improvements’ via agriculture and industry, who showed the hubris and wrecked it for all and everything…

  • All other species are my neighbours too.

    Agreed, and so very Franciscan.

    Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.

    “The key to an understanding of Francis is his belief in the virtue of humility-not merely for the individual but for man as a species. Francis tried to depose man from his monarchy over creation and set up a democracy of all God’s creatures…Francis preached to the birds…I propose Francis as a patron saint for ecologists.”

    ~Lynn Townsend White, Jr. (1967) “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”. Science. Vol 155. No. 3767, pp 1203–1207.

  • “…warfare drove the evolution of altruistic behaviour…”

    Indeed, at least within a close Band of Brothers.

    And as Ted Kaczynski notes in his The Truth About Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarchoprimitivism, it isn’t primitive/anarchist cultures who are cooperative as the “liberal left” so often mistakes in their anthropological studies:

    “Troops move in obedience to carefully elaborated plans; every man has a specific task to perform in cooperation with other men, and he performs it not for personal glory but for the advantage of the army as a whole. Thus, in warfare, it is modern man who is cooperative and primitive man who is, generally speaking, an individualist.”

  • Dunno about the anthro support for Ted K.’s argument, for and against, but I expect there were always solitary hunting trips and communal hunting trips, like spearing the large palaeolithic megafauna must have been pretty exciting for young men as a ‘a band of brothers’ to demonstrate macho virtues… and then later, against ‘them’, the Other…

  • Superactors…

    “In its coverage of George’s actions, Motherboard asks “Could a Rogue Millionaire Fix Climate Change?”. The answer for the moment is unequivocally “no” in my opinion (unless of course they run a super PAC or win the presidency ;)), but that won’t stop more from trying. Expect George’s action to be among the first, not the last, we see in this arena. As governments, corporations and other institutions fail to intervene with environmental degradation and climate crisis, and their ability to even police the problems diminish due to economic problems, superactors will step in to fill the void​. How that works out is anyone’s guess”

  • the anthro support for Ted K.’s argument

    Further evidence of “individualism” in Non-State band and tribal sociopolitical typologies:

    “…autonomous and sovereign…”

    ~Boehm, Christopher. (1999) Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    “…autonomous and sovereign…”

    ~Service, Elman. (1975) Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution. New York, NY: Norton.

    For some reason, this “individualistic” analysis of paleolithic life tends to rile both the Left and the Right, both who imagine a past Golden Age of collective harmony, with the proverbial lion lying with the lamb. Sparsity of population — elbow room — probably has the most to do with the supposed harmony than anything else.

    “Small is beautiful.” ~E. F. Schumacher

    “Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is pleasanter — and much safer.” ~Robert A. Heinlein

  • Thanks for the Ted K. link, Ivy Mike. I’ve read it before, but it’s worth re-visiting. Reminds me that talk of ‘hunter-gatherer’ as a generalised term is meaningless. They exhibited(ed) vast differences, just as bird species do.

    ‘autonomous’, ‘sovereign’, ‘individualistic’, all seem to need some rigorous scrutiny..

    I mean, they get their meaning within a social context, which can be incredibly subtle and hard to discern. Just here, locally, the attitudes between English towards Welsh, and vice versa, are so nuanced, it’d take a visiting anthropologist half a lifetime to figure out what was going on.

    I enjoyed this snippet. I’d see it as respect for someone’s individual autonomy :

    “When an Indian [Siriono] has reached adulthood he displays an individualism and apathy toward his fellows that is remarkable. The apparent unconcern of one individual for another-even within the family-never ceased to amaze me while I was living with the Siriono. Frequently men would depart for the hunt alone-without so much as a goodbye-and remain away from the band for weeks at a time without any concern on the part of their fellow tribesmen or even their wives….”. “Unconcern with one’s fellows is manifested on every hand. On one occasion Ekwataia went hunting. On his return darkness overcame him about five hundred yards from camp. The night was black as ink, and Ekwataia lost his way. He began to call for help-for someone to bring him fire or to guide him into camp by calls. No one paid heed to his request. After about half an hour, his cries ceased, and his sister Seaci, said: ‘A jaguar probably got him’. When Ekwataia returned the following morning, he told me that he had spent the night sitting on the branch of a tree to avoid being eaten by jaguars.”

    Reminds me, – was it Tolstoy, Dosteoevsky, some guy like that ? – a short story.

    Men sitting around in a cabin, been in each others company a long time. One, who is always complaining and full of self-pity, and of whom they have all had enough, picks up a revolver and says he’ll shoot himself. He tells each of his companions in turn, and they each nod or grunt. The guy goes outside. After a few minutes a bang. The men look at one another, somewhat surprised and alarmed. A few minutes later, the would-be suicide returns. ‘You’d have let me do it !’ That put an end to his self-centred ego games.

  • As mother nature runs her increasingly inevitable and predicable course, what is gradually becoming apparent, is the declining diversity of thought. “We” ( a simple plural pronoun connoting our collective awareness of these events on this site) are but a queer vanguard in coming to terms with the greatest singularity the human race has ever experienced. Therefore, our existing subjective experiences, will over time, become profoundly analogous, as objective reality forces our relative perspectives into comparable decisions as to how we choose to live out what little time we have left. Of course, this moment is still over the horizon, but this new dawn is fast approaching, and once this starkest of light finally breaks–for some of us it already has–virtually everything we know, will burn away, leaving very few questions to honestly ponder. But today, we are all still hopelessly in the maw of complexity and extraneous erudition. Our desolate fate of eventually having to choose between starvation and suicide, is obviously a consideration many of us would like to postpone for as long as possible. And as with the arc of most philosophical quandaries, including the “ethics of extinction”, it does little but prepare us to accept death.

  • “choose between starvation and suicide”


    Harris, Marvin (1977). Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures. New York: Vintage.

    “Take, eat; this is my body.” ~Jesus

    “…every branch of the human race has cannibalism…it’s silly to talk about a practice being ‘against instinct’ when hundreds of millions have followed it…” ~Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

  • Thanks for the Ted K. link

    Sure thing, ulvfugl. I didn’t think anybody would say that! But while T.K. is a criminal, he is brilliant in his critique of civilization, and recognized as ‘potentially a kind of savior’ by David Skrbina, a professor at the University of Michigan.

    And thanks for the movie referral, Morocco Bama. I don’t allow any TV into the house, except PBS and movies, and often indulge in good foreign films.

    Oh, Kathy C, I believe, had a list of movies, some foreign films, and I want to thank her too. I got some of those. :)

  • Morocco Bama

    You wrote:

    “There’s nothing left to be learned here. The Internet has served its purpose and has now become a mitigating force to growth.”

    I’m interested in what kind of growth you are referring to.


    IMO any human growth, outside of numbers of humans that is, is only going to be in social orgasnisation, which is hardly going to be growth.

    If you are referring to spiritual growth, and something tells me you may not be, but…, it will be only in an individual capacity to be mature and develop an adult psychology, IMO. Perhaps beyond individualism, because individualism is really only adolescence on oil/drugs, pumped by the pretense of immortality, or immunity form consequences, vis eternal youth.

    The way earlier pre-aggricultural civilisation systems of human existance ‘seem’ to operate is by initiation into deeper mysteries of owned cosmologies. I suspect the deeper segments of that journey were beyond the symbolic and mythical codes and ideas of their cultures, and into a clearer adult level of being, that eventually is freed from that myth and genisis of the world conditioning.

    This is not in my view the same as modern rational scientific emancipation from natural forces, or cycles. It is possibly a very great realisation that the psycho-physical nature of this locus of existance is far reaching and all pervading. That level of understanding includes many spychic abilities, perhaps what we now call Shamanic in type, but nevertheless equip such individuals with greater knowledge and realisation of all the factors that may impact the tribe and by extension humanity and the biosphere.

    I agree with Jung’s broad interpretation of the Aquarian age, in that his comments about the ‘consciuos life’ eminating from culural institutions like religious movements, and mythic cosmologies, etc in the previous Picean Age, is supplanted by the capacity of unique individuals who can carry the great mature adaptations of human capacity and transfer or transmit them to others. (Aquarius is the water carrier and pours it into the mouthof one of the fishes.) This is actually how it has always been IMO, for it has only beeen in the background that the ‘proper’ rites of initiation into the advanced adult deveopments have taken place. I am thinking about Buddhism and aspects of Hinduism, as well as the mystical aspects of Judeaism and Christianity, to name some.

    If ‘we’ are to grow in the future, how ever long ‘we’ have left here, it will be by understanding, and creatively developing beyond ‘our’ present focus on separation from, and superiority over the ‘Natural’ aspects of being and the Biosphere.

    If ‘we’ can do that enn masse, I believe we will get help.

  • Morocco Bama

    Cool, thanks.

    Just inconsequential chit-chat then now, is it?

    So it is, with hard issues for the feint hearted…eh, too difficult to the find the numinous inverted Thalweg of out road ahead….?
    Best wishes then MB.

  • Morocco Bama

    I forgot to ask on previous post…. If you are signing out mostly now, who is taking over your console here at NBL? It will not be too hard to figure it out, but how obout giving us all the heads up, (not the thumbs up..He He)
    And are you signing out because you feel the mission is accomplished at NBL re disuasion etc? I suppose your bosses at Hal—burt-n or who ever can see internet traffic with all that wizz-bang-supergiga-tera-computer-sourse-code-gear that you seriously dented the figures for NBL new visitors or whatever, and that was your task, so now it is move on to another job eh?
    Lets hope it is one you enjoy.
    Regarding the numbers I reckon Guy would have them too, and he seems unperterbed to date, at least as far as the NBL site is concerned. Obviously he has commitments to the direction his life and his world call is concerned.

  • Guy
    Any chance you could post a basic graph or succint data profile of hits or discussion dots to NBL since inception?

    Or just figures would be something.

  • I’m going to do a crazy prediction now.
    I have an intuition that temps will be very high here in SE Australia this Summer. (Probably most of the Mid and North too.)

    Prediction 1.

    Daily maximnm temp for Penrith NSW will reach or exceed 43 degrees C this Summer. Elevtion 54 metres (177 feet)

    Prediction 2.

    NSW maximum temp, probably NW NSW, will reach or exceed 49 Degrees C this Summer.

    Pediction 3.

    Maximum daily temp for Blackheath NSW, where I live, will reach or exceed 39 Degrees C this Summer.9 Elevation 1065 metres, (3494 feet).

    Prediction 4.

    Overnight Minimum temp for NSW over Summer will be 6-10 Degrees above long term average.

    This Summer dates are: December 1st, 2012 to February 28th, 1013.
    I hope these things do not happen, but there you have it …

    Guy will be 18 in 2032, old enough to get a drink in a bar here in Oz legally. Putting a few bottles aside righ now for that Guy.

  • I forgot to ask on previous post…. If you are signing out mostly now, who is taking over your console here at NBL?

    Who gives a damn? They are all a bunch of authoritarians and psychopaths who cannot tolerate the light at NBL.

  • @ Daniel But today, we are all still hopelessly in the maw of complexity and extraneous erudition. Our desolate fate of eventually having to choose between starvation and suicide, is obviously a consideration many of us would like to postpone for as long as possible. And as with the arc of most philosophical quandaries, including the “ethics of extinction”, it does little but prepare us to accept death.

    Eloquently stated, J.
    I say, accept death, and be done with it. It’ll arrive in its own good time, for sure. It gets much, much easier if you practice ego-death in deep meditation. But I propose a philosophy of ‘being alive whilst you are alive’. More fully and intensely alive. Every minute is precious, and never returns. That’s a glorious insight in itself, because it enriches existence – not just waiting for starvation and suicide. Or Godot ;-) – and is empowering, because it’s the place where we can do stuff, the ‘decision space’ where we can choose this reality or that reality or another reality…

    Do we spend yet another day, wondering if Godot will ever turn up, or do we say, f*** it, let’s see what’s going on down the road, or maybe, over there</em….

  • Researchers from China’s Fudan University have found major prehistoric human population expansions may have begun before the Neolithic period, which probably led to the introduction of agriculture.

    Major prehistoric human population expansions in three continents may have begun before the Neolithic period — around 15-11,000 years ago in Africa, from around 13,000 years ago in Europe and around 12-8,000 years ago in the Americas.

  • A new, comprehensive review of humans’ anthropological and genetic records has provided the most up-to-date story of the “Out of Africa” expansion that occurred about 45,000 to 60,000 years ago.

  • Dog damn good links ulvfugl

  • That last was boring, I want access to the original paper, but cannot get it…

    This one is erm, terrifying ? maybe ?

    Climate-changing methane ‘rapidly destabilizing’ off East Coast

  • Tom Whipple getting it and then grasping at the LENR straw
    Excerpts from

    “As these misfortunes will build up gradually over the rest of the century, somewhere along the line, be it 5, 10 or 50 years from now, climate change will become so harmful to everyday life that a critical mass of people will coalesce around the idea that anything, even giving up “economic growth”, would be better than letting life on earth dry up around us. Whether the day of taking carbon emissions seriously comes before the fabled “tipping point” where the forces of nature take over and drive temperatures ever higher, remains to be seen. Some serious observers believe that day has already past. If so, there is not really much left to do except carve our history in granite in case some successor or extraterrestrial life form comes along before our tectonic plates sub duct below the planet’s surface.”


    “Somewhere along the line this discussion of just where the carbon emissions problem is taking us becomes a theological one — with the question being “Is it time for our tiny corner of the universe to shut down – either temporarily or permanently?”

    Tom Whipple is a retired government analyst and has been following the peak oil issue for several years.”

  • And Nathan Currier at Arctic News grasping at the geo-engineering straw
    “Trying to save the arctic is currently the most vital thing in the world, the front lines of the climate war, so let’s all applaud Greenpeace for taking up the cause. Now they just have to bite the bullet, and recognize it’s a fantasy unless two things happen right away, together at once:

    1. A number of complementary direct arctic interventions (I’ll discuss these soon).

    2. Complete restructuring of the programs designed to reduce non-CO2 emissions (a long list of acronym-laden things like the M2M, GMF, GMI, CCAC), so that they really work — and make this a public rallying cry, a global “1250” movement to help save ourselves.”

  • ‘Opposite Behaviors? Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks, Antarctic Grows’

    ” The steady and dramatic decline in the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean over the last three decades has become a focus of media and public attention. At the opposite end of Earth, however, something more complex is happening.

    A new NASA study shows that from 1978 to 2010 the total extent of sea ice surrounding Antarctica in the Southern Ocean grew by roughly 6,600 square miles every year, an area larger than the state of Connecticut. And previous research by the same authors indicates that this rate of increase has recently accelerated, up from an average rate of almost 4,300 square miles per year from 1978 to 2006…..

    Earth’s poles have very different geographies. The Arctic Ocean is surrounded by North America, Greenland and Eurasia. These large landmasses trap most of the sea ice, which builds up and retreats with each yearly freeze-and-melt cycle. But a large fraction of the older, thicker Arctic sea ice has disappeared over the last three decades. The shrinking summer ice cover has exposed dark ocean water that absorbs sunlight and warms up, leading to more ice loss.

    On the opposite side of the planet, Antarctica is a continent circled by open waters that let sea ice expand during the winter but also offer less shelter during the melt season. Most of the Southern Ocean’s frozen cover grows and retreats every year, leading to little perennial sea ice in Antarctica.

    “Winds off the Ross Ice Shelf are getting stronger and stronger, and that causes the sea ice to be pushed off the coast, which generates areas of open water, polynyas,” said Josefino Comiso, a senior scientist at NASA Goddard. “The larger the coastal polynya, the more ice it produces, because in polynyas the water is in direct contact with the very cold winter atmosphere and rapidly freezes.” As the wind keeps blowing, the ice expands further to the north….

    The numbers for the southernmost ocean, however, pale in comparison with the rates at which the Arctic has been losing sea ice — the extent of the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean in September 2012 was 1.32 million square miles below the average September extent from 1979 to 2000. The lost ice area is equivalent to roughly two Alaskas.

    Parkinson said that the fact that some areas of the Southern Ocean are cooling and producing more sea ice does not disprove a warming climate.

    “Climate does not change uniformly: The Earth is very large and the expectation definitely would be that there would be different changes in different regions of the world,” Parkinson said. “That’s true even if overall the system is warming.” Another recent NASA study showed that Antarctic sea ice slightly thinned from 2003 to 2008, but increases in the extent of the ice balanced the loss in thickness and led to an overall volume gain….”

    Tre complex…

  • Presented with no comment:

    Title: Climate-changing methane ‘rapidly destabilizing’ off East Coast, study finds


  • Atmospheric methane has 100x the global warming (disruption?) potential over 10 years as an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. The 25x figure quoted in the media is over 100 years.

  • Morocco Bama

    Q. What did the Science graduate say to the Arts graduate?

    A. Would you like fries with that Sir?

    Yes very hs ha.

  • OzMan Says:

    Any chance you could post a basic graph or succint data profile of hits or discussion dots to NBL since inception?

    Or just figures would be something.

    Thanks for asking, Ozman. The only data I have since inception is the number of comments, which are plainly visible and tell quite the story. During the last month, I have begun collecting additional data via Google Analytics. They indicate a daily hit rate of 700 – 1,400. Additional data follow.

    8,198 people visited this site
    Visits: 21,770
    Unique Visitors: 8,198
    Pageviews: 48,293
    Pages / Visit: 2.22
    Avg. Visit Duration: 00:05:11

  • “Man became man by living in the hands of the gods.” ~Daniel Quinn, Ishmael

    “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and yet God feedeth them.” ~Jesus, ch.4, v.40, The Jefferson Bible

    underneath it all, we feel so small, the heavens fall, but still we crawl

    Even so, come Lord Shiva. ~Operation Ivy Mike

  • …now triggering the destabilization of 2.5 gigatonnes of methane hydrate (about 0.2 per cent of that required to cause the PETM). This destabilization extends along hundreds of kilometres of the margin and may continue for centuries. It is unlikely that the western North Atlantic margin is the only area experiencing changing ocean currents10, 11, 12; our estimate of 2.5 gigatonnes of destabilizing methane hydrate may therefore represent only a fraction of the methane hydrate currently destabilizing globally.

  • Well, Utah’s dept of water quality has given the aok to tar sands near Moab. Gee, wonder what that will do to the Colorado river? Anyone?

    I feel like I’m going insane.

  • Further from the Arctic News essay is that even Jim Hansen apparently thinks that we cannot save the Arctic Ice without geo-engineering.
    I’ve been discussing the Greenpeace “Save the Arctic” campaign in light of the reality there, where we will likely reach near-zero summer arctic sea ice in just the next few years. Before exploring, in the next post, direct climate interventions that could really help save the arctic, we now must look at all our other options — just as, in a medical crisis, one eliminates other options before opting for surgery.

    Of course, one option is to blithely say, “Look, the ice can come back later,” and therefore do nothing to impede the arrival of an ice-free arctic ocean. At the recent Greenpeace New York meeting, this seemed to be the tacitly assumed option….

    The only way through emissions to have an impact on what is going on there right now is through non-CO2 reductions like black carbon and methane. And aside from that, there’s nothing left except direct intervention — which could cover a wide variety of options, some of them being what I’ll call “localized geoengineering,” and will discuss next time.

    Now, Hansen has been the primary advocate of the concept of using non-CO2 reductions to help bridge the time gap of getting reduced warming from CO2 reductions, so my one question for Hansen at the meeting was whether he thought that could still be used alone to confront the arctic crisis. Hansen’s answer was frank and accurate. As Hansen said, and I hope Greenpeace, Bill McKibben and all the others present heard, “If you need a rescue package, to some degree it inherently is geoengineering.”

    Arnie Gundersen update on Fukushima, San Onofre and other matters nuclear

  • It’s interesting that Tom Whipple, who is published regularly on Energy Bulletin, seems to be waking up to the notion that the human experiment may be coming to a close. But, like most of the internet literati who have found a niche, he refuses to mention the pesky issue of over population and instead pushes the techno-fix laxative.