Presenting in Amherst

Tonight’s event on the University of Massachusetts campus was livestreamed and is embedded below. Viewers are subjected to a short advertisement.

Video streaming by Ustream


My presentation was subject to simultaneous interpretation by two American Sign Language interpreters. One wrote about it here.


My presentation from earlier this week was featured in a local newspaper. That article is here.

Next-day update: Radio interview from 29 November has been posted here.

Comments 178

  • The word’s getting out on doom’s plan,
    And soon there’s no more kick the can,
    Ending history’s span
    Soon after it began:
    TS is now hitting TF.

  • The prospect of NTE is daunting to the extent that expectations to the contrary are entertained.

  • Ulvfugl you wrote at the end of the last topic “Last week Curiosity was able to use its SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) device to confirm the discovery. A robotic arm with a complex system of Spectral Analysis devices was able to vaporize and identify gasses from the sample, concluding that it is in fact plastic.”

    I presume you knew from looking at the picture that it was a hoax?

    “I got a note from my friend Jules at Geeky Pleasures letting me know that a hoax website has turned up claiming NASA found plastic beads on Mars. Let’s be clear right away, folks: duh. It’s a hoax.

    I can see why some people might fall for it though; the faker put in a solid effort to mimic JPL’s layout and style. Actual NASA scientists are quoted, too, and a lot of it is based on just enough truth to squeak past some baloney detectors. Heck, this even got linked on Slashdot! Happily, it got shot down pretty quickly”
    rest on the proof of the hoax at
    Ain’t even April 1. Discover Magazine used to do hoaxes on April 1. I even fell for it once.

  • Guy; growing grains, small grains especially, are the most difficult of foods to get to eat. The modern combine (plus one grain wagon) replaces about 20,000 people using hand tools. What do you feed the chickens and ducks? Would you keep them without current farming support? Likewise, do you eat grains? Here in the northeast, one of the wettest parts of the US, I had trouble getting enough hay last summer. I think I’m suggesting that you get the hell out of Dodge. It’s the worst place to be in the next 10 years.

    One other thing. Could you replace the term “food chain” with “food cycle”. One of the biggest lies told to the new comers born into this system is the story of the food chain with us special people at the top. Schools teach this first thing and then, upon this foundation, proceed to teach the rest of consumerism, including farming. This prepares the mind set in everyone to accept the basic industrial economy concept of “dig it up, produce it, buy it, consume it, throw it out”. Recycling human waste is one more thing that makes cities impossible. We will run out of fertlizer.

    Hope I don’t sound to pushy. Farming makes me this way (anarchy you know). I thought it was a very good presentation with especially good questions. Folks are really starting to think about this.


  • Thanks Kathy :-) It was the last thing I did before I fell asleep, I wasn’t very sharp, I’d actually forgotten about it.

  • Thanks again Guy, for expounding on our predicament to these people (and all of us listening). i often link your talks to the comment sectons of (especially) financial blogs to at least let them know that “money isn’t everything” and to expect the unexpected with regard to (their term) “black swans.”

    We’re building toward a critical mass of people who will begin to realize that the end of life the way we’ve been living it is about to end abruptly.

    i was wondering as i stared at the ceiling before sleep, how soon it would be before people began consuming their (former) pets to avert starvation. These and some other unpleasant thoughts (like canabalism) cross my mind now and again as realization of the implications of civilization collapse dawn.

    Lastly, on another “collapse blog” you were cited and commented on (look at the 29th and 28th of Nov.), and i wondered if you’d seen it:

  • Free will? Civilization? The survivors returned and did what?

    In everything we do, we have two choices;

    We can do what we want


    We can do what works.

    Happy are those who want to do what works.


  • Hang on, David, doing ‘what works’ is American empirical pragmatism, so called, a philosophical attitude, part of the mix ( with the Judaeo-Christian Protestant heritage and Capitalism, etc ) that got us into this mess. It’s often been interpreted as ‘If it’s making a profit, it must be working ‘ ( i.e. God approves ).

    How about another choice, because there are a great many more options available, like maybe doing what is ethically RIGHT ? for example, what serves the interests of the wider community, or the biosphere as a whole ?

  • dairymandave2003, we will not have grains, at least not for a while. There is abundant land here, currently under the management of a cattle company. Perhaps when collapse is complete this community will rally together to grow grains. Perhaps not, too. But we don’t need them for human survival — potatoes are fine with me.

    Currently we feed grains to our chickens and goats. In the future, we won’t. Maybe they’ll die, but I doubt it.

    I know this region will be among the first in the world to experience death of all humans. I’m okay with that.

    Tom, I did see those posts about me and the follow-up comments, though I have not responded.

  • Superman1 still struggles heroically to get his points across on Real Climate

    I do admire his perseverance and clarity of mind, he’s asking for anyone to point out flaws in his logic, which is basically the same case that Kevin Anderson made, that we discussed here previously.

    The only flaw that I see is the one he has already encountered on Real Climate, that even smart well-educated scientists who are well-informed about the data still don’t get it, and go spinning off into criticisms that don’t address the real issue ( extinction ) and if it’s that bad with those folk, just think of the task he faces regarding the other 90% of humans who are not so rational and well-educated and well-informed, when they get to hear that their personal ambitions and interests are threatened by some ‘logical plan to prevent human extinction’….

    That’s why the denialists have been winning the battle for the last thirty years. They know what Ed Bernays taught them, ( see Century of the Self ) that most humans are not rational, they can be manipulated by cunning marketing men into believing almost anything.

    Superman1’s terrifying logic can be absolutely perfect, but it’s dry, dull, boring, for the masses. It’s not sexy, no thrills, no laughs. Exxon, BP, Kochs, Murdoch and the rest can pay a Bernays or a Goebbels to destroy the message. And if that doesn’t work, they can just pay trolls to sow confusion, as they have been doing.

    And then there is Russia, India, China, Brazil, etc. How likely are they to be persuaded to limit economic expansion, to de-industrialize, to leave the coal and oil in the ground ?

    Reminds me of Socrates, nobody could fault or match his logic, so they forced him to drink hemlock…

  • ulvfugl; We agree. The Ameican way is what we wanted. It didn’t work. Guy chose to do what works. If your car won’t work, you must understand how it works before you can fix it. If your body does’t work, you must understand how it works before you can fix it. If your biosphere….

    Just about everyone wants to keep businss as usual because they don’t know how it works. They are likely to be very unhappy.

  • The American way doesn’t work, but actually nothing else will work either. Beyond fixing. I don’t mean it isn’t worthy to try to understand how things work, where they go awry, etc. But it isn’t fixable.

  • Yeah, I suspect we agree on most, David. I notice that Attempter has been attempting to get some of the basic principles stuck down into words

    I found the comment “Excommunication/exile/ostracism is how the collective asserts its sovereignty.” interesting.

  • Jennifer, I know. I had a plan for my farm; lots water (we even own our watershed), woods, crop land. Could have made some kind of community. Now what?

  • Regardless of whether we can truly choose, I suspect that it is hubris to think that we can understand enough about the world to know what works. Evolution works that out what works over time, lots and lots of time. What works is what exists at a particular time time. When things change what works becomes something else. At the end Permian extinction nothing much worked, but what still worked, over time (lots of it) evolved into more things that worked, they changed the environs and what worked changed – some things that worked before no longer worked etc.

    Recommended reading on man’s attempts to do what works going bad is the book recommended by BC Nurse – The Coming Plague. Many of our attempts to prevent disease worked for a bit and then made things worse.

    Recommended reading on why humans worked pretty well for several hundred thousand years and are working well now is Dilworth’s Too Smart for our Own Good.

    We can make what we determine to be ethical choices but we are not well enough informed, and cannot be well enough informed to know what will work. Even our ethical choices are mixed – prevent childhood diseases, overpopulate the planet. Make clean houses and bodies and get autoimmune diseases. Hug someone you love. That usually works to get a hug back. I’m not sure about anything else.

  • Kathy C, you wrote: but we are not well enough informed, and cannot be well enough informed to know what will work… Hug someone you love. That usually works to get a hug back. I’m not sure about anything else. Amen to that. The more I learn, the less I know, except that hugging feels really good.

    David: Now what? I know. WTF? Does anyone know?

  • speaking of “fixing” Jennifer, i caught this today:

    another sign that civilization is LITERALLY collapsing around us (because we don’t have the energy to keep up with required maintenance).

  • Vancouver to double coal exports to China. Environmental review to only consider effects of local dust. This project will make Vancouver the biggest coal export terminal in North America. It’s the best coal, coking coal, to be used in China for making steel. Burning this coal will add 106 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

    I sure hope we get one massive Carrington Event next year.

  • The new American Dream?

    “My boss pulled into the parking lot today in his awesome new car. I complimented him on it.”

    “He said, “Well, son, if you dedicate yourself, if you set your goals high, work hard, put in the extra hours, I can get an even better one next year.”

  • O.K. tvt, here ya go: :D

    In the previous thread,
    the virgin terry Says: …however, i must point out btd, that the above poem ascribes intention to humans. i think kathy’s right. free will exists only in our imagination….

    The Joy of Doomer Determinism

    The causes to which you’re in thrall
    Had effects on the cosmos—but small;
    Through karma and fate
    You became what you ate,
    So you didn’t fuck up after all.

  • Jennifer H. David: Now what? I know. WTF? Does anyone know?

    I don’t believe there is an answer, but my suggestion would be to try and assist other species to survive for as long as possible, there’s three way, depending on whether you’re young and fit, you could volunteer to help conservation or resistance groups, or if you have money, send them some, or if you have some land, set some aside for habitat…

    I mean, it’s probably all ultimately futile, but it’s an attempt to pay the debt we all owe, to our fellow creatures, and who knows, if there’s a global pandemic next year that reduces our impact, and they can hang on a little longer, that’d be good, no ?

  • Legitimising science by an appeal to “consensus” is in itself not scientific. When Einstein was informed that Germany had put together 200 scientists who believed that he was wrong, he replied that it would take only one scientist to prove him wrong.

    Science starts with observations, and a framework of ideas and concepts takes shape (or is modified to accommodate those observations).

    The framework and its modifications suggest new possibilities for further investigation/observation, with predictions of what might be observed. Such observations, showing whether or not the predictions are accurate, contribute further to the framework, which leads to further suggestions.

    Climate science suggests a slope that gets progressively steeper until it becomes a cliff. The extreme discomfort of a 180° change in course, the U-turn necessary to avert careening off the cliff provokes denialist responses.

    Such responses suggest yet other predictions whose accuracy can be assessed by further observation. Even the response “It is too complex to be understood” offers some testable predictions.

    But skeptics slough of each aspect of their defences which is trounced, conjuring up any number of new defences. The proof of the pudding may be in the eating, but the “proof” of the cliff to them will be nothing short of the dropping.

  • Even our ethical choices are mixed – prevent childhood diseases, overpopulate the planet.

    Sometimes what’s good for each individual, multiplied by a large number of individuals does not equal what’s good what’s good for the whole lot of them together.

  • Robin Legitimising science by an appeal to “consensus” is in itself not scientific. When Einstein was informed that Germany had put together 200 scientists who believed that he was wrong, he replied that it would take only one scientist to prove him wrong.

    Yes, but, the corollary, that the troll Ivy Mike threw up, that Galileo was a heretic and right, whilst everyone else was wrong, doesn’t mean that every heretic is a Galileo either. Galileos are the very rare exception that proves the rule that most who reject the consensus are crackpots, no ?

    IMO, it’s a messy process, Feynman, Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, etc, great minds, all tried to pin down how it works. I mean, 100 years ago Lord Kelvin declared that physics was over because it had solved all the problems and everything was understood, then along came Einstein, and turned it all upside down. Very embarrassing.

    That possibility is always out there, hovering, waiting to pounce upon human vanity and hubris. I’ve been reading Real Climate most days for years and years. I have no idea who Superman1 is, but I’ve found the response to his comments quite remarkable. He seems very genuinely alarmed and strives to think through the problem, and gets met by people saying the very same stuff they were saying five years ago, as if nothing had changed at all….

    I have watched Kevin Anderson’s video three times. Seems like good mainstream science to me. Isn’t that the consensus ? I mean, he’s not mentioning cosmic rays, or HAARP or chemtrails or 9/11 or greys or Roswell or Illuminati or Nibiru or anything like that, is he….

    Looks like the meeting in Doha is a waste of time, looks like the next one, in Poland, will be the same, because they want to sell their coal, looks like Cameron and Osborne have decided to open up 60% of UK to fracking, despite the opposition of just about the entire UK population…

    Looks like 4 deg.C becomes an inevitability, as does 6 deg.C, and we know what that means, and so Kevin Anderson and Superman1 and Guy McPherson seem eminently reasonable and mature and responsible individuals to me…

    As for the rest… I don’t know what is the matter with them… I suppose it is what Daniel said, it takes time to adjust….

    Paradigm shifts are painful…

  • I don’t expect to survive,
    But then, nobody gets out alive;
    There’s not much to gain
    From prolonging the pain
    When at last the end does arrive.

  • When a new concept threatens to dismantle an old paradigm, as in the case of Galileo, Einstein, or for that matter Dr. McPherson (and his ilk) they are all heretics. They remain so until incontrovertible observations compel abandonment of the old paradigm. In the meantime the face coercion that may take various forms. The Church forced Galileo to recant under the threat of death. In Einstein’s case, the synagogue had no such power, but he was (briefly) ridiculed. Heresy does not equate to rectitude, but every successful paradigm-shifter starts out a heretic.

  • BC Nurse Prof

    That last comment of yours was a LoL moment here for me! Thanks fo it.
    This joke shows up the: ‘aim high, and get everyone else around you to aim low, so you can aim high’ strategy/consciousness of the capitalist. That eminded me of the scene in “Coming to America” where Eddie Murphy’s character is speaking to his future father in law about getting ahead. I couldn’t find a clip to post here, however, for a little light relief, and I mean ‘little’, and ‘light’.

  • This article describes how the Chinese have dealt with starvation: humor and amnesia.

  • The whole world become “a no man’s land”. Very funny.

  • Once again they talk of a huge solar event wiping out the grid for months or longer with no mention of the 3 year backlog for new transformers, and of course no mention of how we would cool the nuclear plants.
    A mysterious spike in atmospheric carbon-14 levels 12 centuries ago might be a sign the Sun is capable of producing solar storms dozens of times worse than anything we’ve ever seen, a team of physicists calculates in a paper published this week in Nature….

    If the 774–75 event was indeed a flare, it’s a disturbing find. Such a flare would be about 60 times more powerful than the 1989 solar storm that knocked out power to much of Quebec for nine hours on a cold winter night. Multiply that by 60 and add two decades of increased technological vulnerability, and the effects might be disastrous. “A lot of people could die,” Melott says. “You could have power out for months or longer — no refrigerated food, no food being transported to all the people who live in big cities.”

  • Hard times in Greece
    It is early Sunday. The sun has barely risen above the chestnut forest that lies somewhere near the crest of Mount Pelion, but loggers’ pick-up trucks are already streaming through the muddy slush, their cargo bouncing in the back. Theirs are rich pickings, much in demand as winter envelopes the villages and towns of an increasingly poverty-stricken Greece. As they pass, they do not look up because many do not have permits to do what they have just done.
    whole article is worth the read

    Not surprised, I always rather thought that the forests would go when too many people had nothing to heat with. Of course in the US so few have wood stoves so the option is not available to many.

    •• Greek philosopher Plato (427 – 347 BC) compared hills and mountains of Greece to the bones of a wasted body: “All the richer and softer parts have fallen away and the mere skelton of the land remains.”

  • Earlier today, the European Environment Agency walked into the room and, plunk, dropped a 300-page report on the anticipated effects of climate change on the continent. Three hundred pages, chock-a-block with maps far more terrifying than that one up there. It’s a road map on minute details of what Europe can expect on temperature, flooding, forest fires, soil quality, sea animals. It’s the Grays Sports Almanac of the continent through the year 2100.

    Here are some of the more alarming maps and graphs, because terror is a dish best shared.

  • I Googled A1 and A2 cow’s milk. Lots of pros and cons. Even if true, a test must be done on every cow, even the Jersey’s. We have Holsteins. What about the bulls? We use artificial – no bulls on the farm. Then there is that issue of NTE…

    I used to think it was a privilege to have a farm in America. We feed 400 people a day, 7 days a week. Without technology, we might feed 4 a day in a good year, 2 in a bad year…or none. At the start of this country, it took 9 farmers to feed one non-farmer.

    What do I think now? Well, I’m going to try humor and amnesia, I guess. Or I can consider the fact that I had the chance just to live…in the most interesting times, A1 or not, and be grateful.

  • Hi David… We feed 400 people a day, 7 days a week. Without technology, we might feed 4 a day in a good year, 2 in a bad year…or none. At the start of this country, it took 9 farmers to feed one non-farmer.

    Hmm. Wondering about that. It’s not really the farmers feeding the 400, it’s the oil, isn’t it ? ( Backed by the coal and the industrial revolution…)
    But if you go back two centuries, to Europe, prior to the industrial revolution, it was nothing like your figure ‘9 farmers to one non-farmer’. Farmers, agriculture, were supplying the raw materials for the industries and and everything that the people living in the cities needed…

    It’s difficult to make a comparison with USA, because Europe ( and, for that matter, China, India, etc ) had had millennia building up the systems, learning how to do it, but, for example, in Britain, c. 1800, with a population of around 15 million prior to beginning of industrial agriculture, the farmers were supporting a huge transport infrastructure, wagons and roads and blacksmiths and ships, and the army and the administrative bureaucracy of government, etc, all kinds of other stuff….

    Yeah, they discovered that there was a way to cheat, and to build an empire, and steal other people’s stuff, from India and Africa and the American colonies and so then the British farmers didn’t matter so much, because food could be imported, but that’s another story…

  • Of interest I looked up this map of current snow cover. Seems unusually sparse for this time of year although it has not been something I have been following. Farmers need snow cover that stays until spring for crops in the midwest I do believe.

  • Kathy C., ulvfugl, Dave & BCN: great links!

    In support of my comment that Romm, et al, are slowly coming to the samee conclusion we’ve reached, yesterday’s post there:

    check out the mainstream news clip embedded in the above.

  • Ulvfugl “Hmm. Wondering about that. It’s not really the farmers feeding the 400, it’s the oil, isn’t it ? ( Backed by the coal and the industrial revolution…)”

    That of course is true BUT what it means is that that many people are freed up from farming to do other things eh? That is why we have such a big and diverse civilization – we have lots and lots of people who don’t have to farm. When 1 person can feed 1 person then everyone is a farmer – no policeman, no scientists, no industrial slaves, no CEO’s.

    The figure 9 farmers to 1 non farmer is a figure I also found years ago for the early years of the US some time back. Can’t find that link but here is another

    Total population: 3,929,214; farmers 90% of labor force; U.S. area settled extends westward on average of 255 miles; parts of the frontier cross the Appalachians

    While Europe had a longer run at agriculture, they had depleted the soil. Here in the US was fertile, mostly unfarmed soil. Thus they should have used less farmers than Europe.

    But back to Europe – The foundation of the Medieval economy was agriculture. Throughout Europe, 80-90 percent of the population struggled to coax a living, and perhaps a surplus, out of the soil. I’ll put the link in the next comment

    By the time the New World was found European land was so deficient that it was deemed profitable to mine bird and bat poop in South America and ship it back to Europe. In fact the US passed the Guano Islands Act Congress took action and on August 18, 1856 the Guano Island Act was passed. It empowered American citizens to take possession of any island or rock or key with guano deposits not under the control of a foreign government. The full act also allowed the President to utilize the military to protect the interests of the discoverer.

    Do google that – fascinating history. At any rate back in Europe they did have quite substantial infrastructure, but also recall that the stuff the built LASTED hundreds and hundreds of years. As for the blacksmith, bet his wife had a kitchen garden to supplement the food he could buy from his work.

  • Agriculture in the Middle Ages link
    Since not footnoted and from an on line publication I will try to find another source, but need to go do some work in the garden

  • If walking away from empire is the goal of anyone here, surely the last thing you would want is for empire to embrace this message of near-term extinction. Can you imagine what empire would do if it embraced such a message, considering its infamous track record that is oft lamented and lambasted? Empire will not carry your water. Instead, it will further poison that water with the blood of thinning overshoot. If you advocate that, it’s not only contradictory to your stated motivation, it’s downright sadistic.

  • This is from a paper presented at a symposium on the economic history of Europe, in 2007, has some interesting numbers. It begins :

    In 1700, all economies were based very largely on agricultural production. The agricultural sector employed most of the workforce, consumed most of the capital input and provided most of the outputs in the economy. In some ways this is obvious. People in 1700 were much poorer than they are today but required similar levels of food intake, so food must have constituted a higher percentage of economic activity – whether measured from the production, consumption or expenditure sides of the national income identity. Hence at the onset of the Industrial Revolution in England, around 1770, food accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the household budget, compared to just 10 per cent in 2001 (Feinstein, 2000; British Government, 2002). But it is important to realise that agriculture additionally provided most of the raw materials for industrial production: fibres for cloth; animal skins for leather; wood for building houses and ships and making the charcoal used in metal smelting. There was scarcely an economic activity that was not ultimately dependent on agricultural production – even down to the quill pens and ink used by clerks in the service industries. In 1700, agriculture accounted for probably 80 percent of GDP in virtually all European economies, and this situation probably continued up to the mid- nineteenth century in many of them. The very large share of agriculture in economic activity has several important economic implications. First, the growth rates of agricultural output and productivity within each country were the primary determinants of overall growth rates in each country. Similarly, agricultural productivity differentials across countries were the primary determinants of overall productivity differentials across countries. Second, Crafts (1985) has emphasized that substantial food imports were unavailable to any country in the eighteenth century because no other country was producing a sufficient agricultural surplus to be able to supply the food demanded. Therefore any transfer of labour resources from agriculture to industry required high output per worker in domestic agriculture because each agricultural worker had to produce enough to feed both himself and some fraction of an industrial worker. This is crucial because the transfer of labour resources out of agriculture and into industry has come to be seen as the defining feature of early industrialization. Alternative paradigms of industrial revolution – such as significant increases in the rate of productivity growth, or a marked superiority of industrial productivity over that of agriculture – have not been supported by the empirical evidence. Measuring the importance of the agricultural sector in each economy in 1700, and tracing its evolution over time, is impossible with any degree of precision. The standard modern approach would be to calculate for each year the share of agriculture in GDP in each country. By constrast, the best that we can do is estimate the percentage of the workforce employed in agriculture for a selection of countries at benchmark dates. Nonetheless, this proves to be quite a useful statistic if we follow the Crafts definition of industrialization. Brunt and Fidalgo (2007) recently re- examined the available data on the European agricultural workforce and we report their findings in table 1.

  • One of the things that Guy said in either this talk or in Louisville is that there is no politically viable solution to climate change. I agree.

    Still, though, I’m writing an essay with a fantasy sequence in it. I’m throwing shit at the wall with no idea if any of it would make any difference, so I’m asking you big brain types with a much more solid grasp of the science to critique.

    In the sequence (fantasy, remember) Obama and other heads of state go on national tv to announce the actions they are going to take to solve climate change, but I concentrate on the USA because I live here.

    Immediate nationalization of the auto industry to convert to rail. Highway system is to begin conversion to rail immediately.
    Immediate nationalization of the fossil fuel industry to begin massive conservation programs…..fuel for public transportation and medical needs first….individual gas rationing goes into effect immediately. Fracking and tar sands are halted.
    All of the nuke plants begin safe shutdown mode, all building on any new is immediately stopped.
    US military closes all bases abroad.

    None of this will happen, of course. Can you imagine the response if it did? But my question is, even if this stuff did happen, would it be enough?

  • Kathy Do google that – fascinating history. At any rate back in Europe they did have quite substantial infrastructure, but also recall that the stuff the built LASTED hundreds and hundreds of years. As for the blacksmith, bet his wife had a kitchen garden to supplement the food he could buy from his work.

    Yes, I know about the Guano. Yes, there infrastructure left from the Romans and the Normans, and earlier….Do you know about William Cobbett and his Cottage Economy ? I do like cranky eccentrics ;-) speaking of which, (and way off topic, what is it ? I can’t see the video ?) most amazing story of Tyntesfield House, built from guano money, “selling the turds of foreign birds”, and the last of the family, kinda went mad, some burglars locked him into the boot (trunk) of a car and left him there, freaked him out… he had fresh vegetables delivered regularly for years and years, just left them to rot, never cancelled the order….

  • Hi wildwoman But my question is, even if this stuff did happen, would it be enough?

    Enough for what ? I suppose if you are in a deep hole that you’d like to get out of, it’s a good idea to stop digging it deeper…

    I think you could do worse than run through that Real Climate thread I linked to a couple of times, if you didn’t look at it. Superman1 tried to think through the issues. Such a shame the big brain types there couldn’t lower themselves to face the real world.

    If we could stop all CO2 emissions today, we’re looking at a better future than if we keep increasing emissions… even a child can understand that… but there’s already so much in the pipeline that we’re in big trouble anyway.

    I’m not quite so callous and misanthropic that I relish the prospect of humans dying on a massive scale… I don’t know how to cultivate the kind of attitude that Eisenhower had, when sent the young men onto the Normandy beaches in WW2. He said he had to send naive farm boys from the Mid West with no combat experience, because if they had any notion of what was going to happen to them, they wouldn’t have gone… I don’t think I have it in me to be like that, although, if I had to learn to be like that, I probably could. I’ve read Sun Tzu. A good General does whatever is required to win the war for his Emperor. Destroy the enemy. That’s the job description. Morality and humanity don’t come into it. I happen to think that a human being without morality and humanity is no longer a complete human being. But my point, from which I’ve drifted, is that, the adjustment from the present US system, highly dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, to one without, especially regarding agriculture/food, would/might entail very significant mortality, because you’re reducing the carrying capacity. Of course, the alternative, BAU, equals NTE.

    I think, overall, given the ethical priorities, that the natural world, the biosphere, must come first. The mass of human beings, second. This has been raised quite often before. I still don’t know how to think about it.

    But, as you said, all this is a thought experiment. The real world that we live in is a socio-political one, which overrides goodwill, logic and common sense, and is controlled by crazy oligarchs. Think of it as being like Robert Graves ‘I, Claudius’, mixed with ‘The Godfather’, and with nuclear and biological and chemical weapons…

  • After a few thousand years of marching upward and onward toward the all-illuminating heavenly bodies, the infinite possibilities opened by the pursuit of the ideal have becomes narrowed down to a well trodden path. The power and prestige promised in the individual pursuit of transcendence has been replaced by an intricately manufactured social order, catering to those who wish to climb, surmount, and go beyond. The pursuit of transcendence ideal has become a path as clearly mandated as that the curriculum of an academy. And our collective drive has turned existence into a transcendence machine, in which each and every person is guaranteed the freedom to pursue their illusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Levers and pulleys, buckets and belts, gears and cogs have become the terrain, with a powerful motion that only moves in one direction: “Upward and onward my darling.” Until we are so-far-out that we are each living in our own little nook within this vast machine of fantasy production, isolated and uncertain how it is that we even got here in the first place.

  • We’re Outa Pie

    When good old boys cannot deny
    It’s too dry, and soon we’ll all fry,
    They’re going to get high
    Drinking whiskey and rye,
    Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die.”

  • This quote from the article about Agriculture In The Middle Ages:

    Medieval peasants didn’t understand the chemistry of this, but had learned by trial and error over the centuries that it worked.

    So, they chose to do what WORKED. Or not eat. They weren’t so-far-out.

  • ulvfugl, We have a saying in the dairy business: Take care of the cow and she will take care of you. As for the biosphere, we didn’t take care of it. And the answer is_________.

  • Aha ! There are still gods walking amongst us ! ;-) Vinay Gupta just wrote some crazy novel in 6 days, and a buddy of his tweeted that he needs to write a reverse Sim City… yeah ! that’s what’s needed ! Wildwoman’s problem above, as an internet computer game for all the kids to play, how to decarbonise and dismantle civilisation whilst minimising death rates… brilliant ! a few stuffy conceited old scientists on Real Climate aren’t going to do it, neither are a handful of doomers… but the children are going to HAVE to live with this crap, whether they like it or not, so the sooner they start thinking about it the better….

    I have not read Vinay’s novel, he says it’s meant for young adults and I’m old, and anyway it probably causes brain damage. It’s here somewhere

  • ulvfugl, The only to prepare the kids is to take that crap away from them. And I know you agree.


    “This new study wipes out yet another false claim from climate change deniers, too. A common refrain from them is that Antarctic ice is increasing, not decreasing. However, this is not true for two reasons. The first is that they count sea ice in that measure. However, Antarctic sea ice tends to melt away completely every year in the spring and summer, and then it reforms in the winter. It therefore on average does not contribute to sea level rise or to the heat budget of the Earth. Second, this new study shows the claim is wrong anyway. We are losing ice from Antarctica every year, and it’s the critical land ice.”

  • I don’t think I agree, David, I think empowering the world’s poor with technology is inevitable, can’t be stopped, is a good thing, when they can all talk together, do business together with bitcoin that cuts out the banks and the parasites.

  • Tom : another sign that civilization is LITERALLY collapsing around us (because we don’t have the energy to keep up with required maintenance).

    And another…

    “The natural gas pipeline system that supplies 65 million customers in the US is not only old, it’s poorly maintained. Some of the pipes in the Boston area are over a century old and made with cast iron and (even) wood. [WOOD ???!!!]
    The problem is that a financially strapped US simply doesn’t invest in infrastructure anymore.
    How badly are these pipes leaking? A recent study by Boston University found 3,000 leaks at the street level in the Boston area. A handful of these leaks were large enough to be explosive.
    There are even some civil suits underway against gas companies for the damage natural gas leaks have caused to trees/vegetation (there’s $133 m in property damage a year from leaks). This suggests that it can’t be healthy for the people living there.”

    Perhaps that’s one more reason the trees are dying…

  • Great discussion ulvfugl and others of what went awry, such a discussion may be all we have left. What toxic brew of philosophies combined in Europe over the last several centuries to produce our American culture that is the tip of the spear of species suicide? Biblical creation stories, Christian ideas of salvation, the ideas St Augustine and John Calvin, and the creation of corporate capitalism that all preceded the techniques of Bernays, all these combined in the mind of a peculiar type of destructive individual that sees himself as separate from nearly everything. Judeo-Christian ideas about dominion over nature. The earth and man as things apart each created separately, not part of any living thing or vital system of life. Matter as a dead thing. Christian ideas about the individual personal soul as more important than the community. Christian emphasis on heaven means lack of care or concern for this world, takes the believer out of this world, and any deep care for it. Calvinist ideas of personal wealth as an indication of God’s grace and approval of the accumulation of personal wealth. Corporate capitalism creating any entity that is responsible to no place, no community. The corporation is something that must turn everything, living or not, into a thing to be consumed to make money–as it’s sole purpose. These ideas all combined to create a culture that in a few short years wiped out Native Americans and the habitat and creatures they lived off for tens of thousands of years. It doesn’t take much effort to see that if such a culture became global it would do the same thing to the entire globe. Here’s one minor example.

  • Am I correct in writing that the rise of organised aggriculture was alongside Feudalism and then into democracy in Europe,?

    And is it so that in other civilisations, like Ancient China, Egypt and rome it was essentially still a feudal arrangment?

    When could we say the rise of the concept of individual wealth started?
    I know it may be an ill defined historical moment but the move from aggriculture to other more industrial activities tends to move the ordinary folk on to the way of life where personal wealth becomes a force in itself and motivates people to forget about the land, sky and other creatures that are destroyed to keep up the personal wealth game.

    Somewhere in between Hunter Gatherers and organised aggriculture and personal profit the shift from a collective, equality was supplanted by class ans the competative wealth trap, havs and have nots.

    My lay guess is that those aggressive groups that kept taking from neighbours, and used the new Iron Age weopons, were simply successful in beating others into submission, and ther we are for today’s world.
    All the while the planet loses out.

    As individuals turn to a better adaptation to the living planet, does this reduce the burden, and as many join the party, or leave it, whichever metaphore works, does it make it easier for the planet to readjest?

    Is there anything else that one can do?
    I agree with Ripley, great discussion here.

  • ‘…does it make it easier for the planet to readjest?’

    Even some typos have embedded humour. I’ll keep this one, ‘readjest’- if any planet can, ours needs to …LOL.

  • Here’s the answer, folks. Sony and LG have come out with a new Ultra HD TV. Four times more pixels. $25,000. Maybe this will be enough.

  • i second OzMan’s observation of the quote. (quixotically brilliant)

    and, while we’re at it (see this if you get the chance):

  • But my question is, even if this stuff did happen, would it be enough?

    Depends on what one means by “enough”. For the predatory dinosaurs just before the asteroid impact, their last kill was “enough”; for their prey, their last browsing session was “enough”. For those who now practice gardening, horticulture or permaculture, their last efforts before climate change triumphs, will be enough.

    With regard to Climate Change, even those most concerned with it, speak of only one or maybe two feedback loops, and even then speak of the “tipping points” as approaching events. While one feedback loop might not in itself push climate into runaway change, the seven(!) loops already underway(!) as described by Dr. McPherson, might paint a different picture.
    Even if Homo sapiens quit using fire in every form (firewood, fossil fuels from solar energy upto a few hundreds of millions of years old) and nuclear energy (from bygone supernovae billions of years ago) the seven feedback loops acting synergistically might do the job. They would be “enough”.

  • Who’s fault is it we’re in decline?
    It’s the system, folks acting like swine,
    It’s the poor, those with riches,
    Some son of a bitch’s,
    And yours — but not really mine.

  • Even Dr. George Mobus thinks we’re past the tipping point. He says so in a radio interview in New Zealand. His segment begins at about five minutes into the *.mp3 file.

  • Robin, I thought this was excellent. We needed a systems approach but is it even remotely possible now?

  • DR M.
    People need to hear that we get half our oxygen from the phytoplankton in the oceans, and that 5c warming makes the oceans so acidic nothing can live there. I didn’t know that, and I’ve been following these issues pretty closely and have been opposed to our wasteful and destructive system all my life. But your Louisville talk is the first time I’ve heard anyone say graphically what 5c warming actually does to our planet, and the ability of humans to breathe. Those are the kind of facts people need to hear continually. I really think that 99.99% of people still think global warming in survivable. And they also don’t know how rapidly this train is coming. Most people think, “Oh good, now we won’t have to retire in Florida.” This is the point where the “snakes the size of yellow school buses” needs to enter people’s heads. I realize the most alarming data is very recent, but it is interesting that even someone with my background hasn’t heard it. So I’m very grateful for the info and please, keep it up. BTW, that goes for all the people on the blog who have also been posting some great info.

  • Ha ! One for Ozman… Do they do that in USA too ? Just like nuclear waste, enormous quantities of toxic polluted water from fracking, and nowhere to put it…

  • Regarding Light’s ideas about methane, why can’t he see that burning the methane just makes more CO2? Is this where the ideas of Mobus must be considered; most of us are locked into our belief systems and can’t change without being “hurt” first?

  • Note that Light wants to capture methane by drilling, not by putting a cap over the plumes as Guy mentioned in the Amherst presentation.

  • David, if we stop burning oil, coal, methane, i.e. stop emissions of CO2, the industrial economy, including industrial agriculture, collapses. So a few billion people who depend upon it will die.

    If we keep on burning oil, coal, methane, etc, increasing emissions of CO2, the whole biosphere collapses, and we go extinct, because the planet becomes uninhabitable for humans. As Ripley mentioned, no phytoplankton, no forests, equals, no oxygen to breath.

  • ulvfugl; Yes. Why can’t Light see that?

  • Benjamin

    You say the fault is not mine
    That is a very good line
    I hold that thought dear
    Although I have fear
    Blame shifting is not really fine

    :) Thanks for another spot on limerick Btd

  • I must confess, I have known about the 200 species/day extinction for a few years and always, ALWAYS, thought it was about rare butterflys, strange vines, and moths somewhere or other. It never occured to me that I might be one of those species. Actually, with our “need” for fossil fuels, we are one of the most vulnerable species with the elites at the top of the list.

  • Rate things are going we will probably all die from nuclear warfare before climate change exposes our hubris.
    Snippet below

    Israel to expand settlements after UN vote on Palestine
    By Bill Van Auken
    1 December 2012
    The right-wing Zionist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued the go-ahead for the construction of 3,000 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and is putting 1,000 more on a fast track for permits. These moves are in retaliation for the United Nations General Assembly vote late Thursday night recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization as a nonmember state….

  • Hahaha, I don’t know, David. Is it that everybody is totally insane ? I mean, the same thing here, on the one hand, they celebrate, yippeee, lots more energy ! and then they tell us it’s going to cause 3.6 deg C warming which is going to be totally catastrophic, all in the same effing report….

  • Kathy C; The evil side of me was hoping that Nature would bat last, not Israel.

  • Regarding Light’s ideas about methane, why can’t he see that burning the methane just makes more CO2?

    Actually, I suppose that his logic is, that, if we don’t prevent the Arctic methane from entering the atmosphere, then we will get NTE. ( Some people dispute that ).

    So, we need to incentivize countries and corporations to do something about that methane, and the only way to do that, is to let them make money from it, and sort of hope that it means they leave some oil or gas or coal in the ground somewhere else.

  • Or maybe he is overly impressed with his way to save the world. Maybe he can’t see because there is simply too much Light.

  • With NTE in mind, a homage to the worship of the black goddess (the consort of the Siva, the god of destruction/dissolution of the Universe). The ancient origins of the rituals hark back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors: several goats and chickens beheaded, and a ritual flogging in the video. And in the course of evolution of cultures, we have American Zen from those roots.

    Must be a substantial Indian community in Guyana. Virtually none in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

    Guyana: Whim Maha kali puja 2012 (part 1)

  • It’s a been a few days since I last checked in and there are so many great comments and discussions that it would take me half the day to respond to all of them! Always stimulating – thanks NBLers! :-)

    As I sit here with a 3 month old Labrador puppy sleeping in my lap, the chickens outside my window scratching and crowing and doing chicken things, the goats playing in their pen, and the cats chasing with each other while waiting for me to come feed them, I can’t help but look at these issues with a sense of calm finality. Life will go on, until it can’t.

  • Human-Caused Climate Change Signal Emerges from the Noise

  • I finally got back to scan through the posts I’ve missed over the past week. So many thoughts and feelings being expressed! Here’s a WordPress blog I follow that this morning shared a comment made by Daniel on Nov. 28…

  • Regarding Light’s ideas about methane, why can’t he see that burning the methane just makes more CO2?

    I think that methane in the atmosphere is more potent in the near term than CO2. Per wiki “Methane in the Earth’s atmosphere is an important greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 25 over a 100-year period. This means that a methane emission will have 25 times the impact on temperature of a carbon dioxide emission of the same mass over the following 100 years.”
    I would presume that those proposing mining and burning it know that by burning it and converting it to CO2 before it reaches the atmosphere it would become less potent. Maybe someone with more knowledge can comment on that.
    However should it be feasible and without danger of setting the methane free, it would extend industrial civ longer. Even if the net warming was the same as if it had not been burned it would allow us to pollute more to get our rare earth metals for windmills etc, our uranium for nuke plants etc.
    I hope there is not some nefarious plot afoot with Arctic News and AMEG, using looming catastrophe to extend civilization. I hope they are just panicked and trying desperately to figure out how to avert NTE and in that desperation not thinking it all through. I hope no one is listening to them regarding “solutions”.

    Heinberg once said “we don’t have a problem, we have a dilemma”. Problems you can solve, dielemma’s require choosing which bad route you are going to follow.

  • Kathy C, Then they would want to release the latest data if it is bad but not release it if not so bad. Can’t cry “wolf” too often, you know. Seems they are muzzled. Or just waiting to early next year to get their reports together. The year didn’t end yet.

  • Kathy C Says:
    You say the fault is not mine
    That is a very good line
    I hold that thought dear
    Although I have fear
    Blame shifting is not really fine

    Moving on from Stage 1 to Stage 2,
    People’s anger begins to come through;
    This triggers the game
    Finding someone to blame,
    Which seems to be what humans do.

  • Two things: (first, in support of Guy’s accusation of

    and further proof we’re killing ourselves and/by destroying the stock

  • Extinction: The Final Frontier

    Now that the end’s almost here,
    A new paradigm makes its premiere;
    No one’s gone there before,
    So it’s ours to explore—
    Extinction: the final frontier.

    H/T: Daniel again

  • Near Term Extinction

    I just learned about NTE—
    It’s the end for both you and for me;
    I’d discuss what I know,
    But I really must go,
    ‘Cause my pants are now all soaked with pee.

  • BtD,

    Thanks for the smile.

  • Eh ? From Joe Romm A key reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps issuing instantly irrelevant reports is that it keeps ignoring the latest climate science. We have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the melting of the permafrost.
    Yet a must-read new United Nations Environment Programme report, “Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost” reports this jaw-dropping news:

  • If I’m reading Joe Romm’s page correctly, it’s extraordinary.

    Those people, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are SUPPOSED to be the responsible adults, the grown-ups, the expert advisers, the mature sane individuals charged with guiding everyone else into the future, through what I, and many others, consider to be the greatest crisis the human species has ever faced….

    And what do we discover ?

    They’ve decided to leave out the MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE EVIDENCE ? !

    So what does that make them ? Corrupt ? Stooges ? Shills ? Criminals ? I don’t know what to call them, but obviously, it means the entire institution has become a worthless, absurd shambles.

    It’s like having a murder trial but deciding beforehand never to mention the bullet hole in the back of the victim’s head.

  • The only explanation for the omission of the methane bomb from the IPCC’s calculations is that TPTB, at some hight level, must now realize that NTE is now inevitable and they’ve decided to keep the masses ignorant of the fact that the future has been canceled.

    Otherwise, it seems to me, we would be seeing a massive deployment of resources towards geo-engineering. No?

    Does anyone have an alternative interpretation?

  • Light says most of the methane is rising to the upper atmosphere and so is not being recorded at Alaska and Hawaii. He also seems to ignor the CO2 in the oceans. He seems to be very deep into HAARP and other radio stuff. In other words, too deep in the trees to see the forest. Methane is his thing.

    I’m trying to find out more about the acid in the oceans. Essentially, we are turning the oceans into Mountain Dew. It has happened before.

  • …acidification is faster than at any time in the past 300 million years.