Playing Court Jester

Quoting Carl Sagan, I begin some presentations with this line: “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” But in the wake of a recent trip to the northeastern United States, it’s clear many people disagree with Sagan, choosing delusion over reality, believing we can have infinite growth on a finite planet with no consequences for humans or other organisms, smoking the crack pipe of hopium.

From those who actually absorb my messages about collapse and climate change, I’m asked: “Why bother? Why do you go on the road?”

My response:

Do I tell the truth, or not? Paradoxically, the importance of my messages and my ability to deliver them in compelling fashion are not the primary reasons I spend time on the road. People want to hear what I’ve done to prepare, so that’s why I’m invited to speak. But the real reason I travel is that I need to get away, in large part because the experiment has failed. I’ve conducted many experiments, and I know failure when it whacks me in the head.

My experiences, essays, and presentations have failed to promote resistance sufficient to cause collapse of the industrial economy, and have therefore failed to delay human extinction. Further, I’ve failed to convince even a very small minority of people in my audiences to change their lives. Worse yet, the mud hut offers no viable future for humans, thus precluding a decent future for the youngster here and his generation. Thus, my primary targets — the general public and the youngster and his generation — are left in the cold extreme heat.

In summary, I recognize the mud hut has become a near-term death trap because of climate chaos, and so I must leave it. And then, when I become totally burned out on the road, demoralized by the majority people in the audiences and the sheer insanity of speaking to a world that will not listen, I must return to the mud hut. And not so much to recover or re-energize as to take my turn at the chores while preparing for another round of insanity.

On the road, there’s little possibility to develop a lasting relationship. I throw a Molotov cocktail into the conversation, and then I leave the area.

On the road, I describe how we live at the mud hut. I describe the importance of living for today. I contemplate the ethics of near-term human extinction. In response, I am given nicknames. The latest, which I greatly appreciate: Guy McStinction.

Of course it’s not all bad. I enjoy being hosted by people who open their doors, minds, and hearts to me. I enjoy serious conversation about serious topics, always laced with abundant humor.

Shortly after my return from my latest trip, a comment comes from the ether (to protect the guilty, I’ll not reveal names): “Listened to Guy last night. He spoke at our permaculture meeting. It’s hard to keep on believing it matters when it really doesn’t. We’re screwed, no matter what.”

The online response from a former fan of mine: “Really, so Guy traveled to your permaculture meeting and left you with the impression we are all screwed no matter what we do? Doesn’t sound very motivating towards being proactive. What is the point of having a massive carbon footprint flying about and having people drive to hear him spreading a message if you spread such pessimism that people do not think it matters what we do?”

And in a subsequent message from the latter person: “You were someone I really looked up to last year. Nothing wrong with facing doom head on and naming it for what it is but at least then you gave some hope and some direction, now, not so much.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that hope is hopeless. As Nietzsche pointed out, “hope is the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man’s torment.” To put Ed Abbey’s spin on it, “action is the antidote to despair.” So, even though I no longer think my actions matter for humans, I’ll take action.

From my email inbox comes a message from the campus “green” committee that invited my presentation at a local college: “We are as alarmed as you are but strongly disagree with your analysis that the only solution to climate chaos is to embrace economic collapse. There are other empowering, creative, sustainable and hopeful courses of action. Our students need to hear these choices in order to move forward. A message entirely consisting of gloom and doom will not move us in a positive direction. If we are to have a future, we must stay engaged, not disempowered and filled with despair.”

A portion of my response:

I understand wanting to promote empowerment, creativity, and hopefulness. I cannot understand promoting these attributes in the absence of — or at the expense of — factual information supported by extensive, rational analyses.

Near-term human extinction is a difficult pill to swallow, as is economic collapse. But ignoring ugly truths does not make them any less true. Despair is an expected and appropriate response to this information. Recognizing, accepting, and moving beyond despair are important subsequent steps.

As I indicated in my presentation, only complete economic collapse prevents runaway greenhouse. We’ve known this tidbit since 2009, when Timothy Garrett’s excellent analysis was published in the journal Climatic Change. It’s not as if I’m making up the dire information, or cheering for the human suffering that is resulting from collapse. But I’m not interested in presenting information based on wishful thinking, either.

On and on it goes. As George Orwell pointed out, “truth is treason in an empire of lies.” A typically absurd comment comes from a leading public figure in response to a question about my reporting of the climate science: “I think his view is profoundly disempowering. Whether or not he’s right, I think telling people that is not helpful. It’s a recipe for ending up with people doing none of the things that are possible to make a difference. There’s so much uncertainty in the models that we can’t realistically make predictions like that anyway. Climate is highly non-linear, we don’t understand the various feedback loops, or where we lie within them, or the net effect of different ones, or the impact of methane in comparison with CO2, or the background cycle of natural forcings, or the impact of economic collapse on both emissions and global dimming etc etc. I think we need to plan to get over the first hurdle (financial crissi) and then deal with the next, and the one after that as they arise. Relocalization, undertaken for reasons of finance and energy contraction, will also be the only factor that can genuinely benefit climate as well. Whatever reason we do it for, that is the answer – a simpler society.”

Let’s move toward a simpler society, and the sooner the better. But let’s not deal with predicaments as hurdles to be leaped over or knocked down. Let’s take them on now, and let’s get to the root of the matter: Industrial civilization is destroying life on Earth. Rather than pondering how we can protect faux wealth as the industrial economy unwinds — the leading question for the civilized among us — let’s get to work saving the living planet by terminating industrial civilization.

Apparently I disempower people by encouraging them to take responsibility for facts, and for themselves. Oh, the irony. I induce disempowerment and despair. As individuals, we’ve never had significant power, our privilege aside. For most of us, the limited power we possess has been used primarily to accrue more personal power at the expense of the living planet and people outside the industrialized world.

What of despair? If you don’t despair what we’ve done, and what we continue to do, to the living planet and people outside the industrialized world, I have little sympathy for you. Despair is a typical and expected reaction to my presentations, and I would have it no other way. If the truth causes despair, then bring on the truth. I’ve been despairing for years. It hurts. But avoiding our emotions makes us less human, hence degrades our humanity. I want no part of that. I want to feel, even when it hurts. Until I can’t.

How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that this civilization, like all others, has disadvantages. How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that this civilization, like all others, must end. How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that humans, like other organisms, are headed for extinction.

And you believe I’m not grieving? You believe I enjoy the knowledge in my head? Apparently you’ve not been paying attention.

Lest you conclude this essay is a defensive rant — and perhaps it is, at least in part — I’m actually going somewhere. All this speaking and writing and reacting and pondering leads me to a new and different place than I ever imagined. Specifically, I’m adjusting to my new roles as the world burns: court jester and psychotherapist. I have no experience with either pursuit, unless playing class clown contributes to the former. But I think Nero had the right idea, creating art as Rome burned. So I’ll create humor while taking advantage of opportunities to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Perhaps if I provide enough humor, I’ll be spared the usual end-of-life experience proposed for those messengers who bring bad news.

Had the industrial economy collapsed in late 2008 or early 2009, as appeared likely at the time, our species might have persisted a few more generations. Now, however, it’s time to let go. As individuals, we do not possess the power to alter the outcome. However, we have the power to control our reaction to events. Thus, the new role I’ve assigned myself.

I’ll present dire information with empathy while promoting resistance. I’ll continue to criticize society while empathizing with individuals. And I’ll ask people to empathize, and to feel. Even if though it hurts.

Why? Because, hopium aside, Carl Sagan was correct: painful reality trumps satisfying, reassuring delusion.

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This post is permalinked at Island Breath, Peak Oil News, and Speaking Truth to Power.

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My monthly essay for Transition Voice was published two days ago. It’s here.

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NEXT-DAY UPDATE: The IPCC Fifth Assessment has been leaked. It’s here. Note that, like its predecessors, it fails to incorporate major positive feedbacks.

Comments 349

  • Ripley

    We are all human, that should be enough. Some North Americans are very waste conscious, and some Africans use way too much jet fuel – carbon footprint is all relative and not absolutly correlated to nationality. That said, national infrastructure, which is not the ‘fault’ of little kids in a nation, is just there, and if you are provided with no rail, and limited public transport, most are trapped to use an automobile to get employment, for example. Individuals make choices, sometimes counter to their national infrastructure settings, and the USA has gone the overconsumption path, and many see it. I would not blame Americans, but the corrupt American System, which many are activly fighting to bring down or at least to account and radical redemocratisation.

    Regarding the Jevons paradox and later Khazzoom and Brookes findings or postulates I might explain something if others have not expressed it clearly enough.

    I think you are correct that if everyone, that is all economic entities, decided to limit or reduce the consumption of say gas, by thoroughly rating the insulation and waste of gas to heat homes, and the reduction held, then that would work. But only untill other sectors of the world economy, as it works now, used the surplus for other uses.

    Likewise, say a country, or a bloc of concerned countries decided to serverely reduce GHG emitting input, like fossil fuels, it would reduce their net emmissions, but other countries would use those ‘products’ up, maybe at a slightly slower rate in net terms, but the resources, would eventually make it into the ‘use’ cycles down the track.

    Also, there is another aspect to this.
    Say you plan is universally accepted, and alternatives are found, though insulation, efficiencies, and reducing waste, via trigen etc. Everyone commits and complies, and world emmissions go down markedly. Great.
    But the world industrial economy keeps going without anything shifting to stop it, and those fossil fuels still get unearthed, burned or otherwise ‘consumed’ and converted to Green House Gasses, but down the track, just a little later. The CO2 rises to the dangerous levels anyway, but 30 to 60 years later.
    Your plan may but time, but not complete mittigation.

    Jervons used coal as an example. If it is hard to mine and exteact, a financial disincentive is there to get it out and it is relativly expensive, so it is extracted more slowly. If a bright engineer comes to the problem and dramatically increases the ease and efficiency of extraxtion and processing, as happened, it will not lead to less coal being used, but reduces the financial burden, after the initial changes are accomplished, and vastly more is used and the coal deposits are depleted far quicker.

    The key to all this is demand.

    If demand is constant, or even increasing as is the case with all the world fossil fuels due to population increase, or overshoot as Guy and others term it, then efficiencies, and ‘reductions’ from say a decision like you propose, only slow the rate of net use, not stop it completely.

    I think your logic is sound. If an agreement were international and everyone complied, it would buy time.

    Funny, I was under the impression this was what was supposed to be the mandate at the Copenhaagen Summit in 2009? and all the summits before and after?

    Untill the deep argument is made, and understood, and deeply understood, and accepted, that worldwide fossil fuel use must cease NOW,) or Yesterday, or 3 centuries ago), and alternatives found in real terms, no agreement, or root changes will occur, and the World Industrial Empire will keep rolling its genocidal carpet of both Suburbia and wholes landscape destruction over the globe.

    As I stated, fossil fuel demand is the key, so the international community should agree to make that demand ZERO.

    All

    Some have made the argument, whatever it is worth, that HAARP and other secret technologies are being used by the Anex-1 nations to heat the globe artificially so as to make the argument for reducing GHGases, and thereby deny non Anex-1 nations, (the developing ones) from developing and getting market share. They also pose that this is why those Non Anex-1 nations are not complying. Further, these theorises go on to say that that is a moral justification for Anex-1 nations initiating war, however unwanted.

    I will leave it at that. But I ask, how would anyone outside the small cabaal know?

  • If some process or device used on large scales becomes more efficient in resource utilisation, that process or device will be used even more, to the extent that the total resource utilisation will increase.

  • From Kathy C’s DU link:

    ‘You’ve Never Seen a Face as Sad as a Mother Watching her Baby Die.’

    By Donna Mulhearn

    …Why was this happening every day in Fallujah Hospital’s nursery? What has caused a seven-fold increase in birth defects here since 2000? Why a dramatic increase in miscarriages and stillborn births?

    The day before I had met a new-born with a bloodied, fleshy hole in her back – a classic case of spina bifida another common occurrence now along with brain dysfunction, spinal conditions, unformed limbs and cleft palet.

    Another day I walked through Fallujah cemetery which is littered with small, unmarked ‘baby’ graves, and stood with Marwan and Bashir, a young, healthy couple, at the grave of their baby Mohamed, who lived five minutes after birth. He was their fourth baby to die. They will not try again….

    Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been released in the last three months. The studies suggest the baby of the woman in the pink dress is dying of wounds from a war she never saw. That this epidemic is the legacy of toxic weapons dispersed in this community in the ferocious attacks by US forces in 2004.

    Today’s wars are wars of the city; they intrude into neighbourhoods, streets and houses. And the nature of modern weaponry means today’s wars don’t end when the guns fall silent.

    The most recent study “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,” published in Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology examines the prevalence of birth defects in Fallujah as well as Basra, another Iraqi city that experienced intense fighting. It found that in Fallujah more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was closer to one in 10.

    More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriages in the two years after 2004, increased from only 10 per cent before the attacks. Between 2007 and 2010, one in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

    The study presents evidence of widespread exposure to heavy metals such lead and mercury- metals that would be contained in bombs, tank shells and bullets – as a possible cause.

    The increase in birth defects in Fallujah and Basra is often connected to the use of another heavy metal – depleted uranium, used in conventional weapons for its armour piercing capabilities. Several studies undertaken in Iraq have found evidence of the presence of uranium local environments and in patients, and point to it as a possible cause, but more research is needed.

    About 400,000 kilograms of depleted uranium has been dispersed in Iraq since 1991. Depleted uranium (DU) is radioactive and chemically toxic. The long-term impact on civilians is unknown. Militaries consider it a hazard and use extreme care in its handling. It’s been labelled the “Agent Orange” of today.”

    When you imagine this in your personal cubicle, maybe you will vomit too, or at least dry wretch if you are yet to eat for the day.

    US servicemen in those Iraq wars, and the sevicemen and women sent to clean up the DU in Iraq, have a very high rate of sickness, debilitation and premature loss of life vitality due to this poison – Depleted Uranium.

    It is a viscious and criminal military that subjects a civilian enemy population to the effects of offensive warfare.

    It is an entirley insane and out of control national administration that knowingly exposes its own military personnel to the same, AND denies them medical and welfare support.

    ‘The US military kills its own: Maj. Doug Rokke’

    ‘Troops, Vets Please Watch! Depleted Uranium’

    When Guy speaks in his lectures about ‘obedience at home, (USA), and oppression abraod’, and also mentions the Carter doctrine, “that’s our, (USA) Oil over there” this is what he is talking about, just to keep having smart phones and supermarket supplied, and drivthrough McAnimal and fries when you want it.

    I got to go and throw up, again.

  • Robin Datta Says:
    December 17th, 2012 at 1:22 am
    If some process or device used on large scales becomes more efficient in resource utilisation, that process or device will be used even more, to the extent that the total resource utilisation will increase.

    So tell me then, why aren’t Switzerland, Japan, Chile, etc., trying to be as wasteful as the US? Why are they failing to increase their resource utilization?

  • Daniel,

    Exactly. Certainty does not exist but we have probabilities. Let me repeat yet again that I do see Guy’s predicted near term extinction as very possible though I don’t really have a good idea of just how probable it is. There seems to be a very good chance of its being true but we just don’t know the probability exactly.

    To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d react if I was as certain of NTE as Guy is, though I think I’d still try to live simply, more simply. However, there is a chance that I might just decide to rejoin the consumer culture.

  • ‘To one who not bored with oneself, loneliness is not a problem.’ -r.d. (r r, get it? bad joke?) rdrr

    i disagree! perhaps not for u, but it is for me. i particularly miss not having sane companions (imo) to hang out with and maybe have some fun with before it’s time to say goodbye and die. following is elaborate elaboration of my frustration:

    perhaps hatred is a brew of fear, contempt, and envy, for i feel all these emotions quite powerfully, or something akin to them, towards sheeple in general (some in particular). as an american, a citizen of the ‘leader of the free world’, i’ve reached the conclusion that a vast majority of my fellow americans are quite insane. in the case of the sizable percentage who gravitate towards the ‘far right’ of politics, the insanity is maddening. it’s absolutely maddening to live in a large and most powerful nation that has such a group wielding a great deal of political muscle, a group which is unbelievably misinformed, dogmatic, and supportive of the craziest of ideas, wars, conventions, and laws.

    the most recent horrific example of the consequences of insane american policies like extremely lax gun control happened just a couple days ago in connecticut. if that young man’s mother didn’t live in a nation that allows almost any tom, dick, or mary to legally obtain police and military assault weapons. she might not have possessed the weapons he used to kill her and all those other sheeple, including the children… the insanity of such a policy is shattering. sheeple who support it (i know a few quite personally) in the face of multiple similar tragedies … i find to be far too insane to deal with. the horrific consequences of their insanity on suffering death and destruction is in the news and all around us as we collectively go over the cliff to some very hard landings on the way down to (nte?).

    they are like the authoritarian followers described in bob altermeyer’s book ‘the authoritarians’. they have defective brains and are perversely attracted to ‘authority’. faithful followers of awful ‘authorities’ don’t get enough credit, or should i say discredit, for the role they play in our tragedies. legions of misinformed rabid dogma addicts have come to dominate the politically powerful republican party in the usa, and similar political parties all over the world.

    i’ve become obsessed with such thoughts, and emotionally with fear, contempt, and envy (for their power, social acceptability and relative happiness in a culture far more accepting of their views than mine). this brew often tastes a lot like hate. i detest their dogmatic faiths and politics. i might as well hate them too.

    harboring hate of course isn’t healthy. it’s another reason to consider suicide as an escape from this toxic brew of emotions/awareness that has become a daily norm. escape from a surreality that increasingly is a psychological nightmare of torment and despair.

    just to be clear (and cowardly?), i’m not imminently suicidal. my strong genetic aversion to suicide while i’m still relatively young, healthy, and capable of enjoying life (to the extent that i can forget all this shit and live ‘in the moment’), along with past experience anguishing at length with suicidal thoughts, without ever coming surreally close to attempting it, combine to make me more of a whiner than a doer. it feels good to express distress to anyone who maybe can relate and empathize. probably useful for maintaining some sanity and a firm grip on life.

    it would be wonderful to have a suicide plan in place, better yet to have someone or preferably a whole group to share it with, including at least one sherson who could personally assist (or be a co-participant) if and when comes the time to do it.

  • ‘ZIONISTS WON’T LET YOU SEE THIS ON YOUR TV’

    If you have the guts to watch this short video, watch it to the very end.

    ‘What CNN doesn’t want you to see again!’

    Wow, diamonds or pearls… notwithstanding the African ‘diamond’ connection, what an important national presedential debate question!!

    Think of all the previous wars that ripped the wealth and life out of all the now poor and un’developing’ nations.

    War and violence.

    That is how ‘I’ got to be sooooooo privelaged.

    That is how Anex-1 nations became economicly dominant and have had the ‘luxury’ of democracy.

    That is why, because it has worked in the past it is being used now, and it will be used again in the future as a means to have and maintain the privelage.

    That is why, now that the world can speak to itself, and trade is so interconected, and universal education in some of the Anex-1 democracies has made the populations literate and numerate, and within the scope of free thinking citizens, surveilence and fear are now needed to quell the internal dissent.

    That is why Bradley Manning is being tried for revealing an ugly truth to the world about USA military crimes in other lands, crimes that keep the Anex-1 nations’ supermarkets full, cinimas full, the fossil fuel bowsers chugging, and the i-gadgets coming.

    That is why Wikileaks and Julian Assange are target No 1, and the Anex-1 nations are rapidly trying to redefine journalism as aiding terrorism, and come within the scope of National Security legislation.

    That is why, why why something has to change…..

    I started to feel sick, but not bodily sick at least not to begin with, and not mentally sick, but those I’ve known can tell a differnt story if they wish, and not spirituall sick, because I’ve taken care of that area for a long time. No, I was starting to feel Soul sick.

    That is why it was necessary for me to understand the basis for the democratic freedoms I have from birth. Of all the human history one is aware of generally, how did it just eventuate that all that ‘freedom’ was my right, just by birth?

    Born in Australia, an Anex-1 nation.

    Since researching Peak Oil and collapse issues, and biosphere destruction and Climate Catastrophe, I have discovered those freedoms could not have been possible without being founded on an intentionaly violent culture, an intentionaly biosphere altering industrial ‘machine’, and a way of life which calls for another saner way of life.

    That is why I won’t ask for my empire cubicle job back in the 5 hour a day commuted to city again.

    That is why I now make my local bush my ‘home’, which if things get tough soon, my family and I may have to go live in.

    That is why I call the local Birds, Kangaroos and Wallabys, friends.

    That is why I now ‘feel’ people I meet differently – which ‘way’ will we begin to communicate, with, or without, this crucial, humbleing, sickenning understanding about the wreckage of all the murder, rape and disgusting human and other species violence that has led us to this moment, to be able to meet – meet in a shop buying fruit, on a train, asking directions, at an intersection commenting on the comming rainstorm, or just walking from the house I live in to the next task I need to do. Some are not seeing it, and never yet have. And they look calm and socially empowered, by comparison. Others, it is stored in the back spaces of their mind, and is a dim horror not usually looked at, not clear at all, and its labelled, ‘a bad dream’. These people have some guilt in their eyes and fear, lest something or someone touch the latch that holds the ‘bad dreams’ and it gets loose. Still others they believe they are aware of the ‘bad’ things in the ‘past’, the colonial era and such, when people were more brutish etc, but to them, that is all over now, at least for ‘our’ culture. These people smile their way to acceptance for they know about ‘it’ but want most to get on with their life, unconnected to all that has given them this ‘now’. Then there are those rare people, fully aware of the horrors, the historical crimes, the historical violence, and the ongoing continual violence that generates our whole cultural platform upon which everyone lives off to survive.

    But I am yet to meet someone like that yet, in person, so I can’t say what they appear like.

    I ask myself, which one am I? Would it show if I met me in the street?

    Lest any reader feel inclined to think the first video link I put up above means I am down on Israelis, or Zionists or Jews…. I see people there, not Israelis, Zionists, Jews, or palistinians, just people doing violent things to people.

    I have to go throw up now, again.

  • Ripley wrote “It wouldn’t surprise me if you are an American. America has a miserably low rated medical system, with a lot of greedy incompetent doctors. Medical malpractice is common there, as are people would don’t reason very well. You seem to be a combination of the two. Your medical license needs to be revoked. If I were you, I would go away before someone discovers your whereabouts, and sues you for malpractice.”

    Guy it seems we have another one. Clearly this comment has nothing to do with the discussion and is designed to insult and to hook people into fruitless fights.

  • the virgin terry Says:

    i particularly miss not having sane companions

    Looks like you’ve come to the right blog.

  • Cathy C is right. But no need to wake the teacher. I get it, my kind of thinking isn’t welcome here. And even though “nothing matters”, except apparently going on a blog and saying “nothing matters”, over and over again–that’s just not my idea of useful therapy or entertaining religious spectacle. Discussion outside this theme is obviously unwanted, and I’m cool with that.

    So, just a bit of advice before I go, for the sake of others who may wander by. Brevity is the soul of wit. Donkey is on the right track here, he has, no doubt read The Bard. All other posts take tens of thousands of words, just to say the same thing. So instead of an 800 word post that could be summed up with two words, just post: “We’re doomed”, or “It’s Over.” It saves on eyestrain and CO2…Oh, and Oz, from now on, only two drinks max, before each post, OK bro?

  • Yorchichan The chance of a species of phytoplankton evolving into a non-photosynthesising creature is the same as that of a tree evolving into a human being. That is, zero.

    I have no idea why you bring up this absurd suggestion, I never inferred any such thing. I was responding to Ozman’s notion that some humans might survive and evolve into new forms of hominid, which seems highly unlikely to me.

    The reason it seems highly unlikely, is that, despite what you say below, I don’t think there will be a habitable environment on land, not least because losing the forests and the phytoplankton is likely to reduce the atmospheric oxygen. But there are myriad other equally severe impacts in the offing, so that’s only one.

    When the entire chemistry of the oceans is changed, the pH changes over decades, the rapid temperature rise over decades, the currents changing, the whole ecology as it has been getting swept away, the oceans are not going to be performing the same function.

    The counter to the oceanic dead zones is life itself. Life is constantly striving at the edges of habitability to change dead zones into living ones. I don’t think that is correct. They are only ‘dead zones’ because we name them thus, because they are anoxic. Dinoflagellates and jellyfish and whatnot love them.

  • Hello,

    This comment following looking at your presentation below :

    About peak oil, a message that seems to me is not enough conveyed especially in the US, is that the first oil shock was a direct consequence of US peak (as appears clearly in the US prod import graph used more or less).
    What I mean is that the “Arab embargo” is still the main “name” used for the first oil shock, whereas it was almost a non event in number of barrels taken out of the market (and especially compared to barrels “taken out” by US peak). Moreover shortages started after US peak and before the 1973 “embargo”.
    Also something probably not quite well known, but KSA was “cheating” the embargo towards the US throughout (tankers going out of KSA through Bahrain especially towards the US army in Vietnam).
    An interview of James Akins (US ambassador in KSA at the time) mentioning this in part two of documentary linked below (after 20:00 or so, unfortunately dubbed) :
    http://iiscn.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/bataille-et-lenergie/

    Putting the “perception of the first oil shock” back to what it really was wouldn’t change much about current situation for sure (on both climate and peak oil aspects), but still seems to me it is one of the main thing to be “swallowed” if a tiny chance for a way forward exists.
    Cheers,
    Yves T

  • Ripley

    Ok, bro.

    Since brevity is requested,
    I’d rather be bested,
    By a poster who knows,
    That their last comment shows,
    If I be true,
    To the prose,
    They haven’t a clue,
    And that some things just need more words to define concepts, give details, apply information as background, and otherwise say things like real people do instead of minimal dialogue in a stres situation like characters on LOST do sayoften one or two words, frequently just a person’s name, or “fine”, when there is so much to say, and you would say a lot if you were airwrecked on some strange Pacific Island and some supernatural force kept emerging and the survivors self defined us’s and others’s and they kept discovering more and more about an abandoned Dharma Project social experiment community who were killed by a psychopathic guy who the audiennce is lead to think may be the incarnation of the antichrist becauase his mother died in chilbirth and he is an arch manipulator seeming to know details of survivors histories when no rational information pathway is possible……

    Heve you actually promised to go, for good this time?

    Hello?

    Hello?

    Whew, better go throw up, again.

  • Wasn’t really that hard to spot right from the get go, but it is best to just let it pass untill it shows its teeth.

  • Ozman – right on. and sorry to hit you with the DU story but we need to know what we have done, what will happen.

  • Kathy C

    No harm done.

    Or actually, the harm done is OK!

  • ulvfugl

    The phytoplankton will have to cope with acidification, temperature change, and possibly UV light from damaged ozone layer, and who knows what else.

    There’s no reason to suppose that it will evolve to produce O2 is there ?

    Sounded to me like you were suggesting phytoplankton would likely evolve into organisms no longer producing O2. I understand now you meant phytoplankton will not be able to evolve fast enough to survive.

    I totally concede dead zones in the oceans are increasing. Paradoxically, these are due to increased phytoplankton productivity and thus are unlikely to lead to a reduction of atmospheric oxygen. Where I disagree, if I understand your position correctly, is that I do not believe lack of oxygen will ever become a problem for us or other land-dwelling, oxygen-breathing creatures. I believe loss of the photosynthesisers would cause a corresponding loss of animals due to starvation long before oxygen levels became a problem. No animals means no reason for oxygen levels to decrease.

  • Gail recommended to me the movie Sarah’s Key. It speaks well to the topic of responsibility. The main event is the shipping of Jews from Vichy France by the French government to the ovens at Auschwitz and elsewhere. Specifically this event – Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv, the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews who are held at the Winter Velodrome in Paris and Drancy internment camp before deportation to Auschwitz. Of course we can see that the Nazi’s were responsible for the demand. The French government was responsible for agreeing. And the policemen who did the arrests, and the other people who stood by and watched, what is their responsibility. The movie deals with this and responsibility for actions of individuals in the story it follows.

    But couldn’t we also say that the rise of Hitler was a reaction to the harsh reparations forced on Germany in WWII. Couldn’t we say that the plan for genocide was in part modeled on the genocide of the Native Americans. So then doesn’t the blame fall to our founding fathers and the immigrants who wanted Native American land
    Letter from President Jefferson to the Secretary of War Henry Burbeck:
    “If we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down until that tribe is exterminated . . . in war, they will kill some of us; we will destroy all of them.” — Thomas Jefferson, August 28, 1807
    http://only-ed.blogspot.com/2010/07/thomas-jefferson-father-of-american.html
    But why did people come to the America’s anyway. In part wasn’t it because Europe overpopulated and their land could no longer feed the populous. So can we lay the blame for the killing of the French Jews at the feet of highly fertile European Peasants? Or the inventor of the moldboard plow, or the person who made the first iron axe, or the hunter-gatherer who first planted a seed.

    The movie doesn’t carry it that far back but does deal with other aspects of responsibility. It deals with people who feel responsibility even though they have none or little and yet do the right thing. It deals with shame and denial. It deals with people who blame others but can’t say what they would do. It deals with people taking what they think is the best decision and dealing with the responsibility when it turns out all wrong. It deals with how children become laden with guilt from carrying responsibility on their shoulders alone for something that is not theirs to carry.

  • Yorchichan – The microscopic plants that support all life in the oceans are dying off at a dramatic rate, according to a study that has documented for the first time a disturbing and unprecedented change at the base of the marine food web.

    Scientists have discovered that the phytoplankton of the oceans has declined by about 40 per cent over the past century, with much of the loss occurring since the 1950s. They believe the change is linked with rising sea temperatures and global warming.
    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/the-dead-sea-global-warming-blamed-for-40-per-cent-decline-in-the-oceans-phytoplankton-2038074.html

    While phytoplankton in such areas as the Gulf may be being fertilized and more productive, in the rest of the ocean they appear to be dying off.

  • ‘Cyclone Evan slams into Fiji’

    http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3656311.htm

    “SALLY SARA: A category four cyclone has smashed into the island nation of Fiji, sending thousands fleeing to emergency centres. Tourists have retreated to their hotel rooms and still aren’t allowed to leave. Locals are facing the cyclone head on.

    Cyclone Evan is about 480 kilometres wide, and has winds of up to 230 kilometres per hour. It’s the strongest cyclone to hit Fiji in the past decade, and there are concerns storm surges will flood low-lying areas.”

    It still could intensify further.

  • @ Bailey

    You said:

    “….Though I may have lacked all the knowledge of how soon our sojourn would end, even intuition tells you that a parasitic species cannot consume its host indefinitely.”

    Yes, the host will die but the parasite can fly away (be raptured) and find a new world. What percent of our population are cheering for the host to die? Drill, baby, drill. Only the “sinners” will suffer.

  • Yorchichan,

    Sounded to me like you were suggesting phytoplankton would likely evolve into organisms no longer producing O2. I understand now you meant phytoplankton will not be able to evolve fast enough to survive.

    Okay, maybe I should have phrased what I meant more clearly. First time around, I meant that phytoplankton don’t see it as their purpose to produce O2, do they, yes, they’ll evolve, if they can, but who knows what will happen to them, just as the trees on land, if conditions become unsuitable, will strive to evolve, maybe smaller stunted forms, or hybrid forms, or whatever, but they are doing it to pursue their own survival, not to provide oxygen. That just happens to be a by-product. If the upheaval in the overall ecology is so vast, and so rapid, their place in the scheme of things may vanish altogether.

    Second time around, yes, they may not be able to evolve fast enough. That experiment in the lab you cited was interesting, but they don’t live in isolation, do they, out in the ocean, there’s a whole complex dynamic inter-relationship of organisms, which is now getting destabilised everywhere.

    I totally concede dead zones in the oceans are increasing. Paradoxically, these are due to increased phytoplankton productivity and thus are unlikely to lead to a reduction of atmospheric oxygen.

    It’s not paradoxical, it’s well-understood that that’s how it works, when dead zones are produced by eutrophication. But if you looked at the link, from Earth’s history, it seems pretty clear that acidification alone is sufficient to produce dead oceans and extinction, without global warming, and over a long period, not like the rapid change over decades that we are causing. And once it starts, it cannot be stopped. Here it is again. That’s not the only threat to the phytoplankton, is it, nor the only cause of dead zones.

    ftp://ftp.gfdl.noaa.gov/pub/mbw/Ocean_Acidification_Papers/Veron_2008.pdf

    Where I disagree, if I understand your position correctly, is that I do not believe lack of oxygen will ever become a problem for us or other land-dwelling, oxygen-breathing creatures. I believe loss of the photosynthesisers would cause a corresponding loss of animals due to starvation long before oxygen levels became a problem. No animals means no reason for oxygen levels to decrease.

    I think you have not thought it through. Six degree C. increase, likely means most land forests die, and that means they are no longer carbon sinks, and no longer oxygen sources. So that’s half your oxygen supply gone. And the temperature is now running away for a whole lot of reasons, so much of life on land is ending and the warming acidifying seas are full of toxic effluent, dead marine life, run-off of all kinds, not to mention nuclear radiation, UV radiation, etc, so good luck to the phytoplankton… perhaps you’re right, some may survive, but in my estimation, there’s no humans left around to know, either way.

  • @Kathy C

    About the population evolution in Europe, something not that well known (realized it a few years ago), is that in the XVIIth XVIIIth centuries, France had the highest population in Europe by quite far (and in fact was third population worldwide after China and India), but in the XIXth century population growth in France was much lower than in other European countries especially Germany and the UK :
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/%C3%89volution_d%C3%A9mographique_compar%C3%A9e_-_France%2C_Allemagne_et_Royaume-Uni.svg
    In fact if France had the population growth of the UK in XIXth century, its today’s population would be around 220 millions have read somewhere.
    Braudel explains this in a book, don’t remember his explanation exactly right now, but it was quite a bit “conscious” in the sense big families not really seen as a good thing.

  • Kathy C

    I’ve been aware of that report since Guy brought it to my (our) attention. It was just one study. Can you find any independent verification of the results? Until such time as independent verification exists, this report should not be accepted as unquestionable truth.

    Even if verified, until the mechanism for phytoplankton loss is understood, “past performance is not indicative of future results”. Pollution, decline in sunlight and decline in nutrient availability are possible likely causes of a phytoplankton die off; (slow) acidification and warmer ocean temperatures are not.

  • Kathy C

    See the “Envronmental controversy” section on the Wikipedia phytoplankton page.

    It appears to agree with me (much to my relief ;) ).

  • I must admit that I don’t understand why ideas can’t be discussed and debated without the dialogue degenerating into ugly personal attacks. Perhaps it’s because we discuss such emotionally charged ideas. Be that as it may, Ripley mentioned some ideas which are worth discussing even if he/she is no longer following the conversation. Others might have the same questions.

    It is true the the U.S. is the greatest user of energy even though in recent years the apparent efficiency of our energy use has improved. (References supporting these claims are found easily with a google search.)

    China is quickly overtaking the U.S. as the greatest energy user. Why? Because China is making most of the world’s consumable goods. The U.S., Europe, and other developed countries have been able to improve their energy efficiency largely because energy use has been offloaded to China and other developing economies.

    It makes sense that if a country develops solar energy or wind energy, then their use of fossil fuels will go down. But where do all the parts making up those energy sources come from? Most are made – from the metals in their components all the way to delivered goods – from fossil fuels. The shelf life of those devices is generally less than 20 years, so every few decades the process is repeated. The wires to transmit that energy are also fossil fuel derived as are all the goods on the receiving end using that energy.

    I know of no country which has had a voluntary reduction in energy usage of any percentage much less 90%. To the contrary, the only countries which have reduced their true energy usage (meaning that the energy they use includes that borne by other countries on their behalf) have done so due to shortages or economic downturns.

    Guy has stated multiple times that only the complete collapse of the industrial economy will save us and now thinks that it may be too late even for that.

    So, unless I’m mistaken about Ripley’s initial question, that is the answer to it. Complete collapse, not 90%. I agree with that assessment, for what it’s worth.

    Energy conservation of 90% would almost certainly lead to collapse of the industrial economy. Make no mistake, it is the fossil fuels which have built this modern economy. Even a 1-2% decline in available energy causes recessions. 90% would be fatal.

  • @Jennifer Hartley: I hope you are well. If you would like to get in touch sometime, we could exchange e-mail addresses. Let me know. I have a hard time articulating my thoughts/feelings, mostly due to time constraints with the children, but it’s important for me to know what other people are thinking and feeling, so I will keep trying as well.

    In general, it seems like the world is going crazy. The speed at which information travels now means that if you are not well grounded and centered, it can be hard to assimilate or make sense of everything, or anything at all. I have to say, I was completely undone by the school shooting on Friday, and though it is no surprise the ugliness which people are capable of, I’m really scared of who is out there. People don’t know what to do with their anger, frustration, fear, pain, and so they either work to numb it, or they lash out.

    Myself, I became so over-saturated by news and information, so depressed and hopeless, I went on a media blackout from about 2005-2009. I think this is when I lost track of some big things going on in the world and with the environment. I had just divorced, moved from Alaska to South Dakota, started Grad school, dropped out, met someone, and without any real planning, started a family. I let my guard down. I didn’t really know myself or my environment. It’s hard to find a balance between being aware and informed, and feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, but there has to a way to function and take action in an informed way, because trying to block everything out and live in denial will never work. Living in fear won’t work.
    Re: Naomi Klein having children. As long as women are going to keep having babies, I’m happy to see someone like her doing it. With all the uncertainty about the world right now, I’m not sure I could make that decision, but she is definitely well informed. I refuse to give up on the children, and if there is any chance of hope, it is with them. And I mean the young ones. They are still full of wonder and mystery, and if there is such a thing as spiritual evolution, they are the advanced ones.

  • @BC Nurse Prof

    You mentioned fire. I can’t help but agree with you. Your area is so beautiful, but oh so many trees. Even here, they started talking this fall about addressing beetle kill in the Black Hills by doing controlled burns. Are they crazy? It can’t possibly get any drier. And someone mentioned complaining about the weather, well, I will. If we don’t get some snow soon, I predict that at least one more of the little ones will be added to the list of asthma sufferers in our house, which stands at my five year old son and myself. The dust, inside and out, is just terrible. Everyone has a relentless cough. But, here we are. We can’t move to a more hospitable environment at this time, and where would that be, anyway?

  • Some random thoughts:

    Earth First! went caroling in Michigan. They visited the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and sung anti-fracking carols, then published his home address. I think that is fabulous and plan to send Keith a card, telling him all I want for Christmas this year is for him to stop selling public lands to oil and gas barons. Think that’ll help?

    I’m relatively new to the writings of James Howard Kuntsler. Been reading his blog for about a year now, and after chatting with Guy, read his book “World Made by Hand”. Just read his blog on the massacre in Connecticut and have gotta ask, what is up with the sexism? Is this new or has he always been a bit of a pig?

    Jennifer Hartley, my summons to jury duty isn’t until March. Plenty of time to prepare. It’s only for a week. Last time I served, in 1987, it was for four weeks.

    I haven’t seen much commentary on Obummers crocodile tears and bible spouting last night. I’m going on record with a prediction that we end up renewing the ban on assault rifles and MAYBE banning the big clips and that will be that. There will be no changes to our pitifully lacking help for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be mentally ill. Our official policy will remain the same: Fuck ’em.
    Drone killing of children not on American soil will continue as usual.

    Happy thoughts. Good times.

  • Yorchichan, your article was only as I understood it about plankton at the places were runoff meets ocean on the shelf of the continents. It was not about plankton in the whole wide ocean unless I misunderstood it.

    This seems to confirm that the acidic ocean is a problem for plankton
    http://stephenleahy.net/2012/11/02/plankton-death-to-come-with-acid-oceans-and-sunlight/
    Researchers were surprised to discover that diatoms, one of the most important and abundant types of phytoplankton, fared very badly during shipboard experiments conducted by co-author Kunshan Gao, from the State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science at Xiamen University, Xiamen China.

    Previous experiments in labs like Riebesell’s found that diatoms actually did better in high-acid seawater, unlike most other shell- forming plankton. Burning fossil fuels has made the oceans about 30 percent more acidic researchers discovered less than 10 years ago. Oceans absorb one third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from using fossil fuels.

    The good news is this has slowed the rate of global warming. The bad news is oceans are now more acidic and it will get worse as more CO2 is emitted. This is basic, well-understood ocean chemistry…As expected under these conditions, certain types of plankton like coccolithophores did not do well but surprisingly, diatom productivity also declined.

    One possible reason was the much brighter natural light on the ship versus that in science labs, Riebsell and Gao suspected. Followup lab experiments with lights mimicking the intensity of natural light in the subtropical zone of the South China Sea confirmed that the combination of high-acid sea water and light intensity was more than diatoms could handle.

    So one study says the declined (possibly due to warming), another says they haven’t, and another shows that acidic oceans can harm phytoplankton.

    So we are left with some uncertainty IMO and I bet that although Riebsell in the article above also says that it was possible plankton might adapt, changes are happening rather fast. Of course things the reproduce fast have a better chance of evolving to adapt, but still things are happening in decades not centuries now.

    Que sera sera

  • Facts that do not feed our Confirmation Biases are so tough on our egos. They feel like sometime trying to lobotomize our innards. But oh so liberating to practice critical thinking, in however small the doses.

    It gives one the time to contemplate how is it we are here and what is likely to come about after.
    For instance, there are a number of theories of how petroleum formed when the world was 6C, or more, warmer than it is today.

    One came out about 15yrs ago, featured in Science and Scientific American and others like them at the time.
    It posits that a natural carbon cycle led to 1200ppm levels of carbon in the atmosphere, vs our 300-400ppm today. This increase caused such acidification and warming of the ocean that broke down the Thermocline and Thermohaline circulation layers. With the Thermocline and Thermohaline layers broken down, the byproduct (sulfuric acid) of the anaerobic lifeforms feeding on the hydrogen sulfides venting out of the seafloor came up to the surface. For what can be described as eternity to the aerobic lifeforms already going extinct due to the overheated atmosphere up here on the surface, sulfuric acid venting up became the norm.

    This dissolved the aerobic lifeforms –and the atmosphere being oxygen-deprived and sulfur-saturated prevented normal decomposition– which in turn generated the oil reserves we have today.

    Interesting eh? Imagine how much growth was there in anaerobic lifeforms with such expanded sinks allowed by the breaking down of the Thermocline and Thermohaline layers? They must have thought it would go on forever. HAHA. One can even glimpse familiarity to today eh?

    Another thing is makes you ponder is (for those who received an early biblical indoc): How could those who wrote it have known the world would end by fire this time? An everlasting fire what would give no rest…it was unimaginable that such thing could be real as the flesh is so fragile. Now with AGW, I see how a constant warming that lasts until and then and keeps on getting worse and worse until our great-great-grandkids also pass can be essentially considered everlasting. HAHA. Oh the poetry, the hubris, that is us.

  • Paul Beckwith from Arctic Methane Emergeny Group on radio ecoshock
    https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2012/12/paul-beckwith-at-radio-ecoshock.html

    Personal disclaimer I do not support his call for geo-engineering. I do think he is more right than the more conservative climate scientists based on events on the ground.

  • .
    Monopoly Game

    Stay free at the choicest doomsteads:
    The oranges, yellows and reds,
    Where likely the strongest
    Will hold out the longest
    Once the collapse really spreads.

    Community Chest and Chance pick,
    Distractions, the next media trick;
    Railroads: a bore,
    Unless someone owns four—
    Then you get fucked pretty quick.

    Utilities, parking, taxes—I’ve scored:
    They don’t kill, can be safely ignored;
    Pass go on your way
    And earn weekly pay,
    Working your ass round the board.

    In jail you can miss turns in style
    And get some relief for awhile;
    Next throw of the dice,
    Hope fate will be nice
    To struggles that lifetimes compile.

    The token you choose when you play:
    Really, who are you anyway?
    Go broke and death knocks,
    Pieces back in the box,
    Game over—extinction—m’kay?

  • How could those who wrote it have known the world would end by fire…

    For simple folk… I mean, use your imagination… wind ? ice ? fire ? flood ? how many basic natural forces have you got, to play with in your fairy tales ?

  • of interest
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121216132505.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fearth_climate+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Earth+%26+Climate+News%29
    Difficult-to-forecast polar mesoscale storms occur frequently over the polar seas; however, they are missing in most climate models

  • the sky is heavy and gray
    but i hear them all the time
    to see is another fray
    but here they are all aligned
    http://planefinder.net/

  • @TVT

    There is a deep abiding and inconsolable loneliness that we are either attempting to vanquish or reconcile the best we can, and when you so candidly speak of a truth (suicide), that we’re all probably being slightly disingenuous towards…………..well, it’s hard to find adequate words. It’s hard to gauge what is and isn’t “appropriate”. Basically, what you are doing, is shining a light into a cave many would prefer remain in the dark…….at least for a little while longer.

  • Regarding failed species; aren’t we the first and only one to wipe ourselves out with our own extinction? Or, does that make us number 1?

  • dairymandave, it happens all the time, in microcosm, from yeast in a beer bottle to the reindeer on St Matthew Island.

  • ulvfugl, I’m referring to a mass extinction event, the first one caused by a species.

  • I know you are. It’s the same principle. It’s ecology within a container. Our container is the biosphere.

  • Well, we hadn’t had any snow here in the southern interior of BC until this past weekend. We had a few flurries that didn’t stick, and it was way too warm for snow until now. Then….whamo!….we got dumped on. It’s still only at freezing or one or two degrees below freezing, but we got more snow this weekend than we had all last winter. It’s a mess. On the way to the university this morning we saw two accidents and a semi jack-knifed in the turn lane. It took four wheel drive just to get here. More snow on the way for tonight. Then rain by the end of the week!

    A few years ago we would have had a minus 15 degrees C night by now, but not anymore. I sure hope we don’t get an ice storm for Christmas.

  • BC Nurse Prof, I can relate to your weather craziness. I keep a diary of activities I undertake around the place including gardening, chickens, goats, etc. I also document the high and low temps and precipitation. My data isn’t complete as I only document on the days when I’m doing something outside as opposed to being at the clinic. However, this past weekend I spent the whole time working outside, frequently in short sleeves. In the middle of December. In this part of the country, that’s not terribly unusual, but the persistence of these temps IS unusual – it’s been this way for weeks now. The lows this weekend were 20+ degrees (F) above normal. For comparison, I looked back to January to see how the temp compared. They were virtually identical. So, if the pattern from last winter is any indication, it looks like we are on track for another very warm winter and probably a scorching hot spring and summer. Climate change deniers look out!

  • Dr. House – ditto here except today we got rain 2 1/4 inches. Not enough to pull us out of drought yet, but made me and the chickens happy!

  • Kathy C

    The most alarming thing in the article you linked to about plankton death (http://stephenleahy.net/2012/11/02/plankton-death-to-come-with-acid-oceans-and-sunlight/) was the third comment, echoing what some on here have been saying about trees dying.

  • Human life is over. Face it, believe it. Not only human, but probably mammalian, probably vertebrate, perhaps all life is over. So where does that leave us. Judging from human contribution to the planetary well-being, the sooner we go the better. If our allegiance is to life, since it can no longer be to continuing human life, a chimera, then we should welcome human extinction and the sooner the better. Certainly the hope of dragging it out for a paltry few more years is disgraceful. Desperately taking a few extra tugs on the tit. Disgusting. So why should we go on?

    I myself would like to see a last ditch effort to go gracefully. A wise man giving advice to a young lover instructed him as to how to leave his beloved in the morning, asserting that this was the most important thing. I think we should tidy up our mess and begin to live sustainably. Sustainably? What nonsense. What is sustainable is what leaves the world today exactly as it was on this day last year. That, as radical and impossible as it might be, should be our goal. But all it will achieve is a decorous and polite departure. Were we the dignified beings that we ought to be, that would be important.

  • ulvfugl, There have been 5 mass extinctions. This is the 6th. There have been millions of species that went extinct. We are the only species that caused a mass extinction, as far as I know. I only know what I read. You know it too.

  • ‘Missing’ polar weather systems could impact climate predictions

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121216132505.htm

  • What a refreshingly interesting idea, Michael Dollner….

    So, perhaps, we have been guests here. And now we must leave. And out of respect, and good manners, we should tidy up, and make the place as it was, when we found it….

    Even though that is impossible, because so much got broken. But at least, some of us will have made an effort….

  • dairymandave, think of the biosphere as an ecosystem, humans as an invasive species, a keystone species with a negative impact if you like. Lots of ecosystems get wrecked by the impact of a new invasive species that destroys the ecology causing extinctions. As I see it, like I said, the principle is the same, just that the scale is different. Yeast in a bottle eating sugar, reindeer on an island eating lichen, humans on a planet eating oil.

  • BC Nurse Prof:

    You ask, “Paul, does this work? Did it alleviate your distress to project dire consequences? I think I know what you mean, but I’m not sure. Can you elaborate?”

    I think I understand your question, but there are two ways I could read it.

    If you’re asking whether projecting dire consequences alleviated my distress, the answer is an unequivocal “NO!”. That behaviour merely reinforced my distress – especially when I found there were so many people out here who agreed with me.

    Achieving equanimity about the idea of “The End” – whether my own end or the species’ – was what did the trick. It took about 5 years to get there. I started at the bottom with the idea that we are a broken species (I learned that from Jay Hansen at dieoff.org). It was in that period that I wrote most of my most dystopian screeds. Then I worked my way up through Daniel Quinn and his idea of “broken story, not broken people”, through Deep Ecology.

    It was about then that I had a major breakthrough in terms of seeing that I had been telling myself only one possible story about the future and ignoring many others. The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of a deep non-dualist awakening that brought me to complete acceptance of What Is. That is what has let me maintain my balance in the face of what I know to be true about where we are, what we’re doing, what we are as a species and civilization, and what the endpoint will be.

    My earlier angst came from not fully accepting both what we are doing AND its consequences. As a result of the work I’ve done since then I have no need to convince anyone about dire consequences. If they happen it will be apparent to all. And they will happen, because something dire happens to everyone, eventually. If they don’t, they don’t. I no longer need others to share my views in order to validate or confirm my existence. I AM.


  • wildwoman Says:”my summons to jury duty”

    Send me to jail in Missouri,
    Or find other vents for your fury:
    Shoot me, cut me free,
    You ain’t gonna be
    Seeing me on your fucking jury.

  • BtD,

    It’s Michigan, but I take your point. Thanks for the smile.

  • YW!
    Sorry, but it was either Missouri, or give it up and move on to something else, and I DID want to share. :D


  • “…When the threat to our personal well-being becomes sufficiently strong, however, the id (being primal and unconscious) tends to win out…..Can the rational processes of the ego and the inhibitory influence of the superego combine to defeat the self-centered desires of the id…?”
    http://www.paulchefurka.ca/COP15.html

    Superego, ego, and id
    Are places where secrets are hid;
    But, to cut to the chase,
    I think in this case,
    We’ve really fucked up—yup, we did.

  • BadlandsAK: I would be happy to exchange email addresses. Guy, if you don’t mind, could you send mine to BadlandsAK? I agree, the world is crazy. And young children being the advanced ones, yes.

    wildwoman: In my opinion, yes, Kunstler has always been a bit of a pig. The sexism isn’t new.

    Daniel, the virgin terry, and others contemplating suicide in the future: One question I have is, how do you know when it’s the right time? Also, do you have a chosen method, and the means to do it? I’m not sure I want more than a yes/no answer to that last question.

  • I no longer need others to share my views in order to validate or confirm my existence. I AM.

    So basic that most are unaware of it. And an essential stage before sloughing off of the “I”.

  • With dieoff looming I knew
    Who would die would be quite a few
    Though we try try and try
    Still we must die
    Its just sooner we say adieu

    But now we face Near Term Extinction
    An event with quite a distinction
    Not one to survive
    Not one left alive
    The end of our hubric ambition

    So it goes……..

  • Good review of Earth temperature and where we are now:

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/temperature/

  • Oyster mushrooms will grow on any dead organic matter – including oil (Think about that) Oyster mushrooms do not require fertiliser, heating or extra inputs – think about that. Think about the millions of tonnes of coffee that is thrown away by coffee houses each week and how millions of tonnes of oyster mushrooms could be grown to make us healthy and genuinely sustainable. I have done my homework and know about entropy etc and oyster mushrooms would work. Think closed loop urban farms, using hemp leaves as substrate????

    And lets talk about hemp – Do you remember hemp america??? the plant that started you off? remember how it will heat a fire, feed a man and clothe a man? remember how productive it is per acre? it wont replace oil as a liquid fuel but it will soften the loss of it.

    The answer is consume less, much less, and produce more, much more

    Oyster mushrooms and hemp, they wouldnt even cost a lot to implement

    Its time for action

  • @ James its time for action

    It’s possible to design other highly productive intensive food systems, e.g. duckweed, fresh water shrimps, to feed carp, reeds to clean the water, etc, which can be self-sustaining, and pretty much food for free…

    What Michael D. said above What is sustainable is what leaves the world today exactly as it was on this day last year. Perfection is impossible, but it is possible to design systems that are very close.

    All it takes is a place to do it, smart, motivated, energetic people, the knowledge which we already have…

    But that’s not the problem, is it. We already KNOW what works, and we already KNOW what’s going to kill us all off. How to stop the maniacs from burning ever more coal, oil, gas, destroying the natural world to get ever more minerals, polluting everything to turn it into money, etc, etc…. that’s the problem… the same destructive corporations and greedy mentality that destroyed the old hemp farming, now go into Africa, ( Bill Gates and Monsanto, etc ) and destroy the local relatively eco-friendly small scale farming, push the peasants off the land to be replaced by industrial agribusiness, and nobody can stop it, can they…. that’s the problem…. nobody can stop the pillaging of the oceans, because it’s international commons, so they get fished until there’s nothing left… the powers of the world are competing to grab whatever resources remain as fast as they can, destroying us all in the process, that’s the problem. Nobody knows how to fix this, nobody has any answers or solutions, it’s an insane race into oblivion….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/world/americas/in-brazil-caves-would-be-lost-in-mining-project.html

  • We’ve seen this graph before but of interest is who posted it this time. John Phipps is spokesperson for Big Ag. This will impact grain prices, ethanol mandates and so on. I think his opinions carry a lot of weight.

    http://johnwphipps.blogspot.com/2012/12/denial-is-getting-harder.html

  • Yeah, twenty years too late.

  • Jennifer Hartley, regarding the suicide question, for myself, I want to take myself out before I have to take anyone else out. So when the violence appears, I go. I don’t have a plan, per se. I’m looking for natural plants, hemlock, water chestnuts, but I don’t know what kind of death they produce and how to prepare them. Kathy C keeps mentioning Final Exit, and I might go that route, but plastic bags and suffocation doesn’t appeal. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, hopefully with no mess for anyone else to clean up and without contributing to the profits of big Pharma.

    Is that too much to ask?

    P.S. I keep forgetting this….the REAL Doctor House….you got me hooked on the sock puppets. Love that site.

  • wildwoman wrote: « I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, hopefully with no mess for anyone else to clean up and without contributing to the profits of big Pharma.

    Is that too much to ask?»

    IMO, it is quite a lot to ask. I have a few plans ready since 3-4 years and always at hand. some involve big pharma, others don’t. i beleive in practice, so I regularly spend some meditation time rehearsing my different scenarios. I got less and less “emotional” about this over time and with practice. I don’t think only one plan is enough.

    The part «no mess for anyone else to clean up» is a VERY big part of my relexion too. But things can get so bad that I might not have the possibility to take action and just go with the flow (since my early childhood, I have always been fascinated by the people all falling asleep in snow white).

    one way I can tolerate life those few past years, is by telling myself that I have just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have 3 months to live (or whatever period). then, after that period, I miraculously survive! and after a short break, I start the process over again. This game has brought me to really «clean» my shit, my relations, my soul, my house. This is driving my life and yes, it makes me happy! I think the fact of NTE will never ever sink into the deepest recess of my soul. it is too unfathomable, too big for my intellect. I don’t spend time trying to understand it. I feel. I know. And really, at this point, fuke the scientists who are attaching their fuking GPS to all living animals and installing them on every square inch of the earth. Their time has come and gone.

    Words are becoming more inadequate by the hour.

    here in montreal, there is just the right amount of snow today for humans to feel heartened, oblivious and «happy». the snow is covering the trees that are but corpses. but it is not obvious yet.

  • Everything everyone knows
    Will presently decompose
    Unless some historian
    (A Tralfamadorian?)
    Drops by really soon. So it goes.

  • ‘About the population evolution in Europe, something not that well known (realized it a few years ago), is that in the XVIIth XVIIIth centuries, France had the highest population in Europe by quite far (and in fact was third population worldwide after China and India), but in the XIXth century population growth in France was much lower than in other European countries especially Germany and the UK’ -yt75

    interesting. assuming it’s true, i didn’t know that, and i find the timing intriguing, considering that the french revolution occurred at the end of the 18th century. one of the great effects of the revolution, to my understanding, was a lashing out against the power and wealth of the roman catholic church there (in fact, i just read part of a book on a totally different subject which, in passing, mentioned a great influx of catholic clergy into the usa around that time fleeing ‘persecution’). perhaps in gutting the power of the church, french society was freed from it’s dogmas prohibiting contraception, encouraging unchecked population growth???

    perhaps distantly related, at least in a geographic sense, is what happened in what is now the south of france, formerly known as the langue d’oc, 800 years ago, when the catholic church led by pope innocent iii (just gotta love the orwellian nature of some names) declared a ‘crusade’ (genocide) against the sheeple of that region, who had become too educated and independent to continue submitting to roman catholic rule. in this link below, a brief contrast is discussed outlining the stark differences towards sex and reproduction that existed then between catholic dogmas and the ‘cathars’ who the pope decided needed to be destroyed for their ‘heresy’:

    http://www.cathar.info/

    perhaps playing the blame game at this point is merely an exercise in self gratification, but i still love pointing out the role that dogmas and violent authoritarian institutions like ‘the church’ have played, and continue to play, in creating a world overflowing with clueless dogma addicts who have no idea of what’s about to hit them.

  • ‘contemplating suicide in the future: One question I have is, how do you know when it’s the right time? Also, do you have a chosen method, and the means to do it?’ -jennifer

    if u’ve ever studied something like investing in stocks, u’ll understand that the question of timing, of when to buy and when to sell (unless one has ‘insider’ info) is at best vexing and imprecise. if one does happen to pick the perfect time to get out of the market, it’s sheer luck. the best one can hope to do is closely monitor conditions and get out while the getting out is still good, after a good run up in price, but before a ‘crash’.

    imo pretty much the same strategy applies here with the question of suicide in the face of collapse and the hardships, dangers, and untold sufferings which shall follow.

    i don’t subscribe to the fast collapse theory popular among nbl bloggers. i think collapse will come in waves and will be spread out over decades. it’s impossible to know (as far as i know) at what precise point over this time period will be the perfect time to commit suicide. personally, i look to politics as a bellweather here, because what i expect and fear most is the coming of a huge surge in desperation, crime, and political oppression here in the usa, with it’s legions of insane christian rightwingers. i wouldn’t be surprised if there shall come a brief return, during collapse, of conditions in which liberals, intellectuals, freethinkers, etc. will be harshly persecuted as they have been at various times and in various places throughout history, imprisoned, forced into slave labor, perhaps even exterminated. this is what i hope to avoid. about the time i see such a thing coming to fruition i think will be the time to become surreally serious about committing suicide. wait too long, and one might find oneself trapped in a hellish situation without the ability to choose a most compassionate end.

    as for means, that remains an open question. i wish suicide wasn’t such a taboo subject, so that there could be very open discussion of all the various ways it can be accomplished, all the nuances involved, as well as the formation of support groups to make this final act easier to face and accomplish. from my limited knowledge i currently like the idea of having on hand a lethal supply of some opiate, thus leaving in a state of bliss. (something i’d like to know in this regard is the ‘shelf life’ of various opiates, so that, if say one obtains a lethal dose of heroin, how long can it be held and remain confident of it’s potency… a year, 5, 10, forever?…)

    another potentially appealling possibility might be to simply go on a terminal fast. i know from recent experience that going 36 hours without food is easy… how about 36 days, or whatever it would take to starve to death? would that be easy and relatively painless? would it be possible in a coercive culture averse to suicide??? lots of questions whose answers may only become clear with the passage of time.

    as a final note, u may recall a fairly recent post to this blog from ‘dr. phil’ which opined that nbl was reminiscent of a suicide doom cult. i think much more discussion of suicide, here or perhaps elsewhere, as a response to the ‘doom’ we face, if done with skill, might become quite popular and serve, like nothing else could, to emphasize to curious, intelligent, open minded seekers of knowledge just how desperate our predicament has become. raising awareness. better late than never, huh?

  • Paul Chefurka: Thanks for your elaboration. Yes, that was what I was asking, and I agree with your comments.

  • Talking about population in Europe reminds me of some theories about the population reduction by the plague and the effects it had

    Here is some thinking on the matter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequences_of_the_Black_Death
    “In Western Europe, the sudden shortage of cheap labour provided an incentive for landlords to compete for peasants with wages and freedoms, an innovation that, some argue[weasel words], represents the roots of capitalism, and the resulting social upheaval “caused” the Renaissance, and even the Reformation. In many ways the Black Death and its aftermath improved the situation of surviving peasants, notably by the end of the 15th century. In Western Europe, labourers gained more power and were more in demand because of the shortage of labour. In gaining more power, workers following the Black Death often moved away from annual contracts in favour of taking on successive temporary jobs that offered higher wages.[22] Workers such as servants now had the opportunity to leave their current employment to seek better-paying, more attractive positions in areas previously off limits to them.[22] Another positive aspect of the period was that there was more fertile land available to the population; however, the benefits would not be fully realized until 1470, nearly 120 years later, when overall population levels finally began to rise again. In England, the higher wages for workers combined with sinking prices on grain products led to a problematic economic situation for the gentry. As a result they started to show an increased interest for offices like justice of the peace, sheriff and member of parliament. The gentry took advantage of their new positions and a more systematic corruption than before spread. A result of this was that the gentry as a group became highly disliked by commoners in general.[23]”

    The failure of God, the rulers and the church to stem the tide of the plague (no matter how many Jews and atheists they burned) may have started the move to the enlightenment.

  • I’m looking for a list of the positive feedback loops we’ve tripped. Can anyone point me to where Guy has laid them out?

    Thanks.

  • Interesting… hahaha, funny how info circulates around and around in feedback loops on the internet…

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/12/unforced-variations-dec-2012/comment-page-4/#comment-309663

    And then we get the esteemed Ray Ladbury, who is exceptionally smart, but was saying the very same thing five years ago, hoping the politicians will become virtuous, or that a magic technofix will appear… and meanwhile, things keep on getting worse and worse every day…

  • @ Jennifer Hartley…..and others

    There is nothing light about NTE, and probably the only way it can be heavier, is to throw suicide into the mix. Not a subject that many of us are comfortable to openly engage in, for any number of obvious reasons.

    I do not know why some of us feel this knowledge more intimately than others. Maybe it just triggers all the other grief we’ve either been blessed or burdened with. Whatever the cause, there are most likely a thousand reasons why.

    I believe that while many of us can at times rise to the occasion, at least long enough to appear to be strong and wise, in the face of what we can no longer pretend isn’t happening, but I consider that most of the time, we’re deeply troubled and at a loss as how to decide between the few choices now before us.

    I too once likened myself a Raven in regards to the collapse of industrial civilization; if anyone was going to survive, it was going to be me, and I have completely dedicated my entire life to surviving collapse for over a decade. But in light of NTE, I now must admit, I’m but a sentient tree frog, and will mostly likely be among the first to expire.

    We honestly might be probing the most distressful topic in the history of our species. I believe that for many here, while we have the emotional/psychological/spiritual stamina to stare into the abyss, to a degree where our dominant culture perceives it to be an act of suicide in itself, it doesn’t mean our coping mechanism aren’t any less under assault. This new empiricism is currently laying siege to our identity, as well as, our very reasons to continue living. I can’t imagine that we are not all in some profound way, seriously reconsidering…….everything!

    Yes, many of us, if not everyone, has at one time thought about the meaning of suicide, and while some are apt to seriously contemplate it more than others, IMO, many are still carrying around antiquated ideas and concepts that have not yet been touched or altered by the reality of NTE. It’s just going to take time for this evidence to run its course through our vested interests, and the prospect of suicide is probably the most powerful of these old thoughts that will very soon be cast in a whole new light.

    Some will arrive at the inherent fatalism of NTE sooner than others. Many will seek to counter such despair with another dose of hopium. Some will consciously decide to focus on the love they do have, in spite of it all. Those with children and dependents will simply not have the option of choosing suicide until much later, so self-preservation will naturally keep the darkest of thoughts at bay. But, for those who are not encumbered by any moral responsibility to others, then the direct relationship between NTE and suicide, will be free to flower into whatever sense of liberation we embolden it with.

    I for one, can clearly see death’s door waiting for me. I am neither eager nor afraid to open it, but I know the choice to take my own life, will be the last decision I ever make, and for me, that’s incredibly cathartic, especially when considering NTE.

    The path I now see before me, is figuring how I can best live with this new unprecedented sense of free will. How can I let such neo-self-determinism strip me of all the useless baggage I still habitually carry out of fear and obligation? How can I truly embrace the precious time I have left? Is this not the very next question we ask ourselves, the moment we accept NTE to be a reality?

    In my less than humble opinion, I consider the knowledge that we will eventually take our own lives, to be a prerequisite for truly letting go. Whether we eventually do or not, doesn’t matter. I have no plans. I don’t need one. Any remote mountain top would suffice. I just see no reason to be alive having to live with such inconsolable despair, needless societal pressure and the fear of a painful protracted death, if we don’t have to.

    There is an obvious stigma surrounding suicide. It makes most everyone uncomfortable. I also believe that there is just a certain character trait, or series of life experiences that allows some of us to be able to openly and rationally discuss it more than others.

    I would not say I am suicidal, even though there are many people in my life who would disagree. I just have a heavy heart, always have. I have just been sadly well conditioned to talk about death, especially the death of our planet’s biosphere, which I have been proselytizing for decades.

    There are just certain intrinsic values, one must possess to even care about the natural world. I believe these very same values are also intimately connected to the awareness of our insignificance and mortality. Aside from our acceptance of NTE, just our ability to perceive climate change as being a threat, requires an understanding of causality, which in turns requires a degree of objectivity, and it all just feeds back on itself, in fostering our acceptance of death.

    I have been shouting collapse from my soapbox for over a decade. I have had hundreds of conversations with literally everyone I’ve ever known. Many times I’ve witnessed the dynamics of a conversation completely flip from me initially being perceived as being suicidal, for even addressing the issue, and as the conversation continues, I’m re-casted an Utopian, and the person I’m speaking to gradually corners themselves into the very shoes they thought I was wearing. This has happened so many times, that years ago, it dawned on me, that denial and hope were completely synonymous with each other.

    I am comfortable talking about suicide, simply because I’m well accustomed to our state of hopelessness. I am not so interested in the details of my eventual death, as I am in accepting it’s near term eventuality.

    I am in the process of learning that my moral imperative, was apparently conditional, at least to the prospect that life would once again, eventually rise from our ruins. But without this faith, I am but a castaway from the very élan that once gave my life meaning. My guilt and consciousness has only ever left scares, but in the new empirical light of the truth that I hold above all else, I can’t deny NTE. This means that for me, the endless battles of fighting the good fight, have finally taken their toll.

    I think it is time, to live without remorse…….if I can.

  • Thanks, ulvfugl. That’s what I was looking for.

    @Robin Datta: There’s no need for the “I” to be sloughed away, it was never there to begin with. Tat tvam asi. It’s just a matter of self-remembering.

  • Daniel and all,

    No way will I ever live without remorse! Best I can hope for is that I will eventually forgive myself for my mistakes, but I will always rue them.

    The virgin terry brought up heroin, which is a new thought. It’s got a decent shelf life if stored properly….away from light, dry, vacuum packed would be best. Maybe two years that way. Coke, etc., same thing. Just google it. The DEA museum has a really helpful site that shows you, step by step, how to make it. Isn’t that nice of them?

    I wish, above all, to avoid the Mad Max scenario. If that occurs, I’m out. But I have to say, sick as I am, that I’m absolutely fascinated to be living in this particular time and kind of want to see how it turns out. If I can say, “I was right!” with my dying breath, I win. Right?

  • I’d be interested to know if people agree that the Ocean Dead Zone N20 cycle qualifies as a positive feedback loop along with those others.

    Playing court jester

    Regarding the suicide thing, it’s a big sensitive topic, but if you look at it the way Robin and Paul just indicated, then there is no one to ‘kill’, there is just ‘am-ness’, and it seems regrettable to do violence against the physical body, which is quite miraculous and innocent, and strives hard to heal itself and survive. Not saying it’s ‘wrong’ to end your life, but it’s mostly ego that suffers and letting go of ego can ease that source of pain, without involving physical death.

    badlands mentioned dreading the Spring, again, that seems unnecessary suffering, just do one day at a time, I have no idea if I will survive until the Spring, but if I do, it’ll be nice, even if only because the days will be easier when it is warmer and sunnier, and the birds sing…

  • ulvfugl, that’s exactly correct. In the grip of my Doomer™ angst five or six years ago I was thinking seriously about ending the life of my body, as that seemed to be the only way to stop the suffering. Finding out where suffering comes from and dealing with it at its source proved to be a much better answer in every way.

    As it turned out, the Buddha was right. All suffering springs from attachment. I started there and just kept going. Now the only thing I think about using my razor for is shaving my head…

  • With regard to suicides, perhaps the fastest acting of pharmaceuticals are the tricyclic antidepressants, the TCADs. I have seen patients walk into the emergency department awake, and in a coma five minutes later. Of course many factors are involved, including the dose, the patient’s weight, the presence of food in the stomach, other medications, the actual agent used, etc.

    Slower but surer are the delayed-release calcium channel blockers used in the long-term control of hypertension (high blood pressure). The patients’ blood pressure slowly declines and the heart gradually slows as they circle the drain and go into a coma.

    Theophylline, once extensively used to treat asthma, is also quite toxic, causing fatal disturbances of cardiac rhythm. But it produces agitation, and has a tendency to nausea and vomiting. The purple foxglove and the common foxglove both contain digoxin in addition to other cardiotoxic compounds. However they also have substantial unpleasant side effects.

    And as Paul Stamets has said, all mushrooms are edible, some only once”.

  • all mushrooms are edible, some only once

    Hahahahahaha…

    I was just thinking, about the incredibly toxic chemicals that the witches, sorcerers, shamans, etc, have had in their brews for millennia, and how they discovered those if the first instance, and had the thought, perhaps someone was suicidal, you know, from tragedy or pain, and said ‘right, I’ve had enough’ and took the wolf’s bane, or whatever, and instead of being dead, found themselves tripped out of their skull flying around the universe for a couple of days, and then back here, a changed person… I mean, you’d have to be completely effing kamikaze to take deadly nightshade mixed with foxglove and toad skin and viper venom and whatnot that are in some of the old witchcraft recipes for ‘flying’…

    http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/history.htm

    Seriously though, there can’t be many things worse than failed suicide, where you are still alive but severely damaged yourself. Not a good idea at all.

  • Flying ointments, that was the term I was searching for…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_ointment

  • There was that other feedback loop of the high altitude Greenland ice, and probably other high altitude ice, which, as it melts, the surface becomes lower, therefore surface is in warmer air, so it melts faster.

    Here, where I live, I think it’s one degree C. pre 100 feet height above sea level, average over the year, for the growing season, that’s because of the air density mostly, I believe. Not certain if that applies worldwide.

  • Climate change feedback

    “Warming the heart” seems a bit passé: more in vogue could be “roast the _____”.

  • Seems like I am a late arrival to the doomer gang, eh?
    It is nice to find a place where others believe like I do, about the feeling of impending doom for the environment and therefore, for ourselves.
    I guess the hardest part is coming to the realization that this totally affects me, personally. I am not somehow magically outside it all and my ability to survive collapse is dubious at best. It seems like reading the great american novel, but I am one of the characters in the book, not some outside reader.

  • Another interesting comment from Superman1 on RealClimate.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/12/unforced-variations-dec-2012/comment-page-4/#comment-309682

    So, as I understand it, the mainstream modelers have got a figure of 4 deg. C possible around 2050 – ish, as a sort of worst case, if emissions continue, business as usual.

    But, as it seems to me, all the estimated projections from the official sources over the last twenty years or so, seem to have continually under-estimated the rate of change, I’m not very confident in the ‘4 deg in 35 years -ish’ thing, myself.

    Nor am I very confident that we can stop the BAU trajectory, in the light of USA and China and Russian, etc, policies, and Doha.

    What if coal burning, oil burning, forest clearance, etc, increases ? Worse than BAU ? What if the feedbacks kick in much worse than anyone expects ?

    Poor old Superman1 is a voice in the wilderness, it’s a hell if a big gap, between having an idea that might work, to get anybody among the 7 – soon to be 9 – billion to cooperate and put it into effect….

    “everybody pitches in” ? When did that ever happen ? The world is fragmented into warring factions, and as things get more desperate, do they somehow become reconciled ? Or do they fight more viciously for survival at the expense of others ?

    Doha showed that USA and other powers are quite happy to write off whole countries. Does anyone seriously expect India and Pakistan to become more cooperative when the vanishing Himalayan glaciers and monsoon mean the great rivers fail, or else only appear as catastrophic spasmodic flood events between catastrophic droughts ?

    Okay, I’m being negative…. Let’s ‘hope’. Politicians will stop telling lies. Somebody will find a magic techno-fix.

    Some people expect 4 deg C in five years, not 35 or 45 years. That was the sort of error that was made by the European Space Agency, modeling the loss of Arctic ice.

    Seems to me a lot like playing Russian roulette.


  • michele/montreal Says:
    December 17th, 2012 at 1:25 pm
    the sky is heavy and gray
    but i hear them all the time
    to see is another fray
    but here they are all aligned
    http://planefinder.net/

    Such wondrous technical flash
    Supported by mountains of cash:
    On destruction’s eve
    It’s still hard to believe
    The whole thing could ever crash.

  • Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

    The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

    In an exclusive interview with the Independent, Dr Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he had never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

    “Earlier, we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1000m in diameter. It’s amazing,” Semiletov said. “I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area, we found more than 100 but, over a wider area, there should be thousands.”
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10773020

    Add that to the loss of sea ice and it seems clear that things are progressing more like we have gone over a cliff than down a nice slope.

  • On Vesuvius
    The 79 AD eruption was preceded by a powerful earthquake seventeen years beforehand on February 5, AD 62, which caused widespread destruction around the Bay of Naples, and particularly to Pompeii.[33] Some of the damage had still not been repaired when the volcano erupted.[34] The deaths of 600 sheep from “tainted air” in the vicinity of Pompeii indicates that the earthquake of 62 may have been related to new activity by Vesuvius[35]

    The Romans grew accustomed to minor earth tremors in the region; the writer Pliny the Younger even wrote that they “were not particularly alarming because they are frequent in Campania”. Small earthquakes started taking place on August 20, 79[34] becoming more frequent over the next four days, but the warnings were not recognised.[36] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Vesuvius#Casualties_from_the_eruption

    The ground has rumbled before
    Its getting to be a bore
    Destruction – not here
    Nothing to fear
    Oops do I hear a loud roar.

  • Wouldn’t it be super keen
    If the future had a routine
    To finish our scene
    In a way that’s serene
    Like where Sol went in “Soylent Green?”


  • Kathy C Says:

    The ground has rumbled before
    Its getting to be a bore
    Destruction – not here
    Nothing to fear
    Oops do I hear a loud roar.

    Another event to deplore:
    See the small bloodied clothes that they wore;
    And we’re going to see more?
    Is that what’s in store?
    Oh well, we’ve been here before.

  • .
    I’m not the front man, the head
    Of our jamming on music of dread;
    I’m am a sideman whose style
    Is, once in a while,
    To riff on on what somebody said.

  • So much sad talk of suicide. I wish some of you would take a leaf out of ulvfugl’s Welsh compatriot’s book in this matter.

    If any of you ever did decide enough was enough, you would have arrived at the most empowering decision you could ever make. Couldn’t you find something useful to achieve by your death rather than going out with a whimper at home alone?

  • Has anyone wondered what the prospects (and degree) are for a recovery of life on the earth after the carbon finally gets out of the atmosphere and the oceans recover(??). I mean, even if basic life was able to evolve again, could there ever be intelligent beings capable of technology or such (of course, we know that can be a curse)? We have not only harmed the ‘software’ of the planet like forests and so forth but also the ‘hardware’ and geology (the minerals and ore deposits, fossil fuels, soil sediments). Can these ever be replaced since they only came about from the formation of the earth itself? I suppose that massive volcano eruptions could make new mountains and redistribute sediments for soils, but how much of what we have destroyed was a ‘one stop shop’ from the earth’s original formation? I am not versed enough in this area to know the answer.

  • Bailey, I can’t claim to be well versed in planet science either, but from what little I have studied, intuitively, it seems to me the earth will recover.

    The building blocks for life completely saturate this planet. And, the planet has been much, much hotter in the past, including at one point entirely molten. Of course, things were very different at the birth of our solar system than they are now, but I see no reason that if life arose from those harsh conditions (admittedly it took a billion years or so), that it won’t do it again.

    I know that some here think we are headed toward Venus 2.0. Personally, I don’t believe that will happen, at least not permanently. Our distance from the Sun is such that the amount of energy coming into the system isn’t sufficient to override the amount of energy lost to space over the long run. It will almost certainly get too hot for any advanced lifeforms for the foreseeable future. But, with time, as the carbon begins to work itself back out of the atmosphere, enough energy will radiate back to space that the planet will slowly cool and return to a temperature range that is more hospitable to complex lifeforms.

    One of the things about making predictions such as these: none of us will be around to find out if I’m right. :-)

  • Thanks Dr. See, I was planning on reincarnating into a suitable creature ASAP and was wanting to know how long I needed to remain in stasis :)

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