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

  • @ some

    Maybe for some, a quick refresher is needed to remind you of who’s blog you’re posting on. This is the blog of someone who has stated, as he continually states, that he believes all of life on earth, will most likely be extinct well before mid century. If this is something you don’t agree with, then this raises the question of why you are spending time here? Because it makes zero sense as to why anyone would take issue with others conversation about making sane, rational decisions in regards to taking our own life when the time comes, in lieu of either being killed or starving to death. Sorry if this makes you sad. But personally, I find NTE to be infinitely more troubling……..don’t you?


  • Bailey Says: …could there ever be intelligent beings capable of technology…?

    ==

    “With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only.”

    — Sir Fred Hoyle, “Of Men and Galaxies”

    Look on our works, and despair!
    The resources are no more there;
    To support such advance,
    There is only one chance:
    This is a one-shot affair.

  • The not-so-slow creep of martial law strikes about 15 miles from my home . . .
    (FWIW: the city is 98% white.)

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/crime/paragould-arkansas-police-check-everyones-id-2013

    Paragould, Arkansas has only 25,000 people, but is one of the most dangerous towns in America.

    According to statistics from city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating that is more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults are also above the national average.

    At a town hall meeting, last Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send police in SWAT gear and carrying AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013, reports the Paragould Daily Press.

    Chief Stovall told the Paragould Daily Press: “This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this. It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”

    “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID. To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason.”

    “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

    Mayor Gaskill added: “They may not be doing anything but walking their dog, but they’re going to have to prove it.”

    Chief Stovall explained how martial law will work under his Street Crimes Unit: “We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

  • @ BtD

    Absolutely wonderful stuff. While I don’t comment on them, I do read them all…….please keep it up. I love it!!!

  • @ TVT

    You stated:

    “……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….”

    Well said, I applaud your honesty and courage in being able to take NTE by the horns and deduce it down to its core consequences.

    Acceptance of NTE, is acceptance of our near term death. That death will come in one of five ways: Natural causes, accident, predation, starvation and suicide. If we’re perhaps in our 70’s then there is still a chance we’ll die of natural causes. Death by accident is statistically irrelevant. That leaves the last three, and I would just love to hear from anyone, as to why they think predation or starvation in the face of NTE is the wiser choice.

    BTW, I second your suggestion.

  • Daniel, I guess it depends on what you define as “accidental” or “predation”, but I think in the near term, war is likely to kill many, many people. Probably more than any other cause of early death. One well-placed nuclear bomb can wipe out millions in an instant, as we’ve seen before. Disease, also, is very likely to wipe out millions in a short period of time.

    I know that wasn’t your point, but IMO, war and disease can’t be left out as significant causes of death when considering humanity’s future.

    To your point, however, suicide is certainly a valid option for some and may become more so as time goes on. However, for myself, suicide has never been something that I’ve ever been able to consider for more than an academic exercise.

    For the same reason that I wish I didn’t have to sleep, I never want to miss anything. For me there is always something new and exciting to discover. Even if it’s not good, I still feel compelled not to miss anything. I recognize that this is coming from the perspective of someone who has always had a relatively comfortable need-free life. My view certainly may change as my own circumstances change to something less desirable.

  • @ TRDH

    Good points. I would put war under predation and disease……natural causes? But then again, if the expansion of vectors is a result of AGW, then I would suppose that would be classified as a massively indirect form of passive suicide?

    Anyway, I don’t think anyone here, who is openly talking about suicide in context to NTE, is actually suicidal. I believe we all love this life and want to be around for as long as this life is worth living. The point is, we just learned only about seven months ago, that that might not be all that long!

  • @ Daniel

    Thank you very much. You are an inspiration.

  • Daniel, you know I appreciate your words, all of them.

    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?

    I think all the time about the precious time we have left. It makes every day simultaneously blindingly bright and still deeply painful. My priorities have been reordered. All I care about is giving and receiving love, in every sense that that can be construed. Baggage is falling away.

    There may come a time when my child has died and I haven’t yet, and so I don’t feel immune to this consideration of suicide. Of course there are also parents who commit suicide while their children are alive, but I can’t really see myself doing that; nevertheless, I’ve attempted suicide before, which is the strongest predictor for completed suicide, so who knows.

    I don’t think anyone here, who is openly talking about suicide in context to NTE, is actually suicidal.

    Hard to know. And I suspect there are quiet ones who are reading, who may well be actively suicidal. It fills me with compassion. I know how it feels. Torturous. I’m wishing them relief and offering a squeeze of the hand, virtual environment notwithstanding.

  • I find NTE to be infinitely more troubling……..don’t you?

    No.

  • My parents both attended Middlebury College back in the 1930s. They discussed things like we discuss even back then. So I was indoctrinated at an early age and have been troubled about running out of stuff all my life. Fuel and food nutrients were the main items. Farmers buy a lot of both. People think fertilizer increases plant growth. It only fills in the void caused by flushing the nutrients, never to be seen again. We have a steady source of energy from the sun that is dependable but there is no new source of food nutrients. They should have been recycled. Man is the only species that doesn’t do that. One more of our failures. And, we are the only species that caused a mass extinction by burning fuel. Any second grader can figure these things out. We lied about it.

  • We are programmed to try stay alive
    We are programmed to pass on our genes

    Death means we can’t accomplish the first – many people find that program waning if their life is very painful, or they know they are near death from age or disease.

    Extinction means the end of passing on our genes. Some already are finding that program waning.

    Extinction means more than that to most people. It is the unthinkable because we know we are mortal but have never faced species mortality (despite the fact that we have brought so many other species to their extinction early). Among the many ways we deal with that is to think that our genes live on, our books and music live on, our memory will live on, etc. Talking about extinction removes even that hedge against meaninglessness.

    All the more reason to do as Jennifer and others have suggested. Make today count, make today good for yourself and someone else.

  • And even if one is scientific about it, there is the Heat death of the universe

    Either way, religion or science, it is pretty much the same conclusion.

  • The reason why superstition masquerading as religion offers so little help in dealing with NTE is because it posits two destinations where one will stay eternally: he/eaven/ll. But everything in the realm of time & space is transient: that is reflected in the First Feature of Existence: “All composite things are transient”.

  • People think fertilizer increases plant growth. It only fills in the void caused by flushing the nutrients, never to be seen again. We have a steady source of energy from the sun that is dependable but there is no new source of food nutrients. They should have been recycled. Man is the only species that doesn’t do that. One more of our failures.

    Terra Preta.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060301090431.htm

  • Most Americans probably don’t realized how important the Mississippi still is to transport. Last year with the flooding the worry was that the Mississippi might take a new route to the Gulf, which would divert it from industries along its lower banks and leave the port in LA unusable.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2011/05/16/is-this-the-year-the-atchafalaya-river-captures-the-mississippi/

  • This year it is becoming so low that major work is having to be done to keep it navigable and disputes with the Corp about releases of water from the Missouri River are heating up

    “At the New Madrid gauge in New Madrid, Mo., the Mississippi reached a record high of 48.35 feet on May 6, 2011. Just 15 months later, on Aug. 30, 2012, the gauge reading dropped to a record low of minus 5.32 feet. (River gauges are calibrated to a particular elevation, known as a “zero datum,” which means that they don’t always equal the depth of water in the channel. So in this case, the record low was 5.32 feet below the zero-datum elevation at New Madrid.)
    The New Madrid gauge is downstream from where the Ohio River empties into the Mississippi, and it is currently running close to 14 feet, which is not problematic for shipping.

    In other parts of the river, though, water levels are already low enough that shippers have had to cut back on the number of barges that they are running, as well as the amount of goods on each barge. The low flows north of the intersection of the Ohio River and the Mississippi also have the potential to stymie river borne commerce altogether.

    In particular, the approximately 180-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Cairo, Ill., and St. Louis is of the most concern for low-water levels, according to Victor Murphy, climate services program manager for the National Weather Service’s Southern Region in Dallas. The low water in the area is in stark contrast to 2011, when the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to blow up a levee near Cairo, flooding farmland, in order to save the town from devastating flooding.

    One especially treacherous low-water section of the Mississippi is currently located near the town of Thebes, Mo., where submerged rocks, known as “pinnacles,” jab toward the surface of the river, threatening to ground passing vessels.”

    Rest at http://www.climatecentral.org/news/one-year-after-flood-drought-threatens-mississippi-river-commerce-15369

    Welcome to the new normal, ie nothing will be NORMAL ever again except for chaos. :(

  • That eschatology thing…

    …They believe that God has returned to earth as a woman, “born to an ordinary family in the Northern part of China”…to guide mankind for the third and last time…the first and second times of active guidance of mankind were as Jehovah of the Old Testament and as Jesus in the New Testament…The group teaches that a woman self-styled “Lightning Deng”…is the second Christ. Her most widely distributed book, Lightning from the Orient…is the Word of God. The book claimed the first coming of Christ was to redeem humanity, while the second is to conquer men’s hearts and defeat Satan. Those who do not accept her words would die a terrible death…..one belief expressed in Eastern Lightning’s literature is that the world will end on December 21, 2012….

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

  • Guy, you have competition. Less content, different style
    I present Rev. Billy from the Church of the Stop Shopping and famous for (in select circles) his movie “What would Jesus Buy”
    Reverend Billy’s Freakstorm: The End Of The World

  • Wheat crop nearing dire straits (12/1/2012) By Andy Vance
    Almost any way you slice it, the U.S. wheat crop is in sad shape. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged the crop as the poorest at this stage in development since the agency started tracking crop condition ratings 25 years ago.
    http://www.feedstuffsfoodlink.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=news&mod=News&mid=9A02E3B96F2A415ABC72CB5F516B4C10&tier=3&nid=74D35097A2A04DE9BAE874A451686E32

  • Here in the northeast, we had better corn yields than the corn belt had. However, 90% of apples were lost and the hay crop was low in protein and fiber digestibility. We can solve this by feeding more soy which didn’t grow so well either. These additional costs will be passed on to the consumer. If we don’t make a profit, we quit (or they shut us down). No bailouts here.

  • The same report that Kathy posted, in the Independent :

    However, with the melting of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, the huge stores of methane that have been locked away underground for many thousands of years might be released over a relatively short period of time, Dr Shakhova said.

    “I am concerned about this process, I am really concerned. But no-one can tell the timescale of catastrophic releases. There is a probability of future massive releases might occur within the decadal scale, but to be more accurate about how high that probability is, we just don’t know,” Dr Shakova said.

    “Methane released from the Arctic shelf deposits contributes to global increase and the best evidence for that is the higher concentration of atmospheric methane above the Arctic Ocean,” she said.

    “The concentration of atmospheric methane increased unto three times in the past two centuries from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7ppm, and in the Arctic to 1.9ppm. That’s a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet,” she added.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html

  • Daniel

    I read NBL primarily because I share many of Guy’s beliefs and because I find NBL educational. I also find NBL entertaining, although I expect my being entertained will offend some.

    I wasn’t aware belief in NTE extinction was a pre-requisite of reading NBL.

    Why do you read NBL?

    I find NTE to be infinitely more troubling……..don’t you?

    Not in the slightest. I don’t spend time worrying over something I can’t change. I must admit I have problems understanding why NTE extinction is troubling as opposed to one’s own inevitable death. I believe that humanity doesn’t deserve to survive and the earth is better off without us. This DOES NOT mean I don’t want to live or that I don’t want to enjoy life.

    I would just love to hear from anyone, as to why they think predation or starvation in the face of NTE is the wiser choice.

    Then you shall. From my point of view predation is better than starvation or suicide because I want to live and that way I might get to go on living longer. I think you will find this is common amongst most living things outside of NBL. If you don’t want to live at the expense of others then why are you still alive? All of us are predators. Because of your life billions of other living creatures have died, including thousands (at least) of vertebrates. Or is only human life important to you, in which case what business have you reading NBL when you don’t share the belief of most here in the importance of all life forms?

  • It’s like the earth is going to vomit. I would too if I had to breath all that exhaust. Where’s the empathy for Mother Earth?

  • Being one who has had much life long struggle with existential angst, meaning, and all that jazz (especially with the intuitive knowledge of human state), I find the subject matter here almost a form of ‘closure’ to the way I feel.

    Re suicide: I agree that there are probably not many here that would even entertain such for the reasons most of society does; Trying to get attention, breaking up with the girlfriend yada yada. Personally, I entertain the thought (and means) for academic reasons because I feel that regardless of the cause, there are times when/if the quality of life dictates it, that it is a reasonable thing (marine mammals beach themselves, other species starve themselves etc). Why not have a serious discussion about this among folks who would never consider it unless it was the only humane course of action?

    Personally, I find solace here among like minded folks in regard to the human condition and NTE. As a species, we needed to have 64 bit operating systems in light of the problems we have created, but are still more primitive than MS DOS in regards to emotions and wisdom. I would like to see a discussion group (yahoo or otherwise) come forth from us doomers and NTEers.

  • Guy,

    In your “twin sides of the fossil fuel coin” presentation, I’m curious as to why you limited your ending advice to the audience regarding action to planting a garden. Was it just a time-constraint issue, or do you think that additional options, such as becoming seriously involved in reforestation efforts or “rewilding” projects is no longer worth people’s time or efforts at this point.

  • Arthur Johnson, I was simply out of time. As I’ve said and written many times, there are multiple routes to resistance. But that’s another hour of presentation time.

  • The way it’s the sixties is strange:
    We think things will soon rearrange;
    Then the future seemed fun
    And this time there’s none,
    But both represent cusps of change.

  • People with ‘existential angst, meaning, and all that jazz’, Bailey’s line, ;-). might find this video interesting, people with cancer, Parkinson’s, Terrence McKenna’s phrase, ‘you might die of astonishment’, etc…

  • @ Yorchichan

    The fact that you don’t find NTE of all of life on earth to be disturbing “in the slightest”.

    You got me. I haven’t anything to say to that.

  • Hedges pointing out that even the BANKS get it:

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/stand_still_for_the_apocalypse_20121126/

    We also know that the insurance industry sees what’s coming, the military has warnings out about it and others seem to come around to what’s happening every week or so. Still, business as usual. Amazing how sluggish we are to react to going over the falls – it’s like we’re reading the paper (about what’s to come) while lying on our back on an inner tube picking up speed but enjoying the ride.

  • I caught Guy’s comment to Club Orlov. Even Dmitry thinks growth of population and industry are just great. Most commenters, too.

    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/

  • OzMan, sorry I just saw your questions. I came across a rather astounding draft report from the EPA, specifically about ozone causing “loss of biomass” so I have been immersed in that for several days (linked is here: https://witsendnj.blogspot.ca/2012/12/no-one-knows-where-this-will-lead_19.html)

    Anyway:

    1. yes it’s more than likely that the Southern Hemisphere has less ozone, because there is much more ocean and less land where people are burning fuel and emitting precursors. On the other hand, there are plenty of reports of forest dieback in Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America (see above link for research on that).

    2. As to your holly, there are two aspects to consider. One is that just because you don’t see visible damage doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring. In fact it’s well documented that C allocation to roots is reduced when leaves absorb ozone, because the damage to foliage has to be repaired and over time it weakens the plant. The other consideration is that probably the most important effect of ozone is that it compromised the natural immunity that vegetation has from insects, disease and fungus. Those pathogens are part of the ecosystem and they exist to break down dying plants and return nutrients to the soil. But when plants are suffering from absorbing pollution, those pathogens go wild. It’s much like AIDS, where one victim may die because they happen to contract pneumonia, and another lives longer because they are lucky and don’t come into contact with a germ. So some trees fare better than others, depending on what might happen to be around to prey on them.

    Personally, I think they’re all doomed, it’s just a question of time.

    3. Altitude certainly makes a difference. Ozone levels are variable depending on meteorological conditions too. Fog and clouds can be very acidic from SOx and so sometimes trees that live in foggy conditions – like the Great Smoky Mountains of the US – suffer far more damage than trees at lower altitudes that aren’t foggy.

    Hope that “helps”, heh.

  • Dmitri Orlov does appear to have recently started smoking hopium.

  • I’ve posted a new essay, courtesy of Greg Robie. It’s here.

  • Here’s a working link to Gail’s excellent post on her “Wit’s End’ blog:

    No One Knows Where This Will Lead

  • Arthur, I was told on another blog that Dmitry got a new boat because his family size had increased. I checked out the post and while he doesn’t say he and his wife had a baby he doesn’t say what caused the family size to increase. Assuming it was a baby, well parents of young children look harder for any piece of hope they can find. Jennifer has eloquently spoken to the difficulties of facing NTE when you have a young child.

    No, we haven’t given up on living aboard, but we did buy a bigger boat, a Pearson 365. The new boat’s name is Prince Kropotkin. Our family has grown and Hogfish is simply too small for us. And so, Hogfish is going to some other yet-to-be-identified happy Hogfish owner.
    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2012/11/sv-hogfish-is-for-sale.html#more

    Too bad that hoping isn’t magic eh? For my part I prefer reality.

    Suggested viewing for end times
    Runaway Train “Two escaped convicts and a female railway worker find themselves trapped on a train with no brakes and nobody driving.”

  • Daniel

    You got me. I haven’t anything to say to that.

    I notice you don’t have anything to say about your hypocrisy, why you value human life so much more than non-human life or choosing to fight for survival rather than laying down to die either.

  • @ Yochichan

    I see no point in arguing against your false assumptions and accusations. Take care….

  • posted by an anonymous commenter in response to a story at Desdemona Despair. It’s a slightly modified version of the original article about polar bears.

    This is why I think suicide may become a reasonable option:

    On January 24, 2024, in the sweltering heat of an American spring, wildlife biologist Steve Amtop rode in a helicopter flying low over the parched ground. Using an infrared heat detector, he hoped to find some human survivors in abandoned houses. When the gun recorded a hit, Amtop circled around for a closer look. What confronted him was something he had never seen in the past 20 years of research. Outside a wrecked house, a smear of bright-red blood stretched away for more than 200 feet. At the end of a long drag trail through dried weeds lay the still-warm body of a human female. The air temperature was over a 110 degrees above; the woman could not have been dead for more than 12 hours.

    Humans do not have natural enemies except each other. A male human can weigh over 250 pounds or more. They are the unchallenged master predators in every environment on Earth. A full-grown human slaughtered in her home for food is considered far outside the ordinary.

    Amtop and his team returned by on foot. The dead female had multiple wounds to her neck and head, and the ground was stained by heavy arterial bleeding. Her skull had been pierced by a long knife that slammed into her brain. Her hindquarter, belly, and mammaries were partially eaten. Long strips of meat were removed from her back and legs.

    Inside the wrecked home, Amtop found two tiny children, each weighing less than five pounds from malnutrition. Both were dead, suffocated by the collapsed walls of the ruined house. A single set of footprints in the dust led directly to the house. The footprints followed the typical hunting pattern — the stalker meandered around in a wide arc, then beelined for the spot where the mother and children were hiding. There was only one explanation for this carnage: the mother and kids had been killed by another human.

    Cannibalism is not normal human behavior. Over the course of that single season, Amtop witnessed two additional instances of human cannibalism with many more unconfirmed reports coming in from around the once prosperous nation. Having never seen anything like this, he was shocked to stumble across three separate incidents in one year. But as he spoke to colleagues, he found that cannibalism was becoming more common among the human survivors in North America. In the ruins of New York City alone, 450 miles to the north, thirty three small children had been found dead inside their homes. Most had been eaten. Although humans often kill each other, these were the first recorded instances in which the killing took place for food. Starvation was the reason.

    The past decade has been particularly difficult for human survivors. The summers of 2018, 2019, and 2020 saw a sharp increase in massive levels of drought, with some areas being hit with significant flooding. Between 2015 and 2020, scientists estimated that the local human population had plummeted from hundreds of millions in North America to less then 300,000. Around the nation, the pattern was consistent, with huge levels of die-off and depopulation.

    Scientists were building the case that human survival was now the last “event” in a long series of calamities directly attributable to global warming and the complete failure of the world governments to address this issue when there was still time.

    Amtop, who had written many of the papers detailing the precipitous decline, was beginning to understand the horrifying carnage; humans were turning to cannibalism because they were literally starving to death. The environment had been completely denuded and stripped of all life, there was nothing else left to eat.

  • Gail, that’s an interesting story. Here’s a poem I wrote last year:

    We had our chance, you know
    We knew it was coming
    We knew how to make it stop
    We knew what we were doing was wrong
    We knew what we had to do to get it right

    But that was far in the future
    It wasn’t all that bad right now
    We can still feed all those animals
    And they’ll feed us in turn
    Until they won’t

    It was a disaster, a freak of nature
    A once-in-a-hundred-year winter
    No one could have predicted it
    And the world watched on TV
    Mouths agape at the horror

    Until another disaster, and another
    Captured the attention of those watchers
    And they sent money to those
    Whose religion they shared
    And not to those that didn’t believe

    Then the gasoline stopped coming
    And the reporters left
    And spring brought more death
    The animals had no offspring
    And the children starved

    No females had any milk
    No grass grew in any field
    No elders lived to tell us how
    This happened, or
    What we should do now

    So we walked away
    The few of us who were left
    We took the last few animals
    And plucked grass for them
    And for us to eat

    Then we knew what we did wrong
    Then we knew what we had to do right
    We knew how many babies
    Could survive on this land
    And how many we had to kill

  • Thank you for continuing to post, Guy. Your posts keep me from going crazy, and they help me enjoy the life that remains for me before I run out of the medications that keep me alive, the financial system collapses, food stops being delivered, the nuclear reactors melt down, and most species go extinct. I was comforted to read of your pattern for dealing with despair–alternating the mud hut and the road. I have fallen into the pattern of withdrawing to my garden and the nearby forest to mourn the death of the planet, and then emerging to enjoy the life I have with my friends and family.

  • I stumbled upon peak oil in 2005 and have struggled ever since with the implications which have only gotten more dire. Guy M and to a lesser degree, Nicole Foss paint the picture most starkly. We are going to die, now we expect to die sooner, as a species, a lot sooner. Of course we all harbour the non-rational delight that we will be among the lucky ones who escape the worst. I for example don’t live in the Niger Delta.

    I have read much of this thread and the prior one too. Why bother knowing about permaculture or farming organically (as I do) when it’s pointless as a means to avoid calamity?

    For me that’s the same as asking why bother living (whatever rich and fulfilling life one chooses) if you know you are going to die? So yes we all know we are going to die, it’s just a long way still in the future we think, but we don’t and can’t know for sure; it could be today by some car accident. I have a 90 yr old friend who still looks for ways to live a good life and contribute to a peaceable world, he’s not waiting around to die. That, my friends is the only answer I can think of to the abject despair written by people here that Guy is too abysmal and his motives are too obscure. Even if we know we are going to die, we can still live a life worth living while we are here. IF that is permaculture farming so be it, for that is a noble goal, it has an ethical morality behind it. If that defined life is riotous debauchery aka large carbon bootprint and energy profligacy, it is not ethical or moral and there are no likely personal consequences for that immorality. Except one’s conscience. And even then we can not listen.

  • Just a very general reflection on the power of your words.

  • Here’s one of the all time great jesters! He knew what was goin’ on!

  • I don’t think you are being a court jester of psychologist, I think you are being a dangerous idiot. And that is my most charitable view of your actions.

    There are few people more dangerous than those convinced they got nothing to lose. You are convincing a lot of people of that.

    Your doomsday talks are giving bad people and excuse to be as wicked and as psychopathic as possible. The 1% are people who didn’t care much for the world and society to begin with and now that they know it will be all gone in 20 years they will make sure they spend this last 20 years living as kings, no matter the cost to the other 99%. You are enabling psychopaths, I hope you are proud of this.

    Consider this: What do you plan to do in the last 20 years we all have to live ? Live well ? That is what the nicer of us will try to do. But that is not the only option. Other people might go the “Breaking Bad” route and decide to get very rich, very fast by any means necessary, to enjoy the last 20 years of humanity “in style”. No matter who or what gets hurt in the process.

    Then there is the 3rd group. The group who no matter how well they are, they still need for their enemies to be suffering. If a person like that knows it has only 20 years to “get even” to what lengths will he/she go ? To what length will a country go ? Wont Pakistan’s fanatics think of going “in a blaze” and taking India with them, since they are all dead in 2 decades anyway ? Nuclear standoff ? Meaningless if we are all dead in 2 decades.

    Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, which I’m not entirely sure is not your goal, though your motivation is still fuzzy to me. Perhaps despair has made you lose it and in that note I post this. STFU.

    People devoid of hope aren’t visionaries they are dangerous. And so are you. If we only have 20 years, let’s not make them hell on earth. Your words have the power to make humanity as we know end even before your predicted 20 years doomsday. And make every single year leading to that doomsday a very painful experience to most of us.

  • @ lawnorder

    Oooh, a concern troll. We havn’t had one of those for a while.

    Delightful that you think the 1% – and everyone else on the planet, hahaha- will be paying close attention to Dr. McPherson.

    I would certainly hope and wish it were true, unfortunately nobody takes any notice, other than a few thousand of the 7 billion…

    What absurd nonsense. Best crawl back under your bridge, eh.

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