Memento Mori

by Brutus, who writes at The Spiral Staircase, where he specializes in reviews, armchair social criticism, diatribes, rants, and jeremiads. This essay is cross-posted here.

Prior to the 20th century, the specter of early death was never far from people’s minds. Accordingly, death was integrated into life, meaning that as a normal fact of life, everyday knowledge of death made life precious. Average life expectancy in the mid-40s back then masks the reality that people, if they survived childhood, did in fact get old. What lowered the average was infant and child mortality. Cemeteries with graves preserved from that era demonstrate this pretty clearly. When early mortality rates began dropping due to a variety of factors, including improved diet, hygiene, and medicine, it may well be that omnipresent awareness of early death receded while a sense of stalking death remained. Today’s child mortality rates vary widely across the globe, with many African and Southeast Asian countries still reporting rates well above 100.

As early mortality rates declined, so, too, have fertility rates. Factors balancing these two trends are too complex to sort and summarize succinctly, but it’s curious to observe that as GDP per capita rises, wealthy populations tend to fall below the minimum replacement rate of 2.33 children per woman. The cluster of poor countries along the vertical axis of the graph below suggests that some peoples are still over(re)producing, perhaps in part because a high rate of early mortality requires more births to raise a child to reproductive age successfully.

This excess of reproduction is reflected in human history prior to the 20th century and throughout biology, where many species, especially insects, have very large broods. Even small mammals reproduce in litters. But survival is exceedingly difficult, as the young are often killed and/or eaten by their own parents and siblings. Calls to mind Tennyson’s famous lines from his poem In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849):

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law?
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed?

There is ample reason to remain mindful of death, despite its being shoved to the margins of awareness in the modern world. It may also be understandable why we would rather not acknowledge death, considering our forgotten history with early mortality and the hideousness of so many 20th-century wars and genocides. The biggest reason to be mindful, however, is simply that we are and always have been, like the rest of nature, in an ongoing, survival-of-the-fittest struggle, though survival pressure is also shoved to the margins of awareness.

An impressive article by Ross McCluney entitled “Intentional Ignorance” at his blog The Future of Humanity correlates population demographics with resource availability and provides this familiar graphic of world population extending back 12,000 years:

World Population Curve

It should be obvious that exponential curves don’t lead to infinity but have hard ceilings, but we ignore that inconvenient truth. When world population falls back down the other side if the the curve, as it inevitably must, the population spike might be better described as a death spike (referred to elsewhere on The Spiral Staircase as a megadeath pulse). Popular culture has made this a big joke (see here as well):

Dr. McCluney’s headings are reproduced here to show the comprehensiveness of his survey:

1. Introduction and Background
2. System Simulations
3. Reading the Records
4. Peak Oil, Peak Lithium, Peak Everything
5. Species Dieoff — Is that our fate?
6. Are We Smart Enough?
7. Political Failures
8. Are We Intelligent Enough Politically?
9. What’s a Person to Do?
10. PostScript

Although Section 5 acknowledges the possibility of human (and other) extinction, which is inevitable over evolutionary time anyway, the text doesn’t actually discuss or project what might happen with much clarity. For instance, he never uses the phrases mass extinction or extinction event so remains open-ended about our collective fate, though not thoughtlessly optimistic.

Others have read the same writings on the wall and come to the worst possible conclusion: near-term human extinction. See, for example, here, here, here, here, and here. (If I tend to cite the same websites again and again, it’s partly due to my limited intake of mainstream media — by choice — and my assessment that only a few individuals, certainly not governments or corporate entities, are capable of and willing to tell the truth, awful as it may be. The conspiracy of silence is actually pretty bizarre.) For these truth-tellers, near-term human extinction isn’t merely a scenario, it’s a surety on par with death and taxes. But the death contemplated here isn’t the final resting place or other euphemistic mythology we all know will be our individual fates. Rather, it’s the extinction of homo sapiens sapiens sooner rather than later, and with it most of the rest of the biosphere. Quite a different matter. That’s the meaning of specter, by the way:

noun — 1. a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition; 2. some object or source of terror or dread

If the mounting evidence of this eventuality, delayed only slightly (perhaps a few decades, but who really knows? — by definition we won’t be around to witness it), hasn’t yet gotten through to you, I accuse you of being brain dead. Scared, haunted, dispirited, depressed, and even nihilistic I can understand; ignorant or in denial I can’t. Not anymore. So grok this: it’s done, we’re cooked / doomed / screwed / fucked, our fate is sealed, it’s all over but the shouting (and I would add, the suffering). But memento mori, for what life is left to us is precious and shouldn’t be squandered like we did engineering for ourselves an early death as a species.

Comments 247

  • Good essay Brustus – I grok it.

    By the way I think better than saying “survival of the fittest” we should say “survival of those best adapted to current conditions”. As we know when the big asteroid hit Mexico, dinosaurs became less “fit” and mammals more fit not because they changed but because the environment changed. Fitness itself tends among many humans to carry connotations of big husky fighters, when in fact many if not most of the “fittest” organisms are small and hide well. Nor should we ever forget the lesson of the anaerobes that put their Oxygen waste into the atmosphere until it made them less fit for life on the surface and sent them off to find environments they could live in (underground, puncture wounds). Fitness is always conditional on the environment, physical and other species. As we warm malaria bacteria find increasing areas of habitation, those of African descent who carry one gene for sickle cell anemia gain an advantage because although 2 genes kill, one gene prevents malaria. And all the anti malarials are losing effectiveness in this last round of humans against malaria bacteria and the mosquitoes that carry them (takes 7 years or less for mosquitoes to evolve more “fit” version that aren’t killed by DDT). In a fast changing environment it would seem the little critters who reproduce quickly will gain a big advantage.

    But for those who wish to get a clear idea of the scale of daily death and its causes you can watch it on the Realtime JavaScript Death Counter This morbid and tasteless JavaScript displays the deaths caused by 69 different causes happening right now in realtime all over the world. Easy configuration of death-causes, background-color and font-attributtes.

    1 min in and I saw 100 people statistically die (using the meaning of that word that is the type of event that would trigger the loss of Social Security benefits, the creation of a death certificate, the planning of a funeral etc.) Watch a bit then pinch yourself and after momento more, carpe diem.

  • Thought provoking essay Brutus. And Kathy C…that brought it home. Yesterday my first cousin in GA, Dianne, passed from pancreatic cancer. I had seen her last June when her brother Geary was killed in an motorcycle accident. She was well over 100 lbs. overweight and we went to eat at Macaroni Grill two nights and the rest of the time Drive-through fast food. The sparks from the knives and forks could have illuminated the room. No-one walked anywhere much less rode a bicycle. Peak Oil or climate change aware? Are you kidding me! They don’t even accept Darwin’s theory of evolution while they sincerely believe that one of Noah’s chores on the Ark was feeding the dinosaurs. I sent flowers but I’m not burning any more aviation fuel burying my deluded kinfolk. I guess when the death counter starts running like a NY Cab meter we’ll be in population decline. Until that time Stupidity seems to runnin’ things.

  • Near term human extinction is a certainty. I consider a date of 2030 optimistic, but a possibility. But does it make any sense to continue talking about it? Should those who know feel an obligation to force the truth upon those living happily in denial? For example, take a young mother with small children. I myself like children, but when I see such a mother it only causes me grief. Those children will never have a life. Now is it better for that woman to know this and suffer every day along with me as she looks at her children with pain in her heart instead of enjoying them for now and giving them some happiness, however brief? Having lost many friends trying to spread the news when I still thought there was some hope and afterwards when I didn’t, I no longer see any good in it. Does anybody?

  • @Michael
    Now is it better for that woman to know this and suffer every day along with me as she looks at her children with pain in her heart instead of enjoying them for now and giving them some happiness, however brief?

    Good question, but perhaps as this meme spreads, there will be less people birthing more children into an inevitable nightmare. AND, this is selfish of me, but because I am depressed as hell over what we have done to the planet, I want to spread some of the joy around (especially those who have been completely negligent and have cared less). I realize this is not ‘saintly’ of me – but I never claimed to be a saint.

  • Bailey, yes if the meme spreads perhaps people will forgo having children, perhaps not. But it seems it is worth the try.

    A book that asks such questions (in an unconvectional format for a novel) is the book Everything Matters Here is wiki’s description which is not 100% accurate and includes plot spoilers.!

    I don’t however talk to anyone about this except on the blogs anymore. It slides off like hot grease on teflon. I don’t know anyone thinking about having children, but do know people with young children. When there seemed like there might be life after oil I talked to them, with no results in changes of lifestyle. Now I just keep my mouth shut.

    I watched a show once on possible planetary ends. Various people were asked what they would do if they knew that in 10 years a meteor would hit earth that would kill everything on it. One young woman said she would have a child so she could “experience” having a child before she died. That about covers it eh?

  • 40% phytoplankton decline challenged by new publication in Nature:

  • Here’s a website new to me reporting on daily conditions on the Greenland ice sheet. Last year, as we know, was astonishing, with a mid-summer melt event extending over virtually the entire surface, even at very high elevations, destroying bridges over melt rivers and other structures which had been placed on what was presumed to be permanent ice. This year has already seen quite a few melt days (including today) near the southeast coast. A graph provided on the site shows that this is unprecedented. Midwinter ice melt, if it happened at all, occurred on the west coast.

    Is the east coast melt happening because of warm water from the gulf stream which is now flowing into the arctic ocean instead of veering across the Atlantic? Is another positive feedback going into the handle of the hockey stick?

  • Very True Kathy!

    Just reading this latest post of an older article, and some of the excellent comments. One person writes “this might wake people up.” Yeah, nothing like waking up in a coffin lol!

  • Brutus, well presented. I grok it fully.

    Michael Doliner, I’m very glad that someone explained to me what was happening in the world. I would much rather face my demise head on and fully aware than to have it sneak up and take me from behind. We aren’t all the same, of course, but each person deserves the right to make that choice.

  • Michael Doliner: “Should those who know feel an obligation to force the truth upon those living happily in denial? For example, take a young mother with small children. I myself like children, but when I see such a mother it only causes me grief. Those children will never have a life. Now is it better for that woman to know this and suffer every day along with me as she looks at her children with pain in her heart instead of enjoying them for now and giving them some happiness, however brief?”

    I also struggle with this question. Most people do not like suffering (experiencing it, or seeing it), so the sensible answer would be no, it is better for someone (this mother) not to know.
    But then, I am glad that I know. So that makes me wonder if we know what is best for her, or anyone else?
    (Isn’t that what the media blackout on the topic is all about? ‘We can’t handle the truth?’)
    Who here is glad to know, and who would prefer to go back to wonderland?

  • I was speaking to my sister a couple of days ago. During the call she mentioned that one of my nephews was having his SECOND child. Being a grandmother herself, of course she was quite excited about the news. I couldn’t share her excitement.
    Also during that call I asked her if she had read Guy’s website, which I have referenced a few times in my blog, and her simple answer was “NO”. It was the way she said no, that told me that at this point it seems almost pointless to spread the news about NTE because most people, especially family and friends, just don’t want to know the truth. Be that as it may, I will continue to speak this truth at every opportunity.

  • Grok? This word is new to me. Can someone explain?

    I tried to wake a sleeping person a couple of weeks ago. She has a small child. I didn’t see any defense mechanisms….I saw terror. I don’t know that I’ll try it again.

  • Preaching to the choir – Et tu, Brute?
    Thank you!

    But personally, I would be delighted if we got a new hymn-book. With regard to our NBL preachers, I sometimes think that

    If I were a cassowary
    Upon the plains of Timbuktu
    I would eat a missionary,
    Cassocks, socks and hymn-book too.

    (Various versions attributed to Wilberforce, Thackeray, Tennyson & others).

  • A whole shelf of dictionaries at your service:


    Basically it means to grasp beyond logical understanding, with what might be in the realm of intuition. To “feel in one’s bones”, “gut feeling” etc. comes close, but those are feelings. This is certitude beyond knowledge.

  • The question whether to spread the word (or not) is an honest one. Based on what I see around me, most folks are willfully determined to keep their heads buried in the sand, blissfully ignorant. Me? I guess I wanna see the truck that hits me, if only because my personal integrity demands it. Do I want to run around telling kids there is no Santa Claus just to watch them break down in tears? Nope.

    So yes, I’m preaching to the choir here at NBL, but the point is in the final lines: memento mori, because life is precious. How we understand and approach death is meaningful, and doing so with further blind destructiveness is not my cup of tea. That’s for the ignorati.

  • The conceit of every generation is they think their experiences are unique. In my small library, I have a couple of classic books that provide an excellent perspective on how man has always reacted to doom.

    Up first, a few passages from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Merry Men” (1881):

    Already the men on board the schooner must have begun to realise some part, not yet the twentieth, of the dangers that environed their doomed ship …

    I heard the schooner was losing ground, but the crew were still fighting every inch with hopeless ingenuity and courage; and the news filled my mind with blackness …

    Eh, Charlie, see to them! See them dancing, man? Is that no wicked? They’re yowlin’ for thon schooner, an she’s comin aye nearer an’ nearer; and the folks kens it, they ken weel it by wi’ them. They’re a’ drunk in yon schooner, a’ dozened wi’ drink …

    When the wind was silent, the clear note of a human voice. We had heard the sound, and we knew with agony, that this was the doomed ship now close on ruin, and that what we heard was the voice of her master issuing his last command.

    The strong ship, with all her gear, and the lives of so many men, precious surely to others, dear, at last as heaven themselves, had all, in that one moment, done down into the surging waters.


    Alternatively, I’ve always enjoyed this Henry Miller little vignette in “Tropic of Cancer”:

    At ten years of age she was given in wedlock to this old roue who had already buried five wives. She had seven children, only one of whom survived her. She was given to the aged gorilla in order to keep the pearls in the family. As she was passing away, she whispered to the doctor:

    “I am tire of this fucking … I don’t want to fuck anymore doctor.”

    So, you can continue to whine, bitch & moan, or you can grasp that the essence of living is to die. Since that’s the case, isn’t it most logical to simply party on? I mean, really, what is the point of complaining? Because you have nothing better to do? Gee whiz.

  • Brutus: well written, great link and point taken. i was initially only intellectually cognizant of the population overshoot problem when i was in college. i’ve done what i could to protect the environment, lower my footprint and try to get away from suburbia – but only in the last 10 years “got it” that it was going to occur in my lifetime. One of my sons sneeringly yells at me for being a doomer, his argument going something like “So, the universe evolved down the eons to exactly this time and place so that you could witness it all come undone; yeah right.” My wife says she’s not giving up (meaning working full time for as long as she can for the money and the lifestyle she’s comfortable with). i haven’t actually given up per se (i haven’t killed myself) but i don’t care about any kind of work – i do what i can to bring in money, but it doesn’t motivate me now. i teach college math classes when i can get them (tell me agism isn’t alive and well – i feel like i’m being put out to pasture), tutor when someone finally calls me, and try to help causes like fracking bans, air and water protection, anti-violence of all kinds, you get the picture: i’m involved beyond working in education, maintaining the house and gardens – but i know how it’s gonna end.

    i once mentioned how the world economy is bound to implode in the near future as an aside during a lecture – how it’s going to be “back to the Stone Age” soon afterward for humanity – and one girl in the audience had a mild panic attack. So i have to agree with Michael (above) that it’s probably not gonna do much for either teller or listener at this point and i only talk about it with people mature enough to hear the message (and then it’s more like comparing notes and sharing a solemn moment together). i’d rather refer people to this site to read or hear it for themselves. i still do what i can, when i can, but it’s always just part of the crashing titanic.

    i’m a functioning depressed person, a real meat robot – i feel helpless, scared out of my mind, and bewildered that i’m walking around in a train about to go off the track, where most of the people aboard are oblivious and just keep doing what they’re doing with no sense at all of what’s happening around them. i pointed out in another class how the trees seem to be dying on campus – and everyone in the class starting thinking about it and realized (through their comments) that it’s in their neighborhoods too . . . i try to lead them to the path now.

    Mike – i hear ya. “VU beat UConn!” is some of what i have to endure. Now don’t get me wrong here. i enjoy the moment, but if that’s all ya got, eh, i gotta go. i’m starting to go a bit buggy i think, because my son wanted to watch golf the other day on tv, and while everyone was concentrating on the PGA players, i remarked after a while about how many dead trees were in the background. While driving along past the everyday commerce of my town, i look around and see an overgrown waste-land of abandoned automobiles, burned out storefronts, giant, empty, weed-infested delapidated former big box sites that hasn’t arrived yet. Trees down everywhere, telephone poles draping useless disconnected wires – it’s not actually there, but i can “see” it.

    Kathy: that is one amazing link! Thanks again. The bottleneck is beginning to constrict on many levels – economically, environmentally, socially, et al and sure signs abound. i fully expect it to turn into a dark nightmare of chaos, violence, deprivation and wild/survival type living (heated homes will become a thing of the past). i’ve been reading about large military convoys deploying outside of L.A. and of shady urban-training missions involving combinations of US and foreign troops in other places here in the states. Meanwhile DHS just bought another 2.1 million bullets to add to the over 1 billion they purchased over the past year. What are “they” training for, what do they expect is going to happen?

    The constriction is gettin’ real close to obvious and i’m afraid civil unrest or military aggression is going to erupt like a volcano sometime soon (this year?). The signs of economic collapse are a little harder to see, but most of us don’t know what’s going on in the big money world of banks and Wall Street. The last bank panic happened “all of a sudden” for most of us, and it hasn’t gotten any better despite all the money printing and financial shenanigans keeping the American empire corpse alive for another day.

    Stay tuned.

  • Malaria is caused by a single-celled organism that has a nucleus, and so is a “eukaryotes” (“normal kernel”). Bacteria do not have a nucleus, and are “prokaryotes” (“before kernels”). In fact the malarial “parasite” (that is the way it is referred to) still carries a few DNA fossil sequences for parts of the genes to build the photosynthetic apparatus of its ancestors, but it is regarded as now on the animal side of that divide.

  • Robin, I stand corrected – thank you.

  • @wildwoman

    I think the term “Grok” originated in Robert A. Heinlein’s book – Stranger In A Strange Land. Tom Wolfe uses the term in his book – The Electric Cool Aid Acid Test as well. Both classics imho. *See Grok

    Leon Russell-“Stranger In A Strange Land”

  • More on grok from wiki and more at the link

    To grok (pron.: /ˈɡrɒk/) is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein’s view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. From the novel:

    Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man

  • Yes, thank you. I read Stranger in a Strange Land, oh about 35 years ago, and can’t understand why I haven’t retained that bit of knowledge! Only have seen the word used here, so thought it was an inside joke or something. Many thanks.

  • It seems the gusher in the Gulf hasn’t stopped yet. I’m guessing it never will. Well, not for a few hundred years.

  • You can’t force anyone to know anything they don’t want to know.
    “A man convinced, against his will,
    is a man, unconvinced, still.”
    I try to keep myself well informed on many aspects of climate change, so I can provide any amount of information someone might want to know. And, I try to provide it gently, so they will be able to absorb it. Maybe it will gestate in their minds a little bit and stimulate more desire to know. And maybe not.

  • Yes, Guy – and the sink hole in Bayou Corne is getting worse too.

    Have a look:

    “The old sinkhole she ain’t what she used to be…..”

  • Guy, I am sure the BP well will not stop until there is no more oil to leak out. Likewise dangers exist with inactive wells that should have been plugged but haven’t
    U.S. says idle gulf wells must be plugged
    By Steven Mufson
    Thursday, September 16, 2010
    The Interior Department said Wednesday that oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico need to do more to permanently plug nearly 3,000 inactive wells and dismantle about 650 production platforms that are no longer in use….Although the Interior Department has regulations requiring that old wells be permanently plugged with subsea safety seals and old platforms dismantled, the regulations are rarely enforced, industry sources said.

  • And then one also has to ask how long are the plugs good for on the ones that have been plugged
    More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.

    And of course come the crash active wells may end up being abandoned depending on how the crash proceeds. The farther into peak oil we get the dirtier it will become, controls on emissions, drilling etc will be relaxed more and more in the last gasp to keep industrial civ going

    And these are just the figures for the gulf eh?

  • And if you need a boost to your cynicism have a listen to the latest podcast by Arnie Gundersen

    Are Whistleblowers Being Protected By The NRC? Not Really! Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen and special guest David Lochbaum, the Director of Nuclear Safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, compare experiences about how nuclear whistleblowers are NOT protected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission if they bring safety concerns forward. They will also discuss examples citing instances of the NRC failing to support the legitimate concerns of whistleblowers in the nuclear industry, including inside the NRC itself.
    In it for the first time I have heard his personal story of how he got shafted for being a whistle blower.

  • I’m glad to see others are troubled about the question of whether or not to tell others about the awful news. What I sometimes do is start a conversation about the movie, “The Matrix.” Then I ask the person what she would prefer– to live in the completely illusory but pleasant imaginary world the matrix supplies, or know the truth. If the person chooses the imaginary world I shut up.

  • @B9K9 The conceit of every generation is they think their experiences are unique.
    Something a professor said during a critique, long ago in art school, has stayed with me, I think for it’s ability to humble and empower at the same time. Well, three things, really.
    1. Everything has been done before, but not by you.
    2. Nothing is created in a vacuum.
    3. Nothing is benign.
    Granted, this is in regards to making art, but life is art, in that we create each day in what we decide to do, how we act/react, and so on. I’ve noticed that this topic of “spreading the NTE gospel”, as depressive lucidity so described it in a previous thread, comes up often. I can’t speak for others, but I really wrestle with it, because, as I stated before, I would be furious if a close friend or family member had this information and did not share it with me.
    Myself, I just stumbled my way along the path of environmental awareness over many years, so that when the notion of NTE was the only probable outcome, after learning about the many positive feedback loops already triggered, after noticing the trees, it was just something that clicked, because it made the most sense. But if my life had followed a different narrative, I wouldn’t have noticed anything, and this “information” would not fit in with my “story”. Plus, these days, there is an overwhelming amount of information blasted at us on a daily basis, it’s hard to know what is true or important.
    Well, anyway, @Michael Doliner Should those who know feel an obligation to force the truth upon those living happily in denial?
    Forcing the truth sounds like hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat. I’ve been approaching telling one of my six younger siblings about my ‘concerns’, via discussing weather and climate, and it is amazing to me that not only is it not on her radar, but it’s like I’m speaking a different language. She’s too caught up in an ugly divorce, soccer trips, and iPhone 5’s to pay any heed to the weather. I often say that I feel like I live in a different universe than my friends and family, and that’s about right. So, do I continue to try to break it to them gently, or go full baseball bat?
    I really believe that people are aware of all of this on some basic level, and they know things are happening, they are just too easily distracted to look outside and really SEE whats going on. Maybe they don’t realize how interconnected the world is. Who knows what will get through to them? Maybe nothing. Maybe a voice that is not my own? I will just continue to live the truth of my own life, and maybe that will be noticed?
    And I have to tell you, as the mother of small children, I can’t look into the future and see what their world will be, but I can say that living in the dark at present would not bring ease of life, happiness, or joy. To be a mother is to suffer. Every mother looks at her children and suffers at the knowledge that they will die. It doesn’t matter how or when, in the face of NTE, or not. For me, it’s important to know the truth, because it allows me to do away with all the bullshit and to prioritize. Our society is excellent at attributing false importance to stuff that doesn’t matter, at eating up our precious time.
    I can’t begin to explain the difficulty in facing each day, the reality of living in two different paradigms, because you cannot possibly raise children as if there were no future. My partner had to go to a funeral last weekend, and so this led to a discussion about death, in which I explained that everything that is living has to die someday- plants, animals, people. To which the five year old replied, “But I can’t die, I’m new. I’m a new person!” I think about how he has already come close to death more than once in his short life, the terror of it. Then I think about my own brushes with death, and how liberating it was for the mystery to be taken away, how peaceful to understand that it is just right there, a huge relief in the face of life’s suffering. And then I think about the loss of many loved ones I have experienced, and how painful that loss is. So where does all of this conflicted understanding meet up?
    So far I have not been able to reconcile these things. Sometimes I think there are different species of humans walking the earth, and that is why we can’t get our shit together and act like one species sharing the earth, which is nothing but a squandered gift now. I want to show my kids how special our planet is, but how? Do I take them to see the redwoods, the pacific ocean, national parks, the zoo? Kids are naturally in awe of the world, so maybe camping and hiking is enough. I feel like I really owe them.

    @Brutus To your list of acceptable feelings Scared, haunted, dispirited, depressed, and even nihilistic, can you please add guilt.

  • Another reason for telling people about the dire straits we face just occurred to me: if a person is aware of what’s going down and begins to take minimal steps toward preparing – physically, emotionally, and mentally, then maybe when the shit begins to hit the fan in earnest, that will be one less person rioting in the streets demanding to know why everything is falling apart. Maybe there will be one less person trying to loot my place. Might not make any difference at all, but it might. :-)

  • Badlands and all who have children still at home, especially small children, how I wish there was some magic to make the truth go away. How many of us thought when we conceived children about how and when they might die. Instead we thought about how they would live, and assumed that somehow we could make their lives good, and for many of us we wished we could make their lives better than our own. How difficult that turned out to be for we were not in control of the world and most of the time not even in control of ourselves. All I can say is don’t let the guilt overwhelm you. Ahead is the task of being there for them as best you are able, and no better. That is enough.

    Meanwhile all you out their with your tubes still not tied, think about the guilt you will have if you father or mother children with full knowledge of the future. Think long and hard about getting permanent birth control now while you can. It is the only thing left that I know of to tell people as far as preparing.

  • Speaking of the BP oil disaster, does anyone have an idea of how many metric tons of methane were released into the atmosphere during the months of it’s full throttle release? Would it have been enough to have made a noticeable contribution to warming?

  • According to research from two years ago, methane release was 260,000 to 500,000 tons. The highest estimate is equivalent to 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (in the short term), which represents less than four day’s output by the United States. I doubt it can be measured, even when it makes it into the atmosphere.

  • Bailey: it all adds up!

    Here’s a comparison between the Carnival ship Triumph and the ship of state:

    Adrift at Sea

    (toward the bottom)

    “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    Our cruise of illusions and delusions is headed for troubled water. The math challenged citizens on this ship have been enjoying the 24 hour pizza buffet without the labor required to pay for the bounty. When your leaders boldly lie and tell you we don’t have a spending problem, refer to proposed spending increases as “investments”, and hail $1.6 trillion of spending cuts that did not happen, you’ve got a ship that will be signaling SOS in the imminent future. Both political parties are laughable in their blathering about spending cuts as Bush and his Republican cronies drove spending from $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3.0 trillion in 2008 with their unfunded wars, unfunded new entitlements (Medicare Part D), Wall Street bailouts, and creation of police state agencies (DHS); while Obama and his Democrat co-conspirators have driven spending up to $3.8 trillion in four years with new unfunded entitlements (Obamacare), expansion of warfare in the Middle East (they sit on top of “our” oil), $800 billion stimulus handouts, $60 billion hurricane relief pork handed out for $25 billion of uninsured losses, and bailing out banks, auto companies, homeowners, and other gamblers who took undo risks and lost to the tune of hundreds of billions. Politicians and the inhabitants of this country have forgotten there are consequences to their actions and inactions.

  • Per this it is more likely that the methane from BP is still in the water feeding methane eating critters and
    BP oil blowout released large quantities of methane into the ocean, most of which is remaining dissolved in the waters deep beneath the surface

    The gas represents an under-appreciated pollutant in a drill-rig disaster that has pumped as much as 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, researchers say.
    Unlike the oil, the methane isn’t coating birds or fouling beaches and wetlands. But it has the potential to wreak havoc on important links in the undersea food chain, researchers say.

    By volume, some 40 percent of the hydrocarbons in the reservoir the Deepwater Horizon tapped is gas, of which 95 percent is methane, notes Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia who has been gathering data at sea on the methane plumes.

    By weight, she and her colleagues estimate, for every ton of oil spewing from the broken riser pipe, a half a ton of gas is blasting upward as well. “That’s a tremendous amount of gas coming into the water column,” she says.

    Yet gas data represents the largest gap in efforts to take the full measure of the blowout, Dr. Joye says. That gap results from “the perception that it doesn’t really matter; the focus is on oil, oil, oil.”

    Oil clearly has its own set of serious environmental effects. But the gas’s behavior and fate at depth also is relevant to gauging the blowout’s full ecological impact.

    “It’s not the same as the oil, but it’s a big number,” Joye says. “We have to get a handle on it, and we don’t have a handle on it right now.”

    As with the undersea oil clouds researchers have been hunting, the main concern regarding methane is the possibility that the action of methane-munching microbes could exhaust oxygen in the affected layers.

    That low-oxygen condition would threaten small marine organisms – plankton, fish larvae, and other creatures that can’t roam large distances and form a vital link in the marine food chain. If a low-oxygen plume were to glide across the bottom on the continental shelf, it could have a similar effect on corals and shellfish.

    more at the link

  • This is my first post here and I want to thank you, Guy, and the rest of you for posting your insights, knowledge and struggles. It has brought much comfort to me knowing that I am not alone! Thank you!

    @Brutus– great post and much appreciated. Grok!

    @Michael Doliner— Should those who know feel obligated to force those living in denial? Much of my adult life has been spent in behavioral change and change management. There is clearly levels of readiness and grief that go along with change. Those that are early to adopt or recognize change needed often are in the minority; but these early adopters are often key to raising awareness and bringing more people into the change. However, “early adopters” tend to be on their own until a bigger motivation or visionary leadership grabs the attention of the masses. Unfortunately, we don’t have that type of visible leadership; and as Brutus pointed out, our leaders are not sharing as it does not behoove them to do so. So, my point is, recognize that others may not be ready to hear the informatin but that doesn’t mean there may not be an opportunity to ask questions and share some of your learnings. I often get asked about my family’s “unusual” lifestyle and that often opens the door. In some cases I have found deep connections with others, and in other cases, I have been called “nuts” or given the eye roll crazy look. But, like The REAL Dr. House stated, I believe in raising a level of awareness in hopes to start preparing people to mentally grasp the situation, but how much and how to start the conversation is so delicate and definitely not easy.

    In terms of children, my husband and I chose not to have children. Then I was living in China and my motherly instincts and the one child policy really pulled at my heart so we adopted an amazing baby girl. I can understand the pull for family but it is so very difficult to watch knowing what lies ahead. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the future and cry inside for what lies ahead for my daughter. No easy answer but I have tried to mention to my nieces and nephews about reconsidering starting a family and it has made no difference. Though I”ll continue to try to raise awareness albeit subtly (or sometimes not so subtly).

    Thanks all for the great exchange!

  • @Carmen,
    Those that are early to adopt or recognize change needed often are in the minority; but these early adopters are often key to raising awareness and bringing more people into the change. However, “early adopters” tend to be on their own until a bigger motivation or visionary leadership grabs the attention of the masses.

    I have always been one to look way down the road and see the cliffs ahead. However, it has put me into a very lonely place, because I have found that since really grasping NTE, I fit in with society even less than I did before. Unfortunately, I am not the hermit type, so I have a need of social structure, but just can’t relate with the ho hum (and I notice some of my old friends feel uncomfortable around me as well). Not a fun time at all.

  • @ Mike Sosebee

    It tool me a while to fully come to terms with it, but now I have: most people in western societies are
    1. ignorant (uninformed)
    2. stupid
    3. stubborn

    @ Brutus

    Methinks mid-life mortality rates are about to soar, due to obesity, diabetes and other diseases associated with gorging on food of low nutritional value loaded with sugars and oils.

  • Oops, took.

  • Kathy C Says:
    By the way I think better than saying “survival of the fittest” we should say “survival of those best adapted to current conditions”.

    That’s a very good point. And for humans, culture, especially modern culture, has always created conditions that interfered with the purely biological imperative of life to reproduce. People should breed as soon as they are biologically capable, just like all other forms of life, but they don’t because culture interferes. Look how culture has interfered in the case of Bill Gates, and conspired to deny the species his superior genetic endowment. He only has three offspring, far fewer than the average Saharan tribesman (whose offspring, thanks to modern medicine, have survived and are now also breeding.) By now the genes of a Malian tribesman of Gates’ age already have a huge head-start. Does this not represent a crime against biology? And our culture prevents people like Gates from having harems that would spread these fitter genes. This was not a problem for Genghis Khan. Gates’ only hope is that harem culture will revive in time for his only son, who is now of breeding age (13) to pass on his genetic legacy. Our culture tells us Bill Gates is a great success, but so far, from a biological point of view, he’s a miserable failure.

    As for whether to annoy friends and relatives, why bother, we’re just going to have to be patient and let nature do the teaching. And the class will have to meet right where they live, not in the arctic. Persistent and eventually intractable droughts will have to be the teachers. It will take a real body blow, something like the total loss of a growing season to drought here in the US and other main food producing areas simultaneously. Bad as the drought in the US looks now, frankly, it’s just not bad enough. Note that most of the E US is drought free and farmers there can ramp up production to take advantage of price increases due to losses in the plains states. Nature, still only hitting singles when it needs to start hitting home runs.

    Regarding children, unless their conditions are dire or abusive, their capability of enjoying life is far superior to adults, because they live in the moment more that we do. It’s hard for parents and other adults not to project the worries and misery of their lives onto children. Instead, we should try to absorb or rekindle their natural capacities for joy and wonder in ourselves.

  • Ripley, you’re probably aware of this already, but drought isn’t the only consideration with respect to water. Most of the plains states don’t get enough rain normally to support agriculture as it’s practiced today and massive amounts of irrigation are required. The Ogallala aquifer is being depleted rapidly – in some areas by as much as two feet a day. As noted in the article linked below, at normal rainfall, it would take 6,000 years for the aquifer to be replenished. As the aquifer falls, eventually, it won’t be available anymore for irrigation or drinking water. Some areas are dealing with that now.

    Even in the area in which I live where we receive 40-50 inches of rain a year, our aquifer (not the Ogallala) is being drained due to irrigation. Due to restrictions on pumping water, more and more farmers here are building retention ponds so that they can use ground water. While that’s a good idea and will help some, during droughts it won’t be enough. At least it wasn’t this past year.

    Here’s an article from The Washington Post on the state of many of the planet’s aquifers:

    As usual, overpopulation is the culprit here. With so many mouths to feed, what choice do we have but to rape the planet for every bit of resource we can lay our hands on.

  • Ripley, the poor of the world manage to reproduce under the most dire of circumstances. The peasants of the world were food self sufficient until recently because of interventions of the west. The hunter gatherers of the world survived and reproduced in Arctic, Desert, and Jungle environs. I doubt Bill Gates could do any of that. I suspect his abilities are not the ones that make for survival in those conditions either. But all species seem to have programs for successful reproduction. Rabbits will eat babies so I have read if conditions turn to drought, replenishing their bodies for an attempt at reproduction when it will be more successful. !Kung limited reproduction to once every 4 years by a variety of methods. Tribal people used to kill a twin so that one could be successfully raised. Some measure of that has persisted – although middle class families could have more than two, they usually know they can’t educate more than 2 very well. Further, guarenteed that most children born in the first world reach adulthood, and give contraceptives, women can say hell no I don’t want more. I watched in the 60’s as women said I don’t want any but many by the time they were 40 got trapped by that program in their brain that says “have babies”

    I used to think the saying “the poor you will have with you always” was in fact a remark about the ability of the poor to continue to reproduce in conditions that the rich would not be able to live in much less reproduce. For some time it was. Now of course the best we can hope for is “the thermopiles you will have until the sun expires”

  • Dr H.
    Thanks, you’re right. I forgot about irrigation’s ability to mitigate the effects of drought in the near term, at least. I was also going to mention the fact that there seems to be a lot of tobacco production going on in places like NC and Virginia that could be switched to food if needed. I’m just trying to figure out a scenario that would kill food production near term in a way that people in the US would really feel in their stomachs. Obviously, most bloggers here have more knowledge than I do in this area.

    Kathy C.
    You’re right about all that, and I was not really serious about Gates being genetically superior to anybody, although social darwinists have justified huge wealth disparities that way. I was hoping people would notice how in our society, wealth has no relationship to the basic biological imperative of producing lots of offspring. That from a purely biological standpoint wealth in our culture makes no sense. Our billionaires each have the means to produce hundreds or even thousands of offspring throughout their lifetimes, but our culture prevents them from doing what biology says any other animal that personally commands such huge resources should do. By forbidding things like harems, I can hear the gods of genetic biology pleading with disgust: “What is all this wealth for you fools!?”

  • @Bailey
    Yes, Bailey, it can be very lonely. Some of my friendships have drifted apart, probably a good portion is my own doing. Interestingly though, I have made new friends over the years with people who share the same interests and passions as I around the Earth. Just last week, I met a wonderful woman who turns out to be an envirnmental professor and we hit it off so well. Interesting that the more I’ve put myself out there, then I’ve found new friendships (of course, I’ve also made more than a few people walk away). I try my best to stay present in my conversations with friends and enjoy time with them. This isn’t always easy! Often something is said that makes me feel like running away screaming! Such is the dilemma we all face.

  • I have a rule of thumb when discussing death. That is death of the individual or of all of us.

    I kind of just say what I think, let people choose how to react to that, and me. It is the same as all the other shit that comes out of my mouth in any given day. Some of it is just about what is happening then, other stuff, like NTE is just the same. It is more important to me to see the other person, and let them know you see them. That gets people to listen to you, and finally look beyond the cover, and hear you.

    My rule of thumb is that people respond in the same way to NTE as they do to the news of their own death, but only if they considder it deeply.

    Fear of dying, and contemplated loss of future, is a brick wall to most of us, and we all know you can bargain your way out of most things, but not death. It is a limit on our time here. (A rule of life, if you like)

    The ego simply has better things in mind for us and our mental processes, so it pushes this concern to the background of consciousness. Being caught in a life threatening situation can bring that all to the front of mind very fast, but unless it gets deep, it will just be pushed back again.

    So if you introduce the topic of NTE, try firstly to imagine having the same conversation with that person as though you were talking about their certain death. How much more personal, more confronting do you want to get?

    Most adults have thought about this a bit, or a lot. It depends. However, most don’t like to be reminded of it. It is kind of a social fo par, equivelent to speaking to someone about a personal disfigurement. It seems to only be a downer, and takes the gloss of things. A ballon popper at a party, and that is what it is to be reminded of your certain death – the party is going to be over.
    I like the ‘Terminator’ movies for this, because as I read them it is the mechanical aspects of the human being they describe, and if we don’t see it soon, the machine will eat up the sentient side.
    As I have posted before here, hearing Sarah Connor screaming “we’re all dead!”( and come to think of it, Ellen Ripley from Aliens shouting “Those people are dead Bourke!” carries the same punch IMO).

    But I submit that like Hamlet, when one really considders death, one’s own death and its certainty, it makes ‘now’ the most important decision time for your ‘decision space'(aka ‘consciousness’, thanks ulvfugl @ your blog).

    Attention to now is a key to enjoying life while it is with us. If you speak clearly, slowly and with honesty and dignity, many more will listen, but when moments arise with familiars, or little knows I use them. I have yet to be told to my face I am a nut case, (excepting my 13 y/o son that is) Now, just after I turn and leave, that could be another matter.

    The other side of the rule of thumb on this is don’t worry about other peoples reactions, that is entirely their concern, all you have done is press a very sore spot which some aren’t ready for, at least not emotionally anyway. NTE is not IMO on most people’s radar, but personal death is, somewhere along their timeline. So when it comes up, I work with that.

    It works better if someone asks why I do some of the things I do, and then I just say:

    “..well, pretty soon all of us are going to need each other in this community a lot more, to survive….and I am just getting started, things like learning how to grow food.”

    That leaves it open for them to thought bubble: “Nutter” or say “Ok, I have to go and pick up my son now, so long” , if they can’t process or don’t want to go there.

    Most not in that category say “What do you mean?” They open the gate and I walk in a little further:
    “…well, most people don’t know about the full extent of climate change…they know some of it, but they don’t really know that anything above 1 degree average global warming will rapidly lead to 6 degrees, which humans and a lot of other species wont survive…People are going to have to live local lives, and go back to a gift community, here where tey live, or move to one somewhere habitable, but , I don’t want to scare you.. a lot of people are going to starve, and die, and not just in Africa or India, it will be everywhere..”

    It helps if I am holding a shovel, or pushing my wheelbarrow around town, because then they know if I am a nutter, at least I am prepared to be a constructive and pro-active nutter, and that meansa committed nutter(ha ha), not just a talker.

    I haven’t got to the sandwitch board stage yet.

    It would be good to hear others experiences with NTE disclosure, even arguments, and if it is ever received well.

    And also Peak Oil disclosure comes in a quick second on the register too, I’ve had plenty more experience bringing that one up.

  • Carmen

    I can’t let this go without comment…

    “Yes, Bailey, it can be very lonely. Some of my friendships have drifted apart…”

    Any form of individuation from the mainstream, which in itself is not supported by a functional subculture will bring some initial loneliness, and cause you, or others, to disentangle friendships. If you grow, you will move into a stage where IMO few, but not no one, will share the same space beside you. It is natural, but comes as a kind of price for your own growth. Better adapt to it now, and be happy with a lot of self time, even omong familiars. As you say, you have met new people who share some of your concers. Very fortunate.

    I just decide to do the things that will support the new situation, and keep the door open to others while I do that.

    To be brutally honest I have times in the day most weeks I think some Groking good company would be good right now, but I usually figure it might be down the track some day, and then I will have a few jokes or tales to tell, but if not ‘the readiness is all’.
    That winbar thing seemed like it might be a good way to get together, but I must admit, I was a bit lost technically on it.

    IMO your lonliness is really a human social need just not met at those times, but as time passes, you get to listen to the wind whispering, and get to notice what the clouds and the birds are saying. Even what other people are really feeling, when the text is different or on another topic altogether. To me those things connect me to where I am, even if little human raport is in the offing.
    You guys help, and I have no problem admitting so, just makes me all too human.

    Keep moving, remain open, see what may come…

  • I’ve only had two experiences with trying to wake up people who are unrelated. The first was with a guy who was cleaning our ducts. A rural person, hunter, etc. This was before the election and I asked him what worried him most about the future. He said, “entitlements.” I said climate change and then moved on. Faux news strikes again.

    The most recent exchange was with the woman with the young child and I just sort of dumped it on her, not expecting any reaction other than dismissal. But to my surprise, she took it in and looked so stricken that I felt horrible to be the person inflicting this.

    I must be the only person here that is not into science fiction. Have never seen the Matrix. Only recently watched Soylent Green, Fahrenheit 451, The Last Wave, and On the Beach just to catch up on the doomerist genre.

    Anyway, I think it might be like smoking pot. Set and setting make a difference, as does the relationship to the sleeping person a waker might have.

    We are having dinner with my brother and sister in law soon and that will be a hoot. They are not in the 1%, but they know people who are (my brother is on a board along with the Corrections Corporation of America CEO, which just kills me). Trying to wake up the SIL has become a game. My bro hears it, gets depressed for a little while, shakes it off and goes on consuming. She can’t even hear it.

  • My latest cyber-conversation with Sherry Ackerman appeared at Transition Voice today. It’s here.

  • …I asked him what worried him most about the future.

    I’d have thought this would be worrying to anybody who was anywhere near half way sane and morally responsible. Training people to murder children, old men and pregnant women ? I mean, whose good idea is that, who authorises that, what’s their agenda ?

  • Orlov recommends prayer.

  • You are so right, Tom, that there is a sense among people that we are in for something really awful of our own making. here are some excerpts from the latest, “new illuminati” post:

    “When you come back from Japan you’d better arrange to bring some more of those young hippies with you,” Cameron laughed. “Save them by bringing them here to this hippy preserve.

    “If we make it back,” Zen said, “Before something bad happen.”

    “You think something bad is going to happen?” Cameron leaned forward into the heat. “Like what? War with China?”

    Zen looked him in the eye. “Maybe that. Maybe something else. Not know what – but something. Many feel it in Japan. Things cannot go on as they are – something big is coming.” The Westerners sat in silence as he continued. “Maybe the Earth will rebel…”

    “Tell me,” Ram says between sips of steaming chai, “have you noticed an increase in apathy lately?”

    “What,” Wanji smiles, “you mean like my get-up-and-go has got up and went? Funny you should mention that…”

    “I’ve heard a lot of people saying the same thing lately,” the dreadlocked feral adds, “like everyone feels unsettled, like they don’t know what to do. Or want to do anything. So most of them are just keeping on doing what they normally do, but noticing that something’s not right… or something. Is that what you mean?”

    “I thought it was just my libido,” surmises the clown.

    The woman’s brown eyes twist to Ram’yana beneath the puzzled furrows of her frown. Wise eyes, Ram reflects as he nods; she continues after a sip of her tea. “A few people have mentioned the same thing. So what do you think it is?’

    “What do you think?” he bats the question back to her.

    She looks down into the swirling chai. “It feels to me like everyone realises that the game is about up, you know? Everyone knows the climate is up shit creek and the weather’s gone crazy and water’s running out and food’s probably next. So they’re all kind of in shock, you know?”

    “I’ve noticed the same thing,” Phico agrees as she silences herself with a sip, “and that could be what’s behind it… but it could be something else, as well.”

    “It’s a little like the shock that everyone felt during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember that?” Ram’yana asks the alchemist, noting the blank looks from the younger man and woman. “You’re a Baby Boomer, aren’t you?”

    “That’s right, I know what you mean – now that you’ve jogged my memory,” Phico agrees. “Everyone was in shock and just kept going to work – well, most of them – and that was one major genesis of the mass social changes that followed, I reckon…”

    “…During the ‘dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ in 1962 – just after the big line-up…” Ram’yana reminds him.

    “That’s right,” Phico avers, “but I think this is something different as well. Sure, everyone seems to be grokking what the hippies and environmentalists have been telling them for yonks, but this is somehow different…. A deliberate, mass hypnotic zoning out…”

  • Decent 40-minute video links climate with weather

  • A wonderful essay, thank you Brutus – I’ve been catching up with comments all day it seems!

    Meanwhile, I’m shocked, shocked…the federal appeals court would not grant petitioners’ application to vacate the stay in the NDAA suit, the legal underpinning for a police state remains intact, so far:

  • Wildwoman – thanks for the heads up on the Orlov article – NTE is a growing meme. Too bad it is more than a meme.

  • If you go to google images you can search for memento mori art, and see some pretty amazing work from centuries ago to modern:

  • I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
    But here I am to speak what I do know.
    The noble Brutus….

    Wait a minute, that can’t be right. Start again.

  • B9K9 says: “I am tire of this fucking … I don’t want to fuck anymore….

    I look back now and deconstruct
    How much of my life really sucked;
    I was forced to compete
    Until someone got beat
    But I’m pretty much done being fucked.

  • At the end, we cannot restore
    The fitness we once knew before;
    We no longer deplore,
    But accept to our core
    What’s wrong can’t be fixed anymore.

  • BTD:

    What’s wrong can’t be fixed anymore and it became unfixable long long ago – we just had plenty of room not to notice.

    If Earth was the size of Jupiter, it would just mean that we have another ten thousand or so years before “the end.”

    I’m curious, since we NOW know that what we face TODAY was set in motion many thousands of years ago, who was the first person to record that fact (that the path of mankind was certain doom)? I’m not talking about hippies shouting “down with the pigs!” I’m talking about the first person to recognize the situation scientifically…

    Anyway, I’m just a fruit fly trying to get the last bite of the banana.

  • @ PAT

    Not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I think this guy

    wrote a survey called Conservation of Resources of US or something, (I have a link somewhere , I’ll put in subsequent comment) where he says that if all the forests are cut, coal is burned, etc, it’ll wreck the climate… I forget the details, you’ll have to search yourself if you want them.

  • Thanks for posting Guy. Also, in the part 3 video at 1:44, Dr. Francis gets into the naysayer controversy about the Antarctic.

  • @OzMan

    “IMO your lonliness is really a human social need just not met at those times, but as time passes, you get to listen to the wind whispering, and get to notice what the clouds and the birds are saying. Even what other people are really feeling, when the text is different or on another topic altogether. To me those things connect me to where I am, even if little human raport is in the offing.”

    Very nice, OzMan.

  • RE: Loneliness experienced as a result of being your genuine self; It beats the loneliness from being around people while not being your genuine self. I think of the lengthy times that John Muir spent totally alone in the vast wilderness. The trouble is, few of us have that vast natural world as a cathexis surrogate any longer.

  • .
    Memento Mori

    A doomer memento mori
    Predicts that we’re going to be sorry;
    There’s no future—squat,
    So now’s all that we’ve got
    Until things become less hunky-dory.

  • Loneliness experienced as a result of being your genuine self; It beats the loneliness from being around people while not being your genuine self.

    Loneliness reflects one’s dislike of one’s own company. Before seeking company, it behooves one to learn to get along with oneself, rather than to impose such undesirable company on others. Birds of a feather do flock together, and as long as one’s identity is invested in one’s feathers, one can be expected to seek an appropriate flock. With it comes the distress of a different flock.

    Solitude is the natural state of the Self, the One without a second, for in It there is no second, no “other”. To recognise it, one has to shed ALL one’s feathers. This includes the “I” feather. All other feathers are rooted in it forming a veritable jungle, and have to be shed before or with it. It is generally easier to start with the smaller ones.

  • who was the first person to record that fact (that the path of mankind was certain doom)?

    The name is lost, but the message is still here.

  • @ Pat

    You asked:

    “I’m curious, since we NOW know that what we face TODAY was set in motion many thousands of years ago, who was the first person to record that fact (that the path of mankind was certain doom)? I’m not talking about hippies shouting “down with the pigs!” I’m talking about the first person to recognize the situation scientifically…”

    1800 BCE The Epic of Gilgamesh

    1651 Baltasar Gracian

    1798 Thomas Malthus

    1864 George Perkins Marsh

    1896 Svante Arrhenius

    1948 Fairfield Osborn

    1972 Club of Rome

    2006 James Lovelock

  • @ Robin D.

    PAT said …to recognize the situation scientifically…

    You think that what you linked to is science ?

  • Pat, per Tainter the seeds of the destruction of a civilization are in the initiation of a civilization as he writes in “Collapse of Complex Societies”

  • per Craig Dilworth the seeds of our destruction as a species are in our particular genetic endowment. See his book “Too Smart for our Own Good” or for the much shorter version of his vicious circle theory

    Tainter and Dilworth are IMHO essential reading so we can understand what went wrong. OTOH since all species that went extinct before us went extinct without understanding what went wrong, perhaps as a whole the human species will follow suit.

  • ulvfugl

    That link you put up about targets for DHS shooting practice, if genuine, now puts you a hairs breath ahead of Kathy C in groking posters of all time here on NBL IMO.

    WTF about the targets, but I guess if you have practiced for years ‘not’ to hit these types as they present at a critical event that requires tactical suppression or SWAT or whoever, then you might really need to retrain in order to follow orders.

    My money is on the expectant mother with a handgun, especially if it is her first child, as being the most lethal. I figure my mum would have taken down 7 maybe 8 SWAT roaches, even if she took a few slugs.

    Lets hope it is a hoax, or a prank, and it never gets to that ….

  • Kathy C

    Nothing went wrong. It all went ‘right’ for us regarding our social rekonning, till recently,(thousands of years) but there is no right and wrong as Nature just keeps on batting away, and we, dodging and weaving. No malice on ‘her’ part, just swinging this way and that.

    But I have not read those two sourses you suggest, so my view is just in response to the implied notion of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

    BTW you and ulvfugl are neck and neck in the posting NBL races IMO. He just has the edge for now, (‘Yellow Smiley Face’ would be here idf I knew how to do one).


  • You think that what you linked to is science ?

    Definitely IS not. What IS science is not what WAS served as science. Ptolemy’s concepts were replaced by Copernicus, progressively refined by Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Hubble, and others. Hooke’s ideas were refined and expanded by Pasteur, Koch, Ehrlich, Metchnikoff and others. Anaximander and Empedocles were ignored; Linnaeus was incorporated into Darwin; Mendel offered an empirical basis, followed by Crick, Gould and Wilson: that fascinating tale is still unfolding.

    The concept of dissolution, now expressed as the heat death of the universe, or the decay of the proton, is reminiscent in periods of time to the ancient versions.

  • @ Robin D.

    Good. Well, there is some common ground between our positions.

    I think there is a problem, that scientific hypotheses really need some element of experimental testability, and so much of what is passing as ‘science’ from astrophysicists and evolutionary psychologists is speculative fantasy that cannot be tested.

    @ Ozman

    I’m not in a competition with Kathy C., I think the elite 1% fear the masses, and they think they need their armed thugs as protection, so they need to brutalize them into seeing old men, pregnant women, children as merely ( Robin’s ) ‘meat robots’ so it doesn’t matter if you blow them to pieces because they are not really human beings at all, just targets.

    They’ve been training so called ‘soldiers’ to do this in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, and now they train them to do it in USA. Ironic thing is, the purported Moslem enemy has had strict code of religious honour that it is forbidden to kill such people.

    Of course, Jesus commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has been mostly ignored by so called Christians. But to openly target women and children as ‘non-traditional threats’ opens up a new avenue for brutal depravity.

  • ulvfugl

    I never suggested you were in competition with Kathy C or anyone else. I just had a fun idea to tell you both I find your limks and posts equally great, and put it in a kind of a ‘race’ metaphore.

    Keep your shirt on ol pal, I’m a fellow traveller here like you.

    BTW I also got a lot out of the post on your website about quantum physics, reality and consciuosness with the two dudes talking.

    Seems to be adding up to me there, I can get a clear sense of their ideas, and in many ways I agree. I like your idea of Consciuosness as a ‘decision space’.


  • ulvfugl

    Yes, it seems the ‘thou shalt not kill’ commandment would be a big blot on the Christians form card. I mean what was that shit called the Crusades for? It seems a lot of killing went on there.

  • This list goes back a number of years (since at least 2010) but here’s what we have so far this year (and it’s only Feb.):

    Worldwide Mass Animal Deaths for 2013

  • OZman
    My Count of posts on this thread – you can correct me if I counted wrong – we are both ahead of U but I am well ahead of both of you :) You are tied with Robin
    Ozman 6
    Kathy 14 (now 15)
    Ulvfugl 5
    Robin 6
    However I often post two or three times in a row to be able to provide multiple links without waiting for moderator approval and many of my post are informational links not comments, and one this thread was an admission of my error as pointed out by Robin, and one a thank you to another poster. I count 5 of that nature bringing me down to 9 -still a clear winner on this thread

    You wrote Nothing went wrong. It all went ‘right’ for us regarding our social rekonning, till recently,(thousands of years) but there is no right and wrong as Nature just keeps on batting away, and we, dodging and weaving. No malice on ‘her’ part, just swinging this way and that.

    You are right of course and I was using the word “wrong” in the sense of the length of our species existence. It is not wrong that our species will go extinct, but it hard to talk about such an quick extinction of a seemingly successful species without ending up using such value laden words. However I pick at words myself such as doomer or survival so I accept in good grace your reminding me that wrong is a human value laden word. I should have simply said that the reason civilizations fail in inherent in their form and the reason our human species will have a short run is inherent in its form. Thank you.

  • In his interview at Transition Voice, Guy says :

    McPHERSON: A statement from writer and environmental activist Derrick Jensen comes to mind:

It’s no wonder we don’t defend the land where we live. We don’t live there. We live in television programs and movies and books and with celebrities and in heaven and by rules and laws and abstractions created by people far away and we live anywhere and everywhere except in our particular bodies on this particular land at this particular moment in these particular circumstances.

    What he says resonates strongly with me. We avoid physical reality, and it’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop. In avoiding the natural world — which sustains us, in every way —  we rely on addictive cultural distractions, all of which push us further from the natural world.
How do we break this cycle?

    This is something I’ve been trying to point towards. I’ve no idea how to break the cycle on the macro scale, when six ( is it ? anyway, very few ) mega corporations control most of US media, and I think Rothschilds control AP and Reuters, perhaps the best hope is that as pressures mount, they will eat each other.

    But on the micro scale, get the junk out of your own head. I used to notice this many years ago on the construction sites where I worked, restoring old houses. The guys were not ‘there’. They were living in last night’s tv shows. They’d be semi-consciously laying bricks or plastering walls, and they’d be saying ‘Did you see that guy, when he was hit with the base ball bat ? Wow, did you see how he went through that plate glass window ? Did you see the expression on her face ?’… All that crap. Far more thrilling and dramatic and indeed traumatic, if it was for real, than anything they’d ever encountered in their ordinary daily lives.

    So instead of their proper lives, in the semi-derelict house to be repaired, eating sandwiches made by their wives, birds singing, wind blowing, telling stories about the neighbourhood and the past in that locality, all that got displaced and replaced, brains colonised by this fabricated tv crap, titillating sex, lots of violence, all sorts of sub texts teaching certain political and ideological ways to see the world. In a sense, they were having their potential individual identity, their own personal story, annihilated and having a disjointed fragmented series of tv ads and shocking images implanted into them, instead.

    I think zen meditation is the only way I know to get rid of that stuff. Psyche soap. A mind that is completely still, as in mushin, no-mind, buddha-mind, nirvana. Get free from all the belief systems and just observe the raw reality as it is perceived, without any commentary or interpretation. This miraculous pool of vibrating energy, with living forms, trees, frogs, clouds, infinitely wondrous and mysterious.
    This is nothing to do with ‘imagination’ or ‘the supernatural’ or ‘religion’. It’s a physical thing. You do it in your body.

  • @ Ozman

    ….I mean what was that shit called the Crusades for? It seems a lot of killing went on there.

    Hahaha, have you read the accounts ? How they rejoiced at being up to their knees in blood in the streets of Jerusalem, and a lot of the people they slaughtered were actually Christians who’d been living there for centuries alongside the Jews and Moslems.
    Jesus told them, the most important commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, and they’ve been ‘Killing for Jesus’ ever since…

  • “Americans are the most drugged and indebted people on earth, with the highest rates of teen pregnancy and childbirth among developed nations. We don’t think much about the future, nor can we envision what it might bring. With no universal health care, many of us don’t even dare to think about our own bodily decline or vulnerabilities. “Kicking the can down the road” has become our mantra. Each speech by the President is a vapid pep talk with no correlation to reality, yet, clouded by virtual or real narcotics, many of us still clap and cheer. Others mumble that it’s time we fight back, but with our enemy ill-defined or out of reach, we’re reduced to shooting innocents or ourselves.”

  • The configuration of 21st century imperialism combines patterns of exploitation from the past as well as new features which are essential to understanding the contemporary forms of plunder, pillage and mass impoverishment. In this paper we will highlight the relatively new forms of imperial exploitation, reflecting the rise and consolidation of an international ruling class, the centrality of military power, large scale long-term criminality as a key component of the process of capital accumulation, the centrality of domestic collaborator classes and political elites in sustaining the US – EU empire and the new forms of class and anti-imperialist struggles.

  • The federal government calls them FEMA Corps. But they conjure up memories of the Hitler Youth of 1930’s Germany . Regardless of their name, Obama’s Dept of Homeland Security has just graduated its first class of 231 Homeland Youth! Kids, aged 18-24 and recruited from the President’s AmeriCorp volunteers, they represent the first wave of DHS’s “Youth Corps”, designed specifically to create a full time, paid, standing army of FEMA Youth across the country !

  • Guy McPherson Says:
    February 20th, 2013 at 8:34 am
    My latest cyber-conversation with Sherry Ackerman appeared at Transition Voice today.

    Haha. . .posted the link to the interview and a snip about it being addictive on my students message board earlier today.


  • In 2008, President Obama made statements regarding a “civilian national security force”. Since that day, many have been curious as to what President Obama had in mind when he made that statement.

  • Aha, so how come the police are recorded on the radio scanner, looking for Dylan Hockley, two days after he is supposed to have died in the SH shooting ?
    And who the fuck are the ‘secret service’ working for the ‘church’ ? Presumably it is code for something else, CIA, FBI, DHS, or some other, is it ? and how could they not be working also for the President, if they are ‘government gentlemen’ ??

  • ulvfugl sez:

    In a sense, they were having their potential individual identity, their own personal story, annihilated and having a disjointed fragmented series of tv ads and shocking images implanted into them, instead.

    I think zen meditation is the only way I know to get rid of that stuff. Psyche soap. A mind that is completely still, as in mushin, no-mind, buddha-mind, nirvana. Get free from all the belief systems and just observe the raw reality as it is perceived, without any commentary or interpretation

    I like this observation except for the singlemindedness of the solution. I’ve heard the problem being called the Culture of Possession, which has (at least) two aspects: commodity fetishization and one’s identity being colonized by others. Think invasion of the mind snatchers instead of body snatchers. (New movie coming out on that topic: The Host).

    There are many ways to be present in the world, not a zombie, and to cleanse oneself of the worst trappings of the dominant paradigm. (There is no good way to be free of all of it.) The no-mind solution may be one, but I find it paradoxical to suggest that emptiness hold great depth or promise.

  • @ Brutus

    It’s a fair point, Brutus.

    McKenna suggests a bag of mushrooms in a dark room. I see that as a way to wake up. But then there’s the problem of staying awake.

    I like the analogy of the desert and the market place. You go to the desert for prolonged peace and solitude, to get clear of the noise and commune with the eternal verities.

    Then you return to the market place and your peace gets wrecked by the pressure and clamour. So you repeat until you can maintain the peace of the desert within you, despite the madness and clamour of the marketplace all around.

    Thing is, that to be free from all belief systems is scary. Takes the strength of the shaman. If you flinch, you think you’ve gone mad, because nobody else will share your viewpoint, and that’s tough for a social animal, so gradual zen training is gentler than crashing into other realities with entheogens, imho, and you learn along the way.

    But I agree, it’s not an easy or simple problem. Years ago, i considered withdrawing into complete seclusion, but that seemed like a cop out, when I should be fighting to conserve fauna and flora, which meant getting informed, getting dirty, dealing with disgusting people, getting engaged with all kinds of crap…

    Yes, de-colonisation of the mind and identity…. possible ways and means… please, let’s have a blog post….

  • Love Police, fighting back

  • @ Brutus

    The no-mind solution may be one, but I find it paradoxical to suggest that emptiness hold great depth or promise.

    I take is you have no experience of this approach ?

    Zen is most certainly paradoxical, or appears so. It’s not a position one can arrive at by logical or intellectual analysis, it is far more profound, goes much deeper, seeing the mind and ideation as an obstruction to insight.

    Indeed, the expectation that it might offer something, or not hold promise, or any sort of conceptual thinking of any kind, is a hindrance. The point is, to get beyond ALL of that. That is, to have an absolutely still, empty, and silent mind, but fully and intensely awake and aware, and to be able to maintain this for prolonged periods, in fact, indefinitely.

    This is something quite unlike other approaches which attempt to build a logical case via a series of arguments or examples, or to give people insights via metaphors or works of art.

  • Kathy C, how does that climate scientist confidence index go? I’m thinking, if we are quick, we could incorporate it into a drinking game and sell it to the preppers out there. A board game, like monopoly, where you drink a shot or hit the bong every time surprise is expressed.

    I think there is a market out there.

    And because I’m in a seriously deranged mood, does anyone want to predict Bill McKibben’s reaction when Obama approves the Keystone? Could we resurrect the Punk’d show or something?

    Whilst waiting for extinction, there is some fun to be had, yes?

    (For the humor impaired, this is meant as sardonic irony)