Spreading the Horror

I’m pretty sure you know the drill. You pose the scenario and ask the hypothetical questions: There’s an asteroid headed for Earth. We know exactly when it will strike, and it will kill all humans. Do you want to know it will strike? Do you want to know when?

I know of no poll results, but I’ve asked the question a few times. Some people want to know everything. Others don’t want to know anything.

People who want to know when the asteroid will strike cannot fathom that people don’t want to know. People who don’t want to know the asteroid is headed our way cannot fathom why anybody would want to know. Obviously, I’m in the former camp, spreading the news like Nutella on a croissant as if people not only care about knowledge, but want to lap it up.

In fact, it’s inconceivable to me that people don’t want to know. I want to stare, unblinking, when the asteroid strikes. I want to peer into the abyss of my mortality, eyes wide open, knowing the exact moment I will depart this mortal coil. Not in the name of courage, but curiosity.

I have an idea. I could use the scenario and attendant hypothetical questions to introduce future presentations. (As an aside, the potential for speaking tours comes up quite frequently for me. Then, as prospective hosts fully understand the messages I’ll be transmitting, they fade away, often with no explanation and no response to my repeated messages. If you’re interested in jumping over the incredibly low bar necessary to host me, click this link for information.) Back to the point: If I used the hypothetical questions in my introduction, it would allow participants an opportunity to leave the premises before they hear the worst of it. They’d be out a few minutes of time, but they’d save some time and they’d depart relatively free of angst. Ignorance is bliss, especially with respect to challenging social issues, and who am I to rob people of their bliss?

Like the ninth person to arrive at a party for eight, I missed “fitting in” only by a smidgen. If I’m angry because I’m late to the party, you get to bear the brunt of my anger by reading about it here. My only defense is the line that’s become a bumper-sticker cliche: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

For me, not knowing is unbearable. But knowing is a great burden, too. And while I’m expecting an asteroid oddly shaped like climate chaos, we’ll probably get hit by a meteor.

If I did not know about the horrors of empire, I would still be teaching at a university. I would still be drawing a large paycheck doing the work I love and interacting with idealistic young people. I would have the respect and admiration of civilized people, including the members of my immediate family.

If I did not know about the horrors of climate change, I would be content with my path in life. I would be living large, sleeping well, and enjoying the contentment of a life well lived. Rarely would I attract animus from across the sociopolitical spectrum. Angst would lie in abeyance, along with threats on my life.

What a boring existence that would be. For better and worse, I’m stuck with the current adventure: the adventure of a lifetime until the adventure ends, along with the life.

There are no second chances, no opportunities to undo what’s been done. At the level of individuals, we refer to poor choices as stupidity (when others are making the choices) or tragedy (when it’s us). At the level of our ill-fated species, we refer to the myriad poor choices as progress. As nearly as I can distinguish, when faced with the proverbial fork in the road, we’ve taken the wrong turn at each and every opportunity. There are no second chances for our species, no opportunities to undo what’s been done. And yet we keep plugging along, claiming we’re sapient progressives. A few among us claim to be conservatives, but we’re conserving only this omnicidal way of life. Until we can’t.

We’ve committed suicide at the level of our entire species, and too many other species to correctly tally. All that’s left is more excuses in an endless string of excuses from the architects and marketers of industrial civilization. I won’t hold my breath for their long-overdue apologies.

I’m not suggesting all the bliss ignorance is inexplicable. The corporate governments of the world have been following the playbook of William Casey, U.S. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, since long before he uttered these words in 1981: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” It’s working great, as indicated by the one-third of Americans who would accept cavity searches in exchange for the privilege of flying commercial airlines, among many other such anecdotes.

An empire in decline requires obedience at home, and it helps if the populace remains purposefully ignorant. At a weekly White House meeting dubbed “Terror Tuesdays,” the drone-bomber-in-chief decides who will die without a whiff of due process, transparency, or oversight (and he has plenty of video-game operators forgoing their consciences to pull the trigger). In the video clip embedded in this article, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claims she has never heard of Obama’s infamous “kill list,” thus branding herself a national-level politician liar or stunningly ignorant (if she’s lying, she has plenty of company in the Obama administration).

Obama has given himself power over all communication systems in the country, and he can wiretap, indefinitely detain, and kill any of us on a whim, thereby indicating how meaningless is the Bill of Rights. In addition, he’s constantly seeking more power (including pre-emptive prosecution, in case he believes you’re thinking about committing a crime). Obama’s brand of evil, which includes dictatorial assassinations and ongoing destruction of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is exceeded only by the audacity and willful ignorance of his supporters.

Comments 216

  • @ulvfugl

    That’s fascinating research, thanks for the pointer. I’m currently pondering why humans can’t seem to stop eating the world, and it has occurred to me that there may be something deeper at work than “human nature” in all its diverse glory.

    Start from today, with 397.11 ppm CO2 in the air, the ice melting, the trees dying, and the fish stocks in the ocean pretty much gone. From today, go back through the beginning of the industrial age 200 years ago; through the discovery of agriculture 10,000 years ago; through the discovery of fire 250,000 years ago, through the development of language 500,000 years ago; back to the first time our ancestors gained an evolutionary advantage by eating meat 3.5 million years ago

    Through those 3.5 million years, the march of human progress has been a steady curve of growth. Rising slowly and unevenly at first, then faster and faster as we gained access to higher quality energy sources and learned how to manipulate them to our advantage

    Why has no human society in all that time ever said “Enough” – and lived to spread their culture across the planet? Is the fault in our stars or ourselves?

    My suspicion is that an unrecognized natural principle has been driving us along this path, variously helped and hindered by human cultural developments and the physical bases that spawned them, but always with an urge toward the use of more and more power – more energy transformed into useful work in the interests of ensuring our survival. This principle that only Odum and Lotka recognized is what is encoded at the basis of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in Marx’s “infrastructure”, and in the simple human desire that our children might have a better life than we did.

    It appears to be about time to pay the piper, but we’re not being asked for payment. Like the girl in the red shoes from the Andersen fairy tale, our only option is to continue dancing until we drop.

  • an urge toward the use of more and more power – more energy transformed into useful work in the interests of ensuring our survival.

    “Useful work” ultimately being defined as the production of more human biomass.

  • This is for Gail, from today’s local paper:

    University study shows white pines in the region are losing more needles

    DURHAM, N.H. — Researchers with a University of New Hampshire forest program have noticed that white pine trees in northern New England seem to be losing more needles lately.

    The Forest Watch program says the trees maintained vigorous growth during the late 1990s as the Clean Air Act took effect and ozone levels fell. Ozone is an oxidant that accelerates aging in foliage.

    But data shows that since 2010, the trees have not done as good a job of retaining those needles.

    “Something very serious is stressing the trees,” said Forest Watch founding director Barrett Rock of UNH’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space. “Not since the early to mid-1990s, when ozone levels were extremely high, have we seen these kinds of measurements of stress in the pines.”

    One possible cause is air pollution from wildfires. Rock said he believes that a powerful oxidant in wildfire smoke from Canada, in combination with unusually high temperatures, might have contributed to damaged sugar maple trees in the region.

    “The event might also have stressed the pines, and other pollutants from a growing number of wildfires might be causing further stress,” Rock said.

    Another theory is that unusually wet weather in 2009 caused an explosion of fungi that are clearly now feasting on the pine needles. They appear as orange-looking “blisters” on the needles.

    “Such fungi normally only attack needles that have been weakened by some other factor, and the fungi usually only damage a small percentage of the needles, not the large percentages we’re seeing,” Rock said.

    Forest Watch takes K-12 students and teachers out of their classrooms to study air pollution and forest health. Since 1991, more than 350 schools across New England have helped researchers at UNH gather samples and measurements of white pine needles to monitor the impacts of the ozone levels.
    http://www.timesargus.com/article/20130226/THISJUSTIN/702269847

    A lady in the local garden club has a tree farm. She says the pines only have one year’s worth of needles, whereas usually they have several.

  • @Robin Datta: “production of more human biomass”

    Tell me about it. Another big, heartwarming, “human interest” story in the local paper is about a young woman undergoing the latest of several open-heart surgeries in order to repair her heart, which was defective from birth, with holes and mal-formed valves. A big reason stated for why she was undergoing the latest operation was so that she could have children… WTF!?!?

    People have lost all sense of limits.

  • That last story also has to do with Paul Chefurka’s comment above.

    “Why humans can’t seem to stop eating the world…”
    “Why has no human society in all that time ever said ‘Enough’?”

    I don’t know that there have been NO societies which have said “Enough”, but they have been few and far between. Jeff S., I believe, recently mentioned a book called “Society Against the State”, which I read long ago and have recently dug up out of my book stash; it does document some societies of “Enough”. “The Gift” is another anthropological book which documents healthful societal systems for dealing with surplus.

  • Paul, I haven’t seen the movie for so long had forgotten about it. Now maybe I understand why I liked it so much! What a perfect metaphor.

    Lidia, thank you. I’m so furious about that article I haven’t been able to post about it yet. I’ve been in contact with Barry Rock so many times, he’s just in total denial. Curious that about 10 years ago he was worked up about ozone and I have lecture notes where he said air pollution was causing tree decline – and then he dropped it. Whether it’s because linkage is actively discouraged or he bought into the idea that ozone has been reduced (only the peaks have been reduced – the constant background goes up and up thanks mainly to Asia) I can’t say. But he’s being quite obtuse.

    And then there’s this:

    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/climate/Diminished_Forests_Potter.html

    After having foresters from Harvard and Yale and the Smithsonian Research Center insisting that east coast forests are fine and it’s all in my head!! …and also NASA told me two years ago that they don’t have any satellite pictures of vegetation in the northeast but that study has data going back to 2000.

    grrrrrrr….

    sorry for the venting…

  • With all of the actual problems in the world, why would we go out of our way to CREATE a hypothetical scenario that “an asteroid is definitely going to wipe us all out” — and then focus so much worry on that? I’m a bit mystified.

  • @Lidia,

    I was a bit too emphatic when I said that no such societies had etc. Thye point of my comment is in the nuance that those few societies that have said “Enough” have not been able to propagate their cultural genetic/memetic material across the planet. That privilege has gone to those cultures that have not restrained themselves. This is exactly what the Maximum Power Principle predicts when it is used as the fitness selection criterion and applied to the self-organizing adaptive complex systems of human societies.

  • This site (hat tip to RadChick) presents ever-more evidence to support his theory that all the hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere now leads to more fires, explosions and curious and foremerly rare phenomena like spontaneous eruption occuring nowadays. He documents it all and presents it here

    http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/

    summary of hypothesis
    The seas, lakes and oceans are now pluming deadly hydrogen sulfide and suffocating methane. Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic water-soluble heavier-than-air gas and will accumulate in low-lying areas. Methane is slightly more buoyant than normal air and so will be all around, but will tend to contaminate our atmosphere from the top down. These gases are sickening and killing oxygen-using life all around the world, including human life, as our atmosphere is increasingly poisoned. Because both gases are highly flammable and because our entire civilization is built around fire and flammable fuels, this is leading to more fires and explosions. This is an extinction level event and will likely decimate both the biosphere and human population and it is debatable whether humankind can survive this event.

    Predictions

    A. More fires and more explosions, especially along the coasts, but everywhere generally.
    B. Many more animal die-offs, of all kinds, and especially oceanic species.
    C. More multiples of people will be found dead in their homes, as if they’d dropped dead.
    D. More corpses found in low-lying areas, all over the world.
    E. More unusual vehicular accidents.
    F. Improved unemployment numbers as people die off.

    Look around this site – it’s shocking to see all the stories of events taking place in the above categories EACH DAY listed in one place. Check it out when you have time.

  • From the above site, these are the (world-wide) hydrogen sulfide related events:

    http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/12/hydrogen-sulfide-events.html

  • Expressed in less scientific terms, Nietzsche understood this drive towards energy expansion as the fundamental tendency of all life forms:

    [Anything which] is a living and not a dying body… will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant – not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power… ‘Exploitation’… belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life.

    from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, s.259

    I suppose the question is whether a sentient species (particularly ours) can overcome this unconscious drive and place limits on its own expansion relative to the carrying capacity of its environment.

  • depressive lucidity wrote: “I suppose the question is whether a sentient species (particularly ours) can overcome this unconscious drive and place limits on its own expansion relative to the carrying capacity of its environment.”

    I suspect Nietzsche gave up on the Superman late in his career specifically because he concluded that humans would not overcome our unconscious drive.

  • .
    Today may be bad, but doom’s curse,
    Makes progress procede in reverse:
    Despite efforts to cope,
    There’s no basis for hope,
    And tomorrow is going to be worse.

  • @depressive lucidity,

    Thanks for the quote from Nietzsche. What has startled me about the implications of this idea are how bleeding obvious they are when you get it. It suddenly becomes completely, transparently, perspicuously obvious that “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind” to quote Emerson.

    And so all our illusions of control are revealed as the quaint pretensions they are, as our dreams of human glory, self-perfection and eventual transcendence crumble into dust.

    And from Shelley:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

  • Jenny Nazak says: With all of the actual problems in the world, why would we go out of our way to CREATE a hypothetical scenario that “an asteroid is definitely going to wipe us all out” — and then focus so much worry on that? I’m a bit mystified.

    The scary movie appeal:
    It’s just pretend danger you feel;
    Real doom, instead:
    It’s like, when you’re dead,
    It’s not just a movie, it’s real.

  • Cyclone Rusty-

    forming into a category 4 near Port Hedland, off the West coast of Australia, several days after very high winds ansd widespread flooding off the East Coast at Balina and Bellingen NSW.

    ‘Red alert as Cyclone Rusty intensifies’

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-26/red-alert-as-cyclone-rusty-intensifies/4541780?section=wa

    “A red alert has put Port Hedland in lockdown as Cyclone Rusty continues tracking towards the Pilbara town.”

    ‘Western Australia North Radar/Lightning’
    As of 9:20an NSW time

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/radar/wan

    All these effects are much slower to mave along than in decades past.

  • Jenny you wrote “With all of the actual problems in the world, why would we go out of our way to CREATE a hypothetical scenario that “an asteroid is definitely going to wipe us all out” — and then focus so much worry on that? I’m a bit mystified.”

    This is referred to as an analogy which is a useful device for getting across an idea. It can be quite effective.

    Per wiki
    Analogy (from Greek ἀναλογία, analogia, “proportion”[1][2]) is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. In a narrower sense, analogy is an inference or an argument from one particular to another particular, as opposed to deduction, induction, and abduction, where at least one of the premises or the conclusion is general. The word analogy can also refer to the relation between the source and the target themselves, which is often, though not necessarily, a similarity, as in the biological notion of analogy.

  • Re: “Why humans can’t seem to stop eating the world…”
    “Why has no human society in all that time ever said ‘Enough’?”

    It’s because we are programmed (as are other creatures) to send roots out as far as possible and consume as much energy and nutrients/resources along the way. Problem is, that we have reached the end of the pot and our roots are circling, suffocating, and girdling. We don’t have evolutionary programming to deal with this peculiar circumstance; We have no programs which cry ‘bonsai’ to our species as it now should.

  • My .02 egarding accessing energy; any organism that did/does not have that as a prime genetically programed directive is soon out-competed to extinction. Why would a species be genetically programed to limit its success? It is a jungle out there.

    @ James:

    James Says:
    February 25th, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    “Human civilization is a malignancy that has escaped from the ecosystem.”

    If that is valid then why are we considering NTE for our species due to “rapid non-linear ecosystem change” ?

  • @Bailey,

    Exactly so.

    The power-seeking principle that drives us onward lies beneath our biology, below our genetics, under the socioeconomic structures, and far below the thoughts, values and beliefs that we believe are what move us. This entire edifice from biology to belief comes into existence to implement, support and justify the fundamental search for energy to transform into useful work and waste heat.

    Humanity is an enormously elaborated entropy engine – one that is really impressed with itself.

  • @Gail, don’t apologize in the least! It’s something, though, that this made the front page of a reduced-content paper, albeit in less-right-wing (“Montpeculiar”) Vermont.

    Too little too late. I’m always glad to hear of your interventions, even if they don’t bear fruit, because it means at least SOMEone is Paying Attention!

    I took a couple of pics in my neighborhood today, and know where I want to take a few more to share. When I get them up somewhere public, I’ll let you know.

  • @Gail, I broke up my paragraphs badly: I meant that the attention given by the MSM was too little, too late.

  • @depressive lucidity, yes at some point you would think “powerful, but dead” would give way to “less-powerful, but alive” strategies.

  • @Kathy C., re. analogies. Exactly so. Also metaphors, like the currently-popular “vampire” and “walking-dead” media/meme phenomena.

    People, esp. the younger generations, pick up on it as ironic, but I think underneath, even at a subconscious level, they know that’s not the end of it… The funny thing is how the nihilistic punk of my generation sort of went away, and came back 30 years later in a less aggressive form, having accepted co-existence with, or even mating with/transforming into non-human creatures: zombies and blood-suckers.

    Why are so many people talking about the “zombie apocalypse”? I can only think it’s because it’s a euphemism for the real one, the one that won’t be televised.

  • @Lidia

    “Less-powerful, but alive” could happen – maybe – if we were in charge of our destiny. Unfortunately we’re not, and the forces that are driving the bus have no preferred outcome. Alive or dead is immaterial. Thermodynamic process is all that’s real.

  • I have two questions for Guy and company.

    When I look at a graph of atmospheric CO2 levels and global temperatures, there is a direct and positive correlation albeit somewhat delayed; however, over the last several years despite a spike in CO2, temps appear to have remained fairly constant, although above average. What accounts for the lack of correlation? Could this be due to secret geo-engineering projects? One would think that world leaders would be in a panic to reduce CO2 levels based on the historic record, but other than the occasional sound bite nothing is really being done. I think the argument that the president has just too many things more pressing to worry about is too simplistic. I am beginning to think that the president has been advised by some scientific community that a global geo-engineering project is underway that will result in a moderation of temps (like HAARP?). I am not suggesting this will work, but this may explain the lack of action.

    My second question: Why is it OK for wildlife to drink from water sources that no human would dare drink from unless treated first, and this is just about all surface water in the Eastern US?

  • @ Paul C.

    Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity, what profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun ?…. For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

  • Frank, all past spikes in temperature were followed by spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (resulting from increased decomposition). This time is different. Obama surely knows it’s too late to prevent runaway greenhouse, as I pointed out in this essay.

    Non-human animals don’t need to survive the brutal effects of bad water for long. They don’t live nearly as long as humans.

  • ‘People have lost all sense of limits.’ -lidia. they’ve lost their connection and proper place in nature. suffer from hubris cubed.

  • @ Friedrich K.

    Re first question, I heard that senior advisers on climate polocy to governments of very many countries are just as aware as to how desperate the climate situation is, as we are here. They are emotionally burned out – they have kids and grandkids too – they are confused, stressed out from the conflicting demands, and have absolutely no idea what to do.

    Re second question, it depends on what species of wildlife you’re considering and what the particular contaminants of the water might be.
    Animals have different metabolisms. For example, dogs, wolves, coyotes can take in microbes that would be lethal to humans, because the hydrochloric acid in their stomachs is much more concentrated than the acid in ours.

  • Hi Guy- You are the expert, but I always thought that CO2 preceded temp. increases. For example, I thought volcanoes would erupt, then the atmosphere would respond initially colder to the increase in atmospheric particulate matter then warmer due to the release of heat trapping gases.

    Hi ulvfugi- I was just wondering why humans are special. What about chimps or turtles that do live as long or longer than humans?

  • Re: water, part of it is building up a resistance to bugs that might make you sick (eg., Montezuma’s revenge). As far as inorganic toxins, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. The bulk of industrial pollution has only been around for a few of human generations and the pressures on wildlife in that same time period have come from many other fronts than just water pollution. It’s certainly possible someone has studied the issue narrowly.

    I recently went to a presentation by farmer and author Ben Hewitt on food “safe”ty. His recent book, among other things, recounts his dumpster-diving and road-kill harvesting with a friend who lives by those practices.

  • Guy thought this was a decent presentation so I thought I would share:

  • http://benhewitt.net/about/making-supper-safe/
    People who have imbalances in their own body and in their own bacterial flora are going to be more susceptible to bad bugs overwhelming their body’s ecosystem. These imbalances can come about in varying ways (including using too much anti-bacterial soaps, taking anti-biotics, eating meat pumped full of anti-biotics, never going outside to touch dirt, etc.).

  • Thanks for the link, Friedrich. I’ve seen that presentation by Kevin Anderson, and it’s good.

  • You are right, Lidia. On my first trip to Colombia I returned home with a tough case of the runs and fever; however, in my return visits I have not become ill, including after ingesting the local water which can be suspect (for brushing teeth)- ever. After my first trip, I dropped my weight (40 fat pounds) to the same level I was at in High school and I have maintained ever since- strange but positive outcome that has been lasting.

  • Maybe the round and tape worms in my gut are taking care of the excess weight!

  • Friedrich, humans are not special, just that all species are different.

    They evolve to fit particular niches and have resistance and defences to the sort of challenges that they experience in those niches.

    What seems to have happened with humans, in Europe they co-evolved with domesticated animals, so lots of disease organisms crossed the species barriers, ( the sort of threat bird flu and swine flu, etc, gets mentioned often ) cow pox, small pox, etc, they develop a balance, as immunity gets inherited, and then take that to N. and S. American populations, with no history of exposure, and the indigenous native populations succumb to epidemics.

    Modern populations in N. America, growing up in sterile homes with a fetishism about hygiene, promoted by corporations selling disinfectant products, means kids don’t have any immunity to common organisms, like farm kids used to get in childhood when they ingested a lot of dirt as they grew up. Some theorise this accounts for many of the autoimmune and other diseases which were rare in the past.

    Of course, the other aspect of chemical pollution of water, by pesticides and industrial toxins of many kinds, is another matter altogether. I gather that each of us has on average five hundred chemicals in our bodies which should not be there, most of which we have no means of excreting. This I assume will be much the same for all the wildlife.

    Probably the effects are accumulative and long term for most of those chemicals, but nobody bothers to study the area much, because the chemical corporations try to pretend its not a problem, and it’s very, very difficult to work out what the combined effect of, say, twenty different synthetic chemicals, in combination, in, say, the human liver or brain, over, say, twenty years, might be. Common sense suggests it wouldn’t be positive.

  • Bailey

    and if you agree with this…
    Paul Chefurka,

    “Re: “Why humans can’t seem to stop eating the world…”
    “Why has no human society in all that time ever said ‘Enough’?”

    It’s because we are programmed (as are other creatures) to send roots out as far as possible and consume as much energy and nutrients/resources along the way. Problem is, that we have reached the end of the pot and our roots are circling, suffocating, and girdling. We don’t have evolutionary programming to deal with this peculiar circumstance; We have no programs which cry ‘bonsai’ to our species as it now should.”

    I think I’d like to put the exat opposite case, and say that I don’t deny any of the ‘success’ strategies that were mentioned concerning energy are in operation.
    Howerver, this positing that genetic programming is the only force applying here is way overblown and simply not true.
    As an individual have you ever looked at a member of the desirable gender to you, and even momentarily felt the desire, or had the thought bubble ‘what if…?”. Of course you have, everyone has. Your genetic programming for both species replication, and genetic diversity got your consciousness engaged and wow.
    However, did you act in every case? No. Why not? Well I will put up that in the main it was not socially appropriate,right? He or she would not accept, or it would be hard to accomplish on a crowded bus or whatever, but the crucial fact is you learned a sociaal code, or custom, that made you ‘choose’ to override or not identify with your genetic impulse.
    Are we getting the picture.
    Humans are far smarter than to ‘just follow their genetic programming’.

    I know some here may on the evidence still disagree with that.

    What we also have is an accumulation of historic custome to follow the group, and that has served the Hunter Gatherers for several hundred thousand years, and it is a learned behavour.
    Learned behavour, or will demonstration can override any instinct, even to eat, or take water, ( perhaps not to breathe , but that could be debated by yogis).
    Refusal to eat and take water is recognised as a fundamental act of non compliance with a social or political code, we call it ‘hunger strike’, and usaually applies to incarcerated individuals, or small groups in detention.
    So I posit that any reliable human characteristic we call instincts, and ‘genetic programming’ can be transcended, giventhe appropriate motivation and learned alternatives.
    So what this essentially meansis that the actual genetic programming is not at fault. I think it is just easier to pose this, which takes any of the heat from the next cultrit, which is the concept within each culture of what constitutes ‘self interest’.
    NTE and massive pollution, and catastrophic climate change…. Why has it all come to this?

    In my view it is because we are still behaving tribally, even in industrial civilisations. And the new universal tribe is united by a default currency, at present US dollars.

    If I can choose to do this or that, buy this or not, clive a full life of profligate consumption or intentional frugality, so can you, and so can everyone. In modern situations the capacity to manipulate and modify the perceptions of cultural norms and preferences is within the power of the very few.
    Don’t watch screens except for clear purposes.
    The reason we are not pulling back is some very smart people did 60 or so years of psychological research, which we all payed for, which worked out how to create product desire, by attaching that instinct to a product via a brief story.
    Genetics is only a starting block position, the rest is how you modify your behavour, based on your conscious power of will, which involves the will to go against the mainstream.
    Guy can tell anyone what swimming in the opposite direction to the mainstream is like. Social conformity, and fear, or more properly social immaturity are the biggest human problems we faced in our era, and yes, it may be too little too late.

  • The most recent brain research, shows that it is really not possible to define exact regions for consciousness, or even specific forms of intelligence.

    Cognitive abilities have now begun to appear in very unlikely places. Previous posts have noted how small animals, insects, plants, and even microbes show advanced forms of cognition. Advanced social characteristics of amoebas, with no brain, have been observed. Amoebas have been shown to sacrifice themselves for other amoebas, especially if they are closely related.

    http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/lizards-arent-supposed-to-be-this-smart

  • @OzMan

    You can do that, and I can do that – as individuals. Large organizations, societies, countries and civilizations can’t turn aside from our programming so easily, though. Groupthink takes over, and the rules change. Infrastructure probabilistically drives the higher layers of culture, not the other way around.

  • @ Paul C.

    Yes, so who has managed to shift thing ? Marx, Tom Paine, Darwin, Ghandi, Mandela, lots of people try and have some effect… Can we learn anything ?

    Rousseau ?

    http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2012/julyaugust/feature/friends-rousseau

  • @uvlfugl

    That reminded me of Daniel Dennett’s take on neurons:

    McCulloch and Pitts had put together the idea of a very simple artificial neuron, a computational neuron, which had multiple inputs and a single branching output and a threshold for firing, and the inputs were either inhibitory or excitatory. It meant that basically you could treat the brain as a computer and treat the neuron as a sort of basic switching element in the computer. Everybody knew is was an over-simplification, but people didn’t realize how much, and more recently it’s become clear to me that it’s a dramatic over-simplification, because each neuron, far from being a simple logical switch, is a little agent with an agenda, and they are much more autonomous and much more interesting than any switch.

    The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances? This vision of the brain as a sort of social arena of politically warring forces seems like sort of an amusing fantasy at first, but is now becoming something that I take more and more seriously, and it’s fed by a lot of different currents.

    We’re beginning to come to grips with the idea that your brain is not this well-organized hierarchical control system where everything is in order, a very dramatic vision of bureaucracy. In fact, it’s much more like anarchy with some elements of democracy. Sometimes you can achieve stability and mutual aid and a sort of calm united front, and then everything is hunky-dory, but then it’s always possible for things to get out of whack and for one alliance or another to gain control, and then you get obsessions and delusions and so forth.

    My inner anarchist LOVES this idea!

    http://edge.org/conversation/the-normal-well-tempered-mind

  • We have managed to keep dogs as immature wolves,for a long time now, arresting their maturity to keep them so we could modify their behavour, and maybe we have done the same to ourselves, or at least one class has to many others.
    The smartest monkey gets the nuts.

    My guess is we watched the naturally occurring fires in the landscape for a very very very long time before we ever had an idea we could do something with fire.

    I bet the first one was socially penalised a lot for transgressing something, even back then.

    Theed: ” Grognack, Grognack no! Run away from flame, away …not to…!Grognack…away from flame…? ”

    Great!. The first shimmering of Sapience in humans was ……
    a pyromaniac.

    Might explain a bit ….

  • @ Ozman

    The smartest monkey gets the nuts.

    That’s not the problem. We’ve got too many smart monkeys. What we lack is common sense and wisdom. We’ve plenty of people who are brilliant, who are totally irresponsible reckless maniacs with no judgement or ethics or vision, no sense of history or the big picture, no sense of duty towards future generations and life on Earth…

    Incidentally, if anybody had asked me, when was the screw was invented, I’d have guessed, probably Germany or Switzerland in the 17th C., don’t think the Romans or Greeks had, though might be mistaken. But I’d be wrong. Not by centuries, by many millennia, tens of thousands of years… ( scroll down ) Some amazing genius !

    http://www.donsmaps.com/tools.html

  • @ Paul C.

    Yeah, well that bit is fine, but I can’t get along with Dennett, and all the others who think like him, they really need to do a lot more psychedelic drugs, and then they might understand that there’s a whole other thing going on, not just this reductionist simplified narrow mechanistic rational picture that they want to paint….
    There’s all the very strange anomalous stuff that cannot be brushed under the carpet. I don’t know what it is, and neither does anybody else, but I think it is important.

  • Lidia, yes I do think there is a deep unease about – people knowing things are not right. Young people probably sense that more than adults and act out. The weird weather seems to be getting some attention. When things get worse I expect that various religions and cults will increase.

  • Gail, just back from a trip to Atlanta to see my Dad. Trees, big trees, are falling there. Besides all the pollution the drought followed by heavy rains is toppling them One fell on a moving truck on I 20 killing him and clogging up the interstate. http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/21350716/driver-killed-by-falling-tree-on-interstate-20

  • @ulvfugl

    I agree about Dennett and his ilk. I’m more of a McKenna-ite. Because of that, I celebrate any emergence of chaos and disorder in the mechanistic worldview.

    Somebody said, ‘What, is your message still the same?’ My message is still the same, and it has nothing to do with me. The message is, ‘Don’t follow me, eat a shroom!’ Unlock the cultural box and check out what’s going on. Your nervous system, your sexuality, and your vegetable friends provide an antidote to cultural dystopia, alienation, and victimization. Don’t be a victim. Don’t consume. Produce art. Keep your powder dry, one hand over your wallet, the other hand over your asshole — this the way to proceed with this society, I think. And then we’ll all meet at the end and make extremely high art. I see it coming.” ~Terence McKenna, Surfing the Fractal Wave at the End of History (New York City, April 23, 1997)

  • Hm, thanks Kathy.

    “We believe it’s weather related. We had a couple of other reports of trees down in the county.”

    Here’s another recent one from Ohio:

    It’s very hard to get statistics about injuries from falling trees, because coroners don’t list it on reports so the CDC can’t determine the cause. But I think it’s a safe bet to say the number of people injured and killed by falling branches and trees has been increasing – as has the amount of property damage from trees falling on cars and housese – and not just because there are more people under trees or more storms or higher wind.

    People are afraid of trees now and they never used to be.

    A better measure is the frequency and length of power outages, which are almost always due to fallen trees, and we all know how that’s been going!

    On another note, this is what keeps me up at night: Middle daughter’s house in KY was just broken into, and all the jewelry I had given her and she had inherited from her grandmother was stolen. Youngest daughter is working on her doctorate at UC Santa Cruz, where I went to college. At that time, it was a totally safe place. This morning on the front page of yahoo news, two police officers killed:

    “The violence comes amid a recent spate of assaults in the city, which community leaders had planned to address in a downtown rally scheduled for Tuesday. That, along with a city council meeting, was canceled after teary-eyed city leaders learned of the deaths.”

    “Those shootings include the killing of a 32-year-old martial arts instructor who was shot outside a popular downtown bar and restaurant; the robbery of a UC Santa Cruz student who was shot in the head; a 21-year-old woman who was raped and beaten on the UC Santa Cruz campus; and a couple who fought off two men during a home invasion.”

  • The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances?

    That paradigm goes back to the molecules that interact to form the biochemical machinery of life.

    Confusion arises when “mind” is perceived as animate, a common conflation of “awareness” with “mind”. The “redness” of a rose is absent without ambient light, and so too the “awareness” of the “mind” is absent without consciousness. The light is not in the rose, nor is the awareness in the mind.

    Both mind and matter are inanimate, the “mind” being a set of epiphenomena of matter, a derivative of matter in certain configurations, in the same way that “life” is molecular biology, a derivative of biochemistry, a derivative of chemistry, in turn a derivative of physics.

    There is no duality: the projector, screen and observer are one and the same – the Void, Sunyata, Ein Sof. Living things and inanimate objects borrow their “awareness” and “existence” from it as a snake perceived in a dimly lit rope borrows its “existence” from the rope.

    The bases of knowing, the sources of evidence, are awareness (pratyaksha) inference (anumana) and dependable testimony (sabda), with several other derivatives listed by other schools. The first is awareness: even there a lot that is inference is conflated with awareness. Those blind from birth who have their sight restored by surgery when they are verbal, at first only perceive a mass of shapes and colours. It takes some time to organise these perceptions into objects in space and time.

    Inexplicable events and occurrences are only as real as the explicable ones. Both are like a snake perceived on seeing a dimly lit rope. But unlike the snake, they depend on something that cannot be perceived as an object of knowledge, since it is the Only and Eternal Subject.

  • ulvfugl Says:
    February 26th, 2013 at 6:50 pm
    @ Friedrich K.

    Re first question, I heard that senior advisers on climate polocy to governments of very many countries are just as aware as to how desperate the climate situation is, as we are here. They are emotionally burned out – they have kids and grandkids too – they are confused, stressed out from the conflicting demands, and have absolutely no idea what to do.”

    They have no idea what to do since they realize there are no solutions and nothing to be done that materially alters what we are now in the midst of.

    Perhaps the new vision that Quinn writes about in “The Story of B” is getting traction; deep unease, NTE, climate disruption. . . .no solutions, no programs needed.

  • Kevin Anderson goes on about why climate scientists “say nothing”, but I wasn’t too impressed with his solutions either. I suppose he too doesn’t want to live in a mud hut.

  • @Ozman,
    I think I’d like to put the exat opposite case, and say that I don’t deny any of the ‘success’ strategies that were mentioned concerning energy are in operation.
    Howerver, this positing that genetic programming is the only force applying here is way overblown and simply not true.
    As an individual have you ever looked at a member of the desirable gender to you, and even momentarily felt the desire, or had the thought bubble ‘what if…?”. Of course you have, everyone has. Your genetic programming for both species replication, and genetic diversity got your consciousness engaged and wow.

    I will agree that there is this paradox whereby a SMALL percentage of us humans are able to reflect (and even regret) our tendencies to live at odds with nature. However, is that enough to change what we are? What we are is a species which is able to disrupt the protective boundaries that other species encounter when biologically driven to utilize all energy available and reproduce maximally. What we are is a species that requires maximum stimulation at the cost of other life and the planet’s resources. What we are is a species that must expand, consume, clear cut, burn, pollute, and use other animals (and plants!) for our amusement and gratification. What we are is a species which having no new frontiers to expand and explore, must now find constant stimulation via technology (resulting in more energy and resource usage and continued pollution)

    We are stimulation junkies, and I don’t see anyway we could be anything but; How could we ever be content to pollinate flowers, or just take nutrients from sunlight and minerals from the soil, – or any other examples of other life which has a ‘give and take’ with the environment and nature and is content therewith? This is a great source of existential angst (and depression) with me.

  • So Robin, do you think, then, that “mindfulness” is simply a step towards awareness? If awareness does not arrive from the mind, does that mean it can only arise within a surrendered state of grace? That’s how it appears to me.

    By the way, have you ever contemplated the idea that unqualified, declarative language (“Thus-and-so ‘is’ like this”, “Such and such ‘happens because of’ xxx” etc.) may be the product of Imperial Male Thought Patterns? That such statements do not reflect truth but rather one’s personal beliefs? Nobody, after all, seems to have a handle on Truth. I feel that when I dress my language in the cloak of certainty, the main person I’m trying to reassure turns out to be myself. I’ve been trying to qualify more and more of what I say these days. While it felt uncomfortably hesitant at first, I have found that people seem to be less resistant to unusual ideas if they are offered with some uncertainty in the language.

  • ..I sometimes feel like I am having a psychological autoimmune response to my own existence as a fellow virus-man (though I try my best not to be what I am).

  • @ Paul C.

    Re Dennett/McKenna, happy that we agree :-)

  • There’s a very long and very boring lecture here, about zen and neuroscience. If you can get past the dull delivery style, which takes some determination, there’s some very interesting snippets as to how zen mind may re-organise brain functioning.

    http://www.ecobuddhism.org/wisdom/psyche_and_spirit/zab/

  • So Robin, do you think, then, that “mindfulness” is simply a step towards awareness?>/i>

    Awareness is always present, but is coloured by the objects of awareness. “Mindfulness” and such are ways to still the waters so that the reflection is undistorted – or to clean the window pane so the light comes through unobstructed.

  • Nobody, after all, seems to have a handle on Truth.

    It is not an object, and therefore does not have handles. That is why there is reference to the Void – Sunyata, Ein Sof, all of which are ad hoc handles.

  • @ Robin D.

    I think that ( those two comments ) are thoughts, ideas on your head, beliefs, which you, Robin, an ego-construct, believe to be true.

  • Correction : IN your head, or, if you prefer, in your mind, or in your brain.

  • ulvfugl said…
    Modern populations in N. America, growing up in sterile homes with a fetishism about hygiene, promoted by corporations selling disinfectant products, means kids don’t have any immunity to common organisms, like farm kids used to get in childhood when they ingested a lot of dirt as they grew up.

    The Philosopher Carlin seems to agree wholeheartedly.
    Here’s the Manhattan version…

  • Hahaha, The End Of Britain !

    They’re talking about money… geographically, geologically, nothing much changes, except for the inexorable sea level rise, so the coast lines move…

    In fact, you will certainly see the consequences of this deep-rooted problem unfold across the cities, towns and villages of Britain. No one will escape the fallout.

    In all recorded history, no country has ever recovered from the financial position we find ourselves in today. No government has ever been able to reverse this trend. No emergency action has ever come close to a solution.

    This inescapable problem has only ever had one outcome: financial collapse.

    http://info.moneyweek.com/urgent-bulletins/the-end-of-britain

  • No Robin, you’re saying it. Who are you? Why do you need to tell us all “how it is”?

  • @U “In all recorded history, no country has ever recovered from the financial position we find ourselves in today. No government has ever been able to reverse this trend. No emergency action has ever come close to a solution. This inescapable problem has only ever had one outcome: financial collapse.”

    Not to attract the attention of Paul, but in my best declarative manner: Duh. (Not to you, U, but in general.)

    The problem with intelligence is that it seems to manifest itself in various levels of expertise. Since there are no curriculums or professions available that favor analyzing large-scale macro events, it basically goes unremarked.

    For those that do pursue broad-based linkages, it’s usually after a career in some enterprise useful to empire; in my own case, a numbers guy. However, that being said, once you do grasp the simplicity of how the overall system actually operates, it’s a wonder why others don’t.

    Once again, here it is in a nutshell: Where does re-paid interest on debt come from? That is, if I loan $100 @ 5%, where do I come up with not just $100, but the $5 accrued interest? It’s unbelievable how this easy question even stumps people with advanced degrees from prestigious universities. In fact, it’s almost unfailing in eliciting some kind of puzzled admission that they don’t know.

    Well, the answer is that it comes from somebody else loaning $105, and putting that extra $5 into the economy. In other words, the debt money system created by the chosen few, and given a preferred legal monopoly by our government in 1913, is nothing more than a ponzi scheme that must always expand, or suffer catastrophic collapse.

    So, how has the debt money base always manage to always expand for nearly 100 years? That’s easy – it has ridden Hubbert’s curve all the way up, past the US production peak in 1971, all the way to global peak around 2008.

    But now the jig is up. Anybody with half-a-brain (there’s another declaration) knows it’s all over except for the crying. The intention now is to string this out as long as possible to help ensure that those who actually engineered the system in the first place have all their ducks in order before letting momentum take over.

    It’s the reason for NDAA, the assault on the 2nd, the wholesale importation of non-citizens (in both the US & UK) who have no living knowledge of self-government, the planned extermination of aging baby boomers (via denial of care or provision of non-care), etc, etc. Scientific dictatorship is the goal, and the PTB are really close to grabbing that brass ring.

    Unfortunately, it takes an awful lot of energy to maintain a full spectrum security state, so even as they near their prize, they’ll see it snatched away by nature. They well know this of course, which is why they too are in a semi-zombie state. Imagine dedicating yourself to life goal, only to have some outside event spoil your party? Pity, really.

  • @ B9K9

    Well, I actually agree with you, I posted that, because they they claim to be UKs best selling money mag, so it’s interesting that collapse is now right into the mainstream, but other than that, from my anarcho ( D. Graeber type ) perspective, the whole financial system is a load of crap, and they are just exploiting the fear themselves with their various advice to move funds here or there. As you say, the whole money thing is a con trick, a ponzi scheme, and fractional reserve banking, usury and debt and all the rest are dirty bankers tricks and the sooner it all collapses the better.
    The people who control the banks and run the City of London got rich by blood, brutality, and ruthless exploitation, and they’ve tried to keep their nasty game going as long as possible, but it is falling apart.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-colonial-shame-slaveowners-given-huge-payouts-after-abolition-8508358.html

  • @ Bailey

    The fact that CFACT has ‘Lord’ Monckton on it’s board of advisors tells all that anyone needs to know about its integrity.

  • I don’t get it, I am seeing more and more publications suggesting the IPCC estimates of warming are too high. I cannot believe all of this is conspiracy, so I am not sure what gives.

  • Bailey, most citizens keep believing and promoting the lies told by corporate governments of the world. Fortunately, science has some great attributes. For one, it generates reliable knowledge regardless what you believe. For another, it’s not a democracy. Almost nobody believed Galileo during his time. Check out the presentation at the Tällberg Forum in 2008, embedded below this description:

    “David Wasdell is possibly the foremost climate systems analyst on Earth: he tells it like it is, because he sees no reason to lie. When he talks, you listen, because failure to listen to his unique brand of unfiltered, unpoliticized, science-based analysis is failure to listen to the voice of reason.”

    “He says we have to go into a period of negative radiative forcing (global heating energy) merely to end up with a stable, non-catastrophic climate system, ‘thats the overall strategy. It is not, of course, the strategy being addressed by the IPCC … they are addressing a climate agenda that is way out of date from the reality of the system as we know it today.’”

    “Wasdell is an angry man. He has stared into the abyss, time and time again, and realised that we are acting like spoilt children in a party where there is nothing but cake and chocolate laced with cyanide: spoilt children who will kill themselves in search of a toxic dream.”

  • Says who?

    One answer, amongst others:

    No Robin, you’re saying it. Who are you? Why do you need to tell us all “how it is”?

    The answer to the first of the two new questions might be satisfied by the bio at the three guest blog posts that can be found by Googling: guy mcpherson blog “by robin datta”.

    The answer to the second question that there is no need. However it is not inappropriate that when one can suggest responses, one might do so, for questions such as:

    “The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances?”

    “So Robin, do you think, then, that “mindfulness” is simply a step towards awareness?”

    And

    “Says who?”

  • @Friedrich Kling, that’s quite interesting about your body’s reset after the Colombian trip.

    While I was reading Paul Cefurka’s citations re. neurons, I thought the same thing of our cohorts of bacteria: anarchists. They work while the working conditions are good, but can’t be corralled or forced to do so. They need a collaborative environment to express their full potential.

    I’d hazard a guess that—as little as we know about the larger ecosystems of the Earth—we know even less about those closest to us: we’ve only scratched the surface so far.

  • Bailey

    If you assert this…

    ” What we are is a species which is able to disrupt the protective boundaries that other species encounter when biologically driven to utilize all energy available and reproduce maximally. What we are is a species that requires maximum stimulation at the cost of other life and the planet’s resources. What we are is a species that must expand, consume, clear cut, burn, pollute, and use other animals (and plants!) for our amusement and gratification. What we are is a species which having no new frontiers to expand and explore, must now find constant stimulation via technology (resulting in more energy and resource usage and continued pollution)

    We are stimulation junkies, and I don’t see anyway we could be anything but…”

    Then I think you are not speaking about mature humans.

    You are describing the child and adolescent mind, as it has now taken precedence in modern culture over the wizdom of adults. The way we use money in this modern world will bring to the forground the adolescent level of consciousness, for that is how adolescents, at least dispositionally, see the world. About ‘me’, and ‘my’ experience, which is precicely why older, indigenous cultures did not let adolescents dangle very long in this phase, and by understanding between elders, swiftly moved them on to beginning stages of adult responsibilities.
    The overstimulation of the desire nature,as well as lve forever mentality, and the eager disposition to part with money to support these concerns, marks the adolescent mode as optimal for market capitalism. Easier to get an adolescent to part with money than a mature adult. An imature adult, whatever discriptor one finds to describe this unique creature notwithstanding, is just as caught up in the commerce game as adolescents.

    Think of all those thousands of human generations spent as Hunter Gatherer societies, even some of the earlier larger groups, like the North American Indians. The wizdom of elders did not lead to metal smelting, space shttles, and automatic weapons. It was an altogether different ‘human group’, warlike, and exploitative, running on the suppression of the Feelng and Intuition functions that subjugated by military and economic force a whole cornucopia of cultures, living within the population and habitat limitations they developed in.
    That other ‘human group’ has self replicated, self educated and with voiolent means brought adolescent mentality wholesale to this planet, culturally speaking.
    Elders in indigenous cultures were never fooled, they were merely slaughtered or beaten by superior weaponry and warfare power.
    That ‘human group’ of the ‘entire human species’ vied and succeeded in gaining supremicy, but that is a very different reckonning to asserting humans per say are genetically programmed to do this. Those characteristics you list do not describe being human, they merely describe humans devoid of the mature regard for Feeling and Intuition.

    My only real fear, if I can call it that, is that adolescents are inclined to fight, and that does not bode well for our Near Term Survival scenario, not to mention NTE.

  • OzMan; Your mention of the North American indians and “swiftly moved them on to beginning stages of adult responsibilities” reminded me of the indian practice of sending a teenage boy out of the tribe to survive a winter by himself. If he came back in the spring, he could remain a member of the tribe. Knowing this test was coming, young boys would want to learn all they could about the ways of Mother Nature, their real and adult mother. Smart phones and cartoons would not have interested them very much. Imagine the respect for nature that would build, as well as self respect and community respect. The elders must have considered this to be important, a highest priority, rather than “having what you want” as a highest priority.

  • @ Lidia, Friedrich

    …bacteria that evolved in a mixed community with other species altered their feeding habits to share resources more effectively amongst themselves and to make use of each other’s waste products in a cooperative manner. In contrast, when grown alone, the same species evolved to use the same resources as each other, thereby competing and impairing each other’s growth.
    The changes in feeding habits led to a greatly improved functioning of the community of species as a whole. Communities that were reassembled with bacteria that previously evolved together were better, collectively, at breaking down resources than those reassembled with bacteria that had previously evolved in isolation. Together, the results show that the way in which species adapt is greatly altered by the presence of other species, and that co-evolution enhances the ecological functioning of groups of species.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515203011.htm

  • Tom, you posted the Orlov story on the Monkey Trap. Wonderful. I gave it to my husband to read and he said he had never heard of such a trap. So I googled it and found this vid on YouTube. I think the narration is in French. Wondering if anyone can translate the gist of it.

    I think after he captures the monkey he feeds it something that makes the monkey thirsty and then lets the monkey go to lead him to a water source.

  • So, what is David Wasdell saying 4 years later, 2012? “..you’ve lost the plot, …consiously setting of a miscarriage, …they damn well know what they are doing”.

  • Together, the results show that the way in which species adapt is greatly altered by the presence of other species, and that co-evolution enhances the ecological functioning of groups of species.

    Only a few percent of the bacterial species identified by DNA sequencing of samples from natural ecosystems such as soil are cultivable in the laboratory. In a very few cases, co-dependencies have been found: species A will grow only in the presence of species B, and even species B will only grow in the presence of species C + D etc.

    On a macroscopic scale as well, it is well known that insect species may be completely adapted to specific plant species, larval stages of one insect species may parasitise the larval stage of another, etc. Most fig species have a specific species of fig wasp with which they are co-dependent for their life cycles.

  • @ Robin, Paul C.

    My feeling is that when physicists and mathematicians look at ‘life’ ( not in Kathy C.’s sense that ends with a death certificate, but the life on Earth sense ) they apply the model they already understand, of entropy and energy flow, ( Odum ) but I don’t think it works very well.

    I think ‘life’ appears to be extremely flexible, the ‘hard-wired’ idea, seems to me, is hardly ever true, the very same life forms can choose to be competitive or co-operative, as alternative strategies, although how this choice occurs, or is made, remains obscure ( at least, to me ).

    It seems to be the case from bacteria ( as in the above research ) right up to e.g. foxes and stoats, which are normally solitary and independent, but there are recorded cases where they seen in groups, in very severe conditions, as if that behaviour is latent, as a sort of back up if needed.

  • Well, Japan’s becoming the lab test of what all that nuclear fallout does to ecosystems (we’ll ignore for now the effect on the people, esp children, all over Japan now as a result of this mess since they’re all going to die grotesquely in the near future):

    (from ENE news i got this link to the full story)

    http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/radiant_wildlands

    Radiant Wildlands The forests near Fukushima and Chernobyl likely have been changed forever. By Winifred Bird and Jane Braxton Little

    Late in the spring of 2011, the pale grass blue butterflies seemed no different. Flitting about the meadows of Fukushima Prefecture, their satin wings shimmered as they moved among the notched leaves of wood sorrel and feathery pampas grass. When Joji Otaki began looking closely at the delicate insects the size of a silver dollar, however, he was struck by abnormal patterns in the dark dots on their wings. Then he noticed dents in their eyes and strangely shaped wings and legs.

    It was two months after the March 11, 2011 tsunami led to the meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The cesium, plutonium, and other radioactive emissions had already forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents caught in the cloud of contamination from one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Otaki, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, was in the Abukuma Mountains west of the disaster site collecting butterflies to study their response to the accident. The explosion at the power plant had rained radioactive particles onto fields and forests the butterflies share with warblers and flycatchers, deer and bear in the rugged region north of Tokyo.

    As Otaki and his research partners studied the Fukushima butterflies, the aberrations they found took them by surprise. Abnormalities in the first generation were within normal boundaries. But when Otaki bred these butterflies in his laboratory, mutations in the offspring increased to 18 percent. That suggested inherited genetic damage. Field samples collected in September 2011, representing the fourth or fifth generation of butterflies since the disaster, had even higher abnormality rates. The changes may not all have been caused by radiation; Otaki had previously found evidence that temperature can affect wing markings. But the deformities his team found in antennae, legs, and other body parts are truly unusual, says Hokkaido University entomologist Shin-ichi Akimoto, who is studying the impact of Fukushima fallout on aphids. The abnormalities are troubling not only because insects are commonly assumed to be more resistant to radiation than humans, but also because they suggest the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing individual species, even entire forests.

    “There is no question that ecosystems as a whole are suffering,” Otaki says. “There has been a sudden, large change.”

    How large and how long term are questions scientists are trying to answer as they study the effects of nuclear contamination on Fukushima’s forests. This is not the first landscape to provide such a grim opportunity. The worst nuclear accident in history occurred on April 26, 1986 when the Number 4 reactor at the VI Lenin Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. More than two decades of research in this disaster-created outdoor laboratory, however, have failed to resolve many questions about radiation’s effects on wildlife.

    Now, as scientists move about these evacuated, largely forested regions thousands of miles apart, some like Otaki are finding evidence that even low levels of radiation can cause genetic damage that is passed down to new generations. It’s a controversial conclusion with an even more hotly disputed interpretation: As plants and animals continue to live in these irradiated environments, forests themselves may be evolving into different ecosystems.

    The prospect of a permanently altered ecosystem is even more disturbing because of the decades – perhaps centuries – these nuclear forests will remain dangerous. Still beautiful in spite of the contamination, they stare us in the face with the uncomfortable truth that when our human adventures in high technology go awry and crash through the natural world, we are utterly unable to control the consequences. Nuclear forests may be the ultimate Anthropocene environment.
    (there’s more, should you care to read it)

    Kathy: i had never heard of that term before either – because we have no need for this type of knowledge in our cozy environment i guess. It’s sad that all these “original” (third world) survival strategies are going to be lost – like all the advanced math and science, art and architecture humanity developed along the way – once the ecology of the Earth is ruined and we can no longer survive. We really made a mess of things being so short-term oriented, overpopulating and having never conquered our basic instincts, as everyone has cogently commented above recently. i’m glad i finally found something you hadn’t seen (usually it’s you and many others who provide WAY more links to stuff i hadn’t heard or seen via this forum).

  • Wait stop! NTE has been cancelled!

    “Ecologists reject ‘doomsday-like’ scenario”

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/02/28/3694445.htm?site=science&topic=latest

    Doncha love it? We can just “reject” it!

  • Does anyone know the work of Rod Swenson?
    http://rodswenson.com/

    If so, what do you think of it?

  • dmd: thanks for the Wasdell post – i shared it with a financial blog i visit (to poke them with reality).

    i’ve been following dutchsinse for a few years now, but this is amazing:

  • This one is a little longer (about 15 min.) but well worth the watch:

  • I’ve posted a brief new essay in response to an online letter. It’s here.

  • @ Paul C.

    Spontaneous ordering and development (the progressive development of space-time) are characteristic properties of autocatakinetic systems. However, this “flowing up” to increasingly more highly ordered dimensions, the “river that flows uphill”, was until recently taken to be anomalous with respect to physics. Physics, with the second law of thermodynamics (the entropy law), was thought to dictate a progressive “flowing down” to disorder (the “river that flows downhill”). Evolution and the development of life were seen to negate physics and vice versa. This has had a profound obfuscatory effect on our understanding of living systems, from planetary evolution writ large, to culture theory.) to psychology (clinical and otherwise). This old view, due largely to the work of Boltzmann, is no longer tenable and we now understand spontaneous ordering not to be “infinitely improbable” with respect to universal law, but instead a direct consequence of it.

    Yes, I like that :-) Thanks for the link !

  • @ Gail

    So many of those well-qualified, well-paid academics can be so jaw-droppingly stupid, eh….

    Will it be an evenly distributed doomsday ? Or a patchy doomsday ? Will there be anyone left around to find out ?

  • @U’s citation: “when grown alone, the same species evolved to use the same resources as each other, thereby competing and impairing each other’s growth.”

    Yes, and the modern industrial system works mightily to emphasize and even enforce our individualism, social fragmentation and subsequent loss of collective power and well-being. “Bowling Alone”, etc.

  • @UF
    Isn’t that an example of a toroid? the uphill flow thing?