On the Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction

by Gary Gripp

penned 11 May 2013

The world we’ve gotten used to and thought of as normal now turns out to be an aberration — a bubble world based upon the ever-accelerating depletion of non-renewable resources. Fossil energy has fueled an industrial revolution as well as an agricultural revolution, which has doubled the population in less than a human lifetime, making the world unendurably crowded with resource- and energy-hungry humans. With peak oil, mass extinctions, ecological degradation (including the depletion of topsoil and growing scarcity of potable water), along with peak everything else–future prospects have been starting to look rather unpromising lately. But it gets worse. What started off as the greenhouse effect morphed into something called global warming, and it looked like it might get a bit warm for future generations. Then we started hearing about climate change, and with this slightly altered terminology the projections for change grew more severe and were expected to arrive a little sooner than formerly believed. As more climate science came online, the modifiers took on a more ominous tone, as in “climate chaos” and “climate emergency” — which again meant it was coming sooner and was going to be more extreme than we’d thought only yesterday.

Now, in 2013, we have scientific projections from reliable data that make near-term human extinction look like a real possibility. Guy McPherson’s website, Nature Bats Last, has become a home for some of the direst of runaway climate predictions, and here the phrase near-term-extinction has become so common as to be referred to by acronym: NTE. From the comment section of this blog, it is clear there is a group of the faithful who follow the science behind near-term extinction, and who try, in this forum, to come to terms with its implications. One such follower has written a very long piece on this subject called “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction,” which attempts to address what it means to accept that your species is doomed to fail with finality, and very probably within your own lifetime. I was a sympathetic reader of this piece to begin with, as it seemed uncommonly thoughtful, and dared to broach a vitally important but taboo subject. As I made my way through this piece I was ready to object to various points along the way, but now I feel much more inclined to cover territory that was never addressed in this exhaustive feat of introspection. If near-term extinction is as real a possibility as it now seems, then there is much that needs to be confronted around this issue, and that is what I will attempt in what follows.

First let me say that I accept near-term human extinction as a real possibility, but not as a foregone conclusion. Methane release from melting Arctic ice, along with a number of other such runaway feedback loops, show every prospect of pushing climate regimes beyond the point of no return, and whatever the exact specifications of the new normal, they would not be friendly to life, human or otherwise. The science and the modeling techniques for all these doomsday projections seem sound, so far as a non-expert can tell. But, at the same time, science, along with its models and assumptions, has been known to be wrong in the past, and sometimes wrong in a very big way. So, for me, that means giving provisional credence to NTE science, but I’m not yet ready to bet the farm on what is still just speculation. Toward the end of his very long piece, author Daniel Drumright admits that he is not quite there, either. He’s convinced intellectually, but not emotionally, so he claims he will give it another couple years before he commits all the way. And here we come to some very fine points as regards attitudes, along with the words we use to describe them.

When someone gives up before they have actually been defeated, we call it capitulation. The word surrender tends to connote that defeat is the fact, and surrender its acceptance on the part of the defeated. And that raises the question: at what point, short of the absence of all living humans on Earth, can extinction be considered a “fact?” At what point does something become so obviously inevitable as to be considered a “fact” in the making? When, in other words, does all resistance become futile? The answers to these questions can be highly subjective and personal, but for my own part, I’m not quite ready to capitulate.

Why not? Well, even apart from a certain stubborn contentiousness of character, it seems to me there are solid logical reasons not to cave in prematurely. In all the best stories, the tide turns for the good guys just when their defeat seems guaranteed. In The Lord of the Rings, the narrator reflects several times upon the unfortunate circumstance of being born into times of trouble, and how there is nothing for it but to do your very best for as long as you have life. Against all odds, a certain modest Hobbit does the best he can, and the dark powers are forced to retreat from the world — at least for a time. Likewise, in Avatar, things are looking pretty grim for the good guys when Eywa abandons her supposed neutrality and comes to their aid. In fact, something of the kind is my own best hope for planet Earth, but with a twist, at least in terms of who are the “good guys,” and who, or what, we should be rooting for.

If we think of near term extinction as some kind of battle, how do we frame the nature of the combat, and how do we characterize the opposing sides? Is it man against Nature? Is it man against himself? Or is the human just a hapless pawn in a chess game run by forces much larger than himself? I’ve seen our climate catastrophe framed in all these ways, and I find a grain of truth in each, but no whole, clear picture emerges from any of these frames. Borrowing from each of these perspectives, I would say that what we are really looking at here is: humans, under the spell of the culture of civilization, pitted against Nature, the Earth, and the Community of Life. Within this framing, it is not Homo sapiens, as a species, who is contending with Gaia, Natural Law, and all the other species, but only those humans under the influence of civilization. Globally, that may be most humans, but not all, and this is a distinction I must insist upon. It is not our species that is fatally flawed, but our culture.

It is crucial to fully comprehend this distinction when it comes to choosing sides. And I’ll say right here that if I believed we were fatally flawed at the species level I would be very much in favor of our extinction — and the sooner the better. I can say this because I am not at heart an anthropocentrist; instead, my primary identity is as an Earthling and as a member of the Community of Life. In other words, I want to see the whole show go on — the one that started 3.8 billion years ago, when Life first emerged on this planet. Anyone who has an inkling of how synergistic and interdependent the whole Gaian system is must realize that if the Earth goes down, humans go down with it. There is no way we can survive as a species without our life support system, and that system includes millions of other life forms — including the 80% of our innards that is bacterial. At this point in our dubious career, we are causing the extinction of our fellow species at the rate of at least two hundred a day. With ocean acidification and runaway climate chaos, especially after tipping points and thresholds have been breached, and irreversible regime changes have kicked in, the biotic collapse will be general. And if it comes to that, it will have been the handiwork of one particular culture within one particular species. These are my people, and this is my culture, but this is not who I am rooting for. I am not at all interested in saving civilization; civilization is the problem. It is the entire Project of Life that has my deepest loyalty.

A human die-back is inevitable; a human die-off may or may not be. We have temporarily expanded the carrying capacity of the planet by mining non-renewable resources, and especially fossil fuels. At the moment, we are almost literally “eating oil.” For now, we are able to support a very unfavorable energy return on investment (EROI), of something like ten calories of energy to produce one calorie of energy in the form of food. Without fossil energy, the whole house of cards collapses, and we’re already past peak oil. So, again, we have to ask ourselves, what does “victory” actually look like? Is our ultimate aim to keep the present system going until it falls of its own weight, and no worries about anything or anyone but ourselves — we of the privileged few? This seems to be the game we’re playing now, but it is not a good long-term strategy for human survival, because you can’t take out your life support systems and expect to thrive–and continued climate disruption promises systems collapse and mass extinctions.

We seem to be stuck in what anthropologist Ronald Wright calls a progress trap, and the damnable thing about it is, there seems no way out of this maze. Our system, our way of life, our lives themselves, all seem to depend upon doing more of the same, even while we observe that what we are doing is killing us. That is a trap indeed. For a time, my own best hope was for a permanent global power failure that would immediately shut down industrial civilization, and save us from ourselves. Then it was pointed out to me that there are globally over four hundred nuclear power plants whose spent fuel rods depend upon electrically delivered water to keep them cool, and from spreading radiation around the globe. Backup generators might buy a few days, but then what? So, I’m no longer hoping for that particular Deus ex machina to come to our aid, but I’m still very much in favor of some sort of intervention — perhaps famine and plague — that will monkeywrench the Death Machine, and give the Earth a new lease on Life.

And here I want to directly confront the contentious issue of our loyalties, and with what or whom we take sides in this life-and-death struggle that faces us. The vast majority of civilized humans believe civilization to be a good thing, and see it as something to be protected, nurtured, and preserved. I strongly disagree with this point of view. To me, that is like saying you want to save the patient and the cancer, too. The culture of civilization is, and always has been, a culture of empire, and empire is built upon theft, deception and deadly violence. Even a casual reading of our history confirms this. And consider exactly what it is that is poisoning us, our planet, and our atmosphere: it’s all that stuff we have helped ourselves to from beneath the Earth’s surface, all of it contaminated with poisons, and not least the fossil fuels. No other culture could or would condone such wanton recklessness, but our culture authorizes and validates taking all from the Earth that can be taken. Some would blame our economic system for encouraging our rush toward entropy; others would pin the blame on oil company executives; neither would be wrong. But both our economic system and our corrupt executive class are products of this culture, and it is this culture that gives them their marching orders and its blessing. For those who believe that civilization is all about libraries and air conditioning and symphony orchestras, it will come as a shock to discover that what civilization really is, is a program whose effect is to devour the Earth. It is precisely for this, and its violence against all life forms, that I hold civilization accountable for our present sorry state of affairs. So: just as you can’t save both the patient and the cancer, neither can you save civilization and the world, too. You have to choose one or the other, and the wrong choice will be fatal.

Absurdly enough, the days of civilization are numbered anyway, no matter whether it succeeds in devouring the world, or if it falls short. If it succeeds, there will be no humans left to carry out its directives, and it will die content in its accomplishment of entropic equilibrium. If enough humans somehow manage to break its spell and come to understand how they’ve been manipulated into this untenable situation of collapse by the very institution that seemed to represent their best interests, then this instigator of dark deeds might just die from disuse. And in any case, civilizations of empire inevitably fade when the booty they depend upon grows too scarce, or hard to come by, to be worth the effort–and that day will soon be upon us.

If we decide that our loyalty belongs to Life rather than to the culture of civilization, what exactly do we mean by Life? Is the human pitted against all the other species of Earth in a zero-sum game of winner take all? No, it’s not us or them, no matter all the stories we’ve heard about the fierce competition for survival. It is either us and them, or it is death all around. Our supposed separation from Nature and the Community of Life has been a fiction all along. We are not separate at all; we are One; and we only succeed as part of the larger Community.

When things fall apart, clarity will be hard to come by. Knowing, or believing, that this day is coming soon, it seems wise to work on clarity now. When the unraveling begins, and we are plunged into chaos, we won’t be in a position to know how far things might go. It could be the beginning of human extinction, or it could be the correction to our numbers made inevitable by our so drastically exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet. Cheap available energy, in the form of oil, created a bubble economy and a bubble population to match. That bubble has got to burst, and there is no way around it. Since we seem collectively incapable of downsizing our own population, Nature will be doing it for us, and it is bound to be traumatic. People we love and care about are going to die prematurely of natural causes (as may we ourselves), but natural causes born of an unnatural condition, a one-time-only aberration in biological history. It seems counter-intuitive, unnatural even, to be cheering on a human die-back, and wishing for it to arrive soon. Thinking in terms of all those who are alive today — all 7+ billion of us — such thoughts seem callous and cruel. But if we are thinking beyond our most immediate circle of significant others, and take into consideration the fate of the species, the sooner this correction comes, the better for them (and for all of Life.) Leaving them a less damaged planet, with its life support systems reasonably intact and functional, would give future humans, and all Life, much better odds of survival. Knowing this to be true, how far are we willing to go to preserve our present way of life, recognizing that it can’t last, anyway, and that the more we consume, pollute, and destroy, the less likely there will be a human future here?

What does the human family owe itself at the species level? Are continuity and longevity something to be sought for the species as a whole, and is this something for which each human generation bears responsibility? All the other animals on Earth manage to address this issue by way of instinct. They take care of their young, perform their ecosystem functions, and the species seems to take care of itself. As the oddball cultural animal, our instincts seem to have been overridden and overwritten by the memes and imperatives of our culture—a culture that has inverted the natural order of things. According to our myths, the individual is more important than the group, and one particular species is elevated above all others; indeed, that species is elevated above Nature herself. Only under such a topsy-turvy worldview could this putative Master Species claim all the world for itself, for as long as it lasts, then, with a ruined Earth, declare the game over.

Our way of life, and its supporting myths, seems to suppose that we have arrived at the pinnacle and end point toward which this 3.8 billion year experiment with Life and evolution has always been headed. That is the underlying implication. But is the deepest Meaning of life on Earth really only about us making payments on our standardized boxes in the suburbs, with both parents holding down unfulfilling jobs so that we can drive our air-conditioned SUVs to middle school soccer games, stopping along the way at our favorite fast foods franchise, finally to end our day collapsed in the blue glare of Fox News? Was it for this that we took this country away from the Indians, and turned it into freeways, parking lots, suburban malls and inner city ghettos? Are we dismantling the Earth, ecosystem by ecosystem, species by species, for no better reason than to make bankers, corporate executives, and hedge fund managers filthy rich? Are our excesses of appetite, all at the expense of a living planet, really the ultimate significance of Life on Earth? That seems to be our story — the one we are living in and doing our utmost to make real.

If the human species goes down, as in near term extinction, and we take out the Community of Life and the animate Earth along with us, it won’t be our extinction itself that would leave me inconsolable. Extinctions happen; species fail. Were I able to see with the long eye of the Life Force, what I would find irreconcilable is the incommensurability between the ongoing promise of Life’s self-renewal and the paltry, self-serving species that brought it all down.

Comments 258

  • “No, it’s not us or them, no matter all the stories we’ve heard about the fierce competition for survival. It is either us and them, or it is death all around.”

    pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? having spent the past five years living in a little cabin on the edge of (relatively) pristine wilderness, i find myself occasionally embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed as i look back at my past and the lies that i bought into… i’m a recovering capitalist, if you will, an ex-wall street cheerleader, if you will, once thoroughly steeped in the myth of individualism and our culture’s mythology around competition for survival… if there’s one thing that my experience in letting go of my past and all the materialistic bull$hit that went with it – and immersing myself in the wilderness has taught me it’s that in fact it is us AND them, that we’re all connected… and not in some “new agey” spiritual sense but as a matter of fact – our survival depends on the RELATIONSHIPS between all things, between all creatures… the earth is a system, a system that works and has worked, evidenced by its mulit-billion year track record of success… EVERYTHING IS A RELATIONSHIP. there are NO individuals…

    i too thought for some time that humanity, our species was the problem, that there was something inherently flawed with homo sapiens… but no, we are a creature, an animal like any other, vested with some “special” and “unique” gifts (for example the “intelligence” we so frequently pat ourselves on the back for), JUST LIKE every other creature with their own special brand of gifts and abilities… the fact that we evolved on this planet suggests that we are not inherently flawed but that our problem lies elsewhere… and that elsewhere is in this insane social structure we have organized ourselves under — civilization. this is a structure that ENCOURAGES the worst in all of us, that makes deception profitable, that confers a survival advantage to over-consumption, greed and “one-upping” the other guy – and other species.

    to be sure, humans are a mix of “good” and “evil” capable of every variation on the spectrum of behavior… to that end, perhaps our “flaws” are in fact inherent… but in a small community of say 25 people, a tribe, selfishness, greed, destruction of the environment are simply not possible… possible, yes, but the resultant reaction from the rest of the tribe would put the kibosh on those behaviors pronto… but in our huge, anonymous culture, it’s so very easy to get away with the worst of our inherent possibilities…

    unless and until we realize that WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, and by “all” i mean humans, animals, bacteria, fungus, ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING, i have little hope for our species nor most other species. while i don’t want particularly relish the idea of living in the chaos of a plummeting civilization, in fact it frightens me, for the good of everything, i hope for it… i can no longer bear to see everything i love being systematically destroyed by this insance culture and all it stands for…

    and i apologize to all for ever having contributed to the worst of it…

  • May 20 (Reuters) – Water levels in U.S. aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped for agriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008 dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.

    The accelerated decline in the subterranean reservoirs is due to a combination of factors, most of them linked to rising population in the United States, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

  • Gary Gripp has penned the most comprehensive, all-encompassing, and thought-provoking SA yet. Thank you for a job well done.

    Yes, people recognize the mess that our modern culture has made of the world, but the vast majority seem too vested in the current system, which better than any other appeals to man’s most negative instincts. Most dream to achieve the American way of life as no other viable alternative exists. So it’s full steam ahead toward the abyss. It’s a mad rush to get as much as possible as quickly as possible because if you don’t someone else will. Many will bemoan the global state of the environment, but entrenched behaviors are damn difficult to change if the alternative means fewer toys, fewer comforts, etc. All we can do is endeavor to make a personal difference, and set an example via lifestyle for others to emulate.

  • “It is not our species that is fatally flawed, but our culture.”

    If not our species, WHO, exactly, made the culture? Who buys into it and perpetuates it? Why has the outcome, after generations of widely disparate cultures and economic systems, no matter what corner of the world, ultimately been identical – overshoot?

    It’s no suprise that in order to support this concept, you are relying on “best stories” to bolster the idea that humans are innately benign, because as Daniel and I have been pointing out, actual evidence says otherwise. The overwhelming archaeological and anthropological record says that whether organized into small tribes or empires, humans destroy their resource base and then fight with their neighbors. Anyone can dispute this based on religion, faith, stories, feelings, opinions or beliefs. But if you pick up an authoritative book that cites physical realities, it’s a construct that falls apart.

    But why should pesky facts get in the way of the narratives we prefer? (Parenthetically I’d like to point out that there are at least as many compelling myths that don’t end so hopefully – Icarus comes to mind first.)

    To me it’s nothing less than tragic that even people who can see NTE looming (whether they are 100% convinced of it or not) are still unable to recognize the fatal flaw in our makeup that is making LTE, if not NTE, inevitable. It’s a blindness that just proves that we will never be able to stop it, because we cannot acknowledge our overwhelming propensity to prefer growth and short-term benefit to balance and the long-term survivability to Gaia. Blaming a system, or a few of the worst and most obvious individual offenders, will never change anything. We will never be able to rise above our worst most self-destructive instincts if we refuse to admit they exist.

    Robin reminded me of this story yesterday…too bad there’s no sorcerer to give us a well-deserved spanking.


  • “Resistance is futile.” But resist anyway. Even if one removes NTE from the equation, this current system is so corrupt and contemptuous of all life fighting against it is worthwhile. Once you consider NTE and finally embrace it and lose all hope you also lose your fear. NTE is not about death, it is about life and what you do with the few remaining years we have. My own petty, useless, unnoticed battle against the Empire is entirely futile. Yet it mandatory. The battle continues.

  • @ F. Kling:

    Yes, many are trapped and do not even know it. When a poverty-stricken teenager sees an old man drive by in a Ferrari, he can’t possibly feel empowered, but he “dreams” of “getting some of that.”

    Our culture is poison. McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Budweiser.

    When SHTF, the marauding hordes are gonna’ be some very angry folks, well armed, and hungry.

  • From Ilargi over at the Automatic Earth writing on nuclear wastes:

    Widely Visible Symbols Of Human Folly

    ” ….It looks like our primitive hard-wired propensity towards burning any and all accessible energy surpluses wins out over the less primitive and therefore perhaps less hard-wired love for our children.

    That may have consequences for any theory about how important propagating our genes is, or at least shift such a theory, but it seems obvious: we love ourselves more than we love our children.

    And that, simply as a cool cold observation, should perhaps make us think. Or have us admit to ourselves that we are not who we like to think we are.

    That our frontal lobes will never be able to overrule our reptilian brains…”

  • Here’s a multi-part question for the group, specifically Daniel & Gail, with respect to Guy’s suggestion(s) regarding resistance.

    Btw, the reason I mention D&G is that they appear to be exemplars of those who have “gotten over it”. This incessant debate of who/why we got here is getting old. The classic criticism of (former) leftists is the constant introspection, the lack of ability/inclination to focus on (achievable) goals. Ironically, the only ones who do seem to make ‘progress’ are the fakes, a la 350, who are simply exploiting a market niche for ‘environmentalists’ that is no different than selling iGadgets or Wheaties.

    Ok, part 1: Do you believe the PTB are motivated by power or money? That is, in the absence of material wealth, would the PTB just walk away, or are they interested in control? [Me: control]

    Part 2: Do you think they understand peak oil, population overshoot, environmental destruction, climate change, nuke contamination (KathyC’s point) and LTE/NTE? Do you think they have any sense of self-preservation – and not in underground bunkers – to continue living outside.[Me: yes]

    Part 3: If you answer 1 & 2 affirmatively, then it should lead one to conclude that since they are motivated by power, they couldn’t possibly give a shit about what kind of ‘economy’ actually provides that control. IOW, they are completely agnostic as to the underlying system. To expand on this theme, given abundant resources, while they had previously created a framework to promote a consumption based life-style, in the face of declining surplus wealth, they will merely move into other modes of control.

    Part 4: Guy & others advocate resistance; but what is the resistance comprised of? My understanding is its the cessation of industrial civilization. But is this kind of resistance merely alluring because it bucks conventional behavior or is there some true, underlying motive?

    Part 5: If ceasing industrial civilization is the true, underlying motive, how will you react when the PTB seize upon this meme as a mechanism to usher in the next era? For example, what if the Rockefeller’s liquidated all their holdings in Exxon and bought millions of acres of farmland – perhaps entire states – in grain growing region? Would you then be satisfied if the PTB exited championing consumption and moved into sustainable production?

    Part 5: If collapsing industrial civ becomes the new mantra, is it really resistance if everyone is doing it? Doesn’t it just turn into another gold rush, where everyone is scrambling for their piece of pie? (In this case, control over actual slaves vs barrels of oil.)

    Part 6: After a lifetime beating your head against a wall to no avail, is it not somewhat alluring that perhaps you could grab the brass ring as a kind of last hurrah? Now, if you believe NTE is a 10-15 year proposition, then it might not make much of a difference; but what if the time frame is longer? Would you not like to go out knowing you finally achieved a master goal?

    Part 7: If collapsing industrial civ means decommissioning nuke facilities and reducing world population, would you have the stomach for it, or will it be left to the traditional “hard men”?

    Conclusion: I view the wholesale elimination of civil rights as part of a series of long term moves to position certain groups for the inevitable. They’re not stupid, and attributing lack of visible action to ignorance is the height of conceit. Hedges of course has clued in & is starting to focus on this aspect – but is he providing a map of the future, or is that still too radical?

    Since this blog is ostensibly about NTE, is it merely limited to the science of proving the conclusion? What if the conclusion becomes widely accepted? Is there then room for political discussions of how mankind will react and how that reaction be managed/controlled? Wouldn’t you like to be at the forefront of at least perhaps allowing the non-PTB to participate in this this shutdown?

    In some regards, I view people like D&G as inventors way ahead of the curve. What would be their reaction if someone stole their invention(s). Isn’t there any sense of ownership over these concepts to the extent that one can control broad based implementation, or do you just walk away and let it play out by the same old cast of characters?

  • Grant, go for it – resist – everyone who wants to resist – encourage others to resist – but shaming those who want to stick around for their families rather than end their days in FEMA camps just points to what a fractious, blaming, complaining species we are.

    By the way just on a whim I googled OWS false flag this morning. Got some returns. Maybe just stories put out by the powers that be. Maybe not. Some indirect funding by George Soros seems to have been a part of the mix. Whatever. I am not saying that most OWS people have any connection to TPTB, they we just out for a bigger piece of the pie that is unbeknownst to them quickly disappearing. But as an excuse for martial law….well who knows.

    Meanwhile, long before civilization it looks very likely that we no only brought some of the megafauna to extinction but also Homo meanderthalis The Study showed that the last populations of Neanderthals to die out lived in Spain, at the southern end, as they avoided contact and competition with Cro-Magnon man. However once contact was made, they too died out. It is unknown exactly how they were eliminated from the line, but it is seen that modern humans were taking away the niches that Neanderthals had held for thousands of years, and with nowhere to go they simply died out through starvation. However combat has never been directly ruled out by any study, and it is possible and likely that combat would have occurred over restricted resources.


    The fact is that self replicating creatures have no agenda. The replicate until they run out of resources. Those who utilize resources better and replicate more successfully win out over those who don’t. While it might look like everything that is is part of a finely tuned bunch of LIFE, it is just how it happened. Yes we as top of the evolutionary pyramid need what underlies us, but not because of any purpose, just because that was the world we evolved in. Each species if let loose in a new environs with more resources and less predators, will run wild – either for a time until it depletes its necessary resources or a new predator evolves and some balance is restored, or until it so quickly depletes its resources that it dies out. Without any civilization at all the reindeer put on St Matthews island went from 0 to 6,000 to 42 to 0 – no predators on an island they couldn’t get off of. Google “What wiped out St. Matthew Island’s reindeer? Ned Rozell”

    I hate our civilization as much as anyone. I admire hunter-gatherers and wish they could have a longer run – the surely ran longer than civilized man. But civilized man came from hunter-gathers. Civilized man cam from hunter-gathers more than once. We are not a separate species. From wiki entry on Cradle of Civilization Current thinking is that there was no single “cradle”, but several civilizations that developed independently, of which the Near Eastern Neolithic was the first. The extent to which there was significant influence between the early civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and those of East Asia is disputed. Scholars accept that the civilizations of Norte Chico in present-day Peru and that of Mesoamerica emerged independently from those in Eurasia. That would seem to indicate that if certain conditions prevail civilization will arise inevitably from hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    But in the end, life eats other life when resources run out, or in the case of plants crowds them out if they can. Life is inextricably intertwined with death and evolution is inextricably intertwined with extinction. Maybe the heat loving bacteria will survive and evolve again until the sun dies and all possibility of life on earth goes with it. Probably any life left on earth will be gone in 1 billion years (our atmosphere will boil off), which is hardly enough time for heat loving bacteria to evolve into anything beyond multicellular life.
    In 1.1 billion years from now, the Sun will be 10% brighter than it is today. This extra energy will cause a moist greenhouse effect in the beginning, similar to the runaway warming on Venus. But then the Earth’s atmosphere will dry out as the water vapor is lost to space, never to return.
    In 3.5 billion years from now, the Sun will be 40% brighter than it is today. It will be so hot that the oceans will boil and that water vapor will be lost to space as well. The ice caps will permanently melt, and snow will be ancient history; life will be unable to survive anywhere on the surface of the Earth. The Earth will resemble dry hot Venus.

    Oh and by the way the nukes blow up no matter what unless they are decommissioned first. Doesn’t matter what brings down the grid, collapse of civilization, depopulation via disease, war, lack of fuel. So IMHO beyond getting yourself fixed so you cannot procreate and taking care of those who depend on you, if you want to do something useful contribute of join those who want to decommission nuclear plants. Unlikely to succeed because decommissioning takes money and energy and removes a source of energy right when oil is about to slip off its plateau and begin the dive.

  • “It is either us AND them, or it is death all around.” Intelligent cooperation is the key to survival. To fail to love all our relations is to fail Life. Those who fail Life destroy themselves. Our challenge remains to the end: love or perish. To die from natural causes is not a tragedy. To die from failure to love is the essence of human tragedy.

  • From the 1990 film “Trust” by Hal Hartley:

    Matthew Slaughter: I had a bad day, I had to subvert my principles and kowtow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. Deadens the inner core of my being.

    Maria Coughlin: Let’s move away then.

    Matthew Slaughter: They have television everywhere, there’s no escape.

  • In light of being participants within a complex adaptive system, people behave and evolve in a manner consistent with thermodynamic disequillibrium, that is, they have evolved into their complexity to perform an essential role in metabolizing a wide variety of energy sources, including completely uprecedented ones. Unfortunately, and unlike organic cellular life, whose evolution is circumscribed by environmental chemistry, the human mind is relatively free to satisfy its “passions” with tools from beyond the organic palette. These new tools, animated by the spark of fossil fuels as opposed to glucose and ATP, propel these cancerous creations into every tissue of the ecosystem, destroying and consuming to enable the provisioning of a metastasizing and growing neoplasm. Unfortunately, all of the advantages we accrue “feel good”, and are therefore justified within the stygian structures of the brain that seem to motivate our daily experience. It feels good to be a cancer. It feels good to take advantage of the defenseless tissues of the body, to metabolize them in building our own complexity. It rarely enters the minds of those giddy with their newfound wealth that they have just locked their children into an oven and turned on the heat. As we head towards Fahrenheit 451 science will be burned first in denial of our folly – all of our ill-gotten civilizational complexity along with the complexity of much of the ecosytem will burn next as our children search for an exit from the Hadean future their parents bequethed them.

  • [Crosspost:]

    How I Became A Believer

    Despite some careful dissections,
    I couldn’t find cause for rejections,
    And with so many forces
    On hellbent doom courses,
    I simply ran out of objections.

  • Guy said that he expects that all of the interior parts of the continents of the Northern Hemisphere to be uninhabitable within five years. He said this at least six months ago, so make that 4.5 years. Given that, I don’t know how there could be any survivors in the coastal cities, since the rivers they are dependent upon for drinking water would be completely dried up. Not to mention the fact that the most of the food grains are grown in the interiors of these continents. So, based on Guy’s prediction, most of the NTE deaths will happen in the next 4.5 years. Most of the people of the N Hem. will be dead by 2018, so that takes care of about 6 of the 7 billion humans and 95% of industrial civ.

  • @Ripley

    One advantage (if you can call it that) about NTE theory is that it is NT. We are still (today) adding 200k+ net new humans per day. If there are to be no humans in the northern hemisphere is 17 years things would have to turn around dramatically and quickly. We would expect to see undeniable events (famines, cities without water, migrations, die-offs) within the next two or three years. In the absence of such events we would need to reconsider our timeline.

  • @Ripley:

    5 years is very near term! VNTE.

    Lounging on the deck of the Titanic, I’m going to have myself a nice tall glass of Scotch, neat, and light myself a big fat cigar. As the cold water envelopes me, my last thoughts will be of home, the home I had as a child, the carefree days of youth.

    I agree with B9K9 – and, if you are forming an organization, I would like to join as a volunteer.

  • AMY GOODMAN: How did prison change you?

    TIM DECHRISTOPHER: I think it deepened my perspectives on social justice. I think it matured me, to some degree, you know, because it was two years that I spent with really one of the most oppressed populations in our society, and I saw the people who were struggling with that. I lived with those people for two years. And so, I think that really broadened my perspectives on a lot of things. And I think it will influence my activism, moving forward. You know, I don’t have any intention of slowing down or backing down at this point, but, you know, I SEE MYSELF AS MUCH MORE THAN A CLIMATE ACTIVIST. And I think I’ll be involved in a lot of different issues, moving forward now.

    -Democracy Now, 5/17/2013

    Tim Dechristopher is out of jail! I was greatly inspired and encouraged by his interview last week. His story teaches us that resistance is NOT futile. One small act, and even suffering through harsh consequences, can be transformative in unforseen ways. I compare his action to that of Rosa Parks- each was an intellectual/activist who recognized an opportunity to do some(small)thing, and walked through the door. No one knows in the moment how far the ripples of individual action will go. Dechristopher has made a circut through the belly of the beast, and wants to make another run at it. I’ll be paying attention, maybe even helping, in some small way. For all y’all hospice workers on the NTE deathwatch for Mama Earth and her creatures: bearing witness, helping, and comforting take infinite forms (the multiple-armed Buddha, Chenrezig, comes to mind).


  • Perhaps there is something to this resistance meme. If more Germans had resisted Hitler think how much quicker we would have reached overshoot and nature’s last at bat. Instead, we had to suffer through the Disco 70’s, the self-improvement 80’s, the tech bubble 90’s and the housing bubble 00’s. What will be the defining attribute of the 21st century’s 2nd decade? Any guesses?

  • Guy, can you remove posts that really are offensive?

  • Guy, I’m with Pat- that smut has got to go.

    That said, I think we all need to stop and take a breath around the “U issue.” I think he’s just a crusty old Welsh hermit (I mean that purely as a compliment, U!), who has let his table manners go. Or, maybe us Yanks need to lighten up! One form of resistance I’m trying (and often, admittedly, failing): finding common ground with people, and not being so quick to judge. Maybe this practice will be helpful when TSHTF, or maybe I’ll die needlessly because of it… (My only other post here was a response to something U said, to which I took offense. Evolving very slowly here…)

  • The price of free speech is to sometimes suffer fools. Fortunately such voices quickly discredit themselves.

  • Denise and pat, what are you on about? You need to get a Gripp. Potatoe salad makes some excellent points, albeit in a bizarre sort of way. Maybe you don’t understand the points she/he is making. If so you have no business calling it smut. You are not the police of this blog yet you pretend you are and you pretend that prison rape doesn’t exist and everyone should just line up for it? Do you not see the contradiction? Your pretense is wrong in both cases. It’s better to not pretend. Hitler precipitated the massive death of WWII. If he was properly resisted, the world would have reached overshoot much sooner, and therefore paid the piper much sooner thus avoiding the last 30 to 40 years of hyper consumerism.

  • Thanks Gary for your insights into our perilous situation. I have to agree with your dire assessment of the harm we are inflicting on each other and all life on Earth. With you, I also think our chances of coming out of our tailspin towards extinction are very slim. My own response to this reality is to continue to seek greater spiritual maturity, and cultivate a loving heart in the face of whatever disasters may unfold. Hopefully those of us who are pursuing spiritual growth are separating ourselves more and more from the negative effects proceeding from the world around us. To continue to try to do the best one can to be a presence for love, goodness, and peace needs to be continued in spite of any accounting of results in the outer world. The ancient understanding of karma yoga urges us to serve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in spite of whatever may arise outwardly as a result. Our reward will always be the inner knowing that we have served That which deserves our efforts beyond all secular rewards or punishments. The world is dying for lack of love. Let us at least follow that Path as our loving protest and refutation of the unfolding karmic nemesis taking place all around us.

  • Thank you, Mike k.

  • If anyone is interested, I’ve implemented a blacklist script for this site.

    If you run Firefox, you can install a plugin, either Greasemonkey or Scriptish (I’m running Scriptish, but Greasemonkey should also work), then install this script:


    Search at the Firefox addon site for either (not both) of those plugins. As far as I know other browsers do not support this functionality.

    This allows you to filter out posts by any user whose ID you put on your personal blacklist (which, IIRC, gets stored in your cookies). It does not affect what others see, can be easily disabled or removed.

    This site does not support threaded comments, so I can’t clean those up. I’ve written similar scripts for two other sites I’ve frequented. I’ve observed that troll posts plus responses to those posts can easily consume 30% to 50% of thread posts, essentially crippling discussion. What you don’t see you don’t reply to. Trolls, once ignored, move on. Nobody’s speech is infringed, and there is no supervision required by the site admin. Think of it as an individual form of comment rating that many sites provide.

    Greasemonkey and Scriptish can be security risks, not in themselves but because you could install a risky script. I didn’t put any rubbish in my script (link above), but you should be aware and not grab any script that comes along.

  • @B9K9

    “They’re not stupid, and attributing lack of visible action to ignorance is the height of conceit.”

    I agree. This dog has been yanked around for a long time and he knows he’s on a short leash; just waitin’ for the next tug.


  • Does anyone in the US know whether Joplin has been rebuilt and whether the residents are ‘back to normal’, i.e. back to living aberrant lives?

    I see that Obummner has vowed to do whatever it takes to rebuild the district of Moore (I feel so honoured, not), as per the Bush rhetoric of restoring New Orleans to its former ‘glory’.

    Has Vermont recovered from Irene yet?

    How is New Jersey doing in the aftermath of Sandy?

    We, in the rest of the world, see and hear little of what is actually happening on the ground in the US, other than through ‘alternative’ websites.

    Incidentally, I have recently been lent a book written in 2009 which focuses on the absurd notions that:

    1. CO2 cannot possibly be responsible for warming because it’s only 0.038% of air (at that time).

    2. Natural systems emit 98.3% of CO2 and humans only 1.7%

    3. The Earth is cooling, following the peak in temperature of 1998.

    When authors can get away with writing such garbage -the book is called Air Con, by Ian Wishart- and the dumbed-down public is happy to pay for such garbage there really is no hope.

    A few weeks ago we had the opportunist Monkton tour NZ, charging people $20 or $25 per session for attendees to hear similar garbage. If people are prepared to pay $20 to listen to garbage coming from the mouth of a professional liar there really is no hope.

    I am still doing battle with the maniacs who run my local authority.

    On 22nd April I asked:

    ‘Who will read my submission?’

    ‘Who will respond to it?’

    ‘Is the process going to be the same as last year?’

    On 22nd May I have still not had any proper answers (for a hearing on 5th June!). The local authority is an utter disgrace. But as George Carlin noted: ‘Nobody’ cares.

    Indeed, NPDC is in continuous breach of the Local Government Act, which states:

    ‘a local authority should ensure that the governance structures and processes are effective, open and transparent’

    ‘Nobody’ cares. ‘Nobody’ is at all bothered that we living in a covertly fascist state which is rapidly morphing into an overtly fascist state. (Playing catch-up with the US, from what we hear and read).

    So, the plan is to drill and frack till there’s nothing left to drill and frack for, to cover as much pasture as possible in concrete and asphalt till we run out of concrete and asphalt (or the ability to deliver it to sites. The banksters’ Ponzi scheme demands it.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write and voice your thoughts Gary.
    I forgot what it was that brought me to NBL in the first place and was reminded of the thought provoking essays that Guy has written as well as the many other contributions.

    I often wonder instead of the two post rule what would happen if the comments were closed? It reminds me of my last year at work when the union contract was up and the company pitted us against one another and many couldn’t even see it. NTE is here and now as we are all a part of nature and it’s dying.

    I look at my beans out in the garden resisting the bugs that so desire to eat their leaves, I watch trees standing on barely one leg withholding the strong winds, I sit with people fighting for their last breath even when they no their lives are so diminished.

    It’s unfortunate that so many resisted before us to prolong life for those who see no purpose.

  • The latest offering on Automatic Earth was cited above, but somehow the most revealing part was not. Inasmuch as the current predicament is often blamed on our patriarchal/dominator culture, consider this:

    “Still, not every human being and society seem to have done this all the time. For a long time, some Native (North) American peoples have at least in writing pledged to leave the earth in the best possible shape for the next 7 generations. Which might as well be 70, or 700 generations, since obviously the idea is not that everything blow up in the 8th generation. The Iroquois, or Six Nations (they call themselves Haudenosaunee), who live in Canada and the US northeast, have an ancient constitution, The Great Binding Law, in which is stated:

    In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.

    In the words of Onondaga (one of the Six Nations) faith keeper Oren Lyons:

    “We are looking ahead, as is one of the first mandates given us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make relate to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come. . . .” “What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have?”

    And even shorter :

    “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

    If we would be obliged by our laws, in every decision we make, to take into account what the consequences would be for coming generations, a lot of our decisions would be different from what they are now. So why don’t we? Undoubtedly it’s at least partly because, unlike our mainly patriarchal societies, among the Iroquois it’s the women who take the most important decisions and have the final vote. They are a matrilineal society, which means the women are the “clan heads”, and inheritance passes down from mother to daughter, not father to son.

    That’s not to say this is some sort of perfect model, the Iroquois are not perfect people and they are often infected by our modern lifestyles just as much as we are, but it IS a path to a different approach, and proof that people indeed can organize themselves in ways that, through benign social control, make it harder to pursue the scorched earth based lives we presently live, in which we seem to have no real consideration at all for what we leave behind for those who come after us while we are heading for a brick wall at 100 miles an hour thinking: “They’ll think of something”.

    End quote.

  • on ewould like to take this article seriously. But when it essentially states that we should base our sense of reality on fairy tale endings put forward in the stories we have told ourselves to help us deal with the stark misery of life’s suffering…

  • B9K9, I wish I had time to answer you with more thoughtfulness but I’m kind of busy getting the little farmette ready for my absence at the Limits to Growth. Briefly, my answer to part 1, PTB motivation, is that my latest inclination is to attribute most human behavior to status seeking. So I guess you could call that power – money is a way of feeling powerful, and advertising status. Part 2, do they understand – I’m sure it must be mixed. Wealth is no insulator from delusion, otherwise, instead of giving $100 million to MIT to find a cure for cancer, David Koch would have started trying to find out what kind of pollution causes cancer, and get rid of it. There probably are some people who understand we’re heading towards disaster and they no doubt have the same mix of reactions as those less well funded, just like us at NBL. Some probably are building bunkers, some are giving money to space travel programs, some are trying to find geoengineering fixes, and some are probably having a hell of a party while they watch the ship go down.

    Part 5a and 5b (skipping here) neither one is gonna happen, ever. Part 6. That never has been my master goal, and I haven’t spent a lifetime beating my head against a wall. Most of the time I was oblivious. In some ways I wish I still was although, lately, I think I’m getting over the grief and guilt, and I certainly appreciate every second that I have left on earth, living in peace and plenty, far more than I ever did.

    And I guess I know we’re supposed to want Industrial Civ. to come to an end to save some species but I actually expect it’s already too late for anything other than very simple life forms to survive, if even they can, because I think we’ve unleashed enough amplifying feedbacks to head very near to Venus. Eventually. And since I think nothing of taking antibiotics or swatting mosquitos or squashing ticks, I’m not going to risk anymore than I already have in terms of being one of the first into the FEMA camp. So from my selfish personal perspective, the longer it all hangs on the better, because I have three children and I don’t want to see them die in a famine or epidemic or from violence. That is infinitely more important to me than any allure that “grabbing the brass ring as a kind of let hurrah” might hold.

    Izzy, I also followed that link to Automatic Earth, and was disappointed to see that after an auspicious beginning, the author went off the rails. First allow me to point out that there is no reason to assume that the “ancient constitution, The Great Binding Law”, is any more reflective of actual cultural practices than is the US Constitution a realistic window into the reality of our country today…and no more useful in determining how Christians of all stripes have behaved throughout history based upon the prescripts laid down in the Bible. Please reflect for a minute how far apart those documents are from how their practitioners act.

    Aside from that however, there is ample evidence that indeed the Great Binding Law referred, like so many religious codes, only to the practitioners within the tribe. Those not members were treated according to rules as disparate as how Southern whites treated their slaves – as subhuman, in other words. Following are some excerpts from research:

    “The Iroquois, for example, are well known for their incessant warfare and their training of males to be immune to pain. They are also well known for their merciless treatment of prisoners of war. Captives were forced to run a gauntlet, their fingernails were pulled out and their limbs hacked off, and they were finally decapitated or roasted alive at the stake – after which their remains were consumed in cannibalistic feasts.”

    Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings: The Origin of Cultures, Glasgow, 1978, p. 69

    The rest is from a research paper – I apologize, it’s very long even though I cut it down, so for those uninterested please scroll along, and for those who want more informatoin there is lots at this link, by David Scheimann of Ohio State:


    Of all the North American Indian tribes, the seventeenth-century Iroquois are the most renowned for their cruelty towards other human beings. Scholars know that they ruthlessly tortured war prisoners and that they were cannibals; in the Algonquin tongue the word Mohawk actually means “flesh-eater.” There is even a story that the Indians in neighboring Iroquois territory would flee their homes upon sight of just a small band of Mohawks.

    Ironically, the Iroquois were not alone in these practices. There is ample evidence that most, if not all, of the Indians of northeastern America engaged in cannibalism and torture—there is documentation of the Huron, Neutral, and Algonquin tribes each exhibiting the same behavior. This paper will examine these atrocities, search through several possible explanations, and ultimately reveal that the practices of cannibalism and torture in the Iroquois were actually related.

    First a bit of background is necessary to understand the state of the Native American people before colonial exploration and settlement. The Iroquois were the dominant force in northeastern America until the Europeans came to the New World. Five smaller nations made up the League of the Iroquois: they were the Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca tribes. The legendary Hiawatha joined these five tribes together into a single powerful confederation after fierce blood feuds threatened to destroy all five nations. The date of the League’s formation could be any time between 900 AD and 1570; the confederation was certainly established before European settlers made first contact. Based upon Hiawatha’s plan, members of each nation could only marry members of other Iroquois nations; these blood ties formed a web of loyalties between the different tribes. This Iroquois League now began to dominate the rest of the Native American tribes in the northeast.

    Most of what scholars know about the Iroquois comes from European accounts. Very little of this information is flattering. These negative views result because Europeans settling in North America first came to encounter the Huron, Naragansett, and Algonquin tribes, who were enemies to the Iroquois. These tribes had become oppressed by the Iroquois nations after they had formed their confederation; prior to the League these three tribes were actually the dominant tribes of Native Americans in the Northeast. Later, these tribes were also among the first to accept Catholicism, which added favor in the eyes of the French. When the Europeans accepted the friendship of these tribes, however, they accepted the enmity of the Iroquois as well.

    It is also important to establish that the practices of the Iroquois were more than the exaggeration and hearsay of excitable Frenchmen. The Iroquois surely performed torture upon war captives; many European settlers viewed first-hand the mutilated body-parts of war captives. However, there has been some doubt in the current century that cannibalism was really practiced by the Iroquois. Anthropologist W. Arens proposed in 1979 that there were no first-hand accounts of flesh eating among the Native Americans, and thus no solid proof for cannibalism. This controversial view has been refuted since, for there is indeed ample evidence in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents alone to prove Arens’s thesis wrong. With this assertion in mind, it is now possible to inquire why the Native Americans performed these appalling acts.

    The death of family members had a profound psychological effect upon the Iroquois, thus they required strong measures to relieve themselves of sadness. Essentially, they felt that they needed restitution in some form or another for the dead relative. Grieving matriarchs petitioned the tribe’s warriors to retrieve captives from an offending tribe. The Iroquois warriors then established a raid solely to gather captives; scholars call this practice “mourning-wars.”

    According to Anthony Wallace, the grieving Iroquois could find restitution in one of three ways. The first was for a warrior to bring back the scalp of an Indian from the killer’s tribe and to present it to the grieving person. Though the scalp represented a captive, live prisoners were preferred. The other two options involved a live captive: the Iroquois either vengefully tortured the prisoner to death or adopted him or her into the tribe. Since the Iroquois were a matriarchal society, the mourning woman would ultimately decide the fate of those captives that were brought to the village, mostly based upon the amount of grief that she felt for her dead relation.

    Reverend Father Barthelemy Vimont presented a harrowing example of Iroquois torture that occurred in 1642 in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. In this account he told of an Iroquois war band that captured a small group of Algonquin and himself. Immediately the Iroquois cut off a few fingers from each captive using fish scales. The Iroquois intended to take the captives to their village. On the way one Algonquin woman, realizing what her fate would be, ran into a icy river and drowned herself rather than face the impending torture. Once they had arrived at their captors’ village, the Iroquois made their prisoners sing and dance upon a scaffold. Vimont’s companion, a converted Algonquin named Adrian, wouldn’t sing in the Iroquois’ language, and they slit his fingers lengthwise to cause him intense pain.

    Next they cleared the scaffold except for one Algonquin named Awessinipin, and they began burning his body with brands. The Iroquois forced an Algonquin woman to take a torch and burn Awessinipin and then killed her when she finally complied.

    Throughout this entire ordeal the Algonquin man showed no pain. They continued this torture throughout the night, building to a fervor, finally ending at sunrise by cutting his scalp open, forcing sand into the wound, and dragging his mutilated body around the camp. When they had finished, the Iroquois carved up and ate parts of his body.

    The Jesuits Relations, The Explorations of Radisson, and Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison offer other detailed descriptions of Iroquois atrocities, but generally the torture followed the same pattern. First the victorious Iroquois warriors would mangle the prisoners’ hands; they did this by pulling out the captives’ fingernails and/or cutting off some of their fingers. The victors usually subjected the prisoners to a heavy beating at the same time.

    Thereafter the Iroquois took the captives to their village and subjected the men to the gantlet (or gauntlet). They then humbled those who survived in a number of ways; for example the Iroquois might strip them naked in front of the village and force them to sing and dance. This process always ended either in a slow death by fire and scalping or with adoption into the Iroquois village. The Iroquois tortured only men to death when they weren’t adopted; they either killed quickly women and children who were unadopted.

    There are definitely reasons behind this torture that do not extend into metaphysical domains. The initial beating obviously broke the spirits of the captive and ensured submission. The act of battering prisoners to break their will is no isolated policy of the Iroquois alone, but of nearly every race throughout history. At this time the Iroquois also mangled a prisoner’s hands, a brutality performed so that the captive could no longer wield a weapon. After returning to their village, the Iroquois used the gantlet to further break the spirits of the captives and to serve as a test of endurance and physical tolerance.

    The Iroquois would execute without ceremony those captives who fell and did not get up, which indicates disdain for mental and physical weakness. Indeed, the Iroquois expected even those captives who underwent subsequent lethal torture to stand strong and not cry out—the warriors would disgustedly dispatch a captive who lost his composure. As the night went by and the prisoner remained silent, the entire tribe would become more and more frenzied until the sun came up and the prisoner was killed. Thus it seems that torturing captives to death was a ritualized act of vengeance that was truly fulfilled only when its objective (making the victim respond to the torture) failed!

    The warriors were not the only ones who conducted the torture, however; the women and children of the village had just as much of an active role as the men did. While the captives were perched upon the scaffold, the children of the tribe would jab at the prisoner’s feet with knives. In addition to this, every person in the village took turns with the burning torches during the night ritual. In fact, the rest of the tribe would scorn anyone who did not partake in the torture as a weak and lazy individual. Because everyone took part, it becomes clear that besides being an act for grieving family members to vent their frustration on an unyielding victim and doing so feel avenged for the loved ones’ deaths, it was a reassertion of Iroquois dominance and power. Yet this second purpose seems of less importance considering the specialized nature of the mourning war. That is to say, the process of the mourning war is oriented far more towards the grieving matriarchs rather than the entire village.

    This can be said partly because lethal torture was not always the fate of the captives. In fact, the grieving Iroquois more often than not adopted the captive into his or her family. Only when the captives were feeble, old, or unusually ugly, or the Iroquois matriarchs were particularly upset or felt they had suffered a great loss, then death by torture would be the guaranteed result. This stems from the belief that a clan or village lost power when its members died. The best way to maintain that power in the eyes of the Iroquois was to maintain the status quo by getting another individual to take the place of the slain family member. Only later when European diseases killed off huge numbers of Native Americans and tradition broke down did lethal torture become more frequent than adoption.

    The Iroquois usually chose the captives who were adopted during their torture, specifically after they had run the gantlet or were suffering the humiliation stage. Pierre Radisson exemplifies this when his adopted Iroquois parents drag him by the hair from the gantlet in his second captivity. At first the practice of torturing a potential family member seems extraordinarily odd, but the Iroquois had a reason for this, too. When the Iroquois adopted a captive, the torture acted as a symbolic end to the captive’s old life. In theory, the captive rejoiced that his tormentors had saved his or her life and was happy to join the Iroquois. In practice, this did not always guarantee the adopted member’s loyalty.

    This is also demonstrated by Pierre Radisson when he was captured twice; though he even came to empathize with his new parents after his second capture, he still chose to escape when he had the opportunity. Yet a significant number of accounts do indicate that many captives, nearly all from other Native American tribes, did elect to stay with their new Iroquois families.

    Though modern Americans do not associate other tribes with the practice of mourning wars, they performed the same methods of torture that the Iroquois did. These accounts are much less frequent than descriptions of Iroquois torture, nevertheless they do exist and are no less ruthless in nature.

    Samuel de Champlain’s notes contain accounts of the Algonquins, Montagnais, and Etechemins as the aggressors. After they captured a handful of Iroquois in battle, these “friendly” tribes proceeded to torture the captives to death. They burned the body of one captive Iroquois then poured water on him in cycles so that his flesh would fall off his body. When they had finally killed him and threw his innards into the river, the Indians told Champlain that this act was done in vengeance for their own mutilated tribesmen. There is mention in Relation des Hurons of the Neutrals and Hurons performing the same cruelties, and the Hurons are mentioned for taking captives to be adopted. Nevertheless there are no vastly different reasons that can be determined for the atrocities of the other northeastern tribes. All of these other tribes practiced torture as an act of vengeance for their own mutilated dead, and in some cases even performed similar adoption ceremonies.

    But can a desire for vengeance be sufficient to explain Iroquois cannibalism? In nearly every instance the Iroquois ate parts of the bodies of war prisoners who had been tortured to death. In Father Vimont’s previous account it was the heart or other internal organs that were consumed as well as the hands and feet of the tortured prisoner. Another Jesuit gives this account: “having cut off (the captive’s) hands and feet, (the Iroquois) skinned him and separated the flesh from the bones, in order to make from it a detestable repast.” Further accounts include multiple mentions of the cannibalistic “customary feasts” of the Iroquois. There is obviously more to this form of cannibalism than the necessity of consuming human flesh to stay alive in hard times. Vengeance alone does not provide an ample explanation for cannibalism like it does for torture, yet the two always occur together.

    The Aztecs are a perhaps the best known nation of people besides the Iroquois who possessed cannibalistic practices. High priests ritually sacrificed victims to their god Uitzilopochtli by removing the captive’s heart. When they had finished with the body they threw it down the steps of the sacred pyramid where it was taken and eaten by the citizens. Despite the association with religion, contemporary anthropologists have come to the conclusion that the act of cannibalism had less to do with the sacrificial ceremony and more with improper nutrition. Their practice results from a protein-deficient diet in which human beings are the only real source of meat. While there are instances of Native Americans resorting to cannibalism in very hard times, these northeastern Indians generally had no lack of meat, and since their cannibalism was limited to war prisoners, this reason is unlikely. This is not to say that cannibalism was never practiced for food by the Iroquois or their neighbors, just that it was definitely not the primary practice in the present context.

    Another religious figure that has cannibalistic associations is one of the creators of the earth, the Good Twin. While the Iroquois creation myth is too long and involved to be mentioned in detail here, what bears importance to this paper is that the Bad Twin killed the Sky-Mother when the two were born and blamed it on the Good Twin, who was expelled from Family. The Good Twin would wander the earth and help man when he could. In years that they predicted a famine, the Iroquois mystics would “see” the Good Twin holding withered ear of corn and eating a human leg. This suggests cannibalism might have begun as a result of famine, but once again the circumstances under which it was conducted and its association with mourning raids had little to do with starvation. Instead the existence of this imagery certainly proves that this practice had been around for a long time in Iroquois history.

    There is one more possibility dealing with supernatural beliefs that needs to be considered. All of the Indian tribes believe that every object, animate or inanimate, has a spirit. Even rocks and old bones as well as living shamans can possess supernatural abilities and magical powers. An interesting example of this belief is the story of Arent Van Corlaer, a Dutch colonist. There was a particular rock in Lake George that the Iroquois believed held a spirit, and they would offer tobacco to it each time they passed. Van Corlaer, while on a trip with the Mohawks, mocked this tribute to the rock, and mooned it. Shortly afterwards, a storm blew up and capsized his boat, killing the Van Arent. Other similar stories can be found in Iroquois folklore.

    With these two premises, it follows that devouring the flesh of a great warrior would transfer his prowess into the one doing the eating. There is no mention that the Iroquois ate the flesh of those captives who did not die ceremoniously; perhaps these “weak” prisoners were considered unworthy to be eaten. There is also no mention that the Iroquois ate the flesh of anyone who was not tortured to death; those people who did not have had a chance to prove themselves. Yet like the previous spiritual explanation, only one account exists that establishes a link between great warriors and the humans they eat. A Huron Indian who escaped Iroquois captivity described how a Jesuit was killed and eaten. The priest had endured great pain before his death, and the Iroquois told the Huron that they drank his blood and ate his flesh so that they could be as strong as the priest had been.

    This answer fits well within the Iroquois belief system. The Native Americans were incredibly superstitious, and a spiritual solution would be a reason to condone nearly any sort of behavior. Many of a tribe’s decisions were made only after supernatural omens or dreams were consulted, which clearly demonstrates that spiritual influences had deep effects in the Indian psyche. Supernatural meaning in dreams played an especially large role in Iroquois life, often to the point that something received in a dream could be bestowed upon the dreamer in reality, or an action performed while dreaming would be reenacted by the entire tribe. The same supernatural forces imbued shamans with great powers and influence even beyond even the chief’s authority. The Iroquois even had a purpose for tobacco smoking—the pungent smoke was supposed to be an offering to the spirits of the dead. A belief system with this kind of spiritual emphasis in its make-up could easily condone cannibalistic practices.

    There is also a question as to why the same cannibalistic practices were not performed on members of the same tribe. If it did indeed occur, then it was very rare or very private, since no accounts have been found telling of this occurrence. By the previous solution, dead members of one’s own tribe should have been the first ones to be eaten. The confederation system itself is perhaps the solution; instead of fighting amongst other nations for the rights to the dead body, it was more productive to let it be buried. Perhaps the more likely solution to this snag is that the Iroquois could not bear to eat one of their own tribesmen. Since the grieving process upset the Iroquois so much, they were probably unable to bring themselves to cannibalize their own “flesh and blood.” This also places emphasis on the “replacement” act of the mourning wars rather than “recycling.”

    Eating one’s enemies in order to regain lost power has a very broad appeal that also accounts for cannibalism in other northeastern Indian nations. Nearly all of the tribes in this area descend from the Iroquoia people, and many of the primitive beliefs, like their shared language, would also have been passed on to the presently developed tribes. The Iroquoia area, between Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean had more than five large rivers flowing out from its heart, which guaranteed this prehistoric people the opportunity to spread their culture. Capturing prisoners and eating their flesh may very well have come from this prehistoric time; whereas the ritual the mourning war, was a contemporary practice brought on by the infighting between the five nations that later formed the Iroquois League.

    This solution proposes an answer for both practices that binds the two closely together. While torture served as vengeance against a tribe’s enemy and emotional venting of grief over a relative’s death, cannibalism served to keep tribe’s supernatural power constant while permitting torture to occur. Eating an enemy’s flesh in order to retain this spiritual strength allowed a tribesman to vent his or her frustrations without subtracting from the tribe’s power as a whole. Without the practice of cannibalism, torture probably would still have existed, but certainly not on the large scale in which it had been present. Torture was more the domain of the mourning wars and ensuring that captives would remain with the tribe, while cannibalism had more to do with supernatural belief. Both were tied together by the need to adopt enemies.

    Through the course of this paper several possibilities have been proposed that might account for cannibalism and torture among the seventeenth-century Iroquois and other northeastern American tribes. Though many (especially the religious views) may have influenced these abominable practices to varying degrees, the source of these acts stems from the need of the Iroquois to strengthen their own tribes by inducting physically or supernaturally a replacement for a slain member. This practice known as mourning wars did not extend in name to the other tribes, but they doubtlessly performed acts of cannibalism and torture for similar purposes. Though it is not a rationale that we can fully comprehend, cannibalism and torture nonetheless served a very important purpose to the Iroquois and their neighbors.

  • Thanks, Gary. It’s a very comprehensive, interesting and well laid out article. We already know we don’t agree on some points, but that’s not much of an issue given what we both know about the situation the human experiment is in and what we’re facing.

    I’m one of the rabbits who has gone quiet in the jaws of the fox. One thing that has helped me achieve this abnormal equanimity is the realization that human intelligence is, and always has been, a lethal mutation.

    It’s not our culture, it’s not our nature that is at fault. Both our culture and our nature pivot around the intelligence that springs from the evolutionary history of our neocortex. This outcome was probably baked in the cake over a million years ago with the arrival of H. erectus. It took us a while to get our toolkit assembled, but I suspect the outcome has been a foregone conclusion for at least half a million years.

    Whether you look at it through the eyes of culture, evolution or thermodynamics, the end result and the probability of avoiding it are still the same: zero. Surrender now, avoid the rush…

  • Excellent essay. Two relevant quotes come to mind:

    “Humankind is caught in a technological trap of its own devising and is faced with the problem of escaping from its own ingenuity.”

    –Unidentified biologist quoted by Loren Eiseley

    “Intelligence is a lethal mutation.”

    –Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr

    Additional food for thought:

    It has been suggested that the reason why the SETI project has found only silence in the Universe is that once intelligence arises, the resulting cultures self-destruct within a relatively short time frame.

  • When someone gives up before they have actually been defeated, we call it capitulation. The word surrender tends to connote that defeat is the fact, and surrender its acceptance on the part of the defeated.

    Helluva hard job to surrender (or capitulate) when one is dead. While still alive, “gives up”, “capitulation” and “surrender” can each have a wide spectrum of meaning, as does “defeat”.

    And that raises the question: at what point, short of the absence of all living humans on Earth, can extinction be considered a “fact?”

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When can one say for certain that the herd will go over the cliff? When they have barrelled past the edge – and even there one is depending on the presumption that gravity will do its job.

    “But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”
    – John Maynard Keynes

    When, in other words, does all resistance become futile?

    When the last stiff starts stinking?

    I’m not quite ready to capitulate.

    No need to. Still breathing, eating, evacuating! Praise the Lawd!

    there is nothing for it but to do your very best for as long as you have life.

    What else is new?

    humans, under the spell of the culture of civilization, pitted against Nature, the Earth, and the Community of Life.

    Culture is a higher order organisation impelled by energy flows, the flows that impelled the stuff in the universe to organise into galaxies and stars, the chemicals in the primordial soup to organise into pre-biotic forms, and the pre-biotic stuff in the same soup to organise into life.

    this is a distinction I must insist upon. It is not our species that is fatally flawed, but our culture.

    The species is the substrate for the higher-order organisation called culture. Organisation is impelled by energy flows and in turn enhances those flows. Microbes had a limited ability to oxidise sequestered carbon and release it into the air. Higher levels of organisation have allowed their descendants to extract, combust and release gigatons of the stuff into the atmosphere with concomitant increases in energy flows.

    And here I want to directly confront the contentious issue of our loyalties, and with what or whom we take sides in this life-and-death struggle that faces us.

    Taking sides is contingent upon being on the “life” side of the “life-and-death”. There are no sides on the other side. For the one who has recognised the “I” to be a phantasm, the “taking sides” is equally phantasmagorical. As is all (including the little death) after the Great Death (the cessation of the sense/feeling of “I”).

    We are not separate at all; we are One; and we only succeed as part of the larger Community.

    As long as there is a “we”, there will potentiay be a “they”. Shedding the “we” is the peeling off of one more identifying label that appears to cover the “I”. No “we”, no “they”. But there are plenty more labels to be peeled off before it is clear that beneath them there is no “I”.

    it won’t be our extinction itself that would leave me inconsolable.

    There would be no one to console.

    ongoing promise of Life’s self-renewal

    ‘Tain’t a promise at all. Let’s not overlook the explanations for Fermi’s paradox.

  • Paul Chefurka: “I’m one of the rabbits who has gone quiet in the jaws of the fox. One thing that has helped me achieve this abnormal equanimity is the realization that human intelligence is, and always has been, a lethal mutation.”

    Are you familiar with Philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe essay “The Last Messiah”? http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/The_Last_Messiah
    Basically humans are incompatible with the natural world due to an overabundance of consciousness.

  • @ Gary

    “Watch out for that first step…….it’s a doozy” But where it concerns NTE, that first step, just so happens to be our last in many ways.

    Allow me to start by obtusely quoting myself: “I suspect most criticism of this essay will come from those who have yet to fully accept NTE … and rightly so! But please be mindful, the following is written from a post-acceptance perspective.”

    There is a reason why I stated this, because I knew that almost all subsequent contrarian commentary would most likely come from those who have yet to fully accept NTE……….and rightly so!!! If this is something I had yet to accept, then I would completely agree with everything you just wrote, and then some, where I would mostly likely completely agree with Wester.


    Gary, I’ve read your essay twice, and it is clear to me, that while you are more than aware of all the evidence leading to both the collapse of civilization, as well as NTE–as most of us here are–it is clear to me the key word “acceptance”, is still something you are refusing in regards to the latter.

    As I’ve already mentioned, I have zero interest in attempting to convince anyone of NTE. And again, I would almost beseech those still desiring to “resist”, for whatever cause or reason, to turn from this site and never come back, for there is ultimately nothing for you here, but an endless array of cognitive dissonance, which will eventually quell whatever imperative that has driven you throughout your life.

    I blog at NBL not because Guy convinced me of anything, but because his first essay “We’re done” completely reflected my own perspective. I have already about three years of acceptance behind me, given it became rather clear this is where we were headed, starting around three years ago with the first discovery of Arctic methane plumes. And I will presume that this is/was true for many keen observers of climate science.

    So, I find myself in a bit of a predicament in how to respond to you Gary, for while it may appear we are talking about the same issue, we are in my opinion, having two rather distinct conversations, which makes it nearly impossible for either of us to agree or commiserate with the other.

    So, I’m going to try and keep this short, because ultimately, I want you to keep that fire in your belly burning passionately hot. I don’t want to be right, and desperately want to be wrong. But the key distinction between us, it that you believe you have a choice in “accepting” NTE, and I simply don’t, but again, I have no interest in trying to convince you of why I believe this.

    You state:

    “Toward the end of his very long piece, author Daniel Drumright admits that he is not quite there, either. He’s convinced intellectually, but not emotionally, so he claims he will give it another couple years before he commits all the way. And here we come to some very fine points as regards attitudes, along with the words we use to describe them……….”

    O.K., so I’m with so far…..but then you immediately follow up, with THE classic subjective redirect, which I, and I know probably everyone else here–including yourself–has experienced countless times. You take impersonal objective phenomena, and reframe it as if it were a subjective perspective.

    Now, to even touch upon this subject, we open an epistemological can of worms that can never be resolved. Which again only illustrates why I have absolutely no interest in attempting to convince anyone of the evidence of NTE being either true or false.

    After over a decade of literally arguing with every person I know about “collapse”, which amounts to literally hundreds of conversations, and where I basically have gotten nowhere accept with those who were “there” already, the fact that NTE makes collapse of civilization look like a spring picnic, makes it absurd in my opinion, to attempt to even broach the subject of NTE with anyone clearly not already “there”. Hence, my focus on post-acceptance commiseration as opposed to a continuation of “resistance”.

    There are so many undisclosed psychological factors at work in regards to each of our acceptance, it is but a fruitless morass to even attempt to convince others of this new unfolding reality, if they aren’t already paying close attention.

    So when you follow with:

    “When someone gives up before they have actually been defeated, we call it capitulation. The word surrender tends to connote that defeat is the fact, and surrender its acceptance on the part of the defeated. And that raises the question: at what point, short of the absence of all living humans on Earth, can extinction be considered a “fact?” At what point does something become so obviously inevitable as to be considered a “fact” in the making? When, in other words, does all resistance become futile? The answers to these questions can be highly subjective and personal, but for my own part, I’m not quite ready to capitulate……Why not? Well, even apart from a certain stubborn contentiousness of character, it seems to me there are solid logical reasons not to cave in prematurely.”

    You see, this is where the analogy of hospice care comes into play, which both Kathy C, and Carolyn have used to explain our varying stages of psychological acceptance.

    The choice will always be yours to make, in how you interpret “us” having crossed multiple tipping points. My interpretation, is that we don’t really have a choice. It either is, or it isn’t. But, I also know that even this, is just my perspective, given I’m a staunch empiricist.

    By refusing to accept multiple tipping points, as implying we’re past the point of no return, then words like “defeated”, “capitulate”, “cave in” and “surrender”, still hold their past meaning. But echoing Robin Datta, once one accepts multiple tipping points to allegorically equate to hospice care, such words take on whole new meanings, or rather, they simply lose their meaning.

    I, as well as many others here, have painfully, mournfully, regrettably along with the whole pantheon of mixed emotions, come to accept we’re past the point of no return. This is an acceptance that I wish upon no one, but for those of us who have, other words subsequently come to take on whole new meanings as well, such as commiseration, resignation, ethical hedonism and altruistic suicide.

    You continue:

    “If we think of near term extinction as some kind of battle, how do we frame the nature of the combat, and how do we characterize the opposing sides?”

    Here again, we completely diverge. That “battle”, is what the last half century has been, albeit a losing one. And what may give rise to my own personal conviction, is that I have been in the trenches of that battle my entire adult life. Call it conceit or arrogance, but I believe I have a rather clear understanding of what humanity is, and isn’t capable of, at least concerning activism. And frankly, we are further from any relevant groundswell of social awakening, than at any time I can remember, for even those asleep have a unconscious sense of there being no hope.

    You continue:

    “I would say that what we are really looking at here is: humans, under the spell of the culture of civilization, pitted against Nature, the Earth, and the Community of Life. Within this framing, it is not Homo sapiens, as a species, who is contending with Gaia, Natural Law, and all the other species, but only those humans under the influence of civilization. Globally, that may be most humans, but not all, and this is a distinction I must insist upon. It is not our species that is fatally flawed, but our culture………It is crucial to fully comprehend this distinction when it comes to choosing sides. And I’ll say right here that if I believed we were fatally flawed at the species level I would be very much in favor of our extinction — and the sooner the better.”

    Here is where I completely agree with Gail and Kathy C, and others, even BK9K: culture is not some abstraction that just randomly manifested out of thin air, it is but an extension of a dominate geographic region that simply had a comparative advantage over its global competitors. This is yet another source of endless debate, which I have no faith will ever be resolved.

    Whether or not we agree with the bumper sticker ” Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, pretty much reflects our opinion as to what came first, homicidal culture, or an inherent evolutionary flaw in our presumed sapience.

    Thank you Gary for taking the time to expound on this maddening subject. Believe me, I understand how hard it was for you to write this. But, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with the entire premise of your argument, and honestly, I hope you continue to completely, if not fundamentally disagree with me.

    Let us both hope, that these difficult and trying conversations, eventually fruit something neither of us ever expected.

  • Daniel-

    Guy said that he expects that all of the interior parts of the continents of the Northern Hemisphere to be uninhabitable within 4.5 years. This means that the first few most vulnerable cities should be only a year or two away from abandonment. With undeniable effects so near, what difference does it make if someone doesn’t fully accept now?

  • @ Ripley

    Absolutely none….

  • There is a very interesting analysis of the Arctic Death Spiral on CoIC


    With ice area similar to this time last year we will obviously have to wait a few more weeks to know how bad it will be this year, and whether projections that suggest an ice-free Arctic Sea by September 2014 (or even September 2013) are likely to be correct.

  • Do you believe the PTB are motivated by power or money? …….. are they interested in control?

    All organisms seek energy flows. Money is a symbolic representation of energy and its products in the context of human interactions. Power is the intensity of the energy flow. Control over these is a necessary attribute of life itself.

    Do you think they understand ………. (etc. etc.) Do you think they have any sense of self-preservation ….

    Entire lifetimes spent in the matrix of hierarchy will train one’s reptilian brain to a particular outlook. The intellect will put an appropriate spin on whatever is observed.

    IOW, they are completely agnostic as to the underlying system.

    They are highly adapted to the system in which they prosper. They will give everything to keep BAU on track for as long as possible.

    is this kind of resistance merely alluring because it bucks conventional behavior or is there some true, underlying motive?

    The motives have to be sought in the reptilian brain – the boss brain. They are more often than not stemming from emotional responses. The intellect – the chauffeur brain – will take the boss wherever the boss wants, and will find justifications, be they specious, for it.

    Would you then be satisfied if the PTB exited championing consumption and moved into sustainable production?

    Sustainable production will support about 40 million humans on Planet Earth. (See Paul Cherfurka’s essay on “Sustatnability” at his website.) That is a little over 0.05% of the current population. One would be satisfied if one was in that 0.05% (0.5‰).

    Doesn’t it just turn into another gold rush, where everyone is scrambling for their piece of pie? (In this case, control over actual slaves vs barrels of oil.)

    Any means to control and exploit energy flows has been, is, and will be prized. What means are socially acceptable will vary with the contemporary mores.

    Would you not like to go out knowing you finally achieved a master goal?

    Priorities may vary:
    Maranassati Sutta: Mindfulness of Death

    decommissioning nuke facilities and reducing world population, would you have the stomach for it, or will it be left to the traditional “hard men”?

    With progressively constrained resources, masked by continued inflation of a financial bubble, the diversion of resources to the very expensive shutdown process of the nukes will have a very low priority in the hand-to-mouth status of the collapsing industrial civilisation. Immediate basic human needs will trump the nukes till they become Fukes, by which time all bets will be off. Short of an authoritarian world-wide regime no politically correct policy on population reduction can be promulgated. Nevertheless the reduction will occur, managed or not.

    Since this blog is ostensibly about NTE, is it merely limited to the science of proving the conclusion?

    The proof will be in only when the last stiff starts stinking. However, there would then be no one to acknowledge it.

    Wouldn’t you like to be at the forefront of at least perhaps allowing the non-PTB to participate in this this shutdown?

    Participate they will. Even if it is by keeling over and croaking.

    Dopamine: You understand remarkably well.

    mike k Says
    Fortunately such voices quickly discredit themselves.

    Not when they also bring much of value to the table.

    Rob: Lounging on the deck of the Titanic, I’m going to have myself a nice tall glass of Scotch, neat,
    mike k: those of us who are pursuing spiritual growth

    Now that’s a fine example of true spiritual growth!

    karma yoga urges us to serve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in spite of whatever may arise outwardly as a result. Our reward will always be ……..

    Ah, as soon as one starts contemplating rewards, it ain’t karma yoga anymore.

  • @WoodsDweller

    Your script works perfectly. Thank you.

  • Robin Ah, as soon as one starts contemplating rewards, it ain’t karma yoga anymore.

    That ties in with what I wanted to write. Cooperation, what is it. Something noble that we can aspire to, or just another possible way to successfully self replicate. I would assert the ladder.

    For example, a friend might help me with my garden and for that cooperation receive a share of my garden. In so doing we are cooperating against the natural plants and other species that were previously making use of that space. We cooperated to take those mineral and water and place in the sun spaces for the foods we wanted to eat by weeding out the species of plants that also wanted those things. Thus we cooperated to compete against what we call weeds but are just other plants.

    While gardening we might note aphids on our field peas. These particular aphids cooperate with ants to steal our food = the ants put them on the tender ends of the peas and tend them in exchange for some juices the “milk” out of them. The cooperate to compete against my domestic plants and me and my friend who is cooperating with me. I might use pesticides or just keep squishing the aphids with my fingers or I might cooperate with some lady bugs that some organic place sells. I would buy the lady bugs and place them in a place high in food and the lady bug would get aphid food and I would get my field pea food. Wonderful cooperation unless you are the ant or the aphid. My cooperation with the lady bug is in fact war on the ant and aphid.

    IMHO all cooperation is is another way to compete for limited resources. Species that cooperate do so for the benefit it provides. That benefit is at the expense of other critters. Lions cooperate to hunt their prey. Wonderful to watch their natural coordinated hunt unless you are the prey. The prey don’t care about the wonderful cooperation of the lions. Similarly soldiers cooperate to kill other humans. While sometimes forced, when a unit goes out, they will cooperate with each other for the benefit of all.

    Sometimes it is subtle. Our brain programs are evolved for tribal living. When we go and do altruistic deeds we do them for the tribe even if we do them for strangers. Not consciously of course, but some feel very good after doing something altruistic and I a believe this is an extension of the programs that say take care of your tribe mates. After many years of looking for pure altruism in the deeds of others and in myself I conclude that altruistic deeds are done for the benefit they provide the doer – sometimes for the reward from a god, or the acclaim of your friends or society, or for the feel good, feel right reward from your brain.

    I found that once I accepted that doing good for others was for my own internal rewards, I decided I should make sure that I was doing something for another person that they really wanted and/or needed. What benefit to pat myself on the back for giving a gift that a person didn’t want eh. Happens all the time though. Few people take the time to really find out what would please another, they just buy gifts. I became more open as a Hospice volunteer to what the person really needed or wanted there at the end of life. I stopped thinking about what I thought they wanted and tried to pay attention to them and ask…. Making that change I was better able to pat myself on the back as not just a Hospice volunteer but a really good Hospice volunteer. And I get to brag about how I became a better volunteer – once you start looking pure altruism keeps alluding you…..

    So it goes. My main point is that I like cooperation better than competition but you can’t get away from the fact that successful cooperation is always a way of competing, just a nicer way than open competition and often a more successful way. But to the weeds and the ants and the aphids all they see is competition. To the antelope whether hunted down by cooperating lions or cooperating hunter-gatherers it is competition for the resource of their body. They want to keep it to pass on their genes and those successful cooperators want to get it to pass on their genes.

  • daniel that wasn’t your stance when you first arrived at this forum. you were still questioning at that point, so it’s not true what you say. you are misrepresenting yourself. if anyone cares to look the evidence of which i speak is in the archives. of course someone who misrepresents themselves assumes most if not all will never look at the archives but there are those of us who know and don’t forget. you never held the conviction guy has held on this issue daniel. you know that. so come clean and be honest.

    as for the essay what’s up with the militaristic language of “surrender” and “defeat”. a proper response to the unfolding that is discussed here is to live the rest of your life as honestly as you can and a start would be to eschew any notion of militarism to include not using the language of it to describe your embracing of near-term extinction.

    this growing trend of people slowly but surely embracing near-term extinction is interesting in so many ways. one such perspective is that it is a desperate acting out by white people who know their gig is finally up. white people have been slowly but surely losing their grip on the entire world in many ways and this is one avenue of dealing with that. another obvious avenue is to clamp down even tighter and militarize the entire planet and that is occurring in tandem with this near-term extinction suicide cult thing. keep in mind i’m not vested to any of this. i’m just a curious and somewhat detached observer.

    also i wish i could attend the age of limits retreat in pennsylvania if for no other reason than to see guy and greer wrestle in a mud pit. that would be worth the price of admission but only if greer is bedecked in his arch druid attire and guy in his infamous cardigan. i would think greer’s beard would be a distinct disadvantage in this spectacle. guy could use it as a lever and/or handle but of course greer has his magic so maybe he could slip away at the last minute on a magic carpet he conjures from the ether. maybe some can videotape the events. it would be trippy to be there and observe people getting stoked about the end is nigh.

    over and out my friends.

  • Ripley says: With undeniable effects so near, what difference does it make if someone doesn’t fully accept now?

    They’re going to geoengineer, so if you think it’s all going to be over in 5 or 17 years, you’re in for a surprise.

  • Bombing the Biosphere

    A one megaton hydrogen bomb releases about 4,200 terajoules of energy.

    Last year human beings released over 550 exajoules of energy.

    This means that last year we unleashed the equivalent of 132,000 megatons of hydrogen bombs over the surface of the planet.

    That’s one Hiroshima bomb every five seconds.

    Since the end of World War II we have released the equivalent of 5 million one-megaton bombs on the planet.

    The world’s entire nuclear arsenal today is estimated at “only” 5 thousand megatons.

    Is it any wonder that the biosphere is looking a little battered?
    Is it any wonder that I’m far more worried about driving cars than I am about nuclear war?

  • Well written essay, Gary. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing encouragement.

    i’m the typical hypocrite that is still living in the culture while trying to dismantle parts of it through organized cooperation (which is slow and doomed to fail because it involves politics and government – both of which no longer function as implements of change for the better regarding the ordinary citizenry).

    I don’t see any way that humanity can evolve further, based on what we’ve “accomplished” so far. We can go all spiritual and emotional, but that’s not going to get us out of the problem or “undo” what we’ve unleashed on ourselves (for being so ignorant and selfish). Likewise science isn’t going to come along and save the day at the last minute – especially if its goal is to continue along the way we’re going. In fact – despite the science, it’s apparent that stupid/greedy has “won” through deception, control and psychopathy.

    Whatever the biological history of the planet, we’ve totally misread it (based on Biblical edicts?) and misused (or abused) our little paradise to the point where it won’t be able to foster any more growth to the cancer we’ve become. On top of that, we’ve gone and set off the Fukushima bomb and now the only fix they have is to pollute the Pacific ocean and the atmosphere (not to mention their own island) with radiation indefinitely by continuously pouring water over the radioactive rods (which have half-lives of tens of thousands of years)! How long before the Pacific can no longer support marine life? Well, in fact it’s happening already and will only get worse in coming years.

    My family knows that I feel like we have about 7 years left before it’s totally obvious to anyone still alive that we’re on our way out – whether it’s the heat, the dying trees and vegetation, super storms, flooding, noxious gases, an aberrant jet stream wrecking crop production, continued pollution, and disease, combined with earthquakes and volcanic activity – all of these and more will interact to make our way of living (dependent on other species, clean water and unpolluted air) impossible to continue.

    They also see that i’m involved in the anti-fracking movement and continue to fight for the environmental health of my locality (as hypocritical as it is). So, I hear ya.

    Up the thread a ways, kevin moore asked about the rebuilding efforts after past storms and tornados. In response:

    The msm doesn’t tell us much, but by “asking around” or visiting the actual sites (in my case the Sandy debacle) or alternative news sources we can see that rebuilding efforts are slow and hampered by many factors – insurance companies who want to minimize their obligations to their clients due to trying to maximize profits for their shareholders (same model as in medicine, the way it’s “practiced” here), lack of seed money, complications (legal issues, local permitting, for ex.), age, etc.

    I have an acquaintance that lives at the Jersey shore and makes his living rebuilding the many towns impacted by the superstorm. He tells me there is more work than anyone will ever be able to finish (some towns are broke and are having trouble with simple garbage pickup, etc) – especially since storms of this magnitude, formerly relegated to “once in a century”, are expected to become every other year events! I read somewhere that the town of Moore that was just blasted by an EF-4 (some say 5) tornado, was still in the process of rebuilding from another one that hit years earlier. I think that pretty much indicates the level of devastation these events have on the populace, despite the president’s commitment to rebuilding the area.

    As these occurances continue and mount up, combined with expected health troubles (like a flu pandemic or such, which is only a matter of time now), food shortages, an aging population, resource depletion, electrical outages, water contamination, and social troubles (like militant police) etc. we’ll see insurance companies default (indeed the entire global economic system is in hospice), chaos ensue and the real die-off/collapse begin (imho).

    There aren’t any fairytale endings when you lose everything – especially if you’re past 60.

  • @cuntagious (love the handle, BTW!)

    The essay by Zapffe is very poetic. I hadn’t heard of it before, thanks for linking it.

    It reminds me of the thesis advanced by Charles Eisenstein in his remarkable book “The Ascent of Humanity” – that it’s our sense of Separation that is at the root of it all. If we follow that sense of Separation back in time, we arrive at the moment when self-awareness appeared in our neocortex. Self-awareness automatically implies other-awareness, and the moment the primordial unity consciousness split into that duality, our fate was sealed. The universe (including all the “other” people in it) suddenly became nothing more than an insensate bag of resources for Me to use. The rest is history.

    See y’all tomorrow.

  • damn. I forgot to link this in the first post (sorry about breaking the rule, and if the moderator wishes to hold this comment until tomorrow, fine)

    regarding a comment I made and a site linked to explaining that HAARP has something to do with the Moore tornado:


    all for now

  • Thank goodness for Woodsdweller’s gadget. Because of it I didn’t have to read mockingbird’s or Morocco Bama’s posts. If any of you get a chance, please read my book. I’m available 24/7 for astrological readings as well and I’m running a deal; if you sign up for five readings you get the sixth one free. The White race is superior, that is why we are able to comprehend that the end is nigh. It’s not as the inferior mockingbird and Morocco Bama would have us believe. We are always first in everything because of our superior intellect. History has proven this. If you can’t see it, it’s because you are inferior.

  • @cuntagious (love the handle, BTW!)

    I find it offensive. I’m sure the puritanical pat and Denise will agree. Guy please remove this individual and its offensive name from the premises. We don’t need this kind of smut.

  • @Gail says “Part 5a and 5b – neither one is gonna happen, ever.”

    [Part 5a: How will you react when the PTB seize upon dismantling industrial civ as a mechanism to usher in the next era? Part 5b: If collapsing industrial civ becomes the new mantra, is it really resistance if everyone is doing it?]


    @Robin says “With progressively constrained resources, masked by continued inflation of a financial bubble, the diversion of resources to the very expensive shutdown process of the nukes will have a very low priority in the hand-to-mouth status of the collapsing industrial civilisation.”

    [decommissioning nuke facilities and reducing world population, would you have the stomach for it, or will it be left to the traditional “hard men”?]


    @Sadie says “They’re going to geoengineer, so if you think it’s all going to be over in 5 or 17 years, you’re in for a surprise.”

    [Ripley – With undeniable effects so near, what difference does it make if someone doesn’t fully accept now?]

    Obviously, I agree with Sadie. I think we can confirm that many (most?) people hanging out @ NBL share a certain affinity & outlook on life. As such, it presents a huge blind spot as to how the world actually operates.

    Gail, have you ever heard the term ‘buy low, sell high’? Why wouldn’t the PTB liquidate overvalued holdings in order to get ‘in on the ground floor’ in other asset classes, and then champion the dismantling of industrial civ – with them in control?

    Robin, ditto – you’re making a big assumption that the PTB lack the same kind of self-preservation as other, more ‘enlightened’ individuals.

    I guess I’m not too surprised to the lack of response to my questions. Right now, NTE appeals to those traditionally opposed to authority – in any form. Evidently, the allure isn’t actually achieving anything, it’s the moment(s) of ecstasy protesting in a group setting against whatever is perceived to be the superior force.

    This kind of ideology apparently can cloud one’s judgment, to the extent that it forces one to dismiss the notion that the opposition can perform logical thinking – see both Gail’s & Robin’s comments.

    So, here’s my take:
    1. It’s a mistake to assume NTE in the next 5-10 years – humanity will try everything in its power to alter, forestall & re-engineer. So what if the earth winks out (from our perspective) from some miscalculation/application? Doing nothing assures the same outcome; I stand by my 50+ year projection.

    2. The PTB is nothing but agnostic – it simply does not matter what basis forms their framework for power/control. As such, they will simply move into new markets, the primary one being the dismantling of industrial civ. A big part of this will de-commissioning nukes – they would like to live above ground.

    3. Once dismantling industrial civ becomes the new frontier ie “the next big thing”, resistance (as defined here) is no longer resistance, it’s acceptance.

    If you begin to warm to this premise, then you’ll agree that dismantling industrial civ is fait accompli – whether or not humans can forestall VNTE. It then becomes only a matter of who’s in charge of the process: tyrants via authoritarian edicts or people via democratic decisions.

  • Hey y’all!

    I’m a relative newcomer to NBL. Maybe this has been tried before and probably better, but here is my attempt:

    Ode to Benjamin the Donkey

    You rock, my new friend, Ben the Donkey!
    NTE themes, set to rhyme – downright wonky.
    Not Dad’s lim’rick style,
    makes this doomer smile
    while thinking the future looks shonky.

  • Lots of crazy posts this past 24 hours. Seems like this blog is getting a lot more traffic, who knows where it will lead…

    There are plenty of “positions” to be taken and it doesn’t matter to me if anyone thinks NBL is a suicide cult. One could argue that Industrial Civilization is a suicide cult. or not.

    There is no point in arguing. I found NBL years ago when I was first researching the collapse of America as we know it – either financial collapse or overt militarization. I found a lot of really crazy websites and a lot of really crazy people – but one thing was clear: the game was changing dramatically and I felt compelled to do something, so, I became a prepper. Then The Recession hit hard in Sept 2008 and I thought “this is it.” I was a silent reader of NBL on and off during that time – as well as the other “doomer” websites, anti-government websites, “truther” websites, ancient aliens, etc… as well as the anti-sites IOW: the whole spectrum.

    No matter how anyone reads the science, no matter how anyone reads the opinions, no matter how anyone reads the crazy whack jobs screaming all over the web, NBL is a compendium of climate data compiled by Guy, and contributed to by many here, such that we can decide for ourselves “what it all means” and it is also a place for us to discuss “what it all means.”

    If someone says their take on the whole is that we will all be dead in 4.5 years and they are going to go down fighting to the end in order to “stick it to the man” as long as they can, hey, that’s fine with me!

    If someone says their take on the whole thing is that the whole thing is rubbish and our way of life will continue unabated for another thousand years, that’s fine too.

    It’s not my job to ARGUE that one position or another is more or less valid. It’s like the people on the Titanic arguing whether the iceberg was 100 feet tall or more or less… who cares?

    I identify with Tom, but I’m not involved in any protests. I identify with B9K9, but I’m not so confident. I identify with Kathy C., but I’m not so compassionate. I’m just riding the train over the cliff…

  • Comment #2

    Btw, I love the two comment rule. It imposes discipline not only on the overall site, but individuals as well ie gotta make your comments count. This has the effect of presenting NBL commentary as the best on the web. It sort of reminds me of the 1st year @ ZH, when there were long discussions regarding interesting leaked info & very technical presentations. Some I swear were anonymously penned by Bernanke et al as some kind of soul cleansing process. Of course, now ZH is dominated by one liners & click bait. Oh well.

    OK, main comment – we all know about the two great lies regarding checks in the mail & the outcome of oral sex (chex & sex?). Add to that (a) the spouse is always the last to know, and (b) Gould’s infamous “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half”, and what you have is a series of purposeful lies & re-directs.

    The point? Guy presents an effective foil in which to hoist denial & derision with respect to NTE, while key movements take place positioning those leading the attacks to benefit from the (assured) outcome. Think about it – they’ve got Guy out there being mocked & questioned, while at the same time actually prepping diligently for the eventuality.

    I think Guy would gain better reception if he simply listed off some of Hedges commentary about what’s going on behind the scenes as preparation for what’s occurring. There’s nothing more motivating than believing someone else is already ahead. Rather than attempt to warn/convince people about NTE & advocate resistance, simply tell them they’re already behind the curve.

    Resistance is resistance when it’s the dominant theme – it’s acceptance, agreement. So the question then becomes, do you want to be part of a democratic ‘solution’ (assuming a 50+ year time line with a possible stick save), or do you want to be frog marched into FEMA camps by the PTB?

  • your food riots are about to begin:

    ROME (Reuters) – Millions of Italians cannot afford to heat their homes properly or eat meat as their country is racked by recession and soaring unemployment, said a report which found the number of people considered seriously deprived had doubled in the past two years.

    A recession that has lasted almost two years has taken a heavy toll on ordinary Italians who are increasingly digging into their savings, ISTAT said in its annual report.

    Italy has the highest level in Europe of young people who are neither in education nor employment, at 23.9 percent, the study showed. In Italy’s impoverished south, one in three people aged 15-29 fell into this group.

    The number of people living in families considered to be seriously deprived has doubled in the past two years to 8.6 million, or about 14 percent of the population, ISTAT said.

  • …and now for a little humor

    Dracula (Renfield proves that he is not insane LOL)

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t lead a horticulture.

  • Not specifically about food, but unemployed youth with no prospects:


    Stockholm burns as rioters battle police after three days of violence in immigrant ‘ghetto’

    …gangs torch dozens of cars and attack two schools and a police station…

    …Gangs of up to 60 set fire to a school and a nursery and hurled rocks at police and firefighters…

    …While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst…

  • your civil unrest has begun:

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Hundreds of youths have set fire to cars and attacked police and rescue services in poor immigrant suburbs in three nights of rioting in Stockholm, Sweden’s worst disorder in years.

    On Tuesday night, a police station in the Jakobsberg area in the northwest of the city was attacked, two schools were damaged and an arts and crafts center was set ablaze, despite a call for calm from Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

    The riots in one of Europe’s richest capitals have shocked a country that prides itself on a reputation for social justice, and fuelled a debate about how Sweden is coping with both youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

  • It’s the beginning of the end. Stokholm is going up (or down) in flames which is ironic since Sweden is often cited by “Liberals” as the mecca of social progress. Maybe I ought to lay low for a while since I’m illegal and all. I’ll drive below the speed limit, maybe dye my hair blond and put some blue contact lenses in. Of course I don’t want to go too far with it else I may get recruited by the Aryan Nation.


  • B9K9,
    I’m not sure I 100% understand what you’re getting at but I like the sound of the gears grinding in your head right now. When you speak of grabbing the brass ring….what is your brass ring? “Opporunity” in a collapse economy? Or having your hands at the levers more directly…essentially beating the tenured PTB (mossback elites) in a foot race to the control room? Of course one would likely lead to the other wouldn’t it. I’m not sure how this could be done in a democratic context. I might be completely misreading you.

  • I think the increased traffic is due to Guy’s message getting out now to a wider audience, people are beginning to notice.

    This is good and bad. The trolls are here and it’s going to be more difficult to have a civil exchange of intelligent ideas. Also, the crazy trolls that post under multiple names make it even harder.

  • I too would like more details from B9K9…

  • to B9K9

    The Nazis mastered the whole slave labor thing. They knew just how many calories it took to keep an average slave laborer working and for how long. They were all viewed as expendable but if you wanted them to last 6 months, you feed them X number of calories, 3 months you simply cut back there ‘fuel’.

    The Lizard Brains with their hands on the levers of control will use slave labor to dismantle the nukes, why not?

    Kill two birds with one stone. Depopulate and dismantle, it’s a win-win, It’s All Good.

    So what if millions of FEMA Fodder die from radiation poisoning while decommissioning nuclear power plants, they wanted the ‘useless eaters’ gone anyway.

    If you what to go from 7 billion to a couple hundred million, 95%+ of people are cannon fodder, go for it.

    At least you don’t poison the whole Earth and all it’s flora and fauna, just the Overshoot gets whacked.

  • Is Global Warming breaking up the Integrity of the Permafrost?

    Regarding Hospice. I did Hospice volunteering for 10 years with probably 15 different people who had been told they had 6 mos or less to live. People choose Hospice because it provides palliative care. The choose it when they are tired of fighting for the last breath and wish to have as much comfort as they can in their last days. I always approached each new person I volunteered with as just that, an individual who knew how they wanted to face death. I let them tell me what they needed. Each of them had voluntarily chosen to give up the fight for life and receive Hospice care which per wiki is “a type and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliative care of a terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs”. None of them were continuing with treatment of any sort.

    Those who wish to fight to the last breath reject the doctor’s call that they have 6 mos to live and continue treatment.

    Both choices are fine. Neither is better or worse, Neither is more or less ethical – IN MY OPINION. I love the song the Miner’s Lullaby by Utah Phillips. Utah of course worked tirelessly for union rights. He loved people, yet when he learned the story of the morphine tins he understood that a miner trapped with little to no chance of being saved might honorably choose to check out with the morphine in his tin. When Utah found a tin and asked some miners about it they wouldn’t talk. Later he learned what the tin was for and why they wouldn’t talk – they were largely Catholic and of course suicide was a sin, (gotta suffer as long as the meanie in the sky says you will suffer)

    (Bruce ‘Utah’ Phillips)

    Once, long ago, he was handsome and tall
    And fit to be called to the war
    We left our village, family and all
    To never return any more

    Now he takes his coat, his bucket and lamp
    And whistles away to the cage
    Where men young and old from all over the camp
    Gather in search of a wage

    Husband, sleep, lay your head back and dream
    A slow fallen leaf borne down to the stream
    Then carried away on the wings of morphine
    Homeward far over the sea

    My husband and I are Roman in faith
    And we have a secret to keep
    If ever his life is taken away
    Then gentle and long will he sleep

    Now some men pass with family around
    And linens and blankets so clean
    But seldom a miner goes underground
    Without his tin of morphine


    And now here’s a word, an explosion is heard
    The miners are trapped far below
    If any survived down there alive
    I’m certain we never will know

    Although our families have vainly appealed
    No rescue attempt can be seen
    Our hope for loved ones in the dark earth sealed
    Now lies in a tin of morphine

    its on youtube if you want to listen – it is a beautiful song

    Can’t we stop putting labels on people – ethical, not ethical, moral, not moral, and just talk about the different choices we each might make.

  • I would like to get a “tin of morphine” to keep on my person: In Case of Emergency.

    I wonder if the people shouting and arguing and accusing would be so bold if not behind the veil of anonymity.

    I think you are right. TPTB have already proven themselves quite capable. But, I think we will know it’s over long before the armored personnel carriers come calling – followed by the FEMA buses.

    TPTB will ride this out and they will probably drive us into the dirt while convincing us that they are here to “save the world.”

    here are some interesting tidbits:
    According to the UN numbers released in 2009 about 29,000 people die each day from starvation, and this report was finished before the huge world financial crisis which certainly impacted the situation and brought it to a worse point.
    We’ve seen an expansion of CIA paramilitary activity in Iraq over the past several months. The largest embassy in the world is the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and strike teams continue to operate out of it alongside thousands of mercenary forces.
    here’s a really good one:



  • Kathy C, I enjoyed “babyboom.” Now here’s something less socially acceptable by Bill Hicks concerning the miracle of life:

    Mewling Cabbages

    Do not watch if easily offended.

  • Speak Softly, here’s something from Amazon that will educate and entertain our little cannon fodder. The “loving” parents of our future nuke dismantlers have been buying these up, and that’s no joke. The reviews are fine reading.

    <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Maisto-Fresh-Metal-Tailwinds-Endurance/dp/B004JFMOGK/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top"Predators for Precious Progeny

  • Micah – that link is hilarious and you MUST read the comments on that page. perfect.

  • Thanks to Guy and all who comment on this site.Was like coming home when i found it.Can’t comment from the phone i use to read the site,home is a bus on 7 acres.Been on this path since the 70’s so it’s been a disapointing place we’ve come to.Don’t be too hard on yourselves or each other,i’m with Robbin Datta when it comes to the big picture.After all,what we know of this mind numbingly big universe is but 4 percent of what it actually IS,and it may be one of many.So maybe just roll up a happy stick and enjoy while you can.

  • The technological cancer will ultimately interfere with and destroy the complex energy processing structures of the organic world. It will literally eat the body from which it has emerged because it is mentally programmed by millions of years of ruthless competition to gain nutrition from its surroundings without moral consideration. The cooperation within a technological neoplasm is rewarded by the specialized and systematic exploitation of the energy source that it is adapted to utilize. Humans cooperate and love one another to more effectively implement their specialized technology in exploiting the environment. Love and cooperation are very practical things that allow a group or even a couple to gain the efficiencies and abilities that would be unavailable if unimpeded competition existed between them. Lethal competition between different individuals, tribes, groups and nations has certainly not been impeded. Who doesn’t know someone that has become exhausted financially by trying to keep up with the Joneses.

    People are very likely to seek a group or tribe that can increase their fitness in the environment vis-à-vis similar groups and goosestep behind some symbol or flag with its associated credos. The large nations or tribes become fitness entities and often will gladly obliterate competitors. The Nazis had no problem gassing the Jews. The Nazis had swastika symbols while the Jews were given distinction with stars. The strength of these tribal/national entities is often dependent upon their ability to gain nourishment from the natural and fossil world to support them while creating weapons of annihilation. The more they eat, the more expendable humans and weapons they can develop and the more easily they can intimidate or defeat other nations. Americans are consistently encouraged to pledge allegiance to the flag, to rally behind their symbol, and various terror events are designed to make populations cohesive and look outwards for an enemy to vanquish – one with a different language, religion and symbols that can be easily vilified. This is conditioning for the now and future when competition for energy spurs even greater nationalism and conflict over energy and other resources. I hate to think of all the young people that will be snookered into these contests whose heads will literally be buried in the sand, to be joined in the expanding deserts by the artifacts of their Ozymandian civilization.

  • I use the word agnostic to mean just what your dictionary definition says it means, but with implications. Samuel Taylor Coleridge made famous the phrase: “willing suspension of disbelief,” which he meant in a literary context, but it applies here. I believe the most intellectually honest approach to questions like the matter of Spirit, Universal Mind, and other such mysteries concerning the nature of our Universe—and near-term extinction–is agnosticism. That means holding propositions about such questions in a state of suspension, without passing final judgment upon them. This requires a fairly high tolerance for ambiguity, and not all are capable of the “unknowing” that comes with such suspended belief. A sense of certainty can be highly important to some people, even if that certainty is as dire as near-term extinction, and even when that certainty is bought with some evidence, yes, but also with a leap of faith. There are other psychological reasons why a person might wholly embrace near-term extinction: because it goes against the mainstream (sign me up for that one); because it sets one apart from your average dupe; and, if you find yourself in a group of like-minded outsiders, it’s a little like belonging to an exclusive club of the intellectual anti-authoritarian elite, with all the perquisites thereunto appertaining.
    Many human beings have sought to know what the future will bring, including me. At one time I sought that knowledge in magic mushrooms, or in the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Like a lot of people brought up in this culture of easy, instant gratification, I wanted my answers to be quick and clear. Well, it didn’t turn out like that. Popping mushrooms didn’t turn me into a shaman. And as for the future, I learned what it would be a day at a time, second by minute by hour—the place I’m still stuck in today.
    I’m not a believer in the deity that we, in this society, have all been taught to believe in. But I don’t call myself an atheist. I have very deep doubts about patriarchal jealous gods in the sky, or even indifferent clockmakers. But I don’t know for sure. Do you? Does anyone? That being so, I call myself an agnostic—one with strong opinions, and good reasons for those opinions–but I don’t consider myself the owner of the One True Truth. Thus, my notion of intellectual honesty requires agnosticism of me. I find near-term extinction a very real possibility, and one far more likely than some guy sitting on a throne in the sky, but it is not, in my mind, an incontrovertible fact. Gail, for instance, has made what for me is a huge leap of faith when she says that we have already passed all the multiple tipping points, and that we are already in irreversible free-fall. She may be right; I don’t deny the possibility. Billy Graham may be right, too. But in my book, neither Gail nor Billy Graham knows what they claim to know with absolute certainty. Each has made a leap of faith–and probably for good complex psychological reasons, for them, personally.
    Just as Daniel is not trying to convince skeptics or unbelievers in the reality of near-term extinction, I have no interest in trying to unconvert the faithful. If you have accepted NTE as the one thing you truly believe in, then you have found something personally meaningful to hold onto. Whatever works for you, that is your own personal business, and none of mine. But I am going to stand on my own ground of uncertainty. I damn well don’t know what is going to happen in five years, or twenty, or fifty years from now. I will continue to educate myself about the prospects; and if there is a fight that seems worth fighting, I’m going to fight it. Some, like Robin, would say there is no fight to fight, nothing to be won, and it is all out of our control anyway. He might be right, and by his own lights he is right. But his worldview does not work for me. It denies human agency; it says all spirits come out of a bottle; that we are meat robots, controlled by chemicals and genetics. I’m very pleased that I don’t have to inhabit such a pathetic, doctrinaire excuse for a world. My world is filled with beauty, love, and meaning–and if that is just my own projection and invention, well, it is real enough for me, and as authentic as anyone else’s world is to them.
    The thing that I find most poignant about the situation we find ourselves in is our apparent inability to stop the juggernaut that is destroying the world before our eyes. I love the world as Nature made it: I hate seeing it destroyed; I feel grief and rage every day at its diminishment. My small self, who hikes in old growth forest every day, who gardens and reads and writes, and eats delicious meals, is happy living thus. It is my larger Self that suffers day by day, and it is the larger Self that makes the smaller self possible. As the larger Self is diminished, so is this entity called Gary. As its prospects are degraded, everything that holds value and meaning are degraded with it. This is the thing that is so hard to deal with: to see it, to feel it, and be able to do nothing but commiserate.

  • Aw, Denise, that’s so nice! Thank you so much! :) And good job, too (shonky—new word for me)!

    Accepting NTE and Cognitive Dissonance
    “Doomers Lie In Order To….”

    I used to be really a mess
    ‘Cause all the of time I’d obsess
    About doom’s potpourri,
    So I searched for the key
    To make cognitive dissonance less.

    The word’s out, no one can suppress
    What soon will be widespread, I guess;
    The changes we see
    Toward NTE
    Make cognitive dissonance less.

    I figured out how to address
    Doom and diminish my stress:
    If you disagree,
    That’s O.K. with me—
    I’ve made cognitive dissonance less.

    I’m pleased with my little success:
    I could keep ranting, but I digress;
    As a doom devotee,
    I’m much more stress-free
    With cognitive dissonance less.

  • Aw, Ben
    (You’re too kind!)

    I couldn’t respond any faster.
    My lim’ricking try a disaster.
    The Donkey is king.
    Haiku is my thing.
    I’ll leave NTE rhymes to the master!

  • Denise, that’s VERY fast. Hmm…you sure you’ve never done this before? :D

  • Gary your last paragraph could easily have been written by me. But this sort of thing is perplexing:

    “It denies human agency; it says all spirits come out of a bottle; that we are meat robots, controlled by chemicals and genetics. I’m very pleased that I don’t have to inhabit such a pathetic, doctrinaire excuse for a world. My world is filled with beauty, love, and meaning–and if that is just my own projection and invention, well, it is real enough for me, and as authentic as anyone else’s world is to them.”

    Why on earth do people assume that a lack of belief in “spirits” necessarily consigns non-believers to a “pathetic, doctrinaire excuse for a world”? I’m living proof that an atheist can inhabit a world full of beauty, love, and whatever meaning I choose to imbue it with.

    Far from being doctrinaire, it is not the atheists who dictate to others what they should embrace. From what I have seen agnosticism is just a way of straddling the fence and flogging atheists whose mere existance seems to feel threatening to people who can see the obvious – that there’s simply no objective proof or even evidence of “spirituality” – while retaining irrational hope that people are basically good and will survive.

    I say, shit or get off the pot. Or at least please stop characterizing my life as paltry compared to yours. And ask yourself while you’re at it, just how many of the thousands of wars and armed conflicts throughout human history were initiated by atheists.

  • Gary, thank you for an amazing post, that expresses many of my feelings far better than I could myself.

    Like you, my allegiance is to Life. I’m a Pantheist, and so, yes, I do believe the Cosmos has an underlying purpose; call it entelechy, call it the anima mundi, what you will, but all living things are caught up in that purpose.

    It follows, then, that I want the sixth mass extinction to stop, or be stopped, dead in its tracks. If the only way that can happen is through the extirpation of the human species, then I unequivocally affirm that this would be good. If it can be achieved by means less drastic, such as the collapse of civilisation (and hence of only about 90% of us), then that would allow me to be just a little more selfish, for myself and my children.

    But what I also believe is that our predicament is beyond our ability to either understand or navigate through. We must trust in Nature to find the answer that best serves all life, and accept that answer as our just deserts.

    Blessed be.

  • An acquaintance of mine has an informative page about the scientific perils of planetary cooling, available here: http://timtyler.org/end_the_ice_age/

    Here is his conclusion:

    “Warming up the planet will represent a substantial engineering challenge. It may demand skills beyond our existing technological abilities. However, its importance is very great.

    Unless humans intervene on a dramatic scale and successfully end the current ice age, there is a large probability that the planet will shortly be plunged into yet another period of devastating glaciation, greatly reducing the planet’s habitable zone, and destroying many living things.

    Once the planet enters another glaciation cycle, positive feedback effects mean that it will may be very difficult to extricate it. In order to avoid this fate – and to make the planet more habitable – we should work on heating up the planet now.”

    So I ask each of you, what are you doing to warm up the planet, and prevent the mass die-off which is all but certain when the next glaciation cycle hits?

  • gary gripp, i just finished your essay. loved it, especially the ending. very well thought out and expressed. thank u. lacking the usual brief bio. guy publishes of guest essayists, i googled u and came up with this: http://uncivilisation.ning.com/profile/GaryGripp and had a fine mini dark mountain related education as a result. thanks for that also.

  • Shame on you mockingbird.

    Since your MO reads like a past troll who needlessly took it upon himself to engage in an endless barrage of character assassination, I will only spend a little effort in shining light into you deliberate mischaracterization of my recent past. By implying I need to “come clear” you’re insinuating I’m deliberately attempting to deceive people, or rather misrepresenting myself in some way, which is completely false.

    By referring to past achieves, I can only assume you referencing my original questioning of Guy’s use of certain evidence/data, namely Malcolm lite’s precise dates, which I’m still suspicious of, and a certain IEA report, which he has subsequently removed from his list, none of which reflects my opinion of NTE.

    Do I question the near term timing of it, of course I do, I think most everyone here does, which is why I am reluctant to put any date as to when I think this will happen. I have regularly stated there is no such thing as scientific certainty.

    As I stated then, I need a couple of more years of data sets for me to feel confident in my conviction, which is a position I still hold. But since I’ve been writing about the death spiral of the Arctic most likely being the end of the Holocene, thus the end of most of life on earth starting around 2010……..you’re just dead wrong.

    I have no idea as to why you would attempt to be besmirch my integrity, but then again, who really gives a shit.

  • @ BK9K

    Just because you and I find each other more-or-less in the same boat, it doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to use each other for ideological target practice. While we can agree on many things these days, we both know that we are looking at NTE from two entirely different perspectives, two entirely different lived experiences, which NTE isn’t going to magically erase.

    And while you’re very crafty in your subtle, and sometimes not so subtle attacks of the left, I’m in a rather congenial mood today, and I’m not going to take the bait, I’m going to keep my hatchet in the ground.

    But, in regards to your seemingly agenda laden questions, number 6 highlights why you and I, are probably never going to see eye to eye where it matters most.

    You state:

    “Part 6: After a lifetime beating your head against a wall to no avail, is it not somewhat alluring that perhaps you could grab the brass ring as a kind of last hurrah? Now, if you believe NTE is a 10-15 year proposition, then it might not make much of a difference; but what if the time frame is longer? Would you not like to go out knowing you finally achieved a master goal?”

    Yes, I have spent most of my life beating my head against “the wall”. But you’re overlooking a critical aspect, which is I’ve always known this is what I was doing, this is something we lefties are quite familiar with. If one is driven by an ecological imperative, “the wall” is what that imperative has actually been written across. All that has changed, is that ever so small window of opportunity we had, to pull our heads out of our nether regions has now completely closed.

    While I might have been the poster child of a typical radical leftist most of my life, I’ve always been an empiricist first. My ethics have always been driven by the necessity of saving our living planet, regardless of its “morality”.

    The ethical philosophy of resistance has always resonated with me, given I’ve long held the opinion that there has been a slight chance of initiating a global solidarity movement in opposition to corporatism, although an impossibly small one, but a chance nonetheless. But with the advent of nonlinear rates of change, I’m no longer holding my breath.

    You are personally far more concerned with the future behavior of the PTB than I. It is something which I pay very little attention to anymore. Our obsession with “their” nefariousness can at times take on a rather cultish supposition, which I have no interest in contemplating………especially now.

    While you may be correct in assuming that I have naively frittered away my life chasing after an endless array of lost causes–which I honestly have–it is apparent to me, that you are completely missing the point. I am not going to say you are entirely without any sense of empathy, but it surely isn’t your strongest trait. And without this crucial attribute, you will never comprehend the ethical force behind why people choose to resistance. Nor will you be able to fully empathize with those who now mourn the loss of the natural world to the degree we do. For you, it still is what it has probably always been, “achieving some master goal regarding the brass ring”.

    Our key differences can be stated many ways, but Ulvfugl spells it out pretty clear: “I’d be happy enough going back to the Iron Age, if it meant we could keep the song birds….”

    You see, that is a thought I suspect would never cross your mind, and that is just an irreconcilable difference which will keep the two of us shooting at each other until the bitter end. But I also suspect that’s o.k. with the both of us…….

    Nonetheless, at this point, I also imagine we wouldn’t mind sharing a drink or two in the ships lounge on the way down, first rounds on me.

  • Third post, but this one’s not from me. For those who may have missed Henry’s first post at the end of the last thread, it’s a full throttle assault on how we got here, it’s worth your time. Here are some gems from Henry:

    “We have a nexus here for probably 90% of future human thinking, — we are previewing what they will be going through — when the freight train of realization about NTE comes barreling out of that tunnel of Denial suddenly into plain sight for most people, who will still be standing on the tracks.”

    “Once I’d gotten “Methane”, my life changed, I think, forever. No going back, and everything in the kaleidoscope rotated into a new alignment, one I’m still looking for the patterns of.”

    “The heart of America’s religion of “Progress” stopped beating a long time ago, and no one wants to claim the body for burial. So maybe this trajectory is playing out just as it thermodynamically had to, human ethics and “morality” being a flyspeck on the chart of eventuality.”

    “I want all of you to put on the brakes, turn off your ignition, and get out of your cars, walk over the the side of the freeway and yell ‘I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to kill everyone on Earth! Anymore, that is.”

    “Nothing like having a Potemkin Martin Luther King, Jr. as the eloquent first “black” Prez to shoot holes in that optimism, eh?)”

    “No, we don’t like that doctor’s diagnosis. Get me a new doctor.”

    “The gods ignore our pleas, or delight in our misfortunes; the shaman shakes the bones, dances, but the baby still dies. The spear misses; the hunter goes home to a hungry family.”

    “So it goes? So it went.”

    “But. Just as pets, or visiting puppies and kittens, can cheer up residents in a nursing home or hospice, maybe showing some caring for the little “micro-pets” all around us would cheer up our final depressing days, or attract the fanciful mercies of some passing deity…”

    “Or is it, finally, a bunch of Internet punters playing hackysack with words and the future of all Life from behind the safety of the computer screen?)”

  • A brief quote from a post on ZH on another topic (generally about the Fourth Turning and a bunch of economic stuff):

    “…inertia will be replaced by frenzied activity when this unsustainable system ultimately fails. Time seems to be standing still. People have been lulled into a false sense of security even though history is about to fling us into a chaotic transformational period…”

    Time seems to be standing still. I sense that as well. Perhaps that is just taking the circumstances of my own life and generalizing to the greater world out there, in which case it is meaningless.

    The Masters of the Universe have been furiously kicking the can down the road, but they seem to me to be running out of road. A long, hot summer with rising food prices could put people on a short fuse. The financial world seems littered with metaphorical land mines and inebriated people stomping around in heavy boots. The Arctic melting, melting…

    The diver stands on the cliff, searching for his still center. He takes a deep breath before the plunge.

  • b9k9:
    So, here’s my take:
    1. It’s a mistake to assume NTE in the next 5-10 years – humanity will try everything in its power to alter, forestall & re-engineer.

    I agree with this for the most part. It could be 5 years but it could also be 50 years. The system is so complex that putting a firm date on things is all but impossible. I agree completely with the second part of that statement. However, it will be way too little, way too late. I see no evidence that any substantive action will take place until the evidence is so overwhelming that our puny efforts won’t have the slightest impact on the outcome.

    2. The PTB is nothing but agnostic – it simply does not matter what basis forms their framework for power/control. As such, they will simply move into new markets, the primary one being the dismantling of industrial civ. A big part of this will de-commissioning nukes – they would like to live above ground.

    There is a tendency here among many commenters to give superhuman characteristics to the “powers that be” – I guess a boogeyman makes us feel better or something. Fundamentally, they are no different than you or me. Sure, some of them have developed some impressive skills at making money or gathering power. But ultimately, they have to shit on the pot every day just like everyone else. This idea that suddenly there will a collective shift by the 1% toward dismantling industrial civilization is about as likely, in my opinion, as aliens rescuing us all.

    The industrial economy exists only because of the enormous energy slaves provided by fossil fuels. The only reason that it is faltering now is because we’ve peaked with respect to net energy. Excess energy is the source for growth. No more excess energy, no more growth. No more growth, collapse of credit. Collapse of credit, collapse of industrial society. Collapse of industrial society, collapse of the food supply lines. TPTB get their power from excess energy – nothing else. Even guns don’t get you power if there’s no one to pull the trigger. You can’t feed a starving army with dollar bills or gold – just not much nutritive value there.

    Witness the uprisings in north Africa and the Mideast over the last few years. Pretty much all of them have been related to food and other basic necessities of life. Armies weren’t able to stop the uprisings – largely because the armies joined in. Of course, the fun’s just getting started. Expect Egypt to erupt again any day now. The people are discovering that getting a new government doesn’t make food magically appear.

    With respect to dismantling nuclear reactors, perhaps those with training in the subject can speak more authoritatively than I can, but here’s my take on it: decommissioning a nuclear power plant takes enormous resources and energy – not to mention that no one has yet developed a way to store nuclear waste safely for the long term. Decommissioning nukes also reduces the available energy. We reached peak per capita energy back in the 1970s, so we are already behind the game. The evidence is overwhelming that we’ve already peaked with respect to net energy available from fossil fuels and so now are on the downslope of available energy. How can we decommission 400+ nukes which requires enormous energy and reduces the available energy, with less energy available?

    It’s important to remind ourselves that never before in the history of humanity have we experienced what we’re about to go through. We have no historical knowledge or experience on which to draw. Nothing can prepare us for this. No amount of bargaining or cajoling or negotiating is going to change the course we’ve laid for ourselves. We’ve destroyed our own home and we’ve nowhere else to go. No, I see no evidence that TPTB are going to do anything but go down with the rest of us.

  • There is no way to prove or dispute an idea like NTE. To discover it’s validity you have to survive to do so. None will survive and certainly not in a way that will allow for this theory to have any meaning once things get that bad. Just play it out, as the centers of society collapse inward, chaos, war, famine and a rapidly disentagrating world at large will leave no room for investigation or even further consideration into it’s likelyhood. Though it could take months and years, endless years, by the time isolated pockets of humans remain, all forms of communicating and any ability to communicate will be gone. How, in that scenario or any of the millions that might play out will we ever know if we reach an extinction point? How could it possibly matter? So it is a safe thing to believe or disbelieve. How ever it serves you while we are yet not extinct.

  • making a big assumption that the PTB lack the same kind of self-preservation as other, more ‘enlightened’ individuals.

    Self-preservation is hardwired into biology. On a level where socio-cultural contexts matter, what is construed to be self-preservation may cover a rather wide range.

    dismiss the notion that the opposition can perform logical thinking

    Logical thinking is performed by the chauffeur intellect brain, which is verbal and rational. It is like the skill set needed to drive the car. Where it goes is dictated by the reptilian boss brain, which is non-logical and non-verbal.

    A big part of this will de-commissioning nukes

    The wherewithal for this is so substantial that its diversion from other uses through the exercise of authoritarian force will need equally substantial moral and ethical cover. Moreover the depletion of physical resources brings into question the ability to exercise (resource-intensive) authoritarian force on anything approaching a global scale.

    dismantling industrial civ is fait accompli

    The downslopes from the Hubbert’s curves (fossil-fuel and others) are inexorable. The same is largely true of the effects from climate feedback loops. While human intervention may manage the dismantling of industrial civilisation, whether it is effected by collapse or dismantling the driving forces lie in the physical world. Moreover the authoritarian systems of today are dependent on energy flows of a magnitude that cannot be supported by alternatives to fossil-fuel industrialism.

    Just because a small clique wields authoritarian power, it does not follow that they will be the wise. The adaptations that are manifest through emergence from multitudinous interactions as in evolutionary biology, are more robust than the systems cobbled together by a few. The repeated fall of regimes and civilisations in such a short fraction of Homo sapiens’ existence attests to this, and suggests anarchy as an alternative.

    Mediaeval feudalism cannot support the lifestyles and numbers of today’s “rich and famous”: they cannot be agnostic to the hierarchical systems used to extract and channel resources (disguised by calling them “wealth”). There is a substantial gulf between them and medieval fiefs.

  • My world is filled with beauty, love, and meaning

    When taking a stroll on a sunny day, the world is filled with brightly lit objects. Yet no one can see light itself. Even looking directly at a source of light, one sees only the limned template of the source, as when trying to look at the sun.

    There is no beauty, love and meaning “in the world”. It is entirely existent in one’s own awareness. Awareness is consciousness conditioned by content, as the perceived form of a flower is light conditioned by that form. All perceived forms and concepts are implicit in consciousness, even though in the absence of their manifestation, consciousness is not so perceived.

    Consciousness itself is without characteristics, content or the limitations of “I”: the “I” is content of consciousness like any other concept. Unlike any other concept it is the root concept, from which all other concepts arise, and it cannot be uprooted until all other concepts have been pruned off. This involves not only discarding all the baggage one carries, but clearing away every last bit of dust that had been wittingly or unwittingly swept under the rug. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.

    Attempting to get a handle on Consciousness as an object is not possible: it is not an object, and has no characteristics or content, and is therefore indistinguishable from Nothingness, referred to is “beyond which there is Nothing” (Vedanta), Sunyata (= Void, Buddhism) and Ein Sof (= Limitless Emptiness, Kabbalah).

    Most will be far removed from any approach to even awareness in this regard. Awareness, which is consciousness conditioned by content, has also to be ultimately discarded. Those thus removed will see this as having to “inhabit such a pathetic, doctrinaire excuse for a world”. The beauty, love and meaning in a shimmering mirage of water in a hot, dry desert can indeed be quite appealing, much preferred to the pathetic, doctrinaire excuse of the hot dry desert.

    In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the sage Yagnavalkya talks to his wife Maitreyi about the nature of reality:

    ”It is not for the sake of the husband, my beloved, that the husband is dear, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the wife, my beloved, that the wife is dear, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the children, my beloved, that the children are dear, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of wealth, my beloved, that wealth is dear, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the Brahmins, my beloved, that the Brahmins are held in reverence, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the Kshatriyas, my beloved, that the Kshatriyas are held in honor, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the higher worlds, my beloved, that the higher worlds are desired, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the gods, my beloved, that the gods are worshiped, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of the creatures, my beloved, that the creatures are prized, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”It is not for the sake of itself, my beloved, that anything whatever is esteemed, but for the sake of the Self.
    ”The Self, Maitreyi, is to be known. Hear about it, reflect upon it, meditate upon it. By knowing the Self, my beloved, through hearing, reflection, and meditation, one comes to know all things” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.5)

    Atheism is the assertion of the non-existence of any deity at all. Agnosticism is the inability to make up one’s mind, deciding not to decide. Non-theism has no need for that hypothesis: hence the absence of denial, acceptance or anything in between.

    When Pierre-Simon Laplace presented Napoleon with a copy of his work, according to an apocryphal tale, per the Wikipedia, Napoleon is said to have remarked:
    ‘M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.’ Laplace, who, though the most supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered bluntly, Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (“I had no need of that hypothesis.”).

    Darth Imperius:
    Have you implemented the sage advise of Dmitry Orlov? He suggested that you have kinky sex with chickens on alfalfa roofs for gold bullion. It would befit you most admirably.

  • It’s great to see all the “new” commenters here. Denise – i’d really like to read some of your haiku! 44 south – I agree with your suggestion. WoodsDweller – your last sentence grabbed me (that’s what I felt after grokking NTE).

    TRDH – well put. i’m sure the powers that be will use their control (money) to keep things going as long as they can, but once money has no value or can’t buy something that isn’t there (like food) all their supposed control goes out the window. As in the French Revolution, after a while even the military and police see clearly what’s been going on and how they’ve been (ab)used and revolt like the rest of us.

    Yesterday I commented about the length of time it takes to rebuild after a tornado or hurricane (or earthquake) “disrupts” ones town. Here’s an article about Joplin, which was hit 2 years ago by a tornado:


    Two years after a tornado, Joplin struggles to rebuild

    Two years ago, a tornado destroyed the town of Joplin, Missouri. Its long, painful recovery offers lessons for the people of Moore, Oklahoma who are just beginning to rebuild.

    About eight hours after a tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri, Jerrod Hogan saw two people, a husband and wife, standing in a pharmacy parking lot near a makeshift medical station.

    They said they had driven from Mississippi, more than 350 miles (563km) away.

    “When we heard what happened, we loaded up our truck and came here to help,” they told Mr Hogan, a 36-year-old surveyor and director of Rebuild Joplin.

    The couple were part of an outpouring of assistance after the tornado.

    Long and slow

    Joplin, a city of 50,000 people, was devastated by the 2011 twister, the deadliest in decades. It killed 161 people and caused more than $2.8bn (£1.7bn) in damage.

    More than 8,000 buildings were reduced to rubble, and the rebuilding has been long and slow.

    Yet in addition to the physical damage, tornados also exact an emotional and psychological toll.

    At the same time, disasters attract con artists and hucksters who add to the pain.

    Today the schools in Joplin remain under construction. And many families are still waiting for their new homes to be built.

    The rebuilding lessons that Mr Hogan has learned are important – both for those in Joplin and also for people in Oklahoma, where a tornado killed 24 people this week and destroyed entire city blocks.

    (there’s more)

  • I’m guessing that most people here haven’t fully accepted NTE, so let’s suppose the future is something not quite as bad as NTE (though, no doubt, some will think NT human E would not be so bad). Civilisation still has to, and will, fail.

    All civilisations fail and all civilisations destroy their environment, it’s just that this civilisation has gone global.

    Anyway, is anyone here really prepared for civilisation’s collapse? What exactly will it entail as each of us gets caught in the collapse? Where will clothes, tools and building materials come from? What happens when the off-grid batteries need re-conditioning or replacing? What happens when a solar panel or a bush in a windmill needs replacing? We can breed animals but how do you store the meat or the milk? Where will that extra jar, that you need, come from? What happens when your eyes deteriorate beyond what the correcting spectacles can achieve, or a lens cracks? When a window breaks or a tornado demolishes your home, how do you re-build? How do you contact your mum a thousand miles away? And so on, and so on.

    There is hardly anyone out there who knows how to get along without the trappings of civilisation. The knowledge on how to do that was lost a long time ago for most families in developed nations and increasing numbers of families elsewhere. But here we are willing civilisation to collapse to “save the planet”.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m also cheering for that outcome but, really, I have very little idea of how to cope if and when that happens (the “if” is only there in terms of my lifetime). Sure, I hope I’ll be growing most of my food then and that I’ll have a pretty sturdy and comfortable home but I’m also sure that I’ll be relying, to some degree, on what civilisation provides up to the very end. And then it’s going to get interesting.

  • “Hotter oceans would have spawned hurricanes of staggering ferocity, far outdoing anything we see today. Modern storms are limited by cold water both at depth and at higher latitudes, but in the end-Permian greenhouse warm oceans spanned the world from pole to pole. Super-hurricanes (sometimes termed ‘hyper-canes’) would have had enough fuel to carry them to the North Pole and back, perhaps even allowing them to repeatedly circumnavigate the globe. Only dry land would have stopped them, but a hypercane hitting a coast would have triggered flash floods that no living thing could have survived…But this was still only the beginning…With most vegetation-the base of the food chain both on land and in the oceans-wiped out, little else could have survived for long. Oxygen levels in the atmosphere plunged to 15 per cent -low enough to leave any fast-moving animal gasping for breath even at sea level…Worse was still to come…methane-air clouds produced by oceanic eruptions would dwarf even the most severe modern battlefield weapons, and explosions in the largest clouds could generate explosive blast waves able to travel faster than the speed of sound. With a supersonic blast, it is the pressure from the shockwave itself which ignites the mixture, pushing out an explosive front at speeds of 2 kilometres per second and vaporising everything in its path.The likely effects on the animals and plants that inhabited the Permian world are scarcely imaginable…A major oceanic methane eruption, ‘would liberate energy equivalent to 108 megatonnes of TNT, around 10,000 times greater than the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons’. ..It took 50 million years – well into the Jurassic – before anything like pre-extinction levels of biodiversity returned.”

    – Mark Lynas, ‘Six Degrees’


    “Look at the prison you are in, we are all in. This is a penal colony that is now a death camp. Place of the second and final death.

    Only those who leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.

    Nothing here now but the recordings. Shut them off. They are as radioactive as an old joke.”

    – William Burroughs, ‘Soul Killer’


    “Reality itself is a stage set which can be dismantled at any moment.”

    – J.G. Ballard, ‘Extreme Metaphors’


  • Here’s yet another study showing CO2 actually cools the atmosphere so, you know, we’re all saved!


    Global warming debunked: NASA report verifies carbon dioxide actually cools atmosphere

    (NaturalNews) Practically everything you have been told by the mainstream scientific community and the media about the alleged detriments of greenhouse gases, and particularly carbon dioxide, appears to be false, according to new data compiled by NASA’s Langley Research Center. As it turns out, all those atmospheric greenhouse gases that Al Gore and all the other global warming hoaxers have long claimed are overheating and destroying our planet are actually cooling it, based on the latest evidence.

    As reported by Principia Scientific International (PSI), Martin Mlynczak and his colleagues over at NASA tracked infrared emissions from the earth’s upper atmosphere during and following a recent solar storm that took place between March 8-10. What they found was that the vast majority of energy released from the sun during this immense coronal mass ejection (CME) was reflected back up into space rather than deposited into earth’s lower atmosphere.

    The result was an overall cooling effect that completely contradicts claims made by NASA’s own climatology division that greenhouse gases are a cause of global warming. As illustrated by data collected using Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER), both carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), which are abundant in the earth’s upper atmosphere, greenhouse gases reflect heating energy rather than absorb it.

    “Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” says James Russell from Hampton University, who was one of the lead investigators for the groundbreaking SABER study. “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”

    Almost all ‘heating’ radiation generated by sun is blocked from entering lower atmosphere by CO2
    According to the data, up to 95 percent of solar radiation is literally bounced back into space by both CO2 and NO in the upper atmosphere. Without these necessary elements, in other words, the earth would be capable of absorbing potentially devastating amounts of solar energy that would truly melt the polar ice caps and destroy the planet.

    “The shock revelation starkly contradicts the core proposition of the so-called greenhouse gas theory which claims that more CO2 means more warming for our planet,” write H. Schreuder and J. O’Sullivan for PSI. “[T]his compelling new NASA data disproves that notion and is a huge embarrassment for NASA’s chief climatologist, Dr. James Hansen and his team over at NASA’s GISS.”

    Dr. Hansen, of course, is an outspoken global warming activist who helped spark man-made climate change hysteria in the U.S. back in 1988. Just after the release of the new SABER study, however, Dr. Hansen conveniently retired from his career as a climatologist at NASA, and reportedly now plans to spend his time “on science,” and on “drawing attention to [its] implications for young people.”

    [The article has a link to the SABER study.]

    So it’s all just a hoax and all the problems we have now are merely mass hallucination, I guess.

  • @ Tom

    No, that is how it works. The heat from the Sun does get reflected away by the upper atmosphere, etc.
    What happens is that some of it makes its way all the way down to ground level, and then has to find its way back up again to escape to outer Space. It’s on that journey back that it gets impeded, slowed, by CO2 and methane and NOX, so, overall, temperature rises. Hansen, all climate scientists, know this very well. It’s not a shock revelation or an embarrassment. It’s part of the standard orthodox model.
    What has happened there, is that the wording has been twisted, to make it sound as if black is white. Presumably somebody has paid to put that disingenous and misleading message out.

  • @Daniel says “My ethics have always been driven by the necessity of saving our living planet.”

    @TRDH says “I see no evidence that TPTB are going to do anything but go down with the rest of us.”

    Well guys, it looks like I’m failing to impart the gravity of this situation. No, not NTE, but who will initiate & manage the process of dismantling industrial civ – us or them.

    And yes, my dominant concern is authoritarianism. The drive to control others has been a constant throughout human history. Except for an exceptionally brief period of time that lasted but a few hundred years, all the pieces are together to put us right back on track for a nightmarish future.

    I’ll ask the same question once again: what happens when the drive to dismantle industrial civ is rationalized & dressed up as ‘saving our living planet’? What exactly will you be resisting if implementation is initiated on a grand scale? Resisting that “you” aren’t in charge; that you have no say in the matter(s)?

    In pursuit of walking through old growth forests & listening to birds (both of which I probably do on more extreme levels than most), does it ever occur to participants that they’re simply living on the edge, in essence, hiding in the eddies of civilization? In other words, if civ didn’t exist, that they would soon be captured by some form of modern territorial Iroquois and viciously tortured?

    I see a lot of self-congratulatory ‘attaboys’, but not much realistic assessment of the true nature of what we’re about to confront. As I’ve said before, the way this is going to play out, many will hope for VNTE (very NTE).

    A very short reading list to quickly get up to speed as to what can be achieved under complete & total population control would be: (a) C Hedges; (b) how Stalin achieved the removal of factories E of the Urals in the face of advancing Germans; and (c) associated Soviet small unit actions on the eastern front.

    Quick hint: b & c required driving 10s of millions under impossible conditions. Think trail of tears or Bataan on a huge scale – if you faltered, you were shot on the spot:


    The one feature distinguishing their operations throughout the war was their total disregard for the value of human life that found expression in the employment of mass formations, even for local attacks. Two other characteristics peculiar to the combat methods of the Russians were their refusal to abandon territorial gains and their ability to improvise in any situation.

    Infantry, frequently mounted on tanks and in trucks, at times even without weapons, was driven forward wave upon wave regardless of the casualties involved. These tactics of mass assault played havoc with the nerves of the German defense forces and were reflected in their expenditure of ammunition. The Russians were not satisfied at merely being able to dominate an area with heavy weapons or tanks; it had to be occupied by infantry.

    Even when as many as 80 men out of 100 became casualties, the remaining 20 would hold the ground they had finally gained whenever the Germans failed to mop up the area immediately. In such situations the speed with which the Russian infantry dug in and the skill with which the command reinforced such decimated units and moved up heavy weapons were exemplary.

    Chernobyl was child’s play – the Russians already had extensive experience massing huge numbers of people for suicidal labor intensive projects. While Guy is mocked in public, those who understand the implications of his data, projections & assessments are clearly moving programs forward that will attempt to control the process.

  • Industrial civilization does not need to be ‘dismantled’, it will disintegrate quite nicely all on it’s degenerate own.

    But nuclear plants do need to be shut down.

    There are many ways ranging from half-ass to full ass.

    A half-ass way is to just pour a mountain of concrete on them with ‘volunteers’. You know, it’s your ‘patriotic duty’ because it’s a threat to the FatherMotherSisterBrotherLand.

    The taunt will be ‘a Real man would unhesitatingly volunteer to save his family-community-state-country yadayadayada….’

    For women a variation would be ‘ a Real women would unhesitatingly volunteer to save her baby-children-family-community-state-country yadayadayada….’

    Max Keiser repeatedly refers to ‘Duhmerika as a Casino Gulag, an open air prison fueled on toxic food like products and cigarettes and booze and Meth and lotto tickets.

    No need for overt concentration camp tactics, the place is all ready One Big Jail, mentally, spiritually and physically.

    To ‘decommission’ nukes, you just have to provide a chance at a Grand Something for Nothing Lottery which you only get to enter by dumping a wheelbarrow of cement on a smoking nuke.

    There, problem solved.


  • @ Everyone

    I know our MO is to abandon the thread when a new article is posted – but, the Jeff Stahl article thread is still going strong (224 comments and growiing). In particular, Henry has posted an awesome piece of work that I think is being missed since it is at the bottom and was posted after this Gary Grip piece was posted. I think Guy should post it as an article to begin a new thread.

    Henry also makes some great points about the management of a blog that I think make a lot of sense.

  • @ B9K9

    Did you see the movie “Enemy at the Gates?” The russians are handing one guy a rifle and one guy some bullets – the instruction:

    One out of two gets a rifle.
    The one without follows him!
    When the one with the rifle gets killed,
    the one who is following picks up the rifle and shoots!


    “Vassili: All these men here know they’re going to die. So, each night when they make it back, it’s a bonus. So, every cup of tea, every cigarette is like a little celebration. You just have to accept that.


    I totally agree with B9K9. They have it figured out. Make no mistake, there is a “They.” At the risk of being US-centric, just take a look around you – how many govt employees are there? How many govt buildings? How many govt institutions with the sole purpose of keeping you in line? Police, Military, FEMA, IRS, DEA, ATF, DHS, etc, etc, etc.

    I also agree in spirit with the Resistance. However, the only hope the Resistance really has is a pipe dream.

    Henry has done his own calculation and has come to the conclusion that NTE is 95% certain. The only thing left to ponder is: When? 5 years, 10 years, 100 years?

  • Well said B9K9. Did you hear Hedges and Berman on Extraenvironmentalist? It’s linked on Orlov’s page. They had a fairly succinct discussion that covered pretty much how I feel things will proceed.

    While I understnad it at an emotional level I’m still confused as to where your going with the following in practice:
    “who will initiate & manage the process of dismantling industrial civ – us or them.”

    Does it matter? Will “we” manage it any differently? Are you suggesting “we” take a page out of Stalin’s playbook before PTB does? Exactly how do “we” wrest the process from them? If not by revolt than by what means? Infiltrating their ranks? I’m not sure how this is accomplished by ragtag a group of INTP intellectual overgrowth, Zerohedge apostates, and dejected left wing radicals.

    I’m looking at all possibilities but the only way forward I currently see is to “create” something. I’m going to leave some sort of historical record. The only way I can fathon deducing worth from the ordeal.

  • A haiku ala Benjamin:

    Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #1

    Resourse depletion?
    Too close to see. Bubble world
    forest for the trees.

    Thanks, Gary Gripp, for the term “bubble world.” For me, that pretty much says it all.

  • D’oh! Spelling would help!

    (so much for my second post)

  • http://leecamp.net/2013/05/moc-236-a-million-revolutions/

    Probably my last comment on resistance is Lee’s. He says it better.