Age of Limits

Edward Kerr participated in the Age of Limits conference at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemas, Pennsylvania. While there, he kindly interviewed me. The result, with apologies for the wind-interrupted conversation, is embedded below. With thanks to ulvfugl for the phrase, I’m calling it my interview in the Last Chance Saloon on the Beach of Doom.

Pauline Schneider, author of the previous essay in this space, also participated in the conference. She shot the two video clips embedded below. The Powerpoint file I used for the climate-change presentation is linked below. Big thanks to Orren Whiddon for inviting and supporting my participation in the conference.

Powerpoint file, Age of Limits May 2013


I’ve embedded the third of four figures from Barry Saxifrage’s article in the Vancouver Sun below. Note that the path to 4 C is accomplished by 2030.

BP Energy Outlook 2030 as interpreted by Vancouver Sun

My monthly essay for Transition Voice was published today. It’s here.

My latest essay for The Good Men Project was published yesterday. It’s here.


Michael Sosebee’s documentary film is available. Details and ordering instructions for Somewhere in New Mexico before the End of Time can be found here.

Comments 130

  • In many ways, intelligent non scientists are better than scientist in seeing what is coming. Why? because scientists are typically focused on a very specific area, have lots of emotional and even economic investment in that area, and are therefore not cognizant of the entire gestalt. Not to mention that hugely conservative conformity pressures bias there releases and conclusions.

    I consider myself a big picture person (as I know other’s here are) because I take in lots of information from a plethora of different areas. Besides the things which Guy and others have pointed out here, when you look at the confluence of so many other recent news items, there is no where to look but down!

    Just this past week, news concerning record CO2 being absorbed into the Arctic – of which the carbonic acid will prevent mineralization of the remaining krill and finish them off in relatively short order, and also other shell species oceanwide. The oceans have begun to loose their heat and CO2 buffering capacity. Their is an odd cyclone which is now causing further damage to the ice in the Arctic and thus speeding up melting. Fires rage in the west releasing even more Nitrous Oxide (a very potent greenhouse gas). India burns, Germany floods, record tornadoes destroy entire cities, it goes on and on like never before…and yet somehow, the narrow minded scientists amazingly seem to increasingly downplay the threat of global warming. And the human band plays on.

  • @ Erin

    Thank you too, for the compliment.

    I don’t enjoy being right about this. I hate every bit of it. I thought I was going to be a hero and find the magic door that solved everyone’s problems. I thought I had done that when I found permaculture, when Mollison first published his Designer’s Manual. I rushed around telling everybody, as if I’d just discovered the fucking Promised Land…. alas, it was not to be…. But I have gone through the grief and sorrow and everything else.
    Perhaps it’s like your old job, Erin, it’s just a matter of fact clinical physical description, ignoring the sentimental, emotional and humanitarian aspects and implications. There is nothing I can do, except to describe what I see. If someone can show where my depiction is wrong, that’d be great. That climate guy in the audience thought that the fact the massive depth of ice of Greenland and Antarctica will take a long time to melt means NTE must be wrong…. well, imho, that’s irrelevant.

    In the light of the revelations that all our communications have been, and are, being recorded and read in real time – see Glenn Greenwald, Ed Snowden, etc, in the Guardian, – anyone who hopes for some privacy might like to consider

  • U, lets not forget that even though that climate scientist who was at Guy’s presentation felt the melting would take 100+ years, was still quite alarmed and in agreement with most of Guy’s other points. The fact that he was there and communicating the struggles in getting his colleagues to wake up, says something.

  • Erin, thank you so much. Just trying to get to Carnegie Hall here, you know, practice, practice, practice. :)

    Tom says: when the majority of the populace “figures it out” it’ll lead to the complete breakdown of society

    It’s Always Something

    We’ll be sort of O.K. until
    Word gets out; then it’s really downhill;
    I once worried about
    People not finding out,
    But now I’m more worried they will.

  • mother nature…bats last
    ‘A question anyone who is awake could ask themselves is: How will I spend the next 180 days?’

    i don’t share this short term perspective. i don’t see catastrophic collapse as imminent. the first shocks will be weathered by a large majority of ‘first worlders’. i think there’s going to be a mini bonanza of fossil fuel extraction for another decade or 2 in an increasingly no holds barred (translation: forget environmental concerns) frenzy to maintain some semblance of the status quo. fracking, deep sea drilling, u name it, it’s going to happen just about anywhere the bastards think they can make a profit.

    for those of u who haven’t checked out what alexander hawk and i think mike k. and maybe a few others have already pointed out, alex smith’s EcoShock Radio program/blog did a recent segment examining the mini furor caused by the ameg article authored by ‘malcolm light’, cited very often by guy and a few other regular commenters on this blog since it’s publication over a year ago, claiming that polar methane emissions were entering a period of steep increase that would bring about human extinction in the northern hemisphere in less than 20 years, and in the southern in about 35, or ‘within one generation’. he further claims it will render earth lifeless by 2050. i think i’ve already ranted once here my extremely low opinion of these claims and the so-called ‘science’ upon which they’re based and i’m not going there again now. but there are a couple of things that were revealed by alex smith:

    that bear repeating here:

    malcolm light, before writing the above mentioned article, was an obscure petroleum geologist who spent most of his career ‘assisting’ fossil fuel extraction. alex smith agrees with me that his ameg paper is bs (he doesn’t put it quite so bluntly). i suggest u read his words yourself. just scroll down an inch or 2, maybe 4 cm. down the scroll bar to get to the relevant segment of text: a good deal of dope on light and his paper. the devil’s always in the details!

    little spoiler alert: light proposes 2 large scale industrial schemes to save us: the first involves a preposterous sounding ‘star wars’ related geo engineering project. but it’s the second one that’s the surreal kicker, summarized thusly by alex smith:

    ‘Malcolm Light’s second way to save the world from the alleged Arctic Methane Emergency is far more dire. Characteristic of the answers seen by a petroleum geologist, or big fossil fuel companies, his solution is to install a massive array of gas drilling rigs in the Arctic, trying to capture methane from the sea and land, before it can rise up into the atmosphere.’

    this, of course, tends to support my above assertion that ‘no holds barred’ global fossil fuel extraction is likely already in the works and soon to be a surreality. it should keep industrial civilization sputtering along, increasingly choking on it’s own toxic fumes for at least another decade or 2, unprecedented economic shocks, hardships, suffering, death, eco-collapse, and likely warfare not withstanding. it ain’t gonna be no picnic, but neither will it be the utter apocalypse, sudden and soon, that most seem to anticipate on nbl. imo.

    finally, there’s a big difference between very likely being irrevocably on the path to extinction, and already having arrived there. it seems guy and most here have a strong tendency to equate being past the point of no return to practically having already arrived at our final destination, to misinterpret facts and assertions, and to seize upon ‘scientific’ claims that turn out to be rubbish to support the idea that extinction for humans is a done deal in just 2 or 3 decades. this ‘doomer’ near consensus that is essentially dogmatic or unsurrealistic is why, i think, outsiders may tend to view nbl enthusiasts increasingly as cultish, and i think that’s a shame.

  • ‘a cult is nothing more than a religion that has been labeled a cult’

    there is no surreal distinction between ‘religions’ and cults’. both are characterized by idiosyncratic dogmas widely held within a group. it’s just a matter of degrees and opinion, a matter of how much these dogmas exert control over and within any particular group, that allows for arbitrary distinctions to be made between the 2.

  • Thanks OzMan for the Fire Tornado link.

    It’s a horribly over used term but that was awesome. A tornado full of superheated burning debris touching down and not only ripping things to pieces but then catching the whole landscape on fire. I never would have believed it possible. It’s like a mixed weather metaphor from Hell. More creative than a Hollywood special Fx.

    I imagine more real life climate change Chimera are in store like Richter scale 9 ocean earthquakes happening underneath class 5 hurricanes that then turn into giant 50 mile wide Water Spouts.

    It’s like Climate Change Circus is comin’ to town………be there or be square.

    From an old Phil Ochs song ‘Crucifixion’

    “…to a nightmare of knowledge he opens up the gate
    And a blinding revelation is laid upon his plate
    That beneath the greatest love is a hurricane of hate…”

    Great encapsulated roundup ulvfugl.

    In most ways, after having pasted through the NTE Event Horizon Stuff, I’ve come out the other side into the Eye of the Hurricane and just gone back to doing the same old stuff of my daily routine that I’ve always been doing for decades. It is familiar and oddly calming but different now.

    I remember Warren Zevon on Letterman as he was dying from cancer and Letterman asked him if there was anything he understood now, facing his own mortality, that he didn’t before.

    Zevon replied, “Just how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

  • At the Last Chance Saloon it’s our treat
    To serve you a drink, but not neat
    Here it’s all on the rocks
    Iced drinks smooth out the shocks
    Least ’til the Arctic melting’s complete

    Duped off the jukebox at the LCS…obviously not written with NTE in mind, but change a couple words here and there…

  • “Lyin’ in a burned out basement…all in a dream” ;-)

  • infanttyrone, I must admit that I don’t spend much time studying and/or learning about how to commit suicide. Although considering that I have discussed the possibility of the act with more than a few patients, you’d think I would devote a little more time to understanding the methods.

    I do remember a brief mention in medical school about a sufficiently large bubble in an artery in the brain being large enough to cause a stroke, which certainly could lead to death, but I can’t tell you much more than that. Someone above mentioned air in the IV tubing not being a problem, and that’s correct. Not something we worry about. Perhaps Dr. Datta can shed some light on this – he generally has a much greater knowledge of these sort of things that I do.

    As to the expiration of drugs, Lidia is quite correct. Those dates are fabricated for the most part. Presumably, tests were done on a large amount of said drug to find the amount of time before a sufficient percentage of the drug was no longer acceptably effective (lots of subjective targets there). That amount of time is then considered the life of that drug. I suspect that most companies guess or base it on similar drugs and then reduce it further and use that timeframe. That way, they get to sell lots more of their drugs.

    All sorts of people and organizations use those dates, by the way – mostly in reference to money. For example: when we give an injection, my nurse is required to type in the lot number and the expiration date. That gets submitted to the insurance company. If it’s not there, they won’t pay for the injection. If the drug is expired, even by a day, they won’t pay for the injection. So, it’s not about patient safety or drug effectiveness, it’s about money.

    Healthcare accrediting agencies also won’t accept expired drugs on the shelf. So, we are very careful not to order more than we can use in a month or two.

    Then there’s the emerging story about the compounding pharmacy in Tennessee which just recalled all their drugs because a bacteria and a fungus were found inside unopened vials.

    I could go on and on, but none of it matters. The system is broken and it’s not going to be fixed. Complex systems require lots of energy. We live in a world of declining available energy. And, in very short order, complex healthcare is going to be a thing of the past, as will be the human race.

    So, keep your drugs, even if they’re expired. There’s a real good chance they’ll be good till the end of the world. :-)

  • A look back at humanity’s last dance with NTE. It is also interesting to note that glacial periods have lasted much longer than warm periods like the one we are in. Let’s face it, all kinds of weird shit are possible, maybe it is stability that is the rare event.

    The researchers also discovered a 1,000-year dry period triggered by the super eruption of Sumatra’s Toba volcano 74,000 years ago.

    “This was the largest eruption in the past 2.5 million years,” Carolin said. “Usually, volcanic winters last a few years to 10 to 20 years, but this dry period lasted for a millennia.”

  • For anyone interested in poppies for opium, see this excellent wikipedia article:

    However, I will say that trying to make your own medication — opium, aspirin, or any other — is a difficult and risky business. The ancients used these drugs in doses discovered by trial and error on other humans. When they made a mistake, the person died. I suspect many, many paid the ultimate price before the right dose was found. Unfortunately, we don’t have that data available to us (or if so, I’m not aware of it).

    Excerpt: Opium poppy cultivation in the United Kingdom does not require a license, but extracting opium for medicinal products does.[6]

    In Italy, it is forbidden to grow P. somniferum to extract the alkaloids, but small numbers of specimens can be grown without special permits for purely ornamental purposes.[citation needed]

    In the United Arab Emirates, where the drug law is especially stern, at least one man was reported to have been imprisoned for possessing poppy seeds obtained from a bread roll.[7]

    In New Zealand, section 9(4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act states, “It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) [Cultivation of prohibited plants] if the person charged proves that the prohibited plant to which the charge relates was of the species Papaver somniferum, and that it was not intended to be a source of any controlled drug or that it was not being developed as a strain from which a controlled drug could be produced.”[8]

    In northern Burma, opium bans have ended a century-old tradition of growing poppy. Between 20,000 and 30,000 ex-poppyfarmers left the Kokang region as a result of the ban in 2002.[9] People from the Wa region, where the ban was implemented in 2005, fled to areas where growing opium is still possible.

    In the United States, opium is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In addition, “Opium poppy and poppy straw” are also prohibited.[10] However, this is not typically enforced for poppies grown or sold for ornamental or food purposes.[2] Though the opium poppy is legal for culinary or æsthetic reasons, poppies were once grown as a cash crop by farmers in California; the law of poppy cultivation in the United States is somewhat ambiguous.[11] The reason for the ambiguity is because The Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 (now repealed),[12][13][14] stated that any opium poppy should be declared illegal, even if the farmers were issued a state permit.[15] § 3 of The Opium Poppy Control Act stated:

    It shall be unlawful for any person who is not the holder of a license authorizing him to produce the opium poppy, duly issued to him by the Secretary of the Treasury in accordance with the provisions of this Act, to produce the opium poppy, or to permit the production of the opium poppy in or upon any place owned, occupied, used, or controlled by him.

    This led to the Poppy Rebellion, and to the Narcotics Bureau arresting anyone planting opium poppies and forcing the destruction of poppy fields of anyone who defied the prohibition of poppy cultivation.[16][17] Though the press of those days favored the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the state of California supported the farmers who grew opium poppies for their seeds for uses in foods such as poppyseed muffins. Today, this area of law has remained vague and remains somewhat controversial in the United States.[18] The Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 was repealed on 27 October of the year 1970.[19][20]

  • The following is from Mark Lynas’ 6 Degrees. It pretty much puts the lie to the idea that it will take 100 years for glaciers to melt. The Mekong is already running excruciatingly low around Vientiane city in Laos. I have seen that with me own eyes. The Colorado river is vanishing from Lake Mead, and the 4th of July glacier where I used to live in Colorado is smaller and smaller every year. Second, as I said before I don’t think the rest of the world is going to be nearly as much of a social breakdown war zone as the states. All the speculative carnage propounded here by Americans (and other first worlders) sounds like Psychological Projection, if not the entire imperial program that is visited on the rest of the world population daily finally coming home to roost. Enjoy.

    from 6 Degrees:

    By the time global temperatures approach four degrees above today’s levels, snow will be a rarity at Alpine elevations below 1,000 metres. At 2,000 metres two months will be wiped off the snow season, with the amount of snow accumulating during the winter cut by half. Even as high as 3,000 metres-where snow often lies all the year round in today’s climate-a third of it is expected to melt away…

    Even more striking, glaciers will vanish from the majority of even the highest peaks, making the Alps almost completely devoid of ice for the first time in millions of years. Only tiny remnant glacier patches may hang on at the top of the highest 4,000-metre peaks like Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc.

    Heatwaves will even hit in the winter months, pushing temperatures up to 20°C between December and February, and melting snow right up in the highest peaks. Plants are tricked by the temperatures into beginning early spring growth, only for buds and tender leaves to be killed off by renewed cold in days and weeks to come….

    Indeed it is the sheer temperature rise which begins to dominate over everything else in the four-degree world. Heatwaves of undreamt-of ferocity will scorch the Earth’s surface as the climate becomes hotter than anything humans have experienced before throughout their whole evolutionary history. As we saw earlier, temperatures in Europe will by this time resemble the Middle East more than our more usual temperate climes. The Sahara will have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and be working its way north into the heart of Spain and Portugal. Even where cultivable soils remain, heavy cloudbursts accelerate erosion, converting once fertile fields into gullied badlands, just like the Texas plains…

    Indeed, almost every academic study published about the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum PETM in recent years mentions that it can be seen as a natural version of whatever human-caused global warming might have in store. One of the first to recognise the importance of the PETM as a ‘natural analogue’ for current greenhouse gas releases was Gerald Dickens, who wrote in Nature as early as 1999 that ‘we can now begin to view aspects of Earth’s future in an entirely new light’. In May 2006, the Harvard University scientists John Higgins and Daniel Schrag reaffirmed this view, stating: ‘The PETM represents one of the best natural analogues in the geologic record to the current rise in atmospheric CO2 due to burning of fossil fuel.’

    Although the total carbon input into the atmosphere 55 million years ago was larger than humans have so far managed-with CO2 levels of more than 1,000 parts per million persisting into the early Eocene-the rate of greenhouse gas addition is actually faster now than then. The palaeoceanographer Jim Zachos told the 2006 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that today’s human carbon emissions are perhaps 30 times faster even than the massive postulated methane belch of the PETM. And judging by carbon isotope ratios in rocks spanning the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary, we are already about halfway to the kind of searing global heatwave that was experienced then by life on Earth.

    The likely role of methane hydrates in causing this heatwave also offers another worrying lesson for humanity. Vast amounts of the same methane hydrates still sit, quietly biding their time, on subsea continental shelves around the world. With the oceans now warming up, there is a chance that some of this hydrate will be destabilised and vent catastrophically into the atmosphere in a terrifying echo of the methane belch of 55 million years ago. This would boost atmospheric temperatures further, adding to an unstoppable feedback of runaway global warming. Humans would sit powerless to intervene as their planet began to turn into Venus.

    Miriam Katz’s evidence of catastrophic subsea landslides could also offer a grim warning for the future, one where large-scale methane hydrate releases destabilise the sloping ocean bottom and spark similar massive avalanches.

    Like shifting tectonic plates, these oceanic landslides can displace huge quantities of water. When this happens, strong shockwaves propagate outwards from the area of disturbance.
    And unfortunately, if one of these things happens, the first warning most coastal dwellers have will be towering waves racing towards the shore.

  • And one more – Lynas projected the Arctic sea to be ice-free at around 3 1/2 degrees and not to vanish until the last half of the century. Since we are already there, it makes you wonder, just like the plant measurements around Walden, just how far up the thermometer we actually are.

  • Because spring rains stopped the US drought from spreading into the upper Midwest, the scariest drought on the planet now looks to be the one in Eastern Brazil. If it intensifies and spreads westward into the Amazon it could qualify as the opening salvo of NTE type events. An Amazon burning out of control would set off NTE alarm bells.

  • tvt

    I was not suggesting there would be a catastrophic collapse in 180 days. I did suggest we will know the extent of several major potentially damaging factors within 180 days.

    I believe we will be subjected to ‘death by a thousand cuts’ until the system does go kaput, and I don’t think it will go kaput for at least 12 months.

    But while we are thinking of catastrophic, how do you define catastrophic?

    Does a 20% drop in GDP and 60% youth unemployment (Greece) qualify as catastrophic?

    Does an economy transitioning from having a buoyant housing market, hordes of free-spending tourists and banks buying up ‘everything in sight’ to one of plunging property values, 26& unemployment and large banks down the gurgler (Spain) qualify as catastrophic?

    I pulled back another ‘Wizard of Oz’ curtain today and found yet another ‘Emperor with no clothes’. I asked my local MP (like your Congressmen) what mechanisms there were to bring to heel rogue councils that continually flout the Local Government Acts.


    One is not supposed to ask such questions because there are no answers.

  • Re: expiration date on drugs

    This depends on many factors. At the most basic is the complexity of the active ingredients. For example, potassium chloride will last till the sun incinerates the earth and perhaps even beyond. But the material used for microencapsulation of the particles for controlled-release degrade on time scales relevant to us, so that the controlled release properties are lost. Likewise “normal” (0.9%sodium chloride in water) stays the same forever if evaporation is prevented, but the IV bags containing it will degrade.

    As a general rule, the smaller and simpler the molecule, the more stable it is. On that spectrum, insulin, pancreatic enzymes, and other protein molecules are susceptible to degrade and become ineffective much sooner. One can look up Wikipedia or the manufacturer’s site to eyeball the molecule for a guesstimate of its complexity. Another good site (used to be, when I was still working and using it frequently) RxList dot com.

    Air embolism in vertebrates causes problems because the bubbles of air block blood flow in capillaries and similarly small vessels. Air injected through a vein travels to the right side of the heart and thence to the pulmonary capillaries. Small quantities are absorbed fairly quickly. Per Wikipedia, “Human case reports suggest that injecting more than 100 mL of air into the venous system at rates greater than 100 mL/s can be fatal”. Obviously, no studies can be carried out on humans (Nazi Germany notwithstanding).

    Air injected into a vein can enter the left side of the heart through a atrial or ventricular septal defect. It will then travel to the systemic circulation and could enter the carotid circulation causing a stroke. Systemic air embolism is a known hazard of the decompression phase after deep sea dives: if decompression proceeds too fast it is like taking the lid off a soda bottle.

    Breathing pure helium would be one form of inert gas asphyxiation>/b> (it is in Wikipedia).

    Per Wikipedia:
    “Inert gas asphyxiation is a form of asphyxiation which results from respiration of inert gas in the absence of oxygen rather than atmospheric air (a mixture of oxygen and the inert nitrogen). The painful experience of suffocation is not caused by lack of oxygen, but because carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, instead of being exhaled as under normal circumstances. With inert gas asphyxiation, carbon dioxide is exhaled normally, and no such pain experience occurs.

    An occasional cause of accidental death in humans, nitrogen asphyxiation has been suggested as a more humane way to end a human life in a controlled setting such as in capital punishment.

    When humans breathe in pure nitrogen, they exhale carbon dioxide without resupplying oxygen. Nitrogen is a colorless odorless tasteless gas that is about 78% of Earth’s atmosphere. As the main component in air, nitrogen poses no significant risk upon discharge. As such, the subject would detect no abnormal sensation. This leads to asphyxiation without the painful and traumatic feeling of suffocation.”

    Nitrogen is widely used in a variety of applications and is easily available (look up “Applications” under “Nitrogen” in Wikipedia). Nearly four-fifths of every breath is the stuff.

  • More fumes to the head, more fun with numbers, as the trimmer head spun round, so did my imaginings.

    And Tom, brilliant!. Tyrone, I’ve been wondering the same as you about the Amazon. Kevin, Speak Softly Tom, a pleasure to read your clear thinking! And that fire tornado, Ozman, I needed another shout of Fosters after that, so thirsty it made me. Wester, quality info as always!

    frogcounter: “Look at Mother Nature on the run, in the 1970s”.

    Let’s use my 95%/70% simplest of assumptions. 95% probability of extinction on present course of uncaring consumption and carbon burning. 70% with maximum efforts at carbon restriction and sequestration.

    That’s a 25% margin. That means, basically, out of 8 billion people (including future births), an expected mortality of about 6 billion people is already baked in the cake. The 25% difference represents 2 billion people that we might statistically “expect” to save with a maximum united effort, even at this late date. (That’s what statistical modeling factors in.)

    Let’s assume that the major carbon emitters are vehicles, coal burning plants, and animal food production, but that the oceans and other sequestration absorbs the latter two, leaving vehicles as the major un-absorbed source, the marginal addition to atmospheric carbon year by year. Being within our control, it is the cause of our death being elected by so many.

    Although alternatives exist to all three, private motorcar vehicles certainly represent a daily volitional activity to smother the Earth and kill multiple species in this Great Extinction. A great price being paid for a little convenience.

    How many drivers in the world? Probably more than 200 million, but let’s say 100 million American intensive drivers, 12,000 miles a year average (?) and add to that an equivalent of another 100 million worldwide. (Smaller cars, fewer miles, etc.)

    So, those 200 million drivers are going to kill 2 billion people. That’s 10 people each.

    (Man, if there’s a cult anywhere in all this, it’s Car Culture, married to GDP Worship.)

    Now, each of those drivers is not yet aware of incrementally killing 10 people, (“killing me softly with his smog, snuffing my whole world…”) but that awareness may yet dawn. (Kind of like second-hand smoke?) But dawn too late. The lung cancer is already forming.

    I’m a fan of Aesop’s “Belling the Cat” fable. You may have thought of it, too, as you sat in endless “pwogwessive” group meetings, hopefully long, long ago, debating process while problems went untouched, only to finally vote at the end for an “action plan”, and appoint a committee to study the action, but nobody to ever actually do it.

    The Doom By Automobile may be determined for us already, but it really isn’t a physical natural momentum irreversible as, say, the methane released by Arctic warming would be.

    Now, those 200 million drivers get up every morning and get in their cars, instead of on a bus or train. They make a volitional, marginal choice to add to that carbon each time they touch the gas pedal. This may represent inertia, a societal momentum, but those cars don’t start themselves, out there in the driveway. Culpability exists here.

    Speaking of “Belling the Cat”, I wonder what a determined band of “mice” might do, each day, with regards to those cars. (Another weakness of “the Left” is to always be looking for a top-down, usually governmental, implementation of their ideas. Not gonna happen this time, either, with such an XL-ent President as we have now.)

    I just wonder, if some 20-something or teen “mices” might just want to have a chance to see their 80s, like I will probably get to do. I wonder if they might conjure up a completely non-violent, message-sending action/warning of what dire peril they now see us heading for. I wonder if they might just be “TIRED” of watching cars driving hither and yon to FLAT out useless activities, sealing their doom and that of their own/future children. Especially around here, as reTIREes drive to casinos, bingo halls, and scrapbooking conventions.

    I just wonder if they mightn’t scamper on down to local parking lots, say at shopping malls, Walmarts, etc, and visit the enTIRE legion of shoppers with a little environmental lesson, in order to AIR their grievance with the deadly automobile? I think that might DEFLATE at least a little bit of our anxiety here, mightn’t it?

    The proportions here, between one “offense” and another, seem obvious to me, and the “enemy” being not governments or corporations, but Pogo’s “us” in the neighbor’s garage next door, the type of action needed seems equally clear.

    (And yet the mass psychosis is further revealed in Road Rage, as people take injury to their car more seriously than to a family member, in some cases. Just be sure to post a lookout!!!)

    My point is that if THEY, the young’uns, are not passionately serious about surviving, when they are entitled to so many more decades ahead, then the ongoing blanketing of the planet in carbon dioxide is a VOLUNTARY effect in which they have ACQUIESCED. If I can’t persuade them to act simply, nonviolently, and at minimum risk, to save their own lives, then I should just get on with enjoying what remains of my own.

    Those of you who think we have more time than others believe we have, must believe, accordingly, that there is a greater opportunity for remediation, no? More time, slower methane, more societal action, combination of all. So you above all should take up such ideas for action. Maybe you are doing just that. Good!!!

    So don’t just say there’s nothing than CAN be done, to go after that 25% margin of survival; there certainly is, but people who could do something choose not to, choose to “go gentle into that good night,” and choose not to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

  • I’ve penned and posted a new essay. It’s here.

  • Kevin,

    I take your point about 2080 being well within “near term” definitions. My point is that even that upper limit is unknown. Predictions about the future are pretty hard and I never expect any specific timings to be accurate. However, I’m not really detecting main stream scientists throwing in the towel yet. Two of the main pieces of information that Guy points to for near term human extinction are a self-published paper based on a now defunct data point and a synthesis by a journalist that assumes a rapid melt of Antarctic ice. Whilst the latter could happen, I doubt that there is any currently practising climate scientist who agrees, though I don’t rule it out. The former just seems to be plain wrong if that lone data point is not confirmed by other observations, which, as far as I know, it hasn’t. So, yes, we’ve fucked things up, no doubt about that. Is near term human extinction possible? Yes. Is it likely? I really think the jury is still out on that, unless someone knows of further, more robust, evidence?

    Just to add, I recently went through the list of increasingly dire predictions about how much warming will occur and when. Only a few are from climate scientists or institutions that incorporate climate science. In every case, there wasn’t a firm prediction, merely that such and such a temperature by such and such a date was possible in cerain scenarios, none of which takes societal collapse into account (which could work both ways, for a time).


    I agree with almost everything you wrote except that I don’t think any of that cataclysmic sequence of events leads inevitably to human extinction, or the extinction of almost all other species. I do think there is a strong chance it could happen within a couple of centuries and definitely a chance of its happening earlier, but I haven’t seen any science (that I’ve understood, it has to be said) which points to it as a near term development.

    Again, there will soon be (even more) severe climate impacts, even without all of the other environmental damage we’ve wrought. So the near term future is a long way from rosy and probably especially so in the northern hemisphere (which makes me “luck”, I guess). But I just think it’s impossible to foresee the future as clearly as Guy seems to. There may be all sorts of unforeseeable events or interactions which may make the certainty of near term human extinction as less than certain. Note that I’m not drinking hopium here, merely stating that the future is uncertain so my drive towards a more sustainable simple way of existing, using permaculture to build oases of sustainable ecology doesn’t appear to be completely futile yet. Nor am I indulging in wishful thinking because I want to do what I’m doing – in fact, at the moment, I don’t want to be doing it – only that I see no other course of action when the future is uncertain.


    I’m not sure what your point is about Mark’s liking John Michael Greer’s writings. I used to be a big fan of JMG, too, but not so much now. Yes, his criticism of “NTE” was unfounded, which was one of my beefs with him, but he eventually modified it to being a criticism of the cult of NTE, rather than the science of NTE. As a cult, the date of 2031.6 (or whatever the actual number is) will be taken by some as a line in the sand, a December 21st 2012 type of date; they will stick to it no matter what the science actually says over the coming 18 years.

    Speak Softly,

    Yes, a climate feedback model is unlikely to be put together, at least in time to give us a definitive answer about near term human extinction. However, models do include some feedbacks (I think that both albedo change and water vapour increase is included).

  • @ Speak Softly

    Thanks for the compliment

    3# The SPEED of the change.

    Yes, exactly. Not many people seem to appreciate that. You can have a car that does 150 mph and ends up safely at 0 mph in front of your house, or at 0 mph in a mangled fatal mess. Depends on the speed of the change of velocity. Previous changes were over thousands or hundreds of thousands of years. This time its centuries, now decades. Nothing has time to adapt, adjust, evolve. Exponential change is a killer. Albert Bartlett’s arithmetic, so simple, so deadly.

    @ Wester

    Thanks for the detail. Re Lynas and the loss of Arctic ice at 3.5 deg, Lynas reviewed ancient research by now, 3.5 was possibly global average, poles heat disproportionately much faster for a variety of reasons.

    @ Tony

    I agree with almost everything you wrote except that I don’t think any of that cataclysmic sequence of events leads inevitably to human extinction, or the extinction of almost all other species. I do think there is a strong chance it could happen within a couple of centuries and definitely a chance of its happening earlier, but I haven’t seen any science (that I’ve understood, it has to be said) which points to it as a near term development.

    Oh, well, it was already a very long comment so I left a few details out :-)

    If there’s a methane spike, then we all get cooked quickly, no question, it’ll be over. But if that doesn’t occur, let’s go for the 4 deg C, and include the broad range, from 2030 to 2100, which covers most informed people, afaik. We could easily spend all day arguing why it ought to be closer to 2040, or closer to 2080, couldn’t we, we’ve got a whole pile of graphs that give a range of probabilities, depending upon which factors have a bearing…

    My argument is this. Once the stable predictable climate has gone, which is from now on, then the human food and water supplies ( and other vital resources ) become increasingly intermittent. That means we get a big die off. I used to think, until a year or two ago, that we’d get the bottleneck effect, and some people would come out the other end. People on Orlov and JMG’s blogs and elsewhere still take that position. I don’t. I think we get the mass extinction event, for very many reasons, which I’d be happy to list and argue, but does it matter ?

    Look, if you personally think that making a permaculture oasis has a point, and it gets you through the days and nights, then go for that. I think permaculture is noble, a wonderful thing to do. Trouble is what do you do when your climate goes, like it did here for me this year ? The Spring began on time, for about a week, then vanished and went back to winter for two months. The whole ecology gets thrown into disarray.

    Natural systems are resilient enough to cope with this for as an occasional perturbation, so are human farming and gardening systems. But when this happens every year, everything melts down into chaos. The whole foodchain unravels. The next year, it’s completely different, two months of constant heavy rain and strong winds make planting impossible.

    I watched the migratory birds arrive from Africa, and there was nothing for them to eat, no insects, because instead of the warm weather and flowers and insects that would have welcomed them in every previous year of my whole lifetime, it was cold and the ground froze hard every night for weeks and weeks without a break. Because of the warming of the North Pole and the change to the jet stream and Rossby waves.

    Two months lost out of your permaculture growing season, added to the winter, if you are relying upon that for your annual food supply for your little survival community, means you starve…. then there’s a flood, then there’s a drought, then it snows, etc, etc.

    The people in the cities will be long dead from riots and wars and radiation and starvation and disease, but the isolated permie refugia is no guarantee against extinction, imho. It’s not like this thing goes to 4 deg C and then settles down to a nice stable ceiling. Nobody has any idea where it’s going to go, the sea level keeps rising for centuries, the nuclear radiation keeps spreading for centuries….

  • Tom, Cochrane’s comment makes it clear that, as a fan of JMG, he has a personal bias towards a long, slow descent that he was defending at the conference, as opposed to NTE or even Somewhat Soon Extinction (SSE).

    I also can’t predict the future however, I think Guy is correct that if you read the science and dispense with the faith-based hopium, it’s pretty clear that we are headed towards conditions that have never before been within the experience of humans and probably any large mammals. There’s probably a reason for that, such as, the world’s climate will be inhospitable not to say uninhabitable for species such as us. We can’t live in tunnels forever, we can’t eat dirt.

    For instance, this article:

    ‘Waiting on new climate deal ‘will set world on a path to 5C warming’

    is pretty typical. Remove the absurd hopium that we will have a new climate deal and that fact is, we’re GOING to have 5C warming (or more), which is catastrophic, because in case anyone has any doubt, there is NEVER going to be a global climate deal. Just like we learn (if we’re not enthralled by myth) from the entire history of the human race, if one tribe doesn’t fully exploit their territory, some other tribe will do it instead. Either way, ultimately the end result is overshoot and collapse. Now it is on a planetary scale.

    As to the issue of cult, I don’t know if this is an official definition, but it would seem to me inherent in a cult is the inability to leave it, due to extreme pressure from other members to remain. If that is a component of cult, then NBL obviously can’t be one, since anyone is free to read some other blog instead.

    Loved the advice to enjoy every sandwich. I would add, bird song, flower, sunrise, act of charity, and a long list of other pleasures that still remain. Also this terrific quote:

    There are moments when one feels free from one’s own
    identification with human limitations and inadequacies.
    At such moments one imagines that one stands on
    some spot of a small planet, gazing in amazement
    at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal,
    the unfathomable; Life and death flow into one,
    and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only Being.

    ~ Einstein

  • @ Tony

    Re my “If there’s a methane spike, then we all get cooked quickly, no question, it’ll be over. But if that doesn’t occur…”

    It’s almost impossible to make an informed evaluation of the methane situation from the readily available MSM and scientific sources. I’ve been digging off and on for some weeks, there are not many honest assessments from the perspective of the risk to the biosphere.

    I’m grateful to xraymike who just found this four part series by Cory Morningstar, I’ve collected the links HERE.

    But it’s from 2011, there’s some additional info since then, like the releases from the Antarctic and from Tibetan Plateau, where the Chinese reckon they have enough buried methane clathrates in the frozen ground to power their entire country for 90 years. The land there is warming fast. What happens when warm water from melting ice and snow and rain soaks down to that buried methane ? I don’t think those reserves even appear on the maps that Cory shows.

    A more recent comment comes from Angry Bear blog (which appears on google search) and says this, which is far from reassuring, I’m certain you’ll agree. Draw your own conclusion re the NTE time scale.

    Quite obviously, there’s been a sudden increase in atmospheric methane in an area of the arctic ocean north of eastern Europe and western Asia. As shown in the post about this at Arctic News, that area where the methane concentrations are highest coincides with the area of the arctic ocean that is still relatively ice-free.
    This dramatic increase in atmospheric methane seems to be similar to an arctic event that we covered a little over a year ago that occurred in November 2011. At that time Russian scientists had observed vast plumes of methane bubbling to the surface of the arctic ocean off the coast of eastern Siberia, which they described as “powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter”.

    Back then we figured that since that eastern Siberian area was one of the shallowest areas of the arctic, it had warmed enough during a period of unusual atmospheric circulation that fall to thaw the extensive amounts of frozen methane hydrates known to be locked up by high pressure and cold temperatures on the ocean floor, and they were melting and rising to the surface. In this case it appears that a branch of the warm gulf stream current is causing enough warming to destabilize the frozen methane on the ocean floor in the areas between Norway and Svalbard and points east. This is similar to a scenario that was warned about in a study in the journal Nature in October.

    What happens next is anyone’s guess, but Dr Yurganov’s records indicate that higher levels of arctic methane emissions have been increasing over time. (US scientists must now rely on Canadian & European monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions because NOAA’s monitoring of Arctic methane and CO2 was halted last week by budget cuts). We’ve pointed out before that atmospheric methane hit a new high of about 1813 parts per billion (ppb) in 2011, which was at 259% of the pre-industrial level, and that 40% of the increase was coming from natural sources such as this. Methane is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years, and methane’s global heat trapping effect is now roughly one-third that of CO2. Further thoughts on the potential impact of large abrupt release of methane in the Arctic are here. Suffice it to say that if all the ancient carbon were to be released from the arctic it would be enough to raise global temperatures 3C on top of the 4C temperature rise from human activities predicted by the recent World Bank study…

  • ulvfugl,

    Thanks for the reponse and I’m in agreement … except (I knew you were waiting for that) … that it contains some big “ifs”. If methane spikes (and stays there). If the temperature increase reaches 4 degrees C. If peturbations happen every year (I know you said “will” happen but, as you later said, you can’t predict the future with accuracy). Permaculture systems are (almost) natural systems and should be as resilient as it gets if “designed” properly. Plants are already out of place around the globe, as are many animals and other creatures. We will certainly have very changed climates but “bottleneck” is probably a more realistic term, even though you dismiss that. Will there be enough of an ecology to allow humans to survive? I don’t know, no-one does. Will a permaculture oasis guarantee survival? No, but I think it stands the best chance as a food forest will have a wide variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, not all native, as well as making as best use of water.

    That’s an interesting observation about the migratory birds. I visited family in the northern hemisphere (Britain) last year and the birds were noticeable by their absence. Most people were in denial about it but your explanation seems as good as I’ve read.

    Yes, I’d like you to list the other arguments for near term human extinction. It matters to me because it is a big difference between “knowing” that near term human extinction will happen and considering it a possibility. The two seemingly central arguments that Guy appears to be putting forward (at least that’s how it seems to me) for near term human extinction is the paper by Malcolm Light and the synthesis by Oliver Tickell. Both of these appear to be flawed, to me, for reasons I’ve given. Yes, positive feedbacks have been triggered but climate scientists don’t know enough about these yet to say for certain how they will progress.

    I’ve seen the methane graphics for January before. They appear to be worrying but I remember looking around for what scientists were saying about it and didn’t get the impression that this was a truly exceptional situation – at least, not yet. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the reasoning but I do note that we haven’t yet seen methane levels spike up at ground stations like Svalbard, though they do appear (with an untrained eye) to be trending higher faster. I keep track of Arctic sea ice and see that, so far, this year’s ice mass is well above the last two years (last year’s took a big drop about this time but this year’s has “only” remained near the low end of the two sigma range). The ice mass appears to be a surprise to scientists so maybe an ice free Arctic is still several years away.


    I disagree that Mark Cochrane’s comment displays a bias. I also find JMG’s writings to be interesting and agree with many of them. I can recommend his blog, though, personally, I’ve gone a bit off him and don’t think he considers the things that really do make this period in time unique in history (at least, in my view). But I’m confident that Cochrane would not dismiss evidence that shows a rapid collapse as more likely.

    Thanks for the link to the Guardian article. I note, however, that it assumes business as usual and no collapse. You’re right that there will be no meaningful climate deal but there is the possibility of an extended, maybe continual depression, even collapse, that will do much to limit emissions. As you say, you can’t predict the future, just as I can’t. We don’t know how the future will unfold.

  • @ Tony

    Appears to me that you are under some misapprehensions.

    If methane spikes (and stays there).

    You’re not understanding. We know that the methane WILL NOT stay there. That’s why it’s an effing SPIKE. The easily released methane takes the temperature shooting way up, if it all comes in one big release, 10 or 12 deg C by 2030.

    ( It doesn’t have to be any particular calendar date does it, just that there’s enough of it, and it’s a potent enough greenhouse gas, to push up the temperature a lot very fast )

    Then it’s over. The spike stops being a spike. The methane all degrades back to nice friendly CO2 and the graph goes back to the nice friendly CO2 gradient climbing inexorably…

    But there won’t be any life on Earth to observe what happens, will there, because if 4 deg C is lethal for civilisation, and 6 deg C is lethal for most humans and most life forms, then what do you think 10 or 12 deg C does ?

    There is, as far as I can see, NO good reason NOT to expect a methane spike. I can agree that it’s not guaranteed as a certainty. I can agree that nobody knows for sure. I can agree that nobody is even paying any serious attention to the matter, other than a handful of folk on the fringe. Seems to me quite logical that the warming we are getting from the CO2 would very probably lead to a release of methane from the hydrates/clathrates by a variety of mechanisms. How much, how quickly ?

    If peturbations happen every year (I know you said “will” happen but, as you later said, you can’t predict the future with accuracy).

    You CAN predict the future, it’s called science and observation. Some people predicted that the Arctic ice would melt in the summer and that it would effect the jet stream and hence the weather in the northern hemisphere. You can’t predict it with the degree of precision that says what day will be hot or cold, but you can predict that there will be much more frequent extremes, which is what is happening.

    Permaculture systems are (almost) natural systems and should be as resilient as it gets if “designed” properly.

    Except that they are human systems designed by humans for the benefit of humans and do nothing for species that don’t fit in to those systems. And they are no use at all when extreme weather events come along, like hurricanes, prolonged droughts, prolonged freezes, floods, etc. They just won’t work. I mean, to state it at it’s most absurd, how will your permaculture plan function when you get summer in winter and winter in summer and your rainfall is radioactive and clouds of toxic gas float in from the ocean ?

    My case has nothing to do with Malcolm Light or Oliver Tickell, but I’m not going to lay it out here, I’ve already said enough.

    I’ve seen the methane graphics for January before. They appear to be worrying but I remember looking around for what scientists were saying about it and didn’t get the impression that this was a truly exceptional situation – at least, not yet.

    Seems to me you must be looking at this from a very strange view point. The methane levels, from memory, were stable for 600,000 years, between 400 and 600 ppb.

    Since 1900 they have suddenly shot up to something like, I think, now, 2000 ppb.

    Nothing exceptional about that ?

  • ulvfugl,

    Sorry about the methane spike reference. I was really thinking about the Malcolm Light paper that used the, now defunct, methane spike in his calculations. It didn’t stay elevated.

    Not every climate scientist who studies Arctic methane thinks that there are pathways to that sudden release of 5 Gt (or whatever the figure is) of methane. I’ve seen some calculations which show even a release of that order may not have the impact that some think. But we’re not seeing the scientific papers on this, at the moment (I think one of your links talked about a deafening silence). Arctic methane releases are currently dwarfed by releases in the tropics, so there is some way to go. If we start seeing significant releases and they continue, all bets are off.

    Predicting the future is not observation or science. Predictions of how the future will pan out can be based on science, which is based on observation. Science makes predictions about what is happening now and that can be observed by experiment. But predictions about the future require a knowledge that may never be ours.

    Permaculture systems are not purely for human benefit. They are designed to benefit the whole ecosystem, including soil organisms, flora and fauna. That is the way they provide benefit to humans. We will never get winter in summer and summer in winter but we will, obviously, get freak events that may make it seem that way for a time. Food forests can protect from that to a degree. Radioactive rain everywhere? Well, I’m not sure that will happen but, if it does, we don’t know what effect that will have but there is some debate about how well the wildlife has done in Chernobyl (I tend on the side of the pessimists but the wildlife is certainly abundant). Hey, it may not be a total cure in all situations but, equally, not all permaculture systems may fail in a less than worst case scenario.

    It’s a shame that you won’t lay out your case here, since that is what I’m looking for; one that doesn’t rely on Oliver Tickell and Malcolm Light.

    Regarding the methane graphics, as I’ve said, I looked for scientific comment on them and didn’t find that they represented, let’s say, a runaway condition. Ground stations have continued to report a rising, and worrying, trend but we’re not seeing a spike, a long time after Semiletov, and others, reported methane plumes a kilometre wide. Many have struggled for a reason why that would be other than the plumes didn’t represent the start of the catastrophic methane release. By the way, the levels are not at 2000 ppb, more like 1900 ppb up north, 1700-1800 ppb elsewhere. Yes, much worse than previous. As Cochrane said, the combined effect of greenhouse and other gases is about 470 ppm of CO2 equivalent. I don’t deny that will cause “bad” things to happen in the future. Near term human exinction? I’m not sure and, so far, can’t see why anyone else would be.

  • @ Tony

    I wasn’t referring to M. Light at all. Or the Arctic methane. I’m talking about a possible overall global methane release, triggered by the warming, which would appear on the graph as a spike, both methane in the atmosphere and global temperature, over a decade or so.

    Predicting the future is not observation or science. Predictions of how the future will pan out can be based on science, which is based on observation. Science makes predictions about what is happening now and that can be observed by experiment. But predictions about the future require a knowledge that may never be ours.

    Eh ? You’ve lost me there. Look, if we know what happens to sea molluscs and corals, say, when pH of sea water changes, and we can measure changing ocean pH, then we can predict what will happen to the molluscs and corals, no ? Seems quite straight forward to me. The difficulties arise with highly complex systems with many variables and the further out in time one goes, the less certain things are. So, there’s a range of probabilites, bounded within likelihood, expressed as percentages.

    I don’t think you’ll find any serious informed scientist who expects zero warming this century. They tend to cluster around 4 deg C or 6 deg C by the end of this century, depending on what action gets taken to reduce emissions. At the moment, no action is being taken to reduce emissions, emissions are going up, faster than ever, so we get to 4 deg C by 2030. Afaik, this is all regular orthodox mainstream logical scientific prediction.

    Those models which say we get to 4 deg C by 2080 or whatever, leave out the scary stuff. They are the trajectories that have been agreed by the committees with the chief scientist of Saudi Arabia and the guy from Exxon as members, who insist CO2 is a harmless plant food.

    Permaculture systems are not purely for human benefit. They are designed to benefit the whole ecosystem, including soil organisms, flora and fauna. That is the way they provide benefit to humans.

    You must be kidding. Where do tigers and blue whales and bluefin tuna and vultures and African wild dogs and locusts all the other wild creatures that have no inherent human use fit in to your permaculture system ? Permaculture is hopelessly anthropocentric.

    We will never get winter in summer and summer in winter but we will, obviously, get freak events that may make it seem that way for a time.

    You have not yet understood what has happened. The Holocene has GONE. It is not coming back. All we get from now on is freak events.

    Radioactive rain everywhere? Well, I’m not sure that will happen but, if it does, we don’t know what effect that will have but there is some debate about how well the wildlife has done in Chernobyl

    Then you have not thought it through. Civilisation collapses, social chaos, nobody maintains the nuclear plants, which all melt down like Fukushima. That’s not comparable to Chernobyl, which was contained relatively quickly. It’s like Fukushima times several hundred, going on for centuries without any containment. Kathy C. can educate you on the details.

    Honestly, Tony, what would be the point in my writing at length in detail about this, when i really don’t think you grasp the picture as it is ?

  • Another point, Tony. If you believe that survival depends upon permacultural communities and food forests and the like, with the simplified low-tech life styles that are associated, then I’d like to know, who is going to deal with the thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons, all that plutonium which will have to be disposed of in some way or other, in addition to the radioactive material from nuclear power stations. At the moment there is nowhere on the planet that can deal safely and effectively with that stuff. You expecting the permies and transition hippies to do it, when they emerge out of the other end of the bottleneck after the Great Zombie World War ? Along with all the chemical warfare stuff, and all the biological germ warfare stuff and all the industrial toxic chemicals ?

  • Matthew 6:24 says: Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    We’ve a way to hold onto our wad
    While preserving a righteous facade:
    Every woman and man
    Answers back, “Yes, we can!”
    Because mammon IS our god.

  • @Tom,
    I haven’t a clue as to how I might edit out the wind noise. Any tutelage would be welcomed.

    I can only trumpet your profound observation of what,ironically, has been my response to comprehending the science that points to the end of, what Guy calls, the human experience on this rare and wonderful planet. “For those (extremely few, it seems) who not only have been familiar with the science for quite some time, but following it to it’s logical conclusion (and now – it’s even measurable), the usual response is extreme depression. Here’s where, if you aren’t ready for it, your comment is valid and you find some people “going off the deep end” and committing suicide or going zombie. If you’re lucky enough to fight your way through that, to the realization that “oh hey, I’m going to die anyway” the next phase seems to be acceptance and going on with your life for as long as you can, doing what you’re inclined to do. How odd that we’re here at this particular time – to witness this immense spectacle up close and personal? Cherish your experience for the exquisite moment it is.” The only sane thing to do is to cherish this painfully exquisite time in the universe.

    Like you I have noticed the undeniable changes that assault our senses. “i’m not seeing the bees, butterflies etc. and hope my tomatoes are being pollinated (among many other plants). Pointing this out to the common person is like having them look at abstract art – they don’t get it and don’t want to spend any time on it. It’s all about being happy, following “the dream” and living “the good life.” So few humans can even understand how dire our situation is that it’s practically useless to bring it up (as I’ve learned the hard way), and in fact, negatively affects one’s invitations to social events. Ah well.”

    Like you I rarely get invites. Consequently, I only speak of our situation when it’s appropriate. I continue to be amazed at the emotional resistance to reality. Even those who should understand physics resist even humoring it.

    Thanks for helping me to not feel so alone.

    Best regards,
    Edward Kerr