A Last Hoorah on My Way Out the Door

by David Goza, who teaches World Music at the University of Oklahoma. At age 63, he has probably outlived his sell-by date by at least a dozen years.

This somewhat longish essay may constitute a farewell of sorts: not so much a farewell to this forum in particular (a forum I’ve been following closely for some years, without ever submitting so much as a single comment), as a farewell to an online life in general. In the near future I will no doubt be posting similar messages on my personal Facebook page and in other groups in which I’m active, as I little by little take my leave — but I want to start here because I’ve come to value this board and even to regard many of you as friends (without your even so much as suspecting my existence): some of you have come to mean a great deal to me. Despite the enjoyment I’ve derived from my interaction with good people in cyberspace, I think I’ve about had it with virtual reality, with the wraithlike, chimeric notion of an “online community.” So I’m not so much talking about bowing out of this group specifically, as I’m mulling overdue secession from a much larger domain of supposed connectedness.

This essay is also about something much more important than my leave-taking. Let me try to explain.

A year or so ago, in their unending quest to discredit me, certain Christian fundamentalists did me the greatest imaginable honor by linking me by reputation and accusation to the brightest lights of western culture — people such as Morris Berman and Noam Chomsky: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2257182604/. I would never pretend to any arrogant comparison of stature: I’m not worthy to lick the sandals of someone like Berman. Nevertheless, as he has articulated more clearly than anyone I know, the nature of the sickness of western civilization and the reason for a prognosis that is anything but optimistic, I find myself in profound agreement with him: if you want to know my position with respect to our predicament, read Berman. If we have a future, it is because of people like Berman and Chomsky. And that future — if any — lies somewhere in the twenty-second century or beyond, on the far side of that Dark Age into which we are now sinking. Our children, unfortunately, will not fare well. I wish it were otherwise, but wishing never made anything so. (But perhaps there’s hope for our great-, great-, great-, great-grandchildren. Again, I don’t think so; but who knows, really, how things will unfold?)

That Dark Age will be characterized by economic collapse, infrastructure failure and the perpetual war of all against all: a Hobbesian world. It is an open question whether the human species will survive it: thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles still sit restless in their silos, yearning to be free (and hundreds of nuclear power-generating plants stand ready for meltdown as the lines of supply erode and the technical expertise needed to keep them under control dries up). But in case some remnant of our species does survive the inevitable collapse, perhaps we should be concerned about what will follow that Dark Age, and do whatever we can to make possible a good society in a distant century, populated by historically-minded people who will perhaps be grateful to us for having made the effort.

So far as the present is concerned: in a Truthdig column published a little over a year ago, Chris Hedges — another of my intellectual heroes — tells us exactly what academia has become. It is a devastating critique, and it is absolutely on the money. Read it if you dare: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_perversion_of_scholarship_20120730/.

On the afternoon after reading Hedges’ column, I chanced to encounter a student-led brag session held for prospective OU students who were being conducted on a campus tour in 110-degree heat: an exercise in cheerleading and perception management. I tarried (and loitered) long enough to listen to the student “orientation leader” — a football player — paint our supposedly great institution in what he must have imagined to be glowing terms. He spoke of his positive experiences over the past three years: the social clubs, the dances, the camaraderie, the free movies, the games, the pep rallies and tailgate parties… and not a single word about the mind-opening, life-changing things he’d learned in the classes he’d taken. He led them in an impromptu singing of “Boomer Sooner.” That’s what academia has become. I make my living in that milieu. It’s making me sick: I think I have to leave it — an awareness the arrival of which tails Guy’s by a good number of years — and I don’t know how I will earn a living if I do. Again, I encourage you to read that column by Chris Hedges: he says much more clearly than I can, what I want to scream at the top of my lungs.

Those who have followed me on Facebook — especially many of my former students and colleagues — have noticed and commented on a kind of downward trajectory in my posts over the past few years: a tone of voice that has become and is becoming increasingly morose. There’s a lot of truth in that perception: I don’t think there’s a shred of optimism left in me, except for the possibility that I still entertain, that good efforts made now may yield fruit in a far distant future that I cannot begin to imagine and certainly will not live to see. That’s the main reason I’ve continued to teach, even as it’s become increasingly apparent that my best efforts are mostly wasted — and worse, that I am thus to a degree complicit in the Higher Ed scam. But I keep on teaching because it seems to me the right thing to do. I can only hope that at least a few others are similarly motivated (and I know that they are — but they are vanishingly few in number).

Teaching is no longer the joy for me that it once was: most of my students are openly scornful of my efforts and resentful of the assignments I give them. They see me as a dinosaur with outlandish, antiquated ideas and unreasonable expectations, an obstacle to their enjoyment of their “experience.” My assignments cut into their social life. Despite repeated admonitions, they persist in “texting” their friends during my lectures and sleeping during the films I show them: wonderful, vibrant, thought-provoking films about Gypsy music, African polymetric drumming, and the art of Andy Goldsworthy. The message they send is unmistakable: culture is bunk, and they can’t wait to be finished with this onerous academic requirement, and if they don’t get an “A” it will be my fault and I’ll have ruined their lives. Most of them write like kindergartners, and are not — apparently — bothered by that fact. If I were a religious man, I’d thank “God” for the exceptions, of which there seem to be fewer each semester.

The collapse of western culture will ultimately be a collapse of money and infrastructure, but it is being led by a collapse of the human spirit. The infrastructure collapse will nevertheless be spectacular, and it’s going to be shocking and horrifying to a great many people who are unprepared for it and who resist any attempt to raise consciousness about its looming inevitability. Do you remember that awful day not long ago when the northern part of India experienced a widespread failure of the electrical grid that left 370,000,000 people without power in sweltering heat? That’s more than the combined populations of the United States and Canada. The following day, a more extensive grid failure left 800,000,000 people in the dark. That wasn’t a one-time, fluke event: that’s India’s future. Moreover, it’s our future — and it won’t be long in coming. We’ve become far more vulnerable than most people realize: dependent on a fragile infrastructure that is crumbling on account of a slow-motion economic collapse and the “deferred maintenance” that always characterizes such general declines. Needless to say, the OU College of Business has nothing to say about any of this. Future historians (if any) will have much to say about the economic/infrastructure collapse of the west: that will be easy to document. What will be open to interpretation, and the subject of heated debate, is why we let things get to such a state. In answering that question, such writers as Berman, Chomsky and Hedges are our best guides. We ought to be reading them and paying attention. I can only hope that their insights will be preserved for future generations to discover and to learn from: I would like to think that our distant heirs will notice our mistakes — and the penalties they incur — and avoid them.

What will my “students” do when they discover that their laptop screens are blank? What will fundamentalist Christian propagandists do, when they no longer have the internet and television available to them as vehicles for the spreading of their hatred and paranoia? Will they find community? It seems to me doubtful: they seem to have the instincts of cannibals, and cannibals do not make welcome neighbors.

I don’t have a lot to add to what such insightful commentators as Berman, Chomsky and Hedges have already contributed. But I’d like to take a shot at saying in my own words, what I think will be necessary in order for the human species to survive in any condition that would be worth living in, and also offer a few words about how I see my own role, in whatever years are left to me, in preparing for a better human future.

I want to talk specifically about the role that I think religion will need to play, in a sustainable world in which human happiness is actually possible. In light of the overtly confrontational, no-holds-barred approach to religious fundamentalism that it’s been my habit to take for the past several decades, some of the things I’m about to say seem surprising even to myself.

My complete lack of belief notwithstanding, I’m not a very good atheist and never have been. I have a deeply religious bent. I respond to the world in a way that could only be called “worshipful.” My respect for life is such as would strike most “practical” persons as weird and unhealthy. I cannot — and never have been able to — bring myself to kill a spider, a scorpion, a wasp or a pit viper: it would never occur to me to do such a thing. Ever since I was a small child, and continuing without exception to this day, I have had a profound and unshakeable sense of the sacredness of life, of the magic of the world. And when I read the religious philosophy of the Ewe people who live around the mouth of the Niger River, I find myself in full agreement:

“ … (T)he sea, the lagoon, the rivers, streams, animals, birds and reptiles, as well as the earth with its natural and artificial protuberances, are worshiped as divine, or as the abode of divinities.” (This is a quote from an obscure and otherwise deadly ethnomusicological monograph.)

This instinct is very familiar to me, and has never been easy to square with my declared atheism: I see the divine all around me. I’m by temperament a pantheist if ever there was one. I cannot rid myself of the notion that the entire cosmos is somehow alive — possessing a consciousness (or being a consciousness) that has nothing to do with nervous systems, but likewise has nothing to do with “souls” or “vital forces” or any of that other snake-oil crap that preachers have peddled: a consciousness that is perhaps the essence of the fundamental forces of the cosmos — e.g. the “enjoyment” (I can’t think of any other word) that an electron “feels” when it jumps from a lower energy state to a higher one. Before you dismiss this as mushy-headedness, consider: at what point do you draw the line, where consciousness is concerned? Is a kingfisher conscious? How about a sunfish? What about a starfish? A coral polyp? A honeybee? An amoeba? A bacterium? A virus? A carbonate molecule coming out of solution as it contributes itself to a growing calcite crystal? Did you arbitrarily draw the line between those last two? Why not between the bacterium and the virus, which resemble each other even less than the virus and the carbonate molecule resemble each other? Or have you been unable to draw the line yet? If so, how much farther down into the submicroscopic world would we need to go before you could draw that line with any confidence?

And it goes the other way as well: if a honeybee is conscious, how about the entire hive? The entire anthill, termite colony, school of fish or flock of birds? The city of Paris? European civilization? Human civilization? How about the entire terrestrial/oceanic/atmospheric biosphere? Can you say for certain that the ocean doesn’t enjoy the experience of having its tides raised by the pull of the moon? Can you imagine what it “feels like” to the ocean, to be drawn by the moon? Or is the ocean somehow “reaching for” the moon, as trees stretch themselves toward the sun? Do you know for certain that the earth doesn’t in some sense “love” the star it orbits? (Is gravitational attraction a type of love?) How about the “feeling” of that star for that vast community of stars of which it is a member?

I realize that by writing the foregoing I’ve diluted the meaning of “consciousness” to the point of uselessness, so long as we insist on being reductive about it. But perhaps my whole point is, our tendency to reductionism — our hard-headed, “practical” way of viewing the world (even among those who paradoxically also entertain notions of a deity who intervenes in the affairs of men) — has not served us well. At the very least, an evil impulse has overtaken and co-opted it, turning our sciences into means for commodifying the planet and stripping it of both its “resources” and its sanctity.

Consider: if the world’s rivers behave somewhat as a circulatory system behaves (and the parallels could be drawn on many levels), what does it mean that we’ve dammed all the major rivers somewhere along their way? Isn’t it as though we’ve clogged the arteries of the planet? How could that possibly turn out well? Ask the salmon, or any number of other species that are being driven (or have been driven) extinct on account of it.

The industrial misadventure that was born of the unholy alliance between our sciences and our commodifying instinct is rapidly undoing us: we have driven the inauguration of a new geologic period — the Anthropocene — whose outcome will be nothing less than a sixth great planetary mass extinction (which will in all probability include us), comparable to such debacles as the close-Permian extinction that wiped out over 90% of marine species and over 70% of landlubbers about 251 million years ago, and the much later close-Cretaceous extinction that took out the dinosaurs and ammonites. This will be the first time in our planet’s history when such an extinction event will have been caused by a single species — a conscious species, some of whose members recognized what we were doing but were powerless to stop it or too indifferent or demoralized to try.

As Guy has noted, we currently drive about 200 species to extinction per day. That’s nothing short of horrifying. That’s well over ten times the background rate of extinction, and such a high rate of extinction has happened only a few times in the history of our planet. We’re not the crown jewel of creation: we’re the next fucking asteroid.

Now, if we (and by “we,” I mean humanity in the aggregate) all held the same views that the Ewe hold, we wouldn’t be able to do about 99% of the things that we do on an average day: they would be unthinkable to us. Blasting open the skin of the Great Mother in order to mine coal, copper and tar sands would be considered an outrageous proposition. Subjecting her epidermis to hydraulic fracturing in order to make her fart methane would seem utterly perverse. Poking long bore holes into her back in order to pump out vadose water and those (wisely and mercifully) sequestered hydrocarbons we insist on setting on fire would seem like the work of madmen, behaving like blood-sucking insects with lifespans measured in hours. Yet we depend on these questionable and ultimately ruinous practices in order to keep cranking out and powering all those gizmos and gadgets that we’ve come to accept as normal, desirable and even indispensable. Our behavior is like that of addicts, and our addictions are killing everything. I wish people understood the world as the Ewe do. It’s the way I have always seen the world, and the cognitive dissonance of my life is coming rapidly to a head: my continued participation in this industrial/corporate/killing-machine horror, this life-destroying juggernaut we’ve turned loose on the world, is something that I cannot justify, and from which I believe I will soon have to withdraw if I am to retain any sense of self-worth.

I want to return once again to that religious view of the Ewe: I believe that it is the only worldview that can finally save us. Paradoxically, it is an ancient worldview that was once universal, but that has been drowned out by the siren song of civilization. It will have to be recovered. And I don’t know how that will ever be possible. It is utterly incompatible with the civilization we have built and the culture of death that we have embraced.

One of the things that stands in its way is religion itself: specifically, the Abrahamic faiths; and most especially their fundamentalist fringes. Fundamentalist religion is the enemy of all that is good and true and — yes — holy. Science is no threat to the religious worldview of the Ewe, nor is the reverse true. Just imagine what sciences informed by such reverence, by such a care and concern for all that exists — and religion that embraces the scientific method and revels in the discoveries that the method makes possible — could contribute to the wellbeing of all conscious creatures, human and otherwise! But in a world where fundamentalism has such a purchase as it has in ours — defines religion for so many (as it often does for many atheists, in fact) — such a benign, beneficial “religion” as that of the Ewe is unlikely to gain many adherents. Fundamentalism has balkanized us this way: it has created such a climate of animosity and distrust that those who are scientifically-inclined tend to dismiss any mystical tendencies (a term I use with some trepidation) as unworthy of consideration, to be consigned to the same scrapheap as the drivel that emanates from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra (who should certainly marry so that she can call herself Oprah Chopra). I wish it were possible to make it much clearer that this is not the kind of thing I’m talking about. I’m talking about something that Albert Schweitzer called “reverence for life,” and I’m inclined to extend the definition of “life” so as to include the whole cosmos, top to bottom. For me it is a religious experience: I don’t know any other way to put it.

During my long, tortuous journey out of the fundamentalist Christian faith in which I had the dubious fortune to be planted at birth, there was a time when I entertained thoughts of becoming an Episcopal priest. Here is how I saw things: civilization is rudderless, and is about to founder on the rocks. We are in sore need of guidance, and that guidance must come from our humane instincts, which we have largely stifled in order to be able to play a role in the civilization that has dehumanized us. Unless those humane instincts can be recovered and experienced as deeply — and applied as broadly — as what’s implied in the Ewe religious philosophy I quoted above, they will not suffice: humanity will remain anthropocentric, which is the worst mistake of all. The Ewe see themselves as integrated into the world: they cannot imagine the world as something different from and apart from themselves; this is the essence of numinous experience, an apprehension of the divinity of it all. Needless to say, that is not our view: we in the west are completely anthropocentric, and that myopic view is destroying us. I thought, given the liberalizing trends in the Episcopal Church over the past forty years or so, such an institution might actually be able to do some good in the world, by gradually adopting and encouraging a much larger and more loving view of the world. After all, Episcopalians generally seem to have no doubt that evolution happens, and an evolutionary understanding of life certainly reveals the kinship of all life: an anthropocentric view is impossible to sustain in the light of such understanding. But despite my hopes, I gradually came to accept the fact that Christianity (including the Anglican kind) is simply not amenable to such an enlarged worldview. Christianity is fundamentally anthropocentric: every one of its doctrines assumes the centrality of humans in the divine plan. It is thus a vastly inferior view of the world from that of the Ewe, and also that of the sciences (which likewise repudiate anthropocentrism). That’s why I finally left: I saw it as a hopeless proposition.

Nowadays, the people I’m likely to engage in heated conversations on Facebook are not Anglicans: they’re Christian fundamentalists. I’ve got a real problem with the pathology that has parasitized their brains. That’s absolutely toxic stuff: it’s the enemy of all that lives. It pretends to be “pro-life,” but everything about it trumpets the very opposite. Christian fundamentalism is a cult of death. It is a real and horrible evil. It transforms human beings into mindless automatons. It robs them of life and joy. It turns people into murderers of the mind and of the planet.

Such “religion” has no place in a better world. If a better world does someday come about, it will be because Christian fundamentalism has finally been consigned to the ash heap of history, along with the cults of human sacrifice that flourished in Mesoamerica a thousand years ago, and other such life-hating, child-destroying grotesqueries.

I don’t yet fully understand what my role ought to be, in promulgating such a revised (or recovered) view of the world, but I’ve sadly come to the conclusion that “social networking” is not the way to go. I can’t see that I’ve made the world a better place — that is, more humane, decent, kind, loving, caring, respectful — by my activities on Facebook. Sadly, I suspect I’ve had the opposite effect: continually tormenting the rattlesnake without any good outcome to show for it, making the rattlesnake meaner by the minute. That cannot possibly serve the ends I wish to see.

So I’ve concluded that it’s probably better that I take my leave of an electronic “community” that — if it exists at all, is certainly the strangest “community” that’s ever existed — and try to find a better way; and that conclusion may well be extensible to the way I make my living. Morris Berman describes a “monastic option,” a way of living that preserves that which is about to be lost, keeping it whole and safe (even if misunderstood) through a time of darkness so that it may be rediscovered later — much as the wisdom of classical Greece was kept alive after the fall of the Roman empire by people who had no idea what it meant. I think I have to find a way to become a participant — a citizen — in that tradition, or my life will ultimately have had no meaning.


McPherson’s final essay in a seven-part series was published 7 September 2013 by The Good Men Project: Questioning Culture: The Absurdity of Authenticity.

Independent filmmaker Pauline Schneider is creating a documentary film. A short clip of this work in progress is embedded below.

Comments 141

  • Just look what’s coming… people will be able to opt out of this nasty unpleasant real world and into this fake virtual one that’s getting real-er than real… they are going to be even less interested in hearing about ANYTHING that interferes with their self-indulgence.

  • Requires sign in there, I think same is accessible here, nothing ‘rude’.


  • Thank you ;that for me was one of the most insightful essays that I have read amongst the multitude that the internet allows me to read.I think your decision to stay in your educational position is not misplaced ,I my self teach middle school art and believe me I know the feeling of wondering if anyone gives a shit about looking at the world in any semblance of a real way ,Yea my students want to sit in class and text the person right next to them and look up inane drivel ,But the very big but is that every so often more than one of them gets it they show me they do not want what this marginalized world see as fit to offer them ,so I continue to hold art class’s weather permitting by the trout stream that runs around our school ,we take off our shoes and walk the stream and we sit on its bank and draw the wild flowers that grow there and I really do see and honest joy on their faces for at least a little while .
    So again thank you sir for your though provoking essay ,my advise is to stay doing what you are doing ,at least you are doing it ! Some one surely will appreciate your effort.

  • Thank you. I am not worthy of licking your sandals. Oprah Chopra, LOL!

  • Facebook is a complete waste of time. I perm-del the acct a few years back. Funny how you can feel yourself being sucked into faceland, then how your perception shifts again after waving goodbye!

    I’m sure the same would happen, even more so, if I completely unplugged from the net, but that would be insanely outside of my best interests as I see fit. Nope, I’m plugging into the grid until a viable, decentralized alternative protocol is adopted.

    As for the higher institutions being a scam, yep, I realized that at age 18 back in 2001. Aced high school material, got my GED a year early to enter the “number one community college in the nation”, and it was at least a step behind my already horrible senior high school. I was disappointed, left, and never came back.

    Onto the infrastructure, I think it’s a solution in progress. We’re shifting focus to things deemed more critical, and allowing the infrastructure to fall apart. That plays into various other agendas which may lead to tactics put into play down the line. Eventually those hands are played, a pot is one, and funds are allocated into upgrades that will be reinforced to weather the coming super-storms.

    There’s not a damned chance in hell we get through this with anything resembling “natural” things on our side. We have already passed that point of no return. Only way through this is by embracing the weird, and diving into the not-yet-well-known.

  • There is no “winning” in social media. There is value, however, (IMHO) in sharing common perceptions among like-minded peers. “They” might call this an “echo chamber”, or accuse us of “preaching to the choir”, but the fact is that I, for one, find some comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the way I see the world and its future.

    And isn’t true community built on a shared belief system? So perhaps this “echo chamber” is the most appropriate environment for true community.

    morituri te salutant

  • A little reinforcement for the notion of a conscious cosmos from the father of modern physics:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.

    I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness.”

    – Max Planck

    Which begs the question of what it must be thinking(?) about our current tragic farce here on the Third Stone from the Sun.

  • Although I certainly wish you well David Goza – and take off my hat for a very well-crafted essay – I have to disagree with your central premise.

    From the essay:

    “And when I read the religious philosophy of the Ewe people who live around the mouth of the Niger River, I find myself in full agreement:
    “ … (T)he sea, the lagoon, the rivers, streams, animals, birds and reptiles, as well as the earth with its natural and artificial protuberances, are worshiped as divine, or as the abode of divinities.’”

    “…I want to return once again to that religious view of the Ewe: I believe that it is the only worldview that can finally save us. Paradoxically, it is an ancient worldview that was once universal, but that has been drowned out by the siren song of civilization. It will have to be recovered.”

    As I see it, the problem is that the “philosophy” of people rarely matches the way they actually live. If all you did was cherry pick the “philosophy” of many of the world’s religions you would find admonitions to adhere to a great many moral precepts, but that doesn’t mean the behavior of the adherents reflects the tenets of the religion, in fact it almost never does. There are countless examples of cultures that extol peace, love and proclaim to promote harmony with nature…but upon closer examination are rife with violence, hatred, and exploitation of natural resources – the Northwest Coast Indians come to mind.

    Even more prolific are the fantastical claims that such pre-industrial, pre-capitalistic cultures were sustainable when ample evidence proves they simply were not.

    That seems to be the case for the Ewe if you read their history of migration and tribal warfare which pre-existed contact with Europe. It’s not the “siren song of civilization” that has “drowned out” a once-universal world view, rather, the world view IS still in existence (cf yourself) but it’s not practiced, and IT NEVER WAS.

    To me that indicates that the really important question I ask myself isn’t whether there is some meaning or intent or consciousness in the universe, but what it is about the human brain that makes us want to believe there is – and to invent religions and meaning and intent and consciousness of whatever flavor; they are essentially all the same. They all tell stories about who we are that fly in the face of reality.

    I hope everyone is able to find whatever meaning they want. Personally, I find meaning in many things, and I’m comfortable with the realization that I’m making it up.

    Thanks to a friend from an internet group for passing this on (which is why the internet is so fabulous) Woody Allen on the meaning of life:

  • Thank you Dr. Goza, for this love song to Life at this juncture of civilization’s madness. Your ability to respond with devotion to nature-centered social participation and ethical discernment is an example for all of us.

    You wrote: “Morris Berman describes a “monastic option,” a way of living that preserves that which is about to be lost, keeping it whole and safe (even if misunderstood) through a time of darkness so that it may be rediscovered later — much as the wisdom of classical Greece was kept alive after the fall of the Roman empire by people who had no idea what it meant. I think I have to find a way to become a participant — a citizen — in that tradition, or my life will ultimately have had no meaning.”

    We must preserve reverence for life, within ourselves. Sometimes this make take the form of infiltrating Institutions & Media – and pollinating a few bright souls who go on to carry it on, sometimes it is in the deep interior of personal retreat. All the time, it about discerning this moment of right action from the heart. Thank you.

  • David, i hear you loud and clear. I left UC Berkeley four years ago, had been wanting to leave for a while, because my experiences there were increasingly paralleling what you describe re the University of Oklahoma. Just so that no one thinks this is happening only in “party schools.” After all, Berkeley is regarded as a center of research as well as supposedly “radical” politics. Modern communications technology is destroying what is left of the community which has been degraded by the forces of capital. Makes me sick to set foot on campus nowadays. As for InYourFacebook, never got into it, will not. It’s the very opposite of community. Best of luck. I intend to continue resisting, as per my article posted here in mid-May.

  • The following day, a more extensive grid failure left 800,000,000 people in the dark.

    Richard C. Duncan, an electrical engineer, almost a decade earlier in his Olduvai Theory put the date for the start of major blackouts as 2012.

    What will fundamentalist Christian propagandists do, when they no longer have the internet and television available to them as vehicles for the spreading of their hatred and paranoia?

    That’s gospel, folks, gospel: Good/God’s spell – Good/God’s Word!

    to have the instincts of cannibals, and cannibals do not make welcome neighbours.

    The problem (if seen as such) with cannibals is that they short-circuit the nutrient cycle. From top predator to carrion organism scat / compost, then to autotroph, and from there to heterotroph. Not directly from top predator to next top predator.

    My complete lack of belief notwithstanding,

    Ah, but if there is a “my”, it must be predicated on an “I”. And that is the beginning of all perception and all belief. Elucidating the nature of that “I” is an adequate path (amongst many others) to the End of all ends.

    I have a deeply religious bent. I respond to the world in a way that could only be called “worshipful.”

    Good. Ultimately when the worshipper is no longer distinct from the worshipped, there is no worship.

    the entire cosmos is somehow alive — possessing a consciousness (or being a consciousness)

    Nothing “possesses” consciousness.

    Is a kingfisher conscious?

    No. Nor for that matter, is Homo calidus. Aware, presumably, but no other awareness can experience that awareness. Consciousness is conscious. Awareness is Consciousness with content (other than Itself). Discernment of this distinction is also the End of all ends.

    And it goes the other way as well:

    The giant mycelia in some forests may indeed have an awareness of their own, mutually inconceivable with human/vertebrate cognition. Impulse transmission in milliseconds vs. hours to days; different configurations of electromagnetic radiation receptors, mechanoreceptors and chemoreceptors.

    Awareness is consciousness illuminating an appropriate configuration, like sunlight illuminating a scenic landscape. It is said that all flowers are black at night. Likewise all configurations have no awareness of their own.

    Fundamentalist religion is the enemy of all that is good and true and — yes — holy.

    Nothing is “holy”. Within the parameters of a universe of space-time-causation, the Divine would be homogeneous and isotropic, not lumpy. For holiness to occur, the Divine would have to be lumpy, each lump being holy, and in the intervening regions being thinned out.

    contribute to the wellbeing of all conscious creatures

    Aware entities, perhaps. Consciousness is not a creature. And creatures are not conscious. Indeed, in a certain world-view nothing is created, just as a misperceived snake in a rope seen in a dimly-lit place was never created.

    unlikely to gain many adherents.

    Adherents are like a medieval scholar’s donkey carrying his books. The Sufi tradition has it that the difference between a realised person and the scholar is greater than the difference between the scholar carrying book-knowledge in his head and the donkey carrying the books on its back. Neither belief nor avowal are any substitute for direct awareness.

    We are in sore need of guidance,

    That which illuminates the “I” is the guide, the sunlight coming through a window. Cleaning the grime off the windowpanes will let more of the light through. When there is no longer an “I”, all the light comes through without distortion.

    sciences (which likewise repudiate anthropocentrism).

    They are cast in the mould of human awareness. If a forest fungal mycelium were to develop science, it might be unrecognisable to us.

    It transforms human beings into mindless automatons.

    No transformation occurs. With realisation comes the recognition that mind does not equate to awareness, that mind is a function of the body, and the mind-body complex follows its own programming from the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Maximum Entropy Production, the Maximum Power Principle, through Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Sociology, Culture, etc.

  • Brilliant essay. I wish I knew Professor Goza, personally. I’d like to give him a big hug and a sloppy kiss.

  • Thanks for the essay, David Gorza. I love the way you write, the principled kindness behind it, the discipline… They don’t make them this way anymore.

    Having had some little teaching stints here and there, I hear you about the half asleep lugs in the classroom who never heard of respect. They symptomize the uselessness of the education system from k-college, where there is no context for learning. Learn about what? For what purpose? If we care about survival of something, learning must be about survival in its many complicated aspects. What if, as a rite of passage, teenagers would walk across the country assessing climate impacts and responses thereto?

    @ gail

    “the really important question I ask myself isn’t whether there is some meaning or intent or consciousness in the universe, but what it is about the human brain that makes us want to believe there is – and to invent religions and meaning and intent and consciousness of whatever flavor; they are essentially all the same. They all tell stories about who we are that fly in the face of reality.”

    What reality? And how do you know it is there?

    @ mary

    “We must preserve reverence for life, within ourselves. Sometimes this make take the form of infiltrating Institutions & Media – and pollinating a few bright souls who go on to carry it on, sometimes it is in the deep interior of personal retreat. All the time, it about discerning this moment of right action from the heart.”

    Lovely thought. What if the nearest thing to the divine mind on Earth is the human’s? Then you could only change the world through reverence for the divine power of your individual self.

    It does not seem possible to make a difference through deliberate, purpose-based endeavor. Whatever those results, wouldn’t they be like putting your hand in a river, then removing it and expecting anything definable to have changed? The hole where your hand had been will close up again, and the river will flow on as if you had never been there.

    The paradigm shift must start (come from) within.

    Parents are fighting to take “God” out of the pledge of allegiance. Christian fundamentalists are saying they should find another country; this is America. They both miss the main point by miles. There should never BE a pledge of allegiance to a country. To a godfearing person, that is the essence of blasphemy.

    For similar reasons (and because I too have a deeply religious temperament although not “religious”) I welcome the Christian fundamentalists. I welcome their passionate religiosity, for, unless they believe that Earth should be quickly destroyed so as to bring on the rapture, they can easily be countered by shifting the premise of the conversation to a higher level that “covers” and incorporates their religious feelings through a lens of respect for the divine, and through Earth justice and commonsense. At least, argument wise. The fact that the nonreligious might want the same things suggests that arguing between the two camps is unproductive and unnecessary.

  • Thanks, professor! Best of luck to you. May fulfillment be yours!

  • A great essay that mirrors my own thinking pretty much, thank you David.
    I’ve battled climate deniers and fundamentalist Christians [who tend to be one and the same thing], in our local paper for the past seven years, I don’t bother any more.
    There may be another step or two to take as regards awareness and conciousness,as outlined by Robbin; but after 40 years of trying to crack it, I’ve nearly given up on that too. “God” gave us the herb to save man from the trouble and strife that “journey” can lead to and I prefer to smoke, knowing that shortly I will be “mearly present” and what is shall simply BE.
    @Bablands…the compliment I offered was well deserved and overdue. There are a number of women posting here that display admirable feminine qualities, but only yours [a couple],have left me misty eyed.
    Be assured you are not the only one familiar with two am or a night of troubled dreams and a wrecked bed. Ted talks by Paul Bloom and Dan Gilbert may be of help or interest.
    @Ulvfugal…have you caught up wih the latest research re left brain/right brain from the University of Utah?
    New Zealand has just had it’s warmist winter on record. Never seen so many rabbits at home. Do they know it’s over too?

  • David Goza writes:

    “Morris Berman describes a “monastic option,” a way of living that preserves that which is about to be lost, keeping it whole and safe (even if misunderstood) through a time of darkness so that it may be rediscovered later — much as the wisdom of classical Greece was kept alive after the fall of the Roman empire by people who had no idea what it meant. I think I have to find a way to become a participant — a citizen — in that tradition, or my life will ultimately have had no meaning.”

    I picked up on this the same as poster Mary. What else is there left to do at this juncture? I think I would have immensely enjoyed attending your class btw.

    A brief dispatch from the County Fair.

    I earned Blue Ribbon Premium (first place) in the following categories this year.

    ‘Sun Gold’ Cherry Tomato –category -> Cherry Tomatoes – earned that two years in succession now.
    ‘Hosui’ Asian Pear –category -> Pears
    ‘Sweet Mixed Pickles’ –category -> Sweet Mixed Pickles
    ‘Hot & Spicy Sweet Mixed Pickles’ –category -> Pickles (Other) my own top secret recipe. :-)

    Red Ribbon (second place)
    ‘Butternut’ Winter Squash. –category -> Winter Squash
    Have not earned a first place in that category yet. Won second place a couple of times.
    ‘Red Norland’ Potatoes –category -> Potatoes
    ‘Cactus’ –category -> Cactus – a house plant I’ve been growing forever.

    White Ribbon (third place)
    Canned ‘Redhaven’ Peaches –category -> Canned Peaches

    Struck out with Garlic and Strawberry Jam although I’m pleased with their taste and that’s all that counts in the end. Back to the drawing board with those.

    I was most impressed by fifteen to twenty foot tall sunflowers. Amazing! Only two giant pumpkin entries this year over 300 pounds.
    Last year there were several. Butternut squash entries were not as robust as last year. No red bell pepper entries at all this season. Mine included. Tough year for the Solanaceae family – tomatoes, peppers, potatoes although eggplant seemed fairly robust and abundant. Strong June rains hammered the plants from which they never seemed to recover.

    Who knew there is such a large genera of bunnies and chickens? Love those Jersey cows too. Mooooooooooo. To be fair (no pun intended) Holsteins and Heifers ain’t too shabby either. Goats, ducks, horses the whole shebang.

    The buttered sweetcorn was outstanding as well as the Greek Gyros.

    Beautiful weather although it was in the low forties F. Friday evening – below normal statistically speaking. Still eating out of the garden. Time for making stuffed peppers soon.

    Yesterday a yearling whitetail deer was observed eating the Asian pears drops from under the pear trees. When he started to eyeball the low hanging fruit I decided to start a conversation and he politely left but not before thanking me by wagging his tail in non-panic mode and licking his chops. Funny that.

  • David,

    I too got a bang out of your not being worthy to lick Mr. Berman’s sandals and the Ophra Chopra thing is a hoot. But I think you really need lighten up or else not JUST walk away from Empire, but abandon it running. You have so much to be unhappy about. Why not go to live with the Ewe? I have a woman acquaintance who left for the Solomon Islands in her mid fifties about 10 years ago and got herself accepted in a community who never had seen a white person before. I think a 40 mule train could not bring her back.

    Why, I wonder, and hope for a response from you, are you speaking of great, 5 times, grandchildren? And other talk of future generations.

    You made several comments about leaving information for those in the far future. What information would we who have made a fricken mess of all of this leave? Information on how to build and maintain nuclear plants and bombs? Oh, no. They will all have blown up from lack of being maintained. If some hidden tribe would survive the climate devastation, would it not be better that they just carry on not knowing such hubris filled civilizations ever existed?

    Dr. McPherson has spent years explaining what he now counts as 19 irreversible feed back loops and is probably looking for the 20th as I type away. Did you miss the part where he referenced scientists who think NTE will be over with in 2030. OVER WITH, not starting. Do you do what bible readers do, pick and choose the parts that they are comfortable with? It seems you are in denial of certain information you have not yet allowed to sink in?

    Maybe NTE is mind destroyer for those who have not accepted that death is part of life, just the last part. I don’t know just yet but I am getting to think I might just look for Dr. McPherson’s essays in other places he posts at as this is getting too depressing. Instead of brooding on how bad you and other essayists have it, take a trip to Bangladesh or any other sinking country or Pacific Island and involve yourself helping the least fortunate so you can get your head out of the place where the moon never shines. Google Kiva and find a person who needs a micro loan. I found people in Eastern Europe who desperately need to buy a second cow so they can make a few more pounds of cheese to sell so they can buy some insulation or some wool to knit a sweater. Perhaps you are well enough off to contribute $25 toward many micro loans. It will take your mind off of feeling sorry for yourself. I see way too much of this on here.

    Did you watch the Woody Allen you-tube the ever insightful Gail gifted us with? Gail, thank you for sharing your calming brilliant insights essay after essay.

    And virtual friendships will get you what, David, when your belly is rumbling from hunger? I declined from day one to get involved with social media. If someone wants to tell me something I have a telephone, land line at that, and if they want me to see a picture, they can send it by snail mail.

    I am sorry if I sound terse, but I am still reeling from Carolyn Baker’s parsing the meaning of those two words endlessly 3 days ago. What a stupid essay. Now this. Was it Melissa who set her straight? How about the man who wrote that his wife is asking him to help her end her life? Poor fellow, poor wife. He reached out and Carolyn Baker made no response. This proves she does not read the comments as Dr. McPherson does and her reason for submitting her essay was to pimp her new book as Sunbum supposed.

    If that fellow is reading this, I am sorry for you that C. Baker who is a mental health professional, from what I understand, did not respond. My advice is not to assist as US over crowded prisons are a fright and the food is awful.

    But then, the prisons will have to be opened up and the very angry prisoners let free when things get bad enough, I would think. I am surprised no one on here is bringing that subject up. Oh, how many more guns will come out?

    Well, maybe WWIII will commence soon.


  • @ Robin Datta

    Not sure if we are in the secular or non-secular zone today, but do you have any EVIDENCE to support ANY of those obscure assertions ?

    @ 44 south

    link ?

  • Thank you David.

    Baseline shift wins again. Those students know nothing of the world of 50 years ago that we knew, and think everything they see around them is normal. They are immersed in an ocean of lies which are reinforced daily, and have no idea.

    Here is an example reported by the Guardian:

    Greece: ‘Antonis Samaras says economy is regaining its competitiveness and is on track to return to pre-crisis levels.’

    And Japan, in terminal decline and postulated by Kunstler to be the first advanced nation to ‘go medieval’, is to host Olympics Games.

    We surmise that TPTB have no option but to lie continuously.

  • @ Reta: //Why, I wonder, and hope for a response from you, are you speaking of great, 5 times, grandchildren? And other talk of future generations.//

    Because fantastically unlikely accidents have happened before, and may happen again. I’m pretty fully aware, I think, of the unlikelihood of any human survival beyond the near term – but what if I’m wrong? Could I live with myself, knowing that I couldn’t be bothered to think about the welfare of those survivors, if any? The thing that motivates me to to try to communicate my awareness, such as it is, to my students is exactly the same thing that motivates me to think about future generations that in all probability will not exist but nevertheless *might*. Our species has come awfully close to extinction before, but it didn’t quite happen, did it? In the unlikely event that a few do somehow get through the bottleneck, wouldn’t it be noble of us to try to preserve a little of our wisdom – such as it is – for them?

    I appreciate your tip on Kiva. I’ll follow up on that.


  • @ kevin moore

    We surmise that TPTB have no option but to lie continuously.

    Harold Pinter, from 2005, and now seems it’s Syria’s turn…
    This time Cameron’s lies didn’t work in UK…by just 13 votes.

    The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort – all other justifications having failed to justify themselves – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

    We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’.


  • To the author:

    Like the spaces between the notes that make music, you have great control over your message through the not-directly-academic aspects of your teaching. Your strategies for even a couple of the loafers, how you get even some to write with simple and clear sentence structure. etc..

    Even if you forget about academic content and get them to write proper (not run-on bullshit) sentences, you will have scored victory. How can anybody think clearly if they can’t construct a sentence with a beginning, middle and end?

    Get to then somehow. Stand on the table. Redecorate the room with the academic content being like billboards. Anything that does not threaten your wellbeing that gets their attention–well some of their attention anyway. If you’ve been focusing on the left brain, why not switch to the right brain awhile?

  • Yes, many of us have gone through that stage – “Oh, s&*t, we’re f^&ked!” It gets better once you calm down and assess the situation. Yes, there is no Santa Clause and our elected leaders are just a bunch of ass-clowns and kids play video games, blah, blah, blah… Still, there are things you can do. There are things you can do today – it’s not gonna get you out of the predicament completely but it’s something you can do, which beats crying and self-pity any day of the week, right? Here’s a couple of places to start: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ and http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com . You’re welcome.

  • I’m with Lindsay, I also wish I knew David Goza or someone like him. Maybe I do and just don’t know it because they’re afraid to speak up – like I am. I once made a reference to the financial collapse to a sibling. Got no response whatsoever. When I tried talking about the downward spiral of our culture, I was told I think this way because I don’t have children. Because if I had children, I was told, then I wouldn’t have time to think about such doom and gloom. WTF? If I ever see a shred of the NBL mindset in someone, I would reach out and engage, but to date this has not happened. Therefore, I will continue with the only activities that bring me any happiness and give me a sense of sanity; to watch the birds and deer in my yard, try to identify the butterflies who flitter in front of me, return an earthworm to the dirt when I find it stranded on a sidewalk, and pay close attention to the world of my dogs who blissfully know only now.
    Btw, I also wish I knew Rob at the public library. But I get the impression he could do without knowing me, or any of us.

  • Dear David, I read essays like yours and my heart glows, simply glimmers with the grace, the cadence, the genius. I am filled with words of no words, quantum splashes of delight, I am made again the vesuvius formula.

    Then the weird sisters come banging out of the shadows they lurk within. Their wretched putrid reason threatening like old useless knives, dulled by hate, rusted by bitterness.

    Guy seems to ignore the fact he has his own mini empire here, run by empty shells for humans who long ago traded any meaningful belonging to the universe for the right to no longer care.

    Our childrens world dies for that lack of care. From people who claim to know better. What can reach such deadly toxicity? What can stop it?

  • The plastic pitcher cracked right at the bottom of the handle, and I decided to super glue it. It occurred to me that I had gotten this plastic pitcher as a “free gift bonus” for signing up for a Sears credit card and that I done that after coming to Chicago in 1983, thirty years ago. Every now and then there are these little mental speed bumps one hits that remind you just how fast the speed of life is. I’ve had this stupid plastic pitcher longer than I’ve known (or cared to know) most people. Thirty years went by so fast, and I’m astonished how fast time keeps going. The plight we find ourselves in now will be over soon. My plastic pitcher will out last me, the cats, the kids, that goddamn prickly pear that refuses to die and all our notions of what’s important or useless. And in the end, it’s all important and useless at the same time. None of it matters, but it’s all vital and life affirming and there waiting for us to act while we still can. It is still too early to say good bye, there is still time to mend plastic pitchers and marvel about life.

  • A member of a bunch of folks that lived around here for a few thousands of years said “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.” I belong to a more sophisticated culture that believes that the earth belongs to us and should be developed (exploited) as aggressively, efficiently, and profitably as possible.

    Could I be wrong and that old dude right? Oh well, damn nice of them to leave so much stuff for us. Is extinction simply “collateral damage” in the pursuit of our property rights…perhaps just a cost to be borne?


  • Well 2 of us from Oklahoma are glad to find someone at OU is sane!!

  • Education cannot proceed without an optimistic foundation. There must be a belief that the effort of learning and teaching is worth the candle. That a preparation for a future is justified.

    There is a type of faith that has nothing to do with any established religion. It is so basic that it usually goes unnoticed. A simple example of it occurs with every step – we lift a foot off the ground, swing it through the air, and expect to land it again on solid ground. That unconsidered expectation is this type of faith. We proceed and fall forward without concern, with faith.

    Sometimes we take a step and the Earth isn’t there. Holes and trapdoors and, especially in elder years dis-coordinations and imbalances take us down. We seek food but the rains don’t come, the harvest fails. A lightning strike burns it all up in a great conflagration. A war upsets the landscape and every social norm. Mass hysteria and insanity.

    Unable to find justifications for old customs, like education or humanitarian behavior. The world breaks down around us and within us, we are lost. Nothing to hold on to. We feel like all support has abandoned us. Harshness reigns. Love AWOL. Faith in reality abandoned. We finally begin to question -and comprehend- our most fundamental faith… faith in reality.

    If there is any chance in this dim acrid scene, it is this: to put shoulder to the wheel and restore the foundations of this most basic type of faith, in real terms. That is, to halt mass extinction and regenerate the life force of this Earth, and within ourselves. To do this requires a willingness to examine every aspect of our lives. Every habit. Every methodology. Examine and see if it fits into a positive life pattern or promulgates death. Only then can we walk without fear again, walk with confidence that we are not digging trapdoors that will suddenly open and inhale us. Is there enough time to accomplish this? There is only one way to find out. Never surrender to the dark side, never be a traitor to Life. Proceed with the faith in reality that you still have, it is all you have… this reality is your life is your progeny. Lead the way, teach the children how to live, take the next step.

  • Which begs the question of what it must be thinking(?) about our current tragic farce here on the Third Stone from the Sun.

    ‘Tain’t thinkin’. Thinking is in the realm of objects, of content for consciousness. Thinking has all the limitations imposed by space-time-causation. When its only content is itself, the appellations used are Sunyata (Voud) and Ain Sof (Limitless Nothingness).

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #34

    Embedded crowds cheer,
    while the citizens stay home
    weighing their options.

  • Online social networks only provide the illusion of community.

    Man in the middle attacks on your communications could warp messages subtley without you ever knowing.

    You could be sitting at your computer and everything presented to you could be a holonet, a modified subset of what is actually out there on the internet.

  • There is also no privacy whatsoever on things like Facebook.

    People’s activites will be logged and used in the future for blackmail.

    Even RSA encryption baed on the product of two primes can be hacked, not by the “classical” computers that we have – that’s mathematically impossible, but by quantum computers, using the Shor algorithm, and it’s likely groups are using quantum computers right now, and so possible encryption has never been safe.

    Societies are getting more and more fragmented and privacy is being reduced, all thanks to “social” networks.

  • logspirit Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 10:17 pm
    Education cannot proceed without an optimistic foundation. There must be a belief that the effort of learning and teaching is worth the candle. That a preparation for a future is justified.

    Hmmm, I think that extinction of humans and most other self replicators in the near future is a given. Yet daily I continue to educate myself. If I watch a movie that might be a true story, I get on the web and find out, and find out what parts of the movie are true and what are fiction. If I see a bug in the garden I don’t identify I try to find out what it is. As events unfold in the world, I seek to find the truth of what people are saying – I want to know who did the chemical attacks in Syria even as I am sure that TPTB will attack Syria regardless.

    Some of us logspirit want to know regardless of how long civilization holds together, just as some very old people go to college despite the sure knowledge that they will have very few years to enjoy the knowledge they gain, much less any years to us the knowledge to enter some profession.

    In fact learning assures us that we are mortals, and not only that but that species are mortal. Yet many people study science which only confirms our mortality.

    you write ” There is only one way to find out. Never surrender to the dark side, never be a traitor to Life.”

    Hate to tell you this, but Nature is a traitor to life. Over and over mass extinctions have happened before any humans existed, the most massive on the End Permian. Nature also uses selective death before reproduction to create the myriad of lifeforms we now know. Nature created through evolution, self replicators who try to live longer than other self replicators, mostly by killing and eating self replicators because we live on a ball. A ball is by definition a limited object that has a limited amount of mass in it. In earth’s case the mass contains resources self replicators need for life, and being a ball those resources are limited. Thus the competition for them by eating the resources currently being used by other replicators. Thus those who have some genetic change that makes them more successful at getting those resources pass on those changes and after billions of years you have the diversity we so love. Thanks to death.

    I have also educated myself on how we got to where we are at – Tainter’s Collapse of Complex societies providing one piece of the puzzle = how inevitably the rise of civilization becomes its downfall. And Too Smart for Our Own Good, by Dilworth that show how inevitably highly successful replicators lead to their own downfall.

    Rather than hope leading to education, my love of knowledge has led me to abandon all hope for humans to stop their mad rush to the cliff. And still I educate myself. For the love of knowledge.

  • Hey David: thanks for your insightful essay. I feel a bit like you in parts of your post but I’ve come to realize that there’s nothing left to do but keep on keepin’ on until we can’t. i’ll post more later.

    all: (more on-going damage not being widely reported)


    Uncontrolled CNRL Tar Sands Spill Ongoing, 1.4M Litres Recovered


    7 September, 2013

    New figures released yesterday from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) show a concerted effort is still underway to clean up the growing amount of bitumen emulsion – a mixture of tar sands oil and water – that is pooling in a forested area surrounding Canada Natural Resource Ltd.’s Cold Lake project.

    The cause of the seepage, which shows no sign of subsiding, has yet to be determined.

    AER’s updated volumes show that the total amount of bitumen emulsion recovered on four separate spill sites amounts to 1444.4 cubic metres, a volume equivalent to 1.4 million litres of oil.

    In addition, cleanup crews have removed 494 cubic metres of oily vegetation from the forested landscape and an additional 1049.62 metric tonnes – equivalent to 2.3 million pounds – of “impacted soils.”

    The AER’s previous figures, released August 29th, stated 1275.7 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion had been recovered to date, the equivalent of 1.2 million litres.

    Between the dates of August 29th and September 6th roughly 168,800 litres of bitumen emulsion were recovered, equaling around 1062 barrels of oil equivalent, or an average of 150 barrels per day.

    CNRL, the company responsible for the in-situ operations that led to the seepage, put out a release dated August 25-31 that claims the rate of bitumen emulsion release amounts to less than 20 barrels of bitumen emulsion per day.

    The disparity between CNRL’s figures – a release of 20 barrels per day – and the AER recovery figures – of 150 barrels per day – is due to unrecovered bitumen emulsion on site, according to CNRL public affairs advisor Zoe Addington. CNRL is cleaning up more per day than is currently leaking, she said.

    Original CNRL images released to reporter Emma Pullman show oil pooled high in a forested area, presenting both the company and provincial regulators with an extraordinarily difficult cleanup.

    (pretty nasty looking pix here too)

    The CNRL statement also claims the company is “focusing on a reduced impact area of 13.5 hectares, a 35% reduction” since original reporting.

    The AER report states 20.7 hectares have been impacted from the ongoing release.

    CNRL is still working to recover bitumen, remove soil, manage contaminated water and expose fissures where bitumen emulsion is migrating to the surface on three of the leakage sites, says the AER. The company is also recovering bitumen, agitating and skimming oil from the surface of a water body and removing vegetation from the fourth site.

    The AER also reports that to date 2 beavers, 43 birds, 104 amphibians and 40 small mammals are deceased as a result of the release.

    CNRL’s latest statement reads, “unfortunately some animal fatalities have occurred and three beavers, seventeen birds and two small mammals are being cared for at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre…”

    As part of an ongoing subsurface investigation CNRL is drilling hydrogeological and delineation wells around the affected locations and has cited “mechanical failures” as the presumed cause of the continuous leaks, although the AER recently told DeSmog Canada the cause remains unknown.

    CNRL was responsible for a similar release in 2009 that was likely caused by underground fractures, according to a report by the Energy Resources Conservation Board, the former AER.

    According to Cara Tobin, spokesperson for the AER, the current spill “is in the same operational area” as the 2009 release. “These are releases coming up from basically cracks in the ground, not from the well pad,” she said. Although, she adds, it is too early to say what might be the cause of this particular series of underground leaks.

    “We do not have the technical data or evidence to verify what that cause might be…We will determine that through our investigation process,” she said.

    Last week Environment Canada announced a federal investigation into the seepage is underway alongside two separate investigations at the provincial level.

  • @TIAA writes:

    “Then the weird sisters come banging out of the shadows they lurk within. Their wretched putrid reason threatening like old useless knives, dulled by hate, rusted by bitterness.”


  • Yes, at the University I attended, the largest monument on campus is the football stadium (not the library!).

    Education is the only thing you pay for that you try to get as little as you can.

    I agree that the self-righteous indignation here is irritating! People are saying that everyone else killed Every Living Thing on the planet – the big corporations, the big govenments, the mindless moronic consumers of the Western nations, blah, blah, blah.

    I am guilty. My pennance is to not aspire. I’m nothing more than worm food and that is all I ever was anyway. The whole “game of life” is a sham. Yes, I have dropped out and I don’t care about anything – and I just wish I had arrived here sooner, fewer children would have suffered. But, here I am now and I’m just waiting to see the govt buildings burn and the politicians hang.

    There is no avoiding the religious – humans have been building temples and worshipping this, that and the other forever. I don’t know why I have no sense of this – maybe because I don’t have to in order to eat – if your community requires you “to believe” as they do so that you can exist, then you pretty much don’t have a choice!

    If humans survive the coming collapse, I assure you that the pockets of communities will be RELIGIOUS, I’m sure they will assume they are the chosen ones and they will build a new liturgy. I just hope they live in harmony with Nature – plant no crops and build no cities. But, really, I don’t care. I have no stake in the future.

    What seems to me to be a magical occurrence that these subatomic particles combined to make me a living, conscious being is pretty incredible, I admit, but I don’t know any more than that.

    When this Earth, this solar system, this galaxy, is gone – and it will be gone – none of this will be remembered. Our subatomic particles will be widely scattered in the cold, dark expanse of space. I believe this to be true – but I don’t really know it – I guess that makes me religious! I am a follower of the Church of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics! There is no morality here, no good, no bad – no silly Yoga poses or Zen teachings or ceremonies or holidays.

  • When I first found this blog what attracted me to it was that Guy was telling the dismal truth of where we are headed. I saw immediately that his solution was the only one, the crashing of industrial civ. However having educated myself about peak oil and the coming consequences of that turning point, I knew that crashing industrial civ would bring down the grid, and bring about a massive population reduction (which was of course inevitable). Guy made the case that perhaps there was time to save some of the species on the planet and was encouraging us to take action to end industrial civ. I thought at the time that industrial civ would crash on its own, and that actions against civ would allow a greater measure of crackdown on the population and thus might serve to let industrial civ keep going longer. Or perhaps that was the rationality I used because I don’t want to end my life in a FEMA camp nor do I want to precipitate an event that will cause billions to die, even if I know more will die if it civ doesn’t end.

    10 years ago I read Richard Duncan’s Olduvai theory that states the end of industrial civ will come about 2030 and the precipitating event would be the collapse of the life blood system, ie the grid. I wasn’t very educated about nuclear power then. After Fukushima I started to self educate on nuclear power plants and it became clear that the collapse of the grid would cause all active nuclear power plants to go critical and yet the collapse of the grid would mean that absolutely no remediation would be possible. You can’t pump gasoline very well without electricity, and you can’t make more gasoline without electricity.

    So there you have it – to save the planet from global warming we need to end industrial civ and precipitate the inevitable dieoff. But to end industrial civ means a world flooded with radiation on top of the peak oil die off. That is what self education and knowledge does – it reveals the dilemma we have created that has no possible outs.

    Oh and then there is global dimming. The coal plants in China currently are serving to hold back some of global warming by dimming. While CO2 stays in the atmosphere a LONG time, the particles that cause dimming drop out quickly. So ending industrial civ won’t even end warming, it will accelerate it. Inevitable in the end of course.

    So I wish the people who use insults to avoid the awful truths of what we face would take a break and educate themselves on why the grid has to be running to cool nuclear power plants, why the loss of power means the loss of the ultimate heat sink and thus meltdown. I wish they would educate themselves on the role of dimming in the global warming equation. I wish they would educate themselves on the release of frozen methane’s role in the End Permian Extinction. I wish they would study Guy’s list of positive climate feedbacks already in place.

    As I understand it, and Guy can correct me if I am wrong, Guy doesn’t feel that resistance will prevent extinction as he knows about the dimming and the nuclear problem. He feels it is right to do on its own merits. I may be wrong about that and I would welcome Guy commenting if I am wrong.

  • Stupidy everywhere! Today a walked with my daughter home and we found some haselnuts and we enjoyed eating them. She asked me why there are not more of these trees? Why? Why is our landscape not eatable? Can not answer…maybe we would work less and government fears people having time raising questions.

  • Mr. Goza., you have written one of the finest essays I have ever read. Thank you. I also believe Berman, Hedges and Chomsky, whole heartily.

    This is a sample from recent Christian literature (2012) that I think is appropriate here.

    “The structures of the institution of the Church…, as well as, much of the leadership of the Church, along with many Christians, do not in fact put into practice or even teach the words of Jesus that are in the four Gospels and were the bedrock of the first three hundred years of Christianity…”.

  • Radioactive
    by Imagine Dragons

    I’m waking up to ash and dust
    I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
    I’m breathing in the chemicals
    I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
    This is it, the apocalypse

    I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
    Enough to make my systems blow
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

    I raise my flags, don my clothes
    It’s a revolution, I suppose
    We’re painted red to fit right in
    I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
    This is it, the apocalypse

    I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
    Enough to make my systems blow
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

    All systems go, sun hasn’t died
    Deep in my bones, straight from inside

    I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
    Enough to make my systems blow
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
    Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

  • @ Kathy C

    How you connect the dots in your calm steady way is amazing. But, no, nature is not what’s killing us. When we decided we weren’t part of nature, nature simply replied: “Be my huckleberry.”

    @ TIAA

    So nice to hear from you again, and didn’t you just say a mouthful!

    @ logspirit

    Your words are inspiring. Many thanks for them.

  • Thank dog for parody.

    Everyone should be using TOR for their web browsing and 2048 bit RSA encryption for email correspondence. Using TOR visit mundane, inane, and just plain silly websites. When you utilize Enigmail/OpenPGP correspond in boring, uninteresting, non-threatening dialogue. The man has to utilize his super computers to crack the mundane, inane and the silly which means he has to expend computing resources to do so. Also if you have time please tell O’bummer to shove his chemical warfare farce up his arse.

  • Dear All,

    Thank you for your comments, both pro and con. Conversation is the most precious thing we own. Appropriately enough, that word’s etymology suggests a rich range of meaning.


  • Sisters, witches or hags, my three favorite posters are the ‘tres amigas’: Gail, Kathy & Erin.

    For some odd reason, it is these three ladies who are consistently able to reduce a multitude of diverse & complex concepts down to their core essence: we are evolutionary replicators.

    100%, not 99.99%, of everything we see, do, sense, perceive, believe, act, etc are the direct results of predecessors, who through a combination of genetic mutations and/or environmental changes, passed on certain adaptations that allowed us to survive at least one more generation.

    Consider the first fish which ‘consciously’ swam next to its neighbor, thus forging a confusing multiple target for potential predators. Over time, this successful defense strategy would be complemented by unconscious nerve/sensory assistance. These embedded functions would thus lead to wild success and result in huge populations swimming the oceans.

    Fast forward 500 million years or so, and we can easily see why humans ‘school’, and why there is significant peer pressure in which to enforce group consensus. Add a little dose of wonder/mysticism, and the smart operator ie the PTB, realized the power they had at hand to help ensure their own power & control.

    I took a look @ Berman’s site and read some of the comments. I will repeat my one piece of advice for that group which I have already shared here: He who complains has (is) already lost. In one sentence, this simple adage encapsulates a few key concepts:

    One, if you’re surprised, dismayed or otherwise upset about discovering the way the “world really works”, then it would serve you best to quickly disabuse yourself of any fanciful Camelot imaginings.

    Two, once you recognize it’s “always been this way”, then your task is not to complain, but to ‘get on with it’. Getting on with it means living your life each day as if this fantastic gift will be one day taken away, which of course it will be.

    Living life to its fullest, at a deeply personal level, is ultimately about pursuing ‘what floats your boat’. If you like to resist & protest, then get out there and protest. If you like to hike & fish, likewise. Gardening, studying the classics, getting a suntan, ditto, ditto & ditto.

    As for me, I’m fascinated by competition. I enjoy watching the best athletes go head to head in sporting games of all stripes. I also enjoy chess, which on a global stage can be translated into the political maneuvers & propaganda we watch each & every day.

    For some reason, I get a kick out of ‘knowing’ what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how to profit from being “right”. In the end, of course, it doesn’t mean a damn thing, but right here, right now, I’m having a good time.

  • If I may, allow me to provide an example of how one can “know” what is occurring and why:

    To understand Syria, Iran and the ME, one must understand the US dollar. To understand the US dollar, one must realize the dollar was transformed from a traditional store of value, to simply a unit of account, 40 years ago when US oil production peaked in 1973.

    As a mere unit of account, unchained to any measure of productivity and capital, there wasn’t any limit or bound to the volume of dollars which could be created, other than market acceptance. Market acceptance, of course, was based upon and enforced by military coercion. As in LotR, one needn’t run all around the globe enforcing the dollar standard; rather, all it took was focusing on one key strategic asset ie oil.

    The only fly in the ointment is that dollars were/are created with an offsetting bookkeeping entry called ‘Treasuries’ aka US debt obligations. Now, it is complete fiction to believe these instruments have any intrinsic value, but that’s only a misdirect. In the meantime, every second of every day, interest income is accruing to those entities which “lent” the money.

    Now, as in any Ponzi scheme, new funds must be issued to pay off previous ‘shareholders’. In the case of the dollar, new dollars must continually be issued in which to pay off accrued interest. It is this Ponzi nature of the dollar ie the imperative of constant growth, that is directing global strategic activity.

    There are only a few remaining regions on earth which hold “real” assets in which to pivot & emit even more dollars. When these regions are finally incorporated within the dollar regime, we will only have a limited amount of time before collapse is induced (imagine a controlled implosion) to allow the PTB to transition to a new form of control.

    So let us now consider Syria. The US has 4 choices:
    1. attack
    2. don’t attack
    3. succeed
    4. fail

    We can eliminate ‘don’t attack’ because it necessarily precludes failure and excludes success. If the PTB were ready to collapse the dollar regime **today**, then it would certainly be a viable option. But, they aren’t, so it isn’t.

    This leaves us with attack, which in itself has two alternative outcomes: success or failure.

    Success will allow the US to leverage Syria in which to then subsume Iran, so we probably looking at 20+ years of continued growth (ie inflation) in asset values and the continuation of Western society: transfer payments, social services, medical care, police/judicial control, etc, etc.

    Failure would represent a formal recognition of our dollar apex (by any future historians if society somehow manages to creep along). Failure in Syria would be our Waterloo, our Suez, the beginning of the great unwind.

    So, as an outside observer, which do you favor? Even though most seem to enjoy complaining about the status quo, we’re still able to log-on in the morning, fill up our cars, easily access freeways without roving bands of pirates, shop in full grocery/department stores, and in general, enjoy the fruits of modern society. Success in Syria is a necessary prerequisite for this way of life.

    Failure would represent the beginning of the beginning of the end of the US empire and all that entails. So, are you really ready for that possibility, or is everyone just blowing sh!t?

  • Kathy Cassandra says: So there you have it – to save the planet from global warming we need to end industrial civ and precipitate the inevitable dieoff. But to end industrial civ means a world flooded with radiation on top of the peak oil die off.

    No Exit

    Industrial civilization
    Means global warming cremation;
    But without modern factors
    To cool nuke reactors,
    We’ll die, instead, from radiation.

  • “My complete lack of belief notwithstanding, I’m not a very good atheist and never have been. I have a deeply religious bent. I respond to the world in a way that could only be called “worshipful.” My respect for life is such as would strike most “practical” persons as weird and unhealthy. I cannot — and never have been able to — bring myself to kill a spider, a scorpion, a wasp or a pit viper: it would never occur to me to do such a thing.”

    Since when does being a “good” atheist mean struting around, wantonly stomping on other creatures? Does not compute.

  • Kathy C —

    I should know better than to dive in without reading all of the above, but I have a knowledge gap/possible denial regarding nuclear plant meltdowns.

    I grew up in the atmospheric nuclear testing era, when the French, Chinese, Brits, Russians and Americans were putting mushroom clouds into the air that I was eventually breathing, and onto the pastures where the cows whose milk I drank were grazing.

    (I have to watch out for the “old veteran” survival syndrome attitude here — “Radiation? I’ve seen radiation. Hell, I drank it. We all did. And look at me; sure, I’ve got some here in my elbow, my big toe; but no cancer yet, and two — or is it three? — kids!”)

    Chernobyl in 1986 was the biggest nuclear accident, and that spread radiation west across Europe.

    My last understanding of the subject was that nuclear particles are radioactively dangerous in differing ways, in inverse proportion to their mass, but that their half-lives corresponded positively to that danger.

    Small gamma particles were highly radioactive, but “burned out” quickly, and, if not exposed immediately, you could “ride out” their fallout in a few weeks or less.

    Large alpha particles had long half-lives, and, if ingested, even in small quantities, could lead to cancers later. But their size tended to keep them localized, falling out earlier than the gammas.

    The key difference was mode of transport. An warhead explosion over a city injected both types of particles up into the atmosphere in a mushroom cloud, and prevailing wind currents would carry them around the Northern Hemisphere, and eventually with seasonal overlapping, into the Southern.

    My understanding of nuclear plant meltdowns remains imagining them as primarily local events, with some leakage into ocean currents, but not likely to become a global exposure event on a unit-by-unit basis.

    Throughout the 70s, people who lived near nuclear plants considered how to get at least 50 miles away, upwind, and plan not to go back for years, if at all.

    I’ve seen the maps of the ocean currents away from Fukushima. And I watched the atmospheric mappings after the event, showing quantities reaching Hawaii and the West Coast. Eventual cancers, just as in the bomb tests in the 50s.

    So, are we talking about 400 and something reactors melting down causing massive injections into the global atmosphere, blanketing every bit of land with soon-fatal doses of alpha, beta, and/or gamma particles?

    Or, are we describing local (300-mile radius?) disasters to the land and water habitat of humans near those reactors?

    Are we talking about a near-term level of rapid cancers worldwide that either effectively sterilize the breeding population, or kill off the young before they reach, oh, 16 or so?

    If so, the ones not near the reactors will have to have been reached by airborne particles, either the high-radiation gammas, which “burn out” quickly, or the heavy alphas, which are more likely to precipitate out before they’ve traveled as far.

    I know the reactor total of 450-something sounds ominous, but there are large regions of the world at some distance from them, so unless we get a mass blanketing from aerial injection, those areas could survive, at least through a reproductive generation.

    Though it’s a dicey theory, even under my reservations, what we get in your scenario is massive concentrations of disaster, uninhabitable continents near forever, and pockets of survival. But we don’t get extinction.

    What we’ve already covered together here, from Peak Oil to methane release feedback loops, and probably a few other ways I’ve forgotten this morning, is massive Die-Off, several different ways. I think that one’s baked in the cake.

    Nuclear meltdown would be another. (I still count nuclear war, however unlikely, as the more likely Extinctor — as it injects the radiation aerially. Even a Pakistan-India exchange would be a Die-off preview event.)

    Your feedback loop between electric grid and nuclear contamination may be a valid one, assuming that active cores and spent-fuel pools will go critical, which would also be my pessimistic assumption.

    But the transmission of the radioactivity for distances, and their causing of extinction is what I’m still sketchy on.

    I can see total loss of habitat via 10 degree C rise in global temps doing that, because it would never return to a survivable habitat for humanity; the radiation would be an overlapping disaster, but how does it go global?

    One of the sad ironies to your loop, of course, is that a nuclear meltdown cannot give us the IC collapse we need/might have needed, in time to stop the carbon/methane event ahead of us. It is the after-effect of it, and just comes as a final F-You to the planet despoilers. Statistically, from an Extinction viewpoint, adding insult to self-injury.

    It comes just when the few (hundred? tens of?) million survivors, “freezing in the dark” (don’t think there won’t still be random blizzard events!), are venturing out to pick a few weeds to munch on, and they get a dose of something they won’t even see on the leaves they find…

  • Hello David Goza~
    I enjoyed this grim but genuine essay; thanks for writing it. I’m a former academic, now becoming a psychotherapist. Here’s a “solution”–really only an alternative–to the death of learning in the U.S. (a death best documented by such excellent works as Bousquet’s “How the University Works” and “Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class” by Christopher Newfield). I’m very interested in any feedback you or other NBL readers might have about it. Thanks.


    Jamey Hecht

  • What a relief to finally see Guy’s blog taking a decidedly spiritual/consciousness-aware turn. Or, perhaps it was always there, but not communicated in a way I was understanding.

    Consider this possibility:
    Yes, everything is conscious and all things spring from consciousness. If you believe in evolution (and I cannot imagine that anyone among us here does not), then does it not follow that consciousness is also evolving? And might consciousness, on an individual level (from an artificially imposed duality-based framework), be evolving to the point of elevating above wanting/needing to incarnate in the self-serving/animalistic form? And – aside from those elevated packets who choose to return from the undifferentiated to the differentiated – would that not leave the remaining packets of consciousness functioning at a more basic/base level?

    It was talk like this, at 9 years of age, that got me “kicked out of” my Catholic grade school. Well, they called my mother, repeatedly, informing her that she must somehow rein me in, as I was “putting bad/false ideas into good Catholic kids’ heads.” Ideas like reincarnation, “Jesus was a misunderstood prophet, not a savior,” and, “heaven is more like Cosmic Soup than it is described in the Bible.” Eventually she transferred me to a more liberal/progressive private school.

    My point is, most of my understanding of how life/the universe operates I came into the world knowing, or have gleaned from years of meditation/sitting in silence/tuning into source. As I grew older, I started exploring/questioning, and mostly just had all of my original understandings confirmed. My knowing has been questioned a lot lately, especially by the Christians I encounter. All I can say is, does it not make more sense to trust your senses than something you read in a book? Denying what you experience firsthand seems like a definition of insanity.

    Of course there has never been a utopian society – not even close – when the world is populated with slowly evolving packets of consciousness. Those among us who may fancy themselves in spiritual college (grad school, even) – actively allowing insight, by clearing the internal way – are constantly frustrated by the pre-schoolers behaving as just that – children. Why not see them – and more importantly, *accept* them – for the less mature manifestations of consciousness they are? Would you be angry at a third-grader for not grasping quantum physics? Or, a two-year-old for crapping his pants? Well, some parents would, but we tend to see them as monsters. Are we not monsters for expecting the immature to think/understand/behave as the mature?

    Don’t some of you find it in your hearts to soften towards “criminals” – to forgive them, for we know not what history they have experienced which led to their crimes? Can we not apply that to every being on the planet?

    Speaking of truth-pushing books (don’t know if it has been mentioned here), this actually contains a great deal of truth (especially the part about the Beatles being prophets): http://www.truthcontest.com/entries/the-present-universal-truth Does it not make sense that, with so many low-evolution souls on the planet, that Source would now use someone like Justin Beiber to reach them? Did you know his millions of followers (44 million on twitter alone) are called Beliebers?!

    David, your essay also brought to mind Viktor Frankl’s *Man’s Search for Meaning*, in which he posits that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. If he can do that from within the confines of Nazi labor/death camps, can we not do the same? We always knew we were going to die. We always knew our species would come to an end, as all species do. Now, the end is in sight. How does that fact change anything?

    As for me, I am still on course to abandon empire in the next two years. I am just researching and meditating on where to take my next/final stage of development, as we ride this beautiful, dying wave into infinity. If any of you have ties to South America you would like to share with me, please contact me through my website, http://www.catherinecampion.com

  • Rob at the Library

    “When this Earth, this solar system, this galaxy, is gone – and it will be gone – none of this will be remembered. Our subatomic particles will be widely scattered in the cold, dark expanse of space. I believe this to be true – but I don’t really know it – I guess that makes me religious! I am a follower of the Church of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics! There is no morality here, no good, no bad – no silly Yoga poses or Zen teachings or ceremonies or holidays.”

    OK, so you made your point. Now what?

    The white privileged elite have been driving, and now the car is in the ditch. It is also smoking from the hood now flipped open. They walk around it in a daze. But as we white privileged elites are wont to do, we shun help or advice from the ill-shorn, dirty beggar who offers a hand. Nothing good could ever come from such low people, and meanwhile we forget our own folly that got us into the ditch.

    Hierarchy got us into the NTE ditch. New things mean we throw away the old, which are now scorned for what they can’t do that the new things can. OK, so other animals have brutal hierarchies, and status systems as stupid as our own. What they don’t have is the power to inflict them worldwide.

    I think back to the previous thread, and the notion of surrender. I wonder if, instead of “valuing” one thing (or person) more than another, I can surrender such hierarchies in favor of non-judgment, in favor of “acceptance?” No skin off my nose if I see the box elder bug on the blind as my equal. I’ll blithely spray box elder bugs when they infest the window sill in too-large numbers.

    Apart from the “white” privileged elite, who favor left brain thinking, the entire rest of the world favors, and understands primarily through, the right brain. What are sure signs of NTE that they would likely comprehend? The degenerate, depraved, ugly, nasty hazing practices in colleges. Too many cars in the city, that are way beyond the capacity of the average pedestrian (much less the disabled and elderly) to navigate. Junk mail and junk calls that demonstrate remarkable degeneration of a culture. Impossible tuition costa. NSA spying. No end to the list. These are as certain indicators of NTE as figures and charts on climate change. Maybe it’s best to reach students through these sense-related correlates of climate change that they can actually see, imagine and touch.

    The right brain, the experienced, emotional, tangible, sensed. That’s one reward of reading the poetic writers (not just the poetry) on NBL.

  • David, I liked your essay a lot. I too believe the earth is alive.

    I love the Three Sisters of NBL too. All three want the physical evidence for any assertions. Embedded within that is the premise that we humans can know everything there is to know. I part ways here, because I’m pretty damn sure we can’t, not even with our big brains and spectacular technology.

    I agree with ogardener that there is mystery and magic to revel in. I don’t think any of the Three Sisters would disagree with that, they would just assert that it doesn’t *mean* anything. To which, I shrug. I’m not making any assertions other than our abilities aren’t so great as we think and I love the fact that there are mysteries and magic in the world. (Congrats on the fair, og)

    None of which changes the fact that we’re fucked. Nowhere is that more immediately apparent than just looking at trees. We’ve been driving around northern Michigan, and trees of every variety and size are looking completely dead to sick.

    I use Facebook only to share political information. It’s pretty clear to me that there is no privacy at all, that the NSA already has whatever information it might deem necessary whenever appropriate, and Tor is useless. If you’re online, they got ya.

    I’ve got lots of really small toads all over our flower beds. This is unusual but I like it.

  • Henry — the History Channel ran a show on the loss of grid power a few years back. They assumed nuclear plants would all explode and melt down and that would create dead zones around them for a hundred miles or so. But it would not make the entire planet radioactive and uninhabitable. That was just their take on it.

  • syria is more about the petrodollar, than resources per say, though they both seem to play a role.

    i’m interested to see how this will play out considering the overwhelming opposition from the american people.

    interestingly, if the people were fully aware of the consequences of allowing countries to depeg from the dollar with oil sales, they’d literally fight for to the death to make sure syria and whoever the hell else is challenging our dominance, stays put in check.

    allowing these countries to depeg, essentially means jig is up, and our standards of living in the west falls dramatically, most notably in the US. it means a power flux trends from the west, to the east, and south.

    so they’re going to war no matter what, yet it may mean the middle of the end for our empire, as a complete dislocation of trust in authority is realized.

    all i’m doing is working overtime, and being clever to bankroll in non-usd denominations and tangible goods. a year from now, i’m moving to a better location to set up base for the next 5-10 years. that may or may not be in the us, depending on how things go. it may actually work in my favor to stick around and purchase a ton of land post-collapse. it may make more sense to prepare for climate apocalypse and go far south of the equator. not sure.

  • Kathy said:

    ‘So I wish the people who use insults to avoid the awful truths of what we face would take a break and educate themselves’.

    It has been my experience that those who know the least are often the ones that argue the most. Inconvenient facts ruin arguments based on ideology or wishful thinking.

  • Thank you for this essay regarding leaving academia. This is a subject several of us here can relate to by personal experience. You’ve made me remember my last year of teaching and how I pitied my poor sweet young idealistic students, facing their future in the belief that they were going to save lives, comfort the dying and deliver the borning.

    During my last evaluation with my Dean, she told me I needed to be writing for grants, bringing in money into the School of Nursing. I told her that I had spent some time in my life on welfare, and in very low status jobs to keep myself and my daughter fed. I said I would not take taxpayer money to perform research that resulted in taxpayers being told how to live their lives to please us – the health professionals. Instead, I can write my publications in a closet with a bare light bulb if necessary. I love to write. Apparently, it’s not about pubs, it’s about money. Silly me, I thought it was about teaching.

    Now my poor husband is still trapped in this rat race because he’s younger than I am and has a few years yet before he can retire. Well, it seems the rats are winning, as I watch the emails fly around the university announcing this or that new requirement for faculty to conform to, an increasingly tighter noose around their necks. Some of these were people I taught as students, the ones that had such promise, such love of knowledge and learning.

    Last evening we heard the sand hill cranes go over. It’s a very distinctive sound, a gutteral croaking that can be heard even over the sound of traffic. We couldn’t see the birds because they were above the broken clouds, but we could hear them, moving very quickly from north to south. I wish I were a sand hill crane.

    The jet stream has developed epilepsy this year, and the weather extremes flip flop like a griddle full of pancakes being prepared by a crank-addled IT professional. But the Black Krim tomatoes soldier on, to mix my metaphors, producing the ugliest, best tasting tomatoes I’ve ever grown. I sit in the garden in the dirt and mash one of them the size of a dinner plate into the lower half of my face and make sucking noises.

    The retired women who live on farms and acreages nearby have now asked me to join their “book club.” Hoo boy. They don’t know what they’ve done. “This month everyone wanted something light, something funny!” Not me. I want Chris Hedges. I want Margaret Atwood. I want T.E. Lawrence:

    Chapter One

    We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.
    As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into its slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of ordinary human slaves is terrible – they have lost the world – and we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind.


    Gusts of cruelty, perversions, lusts ran lightly over the surface without troubling us; for the moral laws which had seemed to hedge about these silly accidents must be yet fainter words. We had learned that there were pangs too sharp, griefs too deep, ecstasies too high for our finite selves to register. When emotion reached this pitch the mind chokes; and memory went white till the circumstances were humdrum once more.

    p. 27-28

    Does anyone even remember the proper use of the semi-colon anymore?

  • @Kathy

    “So I wish the people who use insults to avoid the awful truths of what we face would take a break and educate themselves on why the grid has to be running to cool nuclear power plants, why the loss of power means the loss of the ultimate heat sink and thus meltdown. I wish they would educate themselves on the role of dimming in the global warming equation. I wish they would educate themselves on the release of frozen methane’s role in the End Permian Extinction. I wish they would study Guy’s list of positive climate feedbacks already in place.”

    Well I’m not very well educated on all of these matters, but have a laymen grasp of them all at the least. My understanding is that nobody truly has a clue exactly how all these feedbacks interact with each other. We can study each independently, and make assumptions based on data from pervious events, and our understanding of climate/weather patterns, plus earth sciences in general, but it’s a complete guess if there will be a net positive, or negative effect on temperature, and at what rate these events will occur, and to what extent each affects the next.

    So saying that extinction is set in stone, seems to be more of a result of misunderstanding the science, than accurately portraying it. this isn’t a 1+2+3+4 = 10 thing. It’s many variables, interacting in ways we don’t fully understand, and can’t accurately predict yet. Unfortunately, it seems we won’t be able to predict the outcomes, until they are already underway.

    Still, just screaming extinction is bizarre, and unfounded. Often on this site, the worst possible outcome is taken as a given. I do admit that the worst possible outcome for one year may end up being more towards the middle of the road prediction but a few years or so later. Doesn’t mean we’re going extinct.

    Species in decline. Gotcha. Potential extinction, possible, though unlikely unless the rate of change exceeds our ability to adapt, in whatever numbers we end up at. Taking the past as examples for our current situation, in many respects holds little to no weight. We’re light-years ahead technologically in many respects.

    I’m simply on the fence about NTE. Doesn’t make me a troll.

    2nd, so am off for bike ride!

  • My second and therefore last post for today.

    Ah, the sound of canning jar lids popping closed!

    Say, does anyone know if the Tattler reusable lids work?

  • Henry: if I may, those nuclear explosions you spoke of in the past put out minimal nuclear radiation – one time explosions out in the Pacific on a remote island, underground, etc. – a measurable amount each time (yes, some of it is still floating around due to long half-lives). Fukushima (simply put) is a machine for generating massive amounts of cesium, plutonium and many other radioactive particles for a very long period of time. This radiation will flow around the world via air and water currents, affect all types of biological life from plankton and fish to trees, soil, birds, reptiles, crops (after it gets into the soil), and us. It will just keep coming, like it’s been doing at Fukushima for the past couple years, constantly spewing this crap out (akin to the blow out in the Gulf, only there’s no capping this monster anytime soon). There is no minimum dose of radiation that doesn’t have consequences. Now add 400+ of these melt-down machines to the mix. What do you think the result will be?

    good night everyone

  • dang, I forgot to attach this to my last (now second to last) post:


    Was Your Chicken Nugget Made In China? It’ll Soon Be Hard To Know

    Here’s a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.

    Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.

    For starters, just four Chinese processing plants will be allowed to export cooked chicken products to the U.S., as first reported by Politico. The plants in question passed USDA inspection in March. Initially, these processors will only be allowed to export chicken products made from birds that were raised in the U.S. and Canada. Because of that, the poultry processors won’t be required to have a USDA inspector on site, as The New York Times notes, adding:

    “And because the poultry will be processed, it will not require country-of-origin labeling. Nor will consumers eating chicken noodle soup from a can or chicken nuggets in a fast-food restaurant know if the chicken came from Chinese processing plants.”

    That’s a pretty disturbing thought for anyone who’s followed the slew of stories regarding food safety failures in China in recent years. As we’ve previously reported on The Salt, this year alone, thousands of dead pigs turned up in the waters of Shanghai, rat meat was passed off as mutton and — perhaps most disconcerting for U.S. consumers — there was an outbreak of the H7N9 bird flu virus among live fowl in fresh meat markets.

    What’s more, critics fear that the changes could eventually open the floodgates for a whole slew of chicken products from China. As the industry publication World Poultry notes:

    “It is thought … that the government would eventually expand the rules, so that chickens and turkeys bred in China could end up in the American market. Experts suggest that this could be the first step towards allowing China to export its own domestic chickens to the U.S.”

    The USDA’s decision comes with a backdrop of long-running trade disputes over meat between the U.S. and China. In a nutshell: China banned U.S. beef exports in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease turned up in a Washington state cow. Then, when the bird flu virus broke out widely among Asian bird flocks in 2004, the U.S. blocked imports of Chinese poultry. China challenged that decision in front of the World Trade Organization, which ruled in China’s favor in 2010.

    And, chicken lovers, brace yourselves: There’s more. A report suggests chicken inspections here in the U.S. might be poised to take a turn for the worse. The Government Accountability Office said this week it has serious “questions about the validity” of the new procedures for inspecting poultry across the country.

    Basically, these changes would replace many USDA inspectors on chicken processing lines with employees from the poultry companies themselves. The USDA has been piloting the new procedures, which will save money and significantly speed up processing lines, in 29 chicken plants. As The Washington Post reports, the plan is to roll out the new procedures eventually to “most of the country’s 239 chicken and 96 turkey plants.”

    The problem? According to the GAO, the USDA did a poor job of evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot programs it has in place.

    As a result, the report concludes, it’s hard to justify the USDA’s conclusions that the new procedures will do a better job than current approaches at cutting down on the number of dangerous bacteria like salmonella that pop up on the birds that will later end up on our dinner tables.

    Still, the USDA maintains that the changes will, in fact, boost food safety. In a commentary published on Food Safety News, USDA food safety and inspections administrator Alfred Almanza writes, “If finalized and implemented broadly, this new inspection system would enable [USDA inspectors] to better fulfill our food safety mission. Nothing in the GAO’s report contradicts this basic fact.”

  • Cat campion asked: then does it not follow that consciousness is also evolving?

    As Bill Clinton so famously declared, that depends on what your definition of “is”‘ is. Consciousness could only evolve if it were genetically based. See where that leads?

    I’d like to extend a thank you to TIAA for granting me the privilege of being placed in the august sorority that includes kathyC and Erin and, I suspect any others who would like to be charter or honorary members of the WeirdSista family. Come lurk in the shadows with us, share our putrid reason with which we threaten old useless knives, and our rusted bitterness! Since we no longer care having long ago (yes, we’re old) traded any meaningful belonging to the universe, we are deadly toxic and because of our lack of caring, our children’s world is dying.

    Dilettante doomers who are continually hoping for an escape clause or exculpatory philosophy (its all the bankers fault!) might be helped with this observation from the webmaster at laetusinpraesens.org:

    “If one does not understand how one is part of the problem, one cannot understand the nature of the solution required.”

  • @ Gail


    Except that genetically-based life is based upon the Universe, its product.

    As is consciousness, or so we presume, but nobody knows what consciousness is.

    So everything is based upon the Universe, and nobody knows what the Universe is, nor why it is.

    And, although I’m extremely fond of Kathy C., Erin, and Gail, hold them in high respect, read everything they say, listen closely to their thinking…

    …this notion that nothing MEANS anything, that it’s all MEANINGLESS, is plain batshit crazy.

    You have no grounds for saying it ! No evidence to support it, no argument or logic. You’ve arrived at that position because you hate religion and God ( fair enough ) and want to banish all ideas of teleology or direction or any higher being, etc.

    But that’s not science, that’s ideology.

    Look, if there was NOTHING AT ALL, and nobody here to know anything, then you could say, ‘Sure, no meaning’.

    But look what we HAVE.


    We have SOMETHING. This absolutely amazing, astonishing SOMETHING.

    Now, all we can say is that WE DON’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS. We certainly are not entitled to say it means NOTHING.

    It’s obvious it means something, it’s doing something, it’s highly complex, it’s created US, it’s AWARE via US, it’s possibly doing all kinds of other stuff. We’ve only known about most of it for a few years, we’re basically clueless.

  • Tom

    the post about chicken products entering the USA market from China is telling. No disrespect, but the writing is on the wall. The USA is going down, and China owns its ass !!
    The perspective is skew. To China, the USA is now just a big market for their products, not the other way around.
    Check out Max Keiser anytime in recent months and he is jestering his way to showing the fraud and wholesale debasing of Western Finance, and the livelihoods of many many ordinary folk.
    Like I say, if you have the means, GET OUT OF THE USA- NOW. Avoid being FUKED as well, but depending on where one is presently located it may be too late for that fatal dose.


    Can I be at least an honorary member of the Weird-Sista family too. Please. The only problem is I live by the ‘Galaxy Quest’ motto-
    ‘Never give up, never surrender’, unless of course your goose is cooked, or for Tom, your chicken is ready.

  • Dear Ogardener, and dear Artleads, thanks for the camaraderie. I still feel like a formula remade after reading this sharing of David’s. Understanding a little more, but what little bit here I did not understand! I cannot understand a lack of appreciation, on the level of the weird sisters.

    I agree with you Art, about Logspirits piece. So powerful and your Huckleberry human pie, yes to that, yes indeed. Oh what quiet kindness that worked on my soul.

    And Dear Grant Shreiber and the tale of the plastic pitcher, so revealing. I let my old plastic pitcher go finally, it was not easy, what is the hold old plastic pitchers have on us and life?

    I do not see what is true or real or why anyone would consider any human determination as of yet created or stated in these times as more real or knowable than the infamous ‘plastic pitcher’. But here we are, surrounded by plastic pitchers, family to family. The plastic soldier pitcher, as the only vessel that will survive the otherwise left for dead planet?

    Are we satisfied with all we know and have educated ourselves with up to now? Truly? Bleh.

    If nothing else, it is a great idea to preserve, as David suggests, the best of all we had time to learn so future generation’s may understand the reason to live back in harmony and stay on that sacred path. If, by some miracle, life, and a fragment of humanity, survives the unfolding cataclysm.

    Syria? My heart aches and aches. Do we push for collective suicide?

  • Dear Ogardener, and dear Artleads, thanks for the camaraderie. I still feel like a formula remade after reading this sharing of David’s. Understanding a little more, but what little bit here I did not understand! I cannot understand a lack of appreciation, on the level of the weird sisters.

    I agree with you Art, about Logspirits piece. So powerful and your Huckleberry human pie, yes to that, yes indeed. Oh what quiet kindness that worked on my soul.

    And Dear Grant Shreiber and the tale of the plastic pitcher, so revealing. I let my old plastic pitcher go finally, it was not easy, what is the hold old plastic pitchers have on us and life?

    I do not see what is true or real or why anyone would consider any human determination as of yet created or stated in these times as more real or knowable than the infamous ‘plastic pitcher’. But here we are, surrounded by plastic pitchers, family to family. The plastic soldier pitcher, as the only vessel that will survive the otherwise left for dead planet?

    Are we satisfied with all we know and have educated ourselves with up to now? Truly? Bleh.

    If nothing else, it is a great idea to preserve, as David suggests, the best of all we had time to learn so future generation’s may understand the reason to live back in harmony and stay on that sacred path. If, by some miracle, life, and a fragment of humanity, survives the unfolding cataclysm.

    Syria? My heart aches and aches. Do we push for mutual collective suicide?

  • Kathy Cassandra says: So there you have it – to save the planet from global warming we need to end industrial civ and precipitate the inevitable dieoff. But to end industrial civ means a world flooded with radiation on top of the peak oil die off.

    Decisions, Decisions

    If we tear down the nukes brick by brick,
    World heat would rise up way too quick;
    But without decommission,
    There’s nuclear fission:
    Let’s hope we can make the right pick.

    H/T: Woody Allen, of course

  • Wildwomwan said: I’ve got lots of really small toads all over our flower beds.

    I have noted the same thing in my gardens. Lots more frogs, toads and snakes than I have ever seen before. A lot less of many other animals though. Very few warblers and no butterflies and hardly any mosquitoes,even with plenty of rain.

    Erin said: I sit in the garden in the dirt and mash one of them the size of a dinner plate into the lower half of my face and make sucking noises.

    This made me laugh! I will have to try it.

    And: The retired women who live on farms and acreages nearby have now asked me to join their “book club.” Hoo boy. They don’t know what they’ve done. “This month everyone wanted something light, something funny!” Not me. I want Chris Hedges. I want Margaret Atwood. I want T.E. Lawrence.

    I was in a book club and everyone always wanted something light and “Beachy”, as they would say. I was pushing for having everyone read Overshoot by Catton but no one wanted to. So I thought I would push for something lighter and suggested The Road by Cormac McCarthy. There were no takers of course until the book won the Pulitzer and then the New York Times told them all that they simply must read it.
    We also would have a potluck and people would often make food to match the theme of the book. Well, what dish does one serve to go with the theme of “The Road”?

    And: Ah, the sound of canning jar lids popping closed!

    Say, does anyone know if the Tattler reusable lids work?

    Yes,the canning jar lid sound is like music. I have used the Tattler lids and they work very well. I haven’t been using them long enough to know if they will continue to work as well as time goes on (if it does).

  • Nicely written and communicated David G. That’s all. ;)

  • @ Artleads Thanks. As you know, I enjoy and appreciate your contributions. Without esthetics life is dull and depressing. Obviously, giving up was never a great survival strategy. Stay strong, keep on keeping on.

    @ TIAA Thanks for the gratitude. I always like what you bring to the party. Great vitality.

    @ Kathy Cassandra Thank you for reading and responding to my post. I value your work, and have quoted you at least once as a supportive argument. The type of education I was referring to wasn’t the frivolous ‘infotainment’ variety. Sure, some educational perspectives can be good entertainment, without any serious intentions or purposes behind them, even some of the complex intellectually challenging stuff. Sure, some older people ‘love’ to go to school, just for fun, without even considering any future practicality, simply for immediate gratification; for some perhaps it is like brightly colored cotton candy… for others it provides some clout. In any case it makes them feel better, for a while. That’s fine. Some of them figure they won’t be around much longer anyway, and refuse to carry heavy empathy for any life beyond their own limited self-absorbed personal experience. I guess they are weak and tired. Some types of entertaining ‘education’ are voyeuristic, aloof from real world needs. Television specializes in that sort of stuff, suggesting to each viewer, personally, that they are exceptional elite VIP observers — and the masses buy into the flatter lock stock and barrel, each convinced, in their own tiny little rectangular world, that they can just sit back and watch all hell break loose… from a perfectly safe spot.

    The type of education I was emphasizing was of a more existential variety — the type that is important from a practical standpoint… to go on living for a while. Most of us still want to do that. Perhaps we will go extinct within the next 20 years. Probably will. Especially if we don’t take life seriously, choose to remain passive distant depressed voyeurs just watching it all happen, lacking engagement with a -however unlikely- future.

    If you have completely given up on any chances for human and other sentient survival, I think I may understand why you feel the way you do about education, and perhaps, life in general. Might as well just enjoy it without any purpose or meaning other than mere superficial entertainment. Just to pass the time away as well as you can. I get it. But if we wish to at least try to survive, then education becomes a more serious endeavor. It is my position that it is always better to try than to give up. Better psychologically. And it might actually give us a chance. Giving up guarantees extinction.

    You also said “…Nature is a traitor to life.” Hmmm… Nature is Life. And I don’t buy into all that Discovery Channel red tooth and claw propaganda that ties into the military mentality setup… there is a lot more to it than that. Without cooperation, ecosystems would have all died out many moons ago.

  • everything is conscious

    Everything is “in” consciousness – in a manner of stating: outside time-space-causation, it has no “in” and no “out”. Consciousness is not in anything: it is never subject to any limitations of finitude. Also, consciousness is not a “thing”, not an object.

    does it not follow that consciousness is also evolving?

    Existence, consciousness and bliss are inextricable. (The bliss aspect does not imply elation, a transient state.) Various aspects are manifest in various “things”. A rock manifests existence. A human manifests all three, the consciousness being manifest as awareness. Consciousness requires no object; consciousness without awareness.

    It is sempiternal (= lasting “forever”/”for all time”), beyond taint, immutable: no other for it to be tainted by, and nothing for it to change into.

    (eternal = perception of all events throughout time as occurring simultaneously at this instant).

    elevating above wanting/needing

    Since there is no other, it has no possibility of want or need.

    packets of consciousness functioning at a more basic/base level?

    No divisions within it: no other. The awarenesses are another story, since they are consciousness with a finite object. All awarenesses are transient, stitched together with the needle of ignorance and the thread of delusion into the mirage called “I”.

    putting bad/false ideas into good Catholic kids’ heads

    In that case, one item that the church needs to keep from the priests is that the saviour had a dozen male disciples.

    does it not make more sense to trust your senses than something you read in a book?

    Actually everything in a book also enters through the senses, including audiobooks and Braille. All such stuff falls within the domain of science. Awareness of the “I” is not dependent on any of the senses, alone or in combination.

    fancy themselves in spiritual college

    Any sense of achievement of attainment is a certain indicator that one ain’t there yet, as is any doubt or question in this regard. Once one is there, no one needs to tell one that it is so.

    constantly frustrated by the pre-schoolers behaving as just that – children.

    There are tales in Eastern traditions of infants and children who have full realisation. And there are folks who practice for lifetimes seemingly getting nowhere.

    hearts to soften towards “criminals” – to forgive them,

    From every encounter each individual takes away one’s own baggage. No one can dump baggage on the other or pick up the other’s baggage.

    Carrying a grudge is an open wound – in one’s “psyche” – or any other term that one prefers (there are terms in Eastern traditions that are more descriptive, but carry a lot of freight). Adopting a sense of having “forgiven” is retaining a scar. Only when there is no sense of anything to forgive, is there no scar.

    It does not exclude prudence: being stung once, it is best to take away a lesson that the hornets should be avoided if at all possible.

    the part about the Beatles being prophets

    The mentor-protege, teacher-student relationship is a two-way street. If the student is ready, the guru will be found, even in a mosquito, a spider, a wasp, a moth, etc. as in the tale of the twenty-four gurus of Dattatreya/Avadhuta.

    low-evolution souls

    There are no souls; there is no such thing to evolve.

    find meaning in it

    Meaning can only be found in reference to other aspects within space-time-causation. There is no meaning in the ultimate sense, hence the world-view of a Divine play, like that of little children, little puppies or kittens. Or a Divine Play in which the Playwright has assigned every member of the audience a role in the play.

    the premise that we humans can know everything there is to know.

    When one goes to the river to fetch water, how much water one gets depends on how big a vessel one takes. The one with a bucket brings back more water than the one with a cup. But no one brings back the whole river.

    save lives, comfort the dying and deliver the borning.

    “Been there, done that”. And the world takes it all in stride.

    The jet stream has developed epilepsy

    More like choreo-athetosis.

    Does anyone even remember the proper use of the semi-colon anymore?

    Less likely if they went to American public schools.

    Doesn’t mean we’re going extinct.

    Said the trilobites? (Does not apply to dinosaurs: I had some at KFC yesterday!) Lord, does that mean that our descendants could become Kentucky Fried Chumps?

    USDA food safety and inspections administrator Alfred Almanza writes, “If finalized and implemented broadly, this new inspection system would enable [USDA inspectors] to better fulfill our food safety mission.

    Soon to include Soylent Green?

    I’ve got lots of really small toads all over our flower beds. This is unusual but I like it.

    Probably lots of recent rains and lots of small bodies of standing water providing reproductive habitat for the critters. Nevertheless, most of them are gonna die before adulthood. Nothing unusual for them, though: every time one sees an adult frog or toad, several hundred of its sisters and brothers died before reaching adulthood. But don’t feel too sorry for it: quite possibly it chowed down on a few of its siblings or cousins. But it ain’t gonna tell ya!

  • @The Dean of Reading

    I spent 20 years in the belly of the cybernetic beast, making civilization’s nervous system run faster. What I learned there has left me with no illusions about the chimera of “online privacy”. I take it for granted that there has been no effective online privacy since about 1995 or so.

    Even RSA encryption based on the product of two primes can be hacked, not by the “classical” computers that we have – that’s mathematically impossible, but by quantum computers, using the Shor algorithm, and it’s likely groups are using quantum computers right now, and so possible encryption has never been safe.

    To which I will add, “Bill Joy, Stephen Wolfram, Stuart Kauffman, Brosl Hasslacher, DARPA, FQHE, 2DEG, QNN, braided anyons, Complex System Biology, CADIE”

    And there’s always Bill Joy’s unremarked magnum opus: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html

    If that doesn’t get us all on somebody’s watch list, nothing I say about anarchy will do the trick either.

    We’re either screwed or saved. I can’t tell which, though. It’s all a bit like Schrodinger’s cat.

  • @Tom

    “There is no minimum dose of radiation that doesn’t have consequences.”

    I challenge this unevidenced assumption. It may be in the books, and a drag of a cigarette could potentially cause lung cancer, but the wording is misleading at best.

    I see no good reason to think a healthy body doesn’t adapt to minute doses of radiation same as other chemical poisons. There are defense mechanisms which can be up regulated as need be. It’s theorized a small dose may even create a super compensation, same as liver or kidney detox, or even muscular damage from exercise.

  • @Tom

    As a Koch bros. loving gas guzzling Minnesotan dependent on tar sands oil I gotta say thanks to them Canucks for shitting in their house for my benefit:

    O Canada! ;-)

  • Tom F & Tom — Thanks for reading and replying; it’s nice to know that our efforts at thinking and writing mean something to someone, enough to respond.

    Tom #2, I think what you’ve done is repeat the basic “there’s a lot of it out there” assertion, and assume that that covers my questions. Perhaps I need to go study more, but time is precious, and it’s not my main topic of interest.

    But when there’s “a lot of something”, it tends to overlap, and move and disperse or coalesce and concentrate according to certain patterns, or forces, and not distribute itself evenly. (OK, carbon — does it disperse worldwide pretty much evenly? So I understand.)

    No, my specific question was HOW does it — the radiation — get up in the air, enough to enshroud my little stone hut outside Katmandu, and put me in a terminal way? If it doesn’t, I don’t get radiation poisoning, unless my yaks have been to the seaside on holiday and eaten some irradiated fish, and I then drink their milk.

    You’ve merely repeated what I said above about water and air currents, but not shown how the heavy cesium and plutonium particles are going to rise up out of the water and reach my altitude 5000 meters above sea level. Indeed, wouldn’t they likely sink to the bottom first?

    “Consequences” yes, but extinction via this route? Show me. Of course the nukes are a massive clusterfuck, any way that they are shut down or left to melt, and unforeseen consequences are the name of the game. The phytoplankton’s demise may yet choke the life outta me, no matter where I climb to. But show me the causal pathway I asked for.

    HOW does it get into the air? HOW does it get into the soil? Don’t just make an unscientific assertion. I described the means of injection and transmission of nuclear particles, and you haven’t described any better how various particles would move outside of their regions.

    Heightened cancer is not extinction. Massive sudden radiation poisoning might be closer to it. But how? All the effects of these particles are attenuated with time and distance, so you have to show that their quantity and drift would be sufficient to do this.

    Don’t just say “400 of something” — New Orleans can have 400 hurricanes, and India can have 400 monsoons, but Australia didn’t have any hurricanes, or monsoons. They have something else there — drought and heat wave last time I visited.

    I lived near one nuclear plant, and was peripherally involved in opposing two others that were consequently never built. But I only thought about these from a local perspective; But we’re on a different topic now: NTE. That’s why I asked for help in thinking about a worldwide transmission of radiation.

    There is a significant emotional context for opposition to nuclear power plants, as I’ve been aware for over 30 years. Fukushima is a recent, current, and ongoing event, so it holds attention, and rightly so.. It may result in 40 million Japanese people having to relocate. But it is not extinction.

    That’s why, in a forum on climate change-caused extinction, I ask for clarification on Kathy’s points of (1) will electric grid shutdown cause meltdowns at these reactors, and (2) will the radiation travel enough distance, without enough quantity, to effect a parallel extinction event to the one we discuss here?

    If there are 7 billion people in the world, and climate change kills 6 billion of them, and nuclear meltdowns poison and kill another half billion, and would have killed the first 6 billion if the climate hadn’t got ’em, that would still not be Extinction.

    Put differently, if climate change wasn’t going to kill everyone, then the nukes might finish off another half of the remainder. But I don’t see how it gets ALL of the remainder. And if the climate is sufficient, under the feedback loops Guy depicts, then the nukes are a “nonfatal” wound to humanity’s survival.

    And, if the climate’s ability to “overkill”, in nuclear weapons jargon, could reach the other billion, and the nuke plant meltdowns couldn’t, then we are not talking about Fukushima-type caused Extinction. We are still on Climate Change NTE. Get it?

    And maybe that’s why I have an initial bit of resistance to topics that distract from the scientific evidence we are sharing here about the “nonlinear” (meaning No Going Back) and cascading effects of carbon accumulation in the atmosphere.

    That’s why I repeat my Die-off understanding: Sadly, we are going to lose 6 billion or so people. Human population is going to be counted in the millions, if any, and not billions. Nuclear radiation will help take that CLOSER to Zero, but does it have the enveloping ability to enforce that Zero upon us?

    Only if it can reach us, as we already know the effects of the carbon and methane can.

    Fukushima may kill a million or 10 million or 100 million Japanese, but it will be the Arctic ice disappearing some September (or earlier, some year) that is going to kill the other 7 billion of us, if it happens.

    Carbon’s 1000 year persistence might as well be the equal of Plutonium’s 25000 year half life, for all that humanity will stick around to measure either.


    Harvey Wasserman’s book, “Killing Our Own”, was one of the early ones we studied to understand about “peaceful” nukes:


    Of course it was not presented in the context of IC melting down as well as the electric grid.


    While I’m using up my posts for today, as if anyone’s read this far, have you noticed how the well-reviewed film “The East” dropped quickly out of theaters and out of sight? I’m awaiting the DVD but won’t be surprised if that is squelched, too.


    And maybe I’m just in a foul mood because one of my favorite little forest nooks I’ve driven past for years just got cut down, bulldozed into a corner lot, and a house foundation has been placed there. Not many other things make me feel hatred…

  • Logspirit You also said “…Nature is a traitor to life.” Hmmm… Nature is Life. And I don’t buy into all that Discovery Channel red tooth and claw propaganda that ties into the military mentality setup… there is a lot more to it than that. Without cooperation, ecosystems would have all died out many moons ago.

    Of course there is cooperation as well as competition. However cooperation is just one way self replicators compete. Ants in a hill cooperate fully, but will war with ants from another hill. All their cooperation is designed to pass on the shared genes of the queen. A lion pride cooperates within the pride, but as far as I know they have territories that are held by one pride. Certainly I know that if the male is defeated the new male kills the cubs of the previous male, and then after that nasty bit of work the females mate with and feed the new male. But nasty is our perspective, its just the way it is.

    Did you know that some types of eagles routinely hatch two eggs. But they can only feed one chick most years, so the stronger chick gets most of the food and then pushes the weaker one out of the nest to its death below. Only in years of great abundance can the parents raise two at once. Almost every beautiful eagle you see soaring in the sky will then be one who killed its sibling.

    The winners of cooperation are of course the self replicators that became chloroplasts in plants and mitochondria in humans. They still have their own DNA. They cooperate with whatever host they have and yet their ancestors compete via their particular host with ancestors that are carried in a different host.

    One time a hawk attacked one of our chickens on the ground. We scared if off and went to retrieve the carcass (depriving the hawk of the food it needed for its babies). The hen was still alive – the hawk was eating it alive. Red in Tooth and Claw. If you don’t recognize these facts about nature, you don’t understand nature.

    What I mean about Nature being a traitor to nature is two fold. First I mean that the planet has by various forces wiped out many or most of the evolved species that were current at the time – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event Thus the very planet that gave birth to life, also wipes it out.
    Secondly, inevitably, evolution gave its self replicators the push to replicate and the push to live long enough to replicate. Yet it did so in a world of limited resources where inevitably its replicators will run out of resources and turn to killing and eating those other replicators that have incorporated into their bodies the needed resources. And evolution puts time restrictions on life spans so the next generation of self replicators can have room to live and not compete with all its ancestors for resources

    With humans and the arising of self awareness, we carry the awful knowledge of how this works, that we must eat other self replicators in order to live(some only eat plants, but plants “want” to live and reproduce too – they are so programmed, just not aware of it” And worse yet that we MUST die. Thus the endless attempts to not know by religion or pseudo religion, or self numbing or whatever.

    So you see, nature via evolution gives us a desire we cannot fulfill – while traitor to life fits the process of creating life and then wiping it out on a regular basis, perhaps the second part deserves a different name. Nature gives the will to live and the fear of dying to critters who cannot live forever. Sadistic might be a better word than that.

    But that is antropromorphic of course. Nature just is. Sometimes nature flings an asteroid at the planet, and dinosaurs die and mammals evolve. Sometimes Siberian Traps erupt and almost everything dies. Nature just means that which is. Scientists tell us our sun will die like other sons, and in the process our atmosphere will be blown away and all life will cease. Ah to evolve a creature that has such high hopes and then dash them. Perhaps that is why we are extincting ourselves, can stand the suspense and want to get it over with????

  • @Paul Chefurka

    “I take it for granted that there has been no effective online privacy since about 1995 or so”

    What sums up social media and the lack of privacy better than the “Anonymous” collective?

    Can I has Anonymous?

    Well, maybe if you weren’t logged on to a US military network, bro!

    TOR – the freedom to sail the sea of the seven proxies courtesy of the US Navy, or a honeypot?

    … and in terms of social ties… these “anonymous” guys when caught rat each other out in a heart beat!

    No social connection at all, no loyalty…

    Even when you learn something new online there is no real social connection established at the point of learning.

  • Henry: The particles are wafted into the air by wind picking them up off the ground (puddles by leaking tanks, etc), evaporation (they latch onto water molecules), and through the aforementioned explosions (remember Fukushima exploded). Then they travel by air currents and are dropped with rain indiscriminately in the ocean, on land, in mountain streams, on rocky shores – all over the place. Some particles dissipate somewhat after about a week while others have half-lives in the thousands of years or more. They’ll be ingested by fish, mix with soil, blow along on wind currents until some unlucky respiring animal (or human) breathes it/them in. One way or the other it will effect the food chain – mutation, death, contamination and otherwise. It’s not the be-all and end all of civilization, but it isn’t a small issue either. Just add it to the old atomic testing (some particles of which are still highly radioactive), medical waste, plastic in the environment, the Gulf oil blowout, the ozone contamination of the troposphere, depleted soil, rising sea levels, the slowing of the thermohaline current, melting Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice (among others all over the world), ever increasing “anomalous weather” events, the destruction of rainforests, ticks, fleas and mosquitos spreading of West Nile (and now bubonic plague!), etc (you could go on for quite a long time listing all the toxic and detrimental things with which we’ve impacted our environment, but then there’s all the natural stuff like sink holes and volcanoes erupting more often now to add to that). Look, i’m not trying to rain on your parade. Live your life and enjoy every moment you have. This is just stuff we have no control over any longer (if we ever had it to begin with).

    muffleupagus: and here I was concerned about having gone through an airport scanner a few times in addition to going to the dentist regularly, so I’m not happy about all the additive radiation being wantonly dispersed/dispensed by humanity with the pleasantry that “maybe it’ll help me” when it’s much more likely to cause cancer or damage tissue or cells. Our attitudes about this stuff don’t make it natural or healthy, especially when we have no control over how much or what type we’re encountering with melt-down nukes adding to the stuff we don’t think is a problem (remember, it’s cumulative).

    Ozman: it seems that everything they make over there is a means of exporting their toxic waste to the world (my attitude). There have been problems with toxic baby formula and other foods (New Zealand also had a problem, and the US isn’t perfect either with beef recalls and tainted lettuce being recent incidents), drywall, toys, dog food, dangerous sweets, toothpaste, ginger, fruit, rice and carcinogenic fish (you can find more stuff if you look), so i’m not happy about this chicken development and even less about the lax attitude by our “watchdog” agencies who are supposed to be monitoring and protecting us from this crap. Fluoride in our water and toothpaste over here in America isn’t beneficial either (and neither is aluminum in deodorant, and the rest of the long list of badly made products), but why import stuff that’s almost guaranteed to cause problems?

    It’s gotten to the point where people are stealing water now (some for irrigation of marijuana fields according to the article I read, but that isn’t the only reason/use). If you follow the link below, there are three articles concerning water to read that indicate it isn’t getting any better.

    We’ve already heard how coffee production is being stressed by climate change, and now it’s tea also:


    Climate change dries up India tea production – ‘Even the sheen of tealeaves is lost’

    As global temperatures inch upward, all tea-producing belts are being affected, says RM Bhagat, deputy director of the Tea Research Association, based in Tocklai. “But the degree of impact varies regionally, depending on distance from equator and other local conditions.”

    The Tocklai tea experimental station has been recording daily weather and tea production data for more than 100 years. “We have found that the minimum temperature has risen by 1.5 degree centigrade, and the annual rainfall has reduced by 200 millimetres,” he says.

    The region is battered with erratic rainfall and frequent bouts of floods and droughts. Winter rainfall has become scarce, and distribution is fluctuating. Bhagat says tea trees in Assam previously would be high yielding until 40-45 years of age, but now decline at 30-35.

    “Only time will say whether the tea trees will adapt or not, but the industry has to gear up,” he says. He recommends increasing shaded areas, alternative water systems, and using organic manure. The association is also testing clones that are resistant to climate change, he adds.

    “Assam always had sub-tropical climate, but now it has become fully tropical – affecting production,” explains Prafulla Bordoloi, a tea scientist

    In Assam, the usual ambient temperature used to be below 35 degrees Celsius. But now the range has shot up to 38 to 40 degrees C in shaded areas, and upwards of 50 degrees C in non-shaded spots. Photosynthesis slows at 35 degrees C, and beyond 39 degrees C food production stops. After 48 degrees C, tealeaves stop breathing and are destroyed, he says. “Often one-third of the gardens have no shade.”

    Prolong dry spells disturbs the flushing pattern. Along with stunted growth, increased dampness has led to an upsurge in pests. “Minor pests have become major pests. There is a spike in bugs such as the tea mosquito,” Bordoloi says.

    Regulation of pesticide use and environmental concerns complicate the problem. “Planters are faced with hard choices,” he adds.
    (there’s more)

  • and, if I may:


    Holy Cow: Former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Says Every Single Reactor in the U.S. Should Be Shut Down

    The nuclear industry is having its own meltdown.

    September 4, 2013 |

    The first thing to remember about nuclear power is that it’s not safe. Just ask Japan.

    The second thing to remember is that nuclear power isn’t cheap. Connecticut draws half its juice from nuclear reactors and has the second-highest rates in the country, after Hawaii.

    The third thing to know is that everybody lies about it. The power plant designers lie, the builders lie, the utility companies lie, the regulators lie, and the politicians lie.

    Take Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the utility that ran the reactors in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture that failed after a tsunami and earthquake struck. TEPCO still won’t admit just how serious a disaster that was and continues to be.

    But kids living downwind are already getting thyroid cancer, fish in the nearby sea are no longer safe to eat, and radioactive tuna are cruising the California coast. As with the Chernobyl disaster, tens of thousands of people may never be free to return home.

    Meanwhile at many U.S. nuclear reactors, efficiency is declining and the risk of accidents is rising. Unlike at a coal-fired power plant, you can’t just hit the off switch if there’s a flood, drought, or power failure. All those spent nuclear fuel rods have to be cooled for years to come, whether you have water handy or not.

    In Connecticut, Dominion Resources is seeking permission to keep pumping water from Long Island Sound, even when global warming has heated that body up beyond the temperature allowed by federal regulations.

    Still not worried? Consider this: Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko declared in April that he believes every single nuclear power plant operating in the nation should be shut down, starting with the riskiest.

    This isn’t completely far-fetched. So far this year, power companies have announced plans to close five reactors. Most recently, Entergy relented on its mission to keep its creaky Yankee nuclear plant in Vermont operational over the state government’s clear objections.

    At least 37 more reactor closures could follow, according to Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment.

    Can environmentalists celebrate this nuclear downsizing trend?

    Nope. Most experts aren’t attributing this rash of reactor closures to any newfound safety concerns among the industry’s leaders. Instead, they’re blaming the fracking boom.

    As it devastates the environment, cheap fracked gas is sapping demand for nuclear reactors and coal-fired power plants.

    (my comment to the conclusion) Right, let’s replace one ridiculously risky, environmentally damaging, unprofitable and toxic energy industry with another that won’t last anywhere near as long. Brilliant!

  • new illuminati

    Some Credible Scientists Believe Humanity Is VERY Close to Destruction

    By Nathan Curry

    If you were to zoom out and take a comparative look back at our planet during the 1950s from some sort of cosmic time-travelling orbiter cube, you would probably first notice that millions of pieces of space trash had disappeared from orbit.

    The moon would appear six and a half feet closer to Earth, and the continents of Europe and North America would be four feet closer together. Zooming in, you would be able to spot some of the industrial clambering of the Golden Age of Capitalism in the West and some of the stilted attempts at the Great Leap Forward in the East. Lasers, bar codes, contraceptives, hydrogen bombs, microchips, credit cards, synthesizers, superglue, Barbie dolls, pharmaceuticals, factory farming, and distortion pedals would just be coming into existence.

    There would be two thirds fewer humans on the planet than there are now. Over a million different species of plants and animals would exist that have since gone extinct. There would be 90 percent more fish, a billion less tons of plastic, and 40 percent more phytoplankton (producers of half the planet’s oxygen) in the oceans. There would be twice as many trees covering the land and about three times more drinking water available from ancient aquifers. There would be about 80 percent more ice covering the northern pole during the summer season and 30 percent less carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. The list goes on…

    Most educated and semi-concerned people know that these sorts of sordid details make up the backdrop of our retina-screened, ethylene-ripened story of progress, but what happens when you start stringing them all together?

    If Doomsday Preppers, the highest rated show on the National Geographic Channel is any indication, the general public seems to be getting ready for some sort of societal collapse. There have always been doomsday prophets and cults around and everyone has their own personal view of how the apocalypse will probably go down (ascension of pure souls, zombie crows), but in the midst of all of the Mayan Calendar/Timewave Zero/Rapture babble, there are some clarion calls coming from a crowd that’s less into bugout bags and eschatology: well-respected scientists and journalists who have come to some scarily-sane sounding conclusions about the threat of human-induced climate change on the survival of the human species.

    Recent data seems to suggest that we may have already tripped several irrevocable, non-linear, positive feedback loops (melting of permafrost, methane hydrates, and arctic sea ice) that make an average global temperature increase of only 2°C by 2100 seem like a fairy tale. Instead, we’re talking 4°C, 6°C, 10°C, 16°C (????????) here.

    The link between rapid climate change and human extinction is basically this: the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans if the average temperature goes up by 4-6°C. It doesn’t sound like a lot because we’re used to the temperature changing 15°C overnight, but the thing that is not mentioned enough is that even a 2-3°C average increase would give us temperatures that regularly surpass 40°C (104°F) in North America and Europe, and soar even higher near the equator. Human bodies start to break down after six hours at a wet-bulb (100% humidity) temperature of 35°C (95°F). This makes the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed over 70,000 people seem like not a very big deal.

    Factoring in the increase we’re already seeing in heat waves, droughts, wildfires, massive storms, food and water shortages, deforestation, ocean acidification, and sea level rise some are seeing the writing on the wall:

    We’re all gonna die!

    If you want to freak yourself the fuck out, spend a few hours trying to refute the mounting evidence of our impending doom heralded by the man who gave the Near Term Extinction movement its name, Guy McPherson, on his blog Nature Bats Last. McPherson is a former Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, who left his cushy tenured academic career and now lives in a straw-bale house on a sustainable commune in rural New Mexico in an attempt to “walk away from Empire.” There are a lot of interviews and videos available of Dr. McPherson talking about NTE if you want to boost your pessimism about the future to suicidal/ruin-any-dinner-party levels.

    If you are in need of an ultimate mind-fuck, there is a long essay on McPherson’s site entitled “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near Term Extinction” written by a lifelong environmental activist named Daniel Drumright [SEE ESSAY BELOW]. He writes about trying to come to terms with what it means to be on a clear path toward extinction now that it’s probably too late to do anything about it (hint: suicide or shrooms). As Drumright points out, the entirety of human philosophy, religion, and politics doesn’t really provide a framework for processing the psychological terror of all of humanity not existing in the near future.

    Outside of the official NTE enclave, there are a lot of scientists and journalists who would probably try to avoid being labeled as NTE proponents, but are still making the same sort of dire predictions about our collective fate. They may not believe that humans will ALL be gone by mid-century, but massive, catastrophic “population decline” due to human-induced rapid climate change is not out of the picture.

    James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s leading climatologists has recently retired from his position after 43 years in order to concentrate on climate-change activism. He predicts that without full de-carbonization by 2030, global CO2 emissions will be 16 times higher than in 1950, guaranteeing catastrophic climate change. In an essay published in April of this year, Hansen states:

    “If we should ‘succeed’ in digging up and burning all fossil fuels, some parts of the planet would become literally uninhabitable, with some times during the year having wet bulb temperatures exceeding 35°C. At such temperatures, for reasons of physiology and physics, humans cannot survive… it is physically impossible for the environment to carry away the 100W of metabolic heat that a human body generates when it is at rest. Thus even a person lying quietly naked in hurricane force winds would be unable to survive.”

    Bill McKibben, prominent green journalist, author, distinguished scholar, and one of the founders of 350.org – the movement that aims to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels to 350ppm in the hopes of avoiding runaway climate change – wrote a book in 2011 called Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. In it he highlights current environmental changes that have put us past the predictions that had previously been reserved for the end of the 21st century. He emphasizes that the popular political rhetoric that we need to do something about climate change for our “grandchildren” is sorely out of touch with reality. This is happening now. We’re already living on a sci-fi planet from a parallel universe:

    “The Arctic ice cap is melting, the great glacier above Greenland is thinning, both with disconcerting and unexpected speed. The oceans are distinctly more acid and their level is rising…The greatest storms on our planet, hurricanes and cyclones, have become more powerful…The great rain forest of the Amazon is drying on its margins…The great boreal forest of North America is dying in a matter of years… [This] new planet looks more or less like our own but clearly isn’t… This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened.”

    Climate Change protesters in Melbourne. via Flickr.

    Peter Ward is a paleontologist and author whose 2007 book Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What they Can Tell Us About the Future, provides evidence that all but one of the major global extinction events (dinosaurs) occurred due to rapid climate change caused by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. This time around, the carbon dioxide increase happens to be coming from humans figuring out how to dig billions of tons of carbon out of the ground – and releasing it into the air. Ward states that during the last 10,000 years in which human civilization has emerged, our carbon dioxide levels and climate have remained anomalously stable, but the future doesn’t look so good:

    “The average global temperature has changed as much as 18°F [8°C] in a few decades. The average global temperature is 59°F [15°C]. Imagine that it shot to 75°F [24°C] or dropped to 40°F [4°C], in a century or less. We have no experience of such a world… at minimum, such sudden changes would create catastrophic storms of unbelievable magnitude and fury…lashing the continents not once a decade or century but several times each year…For most of the last 100,000 years, an abruptly changing climate was the rule, not the exception.”

    Far from being a Mother Earth lover, Ward has also developed an anti-Gaia hypothesis that he calls the “Medea Hypothesis” in which complex life, instead of being in symbiotic harmony with the environment, is actually a horrible nuisance. In this hypothesis, the planet and microbial life have worked together multiple times to trigger mass extinction events that have almost succeeded in returning the earth to its microbe-dominant state. In other words, Mother Earth might be Microbe Earth and she might be trying to kill her kids.

    Scientists are putting out the warning call that rapid, life-threatening climate change lies ahead in our near future – but most are drowned out by the political arguments and denialist rhetoric of climate change skeptics. The well-funded effort by free market think tanks, energy lobbyists, and industry advocates to blur the public perception of climate science should come as no surprise. The thermodynamic forcing effects of an ice-free artic by 2015 don’t seem so threatening if you stand to gain billions of dollars by sending drill bits into the potentially huge oil reservoirs there.

    It may not be the case that the southwest US will be uninhabitable by 2035, or that all of human life will be extinguished in a generation, but we should probably start to acknowledge and internalize what some of the people who have given their lives to better understand this planet are saying about it. It’s depressing to think that humans, in our current state, could be the Omega Point of consciousness. Maybe sentience and the knowledge of our inevitable death have given us a sort of survival vertigo that we can’t overcome. As the separate paths of environmental exploitation quickly and quietly converge around us, we might just tumble off the precipice, drunk on fossil fuels, making duck faces into black mirrors.

    Presumably painted by a Near Term Extinctionist. via Flickr.

    From Vice @ http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/near-term-extinctionists-believe-the-world-is-going-to-end-very-soon

    Guy McPherson Talks About Climate Collapse

    The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction

    by Daniel A. Drumright, a lifelong radical environmentalist who has followed climate science for the last 24 years, and has been a feral “collapse theorist” for the last 12 years

    Considering this very long essay attempts to address what is without a doubt, the greatest phenomenal event in the recorded history of our species, I will definitely fall quite short in the endeavor. And this would still be true even if this essay were a hundred times in length.

    This essay is written in acceptance that humanity has now crossed numerous irreversible climatic thresholds. It is also written from the perspective that by so doing, we have ushered in intractable near term extinction (NTE) of most of life within the next several decades. (If nature fails to bat last, nuclear containment pool fallout from grid collapse surely will.)

    I have absolutely no interest in attempting to persuade anyone of this conjecture being either true or false. No one should allow themselves to be persuaded by anyone regarding this subject matter. The decision to accept this, is ours and ours alone. Anyone who is putting the onus of NTE on Guy’s shoulders, or anyone else for that matter, is doing a great disservice to both Guy and themselves. The available evidence is easily accessible, the writing on the wall doesn’t need to be deciphered. The theory of runaway climate change has been around for decades, and now the whole world is able to watch this catastrophe unfold in real-time. But this by no means implies the world is watching.

    This essay is SOLELY written for those who are already familiar with a majority of the available evidence, and who’ve subsequently come to a similar conclusion for themselves. As such, this essay is not intended to be informative, but rather entirely commiserative.

    I am of the opinion that all dialog post-acceptance of NTE is manifestly commiserative. Post-acceptance of NTE, as opposed to our pre-vacillating acceptance, logically equates to defeatism, plain and simple. This is a critical distinction, and probably represents a primary schism within this new body of awareness. The post aspect of acceptance could be consider THE critical distinction, for it’s the difference between the sublimation of having come to terms with what we consider to be inevitable, compared to our wavering refutation of such inevitability, which still affords us a great many fantasies. It’s the acceptance of the inevitability of NTE which lays waste to all else, which is why this is a key factor in determining how we live our lives from here on out.

    What is the meaning of NTE? Literally, we all know what those three words connote when strung together. But we don’t live in a literal reality, we live in a wholly subjective interpretive culture, where the red pill literalism of something like NTE rarely sees the light of day. This disparity obviously has a massive influence on our bias as to how we interpret everything, including the science contributing to our understanding of the significance of tipping points.

    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. If this is a judgment you do not share, then the commiserative intent within this essay will simply elude you.

    As of right now, the entire concept of NTE is still the most profound abstract concept the human race has ever been confronted with. Even though the signs are everywhere one decides to look, the totality of its cumulative impact is still enough off in the distance for entrenched self-preservation to render it an abstraction in our daily lives. So again, the following is written from the viewpoint as to when this is no longer true, when NTE breaks through abstraction, and detonates in full acceptance of the most profoundly devastating reality we’ve ever had to both live with and through.

    (Disclaimer: I no more want to be writing this, than you probably want to be reading it, however, as curious disciples of ferocious truth, here we are … where none of us ever expected or wanted to be.)

    I may be wrong about this, and as with almost everything concerning NTE, I very much wish I am, but as far as I’m able to discern, the comment threads on Nature Bats Last (NBL) might be the only place within the English language that are rationally and emphatically discussing the near term extinction of most of life on earth — at least in the public domain. What a dubious and overwhelming prospect that truly is, if it is in fact the case, or for that matter anywhere close to it.

    It is not surprising that Guy’s blog, which has for years been dedicated to collapse preparedness, would eventually serve as the springboard into the deep end of the recognition of NTE, given we’ve already done our share of quantifying the minutia of contributing factors to the collapse of industrial civilization.

    However, NTE is a classic example of emergence, where something becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It has now become an event unto itself, irrespective of its causation. I believe this is just one of the many aspects that makes this new reality difficult for us to fully comprehend, because our past precedence is, and has been, completely focused on the individual linear contributing factors, which have now compounded in creating this emergent nonlinear post threshold paradigm. The amalgam of discoveries leading up to this moment in time, are now effectively immaterial, which is the actual consequence of tipping points.

    Hence, it’s not the potential of extinction that is foreign to us, but rather the “acceptance” of the near term timing of it. In my opinion, it is our highly subjective and indeterminate acceptance of NTE, which again, is the crucial distinction of how we frame our responsiveness to the ominous implications.

    This dire acquiescence has now effectively catapulted “us” even further out unto the barren wastelands of the radical fringe. But for many, this has been our masochistic stomping grounds for quite some time, whereby we are most likely the first embattled assemblage of like minds in the history of our species to seriously attempt to elucidate the meaning of life amidst the ever-increasing probability of our pending disappearance.

    If this is indeed so, it only stands to reason that we are as well, the first to propose what might be considered the greatest conundrum in history: How do we live out the rest of our lives in light of such acceptance? Especially, when it undermines every aspect of our future-oriented culture, as well as our private life.

    While many of us here have written extensively in attempting to accurately describe the sheer scale of the dilemma we’re facing, the staggering severity of the circumstances before us has made this nearly impossible for us to accurately surmise. Its inference is so emotionally ruinous, with the precise timing being impossible to predict — thus making it highly suspect — our sense of uncertainty can’t help but override our better judgment, in demanding a degree of assurance that we rationally know doesn’t exist.

    However, we’re all too aware that the evidence is quite explicit in detailing that the Holocene is exponentially drawing to a close. The geological epoch which has housed the entire history of civilization … is ending, if it hasn’t ended already. We are literally looking at losing the entire arctic ice cover — one of our planet’s primary thermal regulators — during the melting season, within only a few years … if not this year!

    We could write similar words to those above a thousand times, and still be suspended in utter disbelief, for we are attempting to detail an event that is so remarkably outside any form of past human awareness, it’s either just a passing idea that flies through our minds like a frightened bird, or it levels everything like a daisy cutter. There is no in-between, it’s either a fleeting thought or it’s absolutely devastating.

    Every single story we’ve ever been told, in effect, just careened into the underworld. Everyone’s Rube Goldberg collapse preparedness scheme, just theoretically failed right out of the gate. What part of our lives didn’t just suffer a massive body blow from which we will honestly never recover?

    Nonetheless, our desire for doubt still rages against the evidence. Our past moral imperatives still rile against corporatism’s fait accompli in spite of ourselves. But it’s not as if we’re fabricating either the facts or the science. It’s not as if we’ve unknowingly cloistered ourselves in solipsistic groupthink. It’s not as if we’re not all desperate to have someone/something prove us wrong. I mean who in the hell wants to be right about near term extinction!?! It’s just that the degree of acceptance, which we are being forced to bear, completely undermines the very act of acceptance itself. If this isn’t the greatest cause of universal cognitive dissonance, then I don’t know what could be.

    The less-than-subtle shift in our thinking on a subject we’ve all thought very long on, has had an enormous — albeit understated — side effect on our past “ecological moral imperatives.” Deliberating on the inevitability of collapse, has for many of us, strangely been the force that has given us meaning in life over the last decade(s). But now having to accept that the rates of climatic change have greatly superseded even the most dire predictions of only a few years ago has effectively dissolved the impetus of our past imperatives, mutated all sense of urgency and completely redefined the very concept of time itself.

    It’s a self-determined path that leads one to the comprehension that our culture is addicted to hopium. It’s a path that also continues to lead us far from almost everything in our culture. But it’s quite a different course to attempt to live outside the garden of anticipation, where hopium has flowered for all of our lives.

    As with most addictions, it’s seldom the drug itself that’s the cause of our dependence, but rather any number of undisclosed societal factors that drove us to it in the first place. This is what makes kicking the habit incredibly difficult, for once our system is “clean,” all the reasons for having been under the influence to begin with come rushing back with a vengeance.

    Kicking the drug is the comparatively easy part, kicking the habit of dependence is far more challenging. And the same is to be said about hopium. Knowing our culture is addicted is one thing, living without it, just might prove to be impossible … even for a motley crew of cynics such as ourselves.

    Curiosity could easily be considered one of our species’ greatest traits, but in many ways, acceptance of NTE with its relentless correlation to every aspect of our lives could be considered anathema to the very driving force behind our desire to be informed. And it is this unfolding psychological dilemma that I believe is quite new to many of us, for how could it not be?

    Sometimes even the slightest hope can be enough to sustain us, but once even the dimmest light has been statistically snuffed out, we suddenly find ourselves in an exceptional kind of darkness, unlike anything even us denizens have ever experienced. NTE is the antithesis of Plato’s cave. It’s as if we stumbled out of the shadows, only to blindly stare directly into the sun. I wonder how long it will take for the long-term consequences of such overwhelming contrarian awareness to eventually take its pound of flesh?

    Therein lies another unbelievable fact, that “we” here, at the dawn of the greatest transgressive discovery ever made, might represent the first generation in the history of our species who have ever attempted to reconcile such irreconcilable academic despair.

    No, we aren’t being tortured, nor put to death. We aren’t imprisoned in some hellish hole. We aren’t starving in a refugee camp. We aren’t having to kill our children to end their suffering. We’re not being ganged raped or hounded in a genocidal “cleanse.” No, we are “currently” living out none of these brutal existences, which have always been a facet of civilization. We’re on the other end of the disparate spectrum; we’re the terribly privileged folk, still basking in the relative afterglow of global empires, who have had the opportunity to know more than most of the people who have ever inhabited this planet. We have had the wealth and time to build our own cerebral constructs/prisons.

    The precipice before “us” today, is but the ledge of the idiosyncratic ivory towers we’ve constructed for ourselves. It has allowed us to see further than anyone has ever seen before. However, the universe has an inherent equilibrium to it, and as with most things, there is a price to be paid for such excessive and fruitless erudition. We are in the throes of a superlative first-world cultural dilemma, of what it truly means to know too much. The tsunami we can clearly see rushing toward us from our lofty perspectives might as well be a raindrop in a puddle as far as our dominant culture is concerned. Therein lies the root of most of our frustration and our ever-ascendant alienation.

    I don’t believe anyone here, including myself, is honestly capable of accurately framing the very ethos we’ve created at NBL, given it is unconscionably unprecedented to the very letter of the word. This becomes painfully obvious, every time, anyone of us finds ourselves in any group of people. For there is only one thing that is more maddening than NTE, which is that for whatever reason, the vast majority of our fellow citizens just aren’t capable of caring beyond their immediate needs, which is probably why we find such solace at NBL — even if it’s a remorseful succor.

    This is why I suspect that probably no one here would respond well to someone telling you/us to be careful, that maybe we’re wrestling with a deceptive awareness, which very well could prove to be beyond all of us. There must be any number of unidentified limits to what our tribal minds can endure, and we here, are surely in the process of testing those boundaries, without having much of a clue as to its intuitive repercussions.

    I often now have the sense of receiving some subliminal transmission with my daily dose of disaster, as if “we” are now playing with an extraordinary internal bonfire, which could have within its conflagration, a latency that’s keeping us from realizing we’re being burned alive.

    I suspect that for many of us, through all our past tribulations, activism, adversity and endless cultural negation, see ourselves as possessing some kind of hard-bitten warrior spirit. Call it the environmentalist’s thousand-yard stare. We are all too aware that the path of a self-anointed “truth seeker” — that trespassing inclination that has consequently led us here — isn’t a gentle winding path through a spring meadow. It isn’t the road less traveled. It’s not a revolutionary act. It’s not measured by greatness. It’s just a cruel bottomless hole that once ventured into, eventually leaves the light of modernity, but a pinprick in the night sky for anyone hoping to return to the complicity of our dominant cultural pretense.

    Truth is a life sentence for anyone who values it, and this was self-evident, well before we happened upon nonlinear rates of climatic change. Now, we are being challenged in a way that no minority faction has ever been before.

    Again, the shift in our thinking has been profoundly acute: Being aware of the potential of an unprecedented future reality is one story. Living in full acceptance that the unprecedented has come to pass is poles apart from anything that came before. It’s the difference between objectively analyzing lab rats as they run through a maze, and running either to or from what remains of our life in an inescapable labyrinth.

    There are thousands of literary quotes, which either exalt or disparage our perception of TRUTH, yet not one infamous citation was ever written in context to the Gordian knot of existing empirical evidence of our species near term extinction. We are truly in a place, where literally no one has ever been before.

    But the more we reflect on this demoralizing reality, the worse it gets. And yes, this has always been the case with political realism, but never to the degree it is now — not even close, not even remotely close. No, we’re initiating a diabolic consciousness to which no living human being has ever had to bear witness. It is an awareness which requires a degree of emotional maturity that’s almost indistinguishable from insanity within western culture.

    It truly does seem like we’ve finally dug deep enough to crawl through the center of the world like inquisitive children, only to come out on the other side to discover everything is actually upside down. Where past concepts of truth play out like every other figment of our imagination. Where knowledge becomes but a fetish. Where denial comes to sublimely make sense. Where apathy and hedonism now vie for ethical stakes. Where somewhere along the way, our moral imperatives just became another hit of hopium.

    Dig for the truth long enough, and one becomes a miner. And now, decades down the mine, here we all are, like virtual grave diggers at the bottom of a hole we’ve dug through the world, gathered around a cage of canary bones, guessing how long it’s been dead.

    It’s as if decades ago we formed an old-fashioned bucket brigade to douse our burning house. However, all the buckets have always had holes in them, and they are empty by the time they reach the end of the line. But, since we’ve no other recourse other than continuing to reinvent our past theoretical civic daydreams, we just keep passing the buckets along, while patting ourselves on the back for having done our little part, pretending that it somehow matters because … we imagine we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t act as moral agents in a game we fully know we’ve no agency. Truth no longer sets us free, and it’s highly debatable if it ever has, or what from.

    The whole history of social activism has been along for the ride right into the abyss. While there have always been competing theories as to “our” underlying nature, there has never been a parallel terrestrial reality, which civilization has played out. We’ve never been anything other than violent, avarice primates. Game theory was probably a dilemma even for Neanderthals. The totality of humanities generosity, empathy and compassion has already been collectively factored into our ecological dilemma. Societal capacity to be sympathetic, curious, informed, proactive and sacrificial has played alongside all the ruling elites’ abuse, corruption, subterfuge, violence and death in collectively depositing us pass the thresholds we’re at today.

    What else is NTE other than the final acceptance of the consequences of our species’ fundamental inability to live in balance with our environment? The answer to virtually every question we are ever going to ask, from here on out — post acceptance — can’t honestly be anything other than: “It no longer matters.”

    We are currently attempting to live through the overlying of two completely opposing paradigms. The entirety of all our past lived experiences, identities and vested interests are hopelessly ensnared in a recalcitrant culture that very much exists, but wholly and erroneously on borrowed time. All our past wisdom now exists in a state of unending irrelevancy. Our sense of self, our perception of reality is entirely deceptive, and this was true long before any of us were ever born. And now even this fraudulence is flowing away from us. The observable physical universe is literally passing us by within our lifetime!

    NTE is a complete intellectual dead end unless we are able to somehow attempt to creatively manifest this awareness in the time we have left. Such awareness will most likely come at a great cost to our existing means … but more about that later.

    *Think of all our countless past endeavors and harebrained dreams throughout our lives that we no longer support or believe in for whatever reason. Think about the source of what originally birthed whatever moral imperatives we have been compelled by over the years. Then ask yourself, how does the acceptance of NTE not completely undermine the basis of that imperative? What becomes of a moral necessity, if the essence, prospect or vitality that spurs its urgency has been lost completely? What exactly are we doing, in still attempting to fight “the good fight,” if we fully accept all has been lost?

    And now, we’re ruminating on the essence of our ethical obligations, in full acceptance that the whole concept of anthropocentric morality will soon be completely erased?

    All the lights behind our cultural projectors have burned out, all our stories will soon be lost. Time to put our sacred cows out to pasture, for how can our continued belief in the urgency of our past imperatives — post acceptance of NTE — be considered anything other than anachronistic?

    We were too late in discovering our species had been unknowingly charged with the stewardship of maintaining a precious equilibrium, and due to the absence of our collective wisdom, our remaining time is now beyond this natural world, where we are but subjects to the wrath of thermodynamics.

    I’m coming to suspect that the cognitive dilemma of NTE might merit an entirely new branch of ontology. What does it mean to be present with NTE? How does one reckon the end of everything? The science has delivered us, but unto what … other than our knees?

    NTE is a cultural event horizon, that once we allow ourselves to fully accept it, nothing else in this life will be able to escape its ruthless draw. From a macro perspective, nonlinear rates of climatic change, as it applies to humanity, is a Singularity. It will in all probability be the first and last the human race will ever experience. We are both observers and participants in a game of incalculable factors against impossible odds with an inescapable blunt ending. And this is what we’re attempting to make sense of?

    This is not a truth that comes to reveal any hidden sacred bond. It is the obliteration of all social bonds. It is not just more of the same, but worse. It is not the past made present, but unprecedented. It is an acceptance, which is a wholesale life-changing event on an unfathomable scale that will eventually lead us to ruin, starting with severe ostracization from everything and everyone within our culture … as many here can already attest.

    The fumes from our vested interests and our past ethical bearing can sustain us for only so long, until the very fabric of our presumed consciousness starts to unravel in light of such disquieting imminence. The entire conversation on NBL in regard to NTE is an evolutionary process in reverse. We will not continue to evolve under its appalling shroud, but digress over time into incomprehensible states of being.

    We can only contemplate such staggering amounts of present and future death up to a point, until we start to thoroughly emulate it in our private lives. But this isn’t necessarily something we should avoid. It might just be a step within a process that leads us to a degree of equanimity we can’t yet perceive. But then again, it could easily lead us in the opposite direction.

    Either way, the time before us now will soon be considered the halcyon days of sweet objective conjecture, where we “the randomly statistical chosen few” deliberate on the greatest catastrophic event in human history while we still have the luxury and methodology to do so. Not unlike some virtual reenactment of Boccaccio’s The Decameron, where instead of waiting out a medieval plague, which is ravaging the masses, we are prognosticating our encroaching demise from a virtual safe distance.

    This moment, right now, is but a very short window in time. There isn’t a soul here who hasn’t battled a legion of closed minds by now. All of our backs are against the same damn immovable wall, and no matter how informed we are, or imagine ourselves to be, that entrenched wall is tumbling us off the cliff along with everything and everyone else.

    But even as the endless futility mounts, where some of us are still imagining “resistance to be fertile,” there is a growing concern in the back of my mind, that by way of our compulsive truth seeking, we are closing in on upending our ability to continue to function in this world for whatever amount of time we have left. And I suspect that it is the psychosomatic blowback — for lack of a better term — from having become aware of NTE, that is coming to primarily occupy our thoughts as we reluctantly settle into the surreal parameters of this new paradigm.

    Without a doubt, there is no going back. The clichés are running rampant, a parade of metaphors is spilling out of our collective imagination in attempting to make sense of what is otherwise unfathomable. No, we can’t un-see what has been seen. We can’t undo what has been done. All we can do is attempt to live with knowing that we will not live through it. But I’m not convinced this is even possible, unless one is already well advanced in age.

    Concerning NTE, what wisdom can an old rich white man possibly have for a young mother of three? While NTE is universal, how it personally manifests in each of our lives is anything but.

    The understanding we are attempting to ascertain will make it absurd for having sought it out, the moment we find “it.” We might as well be nakedly roaming the quarantined grounds of Chernobyl with Geiger counters looking for the hottest spots.

    We’re currently inhabiting a state of theoretical prospective famine, which will seem serene once civil chaos and genocide resulting from both starvation, and just the threat of it, starts to eventually decimate our world city by county, state by region, country by continent.

    NTE is an cerebral journey into a vacuum. The surreality is replete with epic vistas and abysmal depths, but how can the final destination be anything other than an indescribable black hole of resignation that will eventually steal all meaning from our lips?

    A part of me almost feels obligated to re-frame any conversation about NTE as an impossible warning for anyone to heed, but one I believe must be acknowledged nonetheless. The forewarning would read as an epitaph over the entrance to a tomb: “The analysis of NTE is the path to your eventual suicide.” For I would wager that anyone who bears the cognizance capable of accepting NTE, today, is seriously undermining their self-preservation in ways not yet known to us. As Montaigne figured out centuries ago, all philosophy does is prepared one for death … and we’re all reluctant philosophers now.

    We have inoculated our hearts with an insidious realization, that will eventually devour everything we hold dear … even our children. How long will it be before the ethical dilemma of infanticide starts being seriously discussed, given it’s already on our minds?

    We have inadvertently and figuratively stumbled into our own La Brea Tar Pit. Our prescience of the full scale of the dilemma we’re in will not serve us well if it has no passage. I wonder if it will serve us at all as the news only continues to confirm our greatest fears. Knowing both the short and longer term consequences, eventually will become an insufferable burden to carry. I suspect that for many, it already is.

    We’re dealing with a discovery of such epic proportion that it simply reduces EVERYTHING in existence to nothing. It is literally impossible to overstate what we’re currently in the process of attempting to delineate.

    Aside from perennial Malthusianism, our awareness that we have the potential of self-extinction has only been with us for about a half century, give or take. It’s hypothetically the default bases of the entire environmental movement. All that’s effectively changed over these last fifty years, is that we’ve watched in horror that potential become an ever increasing reality. And where starting around thirty years ago, we discovered the ultimate cause of our extinction would be climatic. Around twelve years ago, we realized the climate Leviathan would most likely rise out of the Arctic. Around 3-6 years ago, we discovered that it had already awakened. And only about 9 or 10 months ago did it become empirically probable that our extinction could transpire within our lifetimes. (And again, that’s not even talking about nuclear containment pools.)

    We have witnessed over just the last three years, hypothetical Abrupt Climate Change become empirical, where the evidence is so overwhelming, it barely has anything to do with actual observable science anymore, and has everything to do with human psychology, or rather, our shared pathology in the hopium of indefinite growth and progress. And this is why the whole concept of climate change will be, very soon, completely refashioned in context to geo-engineering, if for no other reason, than it sadly now has both the logical and moral high ground compared to doing nothing. Amazing!

    Though it seems as if 2,500 years of pessimism has finally come home to roost, nothing could have prepared us for this! While to some degree, the concept of NTE is nothing new for many of us — it now has its own wiki page — this however, is a false sense of familiarity. Our entire framing of this approaching cataclysm has always been couched in a degree of emotional immunity, simply because none of us ever thought we would actually live to see it, not alone, have to live through it. Of the parade of elephants in the climate change room, this one just spit in our face.

    It’s as if some apparition has just passed through our soul, and has left us but a shell of our former selves. Though we are all still acting as if NTE is just another sad fact to be compartmentalized amidst the litany of dismal daily news, we are in fact dealing with a monstrous cultural disconnect, which is wholly impossible for any of us to either resist or rise above, although this is exactly what we are all desperately attempting to do.

    What difference exists between a known end, and it’s ending, but time? But what is the value of such time? The momentary appreciation as to our fortune of being able to die, because we were fortuitous enough in beating the incomprehensible odds in having existed? That is a degree of philosophical reflection that eventually leads to economic destitution in this culture. Fully live with that realization for too long, and one will end up quoting Diogenes while sleeping with dogs under an overpass, or find ourselves on an unsolicited express elevator to Sannyasa.

    The irony of honest living is it rarely pays the bills. A fairly high level of self-deception has always been required for Homo economicus to make ends meet. It is not by accident that the majority of contributors to NBL are the equivalent to retired landed gentry, which affords some of us the relative detachment from the daily mind numbing demands of capitalism. This seriously taints any presumed wisdom we might be projecting. In our culture, destitution is a fate almost worse than death, and often it is far more terrifying.

    We obviously are all in different living arrangements with entirely different responsibilities. We all have different coping mechanism that unconsciously keep us persevering in this life, even while we seek to prove its utter meaninglessness. We are all trapped by any number of demands, limitations as well as illusions.

    The financial stress of staying in the rat race is easy to rebuke, if we’ve now a large enough nest egg as a buffer. However, the crucible of NTE makes playing the game nearly impossible, and this is the reality for the vast majority of humanity.

    Plant the seed of NTE in the mind of someone who is economically under the thumb of the system, and it could very easily grow to poison them. What “we” often fail to acknowledge is that over the years of our Mithridatic pre-TSD and depression, we’ve unknowingly developed a certain immunity to otherwise fatal truth.

    As we continue to role-play our past imperatives in holding the notion of brutal truth above all else, I suspect that we will soon discover acceptance of NTE to be a proxy to mental illness, for it is without a doubt the epitome of inconsolable despair. It is barely a topic that can be shared among those who even accept it. At some point, something must succumb in such an incredible conflict of competing daily interests.

    I’m not sure who or what we have a responsibility towards anymore. I can’t even argue if we have a responsibility to ourselves or the rest of life at this point. So I write this today as a cautionary tale for those who may still be circling the rim of the abyss that is NTE, and only occasionally looking down, while still entertaining the prospect of more hopeful alternative outcomes.

    Acceptance of NTE is a massively limiting undertaking. It has zero compensation, unless the acceptance of our inevitable predation, starvation or suicide (and, my friends, that is all we’re actually enlightening) can be considered either an interim survivalist fantasy, or a means to peaceful quite resignation … for there are no other outcomes.

    “All ye who enter this ethos, will most likely, eventually take their own life.” If this account can in some way be considered offensive, then in my opinion “you” most likely have no business being “here.” Especially those with youth still on their side. In fact, “you” should take what love you have, and run as far from here as you can … and learn from the error of Lot’s wife and never look back.

    For this is a place, whether we’re conscious of it or not, that’s engaged in meticulously eroding the very essence of our Being, no matter how we choose to define it.

    Again, I am of the opinion that all future discussion post-acceptance of NTE, is now an inherently commiserative experience for no other reason than it’s inevitability.

    The moment we truly accept NTE is not the overwhelming sensation of excruciating sadness, but the eventual release that comes after. Acceptance of NTE is nothing but surrender. A surrendering of our life force. We are now speaking of two entirely different world views. Our pre-acceptance arguments are non-transferable, they do not translate. Everything post-acceptance becomes meta-physical. It’s all mysticism from here on out, and I say this as a staunch atheist.

    But old habits are hard to break, our combative intellects probably make for much of our identities after years of needless acrimony and cultural resistance. But because “our acceptance” is totally subjective, in a collective forum such as this (NBL), our collective understanding of NTE will probably be kept in a permanent embryonic state, as a constant stream of new adherents reluctantly, haphazardly and gradually come to terms at whatever pace our individual acceptance takes to run its grieving course.

    Whereby, as everyone’s mind implodes at different times and at varying degrees, it will effectively keep the conversation in a nascent stage of maturation. Our shared patterned behavior will repeat again and again, as we all jump back and forth between the oscillating highs and lows, where some days we achieve a peak of lucidity, only to lose ourselves in a trough of despair as we attempt to wrestle with the unfolding magnitude of the discovery we’ve unearthed.

    But I suspect a time will eventually arrive, where the totality of NTE will have finally worn through all of our emotional defenses, washed away all anticipation, utterly crushed our egos, rendered our past intellects redundant and finally deposited us unto an alluvial plan of resignation of there being no way of escaping a brutal end, once global famine is set upon us. There truly is no preparing for what is coming.

    But today, we are still recoiling, we need to catalog the destruction, we still bear enough incredulity that we need support, validation, confirmation and commiseration as our past paradigm continues to play scrimmage with all of this unprecedence. It’s still enough of a novelty for disbelief to keep a foothold. Even as we attempt to wrap our minds around this, I suspect we are still far from grasping “it.”

    I like to imagine that when that time finally arrives, when all hope truly fades, when even the remote prospect of rural tranquility is lost, we will have come to terms with our personal ending and see the concept of suicide, not as a stigma of cowardice, or a failure of character, but as altruism in the last ethical act left us.

    Carpe diem sounds exquisite — it always has — but it’s just another illusion, especially in a world of debt. We can pretend that we are living in the moment, all the while worrying how we will continue to afford the roofs over our heads, but honestly, we know deep down that carpe diem demands wild abandon and mindfulness that there may be no tomorrow. Carpe diem does not facilitate mortgage payments.

    If we are to truthfully “seize” the time we have left, from the clutches of what now appears to be a hopelessly inane future, this will be, as it has always been, impossible to achieve while being overly concerned with the future of money. This is just a ubiquitous fact that most us try to ignore the best we can, because the only alternative, is the risk of destitution. This dilemma has always been present in a culture dominated by capitalism, it’s just more apparent now as we come to terms with the fact that every narrative has ended, and regardless of our means, they no longer justify any end.

    Money is still the force that gives us shelter. It is what keeps us fed and warm at night, regardless of who we are, or where we live. Therefore, for us to embrace our inner Epicurean, truly, we must first come to terms with our inevitable destitution, or rather, we must overcome our fear of destitution, if we’re to grasp whatever “meaning” there is to be had in the face of NTE, beyond just writing about it today.

    In our hyper-monetized culture, this is obviously easier said than done, but this is where the perception of suicide can, once again, eventually come to be seen as an elemental gift from the universe. NTE is unprecedented in every sense. It completely alters our opinion of everything, including the end of our life. It’s highly debatable whether there has ever been “meaning.” Many would argue, there is nothing but what IS, completely indifferent to any human moral valuation.

    So, what becomes of the meaning of suicide in the face of NTE? As with everything else, it clearly isn’t what it was before. It too has been altered. I believe the concept of suicide — a chosen death — will over time, prove to be one of the only fertile grounds of self-discovery still open to us. As Vaclav Havel said, “Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren’t in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.”

    Of course, I’m not speaking of how we’ve come to frame this exceptionally taboo subject in the past, but how — in light of our incredibly recent acceptance of brutal extinction — there will be a considerable semantic shift in the very meaning of the word/act.

    In light of NTE, think of suicide as a double negative.

    I believe that this acceptance will not only become the gateway that we must all one day pass through to fully live with the recognition of NTE, but where ultimately it will be seen as our last chance at some semblance of salvation amidst the ensuing chaos. Or rather, NTE is what frees us completely from the concept of salvation. In the words of E.M. Cioran, “The certitude that there is no salvation, is a form of salvation, in fact, it is salvation ….”

    There is an emergent ethical imperative surrounding suicide in context to NTE that can’t be denied, no matter how disreputable we still considered it be. Its importance will only continue to grow as society slowly comes to terms with the incredibly limited choices within the dilemma now before us. Again, NTE ends in only one of three ways for everyone: predation, starvation or suicide.

    The Absolute-ism of humanity’s collective ecological destruction has always been a bur under the saddle of moral philosophy. Those who are inclined towards biophilia sadly understand that it is simply a value/desire that is not universally shared within western culture … by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn’t something you can teach someone. It’s a “value set” that might as well be considered a talent; something inherited by chance. One either possesses it, or they don’t. After decades of being in the ideological trenches of radical environmentalism, I have finally lost all faith that the essence of biophilia is something that can either be taught or learned, and the few exceptions that exist, are just that: exceptional.

    So, now here we biophiliacs are, having to finally accept what we’ve probably long suspected to be true, that the human race has so run amok through the vertical ascension of exponential growth that we’ve irreversibly destroyed our planet’s habitable biosphere. Yes, it took us 200, 5,000, 12,000, or 300,000 years to finally achieve it, but whether or not this is something “we” could have avoided, is beside the point … at least at this point. Damage long done, the latest web of life has been broken yet again.

    Lamenting as to the cause is irrelevant as well, other than attempting to personally alleviate our sense of culpability in choosing to believe it was inevitable one way or the other. Attempting to deduce exactly when Homo sapiens fell from earth’s grace has the familiar stench of original sin. And given that many, if not most, here are more driven by fiery belief in morality, rather than cool apathetic indifference, the emergent ethical imperative of suicide, is going to gain ever greater currency over the coming years for anyone who has been burdened with having once cared about wilderness. In fact, it’s impossible for it not to. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.”

    It might sound strange — how could it not — but I believe the question of what suicide becomes, is what circuitously guides us through the cacophony of dead and dying dreams and leads us to whatever “magic” is left to be found in this disintegrating world. The cultural emancipation that comes from overcoming our fear of death, in accepting that we will eventually choose our death, is what ultimately frees us from all attachment, particularly, the fear of destitution and the tyranny of what we consider NOW constitutes our immediate needs.

    We must remember that every single vested interest we possess was formed prior to acceptance of NTE. The entirety of our physical existence exists in opposition of the acceptance we’ve now initiated … and it is far from its finality.

    In knowing that whatever may come, that it simply doesn’t matter, is the freedom that will allow us to truly leave everything behind, which is what we all must eventually do. Frankly, I don’t believe it’s actually possible to “let go” without having done this.

    There is a significant difference between knowing that tomorrow could be our last, and living in full acceptance that if tomorrow is indeed our end, that we know we are ready to go. That knowing is what will allow us to live without fear and truly be present in whatever amount of time we do have left, whether it be a few weeks or a few decades. Once the undulating emotional trauma of NTE runs its acidic course, we begin to glimpse that such forced perverse acceptance, remarkably has within it, the capacity to become the most profound numinous/existential experience the human race has ever “produced.”

    What makes something tragic? Isn’t the whole notion of tragedy an anthropocentric cultural construct?

    Could the past five extinction events be considered a tragedy? Is the cycle of life a tragedy?

    What separates expected loss from unexpected loss, other than what we’ve been conditioned to expect?

    How do we reconcile our sense of the tragic loss of life, resulting from human activity, with the fact that the vast majority of life on earth has already succumbed to extinction, and where if it hadn’t, we most likely wouldn’t exist?

    Are other life forms blameworthy for having driven their competitors into extinction, or do we somehow morally hold our selves apart/above, in believing “we” had a choice, due to our higher cognitive faculty?

    Is NTE only a tragedy, because we’re aware of our culpability?

    And exactly, who is “we”? What evidence is there of our species possessing the necessary collective wisdom capable of overcoming our collective destruction of the natural world? Is there any evidence that our species possesses collective wisdom at all?

    Or more importantly, when has the ruling elite ever acted altruistically, since the entire history of civilization has always been controlled by a ruling class? Whatever exceptions may have existed for a brief time, there’s an obvious reason they are statistically irrelevant.

    Therefore, is NTE only a tragedy, because “we” presume it could have been prevented? This is a crucial question in regard to our acceptance of NTE, for if it couldn’t have been prevented, can it still be considered tragic? Because how much does our sense/belief that it could have somehow been averted, still affect our sense of culpability in dictating our moral imperatives? And if we do believe it could have been prevented, how is this anything other than just a fantastic article of faith in Utopianism? And how could such a utopian society been effective without becoming an oppressive totalitarian State?

    I ask these questions having spent decades foolishly projecting my ecological values unto an utterly indifferent citizenry. It is all too easy for us to isolate ourselves in minority enclaves and overlook that the vast majority of our species has, nor will they ever, possess the macro ecological values capable of overriding our biological imperative.

    In my opinion, the degree we continue to measure NTE in preventable-tragic terms, will mostly likely determine our sense of moral imperative vs. hedonic resignation.

    As radicals, at what point does our sense of culpability as to the crimes of empire just become a shell game because our past identity/vested interests can’t let go of what we know is completely lost, or that regardless of our morality, it couldn’t have been prevented?

    But hold on, what of our personal responsibility to the natural world, whose destruction we’ve all profited from? What right do any of us first-worlders have in being able to seek enjoyment, in light of an extinction event we’ve all done more than our share in creating? What of all the life under our collective industrial thumb, still struggling to exist? What right do we thieves have to go quietly into that good night? Can’t the remnants of our past imperatives still find more proactive forms of dissent, civil disobedience and rebellion even in acceptance of NTE? Wouldn’t the most ethical choice be to dedicate our lives in helping ease the suffering of the less fortunate? As moral agents, are we not obligated to swim upstream to the bitter end, regardless? Isn’t “secular morality” solely based on the righteousness of the act itself, despite its outcome?

    Are the answers to these questions obvious to anyone who considers themselves to be driven by a moral imperative that is rooted in a sense of culpability? It has been the driving force in my life, for my entire adult life. I have by no means painlessly come to the acceptance I can no longer deny.

    The driving wedge of course is NTE, which completely flips the script as to the “meaning” of everything, including what is and isn’t an ethical act. For how ethical is it, for us privileged few to actually continue to live, full well knowing that it is our relatively obese existences that are the ultimate causality of the degradation of the natural world? As ecologically minded moral agents, what right do we have to continue to consume … anything, in full acknowledgment that we’ve already consumed far too much? In a world of permanent scarcity, what isn’t stolen from someone who has been victimized by our empire? How much more energy will all of us consume from here on out, in spite of how we live? How much basic material goods will we continue to plunder while we breath, regardless of the morality of our behavior?

    From a purely logical point of view, in a reality of gross ecological overshoot, isn’t altruistic suicide actually the most ethical act any of us first-worlders can now affect, or rather, impart? If living by example is our moral goal, couldn’t it be argued that whatever ends our continued consumption of the natural world, is actually the highest ethical objective?

    Clearly, there is no one way of answering any of these questions. Again, even before the advent of NTE, resolution as to “meaning” itself was philosophically unquantifiable. What is or isn’t considered anthropocentric truth has been literally debated for thousands of years. Hume’s “is, ought” conundrum has never been resolved, nor will it ever be, and this was true even when humanity at least had the illusion of “progress.” What physical act, or belief system regardless of its morality, isn’t hopelessly anthropocentric?

    As breeding, consuming, polluting animals on a planet choking to death from our affluence, wouldn’t it be considered the highest display of human consciousness, to willfully end our self-destructive lives as a testament to the highest level of anthropocentric conscientiousness?

    At least for me, there is only one question we need to ask ourselves in attempting to reconcile our past-present-future perspectives: In a post-acceptance reality of NTE, what doesn’t become relative?

    For me, nothing … anymore. NTE is an astonishing equalizer. Everything, all of life in existence, just became relative to everything else, including all the life that has already passed into extinction. Our presumed disconnect between life today, and the 98% of life that no longer exists, has ended.

    Those who still continue to hold onto their past sense/construct/modality/illusion of morality, again, probably have no business contemplating NTE. All of our past ethical dilemmas were involuntarily reconciled the moment we accepted it, which is why “our acceptance” of such an utterly demoralizing event, is/was the unconscious fulcrum point which leads to the ethical downfall of every thought here, or thereafter.

    Once we begin to frame the meaning of NTE in context to our personal life choices, it instantly stops being an abstract concept, which again, is all it’s been up to this point, and we’re forced to seriously confront the single greatest dilemma in the history of humanity, whereby face up to the reality that we simply haven’t much longer to live.
    How do we draw the ultimate conclusion of our life, while we’re still filled with vitality? When we all still have so much life to live and share, how do we come to terms with the unprecedented reality that we will most likely soon be forced to take our life, for the sole reason of avoiding needless suffering?

    Obviously, it is only natural that we avoid this dreadful conclusion for as long as we possibly can, which is what most of us are probably going to do, especially those who haven’t the freedom to act otherwise. We will all most likely play the waiting game, especially young parents, and continue on with our lives pretty much as we have up to this point, for as long as we can, and decide how we’ll roll with the punches as they come.

    When in doubt, play it safe. Slow and steady wins the race. No point in making any brash decisions, while there’s still so much room for doubt. Right?

    BUT, we can only continue to skirt around the issue of what NTE actually means to us personally for so long. I would suppose that for almost everyone here, our lives are basically still the same as they were prior to this dire sublimation. Little has probably physically changed as a result, yet, we all know that this will only be true for so long.

    The remainder of this essay is a little more opinionated. It is written for those of us who have decided to be brash in our acceptance that we simply haven’t much time left to experience however much time remains. I have finally left my past moral imperatives to wither in the solar winds, and have now come down on the side of ethical hedonism as being the only way “I” can truly be present with NTE.*

    There is no right or wrong way of attempting to live through what simply can’t be. It is impossible for our individual sense of morality, to not be rife with false analogy in context to the incomparable unprecedence now upon us. We will all be victims of either deliberate or unintended consequence, some sooner, others slightly later, but there is no getting out of harm’s way. There’s no there, there.

    Again, for those who consider there “might” still be a chance to turn this bloody ship around, then it logically makes

  • @ F. Kling
    Not necessary to post that in the comments! We all have links to that stuff already!

    I am a member of the Church of The Second Law of Thermodynamics. I don’t KNOW anything really – but I believe that nothing matters, nothing ever mattered, and this miracle of consciousness – as amazing as it may seem – changes nothing. It would have made no difference if consciousness had not appeared – we would all still be long gone when this solar system is gone – nothing remembered, nothing remembering. No point in scratching your name in the concrete…

    The meaning of life. The facts of life. The mystery of life.

    Wake, eat, poop, sleep. Repeat.

  • Henry, you have a lot of information about nuclear plants. Do you have any idea what a nuclear meltdown would be like if there were no remediation. At Chernobyl at least 500,000 people were used to put it into a state of temporary storage. If the grid collapses, ie no more electricity ever, how would you entomb 427 melted down nuclear plants. Gasoline cannot be pumped and no more gasoline will be made. Everyone will be scrambling for food, clean water and their toilets will be backing up. We have never seen a nuclear melt down with NO attempts to contain it. much less 427.

    you wrote “My last understanding of the subject was that nuclear particles are radioactively dangerous in differing ways, in inverse proportion to their mass, but that their half-lives corresponded positively to that danger.”

    OK for you and others there are two ways to get radiation – one is by being irradiated such as when you get an xray. The radioactive particles are outside, the radiation goes through you. Whatever damage might be done is done and for most of us a dental xray on a regular basis doesn’t give us cancer.

    The other way of being irradiated it to ingest or inhale a hot particle. This could be radioactive iodine, or cesium or strontium what ever. Different particles lodge in different parts of the body. Iodine lodges in the thyroid but has a short half life so usually doesn’t cause cancer in anyone but children who are more vulnerable as they are growing. After Chernobyl a new term came into being – Chernobyl necklace – because of the scars people got from having thyroids removed. This included adults as the dose was high enough for even some adults to get it. Strontium and cesium like bones and last much longer. All the time they are in your body until their half lives eliminate them they are radiating you every day. Thus they can create cancers much later in life and adults are vulnerable as well.

    New York — Description: Japanese Nuclear Scientist and Japanese and US medical doctors to discuss current radiological health conditions and concerns in Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor catastrophe.

    Dr. Andy Kanter, MD, MPH, President of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has studied radioactive plume projections from nuclear reactor accident scenarios and other public health impacts of nuclear radiation dispersion. He is the director of Health Information Systems/Medical Informatics for the Millennium Villages Project for the Earth Institute at Columbia University as well as an Asst. Prof. for Clinical Biomedical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University.

    “Even a single hot particle consumed or inhaled into the body can cause a cancer.”
    you can find his presentation here

    So what matters most for most people is the air borne and water borne dissemination of hot particles – and the concentration of these particles in fish and other animals. Cows concentrate strontium into their milk. Fish in their bones (I have read that the Japanese love bone soup) Hot particles in the soil can become airborne again by storms or plowing. Of course for those poor smucks trying to contain Fukushima external radiation is also a problem. And some of the readings outside the leaking tanks are pretty damn high.

    So look at what we did at three mile and chernobyl, We were able to contain. Fukushima is still up in the air and another earthquake right now could be devastating.

    Any rate not a time to have children as fetuses and young children are most vulnerable so kids, get your tubes tied unless you want some of the kids born after Chernobyl or in Fallujah. Educate yourself. Google images for kids of Chernobyl or kids of Fallujah. Have a barf bag handy/

  • @OzMan
    Re: Galaxy Quest

    “It’s the little things.”

    Thanks wildwoman for the compliment. Here’s an image of my buddy ‘Ace‘ my orchard assistant that I photographed around 7:30 am today.

    I’ll bet they’ll let you have a compost pile in Kentucky. Have you tried using a reputable water dowser to locate water on your property? I have utilized their services in the past and they do manage to find water reliably. Ask around. Toads in the garden is good. Coming soon. Snakes the size of school buses.

    Last night the great horned owl was up in the tall Robinia pseudoacacia – Black Locust hooting up a storm. Have you ever seen the wingspan on one of those owls? It’s like six or seven feet. They take over crow and hawk nests for their own purposes so I reckon they’re near the top of the avian food chain. They eat skunks too. Yikes! My cat has been staying inside these past nights. No wonder.

    Do you know how to make a hyperlink?

    Your argument seems like you’re trying to justify past behavior. Profiting from human misery, maintaining societal hierarchy, overpopulating the planet etc. Isn’t past behavior what delivered us here to this critical juncture?

    Most of us here love you.

    the truckstop at the end of the world – Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen

  • @ Friedrich Kling

    Wtf is the matter with you ? We’ve seen those before, if you want to draw attention to them again why not just post the links ?

    Where’s your explanation for your lie, Mr. Shabby Dishonest Insurance Salesman ?

    @ Kathy C.

    Thus the very planet that gave birth to life, also wipes it out.

    But that is antropromorphic of course. Nature just is.

    But it’s the Universe that gave birth to life, because without the chemicals that were made inside the stars, no life on Earth, without the Sun, no life on Earth, so scale up to thinking on a larger level, about what is going on…

    And, although your version of the story follows the mainstream scientific orthodoxy, more or less, you put all the emphasis upon the parts that hurt you personally the most, and see no beauty in the awesome savagery, and the amazing intricacy of the food chains, so let’s for a moment, try and escape from all anthropomorphism, even anthropocentrism..

    What we have, is something very, very strange, as you said, as a replicating, unfolding, process, and here we are, over a couple of centuries, a mere flash, able to see it in the geological record, to be aware of so much of the deep past…

    and all you can say is ‘It just is’… ??

    Of course, it just IS. But we ARE it. IT made US. We are inseparable from the Universe. We are it’s EYES looking at IT and ourselves. Just for a few brief moments. Absolutely incredible.

    And then people think that has no meaning ? I can’t get my head around that at all. I mean, it’s a personal choice, of course, that someone is entitled to make, but it’s like looking into your child’s eyes and saying to them ‘You mean nothing’. It seems a very odd attitude, and has no basis in anything that makes any sense to me.

  • Kathy Cassandra says: So there you have it – to save the planet from global warming we need to end industrial civ and precipitate the inevitable dieoff. But to end industrial civ means a world flooded with radiation on top of the peak oil die off.


    Theoretically, we might reverse
    Either nuke plant or global heat’s curse,
    But, quite unexpected,
    Once one is selected,
    It makes the other one worse.

  • @ Henry

    “And maybe that’s why I have an initial bit of resistance to topics that distract from the scientific evidence we are sharing here about the “nonlinear” (meaning No Going Back) and cascading effects of carbon accumulation in the atmosphere.”

    You are remarkably clear. However, I don’t see the “scientific evidence” as the only worthwhile subject of discussion (not that you said it was)around NTE. This article is about the prospect of salvaging *something* out of looming catastrophe. That something has to do with values–like what got us into nuclear technology in the first place–among much else not directly on the topic of scientific evidence for nuclear, climate and other forms of collapse.

    In my own case, I’m focused on the mindset and cultural ideas that have prevailed and been contested throughout our history. Since there appears to be more people willing to investigate the science than the mindset, I gladly leave the former to them. I think we need both foci, don’t you?

  • @Eric:

    //“My complete lack of belief notwithstanding, I’m not a very good atheist and never have been. I have a deeply religious bent. I respond to the world in a way that could only be called “worshipful.” My respect for life is such as would strike most “practical” persons as weird and unhealthy. I cannot — and never have been able to — bring myself to kill a spider, a scorpion, a wasp or a pit viper: it would never occur to me to do such a thing.”

    Since when does being a “good” atheist mean struting around, wantonly stomping on other creatures? Does not compute.//

    Perhaps my clumsy paragraph structure has led you to imagine a linkage between atheism and wanton destruction of living things that does not in fact exist for me. If you’ll imagine a paragraph break after my second sentence quoted above, maybe my meaning will be clearer. It’s also possible that I should have used “consistent” rather than “good” – that’s closer to the meaning I intended.

    Hope this helps.


  • Dear CatCampion, thank you graciously for your splash of spirit into the forum. If by chance or purpose my take on the weird sister outlook should be part of your critique and encouragement for tolerance, I think that a time for that kind of tolerance has already passed. Humans had their chance at bat. Now we either see a reason to bat for nature in sacred harmony and fierce longing, or we go home. An audience sitting in the stands rather than standing their ground is the last thing to tolerate in these times. I’m all for individual expression in how one makes a stand but not a choice to give up, stand down and leave for dead, a still living planet.

    Or as the old proverb goes… Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those doing it.

    Dear Erin, thank you for that fantastic quote, and I feel it is a challenge to us all to embrace those painful truths without shutting down. “hoo boy, they don’t know what they’ve done” straight to the bones with joy.

    And to all the dear gardeners and canners, bless you. I miss my garden so much, such sweet heart piercing joy to hear you share your stories.

    Dear Logspirit, heaps of gratitude for your sound argument against what you call the ‘red tooth and claw military mindset’ wow!

    Dear Gail, yes well, the power of curses and blessings trade places in the blink of an eye and all it usually takes is definition. That work is already done by your consent which I happily applaud.

    Dear Muffleupagus, thank you for your input questioning the mental construct in certainty of extinction, extremely well laid out case. We can all agree it doesn’t look good from where we are standing, but from here do we say it is fair or right or reasonable to leave the planet for dead? Cut our ties of fate free from earthly belonging?

    Dear Henry, thank you for sharing your dicey theory on meltdowns, again we speculate and speculate. Thank nature that we see what may be a slow retreat from what was heating up to be WWIII! A little more time now as the seconds left tick silently away.

    Thank you all and thanks to Guy.

  • Rob: Here is the message I received from Guy regarding the article. You may have read the article, but other people do not have the time to scour the internet like you do. Take your complaint to the boss:

    “And thanks for posting to NBL. –Guy”

  • @Tom

    “muffleupagus: and here I was concerned about having gone through an airport scanner a few times in addition to going to the dentist regularly, so I’m not happy about all the additive radiation being wantonly dispersed/dispensed by humanity with the pleasantry that “maybe it’ll help me” when it’s much more likely to cause cancer or damage tissue or cells. Our attitudes about this stuff don’t make it natural or healthy, especially when we have no control over how much or what type we’re encountering with melt-down nukes adding to the stuff we don’t think is a problem (remember, it’s cumulative).”

    So basically you’re just paranoid. I do think that’s an apt term. You’re showing irrational fear. A 30 minute flight on an airplane will give you several times over the radiation dose of an airport scanner. Dental xrays are nothing compared to a year of simply living on planet earth. That’s what’s often lacking from these posts on the board. Perspective and proper scaling. Radiation already exists in the air, water, and soil, both naturally, and from the sum total of extracting from mines, processing at centers, and utilizing in plants and bombs either stored, else already exploded.

    Do you have any clue what they potential global increase in various nuclear particles would be if every fuel rod was exposed to the atmosphere and ocean? I have no clue, but am pretty damned sure it’s damned miniscule. There was a whole of of doom-porn surrounding the topic early on, and I actually got taken back by it for a couple of weeks before taking in enough information to sift through the propaganda. I can tell you with certainty that the majority of the “alternative news” sources are giving gross misrepresentations of the data, and taking things entirely out of context. For instance, fukushima has some 40,000 or so fuel rods, yet chernobdly only had like a dozen… except they’re completely different reactor processes, the fuel rods are shaped differently, contain different proportions of radioactive isotopes, are of different capacities, and on and on and on…


    I don’t think there’s a right, or fair way of answering your question. Life isn’t fair. Fair is a mental concept in relation to moral reasoning. Morality is dependent on an individuals genetic predisposition, and environmental surroundings, most notably his familial, cultural, and educational background. Some people have relatively simple moral structures. Others are a bit more layered. I’m quite layered, and tend to take in many perspectives simultaneously. After everything has been calculated, I weigh it against my personal values in a hierarchical order of principal. For global situations, I tend to default towards –greatest good for the greatest number.–

    Having said all of that, I would hope we don’t destroy this planet. I’m actually quite fond of nature, however transhumanist my perspective may seem at times. My views were shaped into a humanist perspective, taking the species as joined within the fabric of nature, but always superseding it in prime interest. To this extent, I was willing to sacrifice (as are we all, wittingly or not) bits of the habitat for benefits to the species, within reason. As the scales have shifted, so has my perspective…

    Now I’m seeing the necessity to extend beyond our bounds, both biologically and terrestrially. Do I want to continue to extinct some 1-200 species a day? Nope. Does my voice make a difference? Hardly, to not at all. Will we take out a chunk of life in the process of figuring out how to survive this century? I think so. Will it get to a point that we must bounce out into space, leave this place, and watch it become uninhabitable to all but the most adept of life? I don’t know.

    Ultimately, what matters to us is dependent on our own psyche. Our values, our beliefs, and our wishes. I must ask for the reason behind caring if a planet is destroyed, or restored, if the species leaves entirely? It no longer affects us. So then it is a principal you hold dear? If so, that is nice of you to stick to your principals. I personally would like to leave the planet with the chance of creating a higher lifeform in a billion or so years, but who’s to say that attempting to restore will not thwart such an evolution? Is it not hubris to assume we can control the shape of the evolution of a planet in such time-scales?

    We weren’t around for 99% of the planets evolution. We’re just a blip on the clock. Wanting humans to die in order to save more species, when there has already been many more times species extinct on this rock, than what currently exists, is absolutely ridiculous, in my mind. That’s just me, thou. To each their own!

  • Mr. Goza, thank you for the thought provoking essay!
    I haven’t had a chance to read the Hedges article you mention, but very glad you gave your own critique of academia. A beloved professor of mine used to encourage his art students to create by saying, “everything has already been done, but not by you.” Of course, he was also the one who proclaimed, while I was in the middle of an existential crisis regarding use of precious materials in the selfish endeavor of art making, that “we are born to use resources!” Well, I no longer think making art is selfish, but have a deeper appreciation for found object and performance art, simply for their spare use of raw materials. (Love Andy Goldsworthy.)
    I have to say, sadly, that use of techno-gadgets creeping into class time will likely not go away while such things are available, and possibly the only remediation is to somehow incorporate their use into some of your assignments in some creative way. While true that some students are only there for the college ‘experience’, you never know what will reach any particular student. Maybe something you offer will afford someone an ‘experience’ in learning that will dwarf what they presumed was in store for them in the middle of football games and school pride. From my brief foray into teaching at university level, I can honestly say that it does happen. The oddest thing can ignite the creative spark in someone.
    Anyway, your class sounds fun. For some reason hearing about it reminded me of a book I have that I never got a chance to read, “Audiotopia: Music, Race and America”, by Josh Kun. I find my reading/viewing time is limited, and so I try to choose wisely these days. If you have read it and found it valuable, maybe you could let me know? I’m a visual artist, but more interested in the creative process itself, regarding how people perceive and approach creating things, whether painting, sculpture, music, dance, mathematics, basketball, it doesn’t matter. There is beauty in expression, whatever it’s form.

    @Artleads, you said: It does not seem possible to make a difference through deliberate, purpose-based endeavor. Whatever those results, wouldn’t they be like putting your hand in a river, then removing it and expecting anything definable to have changed? The hole where your hand had been will close up again, and the river will flow on as if you had never been there.
    The artist, Song Dong, did a performance in 1996 where he stood in the Lhasa River of Tibet, and using an old wooden stamp carved with the chinese character for water, ‘printed’ water on water…quite lovely and profound.

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #42

    Dark highway: lights flash,
    wings flail, barrel-roll, legs splay;
    great horned owl takes shape.

  • @ F. Kling:
    I just meant the WHOLE long thing – no big deal, all is well.
    My intention was not to be hateful.

    To All:
    Those who find meaning in a mystery, so be it. Just as I cannot understand anything spiritual beyond the “this feels good, that feels bad” electrical impulses in my brain, I also cannot discount those who do. Because I do not know – but, if we are in the schoolyard choosing sides, I’m going to avoid the folks who think they DO know – especially the ones that make a big fuss out of knowing what they know.

    Now, of course, all this could change if I stumble upon a burning bush and he/she/it says to me: “I AM WHO I AM.” Until then, I am but a small flame trying to warm the Universe.

    @Ogardener: thanks, this feels good.

    @Muffle: Is it logical to kill children since so many have died before? I agree to condemn all humans to extinction so that the rabbits and frogs might live seems a harsh position – and not one that I advocate. I think it would be nice if a sustainable human population could live through what we are going through – in harmony with Nature, plant no crops, build no cities. But, some here believe that is not possible, that it is our nature to make war on our brothers and let our neighbor’s children starve – and kill Every Living Thing On Earth in the process.

    ‘Beware the beast man, for he is the
    devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates,
    he kills for sport, or lust or greed.
    Yes, he will murder his brother to possess
    his brother’s land. Let him not breed
    in great numbers, for he will make a desert
    of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him
    back into his jungle lair: For he is the
    harbinger of death.’
    — I have always known about man. From the
    evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk
    hand in hand with his idiocy. His emotions
    must rule his brain. He must be a warlike
    animal who gives battle to everything around
    him — even himself.

  • TIAA: “I’m all for individual expression in how one makes a stand but not a choice to give up, stand down and leave for dead, a still living planet…Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those doing it.”

    Here’s the problem with your position. YOU are not “doing it” if by “doing it” you mean you are somehow embracing life and saving the planet, etc.

    If you are using electricity of any sort, you are contributing to the destruction of this still-but-barely-living planet. If you burn oil, or wood, or gas, you are contributing to the destruction. If you purchase any goods made by enslaving poor people (that includes all industrial food production and virtually all consumer items) you are contributing to the destruction and to the injustice.

    The idea that by recycling, or buying a Prius, or meditating, or canning vegetables from your own garden (what are you using for heat? where did the glass jar come from, the metal lid, with the rubber lining?) is somehow saving the planet is a gross distortion of reality. From the point of view of the endangered species we share this overcrowded sphere with, not to mention the slaves in poor nations thrown off their land to mine minerals and manufacture clothing and sneakers while sleeping in cages, you may as well be driving a Hummer and gobbling beef.

    I think it’s great if people want to reduce their carbon and ecological footprint. I do! But it’s simply absurd to pretend it’s meaningful or useful because the only way to really do it is to die immediately, and even then, you’re going to leave behind a carcass loaded with toxic heavy metals that will consume more resources being buried or cremated.

    If you really imagine you want to help the still-but-barely-living planet, at the very least, turn off your computer.

    Or stop the self-righteous preaching.

  • ogardener, Ace looks like she’s singing! How wonderful!

    I tried to find a dowser for KY, but none operating. Had to settle for a geologist. No luck. Kentucky doesn’t want us as bad as we wanted it, apparently.

    I’ve never seen a Great Horned Owl in the wild, but I’ve heard them. They are called flying tigers because they can take dog and cat sized animals. I think I would stay inside when they are hunting!

    thestormcrow, where approximately are you located? I’m in Michigan and I’ve seen more small toads in the last few weeks than I have in all of the 13 years here combined. I used to have a large, female American toad that would hang around and let me take pictures of her, but she’s been gone for a couple of years now.

    I really do appreciate this forum a lot, even if we don’t all agree. As one of the smaller brains (I like to think of myself as “middle brow”), I do learn so much about so many topics. Wish I could contribute more, but whatchagonnado?

  • @ Friedrich Kling

    No need for me to rub your nose in your own s**t any more, is there. So much for you being an ‘honourable gentleman’, eh.
    Look, I don’t mind being called a rogue and a scoundrel, it’s probably true enough, I don’t care what anybody calls me, I get called stupid things here all the time, if I was bothered about silly names I wouldn’t call myself ulvfugl would I, BUT I have never posted any comment here under ANY other name. Got that, you silly man ?
    And for you to insult me because i don’t accept that there are aliens visiting us without something more than anecdote to support the notion, says to me you are not a person to be taken seriously. I assume you have some excuse, I expect you were drunk, having a nervous break down or the aliens have abducted you or something. Not my problem. Have a
    nice day.

    @ Gail, TIAA

    If you burn oil, or wood, or gas, you are contributing to the destruction.

    Erm, minor point, but SCALE matters, and it IS possible to heat a home from wood without contributing ANYTHING to the destruction, in fact, it can be done with a positive benefit to the environment. There are ways to provide for most of our basic needs which, although not 100% perfect, could easily have let us exist happily for many more centuries, we already know how to do this. That is NOT the problem.

    @ Rob @ the Public Library

    Those who find meaning in a mystery, so be it. Just as I cannot understand anything spiritual beyond the “this feels good, that feels bad” electrical impulses in my brain, I also cannot discount those who do. Because I do not know – but, if we are in the schoolyard choosing sides, I’m going to avoid the folks who think they DO know – especially the ones that make a big fuss out of knowing what they know.
    Now, of course, all this could change if I stumble upon a burning bush and he/she/it says to me: “I AM WHO I AM.” Until then, I am but a small flame trying to warm the Universe.

    Is there ANYBODY here who claims that they KNOW what the mystery means, Rob ?

    I can’t think of anyone. Except maybe Robin Datta, and he just co-opts the authority of Vedic scriptures and the Buddha and the Kabbala and the Bible and other sources and cobbles together a cut-and-paste mish mash of words to sound like wisdom that makes it appear as if he knows, so far as I can tell. It’s usually impossible to make out what precisely he’s saying.

    Regarding the ‘this feels good, that feels bad’, you have never looked any further than that, have you, so not surprising you never found anything else. Btw, have you ever seen the electrical impulses in your brain ? You take all that on faith, from what you read in a book ?

    @ Tom, Kathy.

    From what I’ve read about radioactivity, although sometimes the danger is exaggerated, I tend to agree with your views.

    Livin’ Beyond Doom