How to talk about the likely death of billions of people

by SanJoseMike

Talking about climate related deaths in the billions is not an everyday conversation. I thought I would share with you some successes I have had, and some occasions where I have no idea how to proceed. I am sure someone reading this will have some insight. Here are the three situations I face:

Teacher/student. I teach SAT biology and AP biology and AP environmental science. At the SAT level, the coverage of global warming on the test is very minimal, just how does the process work, and a brief (and very understated) list of consequences. I always go ‘beyond the book” in every class I teach, so I expand on the theme of ocean acidification, sea level rise, and droughts/floods. Several times I have gotten the question, “How bad will it get?” I use the example of carrying capacity, and explain how populations that exceed the carrying capacity always crash, and then briefly mention that we (humans) have far exceeded the carrying capacity, and human population will crash to a much smaller number. This seems to work well for high school students with some basic knowledge of ecology. I can tell by looking at the faces that most “get” it, intellectually, but not at the gut level. A few clearly think I am delusional, and maybe one or two in each class seem to begin the process of really internalizing it. I haven’t yet had any bad reactions from parents. It seems that since this is a logical extension of the “official” lesson, it doesn’t come off as trying to “indoctrinate” the students.

My daughter and 3 grand children. Here, I really feel at a loss as to where to go. My daughter is 38, the two girls are 15 and 17, the grandson is 5. My daughter knows the basics of global warming, but is at the stage of “we can come together as a species and pull through.” Part of me wants to show her the mounting evidence that society will move backwards, and rapidly, as billions die. I want to treat her as an intelligent adult who should know the facts…but I can’t. Perhaps I feel that if I lead her to a deeper knowledge, then I am responsible for the stages of Denial, Anger, Grief, and possibly Acceptance. It’s one thing to stand outside and say, this is what a mature adult should do. But, how do I tell my own daughter that her children will face a world growing more and more hostile to life every year? How does that knowledge change the way she raises her kids, my grandkids? My current thinking is, to very gradually bring up the results of scientific studies, step by small step, and see how she integrates the information. Not talking about the imminent chaos is like pretending it isn’t real, and I have always been poor at pretending. No option here seems good. I am sure some of you have been in this situation; What did you do? And, what were the results?

Adult friends with families. I have two people in particular that I am thinking about. Both are seriously religious (I am an atheist), both have made enormous personal sacrifices to help family members who had absolutely no one else to turn to. Both have so much else on their plates that keeping up with climate change studies is impossible. My thought here is, when the topic of global warming comes up, just to say something true, but not even coming close to the full depth of the problem. These good, moral people are stretched to the limit as is, and I don’t see that trying to confront the full reality of what we face is even possible for them.

There is a common thread to these situations. I have accepted, fully and deeply, the reality of my own death for many decades. I can imagine without rancor a world without me, because I always said to myself, “Life will go on. Humans will go on. When I die, it leaves a spot so someone else can live, and grow, and flourish.” In other words, one can make a meaningful life by being part of a larger whole … humankind as a species, or even life in general. Now that we know that humanity is going down (how far down is still unsure), and taking much of the natural world down as well, what do you look to in order to make life worth the effort? One reason I am reluctant to talk about the impending collapse is that people will ask me that same question: What do I do now? How do I go on? I don’t have a real answer.

You probably noticed this is my first posting here at Nature Bats Last. I’ve previously neither written an essay nor posted a comment.

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SanJoseMike is a 61-year-old, self-employed tutor/teacher of biology, chemistry, and environmental science, at the high school and early college levels (SAT, AP, and higher). He is actively involved with 350.org working against the Keystone pipeline. He has decided that, even though a major eco crash is unavoidable, he still has a moral obligation to do all he can to work against it.

Comments 157

  • Hi Mike, you might find this essay useful: http://originalearthblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/thinking-about-the-future/

    I faced the same issues myself in relation to children, and and trying to strike a happy-ish medium between acceptance and determination to make things happen in as positive a way as possible.

    Best, Keith.

  • I don’t waste my breath. If someone says something to me, and if I think they are correct, I will say, “Of course”. If I think they are nuts, I say, “Really? I didn’t know that”.
    If they ask a direct question, I try to make my answer, direct, simple, and short without expanding the topic.
    Fortunately, very few people bring up the topic or ask me for an opinion. All will learn at their own pace, and I can enjoy my day.

  • Yes, there were the hysterical and the solemn aboard the Titanic. Many running for their lives (in circles) and many just waiting for the sea to consume them.

    I’m just waiting. What good does it do to run around the deck yelling and screaming?

    The bad news is this: we have pretty much the same situation – not enough lifeboats AND the passengers don’t know that they are all going to die in the cold, dark, expanse of the sea. If the captain had announced immediately that only 700 would live, there would have been extreme chaos and, I assure you, the survivors would not have been “The best of us.”

    But, what if the only way for 700 to live was to have all 2,200 passengers work together to make it possible? I would like to see how that might have played out. Like soldiers throwing themselves onto the barbed wire or running through the minefield…

    Today’s Lesson:
    So, The Solution is for 90% of Earth’s people to die, soon. But, before they go, they must help us dismantle the toxic infrastructure of industrial civilization. And, then, the survivors must live in harmony with Nature: plant no crops, build no cities. Not an easy sell to high school students.

    I would willingly join the effort to implement The Solution – if you want to use my body as a sandbag on a nuclear plant, I volunteer.

  • Thanks for posting. The subject is very difficult to broach even in the company of well-educated environmentalists. Even people who intellectually grasp it do not emotionally take it in. Maybe, constitutionally, we just can’t. I believe that websites like this one are in a way the instrument some of us use for detachment from our terror. To articulate dread is better than just experiencing it — feels like doing something.

  • Mike, you have articulated some of the really hard questions that are hard precisely because there isn’t any good answer to them. I understand the same challenge that you describe, how to make life meaningful when confronting the fact that we have most likely lost what used to make it worthwhile – continuity.

    I guess it is the same acceptance of individual death that is so difficult, made indescribably larger because it’s the (likely or at least possible) death of our species. It’s even more soul-crushing for me because I see not just the death of our species but most everything else on earth, starting with the trees, no matter how soon industrial civilization shudders to a convulsive halt.

    I suppose I am at the point where I try to cherish every moment and let go of notions of the future. I try not to worry too much about what will happen to my children – there’s never been any guarantee of a peaceful painless death in old age, anyway, and they’ve had extraordinarily nice lives, for the most part, so far. And I try to respect everyone’s choices, even those in denial, since it really doesn’t do any good to resist, and even those who make futile gestures. Hey, I signed up for the Sept. 21 KXL pipeline protest, because even though I think it’s a failed strategy, it’s the only game in town making any noise – and I’m already on the FEMA list, so why not.

    I also think that deeply buried in our avoidance is the underlying certitude that only perpetual growth and a large substrate of impoverished slaves makes modern life possible, and without those clearly unjust and unsustainable conditions, no human population no matter how small can exist indefinitely at anywhere near the standards enjoyed in the developed world today. We might in theory walk away from creature comforts like central heating and fast transport and out-of-season foods, but virtually nobody actually does.

    I happened upon an interview this morning with a woman who has been living in the wild who I admire for two reasons:

    1. She goes so much further than lip-service and nominal gestures; and

    2. although she choses to live by and teach survival skills, she fully understands it isn’t remotely possible for anyone (even her) to live full-time without industrial civilization any more, at least, not in North America…so she offers no false hope.

    http://moonmagazine.org/lynx-vilden-the-call-of-the-wild-2013-09-01/5/

    As far as informing children/friends/family, I have had mixed results trying to do so. At this point I think it’s a good idea to drop a few hints, enough so that your child/friend/family member understands that you could be a source of information/commiseration if at some point they decide on their own they want to talk to you overshoot, they will. But trying to educate them when they are resistant tends to backfire, in my experience.

    Best of luck and thank you for your essay, short but sweet!

  • We are a sentient consciousness riding on a electrical current that animates a human suit. We are a hybrid experiment called Humanity and we got it wrong again, not that it’s our fault but nonetheless. Be in the moment with an open heart. Truth is the ultimate jailer: suppression, oppression, regression, aggression, depression, condemnation…or Freedom? I declared myself an atheist at age 6 however many years of paranormal experiences have helped me to understand our multi-dimensional reality and has opened me up to beyond duality and that is what the end of this course study will reveal and we’ll will discover it’s purpose. To embrace death frees us to embrace life. Use humor as a tool; find joy in the human experience and have trust in your heart:)

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #41

    Bass hums, “Earth…to…feet…”
    while beats pulse through lights and smoke;
    festival crowd sweats.

  • I wouldn’t bother with the scientific facts. If your behaviour is changed by facts, you are a one of a very small number of freaks. I bet if you looked at the behaviour of climate scientists, you would find a very large number of incandescent light bulbs and air travel. (and even if you are one of the freaks whose behaviour is changed by facts, look again. You will quickly find all sorts of choices you made that don’t make “rational” sense.)

    Most of our behaviour is changed by the system we live in, and to a lesser degree, by our social context. Almost none of our behaviour is modified by our conscious thought. (I have a couple of essays and videos on my website if you want to read more about this)

    So then, it would clearly be best to work for system change. But, to my eyes, the system is hardening right now. The systems are getting more defensive, less open to change, there is more surveillance, more conservatism. So, I keep my eyes open for opportunities for system change, but I spend most of my time trying to change the social context.

    I agree there will be a much smaller human population in the future. Depending on how bad climate change gets, future human society will be somewhere between much more agricultural and nomadic. Trying to guess which, and where, so you can build your survivalist farm compound seems like a mugs’ game to me.

    But, I think what we can say for sure is that our children and grandchildren need to be much more skilled, very adaptable, and need to know more about plants and animals.

    So, start introducing that, and as you do that, try to create social proof. Take the kids camping, and eventually take them wilderness camping. Take them to a First Aid class. Go hunting. Raise chickens. Garden. Make jam and pickles. Bake bread. Don’t worry about achieving self-sufficiency, but try to give the kids experiences they might not have, or may dismiss as being not modern.

  • You have articulated many of the dilemmas and confusions we are facing very well. I am grappling with exactly the same issues with no clear answers. I have spoken to my son about this and he seems to understand the data fairly well but perhaps not its implication like large scale devastation and even NTE. I need to wait for him to get more info from other sources/peers/media etc. before it sinks in. When I try to sensitise my friends and colleagues on this issue, they rarely take it seriously. It is very frustrating , very honestly.

    What is our responsibility? ‘Those who are privileged to know have a duty to act’. What do I do really? Can someone help?

  • Communicating knowledge to others as/when/if they become capable of absorbing it is a familiar problem, with no single answer. For those not already in denial, simple presentation of some basic facts, without pushing a heavy conclusion, may be a good basic approach.
    I think a more difficult issue, where time can obviously be a factor, is babies. If someone has no grasp of the implications of climate change and overshoot, then however well you know them there seems to be no appropriate way to advise them not to reproduce. At the same time, is there a moral duty to try? It’s a little like watching a potential or likely future accident being set up, and staying silent. There’s nothing tangible to point to, like an approaching out-of-control car, and deciding to have a child is about as personal as decisions get, with the unsolicited opinions of others not usually welcomed.
    I wonder if anyone has any thoughts.

  • I loved this piece, as I tend to love everything I see on Nature Bats Last.

    “My current thinking is, to very gradually bring up the results of scientific studies, step by small step, and see how she integrates the information. Not talking about the imminent chaos is like pretending it isn’t real, and I have always been poor at pretending. No option here seems good. I am sure some of you have been in this situation; What did you do? And, what were the results?”

    I’m 28, the middle child of three daughters. I’ve always been close to my sisters, but the past few years when I became heavily absorbed in collapse consciousness and NTE, there’s been a rift in my family. Same situation we’re all familiar with, of being told to stay positive and focus on fun since we can’t control things. This August my sisters and mom took a trip down to Pittsburgh to see a band play. I was on my best behavior, until the drive home. An incident where my sister wanted to swing by a site of some drab scene that was on a Reality Show to take a cell phone picture. I was silent the ride there, until I saw the other women gathered at the site taking cell phone pics as if it were a cultural mecca on any random day. I cracked. I let loose about Fukushima, I called my sister’s parenting in to question, I ripped everyone a new arsehole. And they were trapped in the vehicle with me for three hours. Nasty words were exchanged between us all. My sister turned the radio on to ignore me. I wept. They went silent and treated me like I was dangerous and psychotic.

    For several weeks they excluded me from family functions. We didn’t talk. But just last week, my sisters made contact with me. The one joked about how at her job as an OTA she knows an Amish guy, and so she jokingly flaunted that she “has an IN with the Amish and you don’t biotch.” But she went on to mention news about red dye getting into bean honey, she started to report to me when she was doing homemade things for her daughter. My older sister started being vigilant about what gifts she buys, instead of plastic toys, for example, she’ll pick up a little pumpkin for our niece. The shaming I gave them was startling, and yet I feel like it did some good. They were mad at my approach, but they couldn’t get the severity of what I said out of their minds, because they know I’m not mentally ill.

    It all depends on the dynamics you have with people, if they have a solid history of trusting and respecting you in other ways, there’s more potential for them to consider your message. Not that these tiny changes are going to stop NTE, but it’s something.

    I brought up that they didn’t like it how at family functions with our fundamentalist relatives, our gay family members are kept in the closet to keep things friendly, and how that unspoken rule of having to keep yourself compartmentalized as a minority in the family, leads to a feeling of meaningless at get-togethers. I said that I was coming to feel that only some parts of me were welcome, and that I felt alienated–and they have reflected on this.

  • Now don’t believe all you read! It’s unwise to base life decisions of second hand information…


    (Heaven’s Gate Student Exit Statements)

    Some good news? Yes! Germany are phasing out all nuclear power plants out by 2022. DAS IST GUT! Here is some German HEAVY METAL to celebrate:


    (Elis – Der Letzte Tag)

    BUT… Will there be fights for resources?? OHHH Yes… look at this:

    (Cat Turns Treat Monster)

  • I used to run around giving Powerpoint talks on the unrecognized risks of Peak Oil. As my risk horizons expanded included some discussion of climate change. Then I found I had to include virtually all human activity a threat to our survival in one way or another.

    At that point something in me changed. I stopped talking about any of it in public, stopped trying to convince the uncaring. I scaled back to just exploring the issues with like-minded people who had already read themselves into the situation. But I find I’m doing even less of that these days as my own acceptance of the insoluble predicament grows.

    I don’t make any secret of my views. If and only if someone asks me for details, I’ll give them. If they then ask me what they should do, I give them some variant of this:

    “Everyone has different knowledge, skills and needs. Everyone is in a different situation. The future is inherently unknowable in any detail. What I choose to do will have little bearing on what may be right for you.

    “I do have two general suggestions. The first is to get to know yourself and your situation as deeply as you can. That knowledge will hold the best clues to how you might respond, both physically and psychologically, to any coming changes.

    “The second suggestion is to focus more on the immediate and the specific than on the distant and general. We have much more control over things that are closest to us, much less over those things that are distant and abstract. Concentrating on things we can control is empowering, concentrating on things we can’t is deeply disturbing for most of us.”

    If they insist on specific suggestions I tell them that meditation has helped me discover who I am and has helped reduce my anxiety. I also mention that finding their place within a community helps enormously, on both the practical and psychological levels. I encourage them to have the strength to stop doing things that put them at odds with the planet, and if they can’t stop for whatever reason, to practice deep acceptance. I remind them of the human wisdom in Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer”, regardless of whether they believe in a god or not.

  • I’ve briefed my 14yo son on the basics. He even made a snarky comment to me last week about ‘unlimited growth on a finite planet’ (I’m paraphrasing). He’s got two pretty smart friends – one got a perfect science score on his state test – our son was 4 pts under. I’m pretty sure they talk about this stuff on their own.

    He’s been versed on the bell curve – he knows the PC bullshit and why it’s driven. We’re fortunate to able to visit San Francisco a handful of times each year. He’s know where UCSF is, that it’s purely a medical school, and the kinds of genetic research that takes place at that facility.

    We love to browse some of the religious channels together. We both watch in amazement and horror. I frequently advise him on the advantages of starting a church/religion, whether it’s a sex cult like the one J Smith created (pure genius), or more recently, just a straight-up extortion racket like Scientology.

    I’ve explained the reason why he is sent to an upper-middle class public school, rather than a preparatory private school. In essence, it’s to understand sheep; not to be a sheep, of course, but to know, at a deeply fundamental level, what sheep believe in, why they act the way they do, etc.

    It will be his generation to fight & survive during the coming age of scarcity. His future peers, who were directed to stay away from the ho-polli, may be vulnerable to underestimating the depth of depravity to which ‘Mericans can be reduced. OTOH, he will have an intimate knowledge as to what makes them tick, and hopefully be able to leverage that insight into advantage.

    If he is to survive and prosper, he will need to have every skill taught my Machiavelli in his arsenal.

  • A hundred and fifty years from now everyone alive today will be dead, with or without global warming or NTE.

    On any given day we roll the dice. Maybe we survive the day, and maybe we don’t. I could be struck by lightening, you could be run over by a bus. I had a nephew that had a stroke at age four and a good friend who died of a heart attack at age 30.

    For each and every one of us death is inevitable. The only question is whether or not replacements will be born to keep the world populated with humans. If there are no future generations then those not born will not suffer for that loss. And those alive that must die, well they are going to die anyway, NTE or not.

    The only scenario in which it seems to matter is in the case where reincarnation is real. If that turns out to be true then we are REALLY in trouble, because we won’t have a viable world to reincarnate into.

    So this may sound crass or uncaring, but I think telling someone about NTE is no different from telling them “Hey, you’re going to die someday.” They already know that.

    Where my own three children and six grandchildren are concerned, I haven’t told them anything. Nothing I could tell them will keep them (or me) alive past NTE (if and when it happens), and if what happens is a “mere” bottleneck, nothing I can say will help them to cope with a situation that nobody can predict or understand before the fact.

    In the case of a mass die-off and severe bottleneck the winners and losers will be picked pretty much at random. If someone of childbearing age happens to be at the right place (and nobody knows where that will be) at the right time (and nobody knows when that will be) then they MIGHT survive long enough to reproduce. It’s a roll of the dice, just like this very day is a roll of the dice, and there is nothing anybody can do or say to prepare for it.

    That being the case, I follow the sage advice of the ancient Zen parable of the tiger and the strawberry. Hanging from a vine over a cliff, with a hungry tiger just above him and jagged rocks far beneath him, while mice nibble at the vine that holds him up, he notices a strawberry growing nearby. He plucks the succulent berry and pops it into his mouth. He is heard to say: “This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes.”

    Today I’m making sun-dried tomatoes from my garden harvest. Tomorrow lightening may strike. Next week a bus, 15 years from now, starvation or heat stroke. I don’t know which way I will leave the world, but today these tomatoes are SOOOO good.

  • Well…
    According to good ol’ Joe Stalin one death is tragedy a million deaths is a statistic so a billion deaths ought to be… nuffin…

  • Thank you so much SanJoseMike for taking the time to write this out. You’ve given voice to a specific realm that is so interwoven with our lives: relationships.

    I especially appreciate your point here:

    “Good, moral people are stretched to the limit as is, and I don’t see that trying to confront the full reality of what we face is even possible for them.”

    Because there is a realm of folks who are serving humanity by caring for young children, delivering community service via social work, eldercare, and hospice volunteering. They are immersed in ethical relationship with the life cycle on a micro level, and civilization being what it is, are often stretched very thin, very thin.

    I take heart knowing there are many brilliant, loving, and noble 20somethings and early 30s people without kids or ailing parents. People like Edward Snowden, who did his best to help people wake up and set into motion an example of using brilliance to address infrastructure. I trust there are more like him, in the fields of tech, the arts, investigative journalism, science…. And that they will stand up with innovative disruption.

    Along with that, for personal sanity, cultivating a relationship to the land we live on (whether in the city or country) and all its creatures, is very restorative and meaningful. And yes, the Serenity Prayer can help us deal with what we know, and navigate each day of The Unknown.

    It is because of high-tech culture that we have got this info overload on geopolitics and climate change feedback looping – ironically. As a neo-Luddite at heart, I have ended up staying in civilization (rather than outright fleeing to some kind of oasis-building 20+ years ago) without my head in the sand, for the benefit of Life.

    And revisiting this within the biospheric feedbacks of this earth’s shuddering pain, I have realized that – if one stays in civilization – the concomitant repertoire of typical personal human relations & communications is constant social work – if done appropriately for each individual we relate with.

    Mastering educational/resourcing rhetoric is essential, and this mastery involves not only skill with accessible language but also proper timing and appropriate focus according to the particular people we are relating to.

    I have a friend who’s (young, early 50s) husband’s MS has been wasting him away, and other friends with very young children trying to maintain their wageslave jobs. Do I preach to them about fleeing the grid or staying in it and cultivating heartful community preparedness? Or developing self-defense strategies and survival supplies? No. Do I lead by example and an occasional phrase or social media sharing here and there? Trying to.

  • SanJoseMike,
    Thanks for your essay. No doubt that many here have felt the same about how to talk to people about this subject. I offer my 2 cents worth.
    This past summer I had some friends visiting from New Zealand and I slowly brought the topic into the conversation to be faced yet again by that look of denial that many of us have come to know over time.
    So at that point I decided to change tack. Prior to their departure, I gave them all the details about the NBL website, and suggested that if they want to understand where things are at, that it might be in their best interest to have a look. Whether or not they do, is up to them. But at least I feel that I have done something. And Guy has a very clear way of laying out the story to anyone who chooses to listen.
    As far as people asking you, “what do I do now, and how do I go on” I think that the best advice is “live as though the day were here” as Guy has mentioned many times. It works for me, and I find that I get more out of each day, knowing just how precious they really are. Trees, bugs and sunsets take on a whole new look these days. Also, spending time with animals helps imho.

  • SanJoseMike,
    Thanks for the essay.What you write about is something we all have to grapple with.Normally I just read peoples offerings and learn what I can from them,but in your case you are asking for peoples thought on the subject so I will add my two cents.
    What I do with people is tell it like it is ,if the subject comes up, but I don’t often bring it up myself. I haven’t found any good reason not to be honest about my beliefs. I don’t believe people are protected by their own ignorance.I also think that the stress that the knowledge of our predicament brings is something most people can handle. Modern humans have a lot of stress.Ask almost anyone about their day/life and you will here a story of ongoing stress(the job,the kids,the bills,the relationship,etc). When a person goes through the process of truly understanding where we are as a species and where we are headed they usually come out the other side a different person.
    My experience is that that “different person” will often have shed a lot of the things in their previous life that caused them stress and so have room for all of the new and wonderful stresses that mass extinction brings!!!

    As for your daughter, do you want her to know? I wasn’t sure from what you wrote.I chose not to have children so I have not had to have that particular sorrow, but like most people,I do have opinions.I am reading this Doomer novel right now called Starvation Ridge and the main character is a 16 year old girl who was alone with her father for many years after some BAD event and then he was killed and she survived on her own for a long time until hooking up with other people. When it became known to everyone how skilled she was in so many things,it was clear to the people that her father had spent years preparing her for the day when she would need to live a different life.
    If you want to lead her down the road to a better understanding of our predicament,you could start with some of the other realities we face that are less threatening than mass extinction. Most people have no actual idea about how the world works. What brought me here(NBL,NTE,etc) was learning about our dependence on oil,how money actually works,the exponential function,etc. It was a slow and gentle process of 4 or 5 years.It seems that,for inquiring minds, one thing will lead to another.
    There is something that struck me about what you wrote. The idea that you might,through you teaching,guide other peoples children to an understanding of what they face,thus helping them have a chance to respond in a way that make sense for them ,while not giving the same gift to your own child.
    Also, when someone truly understands what we are doing to the rest of life then they might change their behaviors and choose to be less damaging.
    As to answering the questions “What do I do now? How do I go on?” I don’t think we can answer that for other people and I think telling them that you don’t have the answers is all right.

    Good Luck to you in your educational attempts!

    To wildwoman- you asked where I and my garden full of frogs,toads,snakes and bereft of monarchs,mosquitoes,ladybug,etc. reside. I am in western Mass in the foothills of the Berkshires.

  • Thanks for your essay, SanJoseMike. This topic takes a up a lot of time on this site because everyone here is facing similar circumstances. I’m sure you’ll have lots of things to think about once the comments rack up to over a hundred. I’m with Paul here. I used to do a lot of lecturing, teaching, informing, presenting, etc. about this for several reasons. One, I was a professor and that’s what we do. I don’t do that anymore, and have even come to the conclusion that the university idea was a mistake, like industrial civilization. Ivan Illich comes to mind here. Two, I thought that everyone should know about this and then we could all try to figure out what we could do to stop it. Now I see it’s unstoppable. I could walk around in a white robe with a sign, saying, “The End is Near” but no good could come of that, either. So I don’t do this anymore. It’s futile and makes people hate you. Three, I like to be right. I’m a pessimist by nature because if I’m right, well, then, hey, I can gloat because I was right. If I’m wrong, then, well, hey, it’s not so bad then, is it?

    I don’t believe any of these anymore. What if I was wildly successful and lots of people “got it”? There would be total chaos and horrible breakdowns in social order all over the world. Yes, it’s true that it will happen anyway, but let’s let it be short and intense, instead of long and intense. We won’t be saving any more species if we start the horsemen on their dismal rides earlier rather than later.

    We think so much of ourselves! We agonize over what we can do to stop it, or change it, or lengthen it, or shorten it. Get it through our heads – we aren’t in charge! We were never in charge. What fatheads we are.

    Should someone kill all those billions of people? Let loose a pandemic? Start a nuclear war? Doesn’t this sound like the continued ravings of control freaks? That’s what got us here, isn’t it? Thinking we could change nature. Now we seem to think we can fix our mistake. Sounds much like the cry of the idiots who advocate geoengineering solutions to me. As someone once said, the main cause of problems is solutions. We’re done. Nature will clean herself up, wipe the foam off her lips and settle back into the sweet embrace of thermodynamics.

    My daughter has told me not to send her “any more of those depressing articles” by email. She knows where I stand. She grew up gathering eggs, drinking raw milk and eating home made bread. When the time comes, these things will come back to her and she’ll figure out what to do. Right now, however, she’s working for the worst corporation on the planet, has a high debt load, eats anti-depressants like candy, takes sleeping pills to sleep, grinds her teeth at night, and drinks gallons of Starbuck’s coffee to get going in the morning. She suffers from at least three different auto-immune disorders and doesn’t exercise. At least she’s taken a vow not to have kids, but I know that’s not because she doesn’t want them to face extinction, but because she’s too self-centred to consider the idea that the universe is not all about HER.

  • As usual, everybody here has good advice: Gail, Portia, Mary, Ruben, the list goes on. But I think Ruben’s advice on teaching skills that might be practical, even if they’re not enough for survival, is something very important you can do. Especially those that might not be fashionable. You will have many of them to teach at your age, and you can learn to teach many more. That’s what I do. This is where we oldies can at least pretend to give something useful (sorry, my cynicism often gets the better of me). But don’t overwhelm your loved ones and good friends with your knowledge. Being too honest will probably not work. I can’t do it to my loved ones, but luckily my husband of 40 years is on my side. Do you have somebody fearless in your real life? I hope so because that really helps. And lead by example, or try to, as Mary says.

  • Thank you, Wendi, for your courage in stating that you have had paranormal experiences that have changed your deepest convictions. (Good luck with that on this site.) I am amazed at people who do not understand their own consciousness, have no capacity whatsoever to navigate their dreams lucidly, much less consciously go to the part of themselves that creates the dreams (it’s possible), but they are certain they understand the consciousness of everything else and how it evolved from matter. They have scientific evidence. When the planet is born in a laboratory, I’ll have more confidence in their perspectives.

    Mike, in my experience most of the deeply religious are already aware, although your friends may not be. But all the religious people I talk to are convinced we are “deep into the last days.” I won’t defend the idiocy of the religious on other issues, but I find myself put off by the superior stance you seem to occupy when you believe you know what people are capable of handling, and that if you tell people the truth they will ask you what they need to do. You are way too accustomed to interacting with students from that superior perspective of authority. Plenty of genuinely religious people have been and are capable of handling a lot.

    I tell people the truth all the time. Many, many of them already know. They look me right in the eye and say, oh, yeah, this is it. And they aren’t even that religious, but somewhere they paid attention to something. Sometimes they are happy to have confirmation of what they feel but fear to articulate. Then, they get upset and have to slip back into denial for a while. Or, they think I’m a downer and stop talking to me altogether, but that is a very small minority.

  • Ultimately, what others think does not matter — the collapse will be a deeply individual thing, along with our death. I can point out troubling indications for impending doom now, but NTE is not the only subject I like talking about, nor is something that weighs on my thoughts all the time. I find most people either don’t care or would rather not believe that industrial society is a huge suicide machine. I can’t blame them. I’m not looking for converts. I’m not expecting a better spot in a mass grave. I’m not getting t-shirts printed with I TOLD YOU SO, though come to think of it, that might be kind of funny. In the end, I don’t really care that billions of people are alive, so I can’t care about their deaths. It’s a rotten deal that the human race is taking so many other species down with it, and that bothers me more than my own death. Still, this system is corrupt and vile and worth fighting against. I do what very little I can to make life “better” but I know it’s all just running in place until the end.

  • Dear SanJoseMike,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and important addition to this discussion.

    It leaves me, again, strikingly aware of how humans have limited their power of discrimination via our obsession and fear of death.

    Perhaps some time spent considering not mortality rates but morbidity rates would illuminate a tangible crisis that is occurring now and has been occurring for millennia.

    Your quality of death versus your quality if life. Right now the number one cause of lost years of life in illness (in developed countries) is not physical disease, but mental disorder. Especially major mental illnesses like depression.

    Are we in such denial about current quality of life in an intact ecosystem that we long for death in an eviscerated one? Even Guy and others have defended life in the apex of industry as understandably desirable. I never saw anything but acute (if unconscious) misery as the leading dynamic in the apex of industry. The trade off in sanity and holistic living never left a balanced ledger in my eyes. Jung said that for every case of diagnosed imbalance there would be ten un diagnosed occurrences. In our day and age that about makes us all mentally ill.

    You cannot get mentally ill people to do anything to solve world problems when all they know is not feeling good. If you think you are not feeling good because of a future prediction, I caution all to think again. Physician heal thyself takes on urgent meaning for our time. But we prefer to see a sick world that will kill humanity rather than a sick humanity that will kill the world. So as it stands we will bide our time in tears lost to illness until our natural time for life ends as the ecosystem melts away and then we will finally rest in peace. Not in life, but death.

    If that is the only way for civilized humans to find balance again, we are guaranteed that option.

    If we want to face our morbidity we will need to prepare to enter the field of neuropsychiatry and heal our own shadows and unlocked potential to birth again harmony that we have held at bay with our material distractions ( as hero) and religion or aversion to religion (as sidekick). Not one of us is exempt from that necessary task. This is a sacred task anchored now by relief in science against old but still lurking superstition.

    This is our juxtaposition; free to heal if we heal our selves to be free.

  • Actually, Rob, it’s bleaker than that. The “real” solution is for Earth’s people to die, soon, below a mean IQ of 115 (around 98% of the population).

    Secondly, we/they, (the remaining 150m), would need to discover at least two Ghawars, abolish warfare, cease all social spending, terminate the consumer economy, and restrict every couple to two children.

    Then, for the next 100 years or so, the collective intelligent hive would focus all effort on two major programs: how to harness energy directly from the sun, and how to reduce consciousness to quantum particles in which to seed the galaxy/universe.

    I know it sounds all Kurzweilien, but he really was on the right track. Unfortunately, our descendants will experience the truth of Fermi first hand.

    Since that is the case, I think your philosophy is the right one to pursue. My particular twist is how to finance such a sublime experience. (In addition to providing a little entertainment.)

  • Here’s my incite on the future of our planet. It’s a book that was published back in the ’70s, but it still feels good to read it over again and again. http://www.mikeservis.com/2150AD/2150_AD.pdf

  • SanJoseMike (and Guy): Great stuff!
    ==

    Few people come to my room
    And commiserate here in the gloom;
    If they do, they don’t stay,
    But hey, that’s O.K.,
    ‘Cause I sure know a lot about doom.

  • Mike,
    First welcome and thanks for writing your essay. I’m about a decade younger than you with two teenage boys. I can relate. It is a heavy burden we (those of us that are aware) carry. It is only natural to feel compelled to do something and inform everyone expecially those close to us. However, once we come to fully accept NTE the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss” takes on a whole new meaning. The fact is it should be the official motto for our society if not our entire civilization. Certainly it would be more appropriate on our currency than “In God We Trust”. While we can take some solice in communicating with other people who “get it”, there seems to be no way to fill the void in our lives that accompanies this knowing. Who really wants to subject friends and loved ones to that? In my experience most people don’t really want to know anyway.

    I thank Guy and all of you here at NBL for providing a safe place to work through all that comes with awareness of NTE. The trick seems to be in how we go on living with this knowledge. Clearly all signs point to it being too late to avoid the horrors which are sure to continue to occur and at an accellerating rate no less. So that brings us to the question(s) you posed at the end of your essay, “What do I do now? How do I go on?”. Speaking for myself I can only say that I am finding it very difficult. Not so much for myself because like you I have accepted my ultimate fate already. Every day that we have going forward is a gift and we should treat them that way. The problem comes with our connections to others and industrial civilization of course. I find it very difficult to spend any more time supporting the machine that brought us to this point and refuses to yield to its own certain destruction. What I am referring to is the seemingly senseless devotion of any of our precious remaining time on that which does not matter, but even more it is the very act of working, driving, eating, nesting, etc. that in essence fuels the machine. Guy has already demonstrated at no small cost that walking away (from empire) isnt really a practical option. So that just leaves us with “live as if the day were here” and to do what feels right.

  • Indeed, Mike.

    In 2007 I did was interviewed by Bryan Vickery on Taranaki Television. Having discussed the coming decline in oil extraction and the reality of CO2 emissions disrupting stable climate, I pointed out that the population of the Earth would have to fall by around 5 billion. A little later in the conversation Bryan said: “So you’re saying that 4 billion people are going to die.” “No, Bryan, 5 billion.”

    Taranaki Television closed down a few months later.

    Around that time Robert was still committed to distributing DVDs. He reckons he distributed around 14,000 nationally before realising that ‘no one’ was bothering to watch them.

    Three or four years ago Derek Wilson (of Wellington) poured several thousand dollars into on final (futile) attempt to bring about change via a book and DVD.

    Last June Guy came to NZ, spoke to many people in various locations, and did a major presentation and workshop in Wellington.

    There was no paradigm shift. The madness continued unabated. A year ago I knew it was time to give up all attempts to wake people up. As Derrick Jensen so wisely pointed out so many years ago, people living in industrial societies are generally insane and are generally unreachable.

    We have not failed as truth-tellers: the essentially corrupt nature of the system has sabotaged all attempts bring about culture change.

    Here we now have local elections. All one can say publicly is that nothing in the present system is sustainable in the long term, that things are not being done efficiently, and that massive debts are being passed on to the next generation. Anything more than that is generally regarded as extreme.

    Ignorance, complacency, apathy and denial will endure until the reports of major die-off start filtering through. Presumably major die-off will commence with the populations of large cities in the poorer regions of the world, plus Japan, plus the old, sick and weak of western nations, perhaps starting around 2017. Presumably, the vast majority of politicians will continue to deliver false promises of ‘prosperity’ based on ‘recovery’ and ‘technological fixes’ while this is all happening.

    The agendas of money-lenders and the corporations that rule this planet do not change, so presumably they will seek opportunities to profit from the die-off.

    I called the last book I wrote ‘The Easy Way’ because most people are going to learn the hard way. It is sad a sign of the times that, having already downsized, PublishMe will soon pull the plug on its online bookshop.

    I very much doubt that I will be doing any more writing or public speaking. (That said, there have been some interesting local political developments that offer a tiny glimmer of, dare I say, hope which I will only mention again if something worthwhile eventuates.)

    Incidentally, I have been experiencing slowness and inaccessibility of Internet, another sign of the times. So I do less and less as time goes on.

  • I have two daughters,one nearly twenty four I fathered and her younger sister who I did not farther, but helped raise after the relationship broke up. [life gets complicated don’t it!].
    Both are beautiful girls who would be wonderfull mothers and would have in me the most devoted helper and adviser. Being a solo dad for a time was the happiest period of my life.
    Neither of my girls have been news followers, either being typically disinterested when younger or finding even “conventional news” too depressing as they got older.
    They do know something of what is coming as a result of both my prepping and letter to the paper activity, but I don’t go out of my way to give them the harsh facts; those will become clear soon enough.
    N.B. Canterbury, [where I live], has just been done over by a violent windstorm. A good reminder of what is coming and how even those of us already in the lifeboat are still vunerable. My few acres got off lightly, living in the shade of a mountain next to a forest has it’s advantages at times. A bus also makes a good “cave” in either a windstorm or an earthquake; I recomend them.

  • My current living arrangements have unexpectedly imploded. Haven’t any internet connection, nor will I for sometime (all things considered that may not be such a bad thing, i.e., unnamed addiction?), so I will need to bow out of NBL for awhile. Time to see if I have it in me to reinvent myself one last time……..in spite of it all.

    For ALL those who have been contributing to this space since Guy posted his momentous essay “We’re Done”, what a hell of a ride we’ve been on, eh!?! I haven’t anything to compare it to, and you are the only ones who have a clue as to what I’m getting at. Something tells me, that as time passes, we will come to see this last year as being something rather remarkable. I’ve never been “involved” with such a group of like minds concerning such catastrophic awareness. Like most of you, to go from being that lone voice in each of our little corners of the world, to finding such intense commiseration here at NBL, has truly been life changing. I am no longer the person I was just a year ago.

    To each and every one of you, even those I’ve tangled with, thank you for the time and energy you’ve given in making this such an indispensable space to air our most intimate thoughts. Take care my friends, Daniel.

  • Lots of good questions. I am asking them too. At present, I have to admit, I haven’t talked to anyone about NTE. I just come here to hang out. That’s it.

    I can’t bring myself to tell my wife. She’s happy in Maggie Land, and that’s good. She’s not a denier, she was able to understand the evidence for 911 being a controlled demo, so I know she would understand NTE. I don’t want to change her or her life for the worse, it’s too big of a responsibility for me at this time. My daughter is smart as a whip and would get it right away, no denial there. I’m just going to wait and help pick up the pieces when the sad truth catches up with her. My son would fight it, but he would come around eventually. He’s having a great time working to get ahead in life, so why rain on his parade? A hard rains gonna fall soon enough.

    I’m just happy that I know what’s going on. I’ve always had a rather dark view of our chances and am not surprised at all that mankind failed to keep it together. My friends are all perfect examples of why we are in this fix, but I love them anyway and why waste my breath?

    So, that’s that. TGFNBL! LOL!

    In pondering what goes on in our goofy little monkey brains and seeing it’s 9/11, I thought this piece on cognitive dissonance and denial would be appropriate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpz85MHdBD8

  • Daniel,

    While I am relatively new to the scene here know that I will miss your posts. I have been reluctant to write for wanting to sound like the new kid on the block which is probably obvious anyway. Even with the support of you and everyone else here it is awfully hard, lonely work coming to grips with the whole situation. But doing so alone is seems harder yet. Take care and come back when you can.

  • @ Daniel

    Although being on occasion among the tangled with, I’ll miss your presence. I very much appreciate your willingness to listen to unpopular ideas and grow through them, a rare quality. Best wishes meanwhile. We the addicted can gain precious freedom by being shut out of the Internet every now and then. 🙂

    @ ulvfugi

    From the previous thread–the conundrum over competing, equally “unworkable” views on reality:

    I thought you answered that quite well awhile back. There is the hard, relatively mechanical (Newtonian) science of reality that governs the major forces of the cosmos. Gravity and the like. But at the sub-atomic level, you can have photons in two places at once. I believe your thought was that, although the Newtonian reality might not be totally impervious to quantum reality, it was impervious enough. So Einstein might have been awed that the cosmos was as comprehensible as it was.

    Apparently, big forces respond differently from little ones. I don’t know if any attempt has been made to draw the line between the two, or if that is even a valid concern. Even if the universe is an unknown in the largest sense, it is comprehensible enough as far as human society is concerned.

    My question to Gail had to do with her dismissal of any other concept of reality other than that it is hard, soft, wavy, green, “material” ONLY. It is not relative to which creature looks at it. It’s just one fixed way. You have very clearly refuted that view. And it is where that view precludes the reality of what you can’t see and dissect in a lab that is problematic. Something like the collective unconscious (although not my major preoccupation) would fall by the wayside. So would any kind of invisible healing force.

    My assumption is that the small reality does not contradict the large. The Newtonian level works well enough, within a sphere that we aren’t disputing here. But we may be justified in saying we don’t know how the large and small relate, or even whether the quantum level might apply at an even bigger scale than the Newtonian. It’s beyond me; I have a lot of more urgent fish to fry.

    As to the various scientific and philosophical visions of the past, can we afford their contradictoriness any longer? Were they envisaging NTE? Doesn’t NTE demand a more conciliatory, tentative, consensual and collective approach among thinkers today? Something radical has changed, and thinking should change with it. The missing moral dimension in epistemology that got us into this fix might, IDEALLY, be replaced. Isn’t NTE an overriding moral dilemma that flips thinking upside down? I guess I’m for fuzzy thinking: this AND that, rather this OR that. Patchwork-quilt thinking.

    @ Lidia

    Enjoyed your post on the last thread. Obama may be at his lowest moment yet. He IS going through the motions. I think back to substitute teaching where the classroom is toxic and everything is haywire. The kids of course know this. But there’s some special event and the entire student body gathers in the assembly room. They know that the system requires them to behave while the empty suit of a principal goes through the motions of pretending that night is actually day, that all is normal. That is Obama re America’s responsibility to maintain decent standards. Sickening.

  • Correction:

    I guess I’m for fuzzy thinking: this AND that, rather THAN this OR that. Patchwork-quilt thinking.

    U hinted at the question of where the material-only fixation comes from. From my experience, it comes from a father fixation, where the existentially precious father is kept alive through allegiance to his material-only, atheistic beliefs.

  • It’s 911 and I have a great allegory for what’s happening to our planet and our lives. It comes with a heavy dose of science and observation. “Enjoy!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgN080yySe0

  • @ TIAA “…we prefer to see a sick world that will kill humanity rather than a sick humanity that will kill the world.”

    Indeed. Could not have said it better. Yes, mental/physical health is the only road to clarity. Ecologically, there will be a massive die off of humans. That is inevitable now and the very reason to maintain as much health as possible. Health for maximal sanity is the only way to keep the suffering to the minimum. Assuming that somehow we manage to stretch out the impacts of climate change… well, human extinction is still a very real probability. Again, only with maximal health is there any chance at all. Eat like your health and the health of the Earth is linked to those choices. It is. It is the most powerful tool most of us will ever wield.

    @ Daniel I’m rooting for ya bro. Been there myself. Teetering too. Reach out. Turn every stone. Stay as strong and healthy as you can… ask for fruit – avoid candy.

    Everyone: Great article with important questions. Great posts. We’re all dealing with these dilemmas. Tact is important, not that I’m such a master of it. Sometimes I just plant a seed in the mind, and walk away. Maybe they will sprout, maybe they will help. But many people are beyond help. They won’t learn what they don’t want to know. Many will die. The smartest and most open minded might live. The great culling has begun.

    Getting late for me tonight… more tomorrow if I can find some time. Apologies for the rushed post.

  • I’ve been reflecting on this topic since my first post, wondering why I don’t talk to people about outcomes any more. I’m even making fewer and fewer references to what I see happening in/to the world. In the first post I mentioned that I don’t talk about it much any more, and certainly not uninvited, to the uninitiated. But I didn’t discuss about why I stopped.

    It’s not just because I’ve “withdrawn” in the manner suggested by Paul Kingsnorth in his article Dark Ecology. That’s what I’ve done, not why.

    It’s not just because people who I’ve spoken to uninvited about these matters can become resistant, resentful or downright hostile, though they do.

    It’s not because I lose friends over it, though I have.

    In the end, I think it comes down to one thing. I realized, after much hectoring and head-banging, that I no longer believe in Truth™ – certainly not the culturally trademarked version of it with the capital “T”. I figured it out when I realized how terribly hard it was to decide what belonged in my own personal version of it, and what didn’t. Its contents seemed to fluctuate – year to year, week by week, day by day – until I realized that my truth changed its shape from moment to moment, like a pool of mental mercury rolling through my inner landscape.

    When I noticed this I was first delighted, and then slightly horrified. I was horrified that I had for so long clung so desperately to the notion that an immutable Truth™ existed, and that my life’s purpose was to Find It. That pool of reflective, shape-shifting mercury, that deeply personal view of truth, was all there was – and sometimes wasn’t. That other thing with the capital “T” was nothing but a cultural delusion. It not only had nothing to do with me, it didn’t even exist.

    I was also horrified to realize that I’d been trying to force my little pool of mercury into other people – each of whom already had one of their own. I only hold my own truth, I don’t hold yours, or anyone else’s for that matter. I have no way of knowing if the shape of my truth comes even close to fitting your inner landscape. I’m also damned sure that your own mercuric pool of truth has squatter’s rights in your world. It was there first, and its presence leaves precious little room for anyone else’s.

    It’s not just that I have no right to try and change the shape of your truth. The very idea that I could possibly accomplish that seems like a grave misunderstanding of the very nature of truth.

    What I can do is explore the shape of my own truth, in all its ephemeral glory. If someone else expresses an interest – perhaps because it takes unusual shapes compared to theirs – I can show it to them. If it makes a difference to them, they may change the way their own pool of truth behaves. That would be cool, but it sure isn’t anything a sane, caring person would try to force on someone else.

    An example of what I’m talking about is my hypothesis that all human behavior is shaped and constrained to some degree by the Maximum Entropy Production Principle, that half-brother of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In my version of truth, MEPP gives rise first to the physical universe, then to the dissipative structures of life, with DNA as their backbones. The collision of genetics and environment, as refereed by the forces of natural selection, shape first our physical bodies, then our brains with all the adapted circuits that make/allow us to behave the way we do. Out of that behavior in turn comes society and all our myriad cultures – each different, but all honoring the universal code of life: survive and reproduce. And through that dissipative process honoring and obeying the deeper principles that embedded that primal code within all life to begin with: the thermodynamic principles of MEPP and 2LoT.

    It goes without saying that this truth has a shape unlike that of most other people’s. Those who see it often have trouble recognizing it as any sort of truth at all. Of those few who do comprehend it, most discover rather quickly that it’s not their truth. Their truth needs to have space for morality perhaps, or free will, or politics, religion or science. The shape of my truth is entirely unsuited to their inner landscape. It is literally outlandish.

    Some (few) people see its shape, recognize it as truth of some sort, then suddenly realize that it fills some dips and hollows in their own worldview – places they didn’t even realize were empty. So they eagerly grab some of it and pour it into those empty places. In exchange they often offer me a dipper of their own truth that I didn’t realize I was missing. We both smile, nod, and wander off again on our journeys.

    And that, as near as I can tell at the moment, is why I don’t talk to people any more about the coming deaths of billions. Of course by tomorrow morning the shape of my truth will have shifted, and this reason will be hopelessly out of date. God I love being alive right now.

  • Yeah,
    always tell your family the Truth as you see it. Even if it means you end up sleeping in a small tent, next to the vegies you grew, by a tennis court by the bush.
    Wombats and Kangaroos come by to check you out, and let me just say it is in many ways a very con’tent’ed way of life.
    As a recent friend told me, and it is something that as soon as I heard it it rang true:
    If you choose the radical path, be prepared for everyone you know to abandon you. Ha!

    BTW a local meeting is starting up, ‘Anarchists for Anarchy’. Can I resist such a dead-pan approach? Can’t think what else they might be pursuing.
    I’ll go- in disguise of course. I’ll wear a cardigan. I wonder how many will arrive in a fossil fuelled vehicle? Great that anarchy, relies on all the same infrastructure of IC that Middle class cognitive dissonance TV watching relies on too. Very rad, man, in a Lee Camp style. Great to listen to, get you thinking, but is it activism if you have to come back at a proscribed every 2nd Monday of the month?
    Just sayin.

  • Hey, thanks for posting. I found this helpful: http://www.alternet.org/activism/get-apocalyptic-case-new-radical

    Don’t worry too much about your religious friends. Knowing you’ve got something past this life can be strangely freeing when it comes to news of impending doom!

    I liked the comments saying basically ‘live in the now, and be thankful / appreciative’. Good luck on your journey.

  • Ruben said

    “If your behaviour is changed by facts, you are one of a very small number of freaks.”

    That one sentence expresses the root cause of every problem humans have created for themselves

  • Fare thee well, Daniel. I do hope to see your comments here once again, should you choose, once your situation has righted itself. Or perhaps it has “righted” itself, as you say. 

    Thanks for your contribution, SanJoseMike.
    I find it’s an impossibility for me to talk about this subject frankly with pretty much anyone I know personally, and in particular those with children. (I’m thankfully childless.) I do share enough with my husband for him to get the general drift and he hasn’t rejected any of my notions out loud, it’s not something we talk about in great detail. More of a general understanding that we’ve arrived “at the fruit”– siamo alla frutta as the Italians say. The end of the meal.

    What I find fascinating is that “we” were having serious public discussion of population issues in the 1970s and somehow, as the matter became more urgent, the voices dwindled, to the point where it seems a taboo subject.

    Of my religious acquaintances, I cannot see their processing of this coherently in any way. “be fruitful and multiply” sayeth the inerrant volume. God will provide, and when He chooses to end the world they as Virtuous Ones will be raptured up. They don’t recycle or pay any mind to pollution because “Jesus will come and clean up the Earth.”

  • Don’t know what to say about the coming death toll, but in my semi-dream, I saw inter-generational war, where someone wrote the equivalent of Mao’s Little Red Book, and the youth took out the kitchen knives and machetes and removed what they saw as the obstacle,that had stolen their futures, as in global Lord of the Flies but with a political ideology…

    Anyway..

    @ Daniel

    See ya around, Mr Drumright ! 🙂

    @ Lidia

    You sound chirpy 🙂

    @ Artleads

    Maybe I’ll reply later at the tail of previous thread so as not to derail this one.

  • SanJoseMike: thank you for addressing a very important issue.

    “Satyam vada; priya vada;
    Na vada satyam apriya”

    Speak truth; speak pleasantly;
    Do not speak truth unpleasantly.

    I myself fall miserably short of that standard. The truth part addresses to the monkey-brain, while the pleasant part addresses the lizard-brain.

    The rational, verbal, recent monkey-brain chauffeur is what is addressed in logical and intellectual discourse. This often has minimal or no effect on the non-rational, non-verbal, ancient lizard-brain overlord that operates in a realm of emotions and values, and tells the chauffeur where to go. To reach the lizard-brain, appeals have to be to emotions and values.

    Efforts to communicate have to be tailored to the goal sought. Proselytisation for proselytisation’s sake may fall short of adequate.

    I can imagine without rancor a world without me,

    Kathy Cassandra may have pointed out many moons ago that that the exit leaves nothingness. When “I” imagine a world “without me” there is still an “I” in addition to the imagined world: without the “I” there will also be no imagined world.

    people will ask me that same question: What do I do now? How do I go on? I don’t have a real answer.

    No one has the answer, not the least because no one knows the outcomes. But one guiding principle can well be the virgin terry’s recommendation that efforts should be directed towards reducing suffering.

    The big question is NTE vs. bottleneck. In the case of bottleneck, the ideal would be to unselfishly select those whom one would like to make up humanity past the bottleneck, and provide them with the best possible conditions to ease their passage through the bottleneck and their survival beyond.

    This might include creating repositories of extant human knowledge in low-tech media (such as acid-free paper, mentioned on NBL a long time ago), trying to spare some sections of the natural environment from the ongoing depredations and degradation. Also, helping the “chosen ones”. Reduction of suffering would have a priority after this.

    None of this would be applicable in the case of NTE: all such efforts would come to nought. Would it still be worthwhile to shoot for bottleneck in view of its nonzero possibility? The question of “What to do?” may still remain unanswered, but a very crude map of the territory ahead could be drawn.

    Almost none of our behaviour is modified by our conscious thought.

    Exactly!

    But, I think what we can say for sure is that our children and grandchildren need to be much more skilled, very adaptable, and need to know more about plants and animals.

    No more degrees in interior decorating and such?

    we won’t have a viable world to reincarnate into.

    The presumption here is that awareness can only exist in a space-time-causation universe like ours, on a planet like ours, and that there is only one such universe and one such planet.

    We were never in charge.

    Indeed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which directs time’s arrow, may have a more basic role, with everything else is layered on top of it.

  • A morning coffee hello to you SanJoseMike,

    Good questions/conundrums. BIAS WARNING: those who can’t do, teach. 😉

    My appearance on NBL at the end of last year and start of this one was like yours. Implied is your surprise at this–ibid. Is Guy an enigma?

    Regardless, I’ve observed the comment space at NBL to predominately function as a ‘sacred space’ for liberal moral piety* (& primarily of an atheistic bent). Consequently, I feel the odds of you getting the advice you have asked for here is low. That shared, I’d recommend learning what you can about motivated reasoning–the focus of my guest post and involvement here–to see if what is being learned in this field of study helps with the challenges you experience. To the degree our species cannot not practice motivated reasoning, and such is a primary feedback within the systemic dymanics of our being a social creature, I posit that what tends to trigger motivated reasoning, and social support for it, constitutes the religion of a social meme. In our case it is our trust in debt that effects infinite growth on a finite planet. As an atheist, consider the possibility that we cannot not be religious, only conscious–or not–of what we are religious about. I have found this framing of our condition to be helpful for perceiving the constraints that define the box we choose to box ourselves in.

    In addition, I would commend to you the work going on in the field of moral psychology. Homostasis is our raison d’etre, both conservative and liberal. Our complimentary addictive systems for achieving it within our economic paradigm and choices cannot rationally be trusted to get us into thinking and feelings that will provide insights into the answers you may–or may not–be seeking.

    Your progeny have at least two parents, four grandparents, and sixteen great-grandparents. To the degree what is walked is more substantive to our socialization than what is talked, and given NTE, the odds are that it is time to revisit the substance of my “BIAS WARNING.” And, observations withstanding, your over-busy ‘seriously religious’ friends may have an orientation toward duty and honor that could expand the possibilities of what can be imagined.

    And an haiku:

    We cannot not blink
    We can revisit a blink
    But not if it’s bleeped

  • B9K9

    A brilliant summation of prep for your 14 y/o son. I have had a similar framing, but different trajectory. Similarity ends there perhaps, but have you considered abandoning him, so he will learn deep emotional self reliance and not just listening to the voice of elders, but learn to fen now, so he can hit the road running so to speak?

    It would be learning the hard way, for sure, but when you project into the future, for Merika at least, it only looks like dog eat dog till little dog-meat is left. Unless of course there is a modicum of humanity and wisdom activated and people actually resort to communal cohabitation and sharing, those that survive the next decade that is.

    What a ‘crikey’ world it is now.
    Luck mate.

  • sanjosemike, this essay gets at many of the dilemmas we have before us.

    I have no expectation or even desire to “survive” the collapse. All I hope for at this point is fair warning that it’s coming so that I can make preparations. I only hope for a bit a time.

    My family knows I’m a doomer and we talk about it with humor. We were raised to pay attention to the world, to read, to care, so family members “know” intellectually that the world is in bad shape, but it doesn’t seem to apply to “them.” This is entitlement in action. Growing up a middle class American means that we were fed entitlement from conception on.

    Has anyone here seen Tom Shadyac’s documentary “I AM”? He, of Ace Ventura fame (stupid funny lovely sweet). Recommend it if you haven’t.

    I’m finding a great deal of satisfaction in laughing as much as possible at the inherent craziness of this world we’ve created. Laugh or cry, you know it’s the same release.

    ogardener, please, share a pic of Ace and her fawn when you can. That’s the stuff that keeps me sane.

    thestormcrow, are you seeing more damselflies and dragonflies than usual? We are. Butterflies not so much.

    In the meantime, I use FB to warn, I post things from DesdemonaDespair and Fukushima Diary and anything else I find, knowing that my young niece is paying attention. I blog, so that the two family members who read it at least have an idea of what is coming. I send a link or two here or there to siblings. I answer questions, sometimes, but not very often. (My 86 year old father actually asked me if he would see the collapse in his lifetime. I said no. I hope that it’s true.) I try to use humor as much as possible…..and I use Derrick Jensen’s mantra often: We’re fucked. Life is good.

  • Hm, first I am designated a WierdSista and now I have a father complex. Actually, I just think the truth (or better, as Stephen Colbert calls it, “truthiness”) is vastly overrated. I am happy to settle on facts.

    The fact is, humans evolved to have certain genetically determined traits (in other words, there is a physical basis), and one of those traits is possessing an emotional (also based on physical brain wiring) need to believe in something. Anything will do, it seems, depending on circumstances and inclination.

    Jesus, Zeus, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, progress, “spirituality” however you like to define it, reincarnation – and lately, sustainability, the innocence of hunter-gatherer tribes, permaculture, and rewilding – all are religions by different names.

    That is why Afrizan’s post, “If your behaviour is changed by facts, you are one of a very small number of freaks.” is absolutely correct.

    Almost all people except a few freaks (or as I tend to think of them, mutants) are driven by the myths they have decided to believe in, and no amount of factual information will persuade them to recognize that they are basing their behavior on something that is purely invented.

    No wonder NTE is so fascinating and repellent. Without people to imagine, where will the great spirit be? In the rocks and molecules and prokaryotes that remain?

  • nought, yes Robin, all such efforts will come to nought.

    reducing suffering? of who?, the innocent? The Children? Yes, let’s ease the suffering of the children by telling them all is well, have another Happy Meal and some more soda and candy.

    The Resistance is commited to making the “bad guys” suffer – sooner rather than later – like the rest of us. As they chip away at some minor aspect of the Machine, they do what they can to disrupt the lives of those responsible and make them PAY for their actions.

    Local fishermen get real pissed off when the Sierra Club makes them use turtle excluding devices when they trawl for shrimp. Ever met one of these local fishermen? Pretty much responsible for the lion’s share of global warming to be sure – they are the bad guys. And their children suffer.

    In this upside down world I tried to live. I tried to “find meaning” and I tried to help others when I could. But, I failed. But, failure was inevitable. And now, I do nothing. Lots and lots of nothing.

    “We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there will be no end of them.” – Seneca

  • @ Gail

    Would you say you are a ‘naive realist’, Gail ? Or would that be worse than being a weird sister ? 🙂

    …at first sight it might be thought that knowledge might be defined as belief which is in agreement with the facts. The trouble is that no one knows what a belief is, no one knows what a fact is, and no one knows what sort of agreement between them would make a belief true.

    Bertrand Russell, A Theory of Knowledge.

    We all start from “naive realism,” i. e., the doctrine that things are what they seem. We think that grass is green, that stones are hard, and that snow is cold. But physics assures us that the greenness of grass, the hardness of stones, and the coldness of snow are not the greenness, hardness, and coldness that we know in our experience, but something very different. The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself. Thus science seems to be at war with itself: when it most means to be objective, it finds itself plunged into subjectivity against its will. Naive realism leads to physics, and physics, if true, shows that naive realism is false.

    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/einstein_russell.htm

  • @ Gail

    P.S.

    Without people to imagine, where will the great spirit be? In the rocks and molecules and prokaryotes that remain?

    Yes.

  • SanJoseMike, thanks for your essay. When I realized 12 years ago that we were close to peak oil, I believed that in a short period of time the population of earth might shrink to 1 billion or less. I got depressed about the deaths of 5 billion people and then I remembered that they were all going to die anyway. But had no success in passing this info on to most people, and the few who could hear didn’t really accept the consequences of peak oil.

    NTE then became easier for me to accept but I already knew if I couldn’t talk about Peak Oil to most people, NTE was was just to far out. So my husband and I and my internet friends discuss it, but there really is nothing to be DONE, just personal decisions of what to do in the time left. Much like someone who knows they are dying. The thing to do is to live well what life you have left to live, whatever that means to you.

    Meanwhile
    Per enenews dot com at 41:30 mins in on http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/nuclear-hotseat-117-gundersen-charge-fukushima-vision/ Gundersen says they are getting calls at Fairewind that Doctors are being told to cover up nuclear related injuries and scientists have become afraid to work in areaa relating to radiation damage.

  • I shared an office for a few years with one of the relatively few perinatologists in the country. I think a medical doctor qualifies as a “scientist,” and I think his education qualifies as extensive in the field of “science.” There was that undergraduate thing, medical school, certification in obstetrics and gynecology, and then he required extensive additional education in science(!) in perinatology. Wow. We was beyond intelligent. All the other doctors we worked with were easily the top one percent of the population in I.Q., and they couldn’t eat his dust. Everyone wanted him – other hospitals, colleges, schools of medicine. I would put his education and intelligence again anyone’s here. He was also one of the most decent, kind and extraordinarily giving people I’ve ever met in my long life.

    He was (is) also a devout Jew, a Hebrew scholar and a student of Jewish mysticism through study of the kabbalah. He is not the only religious person I’ve known who has an advanced degree in medicine plus years of additional certification and training – not by a long shot. The assumption that all religious people are ignorant and needy or cannot handle reality is beyond nonsense. It’s just another fundamentalism with all its requisite rage toward anything it doesn’t understand all over again.

  • Erin and Grant, lol, I had once hoped to have SHE WAS RIGHT engraved on my headstone. But I like the idea of the tee shirts.

  • Someone earlier in this thread mentioned that everybody alive now will be dead in 150 years and that we all die sometime…

    That is true. However, the real question is “what will your life be like while you ARE alive?” When a population goes from 7 billion or so down to a few hundred million, or even zero, there is bound to be a lot of suffering involved. That is the issue with telling my sons about NTE. One doesn’t want to hear about it anymore. The other tells his friends and teachers (high school) about it. He understands logically, but as most in their late teens, doesn’t really think too much about the future, but rather the now. What keeps me awake at night, is imagining what they will see happen in their lives. To think about that is very painful. Do the math. Calculate what will be happening that makes 7 billion + people go to 0 in 20, 30, or even 40 years.

  • ‘how do I tell my own daughter that her children will face a world growing more and more hostile to life every year? How does that knowledge change the way she raises her kids, my grandkids? My current thinking is, to very gradually bring up the results of scientific studies, step by small step, and see how she integrates the information. Not talking about the imminent chaos is like pretending it isn’t real, and I have always been poor at pretending. No option here seems good. I am sure some of you have been in this situation; What did you do? And, what were the results?’

    one sentence of the above stands out: ‘no option here seems good.’ this is the stark truth of practically all aspects having to do with facing surreality squarely, without deceit, dogmas, or delusions. once the vail of all of these has been removed, the underlying horror and despair that are our collective fate are fully revealed.

    in my opinion/experience, there’s another aspect of this dilemma which is scarcely ever acknowledged, that being that our whole culture and the vast majority of sheeple, present and past, is thoroughly characterized by those 3 d’s: deceit/dogmas/delusions. it’s what has gotten us into such deep doodoo, and it’s why there’s absolutely no hope of getting out of it alive and intact. it’s also why attempts to enlighten the masses (or almost any particular individual) will fail.

    the crucial point again is that u’re screwed, as are we all. there are no good options. u can either be true to yourself, which will result in alienation and isolation from society and loved ones, or u can live a lie.

    well, maybe there is some middle ground that isn’t quite so harsh. dr. al bartlett, who just died last week (thanks again to robin for posting a link of this), may have been fortunate enough to have had loved ones who understood, and supported his impressive efforts to enlighten the masses as to the peril of what he rightly called the oxymoron of ‘sustainable growth’. it all depends perhaps on how wisely u chose a mate and raised your daughter. if u did so as a hardcore freethinker, good for u. however, since u speak of having ‘seriously religious’ friends who u also seek to confront with your concerns, and u still function fairly well within the mainstream, it sounds to me as though this is not the case. if so, then any attempts at this late juncture to enlighten loved one(s) will almost surely fail.

    it’s hard. there are no good options. no escape from anguish, or the consequences of the 3 d’s that permeate the culture of make believe. resulting in the 4th and ultimate ‘d’ of the enlightened: despair. so perhaps it’s just as well if your daughter and grandchildren go on living as fools in a fool’s paradise. i just hope they don’t bring any more babies into it, because it surely can’t last much longer.

  • @the virgin terry
    “u can either be true to yourself, which will result in alienation and isolation from society and loved ones, or u can live a lie”

    Sounds pretty spot on to me, at least that has been my experience up to this point.
    On a lighter note, and seeing as the topic of T-shirts has been mentioned, how about a shirt that says on the front:

    THE 6 D’s
    and on the back:
    deceit/dogmas/delusions
    =
    deep/doodoo/despair

    This T-shirt would compliment Guy’s, Ron Shock T-shirt

  • US Covered Up for Decades the Largest Use of Biological and Chemical Weapons in History

    https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/09/11/1238151/-US-Covered-Up-for-Decades-the-Largest-Use-of-Biological-Chemical-Weapons-in-History

    and IMHO they would not hesitate to do this again. And Canada would help, as we always do.

    As I always told my students: Dying is not bad. Suffering is bad.

  • Dear Daniel, may lifes blessings find you on your merry way and your merry way back.

    Dear Logspirit, thank you and thank you for the ‘admonishment’-my take, considering some of my baaaaad eating habits-to eat well. I needed that.

    Dear Artleads, when you speak of the large and small are you considering the quantum/physics as the small or large reality, or inter-changeable? I like to think of the hidden forces (as in not apparent to the human eye) as the large and everything we see with our eyes as the small. That apparent reality that we all experience differently reminds me of Paul Cherfuka’s most recent comment and that what we can share with each other has to fall into the matrix of that fabric we are all shaped by and experience through the particular, if small variances of individual shape. Where our unique shape and place in life is harder to share as common to all, except in the sense that what we are made of is almost identical. So there is that larger bedrock and un changing reality ( some may think spiritual) and the superficial, constantly changing ( some may say material). We are frightened out of our wits to be forced to look upon the apparently formless void, but ironically the void makes all things material. Instead of greater life in that void, we see the end of life. Perhaps this healing of that experience becomes so important as we do our best to honor where we are now, as living material miracles that are a unit expression of the greater miracle. Can we adjust our vision to see this? I say yes and here we are cultivating in the garden of souls. Ulvfugl, I would appreciate your input. Anyone else too please.

    Dear Robin Datta, I love the saying speak the truth and speak it pleasantly, do not speak the truth unpleasantly, thank you for sharing that and the humility. I needed the reminder. Indoctrination destruction.

    Dear Mike Servis, I am enjoying that book. Thanks for the link.

  • Dear Gail, I think, based on facts, we had a need to believe in something we made up. Now we have a need to get back to facts. That new need probably needs people like you to help define it. Can you believe that?

  • Mike,
    Your plight has struck a deeply resonant chord in me. My family situation is very similar to yours and I too am confronted with the same issues. I have two living children and 8 grandchildren. My son, the father of three boys, tells me that the Earth always “rebounds” and that I’m being overly pessimistic. The boy’s don’t know what to make of me and ‘grandma’ has forbidden me from talking “gloom and doom” to the youngsters.

    Like you I’m not sure just what to say or what to advise so I haven’t even spoke of the worst or the “time line”.

    My youngest daughter with 9 and 11 year old kids kinda understands but says that worrying about it only detracts from my present daily life. She’s a smart woman but I don’t think that she comprehends what the reality is.

    I have been racked with guilt for somehow failing her and failing this world. I realize that my responsibility is small but might I not have done more? Fought harder? The though and knowledge that humanity will in all probability become extinct during my grand-children’s time is a load that seems to get heavier daily. I fight back by taking the time to notice and savor those little things that we usually overlook. Like a gentle caress from moving air molecules. The kiss of warmth from the early sun. The cacophony of the insects and tree frogs as they recreate the sound of the tinnitus that I’ve had all my life. Those few fleeting moments when they drown out my malady are precious beyond words.

    Like you, I agree that even in the face of a forgone conclusion it’s imperative that we do whatever “right” things that we can. The journey becomes more important than the destination.

    Thank you for sharing your intimate and personal thoughts with the readers of Guy’s blog.

  • Kerry, I hate for anyone to have to face this with dependent children. But there it is. My grandchildren don’t live close, I realized I had not gotten through when the kids were born (at least there will be no more as tubes have been tied). I just don’t put them in any picture I have of the future. I can’t imagine facing this as a parent with kids at home.

    Thus my frequent plea – if you are fertile get them tied. Don’t make yourself have to face caring for a young child in the midst of chaos. Birth control will disappear and just say no doesn’t work with rapists. But what if you have teens – how can you tell them to do this….I haven’t a clue. I know the words, but I don’t know how I would say it to a teen son, much less a teen daughter. Besides probably no Dr. would do it.

    It may not help to say this, but I think it is important to remember this. However awful the future may be for our children and grandchildren, they will have had it pretty good before it gets bad. I reckon none of them will have been sold or kidnapped for sex or other forms of slavery before the end comes. I reckon none of them will have eked out their lives on a garbage dump before the end comes. I reckon none of them will have been hungry every day of their life, or started working at age 9 or younger in some factory before the end comes. I reckon none of them will have found work disarming land mines before the end comes. They may face some of the horrors that children in the rest of the world face before the end comes, but many will know horrors for their entire life and then the end comes. And of course any new children born after collapse will know nothing but horror.

    As for a surviving few that might somehow keep humanity from extinction. I think they would all be insane by then. Even when I thought it would be dieoff to a certain level, I never wanted to go there. I will not climb over (or eat) bodies for a bit more living and I will not kill anyone for a bit more living.

    Daniel best to you, whatever that can possibly be. Best to all in case they shut down the internet soon. Think of us. I hope Jean with the donkey is doing OK and thinks of us sometime too.

  • I tried talking about the dieoff with my wife and it almost cost me my marriage. She can’t handle thinking about it and won’t last long once the chaos starts. I am keeping all thoughts to myself these days except for what I share on this blog.

  • Violating the 2 post rule, sorry.

    Lydia, I just checked out that link you posted and had to laugh at the synchronicity. Another wildwoman……far more so than I, who only aspire. Hope you are well.

    And Daniel, I wanted to wish you well, as well, and hope you come back. I’ve been missing your voice.

  • TomF,

    Did you discuss these issues during the “courting” process? Isn’t it amazing that many of us can talk so much and communicate so little?

  • Ken — we’ve been happily married for 23 years this Sunday. Here’s some advice I can give. If you think that conditions may get to the point where you may want to check out as many have discussed here you are better off keeping those thoughts to yourself unless you know your partner can handle it. Suicide is a sort of red line that many people can’t cross, especially if they have lost a family member in that manner.

  • logspirit from the last discussion: my views are carefully won from years of study and observation. I saved myself from religion. I ain’t gonna go back to some pseudo religion based on someones assertions. My blood pressure is excellent, my cholesterol is fine (why cholesterol should be affected by my beliefs I can’t imagine). I grow much of our food. To do so I have to hand squish bugs that want my food for themselves. To eat the stuff I grow, well I have to consume living plants. I raise chickens. Love them dearly. Eat most of the young roosters which the hens are most grateful for. Too many roosters means hens with backs scraped bare and even slit by rooster nails. Too many roosters means higher feed costs with no return of eggs. Grand cooperation there, I get meat, the hens get peace, the reigning roosters are saved too much competition. Of course the roosters who loose their heads don’t think much of the cooperation we have with the rest of the flock. Our birds have the life of riley – 1 acre to roam protected by electric from foxes and dogs (who do have blood lust). Too bad baby foxes, not as many of you will make it but hey that’s life.

    Competition for resources doesn’t mean blood lust in all cases. It can mean putting poison in your leaves as the black walnut does, to kill anything that might want to grow on your soil and capture the nutrients you want. It can mean shading out other plants. It can mean being a parasite fungus that makes ants act suicidal so you can pass on parasite genes not ant genes. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090811161345.htm
    I find the ways that critters compete fascinating. I find the ways they cooperate to compete fascinating (ants that farm aphids farm them on our field peas – taking them to the juicy leaves and beans and then stroking them to get some of the juices back from the aphids. Absolutely fascinating – but I squish the aphids so I can get a bean crop – the blood of millions of aphids now on my hands so I can cooperate with the bees by not using poisons).

    If you can’t see cooperation as competition you don’t understand evolution and how the natural world works. You don’t understand the nature of self replication and the lesson the wonderful departed Al Bartlett taught us about exponential growth on a limited universe.

    But the minute you posit something “other” you pseudo religious types think that answers everything. But if you didn’t have us fact based folks to argue with you would be at each others necks, because you have no facts to ground you. So each individual transcendental experience, each dream, each vision, becomes truth, but individual truth because its inside your brain and your brain alone. The best you can hope for is to find another brain that has a similar revelation, or a groupie that stands in awe of your revelation and voila you have a sect, a denomination, a cult.

    World – ball – limited surface – limited volume. Living things – need resources and energy. Self replicating living things = stopped only from filling up every square inch of space on the ball by the limited nature of resources and energy and by completion. Something had to give.

    Please listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_VpyoAXpA8 Al Bartlett on the Exponential Function.

    BTW I have looked in plenty of microscopes. How bout this one
    Protozoa eating each other!
    Protozoa under the microscope at 40X 100X and 400X
    If you look carefully, you can easily see that they produce a “whirlpool” in front! as they swim, and this whirlpool sucks in their prey. You can also see hairs on the front, back and sides of the creatures. They are “hairy monsters” not the smooth things you see in books!


    Amazing. I am totally amazed by this microscopic version of getting the resources you need by eating another critter. Wow they create a whirlpool to suck in the prey. Little tiny protozoa can do that. Totally mindblowing amazing.

  • In one of Hitchens books he relates the case of an organisation approaching Mother Theresa in
    Calcutta to see if she would be interested in helping distribute free contraceptives.She declined,(no surprise there)telling them that god would provide(the food needed for the growing population) .I wonder what famines are,if not evidence that god doesn’t provide,or perhaps more precisely,that there is no god to do the providing.I think Ehrlich gives a good concise summation of the difference between the scientific and religious approach to the world.The scientific approach is question and test’,the religious approach is ‘believe and obey’.

  • @ Gail

    Vacuous Crap!

    Seen it before. They are both appalling, both wrong.

    Doesn’t make you right, Gail, just self-righteous and spiritually and philosophically illiterate.

    Seems to me the fact that you’d post that trivial video, you don’t even understand what profound issues this debate concerns.

    Do you really think that silly shallow sketch represents what we are arguing about here ?

    You complain bitterly that people refuse to hear what you have to say about the trees, but you demonstrate exactly the same deafness regarding what people are trying to say to you about non-physical realities, etc.

    ——————–

    @ Kathy C.

    Surely plenty I’d find to disagree about with logspirit, I’m not vegetarian for a start, but we have common ground re aikido, unlike verbal ideas, spirituality founded in martial arts can be tested empirically, and some of this stuff dates back 900 years and more, because it works.

    But if you didn’t have us fact based folks to argue with you would be at each others necks, because you have no facts to ground you. So each individual transcendental experience, each dream, each vision, becomes truth, but individual truth because its inside your brain and your brain alone. The best you can hope for is to find another brain that has a similar revelation, or a groupie that stands in awe of your revelation and voila you have a sect, a denomination, a cult.
    But this applies equally to you, all that is in YOUR BRAIN, a story you are telling YOUR self, that you have read in books and been told by people, just that you believe that your cult is superior to all others….

    I wouldn’t even mind so much if you stuck rigorously to your own rules, but you don’t, you cherry pick, so you refuse to acknowledge or even look at the science which undermines and destroys the materialist paradigm.

    You insist that everybody else’s experiences are merely their brains playing tricks on them, but that your own experience is completely reliable and solid, when the SCIENCE, says that it is NOT, that ‘reality’ ‘out there’ is nothing like what your brain tells you that it is.

    But there is no need to reply. You and I have been through all this a zillion times and, alas, got nowhere.

    —————

    @ david higham

    The scientific approach is question and test’,the religious approach is ‘believe and obey’.

    Why does it have to be either / or ? Seems to me there is abundant stupidity on both sides. Surely plenty of so called scientists who never question the dogma and prejudice inherent throughout the scientific establishment, and plenty of folk who question every aspect of religion and search all over the place for something that satisfies them spiritually.

    Unfortunately, people who are unable to think for themselves, on both sides of the debate, just throw in the standard knee-jerk reflex reactions with all the standard boring mindless responses, both sides take offence and become indignant, and it gets us nowhere.

    Could we try listening to the opposing view, maybe, for a change ?

  • http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2013/09/massive-molasses-spill-devastates.html

    Massive molasses spill devastates Honolulu marine life – ‘Everything down there is dead’

    By Mark Memmott
    12 September 2013

    (NPR) – “Everything down there is dead.”

    That’s one stunning quote from Hawaii News Now’s latest report about the devastating damage that’s been done to the marine life off Honolulu’s Sand Island by 233,000 gallons of molasses that were spilled into Honolulu harbor on Monday.

    Gary Gill, deputy director of Hawaii’s Environmental Health Division of the Health Department, tells the news station that “this is the worst environmental damage to sea life that I have come across.”

    The station sent diver Roger White into the water to see what’s happened to sea creatures there. He shot video and came back to say that:

    “It was shocking because the entire bottom is covered with dead fish. Small fish, crabs, mole crabs, eels. Every type of fish that you don’t usually see, but now they’re dead. Now they’re just laying there. Every single thing is dead. We’re talking in the hundreds, thousands. I didn’t see one single living thing underwater.”

    As Hawaii Public Radio’s Bill Dorman tells our Newscast Desk, the state Health Department has advised the public to stay out of the water. It warns that “while molasses is not harmful to the public directly, the substance is polluting the water, causing fish to die and could lead to an increase in predator species such as sharks, barracuda and eels. The nutrient rich liquid could also cause unusual growth in marine algae, stimulate an increase in harmful bacteria and trigger other environmental impacts.”

    Why is the molasses causing so much damage? In an earlier report, Hawaii News Now:

    “… did an experiment to see why molasses is so hazardous to fish. When we poured store bought Molasses into a vase of water we collected from Keehi Lagoon, the concentrated sugary substance went straight to the bottom.

    “Unlike an oil spill, which can be cleaned by skimming the surface, the molasses quickly disperses to the deepest points. ‘It’s sucking up all the oxygen,’ explained [state reef biologist Dave] Gulko. ‘There’s no oxygen at depth so the animals that need it can’t get it and are suffocating.’ ”

    Because the spill happened in a harbor and there’s less circulation than in the open ocean, it could be months or possibly years before the molasses is completely washed away, David Field, a visiting assistant professor of marine sciences at Hawaii Pacific University, tells the station.

    (there’s more)

  • @logspirit: “…only with maximal health is there any chance at all. Eat like your health and the health of the Earth is linked to those choices. It is. It is the most powerful tool most of us will ever wield.”

    This is a fascinating conundrum. It’s difficult and expensive to eat nutrient-dense organic food. Add local provenance and one’s food options are further limited. Supplements are  often industrial products: for example the Modified Citrus Pectin my naturopath wants me to take to counter metastases. I shudder to think at the all-devouring factory ships that give us our mass quantities of fish oil capsules.

    @ulvfugl: “non-physical realities” How can you make a case for any such thing after emphasizing our complicity in perception of our surroundings? All phenomena which are possible for us to perceive are necessarily physical— there is no escaping it. There are also physical phenomena which we cannot perceive, or that we perceive poorly. But positing phenomena which a.) we cannot perceive, and b.) which are not “physical”, seems unfruitful if not psychotic. You can really make up any damn thing you choose, and folks do.

    My sister’s rapture church is into prayer for healing. Somehow, though, they are never able to heal amputees or kids with extra chromosomes. I guess this ” healing” practice would fall under a “non-physical” reality: something that exists only as wishful thinking in their minds. 

    BTW, just to clarify something you maligned me with in the last thread, I never said that there was “a ‘world out there’… independent of any individual observer.” But being part of a larger vibrational energy/material system doesn’t give us or the system ‘meaning’. You as an individual have to want it to have meaning. If I set off a certain series of equations, I can make a computer draw fractal “art” with, to my way of thinking, no inherent meaning whatsoever. I can dump certain chemicals together and crystals will naturally form at a given rate–so what?

    Our being an expression of the Universe rather than removed observers is perfectly coherent with my view, which remains:  it’s only the human animal who wishes, through its clearly defective quality of protagonism, to find capital-M Meaning which—whaddayaknow—coincidentally implies a role for humans. (viz. the “universal healing force” comment you cited along with other malarkey). I find these propositions to be complete non sequiturs, kind of like the “News for Budgerigars” in which “No budgerigars were killed today in an incident on the A-2 motorway…” 

    That there are forces afoot which we can’t comprehend is obvious. That doesn’t make them meaningful in the slightest. Does gravity have intrinsic meaning?

    Pushing the envelope of our perceptions is always possible, as with some of the training you have talked about in the past. One thing that comes to mind right away is how even the dimmest among us will perceive a live animal in the vicinity and lock eyes with it, easily before having cognitively picked it out from its surroundings. I regard this sort of thing, along with other sorts of apparent magic like premonitions, to be part of our real material and physical sensorial capacity and in no way supernatural.

    Somewhere along the line @oldgrowth picked up the silly “atheist = rageful” meme, which appears to me a form of projection. I had a wonderful, tranquil life in which I was never was forced to endure much religion; thanks to parents born into warring denominations my sister and I were products of a “mixed marriage.” It were the religionists what come, angrily, to shake my tree, dear. Darling sister, whom I’d considered one of my best friends, a couple of years ago decided from one day to the next that I was going to writhe in burning sulfur for all eternity. But atheists are full of “rage”. Yeh, right…  It’s not me who’s making up sadistic stories about a psycho deity and scaring the children. I mean, have you READ the (Jewish) old testament?

    Kabbalah, I Ching, astrology, tea leaves, are all just mechanisms (like a secular psychotherapy appointment) which create opportunity for introspection and intuition to blossom in a fashion removed from day-to-day distractions. They create arbitrary structures which can be necessary for art. You see, I have been both a scientist and a graphic artist. I had a friend in art school who could never initiate a project because she could never bring herself to fix any of the variables involved—size, material, color, whatever.  So that’s where I see a practical underpinning for various systems of “divination”. In intending to seek the will of the gods we are really seeking any sort of guidelines just so we won’t have to face a blizzard of choices alone, and often we read the tea leaves or the horoscope in a way that merely rationalizes choices we have already made, whether consciously or not. Or we use them as parlor tricks, like John Cage had done.

  • TIAA,

    What you inquired about has been taken up on the previous thread, mostly by Ulvfugi, who rightly thought it shouldn’t be allowed to dilute the point of this thread.

    General

    I tries to tell my daughter (who is in academia) about NTE. But haven’t you been saying how bad things were all this time?, she asked. Not as bad as this, I replied. This is really, really bad. Not getting any strong connection from her about the subject, I decided to leave well enough alone. I planted a seed, which may germinate somewhere down the road. My sons appear to have zero interest in any environmental subject whatsoever. First, they have to come to the realization that there IS an environment, before anything I could say would register.

  • @Paul C, I love your dipper idea, although I’ll probably always maintain that some truths are truthier than others! Several years ago I remember writing a email to an interlocutor describing my feeling that, sure, we humans felt like we were creating Order in the world by building our structures and our networks. But what we were really doing on a macro level was creating Disorder at a furious rate: moving banana molecules from Costa Rica to New York, moving steel molecules from Germany to Canada, all facilitated by moving oil molecules from Saudi Arabia *everywhere*! He was a techno-cornucopian, iirc. Anyway, your thermodynamic proposition clicks with me in its entirety so far. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see a new expression of it. I’ll describe one sample ironic one.…

    Hospice nurses visit my mom once a week for about a half-hour. They are thrilled that mom is doing so well compared to most of their charges. The director comes by every month or two, and he’s thrilled as well, since they bill Medicare $4800/month for the 2-3 hours of care she gets which, up to this point, has been taking vital signs (5 min.) and tapping a lot of stuff into a small tablet device (20 min.) and since mom will soon be re-upping for a third stint. The infuriating, yet predictable, aspect of this situation in light of your notions about thermodynamics and the role of humans in the universe, is that I moved to this town with my mom precisely because it has a small hospital with well-regarded palliative care docs. When she got signed up for Hospice though, she became the client of a private regional service with which the hospital contracts and which sends nurses cross-crossing two states in their cars to see the scattered patients of any number of hospitals. Other private nursing services, I imagine, do the same thing- overlapping. The main hq is an hour away, and the nurses apparently have to check in there no matter where their route takes them. So here I was thinking about the tremendous energy savings in being walking distance from the regional hospital so we can get local care–Aaenh! (game show buzzer sound) Wrong! It just can’t be fought, this must-consume-the-energy-gradient-just-because-it’s-there thing. The consumption we actually “ask for” being merely the tip of a much larger and more pernicious iceberg…!

    Another example: some of the local food initiatives. If all your customers have to individually drive a car to your farm to buy your vegetables, milk, meat, and fruit, this is not an energy-saving alternative to supermarket food. Of course, to wish for greater efficiency means to wish for more food for more humans who will find other ways to break down the energy gradients, no!? 😉

  • ‘science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed. faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.’ -tim minchin (may not be original, but i suspect it is his creation, typical of his elegant, poetic way with words, reminiscent of carlin.

    the various links posted by many ‘regulars’ here (probably non’regulars’ 2), like the one to the great freethought artist tim minchin earlier today by gail, are my best source of information/opinion/entertainment/inspiration/commiseration currently. a cyberspace community, however imaginary, is better than having none. make believe eternal thanks to u all.

    encore minchin! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYchB7Kxuvs

  • I’m going to go off topic, too. Can someone tell me why Colorado is having so many floods ?

  • Daniel —

    What a voice!

    Always reminding me what is best in humans, and what will pass with our intelligent capabilities. And yes, what a ride we’ve had. I still owe you a response to May, but I was newly developing in my thoughts then, and probably still am now.

    You brought richness to the sadness that envelops us.

    I thought of you when I passed through PDX awhile back… probably a meeting still to come someday.

  • KunstlerCast 246 – JHK Interviews Author and Ecological Economist Eric Zencey:

    JHK interviews Eric Zency, author of The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Development. He is on board with the issues that the KunstlerCast is concerned with: the problems of an ‘infinite growth’ economy, the relationship between energy and money, and the fate of the planet. Eric teaches at the University of Vermont and Washington University in St. Louis.

    (Perhaps a day late and a dollar short?)

  • Reta Martin Says:
    September 12th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    “I’m going to go off topic, too. Can someone tell me why Colorado is having so many floods ?”

    A low pressure cell over Utah is funneling oodles of Gulf moisture right up along the Rockies eastern side, and the lift is squeezing the moisture out.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2520

  • ‘Do the math. Calculate what will be happening that makes 7 billion + people go to 0 in 20, 30, or even 40 years.’

    using round figures of 7.5 billion for peak pop., and 50 years as the time it may take to go from peak to nil, the average pop. decline per year would be 150 mil.. approx. 50 weeks/year means a decline of 3 million sheeple per week, or something less than 500k per day. with new births factored in, the death rate must exceed 1/2 million per day, on average, in this scenario. the greatest natural disaster i can think of in my lifetime, in terms of killing sheeple in one day, was the great tsunami at the end of i think it was 2004 that killed something like 225,000 on various indian ocean shores. try imagining more than 2 such disasters happening day after day for something like 18,000 days. of course mere numbers can’t come close to surrealizing the traumatic pain/suffering that will accompany such megadeath over so many years!

    daniel, i just read your post about your losing present living and internet arrangements. kind of speechless. hope things will turn out well for u soon, obviously, so u may continue commiserating with us without missing too many beats. in the meantime, here’s to u:

    ‘Isn’t it amazing that many of us can talk so much and communicate so little?’

    besides indoctrination with dogmas, our culture instills superficiality. this helps avoid conflict in the short term. helps grease the culture of make believe, make everything run smoothly, as any (industrial death) machine should. ‘say, what do u think of this weather we’re having!?’ (sigh)

  • How can you make a case for any such thing after emphasizing our complicity in perception of our surroundings?

    Let it be. Adapted to a certain cognitive milieu through long acclimatisation: if it does not affect someone, it’s best to leave it there.

    part of our real material and physical sensorial capacity and in no way supernatural.

    Indeed. But some will not recognise the body-mind complex for the meat-robot that it is, because they are stuck in identification of the “I” with it: nothing derogatory about it. It is the simplest/most basic attitude. Such persons will mix in all sorts of “supernatural” hocus-pocus.

    However, few carry the logic far enough to assert that oneself is the only entity with awareness, and all others are meat robots. The next step beyond that would be to recognise that even oneself – as far as the body-mind goes – is also a meat-robot, and the “I” that identifies with it is an apparition, a mirage. That would veritably put one in highest category of awareness.

    Nothing withstanding the assertion “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God”. And, to see The One without a second is to be is to be The One without a second: without a second there is no triad of seer, seen and sight – and no other(s).

    Approaching it through intellection is hard enough. Grokking it is a whole ‘nuther matter.

  • SanJoseMike wrote: One reason I am reluctant to talk about the impending collapse is that people will ask me that same question: What do I do now? How do I go on? I don’t have a real answer.

    How about this for a t-shirt to wear at all times:

    “Let’s talk about the likely death of billions of people.”

    Be proud and out loud about NTE! It’s worked for other groups.

    B9K9 Says: Actually, Rob, it’s bleaker than that. The “real” solution is for Earth’s people to die, soon, below a mean IQ of 115 (around 98% of the population). Secondly, we/they, (the remaining 150m)…

    Actually, B9K9, it’s bleaker than that. Figure 15m survivors, tops, 7m is more likely. As for IQ and who will be needed to keep the elite’s lifeboat afloat, let’s put it this way, if you haven’t been forcing your kids to do four hours of quadratic equations every day since age 6, you might as well slit their throats now. There are several million Chinese/Japanese kids who could ace any American state science test at age 8, let alone age 14. The world’s owners are going to need nuclear engineers, genetic engineers, agronomists, on their lifeboat. It will be a super concentrated system, shrunk by 99.8%, but just like today, all geared towards keeping them comfortable and well fed in a world even more artificial than ours. They won’t give up until the last nuclear fuel rod fizzles out, so here’s one of the few workable survival plans for the kiddies: http://web.mit.edu/nse/education/grad/ne.html

    Rob said: So, The Solution is for 90% of Earth’s people to die, soon. But, before they go, they must help us dismantle the toxic infrastructure of industrial civilization…

    I’ve been thinking about how dumb it sounds when people use some verb like crash, collapse, bring down, dismantle, terminate, combined with some noun like, the grid, the toxic infrastructure, the nuke plants, or industrial civilization. It’s silly because it leaves out what’s most important; the fact that all of those things are capitalist owned and controlled. They are private property, conduits of wealth to the people who own them, and those people aren’t going to let anyone interfere with them. Just like no one is going to let you bring down Bill Gates’ mansion, but you might as well be saying that, because his wealth and the wealth of all his fellow billionaires does not exist without all that destructive apparatus to funnel it to them. We wonder why TPTB are not embracing our calls to terminate industrial civilization. Can we be any dumber? There is no “the” grid, there is only their grid. Their grid, their nukes, their chemicals, their pesticides, their oil wells and pipelines. They feel about their stuff as you feel about your house, they look at it and say, “I own that.” Interesting how a fuller description of reality changes everything. The stuff you want to get rid of has owners who will have to dealt with. So be honest, when you say you want to terminate their stuff, it means you’re going to have to terminate them.

  • ulvfugl, if I may interject, you accuse Kathy of not looking at the science that contradicts her opinions, but you never actually present the science or evidence in question.

    You just say “It’s obvious!”, but you don’t actually provide any real evidence to prove Kathy wrong.

    Then, when Kathy doesn’t believe you, you then accuse HER of being dogmatic, because she won’t change her mind just because you say so.

    See, this is what happens when we don’t have any real definitions of words, or grounding in anything.

    This is what happens when everybody’s going, “I have the right to my opinion!”, even if that opinion, by its very nature, drowns others out or causes other people PAIN, or robs others of their rights.

    This is what happens when we define resistance to domination as domination, criticizing extremism as extremist, and refusing to believe as mindless belief.

    This is what happens when we don’t believe that there are any distinctions, that there is no difference between the innocent and the guilty.

    This is what happens when we can’t understand each other, because the friggin’ psychologists eroded all intellectual standards, all boundaries, all “meaningful definitions of words” which, as Aristotle noted, was necessary for people to even begin to understand each other, let alone reach any sort of common ground in an argument.

    We now have a situation where, in the words of a Dilbert comic strip, reality is controlled by the most insane.

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-06-14/

  • @SanJoseMike

    Talked to the parents, they think I am nuts. Talked to the girlfriend, we separated, she wanted to make hay while the sun shined (however dimly) and I wanted to grow wheat. Talked to extended family and friends, they too think I am a freak. Now I am alone, I talk to no one. Neither do I wish to anymore, it is not a pleasant experience.

    A few weeks back, a cousin of mine came asking. I gave him fair warning and told him he did not want to know. But, he had heard from other family members that I was indulging in some “crazy talk” about the end of the world, and that he really wanted to know. So I told him about everything, Energy / Economics / Environment, the works leading up, to Human design defects (short term bias, etc), Fukushima et all, Methane Bob-omb… NTE!

    I could see dreams / hopes / plans for the rest of his life evaporate from his face as I talked. He is just 25-26 years old. An artist by (some serious) talent, designer by profession, who just graduated from college and landed his first job at a decent company. He has loans. He has a consumerist girl friend who he is crazily in love with and wants to marry. He also and a single mother who needs his support. He is too invested in the system to address the situation in any meaningful manner.

    Not a pleasant experience for mi to start with, but now after a few weeks of rumination it feels worse. What did I achieve? Poor guy could have gone out ignorant. Thankfully, he has not returned yet, I sincerely hope that he will be able to ignore the information and go back to a normal life, whatever that is. But I fear, given his mental makeup, he will suffer, may not be consciously but sub consciously his brain will not fully be able to go back to complete ignorance.

    There is a big abyss between learning about NTE and coming to terms with NTE. In my experience most people tend to fall into the abyss and never climb out. People become depressed, become hedonists, become angry… do anything but make peace. I understand they are working through their stages of grief, I have been there myself, but very few have the mental tenacity and opportunity to actually climb out and find acceptance within. I still find myself slipping back into the abyss now and then.

    I think, personally I will carry out whatever mitigating actions I can, not because I can save the world, but because I cannot bring myself to act otherwise. If someone figures it out and comes to mi for company, great, I will too find someone I can hang out with, on the edge of the abyss of NTE Realization 😉

    I will gently, very gently, prod others to act similarly, but no more full disclosures. It is apparently clear that we are not going to save the world, I no longer see the point in damning the souls before the end.

    @Daniel

    Best of luck, with your future endeavors. Thank you, for sharing you thoughts, they have been a great help.

    @Benjamin & @Denise

    You rock _\m/

    @Everyone & specially Guy

    Thank you for the safe harbor and good company 🙂

    To the fiddle 😀

  • https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/if-the-end-of-the-world-were-nigh-youd-want-the-worlds-biggest-brains-trying-to-stop-it-and-thats-exactly-whats-happening-8812919.html

    If the end of the world were nigh, you’d want the world’s biggest brains trying to stop it. And that’s exactly what’s happening

    Leading scholars establish centre for the study of ‘existential risk’ in order to prepare for potentially devastating events

    Some of Britain’s finest minds are drawing up a “doomsday list” of catastrophic events that could devastate the world, pose a threat to civilisation and might even lead to the extinction of the human species.

    Leading scholars have established a centre for the study of “existential risk” which aims to present politicians and the public with a list of disasters that could threaten the future of the world as we know it.

    Lord Rees of Ludlow, the astronomer royal and past president of the Royal Society, is leading the initiative, which includes Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge cosmologist, and Lord May of Oxford, a former government chief scientist.

    The group also includes the Cambridge philosopher Huw Price, the economist Partha Dasgupta and the Harvard evolutionary geneticist George Church. Initial funding has come from Jaan Tallinn, the co-founder of Skype.

    “Many scientists are concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole,” says a statement on the group’s website.

    Lord Rees said in his closing speech to the British Science Festival in Newcastle this evening that the public and politicians need the best possible advice on low-risk scenarios that may suddenly become reality, with devastating consequences.

    “Those of us fortunate enough to live in the developed world fret too much about minor hazards of everyday life: improbable air crashes, carcinogens in food, low radiation doses, and so forth,” Lord Rees told the meeting.

    “But we are less secure than we think. It seems to me that our political masters, should worry far more about scenarios that have thankfully not yet happened – events that could arise as unexpectedly as the 2008 financial crisis, but which could cause world-wide disruption,” he said.

    Professor David Spiegelhalter, an expert in risk at Cambridge University, said that our increasing reliance on technology and the formation of complex interconnected networks is making society more vulnerable.

    “We use interconnected systems for everything from power, to food supply and banking, which means there can be real trouble if things go wrong or they are sabotaged,” Professor Spiegelhalter said.

    “In a modern, efficient world, we no longer stockpile food. If the supply is disrupted for any reason, it would take about 48-hours before it runs out and riots begin,” he said.

    “Energy security is also an issue, as we import much of our fuel from abroad, so a conflict over resources in the future is possible,” he added.

    According to Lord Rees, the threat of nuclear war was the main global risk we faced in the last century, but in the fast-developing 21st Century there are new concerns over risks such as deadly bioterrorist attacks, pandemics accelerated by global air travel, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and artificially intelligent computers that turn hostile.

    “In future decades, events with low probability but catastrophic consequences may loom high on the political agenda,” Lord Rees told the science festival.

    “That’s why some of us in Cambridge – both natural and social scientists – plan, with colleagues at Oxford and elsewhere, to inaugurate a research programme to compile a more complete register of these existential risks, and to assess how to enhance resilience against the more credible ones,” he said.

    The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk is so far a loose coalition of scholars but Lord Rees hopes later this year to announce major funding and a more detailed programme of research into the “doomsday” scenarios.

    “Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge’s great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future,” the centre states on its website.

    Lord Rees, who has written popular science books on 21st Century threats to humanity, said that the organisational aspect of the centre is still being finalised but he hopes to have this clarified by the end of the year.

    “The response we’ve had to our proposal has been remarkably wide, and remarkably positive. The project is still embryonic but we are seeking funds via various sources and have strengthened our international advisory network,” he told The Independent.

    There is a need for a more rational approach to the low risk events that could have devastating consequence because politicians tend to think of short-term problems and solutions while the public is in denial about scenarios that have not yet happened, he said.

    “The wide public is in denial about two kinds of threats: those that we’re causing collectively to the biosphere, and those that stem from the greater vulnerability of our interconnected world to error or terror induced by individuals or small groups,” Lord Rees said.

    “All too often the focus is parochial and short term. We downplay what’s happening even now in impoverished, far-away countries and we discount too heavily the problems we’ll leave for our grandchildren,” he said.
    (there’s more)

  • Librarian, thanks. You are so very right about definitions. The books you treasure do help provide a solid source of information. How many times have religious folks had books burned because of the information and truths they document? I have spent many good hours in libraries. I wish that saving them could save a remnant from past mistakes as you have hoped. But likely there will be no remnant and humans run on programs that especially in hard times, books cannot reach.

    U may be referring to a long past discussion on quantum physics and consciousness. This is not at all settled science https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind

    Mostly U is trying to find some hook to hook me back into arguing with me so he can then try to show me up for being “take your pick of insulting words”. I am trying to avoid that hook because U so easily slips into insults when he thinks he is losing. And insults are banned. He gets mad when I remind him that on some other conversation he his slipping, yet by so doing I have possibly saved him from being banned.

    We write under the 2 post a day rule mostly because of U. Its frustrating at times but mostly it helps everyone to give space for others and not dash off quick posts that they might regret.

    So I will count this actually my 2nd post for the day as I posted 3 yesterday, and let the rants begin.

    That said – another discovery for my “astonishing, surprising, unprecedented discovery meter” of climate change.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/science/warm-water-under-antarctic-glacier-spurs-astonishing-rate-melting-8C11140007

    Have a nice day everyone, avoid insults, blog nicely, hug your loved ones, …..

  • SanJoseMike – thanks for the great essay.

    My message to those who listen (adult children)is that the world has become a hospice. Have more cook-outs. Foster community. Be kind – try to understand most are struggling and confused. Help when you can.

    Sometimes I mention weather events – like is happening in Colorado now. Storms that once dumped 2″ will begin to drop 4″ and 5″. Never hurts to be prepared to stay at home for 2 weeks if needed. Or go without electric for a week.

    My wife, bless her, didn’t want to hear it. She believed what I ranted about 911 and how Gaza was like Terminator 3 – she said it made her too sad to talk or think about it – she cared for our children and grandchildren. That’s where her thoughts were.

    I’ve known for a few years that life on Earth is terminal (I’m 63) – it’s really no different now than it ever was – we do the best we can. Grandkids (4 and 7) just went from cozy grandma’s to mom’s farm. From seseme street and ice cream to dirty feet and bug bites. Hear them tell it – it’s like epic injustice for them – little do they know – lol.

    So I always fall back on the saying – plant your love and let it grow. Live a good life.

    Librarian Says: “See, this is what happens when we don’t have any real definitions of words, or grounding in anything.”

    Kinda like that Tower of Babel thingie. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening.

    As long as words remain undefined – we can always be right. Our view always correct, and our farts can smell like lavender.

    IMHO, folks who are serious about conveying a certain knowledge {say the Manhattan Project team}
    understand that exact language is necessary for exchanges to be meaningful. Dr. McPherson often begins his presentations by defining a few terms.

    Personally, I don’t get the discussion about good humans – bad humans – regardless of where the truth lies, it is meaningless – argument for arguments sake. We’re not the boss. The Earth will be fine. There is nothing to save – the Earth can puke us into space at any time. We were made from stardust and we’ll return. Sure, we FUBAR’ed the biosphere with poisons and gases we didn’t understand. But all will be forgotten in a few billion years.

    Again, thanks Mike for a great essay.

  • Librarian: It may be best to leave some to their own ways.

    Kathy Cassandra is amongst the advanced awarenesses on NBL and can manage well enough on her own. That awareness comes from prior sincerity in (now-abandoned) religious practice – abandoned through despair and angst, while retaining all compassion and humility. The other advanced person is the virgin terry. What may appear to others as rank materialism hides deep understanding worthy of all respect.

  • Ironically, U. has crystalized exactly what I think quite nicely on the last post:

    “Mythos and Logos. We need both. Nothing we can do about it anyway, they are not going to go away, they are built into the way our brains work.”

    They are BUILT INTO THE WAY OUR BRAINS WORK. Mythos does not exist independently of our mind. WE create it.

    There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just the way our brains evolved. We wouldn’t be the marvelous, evil creatures we are without it. We never would have started painting on caves without it. We wouldn’t have complex languages, hundreds of them, without it. We wouldn’t have Monet, or Mozart, or Shakespeare!

    Thanks, U, for clarifying that!

    I love popular culture too, it can be so revealing and besides my favorite way to forget the dying biosphere for just a little while is a dark theater in a mall in a huge thunderstorm where I don’t have to worry about any trees falling on the roof over my head. For a terrific comic study of the twinned impulses to cooperate and compete, I recommend The Family, which I saw last night. Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwZNypYmPFE

  • Ulf is mentally ill, socially isolated, narcissistic, know it all, windbag.

    Attacks others with his hogwash Zen bullcrap.

    He is a POS.

  • It’s so funny how those who speak with the most conviction are the most vile.

    I very much dislike the personal attacks – they really have no place here.

    @ Bob S: right on!

    Yes, the 2 post a day rule is the only thing that saved this blog – if not for that, it would be intolerable.

    I’ve been wrong most of my life. In the end, all I know is I don’t know and I try to keep away from people who “know” and especially if they make a big fuss about it.

  • @SanJoseMike

    Hello SanJoseMike

    Tell the people you know the truth but only if they deserve to hear it.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! A great hatch of damsel flies and dragon flies was observed during the recent mini-heatwave where temperatures exceeded 90° F. Really cool to see that fluttery dance. Also, internet has been intermittent lately but difficult to say if it is the ISP or tree branches falling on power and cable lines due to thunderstorm activity. A power outage was experienced a few minutes ago. Thankfully it was brief.

    @wildwoman

    It’s getting to the point where I can call ‘Ace’ and she’ll come around within a minute or two. Her fawn stays hidden but close by. I’ll try to get a snapshot sometime if they feel like posing. LOL

    Have a nice weekend all.

  • Greetings, all, haven’t posted in a bit.

    Regarding the flooding on the Front Range in Colorado – Lyons is cut off (my first house was in the mountains between Lyons and Estes Park), I still have friends there I haven’t been able to contact. I had two feet of water in my garage there from a much smaller storm – while it wasn’t a creek bed, if you looked at the hillside carefully you noticed that it would drain right into the garage. I bet that house is damaged now or even gone.

    Recall that Colorado Springs had a huge fire this spring. Now we see floods. Hey, it all averages out, so climate change is a big hoax!

    This is of course exactly what has been predicted for the center of the continent: an overall pattern of drought punctuated by “stuck” weather patterns bring occasional floods.

    I’m a few hundred miles away from all that now. The rain stopped yesterday and the sun seems to have returned. Maybe I can get some stuff done.

  • Hi everyone,
    I just wanted to share with you the view outside my bedroom window yesterday morning, 7am. I live at the mouth of Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, CO.

    We never seem to think it’s going to happen to us… tip it does.

  • I wrote a couple or few months ago that I don’t read this site to discuss religion or spirituality. Neither do I read it so I can be acquainted with the biases and ignorance of others toward religion and/or spirituality. For some reason, it’s bad to be a religious fundamentalist, but fact-free materialistic fundamentalism is sacrosanct.

    Ironically, the number of medical doctors these days with impeccable educations, who do believe in the primacy of spirit and spirituality can be listed by the dozens, especially in connection with near-death studies. Raymond Moody, who wrote the first book on NDEs is both an MD and has an additional PhD in philosophy. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist and a giant in the medical field for her work, a woman who revolutionized how medicine deals with terminal patients, went from atheist to complete acceptance of spiritual realities through her experiences with the dying. She saw things that she could NOT deny. In recent years, Jeffrey Long, a practicing oncologist, has done some of the best research on NDEs; his website nderf.org is the largest database of NDEs available. Diane Hennacy Powell, a practicing psychiatrist, has devoted a great deal of work to both spirituality and examination of psychic abilities. Janice Amatuzio, MD and forensic pathologist, has written two books on spirituality. There are others – David Fontana, Charles Tart, both PhDs in psychology, Bruce Greyson, psychiatrist; Pim Van Lommel, MD and cardiologist; Peter Fenwick, neuropsychiatrist and neurophysiologist; Sam Parnia, MD, PhD, practicing physician; Ian Stevenson, MD and psychiatrist; all of whom have been around for many years without blemish to their reputations professionally or personally. There are many more. They all unabashedly believe in spiritual realities and devote their lives or some large portion of their lives to the study and verification of the evidence, of which there is ample. They all have proved themselves insofar as their credentials in “science.” When you consider a perinatologist or a psychiatrist, there can be half again or more the number of years of education in the hard sciences as a PhD in biology. When residency is included, the total years of formal education in science equates to twice that of a PhD in other disciplines.

    I guess on this site it’s only “science” if you personally believe in it and it’s actually a lower level of education, since the truth is that the number of people with plenty of competence and certification in scientific fields do find plenty of evidence for spiritual realities, and they accept that evidence.

    I haven’t seen that anyone on this site has such credentials in science, not even Guy. But the projection directed to the subject of spirituality and those who do accept spiritual realities continually forces a debate that is supposed to be ‘knowledge versus ignorance.’ That is both intellectually and morally dishonest. It resembles nothing and no one so much as the most energetic Bible-thumping Jerry Falwells of the world. Different beliefs but same fundamentalist dynamics and perspective toward anything not currently accepted by the faithful.

    Talk about a fact-free zone. It’s got me questioning how well some people have actually put together the information on this subject of NTE, and the conclusions that have been drawn regarding it. If it’s that dark ages and intellectually dishonest at NBL, what else that is really important is missing?

    Talk about the shadow side of the so-called enlightenment. So, one smart person rejected the limited religion of their childhood and embraced biology, and maybe even got a master’s degree. BFD. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was an avowed atheist for years, in fact, decades, but changed her mind in the opposite direction, because she couldn’t deny the truth that she saw in hospital rooms. Too many people who were dying, especially children with no agendas whatsoever, knew things they simply could not know through any means other than psychic or spiritual. She documented it in over 10,000 near-death experiences, among other things.

    But “Jesus saves,” oops, I mean “science is good,” and especially quite limited knowledge in science, is all a person really needs to know. Wow. That takes such intellectual acumen. Why have I ever paid attention to anything else? I could have just bought a nice bumper sticker and read over and over again.

  • Dear Robin Datta, it is the letting go of what is known that presents the challenge and losing all company, tribe, society that is preventing the awareness. What one needs to be aware of is quite easy to grasp once the fears of loss are relieved. That takes helping the brain change it’s programming. Simply stated, we will die on the sinking ship rather than jump off alone. So first those who have faced those unchartered waters and returned with the offer of new tribe in exchange for old will need to emerge. Fearless, loving, solid, safe.

    Dear Tom, thanks for the link toward our brainiest deciding to test the unchartered waters, this will be interesting! Perhaps Gail can offer as throat keeper ;-).

    Dear Gail and Ulvfugl, loved myself, the vacuous crap video, good genius and witty good fun. Touché Gail. But as Ulvfugl points out it falls short of direct application to our desire for understanding. Still, a total crack up. Relief. Thank you Gail.

    Regarding what we imagine is an argument of ours here, between supposed differences, I think it is fallout from past ignorance that we took on in all innocence. Fighting to rid ourselves of the poison we share in common makes our goal common and makes us, if unwilling to admit, kindred spirits.

  • @Lidia,

    Thanks, it’s sure nice to know you get it – that means the idea is accessible, at least to some people. Most of us are so blind to our own instincts, let alone their physical sources, that we’re essentially sleepwalking.

    Here’s another wrinkle to the story. We feel like we’re creating order and structure while creating entropic waste, and we are. the problem is that as Neil Young noted, “Rust never sleeps.” Anything we build begins to decay immediately, and must have more energy and material constantly fed into it for as long as we wish to maintain it. That’s the Red Queen’s race.

    It’s the place Tim Garrett of Utah identified where most of the energy we use goes – not to build new stuff, but just to keep the old stuff from falling apart. I’d be willing to bet that a similar proportion of the material we generate goes for the same purpose. So our conceit of “creating structure” comes with an additional hidden ecological price tag, a bill that must be paid in perpetuity. It’s the Gillette principle – buy the razor once, buy new blades forever.

    The thermodynamic foundation of the universe is connected to human behavior by means of evolutionary psychology. That linkage completes the coupling of the whole physical/genetic/psychological/behavioral/cultural edifice into a solid dissipative structure. Here’s a piece I wrote earlier today, expanding on the role of our evolved psychology in “causing” events like climate change and Fukushima:

    The human brain appears to have evolved some qualities that are now working against us. Here are some of those evolved qualities that are crucial to understanding how we got into the predicament we did:

    1. We place far more importance on finding and using energy (food, thermal fuel and electricity) than on what happens to the waste products.
    2. We pay far more attention to concrete, immediate threats than to distant, abstract risks.
    3. We act immediately on threats that affect our daily lives, we spend very little energy on complex future risks.
    4. As our primary evolutionary advantage, the human brain functions mainly as a limit-removal mechanism. As a result we pay far more attention to opportunities than consequences.

    All of those behaviors have their origins in adaptations to problems we faced over long periods of time earlier in our species’ history. According to evolutionary psychologists, these behaviors are encoded into special-purpose problem solving mental circuitry – i.e. they are physically encoded in our brains. This physical encoding happens because it’s far more efficient and faster to have a piece of special-purpose “hardware” to solve a class of recurrent problems than to arrive at a behavioral solution from fresh algorithmic analysis every time. The difficulty that poses in a fast-changing modern environment is obvious.

    It’s very hard to override the solution-generating circuitry using conscious logic. Most people go with the generated solution because it works most of the time – and that tendency is itself an evolutionary adaptation. Because most of the time the presented solution will be close enough for horseshoes means that the conscious double-checking is generally a waste of time. Even doing the analysis to determine that the “solution” may be wrong is too hard or energy intensive for most people. So we tend not to do it.

    The examples of nuclear power and fossil fuels make the operation of these mechanisms very clear once you know to look for them:

    1. We place far more importance on finding and using the energy than on what happens to the waste products of CO2 and spent nuclear fuel.
    2. We pay far more attention to concrete, immediate threats like the loss of jobs or declining standards of living than to distant, abstract risks like climate change or the possibility of a meltdown.
    3. We act on threats that affect our daily lives. Only once a reactor has melted down or droughts and floods threaten the food supply does society at large pay attention and begin to act.
    4. Our brain functions mainly as a limit-removal mechanism in the service of survival and growth. As a result we pay far more attention to opportunities (“We can power civilization the modern way, by splitting atoms!”) than to consequences (“We can deal with the spent fuel later, there’s lots of time for that.”)

    Humans also seem to assume that our intellect is strong enough that it can control our actions, govern the direction of our development and deal with the risks. Unfortunately, the forces that shape our behavior have a very strong genetic or “hardware” component that is difficult to recognize, let alone overcome through reason.

    Add to that the fact that similar special-purpose mechanisms have evolved to promote social group cohesion. These mechanisms entrain our personal behavior with that of people around us so that the group can present a united front. Objectors, malcontents and whistle-blowers are subjected to enormous social pressure to get back in the fold or risk ostracism. So people who say things like, “Perhaps we shouldn’t use every last source of energy we can, and maybe we should apply the Precautionary Principle once in a while,” are about as welcome in broader society as skunks at a picnic. They are ignored, derided and harassed, or even sanctioned through job loss or imprisonment.

    Sio in my opinions humans in general are not really stupid or greedy – at least not exactly. We are fighting psychological effects that are very old, and are embedded in the physical structure of our brains. This makes it much easier to detect problems than to solve them, especially if they affect society at large.

    Does this mean that our behavior is deterministic? Perhaps not, technically speaking. What I think it DOES mean is that our behavior is constrained and shaped by so many physical and biological mechanisms that are outside our awareness and beyond our control, that it might as well be deterministic. If we think of it as deterministic, we won’t ever be too far wrong.