Upward Bound: Maintaining Our Collective Clunker

by Eamon Farelly at Pray for Calamity

My friend and I joke about techno-optimists. Both of us have wasted enough time on the internet reading the prognostications of self described technocrats, transhumanists, and even optimistic liberals who carry with them and promote a picture of the future that is near utopian in it’s advancements and its cleanliness. This optimism is shared widely by younger generations who cannot be bothered to understand the totality of the destruction wrought on the planet and its ecosystems over the last few hundred years. Advances in communications technology have people believing that anything is possible, and depending on their politics, their reasoning is essentially that either government, corporations, capitalists, or some combination of them is all that stands between us and a near workless future of global equality and abundance. A trip to the Apple Store and a copy of Popular Mechanics seemingly forms their understanding of not only what humans can do, but what they should do.

What is frustrating about these techno-topians is that for them, name dropping a technology is supposed to convince the rest of us that said technology has all of the prerequisite systems in place for it’s global implementation and that said technology can effortlessly be scaled up to replace current technologies. Further, the techno-optimist speaks as if technologies exist in an ecological vacuum where they can be designed, manufactured, deployed, utilized, upgraded, and ultimately dismantled when they are inevitably made irrelevant by new developments without damaging ecosystems and living communities. Arguing for the bright future society these technologies will grant us usually finds their acolytes rebuffing their potential flaws by name dropping another, then another, then another hypothetical invention or method, creating a fractal universe of innovations that are essentially non-existent today, but that we are supposed to have faith will rescue us from the crises that are meting deleterious effects right now.

Techno-optimists talk about Moore’s Law and the doubling of computing power that will lead to computers smarter than humans in mere decades. I’m not sure what these super smart computers are exactly supposed to provide for us. Bitcoins? 3-D porn? 42?

This is the rim of the rabbit hole. Computers are manufactured at great ecological and material cost. They are created with rare earth metals, plastics, copper, fresh water, slave labor in mines, near slave labor in factories, fossil fuel powered mining equipment, fossil fuels converted into materials, fossil fuel powered assembly lines, global shipping and distribution, and they are eventually obsolete which lands them in third world neighborhoods to be “recycled” by poor people who burn them to extract what of value they can. Of course, the techno-optimist is likely someone who lives in a wealthy nation, and it is likely that they primarily see the benefits of technology, not the drawbacks. They probably have never assembled an iPad or spent three days underground mining coltan by hand under the watchful eye of an AK-47 toting guard.

There are very real crises that are unfolding now. Solutions to these crises needed to be implemented decades ago. In fact, crises like climate change, peak oil, deforestation, species die-off, top soil loss – all needed to be addressed decades and decades ago. Talking about them solves nothing. Chanting the words “Solar panels, wind turbines, hemp oil” over and over again does nothing to address the net energy decline of peak oil, especially as on the whole, the industrial capitalism has clearly chosen to go full tilt with hydro-fracking for tight oil and gas and strip mining for tar sands bitumen and low return coal deposits. It’s hard to join any optimism that refuses to look around and see that technology is not, right now, this moment, saving the day. Technology is being used to maintain the status quo as the train of industrial civilization hurtles towards a gorge.

Technology comes with costs. There are the ecological costs of the places destroyed so that raw materials can be extracted. There are ecological costs of energy acquisition necessary to power engines and electronics. There are ecological costs to discarding defunct and obsolete machines and products. There are human costs to communities displaced, sickened, and killed by extraction and technological implementation. There are human costs in the immiseration of labor forces which crawl into copper mines, work assembly lines, wither in cubicles, and work the fields picking vegetables to keep all of the above alive. There are energy costs, as no technology exists without energy. An electric car needs electricity flowing through an electric grid, and as it stands, that electricity is primarily created through the burning of hydrocarbons. Nuclear power should need no discussion as to its dangers, and all of the pie in the sky “renewables” are all dependent upon industrial processes and none are eternal.

James Kunstler wrote a book on the optimism of techno-fetishists who cannot seem to do the math on what a technological society begins to cost. In “Too Much Magic,” Kunstler tells an anecdote about a visit to the Google Campus where he gave a talk. After describing the “tricked out” offices laden with snacks and video games, he describes the question and answer session that followed his speech, in which the general statement from employees was summed up as, “Like, dude, we’ve got technology.” Kuntsler writes:

This informed me of something pretty scary: The executives and programmers at Google didn’t know the difference between technology and energy. They assumed that these were interchangeable, that if you run out of one you just plug in the other, which is inconsistent with reality.

Seeing the childishness of the office layout and employee dress and behavior, Kunstler comes to a realization about the type of playful creativity at the backbone of Google’s business model:

The childlike thinking at Google was a logical extension of this corporate culture: the belief in magic, in this case the magic of high tech. A lot of the high-level employees I spoke to in the auditorium that day were people who had become millionaires before they had turned thirty (thanks to Google Stock), mainly by pushing pixels around a screen with a mouse, that is, by making computer magic. They had magically become rich by making magic. Naturally, then, they were true believers in tech magic, and also, by extension, believers that any problem facing the human race could be fixed by applying tech magic.

The attitude Kunstler describes is permeating the masses in the west. It’s reasonable to assume that the advances in technology available to the general public in wealthier nations is partly to blame. Twenty-five years ago there was Nintendo, and now there is Playstation 4. Before either, kids played outside. Twenty-five years ago the cordless phone was a wonder, and now you can tweet your musings on a touch screen smart phone from pretty much anywhere. Yes, computer technology has advanced quickly and has been dispersed to wealthier masses. At the same time, Hollywood has applied this technology to story telling, creating visual spectacles which can make the imaginary seem very real. The problem with this, is that stories on the screen which themselves describe constant advancement in technology come to life in the minds of the audience members, and they come to believe they aren’t witnessing fiction, but a commercial for the world of tomorrow. Finally, life in the modern middle class west is in so many ways separated from the foundations of these advances. People who have access to yearly upgraded smart phones never see the regions of land deforested and strip mined to gain access to a mineral. They don’t live in the sacrifice zones where fossil fuel is refined so that a rocket can put a satellite into space. They are privy to almost none of the miserable labor that makes any of these technologies possible. That’s what makes technology oh so magical – because it appears out of nowhere. One day it just shows up at a Sprint store and then it’s yours! The witches brew of dead migratory birds, dead gorillas, dead forests, dead rivers, and dead people that made such magically technology possible is never seen or tasted.

This magical attitude is a byproduct of living in a nation that exports currency and forces the world to accept it at the barrel of a gun. In a nation where none of the “doing” happens, a mere hypothesis is just as good as a completely implemented and functioning process. It is impossible to have a productive conversation about the myriad costs of any one technology, let alone all technologies, with someone who thinks in plug-and-play fashion. Mention global declining net energy, and they will say “algae,” “hemp,” or “solar,” as if the problem isn’t complex and nuanced, but merely a lack of suggestions of things that we can burn. Mention declining stores of materials or the ecocide involved in getting at them, and they will say “asteroid mines” or “3-D printers,” as if just by coming up with something conceptually is the first and last step towards making it a reality. Time after time I have tried to describe the depth of modern agriculture and its drawbacks; fossil fuel dependence, top soil depletion, chemical run off, destruction of bioregions, pollinator kill off, etc. and with near unanimity the response is a vague mix of the words “permaculture” and “cloning.” Of course, this is from people who have never gotten one potato to pop out of the dirt.

Last week in North Carolina the Dan River had thirty thousand tons of coal ash spilled into it when a pipe burst beneath a containment pond. In the last month there have been two massive leaks of toxic chemicals in rivers in West Virginia, one of which poisoned the water source for over three hundred thousand people. It was discovered just the other day that the Wanapum dam in Washington state has a sixty-five foot crack in it. Toss in recent incident after incident in which natural gas pipelines have exploded and oil pipelines have burst, and I cannot help but think about upkeep.

When people speak of the future and all of the things humans will be able to create, rarely do they consider all of the things humans have already created which need constant upkeep and maintenance in order to not fail critically. In his short film about hydraulic fracturing, Josh Fox details the necessity of concrete gas well casings to last indefinitely in order to prevent gas from seeping into groundwater. Fox goes on to document that these concrete well casings last on average for twenty years.

Many of us have owned a car, and we know that over time, the damn thing falls apart. Metal rusts, fluids leak, components fail, and in general entropy wreaks havoc until we realize that it makes more sense to scrap the vehicle than to try to repair it. Industrial civilization is our collective jalopy.

Speaking of cars, according to USA Today:

“An Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical.” Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.” And these are just the bridges. Transporting all of our techo-gadetry, let alone our food, will require roads. Roads require constant repair. Repairing roads requires petroleum powered vehicles and well fed crews. As it stands, the American Society of Civil Engineers in their 2013 “report card” for the US gave the roads a “D.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers also graded the water mains. They are apparently in about the same crappy shape that the roads are, as they were also given a “D.” Every year there are 240,000 water main breaks, which comes to about six hundred and fifty or so per day. The power grid on which all of the “World of tomorrow” fantasy technology will clearly rely was given a “D+” by the ASCE.

Of course, we could all scratch out a living without highways, water mains, and electricity, but what becomes downright concerning is the breakdown of existing infrastructure that can be fatal. How are the US’s nuclear power plants holding up? According to an Associated Press investigation into the aging of US nuclear reactors:

Federal regulators have been working closely with the US nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them. Time after time, officials at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident. Yet despite the many problems linked to aging, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.

Add in the chemical weapons storage depots, the bio-warfare weapons depots, the thousands of chemical plants, fertilizer plants, oil wells, refineries, nuclear research facilities, nuclear warships and nuclear waste storage facilities, and it becomes hard to fathom how a point won’t come when a large portion of human effort won’t be merely maintaining what civilization has built while attempting to mitigate disasters caused by aging and dilapidated infrastructure. All of this while trying to grow a civilization and its technological capacity as fish stocks disappear from the rapidly acidifying oceans and top soil blows away from drought parched and poorly managed fields.


To believe in the techno-topian future is to ignore the concept of diminishing returns. Physicist Geoffery West gives a Ted Talk in which he demonstrates that living organism operate on a sublinear, bounded growth pattern. What this means is that across the living kingdoms, the larger a being’s mass, the less energy per capita it requires to keep said being alive. Of course, every living being has it’s optimal size, and no living thing grows forever. West goes on to point out that human cities operate on similar principles, except that their growth is superlinear, and that as populations grow, there is an increase in per capita energy required to maintain these systems. He points out that this makes cities unsustainable without innovation, with the added caveat that the innovations that prevent collapse in cities must also be innovated upon at an ever increasing pace. The question, according to West, is whether or not people can keep up.

Geoffery West also points out in his presentation that the growth of a city not only requires exponentially larger energy inputs, but that it necessarily will have exponentially increased levels of crime, disease, and discontent. Does it then not stand to reason that human innovations which provide the basis for growth also inadvertently sow the seeds of their own destruction? Every new band-aid technology which buys time for industrial civilization is itself a chaotic butterfly flapping its wings. Hydraulic fracturing temporarily offset declines in oil production while also causing Earthquakes, poisoning groundwater, and adding to climate change. Genetically modifying food crops to resist herbicides has led to increased herbicide use which increased the toxicity of ecosystems while simultaneously causing weeds to adapt to these chemicals. Yesterday’s solution becomes today’s problems. Eventually, today’s solution will be tomorrow’s cataclysm.

Of course, standing on a stage with a headset microphone and speaking to a horde of technophiles, I’m sure the on the ground reality of West’s suppositions is lost. Innovation isn’t magic. The resources and supplies that make innovation possible are not limitless. Right now, global net energy is on the decline. New sources of energy from “tight oil” plays to solar panels do not add more energy than is lost as conventional petroleum fields reach and pass their production peaks. Nor are the inventions of humankind timeless. An innovation may bring temporary gains, but then like a nuclear power plant or a gas well, the innovations themselves require ever increasing amounts of upgrades and repairs. This ever quickening race up an ever steeper slope is not one industrial man can win. In the interim, a particular class of human runs this race while throwing larger and larger swaths of everyone else into the furnace of development. When the eventual breaking point is reached, not only will civilization lose its ability to innovate and grow, it will lose it’s ability to contain it’s slumbering killers.


Eamon Farrelly has no fancy credentials. He lives with his partner in occupied Shawnee territory where he does his best to care for the small wooded parcel they call home. He is a frothing biocentrist who spends his free time haranguing the oil and gas and timber industries with his comrades in Earth First!


McPherson was interviewed on 6 March 2014 on The Higherside Chats, and the interview aired 11 March 2014


A recent video clip from filmmaker Pauline Schneider is embedded below. And below that, you can click to support her work.

Trailer #1 from Pauline Schneider on Vimeo

Comments 92

  • Optimism? In a society that manipulates its members to never even begin to comprehend the basic differences between right and wrong! You’re so right Eamon, optimism equals ignorance.

    Internalizing the differences between right and wrong is the PRIZE!
    Worth more than all the techno-bling and gold combined, it’s the brass ring the majority miss out on! And you don’t even need a pocket calculator to attain it.

    That Knowledge, understanding the difference between right and wrong, is the ultimate enemy of world culture. All institutions including the church and those rat holes like the Heritage Foundation called “think” tanks, are dedicated to the rationalization of all the low down rotten deeds we’re called on to participate in and support to keep the system going. And you GOT to remain stupid not to see that! Turning to techno-bling only seems to make it worse.

  • The Dream Is Over—What Can I Say?

    “The dream is over
    What can I say?”
    — John Lennon: “God”

    Extinction’s the animal way:
    Every species must reach its last day;
    If you comprehend
    That the dream’s at its end,
    There’s not a whole lot left to say.

    H/T: Kathy Cassandra

  • After a series of community discussions set up by an organization called BALE (Building a Local Economy), dealing with such issues as the monetary system, local food resources, resiliency, the culminating effort was… to set up a web site!


    ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Matthew Carney, Mar. 10, 2014: A nuclear industry insider has told the ABC that the situation at the stricken Fukushima reactor is still not under control […] At the risk of losing his job if his identity is revealed, a senior TEPCO staffer, who has worked at the Fukushima plant for more than 20 years, says the situation at the reactor is not under control and no-one knows how to fix the problem. […] The whistleblower says mistakes are made weekly, and contaminated water leaks into the Pacific Ocean every day. […] The insider says the damaged reactors can never be decontaminated and that people should not be moved back into the no-go zone, a 20-kilometre exclusion area around Fukushima.

    Senior Tepco staffer at Fukushima Daiichi: “There are too many systems and they all have problems. For example, too many water tanks with too many lines – it’s very difficult to operate. It’s made worse because all the experienced workers have reached their radiation limits, so TEPCO has to rely on staff that don’t know the site and who aren’t trained. […] The other day when contaminated water overflowed from a tank, an alarm was ringing but they didn’t go and check. I couldn’t believe it. It was ringing for nine hours and they thought the alarm was out of order. […] I feel it is impossible to fix before my death. We just don’t have the technology to fix it. It currently doesn’t exist. We just can’t deal with the melted fuel.”


  • Sorry for the typos I didn’t catch. My brain is a little dyslexic. I have corrected most of them at my own blog, in case anyone wants to forward this on to their true believer friends. Thanks Guy for posting.

  • Thank you, Mr. Farrelly for sharing your insights.

    Yes, technology has its side-effects and limitations.

    The primary economy is the resources available from nature. The secondary economy is the conversion of these resources into useable products.

    The process of this conversion requires skilfully directed energy streams. That is technology. In its most basic form, simple tool use, it is noted even amongst animals, as in birds using twigs to pry insects from tree bark. Such energy streams can have an endosomatic (within the body) origin as in chipping a piece of stone to form a sharp tool. When greater energy flows were needed than could be easily provided endosomatically, exosomatic (from outside the body) sources were harnessed, as in using draught animals to pull a plow. This freed human technology from endosomatic energy limits.

    All of technology is the skilful harnessing of energy streams to do the desired work. The industrial revolution started with the use of energy streams to extract sources of energy, at first coal, then petroleum and natural gas. With this, the streams of energy to be manipulated could themselves be increased, seemingly at will.

    However, declining ERoEI necessitates the redirection of energy resources used elsewhere to securing the continued adequate flow of energy streams. As a result fewer resources are available elsewhere. This shows up in neglect of infrastructure maintenance, disregard for environmental degradation, progressive disparities in income and consumption as the “haves” protect their turf against the “have-nots” (mea culpa), etc.

    Technology is the skilful harnessing of energy streams. No energy – no technology.

  • Ben quotes Lennon: “The dream is over What can I say?”

    In one scene from the comic book/movie The Watchmen, the police have gone on strike and various criminal elements as well as fed up people are taking advantage of this lawlessness, looting and rioting. Two masked heroes have been suppressing the riots with mixed results.

    “Whatever happened to the American Dream?” Night Owl wonders sadly.

    “It came true,” the Comedian responds.

  • Grant Schreiber says: “comic book/movie”

    Mr. Mackey Explains It All

    “Drugs are bad, m’kay?” I always say,
    And the heat means we’ll all go away;
    There’s no lasting nirvana
    In marry-ju-wanna,
    And extinction is bad, m’kay?

  • Eamon Farelly,
    Great post. I don’t know if a lot more can be said about technology & it’s worshipers.

    I hope you’re happy. You managed to destroy my bliss in the State of Delusion. I thought all problems in the 11 Dimensions could be solved by hitting the “any” key. rofl

  • What about natural gas? What about hemp oil? What about palm oil? What about cold fusion? What about solar? Wind? Ammonia? The Bakken formation? Chemical tracking? What about this and that and all the rest of it?

    Damn, I’m really getting tired of hearing about the bright energy future brought about by the partial list above and the wondrous cures for our common economic catastrophe brought about by pure magic.

    Great essay!

  • Techno-Solution! Concrete Domes.


    Reporting LIVE next month on Shelter Construction for the New Normal in Climate from Texas on the Doomstead Diner! :)

    Doomers-R-US becomes DOMERS-R-US!


  • Lidia,

    from the previous thread…
    The Paul Kingsworth Interview was excellent.
    Not having been a traditional Activist for my adult life I find myself in a similar ‘space’ as Paul confesses.
    I walked away too, literally….and in the inner sense, and it involves some rubber hitting the road, but a lot of peace and clarity.

    I recommend the interview for those who missed it previously:


    A quote:

    “I get this sense from a lot of green leaders and spokespeople and all the rest of it, they don’t really believe in what they’re saying in a lot of ways. They don’t really believe that the world can be turned around and we can stop climate change and have a peaceful, sustainable development for 10 billion people. But they kind of have to say it because they don’t know what else to say.

    But once you stop saying it, and once you stop saying things that you actually believe to be untrue, the alternative is not to collapse in despair. It’s to think – OK, well what can I actually usefully do then? Here I am, at this moment in time. These changes are happening and I’m living through them. What can I usefully do?

    Everyone will have different answers to those questions. My answer is I can continue to write in a way which I know inspires and informs some people. I can continue to make my life as low impact as possible. I can have some land and work on it, I can bring my kids up in a way that I consider to be good, and that’s what I do. That seems to be a useful response with the kind of powers that I’ve got, and that will be different for everybody. But once you stop having to pretend that you can do everything, the alternative is to say, well I can do something, what is it? I suppose that’s a great weight off my shoulders.

    Interviewer: I suppose for lots of people the idea of giving up on the idea of being able to hold things back feels like an acceptance of something that just feels completely unacceptable really.

    I think so, and I think that’s because of our illusion of control. This whole culture of ours, this whole civilisation is built on this illusion of control. It goes right back to the Enlightenment and beyond the idea that we’re going to control nature, we’re going to control the future, we’re going to have a great plan that we’re going to roll out for how civilisation’s going to look. It’s not going to happen. We need to learn to accept, as most traditional cultures have accepted, that we’re not in control of the wider world beyond our culture, and we should learn to let go of some of it.

    We’re going through a climate change event now. It’s not the first this planet has experienced by any means. It’s the first one on this scale that humans have experienced. We created it. It’s happening now. The levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have been for thousands of years. They’re going up at a record rate. That’s not going to turn around and even if it did at this point, the change is coming. There’s no point in pretending that it’s not happening. It doesn’t help anybody. It’s better to be flexible and say well, here we are. Here we are. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to prevent things from getting worse. It doesn’t mean give up. It just means that you adjust your expectations, I suppose.

    But looking back through history, there have been times when people have mobilised, have made big changes happen. Even the changes of attitude towards smoking in public over the last 10 or 15 years – one can point to examples where people have led, within a relatively short period of time to quite major changes in how we do things.

    That’s possible. I’m sure that will continue. You can see that our changes to the environment have been quite rapid over the last 20 years or so. People’s ideas about things as basic as recycling. Even things like flying and driving are starting to change a little bit in countries like this. But it’s not relevant to the scale of the problem. It’s not that it’s not happening, it is happening and will probably happen a lot faster when people make the final connection between climate change and the weather events that we’re having, which I think they will because as this goes on and on and gets worse and worse, people are not going to be able to pretend it’s not happening any more.

    I think that will happen, it’s inevitable that people’s attitudes will change and people will do things. People will keep doing things like campaign against fracking, which hopefully will prevent it from happening and that’s all good. I don’t’ want to be critical of it or say that people shouldn’t do it. In the grand scale of things, we are now committed to a big climate change. In the grand scale of things, there’s now a rolling extinction going on which hopefully we can hold back as much as possible, but isn’t going to stop. We’re not getting back to the point we were at 50 years ago. It’s not going to happen.

    But that doesn’t mean you’ve lost, you give up, you go home and cry, it just means you adjust to the rolling reality of it. We’re going to have to go with it now. The floods aren’t going to stop coming at this point.”

    Still reading the above essay.


  • “People will keep doing things like campaign against fracking, which hopefully will prevent it from happening and that’s all good.”-OM

    I am compiling a list of articles and papers detailing the issues with Fracking over on the Diner.

    Along with the Nukes, this is a technology that needs to be pitched ASAP here.


  • This is absolutely the very best thing I’ve read here since day one. It’s a compilation of all my pet peeves. We are promised the green energy nirvana in much the same fashion we were promised nuclear powered cars in the 1950’s. Whenever I say as much, the solar-wind trolls draw their knives bristling with eager ad hominem slurs. I feel sorry for the optimistic little bastards gobbling this crap up. I was that way myself once back in the 1970’s when Penthouse featured a story about gigantic geostationary space stations a la Elysium, the Matt Damon movie. Their condescending sneers are the genetic imperative of youth. So, I hit their little app heads with numbers. To wit.

    Scientists = Economists: People who plug data into irrelevant models.
    This is why Ben Bernanke was so clueless during the crash of ’08.
    This is why the IPCC is so myopically behind the bleeding curve of reality. Nobody is more vain or fearful than the smart and the rich.

    We don’t need to worry about rising seas and world temperatures.
    Climate is only one of six reasons for the Sixth Mass Extinction.

    The Sixth Mass Extinction By The Numbers
    ► Lion populations down 90% in 20 years.
    ► 90 Elephants are killed every single day.
    (They have a human specific warning cry.)
    ► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
    ► 2-3 Rhinos are killed each day to be snorted in Asian nightclubs.
    ► 50% of all Vertebrate Species may disappear before 2040.
    ► Land Animal populations down 28% since 1970.
    ► Marine Bird populations down 30% since 1995.
    ► Big Ocean Fish populations down 90% since 1950.
    ► Fresh Water Fish populations down 50% since 1987,
    ► All Marine Animal populations down 28% since 1970.
    ► Plankton populations down up to 40% since 1950.
    ► Species extinction is 100 times faster than normal.
    ► Human sperm counts down 50% since 1950.
    ► Human population up to 9 billion by 2050.
    ► Ocean acidification to double by 2050, triple by 2100

    This is why ecological cascading extinction collapse will become unstoppable and irreversible in 30-40 years. Adios banditos!

  • Eamon, nice essay and welcome to the Beach of Doom!

    Have a question for you and the others here…..

    Do Americans ever wake up? If so, when? If so, then what?

  • Abby Martin still doesn’t get it. She is supposed to be so “with it”.

  • “Do Americans ever wake up? If so, when? If so, then what?”

    It would be impossible to deny American ignorance and arrogance but the
    culture of greed is global now, not just a US problem. The UK Guardian recently ran an article on the massive pollution problems in China and the responses to this were along the lines of “serves them right” and “guess we don’t have to worry about China anymore” as if Western civilization isn’t almost solely dependent upon Chinese slave labor and cheap goods out of China.

    It’s fairly easy to groan about America, but for once the American actions aren’t responsible for the slaughter of rhinos and elephants in Africa, the overfishing norms of Japanese fleets, the rapid destruction of everything in Australia. American concepts are mostly likely behind all of this, foremost being “Greed is Good” but it is entirely out of American hands.

    In short: when the hell will human beings wake up? Why must everything be reduced to a commodity?

  • “Techno-Solution! Concrete Domes.”

    I’m assuming this is a joke. Ugly blobs of concrete that require AC units in both of the windows shown looks like yet another special kind of Texan hell.

  • Wild Woman,

    “Do Americans ever wake up?”

    I fervently believe that most people aren’t as dumb as other people believe they are.

    However, culture is our operating system, and there is a LOT of cultural baggage – not to mention heavy propaganda – that prevents people from thinking about a topic from the best angle.

    So it’s not so much an issue of “waking up,” which also, when spoken of that way, seems to make an “us and them” dichotomy of superior and inferior people.

    I’m not into critical mass. I don’t think we should wait for a savior 100th monkey situation any more than we should wait for a savior technology. For those willing, fight now. Resist. For those unwilling, insulate your life as best as possible from the shocks of a deteriorating system. For both, remember to find some joy as well.

    As Edward Abbey said, at least we can outlive the bastards.

  • “Techno-Solution! Concrete Domes.”

    I’m assuming this is a joke. Ugly blobs of concrete that require AC units in both of the windows shown looks like yet another special kind of Texan hell.

    It’s no joke. It is as sacred as any religious sacrament. Humanity’s hope for the future! Take it or leave it (and in the latter case, be damned).

    Praise The Lord and pass the ammunition!

  • @Grant Schreiber
    One of the reasons for the constant American bashing is because America led the way and bragged about it. USA USA, were #1, exceptionalisim, and leaders of the free world. Look where it has lead us. That being said, we are all responsible in some way. Even if there was a kinder and wiser America and other countries too, we would eventually end up where we are today. We cannot have 7 billion people living industrialized lives and expect to maintain the biosphere.

  • This is a good essay and I wrote the comment on the previous essay by Bud without reading this. As I wrote there, the technological debate, whether technology will prove to be our salvation, will be empirically tested and be falsifiable within the next few decades. The use of our technology, as you point out, comes with costs. Among it is the generation of greenhouse gases that perturb the system we call Earth. Will we use the remaining greenhouse gas quota we have left in a wise manner to stave off our extinction?

    Like I said, this question will be empirically resolved. I do however personally believe that IF there is something that can help humans survive NTE, it is technology. Unfortunately for humanity, the pace at which we have advanced technologically has far exceeded the pace of the growth of other areas. Our collective consciousness (spiritual growth, for lack of a better phrase) has not advanced the way our greed-motivated technology has.

  • I used Americans because the people in the middle east, in south America and in Europe, even in China are all protesting something in the thousands. Here in the US, a couple of hundred is the norm. Our lifestyles pacify us and our ignorance is nurtured more than in any other country, I believe.

    (I think it was Tom who posted the story about Chinese villagers attacking a factory that is polluting their water. Now, try to imagine that happening in America. 300,000 in WVA didn’t have clean water and there was no violence at all.)

    Grant, you may make yourself feel better by saying it ain’t us, but c’mon, man, we got the ball rolling! Everybody is using the US as the playbook for extraction, starting with genocide and moving on from there. Just look at Israel for fucks sake.

    Eamon, I do believe there is an “us” and a “them” and Chris Hedges nails it. I do think there are sides. And I think my side is the right one because it is based upon evidence. If that makes me superior, so be it. I certainly wouldn’t have used that word, though.

    So, back to the questions…….

  • “I’m assuming this is a joke. Ugly blobs of concrete that require AC units in both of the windows shown looks like yet another special kind of Texan hell.”

    There’s hardly a house built in Texas that doesn’t require some kind of AC unit, unfortunately. Interestingly enough, these domes are one of the few possibilities we have to build homes here that DON’T require AC. The photo RE posted isn’t a great example, unfortunately.

    The Monolithic Dome Company has been around a quite a while, and they started building domes before anybody was talking about PO and climate change. Hence the old school AC units. Nowadays they would be mini-splits. And the example in the photo is the no-frills model. The beauty of it is that it is entirely tornado and hurricane proof, and can be built, even today, for about $60 a square foot of living space, which is half the cost of conventional construction.

    The design possibilities for domes are endless, and some of them are quite striking in their appearance. Domes are also one of the few proven designs for indoor farming in an inhospitable climate, something that might turn out to be pretty handy. The Monolithic company pioneered that concept.


  • @ Ram S.

    Will we use the remaining greenhouse gas quota we have left in a wise manner to stave off our extinction?

    What ? You’re not keeping up. There IS no remaining greenhouse gas quota. And as for the ‘wise manner’ part, is that a joke ?


    This cheered me up. I’m glad I’m not alone in seeing them this way.

    An irreverent look at the anal retentive Ivory Tower stiffs and Resident Trolls on RealClimate.


  • @ Grant Schreiber

    Just to make you and all the other Americans here fell a little better.
    You mention the Guardian article about Chinese pollution etc. In other words, the Chinese are emulating our kind of greedy destructive capitalism which doesn’t consider the common good. In order to understand this better, one has to realize that communism and capitalism are both Enlightenment ideologies (dogmas). Marx took the 19th century capitalist factory as the model for his modernisation project (socialism/communism). And this factory model was to be applied to agriculture too. Hence Lenin’s huge agricultural communes which were so destructively enforced on peasant China by Mao. Both modernisation models (communism and capitalism) are founded on the same premise: man’s mastery of nature. This is pure Enlightenment dogma, and it has given us the world of today with its science, technology and “progress” and rival ideologies which are in reality very related, just two sides of the same coin. Communism (socialism) is rooted in the power of the state (as representing the people) and capitalism in individualism, enterprise and therefore faster technological innovation. Both trash the Earth equally because the elevate man to conqueror of Nature. Communism just didn’t prove innovative enough and therefore lost out to capitalism. American-style deregulated capitalism won the day (it thought) but capitalism is different in all capitalist countries because it needs to adapt to diverse cultures to survive. Look at Germany and Japan just after the war. American style capitalism was imposed on both of them but they soon developed their own unique styles. And so has China now. But the underlying theme is always the trashing of nature, in your own country and abroad, to extract the resources for the development of technologies (all so well described in this essay), whether led by the state or capitalist innovation or, in the case of China, a mixture of both.
    And to come to the point, the world’s problems are not the Americans’ fault but really the Enlightenment’s which hung on to the Christian idea of man made in the image of the Hebrew God. This was, I think, a natural evolution of ideas in our long history of patriarchal domination. So when did these destructive dogmas fist take hold? I think when we (people of European ancestry) left our shamanistic ways of seeing the world behind. And they persisted for a long time (think of the burning of witches etc.)
    So Americans, don’t feel too bad about yourselves. See whether you can discover some of those ancient ways that are still buried somewhere inside you. I think that’s part of the point which Ulfvugl is trying to get across. But this is something where modern languages are totally inadequate. It has to be experienced, with or without hallucinogens. The latter is possible, even though Lidia doubts it.

  • Will we use the remaining greenhouse gas quota we have left in a wise manner to stave off our extinction?

    The only quota is the still-unburnt fossil fuels. Even if all of it is left unburnt effective this moment, the four-decade lag in effects of the GHGs will cook the goose.

    IF there is something that can help humans survive NTE, it is technology.

    Technology is the means of controlling energy flows. It becomes exponentially more complicated when the energy flows so controlled are used to control other energy flows, in turn controlling other energy flows, etc. The original problem is the detritus – GHGs – from the release of energy to be “flowed” in the first place.

  • @ Robin Datta

    Hahahaha, for once we agree. Synchronicity. I said the same, at the same time, on the other thread :-)

  • ulvfugl, the “quota” I’m referring to has to do with the keeping emissions at levels below what is needed to reach the 2 degrees C warming level, the “accepted” target to keep things from becoming apocalyptic. I believe this is considered to be about 450ppm for CO2 with a likelihood of 50%. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoiding_dangerous_climate_change

    I was not stating any opinion about the 2 degrees C limit (which I think is too high: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/12/06/two-degree-global-warming-limit-is-called-a-prescription-for-disaster/) NOR about the best CO2 emissions limit (which I think has to eventually get down to near preindustrial levels within a short time).

    I was just going along with the scenario that in order to get to a point where the damage we are causing isn’t going to result in apocalyptic destruction, a certain level of fossil fuels need to be expended. Even if we mandated that ALL energy from now on would be obtained only by renewable sources, there still would be a certain amount of fossil fuels that would need to be utilised to make this change. At some point, this issue becomes moot. And while the rate we’re growing would suggest that it already is, I don’t believe it is too late to avoid complete extinction of humanity (though the situation with the Arctic ice melting could already be out of our control, but I don’t think probability of this happening is 1.0).

    Robin Datta, I understand there is a lag between emissions and temperature rise, and we’re seeing the effects today from emissions made decades ago. Like I say above, even given that, I don’t think it’s too late to avoid a catastrophic situation. I think we have about another 15 years max and even that would entail something incredible like cutting emissions down to near pre-industrial levels within a very short time (decades). I also think technology could be employed to reduce the fallout from past emissions in different ways so as to avoid complete extinction of humanity.

  • Waking Up

    wildwoman says: “Do Americans ever wake up? If so, when? If so, then what?”

    Though deniers may act like some creep,
    Their position we might want to keep:
    With the heat, they’ll reverse,
    And then act so much worse,
    We’ll wish they would go back to sleep.

  • “Do Americans ever wake up?”

    Why wake up?
    Since we are all headed to extinction,wouldn’t it be easier to die in one’s sleep?

    I refuse to take anything seriously. lol

  • Nailed it again B the D
    I predict that the deniers will end up blaming the messengers/environmentalists.
    “If you people hadn’t fucked up the economy we would have had the wealth and technology to fix this”

  • I’m a firm believer in “frankentech” or “steam punk tech” or “trash tech” — whatever you want to call it.

    As long as there are people, they’ll be putting things together. With any luck, they’ll switch from pulling them out of the ground in raw state to pulling them out of dumps, already refined and partially assembled.

    Call me polyanna, call me “tech crazy,” but I’m converting a 1982 VW Vanagon diesel to electricity. But I didn’t go out and order a kit of new parts! Heavens no — I try to do as little as possible to support industrial civilization.

    So I got a motor controller used on eBay. I found a used motor on an EV discussion list. And I scored a slew of flooded-cell NiCd batteries from a public transit system that a progressive council had built, only to be voted out and have a right-wing, “bottom line” council scrap in favour of new diesel busses.

    I don’t know how much longer we’ll have electricity. Here in SW Canada, where hydro power is king, I’m thinking electricity “for the masses” will be around longer than petroleum for the masses.

    So for the time being, I can be smug that I’m doing a tiny amount of driving, bringing food to sell into the nearest town, powered by dead salmon rather than ancient sunlight.

    At best, it [conservation] means we will run out of energy a little more slowly. — Ronald Reagan

  • @Eamon,

    This was a well written and organized piece. You did a great job of covering close to all the issues. I only wish you had addressed the issue of population in a sentence or two.

    The point you raise about people not being as asleep as some of us may think is one I don’t agree with. A huge march in Georgia or the Carolinas not reported by MSM is still not being reported much by alternate news sites.

    In the end the question I ask about these gatherings is this: What is your next step? Are you willing to change your life to enable your children and grandchildren to have some biosphere left? Do you believe that others species have a right to life as well and what will you do about that?

    Gathering is nice. Great to bring down the “Bad Guys” only what are we going to work towards afterwards?

    Two writers with a huge fan following posted the following at their blogs recently. Sadly, from my daily experience they seem to have their fingers on the pulse of the majority of at least US citizens.

    Writer Mark Evanier on his site newsfromme:

    Published Friday, January 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Our pal Robert Elisberg visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and wrote a long report on what he saw there. I want a couple of those things.

    And then writer Neil Gaiman at his site:

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    I was impressed by the future: I landed in Montana to discover that mysteriously my iPad had become a spiderweb of glass cracks, and not something I wanted to read from (or swipe my finger over). Leslie, my host, took me to Best Buy, where I got a new iPad and an army-tough case. I got back to the hotel, told the new iPad who I was, it immediately restored itself from the old one’s last cloud backup, and a few minutes later I was doing a reading in the library, from a brand new iPad, without any work, sweating, cables or grumbles. Oh, I like the future sometimes.

    At least Gaiman wrote, “sometimes”.

    Both of these gentlemen have huge followings. Neither of these gentlemen seem to have any idea of what it costs to bring them these electronic gadgets. At least they’ve never written anything which leads me to believe they know or care or realize the dangerous predicament we are in.

    Personally I don’t think more than a handful of us really stop and consider how these “toys” get to us.

    @Robert Calligan

    ► Human sperm counts down 50% since 1950.
    ► Human population up to 9 billion by 2050.

    This list has been making the rounds for a while now and each time I come to these two lines my head literally explodes. I can feel myself battling cognitive dissonance. I question as to why are these two points being raised one after the other. It seems crazy to me.

    What’s the problem with Human sperm counts down when population continues to go up. I know Sally Fallon and so many others SCREAM about infertility and don’t acknowledge population as being a problem.

    Whether infertility is caused by humans making our environment toxic or nature is causing us to be infertile in either case I question whether infertility is a problem. It may be for humans, but I don’t think it’s a problem for the planet. It might actually be a blessing.


    I’m unclear regarding your point about the 2oC cutoff. As Corey Mornigstar wrote years ago 2 degrees was always unacceptable as was 400ppm. And technically if IC was to come down today all the particles we produce would no longer keep us from jumping to 2 degrees in a manner of days.

    In recent articles ppm has magically been raised to 450ppm as acceptable and yet there hasn’t been a word from Bill McKibben about this. So the baseline keeps shifting right under our feet.

    Do you believe we can “reverse” the current situation?


    I’m on the fence about Martin. Had long ago lost faith in Amy Goodman, Rachel Madow and Thom Hartman. Perhaps having Guy on her show proved to be too much for Martin. Tom Weiss is touting the same lines as Lovins (both Amory and Hunter) about a making the world run on sustainable energy. And Martin seems to be happy as a pig in s—.

    Wish someone would point her to David Findleys piece at Energy Skeptic on Why Alternatives Won’t Save Us. It’s delusions such as Weiss is selling us that makes it impossible for people to hear any message that doesn’t promise a Utopian Future.

    Only in the last couple of weeks have I read pieces on Peak Sand and Peak Lithium and the ramifications of these situations.


    Appreciated your responding to my bringing back up an old point. Writing these posts takes a great deal out of me and I can’t do them as rapidly as I would respond if we were speaking to each other. I do have a couple of points I’d like to make as a follow up.

    In the meantime you raised a point about people not responding to posts sometimes. That seems to be innate to this form of communication; however would you mind going back to the posts I directed to you. I’d like to have a response regarding my analysis of Scott Jacobson’s criticism of the Climate Change Summary. I made a great attempt sticking to points he raised.

    There are two other points I think Scott was off the mark about:
    1) Scott doubted the veracity of there being a 40-year time lag in effect – Other articles have raised this point.
    2) Scott felt Guy misread the article which reported that the Navy was calling for an ice free Arctic years earlier than previous reports called for.

    @ To no one in particular

    After reading one of Geoff Chia’s pieces a while ago he spoke about a lunch he had with Richard Heinberg where Richard privately acknowledged we were most likely headed towards extinction, only he doesn’t see the benefit of raising this point during his talks.

    My respect for Heinberg started to decrease at that point and now after reading the transcript of the interview he did with Chris Martinson at Peak Prosperity it continues to slide downwards the other side of the curve.

    The talk focused on the points Heinberg made in the First edition of The Party’s Over having held up over time. It doesn’t matter that the author was on the mark for points that are still not being discussed widely and are now history not prophecies.

    This interview was an opportunity to move away from the issue of energy as the central theme we are facing to one of rapid runaway climate chaos. Sadly little mention was made of Climate. It almost seems like a conspiracy (but I believe it’s not) on the part of these “leaders” of the movement who seem comfortable with the topics of Economic Collapse and Energy, yet are unable or unwilling to incorporate Climate Change into the discussion.

    I site Nicole Foss as well as others who believe Climate Change is too ethereal an issue for people to grasp. I think that understanding Energy and Economic issues is just as difficult for most people.

  • As Eddie mentioned, that No-Frills Dome probably wasn’t the best example to drop on here.

    You don’t really need the A/C units, there are other means for doing passive cooling via the thermal mass of the concrete itself. In any event, it’s definitely the better choice for a dwelling these days if you live in Tornado Alley. This one stood up to a Direct Hit from an F4/possibly F5.


    Still in Kansas, not in Oz! LOL.

    They can also be used as Grow Domes:

    “Grow Domes or Grow Buildings are structures that provide an artificial growing environment that can grow fresh produce anywhere, regardless of the weather or time of day. They are a big part of the remedy for global hunger and poverty.

    Monolithic Domes make the world’s best Grow Domes. We must have them to allow us to grow the food we need in the years ahead.

    The January 2011 National Geographic tells us that our planet’s population will reach 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2045 or in just 35 years. Consequently, our world must increase food production by 70%. But to complicate matters, we will have less land and less water available, since both land and water will be taken by the increased population. It takes no serious contemplation to realize we will have to build new ways of growing huge amounts of food.

    To grow food we need water, nutrients, proper light, agreeable climate and proper land or space. That’s the necessary environment. Monolithic Grow Domes provide that environment, and they do it more efficiently and economically than any other type of structure.

    They can be located from the arctic to the equator and equipped with computerized programs for temperature control and LED lighting that can actually trick a vegetable or a fruit into growing faster. With this modern low-cost lighting, plants can be grown anytime, anywhere.

    Monolithic Grow Domes are virtually air tight. This allows CO2 content and oxygen content to be properly maintained.

    Plants grown in a field will often produce 2.5 pounds per square foot per year. In a Monolithic Grow Dome those same plants will produce 200 to 300 pounds per square foot per year. And they will do that with 10% less water and nutrients.

    They are protected from inclement weather and, with care, from insects, molds and germs. Harvest can be done without the vicissitudes of weather.

    The Monolithic Grow Dome is a natural. It is super energy efficient – many times more efficient than any other structure. Power to maintain growing temperatures will be 50% to 90% less than that required in conventional buildings.

    A Monolithic Grow Dome is as close to permanent as a building can be; with minimum maintenance it will remain undamaged by water and chemicals and will last for centuries.

    Monolithic Constructors, Inc. will help any organization achieve the growing needed. We are also producing the Monolithic Grow Cabin for individual use.”


  • @ Sabine

    ..the world’s problems are not the Americans’ fault but really the Enlightenment’s which hung on to the Christian idea of man made in the image of the Hebrew God. This was, I think, a natural evolution of ideas in our long history of patriarchal domination.

    ‘WE’ were so special, even just a few years ago, ‘Man, the Tool Maker’. Hahahaha.

    And then they found the Chimpanzees making tools, and then the Crows, fish, and always the list grows longer, and ‘Man’ has to find another self-aggrandizing myth to cling to…

    So, it’s ‘We are the ones who have language’… but then so do the parrots and the ravens and bees and many others, now it turns out even the BACTERIA !

    Until recently, only humans and other primates were known to engage in this form of dialogue, known as combinatorial communication, in which signals can have different meanings depending on their context.


    It’s all so dreadfully humiliating. ‘We’, who were so ‘special’, made in the image of the grandiose God we invented, superior to all else, turn out to be distinguished from all the other species in only one significant respect, in that we are the most vain and stupid of all, because we managed to ruin everything, for ourselves and for all other creatures, whilst all the while convincing ourselves that we were Homo sapiens.

    @ Ram S.

    Honestly, you seem completely out of touch. Clueless. Have you watched Kevin Anderson’s lectures ? Still, it’s your job to inform yourself, not mine to inform you.

  • ulvfugl,

    U wrote:

    “‘We’, who were so ‘special’, made in the image of the grandiose God we invented, superior to all else, turn out to be distinguished from all the other species in only one significant respect, in that we are the most vain and stupid of all, because we managed to ruin everything, for ourselves and for all other creatures, whilst all the while convincing ourselves that we were Homo sapiens.”

    The use of the term ‘we’ is not a reality, in my view. It is a conceived reality, or if you like a fiction erected to give sameness where it is lacking in realisation. ‘We’ did not destroy the Biosphere, in my view. What baby did it? What child ate too much food that destroyed something? No. Certain activities, of culture and habit channeled individuals to act in destructive ways, but only part of the day. Kissing your kids goodnight, did that do it? Throwing a stick for the dog to fetch, did that do it? If one looks at all the small actions any one individual does, even in one day – yup, make a list on paper – then, if one looked at all that is known collectively here about Biosphere destruction, one could only pick some of the actions. Others are moot, and still others are not included. Where, and how one gets water, food, clothing, warmth and other human associated needs, (medicine and health care, etc) are also going to have effects, however, they are factually specific actions over a lifetime. The ‘withdrawal’ debate that is emblematic of the marketing farce of the ‘green coffee cup’ for example, is a feel good ‘solution’ not to resource depletion, but to energy and resource anxiety in the Anex-1 nations due to publicity of the environmental issues. And so we experience corporate green-washing. In this example, the cups still get manufactured, with their lids, and are boxed, transported and thrown away. They are just made from other ‘stuff’ perhaps marginally less laudable on the green scale. All the energy is used for the delivery of the coffee. (Never mind the idea of national currencies as wealth extraction instruments, so in effect, after peeling back the next layer the coffer delivery exercise is about the flow of capital out of everyday users of coffee, say, to the investor class.)
    The point is, however, the energy and infrastructure used in the supply and enabling chain, still achieves environmental and Biosphere destruction.
    So, if you gave up coffee, tea or purchased warm beverages altogether, at say 18, and are now say 65, the effects of this ‘withdrawal of actions’ that effect the environment would be quantifiable and add up. Now, the factories do not go off line for that proportion of time that one withdraws their coffee quota, they just fill the time with more product, other products etc, so it seems like the argument falls apart. However, YOU,(not you personally, rather the non coffee purchaser in this case) did not do the activity that created the destruction. If one looks at these small but habitual daily, weekly and frequent ‘activities’, like automobile use and ownership, supermarket shopping, using water from a municipal tap, piped gas for heating etc in any one person’s life, it adds up to the nature destruction personal footprint. Each one of those activities can be looked at, and assessed and modified, or abandoned – in Guy-Speak, ‘walked away from’, and in some cases perhaps still maintained but mitigated.
    Actions are real, even in minutiae, and have effect. I do not see a ‘we’ yet as a Species. Various individuals do things, even according to customs, traditions etc, but they are all still a choice, and can be rejected, abandoned and otherwise adapted and transformed to less destructive outcomes for the Biosphere. Quite often these changes are even beneficial to the individual too, like walking and health etc. as opposed to driving an automobile on a short errand.
    ‘We’ did not destroy, those who acted in the way that destroyed things did. Though it might feel nice to propose a ‘we’, in my view, there is no such thing (yet).
    Just sayin…

  • Just watched a documentary about the dust bowl in the 30s. Seems like that should have been a huge wake up call that we needed to abandon capitalism and endless growth and start thinking in a sustainable way. The fact that nothing changed then is why we are doomed now, and we still have the same mentality, it is really amazing how dumb the humane race is.

  • Sabine: Oh there’s absolutely tons of blame and blood to place upon Americans. I not denying that at all. I’m covered in blood and not doing a damn thing about it. I have no excuses. BUT Americans aren’t the only nationality out there doing their best to spoil every square inch of the planet, that’s all I was saying. It’s not a contest, it’s NTE.

    RE: Jesus. Is there a no spam policy on this site? One more free advertisement for Monolithic Ugly Bumps and I’m gonna hurl. Feel free to build as many of the New and Improved Bomb Shelters as you want. But please stop shilling for them like some door to door salesman.

  • Well, we’ve surpassed 400 PPM CO2. Upward we go….


  • One small point to get out of the way
    “near utopian in it’s advancements and its cleanliness.”

    Should be “… in ITS advancements…” Easy to figure out, as “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” If it’s possible to replace the word with “it is,” than “it’s” is correct. Otherwise, it’s “its.” I know this will draw the scorn of more than a few people, but i think the deterioration of the English language is not just harmful, it’s being done on purpose, as a debased language makes an informed social discourse less possible. This was George Orwell’s point with Newspeak, something he elaborated on with his Essay on the English Language.

    To substance: good article. I do believe you completely overlook the role of capitalism in facilitating the current situation through its relentless drive for growth, a requirement for the system’s very survival as much as air and water are requirements for human survival. You also don’t even mention the mechanistic materialism paradigm, which has dominated science for the last several hundred years, which is centered around the metaphor of the machine or mechanism to describe all processes of the physical world, totally inaccurate, but promoting of the perspective that everything about the current situation is fixable with better gadgets and more controls. However, i like this
    “I don’t think we should wait for a savior 100th monkey situation any more than we should wait for a savior technology. For those willing, fight now. Resist. For those unwilling, insulate your life as best as possible from the shocks of a deteriorating system. For both, remember to find so.”
    Fits with the article i wrote which was posted here last May about resistance being te only ethical response to near-term extinction.

  • @GS

    Sadly, I don’t think they will stand up to a good Bunker Buster Bomb. :( On the upside, they should do well against a typical RPG. :)


  • PMB, my point about the 2 degree limit is that it was an assumption to operate on, that staying under this variance would avoid catastrophic warming, where catastrophic is defined as complete extinction of the human species. I don’t think it’s right myself but I think global average temperatures are a poor indicator of catastrophic effects of AGW. The fourteen feedback loops that Guy maintains the status of are better, particularly if they could be integrated somehow into some sort of a single index (if one needs a single threshold). If that were done, I believe it would indicate that we’re in the danger zone, but not the past the point of no return.

    Regarding reversibility, I think it is possible to yet avoid complete extinction of humanity. I’ve given myself the Arctic summer sea ice completely disappearing to zero as the point of the no return. Though technically, the situation to rectify this may have passed as of 2007.

  • PMB, clarifying the above, the point of no return I’m talking about is in terms of complete extinction of the human species. It may even be too late for the planet. But it might be possible (not probable) that we could build a spaceship that flies for millions of years (potentially) and finds a new planet to colonise. Stephen Hawking said that we should get out in space, and I can understand why: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel

    This is what I meant by a race to use up the existing fossil fuels in enough time before the planet dies so we can leave the planet and find home in space or another planet, and do it all over again, or adapt to the changes to this planet. Either way, IF we do it, it will have to be via using technology.

    As far as what I believe will happen (as opposed to what can happen), I think Malcolm Light’s take on AGW is the most likely scenario to play out. His scenario includes our planet ending up with Venus-like conditions within decades, so then the interstellar travel solution is the only one left since I don’t think humans can adapt to those conditions here.

  • Jeff S., your point about language is valid, but people make mistakes. It’s clear from the next (correct) use of “its”, that this was just a simple error, what people call “typo”.

  • Jeff S, “i” should be “I” in the English language.

  • Latest Global Doom Report



  • PMB,

    I will try to give you an answer, and I will paste it in the thread just before this one. In the meantime, I see that Michael Tobis has made good on his threat: McPherson’s Evidence that Doom Doom Doom.

  • A form of helpless paranoia hangs like a shroud over large areas of the western half of the United States. A mysterious agency strikes out of the darkness and leaves its grisly evidence behind.

    CAROLYN McCALL’S EXPERIENCE sends cold chills rippling down the spine. Carolyn was the wife of the manager of Hay Creek Ranch near Antelope, Oregon who stumbled across this dead bull on her ranch. The bull looked as though he had just dropped in his tracks since the lower limbs of a Juniper tree were broken beneath him.

    Carolyn’s horse reared up and would not approach the animal. After she had summoned other riders it was learned that the bull had been dead about a week, yet there was no odor of decay, and a complete absence of the usual magpies, buzzards, and flies refused to descend on the carcass.

    The nose, eye, ear, tongue, rectum, scrotum and center of the abdomen had been excised by precision bloodless surgery, leaving serrated-edged cavities. A perfect triangle was cut into the hide of one shoulder. This was a typical “mute” also known as a surgical animal mutilation. I learned about this case when I was in Oregon appearing on TV.


    We are now into the fifth decade of this frightening, relentless activity of slaughtered animals by phantom surgeons. No estimates can be made of the total victims, but it must be more than 50,000 just in the USA alone. By January 1997 Jean Barton, a Lassen County California cattle owner, had suffered some cattle mutilations, and when she publicized it, she was overwhelmed by the number of other ranchers who had reported similar losses. Through the years many ranchers have stopped reporting their losses, and the county sheriffs have sought to reduce the totals and to avoid criticism over so many unsolved cases.

    Silence has become the reaction to this eerie menace that cannot be stopped. The time has long since passed for officialdom’s “head in the sand” attitude. Only a delusional fool would cling to the untenable theories of predators or disease or quasi-military research or satanic cults.

    I will also not waste words on the ruinous strife that has occurred between Government officials, State lab pathologists, criminal division investigators on the one hand and ranchers, farmers, veterinarians and county sheriffs on the other.

    Gabe Valdez, a New Mexico State Policeman said it right, “They are like coyotes coming from behind. Never saying who they are, but asking a lot of questions. Then they leave until the next ‘mute.'”

    In the past, armed ranchers have patrolled their land day and night. Some of the most massive manhunts in the history of these regions have been mounted. During the peak year of 1975 in Colorado, Governor Richard Lamm ordered radar equipped guard helicopters into the fray. The elusive alien surgeons remained undetected just as they always had and ranchers lost thousands of dollars for each dead carcass.


    On a global scale, cattle mutilation phenomena are most intense in western USA. Places like Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Scandinavia are trailing somewhere behind. In England, or points east into the Middle East, it seems a rarity. No human effects are ever found around a downed cow.

    Predatory animals avoid the mutilated carcass and maggots stop at the wound edge. Often a circle of wilted grass is found. Dr. Levengood, a Michigan biophysicist examined grass from inside ovals at Garnett, Kansas and Chacon, New Mexico and found cellular changes in the plants suggesting exposure to microwave frequencies. In the animals themselves, cauterized exposure of tissue to high heat results in “necrosis” meaning tissue death by heat.

    On the other hand some cases have been found where it is not a laser burn. Instead microscopic study has revealed a clean incision precisely between the cell boundaries, something totally beyond human skill. The reproductive system is frequently removed, and the anus cored out.

    Frequently the eyes are removed leaving the fatty pad. The tongue is missing from deep in the throat. Chest incision removes organs thereby leaving no evidence of bone fracture. A cow may have 40 gallons of blood and some have had it all removed down to the capillary level. This is another feat beyond our science.

    Some odd things have been found at “mute” sites. Sheriff Yarnell of Elbert County Colorado, found an udder neatly cleaned out and packed with sand. Teats have been snipped off and arranged in perfect order on a leg. Perfect circles or squares have been cut out of hide. Aluminum strips were found in one cow’s mouth –the same metal fragments that fell in such profusion in the 1960s. Geiger counter readings at some sites have been higher than the surrounding areas.


    On September 13, 1994 near Chacon, New Mexico, Larry Gardner spotted two dead cows while on his way to hunt bear near Luhan Canyon. All of a sudden, Larry heard a noise like the sound of an arc welder coming from the opposite direction from where he had seen the cows. On the other side of a fence, Larry was shocked to find one of the cows moving on its side toward the noise and unable to get up. When it came to a ditch, it floated right over it. The cow disappeared into a grove of trees.

    Unnerved by what he had seen, Larry fired two quick shots over the trees and fled. Later it was found there were no indications that the animal had touched the damp ground. Linda Moulton Howe, America’s foremost “mute” researcher investigated this incident.

    Two kinds of aerial objects haunt “mute” skies. They are the UFOs and the black helicopters. I will deal with the UFOs first, choosing a few examples from the thousands. The large Terry Sherman Ranch in Uintah County, Utah, has been a hotbed of UFOs and bizarre activity since March 1995. They link the loss of several cows to UFOs.

    Three kinds of UFOs were seen, a small box-like craft, a 40 foot object, and a huge ship the size of two football fields. They have seen orange lights, some of which emerged from orange circular doorways that appeared in the sky. From Judith Basin County undersheriff, Jerry Skelton wrote me, “I don’t know what you have got for facts on these UFOs but people see them flying around here all the time.”

    In that Montana area the usual diabolical thing were happening to the cattle population. In Fergus County, nine heifers were found together minus their female organs and one ear. Pat McGuire, an outfitter and guide in Big Laramie, Wyoming, provided me with extensive UFO Mute documentation in his area. He referred to the UFOs as spaceships and his multiple witness reports were many.

    In Pat’s closest sighting, he described a 30 foot by 500 foot orange disc with domes on top and bottom. In Logan County, in northeastern Colorado, eerie bright objects dubbed “Big Mama and her Babies ” were seen repeatedly by bewildered ranchers and law officers who linked them with 77 “mute” deaths in the county.

    Sheriff Harry Graves said, “‘Big Mama’ looks like a huge brilliant star that hovers high in the sky for up to 90 minutes, then suddenly disappears at great speed. Sometimes as many as three baby UFOs come out of her belly. When the little ones get done with whatever they are doing they join up with the big one and disappear. We have chased ‘Big Mama’ by plane and car, and sometimes she is round, and other times pear-shaped. The UFO’s colors change from white to red to green to white.”

    One night in May 1991, a Washington State ranch hand watched as an 1800 pound bull was drawn up into a blue beam of light head first. At the top, the beam seemed to flare, and the bull was turned endwise five or six times.

    After the beam snapped off, the ranch hand heard an enormous plop as the animal was dropped from mid-air and hit the ground hard. In the daylight, the bull was found to be a typical “mute” victim.


    Now let me move on to that other puzzling kind of craft seen at “mute” sites. In his book, The Copters and the Choppers by Tom Adams, (PO Box 1049 Paris, Texas 75460)Tom lists 200 helicopter “mute” proximity reports. Not all helicopters are black, and some may be conventional craft. In some instances the copter flew up from the spot and a “mute” was later found there.

    Of all the western sheriffs, perhaps Roy Kitson and his deputies of Madison County, Montana can claim the wildest experiences with the black copters and UFOs. By 1976, 22 mutilations had occurred in the county, but the witch’s brew of alien aircraft far outnumbered this. Kitson and his men learned to sleep with their boots on, for when UFO reports started up, they knew they had to hit the ground running.

    One afternoon, Kitson and his men headed up toward Horse Creek, where six cows were reported mutilated. In the 12 hours before the officers got up into the rugged area, the six calves with the cows had also vanished. In the rugged, dark mountains of the upper Ruby River, the three officers watched weird glowing lights darting over the treetops and around mountain sides. On this memorable night, silent jet black helicopters also swooped in on them. The two groups of copters and UFOs had joined forces. The helpless lawmen finally retreated out of the area.


    There were so many UFOs seen around the little town of Fyffe in Northeast Alabama, that the State Senate declared it “The UFO Capital of Alabama.” In 1992 this proved to be a harbinger of days when bovine corpses would litter the landscape. The ever present UFOs and helicopters were around, too. Ted Oliphant, the lawman heading the investigation from Fyffe stated, “95% of these cases include reports of helicopters.”

    Jean Cole, wife of Albertsville’s chief detective, watched a helicopter at close range when it came down in her back yard. She clearly saw four business-suited occupants in it. It rapidly flew away when they noticed her presence. The following morning, detective Cole found one of his Black Angus cows minus its sex organs and rectum.


    Another kind of figure has show up amongst the occupants of our mysterious helicopters. In the Red Mountain area near Norris, Montana, a hunter watched as a black copter that looked like a Bell Jet Ranger flew over him. It landed down the hill, and seven figures began to come up the hill toward him. He began to hurry down the hill to meet them waving and shouting greetings as he did so.

    As the distance rapidly closed the hunter could see the figures had on ordinary clothing. All had faces that were olive-colored and eyes that looked slanted. They chatted in a language among themselves that he had never heard. Were they human or alien?

    Suddenly they stopped as if realizing he was not who they thought he was, and began to run back toward the running copter which rapidly lifted up and away.

    Actually the presence of black helicopters in “mute” areas is a mystery within a mystery. Who controls them and why are they there? To begin with, we must remember that the presence of black copters in a harassing mode with abductees is a statistical fact. Therefore I believe that they are not an attempt by government to monitor “mute” activity or in anyway connected with us. I am convinced they are yet another employment of a quasi-form like the human-like MIB (Men In Black) only this time it is a quasi-aero machine that we call the black helicopters.


    There are episodes where the aliens have been seen at the scene of the dead and I will now briefly describe some of those. At Lebsack feed-lot, southeast of Sterling, Colorado, three animals were “mute” victims on successive nights. Two ranch hands staked out the well illuminated site from a grain elevator. At about 4:00 a.m., three human-like aliens glided in over the fence of the lot. Two cars of officers arrived within six minutes, but the aliens had vanished leaving no sign of their passage on the muddy ground.

    Another incident involving aliens occurred on a grey overcast day when a Waco, Texas rancher was doing a foot search for a lost calf. As he re-crossed a hill, he encountered two alien creatures carrying the calf between them. The four foot tall aliens were greenish-colored, with big heads and large black slanted eyes. Terrified, the rancher ran from the scene. When he returned with a companion, the mutilated calf was found at the site.

    For a Missouri farm couple a glittering UFO in the distance turned into much more when they began to view it through binoculars. On the ground was a green cone shaped object with a door and platform off to the side. Near this stood a “lizard-like” alien staring at them with big eyes. Frantically passing the binoculars back and forth they spotted a downed black cow and two small silver-suited beings with packs on their backs. The aliens were moving their fingers over the cow and looking at them. With their hands over the cow, the animal began to float in the air up to a ramp and into the trees which concealed a UFO.


    An important case in which the aliens were directly linked to “mute” phenomena came to light when Judy Doraty, driven by constant headaches, had herself regressed hypnotically by Leo Sprinkle, Ph.D. of the University of Wyoming. While driving south of Houston, Texas in 1975, Judy and her daughter were amazed to see a calf rise in a pale yellow beam of light.

    Both women were then abducted and witnessed the surgical mutilation of the calf by two Gray-type aliens. These aliens had long thin tapered fingers with nails. Their large hypnotic, blinking eyes were yellow with a black vertical pupil. In 1990, John Carpenter, a very experienced hypno-therapist, regressed Cindy, the daughter of Judy. The session produced the same details that had come from her mother years before.

    The May 1980 case of Myra Hansen and her young son has many similarities to the Doraty case. Myra and her son were on a rural highway near Cimarron, New Mexico, and came upon a fear-stricken cow bellowing. Two short, white-suited aliens were doing something to the cow.

    Overcome with anger, Myra approached the scene and soon found herself and her son abducted. The large glowing disc they were on took them to an underground base. Myra thought it might be one kilometer beneath the Jicanilla Apache Indian Reservation, in the Las Cruces region. In both the Doraty and Hanson cases, the women underwent the usual alien physical procedures.


    Let me now turn to a classic case that occurred in the peak year of 1975 in Colorado. This was originally published in the July 1978 bulletin of APRO. This case is not fiction, for Leo Sprinkle, Ph.D and John Derr, Ph.D investigated it at the site. I will summarize as briefly as possible.

    The beautiful ranch in the Rocky mountains into which the Evans family had moved, overlooked a military base, and was above abandoned coal mines. A mysterious loud “turbine ” sound kept coming from a certain place in the house. In their limited stay at the ranch they lost a total of six cows to mutilation. The family consisted of the husband, wife Susan, two sons, and a business friend named Jim.

    On this amazing night when six discs were sighted, Susan got knocked off the couch and into the front room floor by a beam of light. Visitors and residents of the ranch suffered headaches and paralysis in their stay there. One night the transmission systems of the family’s Cadillac and station wagon got trashed. There were more bewildering events too extensive to cover here.

    When discs were observed, a mutilation might happen and a pounding noise might begin on the house by the “Big Foot” that occasionally appeared.

    Jim took a shot at “Big Foot” and got hell from the sheriff who knew all about UFOs, black boxes, and a lot more. There were some 20 witnesses to “Big Foot” and one night Susan was treated to the experience of being mimicked by him. She went out on the porch, leaned over, shielded her eyes and spotted him. There he was in the timber doing exactly the same thing back to her.

    The most fascinating, unreal event that happened on the ranch took place on a moonlit winter night when Jim noticed a dim yellow light in the pine trees up near the mysterious burned circle. As Jim approached, a black box on the ground made a buzzing sound. Jim decided to retreat then went back and found nothing. Jim would always wonder why he moved on under the trees. He was suffering from heart disease and had no desire to go but a strange, overpowering compulsion kept him walking. Jim entered a glowing area occupied by two individuals.

    Down the hill he noticed a dimly lit disc. One alien knew his name and said in good English, “How nice of you to come.” Jim then asked them a series of questions and complained about the car’s transmission systems. Jim also told the aliens they were attracting a lot of attention to themselves with what they were doing. The aliens were non-committal but did apologize for any inconveniences, and promised a more equitible arrangement. True lies indeed, for the Evans were soon forced to abandon their beautiful ranch.

    Jim was able to study the two aliens closely. They were about 5 feet 6 inches tall, seemed young, effeminate, and wore flight suits that changed from brown to silver. They were very fair skinned, had blond hair with a partial cover, and eyes that were large and striking. The eyes were most impressive. Their appearance was what people call “Nordic” type aliens.

    In blond “Nordic” type aliens we have four types.

    1. the adolescent kind such as these; 2. the taller more mature type; 3. the old Nordics in white robes; and 4. the giant Nordics.

    I would guess that these adolescent type were in a supervisory capacity in the “mute” operations which we see carried out by the alien Grays. Since we really do know who is getting all the uncounted tons of bovine flesh and blood, the next question is, “Why are they doing this?” Is it somehow linked to the widespread, relentless activity of human abduction and extraction and manipulation of egg, sperm, fetus, etc.?

    Does the clandestine, dimensional intelligence behind all this need these products to develop earth/alien hybrids also known as Halflings? Large fragments of cattle chromosomes are homologuous (sequentially identical) to human chromosomes. Do these cunning aliens know something of importance that we do not know?

    Maybe the aliens know what is stated in many prophecies, that our fair little planet Earth is doomed to be wracked by cataclysmic upheaval and life as we know it, extinguished? So they are developing a more durable, quasi-human life-form to survive here or elsewhere in the cosmos. Only time will tell.

    D.G. Worley, Jr., DVM

  • Martin, I can’t help but comment on the link you posted, from Michael Tobis I have no particular axe to grind here, but I think the spending so many words on a statement made in English, Guy saying feedbacks are additive not multiplicative is overdone. I believe I understand what Guy means and I agree to some extent (i.e., some feedbacks can be stated as being multiplicative, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a casual essay on the Web). I work with such cooperative systems in molecular biology where positive feedbacks don’t amplify in an additive fashion (I can even prove this mathematically for the systems I work with and we’re even writing a paper on this phenomenon).

    I also don’t think Tobis’ dismissal of the methane claims are on solid enough footing. Chris Colose’s response has also been rebutted by Paul Beckwith (https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2013/08/toward-genuinely-improved-discussions-of-methane-and-climate.html) to which I’ve not seen a further rebuttal of, and Nafeez’s caution as a journalist doesn’t mean Tobis is right. You can also follow the methane story yourself with methanetracker.org and I’ve seen enough for now to believe what I believe, especially since so far Malcolm Light’s original story seems to be holding up fairly well. I also don’t think you can consider these feedbacks independently from each other, and the effects they have on each other may not follow an additive trend, which I believe was Guy’s point.

    I think some of these side (snide) remarks, such as whether a Nature Comment is peer reviewed (it can be; I’ve had a published comment in Nature that was sent out for peer review), whether someone has a PhD or not, etc. is irrelevant and unhelpful (not to mention uncivil). What matters is the argument at hand, and the evidence in favour of it. There’s some (partial) evidence (which for me starts with a peer review publication), and some argument, and people can make up their own minds.

    In terms of doom, what we all do is part of the problem and there’s no easy way around this and I see some scientists have a hard time accepting this. I’m okay with it if humanity goes extinct – the dinosaurs which had been around for far longer than we have did. Bacteria are the rulers of this planet in terms of evolution and I expect their evolution will continue long after we’re gone (either exctinct or off in space). I enjoy life absolutely on a daily basis and do the best I can to improve myself every day. I also think if we can’t save this planet for human habitation, we could go off into space and try our luck there and maybe make it.

  • @ulfvugl
    When I was a child, I used to like sitting under a rookery just listening to their chat, and I felt (knew) then that they could communicate just as well as I could with humans. I felt that very strongly, and I’ve had no reason to change my mind. You’re right, all life communicates, has language, exchanges information, whatever we humans need to call it. And again, modern languages, and recently dead ones, are inadequate and can’t express this. Science is making some inroads there now, but are you surprised? I know you’re not, and nor am I. I read about the science and just think to myself: OF Course! Maybe the languages of our shamanistic ancestors and the few remaining native American languages etc can actually express this knowledge.

    @Grant Schreiber
    I know it’s not a competition. That the last thing I intended. I just wanted to give you my thoughts on what you had written: That it’s these two Enlightenment projects (which caused the Cold War), both with the utopian idea of world domination (now it’s the capitalist free market which has apparently won Ha Ha). They are truly European and have dominated our politics ever since. It’s just the US now who has taken up the flag and pushes this dogma, pairing the market with it’s democratisation project (Washington Consensus). But most people around the world don’t like it and are really not suited for it. That’s why Americans are having a hard time being liked right now. But it’s not your fault. The idea is dogmatic and hubristic but unfortunately well anchored in our so-called Western public discourse which includes RE’s reverse engineering idea.
    I’m getting fed up with those silly concrete domes too.

  • Fron the 70´s

  • About Michael Tobis and the “new way” to denial climate change.

    My position about his position is that it does not matter if Guy McPherson is right or wrong, or how wrong is him on his predictions about the dates, because anyway, I can clearly see that our lifestyle is changing earth equilibrium, and our way of living has to change. Drastically. And if we do, it is for good. So his warning is welcome.
    This denial “by numbers” is the new style of denial. But denial anyway.
    And in the end, so far, “no news good news”, but certainly, sooner or later there will be news, and they (probably) will be bad news.
    Numbers and computer models have already showed that when we are talking about modeling nature with numbers, any situation under study is so complex that our technology and brain capacity cannot handle it in such a brief time (less than 20 years), to predict situations in a reliable way.
    I am a ship designer, and after 150 years of naval architecture experience, and more than 60 years of computers, we still cannot model the sea, cannot predict in a reliable way wave loads, neither cannot predict the ship power consumption with computer models. We still mainly rely on scaled model tests, and a big lot of experience and common sense, just to be in the safe side, by an unknown margin.
    Climate models to predict in a reliable way climate change, still a long way to go. I have seen many times how “state of the art models” fail to predict ship behavior in a reliable way. I guess that modeling climate change will suffer the same fails, and mistakes. So we cannot fully believe in what numbers tell, for good or bad.
    Common sense will be for years more trustable than numbers coming from models. And common sense tells me that Guy McPherson is more right than wrong. No matter what numbers and models are telling.

  • @Eamon.

    Not much else needs to be added, except I was taken aback (maybe I’m sheltered!) by the lack of awareness or understanding of the world “out there” or the “real world” by the twenty-somethings encountered on the Google Campus.

    Thanks again. Keep on truckin’.

  • “One more free advertisement for Monolithic Ugly Bumps and I’m gonna hurl. Feel free to build as many of the New and Improved Bomb Shelters as you want. But please stop shilling for them like some door to door salesman.”

    Dude. It isn’t about Monolithic. It’s about a couple from South Carolina, a guy from Texas, a guy from Alaska, a guy from California, a guy from Wisconsin, and a guy from Minnesota, all coming together to study an appropriate tech for living in an increasingly hostile environment.

    And it’s about people who are awake and aware, networking in the real world, sharing our strengths as well as our grief. Instead of directing your considerable anger in our direction, you should join us. Interest in building domes is not a requirement.

  • Eddie – IMO, few here have any interest in “joining” – perhaps the Diner nutters will realize this and stop using NBL as their personal spam repository. :)

    We know where the Diner is, I visit regularly, but it’s really boring listening to a couple of nutters regurgitating shit that has been talked to death for half a century. Seems folks at the Diner are more interested in hearing themselves talk than anything else. ie – RE.

    Diner folk came here under the guise of giving us a techno fix – how about goosing the Diner IT team to change the NBL blog main menu so we can see the classified link in the top menu – and get rid of the “special” characters that make some forum posts nearly unreadable.

    That is if the IT team can figure out how to fix the months long problem of folks trying to register at the Diner – or if they can take down the “quote of the month” that’s been there for over a year. lol.

  • You know, regarding the link that Martin posted from Michael Tobis, the whole feedback is additive vs. multiplicative is a statement of degree that Guy is making. Multiplication is simply a shorthand for repeated addition. And when multiple feedbacks overlap, if they are not independent, the outcomes can indeed be additive or it could be multiplicative (say the temperature difference could either double or multiply on itself – instead of a 0.3 + 0.3 = 0.6 degree increase you could have 0.3 x 0.3 = 0.9 degree increase). This is what nonlinearity is all about. It could even be exponential, which is really repeated multiplication (or repeated repeated addition).

    I find it fascinating that to debunk Guy someone would spend so much (noninformative, as well as incorrect) time focussing on a single off the cuff statement in a long essay which has little to do with the point of the essay, claiming that such a statement is noninformative. It’s not giving a person the benefit of the doubt. That’s the Internet for you.

  • @ Apneaman: Thanks! :)

    Several commenters say: “dome”

    Serenity Prayer

    Ignore the bargainer’s pitch,
    And find your acceptance niche;
    Learn the distinction
    Before our extinction,
    And recognize which one is which.

  • Multiplication is simply a shorthand for repeated addition.

    I agree with you, Sam. I’m building something that uses op amps at the moment, which of course are designed to incorporate feedback. I’m quite used to thinking of the op amp’s output as the product of the input and the open-loop feedback. ;)

  • ulvfugl, I thought about the merits of responding to you given your uncivil tone, but I do the best I can to stay informed on a variety of subjects and I never claimed it is your job to inform me. Please feel free to ignore what I write if you consider what I say uninformed.

    With regards to Kevin Anderson, I have read some of his peer reviewed papers, including his 2011 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society paper with Alice Bows where they analyse different scenarios and evaluate likelihood of exceeding 2 degrees C, and sometimes compared to 4 degrees C (which he apparently has stated elsewhere would lead to an unstable system, what I’d call the point of no return, according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoiding_dangerous_climate_change). In fact, it is that such analyses that leads me to claim there does still exist space (what I referred to as “quota”) in the carbon budget before the probability that we will get there (to 4 degrees) is > 50%. Look at Figures 1 and 2 in that paper.

    Like I said, my only original point is that the actual test will be carried out in the coming decades and we will know for sure for 100% whether we got such analyses right or not. That’s really what my point was about using up our quota. The details may vary but we still have a few more years left I think.

  • Dude. It isn’t about Monolithic. It’s about a couple from South Carolina, a guy from Texas, a guy from Alaska, a guy from California, a guy from Wisconsin, and a guy from Minnesota, all coming together to study an appropriate tech for living in an increasingly hostile environment.

    Also, bunches of aliens, UFOs, black helicopters and such.

    Now if some folks can figure out how to establish and maintain closed biospheres / ecosystems on spaceships for millions of years, there might be half a chance of populating some earth-like exoplanet. Or perhaps we can take a cue from the subsurface flora and fauna, and move underground: those concrete domes can be built underground if the surface of Earth becomes uninhabitable.

    And humans do not need a formal language to communicate.

  • “Innovation isn’t magic. The resources and supplies that make innovation possible are not limitless. Right now, global net energy is on the decline. New sources of energy from “tight oil” plays to solar panels do not add more energy than is lost as conventional petroleum fields reach and pass their production peaks. Nor are the inventions of humankind timeless.”

    I’m glad somebody has thought about the link between energy and our technological recipes. Normally you hear that knowledge grows exponentially (i.e. http://www.jimcarroll.com/2011/10/trend-the-future-of-knowledge/). I’m glad to hear something about the possibility that technologies are replaced depending on their ROI, so that we only have a small subset available that is actually useful to / used by us at any given time.

    “An innovation may bring temporary gains, but then like a nuclear power plant or a gas well, the innovations themselves require ever increasing amounts of upgrades and repairs. ”

    Given that we have a tendency to make things more complex over time (with more energy?), there might also be a chance that new stuff has a higher dependency on a functioning industrial society as far as replacements are concerned and also it is more prone to failure due to higher number of internal components (simple statistics).

    BTW, I would call the coltan issue outdated, MLCCs and Polymer capacitors are available since 2003 at least. I have a colleague that isn’t using tantalum caps anymore because there are cheaper alternatives now. Of course mining is still dangerous, here have a look at Broken Hill’s huge grave yard:

  • @ Ram Sam

    Yes, indeed, I am a most uncivil man.

    If you listen closely to what Anderson says in his lectures and look at the graphs, well, we pretty much have to get to…

    Well, let me start again. It is not my job to inform or instruct you is it. You quite smart enough to do that for yourself.

    What an odd position you hold, on the one hand the techno-optimism, which I’d consider delusional, and on the other, big on Malcolm Light, whom, despite being heavily featured by Guy, I personally consider to be over the top.

    You know, what I’d really like, from people like yourself, and from people like Tobis and Archer and Schmidt, and Scott and a whole lot more, is some serious answers to DIOGENES.

    For weeks now, on Real Climate, DIOGENES, whoever he or she is, has been asking HOW we are going to avoid apocalypse, and posing the numbers and repeating the question.

    Why will no scientists give any direct straight forward answers ?

    They rubbish Mcpherson, saying he’s alarmist and takes away all hope.
    Okay, well, let’s have some answers to DIOGENES. Please.


  • ulvfugl, I will take a look at what DIOGENES is posting and see if I feel like participating.

    And regarding the position I hold, yes, I’m an odd man.

    I consider Malcolm Light to be a bit over the top as well, but I’m talking about my *belief* in how I think things will play out. I think it’s the arctic methane that’s the first car in the train.

    I don’t know how “serious” you can get outside of the peer review system short of doing it yourself.

    Regarding Anderson, I understand your point. I don’t think you’ve understood that the situation I was talking about was a scenario with certain assumptions. It was not reflective of my actual beliefs. I think Anderson makes the point in that paper that what you need to achieve in terms of reducing emissions really depends on the questions being asked and the what you desire as the outcome. If the desired outcome is “humanity does not become extinct with a likelihood of > 50%” then certain things need to be done. If the likelihood is changed to > 99% then other things need to be done (and perhaps this may not be every doable). This is different from the outcome of preserving civilisation more or less like what we have with an likelihood of > 50%.

  • Guy McPherson,

    Maybe one good thing that comes out of the criticism of your statements is that they are having to give someone else a break.lol

    Carry on good man.

  • dairymandave Says:
    March 14th, 2014 at 1:39 am
    “Jeff S, “i” should be “I” in the English language.”

    Unless you choose to not capitalize it, as a statement about the runaway egocentrism prevalent in American culture.

    Ram Samudrala: are you at all aware that there is a two post per day limit, or do you choose to openly violate it?

  • Jeff S, I thought the two post limit was optional and didn’t count towards posts that were being responsive to someone who had asked a question (in other words, I thought a discussion would be allowable). I also thought my posts were being moderated and if they were found to be inappropriate they wouldn’t be posted. If Guy could comment on this I would most appreciate it. I don’t believe I’ve posted anything inappropriate or off topic.

  • Please limit yourself to two comments per day. I encourage additional discussion at the Forum.

  • @wildwoman
    “Do Americans ever wake up? If so, when?”

    Only when that looming tsunami of peak everything can see the whites of their eyes, then Americans will assume that deer-in-the-headlights stance.

  • Jeff S., I accept your point about egocentrism however Webster does not accept the word “i”. Even my computer doesn’t like it.

  • We just won’t ever learn from our mistakes, will we? It’s news like this that confirms for me that we are on the wrong path to sustainability and a future for life on this blue planet in peril.


  • When I was a child I picked up a handful of fine dry sand thinking I’d hold on to it for a good long while. As it merrily ran out between my fingers I determined that the next scoop wouldn’t. So I squeezed that one tighter, but somehow it escaped anyway, and seemed to do so even faster. I tried various configurations of fingers and palms, all to no avail… the harder I tried to hold onto them, the faster those grains slipped away to anonymously join their cousins. That handful of unique moments was lost. I could not hold on to them.

    When I was older, I received a glass egg timer that let a flow of sand fall from one funnel into another through a constricted channel. Now flow felt like a good thing, what it was all about. The glass contained the sand. Now, I thought… at first… now I had everything under control. The sand couldn’t escape. The glass could be flipped over and over and reset, indefinitely, frantically. And I could keep it flowing, and watch it flow. But after every strenuous flip, the grains of sand would run down. And they always seemed to fall fastest in the end. And stop. Then they would just do absolutely nothing and sleep, down at the bottom. Without me constantly flipping it, the whole thing would just… stop. No flow. Isolated, sealed up, that sand refused to do a dam thing without my flipping effort. The glass bubble world wasn’t empowering, it was exhausting. The dam incorrigible sand… or gravity… was still the ultimate master of time.

    We don’t have many sand grains left in our hands. Not these days. So many have fallen away, forever. Returned to the beach. This great big world of our little lives is an unflippable everflowing sand clock… constrained by the irreversibility of the universe. No matter how frantic we get. No matter how much we’d like to watch the moments fall again. To really catch them this time. Those grains just keep slipping through our fingers, and then they fall away.

  • @ Ram Samudrala

    I see your comments on RC. I shall remain civil. I don’t take anything that you say seriously.
    Both you and Larsen, that’s not science, it’s fanciful wishful thinking.

  • @Ram S.

    I read your comment on Real Climate regarding having the technology to go off and live in space with delight. It isn’t that often that I come across drivel at such a level that it makes me laugh. I hope you on the first rocket off the planet.

  • NASA study suggests industrial civilisation is headed for “irreversible collapse.” Irreversible collapse. Is there any other kind? :)

  • Martin: I was just about to post that study. Aren’t you going to dismiss it or offer a comment? Do you agree with this but still have problems with Guy’s analysis?

    Sam R.: uh, .3 x .3 is .09 the last time I checked . . .

    Eamon: thanks for your well-written thoughts. It isn’t just the techno-utopians, some of the religious responses as well as many mainstream scientists still get the implications of climate change wrong. Loss of habitat is the main driver of our demise going forward.

  • ulvfugl, I’d not say it is science either at this point – fanciful wishful thinking doesn’t seem far off. But I do think these statements could be said about many things, including humanity living together in this planet without exceeding the 2 degrees C or even the 4 degrees C variance. Sounds like fanciful wishful thinking to me! Do you really honestly believe that humanity has it within itself to achieve the reductions recommended by the climate scientists? I however believe it’s *possible* – possible and probable are two different things.

    Anthony, see comments to ulvfugl above; you should do what he/she does, not take it seriously. I’m in good company with people like Stephen Hawking though and there are many others who’ve said the technology to travel in space for long distances already exists (i.e., no new technology need be invented).

    Besides stating that I think either are possible, I also think they’re somewhat equally probable – which is to say, not very high. As you yourself pointed with Kevin Anderson’s frankness on this topic, it seems very unlikely we’ll be able to do what’s needed to achieve a stable system in terms of reducing emissions. Which is why I said it might be better to figure out something else given the carbon budget left (before even that isn’t not possible) rather something we know is unlikely to happen.

    Besides learning to build self-contained biospheres will be good for us to make sure we don’t screw up again.

  • With thanks to Eamon Farelly for his contribution, I’ve posted a new essay. It’s here.

  • @Ram
    “possible and probable are two different things.”
    That says it all. What will be the most probable response to shrinking public money? Build a bio dome? A space life boat? I guess you could build it with private money, but it would be best to keep it a secret. Unless your in Kentucky. I don’t believe we deserve to leave this planet. If we found another planet and it had intelligent life, how long do you think it would take for us to dominate them. I can easily see us creating reservations for Vulcan’s on their own planet. Can you see us giving a planetary IMF loan to the Klingon’s for “structural reforms”. Other opportunities include studying the foods the Romulans evolved to eat, we could create cheap, highly concentrated toxic versions that have addictive properties. Then we could sell them medicines that won’t cure them, but will enable them to remain sick, but loyal customers for decades to come. The possibilities for humans are endless.

  • Tom, poor example, sorry. Let’s just use 3 x 3 = 9 vs. 3+3 = 6 instead.

    That uses up my two post quota for the day. The rest will be on the forum.

  • First, thank you, Eamonn, for a cracking article.

    And thank you, Guy, for not censoring comments and allowing me to howl into the breeze. I think it’s about time I acknowledged your admirable approach to running a blog.

    Tom, them’s fighting words. What for? I don’t recall anyone saying one of the most obvious things it is possible to say about Guy’s position, so I’m going to say it now: Guy’s position is extreme, so the onus is on Guy to make it as watertight as possible. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    It doesn’t exactly make my day when Guy gets, at a superficial glance, an all-too-easy fisking. But then I don’t understand the science. If you do, then, as Yoko One said to John Lennon, that’s “just great.”

  • Martin says, “But then I don’t understand the science.”

    Like any true denier, you can sure put out copious amounts of bullshit for someone unschooled in science. But, I don’t think you’re able to baffle anyone here, unless they happen to be on your level and you’re telling them what they want to hear.

    That’s what makes it so easy for the PTB, they waggle their little finger and ten million self proclaimed thought police parrot their messages to the highest heavens.

    It’s ok, Martin, you’re not on the cutting edge. I, on the other hand have always experienced chills, thrills and chariot races in grasping the full understanding of scientific concepts. It’s like winning a video game but with your mind, not with your fingers.

    Anyway, I don’t think you would make a very good lab partner.

  • Kirk,

    I, on the other hand have always experienced chills, thrills and chariot races in grasping the full understanding of scientific concepts

    How is your electronics? I believe I understand common mode rejection ratio (CMRR) in principle: a differential amplifier rejects what is common mode and amplifies what is not. But HOW does it do this? If you look at a typical differential input stage, one active component, a FET, say, accepts the positive-going input, and an identical FET accepts the negative-going input. How do the separate elements reject what is common mode and how is it rejected?

  • Many of the long timers here know that I’m vegan and have great concerns for animal welfare… for all sentient beings. In his post above FriedrichKling included a discussion of incidents of animal mutilations. In private correspondence with him I have learned that there is convincing evidence that these gruesome acts occurred while the animals were fully conscious, without anesthesia of any kind. The perpetrators remain a mystery that is open to further investigation. Perhaps that question will be answered beyond doubt someday, but it is not my main focus in this comment.

    I am moved by the suffering. By the brutality. By the numb attitude taken by most people when they hear about such things. To me it is a harsh reminder of the seemingly endless brutality of the mass slaughterhouses common everywhere on the planet, where billions of sentient beings are put to death annually. While there are claims of ‘humane killing’ — that, to me, is a blatant oxymoron.

    The concept of karma may be debatable, but it is clear to me that the attitude that fosters such acts taints the whole of society. It seems clear to me that our own near term extinction is directly tied to the set of attitudes that are characterized by humanity’s callousness to sentient beings and life in general. When so many people don’t seem to give a dam about their own quality of life and health, it follows that they wouldn’t give a dam about any other lives. From my vantage point they’re apparently getting high on something really evil… getting all of us stoned, blood let, to death.

  • @ulvfugl,

    I present the Telharmonium .

  • @ Martin

    Fascinating. Well, that’s something new I learned, I never knew that before. I’m astonished that the guy didn’t insist that it needed to be taken to Peru for it’s inaugural testing, to show just how transportable it was.

    Those were the days.

    I can’t match that, but there’s an abundance of oddities collated here

    1920’s Hereward Carrington, a respected American psychical researcher notes in his book Psychic Oddities an occasion at which he was present when a ‘disembodied’ voice asking “Can you hear me?”came out of a microphone in a sealed room in a radio recording studio when the rest of the building was empty. This was in the presence of an un-named medium and was heard by everyone else in the room. No-one could give any explanation.


  • I can’t match that

    You shame me. It so happens I didn’t know about it five minutes before I told you about it. I wanted to tell you about the Novachord, which came later, which I like for its rack of thermionic valves. It uses 1930s technology, predates the Moog synthesiser by a good 30 years, and sounds warmer, I think, than modern synths.

  • @ ulvfugl
    “Gratuitous sadism.”
    Yes, there’s certainly no shortage of it here on the planet of the naked apes. Hmmm, currently occupied by such ugly critters anyway. Our universal tag could well be: ‘gratuitous sadists’. A designation like that would probably make some people proud… where insight isn’t well regarded. We live in a large abattoir.