A critique of some of Guy McPherson’s views and certain NBL hangers-on

by Geoffrey Chia

 

Does humanity deserve to go extinct?

          “Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won’t drown”  – A. Ransome, Swallows and Amazons

 

This turned out to be another long essay. However it is not possible to frame complex ideas into a thirty second soundbyte that the short attention span audiences of today have come to expect, courtesy of the mainstream media.

I have learned a great deal from the writings and presentations of Dr. Guy McPherson however I do not agree with all his conclusions or views. When evaluating any person (which we all do – to say we never judge people would be a lie) I tend to ask myself a few questions:

 

–        Everyone gets things wrong, everyone makes inaccurate statements from time to time whether intentional or not. On the whole however, is this person honest, do they double check their facts, do they generally try their best to get things right?

–        At their core is this person basically kind, generous and benevolent to others or are they a self serving egoist?

–        Of course, whenever I point a finger at another person, there are three other fingers pointing back at myself, hence do I personally have any right to criticise Guy or am I being an even bigger hypocrite by attempting to judge him?

 

In answer to the above, the evidence I have seen so far is that Guy is on the whole honest (but does occasionally get things wrong – which he then admits and corrects), is generally benevolent (although irritable at times, but far less irritable than I would be in his situation) and I suspect I am a bigger hypocrite than he is. Thus, consistent with my hypocrisy, I will now proceed to criticise some of Guy’s views I disagree with.

In recent times Guy has repeatedly stated that his worst mistake was to walk away from empire to set up his mud hut and try to live a low carbon, subsistence lifestyle. I disagree. He may have regretted the personal pain he suffered as a consequence, however that does not mean his decision was a mistake. One major reason Guy now has credibility with so many people is that he had the courage to take ownership of his moral position and do the difficult thing. If his goal was to serve as an example to others to do the same – to live more simply so that others may simply live – and he failed in that goal, then the blame for that failure lies squarely with others, with the clueless sheeple. I may be among a tiny handful of people who are trying to emulate his example, albeit in a more cowardly fashion (I am too much of a coward to exit cold turkey) and there are certainly others trying to do the same. If Guy had not at least attempted to do what he believed was right at the time, that would have been a mistake.

I too have experienced failure in my previous ineffective, puny and pathetic actions to introduce some sanity into this corrupt GIMME* establishment. Just because I failed miserably does not mean those attempts were a mistake and I do not regret them. You never know till you try.

My major disagreement with Guy is whether humanity definitely will go extinct ie. his seemingly absolute belief in the 100% inevitability of NTHE. My major critique of some of the NBL hangers-on are their anonymous repetitive useless miserable whining and the idea that humanity should go extinct since they assert all humans are irredeemably corrupt and destructive.

I reiterate: I regard Guy as analogous to an experienced top-notch cancer specialist who has reviewed all the evidence and come to the conclusion that the imminent demise of a patient, who is riddled with advanced metastases, is overwhelmingly likely. Indeed to arrive at any other conclusion would be dishonest, stupid or insane. However my position is that no medical specialist, even the most highly experienced practitioner in the world, is a clairvoyant and can perfectly know the future beyond any shadow of a doubt. There have been documented rare cases of unexpected recoveries from advanced cancer, presumably by the rallying of the immune system through mechanisms not yet understood. We can only talk in terms of probabilities. I agree that NTHE could well be >99.9% likely. My point of contention is in the remaining <0.1%

Based on the updated Limits to Growth projections (where all scenarios result in global collapse, even those with unrealistically optimistic inputs) and the multiple severe insults which will afflict human populations this century, it is impossible to conceive of any credible scenario in which the mass dieoff of billions of people will not occur this century. Mass culling is guaranteed. George Mobus made a good argument for this case: read “How we could save humanity” (half way down the page) on  http://questioneverything.typepad.com/question_everything/2013/11/index.html

Is it however possible to conceive that a small number of humans may be able to survive the next couple of thousand years (given adequate preparation, in certain selected geographic pockets) until the overall global climate becomes more conducive to humans? I admit it may seem highly improbable, but I assert it is not impossible.

What future do we face? There are a bewildering array of different projections of likely temperature rises by 2100 (more important will be the actual equilibrium temperature we eventually reach, which may take a couple of hundred years). Let us reject the “worst case” scenario of the IPCC AR5 (of 4.8degC on top of the existing 0.8degC – say, a total of 6degC), as being way too low, because actual events have been consistently worse than the IPCC worst case projections so far. Let us accept David Wasdell’s judgement that a global average temperature rise of at least 5degC above baseline is now baked into the cake on the basis of our existing CO2 concentration, even if all anthropogenic emissions were to cease tomorrow. Let us accept that the positive feedback loops may raise global temperature by perhaps another 7degC above baseline (the exact equilibrium temperature will be anyone’s guess). Let us say there is a global average temperature rise of 12degC. This will mean higher average temperatures (to, say, 18 or 20degC) over the continents, particularly over the Northern hemisphere. Everyone there is toast. However small favoured locations will not rise by the same amount. Consider certain islands in the deep South of the Southern Ocean near the remaining Antarctic ice eg the Falkland Islands, Stewart island (NZ) and probably the best candidate, Tierra del Fuego. Perhaps these favoured locations may rise by, say, an average of 7degC. The question is whether humans may be able to survive in those selected locations till global circumstances improve.

 

According to current records, average maximum summer temperature in Tierra del Fuego (January) is 15degC, hence if it rises by 7degC, average maximum temperature will be 22degC and if heat waves of an additional, say 10degC occur, it can intermittently rise to 32degC. That future maximum temperature in TDF will therefore be much lower than the present heat waves in Tasmania, which in recent years went up to 41degC (Tasmania is too far North and can be dominated at times by incendiary heat waves from the Australian continent). Severe weather events (including the fierce circumpolar winds around the Southern Ocean) will be a huge challenge, but the survival of a handful in the deep South may still be possible. Rainfall is likely to remain reliable around that area due to the prevailing Westerly winds caused by the rotation of the Earth, which is “unlikely” to stop.

Planetary temperatures will eventually cool in the long term (ie. a few thousand years) in the absence of large numbers of humans. The death of >99.99% of humanity soon, which may occur quite suddenly (eg over a decade or two), will result in the abrupt cessation of anthropogenic GHG emissions, a negative feedback loop. Arguably the various positive feedback loops already well established by then may release GHG equivalents well beyond that of historical human emissions, rendering the cessation of human emissions relatively unimportant. Having said that, without billions of humans around to interfere with the natural regeneration of the biosphere eg reforestation, a substantial degree of biosequestration of carbon will eventually occur, given time. Despite one contrary evaluation by Berger and Loutre, numerous scientists reckon we are now moving into a cooler Milankovitch phase, which will lead to global cooling possibly over a couple of thousand years or so. Indeed, without the extra GHGs, we could be headed toward another ice age in that timespan. This view is consistent with the icecore data patterns which suggest this planet, under “normal” circumstances (ie without humans), would now be scheduled for a cool transition.

How fast will our temperatures rise in the near term due to GHGs? Again it is impossible to know for sure. Using the paleorecord to extrapolate to our future has been one way of making an educated guess. Prior to one particular paper claiming that during the PETM, temperatures rose by 5degC over just 13 years

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/09/13/1309188110

it was generally thought that the rise of temperatures during the PETM (6degC) actually occured over 20,000 years http://climatediscovery.com/tag/petm/

Where does the truth lie? The fact is, the further back we look into time, the less precise we can be about the exact duration of severe events. For example we can make a fairly precise assessment about the duration of a severe climatic event which happened 500 years ago, by looking at tree rings and other abundant corroborating data. Further back in time data become more sparse and it may be impossible to tell if an event which happened, say 100 million years ago, occurred over the space of 10 years or over the space of ten thousand years, as our temporal resolution is just too poor that far back. Judging the duration of a global temperature rise which occurred 56 million years ago is prone to difficulties. Furthermore just because temperatures may have risen 5degC in 13 years in one location during the PETM does not mean it happened that quickly worldwide. It is easy to conceive today of the temperature rising 5degC over 13 years on the coast of the East Siberian sea where the summer ice has disappeared and methane is being exponentially liberated, but such rapidity will not occur in locations near the vast Antarctic ice sheets which will take a considerable time to melt, certainly more than 13 years.

The PETM was not regarded as a major global mass extinction, but a lesser extinction event. If temperatures did indeed suddenly escalate by 5degC worldwide over just 13 years and did not cause global mass extinction then, perhaps that is good news for us, because somehow the majority of plants and animals did manage to survive such a rapid rise at the time.

How reliably can we extrapolate previous warm extinction events to the future of the human animal? It is generally correct to state that a rapid rise in global average temperature is fatal for this particular category of animal: the apex predator large mammal. And of course human beings are apex predator large mammals. We know in general that apex predators (especially those with specialised diets) are the first to go extinct with ecosystem perturbations. We know that large bodied mammals, due to their low surface area to volume ratio and inability to lose excess heat, are the animals most vulnerable to temperature rises. However human beings are not the same as polar bears or elephants. We have the ability to understand the reality of our situation, to quickly migrate large distances in advance to escape the most hostile habitats, to transport the seeds and livestock on which we depend with us and to plan systematically for a dire future (OK, perhaps not 99.99% of humanity – who are either clueless sheeple or defeatist nihilists, but perhaps 0.01% can understand and plan and act). We have the ability to use technology to achieve remarkable outcomes.

By invoking the word “technology” here, am I turning into the type of “techofix delusionist” or “cornucopian technofantasist” I myself have sneered at in the past? I do not envision us developing large scale thorium fission nor nuclear fusion nor artificial photosynthesis to generate endless sources of energy, nor do I believe in the prospect of colonies in space (although I have written a satirical science fiction novel on the latter). By technology I mean the ability to dig into hillsides to survive, surrounded by the protection of thermal mass, even as the exterior wetbulb daytime summer temperature exceeds human body temperature. By technology I mean the ability to construct massive stonewall windbreaks to shelter crops against the prevailing winds in the latitudes of the furious fifties or higher. By technology I mean the ability to take advantage of the long hours of summer sunlight in high latitudes to grow excess grain, then to store that grain for rationed consumption during the neverending night of winter in those high latitudes, perhaps even to survive on Antarctica after the ice has melted there. Such measures cannot be scaled up to save billions or even millions of people, but conceiveably may be employed to enable the survival of a a small number people in small favourable locations. All it takes to avoid NTHE is for a few breeding pairs to survive in just one location in the long term.

Even during the great dying of the Permian extinction, land vertebrates of reasonable size (eg considerable numbers of the pig sized lystrosaurus), made it through. Indeed it is estimated up to 30% of land vertebrates did not go extinct then (although 96% of marine animals perished). We shoud not just extrapolate bad news from the paleorecord to our future but also consider the possibility of good news: that it is conceivable a few humans could make it through.

 

Consider this scenario which I call “Project Ark”:

Mr BBB is a benign benevolent billionaire (billions of dollars are not actually necessary to fund Project Ark – a couple of hundred million should suffice – the cost of one hollywood movie). Unfortunately most super wealthy individuals are males, hence I use the title “Mr” rather than “Ms”. He has amassed great wealth via the GIMME establishment but feels empty and is searching for a cause which will confer a meaningful legacy to his life. His assistant brings his attention to the dire information on NBL. Mr BBB, being scientifically literate, becomes aware of the threat of NTHE. Governments are worse than useless – they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. BBB believes that by using his exceptional access to resources during this window of time prior to global financial collapse, he can confer a comfortable existence to a few thousand young people in the coming decades of turmoil and possibly facilitate survival for a handful of humans in the extended future. If he succeeds, he will be viewed by posterity as the saviour of humanity. What greater lifetime legacy can any person leave? If he ultimately fails, so what? There is nothing better to do anyway and no matter how unlikely long term success may seem, it will be exceedingly stupid not to try. If for no other reason, there is intrinsic merit in providing good quality prolongation of life (perhaps 30 extra years) to a substantial number of deserving young people, when their peers will be dying prematurely elsewhere.

Mr BBB contacts Guy McPherson (GM), hoping to enlist him as project consultant, to tap into GM’s expertise in establishing permaculture homesteads (experience GM would not have acquired if he had not previously attempted to walk away from empire). GM’s roles are to be in project planning and to educate participants in the method of scientific enquiry as the best way to figure out reality and solve problems. He is also asked to conduct workshops to help them emotionally grasp the difficult future they face, with a shot at, but no guarantee of success. GM is initially reluctant to join as he had already resigned himself to an early death and Project Ark contradicts his latest catchphrase of “don’t do something, just sit there“. However after intense persuasion, BBB finally convinces GM that the choice of an early death would be extremely selfish, as GM still has many years of life left to provide important service to others if only he would accept this opportunity. GM cannot be persuaded to live for himself but he can be persuaded to live for the sake of others. Accordingly GM turns away from self destructive nihilistic navel-gazing and chooses a life of service to humanity for the next three decades.
BBB and GM meet with Godofredo Aravena in Santiago to work out the details of Project Ark. Godofredo is asked to be the Chilean liaison who helps deal with the local authorities and is also commissioned by BBB to establish a fleet of sailboats which will provide passenger and cargo transport for Ark communities up and down the Chilean coast. Ray Jason is asked to be sailing consultant to the fleet, who researches suitable anchorages along the coast and corresponding land access to the intended permaculture homesteads.

The principals draw up a list of criteria for Ark participants: all are under age 30 (unless they have exceptional skills or expertise to offer) with a track record of community service and/or environmental activism and with characters deemed honest, diligent, reliable, selfless, generous and cooperative. Potential sociopaths and phoneys (and government “Judas goat” infiltrators) are actively excluded. Carolyn Baker (who appoints two other professional colleagues for assistance) conducts the candidates’ psychological screening for suitability. Selection is provisional for 6 months and depends on subsequent performance. In terms of skills, candidates have practical expertise in growing food, raising livestock, carpentry, metalwork, plumbing and even with diesel engines and offgrid electrical systems (such machinery will still be available for at least the next couple of decades). Many have been active in their Transition Towns groups. Some have been wandering about as WWOOFers. They may be single or may be young couples without (but preferably with) young children, all are in good physical health. They have little or no money. It will be impossible to buy a ticket into this project anyway, only merit can earn them a place. Many are burdened by outrageous student debts – which are immediately paid off by BBB.

Fifteen hundred candidates are chosen, to populate 10 communities of 150 people each, stretching from the vicinity of Concepcion in the North to the vicinity of Punta Arenas (near TDF) in the South. The land areas purchased for this project towards the South are progressively larger, those near TDF being more than 10 times bigger than the one purchased near Concepcion. In the initial years, fossil fuels are used to establish the homestead infrastructures and artificial fertilisers are provided to grow crops. It will be silly not to use those resources while we still have them, but their long term goal is to free themselves from such dependency.

BBB acquires a massive resource of various food crops ranging from tropical to temperate. Climatically appropriate seeds, saplings, cuttings, roots and shoots are distributed to the various communities at different latitudes to kickstart their permaculture villages. One long term seed repository is established near Punta Arenas in a cold vault at the outset.  As Concepcion becomes tropical, tropical plants and livestock are cultivated in that homestead and as the tropics move further south, these tropical saplings, seeds and animals are transported to more southerly homesteads by sailboat. As the lower latitude Northern communities become unlivable due to excessive warming, residents will be progressively evacuated by sailboat to the higher latitude Southern communities. Ultimately all participants will live in the vicinity of TDF, by which time it may be possible to cultivate tropical or subtropical produce there, the experience to do so being gleaned from those who originally established the Northern communities.

What livestock will be chosen? In the absence of human intervention, possibly 70% of all land species will go extinct. Humans will choose certain favoured species to bring along with them to the favoured locations. The rest of the planet will be completely ravaged. In past epochs after mass extinctions, it could take perhaps 10 million years before planet wide biodiversity was restored.

In the worst case scenario, if the vicinity of TDF ultimately becomes too warm to live in, residents can be evacuated by sailboat to Antarctica (a relatively close landfall being the Antarctic peninsula), bringing their seed bank and livestock with them. Notwithstanding the wild winds and seas south of Cape Horn, there will be occasional windows of relative calm to enable successful voyages. Some of the possible challenges to settling on Antarctica are outlined below.

Bill Gates, Richard Branson or James Cameron, are you reading this?

 

What is the absolute worst case scenario? Just as we can dismiss the low ball “worst case” temperature scenarios of the IPCC as being nonsense, we can also dismiss the high end ludicrous scenarios by some pundits who claim the oceans will boil off and Earth will become like Venus. The oceans did not boil off when the methane gun was fired during the Permian extinction and it will not happen in any forseeable future (not for more than a billion years, anyway).

We are too far away from the sun for the oceans to boil off and indeed in the distant past, around 650 million years ago, when simple photosynthesizing organisms sequestered too much carbon dioxide, this planet turned into “snowball earth”, entirely covered by glaciers, even at the equator, even though the Earth was closer to the sun at that time (as the eons pass, the Earth is slowly moving further away from the sun – the orbital distance is increasing).

I reiterate: the guaranteed dieoff of billions of people will be one negative feedback loop this century and our likely transition into a cooler Milankovitch phase  may be another negative feedback loop in the longer term. I am not sure on what basis some scientists calculated that the Earth is on in the inner (hot) edge of the “Goldilocks zone” for life (viz distance from the sun), however we know that, at least over the past 800,000 years, glacial periods have tended to be the norm on our planet and interglacial periods have tended to be briefer. If that is considered the hot part of the Goldilocks zone, I hate to think what the cold part is like.

In the near term what could be our absolute worst case scenario? The rest of the planet could very well become too hot for humans to live in, but significant areas of Antarctica, as they become ice free, will enter a temperature range suitable for us. In the past, large dinosaurs thrived in tropical ice free Antarctica. Large dinosaurs certainly generated and retained substantial internal body heat from their metabolism – some may have been truly warm blooded. Furthermore they would have had difficulty dissipating heat due to their low SA/volume ratio ie gigantothermia. If temperatures were suitable for large dinosaurs in tropical Antarctica in the past, they are likely to be suitable for humans in the future. The big challenge for humans on Antarctica will be producing food in the initial phase when attempting to settle on the coast. Furious winds and stony barren soils may render traditional agricultural methods impossible. Fresh water may be abundant in some areas from rivers fed by glacial melt, but torrential floods could be a problem. One possible solution could be the hydroponic cultivation of food. Enclosures must be protected from high winds while still allowing ample light in. In a barren landscape nutrients will have to be completely recycled and no organic matter can be allowed to be lost. Specifics can be worked out now, by conducting practical trials in locations which may approximate the future thawed Antarctic.

Once again, my assertion is we can only talk about future outcomes in terms of probabilities. I argue there is a nonzero chance that a small handful of humans could make it through the next couple of thousand years or so, till global temperatures become more conducive for more widespread human existence again. Giving up now, throwing up our hands in despair and not planning ahead is more likely to guarantee NTHE – to turn it into a self fulfilling prophecy. Planning ahead for a dire future may however confer a fighting chance to a select few.

Physiologically and anatomically modern humans lived in harmony with the planet for at least 150,000 years before the advent of civilisation. Even though over the past 6000 years civilisations rose and fell and caused some environmental damage, none caused irreparable harm to our biosphere before the advent of industrialisation. Pre-fossil fuel civilisation was not incompatible with sustainability.

History shows that many world changing events often hinged on a single critical decision or a chance occurence. Complete plunder and devastation of the entire world was never a foregone conclusion. Human history has largely been that of warfare and conquest, however there have been instances of voluntary retreat and contraction.

The largest land empire in history was that of the Mongols who almost never lost in battle. They were ruthless, cruel and merciless. Before the mid 13th century they had overrun Hungary, Poland and Croatia, had sacked and burned down Kiev and were hammering on the gates of Vienna. They had devastated the Rus (or land Vikings), whose abiding visceral dread of the Mongols lives on in Russian lore. In 1241 they inflicted simultaneous crushing defeats upon the Germans near Breslau and upon mixed European cavalry near Buda. The outlook appeared hopeless for Europe. Then it all stopped. The sudden death (from a drinking binge) of the Grand Khan at the time, Ogedei, required that all the generals withdraw back to Karakorum to work out the succession. Europe was saved by a chance event. After political infighting, the Mongols ultimately decided to cease their Western expansion and to focus on their occupation of China and India which were the main sources of wealth in the world at the time. A rational decision, to avoid overreach, not to acquire territories which were relatively worthless then (Europe).

The Chinese eventually expelled the Mongols to establish the Ming dynasty, during which they built fleets of ships which voyaged to southeast Asia, India and Africa (probably no further, despite the claims of Gavin Menzies). The first Ming fleet, consisting of 27,000 troops in hundreds of ships, voyaged in 1405, almost a century before Christopher Columbus and his three ships. The Chinese had paper, printing, the compass and ocean going ships – innovations Francis Bacon later cited as being crucial for the subsequent Western domination of the world (however he did not acknowledge their origins). The Chinese invented gunpowder which they did not bother to significantly weaponise. After the seventh Ming voyage in 1433, they suddenly stopped. After their own political infighting, they decided they had enough resources in their own country and were not interested in conquest, nor in substantial trade outside China. They had enough, and enough is as good as a feast.

The Mongols never regained their historical ferocity, not because of military defeats, but because they were eventually tamed by the gentle philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism. If one were to experience the kindness, friendliness, hospitality and generosity of modern Mongolians today, it seems impossible to imagine that their forebears historically killed, raped and pillaged all across Eurasia.

My point is this: there were examples where empires chose to voluntarily contract, rather than to overextend then collapse. Gentle philosophies can tame violent and murderous tribes and supercede the paradigms of violence and domination.

Even rapacious Western Industrial civilisation did have times of restraint as exemplified by the dismantling of the Standard Oil monopoly by the US government just before the turn of the 20th century. After the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the US government enacted Glass-Steagall in 1933 which protected the savings of Americans for many decades to follow from predatory psychopaths.

Arguably Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 election due to the humiliation of the failed rescue of US hostages in Iran. The major reason for that failure was the sandstorms which caused mechanical problems with the helicopters. If not for the sandstorms, if the rescue had been successful, if Carter had been re-elected – would the US have gone down a different path by developing solar energy and reducing oil dependency (notwithstanding the Carter doctrine)?

George Bush Jr was appointed POTUS by the Supreme Court in 2000 and it is possible he may not actually have won the election. If Al Gore had become President by a fair vote count instead, we know for sure he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003 for their oil and he would have been a genuine advocate for renewable energy.

Is activism useless? For women in Britain to win the vote, the suffragettes had to be willing to go to jail for their cause. Civil rights in the US were not handed to African Americans on a silver platter, they had to fight for them and must continue to fight for them. Good on you Rosa Parks!

Not all human beings are irredeemably violent, stupid and greedy. If sufficient numbers had opposed the agenda of the psychopaths, things might have been different. In 2013 a young progressive Marxist woman, Kshama Sawant, won a seat in  the Seattle city council by popular vote. In 2011 human rights lawyer Park Won-Soon was voted mayor of Seoul. He had previously been jailed as an environmental activist. He has championed progressive policies and established a chain of thrift shops for the poor specialising in the repair of and cheap resale of second hand goods. Too little too late? Perhaps, but these are real world examples that true democracy can work if the voting public are active, educated and enlightened.

I previously questioned whether human dieoff was in the long run inevitable, by invoking game theory: the tragedy of the commons and the parable of the tribes. However using the examples above, I now conclude that even though disaster seemed probable, it was never absolutely inevitable.

By me stating that historical events were not foregone conclusions, that nothing was ever certain till they actually happened, am I contradicting my previous statement that we will see a guaranteed dieoff of billions of people this century, an event which has not yet happened? Not at all. We have already reached atmospheric CO2 of 400ppm, we have already witnessed (and continue to witness) exponential release of methane in Arctic coast and tundra, we have already consumed all the easy oil and are facing inadequate EROEI for industrial society to continue. We have already fallen off the cliff. What is not certain is whether the last few stragglers who fall off the cliff may achieve a relatively soft landing on the preceding pile of corpses and merely break a few bones, but are able to survive and crawl off.

Here then is my disagreement with Guy’s blog policy. I understand he values free speech and is reluctant to moderate any posts. Having said that, there is a huge difference between thought-police censorship and necessary editing. For example I am sure he would not tolerate anyone posting a groundless ad hominum attack, accusing him of being a pedophile, nor should any of us tolerate such a despicable lie. Such a post should not see the light of day and if it inadvertently does appear, should be immediately deleted. That is necessary editing.

Free speech is not a right unless also accompanied by responsibility. The key principle here is responsible free speech. Lies, abuses of free speech and use of profanity, especially by anonymous cowards, even if in support of Guy’s position (eg groundless ad hominum attacks) should be edited out.

 

Should Humanity go extinct?

I agree the worst outcome will be if a handful of humans survive and ultimately end up repopulating the planet to repeat the same criminal abuses against Gaia as our fossil fool generations have. Future planetary abuses on such a large scale however will be unlikely, because future generations will not have the same easy access to abundant fossil fuels. Our generation has already greedily harvested the low hanging fruit. Most importantly, an archive of the history of human stupidity must be preserved so that future survivors can learn from it. I suspect they will develop a strong ethic of planetary conservation because copious evidence of the misdeeds of previous generations will be strewn about everywhere, in the form of nonbiodegradable rubbish, toxic waste and abandoned concrete jungles.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

– PB Shelly

 

Will it be better for the Living Planet if human beings go extinct? The average human would probably say no. All the other untold millions of species, if they could answer, would probably say yes, good riddance to all humans, good riddance to bad rubbish. However they cannot answer, they lack our special cognitive abilities. Humans are also a species of animal on this planet and even though as a group we have messed up big time, do at least some less culpable humans not also have the same right as other species to exist? Do the best accomplishments of human culture and the scientific insights we have achieved (which no other species could have attained) not warrant preservation and perpetuation? Of course in a meaningless universe there is no “correct” answer to this question, merely one’s point of view. However on the basis of statistical probability I believe intelligent life in the universe is exceedingly rare and wise life is even rarer and if some humans survive this bottleneck and ultimately do achieve wisdom and learn to live sustainably within Nature, then humanity 2.0 will become a deserving species.

I agree with Godofredo Aravena that it will be necessary, now that we understand the pathogenesis of this godawful mess we created, to shape a framework of philosophy and code of behaviour for future humans to follow in order to avoid making the same mistakes. We need to ensure our policies are determined by evidence, reason and fairness to serve the long term common human good and planetary good. Perverse policies to favour a psychopathic few at the expense of the many (now being pursued in all capitalist countries today) must be rejected. It may be necessary to ensure the ruthless extirpation of psychopaths (who will always keep popping up, mutant like, from time to time) from future communities to prevent them from ever gaining power and driving humanity off the rails again.

We know this for certain: The moon landings would not have occured if the US had not pursued the Apollo project in a methodical and systematic manner to bring about success. When JFK made his declaration of intent, relying on as yet uninvented technologies, the likelihood of success within a decade seemed slim.

NTHE is certainly more likely if we make no concerted attempt to avoid it. My arguments outlined above show there is a nonzero chance that methodical and systematic planning may save a small number of people in the long term, using simple, basic technology. We do not need to invent anything new but we do need to conduct trials in various locations to see what works in practice. Project Ark should be attempted because it will be exceedingly stupid not to even try. Even if project Ark fails in the long run it will be worthwhile doing, if only to give a few young people a few extra decades of good quality life. Any attempt by the whiny naysayers to sabotage such a prospect for those young people will be simply mischevious.

 

Geoffrey Chia, June 2014

 

Addenda:

1) Here is a question specifically for Godofredo Aravena: in the absence of a benign benevolent billionaire to bankroll the Ark project, surely it will be possible for a few self organised community groups of far sighted Chileans to undertake similar survival projects on their own initiative, using their own resources?

 

2) A brief history of parasites

It has been estimated that the number of bacterial and parasitic cells on and in the human body outnumber our actual human cells by more than ten to one. Under normal circumstances many of these parasites extract nutrition from their host in a sustainable manner, not causing ill harm. Many of the bacteria on our skin and in our gut are in fact essential for our good health as they crowd out potentially pathogenic bacteria and in some cases even produce essential substances for us, such as vitamin K.

 

Organisms recently evolved to become parasites are the most lethal, because they have not yet learned how to live in harmony with their host. They frequently kill their host and therefore also themselves. For example, plasmodium falciparum is the most lethal human malarial parasite and can be regarded as being more poorly evolved than, say, vivax. Each time the plasmodium (and their antigens) are released into our bloodstream we develop a fever as our body tries to reject them. Given a few millenia the natural course would be for falciparum to evolve into a more benign form, as that would be in the interest of the parasite itself.

 

The planet now has a fever and will shed its load of pathogenic parasitic humans very soon. Whether a tiny fraction of those humans can survive the great dying and ultimately learn to live in harmony with the planet and evolve into non-pathogenic benign commensals is unknown.

 

 

3) *Glossary for NBL newbies:

EROEI = energy return on energy invested

GHGs = greenhouse gases

GIMME = Government, Industrial, Military, Media, Economic establishment

NBL = Nature Bats Last website

NTHE = near term human extinction

PETM = Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

POTUS = President of the Unhinged States (of America)

TPTB = the powers that be

WWOOFers = willing workers on organic farms

 

Here is another abbreviation I offer, which in future (actually, even now) will be applicable to shale or coal seam gas fracking, unconventional oil production and the keystone XL pipeline (and also to climate geoengineering attempts if it comes to that):

SLAGIATT = seemed like a good idea at the time

_______

McPherson’s comment: I disagree with essentially nothing in Chia’s essay except the harsh tone and inappropriate attacks on other people. We can quibble about the details, but I’d rather not. I’d like to think we can carry out a civil discussion in this space, regardless how dire the topic.

Comments 148

  • I do not want to poke the lion’s cage, but may be possible for survivors to find mid-level lee (east facing) sided mountainous micro-climates.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-climate

    ===============

    Mitochondrial genetics suggests that just 10-12 women survived the last ice age. So near-human-extinction is not new…
    The Seven Daughters of Eve
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Daughters_of_Eve
    https://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Daughters-Eve-Ancestry/dp/0393323145

    ===============

    That is assuming the atmosphere does not go Venus on us…

  • I just wanted to comment on the whole “people should not be anonymous” thing.

    I think they should. Anonymity brings out the true colors of the individual. When nothing is perceived to be on the line, a person is more inclined to show who they really are. Without consequences, there is not usually any attempted character fakery, whereas when a person is identifiable, they are more prone to filter their true thoughts and emotions to uphold a certain persona.

    Obviously, sometimes anonymous people are character fakes, and sometimes real named people are genuine.

    But in anonymity, you get to really see what a person is like.

    Im for the truth. I want to see people how they are and not how they think they should be. Anonymity generally HELPS greatly with that.

  • “Anonymity brings out the true colors of the individual. When nothing is perceived to be on the line, a person is more inclined to show who they really are.”

    I don’t think this is true for two reasons.

    On the internet, absolutely nothing is on the line in the first place. Which is why trolls exist. Unless you’re a Congressman sending photos of your penis to people, or a clueless thug uploading your latest crime on youtube, there is absolutely nothing at stake online. Zero. Nada. Zip. I use my real name because I want you to know I stand behind what I say. If I call someone an asshole, it’s me, not MysteryGuest99 who is saying it. A name adds weight to an already light area of reasoning.

    Secondly, and I forgot who first said it, but “given the scenario where there are an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of keyboards they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare: Well the internet has completely disproved that.” People go online to be who they are not as well.

    Now then, if you’re in the position where if it were known that you posted on a site advocating the freedom of slavery or whatever and that could get you killed, then sure, using a log-in name makes sense. But can you seriously tell me that if it was known that Into Destiny was really Teddy Thadwacker anyone would know or care? It’s not like having an online name protects you a split second from the NSA either. If the jackbooted thugs decide to cart you away in the middle of the night, chances are it isn’t online posts that have done you in. This is about as inconsequential as it gets. Which is why it is so popular.

  • While anonymity may allow folks to be more open as Into Destiny says, I can’t agree with Grant that except for a few circumstances there is nothing on the line.

    Safety is a concern. I’m 65 yo and the last thing I need in life is to have some kook with a swastika tattooed on his tongue beating me or my dog half to death because I lost my cool and called him a jerkoff online. OFC, on a small blog like this, it is much more unlikely, but I started on Usenet, on a highly charged board, and have always followed the advice I got there.

    I sleep better :)

  • Am I in the minority, who, at some level, sense, that overtly or covertly, forces are at work to sabotage this site, by death of a thousand cuts?

    Or is it more subtle and nuanced, that the cost of delay has reached a point, where the pressure of just being witness to the ongoing decay, is more than just unsettling or grief provoking, it is uncovering our fears and fighting about the inevitable, we as all animals do, are dying, and sooner perhaps than desired, will breathe no more.

    Am I the only one who has read the study by a Japanese Professor, who fed caterpillars food from Fukishima Prefecture, and published his results showing mutations for as many generations as he could raise. That the mutations got worse, with each new attempt at pupating?
    Can anyone miss the consequences for us mammals?

    Does anyone think Fuke exposure will have a 40 year lag from exposure to consequence? Is there any doubt here, that like climate chaos, millions of all species are dying, and Fuke is killing species as fast, and in roughly the same numbers?

    Is lack of what the word exponential means, the same as lack of what ‘lethal at the atomic level’ means? Imagine if someone made a simple dye or smell test for ionizing radiation? After the panic settled, then what?

    But there lay the crux, the word simple. As Ulf states, this topic is exceedingly complex, looming emotional minefields, exposure to ridicule or worse, and those seeking simple solutions, are sources of laughter and even relief, at times, oddly.

    What is not simple, what Guy addresses, but rarely stresses, is just how much hard work, raising any type of food is. Ulf’s summation of just how hard and risky, raising any type of crop or small livestock, is spot on. Ask any small farmer, large gardener, rancher, orchardist, or us beekeepers.

    What do you say to the effort of those who SAY, we can re-localize, grow on small plots, practice permaculture? Even with the urgency of work or die, it takes years of practicing with stable soil, stable and somewhat predictable weather, and good unpolluted water to get any decent results. YEARS. I submit, you have to know the rules, before you can throw out the rule book and wing it.

    Guy speaks of not knowing a zucchini from a screwdriver, prior to starting the ‘mud hut’. I personally admire someone who can speak from EXPERIENCE, as to how hard and long the learning curve was/is. He speaks of how many attempts it would take, to get the results he was seeking. How hard it is to dig ditches in a rock garden for irrigation, by pick and shovel. How just because the sun is down, does not mean chores are over. How falling into bed with exhaustion but a crowded to do list swirling through one’s head, spoils restorative sleep. How boring time spent pulling weeds can be. Then there is the whole matter, of the division of labor amongst his own tribe. Hearing this, compels me to revisit Orlov, “Communities That Abide”. We accept our efforts to find this mythical community or start one, will be met with futility, but we have slowly lost focus on any goal, all we see as being left, is to experience the journey, moment by moment, season to season. At least while we still experience changing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Speculation on my part, but I suspect having ‘soft’ hands in his home turf is the sign of a dilettante, someone who can buy one’s way out of life’s vital chores. Not someone to be taken too seriously, what we in kinder moments call ‘city folk’.

    So I ask myself, “What are the chances of the folks in my online community, who know what’s coming, coming together to mitigate the suffering of all the remaining species, and provide some companionship, maybe comfort, as we rocket off this mortal coil”. Any chance of putting some hyperbolic egos in check, to allow even the timid to get their 2 cents in? Practicing cooperation rather than always, always, competition?

    Then I snap out of it, and answer my own question. Not a fucking chance. Zero, zip, nada, bubkes, tilt, game over, oh, and you don’t get a free play. Sorry, no do overs.

    Yeah, even with looming NTHE, we seem to lack the ability to do much of anything differently. Though I have found much to be nurtured by here, learned many things, experienced the full panoply of emotions by different posts and comments, I cringe with sadness that we, like the biosphere, will perish by our own hands. (keyboards)

    What we will do, and what stories we seek, are those not of being busy dying, or planning on dying. Even if you live in or as if, it is a sacrifice zone, tell us how you live. We live the life we love. We grow a lot of food, raise small livestock, chickens and such. We find solace in things many simple wonders. My mate and I have each others back, and daily remind each other, don’t take any of this for granted. It will go away at any moment.

    It is summer where we live, wood needs cutting and splitting, it takes about 5 cords to get through Winter. More will be needed as we plan on cooking on a wood stove too. The barn roof needs fixing, fences need mending, our to do list has grown into a small binder. Preparations to keep the bear out of the apiary need doing, and plans to keep the deer out of the pea patch too. We have the alternate tools in lieu of FF slaves, but readily admit, lack the stamina of our grandparents.

    I have little to no experience with hospice other than Mom. My partner provided this service for 10 years though, and has shared many of her experiences with me. #1 regret according to her, fears (founded and other) kept folks from pursuing a live of what they loved, sometimes someone they loved, but mostly fear of what other people would think/judge of them. Pathetic perhaps, but fuel for our not taking that path.

    We’d rather not hear who you seek sexual congress with and your personal hygiene or lack thereof. The only censorship I am comfortable with is that I apply to myself. Check with my village, if you call and they tell you the idiot is out strolling around, you’ve been warned.

    bkpr

  • Bob S: But seriously… do you think a guy with a nazi tongue has the ability to track you down if you used your real name? Hell, there’s something like four or five Grant Schreibers in a twenty mile radius of me. And you’re what? Bob Smith? It will take years from him to find you!! With a first name like Bob, you’re already vanishing in the distance. No worries.

    Chances are, the nazi tongued goon that will doom me will be a policeman shooting at a black teen and missing. You’re in far more danger in a parking lot than anything you say or do online, and that’s including posting photos of your latest crime spree.

    It is a deeper mistake believing that the internet holds any lasting impact. Like the human race, the internet is a passing fad. Once the electrical grid goes down both man and machine are not long for the world.

  • Paul f. Getty

    It’s sad to read about the Brazilian tribal elder and the redoubled attempts to destroy his land. It’s always about the land. Land use determines the state of the environment. Nuclear plants are built on land. Oil is extracted from land. Water bodies exist on the land. First world-ers have squandered any right to any land other than where they live and have thereby already destroyed. They must make do with that and leave the rest to nature.

  • bkpr –

    man, I have been loving your posts lately. so much going on in every one. both simple stuff and very deep stuff – both equally wonderful.

    “#1 regret according to her, fears (founded and other) kept folks from pursuing a live of what they loved, sometimes someone they loved, but mostly fear of what other people would think/judge of them.”

    there *are* truly no founded fears. this can take a long long time to learn. that is why we get more than one go at it. a lot more than one go.

    of course there are the natural fears of pain and all kinds of other very real suffering, but for the ego stuff, there is just *nothing* that applies here. ego in all forms is the ultimate multi-dimensional hoax and the inescapable curse. ego needs to know how to make choices, so it can grow its own wings and truly fly free in the spectrum of infinite being – so it trains itself relentlessly in order to become free of all the truly illusory fears, and then it can really get down to business.

    when you say “tell us about how you really live” – I would say “freeing myself from fear, and helping others to do the same” would probably sum up my goals in this lifetime pretty well. I have lived, and try to live today, in a fashion where I can become free of every single one of those illusory fears. I don’t want a trace of that on my death bed (or wherever I drop and rot!) not even the slightest shred.

    so I have re-invented myself and grown out of every layer of new fear that comes my way. constantly pushing through my own internal boundaries – all of which are only there because of one form of fear or another.

    so I am all on board with what you are saying there. part of living any life of excellence in the remaining time we have left has to be living in a state of internal excellence, and that cannot be done if one feels walled in by fear, of any kind.

    I will continue to pursue the life I love, and help others pursue the life they love, and pursue it with every shred of passion and grace I can muster, down to the very end.

    oh yeah, my hands are fairly soft. oh well. I never could stand spending endless hours pulling weeds. just not my thing. :)

    cheers, bkpr!

  • Robin Datta correctly stated an implied point about UV I made earlier. Yes, white-skinned humans evolved white skin to allow greater absorption of sunlight in high latitudes. But now they are maladapted to the atmospheric conditions white-skinned humans have created via industrialism. The white skin gene increases susceptibility to skin cancer, and is a major factor in the soaring skin cancer rates in NZ and Australia, following the enormous drop in ozone levels around the poles associated with ODS, which is especially damaging in the spring.

    Although the Earth would have been rendered uninhabitable by now if the Montreal Protocol had not been generally adopted, it is still unclear how quickly the Earth’s protective shield will ‘heal’ because identified ODS are leaking into the atmosphere continuously and there could well be other ODS yet to be identified. I believe that high-flying aircraft are contributing to ozone depletion up high, and the industrial waste gases emanating from heavily industrialised regions of the world are undoubtedly having a detrimental effect on atmospheric chemistry (in addition to the CO2 factor).

    Those humans wishing to get through the third or fourth bottleneck will probably be faced a nasty choice between high temperatures at low latitudes and high UV at high latitudes.

    On the matter of lying, thanks OzMan for the Tony Abbott interview; he gave the impression of having had lessons from Tony B Liar. Around here we apply the general rule that everything John Key says is a lie or is founded on a lie; the same rule applies to Cameron, Harper, Obama etc.

    We used to be swimming in a sea of lies. But now we are drowning in a sea of lies.

  • Martin:

    Martin,

    Let me join the growing crowd calling you an idiot.

    I know full well you will be erratic and ignorant and therefore have no reason to be on this website. But, “There are no anarchists…” WTF! You must be one of the morons that think an anarchist is a bomb thrower.

    Here is a website with 28 articles on Anarchism. Read and learn something, fool, and stop messing with someone you cannot hold a jockstrap for. Go the hell away.

    http://www.onthisdeity.com/category/anarchists/

  • Next to the statement “I will surely die.” the statement “Humanity is going to die soon, sometime around the end of my natural lifespan.” is somewhat less depressing. I’m not an awful person or a “sheeple”. I’m human. And as Nate Hagens (http://www.themonkeytrap.us/) drilled into me back in The Oil Drum days, I value the present WAY more than some future point. Aside from intellectual curiosity and our vanity, how much do any of us care? I’m more concerned about my high blood pressure than the next El Nino cycle wiping out crops across the world. Frankly, aren’t you?

    So I check out NBL to keep track of the feedback loops piling up, to listen to Guy’s presentations so I can gain insight into his mode of dealing with this and to crib talking points. I turn on what literate friends I have to NBL so they can get a clue as to WHY they have the nagging suspicion that “It’s all” going down the tubes somehow.

    But I’m not expecting anyone to “stop it and save the world”, any more than you would try to stop the tsunami when you see the beach recede. Seek higher ground? Sure. Tell people around you to get running now? If you care too. Blame and abase yourself for a force set in motion before your birth? If you enjoy sitting in it. But form a movement and build an Ark? Uhm, not to be rude, but keep stroking.

    Sure, I live in America on a carbon budget lower than most Europeans. I’ve given up flying, but will still travel for work and relatives. But what motives I have to altruism and kindness, willingness to help other humans, is rooted firmly in those individuals I have daily contact with. The impermanence of their lifestyle and probably their lives makes them no less significant. If you doubt this let the air out of your lungs, and you will find reasons to simply breath in will abound.

    So please, as you consider out collective predicament, please remember that “we” — you, this writer, those who read your posts, the “sheeple” who can’t or won’t even entertain future scenarios and those who will never touch a computer because they are not part of the this planet-eating civiliation — We matter. Like us, hate us, hold us in contempt, blame us, covet us, curse us. We matter. So please direct your words in ways that will truly matter.

    BTW, on the 0.01% probability of mass extinction averted, remember that the largest Maximum has not sent the planet to Venus. While we are unaware of mechanisms of the climate to which we are headed, there will probably be cumulative negative feedback loops that will keep mean temps to within a range of what has so far existed. Maybe less. As surely has the positive feedback loops, in their individual form continue to surprise us, the negative loops are predictable even if we can not yet identify them. Granted, these yet unknown negative feedbacks aren’t going to keep Netflix under $10 /month. They will probably not begin to kick in until long after humanity has learned more than a little humility. But to assume that all mammilian life is toast is premature. But Guy is reporting the facts, and that’s what I want — not “hopeful” speculation. After all, I’m going to die anyway. I just want help those I care for adjust. What do you want?

  • Here’s for all you fellow hanger-on’ers – hope it gets you off.

    Best Canadian band ever!

  • @bkpr.

    Yes.

    I could no longer stand the toxic conditions of Auckland (I never wanted to be there but circumstances led me there)and left in 2006, with the intention of establishing some kind of sustainability here in New Plymouth.

    Many of the trees and shrubs I planted died; some because it turned out to be too cold for them, others quite mysteriously. I shifted trees to better spots and replaced dead ones with other. Many have thrived and are now productive; but it has taken 7 years. And, although I have improved the soil quality considerably, there is still more to be done.

    A handful of people have changed direction and are working towards similar semi-sustainable arrangements as a consequence of waking up. But the vast majority of people I have come into contact with over the past 7 years have done nothing at all to prepare for the crisis which has now arrived. Even as the meltdown of the economic system and the environment accelerate they continue to attempt to live as they did in the past, and to reject the truth about everything, apparently irretrievably trapped in the Matrix.

  • Tim Bloom,
    ‘the negative loops are predictable even if we cannot yet identify them’ When you
    have evidence of these negative feedback loops,please inform the readers here.This quote could could serve as definition of wishful thinking.
    Tom,
    Good comment.I agree with most of it.There will be numerous attempts to devise systems to avoid what is coming,and I don”t object to any of it. People have to do something with their time,and none of us will ever know if those attempts were successful. Regarding RE,I think everyone here knows his position.Also he has his own blog,so anyone who is interested can go there.I think we have too many of his essays,maybe one every 4 months would be sufficient.
    However,I can appreciate Guy’s position in that he has to have an essay every week or two to keep the blog running,and no doubt at times RE’s essays are useful.

  • http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/06/03/wtc-7-now-proven-case-controlled-demolition/

    WTC 7 Now A Proven Case Of Controlled Demolition

    June 1, 2014 –The 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel – which includes physicists, chemists, engineers, commercial pilots, attorneys and lawyers – today announced three new studies confirming the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7.

    The studies scientifically refute the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim that, for the first time in history, fire caused the sudden and complete collapse of a large, fire-protected, steel-framed building on 9/11.

    (Note that whereas the Consensus Panel uses a scientific methodology to peer-review its work, the NIST report was not peer-reviewed.)

    The first Panel study deals with the NIST computer simulations, which purported to show that fire-induced thermal expansion caused a girder to be pushed off its seat at Column 79, thereby initiating a global collapse of the entire 47-story building at 5:21 in the afternoon. http://www.consensus911.org/point-wtc7-5/

    However, a recent FOIA request has produced WTC 7 architectural drawings showing that the NIST simulations omitted basic structural supports that would have made this girder failure impossible.

    [not to re-open the whole “hornets nest”, but read the rest]

  • @ p.a.turner

    Hello.

    I’d call your comment re Chia’s essay a good example of ‘damning with faint praise’.

    But re this

    p.s. I recently spent a few weeks pondering this question, “Is there anything on earth that wouldn’t be better off if humans were gone” I still haven’t come up with anything.

    I can come up with plenty.

    There are all the thousands of animals, birds, trees and plants which humans have domesticated which cannot survive in the absence of humans.

    Then there are the thousands of wild species which have co-evolved with humans and which depend upon habitats which humans have created.

    As I have attempted to explain many times, without any success, there are no ‘natural’ systems in Britain or even in Europe. The whole surface of the continent is un-natural, the product of human interference over the last several millennia.

    There is an example of an artificial system, created by humans, East Baltic, where biodiversity is/was as great as anywhere else on Earth.

    Removing the humans from such a system does not improve it, it degrades and destroys it.

    It’s not the people, as such. It’s the numbers of people, and how they behave. That is, their culture. That’s the problem. People lived for three thousand years in that area and had everything they needed. The environment wasn’t trashed, biodiversity increased to an extraordinary degree.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Rewilding Witchcraft

  • Ulvfugl,
    Your memory is correct.I remember who made the comment,and remember being outraged and surprised that no one jumped on him.At that stage I rarely if ever commented,and remember being angry at myself later,thinking ,well who are you to be angry at others,you should have jumped on him yourself..

  • @ david higham

    Yes.

    I have not yet commented on the Guy and Martin exchange.

    I take some guidance from other anarchist groups where similar constant strife is seen.

    One very useful rule that someone came up with is ‘Whoever has done the work is the boss’. That means, if you’re the person who cooked the fucking meal for everyone, then you get to say how it gets served.

    This is Guy’s blog. He PAYS for it and does the work to keep the show on the road. He can publish anything he wants, good, bad, indifferent, for whatever reason, he doesn’t need to justify it, or put up with crap.

    I have no idea what Martin was talking about, re ‘people making clicking sounds’, and I really don’t think it’s interesting enough to investigate. I have no idea what he’s trying to say, other than expressing some resentment. The points he makes re loyalty, etc, seem absurd.

    In my scheme of values, respect has to be earned, it can’t just be demanded. Guy has my respect. That’s why I’m here.

    Same goes for disrespect. People can earn that too.

    This is a new angle on Ukraine I had not considered. I don’t think it is THE origin, but could well be a part of the picture

    In fact, the war in Ukraine has its origins in, believe it or not, the honey bee. The little insect that carries a massively important role – feeding us. The bee pollinates crops, and without bees we starve. That sums it up. Bees are so important in fact that Russia had to export bees to the US, because the US bee population was in radical decline. Russia blamed the decline of the bees on genetically modified crops (GMO). Specifically, Russia accused Monsanto of killing off the bees by use of a neuro-toxin, derived from nicotine, in its crops. The issue boiled over when, last year, US President Obama passed a bill that has been nicknamed the “Monsanto Protection Act”. Essentially, a bill protecting Monsanto from civil suits in the US over it’s use of GMOs. Putin was so infuriated with Obama he made John Kerry wait for three hours for a scheduled diplomatic meeting. Putin also indicated that the issue could lead to world war.

    Ukraine fits into this picture as the “bread basket” of Europe. It’s massive fields and rich soil have made it a market for Monsanto, Cargill, and Dow. Until now, companies like Cargill produced seed in Ukraine, but not GMO seed. That is banned by Ukrainian law. The prominence of GMOs therefore stopped at the Polish border – some distance from Russia. The European Union itself had banned GMOs, but that has since changed – and that is key.

    With the overthrow of the previous President, based primarily on not agreeing to sign an EU association agreement, the new authorities in Kiev have been pushing toward signing the agreement. That agreement will require Ukraine to allow practices like GMOs. That places GMOs right on Russia’s border, and directly affects the purity of its crops and, more importantly, the famous Russian honey bee. Yet it seems like such a small thing to bring the world to the brink of war over. However, look at the ramifications of it.

    http://rocksolidpolitics.blogspot.ca/2014/06/ukraine-bee-war.html

    https://rt.com/news/165608-gm-crops-eu-deal/

  • Hope Springs Eternal

    I’m into this doomer thing deep,
    But there still are some hopes that I keep:
    Like, before we all fry,
    I hope that I die
    Quietly while I’m asleep.

  • Thank you Martin and Ulvfugi for serving as a voice of reason.

    Maybe I am just old and old fashioned, but the hallmark of a principled individual is loyalty. Indeed, my thinking of Ulv has evolved as I learned to respect and admire his brutal honesty and loyalty to Guy McPherson. Although Ulv does not want me to feel this way, I felt truly sorry that he was forced to endure Chia’s disgusting commentary, and I was disappointed that Guy would allow this unknown loser to engage in such revolting behavior. No, it’s even worse. Chia is a cowardly terrorist. He fire bombs this community then slithers back into his troll’s lair without being required to be accountable.

    Furthermore, is Chia serious that he does not understand why TBTB do not take him seriously? When I read his ark fantasy I realized that he plagiarized the idea, chapter and verse, from the James Bond production of “Moonraker”. And Chia wonders why?

    Finally, I have no problem admitting when I am mistaken. Ulv, without reservation I am truly sorry for my inaccurate comments. I hope that you can find room in your heart to forgive me.

  • Apologies for breaking the 2 comment rule with this short statement.

    @ Friedrich Kling

    I hope that you can find room in your heart to forgive me.

    Easily, Friedrich. So thank you for that handsome apology. I understand that you are a proud man with a strong sense of honour and what you believe to be correct conduct. I think my values and beliefs are very different from yours, but we can shake hands, virtually, and reach some mutual understanding here. Please forget the harsh words and insults. We both love forests more than we can say, and that is something we both share in our hearts.

  • FriedrichKling –

    I don’t think you are old fashioned, but I would say the loyalty has to be well placed. criminal loyalty to other criminals, aka American politics, is not really doing much to help the concept of loyalty.

    Guy –

    happily going over my post limit today to draw attention to the fact the Chia’s apparently libelous comment about Mr. Kling still stands. there is no reason that should not have come down within half an hour if Chia can’t produce proof. what the hell is the problem? leaving that crap up on your blog for so long now is just fucked up.

    posting that essay in the first place was just fucked up, but that’s a whole ‘nother sad story. I really don’t care if this is your kitchen. serving up poison to your guests is always a bad idea.

  • @ulvfugl

    I have not come across the bee theory before but the destabilisation of Ukraine has been attributed to US desire to:

    1. gain access to a large amount of land for planting genetically modified crops and increase the market for US-produced chemicals associated with growing GE food.

    2. gain access to potential fracking sites (the Jo Biden connection)

    3. buy up coal mines and factories for pennies on the dollar and make speculative profits.

    4. facilitate the stationing of US missiles close to the Russian border in order that a first-strike nuclear attack could be more readily accomplished.

    5. block Russian access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean

    6. bring down Russia before Russia demolishes US global fiat currency hegemony.

    Two people I spoke with yesterday thought I had lost my mind when I suggested that what they were being presented with by the NZ government and the corporate media was pure propaganda, and that Russia had not actually invaded Crimea a couple of months ago, and that much of the current mess originated from mercenaries paid by the US government to cause trouble.

    By the way, I hear there is much money to be made exporting bees to Canada, where they tend to die rather quickly.

    I think you need to reconsider your statement:

    ‘There is an example of an artificial system, created by humans, East Baltic, where biodiversity is/was as great as anywhere else on Earth.

    Removing the humans from such a system does not improve it, it degrades and destroys it.’

    The aftermath of Chernobyl suggests that, despite the hazard of radiation, wildlife has thrived enormously as a consequence of humans removing themselves from the vicinity.

    (Having gone through the insults grinder not too long ago on Collapse of Industrial Civilisation, I am happy to leave it to others to sort out the politics of posting commenting. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see further conformation of what I maintained and what Mike Lee refused to accept -that concrete and steel buildings do not fall the ground at free-fall speed as a consequence of short-lived, low temperature fires.)

  • Loyalty is a dynamic process.

    The threefold surrender:

    Buddham saranam gacchami
    (I take refuge in the Buddha)

    Dharmam saranam gacchami
    (I take refuge in the Dharma)

    Sangham saranam gacchami
    (I take refuge in the Sangha)

    It is natural to gravitate towards looming personalities as guides in conduct. One is indeed fortunate if one comes across such a guide who embodies and imparts the principles of righteous conduct.

    Once one has perceived the principles of righteous conduct, one’s loyalty focuses on the principles expressed through that personality: not on the window, but on the light it lets through.

    Once the principles are acquired one’s loyalty and focus is on the community that is maintained through the practice and application of those principles. One can proceed with all the tasks that are facilitated by the illumination coming through the window.

  • Martin makes PERFECT sense. Martin is thoroughly grounded in reality and he understands how life works:

    “Apparently you are as dense as Friedrich thinks you are, because Guy, by publishing Jeffrey’s broadside against the regulars, is sanctioning a big fuck you to the readership even if he demurs on the style.

    Guy, loyalty is a two-way street, dude.”

    Martin, I am afraid that I am unable to add any additional wisdom to this brilliant commentary, which perfectly sums-up my feelings. People would be well advised to heed this logical and sensible approach to life. You are wise beyond your years.

  • @ F. Kling, Martin, others

    Look, the Title is ‘A Critique of Mcpherson and NBL hangers-on’.

    If Guy wants to publish an essay by someone that criticises him, and the commentators, then WHY NOT ?

    He could have done the same for that Scott Johnson. ‘Where Mcpherson gets it all wrong’. Meant to stimulate discussion.

    I mean, what would happen if Chia had written an essay saying how brilliant Guy is and how great we all are ? Everybody would be complaining about sycophancy and hero worship.

    Surely, the people here are capable of defending themselves aren’t they ? Or do others have to do it for them ?

    The only part that’s contentious here, imo, is the ‘immature people attack people’ bit. It gets very boring and childish. It is much more interesting to argue about interesting ideas.

    Trouble is, Chia didn’t present any very interesting ideas.

    Anyway… I’ve exceeded my quota now, dammit.

    @ kevin

    I think you need to reconsider your statement:

    ‘There is an example of an artificial system, created by humans, East Baltic, where biodiversity is/was as great as anywhere else on Earth.

    Removing the humans from such a system does not improve it, it degrades and destroys it.’

    The aftermath of Chernobyl suggests that, despite the hazard of radiation, wildlife has thrived enormously as a consequence of humans removing themselves from the vicinity.

    Let me try to explain. This is tremendously important, re the theory.

    People assume that ‘unspoiled’ natural areas, without human interference, are richer in species than areas occupied by people.

    This is indeed generally true. People typically trash their environment and reduce it’s quality, both for themselves and all other species.

    But it is not always true. And the exceptions are incredibly important to understand. The Amazon rainforest is NOT NATURAL. There was a huge population of Indians living there who created the damn thing, they had vast networks of villages and towns. They didn’t destroy the forest, they co-existed and planted the forest the way they wanted it. They all DIED when Europeans brought diseases and killed them off. So then the myth arose that it was an uninhabited ‘natural’ wilderness.

    Similar examples in S E Asia.

    Back to Eastern Baltic. I’m not talking about Chernobyl. I’m talking about the agricultural systems that the people developed over 3 or 4 thousand years, made up of small hay meadows, separated by woodland.
    The people living in the farms and villages had a very rich peasant culture, with amazing festivals, clothes, architecture, etc.

    The wildlife, fauna and flora, ended up, after the 3 or 4 thousand years, being much more species-rich than if the people had not been living there !

    They had wolves, bears, etc, in the forests, and migratory storks nesting on the chimneys of all the houses, etc, etc.

    So, if THEY could do it, then, THEORETICALLY, it can be done.

    That’s why this is important. It disproves the thesis that so many put forward, that humans are always doomed to wreck their environment and kill off all the other species.

    And those people were not SCIENTISTS. Most scientists are too dumb, specialised, arrogant and over-educated to comprehend the significance of this information.

    Trouble is, now capitalism HAS trashed the whole thing.

    The maximum recorded and published number of vascular plant species on a 1×1 m plot has been found in a meadow steppe site, in a forest steppe region of the Central Chernozem Nature Reserve (Strelets Steppe). In 1962, six plots with species numbers 61, 77, 80, 80, 84, and 87, were recorded in a mown community. There also exists unpublished data about a 1×1 m plot of 88 species in a traditional slightly grazed mountain meadow of Argentina. These are the only sites known in the world where the small-scale species richness exceeds that of Estonian wooded meadows.

    Obviously, such richness of plant life leads to corresponding abundance of insects, and then birds, and so on.

    http://zbi.ee/~kalevi/wooded.htm

  • ulvfugl

    Okay, I see where you are coming from.

    New Zealand offers a wonderful example of increased biodiversity as a consequence of the arrival of humans from distant lands. The Polynesians who arrived a millennium of so ago brought numerous exotic species, and the Europeans brought hundreds of species of fauna and flora, including rabbits, goats, various kinds of deer, ferrets, weasels, possums, wallabies, horses, cows, sheep (dozens of breeds), pigs, thistle, gorse, kikuyu, blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows, pheasants, and a multitude of fruit trees, crops and grains….

    Some of the native species were wiped out by humans, and most became severely restricted in numbers and range while many of the introduced species proliferated to the point of becoming severe pests.

    The establishment of commercial deer farming saw number in the wild decline rapidly (along with the damage they were doing). Rabbits became so numerous they threatened sheep farming until numbers were reduced by deliberate introduction of disease. Possums remain a huge problem. NZ is constantly criticised for its liberal use of use of 1080, sodium fluoro-acetate, in the form of carrot or pellet bait, which causes a slow painful death to all mammals (and for which there is no cure).

    Horses which escaped or were released long ago formed a weird exotic group in that they are blamed for much destruction of the ecology of the central North Island where they roam free but are officially protected, with occasional culling.

    Needless to say, the lack of introduced wolves, foxes, lynx, harks, eagles etc. has thrown NZ biodiversity well out of balance.

    Interestingly, most of the potential sites for mid-term survival were converted into sheep stations around 150 years ago, and their ecology has been well and truly messed up.

  • Ulvfugl
    Your comment above is interesting.I would just like to add that in case some readers forget,the diverse megafauna of North America and Australia became extinct not long after the invasion of humans into those ecosystems.
    Also,I think the underlying reason for the monumental devastation of the biodiversity today is human access to to fossil fuels . The human population was relatively stable until we started utilising coal,then started rising rapidly ,and continued rapidly rising as petroleum was added to the energy we used so lavishly,as if there could never be an to the party.Energy is the master resource.Of course lavish consumption encouraged by capitalism means its effects are worse,we shouldn’t forget the great environmental disasters in the USSR.(The huge debacle of the Aral sea, for example .)Large human populations in an Industrial Civilisation powered by fossil fuels is the underlying problem.
    I won’ be able to comment again for one or two days.

  • Ulv,

    Chia does indeed have every right to present his James Bond inspired ark proposal; however, when he stoops to, “lies, abuses of free speech and groundless ad hominum attacks”, than he is besmirching the reputation of good people and this language must be “edited out”. By the way, the quotations are Chia’s own hypocritical words. Don’t you see that Chia is using Guy to engage in personal invective to further his own selfish agenda? By allowing Chia’s words to stand Guy is implicitly supporting Chia’s repellent and self-serving purpose, although to Guy’s credit he has now removed Chia’s personal insults.

    Who anointed a Brisbane cardiologist as grand high pooh-bah to sit in judgement of all?

    It is the duty of all good people to maintain the good standing of their friends and allies. It’s called LOYALTY.

  • Finally, Martin asks a straightforward question. Yes, I’m hung up on hierarchy, notably patriarchy. I think it’s evil, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly. But Martin doesn’t read what I write, he just reaches unfounded conclusions based on ignorance. And he’s a name-calling liar.” – Guy

    I think you are correct about patriarchy.

    There is some very interesting history that may explain some of the religious patriarchy’s historical influence against sound environmental policies.

    The largest religious organization was subverted from peaceful concepts into unspeakable violence, which also had a negative impact on the concept of peace with the Earth. On The Origin of the Crusader Pathogen

    I will note that there is a ray of hope in that the current Pope says damaging the environment to the point of causing global warming induced climate change is a sin.

  • “Human history has largely been that of warfare and conquest, however there have been instances of voluntary retreat and contraction. .. My point is this: there were examples where empires chose to voluntarily contract, rather than to overextend then collapse. Gentle philosophies can tame violent and murderous tribes and supercede the paradigms of violence and domination.”

    Anyone sharing the above philosophy is invited to sign up to implementing an international Ecology of Peace social contract (which restricts all nations citizens to breeding and consuming below carrying capacity limits). The deadline for supporters to sign up to President Putin and Obama’s Ecology of Peace Amendment of the Geneva Convention is 11 September 2014. Sign up at http://www.navyjag-humint.co.nr.

  • http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/06/senior-nsa-manager-demolishes-intelligence-agencies-excuse-911.html

    Senior NSA Executive DEMOLISHES Intelligence Agencies’ Excuse for 9/11

    9/11 Should Have Been Stopped

    The U.S. government pretended that 9/11 was unforeseeable.

    But overwhelming evidence shows that 9/11 was foreseeable. Indeed, Al Qaeda crashing planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was itself foreseeable.

    The fallback government position is that the problem was that intelligence agencies were prohibited by law from sharing intelligence, because there was a “Chinese Wall” put up between agencies focusing on foreign and domestic threats.

    Washington’s Blog spoke with senior NSA executive Thomas Drake about this claim.

    9/11 was Drake’s first day on the job at the NSA. Drake was tasked with investigating what intelligence NSA had on the 9/11 plot, in order to document that 9/11 wasn’t NSA’s fault. However, Drake discovered that NSA had a lot of information on the hijackers, and could have stopped 9/11 had it shared its data with other intelligence agencies.

    Drake’s NSA bosses didn’t like that answer, so they removed Drake from his task of being the NSA’s investigator and spokesman regarding 9/11.

    Here’s what Drake told us.

    WASHINGTON’S BLOG: A lot of people blame a “Chinese Wall” between foreign intelligence activities and domestic intelligence activities for not sharing the pre-9/11 data.

    THOMAS DRAKE: That is a completely false “wall.” It was essentially to protect the status quo, or what they call “equities.”

    It’s not true at all.

    WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Was it a turf war?

    THOMAS DRAKE: Yes, it’s partly that. People have this idea that the government is all powerful, all-knowing, and everybody is in league with each other.

    That’s not true. In fact – in this space – you more often than not find agencies at war with each other, effectively. Such that NSA is at war with Congress to keep them in the dark about what they’re really doing.

    “I have knowledge, you don’t.” Information is power. “If I give it to you, then I’m giving away my power, and I’m not going to do it!”

    Information is a currency. “Why would I give you my money. And I don’t know what you’re going to do with it. I don’t know how you’re going to spend it. I don’t know how you’re going to invest it. You may convert it, because money is fungible.”

    Information is far more fungible even than traditional definitions of money.

    I’ve never accepted the premise or the arguments. I’m aware that [9/11 Commissioner] Jamie Gorelick [who has potential conflicts of interest in the subject matter], for example, is a well-known defender who kept saying that the “wall” was there when, in fact, there wasn’t a wall.

    And we had special procedures where you had known ways to go through the wall when it was necessary.

    Here’s the hypocrisy … It is true that in terms of separation between [domestic] law enforcement and normal causal chain of evidence, and information that was collected for intelligence purposes. But that’s not a wall as much as it’s due process.

    Remember, what’s now used is parallel construction. [Background.] So, what was the wall again?

    Intelligence is always carefully vetted for that reason. But if you’re talking U.S. domestic law, U.S. judicial process, due process, you couldn’t just take [raw] intelligence.

    But here’s the kicker … If you believed that the intelligence rose to the level someone who has a U.S. person was involved in acts or planning to harm the United States, then the wall disappears, and there are actual procedures for that.

    When you’re dealing with U.S. persons, then you had these procedures in which you could actually present [evidence for the need to target terrorists or other actual bad guys.] That was the whole thing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    WASHINGTON’S BLOG: If they’re actual bad guys, then you can go after them.

    THOMAS DRAKE: Yes! And you had mechanisms where you actually end up putting them on trial. You have mechanisms where you can introduce that as evidence.

    It wasn’t like, “Oh, we can’t tell anybody.” That’s the reason they didn’t want to tell anybody … because they’re actually abusing the system.

    There isn’t a “wall” … it’s because there’s due process. With foreign intelligence, we had standing procedures.

    We’ve tried bad people … in Article III courts. You didn’t have to do the rendition stuff. And you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to be put on trial.

    For a short, must-watch interview with Drake and other high-level intelligence officials on agency turf wars, check this out:

    ___________

    i’m debating dropping my last two comments on COIC. I don’t think it will change Mike’s mind about the events and their interpretation.

  • Been thinking about the guts, as I see it, of this critique, as it applies to me, anyway, as a ‘hanger on’ (looked up the definition of that and one that I found was quite unflattering having to do with ass wiping, ewww!), well before the posting of this essay or even having found this site for that matter. What attracts me to NTHE or 2012 before it? I wasn’t filled with doom over Y2K. Would I have been if I were in the same place I am now only earlier? When Y2K was all the rage, I was graduating law school and in my first job as a lawyer, up on the 20th floor of a downtown Philadelphia high rise, imaging myself a success. I hadn’T yet had the experience of working closely with corporathe psychopaths, witnessing 9/11, or finding myself coming unglued by just how’s repugnant humanity or at least a healthy subset of it was fast becoming. Did I merely come to embrace doom out of some sense of my own as an undeniable loser at the game of life, such as it is? Certainly, at least one ambitious former friend of mine saw it thus. Was my escape into the esoteric and metaphysical nothing more than that? Did the fact that it ultimately led me to a much deeper understanding of the unsavory realities of the ‘real world’ actually redeem it as something more purposeful than just a retreat from same? Or, the fact that it has left me to find others of like mind who have helped to save my sanity? I don’t think these questions have answers. This is my journey. I’ve also come to a better understanding as to what had me resisting in ways all along. No one can say for sure what the future holds, but I’d like to believe some purpose remains to this learning, that somewhere, somehow there will be an opportunity for this learning from our mistakes to not again repeat them, but just like what led to this point, it is largely a mystery. I don’t see any particular purpose to any one of us being unduly hard on ourselves as to our process that led to us being here or saying what we have to say whatever it is. I did ask ayahuasca whether I am projecting and the response, wherever it came from, was ‘what, for being aware?’ Indeed, that’s all any of us really is – awareness. The name calling is what I believe is immature. It has no particular purpose other than perhaps to make the one doing it feel better, i.e. selfish pleasure.

  • Two free books on anarchy:

    •Everyday Anarchy
    •Practical Anarchy

    FromFreeDomainainRadio Books

  • Indeed, that’s all any of us really is – awareness.

    Awareness, without an “of”. An Unconditional Being of Nothingness, not accessible through a knowing of nothingness.

    All else is conditional upon that awareness, the awareness conditioned by “of”. Aware “of” the “I” and aware “of” the “not-I”.

  • Mo Flow wrote: “I really don’t care if this is your kitchen. Serving up poison to your guests is always a bad idea.”

    I respectfully disagree, of course. What a strange analogy: comparing Guy’s providing a sanctuary for (relatively) free speech with poisoning food. (In writing this, I feel close to certain that most people would have responded to the Chia essay just as they did, even without the unfortunate libelous comment.) I do not have so much naïvete as to believe that anyone can run a website such as this with NO censorship, but I think that having a “loyal” thought police in place to assure that an essayist writes only what most or a few readers wish to hear carries far, far more dangers than policies that lie as close as possible to the free speech end of the censorship/free speech continuum. But perhaps my motives for reading and writing here differ significantly from the motives of some others. I do not come here primarily, or even significantly, to find others who agree with me so that we can support each other in our beliefs and exclude those who disagree with us. My motives relate more to Carl Sagan’s idea that “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

  • O/T

    @Wren

    Please get my e-mail from Guy. I just spent a good chunk of time responding to your comment on the last thread, but there was an error when I tried to post it to the forum. It was eaten up, as far as I can tell. Maybe I can try again another time. I wanted to at least thank you for the kind regards. I really appreciate it!

  • I’ve been following NBL for close to year now, ever since coming across one of his lectures on Youtube.

    My formal education ended with high school almost 40 years ago, and everything that I read and enjoy reading about science, philosophy, economics, politics…the state of the world etc. is part of my gradual exploration of subjects like ecology, climate change, resource scarcity from picking up a series of general reader-level books on these subjects over the years.

    To get to the point – as I started becoming convinced of the reality of global warming and its consequences 8 to 10 years ago, my greatest frustration has been with the combination of dire predictions/hopeful outcomes written in popular books on the subject by the likes of Bill McKibben, and the great chasm between how they see the future…especially the changes we are almost certainly locked in to/compared to the typical windmills&sunshine green capitalism prescription for saving a future for our children!

    Before I first came across Dr. McPherson, I was looking for someone exactly like him: someone who would entertain the likelihood that the IPCC projections err grossly on the positive side, and give us some straight talk for a change on what the likely future is at the end of this century and beyond (a lot of environmentalist books on the subject seem to end at the year 2100 for some reason). And Guy McPherson was the first one I came across that didn’t pull any punches(I have found some other voices in the wilderness since then that share a similar message).

    I think the McKibben’s are popular now for the same reason that Al Gore was the great leader of environmental activism 10 years ago: they don’t challenge the present economic system/but instead embrace capitalism and tell us an absurdity: an economic system based on exponential growth, can be green and solve our ecological problems!

    The main reason why I am inclined to side with McPherson and the doomers, is because of the unexpectedly hostile and vigorous reaction against even the most minor attempts to reduce our carbon outputs: cap&trades and carbon taxes by the billionaire oligarchs of the world. Even the corporations not directly profiting from carbon have acted like one of their oxes is being gored when the coal, oil and gas industries are targeted in modest ways to reduce their impacts.

    Even if we didn’t get the hard pushback from the Exxons and the Koch Industries etc., our debt-financed economic system would still be pushing for growth that would negate whatever gains were made by alternative energy options and other big green ideas.

    So my skepticism and pessimism is centered on the basic problem of human psychology, because, even as we can clearly see changes in our weather and follow increasing signs of permanent change to the climate, the vast majority of people are still locked in to the present system that provides them with their living and will find ways to resist change. If reminded of what our children and grandchildren will be facing at the mid-century mark, they will either start denying climate change or more likely – deny the full impacts of that change on our future.

    I have to admit here that I was in such a hurry to post a comment because of limited time, that I’ve only read half of Geoffrey Chia’s post so far. From what I have so far, if Chia has an argument to make that we are doomers if we err on the side of human extinction, I can come to the opposite conclusion that he fits in that category of unjustified optimism for looking for loopholes in a 7 to 12 degree C future of further warming!

    I’ll just give one objection to finding hope that a few survivors can have the ingenuity to eke out a permanent living on Tierra del Fuego etc.: decline in oxygen levels!
    Books I have read from paleontologists such as Peter D. Ward on the great dying – Permian-Triassic Extinction, show evidence now of a fairly rapid three stage extinction process that almost wiped out everything higher than microbial life, mainly because oxygen levels dropped so low as the carbon levels in the atmosphere rose so high – that oxygen levels at sea level were equivalent to living at 30,000 feet altitude. It’s doable sure, but consider the hydrogen sulfide gas the few surviving creatures had to breath in at the time also, and the odds of continued survival would keep dropping as the years went by until carbon levels started coming down to normal thousands of years later.

    There’s a point that James Lovelock made in his books on Gaia Theory – that if we accept the premise that the biosphere functions as a self-sustaining organism, the massive dieoffs and extinctions disrupt all of the necessary support systems to keep the biosphere functioning.

    At some point, I think we have to resign ourselves to consider that people are either willing or capable of seeing through the fog of capitalist brainwashing we presently are overloaded with, or we have consigned the future to one of human extinction. The only question I have remaining about Dr. McPherson, is how he can be sure that 2030 is the likely end times. It’s possible that cascading effects of positive feedbacks are going to rapidly escalate the extinction process, but my own uneducated bias leads me to question whether it can happen that rapidly…or maybe the longer it takes the better! Thanks again for providing this blog and all of the material contributed so far for those of us who prefer hard truth to false optimism.

  • I’ve posted a new essay by a first-time contributor. And there’s more, too. Catch it all here.

  • hey Bud –

    thanks for the respect! that meaning of that word – respect – was at the core my biggest objection to the essay. (an objection I can leave in the past now that Guy has set things right.)

    “the universe as it really is” demands my ultimate respect. this is just a choice of attitude on my part, for a lot of reasons. I think the universe is actually pretty mysterious about what it *really* wants, if anything at all, from me.

    this essay lacked respect for a lot of things I consider very close to my heart. I don’t think I need to go any deeper than that. it just felt like a poison to those things, to me personally. or at least a really (really) awful stew. :)

    looking forward to your essay here!

    happily strange, with Peace & Love To All
    ~mo~flow~

  • I am puzzled by this. My partner likes to travel. I don’t think she gets terribly excited by puttering around the yard. I’d just as soon stay home and never go out. I take great pleasure in staying in one place like a tree and having time work its magic on me.

    I saw a video of Chernobyl taken 25 years later. The wildlife was thriving. Wild animals, whose numbers had escalated, were taking refuge in crumbling wooden buildings. If some architectural feature fell to the ground, there was no one to pick it up. Despite being tested and found with high radiation levels, the animals looked and behaved as if in the pink of health (despite considerable mutation evident in some).

    But I’m naïve and ill-informed about the broader issues of human absence from nature. A land expert on TV spoke about the ubiquitous ponderosa/pinon/cypress-covered hills of the regional New Mexican landscape where I live. While I’d hitherto taken the hand-wringing position that the trees are dying, the trees are dying(!), I learn that the trees are there only because traditional grazers (I don’t remember which) are no longer present to support a different kind of ecology (savannah?) that should be there instead. Another presenter spoke of the need to thin the forest so as to avoid the worst effects of wildfires. And I saw a clip where the forest that was thinned on one side of the road survived the wildfire that the forest not thinned on the other did not. I don’t know whether small groups of off-road, off-grid communities scattered throughout forests, to thin them while using their products to survive, would be a good idea. There is very little that is truly wild these days, so why not?

    But Chernobyl 25 years later strongly indicates that nature can deal with nuclear catastrophe better than it can with human interventions like deforestation, building roads, parking lots, houses, etc. And there remains the puzzle as to how well forests can cope without humans all together. The scientific evidence at Chernobyl conforms to my aesthetic preference for land to be devoid of human presence. As far as I know. I’m not even scratching the surface here. Images I’ve seen of balanced and sustainable human-influenced agricultural landscape strike me as too hard, forced and barren looking. But in another frame of mind, I even enjoy images of denuded, grassy English countryside lined with hedgerows. I suppose I like the landscape either as an avowed artifact or as close to wild as possible. Aesthetically speaking. AFAIK.

    Humans in small numbers who have coexisted with forests can evidently increase biodiversity. Providing it was extremely minimalist, I’d be interested in investigating such a model. That might be close to how forest aborigines live today. What I don’t question is the incompatibility with wilderness of conventional property development, with its market driven motives and insensitivity to the natural setting, especially through the building of roads.

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/12/31/chernobyl-wildlife/

    http://www.euronews.com/2012/05/01/signs-of-radiation-recovery-in-chernobyl-wildlife/

    If there weren’t roads, I wouldn’t be able to drive through the forests and wouldn’t know about them. Would I be better off for that? Would the forests? I suspect so in the latter case. None of this is clear, which supports my idea that the lay of the land should be generally maintained just the way it is. Wouldn’t we be well served by a long moratorium on change? When in doubt, don’t. And we’re right up against cliff, dithering in the face of catastrophe. Isn’t it time to stop and consider how our physical environment, reflecting as it does the choices we have made, can guide us?

    What tends to happen is thoughtless action. Nobody doubts that they know the answers. To the contrary, if we admit to not knowing the answers, what would we do? I would like here to suggest a tentative physical and behavioral program for the doubters, those who accept doubt and uncertainty. Do no harm to the physical world. While the biological and cultural preservation communities evaluate what is worthy for preservation, and what is not, I propose that they preserve everything feasible instead. The framework for preservation would thereby change. (One would understand the need to alter whatever entities were causing direct, obvious threats to sentient beings, those threats over which there was broad consensus.)

    So I envisage transferring energy away from that now used to preserve some things as opposed to other things (with the resulting interminable and fractious debates and fights) onto vigorous, rigorous programs to preserve the entire fabric of the natural and cultural environment. I find it easier and more energizing to tackle big things. Such an endeavor is also consistent with the “hopelessness” for “success” of whatever program, big or small, is attempted. Why not go for broke?

  • I am puzzled by this. My partner likes to travel. I don’t think she gets terribly excited by puttering around the yard. I’d just as soon stay home and never go out. I take great pleasure in staying in one place like a tree and having time work its magic on me.

    I saw a video of Chernobyl taken 25 years later. The wildlife was thriving. Wild animals, whose numbers had escalated, were taking refuge in crumbling wooden buildings. If some architectural feature fell to the ground, there was no one to pick it up. Despite being tested and found with high radiation levels, the animals looked and behaved as if in the pink of health (despite considerable mutation evident in some).

    But I’m naïve and ill-informed about the broader issues of human absence from nature. A land expert on TV spoke about the ubiquitous ponderosa/pinon/cypress-covered hills of the regional New Mexican landscape where I live. While I’d hitherto taken the hand-wringing position that the trees are dying, the trees are dying(!), I learn that the trees are there only because traditional grazers (I don’t remember which) are no longer present to support a different kind of ecology (savannah?) that should be there instead. Another presenter spoke of the need to thin the forest so as to avoid the worst effects of wildfires. And I saw a clip where the forest that was thinned on one side of the road survived the wildfire that the forest not thinned on the other did not. I don’t know whether small groups of off-road, off-grid communities scattered throughout forests, to thin them while using their products to survive, would be a good idea. There is very little that is truly wild these days, so why not?

    But Chernobyl 25 years later strongly indicates that nature can deal with nuclear catastrophe better than it can with human interventions like deforestation, building roads, parking lots, houses, etc. And there remains the puzzle as to how well forests can cope without humans all together. The scientific evidence at Chernobyl conforms to my aesthetic preference for land to be devoid of human presence. As far as I know. I’m not even scratching the surface here. Images I’ve seen of balanced and sustainable human-influenced agricultural landscape strike me as too hard, forced and barren looking. But in another frame of mind, I even enjoy images of denuded, grassy English countryside lined with hedgerows. I suppose I like the landscape either as an avowed artifact or as close to wild as possible. Aesthetically speaking. AFAIK.

    Humans in small numbers who have coexisted with forests can evidently increase biodiversity. Providing it was extremely minimalist, I’d be interested in investigating such a model. That might be close to how forest aborigines live today. What I don’t question is the incompatibility with wilderness of conventional property development, with its market driven motives and insensitivity to the natural setting, especially through the building of roads.

    If there weren’t roads, I wouldn’t be able to drive through the forests and wouldn’t know about them. Would I be better off for that? Would the forests? I suspect so in the latter case. None of this is clear, which supports my idea that the lay of the land should be generally maintained just the way it is. Wouldn’t we be well served by a long moratorium on change? When in doubt, don’t. And we’re right up against cliff, dithering in the face of catastrophe. Isn’t it time to stop and consider how our physical environment, reflecting as it does the choices we have made, can guide us?

    What tends to happen is thoughtless action. Nobody doubts that they know the answers. To the contrary, if we admit to not knowing the answers, what would we do? I would like here to suggest a tentative physical and behavioral program for the doubters, those who accept doubt and uncertainty. Do no harm to the physical world. While the biological and cultural preservation communities evaluate what is worthy for preservation, and what is not, I propose that they preserve everything feasible instead. The framework for preservation would thereby change. (One would understand the need to alter whatever entities were causing direct, obvious threats to sentient beings, those threats over which there was broad consensus.)

    So I envisage transferring energy away from that now used to preserve some things as opposed to other things (with the resulting interminable and fractious debates and fights) onto vigorous, rigorous programs to preserve the entire fabric of the natural and cultural environment. I find it easier and more energizing to tackle big things. Such an endeavor is also consistent with the “hopelessness” for “success” of whatever program, big or small, is attempted. Why not go for broke?

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/12/31/chernobyl-wildlife/

    http://www.euronews.com/2012/05/01/signs-of-radiation-recovery-in-chernobyl-wildlife/

  • I stated: “Bud- Are you really as dense as you sound? I want a fucking apology for attributing to me statements that I never made. I could care less about Chia’s tone.”

    For the sake of absolute clarity, this statement was directed at Chia, not Guy. I assumed this was understood via my reference to Chia in the last sentence. Further I would never address Guy, a gentleman whom I respect immensely, in this tone of voice.

  • There is another equally Utopian idea to have humanity survive the coming collapse. What if the weather gets so bad in places that they have to move somewhere else, and that food scarcity and gas scarcity becomes part of our daily “nightmare”. Then the politicians start to get on board with eminent catastrophe. Soon because the Media starts broadcasting these realities regularly? Would the collective meme of the masses of people change? Would the leaders of large corporations begin to see what mess we are in? We could start building underground cities!!!! :) Read all about them here….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_city

  • @ knarf

    Thanks for the link!

    “Possibly the most famous underground cities are Montreal’s RÉSO, used by more people than any other locale[and the largest underground city network in the world and Toronto’s PATH, which according to Guinness World Records, is the largest underground shopping complex in the world with 371,600 square metres (3,999,869 sq ft) of retail space.[1] Japan’s underground networks, while individually smaller, are the most extensive overall with an estimated 76 underground shopping streets totaling over 900,000 square metres (9,687,519 sq ft) of floor space in 1996,[2] with many expansions since then.”
    The link further states that there are 28 countries with “underground cities.”

    Many US locales, Chicago and NYC among them, are listed as having underground centers. Obviously, survivable air quality underground is no major problem. Underground living was widespread among Native Americans. I have seen some of this in Anasazi ruins in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. The Poeh museum in Santa Fe County has extensive illustrations and models of regular domestic life underground: http://poehcenter.org/

    Underground living strikes me as the perfect strategy for reeling in sprawl, economizing on energy use, while providing near term economic benefits through a wave of beneficial construction and other rewards of thoughtful urban densification. There might also be a case for adding a story or two above wasteful one-story shopping strips. The main obstacle I see to any of this is not technical difficulty as much as lack of vision, political inertia, and the ease of building on unprotected, undervalued rural land.

    BTW, I have just the opposite problem to yours. Upon taking a superficial glance at the forum page, I couldn’t figure out how to start a thread! Still haven’t really given it a good try, but may soon. :-)

  • Deserve…. “Deserve”s got nuttin to do with it.

    Really, all species go extinct, its not a punishment, not something to dread. From the moment the first hominid drew breath, there was always going to be a last hominid, and there was always going to be someone that knew (and perhaps loved) that last hominid.

    Its ok.

    I also, really, don’t understand the thoughts around an Ark concept. I could see it, maybe, making a difference of a few years for some folks to hang out, but if there is a survivable bottleneck to slip through, to eek out a few more millennia for the hominid team, the odds of guessing right ahead of time have to be miniscule. IF one is interested in contesting death in such an environment should it visit us in our lifetimes, then do so vigorously, but play it as it comes, play it as a natural hominid would with both compassion and violence, love and rage. You die either way, contested or no.

    But when you exhale that last breath, will you be able to say, “content”.