McPherson’s wrong about global warming!? Thoughts on some possible psychological and emotional motivations for the attacks on Guy McPherson

by Bud Nye, R.N., M.S.

Introduction

First, I contend that all speaking and writing has a bias based on the thinking and world-view of the author. This includes all articles published in the most prestigious scientific journals, it includes Guy McPherson’s writing and speaking, it includes the writing and speaking of all of McPherson’s critics, and it certainly includes mine. How could writing and speaking possibly work otherwise when we all necessarily tell others about our unique perceptions and learning history in the world? Keeping that principle in mind, I have written this essay.

People often attack the work Guy McPherson does in informing the public about the risks to humanity and other life on Earth related to global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse. Surprisingly often, they do not attack only his ideas, but him as a person, his character, and they sometimes do this quite passionately. I wonder why. Obviously, economics and social power play critical roles for some people because, as Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” It seems blindingly obvious that the rich and powerful wish to maintain their wealth and power for as long as they possibly can, which means, at best, continuing business as usual for as long as possible—and the environment be damned—and at worst lying and killing “as needed” in order to maintain their wealth and power at the expense of other humans, other species, and the planet. So this group has obvious, strong psychological, emotional, and practical motives for attacking those who produce evidence related to global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse, thus threatening their power positions.

But what about the large percentage of people who do not have that wealth and power? What motivates them in their attacks—besides “the American dream” and their wishing, someday, to join the ranks of the rich and powerful? (As George Carlin says, “They call it ‘the American dream’ because a person has to be asleep to believe it!”) As powerful as the money and power motives certainly prove for so many people, in this essay I wish to focus on a number of other, more subtle but often just as powerful motives. Aside from the obvious motives related to protecting the money one makes, or hopes to make, and their present or hoped for power position within our society, what psychologically and emotionally motivates the attacks that often go far beyond mature, respectful, reasoning-based argumentation about the issues that McPherson talks and writes about? I do not presume to know “the answer” to this question, but I will discuss, here, some of my present thinking about this under these six major headings: cognitive dissonance; human supremacist beliefs; naïve beliefs about science & technology; symbol/reality confusion; doing something about it; and fear and anxiety. Obviously, many of the principles I discuss here regarding the frequent attacks on Guy McPherson also apply directly to many people’s reactions to the ecological collapse, global warming, and nuclear collapse issues.

What Guy McPherson argues

Some critics appear to believe that Guy McPherson argues that probable human extinction will come exclusively from global climate change, but he does not. Instead, he argues that a mass die-off, with probable human extinction, will come from one or some combination of three, global-scale, mutually interacting processes: global climate change, environmental collapse, and/or nuclear meltdown. (For more specifics on this, see this article written in November, 2011: http://transitionvoice.com/2011/11/three-paths-to-near-term-human-extinction/ .) Directly related to this, he also argues that, due to peak oil, peak potable water, peak soil, other peaks, and general ecological collapse, industrial civilization will soon collapse. Because of greatly reduced atmospheric reflectance, this will quickly result in an increase in average atmospheric temperature to 2 C° (3.6 F°) over the pre-industrial baseline. Meanwhile, the interiors of large continents heat much faster than the global average, so those areas will become uninhabitable for humans shortly after the collapse of industrial civilization.

Does he argue that these things will happen with absolute 1.0 level certainty? No. With an extremely high probability on the order of 0.98, or so? Yes. Does he base this high probability on a particular, peer reviewed, published paper that takes all of these reciprocally interacting processes into account? No, because such a study would involve computer modeling and he prefers to report actual data and trends, not predictions based on computer models. The probability amounts to a professional judgment, an opinion, based on the pattern and trend of the presently available evidence. Does this qualify as “unscientific” because he has not mathematically calculated his probability estimate? Certainly not. To argue that amounts to arguing that doctors and surgeons who quickly make extremely complex, life-or-death decisions many times every day do so “unscientifically”, with no “real” basis in science, because they do not mathematically calculate each probability for each step along their reasoning chain, nor even the probability related to their final decision.

Despite this important point, some critics argue in a rigid, narrowly limited, exclusive way focusing only on McPherson’s arguments related to climate change unrelated to any other processes. (Scott Johnson’s “How Guy McPherson gets it wrong” discussion at his Fractal Planet blog comes to mind.) It seems to me that this amounts to a weak, distracting, and confusing straw man argument in response to McPherson’s argument that the probable die-off will likely occur as a result of many complex, interacting, almost certainly irreversible processes besides just climate change. Thus, the often narrow, exclusive focus on global warming looks like a desperate hope or claim that: (1) climate change poses the only serious threat to human survival, (2) climate change is a reversible “problem” that we can “solve” if we will just make the right engineering efforts (almost certainly a false assumption for Earth’s complex, chaotic, living biosphere), (3) that we can and do dominate Earth, after all, and (4) we can definitely “solve” this climate change “problem” through science and technology, which processes assure our continuing (alleged) dominance and control over Earth. All four of these claims strike me as naïve, grandiose, obviously false assumptions. They conveniently slide past and ignore the related, critically important issues of Earth’s carrying capacity, overpopulation and overconsumption, ecological collapse, and nuclear melt-down.

This kind of distracting, straw man attack seems quite irrational to me—especially coming from people who often insist that they think almost entirely in calm, reasoned, scientifically rational and accurate ways while claiming that McPherson, supposedly, does not. This begs the question, Why? Why do they behave this way? I propose some answers to this question here.

Cognitive dissonance and self-justification

It seems clear to me that cognitive dissonance and self-justification play critical roles in the attacks on Guy McPherson, as well as in the denial of Earth’s carrying capacity, global warming, ecological collapse, and nuclear collapse. In psychology, when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, we call the results cognitive dissonance, a term coined by the psychologist, Leon Festinger in the 1950s. This internal stress and discomfort may also occur within a person who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action.

Festinger‘s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When we experience inconsistency (dissonance), we largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses include: (1) “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”, and (2) “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.” Remember these two critical points: When a person experiences cognitive dissonance they try to reduce it, and they actively avoid situations and information that might increase the dissonance.

Festinger founded cognitive dissonance theory on the assumption that people seek consistency between their expectations and reality as they perceive it. Because of this, people engage in a process called dissonance reduction in order to bring their thoughts, actions, and perceptions in line with one another. Creating this consistency between thinking, acting, and perceiving reduces psychological tension and distress. According to Festinger, people can achieve dissonance reduction in four ways, listed below. Let’s consider just one of hundreds of possible examples of how cognitive dissonance works related to the global warming and ecological collapse issues:

Attitude: “I love nature, Earth, and life.”Behavior: Working at a business, technology, or science-related job that contributes significantly toward global warming and killing biomes on Earth.

  1. Change behavior/cognition (Examples: (1) Change jobs. (2) Change thought to: “Sure, I love nature, Earth and life, but humans are superior to all of that, at the top of a Great Chain of Being, and we can do whatever we want to with it.”)
  2. Justify behavior/cognition by changing the conflicting cognition (Ex: “My job doesn’t do much damage. Besides, I don’t have any choice.”)
  3. Justify behavior/cognition by adding new cognitions (Examples: “I’ll recycle things and support an organization that helps reduce global warming.” “We can fix the problems with our science and technology whenever we really focus on doing it.” “I’ll buy an electric car.”)
  4. Ignore/Deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs (Ex: “Earth is way too big for humans to damage. Besides, the science does not support the idea that humans do significant damage to it or that many or all humans will die as a result.”)

To summarize: People experience dissonance when confronted with evidence inconsistent with their beliefs. If they do not reduce the dissonance by changing their beliefs, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade othersexactlyas we see with a large percentage of people related to the ecological collapse, global warming and nuclear collapse issues.

I love Jared Diamond’s statement in his book, The Third Chimpanzee, that “The past was a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful blindness.” As Barbara Ehrenreich describes so well in her book, Bright-Sided, How Positive Thinking Is UNDERMINING America (2009), it seems clear to me that positive, hopeful, wishful, technotopian thinking—especially as related to the perfect storm of economic, social, ecological, peak oil, global warming, and nuclear power plant collapses now well under way as I write this and as others read it—contribute significantly to that willful blindness and amount to attempts to reduce cognitive dissonance in the face of the many interrelated collapse processes.

For sure, one’s developing an understanding of the nature of the changes so rapidly occurring, as well as the implications of those interrelated changes for all humans and other species, produces massive cognitive dissonance, anxiety, fear, anger and other related psychological and emotional responses for many if not most people. This proves especially true if one has spent a significant portion of their life making their living and otherwise supporting Earth-killing beliefs and processes. Wishful, hopeful, technologically utopian thinking may help a person to feel better in the short term, but it ultimately only compounds and worsens the longer-term, negative consequences for all humans and other life on Earth. In distinct contrast with the denial and self-justification that so commonly occur when people experience cognitive dissonance, I agree with Carl Sagan that “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” For those who may have an interest in this, the books Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan and Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME), Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, both discuss at length the self-justification that most individuals and organizations resort to when they experience cognitive dissonance.

Human supremacist beliefs(Thanks to Derrick Jensen, presently unpublished, for some of the ideas I have discussed in this section.)

“A smarter planet is built on smarter analytics.”   —IBM “smarter planet” ad

As illustrated in this ad, human supremacist beliefs run very deep in the history of civilization, and certainly in our fossil fuel powered, science and technology-based capitalist, industrial culture. These beliefs occur as many variations on the theme of “Nature has worth only through human’s using and valuing it, and humans can repair and improve on nature.” While cognitive dissonance plays a critical psychological process role in the planet killing, human supremacist beliefs form an important part of the psychological content that largely drives the global warming, ecological collapse, and nuclear collapse processes. Human supremacists—at this point almost everyone in this culture—have shown time and again that maintaining their belief in their own superiority and the entitlement that springs from this belief have more importance to them than the well-being or existence of every other species on the planet. Indeed, they have shown that maintaining this self-perception and entitlement have more importance than the continuation of all life on Earth. Guy McPherson openly and blatantly challenges this long-held cultural belief and thus finds himself under sometimes brutal attack.

Until we seriously question this supremacism—and dismantle it—the self-perceived entitlement that flows from the supremacist thinking guarantees that every attempt to stop this culture from killing the planet will fail. These attempts will fail in great measure because the supremacist thinking informs and limits the change attempts. Thus, all attempts will at best amount to ways to only slightly mitigate the harm, with the primary point, always, of making certain never in any way to question or otherwise endanger the deeply held supremacist and entitlement beliefs, structures, and policies.

In short, people protect what they consider important, and human supremacists have shown time and again that they consider their sense of superiority and the tangible benefits they receive in the short term more important than not destroying the capacity of Earth to support life. They do this largely because of their refusal to perceive other species as anything other than inferiors or resources for exploitation. (Ironically, in the longer term this ultimately affects their own lives, their children’s lives, and their grandchildren’s in profoundly negative ways.)

One of the most harmful and foundational ideas of Western Civilization involves that of the Great Chain of Being, or, in Latin, the scala naturae, which literally means “ladder or stairway of nature”. This alleged hierarchy of perfection has God at the top, then angels, then male humans, then female humans, then mammals, then birds, and so on, through plants, then precious gems, then other rocks, then sand at the bottom. It works as a profoundly life- and body-hating notion. According to those who articulated this hierarchy, those at the top—the perfect—exist as pure spirit while those at the bottom—the imperfect, the corrupt—live as pure matter, pure body, in this “merely”(!) “worldly” existence. Within this model both men and women live in a battleground of spirit and body, with men tending to live more in a box encompassing mind/spirit/better/perfected, and women tending to live more in a box encompassing body/life/death/corruption/imperfection. In this model, this conceptual construct, humans exist as the center of attention of Creation, with those above humans having a bodiless and perfected form, and those below fully embodied, imperfect, and having no mind. Of course within each of these categories sub-categories exist. So a civilized man presumably has far more perfection than a “primitive” man, who exists barely removed from animals (with animals in an entirely separate, completely disconnected category). We see this kind of thinking everywhere, only now, in this largely secular culture, we have for the most part gotten rid of God and the many categories of angels, thus leaving civilized (especially white) male humans at the top. Of course those at the top get to use those below however they want. Men have access to the bodies of women, because men exist higher on the hierarchy than women. And humans have access to all other species; and all of Earth exists as “resources” for humans because humans exist higher on the hierarchy than any of those merely worldly things.

Realizing these things I remain unimpressed by anyone’s academic degrees, political, or business positions in the social hierarchy, and the “rights” and “privileges” that this obviously insane society confers on a few humans (mainly rich, white males) at the massive expense of most other humans and other life on Earth. I do not think for one instant that my academic or other “credentials” give me any more “rights” or “privileges” than any of the millions of completely uneducated Africans—and many others!—dying  from hunger as I write this, or the 200 species fighting for survival but that will lose that fight and become extinct today. I do not see myself as living at the top of some fanciful, hierarchal, Great Chain of Being as so many human supremacists do. I do not need, nor do I want, that kind of conceptual model of life on Earth, with me, supposedly, at or near its top.

People sometimes make comments to the effect that “McPherson’s arguments harm progress and finding solutions.” These people make the unwarranted human supremacist assumption that, because humans have dominated Earth (for a very short period of time in geological history), using science and technology we can engineer the planet however we want or need it. These arguments grow directly out of magical, human supremacist reasoning with popular ideas to the effect that “We can do anything if we just put our minds to it” and “No limits exist to what we can do on Earth.” In reality, many physical, biological limits exist to what humans can and cannot do on Earth. We have long since passed Earth’s carrying capacity, and we have lived for decades, literally on borrowed time, by burning the sun’s energy stored on Earth in the form of the limited quantities of fossil fuels practically available to us.

Naïve beliefs about science and technology

Here, I will discuss some popular, naïve beliefs about science and technology under three headings: the nature of natural science; wishing for and assuming simple, linear, reversible systems and processes; and assumptions about “value-free” science and technology.

The nature of natural science

Many of McPherson’s arguments and the attacks against him involve philosophy and concepts related to natural science. For this reason, readers need to understand and keep in mind a number of different important principles concerning natural science. A brief review of some of these relevant principles includes the following:

First, contrary to much popular thinking, natural science does not merely register facts. Indeed, our brains do not work like a cash register to tabulate a series of facts in a neutral sequence one after another. Instead, all of us, including scientists, construct our “facts” based on our experiences with the world through our individual, unique perceptual systems. Then each of us connects one fact with another. We seek and create order and relationship, arranging the facts so that we see them linked by inner laws in a coherent network. Thus, natural science works as a collection of ways to organize our constructed knowledge. Scientists do not use just one, experimental scientific method, but several different methods: An “experiment” may involve passively observing something happening that we have not set up or controlled in some way. Or, it may involve observing some kind of historical record, such as fossils. So, natural science includes a number of different methods, not just controlled experiments as many people believe. Thus, the popular term “the scientific method” or “the science” really does not fit very well. We would better think in terms of “scientific methods” (plural).

Next, all measurements made in science occur with uncertainty and get plotted with “error bars” that indicate an estimated range of uncertainty for the data. Competent natural scientists then make probability statements regarding these uncertain observations and measurements. They come to tentative conclusions based on reasoning and judgment about those evidence-based probabilities. So all science models and “facts” occur tentatively, always remaining subject to change based on additional evidence and reasoning. As tentative, changeable, fallibly human judgments, nothing rigidly and 100% certainly “factual” exists about any of it.

Note the implications of all of this for something as complex as making predictions about living, chaotic nature on Earth, especially on a global scale. Certainly we can make meaningful, probabilistic statements about the future of Earth, but no one, including the world’s scientific experts, has any omniscient insight into ultimate Truth regarding either the mechanisms presently occurring or the future behavior of those mechanisms. The experts all state their fallible, human opinions and judgments concerning the probabilities based on the particular evidence they explore and the methods they use to gather and explore that evidence.

Meanwhile, much of the discussion concerning global warming involves predicting the future behavior of chaotic, complex Earth systems. Within this discussion, “experts” state their opinions about probabilities of various outcomes. Yet some people claim, sometimes with absolute, religious-like zealotry, that only one interpretation of “the science” can occur. For example, some people make statements to the effect of “The science shows that near term human extinction cannot possibly occur.” They claim that, based on “the science” their views “are right”, and that anyone who disagrees with them “is wrong”. This seems very similar to fundamentalist zealots and fanatics who claim that their particular interpretation of the Bible or some other allegedly infallible authority “is right” and anyone who disagrees with them “is wrong”.

A physicist might ask a question like this: “From the perspective of a physicist, does it matter whether we have human caused global warming? We know lots of chaotic systems, weather being one of them. Yet, we can reasonably predict the weather tomorrow (by ‘reasonably predict’ I mean that we have specified probabilities that the fluid dynamics models we run will make predictions that will agree—up to a specified level of agreement—with weather variables tomorrow). So, just because the weather is a formidably complex, chaotic system does not immediately mean that we can say nothing meaningful about it. Science is in the business of probabilities and constructing models of mechanisms. A mechanism that is catastrophic but exceedingly rare needs to be assessed as such. So, the question for me is not “Is global warming occurring or not?” but “With what probability do we predict that a specified outcome will occur?” Science does not tell us what to do. Science provides us with probabilistic guidance so that we (with our world views, philosophical commitments, values—all extra-scientific considerations) can make decisions on the basis of scientific narratives.”

So, we carry out our narrow-focused, technical tasks with little knowledge, concern, or sense of response-ability concerning anything else. In response to this, I think it matters whether we have human caused global warming and ecological collapse occurring. Why? Because I care not only about the weather tomorrow (which, the argument just presented notwithstanding, we cannot accurately predict), but also the climate next year, next decade, and next century. I care about the climate my children and future generations of humans will experience, and I care even more about how our geoengineering Earth—something we have already done—will affect the millions of other species on Earth. So, as a living, breathing, biological physicist with children and grandchildren and concerns about other life on Earth, all of this definitely matters to me.

All statements in natural science occur as probability statements based on the background knowledge, observational data variability, and judgment of the person making the statement. In science, we usually measure probability on a scale from 0, something that will not happen, to 1.0 if it definitely will happen. For example, if, as a scientist, I say that “Tomorrow morning Earth will rotate in such a way as to make it appear to us on Earth that the sun ‘rises’” you may appropriately take issue with me for not more accurately saying something to the effect of “With a probability of 0.999, tomorrow morning Earth will rotate in such a way as to make it appear to us on Earth that the sun ‘rises’”. If I correct myself with this new statement, you might then disagree with me and, based on your background knowledge, judgment, and various kinds of experience, argue for a higher or lower probability. For example, you might argue (correctly) that the probability lies more on the order of 0.99999999.

Regarding the role that global warming will play in the unfolding mass human die-off, some people have the concern that Guy McPherson either has not correctly made his probability statement(s), or they disagree with his estimate. If McPherson says that the probability of near term human extinction equals 1.0 (and he does not claim that), you may consider that too high an estimate. Based on your background knowledge, the evidence you know about, and your judgment, versus his, you may consider a probability estimate of 0.999, 0.95, 0.9, 0.8, or 0.6 a much better estimate. This raises a fascinating question. What probability of human extinction occurring could Guy McPherson possibly make in order to avoid many of the attacks on him?

Would his making ANY probability statement, other than 1.0 as some allege he has claimed, have avoided the attacks? I rather doubt it. Why? Because I think the attacks occur mainly for reasons that have little to do with natural science, itself. I think they have much more to do with psychological and emotional issues related to the idea of a horrific, mass human die-off and probable extinction. Death remains THE number one taboo in our society, after all, and human supremacist beliefs concerning our alleged ability to dominate and control nature run deep at the heart of civilization, most especially our present capitalist industrial civilization that relies almost entirely on the support of natural science and fossil fuel-based technology. McPherson’s views ignore the death taboo and clash dramatically with those deeply held human supremacist beliefs. I think that, fundamentally, these two belief system clashes—flouting the death taboo, and denying human supremacism—mainly drive most of the attacks on him from some in the scientific community and from many in the general public.

Wishing and assuming simple, linear, reversible systems and processes

Many people naively believe that stabilizing greenhouse gases will stabilize atmospheric warming within a time period relevant for humans. “It is,” presumably, “all just physics.” Yes, it does all work based on physics, AND NOT the simple, linear physics that many insist on invoking and narrowly focusing on, but instead the physics related to dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility as described by Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine.One may “know what chaos theory is”, but not understand either its basic principles or its implications for many physical systems, most especially Earth’s global-scale systems. Meanwhile, the complexity and irreversibility principles and implications remain critical for any discussion of ecological collapse and global warming. To discuss complex systems as though they work as simple, linear, reversible systems, which they are not, amounts to incredible naivety and ignorance. Earth’s ecology and climate work as infinitely complex, reciprocally interactive systems, not simple linear systems, and NOT necessarily reversible as many insist on and wish to believe. Many people super-simplistically assume controllable, reversible processes in Earth’s ecosystems—completely and dramatically unwarranted assumptions. Furthermore, they often super-simplistically conflate the mass human die-off and possible extinction, which die-off has only just begun, exclusively with global warming, and focus narrowly and exclusively on that while MANY other CRITICAL processes reciprocally interact to produce it.

I hope that nothing I have written here suggests that we cannot say anything meaningful about chaotic systems in general, or more particularly about Earth’s climate and ecosystems. I have not intended to say that. On the other hand, I have intended to insist that our world views, philosophical beliefs, values, economic and political contingencies, and so on—all extra-scientific considerations—strongly bias the scientific research that we do, the evidence we collect and focus on, and our interpretations of that evidence in making our predictions and in formulating our personal and social responses. I do presently consider it both naïve and dangerous to think that natural science can and/or does work outside of the culture that produces it, or that “science and technology are ‘neutral’”, as so popularly believed.

Concerning these issues, one can see nine minutes of Tad Patzek, Professor and Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin with a number of comments on the reversibility and complexity here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXsvsksHi5g#t=107. Given that we now know that Earth lies within one percent of the solar system habitability zone, his final (faith-based) comment may very well not have much accuracy, but it seems certain that no human well ever know. Meanwhile, from a thermodynamic perspective, does it make sense to consider any process “reversible”? Only by artificially simplifying, by limiting the definition of the system defined in a highly reductionist way.

Value-free science and technology?

We find ANY interpretation or “justification” anyone ever makes of any data and other forms of observational evidence occurring through and based on the particular scientific model, the lens, the scientific biases, through which the individual views and interprets that evidence. To remain ignorant of and/or purposely to ignore Prigogine’s Chaos theory regarding the many mutually interacting ecological collapse and global warming processes in order purposely to keep things analyzed and simplified in a reductionist way seems both foolhardy and, well, ignorant, to me. To analyze MEANS to break apart and look at things as separate, disconnected, simplified pieces. Meanwhile, we cannot reasonably reason about and come to appropriate conclusions about complex, living organisms and Earth systems exclusively though the massively popular Cartesian/Baconian, reductionist lens. We do NOT live in a machine world of soulless dead matter! Thus the importance of Prigogine’s work and the need for an emphasis on holistic models, studies, and work. What do those more holistic models that consider all of the major, mutually interacting processes suggest about the future? I think this serves as a critical question for us all to follow up on. Why do many people wish not to take these issues into account? I don’t presume to know, but the only reason I can think of involves, precisely and purposefully: to keep things—the interpretation of the data, the interpretation of the evidence—simple and linear in a Cartesian/Baconian, reductionist way so as to remain in that comfortable box of predictability, out-of-touch with complex, living, biological reality, which Chaos theory deals specifically with.

Related to all of this, a surprisingly large percentage of people, both within the scientific community and outside of it, consider natural science and technology “value-free”. They insist that science produces “objective” results independent of the culture that produces the science and technology. I have ten thoughts related to these allegedly “value-free” beliefs that permeate many aspects of our culture. Thanks to Derrick Jensen, presently unpublished, for most of the ideas I discuss here:

(1)   Reality exists with much more complexity than any analysis or interpretation of it. This means that by definition we must impose our values through what we do and do not include in our scientific and technological analyses or interpretations. We impose our values because the universe exists with far more complexity than any mere human brain can conceive—and of course with far more complexity than any computer can process. We impose our values because the universe exists with far more complexity than we often believe it to. And, finally, the universe exists with far more complexity than we have the capability of thinking—and of course with far more complexity than machines have the capability of computing.

(2)   This myth of value-free science makes sense only if one holds the human supremacist belief that only humans have cognition, true volition, will, or functionality. If one believes that the other animals and, more generally, other life forms, also think, feel, have volition, and have critically important functionality, then the roles our denied values play in justifying our human supremacist domination and control become crystal clear.

(3)   The myth of value-free science and technology makes sense only if one forgets that unquestioned assumptions work as the real authorities of any culture. In the face of this forgetting we then presume that anything that questions those assumptions amounts “merely” to emotional “speculation” or “philosophizing”—as opposed to the presumably more legitimate “analyses” that fail to question the assumptions.

(4)   The common belief that science supposedly exists and works “above”, “outside of”, or “independent from” the culture that produces it serves as an example of our psychological, emotional, and philosophical separation, disconnection, and alienation from nature. This disconnection and alienation has served as an important philosophical/religious foundation of dominance-oriented, patriarchal civilization for about the past 10,000 years and especially since the time of Bacon and Descartes. It has largely driven the millennia-old, civilizational exploit/ expand/ exploit/ expand cycle, recently culminating in industrial capitalism, which cycle has killed innumerable indigenous peoples, species, ecosystems, and, quite possibly, may kill Earth itself.

(5)   Many of us, seriously(!?), think of research that in some way attempts to extend human control over the universe as “value-free”. Meanwhile, attempts by humans to control the universe, to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when, serve as our very definition of how we consider something “true”! This, of course, screams the question: How can any process that attempts to control as much of nature as humanly possible conceivably qualify as “value-free”, “neutral”, or “objective”?

(6)   The idea of extending human control over the universe expresses a value! And it works as a value that materially benefits the humans doing the research, those funding the research, those publishing the research, and those using the technologies that emerge from the research—all in the short term—and so long as one does not mind a murdered planet. No one can ever, with any self- or other-honesty, consider any of these people or processes “neutral”, “disinterested”, or “value-free”.

(7)   For those who believe that they, or we, can reverse and “solve” the climate change, ecological collapse, and nuclear power collapse “problems” (“solving” “the problem” serves as a seductive euphemism for our actual predicament: our self-annihilation trap), I ask, What do you genuinely, realistically believe anyone can do on the real, external, national and international scene to reverse or end catastrophic climate change and the many other ecological and nuclear collapse processes? At this point in the progression of complex, chaotic, almost certainly irreversible catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse, how do you propose to keep up with the global-scale, self-reinforcing feedback loops related to the release of many different greenhouse gases, not just CO2? How do you propose to reverse global-scale ocean acidification? How do you do you propose to greatly reduce the massive human over-population and over-consumption? How do you propose to stop, much less remove, the plastic and other chemical pollution from the oceans? How do you propose to stop, much less remove, the nuclear pollution from the land and oceans? How do you propose to stop and reverse soil erosion, desertification, and aquifer depletion? I and others could ask many more similar questions, but I will stop here.

(8)   The avoidance and denial of the values and morals inherent in all natural science and technology pose obvious dangers for the culture that produces that science and technology. First, it puts great power into the hands of people who deny their values, moral principles, and responsibilities to themselves and other humans, including their own children and grandchildren. Second, the systemic avoidance and denial leads ultimately to a dead planet. As we see. Throughout the entire history of natural science, the religious, military, political, and economic power-elite have almost always made those decisions. Based on this allegedly “objective” and “value-free” reasoning, the scientists who did the medical experiments on the Jews in Nazi Germany had no moral culpability. Similarly, based on this reasoning we should not have any ethical concerns about experimentation on humans or other animals (and certainly not plants). This frequently voiced moral evasion of personal and group responsibility in the science and technology communities usually means letting psychopathic “people”, known as limited liability corporations, make most of our most important moral and ethical decisions. It seems to me that this passive, “I don’t want to bother myself with this” thinking most certainly DOES amount to a strong moral position—or immoral, depending on one’s perspective.

(9)   In the face of all of this, it seems obvious to me that life on Earth serves as THE Platinum moral standard. Why? Because without a living planet that supports life, nothing else matters (to humans). Thus, to the extent that the decisions a person or a group makes supports the living planet in the long term, to that extent they behave morally. To the extent that those decisions harm the living planet in the long term, to that extent they behave immorally. Based on this principle, what does the history of natural science and technology demonstrate from a moral perspective? Hiding behind the claim that science and technology remain “neutral” and “value-free” strongly supports the power-elite with their ultimately planet-killing agendas—a highly immoral stance, in my opinion, with horrific, long-term consequences for most, if not all, life on Earth.

(10)        All of this probably produces massive cognitive dissonance for many people in our society who might read it, perhaps most people, but probably especially for many of those who have devoted perhaps their entire lives to an allegedly “objective” and “value-free” science and technology. Many of these people also have important contingencies operating in their lives related to their making a living in this culture. Given these realities, can anyone reasonably expect many of these people to change their thinking—indeed to change their fundamental paradigm concerning their and humanity’s positions of power and control within nature? Given that cognitive dissonance produces strong self-justification much more often than it produces a thought-full assessment of one’s thinking and values, probably not. This raises another critical question about making changes in addition to those raised in point #7. (Regarding this point, see the previously mentioned books Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME), Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Tavris and Aronson (2007), and Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan (2011)).

Given all of this, does it make sense to think of a scientist who has and expresses social concerns, as Guy McPherson does, “irrelevant” and “detracting from ‘the science’”? Does it make sense to insist that if a person has and expresses social concerns, then they presumably cannot do “real science”? I don’t think so. We all state our opinions based on our background knowledge and experience. Some of us, though, rather than just stating our arguments, further claim in a fundamentalist way that “My opinion is better than yours because mine comes from a better authority, and since my authority is better than yours, you don’t have the right to express your opinions.” Religious zealots and fanatics commonly do exactly that: quote their interpretations of allegedly infallible authorities, insist that others should and must follow their interpretations of those alleged authorities, and do their best to stop others from expressing ideas that differ. I don’t think so. I disagree.

The simple truth exists that, like it or not, the way we see things, what we think about them, and the meaning of it, all differ for each of us, and the wonderful processes of natural science simply do not eliminate this reality no matter how strongly some may wish it in order to manage their anxiety and fear. Do some sources have more reliability than others? Certainly! Should we argue about the various sources, reliability, implications and meanings of evidence? Of course! Should we stifle ideas because we disagree, sometimes strongly, and resort to subtle or not-so-subtle personal character attacks, elitism, and/or language intended to elicit strong, negative emotions in others when we consider those argumentation tactics “necessary”? I don’t think so.

Confusing symbols with reality

Even though by far the shortest section in this essay, based on S.I. Hayakawa’s wonderful, must-read book, Language In Thought & Action (1978), and Alfred Korzybski’s Science and Sanity, An Introduction To Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933), I consider it, perhaps the most important section:

Nature works as nature works completely irrespective of any mere human’s thinking or feeling about it, scientific, philosophical, religious, economic, or otherwise. If someone insists that nature works according to their particular interpretation of “the science”, and that they “are right” and anyone who disagrees with them “is wrong”, as some people sometimes do, this serves as a wonderful example ofconfusing symbols (one’s thinking and visualizing) with reality (the world that exists outside of one’s head).

A symbol IS NOT the thing symbolized.

A map IS NOT the territory.

A word IS NOT the thing.

A mathematical equation IS NOT the reality it only models.

The natural science processes and content ARE NOT the nature that they only model.

One’s thinking, feeling, and visualizing ARE NOT the things they think, feel, and visualize about.

To summarize this point: reality exists independent of and separate from anyone’s thinking about it, no one has special, infallible knowledge concerning ultimate Truths about the universe, and—nature bats last.

Doing something about it

People often hold it against Guy McPherson that, regarding doing something about the global warming and ecological collapse self-annihilation trap that we have constructed for ourselves, we might spend significant time focusing inwardly and helping each other emotionally and socially—as though we find ourselves in hospice. In distinct contrast with these inward considerations, some people within our domination-based society, in perfect alignment with our human supremacist, reductionist science (vs. holistic science), strongly think in terms of “doing something” as meaning mainly or exclusively doing something “externally” to “solve the problem”, to “save the planet”, or one of hundreds of variations on those themes. Meanwhile, for those of us who consider it almost certainly too late for us and probably most other species, and who now fight to maximize the number of species who may pass through the inevitable extinction bottleneck that we have created, in addition to the external action meaning of “doing something”, perhaps more importantly doing something points to a whole different class of behaviors. As one person recently stated it so succinctly and so well, “Minimize the suffering, for as long as we’re here.” Or, as another put it almost as briefly and just as well, “But do it because it brings you joy, connects you with others, human and non, not because you think it’s going to save the planet at this point. If it does, so much the better.”

It seems to me that different people having different ideas about what “doing something” means often produces a good bit of confusion and misunderstanding, sometimes even some “horizontal hostility”. If one person thinks “doing something” means, or should mean, taking action to “solve the problem” or to “save the planet”, or some variation on those themes, while another thinks of it more as minimizing the suffering during the inevitable and unavoidable horrors unfolding around us because it now proves way too late either to “save the planet” or most humans, we will surely have some important confusion and misunderstanding—as well as some differences in how we personally prioritize our limited time and efforts. I don’t mean to suggest any one, “right” or “best” use of the term, “doing something”. I only wish to point to a need to clarify what we mean with the key words and phrases that we use when we use them—and to strongly discourage a tendency some people seem to have to think in binary terms about this.

To me, it seems critically important for us not to frame this discussion in binary, all-or-none terms, as many do. Consider this radical idea: one can work on both the internal and the external issues, often at the same time. In doing this, it seems to me that one best makes the internal issues their priority. Why? Because the results of that internal work will largely determine their priorities concerning the external work that they will do.

Fear and anxiety

A number of people demand an impossible standard of perfection of Guy McPherson—including holding it AGAINST him that he may experience a profound sense of grief and loss over what we have done and continue to do to most, if not all, life on Earth, and also his desire to help others as they experience similar grief and loss issues. Amazing. We should kill the messenger because he experiences human grief and loss emotions? The argument runs something like this: “What kind of scientist must he be if he experiences and expresses actual, human EMOTIONS!? And he even wishes to help others who also experience those emotions—AND he speaks openly about his concerns in direct opposition to the power-elite and our military-industrial establishment. Horrors! Completely unacceptable for any real scientist!” Completely unacceptable, or setting a new and badly needed standard of self- and other-honesty and behavior? Might McPherson find himself getting the standard whistle blower treatment?

This anti-emotion idea probably comes from the popular but false belief that “people exhibit their best judgment with minimal emotion”. Wrong. Much psychological and neuroscience research demonstrates clearly that people exhibit best judgment WITH significant emotional arousal: neither too much, nor too little. Look at it this way: based on the idea that “people have the best judgment with minimal emotion”, we must conclude that psychopaths—people who from birth experience no or strongly blunted emotional responses, with a rate of about 1 in 100 in the general population, and about 1 in 20 among business, political, and military leaders (and scientists?), would have the best judgment. Do we really want to trust the judgment of the psychopaths in our business, political, military, and scientific leadership functions? Do we want to trust the judgment of psychopaths concerning the global warming and ecological collapse issues? I certainly don’t. I will trust the judgment of a Guy McPherson who experiences emotional responses to what he sees happening, any day over the judgment of an emotionally cold psychopath. (Though it remains true that about 80% of the murderers in prisons meet the criteria of psychopaths, it also remains true that most psychopaths, by far, do not murder other people. They just behave in incredibly destructive ways.)

As I reflect on this, it strikes me that perhaps this denial and avoidance of emotions attracts many people to science based on the false belief that science should, can, and does work without emotions (and with a psychopathy rate of 1 in 20 or higher?). Along with this, when we don’t know—as we certainly do not with global warming and general ecological collapse issues!—and we think we need to know—as many of us strongly believe we do, concerning these issues!—we feel out of control. We feel frightened. Then, perhaps, many of us distract ourselves with authoritarian science as a way to manage our anxieties and fears through—we hope!—dominating and controlling the world around us. Meanwhile, much more effective ways for coping with our anxieties and fears exist.

Concerns about the future

Given the complex, chaotic nature of the universe (see Prigogine and others), given that we cannot predict the behavior of complex systems, which reach tipping points and then change dramatically, rapidly, and irreversibly, and given the rapidly accumulating evidence, making claims of continuing short- or long-term stability of Earth’s climate and ecosystems seems childishly naive to me. I think that about the best one can reasonably say looks something like this: we have major changes occurring very rapidly in all of Earth’s ecosystems, including the climate systems, those changes will almost certainly have profoundly adverse effects on most, if not all, life on Earth, certainly including humans, and we will soon experience famine, war, and disease on a global scale unlike anything our species has ever experienced in its entire evolutionary history. Will this produce near-term extinction of humanity? Probably, but I don’t presume to know—and academically arguing that trivial point in the midst of the mass death unfolding around us and including us seems a ridiculous (and desperate) distraction to me.

Extinction, or not, I think that at least 95% of humans will soon die, probably within about the next 20 years. If I or Guy McPherson end up wrong about this probable time-line by 10 or 20 years, does it really matter? And if those of us who think this way end up wrong, how does this qualify as a “counterproductive message” as some claim? We might not further exploit other species and the planet as quickly and to as great an extent as we would have had we continued our human supremacist business as usual? We might help and support each other in caring ways while doing our external work to make things better for all in the long term? We might feel peaceful while living our lives, while doing our external work, and while, finally, dying?

Science and technology as fear and anxiety management

Much that Guy McPherson speaks and writes about challenges the commonly held idea that “science and technology will save us”. It seems to me that much of the science-focused conversation in many places consists largely, at its roots, of managing fear and anxiety by maintaining our present and historical cultural sense of dominance and control over nature that we wish to believe natural science and mathematics confer. But, in reality, despite the apparently blinding “successes” of science and technology that the power-elite have produced over the past few thousand years, culminating in global-scale industrial capitalism, they provide us, ultimately, with a false sense of dominance, control, and security. Ah yes. Feeling in control. It works for a while. But then reality catches up with us. And we now find reality rapidly catching up with us, in spades. Many, if not most of us, can feel it in decidedly unscientific ways in our guts. (Given that we have conscious awareness of less than one millionth of what goes on in our brains, and given that we can solve far more complex problems non-consciously than we can consciously, perhaps we would find ourselves well advised to pay much closer attention to our decidedly unscientific guts?)

I think that the fundamental truth, the fundamental reality, exists that we have no “control” and certainly no “dominance” over Earth, certainly not in any long-term way, and our fossil fuel driven science-based technology that has provided the end to our 10,000 year-old civilizational exploit/ expand/ exploit/ expand cycle has come to its final, gasping, global-scale climax. The cycle will soon end horrifically for even the richest and most powerful of us in this country just as it already has in the past and presently does for so many other human and non-human living beings on Earth. We will ALL soon lose our wealth and power. Correct: this exists only as my opinion: my best judgment based on my education, experience, and reasoning about the evidence (plus what my guts tell me). I think that only a small percentage of people wish to acknowledge these brutal realities, strongly preferring, instead, to distract themselves, to “pussyfoot around”, with playing the technotopian game of “Science, math, technology (and nuclear energy) will save us!” Presumably, and with childish naivety, many people love to believe that “If we just stay firmly and clearly with the science and technology, they will save us.” (Or permaculture; or learning primitive skills; or whatever.) In our ignorance, fear, and anxiety we need our contingency plans in order to help ourselves feel powerful and in control. I don’t think so. In my experience this strategy of power and control created and/or supported by science, mathematics, and technology does not lead to peace in the world, it does not lead to ending the exploitation cycle, and it certainly does not lead to personal peace, which I prefer over fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and other painful emotional states in my life.

Contrary to what some people may believe based on this essay or other comments I have made, I do NOT hate or reject science, math, and/or technology. For the most part, I love them(!), and I have loved them for my entire life, including BOTH “reductionist” AND “holistic” science. How can I write the previous paragraphs and follow them with this sentence? Because I have aged enough and had enough experience, now, to have passed THROUGH science and technology while still including them in deeply, cognitively, and emotionally accepting my personal lack of dominance and control in life, as well as our collective lack of dominance and control in life—our hundreds of years of human supremacist, Cartesian and Baconian hubris and magical thinking notwithstanding. Again, I agree with Carl Sagan, as Guy McPherson also does, that “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring” and that means acknowledging and accepting that science and technology do NOT provide us with the means to dominate and control either nature or Earth as so many wish.

I find it fascinating (but certainly not surprising!) that many people fervently and rigidly believe that natural science can and does exist separately and disconnected from the political, social, religious, philosophical, and economic forces that produce the scientific researchers, processes, and content. They wish to proceed based on a fantasy that mathematics and science, with their specially qualified, “objectively independent” and anointed priesthood, can and does, presumably, inform us about Objective Truth. Meanwhile, Guy McPherson, or anyone else who does not fit the presently accepted anointment criteria, definitely does not belong to this exclusive club! It seems obvious to me that ALL purveyors of natural science, present and past, express their culture’s values and ethics to at least as great an extent as they construct and express tentatively held “truths” and “laws” about how the universe supposedly works. It seems blindingly obvious to me that we consider scientists as “objectively separate” and somehow “above” or “outside of” today’s insane, out-of-touch with biological reality culture that produced and supports them only at our great peril.

Conclusion

Many have the belief and hope that we can and should, presumably, continue using science and technology to attempt to dominate and control Earth for just as long as we have any ability at all to continue with that agenda. The idea looks something like this: “‘The science’ does not REALLY say that industrial civilization is over yet! We still don’t know that with absolute certainty, so we should continue the exploitation of other humans, other species, and Earth for just as long as possible—at least until our scientific elite tell us, with absolute, mathematical, scientific certainty, that we really cannot continue the exploitation processes any longer.” The evidence that Guy McPherson presents, and the things he says about it, strongly contradict this view. He suggests that we find ourselves experiencing the end of a cycle that started with agriculture about 10,000 years ago, a global-scale, capitalist industrial climax turbocharged by science and technology. We now see that exploit/ expand/ exploit/ expand cycle ending. Unfortunately, we evolved as short-term hedonists, a species hard-wired for immediate gratification, not for long-term hedonism. Thus, for many deep psychological and emotional reasons, many of us continue to insist that we can, should, and must pour our efforts into continuing the science-based and supported exploitation processes until the last possible second.

Given our present situation, one might appropriately ask whether the idea that humans presumably “are rational animals” makes any sense. I don’t think so. Viewed through a “rational animal” lens, little that we see in human history and today makes much sense. With the “rational animal” lens we keep insisting to ourselves and others, “These things (mass murders, war, overpopulation, ecological exploitation and collapse, global warming, etc., etc.) should not be happening!” If, instead, we view humans as first and foremost highly irrational and emotional animals, then, from that reversed and I think much more accurate perspective, everything we see going on around us makes perfectly good sense. Exactly as Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

As the famous clinical psychologist, Albert Ellis (“the grandfather of cognitive psychology”), so often insisted, “Humans are nuts!” We find humans, for the most part, fundamentally insane. This means, literally, out of touch with physical, biological reality. Consider the obvious, everyday evidence in support of this claim: We commonly, naturally, and easily act in highly emotional, highly irrational ways. On the other hand, only with great difficulty and with much focused practice, often requiring the help of others in various situations, do we behave calmly and in a rational manner—and then we quickly, easily, and naturally slide back toward irrationality, much like a hot object cooling to the ambient room temperature. Clearly, if humans actually existed as rational animals, as so many so passionately wish to believe, we would not find ourselves doing our best to kill Earth just as quickly and efficiently as possible while using science and technology for the continuing dominance, control, and killing of other humans, other species, and the planet. To summarize, many powerful, subtle and not-so-subtle economic, psychological, and emotional processes combine to account for the attacks on Guy McPherson as well as accounting for the pathological denial of global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse.

Eco-collapse Support Group (ESG)

Well over a year ago two friends and I started a group in Tacoma that we call an Eco-collapse Support Group (ESG). We meet once a month in order to provide social and emotional support for those of us who understand what we see happening in the world and coming here soon. For most people these come as emotionally difficult and painful realizations. Very easy to manage, the group works informally and with a continually changing meeting leadership. If anyone would like a copy of our agenda as a help in starting a similar group of your own, I will feel glad to send you a copy if you send me an email request at bud.nye@gmail.com .

 

“The past was a Golden Age, of ignorance. The present is an Iron Age, of willful blindness.”

—Jared Diamond in The Third Chimpanzee

My thanks to Patricia Menzies for her editing and suggestions.

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McPherson participated in a debate about anthropogenic climate change on the radio last week. The result is embedded below, and you can also catch it here.

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There are two rules for this space: (1) Limit yourself to two comments each day and (2) Don’t be a jerk. Can I be more clear?

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Find and join the Near-Term Human Extinction Support Group on Facebook here

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If you have registered, or you intend to register, please send an email message to guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com. Include the online moniker you’d like to use in this space. I’ll approve your registration as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience.

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Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power and by more than three dozen readers at Amazon.

Comments 144

  • Wonderful essay, Bud, something to think about, for a change. U have not had time to think about it yet…

    Guy, ‘jerk’ is not, never has been, part of my vocabulary. I was not quite certain what you meant. It’s Americanese. I speak sort of British, well, Welshish.

    So I googled, Merriam- Webster gives this guidance :

    a person whose behavior is offensive to others

    Synonyms bastard, beast, bleeder [British], blighter [chiefly British], boor, bounder, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud [slang], crumb [slang], cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, rat fink, reptile, rotter, schmuck [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob, snake, so-and-so, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin

    Related Words barbarian, brute, caveman, Neanderthal, savage; loudmouth, vulgarian; lowlife, miscreant, rascal, rogue, roughneck, scab, scamp, scoundrel, villain, wretch; booby, doofus [slang], fool, jackass, nincompoop, ninny, nit [chiefly British], nitwit, nut, schmo (or schmoe) [slang]; airhead, birdbrain, blockhead, dink [slang], dolt, dope, dork [slang], goon, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, moron, turkey; brat, insolent, nuisance, pest, snip; snob, snoot, snot; dweeb [slang], nerd

    Phrases son of a gun

    Near Antonyms hero, heroine, idol, role model; gentleman, lady; angel, saint

    —-

    So, if I’m a gentlemanly heroic saint, I’d be on safe ground ? hmmmm

  • Is there another section/area to this blog, for those individuals who are passed the human experience on this planet and this phase of existence?
    — This planet has had the history that it has had.
    — Humans have come into being and they have behaved the way they have behaved.
    — This phase will soon be over.
    — Next, will we get to uncover whatever allowed these events that we are about to leave behind as we morph (anew?) and embark on a new phase of our cosmic existence?
    — What is this universe that allows the innocent to suffer?

  • I am living under a brutal military coup d’etat dictatorship in Thailand, maybe you Mr. Bud Nye could “do something” in regard to getting your assumedly American government to impose sanctions or recall the ambassador, which might help alleviate the suffering of some of my students who are seeing their society torn apart, or to improve the future for some 4 year olds I teach. And if you have any trouble influencing the government you presumably feel justifiable governs you, over this issue, or climate change, or whatever, you could always go live in your representatives’ office and raise no end of living hell, or just burn it all to the ground. That is, if you are interested in actually concretely “Helping” people in very critical situation NOW – not to affect anything 10, 15, or 25 years in the future, when we’ll all be dead any way. But then, maybe I am just a deluded product of domination-based society, a human supremacist, reductionist who strongly thinks in terms of “doing something” as in doing something “externally.” Yeah – and if you and your buddies, living quite nicely up there in the first world, with your comfy society; and monetary system quite literally sucking the blood out of poor workers I see everyday, and thusly providing real endangerment to their children, who I see and work with every day…then maybe you could quit the endless theoretical rationalizing about how awful NTE is, and then get up off your pontificating posterior and actually really in truly by god ~DO~ something that tangibly helps suffering and endangered people before we all have to burn up in a carbon wasteland…And if that is just too difficult for you, as it seems to be for so many, well then buddy, you can take that lovely psychological analysis of the nutcases you live with and roll ’em up and smoke em. Thank you for your consideration and have a lovely day.

  • Rest assured, Wester, if Thailand had any significant oil fields the US would be there in a heartbeat. But apart from that, I can’t believe anyone anywhere would actually want US involvement in their affairs no matter how dire and life-threatening. US humanitarian aid is often devastating as US crushes people it goes to help. Just ask Haiti. The US has helped Haiti so often, it can barely function at all.

    But you’re right. All of this talk and worry about NTE is totally self-serving. First world activities have brought about whole world extinction and for the most part we’re discussing how this makes us feel without any real action plan at all. Of course, there is no working action plan. Methane and CO2 don’t concern themselves with borders or Geo-political struggles or even the stock exchange. How, as Americans, do you expect us to deal with a problem that money can’t solve? It is beyond out scope of reasoning.

    Instead, I can offer you our sympathy for all that is worth. You get to realize that very soon we will be in the exact same position as your students. Confused and frightened with a ruthless power structure threatening every move. And that is then followed by a global silence. Peace on earth at last. Forever after, amen.

  • It’s a classic case of shoot the messenger. Some folks feel threatened by Guy’s message of NTHE. It conflicts with their delusional version of the future. Unfortunately, when some people feel threatened they blindingly go into attack mode. The fact that these cowardly and pathetic attacks have increased tells me that Guy’s message is getting out there and striking a nerve.

    I hope Guy doesn’t get discouraged by the idiotic attack dogs (highly unlikely). I want him to know how much we admire and appreciate his efforts to educate the public on climate change and near term human extinction.

  • In the radio debate I heard “Benghazi” mentioned by Guy’s opponent. Just that mention means hands down, Guy wins.

  • @Wester,

    Keep fighting the good fight! It’s obviously making you a happy, genial person with a deeply enriching life. And your suggestions for action are TRULY helpful as they will, in great likelihood, bring immediate relief to the oppressed you’re representing in a fringe online forum monitored (mostly) by the NSA.

    I’m sorry to inform you that I won’t be joining your crusade as I am a weak-willed automaton waiting for death. But, somewhere in my lassitude, I’ll be cheering on your glorious mission.

  • ??? I might actually be invisible on here.

  • Wester: good to hear from you! Stay safe (be nimble, wily and stay out of the way) but help where and when you can. We can’t do anything here in a corporate-controlled police state – shit, most of us can’t even get the real news! Nobody even hears about Thailand, the Philippines are all but forgotten (after the devastating storms they suffered), or even the Arctic ice melting. Instead we get round the clock local stuff and a few snippets from other “allied” countries – but only so much and only so far. Our media is a complete failure here in doing any kind of investigative journalism that doesn’t involve celebrities. A person looking to meet with their Congress-critter has to deal with the security people FIRST, before they even get in the building, so “taking over” is highly unlikely to occur any more. i’m just waiting for the food shortages to cause widespread chaos, rioting and social upheaval here. We can’t even help ourselves.

  • Wester,

    It’s good to hear from you. Mao said this, fwiw: When the enemy advances, we must retreat. (IMO, that principle applies here too.) So, I hope that you and your students are in full retreat mode and protecting yourselves as well as you can.

  • Hmm…kind of weird. You accuse people of rigidly believing in natural scientific “reality”, and then you keep arguing, “the truth is, the fundamental reality is, what people don’t want to acknowledge is”…

    Odd. If reality is more complex than we can interpret, why is you view more objective, then? Why isn’t your view also informed by your cultural perspective? Why call others “rigid” if they don’t agree with what YOU say, if you object to others defining objective reality?

  • //Given our present situation, one might appropriately ask whether the idea that humans presumably “are rational animals” makes any sense. I don’t think so.//

    Every time I see the term “Homo sapiens” in print I laugh my ass off.

  • Bud –

    your essay is incredible – just 100% completely on target.

    Librarian –

    Bud’s entire first paragraph is a totally obvious crystal clear qualifier. not only is it not weird that Bud got that part straight right away, it is an *essential* cornerstone for his entire point! the rest of his essay is completely consistent and non-odd from that basis.

    one of those (I hope) crystal clear points is that “the truth is” infinitely complex.

    “Earth’s ecology and climate work as infinitely complex, reciprocally interactive systems, not simple linear systems”

    he makes this point rather well. his other theme is that as humans, we are constantly choosing what to focus on out of this complexity. where those choices come from, and why and how they work the way they do, are pretty much everything else in Bud’s essay – which again, is plainly from Bud’s POV, as he states right from the top.

    all really really clear.

  • @ Librarian

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. As I state repeatedly throughout the essay, beginning emphatically with the first paragraph, I most certainly do NOT consider my view either “more objective” or more valid than anyone else’s. I feel surprised that anyone could read this essay and come to such a conclusion. Perhaps you would benefit from reading the shortest but perhaps most important section a few times:

    Nature works as nature works completely irrespective of any mere human’s thinking or feeling about it, scientific, philosophical, religious, economic, or otherwise. If someone insists that nature works according to their particular interpretation of “the science”, and that they “are right” and anyone who disagrees with them “is wrong”, as some people sometimes do, this serves as a wonderful example of CONFUSING SYMBOLS (one’s thinking and visualizing) WITH REALITY (the world that exists outside of one’s head).

    A symbol IS NOT the thing symbolized.

    A map IS NOT the territory.

    A word IS NOT the thing.

    A mathematical equation IS NOT the reality it only models.

    The natural science processes and content ARE NOT the nature that they only model.

    One’s thinking, feeling, and visualizing ARE NOT the things they think, feel, and visualize about.

    To summarize this point: reality exists independent of and separate from anyone’s thinking about it, no one has special, infallible knowledge concerning ultimate Truths about the universe, and-—NATURE BATS LAST.

    Of course, you have the freedom to disagree. If you disagree–especially if you disagree–you might consider reading Hayakawa’s Language In Thought & Action and Korzybski’s Science and Sanity, An Introduction To Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics.

  • Ok, the author makes some very valid points about why/how people attack Guy and his predictions and overall sense that we have lost control of redeeming the Earth from complete collapse, at least for the human specie, and probably many more. I have to point out that the models the author uses are psychological speculation…not proof. In fact the essay comes across as using the psychological model to determine peoples reaction to Guy’s message. Unfortunately the human psyche is much more complex than the author seems to suggest. I have some different ideas about peoples reaction to Guys message, especially those who attack him, and are deniers of the imminent threats to our planet and living creatures.
    It seems to me that Guy represents the worst case scenario that is popularized by the media. If we took an average bell curve Guy’s view would be as far to the right or left ( depending on what you choose to believe ) as you can go. People exist by agreements and validation from their peers. Guy has very few peers to validate his predictions. In fact because he so far down the bell curve people can not conceive of his claims being justified. Even though he might be correct and close to the extinction time frame, very few people are going to take his alarming message seriously. It is not like a weather radar where we can see the approaching storm, or possible tornado. His message is very radical, and no one needs to guess why it is so misunderstood and rejected. Maybe it is part of Guy’s personality to be radical, and choose the data that is most alarming. Not to get attention, but to warn others who he cares about that we are in imminent danger.
    The fact is no one knows what is going to happen or when. When one claims to know these things and present them as facts, they are bound to have strong reactions against what they propose. But, it seems to me that the acceptance of global warming, food and water scarcity, and peak oil are being accepted by more and more people each day. People like Guy who are totally out front and exposed is a big reason why people are starting to take notice. Given a couple more years of extreme weather and food and gas prices going through the roof, and there might be a significant paradigm shift. Maybe the human race has evolved to peak adolescence. 🙂 We no longer can act as though our own actions and thoughts about our world are all about ME. Maybe in the near future people will begin to take seriously their stewardship of the earth and their fellow living beings. Maybe we are getting ready to graduate to an adult specie, not an egocentric specie. In that case, if it were to happen within the next few years, we might be able to lessen the damage created by an adolescent view of living.
    So I am all for Guy’s message and support him . My hope is that people begin to discuss these extremely important matters in an adult fashion. Not just giving up when their brain gets tired, or they want to change the subject because this one is so speculative. To stop with the “My view is the right view”, and have engaging discussions about all the dilemmas that we face. The whole pecking order game is failing, and is destroying our planet. So lets quit the attacks, and stay involved in every moment we exist. No one is better than anyone else, unless we return to the adolescent way of viewing things. Maybe today is the day that someone, or many someone’s graduate from adolescence to an adult. 🙂

  • True, knarf, but if I may take a contrarian view for a moment, egocentrism sometimes isn’t required for cruelty. Sometimes it simply requires that others NOT have egos for us to justify hurting them.

    In fact, some of the most cruel people imaginable hurt others, and then say, “your view is one-sided, you’re an adolescent if you make it all about you!”

    So some balance is required, we actually do require a LITTLE bit of an ego, if only to either protect ourselves or to recognize (and not deny) the reality of others’ pain.

  • Bud,

    As much as I had to force myself to read Chia’s last essay and scan a lot of it, yours had the opposite effect on me. In spite of its length, it kept me spellbound. Thanks!

    I’ve never understood this obsession of sticking to the science only. You’ve explained perfectly why so many find this necessary, let alone all the other points covered by you.

    Any thoughtful and aware human being not on the autistic scale should, in theory, be capable of feeling the severity of our relentless destruction of the biosphere in their guts, as you say, or their hearts.It’s so bloody obvious! But for all the reasons you explain so well, this is not so.

    And please everybody, read the introduction carefully, which would then, in theory, make a comment like Librarian’s irrelevant.

    And thanks Guy, for being there.

  • Great essay Bud. Thank you. Plenty of food for thought and it was a wonderful way to wake up my brain cells this morning.
    I especially think that you nailed the issue with this quote:

    Because I think the attacks occur mainly for reasons that have little to do with natural science, itself. I think they have much more to do with psychological and emotional issues related to the idea of a horrific, mass human die-off and probable extinction. Death remains THE number one taboo in our society, after all, and human supremacist beliefs concerning our alleged ability to dominate and control nature run deep at the heart of civilization, most especially our present capitalist industrial civilization that relies almost entirely on the support of natural science and fossil fuel-based technology. McPherson’s views ignore the death taboo and clash dramatically with those deeply held human supremacist beliefs. I think that, fundamentally, these two belief system clashes—flouting the death taboo, and denying human supremacism—mainly drive most of the attacks on him from some in the scientific community and from many in the general public.

    This death denying culture certainly runs deep.

    And to ulvfugl:
    Thanks for the laugh, and expanding on the word “jerk” which Guy used at the end of the essay. I’m still laughing. Perhaps for the Aussies in the group, we could add the word “bogan” as well.

  • That fossil fuel shill Leyton Stewart may be the most stubborn mouth-piece I’ve ever heard. He NEVER gets the point that he’s relying on OPINION for his stance – even the website he cited at the end (therightclimatestuff.com) is just another of the DENIALIST websites (probably funded by the oil companies) put there to muddy the waters and obfuscate the truth.

    So 99.998% of climate scientists acknowledge that climate change is anthropogenic and a mere handful of them take the other side (again, probably because they’re PAID to think that way) and that allows this website (and Leyton) to say “the science isn’t settled” because it isn’t 100%!!! This is just bat-shit crazy!

    He was correct about one thing he said (at the very end, after the phone call question from the woman) – “I don’t know what we can do in 15 and a half years to avoid complete human extinction.”

    Sorry for the multiple posts today.

  • I read “Why America Failed” by Morris Berman last week. When I saw Deskpoet’s comment to Wester it confirmed Berman’s observations on the fragility and emptiness of the American psyche. Go play with your Nikon Coolpix S3000.

  • Most of the individuals on here are trying to hang on to what is already gone. They look back instead of ahead.

  • Perhaps, more accurately, for most people the “discussion” here is just an empty parlor game by which to stroke their egos and gently rock themselves to sleep. Because, after all, life is a meaningless and pointless emptiness.

  • hey knarf! glad you finally got it figured out how to comment on the main site.

    and I do love your comment. it actually gives me the perfect springboard to launch into something I was just thinking about.

    so we want to save the forest, or save the children in Thailand, or save our freedom, or save something that we care about, whatever it might be…

    what I got to thinking about (not an original train of thought even in the slightest, but I want to share this nonetheless) was something Lidia said recently that was wonderfully perfect. it so much rang deeply true for me: “Maybe I am just not made for this world, because I find virtually everyone to be hopelessly full of shit.”

    https://guymcpherson.com/forum/index.php?topic=675.msg48025#msg48025

    you know what?

    she is right.

    she is so perfectly, brilliantly right that until, and unless, we *all* get that clear, first and foremost, more than anything, we will stay nice and doomed – wherever we happen to incarnate to next, once the human race is good and extinctified!

    why do I want to save the forest and the owls? only because I believe these are good things to save, and it feels good to act on that belief, and it feels good to be self-righteous about my actions.

    why do I want the lessen the suffering of children? because it pains me so deeply to see them suffer I want to stop that pain. and when they are truly happy, I am truly happy.

    however way we spin it, and whoever it is speaking, it will *always* inescapably come back to *me.*

    I want to feel better about something, for some reason or another.

    even if I did something so radical as jump into a freezing lake to try to save someone who fell through the ice, or pushed someone out of the way of an oncoming bus only to get myself squashed, the only reason I (yeah right!) or anyone would do that is because I am already at peace enough *in myself* in some way, somewhere, to override my instinct for physical preservation and potentially sacrifice myself to save someone else.

    and you can flip that right around, as well. if I am righteously pissed off enough and angry enough to pour gasoline on myself and set myself on fire in an act of despair to make a point, I am only doing that because of something *I FEEL* deeply inside.

    that is where it always comes from, inescapably. the place where ego exists, in its own world, *hopelessly full of its own shit,* acting on its own desires, for its own reasons.

    the way we need to grow up is not by outgrowing this ego thing – *I SAY* – but by actually being aware enough to OWN it for what it really is – and however uniquely our own it truly is.

    adults, in every sense, have not outgrown their egos. they have grown *into* them, fully.

    adults know what their egos really are, and how their egos shape their worlds, and their actions, always, inescapably.

    so, this is *my* personal take on Lidia’s take: I want to be the most arrogant bastard on the planet, bar none. completely unmatched in my level of pure and righteous SOB selfishness.

    I want to be arrogant enough to want *everything single thing* that happens HERE, in total reality, make ME feel fantastically great. only ME.

    (I couldn’t really give a flip what anyone else is *actually* feeling. that is for them and their own egos to figure out.)

    I want the most joy, the most satisfaction, the most completely righteous happiness and perfection for ANY other being, human or nonhuman, anywhere, at any time, ONLY because it makes ME feel so amazingly, incredibly, perfectly great to see such a being having such an experience. what they may share with me when they are in that space feels so good, I only could ever want more, and much more, of THAT. way more. infinitely more! YES!

    if ANY being out there is confused and suffering, or lost and alone, I want to spend whatever time I possibly can, for as long as I possibly can, to help that being get into a better place, however they can, only because in the end, it will make ME feel good to see that being finally happy.

    my happiness is the only experience I will ever care about. EVER. perfectly righteous, and perfectly hopeless – perfectly selfish shitty jerkdom.

    I like it.

  • @ Apneaman

    Most of the 7+Billion couldn’t find Thailand on a map, have no idea what a Redshirt is, have no concern about the issues, and there’s nothing we can do about it… they got serious stuff to worry about, man…

    (Take care of yourself, Wester !)

    “As they say, the rat is the first one to jump off the boat when it starts going down, and that’s kind of what’s happening. It’s already been going down the last couple of years, for me. Maybe not in the industry. Maybe there’ll be a whole new herd of sheep following that shit, and f****** good luck.

    “Disco had a longer run than EDM has, to be honest about it, and that died in a f****** hurry. EDM is way more susceptible because that was in a time when they didn’t have mass social media and all that shit. It’s not gonna be me saying, ‘OK, EDM’s done’, and the whole thing falls apart, but I think it’ll eventually f*** itself so hard.”

    http://www.subtv.co.uk/?p=449

  • I agree Ulvfugl. There is nothing we can do about it. I just take issue with kicking a man when he is down.

  • This essay makes me think of the 20078 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still. The scene when Klaatu tells Dr. Barnhart “Your problem is not technology. You lack the will to change”. This essay explores in depth why we seem to lack the will to change, to accept fundamental realities.

    The truth is if an alien civilization really did visit us, it would most likely come to the conclusion that our species was killing the planet it was living on and for the sake of the planet’s living ecosystems, the species and its technology must be exterminated and the natural process need to be repaired. And since we would be so outclassed, we wouldn’t be able to do anything to prevent an alien species from effecting their decision about us.

    The movie The Day The Earth Stood Still come to the disturbing conclusions about humanity and it’s impact on the Earth even before Guy McPherson himself did.

  • Actually Thailand is a great example, it has got everything:

    peak energy:

    http://www.energytribune.com/75236/running-out-of-gas-thailands-growing-energy-dilemma

    intrigue:

    From the above “If Thailand can join the TPP, it will be in a position to buy North American gas, which sells around three to five times less than gas bought on the Asian LNG spot market.” and the US’s position on their military rulers:

    “Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement condemning the coup, saying that he is “disappointed” by the army’s decision and “this act will have negative implications for the U.S.–Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military”.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand%E2%80%93United_States_relations)

    Lets see whether the US expands this to the economic relationship.

    A more or less European population density, with almost 50% of the people working in agriculture. If climate change comes slower than peak energy for Thailand, you could be actually looking at a country that has a chance at transitioning for a while.

    My place in Europe has only 2% Farmers at an average age of ~40. I would expect far more chaos, even though our aging population that is almost as apt at bullshitting itself than the US’s, won’t really be able to act up with canes and wheelchairs.

    Also I would think there is a chance that further down the line many more countries will see military governments. If you care to look you can see the first inklings of movement into that direction even where I live.

  • Great write up, Bud.

    Nerostheme says “Most of the individuals on here are trying to hang on to what is already gone. They look back instead of ahead.”

    I see very little, if any, of that. I think most people here have accepted what the future holds, and are preparing for it in their own way. Some have made their peace, and some have will try until the last spam can is empty to avoid what is certain for us all… but I cannot off the top of my head think of a single regular that tries to hang on to old ways of thinking, denying what is right in front of us all.

    This entire blog is ABOUT looking forward.

    Or else Im confused about your point.

  • Suicide

    As I look at my life in review,
    Strong forces must make us make do:
    The evidence is clear
    From the fact I’m still here
    After all of the shit I’ve been through.

  • A great essay, Bud Nye, notwithstanding Wester’s exhortation to action on behalf of Thailand.

    “the risks to humanity and other life on Earth”

    risk (from Merriam-Webster online):
    1 : possibility of loss or injury : peril 2 : someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard

    Wile E. Coyote having run off the cliff, is now feeling around with his toe for solid ground before looking down. He’s at “risk” of falling.

    those at the top—the perfect—exist as pure spirit while those at the bottom—the imperfect, the corrupt—live as pure matter, pure body

    We do NOT live in a machine world of soulless dead matter!

    No predictably neat “machine” nor always metabolically “dead”. But definitely soulless, the Second Characteristic of Being.

    “only humans have cognition, true volition, will, or functionality.”

    Actually even humans don’t have them. They are biological automatons, meat-robots, marionettes, just as the moon is dark. Any awareness attributed to them is like light attributed to the moon.

    This distinction served as a basis for two of the three non-theistic Vedic schools of philosophy.

    ”The symbol IS NOT the thing symbolized.”

    Actually, there is no way to know the “thing”. All awareness is of a construct from sensory inputs and/or memory. A symbol communicates a representation of that construct. The recipient uses the symbol to draw on the recipient’s memory to create the recipient’s construct.

    “reality exists independent of and separate from anyone’s thinking about it”

    Even thinking is a non-sentient process, whether in wetware or hardware. The awareness “of” the thinking is like the awareness “of” a table or the awareness “of” a chair. Like the table and the chair, the thinking is also insentient.

    Reality is described in the Vedic tradition as having three characteristics, the first of which is non-negate-ability in the three domains of time: past, present and future. Anything that did not exist before the Big Bang will fail this first criterion.

    “whether the idea that humans presumably “are rational animals” makes any sense.”

    Rationality is rationality only within a frame of reference adequate to it. Ptolemy’s rationality was adequate to him, but was replaced by Copernicus’s rationality when the time came. To the frog in the well, it is perfectly rational to posit that the sky is a blue dot. All too many human frogs dwell in “wells” of cultural and lifestyle narratives.

    “Rest assured, Wester, if Thailand had any significant oil fields the US would be there in a heartbeat.”

    A-effing-men, Amen! First called the Oil-Volunteer Army during Bushdaddy’s war.

    “Methane and CO2 don’t concern themselves with borders or Geo-political struggles or even the stock exchange.”

    They have their own narrative. At a more basic level. And so their narrative trumps any higher-level narrative to the contrary.

    Technology is the control of energy flows. Muscle energy in striking two stones together to form a spearpoint; muscle energy concentrated at that point when spearing an animal. Muscle energy harnessed by a harness. Energy from the combustion of coal moving electrons around in configurations that carry information from computer to computer on the Internet. Energy reshaping matter in China into everything from salad-shooters (“what do you call a vegetarian with diarrhoea?”) to iPhones.

    Technology is only a way to control and manipulate energy.

  • The gulf between this excellent essay plus Guy’s comments on the radio interview and the ranting of the climate change denier could hardly be greater.

    It’s 14oC in the shade today,just a few days before the shortest day, and it feels more like September than June.

  • Is it possible that Professor McPherson is not the only scientist or even the first to notice humanity’s dilemma? He is the first to speak out about it. Could a bit of jealousy be involved in some of the “ad-hominem” attacks?” Also as the first to point out humanity’s near-term fate, he is in the position of the first messinger to bring bad news to the empire. That messinger is no longer killed, but he is rarely rewarded.

    One of the hardest facts to digest is the fact that there is nothing we can do about the fate that lies ahead. Many of us are of the “Do something, do anything,” variety. Not being able to “help” in the traditional sense is not easy.
    Some valuable suggestions have been offered here. There are small ways to offer comfort.

    The hardest part of all this is with the children. Rumors spread fast among grade schools. Check in with your kids to find out what they and their friends are talking about. Have
    other kids frightened them with the “We’re all gonna die!” line?
    Religion can help. Various forms of religious belief have helped people for the past 10,000 years. This is a time for families to be together. Don’t lie and tell them everythiung is going to be all right. It isn’t and if you are afraid at times, It’s OK to let them know. The magic word is still “Love.”

  • “To me, it seems critically important for us not to frame this discussion in binary, all-or-none terms, as many do. Consider this radical idea: one can work on both the internal and the external issues, often at the same time. In doing this, it seems to me that one best makes the internal issues their priority. Why? Because the results of that internal work will largely determine their priorities concerning the external work that they will do.”

    🙂

  • @ paul marcotte

    Thanks for the kind remarks. I also consider that, perhaps, my favorite paragraph in the essay.

  • Bud, a couple of points.

    Some critics appear to believe that Guy McPherson argues that probable human extinction will come exclusively from global climate change, but he does not. Instead, he argues that a mass die-off, with probable human extinction, will come from one or some combination of three, global-scale, mutually interacting processes: global climate change, environmental collapse, and/or nuclear meltdown. (For more specifics on this, see … http://transitionvoice.com/2011/11/three-paths-to-near-term-human-extinction/

    The article you point to doesn’t seem to say that human extinction is nearly certain due to those converging crises. In the climate change section, he says, “Climate change is one of three likely extinction events.” So climate change alone is a likely extinction event. Indeed, each section is titled, “We’re headed for extinction via …”. I hope that Guy, indeed, thinks that it is the combination of factors that will lead to near term human extinction, as combining factors, which themselves must have error bars, will result in a bigger uncertainty over near term human extinction. Perhaps he could confirm his thinking here?

    With an extremely high probability on the order of 0.98, or so? Yes….The probability amounts to a professional judgment, an opinion, based on the pattern and trend of the presently available evidence. Does this qualify as “unscientific” because he has not mathematically calculated his probability estimate? Certainly not.

    If Guy has not mathematically calculated the probability, then he can’t say that the probability is of the order of 98% certain. All he can say is that, in his opinion, humans will go extinct by mid-century because of some combination of factors. That’s fine, provided he also explains why the evidence leads him to that conclusion, other than “it just feels that way”. If he can’t explain the rationale, then no assignment of probability is valid.

  • ‘(humans) are biological automatons, meat-robots, marionettes’ -r. datta

    i’ve had one notable relevant entheogenic/hallucinogenic experience in my life, when i ingested some salvia divinorum:

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

    this experience was in a word hellish. it’s difficult to recall or put into words as such experiences tend to be, but i do distinctly remember that the universe was revealed to be a vast horrible machine, of which we’re all microcosms. it was terrifying, nightmarish, and seemingly very (sur)real. i was so relieved when it was over. now i wonder if this revelation/hallucination is merely reflective of my own worldview (i don’t believe we have ‘free will’), or if perhaps this universe we inhabit is in fact as awful/hellish as i perceived it then… at any rate, i’m thankful for the delusion, if that’s what it is, under ‘normal’ consciousness, that meat robots can embody, inspire, and perceive ‘beauty’.

  • Bud

    I will say very much what I said to RE.
    Nice work, but I guess we are not those who have to be convinced.
    In the end, it is not the moment to convince to those that are not already convinced.
    Maybe never there was a moment.
    Understanding what we are facing ahead, is a personal matter.
    Something that seems to be sparked by an internal question.
    I did not reach Michael C Ruppert because I listened to him, I was looking for answers that he had. Guy McPherson gave me answers I was looking for.
    I guess that is the bottom tragedy here.
    Understanding that there is a problem is an inside matter.
    Those who are aware may be a special type of people. Not better, just capable of seeing the issue. Why? No answer for that, just is something that it is.
    I guess, the message is not going to reach much farther than already has.
    Add to that the fact that years ago, there was a possibility. Dire message, dire reality, but still some time to do something. Today, the truth is more dark even. No way back, no solution. Who will want to see things in the real magnitude?.
    I may conclude that to get a massive mind change, it is required the media, and a full campaign. But who is going to put in practice an effort of this magnitude? We all know that neither the media, and the politics will do it.
    We have done as much as we can.
    Guy in specific has done a great task, and helped to many that were looking for answers.
    We are mostly done about awareness.

    My question today is what is the next step for doomers like us?
    More information?
    Grief treatment for those that need it?.
    Or enjoy till the reaper comes.

    I guess we should focus in another matters. I mean, let´s change our efforts.
    I will certainly focus in the 0.00001% of survival. Not for me, but for others.
    Not my children, but others. Whoever.
    Humans may have a lot of un-trained intelligence, but that does not mean we should disappear. To my view, we should try to survive as species, just to be able to learn from this big mistake. Is there any other way to become wiser? As I have stated before in other comments, I believe we have a purpose, and that is basically, to become wiser. And more than that, but that is the first step.
    It makes more sense to me than just sitting in a train.
    But everybody is free to do what they want in that respect. I will not try to change Pat for example, for the same reason stated above. The change must come from inside.

    To Wester

    I will insist in my previous answer.
    You are alone.
    As the creatures of nature, as many beings on earth, human and no humans.
    As all of us is.
    It is part of nature.
    If you need a bunch, look for those close to you, that see things in a similar way. And do what seems to be the right thing.
    It is all in your hands.
    Keep on trying.
    You are not the first person that faces a reality like the one you are living today. And certainly, you will not be the last.
    Probably all of us will join the club soon…

  • “under ‘normal’ consciousness, that meat robots can embody, inspire, and perceive ‘beauty’.”

    Meat robots have no consciousness, just as the moon has no light. They do not perceive anything. Consciousness is neither normal nor abnormal. It is the Void (Sunyata), the Boundless Void (Ain Sof). It is nothingness if you try to get a handle on it. It is not aware, but it is all awareness.

  • Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully by R. Jensen

    Every time I read the latest bad-and-getting-worse news about the health of the ecosphere, such as last month’s report that the melting of some giant glaciers had passed the point of no return, I think back to a conversation 25 years ago that helps me put such news in perspective. In a Minneapolis bakery where my new friend Jim Koplin and I had settled into a Friday morning coffee session to analyze the world, and gossip a bit, Koplin told me that he thought the most important task for human beings — as a species, not just as individuals — was “learning to leave the planet gracefully.”

    At our regular table by the window, he said this matter-of-factly, not joking but also not overly dramatic about it. This was a judgment he felt obligated to share with me once our friendship had deepened, our conversations had gotten sufficiently serious, and he had determined that I could handle it.

    Why would human beings need to learn to leave the planet gracefully? The answer — so painfully obvious today, as the evidence about ecological crises piles up, readily available to anyone who chooses to know — was clear to Koplin more than 25 years ago. Although he wasn’t prone to quoting scripture, I am, so let me offer a “why” in the words of Jeremiah from the Hebrew Bible:

    “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20)

    The days of plenty are over, the high-energy phase of human life is coming to a close, and we have not yet learned all that we need to know — about ourselves or the world — to adapt to a new era.

    Does this seem overly dramatic to you? Take a look at any measure of the health of the ecosphere that makes our lives possible — the data about the intensifying negative effects of human activity on the water, soil and climate of the planet — and an unpleasant fact is unavoidable: An ongoing large-scale human presence on the planet is impossible if we accept the assumptions, and give in to the demands, of existing social and economic systems. Put bluntly: Contemporary America’s conception of “the good life” is inconsistent with life. And today no serious political force is acknowledging that hard truth, let alone thinking about the implications, let alone offering meaningful policy proposals, let alone taking action.

    As a people, we have yet to muster the intellectual resources, political will and moral courage needed to save ourselves and minimize the long-term damage to other living things.

    If that seems too much to bear, that’s because it is. Yet, that is our challenge: to face what is beyond our capacity to bear and refuse to turn away from the demands that these crises place on us. My friend Jim Koplin was one of the few people I’ve known to meet this challenge head on. What’s more, he was able to bear that truth without giving into despair or giving up his work, always remaining part of a loving community.

    A Depression-era Minnesota farm kid, Koplin’s childhood involved a lot of work on that farm and a lot of time in the surrounding woods and lakes, experiences that shaped his appreciation of the beauty of the world and hard-working commitment to careful stewardship of the land. He also learned hard lessons about patriarchy from an abusive, violent alcoholic father, and he understood what it was like to be an outsider as a gay boy.

    Koplin left the farm for college, eventually earning a Ph.D. in psychology. In his first teaching job at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., the direction of his life changed through his involvement in the civil rights movement, where he learned that people in positions of privilege (whether because of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or nation) are not simply being noble when they commit to radical movements that work against that privilege, but are saving our own lives.

    Koplin retired early, living frugally on savings without paid employment, devoting himself to independent study, political organizing, and community building in a variety of left, feminist and environmental movements. Just as important as his political activity, he was an extremely skilled farmer-gardener who worked whatever land was available to him, building his daily routine around the hard but pleasurable work of growing food without chemicals, sharing that work and its bounty with neighbors, alongside young people who could learn from him.

    In the 24 years I shared with Jim Koplin, who died in 2012 at the age of 79, I learned much from him, and we learned much together. One of the most important lessons was that social justice and ecological sustainability are not competing values but components of the same project of challenging hierarchies and the domination/subordination logic on which they are built. Those hierarchies within the human family undermine the possibility of decent communities that respect individual autonomy; justice and hierarchy are incompatible. Human claims to dominate the larger living world undermine the possibility of an ongoing human presence on the planet; sustainability and hierarchy are incompatible. This framework went on to shape some of his most enduring ecological lessons.

    First, and most basic, specific places and the whole planet both have to matter to us. For Koplin the phrase “think globally, act locally” was too simplistic; we should think and act locally and globally, depending on the situation and the demands of the historical moment.

    Koplin spent a lot of time studying both the human and non-human inhabitants of his place, where he lived, so that he could act responsibly there. As a farmer-gardener, he was especially attentive to the soil and creatures, both those that aided soil fertility and those that stole his produce (many of the urban squirrels that ventured into his garden paid a high price). But he understood “place” to be the whole place, including the trash-strewn sidewalk in front of the puppet theater where he volunteered so many hours. Usually the first person there in the morning (Koplin kept farm hours most of his life), he did what he could to nurture whatever beauty could be created in the concrete.

    Attending to our local places, however, is only part of our obligation. Being a good steward of one’s own land doesn’t magically protect that land from the effects of global warming and rapid climate destabilization. And even if we could protect our individual places in the United States, we live in an economy that is based on the destruction of places all over world. We can’t, and shouldn’t try to, escape our global obligations to curb that exploitation.

    Second, personal habits and social systems both matter. Koplin believed in personal responsibility but had no illusions that individual changes in behavior was adequate.

    He took the slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle” more seriously than anyone I have ever known. Like many who grew up in a world of scarcity, he was relentlessly frugal to the end of his life, even when he had adequate savings and a pension to live more affluently. Koplin believed that we reveal ourselves through our habits, and he cultivated habits of care and thrift, which he saw as an expression of respect for the world.

    But he rejected the claim that one’s obligations could be met just by being frugal and living simply and never suggested he was morally superior for not participating in the consumer feeding frenzy all around him. Koplin never stopped challenging the perverse values of that culture through political activity, recognizing that the problem is not how any particular individual behaves in capitalism but capitalism’s logic of endless growth and the mindless consumption that it generates.

    Third, science and folk knowledge both matter. Koplin valued modern science’s ability to expand our understanding of the world, but he believed that this understanding is complementary to, not at odds with, what ordinary people know about the world through experience.

    He was a voracious reader of scientific work, ranging from technical work in fields in which he had some expertise to popular accounts on virtually any subject. As a former academic psychologist interested in language acquisition who had once taught research methods and statistics, he had a deep respect for the scientific method and understood the need for the rigor that came with specialization, along with the need for sharp criticism of lazy thinking and sloppy research.

    However, Koplin also understood the limits of science. Although he had no formal training in ecology, he had an ecologist’s awareness that science could never identify, let alone understand, all of the complex connections and interactions in our bodies or in the world — all of which argues for considerable humility in rushing to “scientific” answers to all questions. He knew that traditional cultures acquired and passed along knowledge in non-scientific ways; he spoke lovingly of what he had learned from his grandmother in her garden, complex knowledge that was passed down in complex ways that engaged the mind, body and emotions. He admired a former student’s advanced research on the human visual system in the lab but spoke just as respectfully of a childhood friend’s skill at butchering a deer shot in the nearby woods.

    Finally, Koplin understood that like every other organism on the planet, human beings live within limits — the limits of the organism and of the systems in which an organism is embedded. Contemporary society is based on a collective denial of those limits, a delusion made possible temporarily by the reigning fundamentalist faith of our day, technological fundamentalism — the belief that the increasing use of evermore sophisticated high-energy, advanced technology can solve any problem, including the problems caused by the unintended consequences of such technology. Koplin, earlier than anyone I knew, had come to understand that this fundamentalism — seeing computer chips and machines as our savior — was far more dangerous than even the craziest claims about saviors in the sky.

    His analysis of the prospects for that decent human future began with the ecological realities, followed by an evaluation of the ability of our social/political/economic systems to adapt to those realities. Koplin’s blunt assessment: The forces set in motion by human “civilization” — beginning with the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago and dramatically intensified in the fossil-fuel epoch of the industrial revolution — have degraded the planet’s ecosystems in ways that cannot be reversed, that we are past the point of no return on many crucial markers. That means dramatic changes are required, not just in our “lifestyles” and not just in social/economic/political systems, but in how we understand ourselves at the most basic level, how we answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?”

    I am convinced that how we define being human in a future of global instability depends very much on how honest we can be with each other, and with ourselves, in the present.

    Mainstream environmental groups — in fact, mainstream groups of any kind — avoid these questions, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t struggling with those realities and assessments, typically alone or in small groups, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/08-6. Koplin saw no evidence that any society was ready to engage in the necessary discussions or consider the necessary changes, least of all the United States, which was not an easy conclusion for him to reach because he loved so deeply. All of his friends experienced that love with him, and watched him love the living world with a reverence that led one of those friends to describe him as a “nature mystic.”

    That’s why Koplin thought our task was to leave the planet gracefully, because he loved us and loved the world that is our home. He loved people and planet in a way that made him yearn for a graceful, peaceful ending, much as one wishes for a graceful and peaceful ending for a person coming to the end of an individual life.

    But Koplin also knew that such an elegant ending was unlikely, which is why he also told his closest friends: “I wake up every morning in a state of profound grief.” Again, he was not a scripture-quoting fellow, but again the words of Jeremiah echo: “My grief is beyond healing, my heart is sick within me.” (Jeremiah 8:18)

    Just as his comment about leaving the planet wasn’t flippant, neither was his description of his grief. Koplin was not a demonstrative person emotionally, and many who knew him superficially might even say he could be standoffish and aloof. But that was because he felt deeply and was aware of how easily those feelings could overwhelm him. So, he was careful in public.

    In another of our early morning coffee sessions, Koplin told me that he remembered the moment as a young person when he realized that every human being’s brain worked the same way, which meant that every human being alive on the planet had the capacity to experience exactly the same range of emotions as he did. It was at that moment that the abstract idea of equality became real to him — we really are all the same, at the deepest and most basic level — and that the suffering of people everywhere became real, and overwhelming, to him. Koplin said that daily life was manageable because he had found ways to wall himself off from that realization, for to try to live with that awareness always present would be to court suicide.

    As difficult as these feelings were for him, Koplin knew that our only real basis for hope comes in the embrace of this grief. Not an abstract hope that somehow, magically, everything will turn out OK, but the hope that we can speak honestly with others and form the small groups and communities that can foster the radical analysis of hierarchies and illegitimate authority, along with the traditional values of frugality and mutual obligation. This is what I call being a “plain radical,” and Koplin was the most plainly radical person I have ever known.

    I don’t want to romanticize my friend. While his political vision and ecological understanding were incisive, his ideas were not unique. But in my experience, it is rare to find one person who follows both lines of thought so deeply and lives the ideas with such forbearance and equanimity. He romanticized neither revolutionary politics nor rural life, but rather drew the best from each tradition and constructed a political and ecological life that made sense for him. Rather than seek converts to his particular style of living, he embraced life in a diverse community and offered his attention and affection to a wide variety of people. Koplin didn’t make many demands on others. Instead, the dignified way he led his life led those of us who loved him to make demands on ourselves. By never exempting himself from the obligation to critically self-reflect, he made it hard for us to wiggle out of it.

    When I speak of these struggles, people invariably call me “a downer” and “too negative.” I used to believe that was true, that I was being depressing by pushing these issues, but I have come to see that claim inverts reality. In fact, I’m the positive one — by placing my faith in our collective ability to bear the truth that is beyond bearing, I am affirming the best aspects of our humanity, just like my friend Jim Koplin. Those who demand that we ignore the painful questions are, in fact, the downers — the people stuck in negativity, the ones who have no faith in themselves or others to face reality honestly.

    Without that commitment to facing reality honestly, the harvest will have past, the summer will have ended forever, and we will not be able to save ourselves.

  • ulvfugl (on the forum),

    Of course, if you just dismiss every climate scientist who disagrees with you then it’s not going to be difficult to hold on to a line that isn’t backed up by climate science. It’s telling that you’d rather go with the opinions of Light and Carana, than the opinions of climate scientists.

    I haven’t been dishonest here, and to just keep repeating that I have, without explaining what I’ve been dishonest about, is libellous; I thought that sort of behaviour was frowned upon here. Or maybe you think you’ve somehow earned the right to eject decency when you disagree with someone.

  • Following on the heels of the debate, we find Big Coal threatening to sue the EPA on “lying about climate change.”

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/06/coal-company-ceo-threatens-to-sue-epa.html

    So don’t expect anything to improve, especially here in the United States of Amnesia. With hopium-infused deniers grasping at any straw to sustain the status quo and backed by lots of corporate money, there’s close to no chance that anything will change in time to mitigate the coming catastrophe.

  • Tom: You have to understand that to save the planet, or to even try, would cost too much money to the fossil fuel industries. And that’s the core of the problem. Dealing with climate change is just too damn expensive. And so we die.

  • @Bud Nye- What an excellent essay. Very helpful.

    @FrederichKling- What an honor, to call such a man “friend”, and to have that inversion of perspective around leaving the planet gracefully. I particularly like the accompanying realization that some of us carry a great reservoir of grief and embrace it. Is that the spring from which compassion flows, in this terrible wasteland? There’s not enough time to do justice to hate, although I have tried. I do concede that I don’t really want humanity to be saved. We are too successful for the Earth to bear.

    The seastars on the beach at the south end of Vashon Island are all gone.

  • You get so many things right here. I don’t have much argument at all, except that the piece is wrapped around defending Guy’s POV, which he already does just fine without a sideman. Still, your piece is right on the money.

    My own path to understanding of the climate problem did not originate with reading or watching Dr. Guy, but rather with Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth. To my reading, nothing about the information contained there is contrary in the slightest to what Guy says…so I was somewhat mystified to learn that many people find him to be more upbeat (and therefore more socially acceptable) in his outlook. Facts are facts, and the facts say the same thing, no matter who you read.

    The question for me does come down to “Now that I know, what am I going to do about it?” This seems to be the question that turns aware people into a herd of cats, all headed in different directions.

    A couple of things you said really resonated with me. One of them was this:

    “many of the principles I discuss here regarding the frequent attacks on Guy McPherson also apply directly to many people’s reactions to the ecological collapse, global warming, and nuclear collapse issues.”

    Agreed, and I think you do much to illuminate our faulty thought processes. Most of us have some of those, certainly myself included.

    Another pearl was this one:

    “we will soon experience famine, war, and disease on a global scale unlike anything our species has ever experienced in its entire evolutionary history. Will this produce near-term extinction of humanity? Probably, but I don’t presume to know—and academically arguing that trivial point in the midst of the mass death unfolding around us and including us seems a ridiculous (and desperate) distraction to me.”

    Ain’t dat de truth.

  • Seasonal Anomalies of Global Average Surface Temperature in Spring (March to May) (1891 – 2014, preliminary value)

    “The seasonal anomaly of the global average surface temperature in Spring (March to May) 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.28°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.69°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891.”

  • @ Eddie

    ..but rather with Bill McKibben’s book..etc

    McKibben is a liar. He tells people that CO2 levels can be reduced and that we can restore the climate that we had. Both are untrue and he knows that.
    He was funded by Rockefellers to prevent any really effective action occurring.
    That you confuse what he says with what Guy says means that you don’t understand what thus blog is about.

  • Following up on Eddie’s post, what to make of Bill McKibben? Surely McKibben understands that the situation is hopeless. Still, he continues to peddle hopium. I mean 350 ppm CO2 .. really? Is it because he’s invested so much into his 350.org organization that he can’t let it go and embrace reality? Or is the compulsion to ‘do something’ – even if that something has absolutely no chance of forestalling NTHE – psychologically necessary for him to continue on?

    All I can say is that I’m thankful for McPherson, and others who post here for their insight and thoughts. A sober assessment of our predicament, and attempting to limit future suffering (to the extent possible) are the only things that make sense at this point.

  • I should think that anyone interested in this blog would find this article by Dave Pollard about systems thinking and complexity, which nicely discriminates between complicated and complex systems, absolutely essential reading: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-06-18/systems-thinking-and-complexity-101

  • @Robin

    Not being able to use the link you provided I found it here:

    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/products/gwp/temp/spr_wld.html

    What is interesting is that if you just hear “was the warmest since 1891.” one might think that 1891 also had a warm spring but the graph paints a different picture.

  • A consensus of the most likely scenarios as postulated by various “doomers” are:

    Economic collapse – due to climate chaos, food shortages – global resource wars, increasing scarcity due to overpopulation, etc. – also, all nuke plants go Fuk-you-shima.

    Environmental collapse – due to runaway climate change – pandemics, famine, and global resource wars. – also, all nuke plants go Fuk-you-shima.

    War – just plain war. Widespread, never-ending, global resource wars. Ever-increasing militarization of all countries – concentration camps, genocide, oppression. Countries that descend into chaos will have their nuke plants go Fuk-you-shima. Nuclear warfare not out of the question.

    So, like falling from the roof of a tall building, or riding on a runaway train heading for a brick wall, we are just waiting for the splat. Enjoy the ride while you can.

    Just sittin’ on this runaway train, staring out the window, with a cat on my lap.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  • Hello everyone,

    I’ve been mostly keeping up reading along here for about 2 years now. Thanks to Dr. McPherson for maintaining the “Best Blog in the Universe” as he righteously referred to it in one of his pieces. With the quality of the writing and intellects here it’s a bit daunting to post and not that much to add usually.

    I have an office job in Vancouver as a minor functionary in regional government, where the senior staff are constantly receiving awards for Air Quality and Sustainability and so forth. I have commented on the company website about CO2 and the Arctic melt but not to any useful effect. In general conversation in the office, most people stick to the weather, sports or traffic. Two of which I find can be used as openings to try to expand the discourse a little. We used to get a lot of good seafood here from Vancouver Island but even David Suzuki ( not a radical ) says it’s not safe to eat, which I had already concluded.

    What strikes me is how few we are, the people who are aware and interested in this issue of the chances for continuing life on the planet. You would think it might be a topic of some interest to the general public. The power of the brainwashing tools is impressive, you’ve got to admit. And of course the Sinclair Lewis effect and that fascism ( hierarchical corporatocracy? ) promotes conformity while controlling the propaganda organs. How did we, the readers here, slip through the cracks? I think I sort of realized the truth of our situation back in the Age of Limits and Population Bomb days. Tried to convince my friends not to have kids but they mostly didn’t understand.

    A thought that occurred to me:

    Bill McKibben lobbies in the big leagues in Washington. In that milieu of lies upon lies and the dance of the macabre, as I imagine it to be.

    With 350.org I think he’s basically saying 350 is the limit for a survivable “Eaarth”. We’re already at 400+ and climbing faster every day. So what’s he really saying in Washington speak?

  • “With 350.org I think he’s basically saying 350 is the limit for a survivable “Eaarth”. We’re already at 400+ and climbing faster every day. So what’s he really saying in Washington speak?”

    It seems easy to figure out. He goes just so far, within understandable constraints. In a system full of lies and murder, we sometimes have to read between the lines, have to be devious. We should be able to take the frigging hint. But then I always seem to get it wrong…

    Personally, I see GM and McK as complementary. But again, what the fuck do I know? Obviously, nothing.

  • Bud Nye – Thanks for the well thought out essay. Lots to think about.

    mo flow said : “however way we spin it, and whoever it is speaking, it will *always* inescapably come back to *me*

    I want to feel better about something, for some reason or another. ”

    I’ve thought alot about that concept over the years. When I first started caring for injured wildlife and important person in my life at the time was studying to be a wildlife biologist and he was learning about altruistic behavior in different species of birds.
    The science all clearly pointed to the probability that all altruistic behavior lead back to increasing ones odds of surviving to breed(selfish).
    My friend would like to point out to me that my OWN behavior in caring for the orphaned and injured birds was essentially a selfish act and that it was all about ME. No matter how I would look at it,it always came back to the fact that my actions made Me feel better about myself(although,I don’t know that it helped me to survive to breed).

    Anyway I though about it alot and found that I couldn’t disagree with him , but I also came to understand that it doesn’t matter or diminish the acts of kindness.

    If all of our act are motivated by selfishness, it doesn’t change the fact that the RESULTS of some acts have a positive outcome for other living things.
    I have become comfortable with the idea that a selfish act doesn’t have to be destructive and that I might be acting selfishly AND doing some good for something outside of myself at the same time.

  • This is a very good essay, and I appreciate that it’s coming from another Pacific NWer. I just re-read it and while I could pick a few nits, it’s extremely solid. I think the problem, using very same logic you use, is that nothing is absolute (except that, which creates a paradox) including all your statements in bold. So we can make educated guesses but given that we can’t witness the behaviour of multiple parallel earth’s, we can’t even estimate probability reliably, and even if we could, it wouldn’t matter, since it’s what happens on this Earth that matters, on this particular trajectory we’re on (which is influenced by things big and small, which is both robust and fragile like any complex/chaotic system). So even the words in the essay (as well as this post) may or may not be entirely right.

    Regardless of the methods used to get the questions in science, in the end if there’re no attempts at controls made, I don’t view it as science (this is my standard for ultimately using the label science). If there is never an attempt to separate out the odds of observing a given observation in context to the odds of observing the same observation by chance, which lies at the heart of everything called science, then it doesn’t reach a threshold for evidence in my book. Otherwise how does one provide evidence for the correctness of any hypothesis? That is, how does one know one is correct, without that threshold of assessing the value of observations to what could be obtained by chance?

    It is true that to get to this threshold, one uses many methods, and the entire process is considered part of science. But that happens only when evidence obtained is compared to some other standard or frame of reference (you indicate this by writing “[a]ll statements in natural science occur as probability statements based on the background knowledge…”). This comparison I think is essential for something to be called science and what constitutes a controlled experiment. The thing about the scientific method is that it allows us to improve ourselves constantly. Some people view science as a religion but science itself doesn’t encourage this. Even the scientific method is open to question within the confines of science. At this point, given the state of sum scientific discovery humanity has achieved, all we can do is see what is going to happen with some model complex systems (I use the word “model” as in the way the weed Arabidopsis is used as a model for plants) that we think of as being representative of the larger Earth system.

    I also don’t think the relevant question is how can 7 billion+ humans survive. The question is whether enough humans survive as they are to be able to repopulate. As the effects of AGW become more pronounced people will try a lot of crazy things. I’ve seen and heard a number of them here and elsewhere and I’ve thought of some things I’ve not seen anywhere (yet). The survival instinct in humans is very potent and when survival is truly threatened, the lengths that people will go to will be extraordinary. I myself think that death is simple the high cost of living but not everyone views it and people are afraid of death and will go to any lengths to avoid theirs and those of their kin. There are somethings I think people will do that I wouldn’t even dare put down in words at this point.

    I think this essay should be essential reading for anyone new to NBL or anyone interested in AGW or NTHE. It’s as good a description of the state of the art and arguments as I’ve seen.

    As far as 350.org, on its face, it is saying that we need to reduce the CO2 levels downward – that the long term consequences of 400ppm isn’t something humans can live with as they are.

  • Ulvfugi said

    “McKibben is a liar. He tells people that CO2 levels can be reduced and that we can restore the climate that we had. Both are untrue and he knows that.
    He was funded by Rockefellers to prevent any really effective action occurring.
    That you confuse what he says with what Guy says means that you don’t understand what thus blog is about”

    So glad you are there to tell me what I know, and what this blog is about.

    Regardless of McKibben’s current political stance or the relevance or non-relevance of his organization, or even whether he’s a lying liar with pants on fire, the book I read led me to the same general conclusions Guy makes. Eaarth in no way sugar coats climate change. What I know is that you haven’t taken the trouble to read it.

  • @ Ram Samudrala

    As far as 350.org, on its face, it is saying that we need to reduce the CO2 levels downward – that the long term consequences of 400ppm isn’t something humans can live with as they are.

    Yes, that is what it is saying. Which is fundamentally dishonest, and Mckibben knows that. So he is a liar.

    There is no known or feasible way of reducing CO2 levels downward, so what he is telling his followers is a con trick. He, and the organisation and staff receive vast sums of money on the basis of deceit.

    The CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for centuries, even if no more is added. Emissions are still rising. The true figure, CO2e, is well above 400 already. It’ll be a thousand years before it falls 50%, and tens of thousands before it comes right back down.

    The long term consequences of 400ppm PLUS are what we face, like it or not, for the next many tens of thousands of years.

    Even if, by magic, we could suddenly return to 350ppm, we STILL do not get our climate back, the climate system is ALREADY destabilised and into a new and unstable state, and nobody knows precisely how it will behave now that it has been perturbed, but the whole 350 thing is completely irrelevant and entirely dishonest.

    Sea levels keep rising, oceans keep acidifying, coral reefs vanish, permafrost and ice keeps melting, methane keeps bubbling up from the hydrates, species disappear, eco systems keep collapsing, etcetera.
    We are locked into this now.

    The worst part of it is, how are all those enthusiastic, devoted and dedicated young people, who have down all the campaigning and fund raising going to feel, when they eventually discover this fact ?

  • @artleads “Personally, I see GM and McK as complementary”

    I like it = Guy McPherson as Malcom X to McKibben’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Or to use another Malcom X analogy, Guy is the environmental movement’s manhood. The perfect anecdote to all the childish thinking that dominates climate change discourse in the main stream.

  • @ Ram Samudrala and All, as well as a Fractal Planet comment:

    First, thanks to everyone for the many kind remarks concerning my most recent essay. I do not come here hoping for or seeking such agreement and support, but I do feel gratified and thankful when it happens.

    Ram, thanks for your kind remarks. I agree with your thought-full comment, and in response, I would like to quote two paragraphs that I consider relevant and important from pages 25 and 30 in Eric Schneider & Dorion Sagan’s 2005 book, Into The Cool, Energy Flow Thermodynamics and Life. They relate to the Einstein quote, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” (I also sent these paragraphs to Scott Johnson’s Fractal Planet blog where so many people remain obsessed with reductionist, linear, presumably controllable and reversible Newtonian, Cartesian, Baconian thinking):

    First:

    “…We agree and submit that the notion that “nature abhors a gradient” is just such a principle. Although life is complex, understanding it should be less so. At the same time, it should not be too simple: replicating sets of algorithms in computer hard drives, sometimes called ‘artificial life,’ are just that—artificial. Oversimplification is a tendency in science. [Reductionist thinking.] Experimenters like to work with systems that show repeatable results, and that leads them to discard systems that are too complex or that have too many variables. Nonetheless, organisms move through many more states, and do so far more subtly, than simulations on machines.”

    Second:

    “The chaos that has gained attention in the last two decades is not the traditional chaos of total confusion but the special case of deterministic systems that cannot be predicted even though one may know their exact initial conditions and the mathematical operations driving their complexity. This chaos has little relationship to the classical chaos of atoms. This new deterministic chaos (D chaos) is a subfield of system dynamics and of complexity theory. Theoretical and computer-based, D chaos is a kind of ‘experimental mathematics’ (the term is that of Benoit Mandelbrot, inventor of the term fractal) that has attracted some of the best minds in science. MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz accidentally discovered the field of D chaos while using a computer to model atmospheric trajectories. What he found was that the end points of the trajectories were unpredictable because they were highly dependent on initial conditions and the exact boundary conditions, which could not be determined with enough precision. Even though the computer program was a deterministic algorithm, its final answer was unknowable because of the inability to specify the boundary conditions needed to give exact or even approximate answers. Deterministic equations that give ambiguous answers—go figure. Such is the nature of D chaos. It was itself an unexpected result. This mathematical experiment gave rise to the chaos buzz of today (Sole and Goodwin 2001). D chaos is not just a ghost in a computer. Chaotic behavior can be seen in weather forecasts, a factor that limits long-term (about ten days) weather forecasts. Chaos has been identified in common processes like a dripping faucet, planetary motions, and heartbeat patterns. …Although intriguing, chaos dynamics are of limited use in complex biological systems such as ecosystems because of the large number of variables under analysis.”

  • Bud, I agree with your comment as well as your assessment of the Fractal Planet blog (I think we both posted in the thread that did a hatchet job on Guy). In response to your comments, I would say that proof is in the pudding. Whatever we say or however we understand or model these complex systems, the application of it to do something that “works” (and I mean works in a causal sense) is what matters. Someone or something that is able to make repeated predictions of the future in an application oriented setting and gets it right is more correct than someone or something that is not.

    While a lot of science doesn’t go anywhere and does fit the description you have, a lot of science doesn’t and in fact, academia is wising up to the whole notion of interdisciplinary collaborative research. Departments are restructuring and new models of publication and dissemination of information are arising. The institution of science lags behind actual cutting edge science being done by people. There’s an institution I know of that completely dis allows departments from hiring new faculty (as is traditionally done) but rather allows groups of individual faculty members to propose crosscutting areas to hire experts in, which proceeds in a dynamic fashion (so these new faculty can then help hire other faculty in new areas and so on). Climate science is populated by such interdiscplinary faculty IMO but there are other areas also. It could always be better, but the direction things are moving in is away from the traditional Cartesian worldview. Whether this will happen in time for humanity to survive in any fashion is yet to be seen.

    But like I said, you can expect other attempts at survival by humans in far more radical (and even unspeakable) manners which go beyond science and academia.

    That’s my two posts for the day. I’ll see you in the forum.

  • tvt –

    you are a microcosmic machine, a cog, with no free will, about to discover that you are a god, with amazing power, with ultimate free will, and you will then discover that you are a stooge, a chump, with no free will, and then you will grasp that you are Consciousness, the force behind All, with completely unlimited freedom, and then you will be shown again that you are merely a tool, and a fool, and you are being totally played by higher forces so far beyond your comprehension that you are much less than a mouse. and then…

    at least that’s the way it works for me. it is quite unsane, the ultimate of weird, completely the most enjoyable thing ever, and much too horrible to contemplate, for long. it makes me feel sick and fall down with the giggles, pretty much simultaneously.

    since I am a tool with ultimate power that knows all other beings are just like me, it applies to you, too.

    all I can say is – enjoy the ride! you are going to be forced to enjoy the ride whether you want to or not, for a time longer than you can possibly contemplate, so you might as well just let go and *really pretend* you are enjoying it, for real!

    play the part! play it, if you will, with *everything you’ve got,* because you never know for sure what side of the play you are on, so you are completely free to play it both ways, at any time.

  • Anyone interested in the possibility of extension of human existence via establishment of settlements in the extreme north or extreme south might be interested in the following recently uploaded video which describes how dinosaurs lived within the Arctic Circle 70 million years ago.

    What struck me was that the current ecology of north Alaska (basically rather desolate) bears no resemblance to that of 70 million years ago and that the pace of change is so enormous there would be no opportunity for much human-life-sustaining ecology to establish there.

    The fact that life is so persistent under the worst of conditions may give some reason for hope. The Earth appears to have gone though a snowball phase in which ice covered the entire planet, yet life persisted; it went through periods of extreme volcanicity and mass extinction events yet species like coelacanths and tuataras got through, suggesting that however anoxic various seas become, there were pockets of habitability.

    I have no doubt that the bulk of humans living in industrial societies are on the cusp of a massive die-off event: I need only look at the state of humans living around here to see that; this is one of the more prosperous regions of NZ and consequently the state of the populace has never been worse; overweight to obese from the ingestion of excessive quantities of junk food, smoking and drinking themselves to death (a travesty of humanity that Kunstler frequently refers to); youths with no hope covering themselves in tattoos, drinking and smoking their days away in lethargic apathy, trapped by baseline shift into thinking what they see in normal and will continue for the foreseeable future -an almost HGWellsian split of the populace into those destined for an early grave and those fit and healthy likely to do whatever is necessary to survive. Meanwhile, the NZ government does what it can to make matters worse for most people in the country.

    As anyone who is awake knows, the big cities of the Northern Hemisphere are death traps awaiting the fatal blow. What is less clear is whether there will be an On the Beach’ phase for remote regions with low population density.

    Yesterday I had reason to visit an government office where benefits are organised. The culture of black and death has taken over there (of course) and much colourful signage has been replaced with black, and the vast majority of staff and ‘clients’ dress themselves in black. It really is a culture of death, and overtly so now.

  • OF COURSE MCPHERSON’S WRONG! WHY, I JUST HEARD IT FROM AL GORE THIS AFTERNOON:

    “In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.

    did you hear that? not only will humans survive this, but SO TOO WILL CIVILIZATION! the cancer will prevail AND the host will not only survive, but thrive! in case you missed it, allow me to repeat: “The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail.”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618?print=true

    so chill out, folks. AL GORE SAID IT’S ALL GOOD! and he said it in ROLLING STONE so you KNOW it’s good mothereffin’ science,yo! woo hoo! partaaaaay!!!

    imma go burn a barrel of crude oil in the backyard… CUZ I CAN!

  • As yet another example of rapid, unpredictable, nonlinear changes in climate, 40% of Greenland’s surface ice sheet disappeared.

    Yesterday.

  • sorry about that, musta’ hit the “cut” instead of “copy” and left out the critical line:

    “In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.”

    ok, got it? now your job is to get out there and “moderate significantly.” let’s turn this apocalypse around, peoples! to quote one of the west’s truly brilliant philosophers: YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Jimbot –

    “You would think it might be a topic of some interest to the general public.”

    this is my favorite laugh out loud line of the day so far. thanks! 🙂

  • Doesn’t really seem like he’s saying much of anything backed up by evidence or science ( Gore ). No political will equals no change. That’s even assuming the governments of the world aren’t broke. Another case of hopium I suspect. Of of course it would be great if we could do something, but reducing emissions 30 precent by 2030 isn’t going to cut it. At least that’s what the science seems to say.

  • Very good, answers Scott Johnson’s critiques very well and all the rest. Here in southern Ontario everyone knows things are changing very fast. People may want to run away from it but I think that everyone-even the doubters feel something very bad is happening. Yes, save what we can and read On The Nature of Things. Lucretius and the Epicureans were aware a long time ago.

  • http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/06/18/323213138/doctors-aren-t-sure-how-to-stop-africa-s-deadliest-ebola-outbreak

    Doctors Aren’t Sure How To Stop Africa’s Deadliest Ebola Outbreak

    When an Ebola outbreak lasts for months and continues to show up in new cities, health officials take notice.

    That’s exactly what’s happening in West Africa. An outbreak that started in Guinea last February has surged in the past few weeks. It’s now the deadliest outbreak since the virus was first detected in 1976.

    More than 500 cases have been reported in three West African countries, and the death toll has risen to 337, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. That’s up from 208 cases reported two weeks ago, a 60 percent spike.

    “There are many villages in the eastern part of Sierra Leone that are basically devastated,” virologist Robert Garry of Tulane University tells NPR’s Jason Beaubien. “We walked into one village … and we found 25 corpses. One house with seven people, all in one family, were dead.

    “It’s a very serious situation there,” adds Garry, who just returned to the U.S. from West Africa. “This is about as bad as it [an Ebola outbreak] gets.”

    Ebola often kills around two-thirds of the people it infects. And it kills quickly, sometimes within days, sometimes within weeks. That actually makes outbreaks relatively easy to stop, says Thomas Geisbert, of the University of Texas Medical Branch.

    “Typically an outbreak starts in Central Africa,” Geisbert says. “The WHO goes in and quarantines the area and within a few months, they’ve contained the outbreak.”

    But the pattern is different in West Africa, Geisbert says. The virus continues to pop up in new locations. It has swept through Guinea, jumped across the border into Sierra Leone and most recently, killed seven people in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia — a dense metropolitan area with nearly a million people.

    Why has Ebola been so hard to stop in West Africa? No one is sure, Geisbert says. But there are probably several issues.

    This is the first outbreak in this part of Africa. The region isn’t as well-equipped to handle Ebola as Central Africa, where the virus is more common.

    Health officials still don’t know how people are getting sick. In the past, people have caught Ebola from eating monkey meat or from bat bites. Then the virus spreads from person-to-person through bodily fluids.

    Travel has become easier and easier in West Africa over the past few decades. So person-to-person transmission is a major concern.

  • Dear Bat Conservation International Members and Supporters,

    Last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks confirmed the presence of Psedugymnoascus destructans in Mississippi. The fungus, which causes the deadly bat disease White-nose Syndrome (WNS), was found on the skin of two species – the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) and the southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius). Mississippi joins Iowa and Minnesota in harboring the fungus that causes WNS, but not the disease itself.

    This announcement marks the southernmost confirmation of the fungus in the United States and raises concerns about the potential impact on southern bat species. While the fungus continues to spread, many biologist hope it will not affect southern bats as drastically as northern bats since their hibernation patterns are very different. Unfortunately, we just don’t know.

    In the meantime, biologists and researchers continue to study the disease and ways to prevent it. As always, we will send you the latest updates on WNS developments.

  • I apologize for going over, but I have just one question for Guy in regard to this latest information. I thought that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet or some significant percentage thereof would result in a dramatic rise in sea levels. One would assume that a melting of 40% would have a profound and instantaneous effect. Obviously there is some aspect I do not understand. Can you clarify, please?

  • Frank, it was not 40% of the volume, but 40% of the surface area (areal extent). In 2012, more than 97% of the surface area was lost with no significant increase in sea level. Most of the volume is contained within a relatively small portion of the ice sheet and, when it melts, it will raise sea level about 7 m.

  • @ LX Says “What to make of Bill McKibben? Surely McKibben understands that the situation is hopeless.”

    Of course he does, but what a lot of leftist doomers don’t seem to realize is that there are a lot of (former) right-wing doomers who have an entirely different approach to the matter at hand.

    It appears people who think analytically don’t get (as) emotionally wrapped up in the confused notion that h. sapiens is some kind of unique species. This site has many who apparently believe we are to be both condemned for acting like any other kingdom – whether it be plant, animal, bacteria, etc – but also to be damned for not exhibiting agency, self-control and some kind of moral imperative to ‘live sustainably’ as intelligent beings. LOL

    However, once you get over those delusions, you’ve essentially crossed the last hurdles required before reaching acceptance. Even better, it’s very easy to recognize others who have also completed the journey. My guess is McKibben is lounging around the beach much like many others, sipping a beer and watching the looming sh!t storm bearing down.

    But there is one added component depending on how you’ve approached life to date, and that is: does the band play on while the water level rises? Those disappointed with the multitude of (perceived) human failings apparently go into some kind of funk, while evil libertarians figure they may as well make a few more final bucks and party like a mofu on the way out.

    And no, there isn’t any cosmic justice that is going to weigh ethics, morality and justice @ the pearly gates. That sh!t is all made up just to keep the sheep penned in from encroaching on the manor house.

  • A bit long, but some of it is funny:

    Long, but some are funny.

    As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.

    ~ John Glenn

    *****

    America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.

    ~ David Letterman

    *****

    After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.

    ~ Italian proverb

    *****

    The only reason they say ‘Women and children first’ is to test the strength of the lifeboats.

    ~ Jean Kerr

    *****

    I’ve been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage.

    ~ Zsa Zsa Gabor

    *****

    You know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t.

    ~ Jeff Foxworthy

    *****

    When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.

    ~ Prince Philip

    *****

    A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.

    ~ Emo Philips.

    *****

    Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself.

    ~ Harrison Ford

    *****

    The best cure for sea sickness, is to sit under a tree.

    ~ Spike Milligan

    *****

    Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke.

    ~ Robin Hall

    *****

    Kill one man and you’re a murderer, kill a million and you’re a conqueror.

    ~ Jean Rostand.

    *****

    Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I’m just as happy as when I had 48 million.

    ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    *****

    We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea.

    ~ WH Auden

    *****

    In hotel rooms I worry. I can’t be the only guy who sits on the furniture naked.

    ~ Jonathan Katz

    *****

    If life were fair Elvis would still be alive today and all the impersonators would be dead.

    ~ Johnny Carson

    *****

    I don’t believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we’re very skeptical.

    ~ Arthur C Clarke

    *****

    Hollywood must be the only place on earth where you can be fired by a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap.

    ~ Steve Martin about Michael Moore

    *****

    Home cooking. Where many a man thinks his wife is.

    ~ Jimmy Durante

    *****

    The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone.

    ~ George Roberts

    *****

    I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.

    ~ Robert Benchley

  • Guy,

    In the debate linked to above, you stated that phytoplankton is on the verge of disappearing. Is that based on Boyce, et al (2010)? If so, Boyce, et al (2014) updates that earlier assessment and comes out with a very different picture showing decline in two thirds of ocean areas (increase in others) and cannot quantify the decline. It now doesn’t look as though phytoplankton is as near to disappearing as thought earlier.

    Also, you said, or implied, that Beckwith agrees with your dates for near term human extinction. However, in the video with Beckwith he only stated that that was a chance and that “near term” could mean a couple of centuries. Could you clarify?

  • Tony, I indicated in the forum (“debate”) that phytoplankton could disappear completely based on a paper published online in Global Change Biology during mid-October 2013 (see this link). I’m citing Beckwith about his projection for 6 C temperature rise within a decade, 16 C within a decade or two. As pointed out by many scientists, and most recently by Clive Hamilton, 4 C is game over for humans (see recently updated essay for citation). Beckwith believes we’ll survive 16 C, based on his knowledge of physics and engineering. Rudimentary understanding of biology, however, indicates otherwise.

  • Rudimentary understanding of biology, however, indicates otherwise.

    The trouble with basic sciences and their applied disciplines is that they tend to produce one-trick dogs.

  • @BK9K

    You state:

    “And no, there isn’t any cosmic justice that is going to weigh ethics, morality and justice @ the pearly gates. That sh!t is all made up just to keep the sheep penned in from encroaching on the manor house.”

    Me thinks your reptilian brain has chewed away your frontal lobe.

  • D Says:”Me thinks your reptilian brain has chewed away your frontal lobe.”

    This might apply to those that worship or have worshiped any God.

    Since there are those that deny the science supporting AGW then I can deny the religions that don’t have any science supporting them.

  • In his Truthout article
    Atmospheric CO2 Crosses “Ominous Threshold” Dahr Jamail, concludes:

    “An increasing number of scientists agree that warming of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius causes a dead planet.”

  • Thanks for that link, Guy. Sorry, I didn’t pick up that citation in the “debate”. That is, indeed, worrying, though the paper discussion section did encourage more research to build a clearer picture of what is happening. How early the cold water species could die off completely is not known.

    I’ll need to re-view the Beckwith chat, in light of what you’ve said, but I remember his talking about past fast temperature rises being between 6C and 16C, though it’s difficult determining that precisely, just how fast. He’d like to see other research confirm that paper (last year) which showed a rapid rise of over 10C, over just 13 years, at the PETM. I didn’t get the impression that he was actually predicting a rise of either 6C or 16C over such a short period now, but will have to watch the video again to check.

    Thanks again for the response.

  • I’m enjoying life, unlike ya’ll. Does that mean I’m more adaptable? I think so!

  • Bud: well written essay as it spells things out nicely. Thanks for the effort!

    http://dutchsinse.tatoott1009.com/6182014-radio-waves-could-be-contributing-to-hf-vhf-and-uhf-microwavesradar/

    6/18/2014 — Radio Waves could be contributing to climate change (HF, VHF, and UHF / microwaves)

    [some quotes from the article]

    At the bottom of this post, there are several good examples of tall microwave towers, and RADAR stations HEATING THE SKY above the transmitters…. melting snow high in the atmosphere… inducing storms….. even vaporizing / mitigating storms.

    These transmission systems are on 24/7/365… not counting the thousands of other HF, VHF, and UHF facilities around the world.

    If one puts out high power microwave transmissions (HF, and VHF pulses as well)….. these are proved to cause heating up to 3000C / 5500F temperatures when targeted. [the idea behind HAARP]

    Now imagine a million more NON-targeted systems…. heating still occurring, only instead of being targeted at a single spot, heating occurring in all directions from the transmitter at a lower heating level due to the larger area of the whole transmission radius as opposed to a targeted area a few hundred km wide.

    Want to talk ‘climate change’, and man made (anthropogenic) warming?

    If we’re going to talk about odd weather patterns, and ‘heating’… then we must address the thing which very few scientists even know exists…. radio frequency heating of the atmosphere.

    No one is shocked to see a cup of water heated in their kitchen microwave, yet people are shocked to learn that when you microwave the sky, that it too will heat up.
    RADAR working at 750,000watts, your kitchen microwave working at only 1000!! [there’s more]

    _____________

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140605-pigs-plastic-sperm-endocrine-disruptor-infertility-science/#

    Infertility in Spanish Pigs Has Been Traced to Plastics. A Warning for Humans?

    A scientist has connected infertility in pigs to compounds in plastic bags.

    [quotes from article]

    Some of the same chemicals found in the pigs’ semen storage bags are routinely used in packaging food for humans and are known to migrate into food. The strange case of the Spanish pigs, Nerín says, “shows the real risks we face.” (Explore an interactive showing toxic chemicals that may be lurking in your home.)

    Cyclic lactone, for instance, is a common by-product in adhesives used in potato chip bags and sliced meat packages. It was one of the chemicals found in high levels in the semen bags that had been used on the farms with the highest rates of reproductive failure.

    Another chemical found in high levels on those farms: a compound called BADGE, a derivative of the notorious bisphenol A (BPA). It’s the building block of epoxy resins that form the basis for 95 percent of food and beverage can linings in the U.S. (Also see “Chemical BPA Linked to Heart Disease, Study Confirms.”)

    In one recent study led by analytical chemist Kurunthachalam Kannan of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, BADGE, which is also found in household dust, was detected in 100 percent of 127 urine samples collected from people in the U.S. and China.

    BPA, the precursor of BADGE, is a known endocrine disruptor: It mimics and interferes with the action of a human hormone, in this case estrogen. A derivative of BADGE called BADGE-2H2O—which forms when BADGE meets water—is an even more potent estrogen mimic.

    A lot of research—epidemiological, lab-animal, and clinical studies—has linked endocrine disruptors to adverse health effects, including abnormal testicular development, early puberty, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even obesity. [read the rest]

    _____________

  • http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/chomsky-climate-change-may-doom-us-all.html

    [interview of Chomsky by Hedges]

    Thursday, 19 June 2014

    Chomsky: Climate change may doom us all, and not in the distant future,

    American Socrates

    [begins]

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Noam Chomsky, whom I interviewed last Thursday at his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has influenced intellectuals in the United States and abroad in incalculable ways. His explications of empire, mass propaganda, the hypocrisy and pliability of the liberal class and the failings of academics, as well as the way language is used as a mask by the power elite to prevent us from seeing reality, make him the most important intellectual in the country. The force of his intellect, which is combined with a ferocious independence, terrifies the corporate state—which is why the commercial media and much of the academic establishment treat him as a pariah. He is the Socrates of our time.

    We live in a bleak moment in human history. And Chomsky begins from this reality. He quoted the late Ernst Mayr, a leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century who argued that we probably will never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms render themselves extinct in a relatively short time.

    “Mayr argued that the adaptive value of what is called ‘higher intelligence’ is very low,” Chomsky said. “Beetles and bacteria are much more adaptive than humans. We will find out if it is better to be smart than stupid. We may be a biological error, using the 100,000 years which Mayr gives [as] the life expectancy of a species to destroy ourselves and many other life forms on the planet.”

    Climate change “may doom us all, and not in the distant future,” Chomsky said. “It may overwhelm everything. This is the first time in human history that we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for decent survival. It is already happening. Look at species destruction. It is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth, ended the period of the dinosaurs and wiped out a huge number of species. It is the same level today. And we are the asteroid. If anyone could see us from outer space they would be astonished.

    There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe.

    There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are.

    Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations—the First Nations in Canada, the aboriginals in Australia, the tribal people in India. Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.”

    If Mayr was right, we are at the tail end of a binge, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, that is about to drive us over a cliff environmentally and economically. A looming breakdown, in Chomsky’s eyes, offers us opportunity as well as danger. He has warned repeatedly that if we are to adapt and survive we must overthrow the corporate power elite through mass movements and return power to autonomous collectives that are focused on sustaining communities rather than exploiting them. Appealing to the established institutions and mechanisms of power will not work.

    [read it, listen to the 18 min. video interview]

    That’s all for me today. Enjoy your days.

    Driving around in expensive gas-guzzling and polluting vehicles that make well-endowed females squeal doesn’t make you more adaptive. It’s just another example of human “fun” wrecking the environment.

  • Off topic… local news

    On 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council’s issued an enforcement saying the property must be demolished within 2 months because, “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside.”

    Clearly this is untrue.

    Now Pembrokeshire planning committee will meet on Tuesday 24th of June to discuss Charlie and Megan’s retrospective planning permission. The agenda for the meeting is now available. The agenda includes a recommendation document that says:

    “It is recommended that the application be REFUSED… The dwelling will be dismantled and removed. This would not be a difficult task since it has been built predominantly from natural materials.”

    http://www.permaculture.co.uk/news/1906145187/stop-demolition-beautiful-low-impact-roundhouse

  • IAmMyRide –

    Thanks for reminding me of how pathetic we are.Sometimes I forget for a while.

  • @ulvfugl

    C’mon ulvfugl, you know the meat robots will do whatever it takes to keep the fucking ponzi scheme going. Ponzi scheme deviations are verboten! Do the zoning Nazis further define “character and appearance of the countryside”? Didn’t think so. Pave paradise. Put up a parkin’ lot.

  • ‘2012 Record Challenged as 40% of Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melts on June 17th’- headline of robert scribbler’s most recent blog entry

    ‘40% of greenland’s ice sheet disappeared… yesterday’ -guy mcpherson

    after questioning, guy clarifies (more accurately corrects, only partially as it turns out), that his misleading statement was wrong. 40% of the volume didn’t ‘disappear’, it was 40% of the surface area!

    is that so, guy? so now what u’re apparently saying is that the surface area of the ice sheet on greenland contracted by 40% in a single day? think again, guy. the ice sheet is over most of it’s vast expanse hundreds/thousands of meters thick, right? if a millimeter or 2, or a centimeter or 2 melts on the surface, does that mean that portion of the surface area ‘disappeared’? or does it mean that instead of being, say, 1 km thick, it’s now only 999 meters and 999 millimeters thick, give or take? turns out it didn’t disappear at all. and, as scribbler’s headline and article itself points out, such a degree of melting is not unprecedented, it happened just 2 years ago.

    shrill misleading alarmism on your part? or in calling attention to it, am i being a ‘jerk’ engaging in ‘ad hominem attack’?

  • I didn’t say it was unprecedented, terry. In fact, I pointed out that this year’s event pales in comparison to 2012. Please pay some semblance of attention.

  • Tony, all the information you seek is in my long essay, including links to statements from Beckwith

  • ‘yet another example of rapid, unpredictable, nonlinear changes in climate’ -guy, preceding his misrepresentation that ’40% of greenland’s ice sheet disappeared… yesterday’

    if an event is an example of ‘rapid, unpredictable, nonlinear change’ it is inferring that it is unprecedented, imo. and the last claim that u pointed out that this event paled in comparison to 2012????…. i guess i wasn’t paying close enough attention. somehow i didn’t see it the first time and in going back, still don’t.

    as long as u persist in lying or misrepresenting to exaggerate the immediacy of the perils we face, u are going to be confronted by myself and others. maybe u can change or maybe u can’t, but claiming that all criticism of your work is invalid or amounts to nothing but ‘ad hominem attacks’, or that it comes from not paying a ‘semblance of attention’ to what u’re saying, is just doubling down on a losing bet, imo. u may take comfort in your hardcore fans who will defend your integrity to the bitter end, but at the same time u are limiting your potential mass appeal, and particularly alienating those of scientific inclination with more scruples.

  • Quoting directly = lying? As I stated here, at 4:20 p.m. on 18 June 2014, “In 2012, more than 97% of the surface area was lost …”

    In my original statement, I was careful to use the term “surface ice sheet,” which has a specific meaning. It means what I wrote, not what you inferred.

  • “Do the zoning Nazis further define ‘character and appearance of the countryside’? Didn’t think so. Pave paradise. Put up a parkin’ lot.”

    Dave Zirin’s “Brazil’s Dance with the Devil” talks about the real estate development boom in Brazil due to the World Cup and upcoming Olympics. Hear him at approx. half way through today’s DemocracyNow.org. I’m sure the developers uprooting them are saying that the favelas that have been there for generations don’t fit the character of the new stuff that is just being built.

  • Robin – Gather enough “one trick dogs” and we can begin to see the whole circus.

  • @B9K9

    “And no, there isn’t any cosmic justice that is going to weigh ethics, morality and justice @ the pearly gates. That sh!t is all made up just to keep the sheep penned in from encroaching on the manor house.”

    Shear brilliance, Dr. Lecter…gotta hand it to ya.

    @TR

    Since there are those that deny the science supporting AGW then I can deny the religions that don’t have any science supporting them.

    Even if the 17 subsidized climate-change deniers lose their funding and change their tune…feel encouraged to continue to deny religions that are unsupported by science.

    @y’all

    Reckon Jagger & Richards hadn’t read Margulis & Lovelock back when they wrote this or else it might have been titled “Gaia”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga98wIK82Nw

  • Meat robot?.
    I guess that is simplifying things too much.
    Different is to say that we may become meat robots, if we choose too.
    Sounds more like an excuse to avoid the effort of learning. And changing.
    Changes of the kind we are talking about have a cost (mainly in life style) and require a personal effort.
    It is like the smoker that does not really want to quit, even knowing it is bad, and uses several excuses, supported and accepted by society, but they are only that, excuses to cover the lack of will.
    After more than 30 years of smoking, and after three years in an internal fight to quit, finally, I did it. Full stop from one day to another. And never smoked again. That was four years ago. At that time I was smoking 2.5 packs a day.

  • All the usual stuff: suppression of scientific facts, exploitation of the general populace for profit, manipulation and lies, and rats that lose their capacity to think straight:

  • What a story, ulvfugl. Sadly, the powers that be can’t look further than their bank accounts and what supports it. It’s beautiful house, with low impact, that would would be a pleasure to live in. I sincerely hope that they get to keep their house. It’s a massive undertaking, made with obvious care and pleasure. I can’t see how it could do other than enhance the area, even though it looks fairly well hidden. Friends of mine have been building their house with earth bricks they made tehmselves (as well as doing everything else, themselves), so I’m aware of the effort that this sort of thing would take. Fortunately, my friends managed to get council permission for the house (though they aren’t stickling strictly to the plan but did have to make some compromises). I wish councils would stay out of the way, unless others are being harmed. Sadly, this is just another way that our freedoms are being removed as we slip remorselessly down that slope.

  • I see Robin Datta’s ‘meat robot’ meme has caught wind. Although the term ‘meat robot’ is technically accurate, it masks millions of years of evolution which made us so. (In a way, we seem to exhibit more ant-like behavior as a society more than meat-robot-like behavior.)

    Millions of years of evolution has PERFECTLY adapted us to society and environment. So exquisite is this adaptation that nature has selectively bred in a narrative (we call consciousness) which provides built-in societal mechanisms of morality, trust, cooperation, team formation, emotional-rational cross support for goal seeking and so on.

    Even though this is not the type narrative-generated and mysticism-based coping response usually promoted, it is nature, no more, no less.

    If this analysis appeals to you, there are more details in: The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions by Alex Rosenberg https://www.amazon.com/Atheists-Guide-Reality-Enjoying-Illusions/dp/0393344118

    Alex says that when our existence is reduced to its most basic level, we are one example of natures’ thermodynamic enhancement mechanisms facilitating entropy.