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.

_______

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.

Comments 144

  • Regarding much of the discussion that occurs here, I have copied four relevant, short quotes of deep, fundamental significance from Schneider and Sagan’s book, Into The Cool:

    “The laws of physics are not inviolate at all scales and some only hold for a certain bandwidth within hierarchical scales.”

    “Quantum measurement and entropy/work are more than minor embarrassments to the world of would-be perfect time invariance of modern science.”

    “Einstein’s faith in determinism, belied by his immortal quip in a letter to fellow physicist Max Born that ‘He [God] does not play dice,’ now seems to be wrong. Not only does He appear to be something of a Compulsive Gambler. Evolutionary biology, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics all integrate chance into their worldviews. This may reflect our stupidity, our inability to find the real reason behind phenomena, or chance may be irreducible, real and rudimentary beyond our comprehension. ‘Only two things are infinite,’ Einstein said less famously, ‘the universe and human stupidity—and I’m not sure about the former.'”

    “Life is connected to, contingent upon, and organized by energy. But just how has not always been so clear.”

  • “Evolutionary biology, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics all integrate chance into their worldviews.”

    Chance too, is a descriptor for aspects within space-time-causation. It does not explain the phenomenon of MY awareness that only I have and that cannot be experienced by anyone else. Awareness on their part is a presumption on my part, a construct based on my prior constructs from sensory inputs and memory.

  • “If this analysis appeals to you, there are more details in: The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: ”

    There is an non-theists’ Guide to Reality earlier by more than a millennium:

    Diamond Sutra – A New Translation by Alex Johnson, Chapter 14:
    “Such a person will … have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self. Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.”

    Atheists deny. Non-theists are past that stage.

  • I was born a meat puppet, but after 46 years of the all Canadian industrial diet, I am now a meat by-product puppet.

    I deny nothing

  • fuel for the fire. a couple of links and excerpts below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind-stream

    Most Buddhist schools are committed doctrinally to anātman (Pali: anattā), “non-self,” the teaching that none of the things perceived by the senses constitute a “self.” As Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains, “…the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible.”[1] Scholar Herbert V. Gunther further explains, “an individual, which in other systems is imagined as a combination of matter and a permanent mental principle (ātman), is in reality a continuously changing stream of that which from one viewpoint is believed to be matter and from another a mind. However, what we call the mental and the material occurs in a unity of organization. Organization is something dynamic.”[2]

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

    The anattā doctrine is not a type of materialism. Buddhism does not necessarily deny the existence of mental phenomena (such as feelings, thoughts, and sensations) that are distinct from material phenomena.[2] Thus, the conventional translation of anattā as “no-soul”[3] might be misleading. If the word “soul” refers to a non-bodily component in a person that can continue in some way after death, then Buddhism does not deny the existence of a soul.[4] In fact, persons (Pāli: puggala; Sanskrit, pudgala) are said to be characterized by an ever-evolving consciousness (Pali: samvattanika viññana),[5][6] stream of consciousness (Pali: viññana sotam;[5] Sanskrit: vijñana srotām), or mind-continuity (Sanskrit: citta-saṃtāna) which, upon the death or dissolution of the aggregates (skandhas), becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new group of skandhas. However, Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent or static entity that remains constant behind the changing bodily and non-bodily components of a living being. Reportedly, the Buddha reprimanded a disciple who thought that in the process of rebirth the same consciousness is reborn without change.[7] Just as the body changes from moment to moment, so thoughts come and go; and according to the anattā doctrine, there is no permanent conscious substance that experiences these thoughts, as in Cartesianism: rather, conscious thoughts simply arise and perish with no “thinker” behind them.[8] When the body dies, the incorporeal mental processes continue and are reborn in a new body.[4] Because the mental processes are constantly changing, the new being is neither exactly the same as, nor completely different from, the being that died.[9]

    my take:

    a small part of “you” is here, in your human body. call it soul. this is part of something larger that is actually “you” in your totality as an individual, call it lightbeing. this is again part of something larger that is actually “you” – call it Consciousness, the All, the One.

    all of this is in a state of permanent flux, ever changing. don’t bother getting lost in the details, just enjoy it for what the experience is.

  • @ mo flow

    a small part of “you” is here, in your human body. call it soul. this is part of something larger that is actually “you” in your totality as an individual, call it lightbeing. this is again part of something larger that is actually “you” – call it Consciousness, the All, the One.

    all of this is in a state of permanent flux, ever changing. don’t bother getting lost in the details, just enjoy it for what the experience is.

    My take is different. I think Robin Datta’s take is gobbledegook, word salad, that just leads to endless muddle and confusion, trying to meld together ancient Vedic stuff and evolutionary psychology and behaviourism and Kurzweil and Kabbalah and the Diamond Sutra, the I and the not-I, blabla, I reject the whole lot.

    There’s a whole aspect of Vedic Hindu nationalist doctrine which is thoroughly nasty, fascistic and dehumanising, and very keen to look upon ‘unenlighened’ inferior people as ‘meat robots’, ‘untermenschen’.

    I think we do have a soul as a definable, knowable, experiencable entity, but most people lose it, they live ‘all in their heads’.

    You have to do specific practices to re-inhabit, retrieve, rediscover, your soul. Once you have the experience and actually know what you are talking about, then you don’t have any doubts about this matter any more.

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

  • Bud and Mo flow,

    Your two most recent posts stir up the salad nicely and make it look delightful.

  • Desdemona Despair has a bunch of interesting articles today (http://www.desdemonadespair.net/):

    Friends of Science – ‘With Friends Like These…’

    Well, if there’s one thing you can always count on when it comes to organized global warming denial, it’s how Orwellian it is.

    After all, that’s the only reasonable explanation for the group that calls itself “Friends of Science”. Because friends certainly don’t act the way they do. Ignoring all of science and then saying whoppers about it isn’t something I’d consider exactly friendly to science. For evidence, I present to you a billboard they put up in Calgary recently.

    It says, “The Sun is the main driver of climate change. Not you. Not CO2.”

    This is, to phrase it carefully, a huge load of stuff that comes out of the wrong end of a bull. [read it all]

    Californians scapegoat the drought for wandering lions … and bears – ‘This is the third year of drought, and that’s three bad years of reproduction for wildlife species’

    A bear wandered into a public park in San Luis Obispo County and sent Little Leaguers scampering for shelter. Who’s to blame? The drought, of course.

    Mountain lions are jumping fences in northern California and killing goats. Whose fault? The drought again.

    In California, a state suffering its third year of extreme dryness, the crippling drought has become the go-to culprit for situations in which humans are more likely responsible. [read the rest]

    Acid seas threaten creatures that supply half the world’s oxygen

    What happens when phytoplankton, the (mostly) single-celled organisms that constitute the very foundation of the marine food web, turn toxic?

    Their toxins often concentrate in the shellfish and many other marine species (from zooplankton to baleen whales) that feed on phytoplankton. Recent trailblazing research by a team of scientists aboard the RV Melville shows that ocean acidification will dangerously alter these microscopic plants, which nourish a menagerie of sea creatures and produce up to 60 percent of the earth’s oxygen.

    The researchers worked in carbon saturated waters off the West Coast, a living laboratory to study the effects of chemical changes in the ocean brought on by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. A team of scientists from NOAA’s Fisheries Science Center and Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, along with teams from universities in Maine, Hawaii and Canada focused on the unique “upwelled” zones of California, Oregon and Washington. In these zones, strong winds encourage mixing, which pushes deep, centuries-old CO2 to the ocean surface. Their findings could reveal what oceans of the future will look like. The picture is not rosy. [much more]

    Parched: A New Dust Bowl Forms in the Heartland — “Exceptional drought” makes for tough times in Oklahoma.

    In Boise City, Oklahoma, over the catfish special at the Rockin’ A Café, the old-timers in this tiny prairie town grouse about billowing dust clouds so thick they forced traffic off the highways and laid down a suffocating layer of topsoil over fields once green with young wheat.

    They talk not of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but of the duster that rolled through here on April 27, clocked at 62.3 miles per hour.

    It was the tenth time this year that Boise City, at the western end of the Oklahoma panhandle, has endured a dust storm with gusts more than 50 miles per hour, part of a breezier weather trend in a region already known for high winds. [read if interested]

    And (at seemorerocks)

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/secret-trade-deal-revealed.html

    Friday, 20 June 2014
    Secret trade deal revealed

    Secret trade agreement covering 68 percent of world services published by WikiLeaks

    The text of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted in secret was published by WikiLeaks on Thursday as the transparency group’s editor commemorated his two-year anniversary confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. [check it out – and the article following it has more information]

  • Ulv,

    When will you submit an article to Guy for publication?

  • Here’s an uplifting read with nice pix and an video interview:

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/jane-goodall-interviewed-on-radio-nz.html

    Friday, 20 June 2014

    Jane Goodall interviewed on Radio NZ

    World-renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall

    Jane Goodall, is the world-renowned primatologist, ethologist, and conservationist, whose ground breaking study of the chimpanzees of Gombe in Tanzania in the 1960s altered forever the accepted definition of humanity.

    Aged just 26, she travelled to Africa, and under the patronage of the eminent paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, began to observe the chimps in the Gombe stream, on the edge of Lake Tanganyika.

    Jane Goodall is in New Zealand to give a series of public talks in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland marking 80-years of her extraordinary life.

    Kevin – I hope you get to hear her speak (if you’re interested).

  • A Unprecedented Radiation Disaster
    Fukushima’s Ongoing Fallout

    @Godofredo Aravena

    Congratulations on giving up tobacco Godofredo. Your lungs will appreciate it. Did you put on much weight as a result of smoking cessation? Few people realize that they are responsible for their own health and instead rely upon physicians and the pharma industry to take care of them. As you know meat robot is not my term and appears to have several meanings which is nebulous at best. Good health demands constant attention especially in nutrition and physical exercise.

    @ kevin moore

    Your recent post/sugar documentary is spot on.

    Be well artleads.

    If the radiation don’t get ya, then the climate change will.

  • thestormcrow, I really liked your comment. My shrink, years ago now, told me there isn’t any such thing as altruism, because we get pleasure from helping others. I agree.

    Really enjoy the substantive comments.

    Gonna go feed the birds now.

  • I’ve posted the third in RE’s series, “The Money Valve.” It’s here, with links to recent interviews at the bottom.

  • Thanks, Ogardner. Same to you!

  • Nama and Rupa are Pali words for Mind ( Conciousness ) and Body ( Material Stuff )

    One of the objects of the Satipatthana Vipassana type of Buddhist meditation is to get the yogi ( meditator ) to see the true nature of the mind-body relationship. This is considered the first stage of enlightenment.

    I have been practising this type of meditation for several years including a 9 week retreat in Myanmar, but haven’t got to the first stage yet.

    However I have observed that the body is much like a robot, it obeys all commands that the mind gives it. Often the mind can be very hard on the body in my experience.

  • @ FriedrichKling

    When will you submit an article to Guy for publication?

    I don’t know what there is to say, that has not been said here already, Friedrich. There seems no shortage of contributions.
    When I feel the need to write, I write about other topics…

    http://www.monsangelorum.net/?p=12849

  • Jimbot –

    “the true nature of the mind-body relationship”

    there is no mind-body relationship.

  • Hi mo flow.

    Good for you, don’t take anybody’s word for it. That would have been Lord Buddha’s advice too.

    Anyway, I know this is a non sectarian blog, but as they explain on the linked page I just found, anybody of any belief or non-belief can do the practise. It doesn’t depend on belief, although initially it takes a little faith that the unbroken lineage of teachers are not all totally wrong or charlatans.

    http://www.vipassanadhura.com/whatis.htm#toc

  • Hi Jimbot –

    take my word for it – there is no mind-body relationship.

    thankfully, there *are* unicorns.

    however, there are *no* pink unicorns with purple stripes. at least that’s what they tell me, and I have good reason to believe them. ymmv.

  • Interesting to consider Festinger, and Cognitive Dissonance (as far as I got reading today). As I/we recall from college Psych, “When Prophecy Fails” is about his group’s study of a cult that believed the world would end on a certain date.

    When the date passed uneventfully, the cult leader proposed a new date, and explanations for the failure of the previous date. Each time this happened, half the members left, and the other half doubled down and committed themselves more fully to the folly.

    To my recollection, “cognitive dissonance” is about the process their minds go through as they resolved either to quit or persevere amidst these discrepancies.

    I’m afraid that what most college students take away from these studies is that predictors of doom are idiots, and are always proven wrong. Simple to fall into, but an incorrect conclusion.

    These are about non-scientific predictions, based on no repeatable and thus forseeable measurements of natural systems.

    The analogy, this time, is all to the other side: The people who BELIEVE that we will somehow escape massive or total annihilation have their dates, too. The next “World Conference of Leaders”, as in Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, etc etc, and “THIS time we REALLY MEAN IT! We’re really going to GET SERIOUS, and DO SOMETHING about this problem. REALLY!”

    Of course, they never do. And when that date skates by, they await the next one. Never comes or will come a plan to shut down IndCiv.

    Plus, Doom is acceptable when it’s labeled for 2100. But not for much earlier. Nope, no accelerating trendlines will be tolerated in this belief system.

    To them, perhaps, life on Earth is like a video game, Pac-Man-like, in which they get unlimited quarters to put in, to buy more lives, or, if there is only one theoretical quarter to spend, well, you get THREE lives out of it. First two losses don’t really count. “I’ll make it on the third one!”

    No, actually, for them, entering upon Industrial Civilization, the one they’re passively born into, is like the giant Pac-Man game, only they’ve decided to pop in their quarter, and JUST SIT, expecting somehow the destructive forces won’t see or find them. Could that be it?

    Remember, Nature was not inherently destructive of humankind, though it could be contrary at times. But IndCiv is destructive, totally, of human (and other species) habitat.

    Sitting still after your little creature lights up on the screen just won’t do. You have to move around, and, under IndCiv, faster, faster, and impossibly FASTER, just to survive.

    Yes, the question of whether there’s a winning level you can get to, after gobbling up all the lesser problem screens, is of interest. Many of us could speculate on it. But if you’re not even moving, ever? Passing date after date of “We’re really getting on this!”

    ===========

    No, I think the emotional resistance to NTE comes because, before NTE comes mass die-off, and that’s getting personal to most of Guy’s listeners, even though he doesn’t state much about it. Personal, because it’s about THEM, and they’re scripted into it.

    Hey, if NTE is 2050, then mass die-off is 2035. If NTE is 2030, MDO begins 2022. Is there an app for that yet?

    Most people just haven’t done the match-up to their own mortalities as yet.

  • @Henry

    Here’s that end of the world comedy sketch for ya.
    Havin’ dim sum tomorrow morning…pura vida!

  • @infanttyrone — wish I could join you — such good times we had!

    Looks like the Pythons read Festinger, too. But when society relates you to those New Yorker cartoons of the guy in the robe with the sign, you might as well just keep it to yourself. They have no mental facility for handling actual science that is sounding similar. And, for most people, that’s enough — if something SOUNDS or LOOKS like something else, well, that’s it. Pour me another, would ya?

    I need to get back and read the rest of what has been a fine essay so far, but couldn’t we say that most people haven’t dealt with the issue of their own mortality, ‘cept’n the folks in hospice, let alone generalize it to “the World” terminating. How can you do the latter if you’ve never processed even 10% of your own demise? It’s just an intellectual (or dogmatic) speculation, with no depth to it.

    Most of us “western” folk assume we will die in old age, or worry about the onset of some dread disease, but we cannot imagine ourselves dying of hunger, or — perish the thought — our grandchildren dying from it in childhood (as our many-greats grandparents sometimes did). Just not on our screen of possibilities.

    While I’m using up my posts, I’ll just toss in that some of our mentioning of “economic collapse” or “collapse of industrial civilization” or “nuclear meltdown” is similarly unspecific and probably glossing over the actual mechanisms that might lead to those scenarios, or the conglomeration of outcomes from each of them.

    I think our carbon/methane/runaway feedback model is much more determinative of humanity’s fate, and much more important information to make available to readers happening upon our little islet of doom. I’m not sure we need to attempt to add emphasis to that case by citing any of the others, except as interactions in parallel to the effects of climate chaos.

  • “While I’m using up my posts, I’ll just toss in that some of our mentioning of “economic collapse” or “collapse of industrial civilization” or “nuclear meltdown” is similarly unspecific and probably glossing over the actual mechanisms that might lead to those scenarios, or the conglomeration of outcomes from each of them.”

    You ask for rigorous observation of what is going on; not vague and unspecific phrases like: “economic collapse” or “collapse of industrial civilization” or “nuclear meltdown”. Does the RE post now up constitute a specific enough approach to economic collapse? If so, that could constitute a step in the required direction. It seems that the other issues have been taken on either through feature articles or through links. But limited time precludes every post going into such detail? (Barring some future systems tools that everyone can use and relate to?)

    Is it possible that a rigorous investigation of the elements of collapse–the causes within them, as well as how they interact with each other–would render the prescription (though probably correct) that you offer below inconsistent (as being very unspecific)? I’m not saying this well, but I hope the question makes a little sense.

    “I think our carbon/methane/runaway feedback model is much more determinative of humanity’s fate, and much more important information to make available to readers happening upon our little islet of doom. I’m not sure we need to attempt to add emphasis to that case by citing any of the others, except as interactions in parallel to the effects of climate chaos.”

    I don’t know if the following is relevant to specificity? Maybe all it speaks to is an admittedly hopeless way to improve (hopeless) resistance, while not determinatively addressing those determinative trends you mention. Maybe you’re talking about the hard scientific facts and I’m talking about something more amorphous, having to do with how I see resistance being more effective. This is a reposting of my latest post under the Hope thread of the Forum:

    “Stopping rural development might seem deceptively unimportant, for there are nukes, emissions, oceans, etc. that give pause to hope besides. But stopping sprawl development means stopping the transportation it generates, or the petroleum-produced paving its roads require, or the loss of food resilience. Then there is the development-caused loss of soil and vegetation for the roads and building infrastructure, the loss of migratory routes, further driving species extinction. There is also heat island effects, since developers are going in for larger and larger schemes that necessitate shopping strips and the transportation to supply them. These sprawled places require services–police, schools, ambulance, infrastructure road repair, cel towers–that cost the public in one way or another.

    What happens now, I think, is that some slight gains are made (that simultaneously entail losses due to materials (mining), construction…another subject) with solar and wind installations, etc. Meanwhile these gains are overwhelmed by population growth and sprawl DEVELOPMENT. But development, were it to be guided by what suits the commons, would occur within the urban environment only. Presumably, then, denser urban population would result in economic vitalization. So I think there are far more wins in curtailing sprawl than is commonly considered, even among the enlightened.”

    Are you saying that such concerns are irrelevant and distracting to the core message that we need to emphasize on NBL?

  • Yes, Artleads, although I am (and because I am) interested in all these phenomena, especially in the light of oncoming mass die-off and/or extinction. And because extinction of humanity is about everything we have ever done or been, then any topic — philosophical, humorous, medical, infrastructure etc etc — is material for discussion.

    But yes, none of these three CAUSES extinction, by destruction of all habitat. In fact, some of them — especially in earlier times — would have delayed extinction by delaying GHG buildup.

    I mean, you could also discuss mass viral infection — subject of several films — unpredictable either as to origin, timing or extent. But a viral paring down of human population, as long as it hit the “right” people, would be the most direct attack on carbon emissions. But the topic strikes nearly everyone as tasteless, because it quickly looks like you’re wishing for it — or worse.

    But I was addressing more the shorthand labels used as revealing a lack of relevance to the topic of NTE, and possibly a superficial acquaintance with each of them.

    RE is advanced in his understanding of central banking and its tendency to promote leveraged consumption based on fractional reserve banking which bases its supposed reserves on fiat money. But if this were removed, the same carbon-emitting resources would still be mined and burned in the underlying economy, in China and the BRICS if not in the USA. (The Americentric Eurocentric view strikes again!) Markets would reprice oil and gas and deliver them to those who could pay, as long as physical pipelines, refineries and trucks were able to still be in use. Guess which societal infrastructure will be maintained operational to the last minute even at the expense of all other?

    Perhaps “economic collapse” has a chronological suggestion in people’s imaginations? Like “back to the 1850s” as the idea of a rollback of industrial “progress”? Don’t think that’s in the cards. What can be burned will be burned.

    “Collapse of industrial civilization” is more likely to result as a byproduct itself of the population die-off from starvation as habitat is lost, not as a precondition to the die-off or to extinction. People are not going to give up consuming their goodies until they are pried from their cold, dead hands, to quote Charlton Heston.

    Remember — anything that kills off 90% of population WITHOUT spoiling habitat for the remaining 10% IMPROVES their odds and possibly quality of survival, as did the Black Plague for the survivors.

    “Nuclear meltdown” is still, as far as I have yet discovered, still a local, heavy particle contamination, and not with the atmospheric injection that a nuclear war would produce. And still, the Southern Hemisphere has six months at least to prepare for the attenuated “fallout” from either. I am now at the 55-year mark in my awareness of nuclear “fallout”, so if there is some new information on the physics of its dispersal, I hope I will learn of it soon, and correct my comments here.

    Nuclear contamination at the levels people have discussed causes cancers and genetic mutations, though not universally and not instant death worldwide at those dosage levels. Make it to 14, and you may successfully reproduce, with a similar chance of your progeny doing the same. Die-off yes, extinction no.

    I think it is because people are still stuck in the “Plants breathe in carbon dioxide, don’t they?” mentality that Guy’s summation of our being in the midst of several tipping points is the unique contribution made here. The other topics do not add to that, but smoosh us in with all the general Doom blogs.

    The facts about methane hit me like the oft-cited ton of bricks just 2 years ago; I’m still amazed in retrospect at how long I went without encountering them. I assume that that pre-awareness state is where most educated, thinking people now are. I’m not even sure now I want to wake them from their somnambulism. I just want to learn more for myself, and process what is ahead for me and mine.

    You may die from multiple causes, but you can only die once from any or all of them. Citing multiple issues as “bad, vewwy vewwy ba-aa-aa-aad” in order to add weight to the sense of our predicament does not add to our understanding of NTE or the psychological states we face on our way to it.

    So, yes, go to ZeroHedge to understand the brittleness of the present financial system, Dmitry Orlov to understand how America’s collapse could be more serious and terminal than USSR’s, Harvey Wasserman and George Washington’s blog to follow Fuku and other nuke perils, and DGR to understand WHY IndCiv ought to be taken down (but how?), or should have been (coulda woulda shoulda) long long ago.

    For the practiced Doomer, these and many more like them are all exquisite resources to create your own cosmology of disintegration. And they may be relevant to your own personal survival journey.

    But, in contrast, consider what AMEG has brought us. (The “M” is for Methane.) The sharpness of their presentation still shocks me every time I go there. Hell, I read the other stuff mentioned above just to get my worldly bearings back again, to feel normal for awhile longer.

    Suburban “sprawl”? That boat sailed long ago. Concentrated population centers are potential “killing fields”. Whether people know it or not, they are in effect “drawing straws” to see which 1 out of 10 will survive the sudden loss of the habitat that ships them their food.

    Our discussions here have focused me, as I did not see even two years ago, on how much damage is being done, everywhere and in every way, all around us. It’s becoming personally painful to see it every day. I control my anger, and do my venting here.

    This “drawing straws” is why almost no one wants to acknowledge or “do something about” IndCiv, because it is their lifeline while it exists, and their doom when it falls. Population overshoot logically demands that they VOLUNTEER to die now (Hi, Pat!) in order to possibly save unknown others from dying later, although the indirect delivery mode through climate chaos masks this logical sequence from their consideration.

    So, as to specificity: I don’t suggest that these labels be fleshed out here, as in the total education package that RE embarks upon. (He’s a good example of the “right thing in the wrong place.”) I’m all for educating people, but then, it took me 32 years of studying economics to begin to get 15 years ago what RE expresses now, so how much time and blogspace do you want to spend on educating the non-economics student?

    No, I think what I was suggesting was that most people have a shorthand vision attached to each of these labels, that it was certainly not (possible to be) matched to others’ visions of same (thus largely negating use of the terms), and it was likely not too relevant to NTE, unless a few specifics were to be pulled from the fuzzy mass of uncohering datapoints. And, given the above, the specifics chosen by any one person would be unlikely to inform another.

    Now, Resistance, that’s another matter. Perhaps that sharpens the whole conglomeration of these topics and makes them focused? Endless study might go nowhere if you’re not going to do anything with it, but could become suddenly much more clear if your goal is to determine your actions.

    Here’s an actual action question: Are the 8 German nuclear plants which were permanently shut down totally decommissioned in the way that the other 400-something need to be while IndCiv still operates? Or are they hiding some spent fuel pools as all the others seem determined to continue doing? Have they been removed from the danger equation?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_phase-out

  • About self, me, you, existence, soul.
    Well, that is philosophy certainly. Can´t be proven.
    Nobody “is right”, or “wrong” about that.
    These concepts, like religion, try to explain what we cannot understand and prove.
    My conflict with them is when they become the object on itself. When people stop questioning them, and they become the “idol”, and the search of truth is left aside. Like many religions, and many followers, do not question The Bible. The Bible becomes the idol.
    And with that, comes the status quo.

    To my view, it is acceptable the practice of building models of reality, life, the essence of life, and all that. But they should evolve. They should change, and cannot be taken as “the truth”, and that those who do not believe in that, are “barbarians”, like it was in the time when Spanish conquerors came to America.

    I do not believe in soul, do not believe in second life, and reality is what we see around. Self is a biological concept that must exist for biological reasons, mainly related with survival, the final purpose of most living creatures.
    When we are talking of an intelligent creature, self becomes a more complex concept, mainly because humans can think, imagine, create. But in any case, the self concept is a basic need to learn, with the concrete final purpose of being able to create evermore complex things, to me, our final purpose as humans on earth. A concept that it is still quite sub understood.
    I cannot explain the biology behind the concept of self, but that is only a sign that we as humans know too little about our body. As we effectively do.
    Contrary to the concept of entropy, there is another “force”, that goes the opposite. That is knowledge related with the capacity to create, to reshape. Knowledge becomes bigger as time goes by. And it is the root of a non destructive force. It has to be handled with care certainly. Those that can learn, and create, like humans, must learn to use this unlimited power. Something we as humans have not been able to do.
    As gathering knowledge is an endless task, the key clue in humans are the generations, we cannot think in one human life, we always have to think in the next generation, as they can continue the task. And there is not a final stage, as the total and absolute knowledge cannot be achieved. As an entity can create more complex objects as knowledge increases, has to become wiser, as that means an increasing power.
    My analysis of the reality, and the universe concludes that in terms of the intellectual capacity, logic is the driving force behind everything. There must be a logic explanation for everything. Just looking at nature, it can be concluded that everything has a reason, that is supported by logic. Even love has a logical explanation.
    Jesus, Buddha, Krishna (and others like them) gave us some basic lights about ourselves and how to act in a non destructive way, mainly to be in peace with our dark side, that is a basic need to become “good” creators, our final purpose. The enlightenment is only a part of the process, because by itself has no purpose, but coupled to the capacity to create, allows a life with purpose, using our almost limitless capacity to create things, just for the joy of doing it, and along the way, making this universe a more fantastic place.
    These are just my thoughts…

    To Ogardener

    When I quit, well I had some problems with my weight. But Minor, because I used to smoke and at the same time drink a (big) lot of coffee with (a lot of) sugar. I quit from both. I still drink coffee with sugar, but a lot less, and with less sugar. I am still overweight, but less, and I walk as much as possible.
    About taking care of health, the point there is mainly, why?
    In my case, I was running a small company, with people totally depending on me, and then, my family, also depending on me. Add to that the effort of years to develop a company.
    I thought It wouldn´t be fair to put my life so in risk of dying, just for the pleasure of smoking, that in the event, would leave so many other persons in some way, helpless. I had to think in more than 20 people. It was a logical reason to quit.

  • Here’s one from 1971, a favourite album and song for me that year. A band with serious chops.

    Just trying the embed code

    or here’s the link:

  • Henry,

    Thanks for the powerful response. I read it twice and am still trying to fully get my mind around it. As I’ve probably said before, I don’t have a left brain and seem to mostly think in “images,” one scenario after the next. As such, I’m willing to constrain myself where it becomes clear that I’m harming others in some way through these “visions.”

    So far, your generalization about cities is hard to grok.

    “Suburban “sprawl”? That boat sailed long ago. Concentrated population centers are potential “killing fields”. Whether people know it or not, they are in effect “drawing straws” to see which 1 out of 10 will survive the sudden loss of the habitat that ships them their food.”

    Since the sun shines and water flows in cities, I don’t see why, inherently, they are killing fields. True, limited land base necessitates some going outside for resources, but not necessarily anything remotely like the outside dependency that is the current norm. Isn’t it a normalcy bias to firmly conclude that cities must continue to be the way they are under industrial capitalism? Strip away the customs and the memes and you have physical space that is as amenable to nature’s bounty as any other.

    As I said above, any constraint you see as needed will be gratefully considered.

  • A well earned response from Ulvfugl…to save you the trouble, Henry. :-)

    Re: Hope

    “More nonsense from artleads. But at least he admits he knows nothing about anything.

    This is how the American Empire began. Well, if you forget about the British, European, roots.

    It never stopped. The only remaining areas not yet conquered are Russia, China, N. Korea, and Iran, and they are working hard at fixing those.

    http://www.slate.com/content/slate/blogs/the_vault/2014/06/17/interactive_map_loss_of_indian_land.html

    I can’t think past today, and so am extremely limited. So my ONLY concern is what could realistically (mostly in the physical sense) be done TODAY with simply introducing a bit of commonsense and creativity that would be a better choice for TODAY than what prevails. Something that others might have missed.

    As Ulvfugl rightly assesses, I display no involvement with the future where those three major biggies of yours kick in for real. WTF am I supposed to do about them? I sure as hell didn’t cause them, and I’ve been saying for 50 years that there is an existential problem with how society is going. My HS principal in the early 50s would repeatedly intone (during morning assembly/sermon) what an utterly horrible state the world was in–he had spent time in Germany during the 30s too–and that we must question everything. AFAIK, I’m the only student who absorbed or was impressed by his concerns. He was also most critical of my confused, fuzzy, dreamy way of relating to the world. So I accept that I’m a walking disaster, and just keep right on going.

  • Guy, I checked your climate change summary, with regards to Beckwith. In that summary, you characterise his view (in feedback 27) as, “Mixing of the jet stream is a catalyst, too. High methane releases follow fracturing of the jet stream, accounting for past global-average temperature rises up to 16 C in a decade or two”. This seems to be referring to past temperature rise, not current. Later, you write that Beckwith, “indicates Earth could warm by 6 C within a decade”. From the video you referenced, he seems to again be talking about what paleoclimate has shown is possible, “if” we pass a tipping point. I don’t think I’d characterise that as a “projection” by him except as a projection of what could happen in some situations. This gels with the words he used in that recent video with you. Yes, I agree that the worst case could happen and I think Paul is intent on helping to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

  • Tony, thanks for reading before criticizing. I welcome your new approach.

    Beckwith is not intent on helping to ensure anything except continuation of industrial civilization. His call for geo-engineering has been roundly criticized by numerous refereed journal articles. And of course he is presenting information from the paleo-climatic record: That’s his area of expertise, and it demonstrates the capacity for Earth’s climate to change in the future. As such, it demonstrates where we’re headed, now that abrupt climate change is under way (as Beckwith admits).

  • Guy,

    Thanks for your answer.

    I’m not sure why you think I’ve criticised without reading, though I admit that I sometimes haven’t delved deeply enough – it takes a lot of time! I’m not siding with Beckwith, I was just concerned that you seem to be claiming that Beckwith is backing where you think temperature is going and when. It seems to me that Beckwith worries that past climate shows what could happen to climate, not what will happen and when. We’re certainly playing with fire, when it comes to enabling non-linear responses from the climate, but what those abrupt changes will be, when and with what impact is unknown, except that we know that abrupt changes in the past have not wiped out all life on the planet or made humans extinct, though those events certainly have come close in the past.

  • Tony: keep in mind that “this time is different” than the distant past history of Earth in that humanity has developed radiation and introduced it in much larger quantities than were previously known to exist. This pollution has demonstrably negative effects in even the smallest dosage on any and all living cells. Fukushima alone is an extinction event – it’s not “under control” and is steadily worsening by the second. Add to that the loss of habitat that our CO2 pollution is causing and your dancing around the “unknown” rate and time of real trouble looks to be your defense mechanism to relieve you of fear and worry. It’s understandable, but further delving into the myriad problems facing not only humanity, but all life, will inevitably bring you around to the clear picture of doom we’re experiencing.

    Guy isn’t making this stuff up to scare people or create arguments. He’s not stretching the truth or making false statements, he’s relaying the facts and “connecting the dots” so that ordinary people can understand that we’ve caused irretrievable imbalances in the chemistry of the biosphere that will affect us from here on – until we’re unable to provide the basics for living here longer. We screwed up and are finding that we only had the one chance to “do it right.”

  • Tom,

    I repeat this every so often because it seems my comments automatically lead some people to believe that I’m a denier or that I want industrial civilisation to go on indefinitely or that I’m trying to soften the blow emotionally. None of those, or similar notions, is correct. All I ever do is try to find out likely paths for the living planet (including humans) so that my responses are best informed. I know (or believe) that the situation is irretrievable in a timescale meaningful to humans but irretrievable still leaves lots of valid bad scenarios about what the future hold, it only means that life as we know it can’t go on much longer and, almost certainly, there will be a die-back.

    Yes, radiation is an added factor but I read stuff on both sides of the picture. I understand that the wolf is back in Chernobyl, for example. That requires a fully functioning eco-system for a top predator to survive. The impacts of 450 meltdowns will be significant but they will vary depending on many factors. Piling up reasons for extinction is not a valid argument, in my opinion; I’m trying to figure out if any of those reasons or any combination of those reasons lead to what many here think it leads to. It seems that such a rationale is hard to find, so one is left to connect the dots oneself, as best one can.

  • @ Weddle

    It seems that such a rationale is hard to find, so one is left to connect the dots oneself, as best one can.

    Striking how hard you find it is, to connect the dots of the Climate Summary and arrive at the conclusions that most intelligent educated folk come to, even when you feign imbecility and are spoon-feed the info repeatedly, by Guy, myself, and others.

    You still play the Village Idiot, as if it were completely impossible to grasp any connections. And yet now, what do we get from you ?

    Yes, radiation is an added factor but I read stuff on both sides of the picture. I understand that the wolf is back in Chernobyl, for example. That requires a fully functioning eco-system for a top predator to survive. The impacts of 450 meltdowns will be significant but they will vary depending on many factors.

    So, what are you doing NOW, Tony ? Connecting dots ? But there is no connection, is there. You seem to be inferring some linkage that does not exist. Typical sneaky dishonest propaganda technique.

    Chernobyl was contained in a few days, due to the self-sacrifice of thousands of people. (The health of the eco-system remains an open question. Wolves survive in zoos, feral dogs survive in cities, your impication is unwarranted).

    The Chernobyl incident is not a ‘dot’ that can be ‘connected’ to the hundreds of nuclear plants which would be melting down for an indefinite period into the future in the event of a collapse of civilisation and without any containment at all.

    Just one more example of your dishonest mode of discourse here.

    You are trying to pretend that there is some equivalence.
    There is not. The equivalent case would be if Chernobyl had been left unattended for the last 25 plus years, to rage out of control.

    What would that have done to Europe, Russia, the Northern Hemisphere ?

    What would a few dozen like that do ?

    This is what I find so offensive about your comments here, that you invariably speak with a forked-tongue, insisting that you are ‘one of us’, committed to DOOM, a fervent admirer of Guy, blahblahblah.

    And then you try and sneak in these very disingenuous slimy remarks.

    Who gives a fuck whether you are into doom or not, or admire Guy, or not. If you were HONEST then you would not have to keep pretending, and trying to justify your credibility with all that creepiness.

  • ulvfugl,

    You appear to be saying that you know exactly what will happen if and when 450 nuclear reactors melt down. You don’t. I know each meltdown will have immediate effects, particularly in the immediate region. This is what has happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima. That doesn’t mean you know what the effects will be globally. Please stop pretending that you do. Sure, you have opinion, but then we all do.

    Regarding connection of dots. Connecting the dots gives a clear picture of the whole. No one has provided a clear picture of the whole, only an impressionist painting. That’s fine, except that it isn’t a true representation of the real world. You don’t know what the picture is and hurling insults and disrespect doesn’t help paint that picture.

    If you don’t have anything constructive to write, don’t write anything.

    Please also be consistent and address me with the name I have posted under. I do that to you, with your made up name, so please have some respect for others.

  • It’s quite easy to predict what the results of 450 nuclear reactors melting down will be, Weddle, it’s called science, you now, physics, chemistry, biology.

  • No, ulvfugl, it’s called opinion, unless you can show the results of research into such possible events? This typifies your arguments on extinction: if there are adverse consequences to some situation, then the worst imaginable case must happen. That’s pure belief.

  • You have frequently been called a fool on this site, Weddle.

    I don’t suppose that you ever ponder why that is. People as conceited and philosophically illiterate as yourself are typically incapable of introspection.

    But even you must have a struggle not to see the amazing stupidity that you reveal in your remark, no ?

    You’re sitting on a railway line. I say to you that you are going to get squashed flat if you stay there.

    Your reply ‘That’s just your opinion. Where’s the research ?’

    Yes, it’s my opinion. Backed up by science. Physics, chemistry, biology.

    The research has been done. 2000 plus years of it, since ancient Greece, or back to Newton, or back to Marie Curie, if you prefer.

    We understand something about how the world works.

    We can predict stuff. You know, lunar eclipses, the appearance of comets, that sort of thing, because we have a body of knowledge and an insight into some fundamental principles.

    But this is the game you play here. Trolling. Wasting everybody’s time.
    Pretending to ask questions in good faith, when really you are intent upon trying to undermine Guy’s credibility. You’ve been sussed.

  • Tony Weddle, I explained the dire threat posed by nuclear power plants five months ago, using Fukushima and Chernobyl as examples. Habitat for humans in the northern hemisphere is seriously threatened by Fukushima alone. When they all go, we’ll all be gone shortly thereafter.

  • ulvfugl, I’ve frequently been called a fool on this site but it is you who has been casting those insults so it’s not really a point of note.

    Of course we can predict stuff. I’ve never said we can’t. But you claim to be predicting all sorts of stuff on the basis of your gut feeling. Science doesn’t work that way.

    Guy,

    Thanks for the link. I missed that essay link during my time away from here. That video by Dr. Timothy Mousseau is interesting. I’ve only skimmed through for the moment but will watch it thoroughly when I get time. I had thought that if the wolf (a top predator) was back in Chernobyl, then a well functioning biodiverse ecosystem would be needed (isn’t that what ecology teaches us?). I’ll consider that. However, your essay doesn’t exactly explain the threat, more documenting snippets of info that show there is a threat but not the magnitude of that threat. If zones around each reactor are wiped of species (and Chernobyl wasn’t cleared of species), are there areas which will not be as badly affected? There will be effects in a much wider area, of course, but what effects? In the article Bud linked to, you appeared to be saying that radiation alone would cause extinction of humans (as would a number of other factors, individually). I admit that it’s hard to see much of a future for large areas of the planet, giving the converging crises and the lack of intelligent responses.

  • @ Weddle

    ulvfugl, I’ve frequently been called a fool on this site but it is you who has been casting those insults so it’s not really a point of note.

    Oh, I think I could offer you quite a long list to add to my own name.

    But would it help up you to recognise you folly ? No, you are beyond help, as I discovered long ago when trying to assist your comprehension regarding the methane clathrates and the ESAS and Guy’s list of feedbacks.

    Of course we can predict stuff. I’ve never said we can’t. But you claim to be predicting all sorts of stuff on the basis of your gut feeling. Science doesn’t work that way.

    Can you offer any examples of where I ‘claim to be predicting all sorts of stuff on the basis of gut feeling’ ?

    Of course you cannot, because I do not.

    I believe I have a rather good understanding as to how science works, thank you very much, Weddle, rather better that yours, as evidenced by the extremely dumb and poorly informed remarks and questions that you come up with. And to say that ‘gut feeling’ has no place in science just goes to show how little you understand. But you are not going to learn, are you. It’s all a waste of time.

    Only today you cited an article re the methane, on RC, that was from years ago. You couldn’t even get the date correct. But to anyone familiar with the issues and the literature it would be immediately OBVIOUS. Because they would have read that paper when the fucking thing came out ! As I did, being concerned about what was happening to the climate, and what was going to happen to us all.

    You expect to be treated with respect when you are so useless and incompetent and hopeless. We talk about the end of all life on Earth here, and you don’t even take it sufficiently seriously to be careful to read when a paper was published ? All you do is nitpick and quibble about trivial irrelevant box ticking and then you claim that is science You do not understand what the word SCIENCE means, Weddle !

    I had thought that if the wolf (a top predator) was back in Chernobyl, then a well functioning biodiverse ecosystem would be needed (isn’t that what ecology teaches us?)

    Clueless.