Dialog on Death, Round Two

Who Is the Mysterious Sam Carana of Arctic News Blog?

Dialog on Death, Round Two

by Anne Pyterek and Guy McPherson

ANNE: I think I know the answer to this, but let me ask you anyway. The word “positive,” as in positive feedback loop, obviously does not mean positive in the sense that it’s good. I’m thinking it means something that keeps making more of itself, good or bad. Is that accurate?

GUY: Yes, that’s exactly right. Because of the ambiguity generated by the term “positive feedback,” I now use the term “self-reinforcing feedback loop.” These phenomena feed upon themselves, much like a snake eating its own tail.

We’ve triggered more than three dozen self-reinforcing feedback loops. Probably the most dire in the near term are methane release from the shallow floor of the Arctic Ocean and methane release from permafrost. Methane is many times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and it breaks down into carbon dioxide.

ANNE: I guess the term “vicious circle” would be pretty accurate too … or “virtuous circle” for things that really are positive, like the water cycle or the nitrogen cycle …

GUY: Yes.

ANNE: You know, ever since I read your book, I’m seeing feedback loops where ever I look. But social feedback loops. There’s that (I think, famous) flowchart that shows how, no matter what a woman does, she’s always wrong. You know the one I’m talking about? It’s a bit more convoluted than a simple loop, but I suspect the environmental feedback loops are, as well.

GUY: I don’t know the loop you’re thinking about. I know the question about a man speaking in the forest with no woman present: Is he still wrong?

I’ve been asked recently about social feedback loops, and why I didn’t include them within my forthcoming book, Extinction Dialogs. I’m no social scientist, and I think preceding the word “science” with another word suggests the discipline in question isn’t all science. Since I was asked the question, and informed about my ignorance and idiocy for not including these loops in the book, the social feedback loops have become increasingly apparent to me.

As an example, I’m reminded of a line from desert anarchist and iconoclastic writer Edward Abbey: “Civilization, like an airplane in flight, survives only as it keeps going forward.” There’s no scaling back civilization. If it slows, it crashes. One of my own definitions of civilization comes to mind: “Must go faster.”

ANNE: Exponentially faster and faster ’til the engine explodes! I absolutely agree about preceding the word “scientist” with anything. Being a social animal is more than enough expertise. This obsessive and infantile dependence on the opinion of “experts” is part of what’s keeping the vicious circles spinning so fast. I’m picturing a juggler, right now, with multiple plates all spinning on tall sticks, the rest of us waiting with bated breath for the inevitable crashes.

Perhaps your critics ought to write their own books. Losers.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is the Book of Revelations. I can’t help but notice the similarity between what’s going on with the living planet and lurid death-cult fantasy of John’s hallucination. It’s not Gawd. It’s not a prediction. It’s a feedback loop. The death cult has wanted an apocalypse from the start and their twisted fantasy has been spinning faster and faster, contrary to all natural tendencies of Life. It re-created the world in its own distorted, exploitative and hateful image. And this world view has finally reached the saturation point: Death.

GUY: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Most people participating in this culture don’t have a clue where we’re going. I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw years ago: “Where am I going, and why am I in this hand-basket?” I doubt the driver recognized the irony as he drove his automobile straight to the hell we’ve created.

Climate change is hardly the only problem we face. Nuclear Armageddon rears its ugly head, despite warnings from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. The Sixth Great Extinction proceeds apace. And don’t even get me started on rape culture writ large.

ANNE: Oh, I know! It’s all rape culture! I’ve spent the last decade writing fiction about Rape Culture.  Those things you list are the inevitable, ultimate by-products of the woman-hating, war-mongering death cult of the so-called (barf!) Heroic Age.  All down hill from there.  Eco-psychology 101 says what we do to ourselves, we do to the planet and what we do to the planet, we do to ourselves. Nothing else is possible. When you live on a sphere, everything comes back around. Feedback loop. Patriarchy could never create anything but death — spectacular technicolor mushroom clouds of Death; Death on an obscenely epic, Biblical scale; Death that is the be-all, end-all, the Death, even of Death itself.

GUY: We do death really well. We glorify it, while denying it will happen to our individual selves. We put death on display in books, magazines, music, television shows, and movies.

ANNE: We even sexualize it. I attended some Pentecostal church services in Louisiana, once (long story). The women in the congregation were, literally, overcome by really loud orgasmic shrieking at the idea of their vengeful god smiting the nonbelievers with his flaming sword. And how many movies cast guns and knives as sexy phallic symbols? And vampires? And serial killers? The links between sex and death in literature are too numerous to count. Only patriarchy could romanticize death. Death is where it’s at.

GUY: But it won’t happen to us.

ANNE: No. Never to us.

GUY: As the Buddha said, “The trouble is, you think you have time.”

Of course, that’s not our only trouble. Patriarchy is the root of many and perhaps most of our predicaments. I don’t know if it led to currency and the subsequent love of money — the Christian root of all evil — but patriarchy + money = death at a larger scale than most people can imagine.

ANNE: It definitely led to power, which currency measures … and only the extremely rich and powerful can pull off large scale destruction. Another feedback loop, of epic proportions.

GUY: Non-civilized people need not imagine the scale of destruction (these are the so-called “primitive” ones).They live it every day. The same goes for non-human species.

ANNE: 200 species a day.

I would imagine most people can’t even name 200 species. And as long as they’re not an iconic, majestic or noble species, it doesn’t seem like anybody cares.

The older I get, the more of an animist I become. The better I get at communicating with and understanding the other animals, the elements, the pulse of the earth, the more I know this is all that really matters. Civilized humanity spends half its time making up stupid things to fight about, and the other half fighting about it — and they’re so proud of themselves for it, patriotic. The justifications are so transparently stupid and arrogant. It really is embarrassing to be a member of this species.

GUY: I doubt many people can name even a dozen plants within a few hundred meter of their home. But everybody knows a few warm, fuzzy mammals with forward-facing eyes.

Patriotism is a special target of mine, although I rarely speak or write about it. Patriotism to the country in which one happened to be born is bizarre. Lack of patriotism to the lands and waters that allow us to live is beyond bizarre. And yet nearly everybody I know cheers for the national flag while ignoring or destroying the country on which the flag is planted. Again, a line from Edward Abbey resonates with me: “A patriotic must be ready to defend his country against his government.”

ANNE: Thomas Jefferson said something along those lines, too. But even he…the one the so-called patriots love so much… is ignored. Civilized minds, enamored as they are by the lure of the abstract, routinely consider the map more real than the territory it describes. This desperate, overwrought devotion to artificial constructs, like god and country, football teams, zip codes or what-have-you, drowns out the very quiet truth. We don’t even have a word for loyalty to the land. Drawn on political boundaries have meaning to civilized minds but forests? They only exist to give us lumber. Meadows? Parcel them out for malls and subdivisions. Rivers? That’s for flushing our toilets into. We’re so proud of our language, consider it the thing that “separates” us from the other animals (and that’s good, why?). This imagined separation enables so much destruction.

GUY: Here we get into the concept of resources. Had we been treating our non-human neighbors and relations rather than resources for the last few thousand years, I suspect the world would look a lot differently today. Alas, we’ve commodified virtually everything on the planet, including air, water, food, and companionship. Remember personnel departments? Now we have departments of human resources. We are all cogs in the planet-destroying machine, slaves to imperialism.

People often tell me the whole system isn’t working as planned. Au, contraire! It’s working exactly as planned. It’s not working for you, and it’s not working for me. But it’s working.

ANNE: It’s totally working as planned! Consider that line in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 34:25) where Yahweh promises to rid the country of wild animals so that the sheep can dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forests. The current “forest service” is fulfilling that promise every single day. They’re killing all the predators to make room for cattle — not to mention pandering to loggers, real estate developers & ATV manufacturers. And since they’re biologists — the “experts” — and use science-y sounding euphemisms like “management,” nobody minds.

Or the ever popular Genesis 1:28 — “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” That’s taken on a life of its own. It’s morphed into Big Ag — Big Everything, really. And it’s working way too well. It’s working so well, it seems like what Big Everything’s really doing is breeding a whole new type of cattle: Consumers. 7 billion and counting, and they’re all behaving like good livestock, buying everything they’re told they “need.”

Comments 38

  • GREAT show #3 – thanks for that! It had humor, horrifying news, attitudes from people going about it differently – and pithy commentary at the end. I have one question (to which I think the answer will improve the show):

    Why is the sound quality so poor in the beginning (really broken up and hard to fish out the information – even with multiple listens), but at the end it’s crystal clear?

    Enjoyable show overall. Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks much, Tom. We had too many digital devices powered up during the show. We suspect removing one tablet from the vicinity reduced feedback. In any event, removal of the tablet coincided with much-improved quality.

  • The only reason I bring it up is because vital information – people’s websites, causes, etc. get lost in translation if you will. Is there any way to have a transcript of some of the parts of the conversations where these types of info are garbled or missing entirely?

    I don’t mean to cause more work. It’s pointless anyway, but still, i’d love to explore the mentioned on-line information from this show when I have time – like with the Generation Alpha site I enjoyed reading about from a previous show.

    Great job on the interviews too Reese! Well informed, not afraid of the hard questions, humorous, heartfelt and deadly serious too – great combination for any interviewer. i’ll be listening for more.

    What can we do to further the Louis C. K. search?

  • Self-reinforcing and mutually reinforcing feedbacks.

    I had some recent discussion with one of the three NPDC councillors (out of 14) worth talking to and pointed out it is now too late on every front: too much damage has already been done.

    Nevertheless, the majority of candidates in the coming election advocate ‘more of the same’ -faster destruction of life on Earth via destruction of habitat and poisoning of the air, water and land. It’s beyond belief that the dominant system can be so toxic to everything (including human life) and still keep functioning.

    It all goes to show the power of manipulation and lies

  • After more than a decade of extreme climate change denial the NZ Herald finally allows a worthwhile article on the topic.


  • Link doesn’t direct to the right place:

    What climate tipping points should we be looking out for?

    By Andrew Glikson

    5:17 PM Tuesday Jul 15, 2014

    The concept of a “tipping point” – a threshold beyond which a system shifts to a new state – is becoming a familiar one in discussions of the climate.

    Examples of tipping points are everywhere: a glass falling off a table upon tilting; a bacterial population hitting a level where it pushes your body into fever; the boiling point of water, or a cube of ice being thrown into warm water, where it rapidly melts.

    The ice cube is a poignant example, because scientists now fear that West Antarctica’s ice sheets are also heading towards irreversible melting.

    Likewise, the recent discovery of deep canyons beneath the Greenland ice sheet raises concerns regarding its stability.

    The history of the atmosphere, oceans and ice caps indicates that, once changes in the energy level which drive either warming or cooling reach a critical threshold, irreversible tipping points ensue.

  • I have very much been enjoying the conversations with Guy that Reese has shared via YouTube. I too look forward to much more. Although, I believe the first paragraph in the entry about SC could also, mostly, apply to Reese as well. Maybe I missed something along the way and my question to Reese would be: Who is Reese Jones?

  • I’m repeating a comment I posted on the previous thread. With luck, this will put an end to RE’s bullshit, supported by Orlov, about the Toba non-event.

    Apparently RE and his patriarchal pal Orlov drag out the Toba horseshit yet again (I didn’t actually listen to this crap). Toba is the first refuge of dumbass deniers. As indicated by the BBC’s headline more than a year ago, “Toba super-volcano catastrophe idea ‘dismissed.’”

    Excerpts follow. Of course, they’ll continue to be ignored by RE and his anti-science ilk.

    In the past, it has been proposed that the so-called Toba event plunged the world into a volcanic winter, killing animal and plant life and squeezing our species to a few thousand individuals.

    An Oxford University-led team examined ancient sediments in Lake Malawi for traces of this climate catastrophe.

    It could find none.

    “The eruption would certainly have triggered some short-term effects over perhaps a few seasons but it does not appear to have switched the climate into a new mode,” said Dr Christine Lane from Oxford’s School of Archaeology.

    “This puts a nail in the coffin of the disaster-catastrophe theory in my view; it’s just too simplistic,” she told BBC News.

    The results of her team’s investigation are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

  • The Oxford study doesn’t debunk the bottleneck theory at all really.  The migration patterns and Mitochondrial DNA studies show the dissemination of Homo Sapiens populations pretty clearly.


    There likely were other groups that disseminated prior to the Toba eruption.  Some of these populations may have had survivors as well, but they don’t show up in the major populations currently on the planet.  The most successful bunch came out of Africa after Toba, and that is the population mostly infesting the planet at the moment.

    Climatically, Toba probably did not wreak that much havoc, but there weren’t all that many humans on the planet at the time, so even the disruption of just a year or two would make things difficult for that bunch of people.

    The bottom line here though is that it doesn’t take a very large initial population of ANY organism to infest a whole planet.  So even with a massive knockdown, unless every last part of the planet becomes unsurvivable, there are probably locations in which some population of Homo Sapiens can survive past 2050.  For no locations to be survivable, you would need temperatures higher than the PETM by 2050, and no climate model I am aware of projects that big a rise in temps that fast.


    We are aware of the ongoing problem with posting and getting Page Not Found errors.  It’s not clear what is causing it.  My current thinking is that it has to do with some recent updates made to Windows.  Is anybody here using Mac or Linux?  If so, have you experienced this problem?


  • The Toba non-event is irrelevant to our current situation, as I’ve pointed out a dozen times. Cold isn’t hot. So far, RE has studiously ignored this issue.

    PETM is irrelevant to our current situation. Large mammals are not lizards. So far, RE has studiously ignored this issue.

  • The Moles/Shrews that survived the PETM were not Lizards, they were Mammals, though granted small ones.

    On the other hand, said Moles had no capability of building Hydroponics and Aquaculture Grow Domes either. :)

    Cold does tend to be easier to survive than Hot, but then again the Bushmen of the Kalahari manage to make it through there, and they don’t even have Grow Domes!


    “North and east, approximately where the dry forests, savannahs and salt lakes prevail, the climate is sub-humid rather than semi-arid. South and west, where the vegetation is predominantly xeric savanna or even a semi-desert, the climate is “Kalaharian” semi-arid. The Kalaharian climate is subtropical (average annual temperature greater than or equal to 18 °C, with mean monthly temperature of the coldest month strictly below 18 °C), and is semi-arid with the dry season during the “cold” season, the coldest six months of the year. It is the southern tropical equivalent of the Sahelian climate. The altitude has been adduced as the explanation why the Kalaharian climate is not tropical; its altitude ranges from 600 to 1600 meters (and generally from 800 to 1200 meters), resulting in a cooler climate than that of the Sahel or Sahara. For example, winter frost is common from June to August, something rarely seen in the warmer Sahelian regions.[5] For the same reason, summer temperatures certainly can be very hot, but not in comparison to regions of low altitude in the Sahel or Sahara, where some stations record average temperatures of the warmest month around 38°C, whereas the average temperature of the warmest month in any region in the Kalahari never exceeds 29°C, though daily temperatures occasionally reach up to close to 45 °C (113 °F) (44.8°C at Twee Rivieren in 2012)[6].”

    I believe even under the worst case scenario models, it will take a while past 2050 for Alaska to achieve the same average temps and rainfall of the Kalahari Desert.

    In any event, you take it one day at a time here, and adapt as necessary insofar as you can. My case is not that Human Extinction will not occur, it certainly will on some timeline. The 2050 Timeline however is likely way too fast, strictly on climate variables anyhow. The Nuke Puke and Disease Vectors increase the probability, but still quite low on this timeline IMHO.


  • Well, some cells and mitochondria are going to make it, and they’re pretty darn complex in their own right. I guess most of our brains would call that a miracle. All of the cellular rearrangements resulting in different species, not that special though interesting. Humans, the cancer species, they had a great run and built a lot of complexity, but it never was in the cards that they would stick around in that “civilized” form – too out of control, too toxic. So the ecosystem dies and the tumor infrastructure stops growing, becomes lifeless and starts deteriorating, the death rate overcomes the birth rate by a goodly margin as a tremendous fever interferes with human and ecosystem metabolic activity.

    Look at it this way, we’re just a bunch of cells pressed into a particular shape with brains full of stupid ideas. I say chuck the brains and go unicellular. Tell your cells to climb back into the f’ing ocean and for their own good, never climb out again. We can all have our cells genetically modified to become acid resistant ocean going protists and thereby avoid extinction entirely. “Hey there goes Dr. McPherson and there goes RE, sure have nice pseudopodia and look at those cilia.” So all is not lost, I’m sure we can splice in the right genes and BAM, no more extinction. I’m going to sleep much better tonight.

  • Comparing humans to moles works for some phenomena, but not this one. Humans, like all organisms, need food and water. Bathing in ionizing radiation? Not so much.

  • There is an elementary fact I have been which pointing out for at least 7 years which practically everyone ignores.

    Please correct me if I am wrong in any of the following analysis.

    Much of the coal that existed immediately prior to the Industrial Revolution was formed in the Carboniferous Era; although relatively small amounts have been formed later, very little coal has been formed in the past 55 million years. Most of the oil that existed immediately prior to the Industrial Revolution was formed between 150 million years ago and 90 million years ago. Very little has been formed in the past 55 million years.

    Since around 1780 humanity has been desequestering previously sequestered carbon at an increasing rate, i.e. putting into the atmosphere carbon that had been underground during Permian mass extinction event and all subsequent extinction events, and underground at the time of the PETM. Although the PETM is an interesting yardstick to think about what might happen, no direct comparison with the PETM can be made because conditions that prevailed during the PETM do not apply and never will apply because of the humungous amount of carbon that was sequestered at the time of the PETM is now in the atmosphere and oceans.

    I am aware that methane clathrates deposits could well amount to more than the carbon released by industrial activity. Nevertheless, in terms of the potential for overheating of the planet, the current situation seems to be far worse than occurred at the time of the PETM, simply because of all that very ancient carbon having been desequestered.

    As far as RE dome argument go, we have already demolished the idea that humans can successfully replicate a diverse ecology capable of sustaining complex life forms; they can’t, as demonstrated by the various failures discussed many weeks ago.

    I appreciate RE’s efforts to keep the blog running. However, his persistence in promoting notions that have been repeat4edly demonstrated to be totally flawed is reaching the utterly tiresome stage.

  • @TOM

    Thank you so much, your kind words help shed doubt, looking forward to providing more soon, : )



    Oh thank you, and thank you for your interest, but truly I am about the biggest nobody one could imagine. But I have been inspired by the condition of our world, and have now endeavoured to struggle to write and communicate for the sake of loved ones, friends, associates, absolutely any of the good and gentle folk, the salt of the Earth, all who are willing to listen and participate. Bless them, and bless you that you care to ask. I suppose that if we all could find some sort of gentle wisdom and peace in the learning and knowing, and then some sort of loving equanimity, as we seek and then find answers together. : )


    Thank you so much for your excellent Bible quotes, Just a few little notes, please do bear with… the Bible is so interesting in that it’s much a series of illustrative stories that seem to allow us the free will to choose and glean what we will, passage by passage. Taken as a whole, however, things can gain dimension, so to speak.

    re: Ezekiel:

    Here’s another quote that precedes yours:
    ” And as for you O My Flock thus sayeth the Lord, Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between the rams and the great he-goats [the malicious and the tyrants of the pasture] . ”
    ~ Ezekiel 34:17

    So, in this chapter when taken as a whole, the flock are God’s people, and the beasts are those who are the malicious and the tyannical, more human than animal.

    And, in the same chapter, “And they shall be no more prey to the nations nor the beasts of the earth devour them…”

    So, again He refers to the beasts as both nations and as beasts of the Earth.

    Ah, the Bible a book of allegories, parables, metaphors, so easy to construe so many ways.

    Re: Genesis 1:28

    “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

    So interesting about this translation, especially when concerning such an amazing source as Aramaic, a language filled with such intimation and delicate subtlety; but again in exploring original translation, “subdue” does seem to refer to “treading down” rather than the ravishing or raping of Earth, as such alternate translation being appropriate only in specific warlike circumstances.

    That God would wish us to decimate the land, slaughter and torment his creatures and allow our neighbours both near and far to die of starvation, disease and thirst in the act of a sort of terrible subduction seems rather naught.

    But that we “beat down” a path, cut back overgrowth, send off or subdue dangerous beasts (perhaps befriend?) does seem to be appropriate to a degree.

    Also, Genesis does specifically say, “I have given you every plant-yielding seed that is on the face of the land and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”

    So one could also say he very specifically intended that we eat a vegetarian diet. (Sorry, had to throw that in. )

    In other words, there are so many ways to use Bible passages to support whatever we wish, but in actuality, the Bible seems to pretty much asks us to do mainly 2 things – love our neighbours and the good Samaritan loved the stranger, and for us to love our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

    Just my Two Little Cents (Haha, Some Might Say, Too Little Sense.)


  • “Comparing humans to moles works for some phenomena, but not this one. Humans, like all organisms, need food and water. Bathing in ionizing radiation? Not so much.”-GM

    You haven’t established conclusive proof that Food and Water will be 100% unavailable across the entire surface of the Earth by 2050. The only thing you have established as fairly likely is that by 2050 we will see a 4-8C rise in global average temperature. This obviously also has seasonal variation and altitude variation as well as latitude variation, so demonstrating that 100% of the Earth’s surface will not have an environment to support growing anything by 2050 is quite difficult to do. Obviously, you have not done that.

    Far as Bathing in Ionizing Radiation goes, that is indeed an issue, but not the climate argument.

    There are numerous things unclear on this one also. First is that it is definite we will be so bathing by 2050. It may take longer than that for all the Nuke Puke plants to go full Fukushima.

    After that is the issue of how said radionucleotides get distributed out. Likelihood would be the locations nearest the storage facilities of these poisons would be pretty toxic, but whether it is too toxic for any life at all above the level of the Tardigrades out say 200 miles away from such a dump is open to question.

    The best example is probably Fukushima itself, where although the population in Tokyo is being slowly poisoned, they are not yet dieing off en masse. This may happen of course, but more likely from famine and disease than from bathing in the radiation from Daichi 1,2 or 3.

    Around Chernobyl, the local fauna are surviving at those levels of ionizing radiation, so chances are Homo Sapiens could survive radiation levels that high for quite some time, likely longer than a 36 year timeline to 2050. Again though, you cannot establish conclusively that the radiation situation will be as bad everywhere as it is directly in the neighborhood of places like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

    Squashing out 100% of vertebrate life by 2050 would be quite an astounding outcome really. About the only thing I can conceive of that would pull the stunt off that fast is a Planet Killer Asteroid. I don’t rule that one out as possible, nor would I advocate trying to prep up for it. Kiss Your Ass Goodbye in this scenario.

    All other Apocalypse scenarios hold some potential for some survivors in some places. To a large degree a matter of luck where you happen to be of course, but I would bet Dollars to Doughnuts that in 2050 there are still Homo Sapiens walking the Earth somewhere.


  • @ Kevin, at the risk of being considered a simpleton : Gaia over the ages has sequestered carbon as coal, oil and gas to control the atmospheric composition to facilitate life on this Planet. If Gaia had not been disabled by our burning of fossil carbon for energy release and following positive feedbacks we’d be meandering back into another ice age.


  • Reese Jones, why do you characterise Carana’s output as “excellent”? It’s certainly prolific but he (or she) is prone to making obvious errors and also prone to leaping on a data set whilst it is still in a period of adjustment. The prolific output often gives the impression that we are on a precipice but it never seems to get quite as bad (yet) as he (or she) paints it. The high methane readings never seem to make it to measuring stations. The heat waves over Greenland never seem to produce anything exceptional.

    A Real Climate real scientist recently characterised Carana’s work as almost all wrong. That seems about right. I’ve never been able to post any questions at his (or her) site and have never seen serious discussion of any of his (or her) articles. It seems critical comments aren’t allowed on his (or her) blog. He (or she) isn’t someone to take too seriously in the climate field and I urge everyone to examine the articles carefully, rather than taking them at face value.

  • This one’s an ancient 2006 classic from The Oil Drum, based on an even earlier 2003 classic by Jeffrey S. Dukes both addressing issues from the resource depletion perspective:
    Burning Buried Sunshine

  • Here we go again


    Financial Storm Flags Up: Take Cover

    This is not about TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It), nor about the Crash of the Industrial Age (Wait! The acronym for that’s CIA!) that we expect. But it is about a very hard time we are all about to go through, most likely beginning before next year is out and ending God knows when. Most probably, it will not end, but like the last Great Recession simply deliver us to a new plateau of diminished expectations that will become the New Normal. This imminent event is being forecast by a rising chorus of voices like those who warned us 10 years ago that a prosperity based on subprime mortgages, and financial derivatives thereof, could not stand. These voices — actually some of them the very same people — are telling us that we face not one, but two, train wrecks that will be nearly simultaneous, in that one will bring on the other.

    Train Wreck Number One could come at any time, and it is being brought on by the same people that caused the last one. Playing with Other Peoples’ Money, with borrowed money and with play money in the casinos otherwise known as stock, bond and commodity markets, the banksters (as someone has brilliantly labelled them) have inflated a number of bubbles, most smaller than the housing bubble was, but together capable of doing as much damage. They include:

    The Car Bubble. Same formula, different asset. Sub-prime, low-interest-rate, long-term loans for cars, with the loans bundled, securitized, sold, resold and resold again. Everybody involved is making tons of money (25 per cent of all car loans are now subprime, and another 25 per cent are leases, many designed for people who can’t qualify for a subprime loan) until the music stops and the whole system folds.

    The Housing Bubble (The Sequel). In which the Masters of the Universe, having driven millions into foreclosure or under water (with mortgages exceeding the value of their homes) snap up bargains via short sales and rent them out. What could go wrong with that>? Being a landlord is easy, right? These cash purchases are giving the appearance that the housing market is recovering much faster than it is.

    The New Covenant Bubble. Business lending has become dominated by a new instrument known as the “covenant-lite” loan. Previously, business loans included a covenant signed by the borrower to the effect that the proceeds would not be used for non-productive things, such as buying in stock or paying bonuses to CEOs. Not so much anymore. The result is that instead of flowing into the economy, helping to create jobs, products and services, loan proceeds are going into the pockets of those who play in the Car Bubble and Housing Bubble casinos.

    The Stock Bubble. This is the big one. Stock prices on average are at all-time highs, for no good reason. Price-earnings ratios are in the stratosphere, right where housing prices were in 2006. Phoenix Capital Research recently put it this way:

    “The market is extremely tired and the systemic risks underlying the Financial Crisis are in no way resolved. With investor complacency (as measured by the VIX) at record lows, the Fed withdrawing several of its more significant market props, and low participation coming from the larger institutions, this market is ripe for a serious correction.”

    [there’s a little more]

    more here


    [a quote before the corroboration data]

    Europe’s problem is the entire western world’s problem: people don’t spend nearly enough to keep the economy growing. And it’s not as if nothing has been done to lure them into more spending. The thing is, you won’t get there by making them borrow. People will spend more only when they have more. But rapidly increasing numbers of them have precious little. And if they don’t spend, you’re not going to get more of the so-called inflation (which is defined as rising prices).

    It’s a dead end street, the whole thing. There’s only one school left in economics, and it was never a serious field to start with, let alone a science. But the nincompoops who emanate from the various schools and universities end up having an enormous influence on government and central bank policies, all at the cost of you and me. All they have is theories about how things should go, but nothing for when they don’t.

    Central banks exist to protect banks, and the banking system as a whole, from danger. They pretend that they protect the larger economy, and the people on Main Street, but that’s just a convenient little story. Enhanced by the idea that what is good for banks is also good for you. Which is absolute baloney, but it works like a charm.

    More often than not, banks’ interests are 180º opposites of Main Street, they certainly demonstrably have been since 2007. But then, how would you ever know? The Fed and Wall Street and Washington and all the media that are supposed to inform you but in reality promote only their propaganda, have got an iron grip on how the picture is painted.

    So what if the banks themselves are the danger, and not the real economy? Well, then you’re out of luck, because the first thing on the agenda is always to save the banks, no matter what its costs Main Street or the children of Main Street.

    And that’s why Janet Yellen holds stupid and insulting speeches like the one today. To tell you that she knows, but she just doesn’t care.

  • RE, implies I’ve written this: “Squashing out 100% of vertebrate life by 2050 would be quite an astounding outcome really.”

    Yet again, you’re inventing stories. Stick to the facts, if you can find any beyond your reading here. And you’re obviously not reading much here.

  • @RE, here’s the deal: you’re just not seeing the Big Picture. You haven’t really internalized the subtlety and complexity of how life works (most people haven’t). People are knocking you because of your stubbornness rather than your ignorance, i would say…

    Elsewhere, perhaps, I mentioned I’d been to a series of presentations by Dr. Elaine Ingham, a soil microbiologist. Her line is that plants don’t lack nutrients in the soil—all soils have a physical sufficiency of all minerals necessary for plant growth— but that they lack the cohort of microorganisms which are able to make those minerals available and convey them to the plants, in exchange for ‘exudates’ (yummy carbs released by the plant).

    You will say “yeah, yeah.. so what?” Well, pair that with this:

    ..the (for us) widely-reported story about invertebrate decline of 45% over a recent 35-year period. I think I tweaked you about that because one of your fallbacks was to go out in the forest and eat the worms which aren’t going to be there.

    But guess what else?
    Soil microbes are invertebrates.

    Dr. Ingham said that on a trip to Europe, she found such extremely low levels of soil fungi that those forests were essentially dead (please don’t quote this as I am paraphrasing from memory), that there were no healthy forests in Europe.

    NOW, let’s turn our attention to your neck of the woods, or nearby:

    THIS is how fast an ecosystem can collapse:

    You’re gonna be like that seagull, standing in the water and looking confounded.

    We all are.

  • At different event to the one with Dr. Ingham, there were some botanists helping folks ID trees, at the edge of a very lush-looking (to modern eyes) forest. And there was a red maple plant looking all bug-eaten and spotty, and I asked “what do you think is wrong with this plant?” And they blithely said, “Oh, it’s just stressed..”.. Stressed from what? It was in a lovely setting at the edge of the forest, getting sun, no lack of water.. and yet it was covered with blotches. A maple tree. In New Hampshire. Paging Gail Zawacki!

    I’ve even seen such blotches on grass in my yard in Central Vermont. Grass!

    Now, I know you think hydroponics are going to somehow save you or some members of your tribe but—aside from wondering where are you going to source all the plastic infrastructure and commercial inputs, I would ask myself what the nutrient value is of hydroponically-produced plants. I went to browse this and came across a forum where the HP devotees asked for data to help them fend off what they referred to as “soil fanatics“.

    To argue that plants need to grow in soil is “fanatical”!

    That right there tells me all I need to know, and is very much linked to why you are finding such a tough audience here, RE. It’s because you think man can survive without Nature, that things can be reduced to ‘inputs’.. you know, just add water and Miracle-Gro and “wah-lah”! It’s a real human sickness, this one of separation, and is at the root of most of our social, if not ecological, problems, as many have pointed out, from Guy to Charles Eisenstein, from Rousseau to Fukuoka.

    One of the more fascinating take-aways from Dr. Ingham’s presentations was some insight, also, into the processes used by labs to analyse soil: basically it’s by burning or dousing in acid, all this sort of thing, and seeing what comes out the other end. So while they can get a total percentage of a physical material, this says absolutely nothing about its actual bioavailability, whether the whole system has a chance of working or not.

    Hydroponics, to me, sounds like raising your kids in a bubble, giving them Textured Vegetable Protein and Flintstones vitamins and expecting them to come out normal. (Maybe that’s how many of us were raised, and that explains some of our current deficient thinking.)

    Similarly to what’s happening with soil, we’re finding out more and more all the time about our own gut biome, and how that ecosystem works (or doesn’t) in bringing us nutrients from food or, in the case of GMOs, food-like substances. These are all finely-tuned processes we only vaguely understand. You can’t just jerry-rig them with duct-tape, spit and a plucky attitude, as we continue to find out to our tiresomely ongoing surprise.

  • http://news.yahoo.com/hundreds-methane-plumes-erupting-along-east-coast-170504645.html

    Hundreds of Methane Plumes Erupting Along East Coast

    In an unexpected discovery, hundreds of gas plumes bubbling up from the seafloor were spotted during a sweeping survey of the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

    Even though ocean explorers have yet to test the gas, the bubbles are almost certainly methane, researchers report today (Aug. 24) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    “We don’t know of any explanation that fits as well as methane,” said lead study author Adam Skarke, a geologist at Mississippi State University in Mississippi State.

    Surprising seeps

    Between North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras and Massachusetts’ Georges Bank, 570 methane seeps cluster in about eight regions, according to sonar and video gathered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer between 2011 and 2013. The vast majority of the seeps dot the continental slope break, where the seafloor topography swoops down toward the Atlantic Ocean basin. [Gallery: Amazing images of Atlantic Methane Seeps]

    The Okeanos Explorer used sound waves to detect the methane bubbles and map the seafloor. The technique, called multibeam sonar, calculates the time and distance it takes for sound waves to travel from the ship to the seafloor and back. The sonar can also detect the density contrast between gas bubbles and seawater.

    [read the rest]

  • Re:

    Resist the temptation to always get the last word in. Doing so does not infer victory. Instead you appear foolish.

  • Damn Tom!

    This thing is speeding up too fast (methane). We are trying to close a small piece of property in Florida before global warming gets out! Please stop posting updates! Just kidding.

  • Guy:

    We have deeper problems than Climate Change!

    An Arizona professor, Ersula Ore was walking down the street after teaching her English class at Arizona State University. In order to avoid a construction zone, she walked around the site in the street. A campus police officer stopped her and when she questioned him as to why she was being charged, the officer threw her on the ground and handcuffed her. During an interview on CNN’s New Day, Ore was asked about the incident.
    “I think I did what I was supposed to do. I was respectful. I asked for clarification. I asked to be treated with respect, and that was it.”

    Ore faces charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, failing to provide ID and obstructing a public thoroughfare. Arizona State University has sided with the campus police over its faculty, a situation that might be considered bazaar were it not a case of a black woman being attacked by a white man. Michael Brown was executed for the same “offense” of walking down the street.

  • “Soil microbes are invertebrates.”

    Perhaps the microarthopods, the micronematodes and such are invertebrates. To be an invertebrate, one has to be an animal. To be an animal, one has to have lots of cells, not just one cell. Not like the bacteria, archaea nor unicellular animals, plants and fungi.

    “Invertebrates are animal species that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column,”

    “Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa).”

    See also Wikipedia’s “Phylogenetic Tree of Life”, “Soil Biology” and “Soil Microbiology” and “Soil Ecology”.

    The fungal elements in soils form networks that manage the transportation and communication between plants. Of the billions of microbes in hundreds of thousands of species in a teaspoon of soil, a great many are known only by their DNA sequences: they do not grow in the laboratory, yet appear where they were absent with soil restoration. They can have complex dependencies, with A needing B,C and D, but neither B nor C nor D needing each other.

    Monocultures serially passed and maintained over many generations in a near-sterile environment characterise industrial agriculture; hydroponics takes it a step further. They are also touted as “efficient” and as economically viable because their externalities are sloughed off. Multiple seed varieties produce plants adapted by selective breeding to varied conditions. IndAg looks to one variety for best yields, and tries to control conditions to meet the needs for that variety.

    The human microbiome is exquisitely sensitive to environmental influences including diet. Some attribute current epidemics of obesity and diabetes to industrial diets.

    Resiliency (the ability to recover from damage) depends on redundancy (more of each), diversity (variety – greater numbers of different kinds) and networking (each of the different kinds interacting with several others to mutual benefit). Efficiency pares each of these three factors to the minimum, but at the cost of resiliency. More of a profit is made with efficiency; surviving disaster is best done through resiliency.

    Natural systems find a balance between these two. The blinkered offspring of industrial capitalism look only at efficiency.

    ““offense” of walking down the street.”

    “Walking while black/brown”
    “Breathing while black/brown” etc.

  • Quite right, Lydia. Hydroponics is an abomination. Feed the soil and the soil feed the plants. Hydroponics is force feeding the plants with what some human decided they need. I doubt the nutrition from such fare is any better than conventional industrial agriculture.

    If RE believes that hydroponics can provide him with the nutrition he needs, then he’s sadly mistaken.

  • to cont:

    I know that this blog is about climate change and human extinction but…

    What are the reasons for Climate Change? There are many and they all relate to humanity. None are simple. All are grotesque.

    Morris Berman who wrote a book called “Why America Failed”. His answer: Americans are ignorant. Waaaay too simplistic!

    The destruction of this planet is a combination of : Racism, Greed, Capitalism, hatred, ideology, politicians… Just ask any number of people throughout hx: Socrates, MLK, Goldman, Joe Hill, Darwin, Paul Harvey (just kidding), H. George, E. Till, Jesus …

    Back to the discussion! How do we live, or not live, in this legacy we (NBL participants) did not create.

  • Shep – I think the fundamental reason is that we can’t live off sunlight directly and have to resort to killing other things and eating them.


    Oil Storm Flags Up: Take More Cover

    The second train wreck about to sledgehammer the world’s economies is the implosion of the oil-and-gas renaissance scam. This implosion, most likely to occur in 2015, may occur before Train Wreck Number One (the financial “correction,” see the previous post, Storm Flags Up: Take Cover) and bring it on, or it could kick in just afterward as the panicked Masters of the Universe run for the lifeboats. The cumulative effect of the two events will be devastating and lasting. They are not likely to bring on, quite yet, the ultimate crash of the industrial age — there is a lot of momentum left in the old battleship yet. But they will come close. Because while the financial implosion may not be quite as bad as that of 2008, the end of the oil scam, in itself, will be devastating to the world.

    Big Fracking Lie.
    [read it all]

  • The latest question has been posted. It’s here.

  • “Resiliency (the ability to recover from damage) depends on redundancy (more of each), diversity (variety – greater numbers of different kinds) and networking (each of the different kinds interacting with several others to mutual benefit). Efficiency pares each of these three factors to the minimum, but at the cost of resiliency. More of a profit is made with efficiency; surviving disaster is best done through resiliency.”

    Thanks for making the distinction I lacked the science to put the matter so clearly.

    “Natural systems find a balance between these two. The blinkered offspring of industrial capitalism look only at efficiency.”

    Yes. I think we need balance and equilibrium between resiliency and efficiency. I’m not sure how that relates to the remnants of IndCiv, but I’m strongly inclined to keep the latter’s advantages in mind (and not throw out the baby with the bathwater).


    I agree that human behavior counts for more than anyone seems to think.

  • @artleads,


    I was thinking this morning listening to a radio program by one of the more famous right wingers who was talking about the idea that you cannot just not serve someone based on their beliefs (ideology).

    The hell u can’t. Let’s try supporting what Lester Maddox (remember him?) had said all the while. “I have the right to serve anyone I please!”

    Change the laws to revert to discrimination based on race and watch the bigotry display for all to see. It would be astonishing.
    I cannot tell you how many people in Alabama talk about N this and N that. All the laws did was to mask hatred and cause flight.

    Now the right wing wants to jump on the bandwagon about the man that wants to refuse service fro Christians or whatever. The fools can’t take it. They are now showing their assess.

  • @TONY

    Apologies for imparting a seeming judgement call on my part with the use of the word, ‘excellence,’ but definitely, if the evidence put forth from a variety of respected sources is inherently excellent (and if I’m not mistaken, the source of Sam’s data), my intended inference was that the public qualifications of the messenger should be considered of much less importance, if any importance at all. Thank you for your points, it’s always of interest to consider all sides.

  • Reese,

    Well, not all of the data used by Carana are of the highest quality and one must also look at Carana’s working and reasoning. Just because he or she includes reasoning and umpteen pages of such doesn’t mean that it is all good quality.

    Concerning data, someone recently asked this question on RealClimate:

    Can anyone (experts?) put these recent observations of high methane concentrations over the Beaufort Sea into context? If I understand the scale correctly, the methane concentrations at 20,000 ft. were over 2,000 ppb over a wide region of the Arctic…


    Gavin Schmidt (a noted climate scientist) responded rather quickly with:

    This ‘data’ is from an uncalibrated, unpublished and inaccurate satellite analysis that no-one else thinks can work. But apart from that…

    Though later modified it with:

    I’ve done a little more homework on this data, and I’d amend my previous statement to “not very accurate”. This comes from the publication: Xiong et al (2013) which goes into the details of an evaluation exercise against mid-tropospheric sampling flights. They show that the retrieved dof is usually less than 1.5 (implying you get pretty much one value from the retrieval – no vertical distributions) and that the accuracy is badly degraded in cloudy conditions (which is a lot of the time in the Arctic). The errors are around 1-2% standard deviation (~20-40 ppb) or 5-95% range closer to 40-80 ppb. The errors were greatest in the Arctic winter. Thus the use of this data to infer huge changes in the concentration there is a little dubious.

    So, if someone like Gavin Schmidt, whose climate science background can be checked, casts doubt on the work of an anonymous blogger, are you likely to just accept what the anonymous blogger writes, or, at least, look into it much more closely? It might also be worth checking back on his (or her) blog to see how often he (or she) has cried wolf only for the alarm to largely fizzle out (that’s not to say there absolutely no reason for alarm, just that Carana’s constant alarm bell using dubious data is not helpful).

  • There once was a man named Guy
    Who thought it was cool to fly
    So he went through the air
    Polluting everywhere
    Telling people he met they will die