5 Reasons Why Some People Insist on Discussing Collapse, and Even Extinction

by Jamey Hecht, PhD

  • Truth-telling. American civilization is an abusive parent who provides more material goods than most, but lies about just how violently he acquired those goods. With hundreds of military bases abroad, American authority is like a Mafioso who brings home big bags of toys and candy with blood all over them, and strictly forbids any discussion of where it all came from.

    In such a family, some kids will prefer to keep the stuff and repress their own guilt and terror. This is not just so they can keep the presents! They do it because if they don’t, their Dad’s illusory goodness will disappear; their necessary idealization of him will collapse, and they will be flooded with a painful ambivalence that they are not equipped to process or contain. Also, with more citizens in prison than any other country on Earth, America is also a disciplinarian to be feared by his dependents.

    The abusive parent has an addiction: oil. The analogy with alcoholism expresses the links among the addiction, the violence, the hypocrisy, and the deterioration. But the analogy breaks down when we consider that oil doesn’t just drive the bully in charge, it also powers the profligate lifestyle that is all the kids have ever known.

    While some kids will need to stay with the abuser’s program, other kids will find a way to speak the truth. This doesn’t just happen because they are older kids (sometimes they aren’t), but because of temperament, or insight, or some external source of support, like a mentor whose values are different (say, Shakespeare), or friendship with a family down the street who live in a far different and better way (say, Denmark or Cuba). Speaking that truth will both risk the wrath of the abusive father, and alienate the kids who are still trying to love him. But in a regime of endless lies and unacknowledged open secrets, speaking the truth can feel so important as to drive us to risk ostracism and punishment. We have to do it.

  • Orientation. Mammals are wired to orient themselves in their environment, periodically doing threat assessment by scanning the place with open eyes and ears. Think of meerkats on their hind legs, peering at the horizon so they can know what’s coming. Climate change is not a discreet entity that we can track with our eyes, like some leopard who’s in one place at a time and can be present one moment and gone the next. It’s an entirely different sort of threat from the kind we are equipped to find and to confront. But that doesn’t change our nature, part of which is this need to look at what dangers are out there as they approach. It is still absent because the worst of its hardships (e.g., sea level rise in the tens of meters, and temperatures so high the human body can’t thermo-regulate anymore) are yet to come; yet it is also already present as Katrina and Sandy, epic wildfires, droughts, and floods, lethal heat waves, falling crop yields, mass extinctions, sea ice loss, and all the other anomalies of the past ten years. People with a strong orientation drive will continue to assess threats—even those which they are relatively powerless to stop, because what prompts me to orient myself is not only the nature of the threat (in which case I might say, “well, this great white shark is too big for me to stop, so I may as well ignore it”) but my own need to try and protect myself, whether that is possible or not.
  • Integration. The false story costs a lot. In order to continue believing in it and enjoying its advantages in relative comfort, I have to make and maintain a deep split right down the middle of my psyche (there are other solutions besides this splitting, such as sociopathy, but this essay is about bleedingheart doomers such as myself). To stay happy inside consumerism’s nationalist culture of endless growth on a finite planet, I have to repress not only the giant ethical issues raised above (see # 1), but also the tide of evidence that precisely because of these living arrangements the world is rapidly becoming inhospitable to human life (see # 2). Unless this repression is so complete that I am unaware of it, it will cost me much of my energy and some of my mental health just to maintain it. If I turn toward the truth instead, I will be forced to endure an awareness of it; in return, I will be free of the need to split and compartmentalize and pretend.
  • Erasure. When I’m confronted with the evidence of possible near-term human extinction (NTHE) from pollution, depletion, and climate change (especially when the story includes methane, not just CO2), part of me indulges in the thought that such an apocalypse would take with it much of what I hate, including illegitimate authoritarian power, militant stupidity, cruel poverty for billions of people, for-profit prisons, torture, and so on. Make it stop. Let it stop. In Scorcese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle is so disgusted with the pervasive crime and depravity of the city, that he fantasizes about a great cleansing: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.” The Biblical precedent is Noah’s flood. Like Job or Ecclesiastes, one gets heartsick of entrenched injustice—waste, fraud, and abuse—until the most soothing thought is to have something just smash it all, vaguely hoping for a better outcome in some other time (whether future or past!) or place. For example, whoever feels the obvious emotional reality that elephants are non-human persons (they have self-awareness, love their children, mourn their dead, live by matriarchy, form deep social bonds, weep when sad, play joyfully, communicate, and so on) cannot bear the unbearable knowledge that these people are now being rapidly murdered out of existence. According to some sources, the African Lion population is down 90% since 1980. That stings so bad that I find myself thinking this world is so far gone and so perverse that it should be finished off.  This is a totally irrational thought which I do not endorse, but there it is.
  • Displacement. Threats make us want to act defensively in the protection of ourselves and those we love. But the state of the whole world is so vast a predicament that I can’t discharge the powerful impulse to “do something” that will fix it. I can take a 99.9% symbolic kind of action and reduce my carbon footprint. But I can’t stop the timber industry from cutting down every last tree; I can’t stop Monsanto from poisoning every inch of ground with patented horrors like Agent Orange (“Roundup”); I can’t bring flood relief to Bangladesh or Biloxi, restore the toxic Gulf of Mexico, undo Fukushima, alkalize the seven oceans, or conjure with a wand the replacement of a century of car culture with a whole new infrastructure of local production, bikes, and handicrafts. The helplessness is overwhelming. So my mere awareness (though from a social point of view, there in nothing “mere” about it) of the dire facts comes to substitute for the impossible improvements I yearn to make. I do make (or try to make, or plan to make) the infinitesimal improvements I can make, but the helplessness is barely diminished. I stopped eating beef for a year, but the industry never reduces the size of the factory farms’ herds in response. I cut down on my plastic use, but Somebody keeps on refining petroleum into gasoline and using the byproducts to make cheap plastic. When I reach for the feelings of well-being that would come from an experience of personal agency and instead feel totally powerless, I turn to the only thing left on the shelf: my awareness. I can’t fix reality, but at least I can keep acknowledging it.

These thoughts come from my personal experience (I’ve written about the issue before, in “Collapse Awareness and the Tragic Consciousness”), and they’re informed by several excellent books on the psychology of climate change, including: Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall (2014); Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives edited by Sally Weintrobe; several books by Guy McPherson including Killing the Natives: Has the American Dream Become a Nightmare? (2009) and Walking Away from Empire (2011); and Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed, and What It Means for Our Future by Dale Jamieson (2014).

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McPherson’s forthcoming book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind has been submitted to the publisher and is scheduled for release before 1 October 2014.

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

Comments 54

  • Too many ” Jhanas”. You cannot escape reality! It’s verry simple. We’re done. The lights ARE going out, and, racism is alive and well and more bitterly hostile than ever.

  • @ Jamey Hecht.

    Yup. Thanks.

    Throughout the state, climate change is intensifying storm surges and thawing the permafrost—land that previously remained frozen throughout the year. Parts of highways are sinking. Trees around Fairbanks have slipped to such rakish angles that they have become known as drunken forests.

    But it’s not hard to see why the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, a watershed the size of Britain, is especially vulnerable. Approaching from the air, it’s difficult to determine whether this region is a landmass with many lakes or a body of water with many islands. The Yup’ik never intended to live here year-round: They were a nomadic people forced into settlements by missionaries and the government. The villages where the Yup’ik now live year-round were once their summer fishing and hunting grounds.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/06/when-global-warming-kills-your-god/372015/

  • Great essay Jamey, thanks for elucidating it clearly for any in doubt.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1499174/chinese-discovery-puts-evolutionary-accuracy-in-question/

    Chinese Discovery Puts Evolutionary Accuracy In Question

    A geobiologist from Virginia Tech, in collaboration with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have found something that puts the entire evolutionary timeline in question.

    The research team found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago. That’s nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during the Cambrian Explosion — a period of time on Earth when an immense growth spurt of life occurred.

    The journal Nature published the findings, which contradict many longstanding interpretations of multicellular fossils from up to 600 million years in the past.

  • Brilliant essay Jamey. In particular, I think that the analogy you used was very appropriate.
    Thanks.

  • One is what one does. What one does is one’s life. Evil is its own punishment. A just life is its own reward. Do not participate in the harm being done. Do no harm. Help as much as you can. Send good thought/vibrations/prayer to help those you suffer unjustly. — If there is hope, it can only be in the truth. If there is a reason, a plan, a purpose to life it can only be JUSTICE. Even if there were to be nothing after this life, on a just life is the realization of the potential of life. An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not exist.

  • .
    … when pigs fly.
    .
    There is no justice.
    .
    Get it while you can, you better hurry ’cause it’s going fast.
    .
    .
    Having children should be a crime.
    .
    Thou shalt not procreate.
    .
    There will be no more tomorrows.
    .
    We’re done.
    .

  • ERRATA CORRIGE
    One is what one does. What one does is one’s life. Evil is its own punishment. A just life is its own reward. Do not participate in the harm being done. Do no harm. Help as much as you can. Send good thought/vibrations/prayers to help those who suffer unjustly. — If there is hope, it can only be in the truth. If there is a reason, a plan, a purpose to life it can only be JUSTICE. Even if there were to be nothing after this life, only a just life is the true, full realization of the potential and purpose of life. An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not exist.

  • “Pat,” we are here, now. It is always time to be ethical (i.e., do no harm), regardless of what might come next. An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not exist. I don’t want it to exist. I want it to disappear.

    … and in the end the justice you get is equal to the justice you make.

  • http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/09/summer-2014-was-record-warmest-on-earth.html

    Summer 2014 was record warmest on Earth – Temperature was above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F), topping the previous record set in 1998

    Robert’s hopium piece today

    https://robertscribbler.com/2014/09/25/climate-catastrophe-too-late-for-action-or-just-trapped-by-a-dangerous-ideology/#comments

    Climate Catastrophe: Too Late For Action? Or Just Trapped by a Dangerous Ideology?

    [ends with]

    If we are to deal with climate change we must cast off the old constraints and the old views that have trapped us for so long. We must learn to act, not as individuals, but as members of a larger union. As a group that multiplies the strength of our parts. We much collect [sic]. We must gather. And we must focus our energies.

    In this, Naomi Klein is absolutely correct –

    We must first learn to believe that we are worth saving. And, in doing so, to understand that working collectively to halt climate catastrophe is now the most good and needed of things.

    [I can’t even comment about this there, since the last time I pointed out the futility of any and all action (since it’s too late now), my comment was “moderated” out of existence.]

  • A great synopsis.

    From those who seek to profit from the dire information, especially if it is kept under wraps, vociferous denials will join the denials of those whose recalcitrance is driven by feelings & emotions that direct the rejection of the evidence.

    “An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not exist.”

    The doctrine of karma, which shapes the structure of the non-theistic traditions (Buddhism, Jainism & non-dual Vedanta) posits that it doesn’t.

  • Yes, Robin Datta, denial and wishful thinking have long roots, whatever the brand. “An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not exist,” but it does and we live in it. Whatever fix might be in works can only deal with injustice by making reparation for it, not by denying it. So, let me clarify that. “An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not continue to exist.”

  • Yes, Robin Datta, denial and wishful thinking have long roots, whatever the brand. An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should does exist and we live in it. Whatever fix might be in the works can only deal with injustice by making reparation for it, not by denying it. So, let me clarify. “An unjust Universe, where the innocent suffer unjustly, should not continue to exist.”

  • “We must learn to act, not as individuals, but as members of a larger union.”

    How large a union will it take to cow the methane monster?
    Sing a song of sixpence?
    Or rather of the value of the derivatives – close to a quadrillion dollars world-wide, by some estimates.
    Instead of “Four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”, maybe seven & a half billion humans baked on a blue marble?

    “We must first learn to believe that we are worth saving.”

    At this point it does not matter Jack Schitt whether we believe that or not: what we have to do is convince El Monstruo de metano that this is indeed the case.

  • NOTE – Double posting not intentional.
    A message popped up telling me that I had already posted those words (or something). So I edited my post tried posting again. Only to find that the other post was also up. (??)

  • Yes Jamey.

    And the psychotic sociopaths at the top of the pyramid will keep doing what they do -stealing, lying, cheating, manipulating, degrading the environment etc.- until they can’t.

    ‘The Status Quo around the world–from France to China to the U.S.–is optimized to protect its Elites and the sprawling Upper-Caste of academics, managers, think-tank toadies, technocrats, apparatchiks, functionaries, factotums, lackeys and apologists who serve the Elites, and are well-paid for enforcing the Status Quo on the disenfranchized castes below.’

    http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/what-global-status-quo-optimizes.html

  • Great essay Jamey! First, I really like your abusive parent analogy. It fits so well in so many ways. Second, I think that you have it exactly right concerning the orientation mismatch. Temporarily (because it cannot and will not continue much longer), we live in a society with a severe mismatch between the environment we evolved in and the out-of-touch with biological reality zoo that we have created for ourselves. This mismatch strongly magnifies and reinforces our natural, apparently genetically predisposed tendencies toward insane thinking, feeling, and behaving.

    As I emphasized in my recent “Tragic View” essay, because of the social competition issues that work as an expression of the thermodynamically fundamental maximum power principle, contrary to popular opinion we have not had any choice over the long-term arc of our Earth-destroying journey. For this reason, just as it does not make any sense to rage against gravity, I don’t think that it makes any sense for us to feel guilty or ashamed of ourselves, to blame ourselves, or to rage over the situation and at each other. But, to continue the gravity analogy: it obviously DOES make good sense to work hard to MANAGE and MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE gravity might cause us in our lives. For example, I walk, run, and dance in ways such that I rarely fall. If climbing a mountain, we use ropes and other equipment to avoid serious injury if we fall. We build things in ways so that they will not fall and hurt us. Importantly, I think, notice that in this management of gravity people do not waste their time and energy raging against the potentially harmful, natural processes. Similarly, I think that we need to work and fight against our incredibly wasteful, short-sighted, immediate gratification oriented, power maximizing tendencies with respect to other humans, other species and the planet that produced and supports us. As with gravity, though, guilt, shame, and rage for the most part just detract from and waste our precious time and energy as we do this needed work. I expect that at the heart of much angry blaming that so many people so often do lies the underlying human supremacist belief that, even if I as an individual do not have much control, then other more powerful humans do, must, or should. In this way in angrily blaming them, if not ourselves, we non-consciously reinforce our underlying human supremacist views.

    I love your point regarding the many costs to us personally, emotionally, and psychologically of our pathological repression, denial, and lying to ourselves and to each other—not to mention the costs to our own and other’s health and lives! This seems a subtle but extremely important point to me, one that often flies under the radar: by facing, accepting, and integrating the truth, we become free of the need to split and compartmentalize and pretend, and we can use that time and energy in much more productive, rewarding, and enjoyable ways.

    I confess that I disagree with your final statement about erasure to the effect that “This is a totally irrational thought…” Why do I disagree? From a deep ecological perspective, and from values opposite the human supremacist thinking so common today, in my opinion species other than humans MATTER AT LEAST AS MUCH AS HUMANS DO, and, most likely, the sooner human civilization with its massive overpopulation and overconsumption ends, the better for all other life on Earth. From that view, a great reduction in human impact makes rational sense. It makes sense that humans “be finished off”, or close to that “erasure”. (Obviously I realize that, from the ever-so-popular human supremacist perspective, this idea remains irrational.) Clearly, Earth itself has the processes for producing that reduction well under way, and it will continue those processes to whatever extent it considers necessary.

    Regarding displacement, I agree that we best become and remain aware–and that we accept ourselves, completely, as fallible human beings far more ignorant of the universe and Earth’s complex processes than not. Contrary to so many, I think that we best accept our fallibility, ignorance, and many other limits despite the arrogance and hubris that many of us prefer because of our many clever technologies, whether based on the temporary availability of cheap fossil fuels or not. I think that, perhaps, the helplessness feels so overwhelming largely because we grew up programmed by an insane society that has taught us that we reign supremely on Earth and in the universe, and that we, therefore, presumably “should” and “must” have the ability to change whatever we wish. We supposedly exist as supreme Beings that live at the top of a Great Chain of Being, not mere fallible, biological animals with our feet firmly planted in and entirely dependent on Earth after all. Walking around with those grandiose foundational beliefs, it makes perfect sense that we would feel pathologically overwhelmed when the brutal realities of our ultimate powerlessness hits us unavoidably and squarely in the face.

    Thanks for the book references. I will definitely read Don’t Even Think About It. Regarding books, I have almost finished reading Six Degrees by Mark Lynas, 2008. Here, Lynas has compiled and summarized hundreds of peer reviewed, journal published, climate-related papers and wrote one chapter that describes probable changes coming to various regions around the globe for each degree of average temperature rise. I highly recommend it, but only for those who have an iron-clad emotional constitution; perhaps not for those who do not. Meanwhile, linear-Cartesian-thinking people, like Scott Johnson and Michael Tobis, who do not grasp the implications of irreversible and unpredictable complexity theory tipping points for Earth, would surely remain unimpressed.

    One, short quote from Lynas’ chapter on four degrees: “Indeed it is the sheer temperature rise that begins to dominate everything else in the four-degree world. Heat waves of undreamt-of ferocity will scorch Earth’s surface as the climate becomes hotter than anything humans have experienced before throughout their whole evolutionary history.” Another quote from the four-degree chapter, by Phil Camill, a U.S.-based ecologist studying the melt rates of Canadian permafrost: “We are unplugging the refrigerator in the far north. Everything that is preserved there is going to start to rot.” Of course the rotting begins releasing the approximate 500 billion tons of carbon currently estimated to exist in the semi-permanently frozen Arctic soils. As the Alaskan Arctic specialist Lawson Brigham puts it, thawing permafrost “is a real wild card in the carbon cycle.” Lynas: “But because the amounts of carbon in question are so enormous—perhaps as high as 900 billion tonnes in total—even small changes could have colossal impact. As Phil Camill says, if just one percent of this potential carbon reservoir were decomposed each year in a warmer world, ‘it would be as if we doubled our current rate of emissions.’”

    But perhaps I have it all wrong. Great essay Jamey!

  • @ kevin

    Did you catch this, re methane, etc ?

    ps. Now that I realize that “david” is David Archer, I’m even more disappointed –

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/09/the-story-of-methane-in-our-climate-in-five-pie-charts/comment-page-1/#comment-599061

    @ Bud

    Are you aware that Lynas sold out to the corporate devils since that book, and now holds different views ?

  • A new super sonic jet is being designed for commercial service in the not too far future, much like the retired Concorde. Who wants to place bets that it may never come to fruition? Test flights are scheduled by 2019. My question is; how much more Climate data will we learn in the next five to six years? And from that data, when are we going to start to see the dismantling of our Industrial System ( for example, phased-in cutbacks of commercial flights leading to no commercial air travel at all– but only for military and government purposes)? Anyhow, I don’t think this new plane will ever take flight. Then again, our Industrial Economy may keep grinding forward for ten more years before it really starts getting ugly.. and quickly. Here’s the article. The “Age of Ignorant Indulgence” continues…..

    http://www.yahoo.com/travel/faster-than-the-speed-of-sound-aerion-unveils-plans-98473411612.html

  • @ ulvfugl:

    Nope, I don’t know much about Lynas; very little, really. Whatever he did later, even though I have not quite finished reading it Six Degrees seems like a book well worth reading to me. But as so often happens, others may disagree.

  • @-Pilot, you may find this link very interesting. Grounding planes makes the temperature rise in the short term. Post 911 data:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/3310_sun.html

  • @ Bud Nye

    The book is very dated now. I don’t have the name or URL, but somewhere someone has a website with his 6 degrees as a basis and then additional notes added with new data that’s come up in the years since, that’s changed the picture. Better than the original book, really.

  • @ Tom Says:
    September 26th, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Unfortunately, I too read the latest sniveling kumbaya crap that the ‘fantastic’ scribbler spewed! To further disdain, I read nearly the first dozen comments (almost couldn’t believe the number) but had to stop to avoid regurgitation of my fabulous supper and the only ones remotely cogent were pintada’s. I have hence lowered the rating of that site and its minions from halfwit to dimwit. Another post like that, IF I see/read it, will drop them to nitwit status. I am flabbergasted that ‘people’ buy his spiel about his ‘experience’ when he clearly can’t write beyond the level of a 5th grader and obviously does not in the least comprehend any science. Abject drivel like that probably contributes more to my growing misanthropy than anything else!

  • “My question is; how much more Climate data will we learn in the next five to six years?”

    On a global scale, asteroid impacts and (super)volcanic eruptions are close to instantaneous on a human timescale. Due to the slowness of other global events, even if they are exponential and near instantaneous on geologic or other long timescales, they may appear to be relatively slow to us.

    What in geologic terms may be equivalent to freefall (9.81 m/sec^2) (9.81m/sec2), may in human terms be slower, and further obscured both by shifting baselines and normalcy bias.

    But not all systems are boiling frog setups. Some have stress and strain – with a breaking point for the strain.

    With each index of societal well-being, there is a point beyond which problems proliferate, such as with food & water availability, climate disruptions, etc.

    And then again, facts and figures fed to the mammalian brain chauffeur are not likely to alter the plans of the reptilian brain boss. Political campaign managers & speechwriters, advertising executives, copywriters and illustrators are what was needed – fifty years ago.

  • @ulvfugl

    I hadn’t seen that because I no longer bother reading widely: I just do enough reading to keep up with major developments; my main focus right now is my garden, converting digits into things that may be useful when TSHTF over the next 2-3 years.

    @Colin.

    I had a showdown with Scribbler about a year ago, and he didn’t like it at all when I demonstrated the ‘alternative technology’ he was promoting was baloney.

    I still scan though some of Scribbler’s items because he does occasionally highlight matters that are not highlighted elsewhere.

  • Wow, Kevin Moore, you do have your work cut out for you down under:

    ——–
    THE 2014 INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS HV MCKAY LECTURE & DINNER

    9th September, 2014 – 9th September, 2014
    07:00pm
    Location: RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne

    Robert Bryce is a Senior Fellow in the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York. He will be speaking on how increasing energy use promotes a richer and freer world.

    His first book Pipe Dreams: Greed Ego, and the Death of Enron was named one of the best non-fiction books of the year by Publisher Weekly. His most recent book Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper was published in May 2014

  • Scribbler is a big promoter of “alternative” energy, which he is confident can save the world AS IT PRESENTLY EXISTS (i.e. provide all the energy that’s being furnished by fossil fuels). He does post some useful climate information here and there.

    Mark Lynas (Lying to Us) is a big promoter of nuclear power, especially hybrid reactors.

    And i was amazed to see Jamey say this: “…friendship with a family down the street who live in a far different and better way (say, Denmark or Cuba).”
    Especially on a day when Denmark’s government announced it was sending an air force contingent to join the US’s new air war in Iraq, a contingent as large as will be sent by the UK. And Cuba’s government has adopted measures over the past five years which have resulted in mass layoffs of government workers, who are expected to find jobs in an expanded tourist industry, and is rushing to make deals with multinationals. Some illusions die hard on the left as well.

  • Jamey

    I am wondering why you titled a section ‘Displacement’?

    I was expecting something about people being moved off their lands, native peoples and now poor or socially undesirable.

    Not saying what you wrote was uncool.

    I reread it a few times and I am still at a loss to put 2 and 2 together on that….?

    😉

  • As is the usual case today, the truth is revealed by the comics:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/71-billion-demonstrate-in-favor-of-global-warming,36984/

    7.1 Billion Demonstrate In Favor Of Global Warming

    NEW YORK—In an overwhelming show of support for dangerously escalating temperatures, 7.1 billion people from nearly every nation on earth staged massive demonstrations yesterday in favor of global warming. “Whether they were sitting in their living rooms, watching football at a bar, or just driving somewhere, a sizable portion of the world let its support for climate change be heard loud and clear,” said environmental policy expert Janet Purvis, adding that the protest that began in the morning never lost steam at any point throughout the day. “This should serve as a wake-up call to officials around the world that the factors contributing to global warming are real, important, and must be protected at any cost.” At press time, the 7.1 billion protesters were reportedly making plans to stage similar rallies every day for the foreseeable future.

    put another way:

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/09/global-status-quo-optimizes-protecting-elites-clerisy-class-serves.html

    What the Global Status Quo Optimizes: Protecting Elites and the Clerisy Class That Serves Them

    The incestuous embrace of privilege and power by entrenched, socially isolated Elites characterizes failed states and brittle, doomed regimes throughout history.

    Every system is optimized to serve a specific purpose. As noted in my recent essay What Metric Are We Optimizing For?, what the system optimizes is rarely explicitly stated.

    Sometimes this results from not understanding the metric that the system is designed to optimize; but in other cases, explicitly describing what the system optimizes would trigger social instability.

    The Status Quo around the world–from France to China to the U.S.–is optimized to protect its Elites and the sprawling Upper-Caste of academics, managers, think-tank toadies, technocrats, apparatchiks, functionaries, factotums, lackeys and apologists who serve the Elites, and are well-paid for enforcing the Status Quo on the disenfranchised castes below.

    Demographer Joel Kotkin, author of the new book The New Class Conflict, has coined the word Clerisy to describe what I have been calling the Upper Caste:America’s new class system.

    Oligarchs are assisted in their control by what Kotkin calls the “clerisy” class — an amalgam of academics, media and government employees who play the role that medieval clergy once played in legitimizing the powerful, and in implementing their policies while quelling resistance from the masses. The clerisy isn’t as rich as the oligarchs, but it does pretty well for itself and is compensated in part by status, its positions allowing even its lower-paid members to feel superior to the hoi polloi.

    Because it doesn’t have to work in competitive industries, the clerisy favors regulations, land-use rules and environmental restrictions that make things worse for businesses — especially the small “yeoman” businesses that traditionally sustained much of the middle class — thus further hollowing out the middle of the income distribution. But the lower classes, sustained by government handouts and by rhetoric from the clerisy, provide enough votes to keep the machine running, at least for a while.

    This describes the Savior State perfectly: a centrally planned and controlled government that enforces its absolute control via force, legal regulations and the blandishments of complicity: there’s billions of dollars in free money social welfare to buy the loyalty (or at least the passivity) of the disenfranchized and marginalized.

    [ends with]

    It’s not just the institutions that have lost any conception of good governance– the Aristocracy ruling the nation has lost all interest or recognition of the common good. This is of course not unique to America; the same disregard for the common good is at the root of all developed-world and developing-world failed states.

    The incestuous embrace of privilege and power by entrenched, socially isolated Elites characterizes failed states and brittle, doomed regimes throughout history.This is what the Status Quo everywhere is optimized for: protecting those who have secured the wealth, perquisites and power by strangling competition, democracy and social mobility.

    If you want to pinpoint the one dynamic pushing the global economy into not just a prolonged recession but a parallel period of massive social instability, look no farther than the social and financial stagnation that results from optimizing the system to benefit the Elites and the entrenched incumbents who protect them from competition and the dispossessed debt-serf classes below.

  • meanwhile we have more disease and volcanic eruptions:

    http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/fao-issues-warning-over-virulent-new-bird-flu-strain/

    FAO issues warning over virulent new bird flu strain

    September 2014 – HEALTH – A new strain of avian influenza virus in poultry in south-east Asia represents a serious threat to animal health and livelihoods in the region, and must be closely monitored, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned. Chinese authorities first reported the high pathogenic H5N6 strain in April 2014, but it has since spread to other countries in the region. The most recent outbreak was on a poultry farm in the Quang Ngai province of eastern Vietnam, where birds suffered 30% mortality. “Influenza viruses are constantly mixing and recombining to form new threats,” said FAO’s chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth. “However, H5N6 is particularly worrisome, since it has been detected in several places so far from one another. Because it is so highly pathogenic, infected poultry quickly become sick and death rates are very high.” [read it]

    http://dutchsinse.tatoott1009.com/9272014-unexpected-eruption-of-mt-ontake-in-japan-traps-hikers-in-ash-raw-video/

    9/27/2014 — Unexpected Eruption of Mt. Ontake in Japan traps hikers in ash — RAW video

    An unexpected eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan has occurred, trapping nearly 200 hikers. 8 were injured.

    This impressive raw video shows the fast incoming blast of hot volcanic ash overcoming hikers on the mountain. [short vids]

  • Tom:
    Scribbler is an apocaloptimistic green money man. Klein is a naive, uninformed media star. McKibben is an opportunistic power grubber. We are going to fail because like the Onion story demonstrates, America spends $1 trillion a year in tax money fighting for oil. The enemy is us, Joe Six Pack and the Villainaires. We can’t have green energy without thorium power. Everybody knows deep down we will fail, fall – whatever – but we have to keep trying. It is who we are. Scribbler, Klein and McKibben are just dealing with it in their own way, the best way they know how. They occupy a popular space on the vast continuum of denial. They deny reality just as much as the Fox pundit denies global warming. Just as we can’t function without denying our own deaths.

    To The Uninitiated Reader:
    THE PLAIN TRUTH
    ► 10,000 years ago humans and our livestock occupied just 0.01% of all the land-air vertebrate biomass on earth.
    ► Now humans and our livestock occupy 97% of all land-air vertebrate biomass.
    ► Humans and our livestock now consume over 40% of earth’s annual green land biomass production.
    ► 1 million people born every 4½ days. People live longer.

    What does this mean?
    ► 50% of All Vertebrate Species will be gone by 2040.
    http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/7350/Call-of-Life–Facing-the-Mass-Extinctiony
    .
    What have we done?
    ► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.
    ► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
    ► 50% of Fresh Water Fish gone since 1987.
    ► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.
    ► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.
    ► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.
    ► 50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.
    ► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.
    ► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
    ► 93 Elephants killed every single day.
    ► 2-3 Rhinos killed every single day.
    ► Bees die from malnutrition lacking bio-diverse pollen sources.
    ► Extinctions are 1000 times faster than normal.
    .
    What’s going to happen to us?
    ► Ocean acidification doubles by 2050.
    ► Ocean acidification triples by 2100.
    ► We are on track in just 13 years to lock in a near term 6°C earth temp rise.
    ► Mass Extinction will become unstoppable and irreversible in 40 years.
    ► Permian mass extinction of 95% of life took 60,000 years 250 million years ago.
    ► Dinosaurs mass extinction took 33,000 years after asteroid impact.
    ► Anthropogenic mass extinction will take 300 years max.
    ► This mass extinction is 100x faster than anything before us.
    ► Antarctic meltdown now irreversible and unstoppable.
    ► Arctic methane burst is irreversible and unstoppable within current system.
    ► It takes 10 times as much rated “green” energy to displace 1 unit of fossil energy.
    ► Efficiency and conservation only causes more growth within our current system.
    ► World Bank says we have 5-10 years before we all fight for food and water.
    .
    What we are doing right now!
    ► We combine bacteria DNA with plant DNA and eat it.
    ► We are eating stuff that never, ever existed on earth before.
    ► We put man-made, computer designed, synthetic DNA into our food.
    ► We put nano metals and nano particles into our food.
    ► We put poisonous pesticides and herbicides directly into food cells.
    ► There are thousands of different chemicals in our foods.
    ► We are turning into genetic mutants because of our food.
    ► We are wiping out all life on earth because of our food.
    ► After mass extinction, genetically modified trees may be all we leave behind.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUd9rRSLY4A

    WHY THERE IS NO GREEN ENERGY
    Our “green” energy hi-tech future requires:
    ► conflict minerals,
    ► rare earth elements,
    ► heavy metals,
    ► nano metals and graphite.
    Search for “rare earth mining in China” on YouTube and see what special hell your solar panels and wind turbines produce in Mongolia. China can do this because they have undercut all the world’s production of rare earth elements with low wages, low currency and no environmental enforcement. They can do this because they ignore the radioactive thorium that comes with mining high-value, heavy rare earth elements. Rare Earth elements are approaching the limit on their energy return on energy invested. Rare earth elements can’t profitably be mined outside of China without burning radioactive thorium, whixch is the mining by-product commonly found with heavy rare earth elements.


    .
    Graphite is used in all of our so-called “green” powered batteries and is mined in China emitting deadly fine air particles resulting in a lethal smog that washes down from the skies in an ash laden rain that covers crops and water. China recently shut down several graphite mines because of the pervasive smog. Graphene, a nano-material produced for batteries, is water soluble and can cut through human/animal cells. Both graphite dust and graphene are deadly to humans because of their small size. You don’t want to breathe this stuff.

    http://theenergycollective.com/barrybrook/471651/catch-22-energy-storage
    .
    Solar cell manufacturing produces 3 green house gases that are over 10,000 times worse than C02. They require all kinds of deadly liquid acids to manufacture. Solar panels lose efficiency at the rate of 1% per year lasting 20-25 years. The expensive inverters they require have to be replaced every 5 to 10 years up to 4 times over the life of the panel. The new thin cell panels use nano materials and are even more toxic with shorter lifespans. It doesn’t matter how “clean” the latest experimental solar panels are because existing manufacturing plants will stay open to recoup major investments. Manufacturing just five wind turbines produces 1 ton of radioactive residue and 75 tons of toxic, acidic water used to leach out the required neodymium. Wind turbines only work at 25% of their rated capacity 90% of the time. Over 2 million children died in the Congo for the conflict minerals green energy needs. Thousands of people die in Chinese mines every year for the minerals green energy needs. Prof. Jian Shuisheng of the Jiatong-University estimates the production of just 6 solar panels requires one ton of coal. Since green power is intermittent, it would take at least 10 times the rated amount of “green” energy to displace just one equivalent unit of 24/7 fossil energy because your so-called 100 Watt solar panel delivers zero Watts at night and batteries are heavy toxic $energy hogs. One company in the U.S. cut down 5 acres of trees to build a solar farm to power a plant for the production of plastic bags. Green power will not be enough. Part-time energy and billions of batteries adds up to death to all life on earth just from destructive ecological inertia.

    Ozzie Zehner explains “Green Illusions”.

    Tim Garrett explains why
    ► one dollar equals 10 milliwatts
    ► why we can’t decouple growth from emissions.
    ► why effeciency & conservation leads to more energy growth.
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tim+garrett+is+it+possible+to+decouple+economic+wealth+from+carbon+dioxide+emission+rates%3F+part+i
    .
    Did you know that the new $2 billion Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave desert is a death ray that ignites birds in mid flight? When their bodies fall to the ground, they leave smoky trails in the sky called streamers. These birds are attracted to the bugs who are attracted to the shiny, pretty lights, just like us. It is estimated as many as 30,000 birds per year will die this way during huge migrations at just this one green power plant. Bigger solar plants of the same type are in the works including one near Joshua Tree, next to a wildlife sanctuary. During Ivanpah’s construction, up to 3,000 endangered desert tortoises suffered a temporary loss of legal protection and were allowed to be killed by heavy diesel equipment and materials. Thousands of slave workers die in China’s mines every single year to help produce the exotic minerals used in its construction. This is referred to as the “Green Economy”. If we changed the whole planet to green power, we would kill the earth we call home.

    .
    Civilization is slowly collapsing while the earth is quickly dying. My credentials? I cut grass in a trailer park in Canada.

  • Climate Climax
    I just watched Disruption, the docu-schlock green propaganda piece that starts with the usual veiled threats and ends with the upbeat crescendo of optimistic techno-green clicktivist delusional climax. The urge for a post-climatic cigarette was overwhelming. Letting a black man drink from a white fountain is easy, turning off the power to that fountain is dangerous.

  • Mr Callaghan,

    The power to the fountain u speak of was, in effect, turned off, even before one person had an opportunity to take an itty bitty sip. It will never release water if some have their way.

  • “And Cuba’s government has adopted measures over the past five years which have resulted in mass layoffs of government workers, who are expected to find jobs in an expanded tourist industry, and is rushing to make deals with multinationals.”

    “Some illusions die hard on the left as well.”

    No kidding! Does Cuba have a way to not get completely sucked in by the multinationals? Although I think it could find a way (to be viable and sufficiently “competitive” not to get run over), I’m not sure that it has. What about Richard Wolf’s Mondragon example?

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

    This is only a question.

  • thanks for your exceptional effort Guy, Climate Central, Real Climate and Scribbler refuse my posts. can’t imagine why.

  • Here’s a look at terrestrial zoomass (animal biomass) from 10,000 BCE to 2050. My figures agree with macCready’s.

  • Good post Robert – it doesn’t take a rocket scientologist to get the facts, mull them over in their own muddled head and come to the same conclusion: if not extinction, civilization is coming apart due to being out of balance in both human population and relationship to (supposed to be “with”) the planet.

    maybe ‘Adam and Eve’ were to be the only two here, and for only as long as it lasts . . .

  • Excellent essay, Jamey Hecht. Your understanding of the PREDICAMENT will be a great resource for patients who will come to you in psychic pain.

    Why discuss collapse and extinction? It’s a matter of discovering what is causing the pain, which I believe no one is immune to, we are all feeling it on some level because it’s in our DNA now, all those historical traumas, the lived consequences of the choices our ancestors made. Not facing the source/sources of conflict and profound grief results in internalizing and twisting the pain until it is unrecognizable, turning it back on ourselves, where it then surfaces as demons, neuroses, anger, projection. The evidence is all around us in the hate and blame.

    Speaking that truth will both risk the wrath of the abusive father, and alienate the kids who are still trying to love him. But in a regime of endless lies and unacknowledged open secrets, speaking the truth can feel so important as to drive us to risk ostracism and punishment. We have to do it.

    And the truth-teller will never be allowed back into the circle, either, will never be forgiven. I’ve learned this from my own family, my own past, my own breaking free. There is nothing to do but move, walk, crawl forward, alone, but ever with an open hand for the others to take hold of. I keep my eyes open and heal what I can, making way by light of truth, the sometimes tiny flames lit by others on the path.

    Healing The Mare

    Just days after the vet came,
    after the steroids that took
    the fire out of the festering
    sores-out of the flesh that in
    the heat took the stings too
    seriously and swelled into great
    welts, wore thin and wept, calling
    more loudly out to the green-
    headed flies-I bath you
    and see your coat returning,
    your deep force surfacing in a
    new layer of hide: black wax
    alive against weather and flies.

    But this morning, misshapen
    still, you look like an effigy,
    something rudely made, something
    made to be buffeted, or like
    an old comforter-are they both
    one in the end? So both a child

    and a mother, with my sponge and
    my bucket, I come to anoint, to
    anneal the still weeping, to croon
    to you baby poor baby for the sake
    of the song, to polish you up,
    for the sake of the touch, to a shine.

    As I soothe you I surprise wounds
    of my own this long time unmothered.
    As you stand, scathed and scabbed,
    with your head up, I swab. As you
    press, I lean into my own loving
    touch, for which no wound
    is too ugly.

    ~Linda McCarriston

  • Robert,

    Ur post sums up the whole shitty deal. Thank you.

  • Robert Callahan: EXCELLENT post!

  • Good essay, Jamey!

    Badlands- very moving post, and the poem left me overwhelmed on many levels. Thank you.

    Robert- If you repeat the truth often enough … then what?
    quote:”► 50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.” 🙂

  • ‘I can’t fix reality, but at least I can keep acknowledging it.’

    other than the omission of ‘sur’ at the beginning of ‘reality’, a surreally minor detail, i completely empathize. living in someone else’s world of make-believe tends to drive me nuts quickly. the likelihood of nthe is a topic worthy of acknowledgement, if anything’s worthy of acknowledgement. not thinking about it doesn’t make it go away. except in the minds of a vast majority of sheeple, so it seems tragically (or not).

    not being able to fix this predicament is a tough pill. i feel a compulsion to at least acknowledge it personally, and to limit intimate society to fellow doomers. another gagging pill, since genuine doomers are so very rare. fine essay, jamey. thanks for sharing. btw, bud nye, your essay last week was excellent too. i just didn’t read it until after the 2 days it was current were over, so i didn’t comment on it until now.

  • ‘1 million people born every 4½ days’

    nitpicking correction, Robert Callaghan: human population increases at that rate of 1 million every 4 1/2 days. taking into account the death rate, the birth rate is significantly higher than that quoted above.

    i haven’t closely fact checked the rest of your long list of facts/claims so i can’t say for sure if it’s impeccable, but thanks for compiling it, along with the supporting video links. it’s a good, concise picture of our destructive predicament, as well as a debunking of the dream of a savior ‘green economy’. pretty impressive for a lowly trailer park grass cutter.

    ‘it doesn’t take a rocket scientologist to get the facts, mull them over in their own muddled head and come to the same conclusion: if not extinction, civilization is coming apart due to being out of balance in both human population and relationship to (supposed to be “with”) the planet.’

    sadly, most ‘rocket scientists’ and other geniuses of note are nearly as clueless as are the less gifted masses in terms of perception and acknowledgement of our peculiar predicament. even savants tend to be idiotic/ignorant in some ways, don’t they?

  • Thank you, Jamey, for giving voice to many thoughts and feelings I’ve been experiencing. And, yeah, dammit, there is some small comfort in knowing the sociopathic psychopathic scum who have been masquerading as human beings will burn in the conflagration as well. The “scum” I refer to are any and all that stopped caring about their neighbors and our planet long ago, especially the “leaders” of government, society and industry. Fuck em all. This might be the only time we don’t see people running and screaming “Me first !”

  • The Flatulent States of America:

    Latest EIA Report Shows Marked Increase in U.S. CO2 Emissions
    By Thomas Schueneman on Sep 26th, 2014.

    “According to the report, CO2 emissions for the first half of 2014 are 2.74 percent higher than for the same period in 2013 and 5.96 percent higher than for the first half of 2012. This reverses the downward trend of energy-related CO2 emissions, which account for 98 percent of the U.S. total, from 2010 through 2012.”

    – includes a link to the few-hundred-page *.pdf report.

  • Hey, Badlands, nice to see you back here…

  • http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-sep-26-2014-can-money-save-the-climate/

    Can Money Save The Climate?

    [begins]

    So PIMCO was going to fire Bill Gross over the weekend, and he chose to leave on his own accord and work for Janus. So what? Gross is 70 years old and still joins another firm geared towards making money, and nothing else at all. As if making money, and nothing else, is a valid goal in a human life.

    As if someone who’s done nothing else his entire life, and who’s richer than Croesus, should have nothing else to do with the times that remains him, and is somehow right and justified about not being able to find anything more worthwhile.

    As if that singular focus does not make his life a useless one, or the man an empty shell. And yeah, I’m sure he gives away some cash from time to time to make himself feel even better. Though I doubt he ever feels truly fine. Perhaps the disappointment of being a billionaire and still feel like he’s wasted his life is what drives him on. Or maybe his wife beats him. And he enjoys it.

    And it’s not just Bill Gross, it’s just as much the way the mainstream press covers the ‘event’ of Gross’ departure, the fact that they bother to cover it in the first place, and the details they focus on, that shine a chillingly clear cold and revealing light on what we have become, as individuals and as societies.

    The hollow single-minded worshipping of money, which Gross can be said to embody, is the single biggest scourge on each and every one of us, on all the bonds we form between each other, on the communities and nations we live in, and the planet they’re located on. The bible is full of allusions to this, and the world is full of people who call themselves Christians, but the twain are like ships passing in the night.

    if you would want to prevent a war, or you want to stop the destruction of rivers and seas through pollution, or for the earth’s climate from entering a cycle that neither we nor the climate itself can control, would you think first of people like Bill Gross when you’re looking for support? If you do, that would not be wise. Nevertheless, at every single climate conference it’s people just like him, such as Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, who made sure they’re in the spotlight.

    People who’ve never done anything in their lives that was not directed at self-gratification. People who cause, not prevent, the mayhem. Even the big demonstrations last week were shrouded in a veil of corporatism, not unlike the one Greenpeace has been enveloped in for many years. [read the rest if interested]

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26278-crazy-weather-traced-to-arctics-impact-on-jet-stream.html#.VCe920uI34L

    Crazy weather traced to Arctic’s impact on jet stream

    Sticky weather: the normal gentle curve of the jet stream is forced into becoming steeper and slower, causing hot or cold weather to “stick” for longer periods than normal

    [I linked to the original article at newscientist mag from seemorerocks site, which has Jennifer Francis’s video explaining the jet stream after this article – check them both out]

  • “sadly, most ‘rocket scientists’ and other geniuses of note are nearly as clueless as are the less gifted masses in terms of perception and acknowledgement of our peculiar predicament. even savants tend to be idiotic/ignorant in some ways, don’t they?”

    Yes! Thank YOU!

  • The latest NTHE question is posted, along with other tidbits. Catch ’em all here.

  • One of the finest essays offered here over my 2 years of reading; brought so much together to understand, and empathize with, my own conditions around this growing realization of finality about to arrive upon us.

    The abusive parent — YES!!! And how many of us are still trying to decode the skeletons in our own closets? Things we’ll never find out for sure, or just make clearer guesses at?

    Great analogy. One question: Do you try Intervention with the Abusive One, or just end up waiting for them to die off? (I’ve heard of a very few deathbed confessions, but never count on it. People tend to die as they lived — repressed, pretending, lying.) Easy answer, in this case. You wait, and try to resolve things for yourself, away from them. (Only this time, they take the whole household with them, in their departing.)

  • Yes, hello friends, and thank you for the greetings, Wren and ulvfugl! I am still around, though I do most of my ‘commiserating’ in the NTE support groups on facebook- they are becoming numerous, growing exponentially! Many more people are starting to feel the weight.

    @Wren, I received the most thoughtful and generous package today- my youngest noticed I was crying, and I told her sometimes we get happy tears. What a wonderful surprise! Anyway, I will write more in a personal e-mail later when I have more time, but I had to say thank you. The poet Linda McCarriston was teaching at UAA while I was there finishing my degree, and her book ‘Eva-Mary’ is one of those that hits hard- I can only read it sparingly and not too often for the pain it stirs. ‘Healing the Mare’ is strong medicine for me.

    @Henry I think the people that never look inside, that won’t even attempt to ‘decode the skeletons’ in their closets, are never going to be able to look around and see the truth of what is happening, much less speak it. This is the year that I let go of all my stories, have recognized and named (most of) the culprits, made my amends, said my goodbyes. Much roomier in here now!

    @ulvfugl Thanks for the link- very cool! Do you like Susan Tedeschi? Well, I’m not sure when she teamed up with her husband, but I swear I enter a trance state somewhere in the middle of this performance by them. *warning* heavy dose of the blues…

  • if you repeat the same factoids often enough

    you’re a spammer

    A wilfully ignorant spammer with an agenda

    a one-note propagandist