NTHE Questions #13 and #14

McPherson notes that, during his brief absence, several among the commentariate ignored the only suggestions in this space. You were unkind and you posted too frequently. Apparently civilized humans cannot be trusted with even the simplest of tasks. Please grow up.

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What will get us first? Radiation, disease, starvation, thirst, all-out war or something else?

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As Mary Oliver says in her poem The Summer Day, “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” Why/how does NTHE affect you more profoundly than this knowledge (if it does)?

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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 57

  • It is impossible in principle to predict failure points in a system as complex a global civilization. Attempting to do so says much more about the predictor’s neurotic need for certainty than it does about the actual situation.

    Most of the indicators in the geophysical, biological, energetic, social and economic domains are heading south. Which one might be the first to trigger a cascade failure? They are all candidates.

    NTHE is a concept with no direct personal relevance to me. I will never experience it – in fact I can’t experience it. If I were the last person on Earth, I wouldn’t experience species extinction. I’d simply experience my own death.

    On the other hand, my own death will have profound personal consequences. It is the deepest mystery I will ever face, and its inevitability shapes my thinking every day.

    I used to ascribe more significance to collapse/dieoff/extinction than to my own death, but that was purely a result of a toxic psychological combination: the perceived inevitability of extinction, a sense of personal helplessness in the face of death, and my neurotic need for certainty and control. When I realized that NTHE is far less significant to me on a personal level than my own immediate life and death, I got over a lot of my angst.

  • 1. Doesn’t matter!

    2. Many times too soon is not near quick enough!

  • What will get us first? Radiation, disease, starvation, thirst, all-out war or something else?

    An easy one at last 🙂

    Radiation – Chernobyl, Fukushima – have been killing us all since the accidents. If not from direct radiation fallout – then from the stress of *not knowing*.

    Disease – My severe COPD has an *internet* prognosis :: 50% chance I’ll live another 5 years. So NTHE better get a move on if it wants to claim this old gruff!

    War – total wild card. Seems like the likelihood increases with each passing day – since those charged with keeping us informed have decided to lie and deceive, it’s hard to get an accurate read.

    Something else – psyclobin, ganga and pierogi ??

    Fast crash seems far fetched – I’m inclined to believe a slo burn is well under way – shit, they’ve been poisoning us for decades with every which way they can make a buck.

  • “What will get us first? Radiation, disease, starvation, thirst, all-out war or something else?”

    Paul C. said:

    “It is impossible in principle to predict failure points in a system as complex a global civilization. Attempting to do so says much more about the predictor’s neurotic need for certainty than it does about the actual situation.”

    Mebbe so, but I think we can make some educated guesses,and why shouldn’t we? It makes sense to me to look at the probabilities. What do we have to lose by thinking about it?

    It depends first off, on where you are. Here in the heart of the empire, it probably won’t be war. Not conventional war, anyway. The existential threat of a nuke attack has been there my whole lifetime, and I wouldn’t rule that out. But RPG’s, tanks, and bullets? I don’t think so.

    However, if you march, or protest, the cops will probably continue to kill somebody doing that fairly often, and if you make yourself a target, it could be you. Follow your heart, but keep your head down.

    EMP attack is certainly a possibility, and that’s been written about a great deal. So has germ warfare. These are the two “foreign enemy” threats I worry about the most. But they could have already happened and they haven’t (has to make me raise the odds against), and nukes haven’t been used on us by our “enemies” either. I use quotes because one has to understand that we aren’t the good guys in white hats. We are the bad guys most of the time now, and almost everyone overseas hates us, and for good reason.

    Radiation? It is getting some of us now. Hard to quantify the actual damage, because the numbers are being deliberately distorted. But it only takes one hot particle to give you cancer. Particles are more dangerous than ionizing radiation for most of us, because we won’t get enough ionizing radiation to kill us directly unless we’re nuked or downwind from a Fukushima and not too far away. Or if we get radiation treatment for cancer, or too many chest x-rays. The danger from dental x-rays is something I know a little about, and I believe the dangers from that have been, unfortunately, blown all out of proportion.

    Thirst? I don’t think so. Maybe some of us will die from contaminated water of one kind or another. Filtering makes sense right now. Water quality isn’t horrible, but it’s getting worse over time. Total lack of water is not an issue in the short term, unless you live in Phoenix or Vegas. If you live there, you should move now.

    Disease? Oh, you mean like flu or ebola? Epidemics? Maybe, but I don’t think so. We just know too much about how to prevent epidemics, at least in the West, we do. Not that those things might not kill some people. They are killing some American now, from time to time…just not big numbers.
    Starvation is very high on my list, and the odds in favor of that will grow with every passing year, as fossil fuel inputs become more expensive and less effective. That’s why I recommend growing your own food, if you can. And imho, almost everyone can, with practice. At least for the next few years until it gets too hot to grow outside. And soil microbes all die…that sort of thing.

    But if you aren’t growing food, you are doubly at risk, because the JIT delivery system we mostly depend on for food, is getting very precarious, and you could die of starvation long before small scale organic agriculture becomes impossible.

  • “As Mary Oliver says in her poem The Summer Day, “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” Why/how does NTHE affect you more profoundly than this knowledge (if it does)?”

    Good question. I guess it affects me more profoundly for a couple of reasons. The main one is this:

    My personal death does not bother me too much, but it seems unnatural and very wrong that my own family, human life in general, dogs, cats, dolphins, sea turtles, fish, and all the other life forms on the planet won’t go on for thousands or millions of years after I’m worm food.

    I wasn’t planning for that one, and it throws me off a little bit and requires a major adjustment to my emotional being.

    Secondly, it gives me a huge challenge, in terms of living life. Nothing is the same now as it was even five years ago. I expected to die and have my ashes scattered here in Heaven….I mean Texas. Now I’m considering the short term effects of climate change, and whether I might seek early non-retirement someplace like Canada. I know the Southern hemisphere is better, but I have no wish to live my last days in a place where I can neither speak nor understand the language.

    Plan A is still permaculture and organic gardening here, for a while. But a ten degree Fahrenheit temperature rise, declining rainfall, and failing aquifers might make me move. I am working to give myself more options, so that I can roll with the punches. Useless bargaining? Denial? Perhaps, but I prefer to enjoy the process of attempting to adapt until it ceases to have any positive benefits.

  • ‘What will get us first?’

    This is yet another silly question.

    There is no ‘us’. There are people living in thousands of very different locations and under very different circumstances, with very different opportunities or lack of opportunities, and with very different futures.

    The end will come one person at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time, and mostly for very different reasons.

    At the moment NZ is enduring ‘death by politicians’ -images of the sick psychopaths are displayed ‘everywhere’, and the maniacs actually want voters to endorse the destruction of everything that they promote.

    NZ politicians and their associates around the world will be responsible for the collapse of the food supply, the war, the radiation sickness, the drought, the starvation or whatever else kills off individual people in any particular location.

  • http://news.yahoo.com/world-losing-battle-contain-ebola-145522273.html

    World ‘losing battle’ to contain Ebola

    and it only takes a plane trip with an infected patient (or many) who shows no signs to spread it to any and every country. It’s also mutating as it’s spreading, so the ‘miracle’ zmapp drug may not work for long. That’s not the only disease ramping up – dengue fever is also effecting many, and not just in Africa, for one example.

    I have no idea what will precipitate the big step down – sudden collapse. Here’s another item to add to the list though.

    It’s been pointed out recently that supply chain – ANY supply chain – disruption can bring on cascading failure. These include food growing, distribution and quality (which has a lot to do with soil microbes – something humans have no control over going forward, as radiation, brake dust, smokestack particulates, acid rain and tropospheric ozone, among many more factors, effect these prime elements of soil quality); the coming worthless currency (actually currencies) problem; extended electrical grid disruption and failure (from something like Katrina or Sandy, yet it could be from a falling tree, remember?!); but also war, a big disrupter of ‘supplies’ (and don’t think it’s beyond any country with nukes, or a ‘rogue’ outfit who somehow gains access to either the materials or actual weapons, to strike somewhere in the U.S. – like D.C. or NYC, but it could just as well be HOUSTON) – since we’ve made so many enemies recently, and even many of our so-called allies despise our horrible bullying behavior, among other reasons; a gas and or oil price jump beyond ~ $4/gallon here (we’ve already seen problems with expensive heating oil and scarce propane – and that’s in the U.S., what’s Europe going to do when Russia turns off the gas?); environmental degradation from business as usual (including fracking and mining) causing increased species die-off (anyone counting how many fish, bats, bees, frogs, mammals etc. have died just this year?) and finally consumer demand – as poverty seems to be willingly imposed on larger and larger swathes of society and civilization, people have less and less income with which to work.

    Another factor is the methane, hydrogen sulfide and other gases pluming off the oceans (in addition to the sulfurous concoctions exuding from all the active volcanos and the shit coming out of our collective tailpipes, oil and fracking wells and machinery of all kinds which doesn’t just magically disappear it turns out).

    One more, because this is the rant from hell and I could add to it til the cows come home, POLLUTION of all kinds overwhelming life in general, to the point that everything seizes up may get us.

    It’ll probably be a combination of many of these and other unnamed factors, but regardless, the event(s) seem more probable as time goes on – to the extent that if we reach 2020 we’ll be in a world of hurt from then on.

    ————

    Guy:

    I couldn’t comment for an extended period of time (which is probably a blessing for the beach gathering) due to repeated 404 messages and no way to get in touch to ask someone to fix it beyond repeated, frustrating tries. So when I finally was able to access the site I “back filled” my comments (making up for lost time) and therefore perhaps went over the limit. Sorry, i’ll attempt to be more mindful.

  • A lot would depend on the age of the audience member. Many will likely die of the diseases of old age, and many others from automotive accidents (other categories). After all, automotive accidents (exasperated by the anti-blitz blackout) were a major cause of death in early World War 2 Great Britain, and killed more Americans during the Vietnam War than the war itself.

    So with that in perspective, the most likely cause of a near term extinction are a total war scenario. It is the one major scenario listed that has the obvious potential to kill everyone in the near term. Most of the others are good scenarios for a sudden collapse in modern society, but not as good of candidates for global extinction. The best of the lot appears to a runaway closed loop weather cycle, followed even more distantly by such things as volcanic activity, meteor strikes, etc.

  • Well, I predicted some time ago that “collapse” would be at my door by August 2014. I was wrong. And I planned my bankruptcy, homelessness, and extended unemployment accordingly. Ooops.

    Now, I’m pretty much screwed – just holding on each day for no particular reason.

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

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  • Grant,

    I suppose, then, u think the Palestinians are: “self-righteous blowhards, idiots, and
    bootlickers.”

    Heck, I just applauded something u said. Why the Zionist attitude?

  • When I look out over humanity’s big picture, I perceive something already dead. Except for scattered individuals and small groups, I don’t see much potential anywhere for something good happening. Mankind is all used up, shot to hell.

    Like Guy says, ever since he was born everything just keeps getting worse.

    “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” Why/how does NTHE affect you more profoundly than this knowledge (if it does)?

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with accepting the fact that I’m going to die. In many ways it will be a relief. I would rather not die before I hit 85 or so, if my mind can stay intact. But if I have to go sooner, so be it.

    NTHE adds whole new outlook on death that is separate from anything people will have endured before. I certainly do not look forward to the time when the young people learn that their lives are going to be cut short. When the 30 and 40 year olds who are busy establishing a family and a career suddenly understand that ‘it’ has all been a lie, how will they react? How old are children when they actually understand that they will die some day, 10 or 12? Well, soon they’ll have to roll that into the fact that death is coming soon.

    All the sudden shocking realizations that are right around the corner for so many are just another example of what mankind seems to do best: create unnecessary suffering! The quicker we’re gone, the less suffering we’ll have a chance to inflict on each other. So, turn loose the Horsemen!
    Let them ride out together! They bring our just deserts!

  • @ Pat

    While it can be advantageous to be ahead of the curve, it can be rather tragic to be too ahead of it. Good luck in whatever comes next.

  • I don’t really see the point in speculating but, in my area, I think most who had been healthy will die from starvation or “strife” (organized or unorganized violence). There’ll be a huge first wave of deaths among the elderly and the weaker folks, those on various forms of artificial life support.

    I think this a prime aspect of why NTHE/NTE is so ghastly, and it’s one we’ve been tip-toeing around to even a greater extent than suicide, and that is: what will it look/smell/sound/feel like when large numbers of people around you are dead/dying, when all the vegetation is quite obviously dying, and you know that things will never get better?

    In the past, sure there were wars, plagues and the like, but there was always the knowledge that somewhere else there wasn’t the plague, or that at some time in the future the war would be over, or that when the famine ended there’d be fewer mouths to feed, or new terrain would be discovered…

    Even a terminal patient who knows their own life is at an end has the contrast to consider: ok, *I’m* dying, but everything else is normal.. it’s going to go forward normally, only without *me*. But soon millions and billions are going to be dying and it won’t be anything like normal ever again.

    It’s easy to be philosophical in theory, that our individual death vs. species extinction is on some level the same thing, but that only has to do with the death agony itself. What about all the horror up until that point?

  • @Kirk Hamilton, yeah, “I see dead people”, too. 2 recent things: first, my SIL told us that now two more of our nephews are expecting babies, on top of the one niece already pregnant with her second. That makes 3 out of 6 couples in this generation in active gestation mode right this minute! We have been dropping hints for years that the world is going to be changing, that things are unsustainable… These are all “smart” people: SIL a geologist and HS biology teacher; nephews a doctor and a physicist. A fourth nephew, who has already spawned twice, chided us for our ecological footprint, because our house was larger than his. (?) So it’s not like some of them don’t know on some level… it just doesn’t personally apply to them.

    Second thing I was thinking today, as I went to a farmer’s market in a neighboring town that is home to a military college. EVERYthing is horribly run-down, maybe one house out of ten doesn’t have badly-peeling paint and other general signs of degradation. But at the college you know.. “USA! USA! Boo yah!” and you got your idjits marching around in fatigues, or jogging in spandex. Most houses have got flags flying.. ‘course the bulk of them are shamefully and pathetically faded, dirty, and torn. And if you were to point all this out to them they wouldn’t even see it. Does Jethro have a shiny new red truck? Well, alrighty then! Can they afford enough gas to go muddin’? or to run their snowmobiles? Well then what is your *problem*, you dirty fuckin’ hippie? Do you hate America or sumpin’?

    I keep looking but have not run into a single person from the younger generation, even among environmentalists and permaculturists, who hasn’t either already procreated or who doesn’t talk about starting a family. I have to just shake my head. They don’t see it.

  • [quote] the stress of *not knowing* [/quote]

    This is why I started designing radiation detectors, to eliminate this unknown.

    [quote] it only takes one hot particle to give you cancer. Particles are more dangerous than ionizing radiation for most of us, because we won’t get enough ionizing radiation to kill us directly unless we’re nuked or downwind from a Fukushima and not too far away. Or if we get radiation treatment for cancer, or too many chest x-rays. The danger from dental x-rays is something I know a little about, and I believe the dangers from that have been, unfortunately, blown all out of proportion.[/quote]

    There are some common spices you can take that reduce the change of cancer and at least one, Turmeric, that clinical studies show actually [i]repairs[/i] cancer damage (DNA double strand breaks) In fact a pharmaceutical company attempted to patent it as a treatment for radiation sickness, but because it’s a naturally occurring space, they weren’t allowed to..

    I take such high ORAC spices including Turmeric, every day. The EPA’s radiation charts cannot be trusted – more than 2/3’rds of them are blank and several are inaccurate, so I chart my own radiation readings and issue radiation alerts on the air to warn people it would be wise to stay inside and avoid exposure.

    I suggest Oregano and Sage, cinnamon and also pepper if you can tolerate it (I can’t)

    The levels I’ve been seeing (of external exposure) are sometimes high enough to raise your cancer risk to 1 chance in 30 which doesn’t include any internal contamination.

    I’ve been taking rain samples and swabs of surfaces like windshields looking for any hot particles but haven’t found any so far..

    I boil the rain samples to scale at the bottom of the glass jar, then scrape it off into a powder, and apply it directly to the alpha detector surface, take a reading, then wipe it off. I save these samples as well for future analysis..

    I sweep the yard looking for any detectable radiation above background. Background readings are higher than before the [i]entirely man-made disaster[/i] at Fukushima Daiichi, but they fluctuate depending on weather and season.

    Rain causes the readings to go down, while dry dusty windy weather causes higher readings. It appears dust it’self is slightly radioactive..

    I don’t have the equipment to determine what the isotopes are (I’m still working on it) but am getting different Gamma energy range readings – not that those readings are very helpful 😉

  • Sorry, I can’t resist a third post. “[Radiation levels] fluctuate depending on weather and season.” Well, crazy inventor, if levels fluctuate, then how are your devices going to help people? Most people are not going to have the resources or the wherewithal to live a purely nomadic lifestyle.. the environment is not going to sustain nomads to any great degree.. and then what if your readings go high? You go a mile south, to where the readings will be? Higher? Lower? But maybe there there’s no food or water. Is it going to behoove you to waste gas/shoe leather looking for a low-rad place? I guess I have a hard time seeing the overall utility of this device. (N.B. I dropped out of an industrial design course basically because I didn’t see the utility of any of the products we were asked to design.)

  • I’m betting on suicide for most of us. It’s going to be death by a thousand cuts and that is going to wear on us not just for ourselves but everyone and everything else and likely cause us to commit suicide before ‘it’ finally becomes lethal.

  • Hi Lidia

    Once, when we were normal, disasteres would cause people to reproduce. I can’t remember the “Why” if there ever was an official “why” but the greater the loss of population, the more the increase in pregnancies. During times of war, this was especially obvious. (Many pregnant women in WW2, big “Baby Boom” afterwards)

    Of course it wasn’t the disaster itself that caused the Baby Booms or boomlet. It wasn’t even the people affected by the population-reducing event itself that produced the babies. Articles were written, brief attempts at analysis were made – the more time that passed after the crisis, things would return to normal.

    After WW11, schools had “Bulges” in grades that carried along until graduation, now the WW11 “Boom babies” are retiring.

    Something in the air, or something in the water, womething invisible that knows when a crisis is looming & tries to adjust the population accordingly. (Your nephews aren’t entirely to blame!)

  • @ Lidia

    There’s 2 kinds of exposure, external & internal.

    Once the reactors melt down, internal exposure will become a problem, you’ll want to check food & water for contamination and avoid consuming it.

    If travelling, go around hot spots. The external radiation levels in these cases would cause radiation sickness.

    Internal contamination is dozens to thousands of times worse (depending on the isotope) than external irradiation.

    So, just as people are already doing now, checking their food (primarily imported food – you never really know where your food comes from for sure) and rainwater, plus their gardens. Some people are reporting hot rain (though I haven’t found any myself so far) so when it rains (or snows) and your detectors give off higher readings, obviously you stay out of that rain, and if you do get wet, go in and take a shower as soon as possible..

    Frankly, I can’t see any situation where having radiation detectors can’t be helpful – if for nothing else than peace of mind.

  • I was simply stating that I appreciated the reinstatement of the expletive in the show’s theme song this evening. Did NOT mean to offend with my potty-mouthed singularity.
    Is this now a ‘NO CURSING beach’
    I missed that memo.
    I often attempt to say much with as few words as possible.
    I FAILED

  • You know how Twitter is like 100 words or something? I envision a site where one can only use 2 or 3 words—ONE preferably.

  • Probably just be a BIG FAIL. In fact, I bet most comments would star with F and rhyme with kuck.
    I need to grow up.

  • Lidia says:

    …I think this a prime aspect of why NTHE/NTE is so ghastly, and it’s one we’ve been tip-toeing around to even a greater extent than suicide, and that is: what will it look/smell/sound/feel like when large numbers of people around you are dead/dying, when all the vegetation is quite obviously dying, and you know that things will never get better?

    In the past, sure there were wars, plagues and the like, but there was always the knowledge that somewhere else there wasn’t the plague, or that at some time in the future the war would be over, or that when the famine ended there’d be fewer mouths to feed, or new terrain would be discovered…

    …soon millions and billions are going to be dying and it won’t be anything like normal ever again….

    ==

    Lidia, outstanding!

  • War seems inevitable if one puts any stock in past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour and all wars are resource wars. What are the chances that India & Pakistan are not going to have it out over water? I’m hoping for my rapture call from Ray Kurzweil any day now; gonna watch it all unfold from the cheap seats in the singularity.

    No More ‘Hiatus’ — Human Emission to Completely Overwhelm Nature by 2030

    https://robertscribbler.com/2014/09/03/no-more-hiatus-human-emission-to-completely-overwhelm-nature-by-2030/#respond

  • Synergy is what might do many of us in. Guessing ebola is like many other infections, when combined with long term chronic illnesses, malaria or infection of HIV auto-immune disease, etc. would have a higher mortality. Low on calories, low on nutrition from the foods we eat, even if green – makes other radiation, infectious disease more prone to kill ya. Oh and not to forget about the dibs and dabs, the ppms, ppbs and ppt’s of the noveau chemicals we have ingested for decades.

    Merde, if something big hits soon, if I have to get muddy water out of the Red, let sit to settle silt, get some dead elm from the river, soak up 10 kilos of beans and cook and have it as part of a potlatch by the bridge, sounds good. I like having 10 kilos of beans around at all times.

    Tomorrow, just like the last 20 years, try for 10 affirmations for every redirection with the mentally challenged individuals I get paid to hang out with. No meat, no liquor, 8 hours sleep. Repeat.

  • Hi Lidia. I know exactly how you feel about seeing so many young people with babies. I cringe every time I see a child, especially the babies. Poor little things, they don’t have a chance. When we were little, we thought the world was just a big bowl of cherries. The babies born now won’t get to see much of that.

    Just the other day, Maggie and I were sitting on the front porch watching the bird feeder when a young lady walked by with a baby carriage. The thing is, it was a triple baby carriage. The three babies were in a row and the whole set-up looked about ten feet long. I felt sad to see that, when only a few years ago I would have hollered a hello and walked across the street to check ’em out.

    As for why supposedly intelligent people keep on breeding, I’m certainly not sure. I do think that it must have something to do with the power of the dream-state they are living their lives in. They are not only breeding but are avidly chasing all the riches with witch to furnish the dream they call existence. And thus, they are helping to ensure their own children’s early demise.

    It turns out that for most of us, life is hardly much more than a sick, sad, tragically twisted farce brought about by mean, miserable, boring, petty-minded twits!

    Ugotstowonder. I agree, suicide is a good option for when things get miserable a hell. But people need to explore their options and be ready emotionally and think it through, how it will be like and all that.

    Hi Queenie. I always thought that there were more babies born after a disaster because people were bored and needed something to do because they were stuck at home. Maybe a scientist will see your posting and decide to do a study on it. Maybe they’ll discover a new hormone! Anyway, I’m a boomer. My birthday is on September 28, so I must have been conceived either during or right after a Christmas party or a New Years Eve party! 🙂

    Party on doomers! Party like there’s no tomorrow! And don’t forget to pack a condom!

  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/01/new-satellite-maps-show-polar-ice-caps-melting-at-unprecedented-rate

    Ice caps melting at unprecedented rate.
    It’s always faster, sooner, with greater impact than expected.

    And so to question 13: It will happen faster, sooner than expected.

    And to question 14: Too soon always leads to regret.

    As others note, my life is precious to me, but something I can give up. What hurts and continues to hurt is that this is happening to all species. This summer four trees were removed from the block. It’s a terrifying trend. But then, one would hate to see an automobile harmed in any way, so the trees had to go.

  • Kirk Hamilton

    My sister shares the same birthday with you. I always used to kid her and say “you came to that new years eve party with Dad and went home with Mom”

  • All four horsemen will be attending our going away party…

    It won’t matter to us which order they arrive….

    NTE is seven billion individual tragic stories playing out over years…each one playing out differently.

    There are people dying of war right now….
    There are people dying of starvation right now….
    There are people dying of cancer from Fukashima right now (who dont know it)
    There are people dying from ebola right now….
    There are people dying from climate change…right now.

  • “What will get us first? Radiation, disease, starvation, thirst, all-out war or something else?”

    War seems to be leading the Foour Horseman Charge here.

    Just ask the 300 in Novorossiya.

    http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2014/09/03/the-novorossiyan-300/

    300 movie image Gerard Butler

    RE

  • And speaking of extinction…

    Extinctions during human era one thousand times more than before

    The gravity of the world’s current extinction rate becomes clearer upon knowing what it was before people came along. A new estimate finds that species die off as much as 1,000 times more frequently nowadays than they used to. That’s 10 times worse than the old estimate of 100 times.

    It’s hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was 10 times lower than scientists had thought, which means that the current level is 10 times worse.

    Extinctions are about 1,000 times more frequent now than in the 60 million years before people came along. The explanation from lead author Jurriaan de Vos, a Brown University postdoctoral researcher, senior author Stuart Pimm, a Duke University professor, and their team appears online in the journal Conservation Biology.

    In absolute, albeit rough, terms the paper calculates a “normal background rate” of extinction of 0.1 extinctions per million species per year. That revises the figure of 1 extinction per million species per year that Pimm estimated in prior work in the 1990s. By contrast, the current extinction rate is more on the order of 100 extinctions per million species per year.

  • I recent friend said in conversation when I mentioned the Fukushima thingy:

    “We are just going to have to adapt to radiation too”

    Yo sister.

    😉

  • NIMBUS: Recovering the Past

    http://cires.colorado.edu/news/press/2014/nimbus.html

    Antarctic sea ice surface area has shown wide variance with now-known maximal and minimal coverage occurring in the 1060s.

  • Jet stream disruption contributed to “polar vortex”
    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/study-links-polar-vortex-chills-melting-sea-ice

    Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there’s less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.

  • “McPherson notes that, during his brief absence, several among the commentariate ignored the only suggestions in this space. You were unkind and you posted too frequently. Apparently civilized humans cannot be trusted with even the simplest of tasks. Please grow up.”

    Rules is rules.

  • ogardener,

    Me got BUSTED! Too bad though, that Guy doesn’t add a political component to his workshops/lectures.

  • Shep says: Too bad though, that Guy doesn’t add a political component to his workshops/lectures.

    Politics as Distraction from Overshoot

    Politics used as distraction
    From extinction’s fatal attraction
    Often helps introduce
    A convenient excuse
    For useless irrelevant action.

  • In case you thought radiation was nothing to worry about:

    http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/index.php?pageid=event_desc&edis_id=ED-20140901-45105-DEU

    Environment Pollution in Germany on Monday, 01 September, 2014 at 17:36 (05:36 PM) UTC.

    Twenty-eight years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, its effects are still being felt as far away as Germany – in the form of radioactive wild boars. Wild boars still roam the forests of Germany, where they are hunted for their meat, which is sold as a delicacy. But in recent tests by the state government of Saxony, more than one in three boars were found to give off such high levels of radiation that they are unfit for human consumption. Outside the hunting community, wild boar are seen as a menace by much of Germany society. Autobahns have to be closed when boar wander onto them, they sometimes enter towns and, in a famous case in 2010, a pack attacked a man in a wheelchair in Berlin. But radioactive wild boars stir even darker fears. They are believed to be a legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, when a reactor at a nuclear power plant in then Soviet-ruled Ukraine exploded, releasing a massive quantity of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Even though Saxony lies some 700 miles from Chernobyl, wind and rain carried the radioactivity across western Europe, and soil contamination was found even further away, in France. Wild boar are thought to be particularly affected because they root through the soil for food, and feed on mushrooms and underground truffles that store radiation. Many mushrooms from the affected areas are also believed to be unfit for human consumption. Since 2012, it has been compulsory for hunters to have wild boar they kill in Saxony tested for radiation. Carcasses that exceed the safe limit of 600 becquerels per kg have to be destroyed. In a single year, 297 out of 752 boar tested in Saxony have been over the limit, and there have been cases in Germany of boar testing dozens of times over the limit. The radioactivity causes economic problems as well. Many hunters sell the boar as game, and across Germany hundreds of thousands of euros are paid out each year out in government compensation to hunters whose kills have to be destroyed. “It doesn’t cover the loss from game sales, but at least it covers the cost of disposal,” Steffen Richter, the head of the Saxon State Hunters Association, told Bild newspaper. Germany’s radioactive boar problem is not expected to go away any time soon. With the levels of contamination still showing in tests, experts predict it could be around for another 50 years.

  • http://www.businessinsider.com/48-tons-of-fish-have-turned-up-dead-in-mexico-and-nobody-knows-why-2014-9

    53 Tons Of Fish Have Turned Up Dead In Mexico, And Nobody Knows Why

    At least 48 tonnes (equal to 52.9 U.S. tons) of fish have turned up dead in a lagoon in western Mexico and authorities are investigating whether a wastewater treatment plant is to blame.

    Officials in the state of Jalisco said late Sunday it was the fourth case of mass deaths at the Cajititlan lagoon this year in the town of Tlajomulco, south of Guadalajara.

    Magdalena Ruiz Mejia, the state’s environment secretary, said it was a “grave phenomenon” and that it would take two more days to remove the fish, which began to appear dead last week.

    The Tlajomulco municipality said the deaths were due to a drop in oxygen due to a cyclical change in water temperature.

    But Ruiz Mejia said such deaths were “more and more” frequent and intense due to “bad management of the body of water.” Authorities are checking local wastewater treatment plants.

    In a separate incident in July 2013, thousands of fish died in a Jalisco reservoir after a company that made food for livestock without a permit dumped huge amounts of molasses into the water.

    http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/index.php?pageid=event_desc&edis_id=BH-20140902-45113-CHN

    Biological Hazard in China on Tuesday, 02 September, 2014 at 03:43 (03:43 AM) UTC.

    Vast numbers of jellyfish have been washed up along 5,000 meters of beach in east China’s Yantai city.They range from 10 centimeters to 20 centimeters in diameter and seem to belong to the same species. Local fishermen say jellyfish gather in August to reproduce, and because they don’t swim very well, they tend to ride on the currents, ending up stranded on the beach. It’s not yet clear why so many are being washed up this year. But there’s speculation that it may have been caused by pollution. Coast guards are warning visitors not to eat the jellyfish because they may be toxic.

  • @ Paul

    You state:

    “NTHE is a concept with no direct personal relevance to me. I will never experience it – in fact I can’t experience it. If I were the last person on Earth, I wouldn’t experience species extinction. I’d simply experience my own death…….”

    I’m going to assume there was a larger point you were wanting to make here, but just didn’t get around to making it? Such as some semantic conjecture as to what it means to “experience a thing”. Because what you wrote doesn’t make a stitch of sense, unless you think the only people who “experience war” are those who are slain, or only those who experience drought are those who die of thirst.

  • Ben,

    Sorry, I loudly do not agree.

    The reasons we are in the inevitable shape we are in are rational, not philosophical, IMO.

    If u believe that materialism, militarism and racism are the base causes for the destruction of the planet, as I do, then, the proper road is to fight until dead, even though it may do no good whatsoever. At least that way, you gave it your best shot.
    We cannot afford to tolerate the intolerable as we have always done in the name of appeasement, in hopes of a better life for all.

    Conjecturing changes nothing, nor does the exercise of sorting facts, unless you are going to use them to help the situation.

  • @ Daniel,

    “Extinction” means “The last member of a given species has died.” How is one supposed to experience that state? All that last member experienced was their own individual death, not the extinction of the species.

    “Species extinction” is an abstract concept that can only be held as an observer. As a participant, one experiences the proximate cause of one’s own death or the death of others. So while I can experience war, drought or other causes of organismic death, I can’t experience the extinction of my own species. It’s only an “experienced event” for those not in the species.

    Even for those outside the extinct species, extinction isn’t usually an experienced event. Did you experience the extinction of the Clouded Leopard, or the Quagga? The closest we can come to that is reading about their extinctions, which is hardly the same thing.

    I think people mistake their anguish over the idea of extinction as somehow springing from the event itself. The felt pain has nothing to do with the event per se. It’s simply a human emotional reaction to an idea about death – an idea that gets its psychological power from the our fear of personal death, and from the learned responses of shame and guilt. I’ve worked hard to get past those triggers, so the concept of human extinction has very little psychic power for me any more. It’s on a par with the heat death of the universe.

    Is that any clearer?

  • .
    Hermann Hess:
    Govinda asks the now-elderly Siddhartha to relate his wisdom and Siddhartha replies that for every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true; that language and the confines of time lead people to adhere to one fixed belief that does not account for the fullness of the truth. Because nature works in a self-sustaining cycle, every entity carries in it the potential for its opposite and so the world must always be considered complete. Siddhartha simply urges people to identify and love the world in its completeness.

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

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  • @ Shep

    You state:

    “If u believe that materialism, militarism and racism are the base causes for the destruction of the planet, as I do……..”

    Putting aside that you have seemingly missed the take home message of NTE, you’re sure it’s those “three things” that are at the base of it all. Nothing else down there in the mix that might be a little more pertinent as to how a certain species of animal came to consume its environment? You don’t think those three might be deduced down to more primary issues, such as avarice, insecurity, apathy, incuriousness, hierarchy, the immediacy of immediate needs and lust……just to name a few common human traits. And that doesn’t even touch on the basic concept of entropy. So, in your worldview, militarism just sprang into existence from nothing more elemental? No greater causation? Nothing precedes racism?

    Well, now we know why philosophy makes you dizzy.

  • You have it perfectly, Daniel.

    You make my point. Philosophy is a waste of time and will get u nowhere, unless, u like dizzy circles. Argue ’till the cows come home, then say bye with a whimper.

    Martin Luther KIng id’d the triple reasons that we are where we are today. I believe it.

    You obviously do not.

    We are all in the Lion’s den and refuse to fight our way out, or at least, deliver some little tiny measure of justice. Martyrs have a purpose!

  • I apologize for my third post

    @ Paul

    You state:

    “….“Extinction” means “The last member of a given species has died.” How is one supposed to experience that state? All that last member experienced was their own individual death, not the extinction of the species..”

    Paul, IMO you seem to be taking an incredible literal definition of the word “extinction” to the abstract exclusion of what is mostly being discussed here at NBL, which is reconciling ourselves with what appears to be “an intractable extinction event”.

    The last member of any given species doesn’t have to die, before one is able to directly experience the causative forces behind it. One’s lived experiences result from our immediate environment, if for whatever reason you are somehow distinguishing a difference between “directly experiencing extinction” and having to live through the cascading forcing that precedes it, then I suppose that is your prerogative.

    @ Shep

    We are the lion’s den, there is no way out.

  • IMO, when we begin believing we can violate rules with good *reason* – then the rule in reality becomes meaningless.

    **McPherson notes that, during his brief absence, several among the commentariate ignored the only suggestions in this space. You were unkind and you posted too frequently.**

    The first is a bit ambiguous as it depends on a definition of unkind. Although we can pretty well know it when we write it 🙂

    The second is as simple as 1, 2, 3. Two comes after 1 and 3 is more than 2. Perhaps that is what Dr. McPherson means by **humans cannot be trusted with even the simplest of tasks**

    If I see a flash and a mushroom cloud out my window, I will violate the two post rule to inform others — but to just have the last word is, IMO, selfish.

  • The distant causes that lead to materialism, militarism and racism are hard to unearth, pin down and agree upon. Meanwhile, we have militarism, materialism and racism staring us in the face, if not worse. We also have patriarchy. If we examine our system for shaming names, they seem to come down on animals, women and blacks most sharply. But while I would mention environmental destruction more clearly, materialism goes a long way to including it, I think. Pushing back against these three (or four) major catastrophes makes more sense than looking for underlying causes that no average person is concerned about. And if we DID believe in a resistance movement, we’d certainly want to support blacks, women and nature, if only to get more people on our side. Beside that, working at resistance requires being better people, which surely includes some basic fairness in how we behave toward oppressed peoples and oppressed nature on general.

  • Transience/Impermanence

    This is the first of the three characteristics of conditioned existence in Buddhism. It is implicitly recognised in the Vedic tradition, where reality is described as that which is not negated by the three aspects of time (past, present and future). In such world-views, everything that has a beginning necessarily has an end. In a modern sense, extinction is as implicit in speciation as the Heat Death of the Universe is in the Big Bang.

    Other traditions try to make an end-run around the problem of time and transience with resort to an eternal residence of a soul in a heaven or hell. Such world-views come with narratives anchored to the transient, and they abhor transience as annihilation and make every effort to deny and evade it.

    The physical sufferings of individuals that perished in past cataclysms was not necessarily different from the sufferings at hand in any NTE scenario. The difference lies in the quashing of the cherished narratives and the associated world-views this time around.

  • @Daniel,

    I thought we were talking about actual extinction here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction
    “In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms (taxon), normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species”

    At least that’s what I’m talking about. You may redefine the word if it suits you though, so long as you let us know what your new definition is. Yes, my definition of extinction is quite literal.

  • MONARCH BUTTERFLY POPULATION STATUS

    Those of you who follow monarchs closely are aware that the monarch population has been declining for the last 10 years with significant drops in the population each of the last three years. The number of trees and total area occupied by monarchs in the oyamel fir forests in Mexico was at an all time low last winter – a mere 0.67 hectares. This decline has given rise to a great deal of concern about the future of the monarch migration.

    These concerns have resulted in many meetings and plans, and even a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to devote resources to offset the decline in monarchs and pollinators. We have addressed this issue through our Monarch Waystation, Bring Back the Monarchs and Milkweed Market programs. These programs are growing but they need to become much, much larger to sustain the monarch migration. Large-scale habitat restoration, particularly in the upper Midwest, also needs to become a priority.

    This year I’m on record as early as the 3rd of May on our discussion list Dplex-L as predicting that there will be a modest increase in the number of monarchs in the migration and at the overwintering sites this winter. “Modest increase” is a vague term and I can’t put a number to it; however, all of the factors I’ve researched indicate that there will be more monarchs migrating this fall and at the overwintering locations by mid December when the colonies are measured. All in all things are looking up for monarchs this year.

    Reports from throughout the breeding range indicate an increase in monarch numbers. There will surely be more monarchs to tag over the next two months and the overwintering population in Mexico is certain to be larger. At a minimum, I expect the population to be twice as large as last year or roughly 1.4 hectares but it could be twice that size. We still have to hear about monarchs from many areas and the conditions during the migration will likely determine how many of the migrants reach the overwintering sites.

    For a more detailed discussion of the current monarch population status please visit http://monarchwatch.org/blog/

  • Ray Jason’s latest essay is up, along with other tidbits. It’s all here.

  • “If I see a flash and a mushroom cloud out my window, I will violate the two post rule to inform others — but to just have the last word is, IMO, selfish”-BS

    The EMP will take out your laptop before you can post up.

    RE

  • ‘I’m hoping for my rapture call from Ray Kurzweil any day now; gonna watch it all unfold from the cheap seats in the singularity.’ -apnea

    we all can hope, can’t we?! thanks for the chuckle.

    ‘There are people dying of war right now….
    There are people dying of starvation right now….
    There are people dying of cancer from Fukashima right now (who dont know it)
    There are people dying from ebola right now….
    There are people dying from climate change…right now.’

    ‘The distant causes that lead to materialism, militarism and racism are hard to unearth, pin down and agree upon’

    the weather channel in the usa has a cool new show titled ‘fat guys in the woods’. it’s a survivalist show in which participants spend a week out in nature, having to fend for themselves re. food, water, shelter, warmth. to obtain food, among other things that they do is to set traps to catch and kill (non-human) ‘animals’ for consumption. of course, this is what our species has been doing, more or less, ‘forever’. it’s the nature of life, and if one is looking for an original cause for why sheeple are violent and predatory, one need look no further, imho (the ‘h’ stands for ‘harsh’, not ‘humble’).

    petrolify- good one, k.m.