Two Panel Discussions

I participated in a public panel discussion on 28 September 2014. It’s ancient history, but it’s posted below. It took place in California, and it preceded a much-abbreviated panel discussion broadcast on the local television station (posted earlier in this space, toward the bottom of this post).

I participated in the Earth at Risk conference in San Francisco, California. I was part of a panel that convened the morning of Saturday, 22 November. Full video of the conference is embedded below, and the panel of which I was part — kicked off by me — starts at the 1:07:42 mark.

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Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. Tune in every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, or catch up in the archives here. If you prefer the iTunes version, including the option to subscribe, you can click here.

Next week’s show — to be broadcast Tuesday, 2 December — mentions a bit of news beyond the mainstream, systemic white supremacy in the new millennium, our most-recent Doomer of the week, and of course the usual climate-change update and summary. The bulk of the show focuses on Mike and Guy’s recent travels and our perceptions based on our decidedly counter-cultural lenses.

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McPherson’s latest book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind is available.

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

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

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

Comments 76

  • An even more brilliant idea than my last suggestion would be a video of you reading out loud the hate filled emails.

  • Fine display or re-display of hubris. And hubris is what is killing us. But that will never be admitted. Not even if humans, including adorable nieces, could be saved with the admission.

  • sar·casm noun \ˈsär-ˌka-zəm\

    Full Definition of SARCASM

    1
    : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain

    2
    a : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual (or ones self)

    b : the use or language of sarcasm

  • Yeah ! As to the cheerful Fat face friend of ours with his upbeat tad-talk . I just want to say . The hippis are out since they have sold out it is not anymore “never trust anyone above 30″ but ” Never trust the fat man “

  • TIAA

    How dare you to use the concern, I was obviously naive to express here, I have for my family in your attack on me.

  • The locomotive and the first few cars are already over the cliff: the denizens of the cars near the caboose are cheerily trying to pass a message to the engineer to apply the brakes.

  • Dear Apeneaman,

    Dear Apeneaman.

  • dairymandave: on the last thread you directed a question to me that I didn’t see until now. I think the copious amounts of water are per well over it’s lifetime, which isn’t long. The thing about all that water is that once it’s used for fracking it can’t be ‘cleaned up’ and reused for anything – it’s so toxic it’ll kill all the micro-organisms in soil if dumped on land and any marine dumping would result in the death of anything alive including plants and any organisms in the mud or silt. It’s even radioactive. Sorry for the delay in answering your question.

    The physicist person in the first clip above was defensive, condescending and wrong about most of what he said. He’s clearly not accepting all the feedback loops (that just keep being found), puts way too much hope in the fact that we don’t know every effect that will arise along the way (so not to worry?), and downright idiotic explaining how Greenland will get fresh snow to cover the dark snow – ignoring the fact that it’s warmer there now than ever before, and that the dark snow is SOOT, which we just keep producing! He’s another one, like Hansen, that doesn’t want to scare his grandkids – so it’s better to LIE to them I guess. He flat out wouldn’t even hear about the nuclear melt down we’ll be facing shortly – counting on humanity to “find a solution” before it’s too late. Yeah, right.
    Countries are still constructing them! These otherwise bright people don’t get it – we’re only at the beginning of abrupt climate change.

    I don’t think Guy was ‘convinced’ by any of their rebuttal.

  • Let’s just remember that the mammalian and primate brain, the seat of intellect, rationality and speech, does the bidding of the reptilian brain, the non-verbal, non-rational, non-intellectual seat of emotions and values.

    The intellect will ferret out facts upon which to build an edifice that enshrines those emotions and values.

    No need to worry about the barbarians at the gates: we don’t know the thread count in the fabric of their pants, and it is quite possible that their pants may fall apart at any moment now, and then they will flee in embarrassment.

  • Tom Says:
    November 29th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    …so it’s better to LIE to them I guess.

    Is that not thecivilized thing to do?!? Seems to me, via 6 decades of experience from coast-to-coast, that that is the “American” modus operandi.

  • New Book: “Reason in a Dark Time Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed — and What It Means for Our Future” – Dale Jamieson (2014)

  • Wester

    On similar theme:

    https://e360.yale.edu/feature/environmental_failure__a_case_for_a_new_green_politics/2075/

    He cites the civil rights movements as a better model for action, and affirms the need to involve the grassroots.

  • Its not even December yet….

    ‘Brisbane storm bill to top $100 million’

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4138742.htm

    “The storm brought wind gusts equivalent to a category two cyclone. Hail as big as golf balls pounded peak hour traffic. 600 power-lines were brought down, cutting supplies to 90,000 homes and businesses. SES crews are working around the clock….Residents are still stunned by the force and speed of this massive storm and the devastation that it’s left behind.
    It’s the worst storm to hit inner-city Brisbane in almost 30 years.”

    A bit more insulation on the roof…?
    Maybe? 😉

  • ‘A 550ppm CO2 level correlates to +9° C temperature rise, which was previously enough to trigger self-reinforcing climate change feedback loops leading to the Permian Extinction Event with 95% planetary die-off. Even more worrying is that current levels of atmospheric methane (>1820ppb) indicate near-term human extinction.’

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

  • Yesterday I saw some television for the first time in a while at a friend’s house; the programme was about the oceans, and as well as describing the horrific decline in turtle numbers mentioned methane being ’10 times more active than carbon dioxide’.

    If only!

    ‘Methane has a large effect (100 times as strong as carbon dioxide) for a brief period (having a half-life of 7 years in the atmosphere[4]), whereas carbon dioxide has a small effect for a long period (over 100 years). Because of this difference in effect and time period, the global warming potential of methane over a 20 year time period is 86.’

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

    And for time frames likely to matter the warming potential of CH4 is arguably at least 300 times CO2. Indeed, to date there has been no counter argument to the postulate that the methodology of calculation of official forcing factors is flawed, i.e. the concentration of methane in the atmosphere does not decline but is actually rising, so forcing factors based on declining concentration are erroneous.

    Crude Oil (WTI) USD/bbl. 66.15

    It sure looks like WW3 has commenced, even if few missiles are currently in the air.

  • As RE puts it, first the tide goes out.

  • Brisbane Floods While New Christmas Light World Record Breaks In Mall In Oz.

    In The Beginning
    As the 30 million people of the Sao Paulo area watch their society collapse this March, we have the unmitigated luck, good and bad, to have a front row seat replete with twit reactions. Like the little prick at the Club Spinning Wheel, this is it. Everything is a web of inter-related and inter-dependent cycles like a spherically shaped net made of small connected circles. If you kick it, it wobbles until you wonder if weebles wobble ’til they all fall down. As the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, so is the phosporus cycle connected to hydrological cycle etc. One more ankle kick will do it, until we are all hungry and we don’t all go home. These planetary state changes may sound benign, but believe me when I say they can be more severe and intense than the six savage strokes of my youth. The systemic ecological collapse is unfolding at the equatorial region and is inexorably expanding North into a new zone of storms, floods, drought and heat extremes near the coasts where everybody lives and wants to put up their solar and wind panels. Building wind turbines in the ocean is just asking for it. The coastal floods will be preceded by the flood of human climate refugees. A menopausal Gaia will only accelerate the chaos, believe me, I know.

  • colin: exactly! Same here – it’s all been a huge fabrication that
    we’re encouraged to continue via our warped, demented
    culture.

    dairymandave: brings to mind the Led Zeppelin song that begins
    If it keeps on rainin’ the levee’s gonna break!
    When nature wants to reclaim an area, there’s no
    defense but to get out of the way. I have the sinking
    feeling that the economic tsunami is building via the
    price of gas dropping like a rock (the economic tide
    going out).

    from a few days ago:

    2014-11-28 – Mysterious explosions rock coastal Humboldt Hill (California)

    Quote: “Reader Kathy Raffaelli Radford commented on a post on the LoCO’s Facebook wall, ‘It shook our house on Humboldt Hill.’ Another woman, Tami Gardner Wannamaker, wrote, ‘I heard it and felt it!!!'”

    2014-11-28 – Man found burned to death at 1:15 AM in burning car in driveway at home in Leamington (Canada)

    Quote: “A passing motorist noticed a vehicle on fire in the driveway of home on Mersea Rd. 6 about 1:15 a.m. Friday. Leamington firefighters doused the blaze and found a body inside, police said. The vehicle was taken to the OPP forensic building in Chatham, where it began to smolder shortly after the noon hour.”

    “Note: So this car burst into flame and killed the occupant, they put out the fire and towed the car, and it started smoldering again at the forensic building. Leamington is located on the shore of Lake Erie…”

    2014-11-28 – Man and woman, 37 and 36, found dead in motel in Greenwood (Mississippi)

    Quote: “Once inside, Moore says officers found Ditrena Lee lying face up on the bed. Jessie Lee was found lying face up on the floor near an interior wall. Moore says there no outside physical signs of trauma were found on either body.”

    “Note: So just another youngish couple dropping dead. Nothing weird about that!”

    2014-11-28 – Two men found dead floating in body of water in Sungai Kulim (Malaysia)

    Quote: “Preliminary inspection did not find any injury on both bodies.”

    2014-11-28 – In separate incidents, two men, both 44, found dead in cars in coastal New Orleans (Louisiana)

    2014-11-28 – Man, 46, found dead in bus in Lincoln (Nebraska)

    2014-11-28 – Man, 35, slumps over dead in car before 6 AM on road in coastal Callaway (Florida)

    2014-11-28 – Person found dead in car along the North Freeway in Houston (Texas)

    2014-11-28 – Middle-aged man found dead in pool of water near golf course in Harris County (Texas)

    2014-11-28 – Man found dead in pond in knee-deep water along Pleasant Valley Road in coastal Virginia Beach (Virginia)

    2014-11-28 – Man found dead in Tariffville Park in Simsbury (Connecticut), near the Farmington River

    2014-11-28 – Boy, 7, found dead in pond in Dhanbad (India)

    2014-11-28 – Man found dead along road in coastal Saint Mary Parish on the island of Jamaica

    2014-11-28 – Man, early 50s, found dead in Beira Lake in coastal Colombo on the island of Sri Lanka

    2014-11-28 – Man found dead in apartment in coastal Wollongong (Australia)

    2014-11-28 – Boy, 17, found dead near Hall Arm Lane near Boroughbridge (Britain)

    2014-11-28 – Man, 38, found dead in the sea near coastal Rhos-on-Sea (Britain)

    Latest in a long list of “zombie-fied” people:

    2014-11-28 – Naked man runs around parking lot at grocery store in Denver (Colorado)

    Quote: “Officers say the man was acting with ‘excited delirium’ and they were worried about the safety of people in the area.”

    “Note: An odor of unknown origin recently hit a turkey plant in Willmar (Minnesota), sickening 28 people, some of whom also experienced ‘excited delirium’, mentioned in the 2014-10-18 update. Hydrogen sulfide is neurotoxic and damages brains, causing this excited delirium in some people. It also heats peoples’ bodies up, at least sometimes, so they strip naked as they go crazy, even in the depths of winter…”

    and, finally – one from my state

    2014-11-28 – Obnoxious smell hits New Castle (Pennsylvania), unknown cause

  • To Guy,

    You know how froggy professors were the last ones to believe that thar were no froggies out thar, I wonder if the same sort of epiphany informed you?

    Signed,
    Nosey
    EIQ=SLUG

  • https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429974.000-geoengineering-the-planet-first-experiments-take-shape.html#.VHsiWtAo7ct

    Geoengineering the planet: first experiments take shape

    [begins]

    Proposals for the first trials to cool the planet include cloud brightening and spraying aerosols into the ozone layer. They might start in just two years

    IF WE can’t reduce emissions enough, what else can cool the planet? We need to find out if geoengineering works, and soon, say a group of atmospheric scientists.

    Engineering the planet’s weather and climate is a highly controversial idea. That’s why we need experiments, the group say, and they want the first to start in two years’ time. The frontrunners are schemes to alter the atmosphere to reflect more of the sun’s rays back into space, or to change clouds so that they let more of Earth’s heat out instead of trapping it (see diagrams).

    Last week, the group published a “road map” of proposals for how real-world experiments might be carried out (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, doi.org/xb9).

    One would explore the effects of injecting aerosols of sea salt into marine clouds. The aim is to increase the water droplet content of the clouds, making them reflect more sunlight – so called marine cloud brightening.

    The second, and most detailed, devised by John Dykema of Harvard University, would explore the effects of injecting sulphur-containing substances at an altitude of 20 kilometres – the lower reaches of the boundary with outer space (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, doi.org/xb8).

    The aim of the so-called stratospheric controlled perturbation experiment, or SCoPEx, is to see if sulphate ions would undermine measures to rebuild the ozone layer. The fear is that such substances might set off chemical reactions that deplete the ozone.

    The third experiment would explore the potential for making cirrus clouds in the upper atmosphere more porous to radiation bouncing back into space from Earth. Water vapour in the clouds behaves like a greenhouse gas, trapping heat almost as efficiently as carbon dioxide. By seeding them with substances like bismuth tri-iodide, which cause water to form into ice particles, the hope is to reduce the water vapour and allow more radiation to escape.

    Geoengineering to cool the planet by deliberately altering Earth’s atmosphere is highly controversial, with sceptics fearing it will fail and mess up the climate even more. Altering cloud cover, for example, could change rainfall patterns and increase droughts and floods unpredictably. Opponents also fear that if we rely on geoengineering solutions, people will no longer strive towards the main goal of dramatically reducing our reliance on the fossil fuels that are inexorably heating up the planet. [read the rest]

    artleads: here’s one for you

    http://playit.pk/watch?v=ijhzDbQJ7Xo

  • Now that the world has gone ‘completely’ mad anything can happen. Let’s see what this week brings.

    In the meantime, here’s one view on the oil price meltdown:

    ‘The consumer windfall from lower oil prices is more than offset by the loss to oil producers in our view. Even though the price of oil has plummeted, the cost of finding it has certainly not. The oil industry has moved into a higher-cost paradigm and continues to spend significantly more money every year without any meaningful growth in total production. Global crude-only output seems to have plateaud in the mid-70 million barrels a day range. The production capacity of 75% of the world’s oilfields is declining by around 6% per year, so the industry requires up to 4 million barrels per day of new capacity just to hold production steady. This has proven to be very difficult. Analysts at consulting firm EY estimate that out of the 163 upstream megaprojects currently being bankrolled (worth a combined $1.1 trillion), a majority are over budget and behind schedule.

    Large energy companies are sitting on a great deal of cash which cushions the blow from a weak pricing environment in the short-term. It is still important to keep in mind, however, that most big oil projects have been planned around the notion that oil would stay above $100, which no longer seems likely. The Economist reports that: “The industry is cutting back on some megaprojects, particularly those in the Arctic region, deepwater prospects and others that present technical challenges. Shell recently said it would again delay its Alaska exploration project, thanks to a combination of regulatory hurdles and technological challenges. The $10 billion Rosebank project in Britain’s North Sea, a joint venture between Chevron of the United States and OMV of Austria, is on hold and set to stay that way unless prices recover. And BP says it is “reviewing” its plans for Mad Dog Phase 2, a deepwater exploration project in the Gulf of Mexico. Statoil’s vast Johan Castberg project in the Barents Sea is in limbo as the Norwegian firm and its partners try to rein in spiralling costs; Statoil is expected to cut up to 1,500 jobs this year. And then there is Kazakhstan’s giant Kashagan project, which thanks to huge cost overruns, lengthy delays and weak oil prices may not be viable for years. Even before the latest fall in oil prices, Shell said its capital spending would be about 20% lower this year than last; Hess will spend about 15% less; and Exxon Mobil and Chevron are making cuts of 5-6%.”

    About 1/3rd of the S&P500 capex is done by the energy sector. Based on analysis by Steven Kopits of Douglas-Westwood: “The vast majority of public oil and gas companies require oil prices of over $100 to achieve positive free cash flow under current capex and dividend programs. Nearly half of the industry needs more than $120. The 4th quartile, where most US E&Ps cluster, needs $130 or more.”

    As energy companies have gotten used to Brent averaging $110 for the last three years, we believe management teams will be very slow to adjust to the “new oil normal”. They will start by cutting capital spending (the quickest and easiest decision to take), then divesting non-core assets (as access to cheap financing becomes more difficult), and eventually, be forced to take write-downs on assets and projects that are no longer feasible. The whole adjustment process could take two years or longer, and will accelerate only once CEOs stop thinking the price of oil is going to go back up. A similar phenomenon happened in North America’s natural gas market a couple of years ago.

    This has vast implications for America’s shale industry. The past five years have seen the budding energy renaissance attract billions of dollars in fixed investment and generate tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. The success of shale has been a major tailwind for the US economy, and its output has been a significant contributor to the improvement in the trade deficit. We believe a sustained drop in the price of oil will slow US shale investment and production growth rates. As much as 50% of shale oil is uneconomic at current prices, and the big unknown factor is the amount of debt that has been incurred by cashflow negative companies to develop resources which will soon become unprofitable at much lower prices (or once their hedges run out). Energy bonds make up nearly 16% of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market and the total debt of the US independent E&P sector is estimated at over $200 billion.’

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-30/we-are-entering-new-oil-normal

  • $200 billion is chump change nowadays Simple solution: The Fed takes over all that debt, the shale industry survives intact. And the public, seeing only cheaper pump prices, cheers.

  • On a more lighthearted note! 🙂 Where’s ulffugl these days? I’m missing his argumentative posts. Is he on holiday? Or doing renovations on his Welsh homestead? Has he joined the Druids?

  • “An even more brilliant idea than my last suggestion would be a video of you reading out loud the hate filled emails.” ~ Apneaman

    The Pirate Bay used to (still does?) post some of the ‘legal’ and related emails and their responses to them; while JHKunstler used to post some emails with the senders’ email addresses, presumably so the rest of his readership can respond.

    In any case, Guy might be too preoccupied, and in any case again, it helps to be bulletproof in Guy’s ‘line-of-work’ and to have some semblance of support. Of course, Michael Ruppert was not bulletproof, to everyone’s tragic loss… What is said again? Something about staring deeply into the abyss and the abyss looking back?

    Best with the bullets, G/g/uy(s).

  • Jay,

    Ulvfugl is happy as a Welsh bird on the NFL Forum, Batters Up. Now on page 87 or so.

  • Jay,

    Topic: Beach Art. Veeeeery interesting, too.

  • In the absence of anything better:

    Dear Mr McPherson,

    I am sure you are well-meaning and very sincere in your beliefs. However, there are some very important facts you have missed somewhere along the way.

    1. The Earth makes oil as fast as humans use it, and if we do not drill holes in the Earth’s crust the continuous build-up of oil below the surface will result in oil volcanoes and horrible messes such as the La Brea tar pits.

    Having relieved the pressure build up, we have to do something with the oil, and since we cannot store much of it we are obliged to burn it as fast as we extract it.

    2. The Earth has been cooling since 1998 and is headed into an Ice Age. This is perfectly clear to anyone who has been paying attention to recent snow storms.

    With so much cooling going on our best strategy is probably to raise the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere as quickly as possible, though there is still some doubt concerning the effect of carbon dioxide, since as a plant nutrient and it could simulate rapid growth of forest which might eventually reduce the overall carbon dioxide level and cause even faster cooling later on.

    3. Debts and deficits do not matter. If you cannot repay a loan or cannot even pay the interest on a loan you need only borrow additional money from a different lender. Indeed, it is important that people continue to borrow money in order to stimulate economic growth and create new jobs which will get people off welfare benefits.

    In view of all of the above, it is our moral duty, as good citizens, to borrow as much money as possible and purchase and operate as many internal combustion engines as possible. Doing so will kill three birds with one stone: prevent excessive build-up of oil below the Earth’s surface; prevent the Earth freezing over; get the economy back on track.

    I trust you will see the errors in you analysis now that I have pointed out the fundamental facts. However, if you persist in scaring people by telling lies about what is happening in the world I will report your activities to the authorities and press to have you listed as a terrorist.

    Yours sincerely

    F Uckwit.

  • Apneaman,
    The jocular irony of your first comment here was obvious to me,as it would be to most,I would think.Evidently not to all, though.

  • kevin: thanks for the hilarity!

    looks like word’s gettin’ out:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/30/heed-the-warnings-why-we-re-on-the-brink-of-mass-extinction.html

    Heed the Warnings: Why We’re on the Brink of Mass Extinction

    Evolutionary biologist Sean B. Carroll, executive producer of the doc Mass Extinction: Life At the Brink, on why mankind’s days are numbered.

  • Tom,

    The physicist person in the first clip above was defensive, condescending and wrong about most of what he said.

    If you mean Rick Nolthenius, what exactly did he get wrong? It seemed to me he did a good job of putting some of the “analysis” at Arctic-News Blogspot into perspective. Guy said that the recording of the discussion was very shortened, which is a shame because it would be interesting to see if Guy addressed any of the points that Nolthenius made, especially as Guy stated up front that he wanted to be persuaded that his own position wasn’t sound. It should be remembered that Nolthenius (in the absence of Guy’s talk) would have sounded very much like a doomer and said he has no expectations of any significant action on climate change. Did he get that wrong too?

  • My boss asks me with concern last Friday: “Are you OK? Do you need to see a doctor?”

    So I thinks to meself,
    “400ppm CO2, not a person in this organization doesn’t drive a car or a motorbike, except me.”
    “Every road, highway and lane on the planet is filled with maniacs like these people”
    “Methane burp holes opening everywhere, not to mention the cow farts.”
    “Ocean acidification off the charts”
    “Garbage everywhere in the ocean, on the land, in my food, in the air.”
    “Humans and their food animals outweigh wildlife 50 to 1”
    “New Dam going up now”
    “Super Droughts in CA and AU”
    “Fukushima hanging by a thread”
    “Arctic ice, melting, melting…”
    “Greenland calving”
    “Living in a fascist, militarist stazi police state”
    “Airplanes everywhere – we’re all ‘going home’ for Christmas”
    No end in sight.
    Do these kids even have a future?

    — yada yada — blah blah —–

    Are you alright?? Are you alright?
    I want to grab lapels and start shaking and screaming
    ARE YOU ALRIGHT? ARE YOU FKING ALRIGHT!!!!????
    But I said, uh, yeah, I’m fine.

  • 2014-11-29 – Mysterious explosion at 3 AM rocks Catterick (Britain), A1 motorway closed, near the River Swale

    2014-11-29 – Mysterious explosion rocks coastal New York AND coastal London (Britain) all the way to coastal Glasgow (Scotland)

    Quote: “On Saturday afternoon residents in upstate New York reported hearing a loud boom that shook their homes and rattled windows. State police received numerous calls about the loud boom, but have no idea what caused it. More than 3,000 miles away in the UK people took to social media to also report hearing unusual noises around the same time…”

    “Note: There’s a huge methane deposit melting away off the East Coast now, containing enough explosively flammable methane in it to cause 250,000 ten-kiloton explosions, which is about the size of the explosion that destroyed Hiroshima. In fact, responders just trained to deal with a 10-kiloton explosion in coastal New York City, in late October, mentioned in the 2014-10-22 update. (Estimates were for 100,000 people instantly killed.) There will be MANY mysterious explosions, and obviously the number of such incidents is rising fast now.

    Most of the methane in that US East Coast deposit will blow eastward, toward Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, etc. That said, if it was the SAME explosion heard across 3000 miles, I can’t really think of anything that could possibly be but a volcanic explosion. In human history, only exploding volcanoes have been heard across such distances. Even a 50-megaton nuclear explosion isn’t heard across that distance. So it’s quite possible that a volcano just exploded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere and people heard it. Given the rising number of volcanic events around the planet, that seems quite plausible. Alternatively, clouds of methane could have exploded on BOTH sides of the Atlantic, and it was just sheer coincidence that two clouds exploded in separate areas at about the same time.

    Eventually Europe and much or all of the US East Coast may be destroyed by fires and explosions from methane from that East Coast methane clathrate deposit. That seems increasingly likely. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is safe – that’s only one deposit, and there are many that are dissociating now, and the clouds from that East Coast deposit won’t stop in Western Europe either.

    This is why governments around the world have been constructing underground facilities. There will be no surviving on the surface of the Earth.”

    2014-11-29 – Home explodes and burns near Lake City (Arkansas), 2 killed, 3 injured

    Quote: “Less than three weeks ago, a house exploded in Osceola, Arkansas. Three days later, the second explosion occurred in Mississippi County.”

    “Note: It’s not just Arkansas where homes are exploding. It’s happening more generally, all around the planet, as expected…”

    2014-11-29 – Home explodes and burns on Heathers Way in San Antonio (Texas)

    2014-11-29 – Home damaged by explosion in Durant (Oklahoma), 1 injured

    2014-11-29 – Mixed-use building destroyed by explosion and huge fire in coastal Elizabeth (New Jersey)

    Quote: “One eyewitness said he heard an explosion before the fire broke out.”

    selected from http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/

  • Lewis Black’s rant on Climate Change

    Lewis Black seems to be trapped in traditional thinking about a lot of things, but here we see him awakening to the idea of climate change!

    If you are not familiar with Lewis’ sense of humor, it’s F-bombs used to emotionally strengthen his common sense view of the absurd world in which he lives.

    Ho Hum.

  • Thanks for the laugh, MMM. That was delightful!

  • Guy! Jeez man, you sure looked happy and did a great job at the EarthAtRisk conference! Wouldn’t it be great if we could just hang with our ‘own people’ all the time? Good luck and hang in there!

  • Wester

    Look man, just go to the water cooler and splash some H2O on yer face.
    You can keep going, just another few lifetimes if yer lucky to find a human vehicle after a few decades.

    Practice shaking those lapels matey….
    Shake Shake Shake!
    Never know, you might just wake up.
    😉

  • This was a surprise to see:
    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27714-are-humans-going-extinct
    Are Humans Going Extinct? Dahr Jamail, 12/1/14.

    Amazingly hard-hitting for such a mainstream lefty media outlet. Much of the article is an interview with a certain professor emeritus we’re all quite familiar with.:-)

  • Jay, Shep — same curiosity about our friend, U. Thanks.

    At least Rick tried to address Methane, as I wish those others would begin to. For me, when I try to figure it all out over morning coffee, it’s Shakhova’s estimates and suggested probabilities — and her edge-of-tears voice — that stay with me.

    Anyone else find Guy’s frequent statement “We haven’t had humans on this planet at 3 (or 3.5) degrees above baseline” likely to confuse some newer listeners, when what he is pointing to is “We WON’T have humans (via loss of habitat) on this planet at 3 degrees above ….etc”, given that the time periods past were not concurrent?

    Small point, attempt to condense the message, perhaps, since it requires one to look back at hunter-gatherer habitat, and ahead to return to subsistence agriculture after collapse of industrial agriculture supporting urban habitat, to posit the pathway to extinction.

  • Henry.

    Good point.

    Perhaps a better way of putting our predicament is this:

    Humans and much of the life we see on Earth today evolved to live on an Earth with 180 to 280ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, not 400+ppm CO2, around 500ppb CH4 in the atmosphere, not 2000+ppb, and generally cooler conditions than we are experiencing currently. Driving up the Earth’s average temperature by continuing to burn fossil fuels will create conditions highly unsuitable for humans and numerous other species we are critically dependent on, and the point of extreme difficulty maintaining life as we know it will be reached far sooner than most people think possible.

  • I just read an article at Commie Dreams about teaching kids to ecologically aware. It wasn’t a bad article, it’s just that I happened to have watched Virunga last night, and it set me a foul mood. (/snark on)

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/01/reading-world-ecologically

    THE LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE
    In Indonesia the lumber mafia wanted to cut trees in a protected park populated with rare wild elephants, so they killed all the elephants so that there was no need for the park. The best part is that once you cut all the trees down, you get paid to plant palm oil trees by funds that are intended to fight global warming. Then you make money selling the palm oil they burn in cars in Europe. Global warming is great! To help fight the bad image, Indonesia created a huge national wilderness area with lots of pomp and circumstance. That park is already 80% logged. Conservation is great!

    The same for the Congo, they’re sending people in to kill the last mountain gorillas so that there is no need for the park and everybody can get rich selling the conflict minerals our children need for their smartphones. Two million children were murdered in the Congo since 1998. Many were tortured beyond belief until they became murderous wretches themselves.

    Those conflict minerals are sent to China where women are so poisoned by electronic solvents that their babies are born deformed, they quietly blame themselves instead of suing the manufacturer or making a public nuisance of themselves. God bless the Asian work ethic! The 60-hour-week, wage-slave lives of these workers is so horrible that they commit suicide in droves. Thousands of people die in China’s mines every year to mine the minerals we require for our hi-tech green energy dreams, so we can do important things like, tweet our support of Naomi Klein. But, this changes nothing.

    We killed off 75% of river water and river bank life in the last 40 years. There are 75,000 dams in America. Coincidence? I doubt it. Remember, most people think dams are “green”. There used to be more sea turtles by weight in the Caribbean than there were buffalo on the great plains. Passenger pigeons used to darken the mid-day sun there were so many, but they’ve been gone for 100 years. Do you remember so many birds flying overhead, that the sun went dark? Of course not, neither do I.

    Most of us live in cities and only experience nature on television or in a park. When we go into the country, we see corn fields and think that is nature. Those corn fields are green deserts, not even bees can live there. The corn is so poisoned that insects can’t eat it and plants can’t compete with it, not even the soil can stand it. We eat it though, hell, us and our cows eat half the green stuff on earth. The earth is so big that it takes at least 100 years to kill everything off. We are halfway there, yet, that’s not fast enough for us to notice and waiting for a Nature 911 call will be too late. That’s because when we start eating over half of the green stuff on earth, the mass extinction becomes unstoppable and irreversible. That’s right kids, we are fast approaching the point at which there will be “Nothing for it Mister Frodo.” Remember, green energy will do nothing to stop mass extinction because climate change is only 1 out of 6 direct drivers of mass extinction. Now, it’s recess time, let’s go outside to play.

    OUTDOOR NATURE FUN FACTS
    90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.
    90% of Lions gone since 1993.
    90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
    75% of River-water & River-bank Species gone since 1970.
    50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
    50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.
    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.
    93 Elephants killed every single day.
    2-3 Rhinos killed every single day.
    Bees die from malnutrition lacking bio-diverse pollen sources.

    BACK TO CLASS
    Welcome back kids, I hope you enjoyed your few moments outside, because I forgot to include our last lesson before you went out. What are the 6 Direct Drivers of Mass Extinction?
    They are:
    … 1) Invasive Species
    … 2) Over-Population
    … 3) Over-Exploitation
    … 4) Habitat Loss
    ….5) Climate Change
    ….6) Pollution
    Isn’t that great students? Now, repeat after me,
    “Green energy will not stop the 6th Great Mass Extinction!”
    “Green energy will not stop the 6th Great Mass Extinction!”
    Wonderful class. You kids are doing great! RRIINGGG! Ooops! There’s the bell, it’s time for teacher to go out hunting and drinking. Class dismissed!

  • Si, Grant…Viva Dougie !

  • Just one more to add to the innumerable costs of maintaining the global consumption economy:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/02/toiletries-health-impact-could-cost-millions-report-says

  • We had a horrible North Wind gale in NW Montana this last Friday night. Thousands of trees were felled on the western slopes of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park (and we lost four towering hemlocks at our cabin). One of the worst northern gales ever seen. Just another example of how we’re messing up our climate systems.

    http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/falling-trees-damage-homes-at-glacier-national-park/29994328

  • Thought for the day: insane premises and theory-induced blindness:

    Once you have accepted an insane premise, you can think as logically and reasonably as you may wish and over the long term only insane results will occur. Indeed, thinking logically and reasonably based on an insane premise tends strongly to produce what Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, calls “…THEORY-INDUCED BLINDNESS: once you have accepted a theory and used it as a tool in your thinking, it is extraordinarily difficult to notice its flaws. [This assumes that one may WANT to learn about the flaws inherent in their hypotheses, which of course many people never wish to do.] If you come upon an observation that does not seem to fit the model, you assume that there must be a perfectly good explanation that you are somehow missing. You give the theory the benefit of the doubt, trusting the community of experts who have accepted it.” Two extremely popular examples of especially powerful, mutually reinforcing, insane premises today include: (1) infinite growth can occur without harm within the physical, biological, and energy systems on Earth, and (2) humans have superiority over, can, and do control themselves and Earth’s other living processes.

  • “The point is that, whenever we propose a solution to a problem we ought to try as hard as we can to overthrow our solution, rather than defend it. Few of us, unfortunately practice this percept; but other people, fortunately, will supply the criticism for us if we fail to supply it ourselves.” –Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

    One of my research fields (protein folding) suffered for decades based on theory without subsequent prospective and independent experimentation (incidentally by people trusting an exclusively thermodynamics dominated worldview). This problem was remedied by people who used alternate approaches that didn’t rely on such an exclusive worldview whose methods ended up modelling experimental observations more accurately. But some people still refuse to let go of their old views. This blind prediction meta-experiment was organised in the manner of a competition, pitting modelling methods against one another that made predictions in a double blind manner (with independent assessors looking only at quantitative output stripped of identifying information).

    The very first competition in 1994 was an eye opening experience for all the methods, some of which had been around for decades and had claimed success and published in prestigious journals to that effect. ALL the methods didn’t do well, and some did worse than random. Things slowly began changing in 1996 and there has been ten such competitions.

    Climate change needed such a meta-experiment for the modellers. A running experiment should have been conducted which could be done every two years (as our competition is). Probably a bit too late at this time to really make a difference but such an effort would probably go over well and separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that [at least] one of them is wrong.” – Ayn Rand

  • Ram

    The answer is TINA -‘there is no alternative’, as expounded by Margaret Thatcher.

    We have been living in a TINA world for many decades because the world is run by bankers (and their associates), and the only thing they are interested in (indeed the only thing they know) is expansion of the bankers’ debt-slavery Ponzi scheme by printing more money and fiddling with interest rates.

    Thus, the entire planet becomes a sacrifice zone, to be sacrificed to Fractional Reserve Banking and the charging of interest on money created out of thin air.

  • At the Hubbert’s Arms discussion board in Spring ’13, there was a heated debate about Guy and NTE, in fact Guy was involved. One particular participant kept asserting that none of the stuff about the methane releases was scientific, and when presented with the Shakhova/Semiletov findings, dismissed those as “not being peer reviewed.” A whole bunch of people were in fact kicked out by the hosts, who went even further, increasingly took a hard-core position against global warming, basically saying it was a New World Order plot to justify increasing police state measures. Well, the stuff has now been peer reviewed.

    http://juneauempire.com/state/2013-12-01/researchers-say-arctic-ocean-leaking-methane
    Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane, Weston Morrow, 12/1/14.

    Ounce for ounce, methane has an effect on global warming more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it’s leaking from the Arctic Ocean at an alarming rate, according to new research by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
    Their article, which appeared Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, states that the Arctic Ocean is releasing methane at a rate more than twice what scientific models had previously anticipated.
    Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center have spent more than a decade researching the Arctic’s greenhouse gas emissions, along with scientists from Russia, Europe and the Lower 48.
    Shakhova, the lead author of the most recent report, said the methane release rate likely is even greater than their paper describes.
    “We decided to be as conservative as possible,” Shakhova said. “We’re actually talking the top of the iceberg.”
    The researchers worked along the continental shelf off the northern coast of eastern Russia — the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which is underlain by sub-sea permafrost. ……
    Past studies in Alaska and other circumpolar regions have stated that the boreal forests covering much of the world’s Arctic and sub-Arctic dry land contain more than 30 percent of the world’s stored carbon. This carbon is protected from atmospheric release in large part by the permafrost layer.
    The submerged East Siberian Arctic Shelf contains much of the same stored carbon as the dry-land tundra just to its south, but it also contains at least 17 teragrams of methane, the study states. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.
    Those carbon stores are similarly protected by the layer of sub-sea permafrost, but that permafrost is teetering on the brink of disappearing…….
    Some climate modelers had previously suggested the sub-sea permafrost would not thaw for 5,000 to 7,000 years, but according to Shakhova’s team, the data gathered from the actual shelf shows the process is happening on a much more rapid timescale.
    “What we’re observing right now is much faster than what we anticipated and much faster than what was modeled,” Shakhova said.
    This revelation should be a cause for alarm, Shakhova said……..
    The consensus carbon budget estimates that more than half of carbon emissions are human-caused, but these estimates vastly underestimate the amount of carbon stored in the Arctic shelves, Shakhova said…….
    The UAF researchers also concluded the Arctic methane release creates a positive feedback loop. As temperatures increase, more methane is released and as more methane is released temperatures increase.
    In addition, storms throughout the Arctic Ocean have increased in the past decade, according to multiple studies cited by the UAF team. These storms speed up the methane release just as shaking a soda causes the carbonation to rise more rapidly to the top and escape…..
    “When something is warming, when warming occurs, what, do you think, part of the globe will be affected first?” Shakhova said. “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. … This is what affects the number of cyclones. This is what affects the sea ice, which is shrinking.”

  • Hi Lidia, our methods do not defy or negate the laws of thermodynamics. We use thermodynamic principles but the whole field of statistical mechanics (now repackaged as statistical thermodynamics) exists since thermodynamics doesn’t concern itself with (microscopic) constituents of a system (that statistical mechanics does). In general, thermodynamics is about a given system’s energy state, but not how it achieves that state. Life exists far from thermodynamic equilibrium. How does this happen? My argument is that the path taken (which is chaotic) to get there is important (evolution operates on these paths). I lifted these quotes from Wikipedia about thermodynamics and statistical mechanics:

    “Thermodynamics describes the bulk behavior of the body, not the microscopic behaviors of the very large numbers of its microscopic constituents, such as molecules. Its laws are explained by statistical mechanics, in terms of the microscopic constituents.”

    “Statistical mechanics also makes it possible to extend the laws of thermodynamics to cases which are not considered in classical thermodynamics, for example microscopic systems and other mechanical systems with few degrees of freedom”

    In my field, the general view (because of Anfinsen’s experiments) was that the native biologically relevant state of a protein fold was at its global free energy minimum and they went about writing algorithms to find it (in a search space so big that it is an NP hard problem, so they failed). We and several others decided that didn’t matter and what mattered was that evolution had acted on these structures to produce their native folds and we used evolutionary information along with principles of thermodynamics to solve the folding problem (we call our methods knowledge-based methods). It is the *only* type of approach that has worked in these competitions, and after 20 years, the protein folding problem, considered the most fundamental problem in molecular biology, has become a technical exercise. This was because of these competitions also which tested our methods in a blind independent and prospective manner (so there was no way to cheat, i.e., introduce information about the correct answer into our algorithms). So our view is that a protein fold’s native state is around the lowest *accessible* thermodynamic minimum. Meaning evolution selects for protein sequences that when synthesised fold up around the lowest energy state, and mutations occur that move it away from this state but still select for folding. This allows for great functional diversity while still adopting a fold. This explains the enthalpy/entropy difference for a protein fold (which is only slightly favoured to the former). Recently, a colleague of mine designed protein folds not seen in nature that are extremely stable and it is like a rock—it is hard to get it do anything (and to do so, they have to put in mutations that move it away from its stable structure).

    There are a lot of situations where the laws of thermodynamics are not relevant, for example in quantum physics or relativistic physics or in general where you don’t understand BOTH the system and surroundings well. We’re interested in the multiscale dynamics of complex systems, where thermodynamics plays a role but it is not the only factor or the complete factor. We go far beyond thermodynamics.

    It sounds like your education at MIT is similar to what I’ve seen of my students from IITs from India (modelled after MIT, the top institutions in the country, the cream of the crop of > 1 billion people). Technically excellent, but I really have to work hard to get them to think creatively. I was a poor student in the Indian high school system—I only excelled at academics after I moved here and I think such a quantitatively rigourous education is not well rounded. I was reading and self-teaching the kinds of stuff Limits to Growth or G”odel, Escher, Bach talked about. I have always claimed there’s no distinction between art, science, and philosophy.

    I am sorry you didn’t come across better mentors who’d teach you about systems dynamics. I think some of the pioneering work of the type done in Limits to Growth came from MIT (some of it today is).

    I’ll share a recent personal story: I recently interviewed for faculty positions and have moved to a new institution from U of WA. At UNC there was this professor whose student was with me during my second (actually third) visit there. This student (one of these smart alecks who thinks they know it all, I recall resembling the type), who should’ve known better, totally railed against me when I brought up AGW. He said “people who believe in global warming are poorly read and uneducated.” His mentor didn’t really object and said it wasn’t our problem what happened a 100 years from now and it was okay if I believed in it in order to get funding. It was the Republican party line hook line and sinker. Then they elected more Republicans this recent election. I’m glad I ended up in NY, even though it is colder than NC or WA.

    I’m not judging an entire state here. What I’m saying is that the social (and funding) climate in a place like NC, especially outside its big cities, must be so that people are fearful of going against what their colleagues or neighbours may think and so toe the party line.

    Kevin, I have been saying that capitalism is a Ponzi scheme (now called MLM) for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid (age 5 years or so), I received chain letters that requested money forwarded to names on the list and then (under the threat of some superstitious death) urged you add your name to the bottom of the list and forward the letters (yes, I was receiving mail at an early age—I loved it—I’d have pen pals all over the world and I’d ask all these embassies for their catalogues, etc.). I was terrified and even though my grandfather told me it was superstition I followed the instructions of the letter and hand wrote the copies and sent them out. Nothing came out of it, thankfully (I became an atheist at age 7, so I believed in this crap until then). The question is, what do YOU do when you find yourself offered one or in the middle of it, or find out that your neighbour is receiving all these cheques just from letters he sent out years ago?

    My wife asks me, why wouldn’t these leaders of the triangle worry about their children and grandchildren? I don’t have a good answer for her but is it (1) ignorance, or (2) denial, or (3) knowledge plus hubris thinking they can escape the consequences somehow, or (4) knowledge they’ll die anyway and they should be able to lead a good life at other’s expense, or (5) other?

    Kevin, I believe your answer would be something like (4), and you make a persuasive case, but I have had this general philosophy of not attributing to malice what could be attributed to stupidity. Regardless of which of the above it is, I think it is just bad luck that we have (A) greedy short term thinking trait (which serves us well in some circumstances; (B) an economy system whose foundation is based on this trait; and (C) the spread of this economic system worldwide. I think Marx’s analysis was right but no one really listened to him. I think top down organisation (of any kind) of a system is doomed to failure. The individual units in a given system need to self organise and create the necessary feedbacks (checks and balances) to keep the system going arbitrarily.

    But irrespective of TINA, I don’t see why a climate modelling competition can’t be created. Whoever does it will be rewarded academically at least (I think). I don’t need to worry about my career anymore and I do my own such competitions for things that interest me, but as I said, if someone did it, it would separate out the better performing models, and also help to continually refine prediction algorithms. Right now, as long as modellers backtest only, they can cheat (even if they think they’re being honest). It’s too easy to overtrain/overfit. Once the best performing models gain credibility (which unfortunately will take decades IMO), then their long term predictions will be trusted. It would require a person of great integrity to organise such a competition. It would also require some thought and effort (what parametres and scale would you measure, how do you measure, which models will you test, who will be the assessors, etc.).

    The human capacity to delude oneself is great. There’s a transcribed lecture called Pathological Science by Irving Langmuir that I make mandatory reading to all my mentees:

    http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~ken/Langmuir/langmuir.htm

  • http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540

    Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind

    Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

    He told the BBC: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

    His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

    [there’s more, this assumes we’ll be around long enough]

    a sign of things to come (has arrived):

    http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/12/detroit_municipal_power_outage.html

    Crumbling-infrastructure-induced power outage in Detroit attracts national media

    DETROIT, MI — When a major U.S. city’s government loses power to its schools, fire stations, government buildings and sporting arenas because it’s operating on an antiquated power grid that it can’t afford to update, it’s national news, Detroit proved Tuesday.

    Media across the nation covered the power outage that selectively impacted municipal buildings in Detroit, the criminal courthouse, schools, sporting arenas, a hospital and City Hall. The buildings receive their electricity from the Detroit Public Lighting Department on an internal energy grid, rather than from area utility DTE Energy.

    Lights stayed on for residents, while courtrooms and classrooms dimmed and elevators slowed to a halt.

    Mayor Mike Duggan announced at an early-afternoon conference that a cable “failed,” The nature of the failure was not revealed.

    Electricity had been restored by about 5 p.m., but the national ribbing may have just begun.

    Pundits, late night comedians and perhaps a sprinkling of conspiracy theorists are likely to jump on Detroit’s brief return to the dark ages for material in coming days.

    “Poor Infrastructure is completely at fault for this,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, adding that Detroit’s self-contained power grid hasn’t “been modernized in decades” and is beyond salvage. [there’s a little more]

  • http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/12/graph-of-day-world-ecological-footprint.html

    Graph of the Day: World ecological footprint of human consumption

    [quote]

    The world’s ecological footprint of consumption is currently larger than its total biocapacity, that is, the biosphere’s ability to meet human demand for material consumption and waste disposal (figure 2.8). The very high human development group, in particular, has a very large ecological deficit—as its ecological footprint is significantly larger than available biocapacity. [read the article]

  • The publication that got Einstein his Nobel had no references or peer review.

    Matter becomes static at its lowest accessible energy state: a detonation enables an explosive to access a very large step down to a lower energy state.

    The flow of energy organises matter to least impede or most facilitate the available energy flow path, even in the instances where the flow is into a blind alley towards sequestration as in solar nuclear fusion to fossil fuels, or in the formation of elements beyond iron in supernovae. (The formation of elements from lithium upto iron proceeds in conventional stars and represents progressively lower energy configurations of the atomic nuclei.) Humans open up new energy flow paths out of those ancient blind alleys by burning fossil fuels and in nuclear reactors.

    Energy seeks the widest accessible channel for its flow. But when configurations of matter organised by energy flows act as channels for those flows, such configurations of matter from molecules to empires maximise the numbers of instances of their configurations. This is curtailed only by external limits. Where configurations have been domesticated and subsumed into a larger configuration such as multicellular organisms, eusocial and quasi-social species, the larger unit becomes the one selected for.

  • Einstein didn’t get a Nobel based on a single non-peer reviewed non-referenced publication. And by “publication”, if you mean his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect that was mentioned in his Nobel titled (translated) “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”, then the latter claim isn’t true. I’m not sure about peer review but it is referenced. Here it is in its original German: http://www.physik.uni-augsburg.de/annalen/history/einstein-papers/1905_17_132-148.pdf

    There’s a lot of politics to getting a Nobel.

    This is why biological matter has to be around energy minima so it can perform its functions. Lowest accessible free energy is quite different from the global free energy (the thermodynamic viewpoint, which ignores the motions or dynamics taken).

    In any event, energy is what it is and doesn’t do anything by itself. Evolution operates on biological structures to produce results relevant to evolution, while also operating within physical constraints. Based on a Neodarwinian paradigm, selection operates at multiple levels/hierarchies of organisation: on a gene that is transcribed and translated, to the corresponding protein folding, to the structure giving rise to its function, to the function requiring multiscale interactions, and then upon systems and pathways and networks and cells and tissues and organs and organisms and populations and then a lot of things I’ve not listed. Everything has to be just fit enough for an organism to reproduce in the context of its particular environment, and any organism that is relatively more fit at ANY of these levels will be selectively advantageous.

    A mutation that causes a protein to misfold in one organism (which usually causes a loss of function) may cause it to lose out to another organism where it doesn’t. There have been a few papers published that even indicate that particular synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence the rate of folding (keeping the protein EXACTLY the same) are selectively disadvantageous in E. coli. And then at the other end, the colony of bacteria that can assemble into a biofilm that create a protective film for the entire population is selectively advantageous at certain types of opportunistic infections. The evolution of bacterial resistance to antimicrobials is observed when changes can occur at multiple levels (from nucleotide changes to amino acid changes to cell wall changes) that make one or more individual organisms can neutralise the threat.

    I don’t think it’s correct to say that the widest accessible channel in a complex energy landscape is preferred and that the numbers of instances of a molecule’s or object’s configurations are maximised. Both of these are what they are: wide, narrow, medium, etc. is irrevelant—it is what is fit in the context of an environment and I’ve yet to observe a preference, and the number of instances is purely dependent on the space being explored and the speed at which it is explored assuming no other environmental constraints. There are physical and programmatic constraints (evolutionary history and selection).

  • Robin Datta: “Energy seeks …”

    Ram Samudrala: “Evolution operates on biological structures to produce results relevant to evolution …”

    Teleological language is like gum adhering to the bottom of our shoes.

    Sometimes very difficult to notice and get rid of (The Uncertain Gene – 2).

    It is like trying to snap out of a daydream or trance sometimes.

    Our culture has perpetuated it for centuries.

  • Tom Says:
    December 3rd, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind …
    ===========================================
    Our intelligence has proven to be artificial.
    7
    Civilization did not create it, rather it created civilization.

    I wonder if that is what Stephen meant?

  • Dredd, I have a long list of guidelines for those who wish to publish manuscripts in journals with my mentorship (http://wiki.compbio.washington.edu/Documentation:Styles). One of them is this:

    “Do not anthropomorphise or, more specifically, attribute actions to inanimate objects: For example, “protein’s structure” should be “structure of a protein” (the former implies that the structure is owned by the protein, something a protein cannot do). Also, “which” is not always appropriate when refer ring to inanimate objects (i.e., “a protein that is used for…” as opposed to “a protein which is used for…”).”

    I do not see it as a problem if one is fully aware of what one is doing. Which I was. This rationale was thought up knowing someone would want to play word games with what I wrote, as I was doing with Robin’s usage. While I’m not as careful with my writing here as I would be for a formal publication (which we tend to iterate on more than a dozen times), I also make rare exceptions to the above. For example, when talking about Nature or Evolution. She is awesome. (Though I agree it’s a stretch to refer to Evolution as “she.”)

    I think all human natural language is teleological, just like saying all genes have one function: to be in a state of expression. Semantics. Word games. Are you familiar with Thomas Nagel’s work?

    I made a significant effort to figure out what Robin was saying and what he meant, rather than pick on his anthropomorphisation of the term “energy” (which in the end I couldn’t resist). I think I get it: it’s the same MPP idea (which I think is flawed) expressed in a different manner. Perhaps if he wrote that there’s a *tendency* to maximise the number of configurations and minimise the free energy, then he’d be right, but then he’d just be stating the equation relating entropy and enthalpy to free energy. It’s this *equilibrium* between various feedbacks in complex systems, and the path taken to get there (during the course of evolution AND during the time the state of matter exists) that is important. From matter to molecules to the entire Earth system: if the interactions are chaotic (mathematically determined by calculating a Lyapunov exponent) then my statement holds for any system that originally evolved at least a few million years ago.

    Biological objects, from molecules to pathways to cells to organs to organisms to populations interacting as a complex system over the course of evolution, drift away from optimising either one of those quantities and toward homeostasis. It is not minimising enthalpy or maximising entropy alone that matters, but rather about achieving equilibrium in a system with nonlinear dynamics between interacting individuals (at all and across hierachies). Human government and our current civilisation is the only exception that I am aware of that has lasted this long evolutionarily.

    Generally speaking, chemical substance addiction is a great example of the biological system’s power in moving towards homeostasis even as more and more of a particular substance is ingested. The more the person consumes, the more the person needs to consume.

    Even climate change is really Nature attempting to equilibriate (yes, I anthropomorphised and used telelogical language again—doesn’t it make conversations richer?).

    –Ram

  • Sorry wrong link was inserted in previous post — corrected link below

    Elizabeth Kolbert Reviews Naomi Klein
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/dec/04/can-climate-change-cure-capitalism/

    Klein hits back
    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/03/ethics-climate-hope

  • CAT FIGHT
    Kolbert 1
    Klein 0

    The claws are out and the fur is flying
    there will be much renting of fur and gnashing of teeth
    It’s Extinction Girl Vs. Green Energy Girl

    Let’s Get Ready To Rummble
    Kolbert hits hard early
    Klein staggers from the blow
    Klein blisters back pepper shots
    Hits with a low uppercut
    Kolbert takes a low shot
    Klein returns the favor
    Both Girls Go Down Rolling
    Stay Tuned Folks It’s
    One For The Ages

  • to no longer a pilot from montana: if you can remenber, trees did not use to fall in the wind. They do so because they are already dead from pollution. Their roots are gone (look at the pictures). This is going to happen (is happening) all over the planet very soon, in the coming years. They will even fall without wind, all of them. And the new ones that will be planted will die before they grow.

  • this just in (sorry for the excessive post):

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-12-02/keystone-antagonist-steps-down-as-head-of-climate-group-350-dot-org

    Keystone Antagonist Steps Down as Head of Climate Group 350.org

    [maybe he’ll start a new one called 400+.org]

    Bill McKibben, a chief antagonist of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is stepping down as chairman of the environmental group 350.org that he helped create.

    McKibben, an author and climate advocate, said the move will give him more time to write and to organize campaigns. He’ll remain as a senior adviser to the New York-based group that pushes for action to combat climate change.

    “If this sounds dramatic, it’s not,” McKibben wrote in a letter to supporters sent from Sweden, where he is receiving the Right Livelihood Award from Parliament. “I will stay on as an active member of the board, and 90 percent of my daily work will stay the same, since it’s always involved the external work of campaigning, not the internal work of budgets and flow charts.”

    [wanna laugh?]

    The Right Livelihood Award McKibben has received [bwah-haa-haaaa] is often called the “alternative Nobel Prize.” Awardees this year include Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents to reporters about U.S. surveillance programs.

    [hint to Award agency: McFibben is no Snowden, aight?]

  • Ram,

    It was taking too long to find your quote about the lack of distinction between art, philosophy and science (which I loved). From scanning your writing, I conclude that scientific “models” (quite apart from the reality of extinction, which is progressing very quickly) have serious deficiencies. Meanwhile, art, philosophy and intuition (which could compensate significantly for those scientific deficiencies) get sidelined in our culture, which does not see their scientific applicability. No wonder we’re circling the drain as a species.

  • When I made reference to TINA, I was pointing out that in western societies we are presented with only one path, and are forced by banks and corporations along that path.

    Therefore, it will make not a scrap of difference how much research is carried out or what research reveals, we will continue to be presented with TINA.

    I think back to the days when North Sea oil was first being developed: the game was to get it out from under the seabed as quickly as possible and burn it. More and more drilling provided more high-paid jobs and bigger profits for corporations, and once extraction exceeded domestic consumption the game was to extract oil as quickly as possible and sell it overseas to provide rich living for the 1% at the top of the pyramid and pay for boondoggles etc. The architects of all the stupidity also managed to increase UK population overshoot by 10 million. Well their insane plans worked extremely well and North Sea oil extraction peaked a decade or so ago and is in steep decline.

    To overcome the prospect of declining gas supplies Tony B Liar did a deal with Libya (remember the chummy meeting with a certain now unmentionable person in a tent?) and did another deal with a certain country now accused of invading what is effectively its own territory. At the time I thought WTF!

    Surprise, surprise. After years of insults and months of sanctions, Russia turns its back on the idiots and self-serving liars who are in control of western societies, Putin effectively saying: “I’ve tried for a long time but now I can no longer be bothered trying to deal with idiots and liars.”

    Britain is now effectively a basket case waiting to die, with UK government revenues pummelled by declining oil extraction and low prices, along with all the other shambles. Most of Europe is in as bad a position or worse. I was speaking with a migrant from Holland recently, and she mentioned that that there is almost no agriculture in Holland these days: agricultural land is developed for housing, commercial and ‘lifestyle’ developments. Anyone wishing to practice farming moves to Poland. 17 million people stuck on a tiny chunk of land not much above sea level (and a lot of it below sea level), dependent on imported food. I think it would be fair to say that Holland peaked 300 to 400 years ago. Giving up New Amsterdam to the English and having to endure them rename it New York arguably marked the commencement of a long, slow death for Holland. but the Dutch do still have quite a lot of natural gas, so are to continue contributing to their own demise.

    I think back to the climate change roadshow that arrived in New Plymouth 8 years ago. Under the cover of the Ministry of the Environment, this was an exercise in manipulation via propaganda, orchestrated by the Ministry of Economic Development, to con locals into accepting carbon trading. After a lot of misinformation had been presented and there was obviously considerable opposition, one of the government officials blurted out: “We’ve already got the investors lined up.”

    Yeah, it’s always about the money. Never about tackling any of the real issues, like drastically cutting emissions.

    So here we are, enduring Life at the End of Empire on the Planet of the Maniacs, with global economic and social arrangements starting to disintegrate and the environment collapsing, and NPDC ‘proudly’ spending 2% of rate income promoting economic growth,

  • I’ve posted anew. Catch my work in various media here.

  • Regarding McKibben, this is part 3 of a good discussion about his corporate connections.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/28/mckibben-red-white-blue-and-goldman-sachs/

    Sent this to my email lists today.
    This afternoon, around 2PM PST, 5PM EST, a New York grand jury decided to not indict a “white” NY police officer Daniel Panteleo for the death of African American Eric Garner, who died in Staten Island this past July 17 while being arrested for selling cigarettes illegally. Videos clearly show the officer applying a chokehold to Garner while he was on the ground, in violation of police procedures, while another officer had his hand on Garner’s head. Garner said (audible on the video) 11 times that he couldn’t breath, and the officers failed to provide first aid. In fact the coroner ruled the death a homicide via chocking. Seems like cops can get away with anything done to African Americans, even if the event is on video. So much for the idea that cops should wear video cameras. Again, the prosecutor involved worked closely with police in the past. So what to expect? Panteleo by the way has been the subject of several civil rights lawsuits over the past couple of years, one of which was settled for a $30,000 award to the injured party, while another is still pending.
    My predictions are 1. There will be a massive reaction to this outrage. 2. It will accomplish nothing. Non-violent actions will be ignored. Violent ones will be used to turn all the attention to the demonstrators. Very little to do when the vast majority of the public has its head buried in its cyber-ass, aware of little aside from what comes across various screens which monopolize all attention. And the excuse makers are already in action, saying crap like “If he was being choked, he couldn’t have said that he couldn’t breath,” total BULLSHIT, excuse my French.
    Yes, i am really PISSED!

  • The panel seemed to be less hostile to Dr. McPherson this time.

    I expect that to continue as reality smites their denial in the inevitable trend line we see.