Premiere Episode, Edge of Extinction

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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.

Pauline Schneider will serve as guest host of the show on Tuesday, 6 January 2015. She will interview nuclear activist Marilyn Elie.

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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 51

  • good show. money has already lost any meaningful value, the plunge protection team will do anything to keep the whole big lie going. don’t mis-under-estimate the absurd lengths bankers will go to keep the ball rolling.

    I don’t necessarily agree with your schedule, but I suspect something very close to what you are saying will happen. What precipitates a financial 911 will likely be food prices, the fuse that lights everything.

    A specialist is like one of the three blind men feeling different parts of an elephant coming away with 3 different ideas of exactly what comprises the elephant in the room. We are approaching peak everything, including peak minerals, water, food, energy and not least, civility. Like chaos theory, a black swan event is never foreseen by definition.

    Alex Smith has gone full metal jacket into denialism. This scares me when I think of where we are because the 5 top traded items in the world are oil, guns, drugs, food and sex. If you compare the gargantuan task ahead of us with recent black-ops history, you don’t need a degree in sociology to realize we are not going to make it.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/counter-intelligence/

    Being as highly opinionated, I just had to add my cents to the comments in Alex’s site.
    http://www.ecoshock.info/2014/12/green-illusions-ozzie-zehner.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcoshockNews+%28Ecoshock+News%29

  • Thank you Guy for this new way of communicating on the edge of extinction. I love the ending~”Only love remains”. I hope you are feeling all the love being sent your way by your many many fans.

  • Paul Chefurka,

    Thanks so much for your January 2nd, 2015 at 1:50 pm thoughts regarding the Kirkland paper and the link to it. I look forward to reading it. The paper appears to focus directly and intensely on a point I noticed a couple of months ago related to a paradox, contradiction, and/or irony I noticed regarding Derrick Jensen’s most recent book in progress regarding human supremacism, a point I have mentioned a few times in my comments over the past few weeks. On one hand, Derrick has almost finished a wonderful book on human supremacism. On the other hand, I pointed out to him the human supremacist nature of his fundamental assumption that he, with the same massive ignorance that all of us humans necessarily live with, presumably knows how life “should” unfold on Earth: pretty much as it existed prior to significant human participation in Earth’s biological processes. I suggested the possibility of his including at least a few pages, if not an entire chapter, related to this non-conscious, arrogantly human supremacist idea of his and many others. Given the thrust of the major themes of his writing career—quite wonderful in my opinion!—I did not feel at all surprised that he responded by making it crystal clear that wanted nothing at all to do with any such considerations. I expect that the idea produces massive, extremely uncomfortable cognitive dissonance, but that just remains a guess.

    Jeff S.,

    In your December 31st, 2014 at 10:31 pm comment, after a longish paragraph in which you described a number of physical and biological realities related to human existence you wrote:

    “Mortgage payments do NOT fit into this category, and neither do Mounties. In fact, private property to begin with is not a fact of existence dictated by the laws of physical existence. These examples are human social constructs. They were NOT aspects of human existence for the vast majority of our species’ existence. They are aspects of existence only in a society structured by commodity relations.”

    Later you wtote:

    “Yes, our present-day behavior is driving us and the planet over the edge into ecological oblivion. But this BEHAVIOR is NOT ordained by our genes, or by any laws of physics, chemistry, biology,…. such as the law of gravity.”

    I hope you will answer this question: If mortgage payments, Mounties, the invention and enforcement of private property, and all other human “social constructs”, as well as all abstract human thinking, feeling, and symbolizing, do not work as expressions or functions of the fundamental laws of nature, of physics, chemistry, biology, and so on, what DO they work as expressions or functions of? You appear to base your argument on the “mind/body” duality: the idea that “mind” and “social constructs” such as economic theory, exist in a non-physical, supernatural way while the body exists separately and disconnected from it, “merely of the world”, as a Catholic priest might say it. Of course, I disagree. It seems to me that ALL of our abstract thinking, symbolizing, perceptions, emotions, and so on, occur as completely natural, physical, biological, chemical functioning of our physical, biological neurons as integrated “parts” of our completely physical, biological bodies, and all produced by, “parts” of, and functioning as expressions of Earth. In my view, our thinking and social constructs do not occur in some alleged non-physical, supernatural way, or in some other universe as you seem to insist.

    Earlier I wrote:

    “It seems obvious to me that Mounties do indeed exist as “facts of nature”, just as all humans do. It seems to me that to suggest that all humans, including Mounties, do not exist as facts of nature amounts to accepting the heart of arrogant human supremacism, which suggests that humans (including Mounties) exist SEPARATE FROM and ALIENATED from the rest of nature. I don’t agree with this view at all. It seems obvious to me that humans exist just as much as parts of and forces of nature as bacteria and plants did, and do, which over about two billion years largely produced the gas composition of Earth’s atmosphere.” And:

    “It does not seem either incredible or clueless to me, at all, to consider all humans and all human behavior not just ‘facts of nature’, but also powerful forces of nature, and it now seems at least plausible, if not significantly probable, that we may have killed literally all life on Earth, turning it into another lifeless rock much like Venus—while behaving completely within the natural laws of physics and biology, just as all other life does. It seems to me nothing more than a human supremacist fantasy to believe that life ‘should’ or ‘must’ unfold on Earth in some way as conceived by some individual or group of humans. [This relates to Paul Chefurka’s recent comment regarding the Kirkland paper.] I agree with Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow that ‘Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance’ and with David Ehrenfeld that ‘The world is not only more complex than we think, it is more complex than we are capable of thinking.’

    I do not see how any of your arguments, so far, offer a meaningful, alternative model. Perhaps I have misunderstood something you wrote and you will explain further?

  • Happy New Year everyone!
    How long did it take for CO2 to hit >400 ppm in 2015? The correct answer is… Less than one day!!!!

    http://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/

  • Guy.

    I think you misunderstand the nature of police and their role in society. They are not there ‘to protect us’. They are, and always have been, to protect the property and welfare of those toward the top of the pyramid. And recent reports from America indicate police are increasingly a law unto themselves. There is little doubt police will be used, with ever greater levels of violence, against the masses. Police are the PTP’s enforcers, there to protect the pay masters. Despite our wishes, TPTB are not going to give up without an long fight.

    Although the American Empire is headed for collapse (and 2015 could well see a major jolt), that does not mean the end of industrialism or the end of crap being put into the atmosphere by humans. There is a distinct probability the amount of crap in the atmosphere will increase (thereby causing increased global dimming) as people become unable to source ‘clean’ energy sources like natural gas and start burning tyres and plastic to keep warm and cook. Also, the thermal inertia of the remaining ice and cold deep water is so great the temperature simply cannot rise as quickly as some people are suggesting. There is a big difference between coming out of a deep ice age and going from a warm planet to a super-heated planet. And don’t forget that the core of the Earth has been cooling for the past 3 billion plus years, and continues to cool, as radioactive materials deplete and transition to stable isotopes.

    Major disruption of historic economic arrangements within 2 years -yes.

    Planetary meltdown in 2 to 20 years -no: more likely 20 to 60 years.

  • kevin moore, apparently my sarcasm about the police was lost in translation. Why do you believe habitat for humans will extend up to 60 years? Do you have any supporting evidence, or are you using intuition, to suggest humans will persist without habitat for that extra four decades? Do you not believe the research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicating global-average temperature rose 5 C in 13 years 55 million years ago? When industrial civilization fails, I doubt we need to worry about people burning tires to stay warm. They’ll quickly die from lack of clean water.

  • @ kevin moore Says:
    January 2nd, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    …as people become unable to source ‘clean’ energy sources like natural gas and start burning tyres and plastic to keep warm and cook.

    Of course, you are absolutely, positively correct and I, personally, find that fucking hilarious as there is nothing like exponentially increasing one’s intake of toxic chemicals in the pursuit of comfort and sustenance!! :)) “Humans” are so stupid!

    @ Guy McPherson Says:
    January 2nd, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    They’ll quickly die from lack of clean water.

    I’m conflicted regarding that comment. That is, I’m not sure if I should say “Bingo!,” since that IS going to be the predominant factor in the majority of soon-to-be ensuing deaths, or if I should suggest you needed to add “Bazinga!,” just to keep the ill-informed “guessing.” 🙂

  • “And don’t forget that the core of the Earth has been cooling for the past 3 billion plus years, and continues to cool, as radioactive materials deplete and transition to stable isotopes.”

    I am no nuclear physicist, but I am 100% confident that this will affect the “Planetary meltdown” by exactly ZERO PERCENT kevin.

  • Guy, yes your sarcasm regarding the police was lost in translation. The way you said it, it sounded as though you meant it. Maybe a couple of raised fingers for quotation marks would help if you use the phrase in the future.

    ‘Why do you believe habitat for humans will extend up to 60 years?’

    Because I have been to Invercargill! Indeed, I once attempted to cycle to Invercargill from Wyndham in the ‘heat of summer’: the sky was overcast and it was windy; and the temperature was about 12oC. When the cold rain started I gave up trying to cycle to Invercargill and returned to Wyndham. For those who don’t know, Invercargill is the southernmost city in NZ. Further south are Stewart island and the Auckland Islands

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

    There is ice several kilometres thick not too far south of Invercargill. And the Great Southern Ocean has an enormous capacity to absorb heat without showing much temperature rise. There would have to be a stupendous amount of heat trapped by the atmosphere and transferred to the oceans to make places like southern Chile uninhabitable in 20 years.

    I believe your perspective is very much influenced by the fact that you spend most of your time in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, i.e. southwest US, and that you tend to take pronouncements by ‘experts’ as gospel.

    And no offence meant but Mike Ruppert spent too much time running round with his hair on fire, for instance, telling everyone that it was all over in 2011 because vegetables grown in the US would be inedible due to the massive amount of Fukushima radiation falling from the sky.

    And, although James Hansen did a great job in raising the matter of significant warming, he does seem to have lost the plot in recent years and has said some things which are just plain stupid. And I believe Paul Beckwith really has lost the plot.

    As you know, I have been highlighting the prospect of Abrupt Climate Change for many years (about 15). However, I cannot see any mechanism for raising the temperature of the oceans and melting the stupendous quantity of ice that remains in a matter of a couple of decades.

    While I think about it, an interesting thing happened when the US took down the USSR; people continued to go to work, even though they did not get paid.

    I do believe we are on the cusp of economic and political mayhem, and that present systems will collapse, either partially or completely before 2020, and there will major disruption to the global financial mayhem before the end of 2016. Which is why I am very much focused on personal preparations.

    Everything takes longer than we think, including the garden projects I am working on at the moment.

  • There are no certainties in science. The Scientist always stands ready to be proven wrong therefore predictions of demise are uncertain: they maybe correct or they maybe mistaken. Truth is we don’t know. Guy’s comprehensive knowledge of research and empirical knowledge enables his confidence but the proof is in the eating of the pudding. Sorry to state the obvious!

  • The hundreds of thousands of people living in their gers on the hills south of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia do burn tires and plastic trash to stay alive during the long, cold winters. Their efforts to stay “comfortable” keep the city remarkably trash free. The “unemployed” men go around town with huge bags picking up the bottles and other burnables. They don’t have a sewer system, public water supply or electricity. Many of them only have access to surface water, which with no sewer system, is the sewer system. I often witnessed people carrying water from and bathing in the surface water. There are so many unwanted babies being thrown alive into the landfill outside of Ulaanbaatar that several NGO’s have set up observation points there to rescue the babies.
    I point this out merely as an object lesson of what people do to get along and be “comfortable” from day to day.

  • ‘Do you not believe the research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicating global-average temperature rose 5 C in 13 years 55 million years ago?’

    Guy, one of the big problems with research of that nature is that there is no direct means of measuring or even knowing the temperature or the rate of temperature climb 55 million years ago. All stated temperatures are estimates based on various proxy measurements, often the delta oxygen 18 levels in sediments, which are then interpreted as being indicative of certain temperature conditions prevailing at the time. Sometime the relative abundance of isotopes of carbon is used to estimate temperatures and carbon cycling; all such methods are prone to errors. Which is not to say that researchers or publishers of papers are being dishonest but simply that that are doing the best they can with what is available.

    Scientists usually do their best to collect samples accurately, label them accurately and analyse them accurately but there are always errors and there are limits of certainty, particularly when quantities of material are miniscule and the component being looked for is microscopic.

    I have no doubt in my mind that there was an abrupt climate change event (rapid heating) 55 million years ago. Whether the global average temperature rose by 5oC in 13 years is still unproven as far as I am concerned. There is no accurate way of measuring such a tiny time interval such a long time ago.

    I think ‘mass’ entirely missed the point I was making. Apart from the event of 65 million years ago which annihilated most dinosaur species, all abrupt climate change events have been triggered by volcanic activity, which in the past has transferred carbonaceous material from below the Earth’s crust and into the atmosphere, usually over thousands or tens of thousands of years.

    As we all know, industrial activity is mimicking ancient volcanoes by transferring semi-sequestered carbon from underground and putting it into the atmosphere. However, despite what fundamentalist Christians believe, the Earth is relatively quiet (a period of severe shaking took place a couple of hundred years ago, and that was when the biggest earthquakes in history occurred). Just how fast industrial humans are wrecking to carbon balance compared to how fast nature did it un the past is still not 100% clear. All I know is that industrial humans have disturbed the balance by a very large amount and apparently will not relinquish disturbing the balance whatever the dire consequences.

    After more than a week of finding no daily update I found today the latest atmospheric CO2 level. It is as disastrous as expected, just over 400ppm, the first time ever for such a high level to be achieved at the beginning of the year.

    Also, I noticed the NSIDC Arctic ice cover graph has an interesting kink in it, taking the line very close to the 2012 level, roughly two standard deviations from the 1981 to 2010 average.

    2015 is going to he an ‘interesting’ year.

  • Thanks for your explanation, kevin. Now I understand: Personal experience trumps proxy records. I’ll ride a bicycle in the rain to extend habitat for humans on Earth.

  • “ALL of our abstract thinking, symbolizing, perceptions, emotions, and so on, occur as completely natural, physical, biological, chemical functioning of our physical, biological neurons as integrated “parts” of our completely physical, biological bodies, and all produced by, “parts” of, and functioning as expressions of Earth. In my view, our thinking and social constructs do not occur in some alleged non-physical, supernatural way”

    Yes. And all of this is non-sentient, meat-robots, without any awareness. Awareness is like sunlight, without any forms. And all objects are black in the absence of light. Sunlight bouncing off objects acquires their forms and carries it to the observer’s eyes. So too, consciousness – “awareness” without any “of” illuminates insentient minds with “awareness of” and the illusion of sentience.

    Can anyone prove that that one is not a meat-robot? I know for myself about myself, but that is no proof to another.

    ““And right action may require force. Non-violence does not imply no force. It does imply equanimity of mind.. ” Nice! What would this actually look like?”

    To most persons, nothing out of the ordinary. It takes a realised person to recognise another realised person.

  • Hi Robin,

    “Yes. And all of this is non-sentient, meat-robots, without any awareness.”

    Individuals who commit suicide are part sentient and part meat-robots, as you put it.

    Petroleum Civilization is the same –just more of it.

    The exercise (for those in the future archaeologists digging up these musings long after Petroleum Civilization has committed suicide) is to isolate lethal mutations that take the form of intelligence and sentience, and “treat it” early on.

  • Krista Tippett’s On Being
    January 1, 2015:

    SHARON SALZBERG AND ROBERT THURMAN —
    Embracing Our Enemies and Our Suffering

  • “Individuals who commit suicide are part sentient and part meat-robots, as you put it.”

    As YOU put it. The sentience, the “awareness” – without an “of” – has no individuality. The “of” is a conditioning adjunct that creates the illusion of individuality. Clinging to that illusion makes it a delusion, and thah is one of the major obstacles to realisation. Individuals, whether they commit suicide or not, are entirely meat-robot.

    B.G. 2:19. He who thinks that he can kill and he who thinks that he can be killed are both mistaken! The Self can neither kill nor be killed.

  • Kevin Moore writes: “While I think about it, an interesting thing happened when the US took down the USSR; people continued to go to work, even though they did not get paid.”

    Correction: The USSR political system caved in on itself and the US declared victory. This also caught our spy network completely by surprise since the whole function of the CIA was to assume the USSR was a huge, terrible threat. As of this date, no one has had to answer for this complete failure in intelligence. Instead, even more money is being dumped into a system to spy on every single person in the world, including themselves. Oddly enough, this too is a failure. But it sure pays well.

  • Putting the Me in Meat
    Good point point Guy about experiential and evidentiary perspectives
    Good point on dirtiest fuel image
    Good point on going to work as world crumbles and falls apart
    One billion people walk a mile every day for water
    My dog is too lazy to get me a beer

  • Desdemona Despair
    Blogging the End of the World™
    Friday, January 2, 2015
    50 doomiest graphs of 2014

  • Guy and Carloyn sure know how to attract the walkers. 😎

    Outside my window this morning. Note the winter coloration of the coat which is more dark than the rich, brown color of summer. I’m going to keep on reducing my carbon footprint and creating habitat for my wild friends. Works for me.

    Crosby, Stills & Nash – You Don’t Have To Cry

    It’s not like we weren’t warned, that is for those who were listening.

  • Kudos to Guy for not failing to point out that it’s future loss of food and water (habitat) that’s the elephant in the room. I’ve watched recent videos, and read a couple of articles in the past week by scientists recently emerged from the denialist closet. Thy all focused on sea level rise only, and none of them ever mentioned the high possibility of NTE. That’s just more negligence, malpractice. I call it being, ‘chicken-shit’.

    Guy, I really look up to you for the fact that you don’t give a shit about what your peers in academia think about you or your presentation of the truckloads of data you’ve made available to us. I want you to remember that it’s that FREEDOM that makes you stand taller than the rest. Remember public opinion is going to swing back and forth. On one end of the swing you’ll have people you thought were your friends working to tear you down on your own site. On the other end of the swing you should realize that you have influenced many people to move toward real acceptance and to understand that love really is all that’s left to us.

  • Grant Schreiber

    ‘Correction: The USSR political system caved in on itself and the US declared victory.’

    The evidence does not support your contention:

    Not long after it became clear that a communist system had been successfully established in Russia [following the 1917 revolution] bankers and industrialist in Europe and the US began a decade-long campaign to overturn communism and return Russia to control by western-incorporated oligarchy. Despite the ‘War to end all wars’ having just recently and humungous debts been incurred, western powers actually sent fighting units to Russia to overturn the communist system; as with all invasions of Russia, that initial campaign failed.

    I am no fan of Stalin, and he was clearly a psychotic sociopath, but he did hold the USSR together through the difficult times of the 1930s and 1940s.

    Even before the WW2 had ended Britain and the US made it clear that Russia -well actually communism- was the new enemy. The bombing of Dresden had nothing to do with military objectives and was primarily to demonstrate to the advancing Russians what the RAF was capable of. Similarly, there was no need to drop atomic bombs on Japan; by July 1945 what was left of the Japanese navy dare not leave port; the Japanese could hardly get a plane into the sky; and starvation was underway. The Americans wanted to know the effect atomic bombs would have on people and structures, and wanted to demonstrate to the Russia what would happen to them if they opposed plans for world domination by western banking-corporate interests. It was about that time the US hurriedly sent troops to Korea and started killing Koreans when it became apparent that a socialist government was likely to be established. Indeed, so vicious were the American ‘fascists’ of the time they even turned on their former ally Britain, and were planning to starve Britain into submission following the election of a slightly socialist government there; it was only the intervention of Churchill and his famous pleading that a Labour government was better than a revolution that could result in communism that swayed the American ‘fascists’ to support Britain; the terms of the loan to Britain were outrageous, with the highest possible interest rate being imposed. And it was only the prospect of most of Europe ‘going communist’ in the late 1940s that triggered the Marshall Plan.

    The failure of the ‘Nationalists’ in China to take control led to the preposterous situation of nasty regime set up in Taiwan by Chiang Kai-Shek (who stole all the Chinese gold and had the Taiwanese post-war government overthrown) being declared the legitimate government of China.

    Then there was the proxy war in Korea to take down Russia and China, accompanied by ‘reds under the bed’ McCarthyism. Then there was the nonsense about millions of Russian tanks surging across Europe. And the nonsense of the ‘Domino Theory’, Cuba and Vietnam.

    Whether American support for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan was a critical factor in the demise of the USSR is open to debate. Certainly, the USSR was subjected to a decade-long campaign by the American ‘fascists’ to bring it down.

    And now that Putin has managed to drag Russia out if the gutter and throw out a few opportunists and corporate raiders, it’s all started again. ‘Putin’s shot down the airliner’; ‘Putin has invaded Crimea’. ‘Putin is a dictator’. Blah blah blah….. same old bollocks, only this time the American empire is on its knees and incapable of fighting a war (though still capable of attacking small nations without air defence).

    What is really scary is that the maniacs that comprise most of Congress and Senate and White House staff seem to believe their own propaganda, and as I understand it have actually declared war on Russia on paper.

  • The thing about the cops is, that when the food supply hits the fan, along with the shit, they will HAVE to stay at home. They’ll understand that if they don’t stay at home and protect their own families, their wife will be murdered and their kids will be eaten. This could be even worse for some police because, remember: ‘pay-backs are hell’!

    Same with nukplant workers. That’s why the dumb-fucks in charge (DFICs), who have the power, need to harden the plants against assault. They also should supply the sites with shelter and food so essential workers can move their families on-site in the event of megagridfall (MGF). Of course, they won’t hold out for long once the zombies (Z!) find out.

  • Dr. Paul Craig Roberts as one of the Reagonomics architects is not someone I’d put much trust in especially when it came to predications leading to the collapse of the USA. Don’t you think that ultimately he is partly responsible for current situation and yet blind to it? And in the interview he did dated 12/20/14 on soundcloud – it sounded like he backpedaled a bit.
    Charles Hugh Smith wrote about the System Reset 10/29/13 as being one to happen 2014-2015. On his ‘Of Two Minds’ blog, the most recent post from two days ago states that in 2015 the site will focus on a fourth topic – alleviating poverty on a global scale. Not a peep about, oh shit we’re collapsing this year.

    Yet you build this whole episode on the predictions of these two guys as your primary premises….

    I’ve been thinking collapse is imminent for the last five years. Maybe we underestimate the ability of bullshit to persevere?

  • Guy,the next time you decide to go on a retreat, try a comedy camp. Your sense of comedic timing could use some honing. http://ideaexplorer.blogspot.com/2014/09/responses-to-habitability-threat.html

  • @ kevin moore: “Humanity” was just the closest word that fit the rhythm, and MNVHO is just based on my personal experience and values; YMMV. But if you would like to know the exact date of Peak Human, it was June 1, 1967, when Sgt. Pepper came out and kicked off the Summer of Love. 😀
    ==

    @ Guy: Fantastic video! Really terrific!

    Guy McPherson says: “…fires like this planet has never seen.”
    ==

    Nuclear Armageddon

    When the grid goes down, life will get screwy:
    People won’t go to work, they’ll say, “Phooey!”
    But without pumps that throb
    And folks on the job,
    The world’s nuclear plants go kablooey.

  • BTD

    ‘But if you would like to know the exact date of Peak Human, it was June 1, 1967, when Sgt. Pepper came out and kicked off the Summer of Love.’

    I believe hat was the first occasion rock and classical were combined. Up to that point rock was rock and classical was classical. Now nobody knows what’s what and ‘everybody’ has tattoos.

    What is really interesting is the fact that various human conditions/talents and human enterprises peaked long ago.

    Peak human health: arguably some time prior to the adoption of agriculture.

    Peak pyramid-building; 2560BC

    Peak aqueduct building: around 200AD

    Peak castle-building: 14th century

    Peak pot-making: 16th century

    Peak carpentry 18th century

    Peak composition [of music]: depends on whether you go for Mozart or Beethoven, somewhere around the end of the 18th century

    Peak canal-building: 19th century

    Peak railway-building:19th century.

    Peak scrimshaw: 19th century

    Peak UK coal extraction: 1913

    Peak industrial devastation and chemical warfare: 1915 to 1917 (could be a second peak)

    Peak US conventional oil extraction: 1970/71

    Peak chemical deforestation 1972 to 1974

    Peak global per capita energy use: 1979

    Peak propaganda: 2014

    Peak obesity: 2016?

    Peak mayhem: 2019?

  • Bud Nye Says:
    January 2nd, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    “Jeff S.,

    In your December 31st, 2014 at 10:31 pm comment, after a longish paragraph in which you described a number of physical and biological realities related to human existence you wrote:

    “Mortgage payments do NOT fit into this category, and neither do Mounties. In fact, private property to begin with is not a fact of existence dictated by the laws of physical existence. These examples are human social constructs. They were NOT aspects of human existence for the vast majority of our species’ existence. They are aspects of existence only in a society structured by commodity relations.”

    Later you wtote:

    “Yes, our present-day behavior is driving us and the planet over the edge into ecological oblivion. But this BEHAVIOR is NOT ordained by our genes, or by any laws of physics, chemistry, biology,…. such as the law of gravity.”

    I hope you will answer this question: If mortgage payments, Mounties, the invention and enforcement of private property, and all other human “social constructs”, as well as all abstract human thinking, feeling, and symbolizing, do not work as expressions or functions of the fundamental laws of nature, of physics, chemistry, biology, and so on, what DO they work as expressions or functions of? You appear to base your argument on the “mind/body” duality: the idea that “mind” and “social constructs” such as economic theory, exist in a non-physical, supernatural way while the body exists separately and disconnected from it, “merely of the world”, as a Catholic priest might say it. Of course, I disagree. It seems to me that ALL of our abstract thinking, symbolizing, perceptions, emotions, and so on, occur as completely natural, physical, biological, chemical functioning of our physical, biological neurons as integrated “parts” of our completely physical, biological bodies, and all produced by, “parts” of, and functioning as expressions of Earth. In my view, our thinking and social constructs do not occur in some alleged non-physical, supernatural way, or in some other universe as you seem to insist.

    Earlier I wrote:

    “It seems obvious to me that Mounties do indeed exist as “facts of nature”, just as all humans do. It seems to me that to suggest that all humans, including Mounties, do not exist as facts of nature amounts to accepting the heart of arrogant human supremacism, which suggests that humans (including Mounties) exist SEPARATE FROM and ALIENATED from the rest of nature. I don’t agree with this view at all. It seems obvious to me that humans exist just as much as parts of and forces of nature as bacteria and plants did, and do, which over about two billion years largely produced the gas composition of Earth’s atmosphere.” And:

    “It does not seem either incredible or clueless to me, at all, to consider all humans and all human behavior not just ‘facts of nature’, but also powerful forces of nature, and it now seems at least plausible, if not significantly probable, that we may have killed literally all life on Earth, turning it into another lifeless rock much like Venus—while behaving completely within the natural laws of physics and biology, just as all other life does. It seems to me nothing more than a human supremacist fantasy to believe that life ‘should’ or ‘must’ unfold on Earth in some way as conceived by some individual or group of humans. [This relates to Paul Chefurka’s recent comment regarding the Kirkland paper.] I agree with Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow that ‘Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance’ and with David Ehrenfeld that ‘The world is not only more complex than we think, it is more complex than we are capable of thinking.’

    I do not see how any of your arguments, so far, offer a meaningful, alternative model. Perhaps I have misunderstood something you wrote and you will explain further?”

    Bud,
    Thanks for illustrating the absurd extremes to which sociobiological determinism leads. Your analysis totally leaves out the very notion of human volition, the capacity to make choices, not to mention ethics. And no, i do not base my analysis upon any mind-body duality or any such metaphysical nonsense.

    So, another example: The need to urinate is compelled by the laws of physical,chemical, biological….. existence. Try to not piss for a day (while drinking fluid per regular schedule) and see what happens. Even better, try doing so after drinking copious amounts of alcohol or coffee. Yet the most drunk or caffeine-buzzed person around still goes to the bathroom, or at least to some bushes. I’ve never seen people at a party or at a show piss in the living room or the show place’s main room or anything, even when there’s a long line to the bathroom. This behavior is NOT the result of compulsion induced by the laws of physics, etc. but a CHOICE people make. And just because that choice is a result of a biological process which occurs in the brain does not make it a result of physical COMPULSION, as is the need to piss. Similarly, when one is out and about and feels hungry, that is the result of the laws of nature asserting themselves in a compulsive way. But where you end up eating cannot be put upon these laws, it’s again a CHOICE!! Again, just because the choice is the result of processes inside the brain does not mean it is ORDAINED by the laws of nature. Nothing compels you to pick pizza vs Chinese food or Mexican food or….. Assuming a choice is available, of course.

    The state as a social organization is NOT COMPELLED by the laws of nature. Pierre Clastres in his 1975 book Society Against the State demonstrated how tribes living in South America, ones he studied, varied in their social organization, and in fact the presence of a state was NOT dependent upon material circumstances, as some tribes under a particular circumstance did not have a state, while others in the same circumstance did.

    Capitalism was NOT COMPELLED by the laws of nature either. In fact, capitalism first arose in late Medieval rural England, not in regards to food production, but in regards to the export of wool. This is how the Enclosures first came about. See
    http://www.dailybattle.pair.com/2012/occupy_target_destroy_ruling_money_fetish.shtml
    In particular see the reference to Ellen Meiksins-Wood’s article The Agrarian Origins of Capitalism, it’s linked to early in the article (a paragraph which starts with “Only under capitalism,….” If you can’t find it, the article can easily be found via a Web search. The emergence and rise of capitalism was the result of a CHOICE, and a choice made by a tiny number of people, who were not responding to any compulsion exerted by the laws of nature. And just because this choice ultimately was the result of brain processes does not make it a result of any such compulsion.

    The Nazi Holocaust did not come about because the Nazis felt compelled by the laws of nature to carry it out. It was a choice. Are you gonna argue that it was compelled by these forces? Are you going to go that last absurd mile?

    Humans can not only make choices within constraints that are imposed by the laws of nature, they do so all the time, and have done so. Phenomena such as mortgage payments, Mounties, the invention and enforcement of private property, and all other human “social constructs”, are CHOICES, They are not the result of behavior compelled by the laws of nature. Go ahead and argue otherwise, i dare you.

    ———————–

    Guy: regarding the film clip. I have to agree with kym. Paul Craig Roberts and Charles Hugh Smith are both stuck in the analysis based in “economics,” a field of study which s actually a sophisticated apology for the status quo masquerading as a science, formed in the second half of the 19th Century expressly to replace the actual science of political economy. This is because the findings of political economy, made by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Alfred Sismondi and others, led inevitably to the analysis of Karl Marx, whose conclusions the powers-that-be did not wanna hear. Not only did he conclude that the system is inherently exploitative of humanity, but also that it was doomed to suffer from ever worsening crises eventually leading to a catastrophe. And furthermore, they could not use his analysis as a way to run their enterprises in such a way as to make them more profitable. See the article i link to in this post for some of that, including links to earlier articles by jack Straw which cover this topic. I agree with kym, perhaps we have been underestimating the ability of bullshit to persist, or rather, the ability of the powers-that-be to extend the bullshit. One big factor is that the populace for the most part WANTS the bullshit to persist, too scared of any other choice. And then, maybe collapse will take place in 2015.:-)

  • It’s astonishing how many here are missing the point. I used a couple of recent examples of people predicting collapse of American Empire. This event would kick off about a 1.4 C temperature rise. It’s an example, and I point it out as one. It’s the most rapid version of rapid global-average temperature rise.

    But it can go the other way, as I also point out. Arctic ice could vanish, leading to the methane burst and hence collapse of civilization.

    Did anybody actually listen to the entire seven minutes? Or were you so distracted you moved directly into the space of “this can’t happen here”?

    It can happen. Sustaining the unsustainable is not possible. The collapse of industrial civilization is a given, and it’s only a matter of time. I used a near-term example as one example.

    Chill, people. Take a breath.

  • wow holy fuck

  • “wow holy fuck”

    Choir boys, perhaps?

  • Jeff S.,

    You wrote: “Thanks for illustrating the absurd extremes to which sociobiological determinism leads. Your analysis totally leaves out the very notion of human volition, the capacity to make choices, not to mention ethics. And no, i do not base my analysis upon any mind-body duality or any such metaphysical nonsense.”

    “Sociobiological determinism”? Yes, I do point to this. (But certainly not to any kind of PREdeterminism, and this determinism, functioning in complex ways within a phase space around various attractors, has only limited predictability within limited boundaries, remaining largely unpredictable.) “Absurd extreme”? You may come to that conclusion, but I don’t, nor do many others.

    Again, please help me with this for I remain deeply confused by your reasoning:

    On one hand you strongly insist that “no, i do not base my analysis upon any mind-body duality or any such metaphysical nonsense”. Okay. Fine. You insist that you do NOT invoke any mentalistic states nor “metaphysical nonsense” (and “metaphysical” means “beyond”, “above”, or otherwise non-physical). Great! You make it clear that you do NOT invoke any alleged, non-physical processes. But then, on the other hand, you ALSO strongly DENY that our choices, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalistic economics, and so on, work as expressions or functions of the fundamental laws of nature: of physics, chemistry, biology, which I suggested. Among other examples, you wrote “This behavior is NOT the result of compulsion induced by the laws of physics, etc. but a CHOICE people make.”

    So, on one hand, you strongly insist that choice DOES lie in the physical realm based on natural, physical processes, and THEN you insist, just as strongly, that it does NOT. To me, your reasoning here begs this question: If choice, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalist economics, and so on do not work as functions of, or as expressions of either natural, physical laws (chemistry, physics, biology, and so on) NOR do they occur in any mentalistic or metaphysical way, WHAT process or processes DO you invoke to account for them? I remain completely lost and confused regarding this.

  • Guy,

    Obviously, as u have so well pointed out, collapse is inevitable. Angst is spreading, at warp speed. Nothing can be done in spite of what anyone desires. A small portion of humanity is insane and ALWAYS has been. IC has very simply, sped up the inevitable. I wish the Indians had converted us somehow to sanity.

    Chill, people. Take a breath.

  • Just TWO Gt of abrupt methane release translated into CO2 equivalent would more than double the 37 Gt of CO2 that we already spew yearly, especially in the first two years.

    This is a rudimentary empirical question & much of it, almost surely, will be answered this year – IF the information is NOT WITH HELD.

    S&S, CARVE,& SWERUS KNOW MUCH MORE THAN WE ARE BEING TOLD.

    CARVE/NASA’S press release about no increase in methane over Alaska in 2014; but no mention of the state of the 90 mile diameter plumes observed in 2013 is a dead giveaway of cover-up.

    I am sure that they went back in 2014 to the same location, so why don’t we hear about what they saw or didn’t see?
    Have the plumes disappeared?

    Have they doubled in diameter?

    I am not hesitant to state that such an abrupt methane release may already be taking place, & this information is known.

    It wouldn’t be new in this culture of deception & deceit.

    Two Gt would (will) only be the start of our end.

    50 Gigatons; forgeddaboudit …

  • If an abrupt methane release occurs; it will, most assuredly, severely LIMIT our choices, no es verdad?

    … emphasis on limit.

    Gentlepersons, the amount of data that be available as this year progresses, such as rate of methane release, is in our faces.

    It is not going to slow down or stop.

  • THANK YOU GERALD SPEZIO,

    THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE MATTER.

    THIS IS THE TRUTH

    THE TRUTH IS NOT UNKNOWN. IT IS ONLY UNKNOWN TO THOSE WHO WISH NOT TO HEAR OR LISTEN.

    THIS IS THE TRUTH THAT DR.MCPHERSON IS TRYING TO EMPHASIS AND GET ACROSS.

    THE TRUTH OF THE ONGOING METHANE SPEWING OUT IN MANY AREAS ON THE EARTH.

    THIS IS THE TRUE FACT.

    LOOK AT AMEG AND MANY ARTIC SCIENTIST WHO ACTUALLY DO THE HARD WORK IN THE FIELD AND ACTUALLY GO TO THE ARTIC AND DO THE MEASURING, EVEN DR. JASON BOX.

    WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WHEN THE ICE IS PLAINLY MELTING AND THE OCEANS ARE MEASURABLY AND SIGNIFICANTLY WARMING AND AS DR.MCPHERSON IS TRYING TO WARN: METHANE IS IN CONTROL NOW.

  • Dr. Strangelove

    Extinction includes me and you,
    And there isn’t too much we can do
    Except, while Nature Bats,
    Fall, waving our hats,
    And yelling a big “Waaaaa hooooo!”

  • Maybe it’s time to post this link again & apply the sentiment to everyone?

  • Ben: thanks for the timely reminder!

    The scene you posted involves Slim Pickens character experiencing the long drop to oblivion while screaming his head off. My question has always concerned his last thought – or rather, his last bit of consciousness:

    a) did he feel any pain?
    b) is he aware that he’s no longer aware?
    c) what would the next moment be from this man’s perspective (how does one experience oblivion)?

    Feel free to chime in.

  • Paul Chefurka,

    I found Russell Kirkland’s “Responsible Non-action” paper extremely interesting. I agree with many, probably most, points he makes. On the other hand, from my perspective his discussion contains a few important weaknesses and/or contradictions that he does not address. These points include the following:

    1. Taking NO action has effects on and in the world just as TAKING action does! EMPTY SPACES count just as much as, indeed, they largely DEFINE particles in nature! A figure cannot exist without a contrasting background, nor can a background exist without a contrasting figure.

    2. Humans DO NOT and CANNOT exist without “intervening in the world”.

    (For these reasons, the non-action principle does not make any sense to me, in either a practical, biological way, philosophically, or psychologically.)

    3. The alleged benign nature of Tao exists only as an arbitrary assumption that some people make. It makes just as much (arbitrary) sense to assume that the Tao has a negative, malevolent nature.

    4. In the near last paragraph he writes: “A person who practices sufficient restraint can achieve a state of tranquility that is qualitatively identical with that of the beneficent natural force called the Tao, a force that achieves its ends without taking action, benefitting all living things without involving itself actively with them, a force as imperceptible and insipid as the live-giving force of the natural substance called water. In ancient China, readers of these texts were taught to have faith in the imperceptible existence and inexhaustible potency of such powers, and to rely upon one’s cultivation of such powers to effect a positive transformation of all living things.” By introducing the problem of the ghost in the machine and suggesting that people can take action, after all, if done in the correct, ghostly way, this makes no sense to me. (How can a NON-physical ghost or other alleged entity or process have any effects in a PHYSICAL universe?)

    Elegant solutions to these problems, it seems to me, involve doing the following:

    a. Taking action based on our primary, evolution-programmed emotions and best reasoning while acknowledging our fundamental, physical, biological animal nature and our massive ignorance.

    b. Acknowledging our best, observable, confirmable evidence within a naturalistic pantheistic framework based on these principles: (1) The natural world exists as an infinitely large, connected whole that follows natural principles that we can symbolically construct based on experience. (2) We exist only as infinitely small, but fully integrated, “parts” of this infinitely large whole. (3) As such infinitely small parts we canNOT comprehend the whole, nor can we know how life and death presumably “should” or “must” unfold on Earth. We can only do our best given our many human fallibilities, weaknesses, and ignorance, and we best fully and completely accept ourselves completely WITH all of our fallibilities, weaknesses, and ignorance.

    c. Accept that self-restraint remains necessary in order to ensure that we minimize interference with other life on Earth as well as our own continuing existence.

    d. Along with massive human ignorance, assume that all natural forces exist in NEITHER a benign nor a malevolent way. See nature as NEUTRAL. (It seems to me that the elegant solution to the near universal positive-negative worth judgments people make involves recognizing the harmful nature of either judgment, and then NOT PLAYING THE WORTH JUDGMENT GAME.)

  • Guy McPherson Says:
    January 3rd, 2015 at 3:49 pm
    “It’s astonishing how many here are missing the point. I used a couple of recent examples of people predicting collapse of American Empire. This event would kick off about a 1.4 C temperature rise. It’s an example, and I point it out as one. It’s the most rapid version of rapid global-average temperature rise.

    But it can go the other way, as I also point out. Arctic ice could vanish, leading to the methane burst and hence collapse of civilization.

    Did anybody actually listen to the entire seven minutes? Or were you so distracted you moved directly into the space of “this can’t happen here”?

    It can happen. Sustaining the unsustainable is not possible. The collapse of industrial civilization is a given, and it’s only a matter of time. I used a near-term example as one example.

    Chill, people. Take a breath.”

    Guy, i did watch the whole thing, am not contesting the fact that the current course leads to certain oblivion, and probably does so in a matter of a couple of decades or less, that industrial civilization is unsustainable, even in the short term, . I was talking strictly about the forecast of an economic collapse in 2015. I do not see any sort of a collapse that’s strictly speaking an economic one, i..e, something like a massive debt default leading to a global stoppage of economic activity. Any collapse would come as a result off physical factors. The-powers-that-be have many, many tools for deferring any actual economic collapse, including the rescheduling of debt payments, delaying them say 100 years, printing massive amounts of money and daring anyone to drop out of the game. I’ve been expecting an economic collapse for some 40 years and i’m getting tired of hearing that, that’s all. The powers however cannot defer the planet’s physical processes, they cannot print new critical raw materials to replace depleted and depleting ones, ….. That’s why the ecological and resources crises will doom the system, and do so sooner rather than later.

    _______________________________________

    Bud Nye Says:
    January 3rd, 2015 at 4:58 pm
    “Jeff S.,

    You wrote: “Thanks for illustrating the absurd extremes to which sociobiological determinism leads……..metaphysical nonsense.”

    “Sociobiological determinism”? Yes, I do point to this. (But certainly not to any kind of PREdeterminism, and this determinism, functioning in complex ways within a phase space around various attractors, has only limited predictability within limited boundaries, remaining largely unpredictable.) “Absurd extreme”? You may come to that conclusion, but I don’t, nor do many others.”

    Gobbledygook. Sociobiology could not have possibly predicted developments such as the formation of the institution of the state, or the advent of capitalism.

    “Again, please help me with this for I remain deeply confused by your reasoning:

    On one hand you strongly insist that “no, i do not base my analysis upon any mind-body duality or any such metaphysical nonsense”. Okay. Fine. You insist that you do NOT invoke any mentalistic states nor “metaphysical nonsense” (and “metaphysical” means “beyond”, “above”, or otherwise non-physical). Great! You make it clear that you do NOT invoke any alleged, non-physical processes. But then, on the other hand, you ALSO strongly DENY that our choices, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalistic economics, and so on, work as expressions or functions of the fundamental laws of nature: of physics, chemistry, biology, which I suggested. Among other examples, you wrote “This behavior is NOT the result of compulsion induced by the laws of physics, etc. but a CHOICE people make.”

    So, on one hand, you strongly insist that choice DOES lie in the physical realm based on natural, physical processes, and THEN you insist, just as strongly, that it does NOT. To me, your reasoning here begs this question: If choice, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalist economics, and so on do not work as functions of, or as expressions of either natural, physical laws (chemistry, physics, biology, and so on) NOR do they occur in any mentalistic or metaphysical way, WHAT process or processes DO you invoke to account for them? I remain completely lost and confused regarding this.”

    More gobbledygook. The question is not whether choice, volition, ethics,….. are the result of human actions which originate as thought processes within the biological/chemical/physical brains of human beings. It is whether the resultant decisions are in any way outcomes which are DICTATED BY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. Again, the need to urinate is DICTATED, no way around it. But what requires anyone (older than 5, let’s say) to hold it in till they get to a bathroom or at least bushes? Your contention that this decision is somehow an expression of natural laws is as absurd as things get. It’s not based upon any such law. Do you contend otherwise? If so, which law or laws? And i’m not talking about laws against public urination.:-)

    Similarly with rape. Most men do not rape. The act of rape is not an expression of any natural law. And please don’t even try to lay it down to a reproduction drive. Every credible study of rape has demonstrated that it is not an expression of sexuality but of POWER. This is why some men who are otherwise always heterosexual commit rape on other men in jail. Like Richard Pryor said in one of his classic routines, “They don’t do it because they like it, but because you don’t.” If you insist that rape is the result of natural laws, you would need to explain which ones, why it is that most men do NOT commit rape,…..

    And most certainly, capitalism is not a function of or an expression of natural laws. If you contend that it is, PROVE IT, show us how natural laws require humans to be organized by capitalist social relations, explain why capitalism has been fiercely resisted wherever it has been introduced,…..

    To summarize: Yes, every human action necessarily involves physical activity, even if it’s just the fingers which move, or the tongue, and is the result of chemical/biological/physical processes in the brain and elsewhere in the body. But to take that and contend that this means all human activity is therefore ordained by natural laws is ABSURD IN THE EXTREME. And this is even more true when it comes to human social institutions and social systems.

  • Guy,

    In an earlier comment of yours, I hoped that you’d address a point I made, as you asked for criticism, but, instead, you just poured on more insulting language. But to answer your question about Sam Carana, yes, I do have comments on some of his work and have tried to add them on both his blog and his Facebook page but they either don’t get published or they get removed. I already mentioned a problem with a graph you posted in the comments of one of the posts here, presumably as proof of something. You apparently chose to ignore that problem but many (not saying all) of his graphs are invalid (and I’ve heard Paul Beckwith mention one piece of imaginative mathematics as wrong). If he’d just address the criticisms instead of ignoring them then he might be able to explain what he’s done and/or correct them.

    As for your “Shakhova’s 50-gigatonne release of methane from the Arctic is only the beginning” remark, well that hasn’t happened yet, so the beginning is not yet here, but as I mentioned, Shakhova herself has stated that we don’t have data across time for the areas she’s studied because they don’t revisit the same areas on their trips. Consequently, although all hell may be breaking loose there, we can’t say anything with certainty, though, as measuring stations have not shown a significantly increased rate of increase of concentration of atmospheric methane in flasks, consistently and widely, then it doesn’t look like it’s started yet.

  • BTD,
    Yes, Sgt. Pepper’s may have been the Peak.
    From time to time I revisit Hunter Thompson’s “The Wave Speech” as a reminder of how quickly we decamped from that local summit and started sliding down our slippery slope toward Wile E. Coyote’s painted tunnel opening.
    Love your limericks.
    Please continue.

  • “Chill, people. Take a breath.”

    Considering the amount of bloviation here is that even possible?

  • Tony, are you still denying abrupt climate change is under way? Unfortunately for you and the patriarchs you worship, nature doesn’t negotiate. Exponential release of methane has been triggered. The beginning was more than two centuries ago.

  • The second episode of Edge of Extinction has been posted. It’s here.

  • Jeff S.,

    You wrote: “To summarize: Yes, every human action necessarily involves physical activity, even if it’s just the fingers which move, or the tongue, and is the result of chemical/biological/physical processes in the brain and elsewhere in the body. But to take that and contend that this means all human activity is therefore ordained by natural laws is ABSURD IN THE EXTREME. And this is even more true when it comes to human social institutions and social systems.”

    What do you mean with “ordained by” here? “Ordained” means something to the effect of 1. Fixed or established especially by order or command [by someone, or some entity, 2. Invested with ministerial or priestly functions [by someone, or some entity], as a verb to 1. Order by virtue of superior authority; decree, 2. Appoint to a clerical post, 3. Invest with ministerial or priestly authority, or to 4. Issue an order. Meanwhile, nothing I have written suggests any such “ordaining” process or processes by anyone or any “higher” thing or entity. Again, in your summary on one hand you write that “Yes, every human action necessarily involves physical activity…” then you contradict yourself by insisting on the opposite, writing: “But to take that and contend that this means all human activity is therefore ordained by natural laws is ABSURD IN THE EXTREME.”

    I do not see how my points and questions qualify as “gobbeldegook”. In reviewing my comments, as best I can tell I made well reasoned and formulated points and questions. If not, please point to specific errors in my writing or reasoning so that I can make needed corrections. I find “gobbeldegook” too vague for any usefulness.

    Nothing I wrote suggests that “…outcomes are DICTATED BY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS…”. (“Dictated”, like “ordained”, suggests some conscious entity making things happen in a predetermined way.) I WROTE “…our choices, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalistic economics, and so on, work as expressions or functions of the fundamental laws of nature: of physics, chemistry, biology.” And I stressed the LACK OF any “ordaining” or “dictating”; I emphasized the unpredictability and lack of any predetermination of the sociobiological determinism I described. It seems to me that our biology plus our learning history up to this moment in the context of our present environment produce our thinking, emotions, and the decisions we make. My learning history, my biology, and my present environment produce the thoughts I presently have, every keystroke I make, every sentence I construct, every feeling and emotion I have, AND I have conscious awareness of only a very tiny fraction of what goes on in my nervous system, perhaps one millionth. How can I “choose” something I have only the slightest and infrequent awareness of?

    So, again, on one hand you strongly insist that choice DOES lie in the physical realm based on natural, physical processes, and THEN you insist, just as strongly, that it does NOT. Again, your reasoning here begs the question: If choice, volition, ethics, social organization, capitalist economics, and so on do not work as functions of, or as expressions of either natural, physical laws (chemistry, physics, biology, and so on) NOR do they occur in any mentalistic or metaphysical way, WHAT process or processes DO you invoke to account for your thinking, feeling, choices, ethics and so on? I remain lost and confused regarding this, as I expect other people reading this probably do too.

  • Bud Nye:

    Your best linguistic games cannot hide the fact that you are obfuscating on the question i raised. So i will make it simple. There is the realm of unavoidable necessity, offering no choice whatsoever, with outcomes fully determined in advance by the laws of nature. There is no choice on the part of humans in regards to the need to take in nutrition, water and oxygen, and to expel waste products, be they liquid, solid (sort of) or gas. NONE. Those things just gotta be done, no ifs. It also includes factors such as the law of gravity and the effects of the climate system, geological processes and the like. Gravity cannot be ignored. Earthquakes cannot be cancelled. New oil resources cannot be printed on a computer. And then there is the realm of choice. Sure, these choices occur in the material world, and come about as a result of physical, chemical and biological processes occurring within and between human beings. But there are variations in the outcomes, sometimes only a little bit, sometimes a lot, yet none of these outcomes is written in stone the way say one needs to drink fluids as well as expel liquid wastes.

    This entire exchange arose from my comment about mortgage payments and the Mounties. Mortgage payments cannot remotely be said to be part of the realm of unavoidable necessity, in fact the very division of land into parcels of private property cannot be placed in that realm either, given how unusual such a division is in human history, as communal ownership of land has been by far the more the common pattern, surviving even in Europe till the late 19th Century. The Mounties likewise. Hence, mortgage payments, private property parcels to begin with and the Mounties cannot be said to be “facts of nature,” by which i meant facts of existence which are immutable through the ages, the realm of unavoidable necessity. like breathing in and out.

    Your attempts to make capitalism a fact of nature, as if our genes require the social relations of capital, or even the implied fallback notion that the social relations of capital exist as an attractor which humanity was pretty much destined to adopt, with little choice to do otherwise, will simply not succeed, no much how many clever phrases and turns of the tongue you try to employ.

  • Bud Nye,

    1. Taking NO action has effects on and in the world just as TAKING action does! EMPTY SPACES count just as much as, indeed, they largely DEFINE particles in nature! A figure cannot exist without a contrasting background, nor can a background exist without a contrasting figure.

    2. Humans DO NOT and CANNOT exist without “intervening in the world”.

    I think the objections you raise are the result of a grave error that Kirkland made in excluding the concept of “wu-wei” from his discussion, in favour of addressing “wei” alone. The key to what he’s trying to get at seems to lie in the concept of wu-wei, an idea that goes to the heart of (and even deeper than) his concept of non-action:

    “A key principle in realizing our oneness with the Tao is that of wu-wei, or “non-doing.” Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one’s environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Rather, it is the experience of going with the grain or swimming with the current. Our contemporary expression, “going with the flow,” is a direct expression of this fundamental Taoist principle, which in its most basic form refers to behavior occurring in response to the flow of the Tao.

    “The principle of wu-wei contains certain implications. Foremost among these is the need to consciously experience ourselves as part of the unity of life that is the Tao. Lao Tzu writes that we must be quiet and watchful, learning to listen to both our own inner voices and to the voices of our environment in a non-interfering, receptive manner. In this way we also learn to rely on more than just our intellect and logical mind to gather and assess information. We develop and trust our intuition as our direct connection to the Tao. We heed the intelligence of our whole body, not only our brain. And we learn through our own experience. All of this allows us to respond readily to the needs of the environment, which of course includes ourselves. And just as the Tao functions in a manner to promote harmony and balance, our own actions, performed in the spirit of wu-wei, produce the same result.”

    If one can understand the concept, should go a long way towards avoiding the negative reaction you had to the idea of non-action. The colonized Western mind is exceptionally resistant to the idea of non-action, and that resistance is difficult to dispel without an understanding of wu-wei. It goes without saying that most of us have no clue what it means.

    3. The alleged benign nature of Tao exists only as an arbitrary assumption that some people make. It makes just as much (arbitrary) sense to assume that the Tao has a negative, malevolent nature.

    Classical Taoism regards the Tao as beneficent. Fortunately, we are no longer in that historical period, so our interpretation of it can and must change to align with our current circumstances. I see Tao as being a lot like the Second Law of Thermodynamics in many ways, especially in that no human values like good, beneficial, bad or evil can be attached to it. Why would presumed universal forces like these need to be given human qualities? I think we are as justified in ignoring judgmental qualities when they are attached to the Tao as when they are attached to thermodynamics or gravity.

    4. In the near last paragraph he writes: “A person who practices sufficient restraint can achieve a state of tranquility that is qualitatively identical with that of the beneficent natural force called the Tao, a force that achieves its ends without taking action, benefitting all living things without involving itself actively with them, a force as imperceptible and insipid as the live-giving force of the natural substance called water. In ancient China, readers of these texts were taught to have faith in the imperceptible existence and inexhaustible potency of such powers, and to rely upon one’s cultivation of such powers to effect a positive transformation of all living things.” By introducing the problem of the ghost in the machine and suggesting that people can take action, after all, if done in the correct, ghostly way, this makes no sense to me. (How can a NON-physical ghost or other alleged entity or process have any effects in a PHYSICAL universe?)

    Again, we are different people of a different culture in a different era, so it’s hardly surprising that we would quibble with “ancient wisdom”. One question comes up in response to your final parenthetical comment – How can you be sure this is “really” a physical universe? I’m not saying it’s not, just that leaving that possibility open gives one a lot of philosophical maneuvering room. That can be a very good thing if one values exploration more than Truth…

    I have no quibble with your list of “elegant solutions”. I reserve for myself the right of sitting still if I wish. I find more truth in stillness than in bustle. But that’s just my view.