cordial below the belt blows — gotta love whiteyland
♪♪ mama don’t let ur daughters grow up to have babies ♪♪
Why Barbie Hates Math
10 yrs – no water for 4 billion
30 yrs – mass extinction starts
60 yrs – human agriculture ends
70 yrs – oxygen unbreathable
How can we have to grow more food in 50 yrs than in the last 500?
Because of something stupid as math.
We need 6 million hectares of new farmland per year.
We lose 12 million hectares of farmland per year.
This means earth has 60 years of agriculture left.
Because of something stupid as math
How can a 1% annual decline of plankton mean no plankton in 70 years?
We can breathe easy because plankton don’t do math.
“Out of Thin Air” by Peter Ward
“Ecocide” by Franz Broswimmer
“Extracted” by Ugo Bardi
“Green Illusions” by Ozzie Zehner
“The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert
Call of Life: Facing The Mass Extinction
Some, here, on this blog, would agree with this statement by Cecil Rhodes. And we wonder why we all life is faced with extinction.
In a document called the Confession of Faith, Cecil John Rhodes says:
“I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings, what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence; look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives. I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence….”
He goes on to say:
“Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?…Afrika is still lying ready for us; it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes: that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses…”
Cecil knew what we “should” do, & that was the easy part.
Then came the Boer War.
Cecil had “the calling,” & he had no trouble getting an “ought” from all that IS – British & Anglo Saxon.
Oh, and the brave British lads in the film, Zulu, giving the despicable
specimens a bit of Brit industrial firepower with some stiff upper lip for Gawd & King.
Cecil heard the voices of race, glory, & money.
We should expect the US fracking sector to be in rapid, terminal decline later this year, with commensurate job losses and bankruptcies.
We should not be surprised to see the economy of California keel over later this year, and we should not be surprised to see a mass exodus of humans from California.
We should expect major disruption to international finance later this year as frantic money-printing of fiat currencies fails to generate either ‘economic growth’ and causes even greater imbalances than already witnessed.
We should not be surprised if the Arctic Sea becomes [temporarily] ice-free in 2015. We should not be surprised if disruption of the thermal gradient and commensurate disruption of the northern jet stream results in even wilder fluctuations that have been witnessed in recent years.
We should expect the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere to exceed 405ppm this May, and later to decline to a new record-high minimum.
We should expect the release of methane from most natural sources to increase, and should not be surprised to find that abandoned fracking operations release additional methane.
We should expect the vast majority of bankers and corporate leaders to ignore everything that matters, and for bought-and-paid-for politicians (which is effectively all of them everywhere) to promote Ponzi schemes and faster destruction of all natural life-support systems.
We should expect the US to lose any war it might decide to instigate against Russia.
We should expect migration to places like New Zealand to turn into a stampede later this year.
We should expect the general economy of New Zealand to continue down the drain, with house construction based on borrowed money the last leg of the traditional economy left standing.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
E.L.F. EVOLUTIONARY LEAP FORWARD after humans and ten thousand years of extensive radiation. Earth will be planet TARDIGRADE. Cute to call them “Water Bears”. Known about them for ages….but it’s nice to think that since so few people care to even file one request to reduce the impending meltdowns at least the Tardigrades can survive 1000 times the radiation of regular bears & plants and fishy creatures.
Wikipedia has a list of 10 organizations seeking nuclear reductions.
This has nothing to do with saving anything now. Can’t be done. But there is still enough time left to contribute a small amount of your time to leave Earth more habitable for other species. Anything you do is appreciated. Thanks for your consideration.
Studies in Pessimism, by Arthur Schopenhauer
On the Sufferings of the World.
nless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim. It is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world, and originates in needs and necessities inseparable from life itself, as serving no purpose at all and the result of mere chance. Each separate misfortune, as it comes, seems, no doubt, to be something exceptional; but misfortune in general is the rule.
I know of no greater absurdity than that propounded by most systems of philosophy in declaring evil to be negative in its character. Evil is just what is positive; it makes its own existence felt. Leibnitz is particularly concerned to defend this absurdity; and he seeks to strengthen his position by using a palpable and paltry sophism.1 It is the good which is negative; in other words, happiness and satisfaction always imply some desire fulfilled, some state of pain brought to an end.
1 Translator’s Note, cf. Thèod, §153. — Leibnitz argued that evil is a negative quality — i.e., the absence of good; and that its active and seemingly positive character is an incidental and not an essential part of its nature. Cold, he said, is only the absence of the power of heat, and the active power of expansion in freezing water is an incidental and not an essential part of the nature of cold. The fact is, that the power of expansion in freezing water is really an increase of repulsion amongst its molecules; and Schopenhauer is quite right in calling the whole argument a sophism.]
This explains the fact that we generally find pleasure to be not nearly so pleasant as we expected, and pain very much more painful.
The pleasure in this world, it has been said, outweighs the pain; or, at any rate, there is an even balance between the two. If the reader wishes to see shortly whether this statement is true, let him compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other.
The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to every one. But what an awful fate this means for mankind as a whole!
We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of the evil Fate may have presently in store for us — sickness, poverty, mutilation, loss of sight or reason.
No little part of the torment of existence lies in this, that Time is continually pressing upon us, never letting us take breath, but always coming after us, like a taskmaster with a whip. If at any moment Time stays his hand, it is only when we are delivered over to the misery of boredom.
But misfortune has its uses; for, as our bodily frame would burst asunder if the pressure of the atmosphere was removed, so, if the lives of men were relieved of all need, hardship and adversity; if everything they took in hand were successful, they would be so swollen with arrogance that, though they might not burst, they would present the spectacle of unbridled folly — nay, they would go mad. And I may say, further, that a certain amount of care or pain or trouble is necessary for every man at all times. A ship without ballast is unstable and will not go straight.
Certain it is that work, worry, labor and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? what would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself than it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.
In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen. Could we foresee it, there are times when children might seem like innocent prisoners, condemned, not to death, but to life, and as yet all unconscious of what their sentence means. Nevertheless, every man desires to reach old age; in other words, a state of life of which it may be said: “It is bad to-day, and it will be worse to-morrow; and so on till the worst of all.”
If you try to imagine, as nearly as you can, what an amount of misery, pain and suffering of every kind the sun shines upon in its course, you will admit that it would be much better if, on the earth as little as on the moon, the sun were able to call forth the phenomena of life; and if, here as there, the surface were still in a crystalline state.
Guy, if you are going to present authoritarian academic monster, Paul Ehrlich, as a source of wisdom that we “should” listen to, I am going to continue attacking the arrogant bastard.
Until Ehrlich openly recants his vicious documented attacks on the hapless poor of the world, I will go after him for his mad dog population control solutions, in the name of science no less.
Professor Ehrlich gave careful science two giant black eyes.
Ehrlich was so full of himself that he cavalierly said we “should” sterilize the poor without their consent or knowledge.
Here is the population genius’s solution in his own words – from the final chapter of his 1968 opus, THE POPULATION BOMB.
“… compulsory birth regulation … (through) the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired family size.”
No shit, Professor?
In retrospect Professor, you don’t wake up shaking about what you said we “should” do?
Are you thankful now that you didn’t have the power to pull it off?
If you had sterilized me, would/ought I be justified in punching your fuggin lights out?
EHRLICH HAS NEVER APOLOGIZED FOR HIS MONUMENTALLY CRUEL ERROR.
Talk about should & ought?
Indeed, he still openly claims that he DID NOT MAKE A SINGLE MAJOR ERROR.
Journalist Dan Gardner has criticized Ehrlich both for his overconfident predictions and his refusal to acknowledge his errors.
“In two lengthy interviews, Ehrlich admitted making NOT A SINGLE MAJOR ERROR (emphasis mine) in the popular works he published in the late 1960s and early 1970s … the only flat-out mistake Ehrlich acknowledges is missing the destruction of the rain forests, which happens to be a point that supports and strengthens his world view—and is therefore, in cognitive dissonance terms, not a mistake at all.
Beyond that, he was by his account, off a little here and there, but only because the information he got from others was wrong. Basically, he was right across the board.”
Jonathan Last called it “one of the most spectacularly foolish books ever published”.
Jean Turcot (from previous thread): loved your response to Jonathan (whose post resonated with me as well).
Mike K: what a beautiful note of appreciation to Tom—-I share your sentiments and then some when you say; “Let’s be gentle with each other, we have all suffered enough from the rough handling our culture dishes out. And if we sometimes lash out in anger, try to be forgiving and understand we are deeply disappointed by what is being done to our world and all of us. We desperately want to be more loving to each other, but sometimes it is all just too much for us….”
And another song to add to the doomer playlist from the lovely, talented Anais Mitchell.
Music makes life better, more joyous—- even sad music:
This is an interesting article linked by Dave at DoTE:
“as I once again stared at the Keeling curve, a graph that has plotted the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1958. Its unrelenting climb baffled me. There is absolutely no evidence of a reversal in CO2 concentrations from existing regulatory programs, including the United Nations’ Kyoto process, the implementation of the European Trading System or the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in Northeast US states. Hence, there is no evidence of human intentionality in the primary record of the CO2 state on Earth.
“On the other hand, what if the Keeling curve is a record of human intentionality in the aggregate? In this frame, the evolution of atmospheric CO2 reflects the aggregate of human will: in the whole and in some sense, humans want CO2 to increase in the atmosphere. If that is the case, then we need to rethink how we approach how society can limit the rise of CO2 and the related changes throughout the Earth system.”
He’s so close.. now if he just got rid of the “human will” part…
There is a missing link between the dire possible finality of our present human situation, and the hope that is all is not lost. During the brief time that I have participated in this blog, a few months perhaps, I haven’t contributed much to its overall health, but if I were to say one thing about Guy McPherson, it is that he has been most gracious in his ability to tolerate criticism and accepted it as part and parcel of a higher discipline. Criticism is essential to debate and a most desirable trait for any blogger to develop. As such, if one’s blog is able to survive constructive criticism, then it will have a lot more support to rely on if and when the winds of change do come along.
Thanks for your comments. Jean
Lidia, when I went to your recommended article from “The Conversation,” I noticed that part of the author’s piece used the standard simple Keeling graph for the period ending Dec, 9, 2014 = 398.48 ppm CO2.
Since I had checked it earlier, I knew the Keeling CO2 totals for the period ending Apr. 6, 2014 = 404.35.
I couldn’t miss the glaringly ominous 5.87 ppm increase in CO2 in just 4 short months.
I think that the oceans have had enough & they ain’t gonna take it anymore.
It is more shocking with juxtaposed graphs & the accelerating numbers of our accelerating perdition, but they won’t post.
Lidia, Yes, Lewis Gilbert is very ‘close’. Kyotos will not work, but changes in the way we think can work. It’s not the CO2 that we need to concentrate on, but the modes of life that we live with. We need to understand why we need so much energy, and how we could possibly exists on the planet with much less. In the comments from the article, Mr. Luna suggests that we could easily accommodate 3 times as many people as are presently on Earth, a proposition to which I personally agree. But this is entirely another matter of debate … First things first, fix what ails us, and then move on, and we can. Hey! Just look at what the Star Trek crew were able to pull off.
Hey guys! Sao Paulo finally got some RAIN!!! WoooHoooo!
Hello Mr. McPherson,
I came to know of you through your interviews with Carolyn Baker and Andrew Harvey. I understood that you, as a “left brained” scientist, had undergone some sort of spiritual transformation and became more in tune with nature. You claimed that you went through a grieving process for the planet when you intuitively realized the peril she was in and that extinction was very near. I related to you in that I have also felt this intuitively, for several years now, and wanted to believe that you are genuinely connected to the vibration of life. What a great disappointment when I came to realize that you pretend to have no awareness of the ongoing climate geoengineering programs and spraying of the skies, after seeing your March 14 workshop in California, where you said, “I have no idea what a chemtrail is.” Evidently, you weren’t even curious to know. I have tried to comprehend why you would suppress the truth about geoengineering. Perhaps you are afraid for your life or ‘pension’ but if, as you say, there’s not much time left for humanity, why would you not risk either of those? There is no way that as a renowned scientist, or an “intuitive” spiritual being, you can deny these programs that are blatantly apparent even to the lamest people. You are insulting our intelligence and you are well calculated from what I can tell. At this point I have to question whose agenda you are serving. What a shame that people like you who could have a positive impact in the direction that humanity is evolving toward are instead stunting that process by supporting deception, which ultimately is undermining our chance for survival.
There is no doubt that there’s much more to life than what we know, to quote Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing.” Whether you acknowledge it or not, the Earth and humanity are evolving beyond third dimensional vibrations, how do I know this? Because, I AM the Earth and if you were really connected to your heart this would be a no ‘brain’er. There are people, who have been silent up until now, but we know what our mission is at this time on our planet and that is for our voices to be heard so that adversaries like you can be held accountable.
You preach about the death and destruction of the planet but you haven’t given any credit to its potential for rehabilitation, had the ‘powers that be’ not interfered with the Earth’s natural ability to shift into higher vibrations. There is evidence that a cancer riddled body can completely, miraculously rejuvenate even when doctors have given up hope. I would guide you to listen to Anita Moorjani, and there are plenty of other stories that are similar to hers. What hubris to tell us that, “We’re alone. The Universe doesn’t care about us as a species much less about us as individuals”. Obviously you have not experienced ONENESS or the vibration of LOVE. How narrow minded and disempowering of you to suggest that we surrender to our extinction, instead of advocating what positive actions as a species we can take to aid in the planets recovery, which would include the termination from the assault of geoengineering programs. We know that at this time the Earth is ascending as are we. As a scientist you should know that nothing is impossible. But when there are agendas that, through technologies such as geoengineering and HAARP, manipulate the resonance and frequencies of the Earth, these high jacking programs abort the evolutionary process.
HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOUR CONSCIENCE AND WHERE IS YOUR INTEGRITY? You ask, “How will you show up during Humanity’s Final Chapter?” How ironic! Have you asked yourself that question? Hearing you deny these programs, you are a transparent liar and deceiver who would appear is exploiting a tragedy. You can lie and deny all you want to the public, but I am sure that when you’re alone you know the truth and one day you will have to answer to yourself. Shame on you Mr. Mc‘Fear’son.
With great disappointment,
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
– Martin Luther King
Thanks, Jean Turcot. You’re not alone in your views.
A new report from Stanford on the drought situation in California says:
“Record-low snowpack: Bad news for California, say Stanford experts
The snowpack in California’s mountains is at the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term effects of the drought could be devastating.
Given the extremely low snowpack and the very high temperatures that we are seeing now, it’s very hard to come up with a plausible scenario in which California won’t be in a more severe drought situation at the end of the summer.”
shep, thanks for the Rhodes quotes. So many professionals think highly of the Rhodes Scholarships and flaunt them on their CVs but the story behind the man goes unmentioned. Mr. Rhodes, who named a country after himself (Rhodesia), was financed by none other than the Rothschild family.
Bob S., the mycelium article you linked to is interesting… the survival of the fittest theory is based on the idea of competition. I don’t understand how so much variety can exist in the creation around us if competition is the key principle and any cooperation exists only to help a team compete more effectively with a rival. Competition reduces variety. Two become one when there’s a winner and a loser since losing usually means death or extinction for a species. Cooperation, on the other hand does result in a vast array of diverse species and any competition exists to serve the key ethos of cooperation in such a scenario, as a check and balance. Detractors of this line of thinking might say one who prefers cooperation over competition as the organizing principle in nature does so only because “it feels good” but has nothing to do with reality. But reality, as shown on National Geographic, is largely artificial these days and scarcely serves as evidence of how creation has unfolded over Billions of years. We live in anomalous times, exceptional times, and we need mycelium to give us a reality check!
Also, I hold a view similar to yours: “Because I just can’t seem to view the advance of civilization as *progress*. I don’t view modern times as our **high point** – but just the opposite.”
Our high point was in the past. We have devolved. Years ago, I thought I’d make a web site critiquing the story of progress. I went looking for a domain name and was surprised to find antiprogress.com wasn’t taken yet. I bought the domain but never made any progress on the site itself :)
Jean, I liked your comments in your conversation with Lidia. Especially, “There are three words which I feel can fit into this exchange, i.e., fault, blame and responsibility. All of them overlap each other and there are no black and white answers, a condition by the way which I feel is the essence of life itself.” and “I think instincts trump rationality.”
mike k., you’re so good at articulating the subtle. Thanks for saying this: “Let’s be gentle with each other, we have all suffered enough from the rough handling our culture dishes out. And if we sometimes lash out in anger, try to be forgiving and understand we are deeply disappointed by what is being done to our world and all of us.”
You explain it well with “accessing the depths and heights not available to the usual operations of the mind. To those having no direct experience of these layers of reality, talk of them seems only nonsense (it is beyond the senses) or delusion (to those captivated by the illusion that their present worldview is the only reality, anything outside of their understanding is considered to have no existence.)”
I think many of the debates and arguments in this space speak to this gap between how each of us perceive the nature of reality. Some see the physical reality and some see a reality beyond the physical. Some of the latter see a distinction between the physical and the non-physical and some don’t. As Sabine says, “Thinking yourself into other beings….. is actually a very serious pursuit.”
“Einstein was a visionary and by the way, he had hated his school days. Maybe the two are related somehow?”
I think the two are definitely related. School is meant to produce disciplined minds, young minds that will go on to serve the status quo. I find some of my friends rather vehemently defend hierarchy and its “usefulness”, and “inevitability”. It takes a dozen years to mold such minds. When Zuckerberg found out what college was about, he dropped out and started his own company but he sure does make it a point to hire college-educated people because he needs disciplined minds and not questioning minds. Many other examples abound, all of who dropped out of school or college: Gates, Ellison, Dell, etc. and all of who built organizations staffed with college-educated minds. So much for education!
jay and Pauline, interesting conversation about ways to go… just heard of this story about dying with dignity.
david higham, I just checked out your comment on the COIC site. I read Clive Hamilton’s ‘Requiem for a species’ a couple of years ago. His subsequent book, “Earthmasters” was a good one too, wherein he talks about, among other things, the main players in the geo-engineering shenanigans.
In your comment, you said, “I don’t approach the debate about hunter-gather societies versus industrial civilisation in terms of whether they were ‘noble savages’ but about which system could have long-term sustainability.” Daniel Quinn also makes the point to stress this criterion and how the modern man and the ancient man differ not in their “innate goodness”, but in terms of how they relate to the creation around them, with the modern man taking to totalitarian agriculture a.k.a. “kill off any species that comes between me and my food”. My current understanding is that the ancient man was an expert listener. He understood what his environs were telling him and he chose not to trespass. Modern man doesn’t listen. I don’t want to say he can’t but he doesn’t.
There’s no such thing as “innate” because no man is an island. If the noble savage was noble, it was because he treated the creation around him with respect. The Native American spent an hour just to gain a few feet on the deer he was stalking with his bow and arrow, just so he could hit the right spot and cause the least amount of pain. Then he said a prayer and thanked the deer for sustaining his tribe. Was killing a deer noble? Can’t help it. Life comes from life. Was doing it right noble? I think so. This, on the other hand, doesn’t look noble to me – Samsara (food sequence)
Yes,’Earthmasters’ is excellent.I haven’t read Daniel Quinn,but might
if time allows.
I don’t know where to start with people who think it is possible to support 20 billion people on Earth.The recently released ‘Overdevelopment,Overpoulation,Overshoot’ looks as if it should be on the reading list for them.I haven’t seen it as yet,but a couple of sites had excerpts from it,and I think it was Lidia posted a link to some photos from it.Another good one is ‘The population Bomb’ by Paul Ehrlich.I think I remember Gerald Spezio recommending it.
Ehrlich was pretty fucking right
we lost 50% of sperm counts anyhow
Is this “holy week,” the one with Judas playing a role?
What a metaphor.
The Earth is our n*****, our slave in that ideology (Symbolic Racism: A Look At The Science – 9).
““Choosing” a story, like “choosing” a religion, assumes you know this to be a choice, and that it thus is unlikely to be “the” truth. The truth is not a matter of choice—it is a matter of what *is*. You can choose what you think is a truth, from a variety of truths, but as long as you make it a conscious choice it obviously cannot be “the” truth.. rather just another story you *choose* to tell yourself.”
I don’t know how you arrive at “the” truth. To me, there is no such thing as “the truth”. When people speak of “the truth”, it’s usually supposed to be the highest common denominator of a bunch of different truths, but such a reduced set is hardly the truth. Isn’t that why we talk about physical reality as the only truth? Because we can all agree on it? More or less, anyway? Everything else is subjective, metaphysical, paranormal, story, myth, anything but “the truth”! But green is green, especially when you mention the specific frequency that the exact shade of green you have in mind occupies on the Electromagnetic spectrum. We can deal with that. We can all agree there. But it is only a part of the experience we call life.
The third grader knows of negative numbers. The fifth grader knows of fractions as well. And the seventh grader has just learned of complex numbers. How does the seventh grader talk to a fifth grader about complex numbers without confusing him? What does he do when the third grader continues to insist that there is no such thing as an imaginary number? It’s all in the imagination of the seventh grader, who knows what he is up to. His devilish mind running amok.
It’s a lost cause. The seventh grader must wait for his younger brothers to learn of fractions and complex numbers and they will do that when the time is right. He must wait, even as he learns of other kinds of numbers himself and moves onto calculus. There’s no end to it. Explorations will continue as long as explorers exist. Of course, it’s never a done deal. People forget what they learn and it’s back to fractions. We settle where we are comfortable. Sometimes we feel there’s much more to life than physical reality but it is physical reality that most feels at home and we return to it as the head returns to the pillow every night.
You surely had a glimpse of something beyond it at one time or another. You might dismiss it as a mental illusion but I submit it’s not. But then, that’s just a story! As everything is. You’ve decided, consciously or subconsciously, that physical reality is all there is to it. Or, as you say, you realized it, it’s an imperative, not a choice.
“I admit to still having the sensation of having agency in relatively trivial things, but whenever I examine those choices, I find they are ones which lead inexorably in a direction opposite that in which I thought I was going. You yourself said (I can’t find the quote) that you know how you should be living, but you are not living it. Well, that is the zone that intrigues me: the slip betwixt the cup and the lip.”
Exactly… that’s all I mean by agency, a small something. It’s not the power to bend the spoon with my gaze, but to make the choice to sit at this computer at 3 in the morning responding to you. Agency is not a 0 or 1 but a 0.1, or 0.001. (I communicate with you in this language because you said Q.E.D. and I haven’t seen Q.E.D. in a long while, not since Engineering Math 101 so I know you will grok this :))
My agency has been heavily influenced by my parents’ choices. If my dad hadn’t moved from the village to the city, I would have had a whole different set of choices to choose from, when it comes to relating to nature. I can choose to not drive tomorrow, using my agency, but I can’t choose to stop the traffic jam on the freeway nearby. My agency is limited, I’m no superman. But I do have some agency. Whether it’s trivial or not depends on the context. But trivial doesn’t mean non-existent and my next step, the next word I type is certainly not determined by a Physics formula based on a thermodynamic law related to energy gradients. There, I just wasted some energy on purpose, to make it more dramatic. Hardly an efficient way to live. But I choose to.
“Why does this happen? Why do people who “know better” continue to procreate (Suzuki, Klein, Hedges, Eisenstein, Orlov..)? They cannot help it, obviously! Unconscious mechanisms are at work.”
I agree with you… unconscious mechanisms are indeed at work. I think they procreate because they like to have kids of their own. We put them on a pedestal and expect them to behave in a heroic manner. But they are mortals like anyone else. Maybe they don’t want to procreate but their spouses do and they like their spouses enough to accede to their requests, or give in to their demands. That sort of thing happens all the time.
I remember one time when Eisenstein was speaking to a group, he told a story when someone at one of his previous speeches asked him angrily why he chooses to fly all over the world despite knowing what’s going on with emissions and climate change. He said he could come up with any number of reasons to justify his flying: his talks and YouTube videos of them inspire many people at once to cut down on flying so his flight is a net positive, etc. but he admitted that the real reason he flies is because he likes speaking. I think that’s what many of us do… we do things we like and then come up with stories that justify what we do. We rationalize.
“You write about driving and using your cell phone.. why do you do those things? You excuse them to yourself in some fashion. Oh, you’re going to think about the little kid in the rare-earth mine while you talk to.. whom? why? See, where I am interested in delving is the disconnect between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’. You can yack and yack about the wonder of this or that.. this all stays in your head. What are you doing *materially*??”
Agency is about being able to do something but what one ultimately does is determined by our circumstances and culture. Our impact is circumscribed and limited. If we’re looking for answers to why we are going extinct, we should look at our larger culture. The African word “Ubuntu” roughly translates to, “I am who I am because of who we all are”. Many of the things people do are things their peers do. And everyone is influenced by the movies, books, media, teachers, leaders, and a dozen other cultural factors. Neither us nor the people we make heroes out of act like “individuals”. Despite what culture tells us. Why don’t more people buy more small cars? Because they are afraid of the big SUVs… it’s a question of safety on the road, one that’s shared with SUVs. Why don’t I give up my cell phone? Because I need it in the present day and age, no pay phones anymore, no one stops to give me a lift if my car stalls on the freeway, and people expect to reach me anytime. I am who I am because of who we all are. I’d much rather live in a village surrounded by my people so I don’t have to drive anywhere. Do you see why I like the way the ancients lived?
“I’m confused. Your ancestors had a choice, but you didn’t, or don’t? Where is it that *you* chose this incarnation?”
Don’t we say humans could have turned this thing around 40 years ago? Or better yet, 200 years ago? Our ancestors had a choice then that we don’t do now, in terms of climate change or living arrangements. We’re born into captivity, as Guy says. But then again, this is not to find fault with our ancestors. The seed of sociopathy had long overwhelmed them. Their culture was quite compromised even then, 200 years ago. It’s a long story.
“I don’t ascribe to “Scientism”, which I take to be the belief that Science will “solve our problems” or “save the day”… that the more we know the more improved our society will be… all that jazz. That’s why I walked away from school: too much Scientism, not enough Science.”
I guess that’s a definition of Scientism but more precisely it’s a misapplication of Science to areas where it doesn’t apply. Like when we say what happens in the world is determined by a law of Physics.
“Scientism is belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.”
“I probably mentioned this, but an Indian woman speaking at the “De-Growth” conference said that cutbacks in emissions must not threaten her countrymen’s MOBILITY.”
You did mention it. And I quipped, “perhaps she meant socio-economic or social mobility rather than a heartfelt desire to ride around town in an auto-rickshaw.” We don’t know what she really meant. Either way, the developing world is eager to upgrade their standard of living. It’s quite unfortunate. It’s a race to the bottom.
“Another young woman I know decided to go on a cross-country trip (fuelled by bio-fuel, so it was “green”!) to interview people on the topic of “Convenient Resilience” (not a joke!). Others feel compelled to put up websites, or tweet, or make films.. oh god they all want to make films!! Never is the choice to stay at home and do nothing, which would be the least energy-consuming of all.”
Well said. Totally agree with you. But instead of saying they do things automatically or subconsciously, I say, they do things because they like doing them, because their friends are doing it, (“where are my people”) even though they all KNOW very well it’s bad for the planet. Many times, we do things out of fear. Giving up the phone makes us feel less safe. With all the doing, some of us carry guilt and some rationalize it away. But there is agency everywhere, even if a tiny bit. It’s not formulaic. This is why I said to you on my blog: you and I make the same observations but interpret them differently. This is a good example. Your interpretation is a bit mechanistic and Scientistic and in a way, simplistic, reduced to a physical Science theory. I find things to be a lot more “mesh-like” without a straight cause-effect relationship to describe them. There are feedback loops, chicken-and-egg problems, Yin and Yang situations, and other things I am yet to discover.
“What’s going on here is that any sort of intelligent “agency” would have foreseen this condition and worked to avoid it. Since it did not, then there is no such agency.”
Why do you think agency should be able to foresee the future? Agency works in the moment, in relation to the present circumstances. If such circumstances are corrupt (as in our corrupt culture today, separated from Land and its constraints), what we do with our agency is likely to be wayward and result in a destructive action.
“You say the earth is out of balance because “one’s agency trampled another’s”. I would say it is because populations outstripped their local resource base and went out in search of new ground.”
I think we’re saying the same thing in two different ways… yours is more on the material plane and mine is somewhat removed and abstract.
“Are you saying there were no diseases, no predatory or parasitic organisms, back in the mystical golden time of which you speak?”
There were plenty. But we dealt with them differently than we do today. Antibiotic is anti-life. We kill off a lot of the good bacteria today along with a few bad ones when we put an antibiotic medication in our body. Modern treatments of cancer are cut, burn, poison, all forceful and painful, and seldom work over the long term. We don’t view disease as an imbalance, instead, we try to make the symptoms go away without addressing the imbalance. The ancients listened carefully to what the parasites are telling them. They used natural methods which work over the long term to bring back balance. Cures often started before the problem became serious. One of the best cures for gum inflammation is a clove placed over it overnight. Contrast that with an whole-body anti-inflammatory med with side-effects.
“And again, you discount the “wants” of other critters. Mosquitos and malaria and parasites and pneumonia bugs “want” to express themselves, too. They are energetic beings as well. :-)”
Of course, they are very much energetic beings. You thought I’d disagree with that? They sure want to express themselves. They are not to be exterminated. They are guides. They are our friends. They tell us when things are out of order. The creation around us speaks to us in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it’s through a mosquito bite (make sure there’s no stagnant water around, in other words, clean up and live in hygiene) and sometimes it’s through an earthquake. It’s up to us to be attentive and listen constantly. Hence the need to be present and alive to the current moment. The whole thing about “living in the moment” is not about some spirituality that’s removed from our day-to-day physical reality. It has everything to do with our practical well-being. We live in the moment so we don’t miss nature telling us something in its own language. Plus it’s a joyful way to live, but that’s another story. Creation is subtle. Generally, a lot subtler than a mosquito bite and mostly much subtler than an earthquake. What does an earthquake have to teach us? A whole lot.
The 1906 earthquake and the ensuing fire burnt down the city of San Francisco. Do you not think some of us went, “maybe we’re not supposed to have a city here”? Some people call it an omen but it’s the Earth communicating with us in no uncertain terms that it doesn’t like cities. It doesn’t like crowding and it doesn’t like tall cement and metal structures. Earthquakes and floods, hurricanes and tsunamis, and other such things that the Earth throws at us are warnings to humanity. They have been so for a long time. We didn’t listen. We went right ahead and re-built San Francisco, now with earthquake-resistant buildings. I am a Civil Engineer by training and they didn’t tell me any of this, except how to master nature’s forces… why are we surprised we are going extinct? Our educational institutions don’t exist to truly educate us about the nature of life and of creation, but to subvert, circumvent, overcome and possess it. We haven’t been listening! What do we expect? The Earth speaks to us in English?
I consider the invention of language as one of the developments that led to an alienation from creation. Language may bind us humans together and bring us closer in some ways but it separates us from the creation around us. We are less adept at listening to creation and all its other beings, its other children, our brothers and sisters. And sooner or later, we forget that creation even talks to us. If the earth were to talk to us, how would it talk, other than by shaking us up in an earthquake and waking us up from our slumber in the middle of the night? This is what I get when I try to empathize with Mother Earth. “Look children, something is wrong with your buildings. They’re not supposed to be there. Live in small shacks that stay put. Sleep under the tree” There’s no metaphysics here. It’s straight up common sense. And the willingness to see all of creation as alive and conscious and wanting to connect with us. A bold thing to bring up in a space like this, as mike k. discerned. I do it at the risk of sounding crazy.
Civilizations have come and gone. People have tried agriculture and gone back to hunting and gathering. Humans have time and again strayed from their connected selves and returned to connection. Anthropologists make up theories about how and why this might have happened. The simple common-sense story is they went back to their ways because they realized what they tried wasn’t working. They were listening. We didn’t try to overcome nature for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with trying but we need to be attentive to the signals we receive. This is pure Science. Empiricism at its best.
“I think you believe that people can be different from how they are. You need to believe that story. I don’t need to believe that, nor do I need to believe the opposite. I am starting from what is observable: what is it that people do, what is it that they have always done (perhaps barring some exceptions). What is the real trend? What are the drivers?
I would love to believe in your story: it’s a much nicer story. It makes people feel happy. But it just flies in the face of everything I actually see. I just don’t have the capacity, perhaps, to “fly into the stars” and pluck out an answer to my liking that is contrary to the evidence.”
Look, Lidia, I think we are making mostly the same observations. As far as the present moment is concerned, you and I see many of the same things: the apparent hypocrisy of the globe-trotting carbon-wrangler, the hero-activist with 4 kids, you and me with cell phones and cars, the inadequacy of our personal struggles as we attempt to buck the trend, the scams, the deceit, the propaganda, the coming pain and suffering, the breakdown of communication, the misunderstanding, and the lack of a clear epistemology. Given all that, we try to make sense of what it all means. And we subconsciously look for stories that will explain what we see. Sometimes, we are more conscious of this search for an explanation than at other times but either way, our stories come mostly from the dominant culture. There are libraries full of books that purport to explain one piece of the puzzle or another and some that will claim to explain it all. Ultimately, they are all stories. Including Science, as long as it pretends to be capable of explaining our condition, stepping out of its traditional role of explaining falling apples and pulleys and gears. It’s up to us to be aware of where our stories come from. I posit that many of them come from the same sick culture that has seeped into our pores. From the point of view of the rest of creation, are we anything but illiterates? What else would the 200 species going extinct today call us, for missing their signals and ignoring their language? We can’t read the creation around us. We are illiterate.
This is hardly a nicer story than yours. How does it make us feel happy to realize this? To say it’s deterministic sounds so much nicer to me. We’re excused. A formula to the rescue.
I think we’re waking up to this idea… our troubles come from our not being able to listen. Our arguments come from our not being able to listen to each other. I’m in this all the way… guilty as charged. I’m growing so much from our conversations here and on my blog. Thank you for that!
And thanks for reading!
“Another good one is ‘The population Bomb’ by Paul Ehrlich.I think I remember Gerald Spezio recommending it.”
You’re hilarious, David ;)
Gentlepersons; I attacked Ehrlich, the supreme Pontiff of population studies, for his Popish arrogance & his Popish logical deductions, not his lack of intellect.
Ehrlich’s logic was impeccable – his premise, however, was a disaster & has been proven a disaster. This is what science is all about.
I would recommend his 1968 “Bomb” as a learning experience – because it illustrates how a good scientist can fall in love with his theory & make a fool of himself.
And then arrogantly refuse to admit it.
My piece above is all about how he has obstinately refused to acknowledge his vicious attacks on the third world poor.
I have paid attention to Ehrlich for almost 50 years.
His basic theory about the causal chains leading to planetary destruction have been PROVEN false, but he won’t let go.
It was NOT the poor of the world who caused the greenhouse effect & our increasingly obvious ignominious exit.
It was the smiling rich bastards having one hell of a time in industrialized countries; like Paul, & me, & you; who polluted the atmospheric commons with TONS of CO2.
And some of us are still doing it – as we fly around for fun & titillation.
I posted this here just last Feb.
Bayesian updates from the real world have proven Ehrlich WORSE THAN WRONG.
LET’S NOT FORGET – HE ADVOCATED STERILIZING PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE.
I ranted that above & some comments say that I recommended his book?
Again. read his book to learn how wrong we can go with the best intentions – the road to hell.
During the 1970s a heated and knock-down-drag- out dispute between two very reputable high profile environmentalist/ scientists, Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich, was widely publicized.
Arguing about the primary variables in the causal chains of environmental degradation and ecosystem destruction; Commoner and Ehrlich took dramatically different positions.
Ehrlich contended that the total number of humans on the planet was the crux of the problem. Ehrlich held that the rapidly increasing “world population” was over consuming resources & creating massive pollution that would necessarily lead to the collapse of ecosystems & individual nation-states.
Commoner claimed that it was a “small percentage” of the human population in the so-called wealthy industrialized countries who were consuming resources at an unbridled rate with accompanying massive pollution that would cause destruction of ecosystems and nation states.
Ehrlich’s total world population versus Commoner’s much smaller but more specific population – was the heart of the debate.
Both sides argued that subsequent planetary collapse could eventually result.
Indeed, planetary scale pollution as evidenced by present global atmospheric pollution by CO2 production from burning fossil fuels was essentially absent from both the scientific radar screen and public awareness – only forty plus years ago.
As an exception, Robert Heilbroner writing the fourth updated version of his classic work, THE WORLDLY PHILOSPHERS published in 1976 mentioned the possible seriousness of the theorized Greenhouse Effect from CO2 production – but only as a conjectural hypothesis.
But Heilbroner openly stated in his 1976 edition; “… it is clear that UNCONTROLLED ECONOMIC GROWTH is as hazardous for the developed world as uncontrolled population growth is for the undeveloped world.”
I spent much intellectual energy during the last forty years debating this critical controversy – always as an advocate of Commoner’s “small percentage” position.
Accepting the scientific premise of human caused global heating from CO2 as waste production in the atmosphere produced from the burning of fossil fuels – the entire argument between Ehrlich and Commoner has been scientifically answered without qualification.
Doing science means trying to get IT right based on what our “scientific elders” have given us, flawed though it may be.
Tell the truth & somebody might love you for it.
Paul Russell says; “Because nothing matters, everything matters that much more.”
Escaping from IndCiv: Anyone remember Polyphemus?
Predicament, desperation, cleverness, release, hubris, a narrow escape — all the makings of… hey, Hollywood!
This guy is a fucking laugh. I got this from goat-boy over at Commie Dreams. I think tree-girl would love this.
Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Jay Hanson’s dieoff dot com’s synopsis, available free online both as html and pdf is a good starting point, as is another treasure trove of free stuff at P aul Chefurka’s Approaching Limits.
Not to be overlooked is the book, Overshoot, by William S. Catton.
The only colour present on this planet, incandescence, phosphorescence and bioluminescence excepted, is black. It is only by light, such as current sunlight, bygone buried sunshine recently extracted, and/or releasing a bit of the energy sequestered by squeezing together atomic nuclei at the cores of former supernovae, that colours are revealed. Likewise the Void, Sunyata, or the Boundless Void, Ain Sof, that is the substratum of Consciousness absent an object.
Green is green only in the presence of the green component of light. In the absence of light, there is no such thing as green.
There is no such thing as physical reality outside of consciousness.
Agency, the sense of doership (kartritva), is dependent upon the sense of reality of the “I”. And the latter comes from conflating consciousness with the thought “I” or more specifically with the concatenation of thoughts that are the “I maker” (ahankara). All of these are insentient, parts of the meat robot, revealed by consciousness. It is not that the “I” does not exist: it is as real as a mirage in a desert, and it “holds” as much “water” as does the mirage.
Guy McPherson & Charles Einstein featured in top story on http://www.desdemonadespair.net
Your position re: overpopulation is understood. You may however want to ponder on why some of us subscribe to the idea that Paul Ehrlich’s ‘The population Bomb’ should be viewed with a little skepticism.
Ehrlich for instance predicted that there would be mass starvation in the early 80s, a condition which in actuality did not materialize. Perhaps the most telling flaws in Ehrlich’s premises is that he still has not recanted on any of his predictions, which were mostly speculative and, obviously, replete with errors at best, and extremely prejudiced in favor of his book at worst, Gerard Spezio notwithstanding.
Ehrlich, instead of offering data in support of his assessment of our human population ‘bomb’, completely fails to convince astute readers that his ideas were much more speculative than not. In fact, anyone who still quotes Ehrlich as a God-Father of the overpopulation concept is asleep at the wheel.
As an example, Ehrlich does not, at any time in his book, point out the fact that it is not overpopulation that is the problem for our species, but what that population is obliged to do in order to stay alive. For instance, if for argument’s sake we could do a Houdini Act and instantly cause the disappearance of half the human population, nothing would change in terms of the problems we have caused if the richest half continued to exist. If only the poorest half remained however, all planes would cease to exist, as would 500 million automobiles, as well as the rest of the paraphernalia that we have managed to deem as necessary for our pleasures. As well, roughly 99% of greenhouse gas emissions would also come to a halt.
And so if we must rid ourselves of, say, 50% of humanity, it would be appropriate to acknowledge which half should do the Houdini trick. Time has proven that Ehrlich was grossly mistaken, maybe even naïve. There is no doubt that no human beings would be much less toxic to the planet than 7 billion of us and counting. But in reality which is more dangerous….. one military general who is having a really bad day at a launching pad of an ICBM loaded with nuclear missiles, or 3 billion of the poorest humans who live on about a dollar a day, with no cars, or amenities which are ruining planet Earth.
As you may acknowledge, it’s not our number that is the problem, but the way we think.
In conclusion there are hundreds if not thousands of species which consume more energy than we do. And yet are absolutely inoffensive in the greater scheme of things. We can do likewise.
>In conclusion there are hundreds if not thousands of species which consume more energy than we do. And yet are absolutely inoffensive in the greater scheme of things. We can do likewise.<
Citations, please? Or is this another subject on which you feel that you are entitled to assert opinions without in the least backing them up? Just like the notion that planes and automobiles are responsible for "99% of greenhouse gas emissions." Humans are now on the verge of taking up over 50% of the planet's energy inputs. This entire notion that the planet can support three times its present population, meaning 3 time the present 7+ billion, is beyond preposterous, not only in rems of energy but water, soil,,…. That this is even being raised in this forum, where people should know better, is yet another sign that the discussion here has totally strayed from any solid science and has been taken over by brainless chatter machines.
Ehrlich was wrong? Only because industrial "civilization" has been able to use ever larger outputs of energy to stave off the inevitable. But what do facts mean to someone who makes all facts be simply opinions.
It appears Non-denial is becoming an official position even if only about 40 years too late, and even under the Stephen Harper government apparently. Maybe because the tar sands operations are likely losing money these days.
Webcast later today:
R.C., Jeremy Narby captivated me.
I hung on his every word, concept, & nuance.
He is an intellectual delight.
I consider the short 26 minutes I spent listening him to be as stimulating as any scientific adventure of my life.
And I have been battling passionately against Carlos Castenada’s shamanism hokum for many years.
I just wrote a jocular put-down of famous Paiute shaman Wovoka a few days ago on this blog.
I don’t know when he spoke at this Bioneers, but the man is now 56 years old. He looks & acts like a vibrant 25 year old.
He proves that scientists can be funny, handsome, & intelligent.
He is clearly a wonderful anti-establishment prevert.
Much more later, but one caveat – keep in mind what happened to physicist Fred Allen Wolfe’s brains when he indulged in ayahuasca.
Here is site with some pithy quotes from his work.
“Ehrlich for instance predicted that there would be mass starvation in the early 80s, a condition which in actuality did not materialize.”
Because in 1968, the year Erlich wrote his book, the “Green Revolution” of aggressive chem-ag-tech was only getting started, doubling and tripling yields of some key crops like rice. Of course, avoiding famine in the near-term only leads to increased population and bigger famines in the long term.
Maybe this is a relative of Robin’s:
In 1968, Indian agronomist S.K. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions. This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice. … In the 1960s, rice yields in India were about two tons per hectare; by the mid-1990s, they had risen to six tons per hectare. In the 1970s, rice cost about $550 a ton; in 2001, it cost under $200 a ton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution
It is getting very ‘interesting’.
Will California exist in its present form at the end of 2015? At this point there is no evidence it will. Will the USA exist in its present form at the end of 2015? At this point there is no evidence it will:
This week saw warmer than normal temperatures impacting roughly two-thirds of the nation. A significant storm brought abundant rain to the Ohio Valley and severe weather through that region and the Central Plains. The storm brought tornados, hail, and strong winds to over 15 states. Most of the rest of the country experienced continued dryness. Strong winds and warmer than average temperatures added short-term insult to the long-term drought impacting the Southern Plains.
Yes of course the progress of agricultural progress derailed much of Ehrlich’s predictions, but that is the realm of our nature. We adapt and find solutions to the problems we create, in most instances anyway. That’s the point, all his predictions were speculative and based on data that is forever changeable.
Ehrlich did not differentiate between those of us who consume enormous amounts of energy, as in the West, and those who barely subsist. This seems like a serious omission and deserves mention. As such, billions of individuals who live on fumes and those who live flying in Jumbo jets will have an enormous influence on just how many of us can do what we do, and those of us who just eke out a living on the planet. So, again, the most important factor is not overpopulation, but which individuals are involved in that census.
Religion is a successful technology that increases the number of its users.
Scribbler just put up an excellent detailed piece about PDO, el Nino, & possible consequences.
Jean, mais oui, “Ehrlich did not differentiate between those of us who consume enormous amounts of energy, as in the West, and those who barely subsist. This seems like a serious omission and deserves mention.”
Ehrlich hoisted himself on his beloved petard/premise by forgetting to quantify & differentiate between how much & by whom.
Ehrlich’s expressed personal fear was that the rapidly reproducing but ever so humble poor would sink the comfortable lives of the rich, like the well paid Pope of population studies himself.
He never considered that the continually expanding consumption of the rich, especially their obsession & largesse with compound interest growth would kill the planet itself.
Professor Larry Summers & our all powerful FED are still preaching the same unbridled growth & continual expansion “line.”
It’s not at all esoteric – How can the banker get three times more than what he loaned?
Ironically, it turned out exactly the opposite – the rich are knocking off the poorEST with complete abandon, as in Bangladesh.
Jean Turcot Says:
April 9th, 2015 at 11:18 am
Yes of course the progress of agricultural progress derailed much of Ehrlich’s predictions, but that is the realm of our nature. We adapt and find solutions to the problems we create, in most instances anyway. That’s the point, all his predictions were speculative and based on data that is forever changeable.
Ehrlich did not differentiate between those of us who consume enormous amounts of energy, as in the West, and those who barely subsist. This seems like a serious omission and deserves mention. As such, billions of individuals who live on fumes and those who live flying in Jumbo jets will have an enormous influence on just how many of us can do what we do, and those of us who just eke out a living on the planet. So, again, the most important factor is not overpopulation, but which individuals are involved in that census.<
Totally agree with Lidia. You present the "green revolution" as if it wasn't a one time wonder enabled by MASSIVE EXPENDITURES OF ENERGY and of FOSSIL FUELS. Your line of "reasoning" is baed upon the same dip shit notion that humans can somehow figure out a techno-fix no matter what because they've done so up to now. You have obviously read NOTHING of the massive amount of information posted by Guy McPherson at this very site or referred to by him and numerous posters here, including http://energyskpetic.com . You are about as big a know-nothing as ever has seen fit to post in this forum. But then, know-nothing is becoming routine here.
If you exercise regularly (at least stay active)and try to eat healthy, you might feel better and lose weight. Who’da thunk it! Yeah, turns out sitting on the couch eating candy—-not so good.Hope I’ve helped. May your corpse be fit.
What Jean Turcot does not seem to understand is that billions of people who are currently at the barely-alive point are only alive at all because the food they eat is generated and transported to them by industrial agricultural production-distribution system.
The industrial agricultural system has been very short-term aberration in the grand scheme of things which has been predicated totally unsustainable consumption of enormous amounts of rapidly-depleting fossil fuels, the destruction of soils via the use of heavy machinery and chemicals, the clearing of ancient forests and jungles and the sucking dry of aquifers, the application of enormous quantities of phosphate-rock-based fertilisers etc.
Egypt is a classic case of a country full of ‘peasants’ which is dependent o the importation of vast quantities of food grown elsewhere in the world; not only is Egypt vulnerable to the inevitable decline in availability of imported food but is suffering from the dire consequences of depressed international oil prices hammering income form is already-peaked oil extraction.
Saudi Arabia is another classic example of grow population overshoot, having increased in population fro about 4 million when I was born to about 32 million now: most of that population growth has been in the back of imported food generated via industrialised agriculture.
With global extraction of conventional oil well in the past (2005-2008) and unconventional oil about to fall off the cliff, we should expect the global implosion of the world-wide population overshoot to commence within 5 years, perhaps as little as 2 years.
Half of the human population does not fly on Jumbo jets to far-away places. The rich do. And the rich don’t have a national identity. They are simply rich whether or not they are from Saudi Arabia or Brazil. Imported food is not usually a luxury for the poor, and many of them are left with the scraps of those who do import food.
I remember looking at a documentary a few years back in which a young boy in North Korea scrambled to pick up the crumbs of those who did have a few morsels of food to eat. I’ll never forget it. The death of this child, as well as the death of 25,000 children from starvation every day, is the principle cause of wars between all of us. If it is your take that the poor are responsible for most greenhouse gases, then that is your prerogative. But from my perspective, we are to blame for their starvation. Eventually, if things keep going at the rate which guy McPherson predicts, we will all be starving. What’s the sayin,,,? ‘What goes around comes around!’.
Paul Ehrlich was completely aware of the greater environmental impact of high consumption societies. Most here would know that he,together with John Holdren,was the originator of the I= PAT equation,where:
A=Affluence (equivalent to consumption)
Particularly in his later books such as ‘One With Ninevah’ and ‘The Population Explosion’,he stresses the greater need for high consumption societies to both reduce their population and consumption.
Lidia has mentioned the intervention of the Green Revolution after
Ehrlich published ‘The Population Bomb’.
The main figure behind the breeding of those crops was Norman Borlaug,who received a Nobel Prize for his work.Norman knew and corresponded with Ehrlich,and knew that Ehrlich’s warnings were correct.
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech,Borlaug warned that the Green Revolution had allowed humanity to evade disaster,but that civilisation could not rely on technological breakthroughs to avoid the need to limit
the population.Some nations have done that,but the world collectively has said’Thanks very much’ to Borlaug and has continued on it’s merry way,still increasing by 80 million every year.And still there are poorly informed people advising against contraception because of it’s environmental impact,and mainstream economists inhabiting an alternative
universe where limits do not exist.
Let’s try this idea on for size:
Human behaviour and its associated thought processes operate on two levels.
On a basic unconscious level we implement the drives and behaviours common to all life, and especially to all social mammals. that would include basic impulses such as survival (i.e. access to food, shelter and physical security) procreation, group membership the establishment of social status and the maintenance of group integrity. These basic drives are, as far as I can tell, universal.
Cultural and personal variations come into play in how individuals and societies express or implement those basic drives. For an aboriginal tribesman, food might be a roasted goanna shared among a tribal subgroup. For a medieval king it could be a feast at which a hundred oxen are cooked and eaten by the nobles, with the scraps delivered to the peasants. For a modern business foodie it could be a dinner of filet mignon, porcini mushroom demi glace, pickled okra, truffle honey, red kitten spinach, cheddar foam, shishito peppers and sea asparagus (for example) shared with the account manager of their largest client. It’s all food.
Similarly skin tents, sod huts, castles and 35th story penthouses are all shelter. Finding one’s place in the status hierarchy of a tribe follows the same basic rules regarding deference as finding one’s way in a corporate hierarchy. The same goes for cooperating in work parties, or joining a tribal war party or a modern air force to defend the integrity of one’s group and the land it occupies.
In all cases the basic impulses are the same, but how they are expressed varies across cultures and individuals.
I take a materialist view of culture, along the lines of Marvin Harris. I believe that infrastructure (including the resource base, geography, climate and available technology) has a very large shaping influence on culture. To that I would add the influence of regional history, including all the chance events that help to shape a society’s understanding of who they are.
The analogy I use to illustrate human behaviour is the relationship between genetics and epigenetics. Genetics can be viewed as the basic unconscious, endemic drives I outlined above, while epigenetics is analogous to cultural behaviour. In the case of epigenetics the environment shapes the expression of the genes, while in the case of culture, the environment shapes the expression of the fundamental drives of the organism.
The “urge to grow” does not appear to be a result of “cultural epigenetics”. Instead it appears to operate at the level of the unconscious, universal drives I described at first. More children, more personal and group security, better food, higher status – these all appear to be universal desires. All cultures share them to some extent, though not every individual feels or acts on them.
My view is that the urge to grow (with the attendant expansion of energy use, material use and population size) is encoded at a genetic level. It may even be encoded at a lower level than that, down in the very structure of living organisms – built into our makeup by the same non-equilibrium thermodynamics that makes life possible in the first place. That view, while speculative, is quite explanatory.
Cultures are largely expression of a long chain of environmental and historical happenstance. Tagging just one of them (you know who you are!) with all the blame for what’s happening in the world doesn’t help explain anything – we’re all human beings under our cultural skins, right?
And to a first approximation, nobody is going to kill themselves for the sake of the planet’s future. Instead we will do what we have always done: kill people from other cultures for the sake of our own future or just go on about our daily lives, and let “the planet” take care of itself. Too bad, so sad.
Yes David, Ehrlich finally got it, & did some good science with some good people.
BUT, how can any man live down a clarion call for the involuntary sterilization of other human beings?
And do it in the name of both scientific biology & humanism.
As I stated above, he has not begged forgiveness or recanted one bit from his original claims of forced sterilization, but at least he never says it any more.
Would the authoritarian & very establishment POPE have the cojones to call for summary castration & a good buggering of the continual growth gurus to brake the compound interest religion?
Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, & Alan Greenspin come to mind.
Garrett Hardin died a broken man because he knew full well that the growth geniuses used his “Tragedy of the Commons” for their own malicious ends. At least Hardin made a partial recantation.
Here is a succinct summation of the pervasive intellectual damage caused by the Pope’s original “Bomb.”
(Swans – August 10, 2009) Human population control, or decrease, is regularly promoted as a solution to the environmental catastrophe caused by unrestrained capitalist growth: a remedy that has some validity, but perhaps not for the reasons often cited.
This is because the normal focus of such prescriptions is the entire human race, not just upon the small plutocratic class who are intent on spoiling things for everyone else.
No question about it; it certainly would be easier to prevent the destruction of our planet if we could reduce the number of capitalist elites riding roughshod over the rest of us, and in the process redistribute their possessions amongst the broader populous.
However, such logic is not dominant within the environmental movement and all too often environmentally minded people falsely equate human population growth (not capitalism) with humankind’s increasing propensity to pollute and destroy the planet.
On this score, Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren could possibly be isolated as the two single individuals most responsible for misleading the public on the relationship between human population and environmental degradation.
Moreover, their ongoing influence over current environmental thinking is especially worrisome given that their ill-informed arguments have already been thoroughly undermined by numerous authors.
Swans Commentary: Environmental Populationism, A Dangerous Obsession, by Michael Barker – barker28
To bring it back to the Ehrlichstravaganza, if we got rid of the rich, overconsumptive half of today’s population, how long would it take the poor to move into the vacated niche and become the rich? They’re poor because of circumstance not stupidity, after all. we all have that tiny little desire to want just a bit more to make our lives easier.
According to Angus Maddison, the average European GDP per capita in 1800 was about $1200 in constant 1990 dollars. They were certainly “the poor” in our $22,000 per capita world. To top it all off, Europe had only 114 million people – a third of today’s population. Just two hundred years ago.
WTF happened? why didn’t they stay poor like they were supposed to? Like we dream that future world should do?
I am happy that at least one person had a laugh.
Robert Scribbler has a definitive must read piece that is a rocker/shocker – “Onrush of Second Monster Kelvin Wave Raises Specter of 2015 Super El Nino.”
It appears that most everything will be a shocker from here on out.
kevin moore Says:
April 9th, 2015 at 2:08 pm
>What Jean Turcot does not seem to understand is that billions of people who are currently at the barely-alive point are only alive at all because the food they eat is generated and transported to them by industrial agricultural production-distribution system.<
In fact, he doesn't remotely understand how this global food production-distribution system uses many times the energy which is used by all air transport. in addition to using fossil fuels to create the massive amounts of fertilizers which this "food" system requires. But he has also demonstrated a contempt for the very notion of fact.
I don’t have a copy of ‘The population bomb’here,but there is a section where Ehrlich discusses all the various means that population control could occur. It is not correct that he was actively advocating all the various methods that he discussed. That is a misrepresentatation of him.
He is not a demonic character who simply couldn’t wait to do forced abortions on people. He has consistently argued for the education of women and men on the various contraceptive methods available,and contraception as the best means of limiting population.
It is important to remember that if the population is not limited by a decrease in birth rate,nature will reduce it for us by an increase in death rate.That is precisely the situation we will be facing in the near future,partly because humanity as a whole has chosen to ignore the concept of limits .
An interesting similar criticism was made of Herman Daly (an Ecological Economist) when he wrote ‘Steady State Economics’. Some of the criticism he received from the neoliberal mainstream economists was that he was a misanthrope for advocating a stable,non-increasing human population.
Daly’s response was that he was in fact in favour of the maximum human population,but not all of that population existing at the same time.
Those who understand the concept of carrying capacity will understand Daly’s point,but I doubt that the economists he was arguing with understood.
Part II from Clive Elwell is ready to read. It’s here.
Gerald did anything remotely change because of Ehrlich’s clarion call? No! Like every other scientist he was ignored, so who gives a shit?
David, I worship Herman Daly.
His BEYOND GROWTH is the best discussion of why we must realize how critical compound interest drives continual growth.
Apneaman, It’s a good thing that Ehrlich was ignored & more careful people considered him not only an outright authoritarian but a bit dotty for saying it.
We will soon be confronted with geo-engineering.
Ehrlich, as Pontiff of population CONTROL & COERCION, wanted to engineer his fellow man’s reproduction top down. A strong call to say the least. Ehrlich professed to know who was causing the problem of too much human growth, but missed the mark.
The wise Professor & even more wise objective scientist was determined to CORRECT innocent but ignorant people, whom Ehrlich knew were in need of HIS help to correct their ignorance.
His prescription completely missed the real bad guys who are driving us all to death – the small plutocratic class who are intent on ruining the whole planet in order that you toil for a lifetime to pay them for THEIR power & wisdom.
Go into deeply into debt & have THE good life?
Henry Paulson’s net worth is 900 million bucks.