Two Short Videos

Marc Haneburght created the following two video clips. They were posted online on 4 August 2015 and 22 August 2015, respectively.

McPherson’s latest book is senior-authored and illustrated by Pauline Schneider. Ms. Ladybug and Mr. Honeybee: A Love Story at the End of Time can be ordered from the publisher here and also from Amazon. Trailer is embedded below.

Looking for San Francisco Bay Area folks to raise $$$$ to bring Guy to San Francisco. Please contact amyvegan@gmail.com if you are willing to donate towards Guy’s travel here.
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Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. To catch us live, tune in every Tuesday at 3:00 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.

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Please visit the DONATIONS tab. I’m open to non-monetary donations, subject only to your creativity. For example, I would appreciate your generosity with respect to frequent-flyer miles.
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McPherson’s first book published in 2015 is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. The Second, Revised edition of Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind is available. Electronic copy is available here from Amazon.

Comments 56

  • One of the comparisons made on this forum is humans to yeast in a petri dish. The argument being that the yeast eats up all the sugar until its finished and there then proceeds a massive die off, similar to say Easter island.

    I wonder if the fact that man has a lot of yeast and sugar in the diet these days is connected to behaviour i.e. if gut parasites / candida infections etc influence brain function

  • isnt it ironic when someone who lives in a city describes themselves as being “independent”… like a puppet on a string saying they have freedom of movement

  • Guy: did Bill Nye ever make it out to your mud-hut?

    Caroline: thank you for your kind thoughts.

    Historic Wildfire Season Has Burned More Than 7.5 Million Acres (That’s Larger Than Massachusetts)

    http://ecowatch.com/2015/08/27/historic-wildfire-season/

  • Thanks for asking, Tom. Nye and the National Geographic film crew are scheduled to visit the mud hut in a couple weeks.

  • For those, here, who insist on playing the way over-simplistic, self-righteous, responsibility-disowning blame game (vs. taking a much broader frame, more general, energy-availability thermodynamic view), while insisting that their narrow views of reality presumably overlap in important ways with how the world outside of their heads actually works, I have copied two paragraphs from Ian Morris’ just published book, Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels, How Human Values Evolve:

    “The sophistication and wealth of material culture varies from one foraging group to another, with large, mostly sedentary groups such as prehistoric Japan’s Jomon culture or the Pacific Northwest’s Kwakiutl tending to be the richest, and tiny, very mobile groups in extreme environments the poorest. However, all our sources of evidence—-excavations, premodern literary accounts, and ethnographies—all point to the same conclusion. Throughout history, even the richest foragers have been poor by the standards of farming societies and very poor by those of fossil-fuel users.

    Even more importantly, the affluent society label [applied to some foraging groups] downplays the fact the even the most leisured foragers go through periods when wild foods are short. Some groups (particularly the larger, more sedentary ones) are able to store foods for bad times, but others are not, and foragers regularly endure periods of food shortage, producing poor health (by modern standards). Life expectancy at birth is typically somewhere between the mid-twenties and mid-thirties. While a few people live into their seventies, half of all the children born typically die before reaching fifteen, and most of those who survive into adulthood die before fifty. On the whole, foragers keep their groups small enough to survive on wild resources NOT by wisely maintaining stable populations below the carrying capacity of their range, but BY GOING THROUGH BOOM-AND-BUST CYCLES OF RAPID POPULATION GROWTH AND STARVATION [emphasis mine].”

    Morris includes five references within these two paragraphs. Meanwhile, past behavior serves as the most reliable predictor of future behavior and, not at all surprisingly, we have replicated our past behavior, which goes back to our beginnings as a species and which continues patterns common among most if not all plant and animal species. As a result, we now find ourselves on the brink of the largest human population bust cycle in our entire history as a species. Blame the oil extracting individuals and corporations for this, if doing that helps you to feel better, but the self-annihilation trap has occurred for much more complex reasons than the greed of a few industrial capitalists: biologically and thermodynamically fundamental energy-related and power-maximizing reasons.

    Or so it seems to me. Now, let the ever-so-popular ad hominem, messenger-killing character attacks continue on me, on Ian Morris, and on anthropologists in general! Participating in an ad homimen attack club (AHAC) provides SUCH an exciting distraction!

  • I hope we get to see the videos the result from the Bill Nye visit(s).

    Your bedside manner has improved a great deal, Guy!

  • Is it smart to talk about methane catastrophically until and unless it shows up in the Mauna Loa records?

    Like CO2 records there?

    That is the official recording site we all quote, so why not for methane too?

    So far, there is not enough methane released from all locations to register much at Mauna Loa like CO2 really has (>400 ppm).

    Just sayin’ … (The Methane Hydrate / Clathrate Controversy – 2).

  • bUD nEY … vERY gOOD !
    Foragers live very brutish and short lives and somewhat sustainably That means the process can be propagated indefinitely in relative terms or until a cosmic event or be a geological one wipes the slate clean . Civilized Agricultural industrial lives are longer and unsustainable but it gives an experience which is extremely unique and versatile but unsustainable on relative terms . Well what are the choices .? Foragers living from generation to generation endlessly doing the same things over and over and over again ad infinitum (in relative terms ) which will also end someday for sure Or Live a very thrilling and exiting existence packed with action and versatile existence but only for a relative short timeframe … My choice is this later one since experience repeated over and over is useless and uninteresting . What is the use for experiencing something what you have already experienced already . So you know the outcome in advance . Playing a game knowing how it will play out is utterly boring . I take techno industrialism and civilisation however short and unenduring it is over endlessly boring repeating life`s of a forager lifestyle which will eventually also come to an end .. This way we had at least some special experience in this existence . I would also argue that life was not meant or created or came into being for life`s sake LIFE was coming into existence for the EXPERIENCE sake life being for life`s sake is a self defeating process since life can be destroyed which makes it useless. Life being the carrier for experience is the real purpose . And we all had this now so it must be all good We had our time in the sun and that should suffice . Whatever else left for us is still a bonus so be happy and carry on .. Ad be calm its all good !

  • Stalin had many fans, as does Oil-Qaeda (Oil-Qaeda: The Indictment, 2, 3, 4, 5).

    I can’t emphasize enough why the world looks askance at those who claim to know about what burning fossil fuels is doing (NTHE) while at the same time saying do not bring Oil-Qaeda to justice.

    Because, “you humans” made them do it to you.

    That is insane, at a minimum.

    Like Oil-Qaeda says, you are either for them or against them.

  • Good videos, Guy.

    Unprecedented injections of phony money have stabilised ‘the markets’. The destruction of life on Earth continues.

  • Dredd and Kevin moore
    By the time it becomes obvious in general or for us who know it already is that fossil fuels are detrimental to the life carrying ability of the earth it was and is already late to do anything about it since it would require for 3/4s or more of humanity to lay down and die and nobody will do that . As the saying goes ” you cant go back you can`t stand still if the lightning doesn`t get you the thunder will” well we cant help it .. It just was an honest mistake // What a bummer .. shit happens .. that brings up the next issue economies will be propped up by any means to keep things going until they cant …thats how things are . get over it !

  • Bud Nye- While I agree that we’re all culpable to some degree, surely you agree with Dredd that the fossil fuel industry carries more responsibility for this catastrophe than the average person. Or, to put it another way, don’t you agree that those of us living in highly developed industrial societies should get more of the blame than, say, poor people living in Bangladesh who also exist in a fossil fuel economy but consume far less? I would argue that there are DEGREES of blame, and that it’s not all black and white, guilt or not guilty, good vs. evil. It was a relatively small group of people that introduced fossil fuels to our planet and made a killing off of it and continue to do so (literally). You can say “nobody puts a gun to your head and forces you to drive a car.” Yes there’s a choice, but ultimately it’s a choice between one’s survival and one’s complete demise. Hardly a real choice. Look, I’m as spoiled and entitled as anyone else, but I recognize that while my footprint is ten times the size of the average so-called “third world” citizen, it’s also half the size as the average oil tycoon’s. Now please excuse me while I crank up my air conditioning unit, as it is 95 degrees outside…

  • The Independent has become an increasingly crappy ‘newspaper’ over recent years but have managed to publish a bit of truth on climate:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-change-2015-will-be-the-hottest-year-on-record-by-a-mile-experts-say-10477138.html

    Climate scientists are predicting that 2015 will be the hottest year on record “by a mile”, with the increase in worldwide average temperatures dramatically undermining the idea that global warming has stopped – as some climate-change sceptics claim.

    Even though there are still several months left in the year to gather temperature readings from around the world, climate researchers believe nothing short of a Krakatoa-sized volcanic eruption that cuts out sunlight for months on end can now stop last year’s record being beaten.

    It is rare for climate experts to make such a bold prediction so soon in the year, but they believe that a surge in ocean temperatures in particular now makes it almost inevitable that 2015 will turn out to be the hottest year globally since instruments were first used to gather readings more than 130 years ago.

    The average temperature increase will be so much higher than the previous record, set in 2014, that it should melt away any remaining arguments about the so-called “pause” in global warming, which many climate sceptics have promoted as an argument against action on climate change.

    Green Park, London Green Park, London

    It will mean that the three warmest years since records began in 1880 – 2015, 2014 and 2010 – happened in the past five years, and nine out of the 10 warmest years have all occurred in the 21st century. It demonstrates that global warming is getting worse and underlines the importance of the international meeting in Paris in December to discuss a new legally binding agreement on climate change.

    Temperature data on land and sea gathered around the world by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and the UK Met Office all points to a significant increase in global average temperatures this year, both on land and sea.

    Egyptian boys in Marsa Matruh Egyptian boys in Marsa Matruh (EPA)

    “It’s a sure thing. If you want a number, I would say about 99 per cent [certain],” said Professor James Hansen, a veteran climate researcher at Columbia University in New York and former director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “A huge volcano could have an effect, but it had better be Krakatoa-size or bigger and occur within the next month or so if it is to have much effect on 2015’s global temperature,” Professor Hansen told The Independent.

    Read more: • July was the Earth’s hottest month on record
    • Four charts that show why we should worry about climate change
    • Polar bears will die out ‘if global warming is not reversed’

    Other scientists agree that the scene is now set for another record hot year that breaks last year’s high by a significant amount – as much as 0.1C higher than the 2014 annual average temperature record of 14.57C. 2015 is currently on track to hit 14.68C.

    Visitors crowd at Chinese Sea of Death tourist resort in Daying County to escape high temperatures Visitors crowd at Chinese Sea of Death tourist resort in Daying County to escape high temperatures

    “It’s going to be so far ahead of the other record year that it’s going to be beyond the error range,” said Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

    “What’s important is not so much the land but the ocean data. The oceans have really picked up in the last 12 months or so,” Professor Jones said. In addition to the temperature increase attributed to the burning of fossil fuels, scientists are also recording a strengthening of El Niño, the current in the Pacific Ocean that causes sea-surface temperatures to rise.

    A giant panda puts itself on a huge ice cube to cool off during the heat wave in Wuhan, China (AFP) A giant panda puts itself on a huge ice cube to cool off during the heat wave in Wuhan, China (AFP)

    Normally when global average temperature records are broken, it is by a tiny fraction of a degree – about 0.01C or 0.02C. However, this year the record is likely to be broken by 10 times this margin, said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist at Noaa.

    “I would expect that we could break the record by close to 0.1C. That’s the range we’re in now. It’s higher than we typically see when we break a record, where we see a hundredth or two-hundredths of a degree. So this is quite a large margin,” Dr Blunden said.

    Professor Jones said that the 1998 temperature record, which occurred during an exceptionally strong El Niño, was about 0.1C higher than the then previous record year.

    “When we looked back over previous records, if something was 0.1C above the previous record it was the warmest year by a mile,” Professor Jones said.

    Children cool off as they play under a fountain next to the Manzanares river on July 21, 2015 in Madrid, Spain (Getty) Children cool off as they play under a fountain next to the Manzanares river on July 21, 2015 in Madrid, Spain (Getty)

    “If this was to carry on for the rest of the year there is no way that this would not be the warmest year, and the reason it’s going to continue is because there is an El Niño event going on and it’s getting stronger all the time,” he said.

    “It also means that next year will have a head start as well, if the El Niño event goes on to the start of the new year, because of temperatures lagging the El-Niño effect by about six months. “So you can’t really have a pause [in global warming] with the three warmest years at the end of the record,” he added.

    The El Niño effect

    The El Niño “event” is a complex oceanic phenomenon which essentially results in vast swathes of the Pacific Ocean becoming warmer. A natural process that varies in strength, it can exert a significant impact on global average temperatures.

    The strongest El Niño in recent times occurred in 1998, which sent global average temperatures soaring. It is still among the top 10 hottest years. Moderate El Niño events occurred in 2002-2003 and 2009-2010. Now another weak-to-moderate event is happening this year. It is expected to run into 2016. However, scientists believe global average temperatures are also rising because of fossil-fuel emissions. El Niño events are just part of the natural fluctuations that can mask or exaggerate human influences on the climate.

    “We know very well where the [extra] heat is coming from – increasing greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide. These trap heat radiation, reducing heat radiation escaping to space, so the planet is out of balance, more energy coming in than going out,” said Professor James Hansen, a scientist at Columbia University in New York.

    “The Earth is steadily warming, albeit with ups-and-downs due to natural dynamic fluctuations such as El Niños, and competing natural forces such as volcanoes and solar variability,” Professor Hansen said.

    The phenomenon is causing the Pacific to warm up, but other oceans are warming too. The global average sea-surface temperature for January to July was the highest for any similar period since records began 136 years ago, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • Bud Nye,

    Awesome post dude. We are “bad” and “good” as a survival tool. In tough times “bad” do good, in good times “good” do bad, etc.

    While bonobos are peaceful, chimps can revert to “bad” rule. Again, nature hedging her behavioural bets…

    I very likely made fun of your excellent writing while wasted, like I’m getting right now. The art of humour hurts others 9 times out of ten.I’m hooked on some weird pathetic bathos… or, something like that. It’s like a hurt vortex. Anyhow, I’m probably way off base, but writing this “drips my D”, or, I’m often very sorry for saying and writing anything for a laugh. I just laughed, and somehow weather doubt I’m serious, I think. I may not have an “off” switch. Anyhow, back to my story…

    Killing before starving serves in normal bad times. The times you speak of were relative plenty. We could always move on in times of shortages. Now, there’s nowhere to go.

    Cindy Lane,
    We are the most awesome expression of bacterial evolution reaching God-like abilities and ridiculous chimp behaviours.

  • We are allready in the collapse. Seventy one refugees from syria died in a container lorry in EUROPE yesterday, just left by the side of the road. We have lost our humanity. Oh well, we will just carry on doing our day jobs.

    A truck full of dogs dying by the roadside would have caused outragee

    We dont deserve to live

  • While blame is moot point at this stage of the game, my views on it factor in the idea of intention. I look at intention because, well, I’m just that kind of a person I guess.

    Were one’s intentions innocent, or were they malicious or duplicitous?

    I personally think the issue of PR campaigns and disinformation campaigns that were carried out by the big oil players carries a lot of blame. When one considers blaming the consumer for buying a destructive product, I think one has to consider how these organized disinformation campaigns factored into people’s continued use of these damaging consumer products.

    As we saw with lead in gasoline in the 60’s, or with ozone depleting chemicals, or with DDT use; when people become properly informed of the true consequences of bad products, people generally tended to want to make the right choice. The intention behind using something without any awareness of its negative consequences is quite the opposite of intentionally misleading the public about the dangers a product poses.

    Disinformation campaigns showed really horrible intent on the part of industry. In my view, ignorant use of a bad product by a misinformed public carries less intent, and therefore, warrants less blame.

    However, like I said at the top, its all just academic now. It is what it is. 😉

  • in the opening seconds of the 1st video the age of the earth is given as 3.5.. billion years. that’s off by 1 billion years.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_Earth

  • I find Bill Nye to be a very forthright and sincere guy in his previous work.

    —————-
    “The Oracle of Delphi had revealed to one of his friends that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, he responded not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

    So Socrates decided he would try and find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, because anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He set about questioning everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead they all pretended to know something they clearly did not.

    Finally he realized the Oracle might be right after all. He was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.”

    http://www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/characters/socrates_p4.html

  • @ the virgin terry: I thought that was the age of life on Earth — no?

  • The petri dish argument is consistently made by a certain demographic to the the noticeable exclusion of others. Given the psychological predisposition to claim that this is IT. “The truth. The way. The Power. The only way, etc. The only way it can be, etc. etc.” and can possibly be no other way…..

    then there are the others who say “not so fast”, and they, i suppose, are supposed to be arrogant human supremacists. No?

    So the first case is disposition towards grave absolutististism. Where it has to be that, and nothing else, as a sort of unconscious defense against the possibility that one who makes such claims may be complicit up to their eye balls in the worst daily reifications of the problem.

    Defense mechanism. We all do it. We all have them.

    Me as a white colonial settler, just waking up to the fact after decades of an abyssal, myopic life, with complicity and direct responsibility, i gullibly sat in blatant, overt denial practically my whole life, with barely tiny little glimpses of insight and no real idea who I was or what I was doing. Floating in a rarefied bubble well within what Morris Berman called “The most successful political formation in human history.” And looking back now, decades too late, i was ready made on the US industrial cookie cutter with willful blindness to my own inhuman insanity. Ensconced in a moral wasteland, surrounded by socially reinforced racism, classism, stockholm syndrome, exploitation, misogyny, the wasp imperium. Foucault’s carceral society, or Weber’s “dark polar night” of the social order.

    That James Baldwin quote hit me square in the face: If you still think you are white, there is no hope for you.

    I went to uni in Paris. I always adored the expat Eng Language writers. The conventional boojwa ones, like Hemingway, Stein Fitzgerland, Miller, Joyce. Particularly enamored of Beckett and Burroughs.

    But, in the end, it was Baldwin, I think, who as an English Language writer from the US transcended them all on so many levels.

    If you are a writer, or a thinker, or a person with a conscience or a predisposition to read, and thereby try to figure things out, then you have to put Baldwin in a pantheon and deal with him, or posture like a fool.

    So if you are still caukazoid, what is the solution? First, start to allow yourself to see the madness around you for what it is. Then admit it. Speak it. As Ammon Hennecy recommends in the song Anarchy: “And have the people define it for you whose lives have been destroyed…it’s the same with violence. You’ve got to be able to put your hand in the air and acknowledge your capacity for violence, and then deal with the behavior, and have the people whose lives it’s messed with define that behavior for you. And it’s not going to go away, you’re going to be dealing with it every moment, in every situation, for the rest of your life.”

    There’s a start.

    So I look down and see my hands bloody up to my armpits. Sure as hell it’s instantly, institutionally, displaced as “Everybody does it”. “Can’t help it.” etc ad nauseum. With full social support, at the dinner table, on the car radio, in the media all day. Works the same in rhetoric coming out of fascist military dictatorship governments. The kind who assassinate their best poets.

    Last is the psychological projection. Blame your victim. As night follows day. Stokely Carmichael once quoted US TV News anchor Bernard Shaw (remember him?), saying

    “All criticism is autobiography. Dig yourself.”

    So whenever I am apt to criticize someone, I now require myself to polish it on Shaw’s inversion to make sure I am not just as FOS as the next guy.

    And nearly always I come up wanting. That’s the truth. And most times now I am just sick and disgusted of being in that position.

    So, after years of studying Psychology, including with Anna Freud’s student in Paris, it came down, for me, to Franz Fanon. “Wretched of the Earth” and “Black Skin White Masks” are much better psychological texts, especially for US Americans, than anything I encountered by Freud or Jung or William James.

    Cutting healthy psychological consciousness down to a couple of memorable aphorisms:
    Kill your colonizer (metaphor, etc)
    Direct Action gets the goods.

    Thank you and Have A Nice Day.

  • “then there are the others who say “not so fast”, and they, i suppose, are supposed to be arrogant human supremacists. No?”

    Ironic, since those “others” are acting just like any other animal, unreasoningly looking for a way out of the trap it’s in.

  • Here’s another positive feedback loop as described in http://blog.edsuom.com/2015/08/apocalypse-now.html : global warming increases the risk of wars and failed states, which decreases global cooperation to stop climate change, which means that the earth will warm more.

  • Some interesting observations about irrationality in the video below.

    Of particular note is the Max Planck observation that a new theory cannot be established by rational debate but becomes established when all its opponents have died.

    It’s such a pity we do not have time for the idiots who are blocking rational debate about environmental matters and energy matters to die-off.

  • Since everything is going to crumble, I’m wondering when the largest dictators are going to declare a truce and recognize they have to divide up the world as fast as possible so to create a slave world that will save THEM?

    This way they can blame overpopulation on the masses and begin the slaughter with a contrite and cleansed but necessary heart; for the good of humanity, you see.

  • It’s not an easy decision, shep.
    But don’t worry the nuclear powers are already gearing up for a “small- scale” nuclear winter and large- scale population elimination.

  • Ouse M.D
    we are not worried we (at least most of us here ) have been growing up with this threat(Nuke ) we got so used to it that it sorta lost relevance especially since this crowd became aware of NTHE which is not an if but a when and an unavoidable one while Nukelar shit coming down on us was always a possibility but avoidable since it was a human initiated possibility .. You know what? i am still not worried about the nukelar option even if that happens it will only shorten our demise … so pray for nukelar . Maybe that will be the saving grace since it can also cause nukelar winter thus cooling the planet and that way save more spezies . So Pray for the Nukelar war option

  • I’m not sure if that’s going to do the trick- just kills us all- the species, too- much faster…
    Other than that- clouds have been found to be a positive feedback- so smoke from nuclear fires could also just speed up the whole warming.

  • “Ironic, since those “others” are acting just like any other animal, unreasoningly looking for a way out of the trap it’s in.”

    Attempting to clarify this:

    I wasn’t seeing “unreasoning” as identical to “unreasonable.” For me, unreasoning meant not standing aside (like many civilized people, but not other animals, do) and thinking through whether or not to continue on. Continuing on (however that is defined) is automatic, like breathing.

  • Ouse, M.D. –

    Oh?

  • I have been back in Canada – Alberta – for a little over a month, now. For the last week the sky has been an endless grey colour, we have seen only sporadic sunshine – the fires in Washington state have blanketed most of Alberta, particularly the city of Calgary where health advisories for those with respiratory difficulties are in place. How ironic it is that the home of the tar sands debacle is choking on burning forests.
    I awoke this morn and noticed a group of young cedar waxwings on the mountain ash tree – feasting on berries (the trees are heavily laden this season which usually portends a harsh winter). I went outside to “be with them” and watch their busy dance and listen to their subtle chatter. I had just gone back inside and sat down with a cup of tea when there was a loud smack at the window. I knew the sound immediately and stepped out the door once again. There on the ground a female, beak spasmodically opening and closing as it tried to make sense of a broken neck. The bird died in my hands.
    This afternoon I have come back outside because – except for a few short episodes earlier in the week – the sun has come back (somewhat) and there is a breeze. I hear bird chatter and look up to see two of the birds in the tree – a male and a female. The rest of the small flock are nowhere to be seen. Have these two come back looking for their companion? Have they retraced their steps (just as we would do) to the last place “she was seen alive”?
    More of the birds come back – perhaps a half dozen or so.
    I begin to reread Daniel Drumright’s amazing essay The Irreconcilable Acceptance of NTE.
    The weather is depressing. I have heard other people speak of it – a dead grey gloom from sunrise to sunset. The sun is an orange smear, desultory, fugitive. It seems neither like spring, nor summer, nor autumn. It is an in-between time and it makes it difficult to estimate the time of day.
    They are getting rain today in British Columbia which brings optimism that the smoke will clear away tomorrow.
    For me, the depression is not so much about the gloomy twilight that passes for day, it is the knowledge that the sun-veiling particulates are the soot and ash of burnt forests.
    I have sat outside a number of times this week – usually for no more than an hour or so. Indoors or outdoors I have noticed an ebb and flow of anxiety. This anxiety is different though, and I realize that it is a “physical” anxiety, a biological anxiety, it is my body (no doubt triggered somewhere between my lungs and my heart) telling me that something is wrong: We are not breathing well, we are not breathing what we are supposed to be breathing or seeing what we are supposed to be seeing. My eyes have become puffy from the smoke. I feel as though some subtle inner observer is trying to let me know something, nagging at me to get somewhere else, to get away.
    And I think of the animals trapped in those fires, and of the brave firemen fighting the awesome terror of those blazes in Washington, in California, in British Columbia, in Siberia.
    What if it doesn’t stop?
    Around Lake Baikal the trees are burning to their roots and then the flames are going underground and the ground (duff, etc.) is burning to a depth of three feet. They say that the fires could continue to burn underground, under snow, through the long winter, and then flare up again in the spring.

    As I raise a cup of chai tea to my lips there is another smack on the front window a metre from me, and I see another of the small birds struggling to breathe where it has landed in a potted plant my mother has nurtured all season. I pick it up – it is dazed and confused – but seemingly its neck is not broken. It grips my fingers so tightly in its shiny claws as I take it to the tree where its companions are.

    Drumright says: “There is a significant difference between knowing that tomorrow could be our last, and living in full acceptance that if tomorrow is indeed our end, that we know we are ready to go. That knowing is what will allow us to live without fear and truly be present in whatever amount of time we do have left, whether it be a few weeks or a few decades. Once the undulating emotional trauma of NTE runs its acidic course, we begin to glimpse that such forced perverse acceptance, remarkably has within it, the capacity to become the most profound numinous/existential experience the human race has ever “produced.”

    And, further, he goes on to ask: “So, what becomes of the meaning of suicide in the face of NTE? As with everything else, it clearly isn’t what it was before. It too has been altered. I believe the concept of suicide — a chosen death — will over time, prove to be one of the only fertile grounds of self-discovery still open to us. As Vaclav Havel said, “Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren’t in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.”
    Of course, I’m not speaking of how we’ve come to frame this exceptionally taboo subject in the past, but how — in light of our incredibly recent acceptance of brutal extinction — there will be a considerable semantic shift in the very meaning of the word/act. In light of NTE, think of suicide as a double negative.”
    Next week, I will be driving across BC to the coast, to Vancouver Island, where the drought is evident, the ocean is too warm, and whales, seals, starfish, shellfish, otters, are struggling to survive. I will probably be dodging forest fires, and I will be pumping out my own special brand of particulates as the internal combustion engine that will get me there burns through the fuel I pump into it and pay for with fiat currency.
    And I think of that bird this morning. And I think of the unseen pane of glass that shattered its neck. It was flying at full speed, expecting to zoom through from what is the front window straight out the back window. In its universe there is no such thing as an unseen, transparent barrier, reflecting light.
    I think of the myriad unseen forces and processes going on around us, the effects of this pall of smoke on crops, birds, insects, lakes, rivers, plants, leaves.
    The sun’s appearance was very short lived. The sky is grey again. I go to the tree, the bird is on a different branch and it leaps away – higher up – when it notices me.
    I have a funny thought. The bird that died in my hands this morning, did it look up at me as it was dying and register the enormous face looking down at it as it faded away?
    The other bird, this second one, the one I just set on the branch, seemed to register my presence when I looked into its eye. It clung to my fingers so tightly as I took it to the tree. It looked at me for a moment or two when I went back to check on it – before it flitted to a higher branch.
    It seems to be ok.

    One more quote from Daniel Drumright’s essay: What makes something tragic? Isn’t the whole notion of tragedy an anthropocentric cultural construct?
Could the past five extinction events be considered a tragedy? Is the cycle of life a tragedy?
What separates expected loss from unexpected loss, other than what we’ve been conditioned to expect?
How do we reconcile our sense of the tragic loss of life, resulting from human activity, with the fact that the vast majority of life on earth has already succumbed to extinction, and where if it hadn’t, we most likely wouldn’t exist?


  • WoodWose, thank you for your beautiful post.

    Some thoughts . . .

    “What makes something tragic?”

    Definition of tragic:
    “causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow”

    Daniel asks, “Isn’t the whole notion of tragedy an anthropocentric cultural construct?”

    If one believes empathy is a “cultural construct” than yes tragedy could be an anthropocentric cultural construct.
    But if one believes that to have empathy is part of being human, part of our DNA (with the exceptions of sociopaths/psychopaths) then tragedy is not an anthropocentric cultural construct it is real pain that is experienced due to empathy.

    What happens when you look at these pictures of walruses? https://robertscribbler.com/tag/mass-walrus-stranding/
    How do you feel when looking at this?

    If one has empathy this causes extreme distress and sorrow—– it is tragic.

    For those who empathize with both humans and nonhumans—– the murder of life on earth and the resultant pain and suffering due to intentional human behaviors is tragic.

    There are days I envy those that have limited to no empathy. If you are one who truly sees and feels there is tragedy everywhere and it hurts unlike anything I thought possible. And there is no end to the grief as the deaths keep coming and coming and coming . . .

    “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses” –Utah Phillips

  • My thanks too for WoodWose’s interesting thoughts, and for Caroline’s well stated response to the question posed.

    Empathy is key, as is a keen sense for the miraculous wonder and beauty of wildlife and creation.

    Tragically, too many humans lack both and our culture reinforces this deficiency.

  • ‘mind control….a prison of our own making….divide and rule’ etc.

  • WoodWose, can you not hang a curtain of black plastic bird netting half a foot or more in front of the problematic windows? The netting is barely visible to those inside and can be drawn aside, when required, for egress etc. Instead of wallowing in sentimental speculation – the bird doesn’t give a f— about your face. Take some responsibility.

    I listened to Lifeboat Hour (much thanks, Datta). Steven Jenkinson is deep; really really really deep. The meaning of “responsible” and “adult” at this time and in this insane culture …

  • Woodwose…what lept from your post for Mr was the breathing thing.
    I have nearly raised this a few times myself. Now I’m in pretty good shape for 65 and though I’ve smoked a fair bit of herb over the years and as a kid sat and watched a carpenter install asbestos cladding on our home, I think something else is going on.
    I know “struggling for breath” can be associated with panic attacks, but I’m not there yet.
    But something is going on at times with my breathing, like at times it is no link an unconscious activity.
    Perhaps it is just my heart breaking. Time I’m sure will tell.

  • Mr-me
    Link-longer
    Perhaps the breathing thing is just inexpressible rage at every aspect of this fucking technological world! I thank god I live where and how I do.
    I really don’t know how some of you cope.

  • Woodwose: More thoughtful comments from you. Thanks.
    As a former Calgarian I agree with your statement about irony and the tar sands.
    Also, I will be on Vancouver Island from Sept 8th for a month, so if you happen to be around the Nanoose Bay area, and you want to catch up for a visit, let me know.

  • JIMBOT – An expert at NOAA Colorado (my friend Roland St. Hilaire) is working on the radiative forcing value of methane in terms of C02 equivalent, however, INSTANTANEOUS, data factor is too hard to calculate because nobody can certify the rapid evaporation loss. The global radiative forcing of +1 W m−2, by about a third. As such, reductions in anthropogenic methane emissions would have the potential to make climate stabilization at less than 2 °C of global warming if the levels had not skyrocketed this year compared to increases that started in 2010.

    This is our State Dept request to NOAA: “Is the background level of the atmospheric cleanser, hydroxide radical, OH, changing? It could have major consequences for many GHGs, including methane, HCFCs, and HFCs.” It took me several days to get this cleared to share with you publicly on NBL.

    If you are interested in the global warming caused by the emissions of a unit amount of gas, you don’t normalise to CO2, you would simply retain the numerator of the equation defining GWP, and integrate out to infinite time, to get the absolute global warming potential, AGWP, which has units Jm-2kg-1.

    AGWP = ∫0∞ ax·[x(t)] dt

    If you want to know how much heat the earth retains as the result of greenhouse gas emission, the AGWP needs to be multiplied by the surface of the earth, and the total mass M of the emitted greenhouse gas:

    ΔE = 4πR2 M ∫0∞ ax·[x(t)] dt

    The units for ΔE is Joules. As an example, the oceans are where 93% of the planet excess heat is absorbed. The change in heat content of the oceans since we started burning fossil fuels is now close to 2×1023 Joules.

    I repeat the caveat: The above formula only holds for incremental amounts of GHG emission (small M), for those GHGs which don’t have a linear concentration dependence. I hope this helps your discussion of nonlinearities under radiative forcing with Kevin Moore. Paul Beckwith reads our reports but this one is not yet clear by peer review.

  • Woodwose, wow, beautiful post.
    A quick fix for your reflective window situation – first spray the outside of the window with water. Then lay pieces of plastic wrap on the glass. Leave some of the wrinkles in.
    This is abhorrent to pedestrian taste, but really works well. It will stay on until you take it off.

    I hate whoever invented plate glass. Float glass was much better as it had ripples, imperfections and bubbles. More birds die from collision with plate glass than from domestic cats. Anyone reading this, please do the same fix. Fuck what your bourgeois neighbors think. These are Birds, and this is something you can actually do right now to make a slight difference, (and a huge difference to those you save). We owe them that, if nothing else.

  • Limited NUCLEAR WAR on standby for Sept 22-29 2015. Please read the Pentago advisory below: (I just returned from 3 days in Vernon Vermont dealing with reactor waste material that will go on trains to Yucca Mt where tons more from other sites still awaits deep burial.)

    State Dept draft advisory for DOD contractors to be circulated Tuesday Sept 1st – “early nuclear pre-emption – ( next 2 lines redacted for my own security) to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.
    Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their public into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.
    The Iranian elite’s ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge’s Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975. Senior Iranian officials have periodically tied nuclear war to the return of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, which Iran’s previous president anticipated within several years. (Redacted specific North Korea nuclear movements tracked by G-sat) In conjunction with Pakistan planning a 3x increase in weapons Their deal with Kim Jong Un also reflects a self-amplifying, Sept long range rocket firing date that is immune to our diplomatic tenets about prim and proper nuclear behavior.

    From most meetings I attend I am fairly sure that limited nuclear war will be postponed until spring of 2017, however, the dirty bombs – like the van full of radioactive material that was parked in NY Times Square or the Dallas bound boxcar can not always be deflected. Overall the increase in nuclear war plans and activity is much higher than I have experienced here in D.C. over the past decade. Most nuclear power plants will fail in the aftermath of bio-war events.

  • Hi Mark,

    What you said at the end about bio-war didn’t seem to fit with what you said above that about Iran and nukes. Is DC thinking of bio-war, but seeing that limited nuclear war would do less damage to power plants?

    http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/projects/biowar/

  • been doing a lot of thinking this evening, on the same sort of doom related stuff that generally keeps me mentally occupied many evenings. like wondering how a supposedly intelligent species, with many supposedly ‘brilliant’ minds, can be so utterly clueless/delusional re. things like population overshoot and how our species has been behaving practically the same as ‘unintelligent’ species like yeast and reindeer which, under optimal circumstances, breed and reproduce like mindless machines until they hit a wall of resource scarcity and then suddenly face a very abrupt population crash. this particular train of thought led me to once again look up a most recent and prominent malthusian cassandra in the usa, dr. al bartlett. oddly, the wikipedia article on him shows a picture of him as a very young man, almost still a teenager, when apparently he was a ‘boy-wonder’ physicist working as part of the top secret project to develop atomic bombs at los alomos in 1944.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Allen_Bartlett

    contrast that image with this interview of him 65 years later from youtube:

    hard to tell it’s the same sherson/person! from day to day, or even year to year, usually sheeple change very little in appearance, but over time those little changes amount to very big ones! which is similar to the theme of bartlett’s famous talks trying to educate sheeple that our culture of ‘sustainable growth’ was insane. sure, ‘growth’ can sometimes be sustained for a time, especially a short time, but even then, if it’s out of kilter with long term stability, there will be a contraction reaction. point is, that seemingly minute changes over a short time period will always, over a prolonged stretch of time, result in very drastic change, like the difference in appearance between bartlett at age 21 and at age 86…

    it’s been nearly 2 years since bartlett died, an event that was noted at the time by an nbl commenter. hard to believe. time seems to fly by faster and faster the older one gets, at least in my experience. 2 years is just a blink of an eye, almost.

    re. birds and large glass windows, after having a few birds kill themselves flying into one of mine, i keep the drapes for this window mostly shut during the day. this destroys the illusion to birds that they can fly through it.

  • ARTLEADS that’s it exactly. In BioWar we are combining state-of-the-art computational models of social networks, communication media, disease models, demographically accurate agent models, wind dispersion models, and a diagnostic error model into a single integrated model of the impact of an attack on a city. Unlike traditional models that look at hypothetical cities, in BioWar the analyst can examine real cities using census, school track, and other publicly available information. Moreover, rather than just providing information on the number of infections, BioWar models the agents as they go about their lives – both the healthy and the infected.

    Many thanks to you and LITTLE WHITE ASS for explaining so well to SNOWSTORM GUY why global radiation patterns = Extinction level event. We can’t use Chernobyl, Hiroshima or Fukishima as examples because all of our computers and simulations show that a cascade of events happen if we have several plant meltdowns in a week. At that point of exponential radiation the ozone is severely effected. Dr. Mc Pherson is correct about serious loss of habitat globally for those who understand the long term effects of radiation. The seiverts will be much worse than Methane or Carbon ppm. Someone might survive under a rock in Patagonia along with Dr. Benner’s plump tardigrades. The day after the chain of meltdown events starts there is no return. Unfortunately events are in motion and I am only sharing a fraction of the “work” in constant development for serious instant destruction. North Korea has a massive new anthrax facility. Climate is not changing enough minds to stop any of this in warfront progress.

  • “The Iranian elite’s ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge’s Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975.”

    Embarrassed to read such hyberbolic, warmongering garbage on an otherwise intelligent and thoughtful sight. For a second, I thought I had logged on to a Fox News channel. Somebody is reading too much neoconservative propaganda.

  • I’ve posted anew. Catch the latest documentary film in which I appear here.

  • WoodWise: Your writing is most welcome, but fer Christ’s sake, wake up and put something in the window! Hang a mesh screen, grow ivy climbing on strings, or SOMETHING. Other ideas already offered by other writers.

    Birds will feast on berries, and Waxwings often get drunk as the berries ferment in the day/night cycle. The birds are dying because you are not doing anything to prevent them from trying to fly through the “hole in the wall” that they perceive.

  • Joe, I believe the part you quoted is Mark’s summary of what the administration/DoD “believes” (or “maintains”, is probably a better word). Mark, pls. try to take care with formatting.

    Chilling and absurd the phrase “survival strike”. Fox News doesn’t have the deep pockets nor the sophistication for that level of wordsmithing.

  • Kevin Moore: How ironic that you would post a vid of Stephan Molyneux telling us how we can’t seem to incorporate logic and new data into our thinking. Turns out, he does the very same when it comes to AGW, and is one of the worst Climate Change deniers out there/

    And WTF with 9-11? Could you even try to stick to a topic — any topic? Pick one, and stay with it, eh?

    Rut row… the “prove you’re on the endangered species list” is raising the bar a bit…. now I have to multiply & divide ! Since it mixes up numbers like “6” and words like “eight” I have sometimes typed in a response like “three” and flunked!

  • What happened to Mark Austin. First is the plain truth that the kinetics of CH4 to CO2 is dependent on the hydroxyl radical concentration. And the folowing phrase <>. Methane is of course a greenhouse gas. I.E. any models that we come up with presently with our paltry methane data is qutie good when limiited to linear growth. You could probably factor in the belch from fracking. However (I believe) that modelling the belch from land permafrost is of quite limited value and modelling a BELCH from the shalow seabed clathrates is just too difficult. For me, the pained silence of Dr. Shakovka is as good as any present model.

    But then, his next post. Tying together “apocalytic” and “governments” is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Saudi Arabia – Pakistan, Israel, the United States, etc. etc., all appear to have a death wish. Apocalyptic beliefs is for me just one subset of suicidal ideation.

    <>

    Me, I tend to believe Ray McGovern and Gwynne Dyer more about Iran’s intents and capabilities. Iran is not using cluster bombs against civilians presently (cough, cough – Saudi Arabia and US), I believe they signed the land mine treaty, and they never deployed dpeleted Uranium in a weapon system that produces aerosols of Ur.

    Well, in closing, the full moon last night had that Saskatchewan sheen from the fires. I still say, look up while you still can.

  • Wren, I share your feelings about glass—-well said!

    Over the years I have implemented all you recommend to avoid window/bird collisions and then some. It’s made a big difference.
    And yes, the numbers of bird deaths due to windows is staggering.

    And the number of bird deaths due to cats is right up there:

    “Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada, as the graphic on the left details. (2014 State of the Birds report.)
    In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats. Each free-roaming cat plays a part.”(http://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/)

    For some reason it is easy for folks to slam people like Woodwose for not taking measures to prevent bird-window collisions but try to tell people they can’t let their cat outside! I know too many people who claim to have respect for nonhuman life, they want to do no harm yet they are insistent on letting their cats outside. They use excuses like, “my cat is not a killer, she has a bell, she would be miserable if she had to stay indoors” etc. etc.
    Or they discount the statistics of deaths attributed to cats.
    Or they think that if they do other things like protect their windows it’s OK to let their cats outside because glass kills is the greater killer of birds. Another example of denial.

    It is SO simple to keep cats inside (more simple than making windows bird collision proof and I speak from experience).

    The insistence of letting cats outside by those who claim to want to be defenders of wildlife is beyond mind boggling to me. Especially when people who seemingly love the nonhuman world let their cats roam and kill. It’s such a hot button topic —-I’ve seen it generate levels of emotion that are comparable to the “right to life” pro choice debate!

    We may not be able to stop drilling in the Arctic that will kill countless creatures but we can EASILY keep our cats inside and spare many lives because cats don’t limit their kills to just birds: “Cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

    BVinVT Says: 

    “WoodWise: Your writing is most welcome, but fer Christ’s sake, wake up and put something in the window! Hang a mesh screen, grow ivy climbing on strings, or SOMETHING. Other ideas already offered by other writers.”

    And I would add: fer Christ’s sake, wake up all you who let your cats outside and keep them indoors!!

  • @Lydia:

    Well, that’s a relief. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how someone who believed such a thing had ended up on this site.

    @Joe:

    Sorry, Mark Austin. I don’t think your post is a clear as at could be, though. I’m glad you’re not a genocidal neoconservative, frothing at the mouth to wipe out the “enemies of freedom.” Hopefully, this is one site such lunatics will never spam.

  • @ Woodwose and Caroline

    At this point in time, it’s almost impossible to argue against the greatest expression of empathy for the natural world would be for all of us to stop consuming it and end our lives today.

    But since few of us are going to do that, all we’ve left are degrees of culpability. And while it might help sooth our grief in pointing out others greater culpability, it doesn’t erase our own.

    While it’s true that “our” general behavior is indicative of callousness, that callousness doesn’t trump the necessary resource requirements of 7 + billion people.

    Who gets to decide what is more tragic than something else? Is a ship container filled with dead humans more/less/equally tragic if it were filled with dead dogs, parrots, earthworms or rare plant seeds?

    My empathy lies with the dogs, seeds and worms; does that make me a sociopath?

    But where does grieving over empathetic tragedy end and sardonic gallows humor begin? Care to differentiate that ethical quagmire?

    In other words, what aspect of human perception isn’t anthropocentric?

    Our sense of what is sorrowful or what is ultimately considered tragic is hopelessly subjective, and one doesn’t have to be a sociopath to have wildly differing opinions as to what is or isn’t deserving of empathy.

    In my opinion, that which couldn’t have been avoided can’t be considered tragic. It’s not tragic that we all die. It’s tragic if a parent’s child dies in a car crash. It’s not tragic that most of life that has ever existed on earth is already extinct. It is tragic if existing life on earth was/is driven into extinction by forces that could have somehow been prevented.

    And that’s a key principle we keep coming back to again and again for a reason, because whether we want to accept it or not, our ecological paradigm has shifted, and we are all now just dog paddling in the wake of the Holocene. It is difficult to accept because we are being forced to look at NTE from an entirely different perspective from how we’ve perceived ecological destruction over the last half century, which has been primarily oriented towards preventing what has now come to pass.

    So, could NTE have been prevented?

    I say no, no more than “we” could have prevented “us” from being something other than what “we” are, though for most of my life I very much believed otherwise. Some, if not most, will disagree. However, all the evidence documents what is, not what we would have otherwise preferred had humanity taken a different turn. And most of our sense of sorrow still comes from past notions of believing we could have somehow avoided what has come to pass, and that has nothing to do with empathy and far more to do with naivety and anthropocentrically wanting life to be more sacred than it has ever been .

    Is life itself sacred?

    I suspect none us morn for the loss of life we never knew existed, which is most of the life that has ever existed.

    Megafauna if given a voice from the grave might tell us, save your empathy for what you have agency over, because the question of what lives and dies has only ever been a matter of time.

    Preventing birds from breaking their necks on our windows can’t begin to compare to having never had widows to begin with. Our existence is but a window in which life simply broke its neck.

  • Guy,

    Thanks for all you’ve given. Thanks for your dedication. Thanks for your courage (and it did take courage). Thanks for your sacrifice. Thanks for having studied hard and gotten the credentials. Thanks for having had the balls to not let the trees (all those academic credentials) prevent you from seeing the forest and going out and telling it like it is. It has been immensely gratifying to have stumbled across an academic with scientific training (or is that a scientist with academic training?) that really knew how to connect the dots, no matter where it led him, to have had the good fortune to be your contemporary. There always comes a point where one needs to turn the page. Hope you won’t be too much of a stranger around here, I’ll be checking in regularly, but if that’s what’s in the cards, best of luck to you.

    Russ N.