Renouncing the Future

Posted: May 21, 2013 in Debate, Idle Nonsense, Industrial Collapse, Politics, Technophilia
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Somewhat unexpectedly, I was roundly attacked in face-to-face conversation twice in the same day (a few days ago) with respect to my iconoclasm, as though I were an adolescent or malformed young adult in need of having my grasp on reality channeled toward popular consensus. Although I don’t go out of my way to proselytize my beliefs, especially among acquaintances, neither do I hide behind carefully crafted euphemisms. The first incident was a judgment that I have absolutely no right to complain about or criticize politics unless I cast my vote in periodic elections. The second was about my opinions that trends point to the collapse of industrial civilization and an ensuing die-off (and likely near-term human extinction). Let me discuss each in turn.

Those of us experienced in the public school system typically get our first opportunity to cast votes, ostensibly for self-governance, for candidates for student council in junior high or middle school. A few students might mount campaigns for office, often centered around things like getting soda machines installed in the cafeteria (at least back in the day), but for the most part, a brief statement at student assembly was enough to reveal that a certain type of student was almost certain to self-promote and win: popular, garrulous organizers eager to undertake extracurricular activities that would go on a résumé. Even with a small, restricted voting pool, there was already silent knowledge that the whole thing was just theater: school administrators would allow student council no real influence and nothing embarrassing or discomfiting would ever be tolerated. A position on student council was barely even ceremonial, but its existence got everyone in the habit of casting votes. Skipping past high and college, the first vote cast in a public election upon reaching one’s majority (but still too young to drink) is cause for celebration as the trainee becomes a full if ill- or uninformed adult participant. If it felt like the fix was in for school elections, the impression was even stronger in public elections at all levels, where one’s individual vote was diluted in a much larger pool even though voter participation ran weak and behind-the-scenes organizers had already orchestrated the results.

The electoral system requires participation for legitimacy, right? My assessment is that legitimacy was lost more than a century ago and participation only perpetuates the charade that representative government works as an allegorical expression derived from the consent of the governed. Further, the rights to form opinions and speak up are not earned or validated by casting votes. Those rights precede all else, no matter if interlocutors wish to cordon off speech with qualifying criteria. If I withhold my worthless vote out of frustration that a certain type of person inevitably finds his or her way onto the ballot, offering me a dearth of options that align with my own politics, well, that’s a legitimate political act, though frowned upon even worse perhaps than if I cast my vote blindly or throw away my vote on third-party candidates sure to be losers. In fact, low voter participation may well be the best evidence of the illegitimacy of electoral politics. I remain spectacularly unconvinced that my participation in a corrupt system is mandatory to have grounds for dissent.

My other bit of highly unpopular iconoclasm is prophesying the future, which is hotly debated in some quarters where belief in imminent financial collapse, industrial collapse, climate change and chaos, ecological collapse, and worse tends to evoke denial and hostility on one side of the fence vs. grief and desperation on the other. I won’t argue the case, as I’m only connecting dots anyone can follow, but a series of emotional taunts had me shaking my head in frustration. The two that stood out were about my standing in the way of mankind’s advance (granting me extraordinary superpowers, that) and my lack of ideological purity for enjoying the benefits of modernity. Exposing the myth of progress is a lengthy process, but I was stonewalled in my repeated calls for clarification of any sort what “mankind’s advance” might be. The other bit about how, for example, owning and operating a car and using electricity means I’m a contributor to the problems of civilization is a point I acknowledged, but considering how almost all of us were born into industrial civilization, there really is little possibility of meaningful escape to the woods or countryside to live off-grid. There simply is no unclaimed land where squatters can get along without paying property taxes. Those few who have retreated from civilization are frequently derided as landed gentry (neofeudalism) and regarded as heretics, giving them even less authority to voice criticisms from outside the dominant paradigm. So the charge is nonsensical because to be situated within industrial civilization is contributing and being outside makes anything offered in dissent immediately suspect. Classic catch-22.

What I find especially curious is the doctrinaire insistence that I cannot renounce one thing whereas I must renounce the other, which leads to obvious ideological contradictions. What these two attacks have in common, I think, is what some call “the cult of the solution,” which typically calls for corrections to corrupt institutions to come from within. Someone like me who no longer believes that politics or indeed the future hold much hope for us is intolerable and dangerous. We must always hope and strive and prevail, right? Anything else is defeatism, fatalism, and crawling willingly into our own graves. I would say, however, that a sober look at our particular position in history calls not for unrealistic fantasies but rather acceptance that we’ve had our time and opportunities but ultimately squandered them. Solutions escape us because we’ve unwittingly created problems too big to solve and with time delays as to their effects. Instead, what remains for us to do is work out how to spend the last of our time honorably instead of resorting to a mad scramble for whatever scraps remain. I have no expectation honor and integrity will prevail, however. Resource wars have been fought for far less than survival, and that pressure will be felt by both individuals and institutions that are more likely than not to struggle to the last breath. Renunciation of the future and living as gracefully as conditions permit in the here and now is not yet a mainstream idea. No surprise there.

Update: Although the comments below became about the is-not-is-too of collapse and NTE, the post above did not entertain that argument. In this update, I want to offer (without additional comment) a characterization of the voting issue by Robin Datta that I stumbled across recently:

Voting is the voter saying which way the voter wants the gun of the hierarchy of state to be pointed. I decline to give my sanction to the pointing of the gun. There can be no discussion until the gun of state is holstered. A discussion is not a discussion when one of the parties speaks out of the barrel of a gun. Nor should that party be allowed to cloak that mischief with a pretence of participation.

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Comments
  1. leavergirl says:

    Hey, Brutus, when getting hit by bullies, trying to carry on a good-faith discussion is a losing proposition. For example, “… that I have absolutely no right to complain about or criticize politics unless I cast my vote in periodic elections” is the standard move to shut you up. I tend to respond with “and what has complaining gotten you lately?” and let it go.

    Recognizing that you are being hit with a power move, not a cogent argument, might free you from the head-shaking frustration.

    Sorry to hear you been gotten by the NTE cultists. ;-) Whee… some people are finding it irresistible in these bleak times. I am with JMG on this one. Just another soon-to-fail apocalypse.

  2. Brutus says:

    Thanks for your comment. Agreed: the shut-yer-trap power move arguments don’t last long with me. I’ll move on quickly (and blog about it later). I’m not so much with or against JMG and NTE, but certain trajectories look to me inevitably awful, not merely cultish. I can’t foretell the future, but best estimates from people I trust to know better than me spell disaster pretty assuredly.

    I’m also aware that optimistic/pessimistic character types cherry-pick their evidence for bias. Although I believe I’m attending to truth, it may be that I, too, am biased toward the worst case scenario. I should point out, however, that in the allegorical tales of the boy who cried wolf, the wolf did in fact eventually appear. Timing is impossible to gauge, but eventualities are just that.

    • leavergirl says:

      I recommend a look to my blog, see About… I just added a link to possibilism. Important stuff. I never would have survived cancer without it. I think it is crucial to focus NOT on the worst case scenarios, but on the small possibility outside of them, and on amplifying it. Stephen Jay Gould wrote movingly about it when he survived mesothelioma against the odds, as well.

  3. leavergirl says:

    Nice bit from Ran: “And I have yet to see an actual argument for climate change causing human extinction. Instead it’s always something like this: 1) Valid science about atmospheric CO2 causing rising sea levels and desertification and superstorms. 2) Vague hand-waving. 3) Every last human dies. I think it’s more interesting, more difficult, and more valuable, to imagine catastrophe without extinction.” Well said.

    • Brutus says:

      I read Ran, and he’s clearly a very clever fellow, but his three-point summary is just silly. The bit about vague hand-waving is clearly not true. There are a number of sound scientific principles that don’t take advanced degrees in, say, evolutionary biology (such as Guy McPherson has) to grasp. But to recount them would be to argue full force against the future, which I don’t want to do any more than I want to entertain power moves from acquaintances for very long.

      At the risk of being vague, the two that scare me the most are that 1) we’re destroying our own habitat, on which we depend for everything, at am amazing pace, and 2) we have over 400 operating nuclear sites (including storage of spent fuel) that could easily (in the banal case, presuming no mischief) irradiate the entire planet in cascade failure due to simple lack of personnel, know-how, and financing if we don’t decommission them before abandoning them. Others dwell on these dangers, describe them in their blogs, and draw unstinting conclusions. I’m unqualified to make those same arguments myself and am mostly disinterested in doing so, but I do find them more convincing than the wishful thinking of the solution set. We can agree to disagree.

      • leavergirl says:

        They could. But again, that is a possibility, among other possibilities. McPherson and his ilk argue as though NTE was all but certain. That’s not science, and Ran is right on the money. Twaddle, as JMG says? Well, it sounds harsh, but in a particular sense, it is twaddle — in the sense of “by 2030 humanity will be extinct” — and then they’ll just set another fearsome date. That part is unprincipled twaddle, or unprincipled apocalyptarianism, have your pick.

      • Brutus says:

        Is not, is too! Is not, is too! Is not … is too!

  4. leavergirl says:

    That’s what people do when the claim is not based on anything that can be corroborated. Exactly!

  5. bradhp says:

    @leavergirl

    “McPherson and his ilk” argue that NTE is all but certain. In order to argue there has to be something to argue about. What parts of the accumulating science are you going to argue against?

    If I were falling off a cliff, I’d like to argue against hitting the ground, but that would only pass the time until my inevitable besquashment.

    I read JMG’s baseless babble about how NTE Buffs are on the wrong boat. There is no boat. There is prediction based on data followed by adjustments based on the passage of time and observation.

    If you’ve been paying attention, the predictions keep changing as time and observation require them too. The trend is not good. More, faster, bigger trouble for all of us. If you’d like to challenge what I’m saying, please do so with something that resembles reason rather than attitude. JMG may have other qualities, but presenting and weighing data is not one of them. I might as well read the Old Testament as pay attention to JMG’s noise.

    If you would like to pursue an argument based on reality, let me know.

    • leavergirl says:

      Bradhp: Besquashment! I love it.

      No, I am not interested in arguing prophecies. McPherson’s track record is not good by his own admission, and he cherry picks his references. Every time his prophecies fail, he ups the ante — more of the same, only scarier. As I said, I am interested in possibilities, however small, that buck the odds, and that’s where my energy goes, not into doom and gloom. And I don’t care for your condescending attitude. Or McPherson’s.

      “Being right” is highly overrated, in my experience. ;-)

      • bradhp says:

        You make it clear that reason based on fact is not your priority, so I won’t dissect your response. I’m not trying to condescend. Take care and I hope you find a better path than the one I see ahead.

  6. ulvfugl says:

    Hello everybody,

    leavergirl, if I remember rightly I think we’ve exchanged a few words a long time ago.
    I know all the other names mentioned well enough. My respects to Brutus and to Brad.

    The problem here, for leavergirl and for Ran, is the 2) which only appears to be vague handwaving if you don’t know anything about ecology, etc.

    leavergirl, if you find Brad and McPherson’s attitude objectionable you’ll find mine a zillion times worse, so my apologies in advance.

    Ffs, there is MOUNTAINS of science to back up 2) that is left unsaid because it would take a whole college course to fill it in. It’s not McPherson’s fault nor mine that neither you nor Ran Prieur have a clue about that.

    I followed Ran’s every word since he first came onto the internet the same time as I did. I know how much he knows about animals and plants and biology, ecology and climate and nature, and science in general. Basically, he understands chemistry and physics. That’s all.

    Much of climate science is centered upon statistics. If you don’t understand basic statistics then you’ll think it’s hand waving. Do you know anything about statistics leavergirl ?

    I don’t think that is bullying, or besquashment. It’s a fair, factual question, isn’t it, asking you for information.

    When you say …that is a possibility, among other possibilities. McPherson and his ilk argue as though NTE was all but certain. That’s not science…

    Look, it IS science. If there’s a good understanding of how a system works, then you can predict what will happen.

    For example, if it’s a very simple system, like an aquarium in a dentist’s waiting room, with fish and plants and snails and so forth, you can model the whole damn thing on a computer, and work out exactly how much oxygen and CO2 is involved, and what will happen if the balance of chemicals in the water changes, and what effect adding more fish will have, etc, etc.

    In principle, the same could be done for the entire Earth, except that it is so complex and the systems are so intertwined and only partially understood that it is impossible. We don’t know ,everything, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know anything at all. We lnow enough to see we are in very deep trouble. My opinion, NTE is inevitable. We know enough about previous mass extinction events and what caused them. We’re changing the Earth more dramatically, faster, than some of those.

    Statistics can be used to predict what will happen within a range of probabilities. That IS science.

    The scientists at the European Space Agency predicted the loss of Arctic sea ice and modeled it on their computers and illustrated as a graphic. It was astonishingly accurate. The only problem was that they expected it to occur circa 2040, not last year. They were wrong, they underestimated how fast climate change is happening.

    Climate scientists predicted the droughts in the American south west, they predicted the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, and much else, all from extrapolating from empirical data.

    This isn’t just guesswork and hand waving at all. You can work out that such and such a climate change will produce such and such a temperature change, and change in weather patterns. For example, Wadhams says that 4 deg C. can be expected in Central Europe this century.

    There’s then a statistical range of probability, whether it occurs at 2050 or 2100 or some date in between, depending on whether action is taken to cut CO2 emissions. That’s science. Not handwaving.

    But there’s even better science, which says, hang on Wadhams, you’ve left out such and such and such and such, which mean we get to 4 deg C much sooner.

    That’s what Guy McPherson is doing. BETTER science. And do you know why it’s better science ?

    It’s because the other scientists are all so effing terrified they dare not say in public what they KNOW in private.

    Incidentally, 4 deg C makes Central Europe into desert. it doesn’t need much handwaving to fill in the gap, concerning agriculture and food for 800 million people, does it ? Doesn’t need a college course.

  7. ulvfugl says:

    Please forgive my using your blog as a momentary rant space, Brutus, as i add a second thought.

    The attitude of leaver girl, JMG, Ran, and all the rest, re the ‘hand waving’ is sheer arrogance, imo.

    I mean, there’s been two hundred years, hundreds and hundreds of individuals investing their whole lives into hard work, research, PhDs, discovering all this stuff, you know, the chemistry of the oceans and the atmosphere, how ecosystems work, the geological record, the whole body of scientific knowledge, and because SOME individuals have not grasped it or learned enough of it to connect the dots, they dismiss it as ‘handwaving’. As far as I’m concerned that puts you lot in the same camp as the wretched creationists.

    I can fill in that 2) with ALL the details, that explain how climate change and death of the oceans, etc., mean a mass extinction event. But it would fill a book, if you really want all the info and references. In fact it would fill many shelves of books and take months of reading. I’ve DONE that work.

    The info is ALL available on the internet for anyone. It only takes clicks and time and reading.

    Nobody sane wants NTE. It’s not like a political agenda, or arguing for a philosophical principle or an economic theory or something. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen.

    I’ve followed JMG’s blog and Ran Prieur’s blog and all the other names for the last 15 years or so. I used to think there was an answer to this mess, that the climate summits would get some international action, that there would be some sort of techno solution, that there would be… I don’t know what… a miracle ? It’s only a year since it finally sunk in.

    Once there are irreversible feedback loops that amplify the effects of climate change, then, basically, we are over the edge and falling. Then it’s too late.

    That’s where we are. Over the edge and falling. JMG does not understand this. He’s working from a paradigm based in history. That’s not the correct paradigm. Human culture and social behaviour and the rise and fall of empires and all that stuff isn’t relevant.

    What we have done is to destabilise the climate, which means, in future, we no longer know what to expect. No regular seasonal rhythm, just extreme erratic events, which make agriculture, even gardening, almost impossible. All the ecosystems collapse.

    That means the end of cheap easy food.

    That starts now. But the climate chaos we have now, is the result of emissions from 30 years ago. Emissions have risen ever since. It’s going to get much, much worse.

    Cling to your hope, if you want to. Cling on to whatever you find that helps you. I’ve just been through a year of letting go of all my previous thinking. It is traumatic and horrible. What could be worse ? I don’t think anything could be worse. But I’m sick if being lied to, by politicians and scientists and most everybody else.

    I’m telling it straight to everybody, as I see it, whether they like it or not. If they all go and shoot themselves, that’s their decision. Everybody is responsible for their own lives and their own conduct and their own morals and their own decisions and responses. I did everything I possibly could to avoid this mess ever happening. Now I don’t think there is anything that can be done to avoid it. We get a mass extinction event. People have to come to terms with that, one way and another, in their own ways. That’s not my responsibility.

    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment and ramping down your invective. I don’t generally moderate comments, but I do delete spam and am inclined to delete abuse. Other than length, you’re well within my tolerance.

      It’s maybe half a year since it sunk in for me, and I’m still reevaluating what I want to do. I think the culture at large will go full retard, and in my darker moods, I could tip over into nihilism, but there’s still stuff worth doing, and how we treat each other in the face of certain doom is one principle I expect to be difficult to manage with integrity. Oddly, that integrity may be just about all we have left to think about.

      Side note: the first inkling of what it might mean for everyone to die came via a cinematic remake (ca. 1990) of On the Beach, which explored what the last remaining folks in Australia did as a radiation cloud from some undescribed cataclysm eventually migrated south to their latitude. Quite sobering.

      • ulvfugl says:

        The loneliness, pain, frustration, anger, etc, of seeing something that others cannot, even well-informed intelligent folk like JMG and Ran, let alone 99.99% of fellow humans is hard. I am who I am. When all i have is a text box I tend to give forums and blogs a kicking, rather like shaking a barrel, to see what falls out. I want to know if there are any genuine humans out there who have got a clue.

        There’s nothing wrong with civility, tenderness, love, kindness, compassion, I’m all in favour, but this thing we face is brutal, the most terrible thing that humans have everhad to consider and contemplate… I guess I’m toward the Fight Club end of the spectrum, pretension, cleverness, clinging to class, social status, manners, etc, as protection doesn’t impress me much. Let’s be naked and honest.

        Ran and JMG are dreamers. It was a lovely idea that we were going to be slid gently into a collapsed future, where we could local blacksmith and bicycle a new low tech economy and grow cabbages to swap with our neighbours for honey and apples. Instead, I think we get hurtled into Dante’s Inferno.

        The handful of folks who see the true significance of the feedbacks that Guy talks about, whether they are hippies or scientists, they are such a miniscule, powerless fraction, they simply make no difference. China, Russia, the Pentagon, the masses of the world press ahead regardless. Anybody who questions the trajectory is labelled mad. We’ll probably all end up getting arrested accused of being terrorists, simply for seeing what is obvious. I don’t think we can do anything, other than talk to one another, fwiw. Not a lot really.

        Yes, standing on the Beach of Doom. Watching, waiting.

      • leavergirl says:

        Being “naked and honest” is one thing. Treating people with contempt and insults quite another. As they say… “life is short; don’t be a dick”.

    • leavergirl says:

      Hi, ulvfugl. Yes, I remember you. :-)
      Your assumption that we don’t know anything about ecology is condescending. Also, that we don’t have a clue. And putting us in the same camp with the “wretched creationists.” Principled people don’t slug others to make a point.

      Now when it comes to science, as far as I can tell, McPherson abandoned it long time ago. And has earned derision of his colleagues, and rightly so. Prophecies? Here are two: no cars on the roads by 2012, stone age by 2018. Is that a scientist’s approach of dealing with the world, or a fanatical prophet’s? He is completely unprincipled in those terms, and also hugely wedded to being right, and to not listen to feedback. And he does not hesitate to slug fellow scientists who have taken another point of view — viz his treatment of Alan Savory.

      So, given those issues, and you still want to accept his take on reality, well, shrug. I don’t. And that he is a bully besides does not help his case in my eyes. But enough about him.

      “If there’s a good understanding of how a system works, then you can predict what will happen”

      Sometimes. Other times, not so. The more complex a system, the less change we humans understand it and can make prediction about what will happen. That’s why people talk about various scenarios. Scenarios are not “truth” — they are among the various possibilities. There are other possibilities that *emerge* and could not have been foreseen. (Viz, complexity science.)

      I am not arguing with climate weirding. But that stuff was known, and expected, already in the 60s.

      “For example, Wadhams says that 4 deg C. can be expected in Central Europe this century.”

      Heh. If the Gulf stream quits, Europe will go back to some serious cold and ice.

      Do you know that there was a time, in recent history, when Europe was so warm there were hippos in the Thames, and elephants, hyenas and lions roaming about? There were turtles in northern Scandinavia. And humans did not die out. In the last interglacial, temps were quite a bit higher than today. And humans survived.

      “in future, we no longer know what to expect”

      You got that right. But then, we never did. Just because the planet obliged us for a while with stable weather patterns does not mean, and never did, that they would continue. Will gardening and ag become impossible in many places? Yes, it’s already happening. Does that translate in all ecosystem collapse? No.

      Emissions can stop rising practically overnight if we begin to practice putting carbon (and water) back in the soil in the form of stable humus. Do you know about stable humus? Magical stuff. The key into unlocking our future, IMO.

      Yeah, I am sick of the lies too. But that’s power game politics. The doom-mongering of NTE is irresponsible, however. There are kids who believe it on its face and are committing suicides as we speak. Do you care? Apparently not. That’s not your responsibility, you say. Well, I think it is the responsibility of the lot of us, who are older and have a better understanding, to NOT be panic-mongering out there. It does not change anything… while the panic mongers believe that if they panic monger harder, it will effect a big change in people’s behavior. Where is any evidence for that?

  8. ulvfugl says:

    Hello, and thanks for the reply, leavergirl

    I slug everybody, leavergirl, that’s one of my principles.

    Who cares what McPherson’s colleagues think. I don’t.

    Savory is wrong, McPherson is right. If you want to argue over that, we can do that later.

    “If there’s a good understanding of how a system works, then you can predict what will happen”

    Sometimes. Other times, not so. The more complex a system, the less change we humans understand it and can make prediction about what will happen. That’s why people talk about various scenarios. Scenarios are not “truth” — they are among the various possibilities. There are other possibilities that *emerge* and could not have been foreseen. (Viz, complexity science.)

    Well, ‘truth’ is a philosophical concept rather than a scientific one. What we are concerned with here is that 2) the prediction of extinction, isn’t it.

    So what we are talking about is the ability to say whether a bullet will hit or miss a target, or a rocket will take a satellite to a planet, or whether a bridge will carry a particular weight, whether a glacier will melt or whether a population of animals is sufficient to be self-sustaining, and so forth. These are the kind of questions scientists get asked and have to offer answers to, on a regular basis.

    You didn’t answer my question about statistics. Ecology is hard. Much harder and more complicated than physics and chemistry.

    “For example, Wadhams says that 4 deg C. can be expected in Central Europe this century.”

    Heh. If the Gulf stream quits, Europe will go back to some serious cold and ice.

    Not so. According to Wadhams, using the most updated modeling, Central Europe goes to 4 deg C, and the Gulf Stream slows, which means the Atlantic fringe cools, relatively, giving Britain and Norway something like 2 deg C.

    Do you know that there was a time, in recent history, when Europe was so warm there were hippos in the Thames, and elephants, hyenas and lions roaming about? There were turtles in northern Scandinavia. And humans did not die out. In the last interglacial, temps were quite a bit higher than today. And humans survived.

    This is a totally ridiculous statement, leavergirl, and indicates the extent of your naivety.

    Of course I know there were humans and those animals here ! So what ? That doesn’t tell us ANYTHING about this present situation.

    Look, humans can live in the Kalahari and in the Australian desert, in conditions of great heat, and they can live as the Inuit and Nenet, where it freezes year round, and they can live in tropical rain forest, and in high mountains where the air is thin. Humans are very adaptable, no question.
    But can you or I do that ? No. Can the 7 billion do that ? No.

    The people who lived in those ways adapted over many generations, they had culture they learned over millennia. The ordinary modern urban dweller dies in a week, if not sooner.

    Civilisation collapses, all the nuclear power stations melt down, the whole planet gets irradiated.

    The changes that occurred in previous glacials and interglacials, that allowed people and animals and plants to migrate repeatedly up into Europe and Asia, and back down into warmer regions, over the last few hundred thousand years, were slow and gentle and gradual compared with what we have now. The hunter gatherers could move along coasts and find plenty to eat wherever they went. They knew how to do it. You don’t learn that in one lifetime, let alone in a few years.

    “in future, we no longer know what to expect”

    You got that right. But then, we never did.

    Yes, we did ! Look, for the last ten thousand years or so, the Holocene, we have had a more or less stable climate. In the N. hemisphere we have known roughly what to expect. That’s what permitted civilisation and agriculture to develop.

    Just because the planet obliged us for a while with stable weather patterns does not mean, and never did, that they would continue. Will gardening and ag become impossible in many places? Yes, it’s already happening.

    So what are you going to eat ? There will be famine, the people will starve and die.

    Does that translate in all ecosystem collapse? No.

    Of course it does. All the ecosystems unravel. The migrating birds arrive and there’s no food for them, because instead of warm weather, there is snow and no insects. The flowers open and bloom and then there is cold and frost and they all die. The trees die from drought. It’s happening NOW.

    Species that require a long cold winter will fail because there’s a warm mild winter. Species that need a warm summer will fail because there’s a bitterly cold summer. All around the northern hemisphere, instead of the regular seasonal pattern, there will be erratic prolonged extremes. None of the ecosystems we have have evolved to cope with that.

    Emissions can stop rising practically overnight if we begin to practice putting carbon (and water) back in the soil in the form of stable humus. Do you know about stable humus? Magical stuff. The key into unlocking our future, IMO.

    Yes, I know all about that, biochar and terra preta and many other fabled ‘solutions’… as you say, all in the realm of magic, because they are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, where nuclear power and fracking rules.
    I don’t know about USA and elsewhere, but in UK, afaik, there is zero interest or action regarding stable humus or any other non-conventional systems from mainstream agribusiness and politicians.
    The same can be said re planting trees, that emissions would stop rising. Dreamers have been saying these things for thirty years. People still keep cutting down forests, emissions continue to rise, faster than ever.

    Yeah, I am sick of the lies too. But that’s power game politics.

    It’s not only power game politics. It’s all across the board, in the media, from the scientists, from the greens and NGOs, everywhere.

    The doom-mongering of NTE is irresponsible, however.

    I don’t agree that it is ‘doom-mongering’. That’s just your derogatory slogan, a smear. I believe it is a stark evaluation of the reality.

    There are kids who believe it on its face and are committing suicides as we speak.

    Do you have evidence for that claim ? In any case, who can blame them ? I don’t. If I was young, I’m certain I’d feel suicidal in the face of this awful prospect and the appalling conduct of the adults.

    Do you care? Apparently not.

    Oh, I care very deeply, but I have no power to do anything about any of it do I.

    That’s not your responsibility, you say.

    I am responsible for my own actions and conduct and life, nobody else’s. i have no say, or control over anybody else’s, only my own.

    Well, I think it is the responsibility of the lot of us, who are older and have a better understanding, to NOT be panic-mongering out there. It does not change anything… while the panic mongers believe that if they panic monger harder, it will effect a big change in people’s behavior. Where is any evidence for that?

    That’s just your own opinion and interpretation. I have said quite the opposite. I don’t think anything will effect a big change in people’s behaviour, and even if people DO change their behaviour, it’s not going to make ANY difference, because we STILL get NTE, because, just one reason, as I have attempted to explain, repeatedly, there is a time lag.

    The melted Arctic, and all the other effects we have today, are the result of what we did thirty years ago. Emissions have risen ever since. So, what should we expect in thirty years ?

    We are following the old IPPC ‘worst possible case’ scenario. Nobody believed that could happen. That ‘worst possible case’ LEFT OUT most of the MOST IMPORTANT contributing factors, like the melted Arctic summer ice, the methane, the permafrost, the burning Siberian forests, etc etc.

    I think we get to 4 deg C by 2030 or 2050 by that estimation. That’s not effing panic mongering, that’s following the very conservative crappy numbers put out by the very conservative crappy IPPC, and putting in the stuff that they should have put in if they were behaving responsibly

    If you want panic, check out the methane. If, – and I agree it is an IF, and NOBODY knows,- the methane takes off as some scientists think it will or might or is doing, then we get 10 or 12 deg C, long before 2050. Nobody survives that. Do you understand that ? Are you aware of that ? It appears to me that nobody is even paying any attention.

  9. leavergirl says:

    “I slug everybody, leavergirl, that’s one of my principles.”

    I see. Thank you for your frankness. I’ll be frank with you too: slug me one more time, and the conversation is over.

    It seems that you know that humans survived many worse climate changes than today. You probably know as well that when Toba blew, some 70,000 years ago, sapiens survived a 6 year winter. Now of course there was a population bottleneck, and only some 5,000 – 10,000 of us made it, but obviously that does not equal extinction. It may be that a similar occurrence will smack us. But there will be some who will likely survive, who still have the skills, or will be in the right place at the right time. So why do you insist on extinction?

  10. ulvfugl says:

    Hahaha, look, leavergirl, I don’t care whether the conversation is over or not, do I, I’m not trying to convert you to my religion or even to change your mind or anything like that. Sorry, I’m not a polite cocktail bar conversationalist. I’m looking the horror straight in the face. Nobody else seems willing to do that. I chew nails. I’m right about what I’m saying. Not because I want to be right. I hate every minute of it. I wish I could go back.

    It’s not going to make the slightest difference to anything what you or I think or believe, is it. This thing is going to roll out regardless.

    Yes, I used to think that there’d be a bottleneck, when I wrote my piece for DM, I was still thinking in terms of a die off and then a recovery. But I’ve changed my view since then. This time it’s like the Permian mass extinction.

    Whole lot of reasons.
    One, the radioactivity.
    Two, the dead oceans.
    Three, those previous people were highly skilled hunter gatherers and there was plenty to hunt and gather.
    Now, nobody knows how to do anything like that, and there is nothing to hunt and gather, even less in future, just toxic dead wastelands.
    Humans don’t learn to how provide for all their needs, food shelter, clothing, childbirth, medicines, etc, from a particular habitat, as one or a few individuals learning in one lifetime. It would have to be very slow accumulation over many generations, discovering the potentials and hazards of that locality. There aren’t even going to be any stable localities for that to occur. Six year winter ? Our climate is never coming back, climate won’t stabilise for tens of thousands of years.

    I could go on.

    There is some interesting speculation about this sort of thing in a recent comment on NBL
    Personally, I think there may well be refugia where small pockets persist. They probably will have no knowledge of what occurs anywhere else. But in the longer term, I think they will vanish too. The forests and phytoplankton that provide the oxygen will have gone, and although there is a reserve, eventually levels will drop too low, and toxic fumes from the oceans will make the air unbreathable.

    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/05/resistance-is-the-only-ethical-response-to-near-term-extinction/#comment-73930

    • leavergirl says:

      Gosh gee, haven’t you heard? It’s actually possible to look the horror in the face, and yet not be an arrogant asshole. Aren’tcha glad you ran into me so I could tell you the good tidings? ;-)

      “One, the radioactivity.” Even if it blows, think Chernobyl. Teeming with life. Including high on the feeding pyramid mammals.

      “Two, the dead oceans.” As soon as most humans are gone, oceans will begin to recover, is my speculation. But you could have a point, I just don’t know enough about it. Why do you think oceans will be stone dead and emitting toxic fumes?

      “Three, those previous people were highly skilled hunter gatherers and there was plenty to hunt and gather. Now, nobody knows how to do anything like that, and there is nothing to hunt and gather, even less in future, just toxic dead wastelands.”

      Aw, the Qunnian fallacy. Shame on you, sez Ishmael. We civilizoids are not the only ones around, you know. There are still 10s of thousands of people who have the skills, like Bushmen et al. Maybe more. There are still undiscovered tribes in the Amazon, still hunting and gathering. Maybe those will seed the new humans. Not a bad thought, nah?

      “I could go on.” And you do. LOL

      P.S. Methane degrades into CO2. The arctic melted some 8,000 years ago, and the temps did not go up 10 degrees on account of it.

  11. ulvfugl says:

    If you think that Chernobyl, contained as it is, and was, gives you any sort of guide to having the entire planet irradiated for centuries, indeed, millennia, by many hundreds of melting down nuclear plants, I think you need to study the matter much more seriously.

    The oceans are already dying – see increasing dead zones, plastic islands, 90% of large fish gone, sea mammals dying, chemical pollution, etc, etc – but yes, if all humans vanished tomorrow, they could begin to recover, except for the acidification caused by the CO2 dissolving in the sea water to become carbonic acid, which, in itself, is sufficient to cause an extinction event completely independently from climate change.

    As I understand it, previous acidifications, of which there have been many, have not always caused massive extinctions of marine life, because, to an extent, marine organisms can adapt and buffer to compensate. But those changes in pH were relatively slow and gentle, over, say, 1000 years, nothing like the rapid changes we are causing now, over decades.

    ftp://ftp.gfdl.noaa.gov/pub/mbw/Ocean_Acidification_Papers/Veron_2008.pdf

    What happens is that the whole oceanic ecology collapses, leaving enormous quantities of decaying material which produces toxic gases which blow across the land. Dinoflagelates and jellyfish survive, not much else.

    There are still 10s of thousands of people who have the skills, like Bushmen et al. Maybe more. There are still undiscovered tribes in the Amazon, still hunting and gathering. Maybe those will seed the new humans. Not a bad thought, nah?

    Yes, except that when the Amazon forest is long gone, the whole equatorial region uninhabitable, etc. those folk have no better chance than anybody else.

    Are you starting to get the picture ?

    Methane degrades into CO2. The arctic melted some 8,000 years ago, and the temps did not go up 10 degrees on account of it.

    Now who is being condescending ? That’s the standard of reply I’d expect from poorly informed deniers. Please supply a better quality argument if you wish to continue, leaver girl.

    The geoengineering proposals described here are ridiculous, imo, but there is some basic info re methane.

    http://clathrates.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/threat-of-methane-release-from.html

    PS You still did not reply to my question re your knowledge of statistics.

    • leavergirl says:

      All I am saying is that life is resilient, even in the face of radiation. The teeming life at Chernobyl and the fast recovery surprised scientists. They are at their best explaining, not predicting. And Japan is already talking about shutting down their nuclear plants. France has been too. It can happen if it needs to happen. Humans can live quite well without electricity 24/7.

      Your panic is based on a lot of assumptions of the direst scenarios. I don’t find that helpful, as I had said before. People with serious problems, like cancer, do far far better when they focus all their energies on the small chance of getting well, rather than on the bigger odds of dying. Been there.

      Here is a great article from Stephen Jay Gould on that very same theme, also from experience.
      http://cancerguide.org/median_not_msg.html

      Yes, it looks like acidification is a problem, but like you say, critters survived before. The rest of the stuff you speak about is stuff that would rapidly reverse once most humans were gone.

      With clathrates, again, it’s happened many times before. Slower? Maybe, maybe not. Things were pretty hot for a while in earlier holocene, and the warming rapid. Again, you choose the worst case. That’s an ideological stance, not scientific. Same with human survival.

      Statistics? I know enough to know that it’s a great way to mislead people. It all depends on how you massage the numbers.

      So… to sum up. We agree that things don’t look so good, for the planet, and particularly for humans. Where we differ is in the response to the bad odds. You’ve chosen to go into permanent panic mode and feel like crap. I pass.

      Now, onto stable humus and Alan Savory. Have you looked into it independent of Guy’s diatribe?

  12. ulvfugl says:

    Not so fast, that won’t do.

    Of course life is resilient. But 90% of all species that have existed are extinct. The only difference for this extinction event is the cause. Us. Our activity. We exceeded the carrying capacity of the environment, many times over, and degraded it, to the extent that it collapsed.

    It takes many decades to decommission nuclear plants, the talk doesn’t count, what matters is the actual action. Nobody has figured out what to do with the waste. If/when society collapses, there will be no maintenance of the hundreds of power stations around the world and they will melt down. Chernobyl is not comparable to the amount of radiation that will be released and distributed worldwide, across all areas through all foodchains.

    Afaik, France remains totally pronuclear. Around the world, there are several hundred new nuclear plants planned and under construction.

    It can happen if it needs to happen. Humans can live quite well without electricity 24/7.

    You’re a dreamer, leavergirl. Of course, all sorts of utopian things can happen, in theory, just that they never do, in the real world. That’s why the CO2 emission are following the worst possible case trajectory. Nobody, 15 or 20 years ago, believed that no effective action would be taken and that emissions would keep increasing. But they did. You’ll have trouble finding more than a few hundred people in UK, out of the 60 million, who will agree with you, that humans can live without electricity. You’ll just be dismissed as a loon. The economy runs on oil and electricity. That’s what keep all the people alive. They have absolutely NO intention of giving up their oil or their electricity.

    Sure, when the whole thing collapses, they’ll have no choice. So then what ? A few people survive. For a little while. They can’t go back to hunting and gathering because there’s nothing much to hunt and gather. It’s not like it was the last time when that was the lifestyle 8000 years or so ago.

    Your panic is based on a lot of assumptions of the direst scenarios. I don’t find that helpful, as I had said before. People with serious problems, like cancer, do far far better when they focus all their energies on the small chance of getting well, rather than on the bigger odds of dying. Been there.

    First, I’m not in any sort of panic. I’m looking at the evidence with the clearest most objective eye that I can muster. I’m not attempting to be helpful. What would be the point of that ? Who or what would I be trying to help ? If, as I believe, we face NTE, how can I HELP anybody ? This is nothing like cancer. I’m glad for you, that you survived your encounter with serious illness. I have done that too. More than once. But what has that to do with what we are discussing ? I don’t see any connection at all.

    Yes, it’s true, and I’ve already agreed, if humans vanished, nature bounces back and soon restores a balance. But that’s not the situation we have. People who think like you and I are insignificant, the major powerful countries and corporations will extract fossil fuels and other resources until they cannot, the world population will increase by equivalent of two additional Chinas before it’s expected to level off, that’s where the mainstream is at, more economic growth, no plan to cut emissions.

    With clathrates, again, it’s happened many times before. Slower? Maybe, maybe not. Things were pretty hot for a while in earlier holocene, and the warming rapid. Again, you choose the worst case. That’s an ideological stance, not scientific. Same with human survival.

    Oh dear.

    Look, From 600,000 BC until the beginning of last century, 1900, the atmospheric methane levels were between 400 and 800 ppb.

    Since 1900, atmospheric concentrations of methane have risen to 1600 to 1800 ppb

    You try to make out that it’s ideological, to cast doubt, because that’s all you can do. You’re not well enough informed to do anything else, are you. That’s the truth of the matter.

    What occurred in the earlier Holocene is simply not comparable. As I understand it, it can all be explained by standard Milankovitch cycles, and at that time we had an intact and functioning biosphere which responded and adjusted, and life went on. This time it is completely different. We have a biosphere which has been almost completely wrecked by human activity. 90% of it has been altered. It’s not in any state to adjust. I mean, most of the forests have gone, most of the great rivers don’t even reach the sea. The albedo of the whole planet has been changed by land use changes of its surface. We’re not even talking about the same ‘thing’ as the ‘thing’ that existed at the start of the Holocene. It’s like the difference between a veg garden and a patch of concrete. The whole planet has been radically transformed.

    I agree that there is much uncertainty regarding the methane release. But to dismiss it, as ‘ideological’ is just insane. We’ll probably know, in the next few months, certainly by next year, whether or not it’s the end of us all very quickly, or rather more slowly.

    Statistics? I know enough to know that it’s a great way to mislead people. It all depends on how you massage the numbers.

    Well, I agree about that. It all depends upon the integrity of the statistician. Some people I trust more than others, some people I never believe anything they say.

    So… to sum up. We agree that things don’t look so good, for the planet, and particularly for humans. Where we differ is in the response to the bad odds. You’ve chosen to go into permanent panic mode and feel like crap. I pass.

    No, not at all. It’s nothing like that. I’ve been trying to change the world for the better, as I saw it, since my teens, mostly trying to fight for wildlife. After about forty years of doing that, yes, towards the end, i was panicing, as things looked worse and worse, and nobody was doing enough…. and then came the realisation that it was getting too late, then that it was too late, than the grief and despair and the Dark Mountain existential crisis, and then the realisation that it wasn’t just going to be the end of civilisation and humans, but the whole damn biosphere, as in the Permian, with X percent of species vanishing… and then, well, complete calm and peace and serenity. What is there to panic about ? I actually have an extremely pleasant life.

    Because I did everything I could, so I have no guilt. Because there is nothing more I can do. I still fight, because it’s the right thing to do, for ethical reasons, even though the battle is lost, because I maintain my dignity and self-respect until I am dead.

    You know, if the city has fallen to the enemy, and I still live, that doesn’t mean I surrender. If I meet one of my foes, I kill him.

    I’m quite happy to discuss humus, Savory, anything else, but I don’t think this other stuff has been sorted. Yet.

  13. Brutus says:

    Quite the discussion you two are having. I don’t need to mediate or moderate it. I will note, however, that although I fall in line with ulvfugl regarding the outlook for the planet, there are legitimate points on both sides. Both of you appear to agree that how we respond is more important that the results but disagree on what results are most likely.

    My sense is that few among our teeming billions even know there’s a response to consider, and if they do and are in a position to make decisions, it’s usually full steam ahead. If that were not the case, then our leadership would not still be talking about economic recovery and return to the growth paradigm, which are precisedly the opposite of what’s needed.

  14. leavergirl says:

    Cough. I said humans can live quite well without”electricity 24/7″. And while most people in Britain, or here in the US, would probably not like it, they would agree that it would not be a huge issue if pressed. Compared to a lot of stuff, that one is a no brainer.

    France is not totally pro-nuclear. They’ve talked about switching to nat gas. There is tremendous opposition to nuclear storage around France, and Germans are not keen on having it shipped there any more. But as you say, it’s talk there. Japan… more than talk; they see the damage right in front of them.

    Yeah, I am a dreamer. And I bet it was the dreaming that got humans through dire shit like Toba and ice age maximums. And that’s what got me through cancer as well (they sent me home to talk to the hospice, 6 years ago). First, I believed them. Then I dreamed another outcome. Then I got going. My doctor made the mistake all worst-case scenario people make. Are you familiar with complexity science?

    (You don’t see a connection? “Global cancer” makes no sense, as an analogy? Runaway feedback loops in the body is what cancer is about.)

    I know… the mainstream’s gone ostrich. But reality has a way of catching up.

    You are right, I don’t know enough about methane. It used to be, people argued temps. Now it’s CO2 and methane. I wish you’d look at nitric(ous?) oxides. That’s some serious shit (greenhouse gas) and nobody seems to be talking about it.

    What I am trying to tell you, over and over, is that taking direst scenarios as “this is what will happen” is not a scientific attitude. I am not interested.

    We’ll know in the next few months? Well, that’s a relief. What will you do then, just shake yourself and set another date, like Guy?

    I hear you on the DM stuff, and what we tried way back turning into a meager salvage operation. But I am not with you on the “knowing” that future holds more of the same. Breakthroughs are possible. It’s that statistical tail that Gould talks about.

    Glad you are finding some enjoyment in life after all. :-)

    “Savory is wrong, McPherson is right..”

    A bold claim! Tell more?

  15. ulvfugl says:

    Hi Brutus, thanks for the use of your space.

    My position is that is is too late. We get to NTE whatever happens and whatever we do. That’s why I can reject any accusation of holding to an ideology. I don’t gain anything by promoting this argument, either in personal satisfaction or by way of a political or social agenda. I don’t care whether anyone listens or takes any notice at all. They might just as well all carry on exactly as they are doing.

    As I see it, I’m on the Beach of Doom. We have X number of years left. It’s going to become increasingly unpleasant. I am powerless to change the oncoming situation. I pass the time discussing anything of interest to me and to others, one subject being, of course, this subject.

    If people want to try and change things, that’s fine by me. I support Jensen, DGR, anybody in that range of the spectrum, anybody who is trying to assist endangered species, anybody who is trying to preserve habitat.

    There is always the possibility of some totally unexpected event, an asteroid strike, supervolcano, massive pandemic, whatever, that comes along, that changes the picture. But, as I see it now, fairly clearly in my mind, various scenarios, from Malcolm Light, Wasdell, Wadhams, Kevin Anderson, the various voices on RealClimate, others, it’s a bit like betting on a horse race, whether the methane gets us very soon, and if not, then we reach 4 deg C by 2050 anyway, I’d say, because the people who say a later date, have left out the feedbacks, etc, but, if one wants to be optimistic, well, we still get to 4 deg C a few decades later.

    And it’s not like 3 or 4 deg C means we heave a sigh of relief. It’s a total catastrophe for everything and everybody, and it doesn’t stop there, does it, we never get our benign climate back, ever.

    Some people want to see a chink of ‘hope’ in all that. That somehow some people survive. I can’t see the logic at all. It’s not going to be them, personally, is it. Why should they care ? They won’t know those people or what happens to them. Why is it important that humans survive ? They don’t deserve to survive. They caused this mess. What about Loggerhead Turtles or Horseshoe Crabs ?

    There’s a small percentage of humans who want to change and live in harmony with the rest of the biota and wish for a simple existence. They have no power or influence. The vast majority want ‘progress’ and ‘increased standard of living’ and ‘modernity’ and all that crap, and the corporations and banks and governments have all the guns and all the power and no intention of changing.

    It’s too late. We’re over the edge and falling. Global ecological meltdown. I could cite a hundred links.

    Leavergirl has been trying to convince me, with examples from the past, that NTE is not inevitable. I’ve been trying to think of a short analogy that would illustrate the picture. It’s impossible really, because the details need whole books to explain, but I’ll give it a go, even though this is pathetic.

    A person riding a bicycle is a (relatively) complex system. Lots of dynamic parts. As it moves through space and time, everything is taking stresses and strains and transmitting them around the structure and around the rider’s body. The rider’s body keeps changing to keep the balance to maintain speed and to take corners and so forth.

    So, you can imagine the Earth and the biosphere like that. All the ecosystems, from lakes and wetlands, mountain meadows and deserts, forests and rivers, the whole climate, all contributing to the totality of the biosphere. It took millions of years to reach a balance, and every perturbation – like the bicycle hitting a pothole, the equivalent of a big meteor or a big volcano – sends ripples through the entire system and every part responds, so that the whole thing recovers.

    So, what happens when an extinction event occurs ? Bit like the bicycle guy being hit by a car. The perturbation is so severe, that the trajectory is thrown completely off course.

    That’s what we have done. The changes we have made to the Earth are faster and more dramatic than almost anything that has been encountered in the entire history of this planet.

    In theory, if we were wise, as leavergirl says, we could use humus etc, to mitigate our impact. But as Brutus says, the teeming billions are not even aware of this understanding of our predicament. The leaders mostly likewise. Nothing effective has been done or is being done and it is TOO LATE.

  16. ulvfugl says:

    You are right, I don’t know enough about methane. It used to be, people argued temps. Now it’s CO2 and methane. I wish you’d look at nitric(ous?) oxides. That’s some serious shit (greenhouse gas) and nobody seems to be talking about it.

    You underestimate me, leavergirl, and insult my intelligence. I already know all about nitrous oxide

    What I am trying to tell you, over and over, is that taking direst scenarios as “this is what will happen” is not a scientific attitude. I am not interested.

    You still don’t get it. I’m NOT talking direst scenarios. I’m talking about the most likely, most probable future. That is ABSOLUTELY scientific. I’m not interested in anything else.

    The reason you accept the ‘handwaving’ bit, is that, so far, you have not understood, you have not connected the dots.

  17. bradhp says:

    Great conversation! leavergirl and UF, you both have more patience and stamina (not to mention skill and knowledge) than I. Thanks, Brutus for hosting it.

  18. ulvfugl says:

    Imo, Wasdell gives a good general overview as ti why we can expect NTE, however, i thinkhe makes two major mistakes. One is that he underestimates the methane threat. He seems to follow old Archer study ( on RealClimate ) which seems very inadequate in the light of more recent stuff from the Sam Carana et al, and, two, he talks about ‘stabilising the climate’. Afaik, this is fanciful, as we have neither the knowledge nor the means to do any such thing. There may be other points of criticism, but overall, it’s an excellent explanation of the issues, particularly the recent two videos.

    Leading edge analysis of the dynamics of the whole earth system (Gaia) indicates the existence of a “hot earth” scenario beyond anything experienced in the stable containment of the current glacial/inter-glacial period.

    The best historical example is provided by the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the fifth major extinction event which occurred some 55 million years ago.

    The anthropogenic disturbance of the whole earth system is of the same order as that which triggered the PETM

    In addition:

    The greenhouse gas spike of the PETM levelled off at about 440 parts per million. In contrast we are approaching that level on a hyper-exponential trajectory.
    The rate at which the crisis is being provoked is some 30 times faster than that of the PETM, placing all adaptive systems under significantly greater stress.
    The resilience of the whole earth system has been massively compromised and is being increasingly downgraded by human activity.
    The potential Anthropocene Extinction Event therefore has the capacity to be significantly more severe than that associated with the PETM which wiped out some 85% of all life on earth.

    The ground for that analysis is presented in “Beyond The Tipping Point: Positive Feedback and the Acceleration of Climate Change”, which is subtitled “Facing the Anthropocence Extinction Event”, and unless we can achieve the goal of Climate Stabilisation, that is exactly where we are headed.

    http://www.meridian.org.uk/Resources/Global%20Dynamics/Apollo-Gaia/frameset.htm?p=1

  19. ulvfugl says:

    Another reference :

    …the rate of climate change we are seeing now exceeds the rate that occurred during the extreme planetary state change that tipped Earth from being in a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago. You have to go back to the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs, to find a previous precedent.

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/study-predicts-imminent-irreversible-planetary-collapse

  20. leavergirl says:

    Really? You don’t seem to be able to tell an personal insult from a pet peeve (against people heavily into climate weirding in general). Glad to hear you know all about the nitrous oxides. Care to share a link? This is something I’d like to know more about.

    TOO LATE. Exactly what the doc told me when he gave me the funereal speech, and I asked him about getting into a clinical trial. The very same words. Hubris!

    “I’m talking about the most likely, most probable future. That is ABSOLUTELY scientific.” Yeah, that’s what my oncologist thought too. I should go haunt him at Halloween. The SOB. I am still furious about it.

    So. In what way is Savory wrong? Or was it just bluster on your part?

  21. ulvfugl says:

    Really? You don’t seem to be able to tell an personal insult from a pet peeve (against people heavily into climate weirding in general). Glad to hear you know all about the nitrous oxides. Care to share a link? This is something I’d like to know more about.

    I probably cannot tell the difference. Being told that “methane degrades to CO2” I take as an insult to my intelligence. How am I supposed to guess what your pet peeves are, or you mine ?

    But it’s become obvious that this is your problem, leavergirl, the same problem that Prieur and Greer have. That’s why you all see a ‘handwaving’ gap. You don’t see the connections because none of you are sufficiently educated to comprehend the connections. That’s not my fault, nor is it Guy McPherson’s.

    And please don’t take THAT as an insult, because, there ARE only a tiny handful of people who DO see the connections.

    Re the NOx, look, it’s not MY responsibility to teach you, is it. It’s YOUR responsibility to educate yourself. I’m not just being bloody minded. If you ask me specific questions and I know the answer I’ll give you a reply, or if I know where the answers might be, I’ll tell you that. But it’s all hard work, I work all the time educating MYSELF, every day, 8, 12, hours, reading stuff.

    Look, re your cancer and the planet, I don’t mean to be unkind. I completely accept what you say, I know that a person can heal themselves from disease and injury, and just as you say, some doctors are idiots, and with the right will and attitude tremendous obstacles can be overcome. Believe it or not, I am a master of that stuff.

    However, we are talking about something completely different. The planet, the biosphere and the climate, are NOT a human body with a disease or injury, even if there are some analogies that can be drawn.

    Re the ‘too late’ thing. Look, it’s not effing hubris. You explain to me how to chain the course of an ocean current once it has shifted, you explain to me how to get the CO2 back out of the oceans.
    I could lengthen the list. It’s YOUR goddam hubris and conceit to think that humans can do whatever they want, and are not at the mercy of forces over which they have no control whatsoever.

  22. ulvfugl says:

    Sorry re typos, “chain…” should be “change the course”.

    leavergirl, I’ll be happy to move on to Savory or other topics when you concede that there is a cast iron scientific case for NTE, and that the ‘handwaving’ accusation is an unwarranted smear.

    Otherwise, imo, your just using a device to evade the issue.

    There are solid reasons why I say it is too late. Once self-reinforcing irreversible feedbacks are triggered, then that’s it. They runaway until something stops them. The methane will keep on being released until all the available methane has been released. That might take a few hundred years.

    It’s bit like a domestic hot water tank. Normally, when the water reaches the required temperature, there’s a feedback loop that triggers the thermostat and switches off the heating element. When the water has cooled, it switches back on again, and when it has heated up, off again, and so on.
    If the thermostat breaks, there’s runaway heating until the water boils and the tank blows up.

    We’ve broken the thermostats of several systems. We’ve overloaded their capacity.

    Let me be your angelic advocate for a moment.

    Even if we used the very best of permaculture, restorative ecology, Savory ( assuming his claims are correct, which I don’t accept ) your humus ideas, biochar, etc, plant masses of trees, do everything we possibly can to extract CO2 from the air and cut emissions, getting everybody to be as smiley and positive as possible, and accepting your vision of the optimal utopian scenario….

    Firstly, I have to point out that this is unrealistic and impossible, as Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc, etc, all press ahead with industrialisation as fast as they possibly can, building dams, nuclear plants, coal fired power stations, cutting down forests, etc, etc, as fast as they can, as we know very well. And there is no prospect of any international agreement to do anything else.

    But this is a though experiment, right. So pretend none of that is happening.

    Then what ?

    We stop emissions rising and then lower emissions, as the fantasists of 350.org imagine.

    We are STILL totally screwed.

    1 ) Because of the time lag. The heat is going to come back out of the ocean. See link to comment below.
    2 ) Because of the acidification of the ocean, which will take tens of thousands of years to remedy itself
    3) Because just lowering the CO2 level does NOT return the climate system to it’s previous balanced condition. It’s already onto a completely new and unstable path. For centureis, for millennia. Like the bicyclist, impacted by a car, it’s left the road, gone off into a field, wobbling all over the place, nobody has any idea where it ends up. It’s CANNOT restore itself to previous balance, because all the sub-systems have been wrecked and destroyed. The forests have been replaced by agriculture, the rivers have been polluted and used for irrigation and have no estuaries, wetlands drained, the coral reefs are all dying, the permafrost does not re-freeze, and so on.

    Again, I could go on and on and on…. but maybe you get the idea.

    If you want an analogy with the human body, sure, it’s a marvel, it can restore itself against gross damage, even to the extent of apparent miracles. But there has to be some basic functionality there to build upon. Once past a tipping point, of kidney failure, liver failure, septicaemia, etc, there’s no return.

    This has been a slow motion thing, people living urban lives don’t even notice any difference. From now on, it speeds up. Climate chaos will impact everybody, everywhere.

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/05/the-four-charts-that-really-matter.html?cid=6a0133f03a1e37970b0191025de057970c#comment-6a0133f03a1e37970b0191025de057970c

  23. ulvfugl says:

    Damn typos, “though experiment” insert “thought experiment”.

    I think there’s a WP plugin available that gives the 15 min edit function ?

    Here’s another guy’s take, more optimistic than mine, at least he’s thinking about it.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-5

  24. ulvfugl says:

    Ocean Acidification FAQ for any latecomers who are keen to learn :-)

  25. ulvfugl says:

    Forgot the link, here it is, thanks for the reminder, Brutus :-)

    http://www.epoca-project.eu/index.php/what-is-ocean-acidification/faq.html

  26. almaakeen says:

    I visited various sites except the audio quality for audio songs present at this website is genuinely fabulous.

  27. Eric says:

    Yes, its kinda late to comment on this older post, but having been attacked multiple time recently at social gatherings in much the way you write about, it was soothing to read your reflections on your experience at this moment that I discovered them. I live in a ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ city/neighborhood (a Socialist Alternative candidate actually has a good chance of winning a seat on the city counsel) and the people accusing me of ‘bringing them down’ were reacting to my casual humor about misplaced militant optimism in this happy ghetto of ours. It did not go over well and I imagine I will not be invited to a few future parties, sigh…

    It is an unexpected loneliness to realize that even surrounded by people who otherwise share many of my values, there can be no real discussion of where we are and the possibilities of what is coming. I feel as alienated from the narrow but intense religion of hope that permeates the minds of all too many people where I live as I did when I lived in the more common reactionary and religiously fundamentalist cities full of worship for the American Dream and its war loving Jesus. Different delusions, but lots of very similar self interest and chosen blindness.

    At least this temporary bubble of cheap-ish technotopia allows me to read the thoughts of others who are far away and who I will most likely never meet but are more like me than the humans around me. Keep up the blogging!

    • Brutus says:

      The subject blog above and the ensuing discussion (I just reread all the former but only part of the latter) demonstrate that there are at least a few people entertaining ideas outside of the mainstream, who then blog and comment and find each other in the virtual world. The percentage may be miniscule, but that’s still a lot of people. I’ve had the experience of meeting a few in meatworld and it’s strange, being confronted with the actuality of a person known only through text. Yet we all crave connection and sometimes find it, even though that still leads frequently to vehement disagreements, attitude, condescension, and hurt feelings. I rather expect behaviors to worsen as stresses pile up, but for now, we can take some comfort in the knowledge that a few souls out there somewhere resonate with us.

    • Brutus says:

      BTW, few of my blog topics are so date-specific that comment lies out of scope. My thinking has evolved somewhat over the seven years of backlog, but the themes tend to recycle.

  28. Demon Witch says:

    Brutus,

    I want to apologize if you felt you were being attacked and/or bullied during our lunch conversation regarding the blog topics above this past summer (although I believe that anyone that knows you would laugh at the thought that you could be verbally attacked or bullied!). That was certainly not my intent as I have always enjoyed our “spirited conversations.” Again, I apologize. I will remember to keep my emotions in check in future discussions, but remember you didn’t come up with the name “DEMON WITCH” for me for nothing!

    Looking forward to reading and commenting on your past posts.

    Respectfully,

    D.W. (a/k/a the lady on the other side of the wall)

    • Brutus says:

      Anyone can be attacked and bullied. There is no universal armor against such a thing. However, considering it was only words, not physical force, I’m probably better equipped than many to fend it off. I don’t mind that you and I (and others) disagree on things, but there are consequences to the political and cultural stalemates that result, the obvious one being the factors leading to climate change and probable NTE. So long as the debate remains mired in controversy, we proceed merrily down the path to inevitable NTE. Clearly, some disagree.

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