Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 24, 2016
Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner
The reasons people become Kollapsniks (followers of Collapse Dynamics) vary quite a bit. I came to collapse from the economic end, looking for the reasons behind the collapse of the investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman brothers in 2008.
My early investigation led me to deduce it was primarily energy related, which led me to the Peak Oil forum. That forum had it's heyday slightly before I arrived on the scene in around 2006, although it was still a highly active forum with 100s of posts a day going up in 2008 when I got there. The preponderance of collapse discussion at this time revolved around economics and energy, and climate was only tangentially discussed occassionally.
During this period also, you were considered a fairly serious doomer if you suggested we would need to drop back to a 1750s style of living in order to deal with the lack of FFs and that a fairly significant number of people would have to die since the planet is in overshoot WRT Homo Saps without the extra energy input from fossil fuels. You were REALLY serious as a Doomer if you suggested the best we could do is Stone Age technology living as Hunter-Gatherers. There were a few people suggesting Extinction might be in the cards, but none of them suggested it would happen on an extremely short timeline, on the order of 20 years from present day or even less. Even those who did suggest it were a relatively small number in the commentariat.
In the intervening years though, deterioration in the climate with more and bigger disasters each year and steadily rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere has brought a new and rising number of Kollapsniks into the community, the Klimate Kollapsnik.
The KK is barely concerned with economics at all, what worries her or him are all the dieing fishes as the ocean acidifies, along with dying phytoplankton who we will suffocate without their production of oxygen. All of this gets blamed on the Great Evil occupying the Planet, Homo Sap. VERMIN IN NEED OF EXTERMINATION! Homo Sap is responsible for all our ongoing and escalating problems due to burning FFs and turning the planet into an industrial sewer. As a result, folks holding these views are becoming increasingly more prevalent across the collapse blogosphere, increasingly more nihilistic about possible outcomes and increasingly more misanthropic in their attitude toward their fellow Homo Saps. A fairly common meme now amongst this crowd is that Homo Saps DESERVE to DIE, and the SOONER THE BETTER!
Identifying where this meme began is fairly EZ if you have been following collapse dynamics on the blogosphere these last 8 years, it began on Guy McPherson's Nature Bats Last website. Guy was one of the first people to call for not just Human Extinction, but NEAR TERM Human Extinction, with his timeline constantly getting shorter on this, now to the point of calling it for 2020 according to some of his readers, although last I checked it was 2030. Either way, that is a remarkably short timeline to 7.2B DEAD PEOPLE!
I participated on NBL for a couple of years in the commentariat, generally making the case that Extinction is an inevitability but that such a short timeline is highly unlikely and in the meantime you need to figure out how to survive a changing climate, because for whatever the underlying reasons are for this, it's definitely changing. However, my attitude of trying to find solutions to a very nasty problem here was not well received in the NBL commentariat because it was deemed to be infused with too much HOPIUM. Having ANY hope whatsoever that ANY Homo Saps can survive coming changes was considered DELUSIONAL. Dr. McStinksion, the Great Guru of Death himself has proclaimed that it is HOPELESS. We're ALL GONNA DIE.
The effect of this leadership position by Guy drew in to the NBL commentariat a lot of serious nihilists and misanthropes, mainly from long time environmental activists who have experienced failure after failure for the last 40 years in terms of trying to get anything about BAU changed in any real significant way. Their conclusion now is that the BEST outcome that can occur is for Homo Sap to DIE as soon as possible, in order to perhaps save a few beloved trees and other animals.
There is a kind of confirmation bias ongoing here amongst these folks, Dr. McStinksion included. Since they WANT Homo Sap to die, they cherry pick every piece fo data they can dig up to demonstrate it will happen. AND SOON! No evidence to the contrary is tolerated, no argument that we can transition off FFs is acceptable. If you have the temerity to make such an argument on NBL you are brigaded in the commentariat as the Extinction Hound Dogs are let loose and ridicule you as hopelessly deluded.
As a result of this, I left the NBL commentariat behind a year or two ago now. Although I enjoy a good argument, the place was simply too fucking DEPRESSING. Not a thread goes by where people don't talk about suicide. You can't propose ideas for making things better because…IT'S HOPELESS! So all that gets discussed is how Evil Homo Saps are and whether suicide is a good option here? Even if you believe this to be true, is this really the way you want to spend your last days on Earth? Wallowing in Suicidal Misery?
Now, this would not be a terrific problem if it was confined to NBL, I just knock that one off my Blogroll of websites to read and chat up collapse issues. In the last year or so though, I am noting that the problem has metasticized. I also participate on the Reddit Sub r/collapse, and haunting the commentariat there are numerous fans of Dr. McStinksion, led by one regular commenter FishMahBoi who is obsessed with the possibility that Cannibalism will be a prominent feature of the oncoming extinction.
I also cross post and regularly talk on the Collapse Cafe with Gail Tverberg who runs the Our Finite World blog. I don't drop in the commentariat there too often, but after her last article I did so because I take issue with her cockamamie anthropological arguments that Homo Saps must have Fire because we have small jaws and need to cook our food. Mostly we had a fairly genial discussion about our conflicting opinions on this topic, but again OFW has a very prolific poster Fast Eddy, who is yet another nihilist/misanthrope. You can't make a positive comment on OFW these days without FE dropping in to accuse you of holding a passport to DelusiSTAN. The commentariat of OFW USED to be fairly balanced with people proposing different ideas and possible solutions, but they seem to have mostly disappeared as the overwhelming meme now in that comentariat is that Homo Sap is doomed and no solution will work. Although she is more cagey about it than Dr. McStinksion, you can tell Gail herself holds out no hope. She is convinced Homo Saps must have fire to survive, convinced we will be unable to extract the expensive FFs left due to economic reasons and then will proceed to burn down all forests on earth in the insatiable Quest for Fire. So this attitude attracts the nihilists and misanthropes into the commentariat, and then they come to dominate because they depress the hell out of everyone else and then people holding opposing opinions stop reading and/or contributing.
Now, given the fact I titled my blog the Doomstead Diner, you probably figure I am a pretty negative person myself WRT how things are going to progress as we move further down the Collapse Highway. Compared to the average J6P and even many people who frequent collapse websites I am pretty Doomy, since I forsee a large scale die off of the Homo Sap population occuring over the next century, 90% or even 99% of current population seems likely to me to go to the Great Beyond. That could cut Homo Sap population down to the millions from the current billions. That's a lot of DEAD PEOPLE.
I also am completely aware of the climate problems we face, and the likelihood that over some timeframe here we will get an ocean level rise which will inundate most of the major cities, which is one of the many areas die off will come from. We'll also have disease problems as sewage systems go offline and as clean water becomes less available to the population. We'll have famine as aquifers are drained dry and we'll have wars as the remaining populations fight over the few resources that remain. This is an old story, the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with the only real significant difference the scale of the operation they will undertake this time.
One difference from prior events of this type often brought up is the presence of the NUKES, specifically the spent fuel ponds which need to be actively cooled for decades. While they are a nasty problem, I don't see them as existentially threatening, at least not the reactors, the ICBMs could be. One can only HOPE the maniacs with their fingers on the Button have enough CFS to keep from pushing that button in the MAD scenario.
In the event of a crash of the system, the spent fuel can be moved to places like Yucca Mountain. In the absence of active cooling, this stuff will melt down, but not go super critical if not packed too tight. The desert there is going to be unlivable ANYHOW due to climate change and there is no water table left to speak of to pollute there. It just becomes a no-go zone for a million years or so.
Some radionucleotides will be emitted as gases, and this will likely raise background radiation levels up some, but not by that much we can't survive it. Likeliest outcome there is a rise in infant mortality, greater cancer frequency and a shorter overall lifespan, at least at the beginning. Over time however, this radiation will dissipate.
So what you are left with here is a Binary if you are a serious Kollapsnik. Either there will be SOME people left (however small the number), or there will be NOBODY left. For the Nihilists & Misanthropes, they HOPE for the termination of Homo Sap as a species, so they latch on to every piece of evidence they can find to justify this conclusion.
For myself on the other side of this binary divide, I look for evidence to establish the opposite is true, that SOME people can survive.
The most important piece of evidence in this respect is the geological history of the Earth, which has gone through numerous periods of heating and cooling, numerous periods where carbon was released into the atmosphere and then re-sequestered, up to something like 4000ppm, an order of magnitude higher than the current atmospheric content of carbon. The Max AGT the earth experiences during these cycles has an upper limit, around 11C above the current baseline. So the question is here, can Homo Sap survive an environment where the AGT is 11C above the current one?
Well, not in many if not most places on the earth we currently inhabit, that's for sure. The Tropics are pretty certain to be Hell Holes, they already are in some places during summer with new records being set all the time for high temps. We already postulated we will lose a lot of current low lying coastal areas to sea level rise. So habitat will shrink, but will it entirely DISAPPEAR? Never has before, so I don't see why it would this time either. Both the upper latitudes and the upper elevations on the remaining land mass are likely to have survivable habitats. Rainfall in some areas is increasing to flood proportions, in other areas decreasing to drought proportions. Between the two, there are "sweet spots" where just the RIGHT amount of rain falls.
What about the fact that certain crops are adapted to certain environments, and because this change is occuring rapidly they won't have time to adapt?
Well, in this case Homo Sap can actually be HELPFUL, since as we migrate we can bring the seeds from one place to another and back into a suitable climate to grow those crops.
What about Poor Soil in many places in the North which have not been suitable for growing plants over the last few millenia? Well, soil isn't really necessary, plants can be grown through Hydroponics and Aquaculture. Over time, the compost from this can be used for soil ammendation, and gradually improve that end of food production, thus gradually bringing the population back up from a period of Undershoot to one of stability and sustainability.
You can of course go on and on with what the logistical problems are and why our current political systems will not allow for the necessary changes to be made fast enough. However, one thing is pretty certain here, which is that once we hit a period where half the population on earth dies within a few years, there will be significant changes in the political will of the people still left standing! Will they be able to organize and make the necessary changes as this progresses? That is an open question you can't answer for sure, since at least in recorded history Homo Sap has never faced such an existential challenge. However, this again is an area where I prefer to think POSITIVELY rather than NEGATIVELY, and simply assume everybody will start cannibalizing everyone else. Cannibalism may occur, it certainly has in the past in times of deprivation. It has limits though, and people generally only do this down to a certain point where they can once again gather enough other foods than their fellow Homo Saps.
In the end here if you are a Kollapsnik, you have 2 choices. Either you can be nihilistic about the whole thing and QUIT with the philosophy that there is nothing you can do to stop it or even just help yourself survive a bit longer, or you can take a POSITIVE philosophy and make attempts to survive and also to sow the seeds of a better society and a Better Tomorrow sometime in the admittedly distant future, as it appears now. Your days on earth are numbered no matter which way this goes, everyone ends up dead in the end no matter what. So WTF does anyone want to live out their last days on earth mired in misery bemoaning their own extinction?
Not to pull any punches here, WTF don't these folks just OFF THEMSELVES NOW? They might save a few trees and cockroaches, both of which have more redeeming social value than nihilists. Do everyone a favor and pull the plug already! At the very least, it would make the Collapse Blogosphere a whole lot less depressing!
For the rest of us, where there is life, there is still hope. It looks grim to be sure, but it is always darkest before the dawn. It's not OVAH until the Fat Lady Sings, and she's not singing yet. Skinny Little Girls are singing though, and cheer up here! The SUN☼ will come out tomorrow!
Off the microphones of RE & Deb Ozarko
Introduction text off the keyboard of RE
Blog off the keyboard of Deb Ozarko
Published on The Doomstead Diner on June 1, 2016
Take the New Renewable Energy Survey HERE
Discuss this article at the Podcast Table inside the Diner
With this podcast, the Diner welcomes Deb Ozarko to the pantheon of Diner Cross Posting Bloggers. Deb has her own blog debozarko.com and is author of the book Unplug. She works as a graphic designer and lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
I ran into Deb's most recent blog Letting go in a World of Collapse: A conversation we're too afraid to have a couple of weeks ago in a link on the Reddit Sub r/collapse, and themes in that blog are similar to ones that have been explored for quite some time on Guy McPherson's blog Nature Bats Last. As regular Diners know, I take issue with both Guy's timeline to extinction as well as his philosophy on how to deal with ongoing collapse psychologically. I also did not find it true that "this is a conversation we are too afraid to have", since we discuss this topic all the time on the Diner. lol. So I invited Deb in for a podcast to further discuss these issues in depth, to get a better handle on her current thought process. She is relatively new to the world of Collapse and these concepts, so it appeared to me a great opportunity to explore how a recently awakening mind is processing the information. Also valuable was the opportunity to get a female perspective on these issues, since they tend to be few and far between across the blogosphere, particularly in the commentariat.
I hope you enjoy the podcast, and below you will find the blog which inspired the conversation that we're NOT too afraid to have on the Doomstead Diner. 🙂 -RE
Letting Go of a World in Collapse: The Conversation We’re Too Afraid to Have
“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
NOTE: This post/essay is filled with considerable depth. As such, it is my most important post to date. The content is raw and lengthy. It is the voice of my heart … my stark naked soul. This is part one of a 3-part series. For those who courageously venture through it all, I honor and thank you from the depth of my soul. For those who prefer reading in pdf format, I’ve created a downloadable pdf file of the essay in its entirety that can be read in multi-page format.
A few weeks ago an email from a podcast listener arrived in my in box. It read as follows:
I’ve recently discovered you and your work. Your work is amazing, however it’s filled with too much hope in today’s world (Hopium). We are already in the 6th mass extinction with tipping points long passed. There is NO saving the ocean, saving endangered species, saving the forests, saving humans. It’s too late. THIS is the message that needs to be shared…how we live and die at the end of human civilization.
My initial read through triggered a wave of irritation peppered with self-righteous indignation. How dare anyone tell me that my message is filled with “too much Hopium”.
When the wave passed however, what remained was a feeling of deep sadness. I realized that the initial irritation emerged from a part of me that didn’t want to be called out on my denial. In my heart and in every cell of my being, I knew that she was right.
In recent monthly posts, I’ve alluded to the rapidly imploding, pressurized global energies I’ve been feeling with heightened intensity. For the record, I don’t profess to be psychic. I don’t channel non-physical entities, swing pendulums, or commune with guides, angels, ET’s, or fairies. I have no crystal ball, magic wand, tarot cards, or ouija board. I’m fully embodied and plugged into my heart and the energies of the Earth—deeply grounded in my profound love for Gaia.
After numerous conversations with others who are intuitively connected, including local indigenous wisdom, I know that I’m far from alone in feeling the alarming Earth energies that are playing out. Although my heart knows how dire the planetary situation is, I’ve sidestepped the deep inner truth that I carry. With receipt of AV’s recent email however, I know that I’ve been called out. I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to now step in to where I’ve been too fearful to go.
I confess that I’ve mastered the art of procrastination with the paralytic inertia I’ve been feeling while writing this post. I’ve been grieving, feeling, and processing my own denial as I navigate the collapsing energies that have descended on my heart. This is why an April post wasn’t written. I’ve been struggling for the proper words for this month’s blog post/essay, figuring out a way to give voice to a tough conversation that scares me. But the thing about tough conversations is that, well, they’re tough conversations. The only way to say what needs to be said is to just tell it like it is. I’ve finally reached a place of acceptance where I’m able to write this post from a place of transparent authenticity.
Over the past few months I’ve been feeling a greater sense of grief over the state of the world with the accelerating breakdown that is playing out in every aspect of life on Earth. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to navigate this Gaia Grief as I call it, knowing that everything I love so dearly—animals and nature—are being mindlessly consumed, commoditized and destroyed with reckless abandon. Joanna Macy calls this breakdown The Great Unraveling. The word that resonates most with me is collapse.
I’m blessed to live in a stunning location that is energetically charged by rainforests, mountains and ocean. I live in a state of perpetual awe for the beauty that still remains in this part of the world. As such, I’m aware of the “thinness” of this magnificent place, where the veil between the physical and non-physical world is virtually non-existent. Unlike a city with its denuded, unnatural landscape and the incessant noise from honking cars, blaring music, car alarms, machines, construction, techno-distraction, and the mental static of worry, busyness, fatigue, anxiety, and irritation, Earth energy is much easier to feel here—especially for the energetically sensitive like myself. I feel what is unseen and unheard by the collective, and which is subsequently ignored and denied by our culture. The Sunshine Coast is a true barometer for what’s really occurring in the world on a non-physical level. For me, this is truth.
The internal guidance I’ve been receiving is arriving with a clarity that is beyond what I’m used to. The message is clear: get out of the system. Collapse is upon us. It’s no longer some distant event. It’s happening now and it’s happening faster than anyone can predict.
Along with the clear message to extricate myself from the system, I’ve been having repetitive premonitions that won’t let up.
These premonitions have a persistent ocean theme that come with two words, “It’s over.”
My intellect is grasping, trying to understand what the “it” is that’s over. Is it literal: the collapse of our oceans? Is it our dominant patriarchal worldview of separation? Is it our consumptive culture of infinite growth, ignorance, distraction, and relentless destruction? Is it our biosphere? Is it humanity? Is it life on Earth? There’s no doubt that we’re collectively committing ecocide, is it more?
As my mind struggles for answers, my heart doesn’t care. Content is irrelevant. To my heart it makes no difference if the “it” is cultural, economic, ecological, or human collapse. Rather than allow my mind to exhaust me with possible future scenarios, my heart has chosen to be fully present with what is. In this acceptance, I’ve unleashed a force from within that knows that no matter how it all plays out, it’s ok, because the love in my heart remains steadfast through it all.
In Praise of Mortality
Despite our widespread willful ignorance, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a consumptive way of living that devours non-renewable “resources” with reckless abandon cannot last.
If “it’s over” means the end of life on Earth, there are worse things than the end of Earth’s surface humanity—such as continuing in a way that systemic tyranny and desecrating consumption reigns, while free-will, freedom and awakening to inclusive consciousness is forsaken.
As Peter Russell says, “There’s no blame for the crisis we are in. Any intelligent technological species has the potential to become a magnificent flowering of consciousness, but the side effects of its rapid evolution mean that it only has a short window of time to complete it’s evolutionary journey. Facing the end of our species could in itself be the wake-up call we need.”
One manifestation of our collective insanity is that we’ll do anything to deny our own mortality. We’ve all known since early on that we’re going to die and that our mortality is ensured, but ironically, we have a death-phobic mindset in a culture that is driven by a death urge to compulsively destroy life.
This is insanity.
Most people exist as if they’re never going to die—invincible … immortal. Yet they don’t really live either. The level of anxiety and depression is profound. The world is filled with hopeless, unhappy, self-loathing people. By avoiding all conversations about pain and death, slavery is ensured and the masses never break free from their own misery.
Facing our own mortality can be, in many cases, a radical awakening into a more sacred connection with all life. In my own life, the most liberating, expansive and transformative experience was the untimely death of my mother. As painful as it was, it altered my perception of reality and connected me to a deeper love for life.
I believe that if we faced the fact that we may be coming to the end of our incredible evolutionary journey as a species, we can live with more love in our hearts than we’ve ever known. To me, this is a beautiful thing.
As Joanna Macy says, “There is absolutely no excuse for making our passionate love for the world dependent on what we believe the outcome will be: whether life continues on or not. In this uncertainty, we come alive.”
I realize that warnings of ‘collapse’ and the end of civilization are often viewed as fringe or controversial, but I believe that on some level, we’re all feeling it. To the naked eye, things may look “ok”, but lurking below the surface, we know something quite different.
Collapse is not a new concept. Civilizations have risen and fallen repeatedly throughout history. The difference this time however, is that collapse is not isolated to a particular civilization, it extends to all life on earth. It is the sixth mass extinction event that gets little airtime in our truth suppressed world.
We’ve had endless opportunities to wake up and alter our course throughout history. Instead, we’ve chosen a deeper coma of separation by remaining slaves to our cultural conditioning. We now have more babies, more consumption, more violence, more ignorance, more denial, more entitlement, more arrogance, more selfishness, more depression, more anxiety, more addiction, and more distracting and destructive technology to drive us farther from our souls. The increase in human population is directly related to the escalating violence and destruction in our world.
As Derrick Jenson writes in his book, Endgame, “The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life. From birth on, we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate and fear animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we would not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned.”
If we could only stop the war on our souls, we would stop the war on the Earth and everything else.
Our dominant culture is built on the foundation of separation and violence. Rape of the Earth is rewarded, peace on Earth is punished. Lies are honored, truth is vilified. Ignorance is coveted, wisdom is ridiculed. Even the so called ‘awakened’ remain trapped in the conditioned entitlement that perpetuates the slavery, oppression and slaughter of animals for their flesh (meat), ovulations (eggs), and maternal secretions (dairy). Everything that represents the feminine/life—particularly animals and nature—is fair game for obliteration in our anthropocentric patriarchal culture. Sadly, with women influencing more than 85% of household purchasing decisions, and unconscious decisions as the norm, the destructive forces of patriarchy infect us all.
With a rapidly growing critical mass in a coma, our ecocide is rendering planet Earth uninhabitable. The planet cannot regenerate itself as quickly as industrial culture is destroying it. Even the antiquated notion of linear Newtonian science brings with it alarming predictions. What Newtonian science fails to recognize however, is the organic, non-linear nature of Gaia. Gaia is a living organism and linear scientific predictions just don’t work for the rapid acceleration we’re now experiencing. We’ve set off so many positive feedback loops that we’re officially on a runaway train to a greater hell than we’ve already created. When the web of life breaks down, collapse accelerates and there is no certainty … no predictability.
Newtonian science speaks from a linear cause and effect worldview. If “x” continues to happen, then “y” will happen in 10 years they tell us. It always seems like a distant event that may or may not happen should we decide to curb our consumptive ways. We tend to face problems with facts, figures, statistics, extrapolations and rationale. We think that we can master the world with a three pound hunk of watery flab—our almighty brains—but this only serves to distance us from the source of our greatest potential and the place where we most need to go: our hearts.
We’re not only living through startling ecological, economic, system and cultural collapse, but most frightening of all, we’re living in a state of collapsed consciousness, where fear, denial and ignorance reign supreme. Our cultural story of separation/patriarchy has been fundamentally contradicting truth, love and life for several thousand years. It is therefore, contrary to the essence of who we are. As such, we’re confused about who and what we are as a species, especially within our modern, narcissistic technological civilization. Because we’re so unsure of our identity as a species, we’ve lost our sense of belonging in Nature. This disconnect from the web of life has sadly brought us to where we now stand today.
Lately, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the purpose of homo sapien is—and always has been for that matter. I keep coming up empty. Biologist Jonas Salk said, “If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” Such a tragic statement about how far we’ve strayed from the web of life.
While every other form of life on this planet intimately knows its place in the web of life, what the hell happened to us? Surely we were not created with the sole purpose of forgetting who we are so we could gobble up everything in our path leaving a trail of toxic trash in our wake while destroying the biosphere in the process. Despite everything pointing in that direction, I have a hard time believing this could be so. Despite my own imperfections, I know that it’s not so for me, but do I confess that I’m confused. According to Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, “Since the Self is the core of every personality, no one needs to acquire goodness or compassion; they are already there. All that is necessary is to remove the selfish habits that hide them.”
So the problem is not a lack of goodness and compassion, the problem is a lack of interest in expressing goodness and compassion—especially in ways that are not conditional or fragmented.
For most of my life, I’ve felt like I’ve been shouting love and compassion for animals, the Earth, and the human soul into a hurricane hoping for someone … anyone to hear me. But sadly, love and compassion are not big sellers in the paradigm of separation. Six pack abs? For sure! Sixth mass extinction event? Meh. Scarf down another bacon cheeseburger, chase it with a beer and Prozac and all is well.
On a deep visceral level, I know that the world I now live in is nothing like the world I grew up in. The degradation of human consciousness that has accompanied the population explosion is significant. Despite my lifelong work for a kinder, more compassionate world, I now wonder if it’s worth the effort anymore. I feel the bittersweet pain when I sit by the ocean with my partner and dogs admiring a beautiful sunset knowing that the oceans are plasticized beyond repair and are now nearly devoid of life. Spring comes earlier every year, flooding is more intense every year, heatwaves last longer every year, larger algae blooms choke the ocean every year, drought descends earlier every year, fire burns more aggressively every year. And yet we still do nothing to change our ways.
As comedian Jimmy Kimmel says, “2014 was the warmest year on record. Until 2015 was the warmest year ever. Now 2016 is already turning out to be warmer than either of the previous two years. You know how you can determine if climate change is real? When the hottest year on record is whatever year it currently is. That’s how you know. We’ve had 15 of the 16 hottest years ever since 2001.”
If we’re really honest with ourselves, as was written in the email from AV, tipping points are well behind us and there’s no hope for salvaging our broken world anymore. Quite frankly, why would we want to continue on with what is so blatantly cruel and destructive toward life anyways? Because it’s familiar? I don’t think so.
We’ve had ample opportunities for transformation. So many wide open doors to walk through, and each time we’ve chosen to slam the doors shut, throw on the deadbolts, toss the keys, and relocate every piece of furniture to ensure our containment. With our refusal to walk through however, we’re now locked from the outside as well. In his book Endgame, Derrick Jensen asks, “Do you believe that this culture is going to undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?” Most of us know that the answer is a resounding NO. With our collective indifference and denial, we’ve thrown away all opportunities for a global transformation in consciousness.
We’ve had all of the knowledge, technology, creativity, ancient wisdom, and inspiration to create a beautiful new world for several decades, if not much longer. Instead, we’ve chosen the familiar coma of our antiquated separation-based worldview. The only changes we’ve experienced are those that clearly show how far we’ve strayed. The explosion of humans on the planet—all indoctrinated into the paradigm of separation—is the perfect recipe for biosphere collapse.
We’re rigid in our worldview and refuse to look outside of our mechanistic conditioning. We persist in having having the same old conversations that we did hundreds of years ago. Sexism, speciesism, racism, and many other ‘isms are as prolific as ever. Climate change deny-osaurs abound. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were many who still believed the world was flat.
As I write this post, Fort McMurray Alberta, the infamous oil and tar sand hell, is burning up. How tragically ironic. And while desperate conversations about anthropogenic climate change spring to life, the denial-infected masses angrily pounce on the harbingers of truth, denouncing their message as “preying on tragedy to further their climate change ‘agenda’”. WTF?
While this armageddon unfolds in my neighbouring province, red tides are choking out life in the ocean, coral reefs are dying, and the ever so eloquent Sarah Palin (sarcasm intended), in the full-on glory of her ignorant arrogance, bloviates about the great climate change hoax. Yes folks, 97% of scientists are wrong because Lady Palin said so. If that’s not enough, her bloviating partner in ignorant arrogance, Donald J. Trump is a few steps away from accepting the keys to the white house.
Methinks we ain’t seen nothing yet.
Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 4, 2016
Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner
NTHE = Near Term Human Extinction, NBL = Nature Bats Last website
WACKO = Whiny, Anonymous, Cowardly, Killjoy, Orc
My final parts of “Peak Oil Revisited” remain on the backburner as I was sidetracked by the current topics of Terrorism and COP 21. I will get back to Peak Oil again in due course, focusing on the crucially important concepts of EROEI (especially ideas by Hall, Murphy and Lambert) and the ELM (by Jeffrey Brown).
A Diner reader requested re-publication of the original text of my “Ark project”, which formed part of my essay “A critique of some of Guy McPherson's views and certain NBL hangers-on” (see pdf link below) which unleashed a storm in the NBL world. I was especially polite toward Guy in that essay because it was my hope then that he might still turn away from the “dark” side at the time and consider applying his undeniable abilities to a project which was actually useful for humanity. Unfortunately he preferred to remain entrenched in misery, took the side of his WACKOs (for unknown reasons alien visitation was an obsession with some of them, others were preoccupied with holocaust denial or had racial/neocolonial mindsets) and to disavow me publicly. Whereas many of the NBL readers seemed reasonably sane, his most ardent disciples were complete WACKOs. I made factual observations about the loutish, vulgar and obscene way those WACKOs (one anonymous coward in particular) had hatefully and obsessively attacked those who disagreed with the NTHE ideology previously. I criticised the fanatical anti-human attitudes of the WACKOs and postulated possible psychological explanations based on information some of those WACKOs had inadvertently revealed about themselves. Guy publicly condemned me for criticising his idolisers, but overlooked the profanity and abusiveness which originated from those WACKOs to begin with, hardly an even handed approach. He portrayed me as the prime villain in his (NBL) world, even though he was the one who posted my essay on NBL in its entirety. He had my essay in his possession for several weeks before posting it and could easily have edited it beforehand if he did not want to offend his WACKOs, rather than censor it post hoc.
My observations about the NBL WACKOs remain especially pertinent and more vindicated than ever, seeing as how one particularly unhinged specimen crawled out of the woodwork into the Diner, transformed into an anonymous Troll and unleashed a torrent of hateful abuse against me for a relatively bland (for climate realists) piece I had written about COP21. RE censored those abusive posts of his own accord as they contained nothing of value, just trash talk. It is unclear how many “death disciples” Guy actually has. There may actually be only one or two with lots of time on their hands and nothing better to do, who have adopted numerous pseudonyms to confer the illusion of numbers.
NTHE may be probable but is not a certainty. This much is sure: failure to plan ahead will significantly increase the likelihood of NTHE. This seems to be the primary misanthropic purpose of the WACKOs: to eliminate all possibility of human survival. The very definition of a death cult with an anti-human agenda. For me personally, there are worse things in the world than being hated for having the audacity to improve the prospects of human survival. The venomous way in which the WACKOs vilify me merely add further proof as to their mental derangement. Why are they so emotionally invested in insisting that no efforts to prevent human extinction should even be attempted? If they are so certain NTHE is inevitable, then why even bother to oppose my efforts, which in their view are supposedly futile? If they are genuinely dedicated to their belief that humanity must die off completely, then for the sake of consistency and to demonstrate their commitment, they must set proper examples and they must kill themselves immediately.
A CRITIQUE OF SOME OF GUY MCPHERSON'S VIEWS AND CERTAIN NBL HANGERS-ON
Geoffrey Chia, June 2014
Does humanity deserve to go extinct?
"Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won't drown" – A. Ransome,
Swallows and Amazons
Published on Peak Surfer on December 13, 2015
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
At 7:27 pm Paris time (ECT), the President of the COP, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, gavelled the Paris Agreement home. The crowd stood, applauded and whooped. The text is here: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf
Success, it seemed to us, came because of the unions. They were not dockworkers or ironmongers. They were unions of countries with brands that read like corporate logos: AOSIS, ALBA, G77 Plus, High Ambition, the Like-Minded in favor of Kyoto Annexes, stealth-OPEC. No single effort could broker a deal unless it got the big unions on board. In the end ALBA and stealth-OPEC were too small to matter. The Like-Minded splintered in favor of the Ambitious. AOSIS and G77, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and High Ambition ruled.
In their 2 minute closer, Philippines noted it was the first time that the concept of Climate Justice appears in a legally binding document. In time, they hinted, the United States and other overdeveloped countries will be made to pay reparations to those who will lose all or substantial parts of their counties, including all that high-priced real estate in Rio, Capetown, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Consumerist Empires built on fossil energy may have an unusually large credit card statement coming at the end of the billing cycle.
Pluses and minuses in the new agreement: the 1.5C target is in, thanks to the efforts of UNFCCC head Christina Figueres to give a voice to civil society in these corridors. Five-year 'stocktakes' (Websters Dictionary please take note) — reassessment of progress and commitments — are in. Full phase-out of fossil energy by 2050 is not, but that door is not entirely closed and may be reopened at Marrakech next year.
"Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition, reflecting its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances."
What the text mandates, which is actually significant, is to "achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty."
Decarbonization by 2050 is no longer just a t-shirt. Now it's international law.
Bill McKibben said:
“Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry. This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”
350.org Executive director, May Boeve said:
“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.
The final text still has some serious gaps. We’re very concerned about the exclusion of the rights of indigenous peoples, the lack of finance for loss and damage, and that while the text recognizes the importance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C, the current commitments from countries still add up to well over 3 degrees of warming. These are red lines we cannot cross. After Paris, we’ll be redoubling our efforts to deliver the real solutions that science and justice demand.”
The thinktank E3G said, “The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age.”
The Guardian called it "a victory for climate science and ultimate defeat for fossil fuels."
One piece of statescraft managed by Obama and Kerry was to neatly skirt what killed Kyoto: the 60 Neanderthals in the US Senate put there by the coal kings Koch Brothers. The New York Times spotted the play and reported:
Some elements of the accord would be voluntary, while others would be legally binding. That hybrid structure was specifically intended to ensure the support of the United States: An accord that would have required legally binding targets for emissions reductions would be legally interpreted as a new treaty, and would be required to go before the Senate for ratification.
Such a proposal would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where many lawmakers question the established science of climate change, and where even more hope to thwart President Obama’s climate change agenda.
The accord uses the language of an existing treaty, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to put forth legally binding language requiring countries to verify their emissions, and to periodically put forth new, tougher domestic plans over time.
In just updating regulations enacted under an already ratified treaty, the Paris Agreement bypasses the need for new Senate ratification.
Inside Le Bourget, after the obligatory high fives and selfies, delegates crafted sound bytes for the press and kept the lights on and microphones active past midnight. Outside, 10,000 activists took to the streets to pull a "red line," representing 1.5 degrees, to the Arc de Triomphe.
French President Francois Hollande, who has a gift for hyperbole, said "History is made by those who commit, not those who calculate. Today you committed. You did not calculate." Although not in the way he meant it, this is ironically a first-rate assessment of the Agreement.
There is a quality of awareness among all the delegates to the Paris climate talks that, after 20 years of these discussions, is passing strange. We would not call it a deer-in-the-headlights look, because it is not even quite there yet. Those jockeying for the best outcome for their own economies and constituencies are still quite oblivious to the science of what is transpiring and the seriousness of the threat. They have their noses down in the trough and do not hear the butcher at the barn door.
This should not be surprising. Nowhere in the fossil record is there anything quite like what is transforming the world of humans today. Our physical brains are virtually the same as they were 30,000 years ago, when we were standing upright in the savannah, alert to proximate, not distant, threats and quickly obtained, not slowly exploited, resources.
We make ourselves ignorant in at least three ways: not knowing the basic science of climate change, not knowing what to do about it once we become aware of the problem, and being barraged with wrong information about both of those and being unable to distinguish fact from fiction.
We might think that a lamb raised in New Zealand and eaten in London would create more greenhouse gases than one being locally grown, but in the way the world works today, the opposite is true. We might think that going vegan is more climate responsible than raising farmed animals, but because of how pastured animals stock soils with carbon, the opposite can be true. We might think, as climate scientist James Hansen does, that low prices for gas cause more fossil fuels to be burned, but the opposite is true, because low prices keep whole provinces of production from being tapped.
When disciplined and deliberate attempts by profit-driven vested interests in the production of greenhouse gases cast doubt on science and corrupt politics and the media, grasping these nuances becomes even more difficult.
We are a lucky species in that our optimism is more-or-less hard-wired. People tend to be overly optimistic about their chances of having a happy marriage or avoiding illness. Young people are easily lured to join the military, become combat photographers, or engage in extreme-risk sports because they are unrealistically optimistic they can avoid harm. Humans are also overly optimistic about environmental risks. Our confirmation bias helps us keep up this optimism even when confronted with scientific truths to the contrary.
The principal outcome is less about the how than about the whether. The COP agreed that the era of fossil energy is over. That is no longer in question. It will end by 2050, if not sooner. The question is how, and the Paris Agreement leaves that to fairy dust.
The Guardian reports:
Throughout the week, campaigners have said the deal had to send a clear signal to global industry that the era of fossil fuels was ending. Scientists have seen the moment as career defining.
Carbon Tracker said:
“New energy technologies have become hugely cost-competitive in recent years and the effect of the momentum created in Paris will only accelerate that trend. The need for financial markets to fund the clean energy transition creates opportunity for growth on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.”
What will replace fossil energy? The basket of renewables described by Jeremy Leggett in Winning the Carbon War? There is a slight problem there, and one wonders how long it will take for that to catch up to the delegates. Perhaps by the first stocktake, but maybe longer.
The problem, as often described on this site and elaborated in our book, the Post-Petroleum Survival Guide (2006), is net energy, or return on energy investment (EROEI), first elaborated by systems ecologist Howard T. Odum. These days the leading scientists in that field are calling it "biophysical economics."
To put it as simply as possible, the source of almost all our energy is the sun. When the EROEI of a resource is less than or equal to one, that energy source becomes a net "energy sink", and can no longer be used as a source of energy, but depending on the system might be useful for energy storage (for example a battery, or the tidal storage in Scotland). A fuel or energy must have an EROEI ratio of at least 3:1 to be considered viable as a prominent fuel or energy source. This chart shows typical values for various technologies.
Right now most of what powers the world comes from the top half of that chart. The Paris agreement suggests that most of what we need by 2050 must be selected from portions of the bottom half of the chart — the so-called "clean" energies." Quoth the prophet, Wikipedia:
Thomas Homer-Dixon argues that a falling EROEI in the Later Roman Empire was one of the reasons for the collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century CE. In "The Upside of Down" he suggests that EROEI analysis provides a basis for the analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations. Looking at the maximum extent of the Roman Empire, (60 million) and its technological base the agrarian base of Rome was about 1:12 per hectare for wheat and 1:27 for alfalfa (giving a 1:2.7 production for oxen). One can then use this to calculate the population of the Roman Empire required at its height, on the basis of about 2,500–3,000 calories per day per person. It comes out roughly equal to the area of food production at its height. But ecological damage (deforestation, soil fertility loss particularly in southern Spain, southern Italy, Sicily and especially north Africa) saw a collapse in the system beginning in the 2nd century, as EROEI began to fall. It bottomed in 1084 when Rome's population, which had peaked under Trajan at 1.5 million, was only 15,000. Evidence also fits the cycle of Mayan and Cambodian collapse too. Joseph Tainter suggests that diminishing returns of the EROEI is a chief cause of the collapse of complex societies, this has been suggested as caused by peak wood in early societies. Falling EROEI due to depletion of high quality fossil fuel resources also poses a difficult challenge for industrial economies.
When we hear pleas from underdeveloping countries for greater financial assistance to allow them to adapt — meaning building out renewable energy and migrating coastal cities inland — we have to ask ourselves if they really comprehend what they will need to adapt to, and whether any amount of money will ever be enough. The status quo ante – the way things worked before — is gone, and so is the modo omnia futura. One hundred billion dollars per year is not enough to save human beings as a species but asking for more won't help, either. What might help is committing to degrowth, depopulation, and scaling back our human footprint to something closer to what we had coming out of the last Ice Age, before we started building monumental cities, mining metal, and inventing writing. We don't need to abandon writing, but lets get real — those megacities may be unsalvageable on a solar budget.
Dr. Guy McPherson writes:
Astrophysicists have long believed Earth was near the center of the habitable zone for humans. Recent research published in the 10 March 2013 issue of Astrophysical Journal indicates Earth is on the inner edge of the habitable zone, and lies within 1% of inhabitability (1.5 million km, or 5 times the distance from Earth to Earth’s moon). A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat. Unfortunately, we’ve invoked major changes.
This discussion seems strangely absent, despite the pushback against Saudi Arabia and India after they succeeded in excluding the substantive recommendations of the Structured Expert Dialogue from the COP. They were not allowed to dump the provisions on transparency and uniform accounting, although it was not for lack of effort.
Instead, we keep hearing reference to an outdated and unfortunate IPCC number — the bent straw everyone is grasping for — that to have a 50-50 chance of limiting warming to 2°C (itself untenably overheated), cumulative emissions to end of century and beyond must be limited to 1 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide in total, starting 5 years ago. In that past five years we burned through one tenth – 100 Gt. Most predict that with added growth (a big assumption) we’ll have burned through 75% of this "budget" by 2030 and we’ll bust the budget around 2036. If we cut back, we might have until 2060.
Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace said, "We have a 1.5C wall to climb but the ladder is not tall enough." But he acknowledged, “As a result of what we have secured here we will win… for us Paris was always a stop on an ongoing journey… I believe we are now in with a serious chance to succeed.”
Glen Peters, scientist at CICERO, said 1.5C effectively requires a fossil fuel phase-out by 2030. He later clarified that was without negative emissions or the immediate introduction of a global carbon price, which are some of the assumptions in 1.5C models. His personal view was chances of achieving 1.5C were “extremely slim.”
Will voluntary pledges, revisited every five years starting in 2023 be enough to cut emissions and hold to the budget? It is the wrong question. That budget does not exist. Closer scrutiny of embedded systemic feedbacks reveal we'd blown though any possible atmospheric buffer zone by the 1970s and have just been piling on carbon up there every since.
The Atlantic today reports:
Recent science has indicated that warming to two degrees, still the stated international red line, might be catastrophic, creating mega-hurricanes and possibly halting the temperate jet stream which waters American and European farmland.
From that perspective, 1.5 degrees is an encouraging, ambitious goal. But it’s also a promise that costs negotiators nothing while indicating great moral seriousness.
Because here’s the thing: The math still doesn’t work. 2015 is the hottest year on measure. Because of the delay between when carbon enters the atmosphere and when it traps heat, we are nearly locked into nearly 1.5 degrees of warming already. Many thought the world would abandon the two degree target at Paris due to its impracticality.
Once we apply honestly science-based Earth system sensitivity at equilibrium, excluding none of the feedbacks and forcings that we know of, we discover we passed the 2°C target in 1978. To hold at 2 degrees we would need to bring CO2 concentration down to 334 ppm, not increase it to 450 as the Paris Agreement contemplates. To hold at 1.5°C we would need to vacuum the atmosphere even lower, to a level last seen some time before mid-20th century.
Outside of elite scientists such as those we've mentioned this past week — Anderson, Schellnhuber, Rockstrom, Hansen, Wasdell, and Goreau — few in Le Bourget seem to grasp some simple arithmetic. And so we are treated to the spectacle of fossil producers like India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and many of the underdeveloping countries demanding more time to fill up the available atmospheric space, when in reality there is none and hasn't been for quite some time.
Some say the UN is hamstrung by multilateral consensus, but voting would be no better. After the COP meeting in Durban, the UNFCCC adopted a traditional South African negotiating format to speed up decision-making and bring opposing countries together. The Guardian's John Vidal explains:
Zulu and Xhosa communities use “indabas” to give everyone equal opportunity to voice their opinions in order to work toward consensus.
They were first used in UN climate talks in Durban in 2011 when, with the talks deadlocked and the summit just minutes from collapse, the South African presidency asked the main countries to form a standing circle in the middle of hundreds of delegates and to talk directly to each other.
Instead of repeating stated positions, diplomats were encouraged to talk personally and quietly about their “red lines” and to propose solutions to each other.
By including everyone and allowing often hostile countries to speak in earshot of observers, it achieved a remarkable breakthrough within 30 minutes.
In Paris the indaba format was used by France to narrow differences between countries behind closed doors. It is said to have rapidly slimmed down a ballooning text with hundreds of potential points of disagreements.
By Wednesday with agreement still far away, French prime minister Laurent Fabius further refined the indaba by splitting groups into two.
“It is a very effective way to streamline negotiations and bridge differences. It has the advantage of being participatory yet fair”, said one West African diplomat. “It should be used much more when no way through a problem can be found.”
What may need to happen next year in Marrakech is that the COP host an indaba with experts both in the climate sciences and in biophysical economics.
What may hold out the best hope lies buried 20 pages in, at Article 4:
In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.
1. Parties should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1(d), of the Convention, including forests.
2. Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.
It is not yet clear whether integrated food and fuel sequenced permaculturally designed forests, composed of mixed aged, mixed species robust ecologies and maximum carbon sequestration though biomass-to-biochar energy and agriculture systems will be scaled fast enough, but these two articles could be the spark they need to spur investment.
As the clock ticked on towards end of day, the leader of the High Ambition group, Tony de Blum, introduced to the plenary an 18-year-old girl from Majuro who spoke of water gradually rising on three sides of her home.
"The coconut leaf I wear in my hair and hold up in my hand is from my home in the Marshall Islands. I wear them today in hope of keeping them for my children and my grandchildren — a symbol, these simple strands of coconut leaves that I wear. … Keep these leaves and give them to your children, and tell them a story — of how you helped my islands and the whole world today. This agreement is for those of us whose identity, whose culture, whose ancestors, whose whole being, is bound to their lands. I have only spoken about myself and my islands but the same story will play out everywhere in the world."
Published on Peak Surfer on October 5, 2015
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
"The Shakers believed they were living in the last millennium, the final page of humanity, and since all people shared a brother/sister relationship, they should not marry as there was no longer a need to procreate."
What do you do if you think the world as we know it is about to end and the human race, at its crowning glory, go extinct? That was what confronted Ann Lee in the squalid English dungeon where she had been tossed for espousing a radical form of Christianity.
If you are Ann Lee, you sing and dance.
Ann Lee responded to her powerful, apocalyptic doomer vision of 1722 by creating a whole new religion, one its detractors called the “Shaking Quakers” (because they danced and were pacifists) or simply “Shakers.” When she was released from prison she took her vision out into the world and found a large following.
In Mother Ann's view, the Second Coming had already happened, and the world was inhabited now, not with a Christ in the flesh but in Spirit. The world of industrial capitalism, clearances, sweat shops, child labor, closures of the commons, oppression of women and minorities, colonial wars, militarism and slavery is doomed to fail (as Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier presaged a century later with his discovery of the civilizational heat engine and the greenhouse effect), as are people, and our role now, in the remaining days, is to return Earth to a heavenly garden for eternity.
Therefore, no one needs to be acquiring and owning private property. What is it good for, if abundance is everywhere? No one needs to have slaves. No one needs to go to war. And no one should bother to have children, because this is the final generation.
To borrow the opening lines from Arthur Bestor's Backwoods Utopias,
The American Republic, remarked the aging James Madison to an English visitor, is 'useful in proving things before held impossible.' Of all the freedoms by which America stood, none was more significant for history than the freedom to experiment with new practices and new institutions. What remained mere speculation in the Old World had a way of becoming reality in the New. In this process, moreover, the future seemed often to unveil itself.
Little wonder then that Ann Lee escaped re-imprisonment in England for her scandalous beliefs in peace, gender equality, antislavery and common property by crossing the ocean and finding land in the North American wilderness, near to where Emerson would later stand and remark:
Unfortunately, the Shakers were sometimes met by violent mobs and Ann Lee suffered violence at their hands more than once. Because of these hardships Mother Ann became quite frail; she died at Watervliet, NY on 8 September 1784, at the age of 48.
In August of 1805, three Shaker missionaries, John Meacham, Benjamin Seth Youngs and Issachar Bates (relationship unknown), having traveled more than a thousand miles into the western lands by way of Cumberland Gap and the Ohio River, mostly by foot, arrived at a lovely knoll above the Kentucky River which they called Pleasant Hill.
Within a year, they had 47 converts living together on a 140 acre (57 ha) farm, the twelfth Shaker Village in North America. As new converts came in, they added more buildings and land, eventually reaching 4,369 acres (1,768 ha). By 1812 three communal families — East, Center, and West — each with about 100 members, had been formed, and a fourth, North, was established as a gathering center for prospective converts. On June 2, 1814, the Believers bound themselves together in a more formal covenant with the Shaker Ministry at New Lebanon, New York.
The year 1805 falls into a period of US history that is for some a touchstone of the birth of a great nation, and for others the point of disembarkation for genocide and clearances that continue today. It fell between the War of Independence and a failed British attempt to re-establish a colonial outpost in North America that would only end with the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. In March, 1805, Thomas Jefferson was sworn in for a second term. In April, Beethoven held his baton aloft in Vienna for the first performance of the Symphony Number 3. U.S. Marines stormed the shores of Tripoli in search of Barbari pirates while Napolean was crowned King of Italy. On June 13, Meriwether Lewis and four companions first sighted the Great Falls of the Missouri River. In France, on July 29, Hervé Louis François Jean Bonaventure Clérel, Comte de Tocqueville and Louise Madeleine Le Peletier de Rosanbo, having just dodged the guillotine, gave birth to their son, Alexis de Tocqueville.
"I met with several kinds of associations in America of which I confess I had no previous notion; and I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object for the exertions of a great many men and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it."
The Shakers believed they were living in the last millennium, the final page of humanity, and since all people shared a brother/sister relationship, they should not marry as there was no longer a need to procreate. Instead they believed people should live communally as a family of brothers and sisters. Children who arrived with married converts or were produced through accident or divine intervention could decide whether to remain in the community when they reached the age of majority.
The site in Kentucky was on poor land a great distance from Eastern markets, but by pooling their property and skills and adopting wholesome, mindful work as their primary spiritual practice, the colony prospered. They raised broom corn and made flat brooms so good that when floated to New Orleans by river they returned home by the Natchez Trace with saddlebags full of gold. They raised fruit and sold it dried or as preserves (more than ten tons in one year). Like the other emerging Shaker communities, they sold garden seeds through catalog sales and by 1825 were a thriving, handsome community with large stone and brick dwellings and shops, grassy lawns, and stone sidewalks.
Their 40 miles of stone walls took 12 years to build.
They had a municipal water system well before some towns in their area. By 1825 they had spigots in their kitchens. Their mill had an elevator for moving grain to the upper floor, and they had a mechanical corn sheller. Each large dwelling, housing 50 to 100 residents in apartments, had a central kitchen and did laundry in machines run by horse power.
One of their barns included an upper floor for storage of grain and hay, a cutting machine for chopping fodder, and an ingenious railway for delivering feed to the cattle. Even though it was the end of the world, their sense of security endowed them with creative energy that knew few limits.
is one of joint-interest, as the children of one family, enjoying equal rights and privileges in things spiritual and temporal, because they are influenced and led by one Spirit and love is the only bond of their union: As it is written, 'All that believed were together, and had all things common — and were of one heart, and of one soul.'
Not through hatred, collision, and depressing competition; not through War, whether of Nation against Nation, Class against Class, or Capital against Labor; but through Union, Harmony, and the reconciling of all Interests, the giving scope to all noble Sentiments and Aspirations, is the Renovation of the World, the Elevation of the degraded and suffering Masses of Mankind, to be sought and effected.
Can society ever be constituted upon principles of universal Christian brotherhood? The believing Christian, the enlightened philosopher, answer — IT CAN. Will this organization commence with the entire race of man? With existing governments? Or with small isolated communities. Doubtless, the principles of this new organization must be matured in the hearts and lives of individuals, before they can be embodied in any community, but when the new organization commences, it will doubtless be in small communities.
By the autumn of 1808, Pleasant Hill was established in its current location and in 1809 the Center Family Dwelling, now the Farm Deacon's Shop, was finished. The following year a stone Meeting House was built across the road from Center Family, but the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812 damaged its stone foundations. The foundations were elaborately rebuilt with two-foot-thick freestack supports every eight feet, and the roof made of great engineered arches to both support the stomping and dancing of 500 Shakers on the first floor, and to permit them to dance and sing unobstructed by support columns, which were made more massive and placed into the 2-foot-thick outer walls.
Access to distant markets for their goods and necessities required them to lay roads and navigate the treacherous Kentucky River. In 1813, they established the first Shaker Ferry five miles North of Pleasant Hill and constructed a wagon road on both sides of the river, lined by their distinctive stone walls. They constructed a North-South road that ran from the river, through the center of their village and then South to Harrodsburg. When the railroad arrived, it crossed the river by high iron trestle just upstream of the Shaker landing.
Economic sustainability was a cornerstone, so brooms, seeds, medicinal herbs, cheese, canned goods, buckets, straw hats, carpets, cloth and shuttles moved on the river, first by flatboat, then keelboat, and later by steam paddlewheel to Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez and New Orleans. Tool castings, building materials, pickling spices, tea, sugar and glass jars came back the other way.
|Deacon's House, likely home of Issachar Bates|
Something still more important was exchanged. “Shaker” as a brand became associated with purity, frugality, and wholesomeness. This was achieved first by the Seed Division, which produced the nation's first mail order seed catalog and became the largest seed company in the Hemisphere. Later it would be synonymous with Shaker furniture, with its clean lines, lightweight sturdy material, and perfect joinery.
It is ironic that it should be the Great Civil War that brought Pleasant Hill low, because that was a war, first and foremost, between combatant paradigms. The rapidly industrializing northern states, fueled by coal, oil (including whale oil), and the latest energy saving machinery from England and Germany, could afford to replace human slaves with energy slaves to considerable financial advantage. They eyed the slave economy of the South, with its cotton and coal wealth, as a way to supply their machines.
Abolition of slavery was not a central goal of the war-makers, and indeed, the Union, as it formed to oppose the Secessionists, contained the slave states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia.
The Shakers at Pleasant Hill were devout abolitionists. They adopted the practice of buying and freeing slaves, and since freed slaves could not work or own property in Kentucky, they offered them sanctuary and equal stake as members of Pleasant Hill. In 1825 a pro-slavery, anti-pacifist mob attacked Pleasant Hill and destroyed some of its facilities.
Nonetheless, during the War the community fed thousands of soldiers, from both sides, who came marching up the North-South road, the main artery between Harrodsburg and Lexington, that passed straight through the center of the village. Given the choice between rape, pillage and plunder and Christian charity, the Shakers poured out of their dwellings and placed food in the hands of weary soldiers and cared for their wounds. Both armies "nearly ate [them] out of house and home," a Shaker witness reported, but they survived the war intact.
The worse tragedy came after the war, when Lincoln's policy of reconciliation and restoration died with him and the original Northern industrialist goal of regional subjugation returned to the fore. The Shaker's lifeline, the river, was cut off to them, with all Southern commerce on the Mississippi banned and high tariffs imposed on Kentucky trade goods. Living in rural Tennessee, we can personally attest that these policies continue in more subtle forms to the present and most strongly affect border states like Kentucky and West Virginia, where children are still forced by economic necessity (student loans and medical blackmail) to go down into the mines and pick at hard rock seams or operate giant bulldozers, scrapers and cranes to remove whole mountains, to extract coal too dirty to be burned in the United States for export to China.
The policy of celibacy insured that the Shaker religious society would not long outlive the first generation, and by 1900, only 34 remained at Pleasant Hill. The Shaker community was dissolved in 1910 and in 1923, the last member, Mary Settles, died. She was pleased to live long enough to see women's suffrage and planned to vote a straight Democratic ticket on her first ballot. She said that Shaker sisters had always had equal rights within their communal society.
After her demise, the village slowly began going back to nature. Some of the pasture land was used or absorbed into neighboring farms, but occasionally pilgrims would arrive and marvel at what remained. One such visitor was the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, who wrote:
After Mary Settles passed, the land went into private hands and was parceled up. The Meeting Hall, with its well-supported grand ballroom, became an automobile repair garage. Oil stains the hardwood floors.
In 1961 a group of Lexington-area citizens launched an effort to restore the property. By 1964 the Friends of Pleasant Hill had organized a non-profit corporation, raised funds for operating expenses, and secured a $2 million loan to purchase and restore the site. Eight buildings were restored by 1968 and placed on public display.
Today, with 34 original 19th-century buildings and 2,800 acres (1100 ha.) of restored farmland, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is "the largest historic community of its kind in America." It is a place of continuing enchantment. Ann Lee herself recognized how revolutionary her ideas were when she said, "We [the Shakers] are the people who turned the world upside down." The walls echo the music and dance of a people who believed they were the last of their kind, but as it turned out, they weren't. At least, not yet.
Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 27, 2015
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
Besides the ongoing collapse of the monetary system which fill the Newz headlines every day with a plethora of stories of bankrupt countries and mass layoffs, ever more people on Food Stamps and living out of their cars even if they have a full time job, probably the hottest topic in the collapse blogosphere is the question of Near Term Human Extinction. I've covered it in rants and I've done surveys to see what the readers think on this topic also, but it's the collapse gift that keeps on giving.
The most well known person throuh the collapse blogosphere hawking this concept is Guy McPherson who runs the blog Nature Bats Last, but by no means is he the only one these days. In his Encyclical, even the POPE insinuated this as a possibility in his Encyclical on Climate.
Before beginning here on debunking this idea, let me state for the record that NTHE is possible, and the longer you go out on the timeline the more possible it becomes. Go out far enough on the timeline, it's inevitable and always has been. As the tagline goes on Zero Hedge, "On a long enough timeline, the survival of everyone drops to Zero". The issue is about the likelihood this can occur on short timelines. In Guy's case, he has the timeline down to as soon as 2030 now. That means every last Homo Sap on the planet is DEAD in 15 years.
For our purposes in this examination though, we'll consider "Near Term" to be anything under a Century.
The second caveat to this examination is that it is looking strictly at the Climate Change problem, not at the possibility we are on a collision course with Planet X or that the numbskulls with their Fingers on the Nuke Buttons will push them and set off Global Thermonuclear War. Either of those as well as a few other scenarious could vastly accelerate the extinction of Homo Sap.
The question we are looking at here is:
Will a rise in Average Global Temperature (AGT) by 4C exterminate all Homo Saps inside the Next Century due to loss of Habitat and die off of many species we currently depend on?
Let's begin with what the current Average Global Temperature (AGT) actually IS at the moment.
Climatologists prefer to combine short-term weather records into long-term periods (typically 30 years) when they analyze climate, including global averages. Between 1961 and 1990, the annual average temperature for the globe was around 57.2°F (14.0°C), according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Now, according to the NOAA, as of August 2015, the current Average Global Temperature is 1.14C over the 20th Century Average.
The average global land surface temperature for August 2015 was 1.14°C (2.05°F) above the 20th century average
So let us be generous on the warming side and say the current AGT is up to 16 C now. Let us warm this up further by another 4C over the next 15 years to 20 C.
Now, Guy's hypothesis states that no Homo Saps have ever been alive when the AGT was that warm, and that is true. However, can you draw the conclusion from that it is IMPOSSIBLE for Homo Sap to survive at such an AGT? Other mammals (our ancestors) survived an even warmer time period, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when the AGT went up to about 25 C or so. If other mammals could do it back then, why in principle can we not do it again this time?
The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), alternatively "Eocene thermal maximum 1" (ETM1), and formerly known as the "Initial Eocene" or "Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum" refers to a climate event that began at the temporal boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs. The absolute age and duration of the event remain uncertain, but are thought to be close to 55.8 million years ago and about 170,000 years of duration The PETM has become a focal point of considerable geoscience research because it probably provides our best past analog by which to understand impacts of global warming and massive carbon input to the ocean and atmosphere, including ocean acidification.
The onset of the PETM has been linked to an initial 5 °C temperature rise and extreme changes in Earth’s carbon cycle. The PETM is marked by a prominent negative excursion in carbon stable isotope (δ13C) records from around the globe; more specifically, there was a large decrease in 13C/12C ratio of marine and terrestrial carbonates and organic carbon.
Numerous other changes can be observed in stratigraphic sections containing the PETM. Fossil records for many organisms show major turnovers. For example, in the marine realm, a mass extinction of benthic foraminifera, a global expansion of subtropical dinoflagellates, and an appearance of excursion, planktic foraminifera and calcareous nanofossils all occurred during the beginning stages of PETM. On land, there was a sudden appearance of modern mammal orders (including primates) in Europe and North America. Sediment deposition changed significantly at many outcrops and in many drill cores spanning this time interval.
Although it is now widely accepted that the PETM represents a “case study” for global warming and massive carbon input to Earth’s surface, the cause, details and overall significance of the event remain perplexing.
Guy's case is that Habitat will be so destroyed globally by such a rise in AGT, that there simply will be NOWHERE Homo Sap can survive on the planet. Is that necessarily true?
Well, first off you have to remember this is an AVERAGE taken over the whole globe, it is not the average for a given region in any given time period. Right now, TODAY, many people live in neighborhoods which have yearly average temperatures quite a bit warmer than this. Lagos in Nigeria is one such place, but there are many in the equatorial regions of the Earth.
February is the hottest month in Lagos with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F) and the coldest is July at 25°C (77°F)
There are a LOT of people currently living in Lagos, like around 20M of them and that's just one Big Shity in Nigeria too! They don't all have HVAC either, in fact most of them live in slums with no electricity at all! So clearly, Homo Sap can survive at these temperatures.
Granted though, this is rather sweaty and uncomfortable weather overall, but if the AGT is 20C, does that mean every neighbohood is 20 C? Of course not, because the average temperature for any given location depends on its Latitude and its Altitude.
Starting with Altitude, you drop almost 2C for every 1000' in altitude you gain
Although the actual atmospheric lapse rate varies, under normal atmospheric conditions the average atmospheric lapse rate results in a temperature decrease of 6.4 °C/km (3.5 °F or 1.95 °C/1,000 ft) of altitude above ground level.
So, all you need to do in any given latitude is situate yourself 2000' above sea level and you have already knocked off 4 C tempeature rise on a global average.
The situation is similar with Latitude:
Temperature also decreases as latitude becomes more northward in the Northern Hemisphere and more southerly in the Southern Hemisphere. Latitude in this sense simply refers to a measurement of movement north or south across the surface of the earth. The general rule is that temperature changes three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 300 mile change in latitude at an elevation of sea level. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you can expect temperatures to be 3 degrees cooler 300 miles north, 6 degrees cooler 600 miles north, and so on, until you reach the North Pole. The same is true for the Southern Hemisphere, except that temperatures cool the further you travel from the equator toward the South Pole.
So, depending where you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, you can knock off aroun 1.5C for every 300 Miles you move from your current location. Can you stand the heat where you currently live without HVAC? If you can, each time the AGT goes up by 1.5C, you just need to move another 300 miles north or south and you are back to where you started, and that is WITHOUT gaining altitude!
So clearly even with a projected 4 C rise in AGT, there are still going to be zones on the earth with still livable climate for Homo Sap. It is also by no means clear that we will get 4 C inside of 15 years either. So it has no good basis in scientific reasoning to suggest that Homo Sap will go extinct in such a short period of time, simply due to a 4 C rise in AGT.
Can Homo Sap experience an extreme Knockdown event in such a short time? That is much more possible, and perhaps even probable at this point. The number of neighborhoods that would have both good temperatures and enough water would be vastly reduced from what is available today. However, a Knockdown event is not an Extinction, and Homo Sap has experienced Knockdowns before and rebounded from them.
Although the cause is disputed, somewhere between 75-200K years ago Homo Sap DNA evidence shows that the population of Homo Sap around at the time experienced a severe bottleneck, which may have been quick or it may have gone on for some time, but the bottleneck is still there:
The Toba catastrophe theory as presented in the late 1990s to early 2000s suggested that a bottleneck of the human population occurred c. 70,000 years ago, proposing that the human population was reduced to perhaps 10,000-30,000 individuals when the Toba supervolcano in Indonesia erupted and triggered a major environmental change. The theory is based on geological evidence of sudden climate change and on coalescence evidence of some genes (including mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome and some nuclear genes) and the relatively low level of genetic variation in humans.
However, coalescence times for Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA have been revised to well above 100,000 years since 2011. In addition, such coalescence would not, in itself, indicate a population bottleneck, because mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA are only a small part of the entire genome, and are atypical in that they are inherited exclusively through the mother or through the father, respectively. Genetic material inherited exclusively from either father or mother can be traced back in time via either matrilineal or patrilineal ancestry.
In 2000, a Molecular Biology and Evolution paper suggested a transplanting model or a 'long bottleneck' to account for the limited genetic variation, rather than a catastrophic environmental change. This would be consistent with suggestions that in sub-Saharan Africa numbers could have dropped at times as low as 2,000, for perhaps as long as 100,000 years, before numbers began to expand again in the Late Stone Age.
So whether this bottleneck was fast or slow, whether the Toba Supervolcano caused it or not, whether the numbers dropped to 30,000, 10,000 or 2000, it's pretty clear the population of Homo Sap can rebound from a very small number to quite a large one, as today there are over 7B who reproduced up from that number.
So not a whole lot of people need to make it through this Zero Point to avoid an Extinction Level Event for Homo Sap.
So we have established now 2 things:
1- The climate in all places on earth is unlikely to become unfit for human habitation
2- The number of people who need to survive in order to avoid extinction is quite small
The next question to address is that of Positive Feedback Loops, which some folks suggest will send the planet into a Venusian style Global Cooking Event, with runaway heating that exceeds even the PETM. If that were to occur, most certainly Homo Sap and most other living things besides Extremophiles like the Tardigrades would not be able to make it through such an event. However, does the scientific record of Global Atmospheric Carbon content and Average Global Temperature suggest that is likely? No it does not.
As you can see, basically regardless of how much of the Global Carbon Reservoir gets dumped into the atmosphere for whatever reason, the AGT always plateaus out around 25C. So for all the Positive Feedback Loops that are out there, at 25C some Negative Feedback Loops must start to kick in. Unidentified as of yet what they are, but they must be there, otherwise we should have turned into Venus 170M years ago when global atmospheric CO2 was at around 2300 ppm. We got a lot of carbon to burn to get there in any event, and lots of clathrates have to melt too! That is not going to happen in 15 years.
The other issue here is what happens to the oceans and all the fishies during this period? Well, the Ocean is going to continue to acidify, and many current species are going to die off. Phytoplankton are of particular concern here, since they are in large part responsible for dropping molecular oxygen back into the atmosphere for the animals on the planet to breathe, including you and me. Can the atmosphere go Anoxic inside 15 years? No, not even if every last phytoplankton died could that occur, because the atmosphere is a very large sink. As more animals die off, less oxygen is consumed. So it takes some time to deplete the atmosphere of oxygen down to say 10% where it would be real difficult to survive. Although, well acclimated people such as the Sherpas can do OK at 8%. Obviously, as oxygen levels in the atmosphere decline, only people who can survive with such low concentrations would be selected for. In any event it takes some time for this to occur, a lot longer than 15 years. There are at least 3 currently living communities of people who can survive these low oxygen concentrations.
Prehistoric and contemporary human populations living at altitudes of at least 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level may provide unique insights into human evolution, reports an interdisciplinary group of scientists. Indigenous highlanders living in the Andean Altiplano in South America, in the Tibetan Plateau in Asia, and at the highest elevations of the Ethiopian Highlands in east Africa have evolved three distinctly different biological adaptations for surviving in the oxygen-thin air found at high altitude.
Above 25,000', fuhgettabboudit, not even Sherpas can last long up there. It's the DEATH ZONE. However, below 8000' or so, even with steady atmospheric oxygen concentrations depleting, it will take a good deal longer than 15 years for that one to occur.
The Death Zone on Everest
However, the likelihood that all the phytoplankton die off within 15 years itself is quite small. Remember, they all did not Buy their Ticket to the Great Beyond TM in the PETM, 5-10% of ocean species survived that event. Phytoplankton are single cell and they reproduce and adapt to changing environmental conditions rapidly. There has been a dieoff of around 50% of them over the last 40 years or so, but it is unlikely they ALL will die off inside even another 40 years, because this is asymptotic.
Land based ecosystems have their own set of parameters, and some will collapse quickly, others will persist for quite some time to come. As the population of Homo Sap dwindles, it will migrate to those zones that still have functional ecosystems. Then in addition, Homo Sap being Sentient can further augment what is available in the local ecosystem, through techniques like Hydroponics and Aquaculture.
This Greenhouse is on the North Slope of Alaska:
So you clearly can feed SOME number of people this way, it's a Non-Zero number, which by definition means you don't have Extinction. How big that number is remains open to question, but it is certainly more than 100,000, which is more than enough to provide genetic diversity for the species to recover over time.
Now, despite the fact the evidence above shows that Guy's 15 year timeline to Near Term Human Extinction is quite preposterous, does this mean we are not in BIG TROUBLE?
HELL NO! WE ARE IN THE DEEP DOO-DOO HERE!
We are going to have a LOT of DEAD PEOPLE!
What is important given this incontravertable fact of life is that the sooner we get started on addressing this problem realistically, the better we can make it possible for not only more people to survive this crash, but more of the rest of the ecosystem too!
For right now, making any changes on the gross geopolitical level is impossible. The Chinese are going to keep burning coal to keep their electric power plants running as long as they can. Happy Motorists in the FSoA will keep driving around willy nilly as long as they can too. The carbon will be burned, the climate will continue to become more inhospitable, for at least the next 40 years no matter what due to the lag time for many effects to show themselves.
However, individuals can begin the process of learning how to survive in a drastically changed environment, and communities can begin to form to handle it as well. It is up to each person to begin this process inside your own small sphere of influence. My small sphere is the Doomstead Diner , collapse.global & Sun4Living websites. That's my effort, that is all an old cripple can do.
If you have talent, knowledge and/or experience, you too can make a difference, and this is no time to be a QUITTER. Resigning yourself to an inevitable fate of EXTINCTION in the Near Term is QUITTING. Accepting this situation as HOPELESS is QUITTING.
This is a battle that can be fought, and it is a battle that can be WON! Not without a lot of pain and a lot of loss, to be sure, but giving up is not an option, unless you really WANT to die, or you want our whole species to die because you think we are so awful and bad to have around on the planet. If you want to LIVE, you look for means and methods to SURVIVE.
This battle has been waged before by the ancestors of Homo Sap in the PETM, and they won it.
DONE ONCE, IT CAN BE DONE AGAIN.
Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 8, 2015
Discuss the results at the Survey Table inside the Diner
As our Global Economic System spins downward here, one of the most important near-term questions is what money will work and for how long?
When the initial phase of the economic collapse got underway in 2008, numeous pundits including John Williams of Shadow Stats, the Tyler Durdens from Zero Hedge and Speedy Gonzalo Lira all predicted imminent Hyperinflation of the Dollar resulting from Quantitative Easing by Da Fed, which never occurred.
In recent weeks however, we have seen big moves in various currencies from around the world, mostly depreciating against the Almighty Dollar. Even the Chinese removed the peg of the Yuan/Renminby to the Dollar and depreciated their currency, to attempt to remain competitive in the export market with other cheap labor countries. Venezuela's currency is rapidly approaching worthlessness, and the Brazilian Real is starting to look like their old Cruzeiros. As far as the developing world is concerned, it's a Race to the Bottom these days.
Far as the individual is concerned though, it's important to know which currencies will fall in value fastest, and of course try to have savings in currencies which will last longest. There are location problems with this of course, since say if you hold Swissies but live in Montana, it's unlikely the local Walmart will take your Swissies for a Can of Beans. Even if you do believe the Chinese are going to Inherit the Earth, is holding Renminby a good idea?
What about the Precious Metals? Will they be functional as currency once the last of the current Fiat regimes collapses?
Your opinions on these crucial questions of collapse are solicited in this week's Collapse SurveyTM.
The Refugee Crisis has been the HOT Topic in the world of Collapse over the last week. Besides myself, Tom Lewis (Daily Impact), Jason Heppenstall (22 Billion Energy Slaves) and Jim Kunstler (Clusterfuck Nation) all weighed in on this topic, along with numerous other articles around the web, both from MSM and Alternative Media sources.
Here on the Diner, we identified this problem fairly early on in the Official Refugee Thread, begun by Eddie in May of 2015. It has of course escalated substantially since then, and we chronicled the escalation over the last few months in that thread.
This month as it escalated, I got together with a few of my fellow Collapse Bloggers and Authors, Ugo Bardi (Resource Crisis), Steve Ludlum (Economic Undertow) and Norman Pagett (The End of More) to discuss this issue.
After that, I also Ranted on the Refugee Crisis, since there is so much insanity going on with it this makes for good Rant Material.
So this is the history to date of the Refugee Crisis, but what of the FUTURE? What do Kollapsniks TM think will play out here, how and on what timeline? So in additon to all the rest, I worked up a Refugee Crisis Survey to get some feedback and numbers on this one.
Here is how it plays out according to Kollapsniks TM.
If you were in charge on the Hungarian Border or Italian Beaches, what would be your First Choice for handling the Tsunami of Refugees from MENA?
|Build Refugee Camps and solicit Food Aid from the Red Cross||Increase Taxes to send Food Aid to their home countries and set up Refugee Camps there||Shoot on sight any Refugees entering your country, including Women and Children||Mine and Fence all Borders including harbors and beaches||Shut down the Interrail between European Countries||Ship them back to where they came from as soon as they arrive (you pay the shipping with your taxes)||Give them all a Free Ticket to Germany or Sweden||Standard Deviation||Responses|
About 1/3rd of the respondents chose setting up Refugee Camps and soliciting aid from the Red Cross, which basically is the humane, traditional approach to this sort of situation. However, when the numbers grow large, this methodology tends to break down pretty quickly. In fact, it has broken down so quickly in Germany they shut down the borders in an attmept to control the problem, AND they are now housing at least some of the refugees at BUCHENWALD. Yes, that's right, one of the most infamous of the Concentration Camps from WWII, along with Auschwitz and Teresenstadt, where at least one Czech Politician has suggested would be a good repository for these refugees. What MESSAGE does this send, eh?
The next most popular idea was to give all the refugees a Free Ticket to Germany or Sweden, which definitely would be a cheaper alternative then trying to house all of them. This might have worked through Monday, when the Krauts shut down the border with Austria. They clearly are not going to keep taking all comers, and neither I suspect will Sweden.
The countries getting stuck with the refugees are those which simply do not have any real means to keep them out, Turkey currently has around 2 MILLION of them, and I'll bet Serbia is stacking up too. These Refugee Camps are of course Terrorist Breeding Grounds, accidents waiting to happen.
OK, on to Q2, a Yes/No question on whether Fences and Walls can do anything to resolve this problem. This is basically split right down the middle amongst Kollapsniks TM.
How long before Migration begins in earnest out of California to escape drought and water depletion?
|It has already begun.||1 year||3 years||5 years||10 years||>10 years||There will not be a migration out of California, water problems will be solved.||Standard Deviation||Responses|
Is Wall & Fence building, mining harbors and deploying military personel to secure borders going to have a significant effect in preventing or slowing migrations?
This is not a lot different than the Two Party problem of Repubtards vs Demodummies. If you are anywhere near a 50-50 split, nothing gets done, no side has a clear majority and you get locked up in decision making on anything. Anyone with a little MONEY can sway an election either way at the 50-50 line, you just need to buy a few votes or a few SCOTUS Judges. See the Bush-Gore Election for this.
My opinion on whether Fences and Walls are a good solution?
It's a waste of time and money, has never worked in the past and won't work now either. You can't man them and staff them economically and they are way easier to knock down then they are to build in the first place.
How long before the migration problem overwhelms the capacity of Europe to protect its borders and North America to seal the southern border with Mexico?
|It has already been overwhelmed||1 year||5 years||10 years||>10 years||The ability to prevent migration will not be overwhelmed, migration can always be prevented if you build and staff your defenses properly.||Standard Deviation||Responses|
Now onto the text responses! This is where it really gets interesting, because you start to see the ideological mindset at work here in various groups and types of people. 🙂
Warning! You may find some replies unpleasant!
|What other option would you choose first to handle the Refugee problem?|
|Anyone who exhibits aggressive behavior is sent back|
|Arrest them and ship them home.|
|Autonomous drones. Put chemical weapons back on the table.|
|build refugee camps|
|Citizenship and Integration|
|Crucifixion sends a message that's hard to miss.|
encourage the USA to receive
with open arms the "huddled
|Enlist aid from other countries to send to MENA home countries|
Europe: Work out who can handle new immigrants best and how and be fair to all countries.
But mainly: All those Middle Eastern countries that are doing nothing to help their neighbours, like Saudi Arabia, need to start taking the brunt of the burden.
|Find some agreement with other European countries to share the load more equally. Hire more people to process asylum requests.|
|Forced sterilization of all politicians and their families.|
|Give them guns and march them back to their own country|
|Highlight the actual problem that the USA is the real problem in the press, at the UN, the Vatican and every other outlet. Boycott US products.|
|Huge weapons tax on any manufacturer selling to the Middle East (like 50%)|
|I would start a infrastructure project, like updating and maintaining all the rail roads through labor (not just machines), and give every refugee a right to stay, with a small plot of land, if they volounteer for the work|
|In the longer term, quit interfering in foreign countries and making things worse.|
|Increase bombing in their home countries so you don't need to shoot them when they get to the new one.|
|Increase public awareness campaigns, try and get more people to donate to charities that support the refugee crisis, try to find jobs for some refugees|
|Increasing taxes for aid would be my second choice from the list.|
|It is irresponsible to just send them all to Germany or Sweden. The numbers of potential migrants from their home countries will never be depleted and so the "Tsunami" will never end (until Germany and Sweden are hellish shitholes)|
|Labor camps, get them fixing infrastructure.|
|lodge them in properties of value in excess of one million pounds sterling ,or European equivalent.|
|Make sure they knew that their was their was not sanctuary to be found for them in the poorer countries.|
Poverty, injustice, over breeding, overpopulation, suffering, oppression, military rule, squalor, torture, terror, massacre: these ancient evils feed and breed on one another in synergistic symbiosis. To break the cycles of pain at least two new forces are required: social equity – and birth control. Population control. Our Hispanic neighbors are groping toward this discovery. If we truly wish to help them we must stop meddling in their domestic troubles and permit them to carry out the social, political, and moral revolution which is both necessary and inevitable.
Or if we must meddle, as we have always done, let us meddle for a change in a constructive way. Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.
|Pressure the UN and EU to pick up the slack and help out.|
|Put them in China's Ghost Cities.|
|Secure Western Syria with UN troops to include US & Russian. Take the fight to the Islamic state. Secure Syrians and Iraqis in there homeland.|
|Ship them back.|
|Shoot on sight, border mines|
Short of actively trying to prevent war in their countries in the first place, instead of encouraging it to profit from arms sales and reduced labour costs in Europe (we could all see this coming years ago):
Build Refugee Camps and Increase Taxes (probably not necessary) for food Aid here.
|Solve the problems in their home country|
|Stop attacking other countries|
|Stop bombing the bejesus out of their homes|
|Stop imperialistic wars and the consumption of fossil fuels.|
stop the 'west' from funding the unrest. Tee heee…………….
when living creatures are caged together the become stressed and eat each other. You are right, this is a wicked problem. As we knock hard against limits things cannot end with enough for all.
|Take out actors who are forcing people to migrate. Isis comes to mind.|
|There is no good option|
|try to lessen our government's involvement with generating rip-off of their country's resources.|
|Try to solicit clerks from other European countries to help with processing the refugees|
|UNCHR refugee camps close to home countries. Much cheaper and a chance to repatriate the refugees.|
|Use nuclear weapons on north Africa to kill as many as possible.|
|Well, since we gave up completely, long ago, on logic-driven "social policy" and most governments are treating their populations like shit through the use of barbaric policing, there is no real option. We're doomed to unthinking policies and to being told what we will accept. Obviously MENA could function better, but privileged people have benefitted from shitty exploitative global policies, so now they apparently, deserve to have their lives disrupted (even tho they had no real say in these policies). Anyone, from here on out, with stupid ideas to exploit others in ways that severely disrupts a decent way of life, should be jailed in public squares where the rest of us can spit on them and poke them with sticks. However, at this point, we're doomed.|
|Wow what the fuck even is this survey.|
|Donald Trump has a platform of Deporting Migrants. Can this platform be implemented, and if so how? (Text Response)|
Being a non US citizen I am not up to date on the platform itself.
I can only see it ending in bodies though.
|Building a wall|
|Donald Trump is an incoherent fuckwit.|
|Doubt it, too many leftie losers|
Enforce existing laws. Most will self deport.
Use homeland security to hunt down and dump the rest in Mexico – regardless where they have come from.
First you have to enforce the laws already on the books.
The people who employ illegal migrants should be fines and imprisoned… the migrants will not come if their is nothing for them here.
Then start making the deportation stream line and efficient.
|Give them back Califonia.|
|he is a twat|
|He will threaten them with his hair monster.|
|His ideas will not work.|
I can only see this policy be executed on the condition that there is a false flag attack against the US that is blamed on Mexican terrorists. The attack would give cover for the mass deportation agenda that would never be acceptable to the majority of Americans.
The plight of millions of
A huge migration of dispossessed people within Mexico could be disruptive to their politics as usual.
|I fear it would take a violent form, shipping migrants on huge boats, probably with mass casualties|
|I have no idea what Trump's plan is|
|I have no knowledge on the subject|
|I think that platform is unworkable mostly.|
|I've no idea. I'm not American so I don't know about this.|
|Illegal migrants should be repatriated to their homelands. Mexico uses the US as a means to get rid of its poor and criminal class. Anyone with a criminal record needs to be sent back immediately as a good start. Build prisons in Mexico and send all these criminals we are supporting back to where they came from. I has to be cheaper. Pretty expensive jobs program here in the US.|
|It can be implemented at the point of a gun. If enough people support the Donald the plan will be implemented, if not it will fail in a film at 11 extravaganza of tear gas riot police and screams of refugee lives matter.|
|It will impede an already broke and overloaded systems and increase collapse.|
|It will not be possible, there are too many migrants and attempts of deportation will result in violence.|
|No – he's blowing smoke|
|No, it cannot. There is too much political opposition in the United States to do anything of scale no matter your political party/ideology.|
|No, It's too late.|
|No, there are too many|
|No, there are too many migrants for that.|
|No. Congress would write and bill, make a law and then not fund it.|
|No. It is an exercise in absurdity.|
No….he is a moron who thinks the presidency is about snapping his fingers and having others jump.
He would be very unhappy with reality… and if fact has no desire to actually be POTUS, he is currently just drumming up free publicity for his brand.
Not really. The Southwest is 30% Latin. If they ever start voting, the Trumps of the world will be barbecued on a spit
Se habla Espanol, ya'll.
|Probably not, and if it can, it's unethical and barbaric.|
|Sure. Those who survive will try again, but it can be done.|
|Trump's talking out his arse.|
|We are already deporting more under Obama than any past president. Can we realistically do more than that.|
|What's the platform.|
|With 11 million "illegal" imigrants, the horse is out of the barn|
|Yes, if they crossed the US, Mexico border, send them back.|
|Yes, secret police.|
|Yes, use of military to enforce border protection|
|How will Donald Trump handle internal migration problems from drought ravaged regions in the FSoA? (text response)|
|Again as an outsider, I cannot see it ending peacefully. My guess would be that it would be "managed' by some sort of terrible 'disaster' where the administration could the provide assistance to the 'survivors'|
All he can do is give service. The cost of this is going to overwhelm the system.
Their is no solution to this except a large population reduction.
|Blame somebody else|
|Deport people back to the states they came from.|
|Ditto question 5|
|Donald Trump AGAIN.!! FSoA pop will hold off migrating till they can get a good deal on the sale of their house; then it'll be too late cuz no one will be buying… That's when the hoards will finally migrate; with nothing. Then they'll be "the homeless" and we all know how we've come to treat "the homeless".|
|Give them a straw AND free transport to the Great Lakes|
Going on Fox News and Blaming the victims.
and building a gold plated tower…
|He can't, It's too much for him to figure out.|
|He might conquer Canada and open up homesteading there.|
|He will give speeches and after expressing two cents worth of sympathy he will tell them to get jobs.|
|He will invariably do something profoundly stupid that makes the problem vastly worse.|
|He will not address it|
|He will threaten then with his hair monster.|
|He won't need to|
|He won't, because he won't be elected. Even Americans aren't that heartless and stupid as to let him take office.|
|He'll run a solutions competition, and the winner will be a for-profit plan that will relocate millions of poor people into giant new suburb slums outside of exiting urban areas with more water resources. The slums will be built out of recycled steel shipping containers nicknamed Trumpholes.|
|His people will think of something.|
|I already mentioned that he is a twat|
|I don't believe he will be elected. Assuming he is elected, I do not know enough of his platform to give a worthwhile response.|
|I don't know|
|I have no knowledge on the subject|
|I think he will blame immigrants for taking the water and force them out.|
|just like everything else he does, by saving the rich at the expense of the poor, through violence if needed|
|lost in space|
|Not a clue. Just following the 1986 regulations would help. California is destined to be a third world state in my opinion.|
|Not at all|
|Put them in camps.|
|Renounce the citizenship of all Hispanics and Blacks. Then implement 5.|
|Sell the sw refugees condos in trump towers|
|The same way the FSoA handles 92 million unemployed. Trailer parks hunger and rotten teeth.|
|Whatever it is, it will be H-U-U-U-U-GE!|
|Why don't you ask Donald.|
|You know, I'm starting to think this poll isn't completely neutral.|
|If you were in charge, what policies would you put in place now to try and stem the tide of refugees all over the world? (text response)|
|Actively try to prevent war in their countries in the first place, instead of encouraging it to profit from arms sales. And actual regulation of multinationals that operate from my home country instead of pretending they do not exploit workers and people abroad (and at home).|
|As King of the World. Migration is a fact. It will happen as climate change begins to bite. Develop soft population growth controls and alter national boundaries/resource consumption to accomodate as many people as possible while working to decreace total population to a sustainable number through natural reductions. (Like this ever has a chance in hell of happening).|
|Best to provide aid to their homelands and keep people home and with their own cultures. This will become increasing difficult though since the financial system is running on fumes and is really broke.|
|Birth control for.the population forced sterilization of all elite and their families.|
No new babies!!!
|Call an emergency meeting of the UN, find a way in which the whole world pitches in.|
|Can't be done|
|Development of autonomous drones. Scrap traditional warfare conventions. There will be no way for humans to stop what's coming. It's time to call in the heartless machines.|
|Don't stem it. People are getting killed and tortured. Build cheap housing for them, give them a tiny income, hire more police and schoolteachers to reduce the trouble they'll cause. Raise taxes to do all this. When natives complain that the refugees make life slightly harder for them, point out that asylum is a human right.|
|Drop money instead of bombs.|
Educating women seems to be the best way to lower the birth rate. I'd try to educate and empower women in 3rd world countries.
Too little too late, though.
|erect electric fences|
|Get all NATO nations together, invade the MIddle East, gain full control of the region and develop it.|
|I doubt it would take more than a few shots fired and people would be too afraid to try again.|
I think the only way we can really stop the migration refugees is to go to the route of the problem. We know why refugees are fleeing their birthplace. Why don't we do anything. They should feel safe. We should end these wars rather than capitalize on them and start them. Ending the source of the conflict would be the only measure I feel would significantly make refugees want to stay in their country.
Another, harsher option would be to reduce the amount of pull factors that entice migrants and refugees. If we limited the amount of perks then surely less refugees would want to arrive in a country e.g. make them unable to have NHS covered healthcare until after a certain amount of time, make them unable to claim benefits until they have evidence that they have searched for a certain number of jobs in a certain period of time.
|I would give every person a basic income, instead of other benefits and government programs, which would be enough for survival (adapted to each country's standard of living) and simple living|
|I wouldn't do this because refugees are human too and deserve to be somewhere safe. Just because they're not rich and powerful doesn't mean they don't deserve safety.|
|I'm so tempted to say "wholesale takeover of one part of Middle East so that we could set up a working country there, for refugees and aid them to create a better country" but that's pipe dreams. As long as ISIS and Boko Haram etc are operating, there will be refugees and crisis. The only solution is to end the vast imbalance of rich vs. poor – worldwide implementation of high taxation of the top 10%; no country providing "havens" – then we'd have the money to help those who need assistance setting up their lives in a peaceful place. The crisis is due to rich and powerful sucking up the funds to pay for their fun.|
|If I were "in charge" I would RESIGN IMMEDIATELY, and go spend the rest of the collapse in a suite in Las Vegas,play a fiddle for irony…and Bill the Koch Brothers for services rendered to pay for it all!|
|Immediately dismiss the neocon cabal orchestrating US foreign policy and bring charges for war crimes against the lot. If the Empire of Chaos would stop its continuous policy of divide-and-rule, the political dimension of the refugee crisis would be mitigated. The coming climate change aspects would, of course, not be.|
|IMPOSE strict food rationing on indigenous population. for travelers ,bring or grow your own or starve.Its going to happen anyway|
|International military action to make their homelands safe and foreign aid to keep them from starving. I would form a team of experts to figure out where refugees can go that would cause the least amount of disruption in host countries and which would piss off the smallest number of people.|
It is too late.
World population needs to be reduced uniformly and by a large amount.
These issues are an obvious consequence of larger, overarching problems which have been known about for a long time.
We are unfortunate to live in these times.
|My brain hurts when I think about it. Being a mother I am torn between wanting to nurture and save(if the numbers are not overwhelming, big if I know) versus getting the claws out to protect valuable resources for my kin. The level of pragmatic coolness with which I can speculate on 'solutions' is disquieting in a way.|
|No policies will help, too late.|
|no solution really, we are in overshoot phase|
|Politics is about interest, but we could all be fairer and make sure that those don't play fair suffer because of it.|
|Put them in camps that provide 3 pots and a cot and nothing more.|
|Rapid culling of the human herd to <1B may provide a viable path for the remainder. Otherwise, economic and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate to the point of no return for all. So let's just cut to the chase and whack the vast majority of the proles. It's gonna happen anyway.|
Renounce the UN Charter on Refugees.
Pass a law making it a death penalty offense to be an illegal immigrant – regardless of age or gender.
Rescind citizenship of ALL non Whites and Jews.
Declare ALL non Whites and Jews without citizenship to be illegal immigrants.
Implement the law without mercy, pity or compassion.
|Self solving problem we are in massive population overshoot, ecological collapse, a warming planet.|
|Sink the boats|
|Sink the boats!|
Stop bombing them and raping their natural resources.
Arrest the bankers and captains of the Military Industrial Complex.
|stop Donald trump and idiocravy|
|Stop fucking coming over or you will be shot.|
|Stop imperialistic wars and the consumption of fossil fuels.|
Stop the deliberate creation of failed states such as Iraq, Syria,Ukraine.
Who am I kidding. There is no steming this, we are all out of stems, no stems to be had, stemless.
|Stop the MIC from ceeating refugees. Mandatory sterilization all women after 1 child. Restoration agriculture.|
|Stop the wars that's producing refugees in the first place. Someone smarter than me should be able to figure out how.|
|Stop US military everywhere and stop pressuring Russia.|
There effectively is no way to stop people from trying to get to places that seem better than where they come from.
The only thing that can be done is resolve some of the military conflicts; its the only thing about which we have any control (climate change is probably no longer in out control for the short term, anyway).
Unfortunately, the conflicts continue tomultiply without any end in sight. The last round of interventionist policies of the early 2000s caused even more instability than the previous round of interventions in the mid 1990s.
Is there anyone that seriously thinks more intervention is going to solve the conflicts.
|There is NO policy that can work now; world pops are too far into the destruction of what was. I certainly couldn't stop the current ripping apart of established, uniquely defined cultures and institutions, thereby forcing people to migrate. Nor could I force other uniquely defined functioning societies to accept overwhelming numbers of uniquely defined and foreign populations. Disrupting civilization ie social systems without rules except as defined by force of the now migrating hoards will always result in disorienting chaos and hostilities. Humans simply can't process, least of all assimilate drastic and dramatic demographic changes into everyday living. This is more of the typical shit started at "The Decider top" for private gains and paid for by the masses at "the bottom" by socializing the costs. Insulting thinking people who want some kind of orderly and comprehensive policies, by labeling them racists and xeno-phobes is only inciting anger. The human condition naturally resists chaos and fear of losing what's familiar. Inclusive empathy only stretches so far before people and systems break down. Another factor of decline and doom.|
|There is no solution.|
|Theres nothing that can be done.|
|Try to find a solution to the problems in their original homes so that there is no need for migration.|
|Walls. Military. Boarder Guards|
OK, that is what the sample of Kollapsniks TM thinks about this problem.
What do I think about it? Joe D asked this question when I dropped on the Survey:
I made the following point in a text box in the survey and would love to hear more from you directly…that being to get from 8B to 4B to 1B people on the planet in less than two generations means lots of people will die unnaturally. And if this is not only probable but also potentially beneficial to the remainder, why do all of our conversations revolve around minimizing death rather than accepting its long term benefit to the survival of our species and planet? I know it feels a little immoral, or at least a little amoral, but isnt it the right thing? Isnt more death helpful to our long term survival?
Unfortunately, unnatural death is often ugly and sorted so it's easy to throw ideas which support it under the bus as disgusting barbarism. But maybe they are neither disgusting nor barbaric. Rather they are necessary, practical, and inevitable.
The fact of the matter is this is a Wicked Problem. It doesn't have a solution which is palatable to everyone, and the solutions that will be undertaken are all inherently unfair, chaotic etc. The text answers given above are for the most part incredibly STUPID. I do these things to try to get a feel for the pulse of J6P, but it is incredibly dissapointing when you actually take this pulse.
There is no way to equitably reduce a population of Homo Sap. It's always a chaotic adventure. The fact we are in such a massive overshoot situation now means the dowspin is going to be orders of magnitude greater in chaos than has ever come before. the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are coming, and staying out of their path will take a lot of luck and planning. Now would be a good time to get started if you have not already.
Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 9, 2015
Visit the COLLAPSE.GLOBAL Portal for Links & Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this Interview at the Podcast Table inside the Diner
Recently, Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth returned to blogging after taking something of a hiatus over the last year. I caught one of her recent pieces on the situation in China, and her partner Raul Meijer has been covering the situation in Greece extensively.
Besides the two ongoing clusterfucks of China & Greece, there's quite a bit of ongoing collapse related to climate, the recent publication by James Hansen on Sea Level Rise, and of course the Encyclical by the Vicar of Christ on Earth, His Holiness Pope Francis, Chief Spokesperson for some 1.2B members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, not to mention all the hubbub about Near Term Human Extinction…. clearly no shortage of Collapse Topics to discuss! 🙂
It's been nearly 2 years since I first got together with Nicole to talk about Energy & Inflation & Deflation. So this seemed like a good time to do an update, and I nailed her down for another chat this week. She happens to be visiting with Raul in the Netherlands, so as a bonus in this conversation we got his input as well.
Now, for those of you expecting to get the normal "Just the Facts, Ma'am" type of presentation from Nicole in this Podcast, you may be slightly disappointed. There definitely are a lot of facts jammed into this hour of KollapsnikTM chat. However, because Nicole was chatting with both me and Raul, we kind of went off the rails a few times, and hilarity ensued. I decided to leave some of it in there for a little entertainment value. 🙂 The stuff I cut out is even funnier, but sadly not for public consumption. LOL.
Additionally, Nicole currently has a DVD in post production, discussing parameters of where you want to live, what kind of choices you can make moving ahead and so forth. We currently have up a Doomstead Diner SurveyTM on places you DON'T want to live, still OPEN. We'll have a new survey up next week on places you DO want to live.
Anyhow, crack open a bottle of your favorite beverage and enjoy the latest in Collapse from the Collapse CafeTM on the Doomstead Diner and the folks from The Automatic Earth.
Just that the people need to understand that this is the model that we've been suggesting as to what's going to happen is not a theory, it's actually happening exactly the way we said it would. It's just not happening everywhere at the same time because systems that are predatory pick off the little sick ones first. They work from the periphery towards the center as you said. But where we're seeing things move more and more to the center now. And China has been the the global engine of liquidity for the last while, and drives demand for absolutely everything. That's now tipping over the edge and we are going to see those same consequences manifesting in countries in the center that do not see themselves as being in any way comparable to Greece, but they are, they're just not there yet. The same dynamic ends up operating there. But when we tell people what's happening people, they tend to think "oh well that's just my theory", but it's not a theory, it's actually happening and will in the future a lot more places…
Yeah it's an ongoing phenomenon it's definitely not something that is projected or happening in the future or something like that, collapse is ongoing now, it's happening and you can watch. You can watch it progress, you can see all the different places where it manifests itself. Greece is one of course and Puerto Rico now as well…
Civil War…That makes me think… People think the French are very good at protests right? But they haven't seen the Chinese. The Chinese do protests like nobody else does. (RE: Yea…they get serious about it…) because it's very bloody, very violent and I've been writing about this for years. I don't see how China can not end up in that kind of thing…
For the rest, LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW!!!
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 26, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
- Sea Level Rise
- Atmospheric Carbon Content
- Monetary System Collapse
- Geopolitical Conflict/War
- Fossil Fuel Energy Depletion
- Human Population Overshoot
- Loss of Liberty/Police State
- Nuclear Power Plants/Spent Fuel
- Food Production
- Population Migrations/Refugees
The Big Climate Newz of the week was that James Hansen, considered by many to be the #1 Climate Scientist in the world released his latest report on the crappy state of the earth. Now, the report is up online and downloadable for Free in .pdf form, all 121 pages of it. You can peruse it at your leisure, but if you have been following the “climate debate” for any period of time and are not in a state of complete denial, it's not going to tell you anything real new that you don't intuitively know already, that the climate is changing and that change appears to be accelerating. In nice scientific fashion, Jim documents this, and about the only difference from earlier studies is that the tone gets increasingly more strident, trying to get people to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
This follows on the heels of the Pope's recent encyclical, and Moonbeam Goobernator of Sunny and Very Dry CA Jerry Brown's warning that climate change is going to fuck us up if we don't DO SOMETHING. For Collapse Blogosphere fans, you can add to that Guy McPherson's uber-doom prediction of Human Extinction by 2030 or so.
Now again, while the rhetoric is getting more strident, this isn't a whole lot different than what we heard from Rachel Carson with Silent Spring in the 1960's, or from the Club of Rome with Limits to Growth in the 1970s. You never got any real changes out of those studies, why would you expect this will be any different?
The Industrial model isn't run by any one person or even a group of persons that can put the brakes on it. It's a set of systems that built up over time, with the choices made for that build up not made by the population at large, but rather by a few people in positions of control of credit and the war machine. The problem here is that the choices made in the past cannot now be reversed, at least not without a tremendous amount of social dislocation at the very least, and really in many places dependent on these system a whole lot of dead people. Which you will get eventually no matter what, but both individuals and entire civilizations tend to try to put of dying as long as they can, by whatever means they can.
The biggest problems I see with the Hansen study are twofold. First of all, even if you accept the theory that the current climate problems are generated mainly by fossil fuel burning, can stopping that burning now reverse the changes made already? This doesn't seem likely now. There is evidence of a 40 year lag time between when the fossil fuel gets burned and its end effect on the environment. There is also evidence that if you took the particulates created by burning fossil fuels out of the air, this would actually cause more rapid warming because more sunlight would make it through. Beyond that, Hansen doesn't address the corollary problem, which is that if you quit burning fossil fuels on a dime, even if it were possible to flick it off like a light switch, precisely how would we run all the systems that depend on this energy these days, like your electric lights, the sewage treatment plants in the Big Shities, etc?
The second major problem is the timeline question. Again, accepting Hansen's results here, even at the most rapid of glacial melting, it's going to take 20 years or more for sea levels to rise even 10m or so. The prospect of all these coastal cities underwater by say 2050 is certainly horrifying, but the issue is we have other more pressing problems likely to hit even before that.
First of is the ongoing collapse of the monetary system. This is the “glue” that holds many of the rest of our systems together, the energy extraction bizness, the transportation system, the electric grid and the communications network. Shut down the fossil fuel economy, the monetary system implodes right behind it. How are all the rest of those systems supposed to function here without fossil fuels and without a monetary system to do the trade and keep the stuff moving around?
Next up, you have the food production and distribution problem itself, affected by energy availability, population overshoot, topsoil degradation and water availability. To begin with, the huge ag yields of the industrial era come from fossil fuel based fertilizers. Quit using the fossil fuels to keep the sea level from rising, poof your yields drop. How exactly are you going to get what food you can still grow from the fields to the people living in the big shities before they are underwater? How exactly are you going to pump what water is left in Lake Mead over to the AG fields in central CA? If you follow Jim's prescription for saving the world from SLR, even if it could be implemented and would work (neither of which is very likely), then you run into the problem that everything else breaks down BEFORE the glaciers have a chance to melt enough for a 10M sea level rise. So why even bother with this discussion and political controversy? It's a WASTE OF FUCKING TIME!
Forget the Seawater arriving problem in 50 years, you have the Freshwater leaving problem ALREADY hitting! Just about everybody knows about the problems they have in sunny & dry Califronia already, most of the Doom community knows about Sao Paolo in Brasil, but then on top of THAT you have the fact the Ogalala Aquifer is drying up.
The prairie wind buffeted Brant Peterson as he stood in a half-dead field of winter wheat.
In front of him, a red-winged blackbird darted in and out of a rippling green sea of healthy wheat.
Behind him, yellowed stalks rotted in the ground.
The reason for the stark contrast was buried 600 feet under Peterson’s dusty boots: Only part of the field – the thriving part – had been irrigated by water pumped at that depth from the ancient Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest underground sources of fresh water in the world.
“If not for irrigation that whole field would look like this,” Peterson said, nudging the dead wheat with the toe of his boot.
But irrigation soon could end on Peterson’s southwest Kansas farm. The wells under his land in Stanton County are fast running dry as farmers and ranchers across the Great Plains pump the Ogallala faster than it can be replenished naturally.
You need to accept a few facts of life here:
1) The glaciers are likely to melt and sea levels will rise no matter what is done over the near to medium term.
2) You can't get a political consensus on what to do about that in any case.
3) Other Economic, Geopolitical and Climate problems are going to hit before ocean rise is a major problem.
So then you have to decide what you CAN do in the face of this
1) Where can I choose to live, if I have some kind of choice?
2) What will I need to survive as things spin down?
3) How long do I have before it gets REALLY bad where I currently am?
Jim took 112 pages to write his report, I can synopsize it all with one acronym, FUBAR, Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. There is no way SLR is getting solved now, I doubt it was even possible to prevent this back when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, and that is even assuming it's all Anthropogenic, which I don't think it is. It doesn't matter though whether this is primarily driven by Anthropogenic causation or Geotectonic causation, because either way the trajectory is basically the same, the sea levels will rise and a significant portion of Homo Saps currently walking the earth will no longer be doing so in a few years, or at most decades of time. Those who are still ambulatory won't be located where these current coastal cities are, which should indicate to you that a preponderance of the dieoff will come form these places. That is CFS.
I think a lot of people bog down here when presented with these BIG ISSUES of climate change that are going to play out over the next century or even faster than that over the next 50 years, complete with all the Scientific Documentation. For Jim Hansen as a Chicken Little on this one, instead of “The Sky is Falling”, it's “The Oceans are Coming!”. Which IMHO I think he is correct on, but we have much more pressing problems that will hit before those do, possibly in the next couple of years but no longer than a decade for many of them.
The other big problem you have is many people get overwhelmed by the scope of all the problems, considering it all so bad that absolutely nobody can survive, all the habitat on earth for other living creatures we depend on will be destroyed and we'll all go extinct, possibly leaving the globe to be taken over by the Tardigrades for a few millenia until they get fried too.
This is of course a possibility, but given the cycles the Earth has already gone through, and the fact populations do suffer knockdowns but then bounce back later, it's sure not written in stone here that Homo Sap will go extinct, and not on the 15 year timeline of Guy McPherson to be sure. If you go up in latitude, average temperature decreases. If you go up in altitude it does also. So really all one relatively small group of people needs to do is find one little valley somewhere to live in balance with the nature that surrounds them while the rest of the earth heals itself, which granted might take a few millenia, but seems likely to occur based on the geologic history.
75,000 years ago when the Supervolcano Toba went ballistic, the population of Homo Saps was knocked down to 10,000 Human Souls, or 1000 Breeding Pairs. There is a decent amount of debate over whether Toba actually was the cause of this, but the genetic record is pretty clear, and CFS should tell you that we started from a relatively small group of people, or even incipient people going back into pre-history far enough to Austrolopithecus and so forth.
From that small number, we bounced up to the current 7B, much of that current population fed on the stored thermodynamic energy in fossil fuels. We'll most likely never get that big in population again, but it is still no sure thing that we will go extinct either. It aint' OVAH till the Fat Lady Sings
For the individual inside the Industrial Economy right now, it is much like riding a Chinese Bullet train headed for a Bridge across the Yangtze River you know will not support the train. You know it is destined to crash. Your problem is you don't know the exact speed at which the train is moving or the exact distance between where it is now and where the bridge is. So you can't know exactly how long it will take to get there. Right now, they are serving really nice Lobster & Filet Mignon in the Dining Car too, and who wants to leave that? Especially in order to leave you have to jump off a moving train into unknown territory, and convince your loved ones to jump with you too!
So it is pretty hard to quit on it, and really about all the people I have run into over the years who have quit are single and male, with a few exceptions of couples trying subsitence farming. That's obviously not rewilding, and in about all cases still relies on many inputs from the Industrial economy as well. There are not any cookbook solutions to this problem, but I do caution against obsessing over Sea Level Rise as the most pressing problem we face here, it is not. It can give you some window into deciding where you do NOT want to be, which obviously is any low lying Big Shity, but there are a few other obviously poor spots, like Las Vegas and Sao Paulo also. Of course, even Alaska isn't looking so great these days with all the wildfires, though we have had some rain and they have calmed down a bit. Still generally better than most places though.
Wherever you do end up, your survival will depend on luck and circumstance as much or more than any prepping you can do, but you can't do without the prepping either. It is also a pointless exercise to obsess about Extinction, which was always an inevitability, only the timeline was a question mark. All Living things Die, all Civilizations Collapse, all Species go Extinct. Perhaps if we had more Wisdom or Sapience as George Mobus on Question Everything puts it, we might have been able to keep this civilization going a bit longer than it did, but I doubt it. There are thermodynamic imperatives at work here that supercede the sapience of any individual, and we are only as smart as the whole network we create, which is only as smart as the dumbest node in there, and there are a lot of dumb ones out there, even in control of the levers of power.
Where we will be as a species in 10 years, 20 years or a century is anybody's guess. Where we will not be is no guess at all, we won't be Star Treking the Universe, that is certain. Where you or your progeny will be, also uncertain, but all you really can do as an individual is live another day, until you can't anymore. The imperative of life is to keep living as long as you can. You are not responsible or in control of what occurs to the entire race of Homo Saps no matter what you do, what choices you make. On the eternal level, you are only responsible for your own morality and your own ethics, and whatever they were or are, those are your legacy for your life. They will remain on your balance sheet for all eternity. Choose them well.
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 12, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article at the Geological & Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner
Going back a few years to my early days exploring collapse phenomena on the PeakOil.com website, "coincidentally" with the massive economic perturbations of 2008-2009, there was a huge Earthquake Swarm at Yellowstone National Park, which sits right over a "hotspot" on the surface of the earth and has been the site where 3 known Supervolcanic Events took place in the geological history of the earth.
The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera and supervolcano located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera and most of the park are located in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km).
The caldera formed during the last of three supereruptions over the past 2.1 million years: the Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago (which created the Island Park Caldera and the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff), the Mesa Falls eruption 1.3 million years ago (which created the Henry's Fork Caldera and the Mesa Falls Tuff) and the Lava Creek eruption 640,000 years ago (which created the Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff).
For folks interested in Collapse, nothing gets the juices flowing more than contemplating ULTIMATE Fast Collapse scenarios, of which the Supervolcano is among the most interesting, and also the most probable on the Geological level as well, since these things blow off with fair regularity, and it's a certainty one of them will blow again at some point in the future, although you can't pinpoint exactly when that will be. Another difficult timeline question for the kollapsnik here.
The other big one often brought up on the Cosmological level is the posibility of an Earth Collision with a Planet killer Size Asteroid.
These also happen with some regularity, but not as often as supervolcanos blow off. As far as Yellowstone is concerned, based on its cycles so far, it is due or overdue right now for a blowoff, and then there are a few others sprinkled around the planet that could blow at any time.
However, do we really need a Supervolcano to go ballistic for geological disturbances to change the earth climate and ocean chemistry? I don't think so, and evidence seems to bear this out. When the Earthquake Swarm hit Yellowstone in 2009, I became very interested in this phenomenon, and with my friend Stormbringer on PeakOil.com we ran one of the longest running and most popular threads there ever, it went over 100 pages deep in posts (20 to a page) and went on for months. This got me curious about whether there actually was an increasing level of geotectonic activity, aka Earthquakes & Volcanic Eruptions.
At least in the case of Earthquakes when beginning the research, it did appear true that Earthquakes were increasing in both Frequency & Magnitude over the last 20-30 years. This was evident from the graphs supplied by DLindquist of the USGS.
Total Strength 8+ Quakes 1975-2013
Total Strength All Quakes 1975-2013
Now, one of the "debunking" theories here is that there are not more quakes or stronger quakes, just they are being better reported. However, seismographs in 1975 were plenty sensitive enough to measure any quake above say 4 on the Richter Scale anywhere on the Globe, and Geologists all over the world have been recording this stuff going well back to the early 20th Century. So the records are pretty good, especially since 1975 when DLinquist's graphs start off.
Now, earthquakes when they go off release a LOT of energy, the biggest ones past around 9 on the Richter Scale dwarf even the Tsar Bomba, the largest thermonuclear device ever detonated. That would include the Sendai Quake that wrecked Fukushima and the Anchorage Quake of 1964. Here's a list of significant Quakes from Wiki;
Approximate TNT for
Seismic Energy Yield
|−0.2||7.5 g||31.5 kJ||Energy released by lighting 30 typical matches|
|0.0||15 g||63 kJ|
|0.2||30 g||130 kJ||Large hand grenade|
|0.5||84 g||351 kJ|
|1.0||480 g||2.0 MJ|
|1.2||1.1 kg||4.9 MJ||Single stick of dynamite [DynoMax Pro]|
|1.4||2.2 kg||9.8 MJ||Seismic impact of typical small construction blast|
|1.5||2.7 kg||11 MJ|
|2.0||15 kg||63 MJ|
|2.1||21 kg||89 MJ||West fertilizer plant explosion|
|2.5||85 kg||360 MJ|
|3.0||480 kg||2.0 GJ||Oklahoma City bombing, 1995|
|3.5||2.7 metric tons||11 GJ||
PEPCON fuel plant explosion, Henderson, Nevada, 1988
Irving, Texas earthquake, September 30, 2012
|3.87||9.5 metric tons||40 GJ||Explosion at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 1986|
|3.9||11 metric tons||45 GJ||Largest of the Manchester 2002 earthquake swarm|
|3.91||11 metric tons||46 GJ||
Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb
|4.0||15 metric tons||63 GJ||Johannesburg/South Africa, November 18, 2013|
|4.3||43 metric tons||180 GJ||
Kent Earthquake (Britain), 2007
Eastern Kentucky earthquake, November 2012
|5.0||480 metric tons||2.0 TJ||
Lincolnshire earthquake (UK), 2008
|5.5||2.7 kilotons||11 TJ||
Little Skull Mtn. earthquake (Nevada, USA), 1992
|5.6||3.8 kilotons||16 TJ||
Newcastle, Australia, 1989
|6.0||15 kilotons||63 TJ||
Double Spring Flat earthquake (Nevada, USA), 1994
|6.3||43 kilotons||180 TJ||
Rhodes earthquake (Greece), 2008
|6.4||60 kilotons||250 TJ||
Kaohsiung earthquake (Taiwan), 2010
|6.5||85 kilotons||360 TJ||
Caracas earthquake (Venezuela), 1967
|6.6||120 kilotons||500 TJ||San Fernando earthquake (California, USA), 1971|
|6.7||170 kilotons||710 TJ||Northridge earthquake (California, USA), 1994|
|6.8||240 kilotons||1.0 PJ||
Nisqually earthquake (Anderson Island, WA, USA), 2001
|6.9||340 kilotons||1.4 PJ||
San Francisco Bay Area earthquake (California, USA), 1989
|7.0||480 kilotons||2.0 PJ||
Java earthquake (Indonesia), 2009
|7.1||680 kilotons||2.8 PJ||
Messina earthquake (Italy), 1908
|7.2||950 kilotons||4.0 PJ||
Vrancea earthquake (Romania), 1977
|7.5||2.7 megatons||11 PJ||
Kashmir earthquake (Pakistan), 2005
|7.6||3.8 megatons||16 PJ||
Nicoya earthquake (Costa Rica), 2012
|7.7||5.4 megatons||22 PJ||
Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2010
|7.8||7.6 megatons||32 PJ||
Tangshan earthquake (China), 1976
|7.9||10.7 megatons||45 PJ||
1802 Vrancea earthquake
|8.0||15 megatons||63 PJ||
Mino-Owari earthquake (Japan), 1891
San Juan earthquake (Argentina), 1894
|8.1||21 megatons||89 PJ||
México City earthquake (Mexico), 1985
Guam earthquake, August 8, 1993
|8.35||50 megatons||210 PJ||Tsar Bomba—Largest thermonuclear weapon ever tested. Most of the energy was dissipated in the atmosphere. The seismic shock was estimated at 5.0–5.2|
|8.5||85 megatons||360 PJ||Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2007|
|8.6||120 megatons||500 PJ||Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2012|
|8.7||170 megatons||710 PJ||Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2005|
|8.75||200 megatons||840 PJ||Krakatoa 1883|
|8.8||240 megatons||1.0 EJ||Chile earthquake, 2010|
|9.0||480 megatons||2.0 EJ||
Lisbon earthquake (Portugal), All Saints Day, 1755
The Great East Japan earthquake, March 2011
|9.15||800 megatons||3.3 EJ||Toba eruption 75,000 years ago; among the largest known volcanic events.|
|9.2||950 megatons||4.0 EJ||
Anchorage earthquake (Alaska, USA), 1964
Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami (Indonesia), 2004
Cascadia earthquake (Pacific Northwest, USA), 1700
|9.5||2.7 gigatons||11 EJ||Valdivia earthquake (Chile), 1960|
|13.00||100 teratons||420 ZJ||Yucatán Peninsula impact (creating Chicxulub crater) 65 Ma ago (108 megatons; over 4×1029 ergs = 400 ZJ).|
|32||3.1×1029 metric tons||1.3×1039 J||Starquake detected on December 27, 2004 from the ultracompact stellar corpse (magnetar) SGR 1806-20. The quake, which occurred 50,000 light years from Earth, released gamma rays equivalent to 1036 kW in intensity. Had it occurred within a distance of 10 light years from Earth, the quake would have possibly triggered a mass extinction.|
Now, this is mostly just the biggies. However, in aggregate you probably get more energy released by the total number of 4-6 Intensity Quakes you get each year than the big ones. Here is the chart for the 4+ Quakes:
The 5+ and 6+ charts are similar, all showing a peak of activity around 2011-2012. All this energy had to go somewhere, where did it go?
Now look at the chart for Ocean Heat Content:
When does ocean Heat Content start rising? 1992, EXACTLY the year you start to see increasing total energy released by Earthquakes! THAT friends is a SMOKING GUN.
What else occurred at the SAME Time? Ocean Acidity levels started rising and the pH dropping (lower pH is Higher Acidity, it's an inverse scale)
As you can see, it was in the late 1980s to early 1990s that Ocean pH began its real roller coaster ride downward below all previous measured minimums going back to 1700. Getting an up to date number for 2015 has so far proved difficult, but I suspect it is well below 7.9 now.
Now, where does Ocean Acidity come from? Well, definitely CO2 contributes here, dissolving in water to form the Bicarbonate Ion, HCO3-. however, Sulfur also adds to ocean acidity, forming the Sulfate Ions.
Sulfur is found in oxidation states ranging from +6 in SO42− to -2 in sulfides. Thus elemental sulfur can either give or receive electrons depending on its environment. Minerals such as pyrite (FeS2) comprise the original pool of sulfur on earth. Owing to the sulfur cycle, the amount of mobile sulfur has been continuously increasing through volcanic activity as well as weathering of the crust in an oxygenated atmosphere. Earth's main sulfur sink is the oceans as SO2, where it is the major oxidizing agent.
How much sulfur does a typical Volcano Eject and what are its effects on the environment?
Volcanoes that release large amounts of sulfur compounds like sulfur oxide or sulfur dioxide affect the climate more strongly than those that eject just dust. The sulfur compounds are gases that rise easily into the stratosphere. Once there, they combine with the (limited) water available to form a haze of tiny droplets of sulfuric acid. These tiny droplets are very light in color and reflect a great deal of sunlight for their size. Although the droplets eventually grow large enough to fall to the earth, the stratosphere is so dry that it takes time, months or even years to happen. Consequently, reflective hazes of sulfur droplets can cause significant cooling of the earth for as long as two years after a major sulfur-bearing eruption. Sulfur hazes are believed to have been the primary cause of the global cooling that occurred after the Pinatubo and Tambora eruptions. For many months a satellite tracked the sulfur cloud produced by Pinatubo. The image shows the cloud about three months after the eruption. It is already a continuous band of haze encircling the entire globe. You can learn more about the cooling effects of sulfur hazes by through the sulfur dioxide plume from the Llaima Volcano, which erupted on New Year's Day in 2008.
What occurs if the eruption is not into the atmosphere, but directly into the ocean from subsea geotectonic activity?
Submarine volcanoes are underwater vents or fissures in the Earth's surface from which magma can erupt. They are estimated to account for 75% of annual magma output. The vast majority are located near areas of tectonic plate movement, known as ocean ridges. Although most are located in the depths of seas and oceans, some also exist in shallow water, which can spew material into the air during an eruption. Hydrothermal vents, sites of abundant biological activity, are commonly found near submarine volcanoes.
With 75% of the activity coming beneath the ocean (which only makes sense since 75% of the surface of the earth is under water), even a slight increase in the amount of sulfur being released can significantly alter the Sulfur Cycle.
Notice that nowhere in this Sulfur Cycle is the quantity of Sulfur released through volcanic activity each year accounted for. I doubt anyone knows how large this quantity is, or how it changes from year to year or over geologic time either. So it is very difficult to quantify in order to measure its total effect on the ocean chemistry. Regardless of that, if you accept the hypothesis made by the study authors that geological activity was the cause of Dinosaur Extinction, it is reasonable to suppose this quantity can at times be very significant. Is this one of those times?
What about the Volcanoes? Are they really more frequent or just reported better? Here's a chart going back to 1875 from the Smithsonian Institute:
Now, maybe you can argue Volcanic Eruptions are better reported now than in 1875, but that doesn't explain why you see the dropoff in eruptions from 1980-85 and the subsequent higher peak after that.
Besides that, you have this chart with recent numbers in the years 2000-2014
What explains the vast increase between 2007 & 2009? I don't think reporting or instrumentation changed that much over those 2 years.
All of this evidence points to some level of Geotectonic contribution to the changing climate, however nobody in the mainstream of Climate Science will even consider this as it applies to the present day situation, they are too invested in the theory that Climate Change is entirely Anthropogenic and the result of Carbon Emissions from Fossil Fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. While it seems likely this is a contributing factor, I don't see how you can dismiss the rest of the evidence that there is a Geotectonic component to this as well.
The whole bizness led up to the Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer Theory, which you can read up on here on the Diner Blog if you are so inclined.
Despite the fact nobody will apply this reasoning to the current situation, in recent months a new theory about the Extinction of the Dinosaurs at the end of the PETM came not from the preciously accepted Asteroid Impact Theory, but in fact from increasing Vulcanism. Here are Parts 1 & 2 from John Mason on Skeptical Science:
Posted on 19 March 2015 by John Mason
Part One: Large Igneous Provinces and their global effects
A mass extinction is an event in the fossil record, a fossilised disaster if you like, in which a massive, globally widespread and geologically rapid loss of species occurred from numerous environments. The “Big five” extinctions of the Phanerozoic (that time since the beginning of the Cambrian period, 541 million years ago) are those in which, in each instance, over half of known species disappeared from the fossil record.
How did they happen? The causes of such events, with a truly global reach, have been a well-known bone of contention within the Earth Sciences community over many decades. The popular media likes to portray such things as Hollywood-style disasters, in which everything gets wiped out in an instant. But in the realms of science, things have changed. The critically important development has been the refinement of radiometric dating, allowing us to age-constrain events down to much narrower windows of time. We can now, in some cases, talk about the start and end of an event in terms of tens of thousands (rather than millions) of years.
Such dating, coupled with the other time-tools of palaeomagnetism and the fossil record, have made it possible to develop a much clearer picture of how mass-extinctions occur. That picture is one of periods of global-scale pollution and environmental stress associated with large perturbations to the carbon cycle, lasting for thousands of years. Such upheavals are related to unusual episodes of volcanic activity with an intensity that is almost impossible to imagine. The geological calling-cards of such events are known as Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). Bringing environmental and climatic changes at rates similar to the ones we have been creating, they have been repeat-offenders down the geological timeline. This introductory piece examines LIPs in the framework of more familiar volcanic activity: it is the only way to get a handle on their vastness.
For those readers already familiar with LIPs, you may want to skip this and go straight to Part Two, which covers the biggest extinction of them all, at the end of the Permian period, 252 million years ago (Ma). With more than 90% of all species wiped out, it was the most severe biotic crisis in Phanerozoic history. The extinction was global: almost all animals and plants in almost all environmental settings were affected. An idea of the severity can be visualised by considering that the time afterwards was marked by the beginning of a coal gap lasting for ten million years: coal-forming ecosystems simply did not exist for that time. Likewise, Howard Lee has recently considered the relationship between the end-Cretaceous extinction – the one that got the dinosaurs – and LIP volcanism here. But for those who are new to LIPs, it is recommended that you read this post first.
A sense of scale
Let's start by contextualising that volcanicity, starting with an especially well-known example. Mount St. Helens is one of a number of volcanoes in the Cascade Range of the north-western United States. In early 1980, it began a period of activity with earthquakes and clouds of steam billowing forth: by the middle of spring its northern side was starting to bulge ominously, a sure sign of magma and pressure build-up. On May 18th, following another earthquake, its entire northern side collapsed, depressuring the magma and volatiles beneath in an instant. The resulting blast destroyed everything in a 600 square kilometres zone around the northern flank of the volcano. A huge cloud of hot ash shot skywards, reaching over twenty kilometres in height. Ash and debris, mixed with great volumes of meltwater, brought major flash-flooding and mudflows into local rivers. The energy released has been estimated to be equivalent to a 24-megaton nuke and in total this nine-hour eruption spewed out some 2.79 cubic kilometres of felsic lava, ash, gases and debris. Remember that last figure.
The famous eruption of Krakatoa on August 26th-27th 1883 reached its climax on the 27th: the largest explosion, at 10:02 A.M, was heard 3,110 km (1,930 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia. The eruption and the tsunamis associated with it killed over 36,000 people according to official figures. This incredibly violent and destructive eruption, with an energy-release likened to a 200-megaton nuke, produced an estimated 21 cubic kilometres of eruptive products. Again, remember that figure.
Now, contrast those deadly eruptions with the mostly late Permian Siberian Traps LIP. The province contains what may be the largest known volume of terrestrial flood basalt (dark-coloured, iron and magnesium-rich lava) in the world. How much? At least three million cubic kilometres. That's enough to bury an area the size of the United Kingdom beneath a layer of basalt some 12 kilometres thick.
Fig. 1: We're gonna need a bigger graph! Volumes of well-known volcanic eruptions compared to LIPs. Geologists may argue that comparing single eruptions of various standard volcanoes and LIPs is like comparing apples to oranges. Actually, that's the point!
A large igneous province is defined as a vast accumulation, covering an area of at least a hundred thousand square kilometres, of igneous rocks episodically erupted or intruded within a few million years. The majority of erupted products may in some cases accumulate within much shorter time-spans of tens of thousands of years or less. Total eruption volumes are at least a hundred thousand cubic kilometres. Erupted products are dominated by repeated flows of basaltic lava ("flood-basalts"): weathering and erosion of these stacked basalt sheets often gives the countryside where they occur a hilly, stepped topography. Such areas are often referred to today as "Traps" because of this distinctive landscape: the term, as used in "Siberian Traps" or "Deccan Traps" is based on a Swedish word for stairs. Rocks intruded beneath the surface in LIPs include ultramafic (dense, iron and magnesium rich) and alkaline (sodium and potassium-rich) bodies, plus uncommon types such as the carbonate-rich carbonatites. LIP events are infrequent along the geological timeline, with an average of one such event every twenty million years.
Fig. 2: Plate tectonics 101: oceanic crust is erupted at mid-ocean ridges and tens of millions of years later it is consumed at subduction zones. Graphic: jg.
Plate tectonics has over the years been particularly involved with what goes on at existing plate boundaries such as subduction zones and mid-ocean ridges (fig. 2), where magmatism is highly focussed. However, LIPs reflect another set of processes altogether, where vast amounts of mantle-derived magma make it to the surface within plates. They have played a significant role in the development of the hypothesis of great plumes of hot rock and magma occurring deep in Earth's mantle, which create localised "hotspots" that occur irrespective of tectonic plate boundaries and are the sites of major, within-plate eruptions over millions of years. That there is still much lively (and at times acrimonious) debate concerning the Plumes Hypothesis, including postulated alternative formation-mechanisms for LIPs, need not concern us here. That LIP events occurred and how they affected the biosphere is our focus.
Pollution from volcanoes
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of pollution is as follows: the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.
Harmful or poisonous effects depend on the physical and chemical properties of any one substance. Substances are widely variable in their toxicity in terms of concentration. Carbon dioxide, essential to photosynthetic plantlife, has other properties which, at higher concentrations, make it dangerous. As a strong greenhouse gas, any substantial increase in its atmospheric levels over a matter of a few centuries make it a pollutant because of the impacts of rapid climate change. At much higher levels it becomes an asphyxiant – a gas that kills by displacing air, thereby causing suffocation, as tragically evidenced in 1986 at Lake Nyos, in Cameroon. Here, the magma underlying the floor of an old volcanic crater-lake gives off carbon dioxide, with which the lake water becomes super-charged. At depth, the pressure of the water-column above keeps the gas stably dissolved in the water. However, any triggering mechanism that suddenly forces a lot of that deep water upwards to shallow levels where that confining pressure is absent can cause it to explosively degas. In the 1986 event, a large cloud of carbon dioxide burst forth from the lake. Due to its relative density, it rolled along the ground, displacing the air as it did so. Over 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock died from asphyxiation in nearby communities. Like many substances, carbon dioxide is best taken in moderation.
All subaerial volcanic eruptions blast out gases and ash into the troposphere and in some cases the stratosphere. The most important volcanogenic gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and halogen compounds such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride.
Of these, only carbon dioxide can contribute to global warming over a geological timescale because of its centuries-long atmospheric residence time (the time it takes natural processes to remove most of it again). At present, global volcanogenic carbon dioxide emissions are calculated to be up to 440 million tonnes a year. This can usefully be compared to human carbon dioxide emissions of (in 2014) 32.3 billion tonnes a year – ours are presently two orders of magnitude greater than those from volcanoes. LIP eruptions are another matter: the entire Siberian Traps LIP eruptive cycle is estimated to have produced thirty thousand billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Bearing in mind the residence time of carbon dioxide, if eruptive events are continuous or closely-spaced enough to keep recharging the atmosphere with it, a long-lived warming effect would occur.
Sulphur dioxide's greenhouse gas abilities are somewhat stunted as it tends to form sun-blocking sulphate aerosols (suspensions of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in a gas) that have a net cooling effect. Unless an eruption is powerful enough to inject a lot of the gas up into the stratosphere (where sulphur compounds may also cause damage to the ozone layer), the cooling effect is short-term – just a year or two, by which time the sulphate has mostly returned to the surface, dissolved in rainwater and thereby giving a short-term acid rain effect where that rain falls. Stratospheric sulphate aerosols have effects lasting for a few more years, but unless they are continuously supplied then the system recovers to its pre-eruption state. Additionally, because of the way that Earth's airmasses interact with one another as a result of the planet's rotation, gases have to be injected into the stratosphere from a relatively low latitude if they are to be spread on a truly global basis. So a pattern emerges of a steady global warming due to increasing carbon dioxide with shorter, often more regional punctuations along the way in the form of sulphate-induced cooling.
Water vapour quickly cycles back to the surface as rain, bringing with it (in addition to the sulphate) the volcanic ash out of the troposphere. The halogen compounds likewise acidify that rainfall and at higher local concentrations make it directly toxic. Halogen compounds injected into the stratosphere also cause ozone layer damage.
Historically, there are several good examples of problems caused by major eruptions causing short-term atmospheric pollution. A good example is the eight-month long fissure-eruption of Laki, which began in June 1783 in Iceland (a mere 15 cubic kilometres event). Apart from vast amounts of lava, Laki released an estimated 122 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide, fifteen million tonnes of hydrogen fluoride and seven million tonnes of hydrogen chloride. The effect was to leave parts of the Northern Hemisphere shrouded in an unpleasant fog for several months. The acidic, halogen-rich haze and resulting toxic rains were highly damaging to terrestrial life in Iceland, Europe and North America. Livestock mortality in Iceland was over 50% and a quarter of the island's population perished in the resultant famine.
Fig. 3: Extinction magnitude through the past 400 million years plotted against the age and estimated original volume of large igneous provinces. Continental flood basalt LIPs are shown as black bars, while oceanic plateau basalt provinces are shown as gray bars. Abbreviations: D = Devonian; C = Carboniferous; P = Permian; Tr = Triassic; J = Jurassic; K = Cretaceous; T = Tertiary; CAMP = Central Atlantic magmatic province. Figure is adapted from Bond & Wignall, 2014.
Killers and non-killers
The geological timeline of the Phanerozoic (part of which is shown in fig. 3) is marked by a number of LIP events. A few seem to have had little impact on planetary life, especially the oceanic plateau basalt provinces (perhaps underwater eruptions have different outcomes?); some are linked to moderate extinctions and some are linked to major mass-extinctions. Why this variability and what makes a LIP event a killer?
Fig. 4: potential kill-mechanisms associated with Large Igneous Provinces. Graphic: jg.
Several factors are clearly critical in determining the outcome of a LIP event. The state of the biosphere and climate prior to an eruption – how stressed the systems are – must be important. Any occurrence of other global-scale events coincident with a LIP eruption – such as a large asteroid impact – would only make things worse. But the most important factor must surely relate to the "three D's" – the distribution, duration and degree of pollution.
Distribution, duration and degree of a pollution event depends on frequency and intensity of eruptive events (the pollutant supply) and the residence times of the pollutants involved. Continuous or very frequent intense events over tens of thousands of years would not only provide sufficient pollutants but give them adequate time to be spread globally at dangerous levels. On the other hand, continuous low-intensity eruption over a similar time may not raise levels of pollutants to harmful values, or perhaps only do so on a regional basis. Low frequency LIP eruptions occurring over longer timespans may still yield vast volumes of lava, but the low frequency allows ecosystem recovery in between eruptions. Therefore, it is possible for some LIPs to have had little more than local effects whereas in others the global ecosystem has been almost completely overwhelmed.
Now we have had an overview of LIPs and their effects, we can look at a specific example in Part Two with the end-Permian mass-extinction, how it occurred and its links to the Siberian Traps LIP – and its significance compared to the pollution caused by modern-day human activities.
The following paper, available online, is an excellent overview of LIPs and their role in specific extinction events – it also has an exhaustive list of references for further reading.
Bond, D.P.G. and Wignall, P.B. (2014): Large igneous provinces and mass extinctions: An update. In: Keller, G., and Kerr, A.C., eds., Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects: Geological Society of America Special Paper 505.
Posted on 19 March 2015 by John Mason
Part Two: the Siberian Traps and the end Permian mass extinction
With more than 90% of all marine species and 75% of land species wiped out, the end Permian mass extinction was the worst biosphere crisis in the last 600 million years. The extinction was global in reach: almost all animals and plants in almost all environmental settings were affected. An idea of the severity can be visualised by considering that the time afterwards was marked by the beginning of a coal gap lasting for ten million years: coal-forming ecosystems – i.e. forests – simply did not exist for that time.
The onset of the mass extinction coincided with the main part of the eruption of the late Permian Siberian Traps Large Igneous Province (LIP), 251.9 million years ago (Ma). It contains what may be the largest known volume of terrestrial flood basalt in the world. Estimates vary but they start at volumes of at least 3 million cubic kilometres of igneous rocks that were erupted onto and intruded beneath the surface during the event. There are some much larger volume estimates that take into account "missing" erupted rocks since eroded away and the likely ratio of intruded to erupted rocks. Either way, as eruptive cycles go this was one of the biggest ever.
At the same time, there was a dramatic perturbation to the global carbon cycle, involving the injection of enough carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to triple the pre-existing levels and raise temperatures substantially. There were severe problems with other pollutants: acid rain, soil erosion, algal blooms and ocean acidification and anoxia all took a dramatic toll on life on land and in the seas.
That the Siberian Traps eruptions, the greatest of the Big Five mass-extinctions and carbon cycle havoc all happened in broadly the same geological timezone suggests they may not be unrelated. However, coincidence is not necessarily cause. For example, what if the extinction occurred a million years before the Traps were erupted?
To resolve such key questions we make use of high-resolution radiometric dating and biostratigraphy – the precise study of changes in the fossil record over a geologically short and age-constrained time-frame. This post takes a look at the latest advances in research concerning the extinction event and how it unfolded, and then goes on to see how it compares to what we are doing to the planet. It's not exactly good news.
Fig. 1 (above): Earth at the time of the end-Permian mass extinction, 252 million years ago. Re-annotated from Christopher Scotese' Palaeomap Project.
Fig. 2 (below): Modern-day Asia with the vicinity of the Siberian Traps (see fig. 3 for details) outlined in red.
Constraining time: the Siberian Traps, the mass-extinction and zircons
Getting the exact timing of the Siberian Traps and the mass extinction nailed has long been a major goal of the Earth Science community. In recent years, such age-constraint has materialised, since precise radiometric dating of rocks has come along in leaps and bounds. The sedimentary rocks in the type sections for the Permian-Triassic boundary, in China, have long been scrutinised in depth, their individual beds numbered, their sedimentary characteristics described and their micro and macrofossils catalogued layer upon layer, so that the precise point in the sequence where the extinction occurred has been well-defined.
Fortuitously, there are also beds containing volcanic ash within the critical Chinese sequence. These yield tiny crystals of the mineral zircon, which is zirconium silicate. Zircons may be dated using high-precision methods that exploit the radioactive decay of uranium (a trace element in zircons) to lead. The technique of U-Pb dating, as it is known, involves (in a nutshell) separating out the zircons from a sample of rock – a painstaking process – and through analysis, dating them. Then repeat with the ash-bed above, and the one above that, and so on. As a result of the dating, it is now thought that the onset of the main extinction was at 251.941 +/- 0.037 Ma and its duration was less than 61 +/- 48 thousand years.
Fig. 3: Geology of the Siberian Traps LIP. The main outcrops of lavas, tuffs and intrusive rocks are shaded green. Basalt lavas that are known or suspected to be buried at depth are shown in red. The estimated limit of the Siberian Traps LIP is indicated by the dotted line. After Saunders & Reichow, 2009.
Zircons are rare in basaltic rocks such as those found in the Siberian Traps, but there are some rocks there from which they can be obtained. The overall subaerial sequence in the Traps (fig. 3) is an early pyroclastics formation – smashed rock and ash formed by explosive volcanic activity, overlain by up to four kilometres of basaltic lava flows. Between some of the lava flows there occur thin felsic tuffs, silica-rich rocks whose precursor was volcanic ash, which do contain zircons. Using new data based on those zircons, the eruption of the Siberian Traps LIP commenced with explosive magmatism and pyroclastic deposition between 255.21 +/- 0.37 Ma and 252.24 +/- 0.12 Ma. Eruption of lava-flows was from then on sustained until 251.904 +/- 0.061 Ma, giving a maximum period of 300,000 years or so for a large part of the lava production. A hiatus then followed for some half a million years before activity recommenced in some areas and kept going until 250.2 +/-0.3 Ma, into the earliest Triassic. It is clear that by the point of the onset of the mass-extinction, a huge quantity of products had been erupted.
Carbon cycle disruption
So: we have the large part of a LIP eruption in the 300,000 year long lead-up to the extinction interval and over it, and we have the extinction itself. What other lines of evidence might connect the two things as being more than coincidental? Firstly, something dramatic happened to the global carbon cycle (the complex system by which carbon is exchanged between organisms, soils, rocks, rivers and oceans and the atmosphere) at precisely the same time. It became grossly overloaded.
Variations in the carbon cycle on Earth are recorded by changes in carbon isotope ratios through time. Carbon has two stable isotopes, carbon 12 and carbon 13, occurring in a ratio of about 99:1. They are partitioned in natural systems: plants, be they mighty trees or lowly green algae, preferentially use carbon 12 in photosynthesis. Things eat plants and thus the resulting isotope shift in favour of carbon 12 is spread up though the food chain. Where the plants and the remains of that food chain end up preserved in the geological record – for example as coal, limestone or other fossil material – they will carry that same, "light" carbon isotope ratio. If the coal is then burned, forming carbon dioxide, it will add that light carbon to the atmosphere and, in due course, to the oceans.
Now, the lead-up to the Permian-Triassic boundary (fig. 4) coincides with a major, negative carbon isotope excursion, lasting for over 500,000 years, of 4 parts per thousand (from +3 to a typical earliest Triassic value of −1‰), as measured in both marine carbonates and organic material. Superimposed on this negative trend there was, during the descent from positive to negative values, a much briefer even more negative spike (from +2 down to −4‰). The spike marked the onset of the extinction itself and, including its subsequent rebound, it had a duration of between 2,100 and 18,800 years. It is so distinctive that it serves as a marker-horizon all over the world, pinning down the start of the extinction-interval even in sedimentary rocks that are unfossiliferous.
Fig. 4: the type section of the Permian-Triassic boundary in southern China, showing the dated ash-beds, the extinction interval and the carbon isotope record from the time including the dramatic, negative spike at the onset of the extinction. After Burgess et al, 2014.
To change, in its entirety, the isotopic ratio of the vast quantities of carbon dissolved in the world's oceans by this amount, requires a massive perturbation to an already-perturbed carbon cycle. It would need the injection, to the atmosphere, of a vast amount of isotopically light carbon. The changes in carbon dioxide levels at the time have been estimated using the stomatal leaf index in fossil plants and isotopic studies of fossilised soils. From around 2300ppm in the late Permian the levels jumped to as much as 7832+/-1676 ppm at the time of the extinction – a trebling. Where could that extra carbon dioxide have come from?
To begin with, it has been estimated that the entire Siberian Traps LIP eruptive cycle produced thirty thousand billion tonnes of carbon dioxide directly from magmatic outgassing. However, mantle-derived carbon dioxide is not that light, which makes it difficult to reconcile as the single source responsible for the isotope excursion. One suggested solution to that problem is that the recycling of subducted oceanic crust into the pre-eruption magma added a lot of lighter carbon to the mix. If that was the case then the eruptions could – perhaps – better account for the isotopic excursion.
Another quite credible solution involves the liberation of huge quantities of isotopically light carbon dioxide and methane as a consequence of the heating and combustion of coal and petroleum. Such gases are referred to in the literature as "thermogenic", meaning that they were produced by heating stuff. There's an awful lot of coal in the Middle Carboniferous to Lower Permian sedimentary rocks that underlie the Siberian Traps. Beneath that there exists an older Palaeozoic sequence of rocks that includes a great thickness of Cambrian evaporite beds (mostly rock-salt – sodium chloride and anhydrite – calcium sulphate) and associated significant concentrations of oil and gas. Deep pathways for both intruding and erupting magma would have passed up through the evaporites and coal deposits alike, baking them (liberating carbon-based gases) and also bringing coal mixed with magma up to the surface (where it would immediately combust – fig. 5). The explosive nature of such combustion has been calculated to be sufficient to push the eruption-plume up into the stratosphere. Evidence for coal combustion has been discovered in the form of particles closely resembling coal fly-ash in a Permian-Triassic boundary sequence in Arctic Canada. Back then the area was at a similar latitude to and downwind from Siberia, and although other workers have suggested the material could be char from wildfires, which may produce similar particles, comparison of the particles with those making up modern fly-ash shows that they are identical in structure.
Evidence for major gas release associated with the Siberian Traps LIP is present in the form of thousands of hydrothermal vents – deep-seated pipe-like pathways to the surface taken by superheated mineral and gas-rich water – developed in the rocks situated above sills and other intrusions. Some of them are actively mined for the minerals that they contain. Each vent represents a degassing location with surface expressions at the time of the activity in the form of geysers and fumaroles. Hydrocarbon gases such as methane and halogen-bearing compounds like methyl chloride would have been the main products: methane would of course oxidise quickly to carbon dioxide once reaching the atmosphere. It has been estimated that these processes could have added as much as 100,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Fig. 5: Schematic showing the interaction of magma and coal seams in the Siberian Traps. Now multiply this in your minds eye by many times and you have what it was like there in the late Permian. After Ogden & Sleep, 2012.
Methane clathrate destabilisation has also been invoked, but with little real evidence in contrast to the volcanogenic and thermogenic sources outlined above: given that both of those scenarios are entirely plausible, it's probable that they both had a role to play. Now, just try to picture the scene at the height of these eruptions. Numerous volcanoes with lava fountains continuously on the go and great lava flows spilling out over the landscape for as far as the eye can see. Towering eruption-plumes of black sulphurous smoke, lightning-riven and merging into a hellish dark canopy stretching over the horizon. In between the volcanoes, bubbling, reeking fields of fumaroles, with clouds of steam and every now and then the whoosh as another explosive geyser shoots skywards, and another and another. Siberia at the height of the Traps eruption would have been like Mordor on steroids.
Kill-mechanisms on a polluted Earth
Unsurprisingly, a variety of kill-mechanisms have been proposed for the end-Permian mass extinction, mostly linked back in one form or another to the Siberian Traps. There is good evidence pointing to a rapid, dramatic increase in marine and terrestrial temperature. Decreases in the oxygen isotope ratios of shallow marine limestones indicate that seawater temperatures across the extinction interval rose by as much as 6–10°C. Studies of ancient soils occurring in terrestrial sedimentary rocks of the same age are consistent with this finding. Problems arising from repeated massive injections of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would tend to persist over much longer timescales than those caused by other pollutants simply because of the long atmospheric residence time of carbon dioxide. With eruptions taking place even a century or so apart, CO2 levels would be recharged often enough to provide a net atmospheric gain on each occasion.
There is also evidence of severe disruption to ocean chemistry. The calcium isotope records of marine carbonate rocks and of calcium phosphate minerals that preserve conodonts (teeth-like microfossils) have recently been studied at one of the key sections in southern China. Both reveal a negative excursion over the extinction interval. Such parallel negative excursions in both carbonate rocks and conodont calcium phosphate cannot be accounted for by a change in carbonate mineralogy. However, they are consistent with a negative shift in the calcium isotope ratio of seawater, something best accounted for by ocean acidification.
Supporting that assertion is the fact that marine animals suffered significantly different levels of extinction which depended on two key things. These were firstly their requirements for carbonate ions in constructing their skeletons and secondly to what extent they were capable of buffering (controlling) the pH within their cells and maintaining efficient respiration under more acidic conditions. Poorly-buffered forms with the highest need for carbonate ions, such as some corals, were hit hardest; forms whose carbonate ion requirements were minimal fared much better. The generic extinction rates of the two groups at each end of the spectrum of resilience were 86% against 5% respectively. The bottom line is that if you have a skeleton or shell made out of calcium carbonate and the ocean at the depth at which you live turns a bit too acidic (meaning its pH is reduced too much), you are stuffed.
The Traps also gave out huge quantities of sulphur (6300-7800 billion tonnes), chlorine (3400-8700 billion tonnes) and fluorine (7100-13,600 billion tonnes): it has been suggested that these figures may even be an underestimate. Stress inflicted on terrestrial plants by repeated episodes of acidic and toxic rainfall was doubtless a part of the problem. Sulphur dioxide, forming sulphate aerosols in the upper atmosphere, can lead to abrupt albeit short-term cooling and also the impairment of photosynthesis due to partial blocking of sunlight – a so-called “volcanic winter”. However, given the high latitude at which the Siberian Traps eruptive cycle occurred, this would not have been a global effect. For stratospheric pollutants to be spread globally, they need to be introduced closer to the equator, where upper air circulation spreads them towards both poles. More regionally, atmospheric conditions would have ameliorated over a few years as the sulphate returned to Earth in acidic rain, with the climate returning to its hothouse state.
The effects of manmade acidic rain have been studied widely, albeit in modern ecosystems. Prolonged influxes of rain-introduced sulphate and other acidic compounds lead to the leaching of essential bioavailable minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium from soils and the spread of the acidity into stream systems: in depleted soils, the trees are affected immediately. Conversely, aluminium gets converted into a bioavailable form, which causes serious disruption to a number of plant metabolic processes. Acidic rainfall of a prolonged nature clearly causes severe ecological damage. Plant community die-off leads inevitably to habitat-destruction and food-chain collapse.
The removal of plant communities over wide areas has other serious effects. Plants bind soils together and act as a physical barrier to their erosion. Take a lot of those plants away and the soil is defenceless. Evidence points to a change in river characteristics at the time, from slowly meandering systems running between vegetated banks to bleak, braided gravelly channels of the type which dominated the land surface for the hundreds of millions of years before plants colonised it. There was an abrupt influx of land-derived sediment into the sea at the time, burying shallow, limestone-forming sea-beds all around the world. The rocks record major soil-erosion to have continued for some time after the extinction itself, a sure sign of the lasting nature of such environmental damage.
Increased soil removal by rainfall and rivers led in turn to increased nutrient flux to the sea, causing marine algal blooms and the consequential development of "dead-zones", extensive areas of ocean anoxia. There exists abundant isotopic, geological and biological evidence for widespread hypoxia or anoxia in marine sediments spanning the Permian-Triassic boundary from all around the world. In anoxic conditions, sulphate-reducing bacteria are able to thrive: liberating hydrogen sulphide as a metabolic product, they can produce a condition termed euxinia, meaning sea water with a high sulphide concentration, and toxic to many other marine creatures. Euxinic conditions do occur in today's oceans, but are localised and mild. It has even been suggested that euxinia became so widespread at all depths in the end-Permian oceans that it reached the surface, outgassing to the atmosphere. Atmospheric hydrogen sulphide at concentrations of more than 500 ppm can make you very unwell very quickly: never take anyone seriously who says that gases occurring in trace amounts are by definition harmless.
Fig. 6: Clobbered from all sides – the many kill-mechanisms at work in the end-Permian environmental disaster. Graphic: jg.
We may not be able to travel back in time to see what actually happened at the end of the Permian, but we continue to gather the evidence. As Gimli famously remarks in the second part of Lord of the Rings, "No sign of our quarry, but what bare rock can tell!" Today, the rocks are giving up more and more information about past conditions with each passing decade. In the case of the end-Permian, they point to wild temperature swings, acidic rainfall, dead plant communities, massive soil erosion, toxic, acidified seas (fig.6): in other words, the biosphere was clobbered from all directions, repeatedly.
Are we creating the same issues now?
There seems little doubt about it: a massive volcanic episode like the Siberian Traps, volcanism unlike anything Humanity has witnessed, has the potential to create a massive and multi-faceted pollution event on a global scale, with deadly serious consequences for climate, land and ocean chemistry. Could modern human activities have the same effect?
There are a number of differences between Earth today and in the late Permian: some work in our favour and some not.
Firstly, although the late Permian already had a Hothouse climate with high carbon dioxide levels, it is not the absolute levels of CO2 that matter so much: rather, it is the rate at which they change. The rate of emissions in the end-Permian episode, as witnessed by the carbon isotope-spike at the point of the extinction, exceeded the ability of both oceans and biosphere to absorb them. The result was environmental catastrophe. So even though we're not starting with the same conditions as the late Permian, we can't take too much comfort from that fact.
Secondly, geography: in the late Permian there were no polar ice-caps and continental configuration was quite different with landmasses mostly lumped together in the Pangaea supercontinent. End-Permian sea-level rise would have involved thermal expansion alone: in this case we are at greater risk because there are major ice-caps available to melt.
Thirdly, it is thought that late Permian ocean circulation was sluggish, making it easier for anoxic conditions to develop than is the case now with our generally well-mixed oceans.
Fourthly, the sulphur dioxide released by the Siberian Traps volcanism has no modern anthropogenic equivalent. Our sulphur dioxide emissions peaked at ca. 130 million tonnes a year in the 1980s when treaties were agreed to limit pollution from them and the trend is gradually downwards. Compared to the estimate for the Siberian Traps (6300-7800 billion tonnes), one can see that even a century of human emissions at peak levels would still be orders of magnitude less.
An estimated massive (100,000 billion tonnes) carbon dioxide release is thought to have been responsible for the dramatic carbon isotope-spike accompanying the extinction. Let me make this plain: such a spike cannot be generated without something of a drastic nature happening that involves a lot of carbon. The underground cooking of hydrocarbon-bearing evaporite and coal-bearing rock sequences by hot magma has been convincingly blamed for at least part of the release. So how does it compare to our CO2 emissions of ca. 32.3 billion tonnes a year? The late Permian carbon isotope-spike lasted some 2,100 to 18,800 years. Let's round off the figures to make them easier to see in the mind's eye: 2000 to 20,000 years. On the 2000 year scale, to produce a carbon dioxide burp of this magnitude, 5,000 billion tonnes would need to be emitted per century: on the 20,000 year scale it would take 500 billion tonnes per century. That's the range. Our emissions, if they carry on at the present (2014) rate? 3,230 billion tonnes per century. The conclusion is stark: we are outgassing carbon dioxide at the same (or greater) rate as a Large Igneous Province whose overall effects killed most of life on Earth at the end of the Permian.
Late Permian volcanism and associated mass extinction took place, it is thought, over a maximum of several tens of thousands of years. Our self-inflicted environmental changes, assuming for one dreadful moment that we don't get cracking and do something about them, are occurring over a few centuries. The kill-mechanisms may differ slightly from the end Permian events because of the differences outlined in the paragraphs above, but the most likely cause of any future large-scale extinction is nevertheless clear: prolonged environmental stress caused by widespread pollution. Extinction-level events occur when changes to the environment's physical and chemical properties occur on too widespread and rapid a basis for many species to successfully adapt or migrate. If anyone can think of a better incentive to clean our act up than that, let's hear it.
This is not an exhaustive list but the findings in these papers (obtained via Google Scholar) are all incorporated in the above account. The new radiometric dates are the work of Burgess and colleagues. For a good general account of LIPs and their effects, the Bond and Wignall paper is a good place to start.
Benton, M.J. and Newell, A.J. (2014): Impacts of global warming on Permo-Triassic terrestrial ecosystems. Gondwana Research 25, 1308–1337.
Bond, D.P.G. and Wignall, P.B. (2014): Large igneous provinces and mass extinctions: An update. In: Keller, G., and Kerr, A.C., eds., Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects: Geological Society of America Special Paper 505.
Burgess, S.D., Bowringa, S. and Shenb, S. (2014): High-precision timeline for Earth’s most severe extinction. PNAS, vol. 111, no. 9, 3321.
Burgess, S.D. (2014): High-precision U/Pb geochronology of large igneous provinces and mass extinctions : testing coincidence and causation. Ph. D. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Dobretsov, N.L., Kirdyashkin, A.A., Kirdyashkin, A.G., Vernikovsky, V.A. and Gladkov, I.N. (2008): Modelling of thermochemical plumes and implications for the origin of the Siberian traps. Lithos 100: 66-92.
Grasby, S.E., Sanei, H., and Beauchamp, B. (2011): Catastrophic dispersion of coal fly ash into oceans during the latest Permian extinction: Nature Geoscience, v. 4, p. 104–107.
Hinojosa, J.L., Brown, S.T., Chen Jun, DePaolo, D.J., Paytan, A., Shen Shuzhong and Payne, J.L. (2012): Evidence for end-Permian ocean acidification from calcium isotopes in biogenic apatite: Geology, v. 40, p. 743–746.
Kump, L.R., Pavlov, A. and Arthur, M.A. (2005): Massive release of hydrogen sulfide to the surface ocean and atmosphere during intervals of oceanic anoxia. Geology, v. 33, no. 5. p. 397–400.
Ogden, D.E. and Sleep, N.H. (2012): Explosive eruption of coal and basalt and the end-Permian mass extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciiences USA 109(1): 59-62.
Retallack, G.J. and Jahren, A.H. (2008): Methane Release from Igneous Intrusion of Coal during Late Permian Extinction Events. The Journal of Geology, volume 116, p. 1–20
Saunders, A. and Reichow, M. (2009): The Siberian Traps and the End-Permian mass extinction: a critical review. Chinese Science Bulletin, vol. 54, no. 1, 20-37.
Schobben, M., Joachimski, M.M., Korn, D., Leda, L. and Korte, K. (2014): Palaeotethys seawater temperature rise and an intensified hydrological cycle following the end-
Permian mass extinction. Gondwana Research, Volume 26, Issue 2, 675-683.
Self, S., Schmidt, A. and Mather, T.J. (2014): Emplacement characteristics, time scales, and volcanic gas release rates of continental flood basalt eruptions on Earth Geological Society of America Special Papers, 505. 319 – 337.
Sephton, M.A., Looy, C.V., Brinkhuis, H., Wignall, P.B., De Leeuw, J.W. and Visscher, H. (2005): Catastrophic soil erosion during the end-Permian biotic crisis: Geology, v. 33, p. 941–944.
Sephton, M.A., Jiao, D., Engel, M.H., Looy, C.V. and Visscher, H. (2015): Terrestrial acidification during the end-Permian biosphere crisis? Geology, v.43, p 159-162.
Sobolev, A.V., Sobolev, S.V., Kuzmin, D.V., Malitch, K.N. and Petrunin, A.g. (2009): Siberian meimechites: origin and relation to flood basalts and kimberlites. Russian Geology and Geophysics 50, 999–1033.
Svensen, H., Planke, S., Polozov, A.G., Schmidbauer, N., Corfu, F., Podladchikov, Y.Y., and Jamtveit, B., 2009, Siberian gas venting and the end-Permian environmental crisis: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 277, p. 490–500.
This of course is a completely different theory than the previously accepted idea that the Dinosaurs bit the dust resultant from and Asteroid Collision.
Interestingly enough, numerous scientists have taken this as evidence that "Pollution" was the cause of Dinosaur Extinction, just in this case said Pollution came from natural Earth Processes which burned up a lot of stored Carbon and caused the various cascading effects we observe now, this time as these scientists believe because of the Anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels.
Can you really call it pollution though if the Earth itself does this periodically? Apparently, it is part of the Earth's cycles to periodically burn up all the Carbon that the life forms store up over time. Not a whole lot different than forest fires, just on a much longer time scale.
There is little doubt that forest fires like this put Gigatons of CO2 up into the atmosphere when they light up, like they are in Alaska as I write this article.
Large wildfires in the western United States can pump as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in just a few weeks as cars do in those areas in an entire year, a new study suggests.
As forest fires devour trees and other plants, they release the carbon stored in the vegetation into the atmosphere.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of California used satellite observations of fires and a model to estimate just how much carbon dioxide is released based on the amount of vegetation that is burned. The results of the study are detailed in the online journal Carbon Balance and Management.
Why is it so hard to believe that Volcanic Activity, which sources energy far greater than that available at the surface of the earth could not be emitting far more Sulfur into the environment and far more heat than that possible either by Homo Sap bunring fossil fuels or Wildfires going off? There are many cycles involved here with both the Earth and the Sun that we do not know how they work or on what time scale either. The sun itself can emit more or less energy on a periodic basis. Ice Ages come and go on a periodic basis. If you accept the theory that geotectonic forces caused the Extinction of the Dinosaurs, what was it that set off those forces? Until you can explain these phenomena, you can't simply ascribe all the effects we see these days to anthropogenic causation and the burning of fossil fuels, although this no doubt is also a contributing factor.
Besides not knowing precisely how much Sulfur gets ejected each year by subsea volcanoes, there is also no means to determine precisely how much heat the Earth radiates through the crust directly beneat the Ocean. Today, you might sink down some sensors which could measure that, but you have no historical reference point for it. You don't have sensor readings from 1975 to compare with, and you certainly do not have readings from the PETM to know how hot the ocean floor was then. The only thing you really can compare are the gross morphological changes which occur with really big earthquakes and/or volcanic eruptions, and the latter mainly limited to eruptions that occur on land based Volcanoes, not subsea ones. So this is a difficult theory to quantify, which is probably one of the reasons your typical scientist won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
What just about no Climate Scientist will do these days is attribute Climate Change to anything BUT Anthropogenic Causation. Why is that?
Primarily I think it is because there is a huge political component involved here, and because many of these scientists are also folks who are disgusted with the damage that industrialization has brought to the planet, which is extensive regardless of whether it is the principle cause of climate change or not. Even in the absence of climate change, Industrialization has turned most of the planet into a sewer, and it's only getting worse every day. So they blame Homo Sap for everything, and won't even consider the idea that perhaps the Earth is going through another of it's geological cycles where the core heats up, increased earthquakes and vulcanism result from that, and burning of stored Carbon and melting Clathrates results in turn from that.
What this evidence DOES show however is that even if you burn up virtually all the Carbon available to the Ecosphere (a thin layer of the earth that goes from a few miles below sea level to a few miles above), the Earth system never seems to progress to runaway Venusian style Global Cooking, but rather plateaus out at around 12C+ above the current average global temperature, at 22C.
22C is equivalent to ~72F, which is quite a survivable temp for both Homo Sap and the plants and animals he feeds on. Besides that, it is an AVERAGE Global Temp, and the Temps at the higher latitudes are likely to be a good deal lower than that. So just on the basis of Global Warming, it is quite a stretch to say that a 4C rise in Global Average Temp will destroy all habitat and make it impossible for any Homo Sap to survive anywhere.
This of course does not take into account the many other things which threaten the long term survival of Homo Sap, including all the Nuke Puke out there and the distinct possibility of a Disease or many diseases with high infection rates and high mortality rates may develop during the spin down. Both of these are probably likely, but neither is likely to completely wipe Homo Sap off the map on a 20 year timeline as Guy McPherson promotes, or even on a Century long timeline. For an extinction level event to go that fast, you really would need the Planet Killer Asteroid, not even Yellowstone going Ballistic would do it across the whole globe.
Is this Good Newz? Yes and No. No, it's Bad Newz because even without going Extinct in 20 years, the kind of population knockdown we are set up for here and looks close to unavoidable is absolutely HORRIFIC. It's hard to imagine how any survivors will cope with such a vast and rapid change, along with all that death surrounding them, even spread out over a Century.
The Good Newz is that this is HIGHLY unlikely to cause the Extinction of ALL life on Earth in the near or even medium term, although in the long term this is guaranteed when the Sun Goes Red Giant (or actually a bit before that). Beyond that, it's unlikely Homo Saps and Sentience gets wiped out that fast either, and we have some chance to rebuild for a Better Tomorrow, at least those who make it through the Zero Point may have such an opportunity.
In the meantime, you basically have two choices here, which are:
1) Give up Hope, go into "Hospice", Roll Over and DIE (the NBL Philosophy)
2) Maintain Hope, Never Give Up, Never Say Die, Keep on Going through Hell until you get to the Other Side, Never QUIT until the Fat Lady sings for you. (the Diner Philosophy)
If anybody has reason to opt for Door #1, I do. I'm a mess, and have lived longer than I should have already. But I am NOT GOING TO QUIT! I will FIGHT TO SURVIVE for as long as I can, because the purpose of living is just to live for most creatures. For Sentient Creatures, there is one more Imperative, which is to learn as much as you can before you Cross the Great Divide. Every additional minute you stay alive is one more minute you can learn something, and come that much closer to Eternal Truth before you pass into the Great Beyond.. What happens after that remains an Impenetrable Mystery, but it seems highly unlikely to me that it is all meaningless and without any purpose, and while alive you try to figure that meaning & purpose out to the best of your ability.
Then you die, and something else happens.
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE
Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi
Published on Resource Crisis on July 8, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
(hint: probably not what you used to think)
Discuss this article at the Geological & Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner
I know what you are thinking: these silly scientists; first they tell us that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs, now they tell us that it is not true. So, how can we believe them when they tell us that humans are causing global warming?
On this, I have to tell you something: science is a mighty truth-seeking juggernaut. Yes, individual scientists are not immune from mistakes, political biases, and human failures, but, on the whole, science manages to filter away bad ideas and keep the good ones. The case of the extinction of the dinosaurs is a beautiful example of how well the mechanism works.
As you will read in the article below, the non avian dinosaurs, it seems, went away not with an asteroidal bang, but with a volcanic whisper. They were killed over several tens of thousands of years by the global warming created by the emission of gases from the giant basaltic eruption known as the "Deccan Traps", today located on the Indian subcontinent. To be sure, the discussion is far from being settled and many scientists still favor the impact theory (e.g. Peter Ward and Joe Kirschvink in their recent book "A new history of life"). Personally, I am no specialist in these matters but, if I did my homework well (and I think I did), my impression is that the data overwhelmingly favor the volcanic hypothesis over the asteroidal one.
So, no asteroid killer? If that's the case, how could science make such a mistake? The answer is that there was no "mistake". There was just the gradual build-up of data and models that led to a better and better understanding of the mechanisms of mass extinctions in the earth's past and of the specific events that led to the so-called "K/T" mass extinction that involved the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs. So, it is true that there was a large asteroidal impact occurring approximately at the K/T boundary. But whether this was the actual cause of the mass extinction always remained a hypothesis. It was only the spectacular character of this hypothesis that led it to become so popular with the general public. But popularity in the media is not the same as scientific certainty and, after decades of work, science is gradually arriving at a consensus on this matter, just as it has arrived to a consensus on climate change. Science, unlike politics and fashion, doesn't go in cycles, it moves forward.
The real causes of the extinction of the dinosaurs
by Aldo Piombino
Aldo Piombino is an independent researcher collaborating with the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Florence.
It is widely accepted by the public opinion and by many scientists that the Dinosaurs went extinct because of a meteorite impact that occurred along the Southern Mexico coasts, along the coast of the Yucatan peninsula.
Well, this is not true. The “Impactists,” those who propose the impact theory, have been successful for a while in having a stronger voice than their opponents. But, in March 2013 a meeting at the Natural History Museum in London, (acts are published in the Geological Society of America Special publication n. 505) left no doubts: the killer of the dinosaurs was not the Yucatan impact, but the gases and other volatiles that came from the Deccan Traps activity, in which some hundreds of thousands of cubic kilometers of magma were produced in a few tens of thousands of years.
There is multiple proof that the Earth system has seen similar conditions causing mass extinctions well before the dramatic K/T event that killed the non-avian dinosaurs. A similar volcanic activity occurred (and it is blamed for) the mass extinction events of the late Devonian, the end Permian, end Triassic, end Cenomanian, end Paleocene, and others. From the end of the Devonian period, all the main boundaries of the Earth chronology correspond to similar volcanic activities, termed "large igneous provinces" (LIPs).
The first scientific ideas about the dinosaur extinction in the '30s were that they were wiped out because of a sudden warming of the Earth. This is well exposed in “Fantasia”, one of the masterpieces in the Walt Disney's production, in which we see great reptiles dying in a dry word, surrounded by a warm haze. In the 50's someone blamed a meteorite for the extinction: the cosmic fall would have triggered a sudden and violent atmospheric warming.
Global warming remained the best explanation since 1980, when the Berkeley team of Louis Alvarez found that all the K/T section known at that time (Gubbio in Italy, Stevns Klimt in Denmark and Woodside Creek in New Zealand, showed an anomalous spike in the Iridium content (5). So they proposed that a chondritic meteorite crashed on the Earth, triggering a long winter, a sort of “nuclear winter”. The Iridium, contained in the celestial body, had been released in the air and deposited on the ground and on the sea surface. This idea became immediately popular and scientists that didn't agree with the idea of the extraterrestrial origin of K/T event had troubles in having their voices being heard.
The 80's saw many scientists searching of the impact crater which was finally found in 1991, along the Yucatan coasts. The dimensions of the crater coincided with the hypothesis declared by the Berkeley team of a body with a 10 km diameter and the age of the collision was Late Cretaceous. But a few years later, Upper Maastrichtian sediments were found on top of the impact ejecta, thus refuting a precise K/T age of the event.
At the same time, scientists found that all the main extinction events, such as the End Permian and End Triassic extinctions, were simultaneous with the emplacement of huge basaltic series: the flood basalts, Large Igneous Provinces, and that the same activity occurred also at the K/T boudary (the large igneous province known as the Deccan Traps). Today, there are no doubts that the K/T extinction has been triggered by the gas emissions from the Deccan Traps. Recent studies of the palaeomagnetic declination registered in the lavas demonstrate that the emplacement of the second, and larger, phase of the activity lasted few tens of thousand years and not hundreds of thousands as it was supposed earlier on (1). The main elements that favor volcanic emissions as the cause of the mass extinction are the following
1. The Maastrichtian climatic evolution is clearly in tune with the pulses of the volcanic activity: the biotic crisis begun well before K/T and the impact occurred well after the beginning of the crisis.
2. According to the impact hypothesis, the K/T event has been a cold, dark moment because of the powders derived from the impact and of the fires ignited worldwide by hot ejecta. This cannot be true, because, instead, there exists compelling evidence that the last 50.000 years of the Cretaceous saw a sudden warming, triggered by the enormous CO2 emissions from Deccan traps; thus, it was not a cooling phase. It is true that, after the impact (between 150.000 and 100.000 years before the Mesozoic Era end) there was been a cooler stage, but this is an ordinary event in mass extinction dynamics, when they are triggered by huge volcanism, since they are always accompanied by strong sea level variation. In particular, the final stage is normally a marine transgression following a cooler period characterized by a huge sea level drop. These sea level drops are mainly triggered by the arrival of volcanic volatiles of the Large Igneous Province in the stratosphere, thus enveloping the entire Earth and preventing much of the solar rays to arrive in the lower atmosphere. So, the K/T was mainly characterized by a warm climate because of the high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas.
3. The sudden extinction in microfossils such as Planktonic Foraminifera is reported where an upper Maastrichtian hiatus is not seen: the low sea level in the upper Maastrichtian before the latest 50.000 years of the stage in many areas (and above all in the Caribbean) resulted in a temporary stop of the sedimentation. Stratigraphic sections where marine sedimentation continued without a hiatus show a very gradual extinction pattern. This scenario fits very well with the volcanic trigger, like the other mass extinctions do, and does not fit with a punctual event like a meteorite impact.
4. The sea water acidity clearly originated by the high CO2 amount coming from the Deccan traps and the acidification began well before the impact. After the K/T acidity crisis, the system saw a partial recovery, but it was interrupted in early Danian, synchronous with a new, later, spike of volcanic activity in India. It is impossible that the asteroidal impact, alone, could have generated such a high amount of this gas; simply because it broke up rocks of the carbonate platform of Yucatan and, above all, the CO2 increase begun well before the impact
5. No one can say whether the dinosaurs were wiped off in a long or in a short time (3), but we must note that the youngest dinosaur fossils or footprints are almost 450.000 years older than K/T and now it is not known if this is due to a lack of fossils or if they became extinct well before the K/T.
6. The Iridium anomaly is probably best explained as the result of the Deccan volcanoes, generated by aerosol diffusion: similar anomalies occur in the volatiles of Kilauea and in Antarctica (2). These forms of volcanism are typical of intraplate volcanism. And, also, volatiles coming from the intraplate Piton de la Fournaise volcano, located over the mantle plume that originated Deccan Traps long ago, show the anomaly (4). Moreover the anomaly found by the Berkeley team in Gubbio begun well before the K/T boundary and vanishes for a long time interval before the final increase (5). How can Iridium came from the impact if his anomaly begins well before the event?
7. The microspherules that were found in the K/T sediments, for example in Denmark and in New Zealand, are of sedimentary origin and they are not the alteration of tektites coming from the impact. Moreover, also the occurrence of fullerenes doesn't necessarily imply fires triggered by the impact worldwide: charcoals are widespread in all upper Cretaceous sediments because of the occurrence of wildfires triggered by high levels of atmospheric Oxygen. The diffusion of the wildfires is one of the causes of the decline of Conifers and of the Angiosperm diffusion. During the latest Cretaceous period, wildfires increased at the highest level because of the worldwide warm and dry climate; these changes were triggered by volcanic emissions
8. Those who propose the impact theory say that a 3 meters thick level along the coast of the gulf of Mexico was deposited by the Tsunami triggered by the meteorite crash. This cannot be true: the level shows many hiatuses (demonstrated also by the occurrence of paleosoils showing bioturbation structures) and it has sedimented for a long time, some tens of hundreds years: it is the result of sedimentation during the low standing sea level before the earliest Maastrichtian transgression
9. Smectites are very common at the K/T boundary. They do not represent the alteration of the impact tektites, they show a huge volcanic signature and they have originated from Deccan traps. It's interesting that the smectite amount increases, replacing illite deposits, in 3 time intervals that are coeval with the 3 main phases of Deccan activity
10. It is evident that the epicenter of the geochemical and biotic crisis is placed in the indian region, as we can see in the Krishna – Godavari basin and in the Meghalaya area.
12. The δ13C excursion demonstrates a huge perturbation in the carbon cycle; it is diagnostic for a large igneous province and occurred in a similar way at the end of Permian and at the end of Triassic.
13. The 1783 eruption of the Laki volcano can be seen as a small scale simulation of what can happen during the emplacement of a many thousands cubic kilometers lava flow like the ones of a Large Igneous Province. With the Laki eruption, only 17 cubic kilometers of lavas were produced, but the eruption saw the highest registered mortality level in a century and a dry fog enveloped all Europe with widespread damage to agriculture.
In conclusion, the Deccan Traps fit better than meteorites as the trigger of the K/T event for all the geochemical, sedimentary and micropaleontological characteristics.
(1) Chenet et al., (2009) Determination of rapid Deccan eruptions across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary using paleomagnetic secular variation: 2. Constraints from analysis of eight new sections and synthesis for a 3500-m-thick composite section. Journal of Geophysical Research, vol 114, no. B6, B06103, pp. 1-38., 0.1029/2008JB005644
(2) Archibald J.D., (2014), What the dinosaur record says about extinction scenarios. Geological Society of America Special Papers 505, 213–224
(3) Olmez et al., (1986), Iridium emissions from Kilauea Volcano. Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth 91/B1, 653–663
(4) Toutain & Meyer (1989) Iridium‐bearing sublimates at a hot‐spot volcano (Piton De La Fournaise, Indian Ocean), Geophys. Res. Lett.16(12), 1391-1394
(5) Alvarez et al., 1980, Extraterrestrial causes for the Cretaceous – Tertiary extinction K/T Experimental results and theoretical interpretation. Science 268, 1095–1108
Off the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook
Published on the Daily Impact on May 26, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
The Pacific Ocean appears to be turning toxic to all life, a prospect with unimaginably dire consequences for humanity. News stories about it are fragmented, and slotted into the “Environment” category, and thus easily ignored by the rich and famous and their news channels. (Breaking News: Donald Trump Running Mate May be Caitlyn Jenner!) In just the latest manifestation of this calamity, what may be the largest bloom of toxic algae ever detected is poisoning sea life from California to British Columbia — with toxin from it detected not far off Alaska. Crab and clam fisheries have been shut down in two states so far, and the so-called red tide is still growing. In Monterey Bay, California, the concentration of domoic acid secreted by the algae is the highest ever recorded.
One of the few stories on this event to be found in the general media, on the CNBC website, is at great pains to reassure its readers that they can go about their business, nothing to see here: the red tide “doesn’t pose a health risk to people who eat commercially caught fish,” it says in paragraph two, although it could kill people who eat crabs or shellfish; “no significant impact on commercial fishermen, who have moved on to harvesting other species” it says, mainly because the crab season is over anyway, and this will all blow over by fall, right? “Blooms are common,” it says reassuringly, then explains that this one is unique.
The CNBC piece, like most, makes only passing reference to the growing avalanche of mass deaths of marine life that have been plaguing the Pacific Coast for at least two years.
- The Pacific population of the forage fish that form the base of the marine food chain — sardines, anchovies, and herring — has been decimated, with inevitable ill effects on the species that feed on them — salmon, sharks, whales and sea lions.
- Not coincidentally, this is the second year in a row that record numbers of emaciated, dying sea lions have been washed ashore in California.
- The number of bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean has declined by 95 per cent. Mexico has banned fishing for them, the United States is still thinking it over.,
- Oysters, a staple seafood product of the Pacific Northwest, have been declining in number for ten years because of rising ocean acidification related to its absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.
- Virtually all species of marine birds are disappearing from the coast, their populations reduced by 75% and more. It, too, is now being called the largest die-off of its kind in history.
- Hundred of thousands of dead red crabs are washing ashore on California beaches from San Diego to Orange County right now. Says Reuters, in the second paragraph of its story, “Such strandings take place periodically and are not necessarily a threat to the species.” Move along, nothing to see here, just miles and miles of obscene red death.
- Even whales in larger numbers than usual are washing up dead on California’s shores. No one knows exactly why, so everyone insists it has nothing to do with anything else.
- Starfish, more properly known as sea stars, have been virtually wiped out from Mexico to Alaska, apparently by a virus that turns them to mush. It may be the largest mortality event ever witnessed by humans.
Scientists, cautious as always of their reputations and the constant yelps of criticism from the right, are reluctant to ascribe this massive dying across the spectrum of marine life to any particular cause. El Nino and Fukushima radiation are popular villains, indicted but not yet convicted, with ocean acidification and climate change soon to go before the grand jury.
With your house in flames from the basement to the attic, it doesn’t make much sense to debate whether the fire was started by a match or a propane lighter. It would make sense to get out of the house.
But where are we going to go?
Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.
Off the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
Published on The Daily Impact on May 21, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
Our friends at the Doomstead Diner (they frequently repost Daily Impact essays) have caused a bit of an uproar among doomers — their term for people who believe the crash of industrial society is imminent — by conducting a poll on whether and when all humanity will be extinguished by the collapse. The Human Extinction Survey immediately revealed strong differences and strong feelings among the doomers surveyed. Just a few years ago it was controversial in the extreme to raise the prospect of collapse; now the idea is moving to the mainstream but wait, extinction? Yikes.
Questions determine their answers. While I am interested in this topic and wanted to participate, I found the survey questions didn’t offer the choices I would make in discussing it. So instead of selecting from the offered alternatives, I offered the following:
I’m not sure I believe in the extinction of people. Civilizations, yes, and this industrial one is surely doomed. But people endure. The Anasazi (Chaco People) are still with us, as the Navajo (Dine). We still have Aztecs and Mayans, although their civilizations crashed. Hell, I even have dinosaurs running around in my yard, we call them chickens now. Soak a cow with broad spectrum antibiotics, spray a field with pesticides, bomb a battlefield till the rubble bounces — there are always survivors.
I agree that a near-extinction event is in the offing. When it will happen and how many people it will leave behind are, it seems to me, both unknown and unknowable, so I don’t concern myself with marking my calendar or setting my alarm clock. What makes sense to me is to do everything I can to maximize my family’s chances of getting through to the other side, and then we’ll see what we see.
It has been my observation during 30 years or so of reporting on the environment that industrial humans have always underestimated two things: the harm they are doing to the natural web of life; and the power of the natural world to heal itself when the harm is stopped.
It bears remembering, I think, that the world’s best scientists have been pretty consistently wrong in their appraisals of climate change. Not, of course, on the questions of whether it’s happening or whether humans caused it, those have been answered beyond any reasonable doubt. But they have been wrong about the speed of its onset and its severity in the short term. This is not meant as a criticism of scientists, it is only to observe that no one is ever going to be completely right in predicting the behavior of a system as enormous and complex as the global climate. So it seems appropriate to me to listen with respect to the arguments of those who now predict imminent extinction, as I hope they will respect this layman’s response: It ain’t necessarily so.
All my life I’ve made a distinction between the Utopians the the Pragmatists. Utopians put great effort into designing the world as it should be and then trying to herd the rest of us into it. Whether they design a best-of-all-possible world, or a dystopian world, same process. Pragmatists try to fix what they can reach, wherever they find themselves, and do not concern themselves with picturing how the world would look with everything fixed (or broken). They know it is beyond them. Count me a pragmatist.
We all know that each of us is going to die — when, where and how, we cannot know. Yet the inevitability of death does not deter us from finding meaning and fulfillment in the time we have. Nor does our lack of knowledge prevent us from trying to ensure a decent afterlife, whether through religious zeal or cryogenics or something else. Even if we are convinced we are all going to die together, say on an August afternoon in 2019, we are still obliged, it seems to me, to live until then according to our values.
It has never been up to us to decide whether our lives are meaningful, or worthy. Life is its own meaning. Our duty is to see it through as well as we can.
Off the keyboard of Albert Bates
Published on Peak Surfer on May 24, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. Albert Bates, author of The Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook, brings you along on his personal journey.
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a letter to Albert Einstein in which he used the word verschränkung (translated by himself as entanglement) "to describe the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate, as in the EPR experiment."
In the Einstein-Podalsky-Rosen experiment it appeared that one particle of an entangled pair "knows" what action has been performed on or by the other, and with what outcome, even though there is no known means, or time, for such information to have been communicated. Schrodinger later wrote, "I would not call [entanglement] one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought."
Debaters of the likelihood of Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE) are less perfectly aligned than an EPR pair. Even those that subscribe to the theory are divided as to both the date and the precipitating cause.
Near-term civilizational collapse, on the other hand, is a bit easier to predict because (a) all civilizations collapse eventually, (b) this new, wholly global one exhibits a perfect storm of fatal design errors and (c) the empirical measure of net energy per capita – with human civilization viewed as a rudimentary heat engine that hit its zenith some years ago (estimates of date vary) and is now in steepening decline (although the International Energy Agency or President's Council of Economic Advisors would disagree).
Humans are considered to be pretty resilient and adaptive. We have been through several evolutionary bottlenecks already, to prove the point.
Granted, luck plays a role. If the few thousand survivors of the evolutionary bottleneck now revealed by mDNA studies to have occurred 70,000-80,000 years ago had all been clustered in one location – say Cupertino, California – and a Chicxulub-scale meteor had chosen to strike there and then, well sayonara. Silicon Valley would never have had a garage to build in.
But we are not alone. We are not even our own DNA. That body we blithely call human is actually a community of mostly convivial organisms, some autonomous, some not, that cohabit these complex, highly-evolved, organic structures and are responsible for all the vital functions that allow us to live. Indeed, "highly evolved" by itself means that cooperative arrangements between the many life forms that are in us and out, producing our food, oxygen, rainfall and climate, had enough time to become exceedingly complex and antifragile in their interactions. It is their tangled web that is largely responsible for this mild Holocene Epoch we have been enjoying, not just Milanković cycles.
If complexity is a precursor to climax in ecosystems, disturbance, and restart, the same may be true of the human ecosystem, and so our highly complex human biology argues, after a Tainterian fashion, for NTHE. However, such a jaundiced view begs the question of how much complexity is too much, and how much provides biological stability, or antifragility, of a kind.
Much depends on what the after-crash climate will be. After the great warming "pulse" generated by fossil carbon burning, the Earth will stay very warm for a long period – at least some thousands of years. Gradually, it will cool down as the atmospheric carbon dioxide created by the industrial revolution will be gradually – very gradually – re-absorbed into the Earth's crust. It may well take a hundred thousand years to return to the pre-industrial CO2 concentrations. Only at that point we may see again the climate conditions which were typical of an Earth unperturbed by human activities; perhaps with the series of ice ages that characterized the "Pleistocene," the epoch preceded the more stable Holocene – in which we are still living.
Assuming Bardi's postulate is correct, or more precisely, that of David Archer, whom Bardi references, that the mean lifetime of fossil CO2 (not all GHGs) is about 30–35 kyr then it may well take 100,000 years for Earth's atmosphere to recover from Homo petroleo. Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, one cannot rely on that prediction because of the possibility of the clathrate gun that could transform Earth's atmosphere to something more resembling Venus, shrouded in methane clouds. We wept at that prospect in our 1990 book, Climate in Crisis.
Productivity of the U.S. health care
system, 1930-1982 (Tainter 1988)
Even assuming Homo post-petroleo could adapt to blistering hot surface temperatures for 100,000 years, perhaps on islands moderated by the ocean currents or at the poles, could our species then adapt to a Venus-like world? Chances diminish by degrees. The problem, as Tom Goreau has eloquently stated it, is that IPCC reports go out merely a century, while the emissions being accumulated will be around for millennia, and full cessation of fossil fuel burning will not arrest their delayed effects, although healthy soil microbe communities, promoted by regrarian farming and biochar, perhaps could.
Microbes, which are morphologically quite simple, can be remarkably more adaptive than humans to extreme conditions. On April 20, 1967, NASA's unmanned probe Surveyor 3 landed at the Mare Cognitum on a Lunar reconnoitering mission. Samples of soil from the crater where it landed were excavated with its robotic scoop and television pictures sent back to the Earth until May 3, when it shut down for a lunar night and unfortunately caught cold and died, unable to be reawakened when morning dawned, 14 days later.
The camera was retrieved by Apollo 12 astronauts three years later and returned to Earth. Opened in a clean room and sampled, the camera was discovered to still have live earthly microbes hiding in the foam crevices of its housing. These resilient microbes apparently had evaded sterilization procedures prior to Surveyor's launch.
Some years later studies suggested that the camera had been contaminated by the Apollo astronauts, or in the sampling procedure, but these claims do not stand up to the original scrutiny provided by Lt. Colonel Fred Mitchell. In his careful study, Mitchell observed that there was a significant delay before the sampled culture began growing. This is consistent with the sampled bacteria as dormant spores, but would not be the case if the sampled culture was the result of fresh contamination. In addition, according to Mitchell, the microbes clung exclusively to the foam during culturing, which would not have happened had there been contamination. Furthermore, Mitchell suggested, if fresh contamination had occurred, millions of individual bacteria and "a representation of the entire microbial population would be expected"; instead, only a few individual bacteria were discovered and only from a single species. (Mitchell, F. J., & Ellis, W. L., "Surveyor III: Bacterium isolated from lunar retrieved TV camera," in A.A. Levinson (ed.). Proceedings of the second lunar science conference. MIT press, Cambridge, 1971).
To recap: one species of terrestrial microbes, the common bacterium Streptococcus mitis, when suddenly confronted with the nearly absolute cold of space, adapted, went dormant, and survived, not for a 14-day night, but for years.
Diminishing returns to increasing
complexity (Tainter 1988)
This historical anecdote makes a pretty good case for the proposition that no matter what we humans do to the climate of Earth, some life forms will survive. How long it takes these life forms to again evolve a community of something resembling human is anyone's guess.
A lot of things happened to humans during the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers and pastoralists. We lost a good 3-4% of the cranial capacity, many of us became able to digest milk, we developed resistance to many diseases and the capability to live on a diet that was very different and much poorer than that of hunters and gatherers. These changes were genetic, resulting from the need of adapting to a different lifestyle and to a more complex society.
True these changes are genetic, but that may miss half the story. The changes also reflect the evolution of our microbiome. Our gut bacteria, which can evolve more quickly than generalized human physiology, are in much greater control of most bodily functions than is often assumed.
According to a new review in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, "Psychobiotics and the gut–brain axis: in the pursuit of happiness" by Linghong Zhou and Jane Foster from McMaster University in Canada (Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015; 11: 715–723, doi: 10.2147/NDT.S61997):
"The human intestine houses an astounding number and species of microorganisms, estimated at more than 1014 gut microbiota and composed of over a thousand species. An individual’s profile of microbiota is continually influenced by a variety of factors including but not limited to genetics, age, sex, diet, and lifestyle. Although each person’s microbial profile is distinct, the relative abundance and distribution of bacterial species is similar among healthy individuals, aiding in the maintenance of one’s overall health. Consequently, the ability of gut microbiota to bidirectionally communicate with the brain, known as the gut–brain axis, in the modulation of human health is at the forefront of current research.
Photo credit: CSIRO.
These cryptophytes have the
capacity to choose between
quantum coherence and decoherence
"Bidirectional communication via the vagus nerve, a component of the parasympathetic nervous system, is a well-established pathway for gut-brain signaling and, in recent years, has emerged as an important microbiota-to-brain communication pathway.
"The ENS [enteric nervous system], sometimes referred to as "the second brain" comprises intrinsic primary afferent neurons, motor neurons, and glial cells contained within the myenteric plexus and the submucosal plexus that extends along the entire length of the gut."
Zhou and Foster discovered that what you thought was your thinking may actually have originated in the hive communication going on in your gut amongst a billion single-celled organisms. How else do you explain how our biocomputer experiences 70,000 thoughts per day on roughly 24 Watts of power?
A century ago, Russian embryologist Elie Metchnikoff surmised that a healthy colonic microbial community could help combat senility. Now we are learning that the gut-brain axis – the two direction communication between the gut microbiota and the brain – affects not only health and immune response, weight management, allergies, tooth decay, cholesterol, arthritis, longevity, but also brain function, emotional behavior and instinctive reflexes.
Gut bacterial imbalances have been linked to autism, depression, and eating disorders, as for instance, when genetically modified crops designed to be RoundUp-Ready through the glyphosate mechanism of destroying soil microbes that feed weeds at their roots are ingested by humans and make mayhem of human intestinal microfauna communities.
We don't yet entirely know how bacteria communicate, much less how they communicate with our brains or what effect that has, whether it occurs by physical linkages or through faster-than-light quantum phenomena, but we have to acknowledge the entanglement.
"Is the future of humans a beehive? We can't say, but it looks more and more likely that some old ways of seeing the future are now wholly obsolete. Likely, our descendants will have no flying cars; no spaceships, no robot butlers bringing the martinis to them as they relax on the pool's edge. But the powers of a human hive could still be impressive even without the gadgetry of our times. Maybe the 'super-intelligence' that some see as developing in our computers could actually appear in an eusocial human organization (this is one of the themes of Frank Herbert's novel Hellstrom's Hive).
"Will these super-intelligent entities avoid the mistakes that we have done? We can't say; of course, it is a future that none of us will ever see. But it is a fascinating future and the interest in the future is part of the fact of being human. Perhaps, our hive descendants will think in the same way."
We can feel a little more assured that even though we humans evolve very slowly and face monumental, existential challenges from our pollution profligacy, the wee beasties that co-evolved in our guts adapt much faster to challenges and may yet decide we are worth hanging onto, assuming they did not engineer our planned obsolescence to begin with.
Evolution may not be the only thing microbes are fast at. Like Gaia, they exhibit a kind of quantum intelligence, with multiple states of knowledge simultaneously appearing, and no apparent time or means to communicate. We, who treasure our autonomous egos, are fortunate to exist in community with a verschränkung hive mentality.
Fortunately, we clever apes have also hedged our bets by delaying new spacecraft sterilization protocols until after we sent unclean probes to Mars. If our hive community did not exist on Mars before (and wasn't that the discovery mission of the probes?) chances are very good that it does now.
Audio Off the microphone of RE
Text Off the keyboard of RE and the Diners
Aired on the Doomstead Diner on May 27, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
Things are perking up in The Human Extinction SurveyTM world. 😀
After inquiring why the Diner Survey on Human Extinction was not a WASTE OF TIME in the Collapse PunditTM Email stream, Dmitry Orlov of Club Orlov ripped off the idea and has now dropped his OWN survey onto his Blog! LOL.
Here's some questions about Dmitry's survey which have popped up on the Diner, since Dmitry closed the commentary on his Blog for his survey:
From Palloy:(IT Professional)
Orlov's survey is even wierder than RE's. "How comfortable are you with the idea that …?" – it gives me a very uncomfortable feeling, but it obviously needs to be confronted, so how do I answerQuote
1. How comfortable are you with the idea that Homo Sapiens, just like every other species, is doomed to eventual extinction?
6 12 21 13 47
This was a calibration question, to get the dirt out of the data. People who are uncomfortable with the age and size of the universe, and our utter insignificance on the scale of things, aren't ready to discuss near-term human extinction. The 6 "Extremely uncomfortable" and the 12 "Somewhat uncomfortable" responses on the left are skewing the data. To adjust for this skew, I subtract 6 from the "Extremely uncomfortable" column, 12 from the "Somewhat uncomfortable," and add 18 to "Indifferent" (because indifference cuts both ways, you know).
You can't do that !!! (Well, he can do what he likes with his data, but this is statistically appalling.) There is a science to questionaires/surveys and their analysis.
This has been most enlightening!
No it hasn't – it has been extremely mis-enlightening.
Google [human extinction survey] now.
"How comfortable are you with the idea that …?" – it gives me a very uncomfortable feeling, but it obviously needs to be confronted, so how do I answer?
Exactly. That was my confusion.
From Uncle Bob (Professional Shrink):
"How comfortable are you with the idea that …?" – it gives me a very uncomfortable feeling, but it obviously needs to be confronted, so how do I answer?
Exactly. That was my confusion.
You will note above that I LINKED to Club Orlov in referencing Dmitry's COPYCAT survey. Did Dmitry Link to the Diner Survey? Nope. Further than that, Jimbo Quinn on The Burning Platform published Dmitry's COPYCAT survey, but did he publish the ORIGINAL survey from the Diner? Nope.
Anyhow, in order to further confuse this issue, I created a SURVEY OF HUMAN EXTINCTION SURVEYSTM. 😀
You may take this survey below:
Besides the Survey of Human Extinction SurveysTM, I also RANTED on this little controversy/spat in the world of Collapse PunditsTM. I actually recorded this rant BEFORE Dmitry published his COPYCAT survey. lol. The Rant follows below here.
I was going to publish results of Q3 along with this Rant, however I think this Blog is already (too) full of material to read and listen to, so you'll have to wait until later in the week for the answers to Q3.
The Human Extinction SurveyTM itself appears (again) below the Rant. If you haven't yet taken it, the survey is still OPEN. Now @ 344 Submissions. 🙂
…You gotta have a fucking Ph.D. and make your goddamn survey meet the criteria of the Journal of Psychology to jack it on the net and see what Kollapsnik Attitudes are? WTF? It's not like there aren't any Ph.Ds chatting this up either, Ugo has that Sheepskin and so does George! Everybody has to have a fucking Doctorate in order to drop on an internet survey or express an opinion? WTF? NONE of these folks know near as much about data collection and analysis as Doomer Support does, it's how he makes his fucking LIVING! LOL. Besides THAT, many if not most of the people writing on Collapse don't have the Big Kahuna Sheepskin. I'm pretty sure Dmitry is not a Ph.D, Gail Tverberg is not a Ph.D, Jim Kunstler doesn't have Dr. in front of his name and I bet you dollars to doughnuts none of the Tyler Durdens are Ph.Ds EITHER. LOL.
Now, besides Guy and a Professional Shrink criticizing the survey, over in the email stream amongst the pundits this survey inspired, Dmitry Orlov asks me wtf this survey is not a waste of time, since it's not scientifically or statistically valid? If you thought the survey was a waste of time Dmitry, then WTF did you waste your time TAKING IT? LOL…
For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!
The Full Transcript of the Rant will appear HERE in a few days
You can still take The Human Extinction Survey and be Counted
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 26, 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
I just went outside to my back porch to grab an early morning smoke of a Cancerette, and what did I find on the porch?
DEAD BUGS! Dozens of them.
Does anyone know what type of Bug this is?
Has anyone else run into this phenomenon?
Do you have a hypothesis for why there are so many Dead Bugs on my Back Porch today?
Is this a Sign of the Impending Apocalypse?
I am going to let the Dead Bugs Stay as they Lay until Roamer gets here, before giving them a decent burial by sweeping them off the porch. Maybe he will know what kind of Bug it is.
This is not a great start for the day.
You can still take The Human Extinction SurveyTM below. However, after this last set of photos, this might not be the best time to take it. It could skew the results.
CURRENT SURVEY SUBMISSIONS: 277
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on The Doomstead Diner on May 21, 2015
Nolan Ryan RE Comes Out of the Bullpen
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this article the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
SOMETIMES YOU SHOULD REMAIN CALM. OTHER TIMES, YOU NEED TO THROW THE SMOKE
THE GLOVES ARE OFF.
When I came up with the idea for doing a Survey of Opinions on how Human Extinction might play itself out, the first person who came to mind who might have some opinions he would like to drop down was Guy McPherson of the Nature Bats Last blog. Guy is probably the #1 proponent of the hypothesis that Homo Saps are going Exinct in the VERY Near Term, by 2030 or even sooner if you watch the latest video he dropped on of his presentation in York, England in the UK.
I also know Guy fairly well in Internet terms here in the Collapse Blogosphere, I participated actively in the commentariat of his Blog for quite some time; I cross posted material of his here on the Diner and he crossposted some of my material on NBL; I helped him with issues he was having with his server and SPAM problems with the assistance of my back end support The Database Cavalry from California; and then we assisted him in moving NBL back to its own server space with its own tech support as well.
So, when I published the Survey, I emailed Guy and asked him if I could Plug It on NBL so his readers would know about it and have the opportunity to respond to this survey. Guy agreed to that and so I wrote a Plug Article promoting the survey for NBL. Guy Published this article on NBL, not me. I just added it to the Drafts there. I am very scrupulous about this when I publish on somebody else's Blog. He made the decision to publish the article on NBL and advertize the survey.
The outcome of this has been LESS THAN EXCELLENT, although the Survey is doing well in terms of response numbers and data collected so far. Last check there were 213 Submissions with many Notable Contributors including Ugo Bardi (Resource Crisis), Dmitry Orlov (Club Orlov), Albert Bates (The Farm, Peak Surfer), Steve Ludlum (Economic Undertow), Jason Heppenstall (22 Billion Energy Slaves) Eleitl (mod and editor of r/collapse on Reddit), not to mention just about all the principal Admins & Mods on the Doomstead Diner!
Guy McPherson Says:
I’ve not responded to the survey, nor will I, for two primary reasons:
1. Ask a stupid question, and you’re likely to receive a stupid answer. In this case, stupid responses prevail. A relevant question would focus on habitat for humans. Such a question might produce rational responses, even from academics.
2. Science does not depend upon, and is not heavily influenced by, democratic principles. Our votes have no bearing on the outcome.
Bold is mine.
Now first off, the questions are not STUPID, in fact they are questions that get bandied about all the time in the Commentariat of NBL. I spent enough time there to know what gets discussed all the time. I also have enough feedback in commentary on the Diner to know people found it interesting to take this survey and are interested in what the results are from it.
So here is my first response to Guy from that Comment Stream:
How do you know the answers are stupid? I haven’t even published the survey results as of yet. Actually there are some very interesting answers, some by people writing in this commentariat. If you thought the survey itself was stupid, then why did you publish this article?
Far as how science is done, you do it by collecting data. What this data tells you are the attitudes and beliefs people who read collapse websites regularly have regarding Human Extinction.
It’s actually over 200 respondents now including Ugo Bardi who may be many things, but one of them is not stupid.
If Guy thought the Survey was STUPID and the questions were STUPID and the answers would be STUPID, then WTF did he publish the fucking Plug Article?!?!?!?! I sure wouldn't publish anything I thought was STUPID on the Diner, although we do publish many things I do not agree with.
Now, not only does Guy INSULT me here, he goes on to insult everyone who is participating in the email chat regarding the survey:
Guy McPherson Says:
RE, apparently you already forgot I’m on an email distribution list regarding this survey. If I would have had any faith in humanity before I read the exhange, I’d have lost it by reading the email messages.
I publish many essays in this space. I don’t agree with a lot of them. Of course this is a familiar idea for anybody paying attention.
The opinions expressed by people in the survey — most of which are uninformed about abrupt climate change and ecology — neither draw from nor contribute to the development of reliable knowledge. Such knowledge is the domain of science.
Who are the main participants in this email exchange so far? Myself, Ugo Bardi, Dmitry Orlov, Albert Bates & Jason Heppenstall. Does Guy think we are all UNINFORMED about Climate Change & Ecology?!?!?!?!?! WTF? Every last person there has spent enormous time reading and writing on these topics. None of us discount the possibility of a Near Term Human Extinction event. It's definitely POSSIBLE, but anyone who says it is GUARANTEED is making a FAITH BASED ARGUMENT.
Now, Guy admits to the fact he himself does not do research on this stuff anymore, he just reports on the research of others. He Cherry Picks his data and draws the conclusions from that which match his ideological spin on this collapse. I agree with some of it, not all of it. BY NO MEANS is there consensus even amongst the most Doomerish of Researchers on how this will play out long term.
So why the INSULTS here? Basically IMHO because the Survey challenges the Faith Guy has that Homo Sap will go Extinct inside 20 years. He won't brook any deviation from that idea, he is firmly convinced of it. When challenged on it, rather than making good arguments, he pitches out insults.
Guy does marvelous Power Point Presentations, and he is one fast talker too doing a lecture, he's a walking, talking database of academic papers he has memorized by Journal, Author, Title, Subect and Date of Publication. However, you cannot actually engage him in a conversation on the validity of any of it. You immediately get written off as STUPID if you don't buy the whole fucking ball of wax on the impending and immediate death of Homo Saps, if not all life on Earth. You can't have any HOPE either, you're STUPID if you have hope too!
Anyhow, while Guy himself refuses to take part in this STUPID survey, many of his Followers and Acolytes from NBL have filled it out, and you can quickly grasp the Party Line on NBL when you sort for them. We're not Scientists here on the Diner for the most part, we are Database Freaks & Webheads. You don't need to be a Rocket Scientist to go through this data and grasp what the general population of people who cruise the Doomosphere think and believe.
We will publish more of the data once we get it collated, sorted and analyzed. Some is available already Inside the Diner.
If you have not already done so, you can still take the Survey by clicking any of the numerous links in this article to it, or you can take right below here too!
SURVEY SUBMISSIONS TO DATE: 277
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 17. 2015
Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere
Discuss this Survey at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
Early on when I began my journey into the World of Collapse, probably the biggest and most contentious issue that got kicked around on the Collapse forums and blogs was whether the monetary system would collapse in Hyperinflation or Deflation. In fact here on the Diner itself this remains one of the most popular threads, with more than 30 pages of posts at this point.
Lately however, the Doom community has become more Doomerish, and what is being kicked around now is whether Homo Saps are bound for Extinction, not in some long distant future but in the Near Term. In fact, some folks like Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last are predicting this Extinction Level Event will occur as early as 2030, only 15 years down the line from present day. Obviously, if you are in the process of going Extinct, the monetary issues pale before that one! LOL. For the purposes of this survey though, we will consider anything under a Century as "Near Term".
In an effort to get a better clue on what people think will occur here (and WHEN!?) as we move along the Collapse Highway, I worked up a little Survey utilizing yet another of the numerous Plugins I have installed lately to spruce up the Diner before I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM. 🙂
Before you take the Main Survey, if you haven't done so already here on the Diner, you may want to place yourself in on our Taxonomy of Doomer Types Survey. If you have already done this survey before, don't do it again, it will skew the results. I haven't got a way yet to stop Duplicates out by User. I don't want to require email addys or any identification for these polls, as I think that would discourage readers from responding to them.
I came up with this taxonomy back in my days Blogging on The Burning Platform with Jim Quinn. I had just 2 categories for it back then, now I am up to 4 with it. Here's the old table though for some descriptions. This goes back to 2011 BTW.
|Dollar & Monetary System||We can fix the monetary system and rehabilitate the Dollar if we STOP PRINTING, feed Helicopter Ben to the Lions, Slash Spending, allow TBTF Banks to FAIL, Incarcerate the Criminal Banksters and use Precious Metals to underpin the currency.||The monetary system cannot be rehabilitated by any means, there will be a complete collapse of ALL Fiat money and financial instruments and commerce will for quite some time be mainly Barter. PMs will only retain value in areas where there is a surplus of basic commodities.|
|Inflation, Hyper-Inflation, Deflation, Stagflation, DICK UP YOUR ASSFLATION||WTF CARES ANYMORE? WE ARE TOAST NO MATTER HOW IT COLLAPSES.||WTF CARES ANYMORE? WE ARE TOAST NO MATTER HOW IT COLLAPSES.|
|Energy||To resolve our Energy problems, we must IMMEDIATELY begin building more Nukes, Drill Baby Drill for more Local Oil and build more Hydro Plants and Wind Farms, and eventually pick up the slack from lost energy from Imported Oil sources.||Lost Energy from depleted Oil is Irreplaceable and it is far too late to stop an extensive Power Down throughout society which will halt most of our Transportation methods and bring down the Electrical Grid. Our only choice is to prepare for a Low Energy footprint in the future.|
|Goobermint||We can fix Da Goobermint if we Vote Out all the scumbag CONgress Critters and replace them with Honest Politicians who cannot be Bought who all demonstrate the Wisdom of the Founding Fathers and abide by the Constitution. Said new Goobermint will be made much smaller with fewer Regulations and less Taxation, allowing Commerce to revive as the Free Market takes over.||Da Goobermint is inherently unfixable and corrupt and cannot be rehabilitated via the Ballot Box. Only a Revolution can remove the current power structure, and the results of a Revolution will likely bring a new Goobermint as bad or WORSE than the current one. The failure of the monetary sytem and energy systems will eventually render all large scale Goobermints unable to function, with the power vacuum filled by local Warlords and Dictators in most places.|
|Jobs||We must stop the offshoring of Productive Jobs and rebuild our Manufacturing Base in order to build an export based Mercantilist economy with a Trade Surplus.||The Industrial Model is FINISHED, even if we could rebuild Factories here in the FSofA, we wouldn’t have the Oil to run them anyhow, and there won’t be anyone here or abroad who could afford the products we build with them anyhow, because of the upward spiraling cost of energy measured in EROEI.|
|Immigration||We must Seal the Borders and deport all Illegal Aliens and get FSofA Citizens to work at all the scut jobs at below Minimum Wage they currently fill to reduce Unemployment and reduce the liabilities of Aliens who are soaking up free Medical Care in the Emergency Rooms of our Hospitals.||We can TRY to seal the borders and deport the Illegal Aliens, but they will just be replaced by more home grown Citizens who are falling off the economic cliff and will be just as big a drain on the Medical System. Besides that, at least on the Border with Mejico, it will likely create an ever growing Shooting War with a Tsunami of Wetbacks seeking to escape an even worse situation in Mejico.|
|Imperialism & Foreign Wars||We must STOP trying to be the World’s Policeman, bring all our Boys & Girls HOME and reduce the outrageous COST of maintaining the Big Ass Military.||As soon as we STOP running all our Imperialist adventures, we will basically be CUT OFF from the Foreign Oil still making its way across the Sea Lanes to our Refineries. We also will crash just about the only type of “productive” thing we build here anymore, which are the Weapons of War and we will bring back a whole new crew of people to put on the Unemployment line.|
|Free Shit Army & 30 Blocks of Squalor||We must end all transfer payments, all Welfare, Social Security and Medicaire which are all unfunded Liabilities we cannot afford. Former Welfare recipients will be FORCED to go back to work and become Productive Citizens rather than Useless Eaters. Old Folks will rely on their Savings and their Extended Families to take care of them in their dotage.||The minute we knock down all these social support mechanisms is the minute we turn into Egypt or Libya or all the rest of the 3rd World countries where the people with Nothing Left to Lose go BERSERK. We don’t HAVE jobs these people could do, even if they were qualified to do any job, which they are not for the most part. Most Old Folks have no savings, and the Extended Family died back in the 1950s for the most part. The Medical Industry as a whole would COLLAPSE without Goobermint input, putting the Doctors, Nurses and Medical Records folks on the UE lines also.|
|China will succeed long term because they are net creditors, have most of the Industrial infrastructure and have more Science and Math geniuses studying at Elite Universities.||China is TOAST because of outrageous Population Overshoot, a depleted Water Supply, insufficient arable land and insufficient local supplies of remaining Fossil Fuel energy.|
||Boomers should be EXTERMINATED||Pigmen should be EXTERMINATED|
The latest Compact Description of each of the new categories is below, and you can go HERE to take that Survey if you have not done so already. However, don't navigate away from this page until you take the Survey below, which is much more comprehensive.
Tell Us How you Categorize Yourself
Off the keyboard of td0s
Published on Pray for Calamity on November 6, 2013
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
|With this article, the Diner welcomes td0s from the Pray for Calamity blog to the pantheon of Diner cross posting Bloggers. This article is the first which appeared on his blog in November of 2013, and we will catch up with a few of the other ones he has posted since then over time.
TD has a unique style and a unique viewpoint different from most other Collapse Bloggers you will read. His conclusions though are not much different than the conclusions we on the Diner have also reached though, so he fits in quite well.We also hope to have TD on for a Podcast when we can get one scheduled up. -RE
If there is anything left to hope for, hope for calamity. Absolute and total industrial collapse is the only hope left for life on Earth should extinction of most, if not all life forms, not already be a certainty.
They say a writer should know their audience, so I feel that the above statement needs little background evidence to support it. For the uninitiated, who may have stumbled across this piece unwittingly, I will state that I am coming from a place where I acknowledge that climate change induced by human industrial activity is rapidly entering runaway territory, where even a complete shut down of global industrial activity may not be enough to undo the damage that has already been levied upon the planet and it’s life giving systems. Further, I am coming from a place where I acknowledge that political and economic architectures are not built with the capacity to undo themselves. Further still, I am coming from a place where I have come to accept that even the cultural programming prerequisite to civilizing the human animal is a psychosis.
Of course, the initiated may remind me of the danger posed by hundreds of nuclear power reactors world wide being left stranded of human maintenance should industry catastrophically shut down.
That’s why I said “If there is anything left to hope for…”
I have been active in so-called, “radical circles,” for years now. I have participated in many acts of civil disobedience, most of which went far beyond the tame and near pointless office sit-ins and political theater that is commonly mistaken for “direct action.” However, I also realize that most western people are suffering a combination of insulation and disempowerment which has rendered them doubtful of their autonomy and their right to act, as well as rendering them timid beyond any ability to do so. In realizing this, I have supported those who have slowly tip-toed out of their comfort zones into sheepish acts of sign waving and politician haranguing. Of course, I realize the futility of most of these acts, at least in achieving what the participants overtly intend to achieve. The personal empowerment and growth in self confidence that results from marching down the middle of street is valuable in itself, so I have and do encourage those who decide to do so.
However, a paradigm shift that has gone mostly unnoticed invalidates even small successes by those who have risen to action. The infinite growth model of civilization and the financial models that serve it, has ended. There has already been a peak in global petroleum production, and the world is quickly moving into a time of ever more expensive energy, both in financial and environmental costs. Without taking this into account, social movements will fail consistently. Unfortunately, the vast majority of social movements in the modern west are stunted by this lack of understanding fundamentals, as well as by their insistence on modeling themselves and their movements on past movements they perceive as having been successful which occurred in times of growth. Too often for instance, modern western social movements, be they fighting for environmental or social justice, claim the American civil rights struggles as their founding conceptual model.
This flaw was well analyzed by Henia Belalia who rightly suggests that if anything, those fighting to preserve the Earth’s ability to harbor life should look to the abolitionists movement to end slavery. Belalia writes:
“We are not fighting for access to an existing status quo. We are demanding a fundamental restructuring of society in order to have the possibility of a livable future. So let’s look at social movement history that might be more analogous.”
This is absolutely right on. Belalia goes on to note:
“Wide-spread direct action campaigns, organizing boycotts of sugar and cotton and other slave produced goods. Free people of African descent who fought slavery and the slave trade by any means necessary. African captives who led revolts on slave ships—men and women who refused to be cargo. Recent studies show slave revolts on one in ten voyages, and this caused a sharp increase in the carrying costs of the trade, helping to undermine its economic viability. And Africans on the coast that attacked slave ships before they sailed, cutting them off and freeing captives.”
What Belalia successfully demonstrates is that business models which are destructive to life must be actively attacked, via whatever methods necessary. The predominant view of the so-called “climate justice movement” however, is that industrial civilization can continue in a fashion that allows modern western people to live essentially as they do now, with only a handful of tweaks. (They even suggest that this life style can be extended to the global population.) Coal fired power plants replaced with windmills and solar arrays, gasoline powered vehicles replaced with electric vehicles (which I guess are powered by these windmills?) etc. This future of a fair trade, “green” capitalism powered by sunshine where we all still live in suburbs and drink mocha lattes before heading to work is a liberal fantasy. The industrial economy consumes vast amounts of energy, and the energy return ratios of technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels will never be favorable enough to fuel the global economy as it exists now, let alone as it grows to support higher consumption levels of a larger and larger human population. It’s not as if conservatives have a more intelligent analysis of this issue, but those of us who live in rural areas and who witness the massive diesel powered equipment used by modern farmers see very clearly that if the population is going to continue to eat, it will be because fossil fuels continue to be exploited. Seeing the necessity of the energy density of hydrocarbons, the right understands the weakness of so called “alternative energies” and instead, pretends that there are no consequences to the processes of acquiring and burning fossil fuels.
Hence the need for social movements that are fighting drivers of climate change to accept a view of a low energy future. Low energy future means low consumption future. It means not just a no growth future, but a future of decline. It means going beyond local to tribal. It means ending modernity as we know it, and breaking apart the homogeneity of globalization and massive state systems in favor of the small, and the many. In plain English, it means embracing the idea that your kids won’t go to college, but will instead grow turnips As I said above, no existing political or financial structure could achieve this, let alone advance the suggestion.
Some smaller more radical movements such as Earth First! and Deep Green Resistance get this point, and further, they celebrate it. However, these movements are small yet, and their philosophies don’t garner the attention that more “pragmatic” thinkers attract.
As for the pragmatic “fringe,” Chris Hedges recently wrote a piece titled, “Our Invisible Revolution” in which he argues that the decent into total and overt corruption on the part of business and government leaders is not going unnoticed, and that beneath the visible surface, an as of yet nameless fire grows in public consciousness. Perhaps he is correct in believing this, but his insulated western view comes to the fore in his writing in two glaring ways.
First, Hedges writes of ideas as being a keystone in revolution; dislodging old ideas first and presenting new workable alternatives ends regimes is his claim. Hedges:
“Once ideas shift for a large portion of a population, once the vision of a new society grips the popular imagination, the old regime is finished….An uprising that is devoid of ideas and vision is never a threat to ruling elites. Social upheaval without clear definition and direction, without ideas behind it, descends into nihilism, random violence and chaos. It consumes itself. This, at its core, is why I disagree with some elements of the Black Bloc anarchists. I believe in strategy.””
It should be noted that throughout his essay, Hedges seems to be trying to regain credibility he lost with anarchists after being hotly critical of Occupy activists utilizing black bloc tactics. I assume he is trying to regain this credibility primarily because he is aware of the energy amongst anarchists which drives them to actually be active, and to take to the physical realm beyond Facebook, you know – the real world – and to put their ideas into practice. But I digress.
Hedges’ emphasis on ideas is a very “civilized” approach to the topic of revolution. It is “logical” and “rational,” in all of the ways civil society demands. This is why Hedges doesn’t understand anarchist support for black bloc tactics, or at its heart, why he misunderstands revolution. It is because he negates feeling.
Feelings are just as if not more important than ideas when it comes to not only social upheaval, but also when it comes to decolonizing our minds of the inculcation of civilization, and shedding the culture that has been branded upon our very synapses. The hierarchy of ideas (which let’s be clear, are white, male, educated, upper class, “practical” ideas) over feelings (which are considered female, primitive, and weak by the dominant culture) is a large factor in how divisions amongst the masses are created. On this, I will turn to twenty-one year old blogger, Jacklyn Gil, who writes :
“I’d say white supremacy is a type of fundamentalism that is deeply, deeply, rooted and manifests in harmful ways, which the benefactors are mostly blind to. Fundamentalists are those most afraid of change. I would argue that many White, middle class people, however unknowingly, were raised with an (implicit) fundamental understanding of the world in which colonial characteristics, such as suppression of intense expression and/or an authoritarian/obedient reaction to the world in front of you, was seen as ‘successful’, or ‘respectable’.”
Hedges falls into this trap precisely because he negates his own cultural and personal baggage. It may seem ridiculous to the “rational” and to the “civil” but when you are not an academic, and you cannot articulate exactly how the society in which you are trapped exploits you, what you then have to guide you is your clear inner feelings of being exploited and of being oppressed. Feelings which are absolutely valid, and which form the impetus of articulation to begin with. Further, when you take to the streets and see others throwing bricks through the windows of banks, for many, it feels good. The justice is clear, if not pragmatic or rational. It is obvious to those who haven’t shut out their feelings. This is how riots happen. And riots are not necessarily ignorant, pointless violence. Riotous activity is the last vestige of power held by the underclasses, they are the primal howl from that wild place that still burns if ever so dimly within the human soul. Do they necessarily achieve strategic goals? Not always. But do they empower? Do they instill in the participants a personally granted permission to ignore the imaginary lines drawn up by the rich and defended by the police? Absolutely. How people get drawn into such behavior through the seduction of action is a topic well analyzed in a CrimeThinc Pamphlet, which opens with the question:
“We who fight to create a freer world face a fundamental contradiction. On one hand, we don’t want to become a vanguard, “leading” or imposing our will on others, as that would run counter to our anti-authoritarian values. On the other hand, we believe with good justification that our political goals—including the destruction of capitalism, the state, and hierarchy—can’t be accomplished without strategies that are currently unpalatable to most of our fellow citizens. The impoverishment of millions and the destruction of our ecosystems demand that we act decisively. What criteria will equip us to challenge these systems without resorting to the authoritarian means we condemn?”
Too often, fighting back against the forces that destroy the globe while shackling the masses into meaningless existences is dubbed, “Bad for the movement,” by pragmatic liberals. Their view is that people will be driven away from a social movement that does not condemn smashing windows or setting bulldozers on fire. Of course, they mean is will turn away people like them; other middle or upper class, predominantly white “pragmatists.” Large swaths of the population take no part in activism or social struggles for the same reason they don’t vote in elections; they see it as pointless. Lining up to demand incremental reform only after receiving permission to do so, behind a line of police in the free speech zone seems not only pointless, but pathetic. It’s admitting your defeated, puny, position before even stepping into the ring. And this is what Hedges and other “rational” thinkers are hoping to see.
It should also be noted that strategy and mass movements are two extremely hard partners to marry. Mass movements by definition contain massive numbers of people, that is massive numbers of egos, and massive numbers of education levels, goals, experience levels, etc. Finding consensus on what exactly lies at the root of society’s ills, let alone cataloging and prioritizing these ills, let alone coming to an agreement on how to strategically go about achieving a solution that leaves all participants happy, would be an effort beyond Sisyphean. Even if such unity of thought and action were possible, the powerful remain in a permanent state of counter-insurgency. I personally have encountered infiltrators across several movements, some of who have been successful at bringing felony charges against the most benign of activists. Looking at the green scare, which continues to this day, as well as the grand jury investigations into anarchists in the United States, definitively makes clear that organizing masses to behave strategically will face insurmountable hurdles, as organizers have their phones tapped, their emails read, their meetings infiltrated, etc.
It’s easy to demand “strategy,” and to decry movements that seem to lack it, but strategy is akin to handling on a vehicle. If you want maneuverability, you don’t jump in a city bus and start hugging turns. Mass movements are lumbering city buses, which are frankly more useful for smashing through barricades than gluing to the twists and turns of a formula one race.
“I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless as their adversaries. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Violent revolutions are always tragic.”
Hedges is essentially betraying the liberal utopian inside himself, first exposing his belief that democratic systems have ever or could ever “work,” and then following that with a suggestion that a non-violent movement could even hope to have politicians, let alone the police, defect. I know Hedges has a history of reporting on revolutions in many countries, and he would claim to have seen such defections elsewhere, but could he really say that a real revolution has followed? Or has what’s come after such defections been merely a transfer of power to the neo-liberal system of global capitalism? Has he ever seen politicians and police defect, to not be replaced by different (or even the same) politicians and police afterwards?
He then goes on like almost all white, upper or middle class people do and decries violence as unnecessary (The exception being the gun nuts on the right, whose sense of patriarchal and race superiority make them believe order comes from force, not consent.) This is because Hedges and pretty much all modern western middle and upper class white people live lives completely insulated from violence. Violence for them is conceptual. It is something on TV after nine p.m. Most people of this milieu have never even killed an animal for food, as the machinations of capitalism have always done it for them, far away behind closed doors, so appetites don’t get spoiled. This leaves violence mysterious, dangerous, and best handled by professionals, in slaughterhouses and in the streets.
Not meaning to pick on Hedges, as I do like much of what he writes, I just have to point out that he seemingly wants to have his cake and to eat it to. Fair trade cake though. Cruelty free. It’s as Frederick Douglass famously said:
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
When violence is a reality from which you are not shielded by corporate and state entities, it is easy to believe that violence is a thing of the past with no place in modern living, even during revolution. Violence s very real and very present in the modern world however. In fact, the very foundations of modern industrial civilization are violence. Again, I don’t want to have to descend into a long list of examples, as I expect the reader to be initiated, but as this point is one that requires understanding, I feel compelled.
The modern “first” world extracts the majority of the resources it uses for production of goods from the “third” world, leaving destroyed ecosystems, destroyed ways of life, corrupt and bought off governments, and massive pollution in its wake. Resistors in these nations are often killed, as has been the case with peoples from South America to Africa to Asia — and yes, even North America, as locals and indigenous populations have fought invaders who seek their lands for everything from coffee and banana farming to the production and bottling of Coca-Cola to gold mining and fossil fuel extraction. Pushed off their lands, people — including children — across the globe have been forced into the slums of mega cities to work in dangerous factories for low wages, if not worse. Though white middle class westerners don’t see it, there is blood in their latte, in their sneakers, in their gas tank, and in their bank accounts.
Even within the confines of western society, the autonomy of the individual is robbed by the state who claims all acts of self and community defense, when possible, should be outsourced to police departments. Under the guise of eliminating social violence, disagreements, confrontations of abusive people, fights — all are to be avoided and instead proper authorities (people higher than you on the social hierarchy) are to be notified, who will come strapped with an arsenal of weaponry, from electrocution devices to chemical agents and firearms, and they will dole out the proper level of violence. Even the maintenance of the financial order is achieved through violence, as police (with weapons on their hips) evict families too poor to pay rent, lock up people who possess “outlawed” chemical substances, fine or jail people who opt to take food from trash dumpsters, and even line up in riot gear to separate passively protesting crowds from bank facilities and staff.
Living under such circumstances, it becomes easy for writers like Hedge’s to believe that violence is for people lesser than ourselves who have not yet out-evolved its use like we have. This leaves violence as a tool that only the state and capitalists will use, and they will, and do use it.
The real tragedy of the doctrine of pacifism is that so many people will fall so easily before the very real and very heavy handed violence that the arc of time has in store for them. Leaving behind the pointy-headed critique of western social movements, let’s go back to the beginning, and recall that apocalyptic climate change may very well already be baked into the cake. Forgetting to hash out the details of just how bad it will be in the end, let’s acknowledge for a moment what this looks like for average people on the ground as it comes to pass. In time, it will mean crop failures as droughts, floods, wildfires, early blizzards, etc. wreak havoc on the food supply. These are already current conditions, which are unfolding to occur more and more frequently. Spikes in temperature can cause grid failure in the southwestern US, leaving millions without air condition and potentially without water. Freak superstorms like Sandy and those that caused this year’s flooding in Colorado will continually destroy infrastructure while also creating classes of refugees.
All of this is coming at a time when the financial system undergoing collapse due primarily to its growth requirement becoming anemic in light of ongoing fossil fuel supply stagnation, meaning the money to repair damage done by climate catastrophes will go untended more and more frequently. It also means there is less and less money available to upkeep existing infrastructure like bridges, power substations, roads, water pipelines, etc. On top of that, there is less and less money available for the growing underclass, who are kept passive in large part by state subsidies.
As this cascading collapse becomes reality, social action is inevitable, from the very messy to the tightly organized. What to demand in times of decline will likely escape most, as they continually ask for access to more, or at least, for access to what they once had. My two cents is that the sensible demand in times of decline should be for autonomy, for the state to get the hell out of the way as people dismantle corrupt and broken systems, while simultaneously building hundreds of thousands of autonomous zones and collectives. To be sure, many of these newly created regions and groups will fail, as the climate fails, and as modern people realize how helpless they are in the face of creating dignified survival out of raw nature. But even failure in this regard is more dignified than further subjugation to a bloated, dysfunctional, and violent hierarchy.
To see this from a macro perspective, industrial civilization has outgrown its ability to be an efficient organism. Dimitri Orlov has written about this phenomenon very well, basically stating that societies, like living organisms, can pass a point of diminishing returns, where they more they grow to take care of themselves, the more there is to upkeep, rendering the growth meaningless. We face this, as civilization has gone global and has destroyed the planet in its wake, leaving itself a double bind. Continue unabated and quickly smother itself in catastrophe via climate change and resource scarcity, likely leading to war, or push the big red button and shut it all down, near immediately killing the majority of humans who are now dependent upon industrial systems in one way or another.
This is why only absolute and total catastrophe is all that remains to hope for. It takes the choice out of clumsy and cowardly human hands. If the defining characteristic of civilization is control, catastrophe is letting go. The chips will fall where they may, and nature’s law — which is and has always been the only real law — will return to the fore, wiping out humanity’s egotistic view of themselves. So let’s not fear calamity, let’s welcome it, let’s assist in ushering it in where possible. Understanding that it won’t be fun but at least it will be honest, making all things equal once again, we can know that it alone provides salvation from the meaninglessness of state-capitalism’s full spectrum dominance, while offering a glimmer of a possibility that life may just be able to pass through the bottleneck, and thrive again in a time after time.