Guy McPherson

Collapsing Civilization and its Blogging Discontents

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on August 14, 2016

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For those of you with some passing knowledge of "Great Works" of literature, non-fiction and history, you will no doubt recognize that the title of this blog is a play on the title of a book published in 1929 by Sigmund Freud (yes, that Freud), Civilization and its Discontents.  It's one of those "must read" books they pitch out at you in college courses that track the history and development of Western Civilization.  There are many others in this list of "must reads", The Prince by Nicoli Machiavelli, City of God by St. Augustine and Adam Smith's On the Wealth of Nations to name a few.  You can get all these books in nicely bound leather volumes now published by Harvard Classics for the low, low price every day on Ebay of anywhere from around $50 for a full 23 Volume set ($2.50 a book including shipping!) on up into the hundreds, depending how good an Online Shopper you are.  If you are really clever you can get all of those and thousands more as e-books for even less money or even for free.  I love freebies on the net! 🙂

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Many if not most of these books were written in the 16th-19th Century, although the examples I gave like Freud's tome came in the early 1900s and Augustine's take on civilization came in the 5th century, around the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire.  All taken together though, they pretty much represent the way Western thought evolved after the Romans lost their hold on the world and as a new civilization in the west rose to replace it over the course of a full millenia of time.

In Freud's book, he postulates that general "unhappiness" that many people immersed in a "civilized" society comes from conflicts between the needs & desires of the individual, which get restricted and legislated by the competing needs and organization of the society as a whole.  Being more or less obsessed with sexual issues, Freud focuses down on the insatiable desire for sexual gratification Homo Saps appears to have, versus all the laws, taboos and restrictions societies generate to keep this bizness under control.  Since Freud himself was immersed in the western culture of the time, his viewpoint is obviously skewed by this, but there is still a lot of validity to the observations anyhow.  They also do generalize to other areas BESIDES sex, like money, wealth, fame etc, but since Freud was so sexually obsessed himself, it permeates his writing and you just can't get away from it.  Once you get past his sexual obsessions though, Freud has a lot of interesting observations on society, civilization and the individual.  Carl Jung had similar sexual obsession issues, but Carl was a bit more cagey about it than Siggy was in his writings. lol. This seems to be a ubiquitous problem amongst people who gravitate toward Psycholgy as a profession.  I don't think I ever talked with any psychologist who was not absolutely consumed with sex as a motivator.

OK, so that gives us a little history and background to get started with this discussion, which is focused on a more narrow slice of the civilzation pie through history, specifically what is going on RIGHT NOW in the world at large and then also in our own little slice of a slice of history, the collapse blogosphere.  By no means of course am I Sigmund Freud, and by no means do I expect this blog to make it onto the Harvard Classics reading list, but on the upside here it is all available for FREE on the internet! So, since nobody except me has to pay for this, let me get rolling here!

On the gross scale of society in general, discontent is manifest all over the place these days.  Terrorists are obviously not very content people and neither are crazed Psychos and Lone Shooters hitting various Malls, Bars, Restaurants and College Campuses either.  There simply is NO WAY blowing away dozens or hundreds of innocent people demonstrates much contentment, if anyone can make a case for that one I am all ears.  The Black Underclass is none too content these days in the FSoA, despite the fact they mostly are still getting fed on the SNAP Card program issued by JP Morgan Chase. See Ferguson, see Baltimore, see BLM for a snaphot of the discontent in this group.   The Muslim underclass in Europe is none too happy either, nor are the longer term paleface residents of this neighborhood getting inundated each day with still more "rapefugees".  Muslim women in France are discontented because "Burqinis" have been outlawed on the beaches of Cannes.

Burqini                      vs                            Bikini

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You may indicate your preference on Female Beachwear in the comments

Our POTUS Candidates here in the FSoA don't seem too content with ANYTHING, even though they have absolutely ZERO in the way of reasonable ideas that could do a damn thing to assuage this discontent.  Julian Assange obviously is not very content trapped inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last 4 years, although granted this is likely a much better prison to be caged in than GITMO.  About the only people I can think of who might be somewhat content these days are folks like Lloyd Blankfein, doing God's Work as he runs Goldman Sachs or Elon Musk as he borrows endless amounts of funny money on the taxpayer dime to build space rocket toys and gigafactories in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Discontent is also on display every day in the collapse blogosphere as factions fight it out, Extinction vs Renewables, Economic vs Climate Collapse, Hyperinflation vs Deflation, Nuke Pro vs Con, Rich vs Poor…there's no shortage of disagreements.  There is however a serious shortage of workable solutions to all these problems, thus the discontent.

On top of this problem is that by now everyone who writes on these topics has carved out his or her own space and acquired his or her ow commentariat, which tends to be a reflection of whatever the spin of the main blogger is for the site.  Fed up with contrarians and trolls taking opposing viewpoints on their websites, these viewpoints are simply disappeared by the site owner, and eventually all opposing viewpoints are squashed out as these folks quit in frustration or just get outright banned.

By no means is the Diner immune to the problem here either.  I've had at least a half dozen Diners quit over the years because they were discontent that their spin was not well received, and about 4 I have had to silence because of the constant stream of insults and ad hom argument coming off their keyboards.  At a certain point "Free Speech" gets squashed simply because people can't be polite to each other when they are so discontented.  They don't feel other people are paying enough attention to their spin on the "truth", and so they begin to lash out and good clean debate gets flushed down the toilet.

If it weren't for the fact I run the Doomstead Diner, I would be effectively cut off from just about every major blog commentariat concerned with issues of collapse.  Dmitry Orlov, Guy McPherson, Gail Tverberg, John Michael Greer & Jim Kunstler all eliminate my posting nowadays.  Ugo Bardi still approves my posts, but it's not a very active commentariat over there on Cassandra's Legacy.  I can still post on r/collapse, but that is more of a news ticker than a blog.

My discontent with this situation is that the whole collapse blogosphere has become extremely polarized.  When I originally began the Diner my hope was to unify all the people writing about collapse, so that together we might have a stronger voice and get more attention than by each of us playing in our own little sandboxes.  The eact opposite has occured, and now each little sandbox has its own insular Group Think and the divisions between them greater than ever. I doubt you could bring Dmitry Orlov and Guy McPherson to the same conference and not have a fistfight break out. lol.

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The biggest problem is with the blogs pitching the spin that the situation is Hopeless, both the ecosphere and the Human Race are irrevocably Doomed.  First off, this provides a fabulous excuse for inaction which then turns the idea into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The second major problem is the commentariat of these blogs provides a home for fanatics who reinforce each other, while at the same time flaming anyone who does not toe the party line.  You see this most clearly on Nature Bats Last and Our Finite World.  Forget about participating in those commentariats, I don't even bother reading them anymore because you know precisely what everyone is going to say in every thread.

So, in ths Sea of Discontent what is the future?  It looks like a One-to-the-Many break up, much like we see Europe breaking up these days on the geopolitical level.  The heyday of what cooperation there was between the collapse bloggers probably came somewhere between 2006 and 2014 or so, and we have now passed Peak Cooperation and are moving toward Peak Isolation.  Everyone has their own part of the Collapse Elephant they are examining and coming up with different descriptions of what the Elephant actually looks like.  About the best the reader can do is surf between the sites and try to put together his or her own composite picture of the Elephant.  If you are the chatty type, pick your favorite site with the spin most closely matching your own, believe whatever it is that makes you happy, and chat with other True Believers rather than be discontented all the time.

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Nihilism, Misanthropy & Misery Metasticize

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 24, 2016

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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.

human-extinctionDuring 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!

extinction-buttonIdentifying 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.

extinction2There 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.

psychology-illustration-man-depressed-stateNow, 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.

the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypseOne 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.

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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?

http://rhc-2876.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/three-bears.jpg 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!

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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!

The Ark Project

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 4, 2016

extinction-button

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ArkProjectReposted_html_m7435077dA 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

The Human Extinction Survey: The Controversy

CURRENT SURVEY SUBMISSIONS: 277

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on May 21, 2015

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Nolan Ryan RE Comes Out of the Bullpen

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SOMETIMES YOU SHOULD REMAIN CALM.  OTHER TIMES, YOU NEED TO THROW THE SMOKE

survey-says

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.

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cavalry_charge_1905_4616.jpgI 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!

Why is it LTE?  Because about a day after publication of both the Survey and the Plug Article on his site, Guy decided he needed to Naplam me with INSULTS in the Commentariat of his blog, that's why!

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:

RE Says:

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.

Bold Mine.

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!

RE

Shadows & Lies

Off the keyboard of Guy McPherson

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Published on Nature Bats Last on May 8, 2014

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When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. People around you feel it, though. It’s the same when you’re stupid.

My promotion of a gift economy seems stupid because it doesn’t involve the pursuit of money. As a result, I receive gifts, especially when I travel. Books and shirts are among the most popular items I receive, and the latter often contain witty historical expressions. Among my tee shirts is one with a phrase from Benjamin Franklin: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

Most people I encounter clearly do not agree, at least in practice. In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. Still, I’m astonished at the prevailing mentality among the American citizenry I encounter. Apparently we are so afraid to question authority, so willing to believe blatant lies, that we willingly capitulate to liars and thieves dressed as CEOs and politicians.

I provide few links in this essay. Evidence for each of the following claims is abundant and easily obtained. If you’ve not grasped these tidbits by now, additional evidence will remain unconvincing. I suspect your ignorance is willful, your inability to see a direct result of eyes sealed tightly shut.

Most notable is the inability of nearly everybody I know to pursue radicalism. For starters, most people I’ve met cannot distinguish between a radical and an extremist, despite the clear difference.

If it’s unclear I’m writing about you, ask yourself this question: “What have I done recently that runs counter to the status quo?” If you don’t have a significant response, you’re likely to squirm while reading this essay.

Plunging down a rabbit hole — any rabbit hole — apparently makes one likely to pursue radicalism on additional topics. Fortunately for governments, few citizens are willing to look deeply into any topic, no matter how important. The shadows in the cave are far too comfortable to risk facing reality head-on.

And then there are the Strong Suggestions of Thermodynamics Laws of Thermodynamics. The official story of 9/11 violates the Laws of Thermodynamics, yet few people I know are willing to question the official narrative. After all, doing so would adhere to Franklin’s maxim, a notion foreign to the typical modern ‘murican. The Orwellian absurdity continues with the disparaging term applied to those who question the impossible official narrative: “truther.”

A few additional examples are presented below. They provide an opportunity for me to launch a too-infrequent rant into the void. Ergo, my latest attempt to combine reality with its common partner, absurdity.

Civilization is not the only way to live. Indeed, humans lived without civilization for more than two million years. We’ve lived within the shackles of civilization for a few thousand years. Civilization clearly is omnicidal. Few notice. Even fewer care.

Civilization is an expression of patriarchy. The current version of industrial civilization benefits a few Caucasian men at the expense of every other living being. Most civilized people believe this set of living arrangements is wonderful.

If you are reading these words, you benefit from imperialism. American Empire is real, and it covers the globe. There is no escape.

The two dominant political parties in the United States represent twin cheeks on the same ass. If you believe the next person to occupy the Oval Office will improve the situation for the masses, then you do not understand the issue. Elizabeth Warren, or any other “progressive” candidate (i.e., contemporary neo-conservative) — the next great hope of many forgetful Democrats — will prove as disappointing as the current president to these deluded, die-hard dims Dems.

The United States is dominated by a corporate government and corporate media. When greed is your only god, sociopaths assume control. We’re there, fully embedded within patriarchal fascism. The standard response of my fellow citizens: “I want more. I deserve more.” Apparently I occupy the land of the me and home of the crave.

The big banks have run this country for a very long time. They orchestrate everything from laundering drug money to cracking down on any form of resistance. They’ve been in charge for a very long time. Few notice, and even fewer care.

The American system of public education is designed to “dumb down” the populace. Critical thinking belongs to a bygone era. Nearly every one of the so-called, self-proclaimed teachers I know refuses to acknowledge reality on this issue. And most other matters, for that matter. These teachers are paid to think, and also to teach others how to think. They have overwhelmingly failed, and they continue to fail.

The prison-industrial complex, like almost every other aspect of American culture, is designed to enrich the wealthy and enslave the poor. Some people claim the system isn’t working. Au contraire: It’s working as planned, as indicated by the beneficiaries of American Empire.

Monogamy and the marriage-industrial complex are part and parcel of patriarchy. The dominant paradigm is not superior to other ways of living. Deep down inside, you surely understand.

We cannot sustain the unsustainable, including civilization. Nor should we attempt to do so. Civilization requires tremendous violence. Industrial civilization is the most violent version yet.

American exceptionalism is a myth. American military power, largely supported by willfully ignorant taxpayers, is necessary to maintain American lifestyles, including grid-tied electricity, the modern banking system, and all that follows.

Abrupt climate change is under way. Global climate change causes suffering and death of humans and other organisms. There is no escape.

Net energy decline is under way and soon will contribute to the early death of most humans on Earth. Fossil fuels have peaked and the Age of Expansion has been replaced with the Age of Contraction. The Age of Conquest has nearly reached its overdue end.

Collapse of industrial civilization is under way and will be complete soon. When collapse is complete, the world’s remaining nuclear power plants will melt down catastrophically, thus shortening the lives of many humans and other organisms. There is no escape.

The interaction between anthropogenic climate change and collapse of industrial civilization affects every aspect of human life in the industrialized world. There is no politically viable approach to addressing either issue, much less the interaction between them.

Many centuries ago, Plato presciently wrote a line that resonates strongly with me: “Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses.” Indeed, we’ll disparage them by, paradoxically, referring to them as “truthers.” We will therefore remain in the shadows of our cave of blissful ignorance.

Total Eclipse of the Doom: Requiem for Mike Ruppert

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 15. 2014

mike-ruppert-dogLast Sunday Night Mike Ruppert committed Suicide.

For those of you who don’t know who Mike Ruppert was, he was one of the first bloggers to investigate the ramifications of declining energy production, as well as someone who constantly questioned the narrative offered up in the MSM as explanation for things like the 9-11 destruction of the World Trade Center.  Some would call him a “Conspiracy Theorist”.  More like Conspiracy FACT, but that is a subject for another post.

Like many other bloggers and researchers looking at the problems we face now, Mike became increasingly upset and depressed over the progress and the lack of any real initiatives to try to deal with this stuff in a coherent manner.  This is evident in the progress of his writing over the last couple of years, and his demeanor in his podcasts on the Lifeboat Hour, his web based radio show.

Mike isn’t the first Blogger/Pundit to commit suicide in recent years, Matt Simmons also took his own life back in august of 2010.  Perhaps even more disturbing is the constant talk of Suicide and Hospicing on Nature Bats Last, Guy McPherson’s blog which concerns itself mainly with Climate Change and the hypothesis that we are on the cusp of Near Term Human Extinction, by mid-century if you accept the arguments made that this is an inevitable outcome.

Not unrelated to this outcome is the fact Carolyn Baker was the first Collapse Blogger to break the news of Mike’s suicide.  Carolyn posts regularly on Nature Bats Last, often these days with the explicit theme of Hospicing for people who have incurable illnesses and finding a comfortable way to walk into the Great Beyond.  The clear analogy being made here is that the entire Human Race is in need of Hospicing, as we are all condemned to imminent Death under the scenario of Near Term Human Extinction.  The difference of course is that while an individual can have a fairly certain diagnosis of Imminent Death in some circumstances, it is hardly a provable certainty that 100% of Homo Sapiens are destined for Death inside 30-40 years or so.  Really, even in the case of individuals diagnosed with various forms of inoperable and untreatable Cancers, rarely is there 100% certainty of Death.  “Miraculous” remissions do occur with virtually all forms of cancer, though granted at relatively small percentages of the afflicted people.

For the really depressed person though who sees NO ESCAPE from imminent Death and who becomes more focused on getting out of pain or avoiding future pain they are certain is coming down the pipe, the ideas of Hospicing and Suicide become attractive alternatives.  The idea here is to Accept Death and become OK with it, and pulling your own plug at a time of your own choosing is a kind of Empowerment for an an individual who feels disempowered by the seemingly hopeless situation they are immersed in.

Everybody should have the right to pull their own plug if they so choose, I have no problem with that idea.  What I do find to be worrisome is a developing zeitgeist which tacitly encourages suicide as an option, because people who sink into depression are very vulnerable and can and probably do latch onto this idea as rationale for the behavior.

http://www.bookofrevelation.net/ch6-4horsemen_pastorpack_small.jpg

There is little doubt that as a whole the World and the Human Race are in a World of Shit, and it is pretty easy these days to throw up your hands and say it is all utterly hopeless.  Climate Change, Fukushima, Global Wars over resources, Drought, Famine…all you gotta do is read the Newz on any given day and you can hear the Thunder of the Hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Many times in my articles and comments in the Collapse Blogosphere I have used the iconic quote from The Sixth Sense, “I See Dead People”.

http://i3.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/012/818/Movie_i_see_dead_people-769472.jpg

Today, Mike Ruppert is one of those Dead People.  While he was alive, Mike Ruppert made a difference, many people who otherwise would not be aware of the problems which face us now are aware of them because once there was Mike Ruppert walking the earth, passing on to others what he saw and what he learned.

For those of us not yet counted amongst the Dead People, we still have choices to make, and the biggest choice of all is whether you live to fight another day, or whether you give up the fight, hospice yourself and wait for death, or hurry it along with a Bullet meets Brain combination.

I won’t make a judgement here on Mike’s choice, but for me I don’t see hurrying the trip to the Great Beyond as near appropriate yet.  There is a good long ways to go here between now and Human Extinction, even under the most rapid of scenarios.  The End Game is NOT written in Stone, and each person can still make a Difference, if not for the World at large at least for the people they know, love and care for.  Mike had a clear voice, and it would have been nice if he could have found it within himself to speak a bit longer, but that is not the choice he made.

For those of us not yet Dead, we still have choices to make.

RE

Uncertainty Principles

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 29, 2013

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It is the wee hours of Christmas Morning here on the Last Great Frontier, and I have been awake since Midnite after taking an early evening Nap on Christmas Eve.  For the first time in I cannot recall how long (maybe the first time EVER!) , I have managed to avoid getting invited to anybody’s house for Christmas Dinner, or any Christmas Parties either.  Well, there is a small Work Party I will attend on Friday, but nothing here on Christmas Eve or on the Big Day itself.

People who aren’t Loners get all bent out of shape about the idea of “being alone” on Christmas, like this is some kind of Mortal Sin.  You are SUPPOSED to get together in a big crowd of people, open lots of Presents and then eat a massive Turkey Dinner.  After a full month, you should have digested the Thanksgiving one, and finished the Leftovers too so it’s time to stuff your face again!  You are supposed to revel in the joy of watching Happy Children’s faces as they open their newest Toys, this year probably the latest Ipad or XBox game.

I admit to being pretty astounded by this technology, and I buy some of it for myself too.  Well, not Apple Shit, I buy Samsung Shit.  I don’t buy Xbox games either, even though I enjoyed playing the earliest Arcade Games like Space Invaders and Missile Command in my College years, and the Strategy Game Civilization after I got my first ACER Computer sometime in the early 90s I think it was. (That sucker had only 500MB on the HARD DRIVE!  Talk about the Jurrassic period of computers. LOL.) I got pretty badly addicted to that game too for about 6 months until I finally learned how to beat it and win all the time, sometimes destroying all other Civilizations and taking over the Planet, crisscrossing the continents with Railroads and whatever High Tech stuff that early version of Civilization had to offer.  Other times I would build the Spaceship to go Colonize other Planets.  Those were your two choices basically if you won the game.  Either GET OFF the Earth first, or DESTROY everybody else on the Planet.  There were no choices there for a Genetic Bottleneck and massive crash of the human population or for Near Term Human Extinction either.

I had to wait until just recently to get a game like that, this time for my Samsung Tablet called PLAGUE.  In that one, you get to design a Plague of varying types and the objective is to wipe out all of humanity.  I got good at that game faster than Civilization, and wiped out Humanity numerous times with Viruses, Nano-Viruses, Bacteria and Fungi.  There are a few other choices too, but I haven’t had much time to play lately, what with battling out the REAL problem here right now on Earth.  LOL.  Computer games just don’t measure up when the REAL THING is staring you in the face.  At least for an adult this is true anyhow, not so true I think for the current generation of kids opening up their Xbox games this Christmas.

http://i1-games.softpedia-static.com/screenshots/Pac-Man-Deluxe_1.jpgWhen I was touring our local Fred Meyer retail outlet, at the entrance they had a big display of the latest in Xbox games playing on a Big Screen LCD TV, and the ACTION and rendition of this stuff is amazing now.  No more little Pac-men munching bits along a track, no more Super Mario Brothers cartoons jumping up and down, now you got 3D simulated Homo Sapiens that are getting so darn close to looking like Real Actors they probably won’t NEED real actors anymore to make movies, least until the system collapses here anyhow.  So your typical Kid Gamer Junkie now can use his Joystick to control the action, whatever it is from blowing away Zombies to flying Drones to being an NFL Quarterback, all in the comfort of Mom’s Basement, long as the McMansion hasn’t been foreclosed on yet anyhow.

So, plenty of distraction out there for the young’uns, but anyone past the age of 30 or so now who is oblivious to the writing on the wall has to be close to Brain Dead.  Really, my co-host on the Collapse Cafe Monsta is in his 20s, and he can see it, so you don’t absolutely need to be an Old Fart with many seasons under the belt to catch the drift here.  It doesn’t take a Weatherman to know which way the Wind Blows after all.

Far as the Weather here is concerned, the Weathermen on NBL predict a Near Term Human Extinction, based on their best Super Computer Modelling, and since we hooked up with these folks to help them cure a variety of website problems related to spam and hacking, I have been spending a decent amount of time offsite here battling what I consider to be counterproductive NEGATIVITY on the issue of how you REACT to all the problems we face down at the moment.  Not sure there is a real good reason for arguing with people who are CERTAIN Extinction is in the offing here by Mid-Century, anymore than I am sure there is a real good reason for arguing with Christians about whether Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but I do it anyhow. LOL.

Absolute CERTAINTY of anything leads to fanaticism, particularly if what you are so certain of cannot be proven.  Data on Climate Change is a lot like Data in the Bible, it all relies on assumptions made about the past or future, neither of which can be known with certainty.  You can cross-correlate all you like to beef up your arguments, but Uncertainty remains in there always.  I think many if not most people are uncomfortable dealing with uncertainty, they pick a Conclusion that fits their thinking and then they get to STOP thinking about it, because the problem is resolved for them.  If things are Uncertain, you constantly have to re-evaluate and the Sands Shift Beneath Your Feet all the time.  You are always swimming in the Sea of Uncertainty, and this is exhausting.

https://lh3.ggpht.com/bQ5Hh08Tk8RqQX0V6kxHZzVdHQCUEfmSv8tKHEBKvWdqO5Qp2CNBDvxPgo4V9QJvwA=h900Depending on the type of certainty you have, it also leads to a kind of paralysis.  There is no purpose to playing a game anymore once you become certain of the result.  I stopped playing Civilization and PLAGUE! because once I was good enough at both those games, I was certain of the outcome, which was that I would win.  If you went to a Baseball game and were certain of the outcome, it would cease to have any excitement or meaning.  Yogi Berra phrased the reality of it most eloquently when he said “It ain’t over until it’s over”.  I remember one time leaving a Mets game with my dad in the 7th inning because he had some deal he hadda do, and the Mets were behind by like 6 runs and it looked like it was OVAH.  Riding back into Manhattan in the car listening to the game on the radio, Cleon Jones hit a Grand Slam in the bottom of the 8th inning, and then in the 9th Bud Harrelson singled in two more runs and the game was TIED!  Tug McGraw was called in from the Bullpen to pitch in Extra Innings and it went into the 11th inning before sadly the Mets lost that game, but WHAT A GAME!  I shoulda still been there too, but Dad the Pigman had more important things to do.

I get battered over the head with data references when I engage the Uber Doomers on NBL, “Have you LOOKED at the graph on Ocean Acidification?”.  Like I can’t read a graph as well as the next math genius out there.  LOL.  I am also fully aware of the 400+ Nuke Reactors out there which are Ticking Time Bombs and of the fact that the Arctic Ocean is bubbling up Methane like a warm bottle of Champagne.  What this all tells me is that at the moment Man is ahead in the Destruction Game of the Earth by 6 runs, but in this game as Guy phrases it, Nature Bats Last and I don’t know what Nature has up her sleeve here or what it is possible for her to do in the Bottom of the 9th.

http://photos.mongabay.com/06/petm2.jpgI do know that during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) the earth was a good 10 C warmer on average than it is today, but it didn’t keep going up and in fact reversed itself over time.  I also know that while there was a massive Extinction Level Event during this period, all life was not extinguished either.  It did not get sooooo hot that all the proteins denatured and no living thing could survive.    Without a good explanation for why the warming reversed at the end of the PETM and why it won’t again this time or at what average temperature level such a reversal might take place, I can’t be CERTAIN of the outcome, and so the game is NOT OVAH.

There are some things here I can be certain of, for one that BAU will not continue on here much longer.  Industrial Civilization as we know it can’t continue onward without copious amounts of cheap energy oozing up out of the ground from holes poked in GAIA’s skin by Homo Sapiens, and said cheap Oil is just about exhausted, with only very energy expensive Oil left to try to suck up from deep on down or wedged tightly into rock formations.  It’s not economic on an energy level to extract this stuff so eventually the wide open Credit Spigot for doing the development will trickle out, and the Black Gold will stop flowing.

It is also pretty certain (though not as certain) that along with the decreasing amount of per capita energy available, we won’t be able to support the vast sea of humanity we have bred up here through the Age of Oil, and a very significant Die Off of Homo Sapiens will take place.  What is uncertain and also very important here is precisely when this Die Off will begin in earnest (it already has begun in some places) and how rapidly it proceed across the Globe.  Still more uncertain than that is precisely how society and civilization will react and adapt once this commences.  You can be sure there will be some kind of reaction, you just can’t be sure exactly what form that will reaction will take.  A High Probability event of course is increasing Warfare and also major political dislocations and Goobermint changes/overthrows.  What is uncertain in this one is how that will affect your neighborhood and then how you will deal with those eventualities as they occur.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2013-03/16/132238909_21n.jpgMany if not most people on the Planet right now have very limited choices in what they can do or where they can live.  The vast majority of the world population lives in desperate Poverty in places like Calcutta, Nairobi and Mexico City.  They can’t afford a bus ticket out much less a plane ticket, and about nowhere else on earth wants to take in new refugees either. In the Great Depression, this was imortalized in the sign, “Jobless Men, Keep Going.  We can’t take care of our own.” Even here inside the FSoA, most of the population has very limited choices, means and knowledge to “Exit the Matrix”.  The folks Freezing in their Detroit apartments after the Christmas Ice Storm took out their electricity don’t know what to do, even if they had some money they wouldn’t know what to do.  The situation these folks are in is hopeless, they cannot be saved.  That is reality.

For the readers of websites like the Doomstead Diner or Nature Bats Last though, this is not the case just yet.  It may be as time goes by, but not there quite yet. Although most people do not have means to set up their own Private Doomstead in the Boonies of Maine or the Highlands of Wales, it remains possible at the moment for people to organize up here even with limited means.  That of course is why we set up the SUN4Living website. Here in the FSoA, you have to be pretty darn far off the cliff to not be able to connect to the Internet and network somehow.  You can still go to libraries for free internet access if you don’t have your own computer or smartphone.  Even if you are homeless and at least have a Netbook, you can drop in a Coffee Shop or Laundromat and use their WiFi.

Besides the Infant Project of SUN, there are other networking possibilities in existence longer. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) provides one such type of networking, though I think you generally need to be fairly young and not encumbered by a family to pursue this paradigm.  Long in existence projects like The Farm in TN and Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in PA provide a wealth of knowledge and information on transitioning off Industrial Living.

http://media.wbur.org/wordpress/9/files/2013/07/farm-624x424.jpgAre any of these ideas and methods long term Sustainable in the face of the many problems we face down here now, from Climate Change to Nuke Puke being Vomited Up all over the Planet?  Probably not, they only provide a Bridging Solution for the near to medium term as we exit the energy intensive civilization we live under now. However, Bridging Solutions are important for numerous reasons, whether or not the End is Extinction in the Near Term.  Extinction is GUARANTEED in the Long Term, so it is mainly a matter of timelines here on how long this actually takes to play itself out.  Extinction would occrur regardless of what Homo Sapiens ever did or will do in the future.  The Biosphere has a very limited timeline on the Universal Scale, it won;t support life for more than another 500M years no matter WHAT.   So why get all bent out of shape if it occurs inside the next century?  Bound to occur sometime, everything dies.

Anyhow, in the long term, you cannot win this game, that is a CERTAINTY.  All life will be extinguished on earth at some point here, you just cannot be precisely certain how long it will take.  So there is no point to playing a game where you expect the outcome to be LIFE FOREVER, unless of course you buy the Star Trek meme of Interstellar Travel, which I do not.  Even there, the Universe eventually comes to a close, either Imploding on itself eventually or expanding and randomizing to Absolute Zero over time.  In this game, all you play with are TIMELINES.

So, in such a Game, what is Winning?  Winning is lasting longer than the Weatherman predicts.  If the Weatherman predicts I can only survive to Mid-Century, I play the game to last longer than that.  When I cross the Great Divide into the Great Beyond, I will meet up with the Weatherman, and I will Lord this Over Him.  “See? You were WRONG!  Homo Sapiens did NOT go Extinct by 2050.  it took until 2150 because we played a better game than you predicted as possible.”  LOL.

Never QUIT, Never say DIE until you are well and truly DEAD.  It ain’t OVAH till it is OVAH, and the Fat Lady Sings too.  The Game is afoot, and I play to WIN.

http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-play-to-win-6.png

See you on the Other Side, Guy. 😉

RE

PLAGUE!

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 16, 2013

plague

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Perhaps the most recent in the paradigms being pitched over the internet in terms of DOOM is the concept of Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE).  In this article, I’m going to look at some of the rationalizations for why this could occur, and what might be done about it if it is in the offing.

What does NTHE mean?  Well, in timeline terms, the folks who believe this is imminent talk in terms of a Century or less, and one of the main proponents of the idea, Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last who we periodically Cross Post here on the Diner predicts such an Extinction Level Event (ELE) for Homo Sapiens could arrive by Mid-Century.  Since it is already 2013, that leaves only about 37 years to wipe out Homo Sapiens.  Guy, Monsta & myself had opportunity to hash over some of the possibilities on Friday, across 9 hours of Time Zones which was quite an edifying chat overall.  You can listen to the Podcast here and see how it affects your own conclusions about the likelihood of NTHE.

What is the Main Vector for this ELE as proposed on the Climate Level?  The primary argument is that it will arise from an overall warming of Global ambient temperatures by around 4 degrees Celsius, or around 7 Farenheit if you are more familiar with that scale.

The predicted consequences of such a rapid rise in temperatures are Devastating on about every level you can imagine.  Inundation of most of our highly populated Coastal Cities, extreme Weather Events with worsening Drought in Drought areas and worsening Flooding in Flood prone areas.

http://www.nexialinstitute.com/floodcap.jpg

None of this could be handled very well in the current political climate most certainly, and then when combined with the synergistic effects of depleting Fossil Fuels to run the industrial economy and industrial agriculture, well, altogether you cannot help but see the reasonable Likelihood of an extreme Die Off event coming down the pipe through this period.  Does this make it an ELE though?  Will all this climatic change make 100% of the face of the Earth 100% Uninhabitable for Homo Sapiens?  Because 100% is a NECESSARY condition for Extinction.  Even a 1% survival rate does not qualify as an ELE.

I’m going to make an analogy here with the game PLAGUE, which I recently downloaded onto my Samsung Galaxy Android OP System Tablet, and spent quite a few hours last weekend playing.  The goal of said Game is to Wipe Out Homo Sapiens through Disease Vectors, and you can manipulate the parameters of the Diseases to make them spread faster, be more drug resistant, more Lethal etc.  Overall it is a pretty well constructed game, and addicting enough to make its designer pretty well to do by now I expect.  My old friends on The Burning Platform will be delighted to know I am easily capable of Wiping Out 7M Virtual People with Plague on a Daily Basis now. Actually a good deal better than that, I can WIPE OUT all 7B!  LOL.

Thing is, Plague makes a LOT of assumptions about how the various parameters will play out, most particularly how Goobermints will react to Plagues when they get under way and how much real “money’ anybody will have to research cures for such things.

http://ian.umces.edu/imagelibrary/albums/userpics/10001/normal_iil-ian-aj-0083.jpgIn fact, my guess would be it won’t be any Wild & Crazy Super Lethal Virus that takes down Homo Sapiens in large numbers, but rather the re-emergence of good Old Fashioned Diseases like Cholera, Typhus etc that will flourish once we start having issues with keeping the sewage treatment plants operational.  Once the essential energy to run the large Shities becomes scarce enough, these places will experience MASSIVE population crashes, in fair short order would be my best WAG.

As it has evolved here over time MOST of the current Overshoot of the population of Homo Sapiens now resides in the Big Shities.  So what happens here if you get a rapid Die Off of this population, the Demographic MOST susceptible to disease transmission due to its very close proximity and population density?

What occurs is that everything Industrial comes to a COMPLETE HALT nearly IMMEDIATELY.  All the Finance, all the Subsidy necessary to run Industrial Infrastructure collapses as soon as the Big Shities do.  This means such things as Clear Cutting and Slash & Burning of Amazonia Rain Forest also comes to a halt at this time.  With the Global Economy in collapse, there is no benefit to Brazil for selling Soy Beans to China, the Chinese are going to be busy Dieing by the Truckload.

What this then leaves are various scattered groups of Subsistence living people, and such people would be extremely hard to wipe out. Even assuming vast Climate Change on the order of a 4 degree Celsius rise in average Global Temps; reduced available land mass for growing things and varying Drought and Flooding depending where you happen to be located on the planet, you STILL will be left with Neighborhoods which are on the Border of one experience Drought Conditions, while the Other experiences Flooding conditions.  It is in such Border territory a few hardy Homo Sapiens can survive the cataclysm.  Remember here, it does not take MANY to survive an ELE, in the case of Toba it is estimated only 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs made it through that one.  They then managed to Breed Up to the current Population Maxima Event of around 7B, though we may make it to 8 or 9B if we don’t get a real fast collapse in the near term.

Rapidity is important here, because it is this which gives no time for Adjustment even for a few people.  What would it take to Knock Down the current 7B people living on the Planet to ZERO by Mid-Century as Guy McPherson hypothesizes as likely here, if not inevitable?

Well, if you call current Population at 7B and give it 35 years or so for the complete EXTERMINATION to occur, this means EVERY YEAR from now to 2050, on average 200M people will have to DIE EVERY YEAR more than the number of people born during the period.  Such a massive population collapse is not yet evident, though of course it can come at any time here in the next 35 years.  Each year goes by it doesn’t begin in earnest means Bigger Numbers required to make it happen in a shorter period of time though.

Back to Plague here, what happens in that game if you get massive Die Off rapidly, but it is not LETHAL everywhere?  Basically, you LOSE THE GAME, because even though you may have knocked down 6.5B people, the .5B remaining after the Plague get to Reboot.  Knocking off EVERYBODY is pretty hard in general, and you have to know the parameters of the game to make it happen regularly, but we do not know nor do we have control over the parameters operating here in the REAL GAME of Human Extinction.

I personally do not see how even a 10 degree rise in Global Average Temps would make the Planet Uninhabitable for Homo Sapiens.  That does not raise the temp past where Homo Sapiens can live.  Average Temps are now in the 60s farenheit, maybe this gets you to the 80sF, uncomfortable but not too hot to live.  Plus, that is AVERAGE, it still would be cooler than that near the Poles.  Just on Temps alone, I think you need 100F+ EVERYWHERE for Extinction.  This is above Operating Temp for Homo Sapiens of around 98.6 degrees, so you got no Heat Sink left at that point to cool with.

The only other means I see as possible that such a rapid NTHE could occur as a result of the Climatic Changes is with collapse of the Phytoplankton due to Ocean Acidification, a corollary of Climate Change whether you believe this results from Anthropogenic Causes as Guy does, or Geotectonic Causes as I do.  Thing is, Phytoplankton are single cell species, which adapt rapidly to changing conditions.  Not like say Coral Reefs, which most certainly completely collapse once the pH drops low enough that calcification cannot take place.  This is around 30 years down the line if the current trend line in Ocean pH decrease is followed consistently.

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With such collapse, Breeding Grounds for many species of fish would be destroyed, so you lose this portion of the Ocean based fisherie also, but not the Fresh Water Fish that live in lakes and streams through the lifespan of said fish.  The fact that thus far we have ALREADY seen a 50% collapse in Phytoplankton is not a good sign of course, but this is  not complete collapse either.  Can those little buggers evolve fast enough to tolerate higher acidity/lower pH?  Nobody knows that, and you can’t model it in the lab either, because you do not have an Ocean full of the stuff and 50 years time to do the modelling.  The experiment only runs at the vast planetary scale, and all we can do really is watch it play out there over time.

Hard to say what would occur with Shell Based crustaceans also, losing shells would make them more vulnerable to predators, but most if not all of their predators themselves would be gone in this environment.  They also reproduce rapidly (though not as fast as single cell organisms of course), so they might evolve in some way to survive and handle the New Reality without their Shells.

http://www.indigenous.youth-leader.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/amazon_deforestation.jpgOn Land, while the increasing average Temp would have many negative outcomes, fact is because it would SO rapidly kill off MOST of Homo Sapiens, much of the Habitat destruction currently Ongoing would come to about a complete HALT, as rapidly as the Die Off proceeds, probably more rapidly because of dependence on the Finance model and the tools of Industrial Ag which would no longer be available in a Rapid Collapse scenario.  Good example here is Deforestation of the Amazon, which is really only occurring because of Huge Demand for Food Product from places like China, but once you start getting massive Die Off in China and collapse of World Trade, there is no further reason to pursue this.

So, what you run into here is a situation where because such a huge portion of Humanity goes to the Great Beyond so fast, most of the Negative consequences of Overshoot come to a halt along with that.  There will be fewer Habitats some Homo Sapiens could survive in, but not NONE.  For it to Go to Zero, EVERY last place still above water has to be Uninhabitable, and for that to occur in a 37 year time span to Mid-Century is not supported by any model I am aware of, though Guy can of course debate that point. (and he DOES!  Listen to the Podcast!)

The only real rapid NTHE Models I think are Plausible are tangential to Climate Change, Energy depletion and Environmental Degradation.  As Sewage Treatment plants fail in Major Big Shities and Die Off begins in earnest, returning to the Plague Game it is possible that a Disease or Diseases with a high enough Infection Rate and Mortality rate will develop that will Infect every Homo Sapiens on the Planet, and that certainly could cause a rapid Extinction.  However, for such diseases to make it to places like Nunavut for instance and flourish in that environment would be difficult, and likely slow to get there also.  Nunavut does not have a big Tourist Trade.

http://blogs.cas.suffolk.edu/kmnguyen5790/files/2012/01/Fukushima-Daiichi-Nuclear-Plant.jpgAlso of course is the possibility that as Available Energy drops below Critical Mass, it will not be possible to keep cool the Spent Fuel Ponds in the plethora of Nuclear Reactors spread across the world, there would be many Meltdowns on the Chernobyl/Fuk-U-shima model and perhaps also Super Critical Events where some Reactors actually BLOW on the Nuclear Level.  If they all go this way, it could spread enough Radioactive Poison through the atmosphere to make most animal life impossible.  Homo Sapiens is probably amongst the first to go in this scenario, only fitting since we were the Dummies that dropped these Killers on the Landscape to begin with.

Global Thermonuclear War, quite possible once the REAL FIGHT begins over the remaining resources of the earth also could spread enough Radioactive Poison around to Knock Down Homo Sapiens in short order. This is also a possibility, but is also is only tangentially related to the ongoing Climate Change.  Extinction here does not come as a direct result of the Climate Change, it is just a corollary of Industrialization and the insatiable Jones for more electricity in more places all the time.

Then of course there are those naturally occuring phenomena which have led to ELEs before, Asteroid Collision and Super Volcanic eruption such as the Toba Cataclysm 75,000 years ago which led to the genetic Bottleneck for Homo Sapiens, leaving only perhaps 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs left walking the Face of the Earth in the aftermath of that one.  This of course though also was not really an ELE for our species, since enough were left standing to re-breed up now to the tune of 7B Human Souls inhabiting the planet at one time.  Are the consequences of Industrialization and the burning of Fossil Fuels really WORSE than Toba, where this can do a better job with total EXTERMINATION than that one was able to accomplish?  Does not seem likely to me, certainly not on such a rapid timeline and more certainly not without other tangential factors also coming into play here.  I still do not see how even an average Global Temperature increase of 10C does this in and of itself in such a rapid fashion.

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Some folks would argue that this is Nit Picking, if you only leave alive 10,ooo people, 99.99999% of us are as good as extinct ourselves.  The difference though is that even EXTREME Die Off still leaves open the HOPE that the Great Experiment with Human Sentience can be rebooted one more time, and perhaps in the next iteration we will do a bit better job managing our Stewardship of the Earth.  As I move along the Collapse Highway here, this is my Hopium.  If you buy the idea we are going Extinct here for sure; there is NO POSSIBILITY anymore it can be averted; what reason is there to do anything else other than Party Like it is 1999?  No reason to make any changes in lifestyle anymore, and you might as well Snuff your kids now,  since they are just going to grow up in a world where everyone around them is Dying, including them before they make it to 40.

MAYBE this will occur.  there most certainly are out there numerous Vectors which could enable such a Rapid Extinction Level Event, but not a one of them is WRITTEN IN STONE.  Climatic Theories are just that, THEORIES.  Not proven fact and based on some Mathematical Models which themselves have identifiable flaws in them.  For Guy and many of his readers on Nature Bats Last, they talk about such things as “Acceptance”, growing comfortable in a sense with the idea that Homo Sapiens is going the way of the Dinosaur.  This thinking process evolves out of the 5 Stages of Grief model proposed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross back in her 1969 book Death and Dying

The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include:[2]

  1. Denial — “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.” Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death. Denial can be conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, or the reality of the situation. Denial is a defense mechanism and some people can become locked in this stage.

  2. Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?” Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Anger can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, and especially those who are close to them. It is important to remain detached and nonjudgmental when dealing with a person experiencing anger from grief.

  3. Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…” The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just do something to buy more time…” People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends?..” when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it’s a matter of life or death.

  4. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?” During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed. Depression could be referred to as the dress rehearsal for the ‘aftermath’. It is a kind of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling those emotions shows that the person has begun to accept the situation.

  5. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.” In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. This stage varies according to the person’s situation. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.

 

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/june2008/fat_lady_sings.jpgEven if a Near Term Human Extintion is TRUE though, from my POV having such an attitude is counter productive.  You have to believe in SOME CHANCE here, or there is no reason to Fight the Good Fight anymore.  To me, Giving Up is not an Option, not until the Fat Lady Sings, and she is not singing yet IMHO.  I don’t buy NTHE until the Phytoplankton Collapse here, or until every last square inch of the Earth has consistent temps above what a large mammal like ourselves can survive at.  This is not evident YET, though to be sure models and Positive Feedback Loops that could make it so are out there.  It is not a LOCK, not yet, though no doubt it does look pretty nasty overall.

No way to make it through if you ACCEPT it as inevitable.  You gotta make the fight BELIEVING you can win, right up to the day you Buy Your Ticket to the Great Beyond. Tough times ahead, to be sure.  I am confident however that SOME people will make it through the Zero Point.  They will be DINERS!

In the words of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson…

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You won’t find any Weirder bunch of Collapse Professionals than the Diners anywhere else on the net, I GUARANTEE it. :icon_mrgreen:

RE

Musings from the Age of Limits

Off the keyboard of Harry J Lerwill

Published on the Doomstead Diner May 24, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Age of Limits Table inside the Diner

Age of Limits 2013 Website

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Forgive any typos or autocorrect fun, I’m writing on an iPad in the middle of a forest…

We took a long drive from Pittsburgh to the age of limits conference in Pennsylvania, down winding roads and through verdant green forests, a stark contrast to the dry, arid California weather we left behind. The humidity is a surprise after the dry air of home, not the best foreshadowing of restful evenings, particularly for those camping for the first time – like my wife, Barbra.

To be fair I have been ambiguous when she’s asked about our destination.  Her idea of camping is anything short of a three-star hotel.  I would have been traveling alone, had I uttered any of the hot-button words, such as “humanure”, “camping” or “off the grid”.

We stopped at a store to pick up an air mattress, pump and bedding, items too bulky to transport as carry-on from home.  I find it crazy that it cost us less to buy the items new, then donate them when we leave, than to bring our own with us.  The occasional glance from the drivers seat made me think that the game might soon be up.

A brace of ducks welcomes us to the sustainable community we will be staying at these next four days, relaxing outside the door to the main farm building.  I approached cautiously, not wanting to startle them but they seemed very comfortable with them.  I was still deciding to go left or right around when a lady came out of the building and welcomed us.

We left with directions to the camping site and a “car camping” pass on the windscreen and gently grove the minivan to the designated spot.  As I inflated the air mattress and placed it in the back, the wife called out daughter back in California.  Snippets of her side of the conversation were carried on the breeze.

“I don’t know where we are, somewhere in the woods in Pennsylvania,” she told a laughing teenager back in warm and sunny California.  We’d taken her on a very different road trip the weekend before, four days in Las Vegas, experiencing the excesses that we are here to escape.

The sleeping arrangements completed, we wandered down to the “starvin’ artist” – the catering for the event, situated in a beautiful pavilion built from local materials by the members of the community.  A hot meal was just what we needed and we sat down with a number of other earlier arrivals, although it was soon interrupted by the arrival of a thunderstorm, the driving rain coming in almost horizontally; a flurry of activity ensured as water was swept off the end of the deck multiple times, an Herculean task the two lads threw themselves into with enthusiasm.

The only speaker present at the meal was Guy McPherson, my first chance to meet the gentleman. One interesting anecdote, Guy did not coin the term “NTE” and is not that fond of acronyms.  If he had to give it a label, he’d have called it “near term human extinction”,  a phrase he sees as having less hubris.

After a brief pause to write, we head back down for the meet and greet. On the way I ran into the founder, and arranged to interview him over his experiences setting up four quarters, the challenges he’s faced, and the long journey to where they find themselves today.

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Meet and Greet your Fellow Doomers

 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday night was colder than expected, the novel experience of camping in a car did not impress the wife much, but she is resolved to be a good sport.  It’s a sobering experience to live in a car for a couple days, an eye-opener to the collapse that is happening to hundreds of people each week. A long discussion on how we would cope should this happen ensued.  This is definitely an experience to bring a significant other along for.  If it survives this, it’s a good sign for sticking together through what lies ahead.

Not only are there “real” flushing toilets at the camp, the showers are hot, real hot! Coffee came first though, provided free by the wonderful volunteers.  A quick conversation with other early risers and I got ready for breakfast.  For a “small” setup the breakfast was wonderful, sausage, eggs, potatoes, and plenty of orange juice, with more wonderful conversation.

The event started with Oren covering some practical matters, followed by his experiences setting up the four quarters interfaith sanctuary over 18years ago.  4Q was originally an attempt to set up an ecological camp ground that would appeal to the more ecologically minded.  Pennsylvania was chosen over Maryland due to the differences in planning and zoning regulations, an aspect of doomstead~location that has been in the forefront of many people looking to escape the oncoming collapse.

The questions were excellent, covering topics as diverse as property ownership and health care; it’s a sobering thought that personal collapse comes with consequences, when we get sick in a post-collapse world, death is the likely outcome.  Questions of ethics were also raised, such as what would happen post-collapse if people turned up at their lifeboat. Many questions that we’ve asked ourselves and our forum friends.  I encourage people who are looking at setting up communities to listen to both the talk and the question and answer session.

John Michael Greer was the second speaker, with a talk on the future, what we though we would get and what we’re actually getting, and how that disconnect happened.  For readers of the archdruid report the topics were familiar, yet his light-hearted delivery takes the edge off the description of a very uncertain future.

The concept of near term human extinction inevitably came up and John Michael’s response surprised many who think his view of post-collapse is incompatible with that of Guy McPherson.  Greer sees a massive die-off in humanity’s future, just on a different time scale, along with a faith that nature will get through the bottleneck we are creating in the ecosystems. He also pointed out that the theory McPherson has may gain wider acceptance than his own theories of collapse, for reasons he’s covered in his blog many times: we will do anything to avoid having to make changes in our own lives.

Albert Bates was the next up, with a lecture on the top of the Unibomber.  I was very surprised to learn that the Unibomber was not only a Harvard student at fifteen, he was also recruited by the MK-ultra program and the abuses he was subjected to at the hands of the experimenters may have played a part in his radicalization. After the background information on Ted, the presentation moved onto the famous manifesto; a document well worth reading from a collapse and resource depletion standpoint. I many ways the bomber was right on target with the problem of technology, although no amount of hindsight on his motives can justify the murders this terrorist perpetrated on innocent people.

Another fine meal followed, roast beast and vegetables, and even finer conversation around the table.  A quick break while I tried to upload the audio files of the talks so far, with no success. I such a rural location the signal is really weak, so readers are going to have to wait a little longer before they an listen to them.

Carolyn baker was the last presentation of the day; drumming, a story from Korea, and a number of relationship exercises that unfortunately do not translate well to an audio format.  When I get home I will separate out the story and upload it, but the rest of the audio file will not do justice to the presentation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

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Doomers huddle around the Campfire

The temperature on Friday night dropped to around thirty four degrees, making me very grateful the wife had driven down to Cumberland earlier to pick up extra bedding, and we spent the night snuggled up together while a full moon shone through the windows.  I woke up feeling much more refreshed than the previous morning, and thankful to attribute the aches and pains of the prior morning to jet lag instead of middle age.

The first talk was by Albert Bates on the global ecological village movement, and it was by far the most useful talk for me so far.  Most of the topics covered by the other speakers I was familiar with, but the size and scope of the Eco village movement surprised me.  He shared a considerable amount of information The Farm, it’s successes, it[s failures, it’s struggles and and the struggles they have helped others overcome, from earthquake relief to bringing fresh water to villages in South America.  I am looking forward to following the leads his presentation has opened up.

Again, I found myself reassured that the questions we are asking on the Diner, the solutions we are proposing are not new, there is a Wealth of experience from those who have done this already.  While we may feel isolated and apart with only our digital connection at present, it is comforting to know that we are not the first pioneers to walk in this direction, desiring to walk away from empire, as McPherson’s lecture later in the day was titled.

Gail Tverberg, or Gail the Actuary, as she is often known, spoke next, a recap of the evidence of collapse which most readers here will be familiar with. I slipped out and left the iPad with my wife and spent some time catching up with JMG and getting to know a few of the attendees better.

Orlov was the next speaker up, with a digression from his usual talk of the five stages of collapse, instead venturing into the realm of experiencing collapse as we are now going thought it.  While little of the presentation was new to me, Dmitry’s delivery was excellent and his humorous viewpoint was a stark contrast to the next talk after dinner.

Guy McPherson’s talk was on walking away from empire, a process he started a number of years ago, with his leaving academia to pursue self-sufficiency in the property he calls the mud hut.  His experiences going off grid –with no experience at constructing a straw bail house or dealing with ducks, goats or pocket gophers –was encouraging to those who, like Guy, do not know a screwdriver from a zucchini.

I was surprised that Guy sees his experiment of walking away from empire as a failure, for reasons he outlined.  Empire is still here, it still surrounds him,and after entertaining over six hundred guests at the mud hut over the last few years, very, very few have followed his example, much to his apparent despair.  Even walking away from the modern, energy wasting world left him with an ecological footprint that would translate to more than four earths required to support seven billion living off grid.  Why?  Because we, living in America, are still responsible for the footprint of the US military which consumes more energy than many sovereign nations.  A sobering thought.

Guy is a fantastic and humorous speaker, and offers to pay half of any travel costs to come and speak, asking only his needs are met.  He practices rather than preaches a gift economy, giving away copies of his DVD and asking nothing in return, although he accepts donations.  I’ve heard accusations on other websites that he promotes himself, that he runs his message as a business, that he promotes his ideas to make money. That is more a reflection of the society we live in and the expectations we have.  While I am not convinced of his interpretation of the climate change data (tomorrow’s talk) I have no doubts of his sincerity.

The last event was Carolyn Baker, a ritual on grief that the wife and I chose not to attend, since for us grief is a personal thing, even though it is a common theme this weekend.

Still no luck getting the data uploaded, although I will walk to a higher point try again later tonight, although I have to accept that when collapse comes to my door then these difficulties may seem pretty quaint and minor.

A few people attending will be dropping by, apparently I’m not the only one seeking online forums and places where the focus is on practical responses, rather than a running commentary on the collapse.

This is Haniel, Doomstead Diner News, signing off for the night!

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Guy McPherson presents Uber Doom under the Big Top

Sunday, May 26, 2012

Walking down to the shower and toilet block this morning, I realized something odd.  As I listened to the birds sing and enjoyed the warmth on my back, I realized for the fist time in as long as I could remember, I saw smiling before my first cup of coffee. Or perhaps it was the fact that that the land so resembles the place I grew up in South Wales. I have given up on ever returning there to live, the climate data indicates it’s not going to be pleasant there.

Another excellent breakfast preceded the first talk of the day, Dmitry Orlov on communities that abide.  Using examples of communities like the anabaptists, the kibbutz movement in Israel and others, he outlined the key aspects of one communities that have withstood the test of time.  One point I found key was a common ideology that all agree on, such as the religion of monastic communities, a common rejection of technology, or some other aspect that is largely unquestioned.  He covered the way many communities establish commonality via dress or practice, as well as the social strategies they use to survive in a sometimes hostile world.  One thing intentional communities have in common is they have often been persecuted.

The next speaker was Gail Tverberg, with a fantastic presentation on the financial aspects of the collapse clearly underway around us. I’m trying to figure out how to take her presentation –available inside the Doomstead Diner –with the audioo recording to make a narrated video presentation of the data. Follow the Gail Tverburg thread inside the diner to keep up to date on that project.  I’m not promising anything for reason I’ll get to at the end.

McPherson was up next.  This was one of the talks I was very interested in hearing.  Back last January, the interpretations of the data regarding climate change took a more serious turn, and Guy McPherson was raising alarm bells regarding the latest climate data.  I said at the time that I would reserve judgment until after this Age of Limits conference, since there’s been significant chatter in the blogsphere about the subject.

There’s no doubt, the data is frightening.  In the audience was a climate scientist who travels all over the planet gather data and doing the actual research, not just interpreting data.  He was very clear, the scientific community has no doubts the planet is warming and we’re the primary cause.  There’s no doubt we’re heading to an ice-free Arctic by the end of the decade and possibly in only a few years.

There are some negative feedback loops being triggered, which Guy does not touch upon, but nowhere near the number of positive feedback loops which are already underway.

I still believe that the interpretation of the data is overly pessimistic, but only on scale, not direction.  One thing I feel is important is the term: Near Term Extinction – it’s a phrase that Guy did not invent and does not particularly like, he prefers “Near Term Human Extinction; I don’t think he’s that impressed with our ability to wipe our species.  I agree with him on this, let’s write out “Near Term Human Extinction” every time in full, as a reminder to ourselves that this is not a catchy f***ing phrase, the survival of our children are at stake.  The survival of my cat’s grand-kittens are at stake.  The survival of the trees, whose shade I appreciated over the trip, is at stake.

A few of the flaws I believe exists in the data have already been highlighted here; the conflation of hydrates and clathates, the heat island effect in the plant flowering data in the Boston area, and land based methane out gassing sizes compared to ocean-based out gassing which diffuse though the water column and are thus reaching a kilometer across when it gets to the surface.  However, we’re arguing about if we’re executing two hundred species a day with shotgun or a fifty caliber machine gun, I don’t think nature really cares which one we abusing it with.

While I may disagree with the interpretation of the data and believe that humanity will face a bottleneck rather than complete extinction, I have no doubt of Guy’s sincerity, or his compassion for both humanity and the rest of the planet we are destroying.

McPherson see’s his experiment of walking away from empire a failure, and that is something I do disagree with intensely. While our wonderful American military squanders the equivalent of four earths (if all the world all lived like we do, that’s how many planet’s we’d need to support the military alone) and thus we can never truly be free of empire, if his message means that one day soon, we’ll only wipe out a hundred and ninety nine species a day, his efforts are worth it.

One disturbing trend I found out about is that McPherson is often asked to speak, but those invites are withdrawn when the seriousness of his conclusions are realized.  People, particularly people in power, do not want this message getting out.  The climate scientist present, who’s worked for NASA on the data Guy is interpreting, was very clear – the government is suppressing the data and using all the techniques pioneered by the tobacco industry, to sow doubt where none should exist.

If you have the opportunity to invite McPherson to come and address a group, be it local doomers you know, a transition town group, or any other bunch of people who are willing to pull their head out of the sand long enough to look around, I encourage you to do so.  He is an engaging speaker, he puts an element of mirth into his presentation which makes the very bitter pill a little easier to swallow, and if only one person changes his or her lifestyle as a result, it will be worth your time to organize.

Lodge notes.

Companion President, Mr. J.M. Greer, opened the Artemis Lodge #1 of the Order of the Long Descent in due form at 6pm.  The following officers were appointed:  A charming lady by the name of Kelly took the Vice President’s station.  Haniel Was appointed Warder. His beautiful wife (I’m biased) was appointed Conductor.

Following the opening, companion President (Greer) proceeded to lecture the assembled companions on the role and structure of lodges and how they may be of benefit.  While Masons, Oddfellows, Grangers and members of pretty much any fraternity would have recognized elements of the ritual, the main sources of inspiration was Order of Washington and the Women’s International Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Streetcar, Electric Railway, and Motor
Coach Employees.

JMG explained how corporations, the way they were originally set up in the US before the supreme court gave them more powers than you or I could ever hope for, are still a valid way of funding an operation and as the government’s ability to help gives way to communities learning to help themselves, still has a purpose.  There’s nothing wrong in issuing shares to start an intentional community, just remember to retire them appropriately and not view them as a ticket to the rentier class.  Churches regularly used share issues to fund a new building, and the parishioners regularly dropped those shares in the collection plate, effectively destroying that debt.

A lively question and answer session followed, using the format used in lodges of all types, the speaker addressed the chair, was recognized, and took their turn speaking their mind or asking a question. A number of members of other types of lodges, including some masons, added their thoughts and experiences.

The lodge was closed in due form at 7:30pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Harry J. Lerwill,
Warder, Artemis Lodge #1 of The Order of the Long Descent.

 

Harry J. Lerwill was raised in a poor mining village in the South Wales Valleys, where family values, the joys of home-grown and home-cooked meals, and a deep community spirit far outweighed the bleak prospects of life with collapsed fos-sil fuel industry: coal mining. Three decades later, he is an I.T. Manager in California, choosing to walk, rather than fall, down the far side of Hubbert’s peak, and looking forward to those same benefits as we rediscover the joys of a slower lifestyle. His first short story, “Caravan of Hopes” is published in the anthology, “After Oil: SF Visions Of A Post Petroleum Future”.  Harry’s blog is Post Peak Local Search on Blogspot.

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